Year-End Review: 12 Top Learning and Development Posts of 2017

As each year comes to a close, it’s good to reflect on new skills, goals, and successes from the past year as you plan for the future. To help you, we compiled a list of our top learning and development posts of 2017.

Whether it’s practical day-to-day skills like improving feedback or bigger picture processes like performing a needs assessment, we hope you will find inspiration and valuable action items in these posts as you continue in your leadership development planning journey.

    Giving feedback is a tough skill to master. For some managers, it’s the “eat your vegetables” task of the business world, but managing others is a relationship and it needs to be nurtured. We help you improve your feedback with 5 tips in this post.

Emerging leaders are the future of your organization and they’re not just the younger members of your team. To help them develop appropriately, it’s crucial to determine who has the potential to lead and give them the skills to lead effectively. Start the process of developing your emerging leaders by determining who they are.

The field of learning and development is changing to adjust to new business challenges, as we prepare leaders to do the same. Organizations can now define their leadership development progress using Bersin’s Leadership Development Maturity Model. This post can help you determine your organization’s current level of development maturity and how to get to the next level.

Performance management is one facet of the manager’s role. How can managers create a results-driven environment through goal-setting and feedback? Our quick infographic gives you 11 concrete actions divided into a few steps.

More research on employee engagement shows that coaching’s positive impact cannot be ignored. Managers who coach employees see that not only is it not a punitive measure, it’s a positive sign. Coaching shows faith in employees to make important decisions without relying on a manager or boss to tell them what to do.

Inspired by chapter eight, “Who You Are Isn’t Who You Will Be,” of Learning Leadership by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, we talk about the importance of being a forward-looking leader in a personal sense. Though growing as a leader seems like a daunting task, it’s possible. To be a good leader means you are continuously open to learning and bettering yourself.

Great leaders know how to Enlist Others in two essential ways: appealing to common ideals and animating a shared vision of the future. These leadership characteristics are based on more than 35 years of research into what makes great leaders effective. This post offers tips on how to enact these leadership essentials.

2017 was a year dedicated to exponential change and how best to adapt to it. In this post, we break down Deloitte’s 2017 report on trends in the field, from performance management to the digitization of HR functions.

Asking for feedback is an important behavior for leaders; however the higher in an organization that leader is, the less likely he or she is to ask for and receive authentic feedback. The process for getting good feedback is not a simple one so we’ve broken down how to ask for, interpret, and act on feedback.

Having a complete and accurate needs assessment is the foundational step to developing a comprehensive leadership development program. Once it’s clear where leaders are performing well and where they need improvement, it’s simpler to develop a program that addresses those skill or competency gaps.

Effective teams are the building blocks of organizational success. This process helps define the team, determine the support levels needed for the team to be effective, and assess the characteristics and components of the team.

Leadership is an important pathway to the future, which means that developing leaders can’t follow last year’s trends or the research of years ago. In this post, we’ve compiled some key leadership “rules” that can be retired as you develop your new game plan in response to the needs of your leaders and organizations.

It’s clear that as HR and L&D professionals, planning for the future—not just next year—is a key topic. Whether you are seeking ways to pinpoint your emerging leaders or develop an organizational learning culture or create programs that drive toward future business success, meeting the needs of the future is a challenging task, especially in our rapidly changing world.

The good news is that by starting to prepare for the future sooner rather than later, we are learning what is successful and what our new brand of leader looks like. It’s time for leaders that are flexible, agile, quick-learning, and a whole host of other characteristics that allow them to respond to changing business needs and challenges that didn’t exist just a few years ago.

As you pause and take time to prepare for the future of your organization, register for our webinar, The Inside Track: Top Trends in Leadership Development 2017, to help you prepare. We’ll cover trends for learning and development professionals and their impact how to develop leaders in 2018.


A really simple lesson I received on employee engagement

We talk a lot about employee engagement at the Qantas Group. It’s so important because the more engaged people are with their job, and the more they understand how it contributes to the whole, the better they’re likely to be at that job. And as all customer-facing companies know, there’s a clear link between happy employees and happy customers.

I see examples of that link at Qantas every time I fly. But I had a great lesson in employee engagement recently at a town hall meeting in Sydney.

We hold these town halls at our Mascot HQ every six weeks or so, and it’s a chance for me to update our people on what’s happening and answer questions. We also use them to call out major achievements and milestones.

At last week’s town hall, we recognised David Thompson (he prefers Thommo), who has clocked up 50 years at Qantas. The lesson on employee engagement for me and the other 300 people there started when I called Thommo on stage and he took the microphone to say a few words. It would be a while before I got it back.

Thommo started at Qantas in 1967, aged 18, in our reservations area. Bookings were all written on cards back then, he told us, and virtually all business was done over the phone. He had never been on an aircraft before joining Qantas and neither had his parents; they thought it was amazing when he was asked to fly from Sydney to Melbourne to inspect the newly built Southern Cross Hotel. He remembered his first pay packet was $27, which was fine because a beer only cost 20 cents.

Thommo went on to work in marketing, sales and freight, eventually becoming the Manager of Global Airmail. He was thinking about retirement but wasn’t ready to leave just yet, he said, because there were always so many interesting things happening at Qantas. And then he rattled off several of them.

Thommo has been at Qantas for about the same amount of time as I’ve been alive. And you could not hope to meet someone more enthusiastic and engaged with what they do.

You could feel that Thommo had struck a chord. When we opened the floor to general questions, a young man who was in his first week in his job asked him back on stage to tell us, “For those of us just starting out, what’s the secret to a long and successful career at Qantas?”. Thommo didn’t think twice: “Respect our customers”.

For me, the whole interaction was a perfect example of what employee engagement looks like. And a perfect example of how infectious it can be.

Jon Scriven, who was our Group Executive of People for eight years, put us on the employee engagement journey we are on now. Jon helped make it part of ‘business as usual’ for how we operate so it couldn’t get forgotten or overtaken by demands that can feel more pressing at the time. Jon recently retired but has left a legacy for years to come at Qantas. Good luck Jon in your retirement!


Here’s How ‘Renewable Learning Funds’ Can Transform Workforce Development

As sustainability efforts continue to grab headlines across a range sectors, we shouldn’t limit those efforts just to industries like renewable energy. As the shelf life of skills shrinks and the durability of degrees declines, individuals are under increasing pressure to move beyond a one-and-done approach to learning. Yet our national investments in education and training still reflect an era when workers learned skills that could last a lifetime.

A new approach to funding education, however, could enable the creation of renewable learning funds: sustainable resources that can support learners in getting the workforce training they need year after year.

Today, federal, state, and municipal governments alongside foundations are, with good reason, taking note of skills gaps that limit economic growth and reflect the labor market mismatch between in-demand jobs and available skills. LinkedIn’s monthly workforce reports, which offer timely insight into the labor market, continue to highlight endemic gaps in most major cities.

Despite the attention, total spending on workforce development has fallen as a percent of GDP in recent years. Amid competing priorities and long-term debt, our reliance on yearly appropriations and outlays may not be enough. A clever solution is fortunately waiting in the wings.

Renewable learning funds would leverage investments in workforce development to create evergreen funds that recycle prior outlays to fund future adult learners to get the training they need. What’s exciting is that debt would not have to power these funds. Income Share Agreements (ISAs) could.

ISAs work by collecting a set percentage of a learner’s future income, as opposed to putting a student into debt. At Entangled Solutions, we recently provided an overview of this relatively nascent vehicle in the United States in The Future of Student Aid: Advancing New Models to Expand Access, Improve Quality, and Spur Innovation in Education.”

Through ISAs, there are a variety of ways a foundation or local or state government could create a renewable learning fund.

A one-year program in cybersecurity might, for example, cost $12,000. Government workforce development funds might, however, only cover $6,000 of the total cost. A foundation could offer an individual seeking to upskill an ISA for that amount. The foundation would pay the program $6,000, and then, after earning the certificate, a worker might repay the foundation 5% of her income over two years, which could then be used to finance workforce development for someone else.

A structure of this sort would overcome one of the major limitations of inadequate workforce development funding by creating a sustainable funding model that aligns the needs of regional labor markets and helps close the skills gap.

What’s more, ISAs should encourage donors to care more about the outcomes for learners in the programs in which they invest. That’s because the foundation’s ability to fund future learners will be dependent on whether the program graduates the learners and places them into well-paying jobs. The forward-looking nature of the ISA is one of the most important attributes of this new student finance vehicle.

Sustainable models for funding workforce training are particularly vital at a time when demand for such investments is likely to grow. The robots are coming for our jobs—or so we are told. But already, 56% of working adults with a bachelor’s degree or more education report having taken a class or enrolled in more training in the past 12 months.

To combat the specter of mass technological unemployment, we need to lower the cost for adults of getting more education and training to help workers learn how to retool and complement—not be replaced by—technology. That may require not just financing adult learners’ educations, but also creating more affordable learning models that pay for adults’ living expenses as they learn and retool.

After all, leaving a job that provides for one’s family to enroll in an educational program carries an opportunity cost. Even if someone can simultaneously work and learn in a formal educational program, those programs still carry an opportunity cost with them in an increase in failure rates as learners struggle to balance their lives and dedicate themselves to the education. Learners entering these programs may not be able to afford failure. Waiting to be laid off before enrolling also has an opportunity cost in that it is much harder to get back into the workforce.

In other words, it won’t be enough to provide money just to help learners afford tuition.

At its core, ISAs and the renewable learning funds that they enable are about making good on the promise of education and training by creating more viable—and sustainable—pathways to economic and social mobility. It’s about preparing for the displacement and disenfranchisement just beginning to roil our society.

The question at the moment isn’t whether this will happen, but which foundation, city, county, or state will act first.


5 Tips To Improve Employee Health And Wellness

Taking care of employees’ health and wellness is part of being responsible employers. Doing so results in benefits for both the employees and the employers as well. Some of the most significant benefits of having a health and wellness program for employees are improved productivity, enhanced employee satisfaction, and increased employee retention rates. These consequently result in the successful achievement of the company’s goals.

If you still do not have employee health and wellness programs installed in your company, consider these five tips:

1. Hold Regular Exercise & Physical Activities
Exercise does not only boost the physical health, but also the mind. Boost employee efficiency and productivity by making sure that your employees have a healthy mind and body. Most of the time, employees are just sitting in front of their computers or at their workstations. Schedule activities that make them get up and moving. Organise fun runs and similar events to help them develop an active lifestyle. You can also put up amenities like bike racks or a small gym inside the building to encourage them to do physical activities.

2. Have Prevention-Focused Health Programmes
Prevention is always better than having to find a cure for any illness. Preventative health programmes will keep your employees from getting sick and having to take paid leaves. Some companies now provide their employees with health cash plans for their medical and dental check-ups. Most of these plans also provide coverage for optician consultations and discounts to gym or health club memberships.

3. Health Education
It is likewise important to educate employees on how important health and wellness is on a personal level. This way, they will be more open to supporting the company’s health and wellness programmes. A lot of the employees will most likely already know about eating right and avoiding vices, but not many of them will actually be living a healthy lifestyle. With employee health education, they will be reminded of what they should be doing in as far as their health and wellness is concerned. Inviting doctors and health experts to teach your employees how to take care of their physical and mental health will be a good addition to your corporate health program. Have a health watch bulletin board or hang health-oriented posters in areas where your employees are most likely to see and notice them.

4. Offer Healthy Food Options In Your Canteen
Your company’s canteen will influence the eating lifestyle of your employees. Those who do not bring their own lunch will be limited by whatever the canteen serves. Just like in school canteens, office canteens should avoid serving unhealthy menus. Serve healthier options like fresh fruits and vegetables. Encourage employees to eat balanced meals complete with carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, and minerals.

5. Incentivise Workplace Wellness
It’s not only money that you can give to your employees as reward or incentive. In the same way, you do not necessarily have to limit your rewards and incentives to productivity and performance. You can also combine monetary rewards with other types of rewards in line with your health and wellness programs. You can also offer rewards when employees achieve specific health goals.

Moving Forwards
These are just five tips to improve employee health and wellness. There are other ways for you to keep your employees healthy and to motivate them to take care of the physical and mental health. Find out how healthy your employees are and determine which areas of their health you should be concerned about. Address these concerns while providing activities for their general wellness at the same time. Remember that a healthy workforce is one of the keys to achieving corporate success.


Sumo Digital: Life as a talent acquisition manager

In this series of articles from Sumo Digital, the UK studio opens its doors to show us what they do and how you can get involved

This month we speak to Sumo Digital’s talent acquisition manager, Rebecca Askham, about her experience in the role. Askham is leaving the company shortly, and so Sumo will be looking to fill her shoes. Interested? Then this is a must read.

What is the role of the Talent Acquisition Manager?

The TAM’s role is to develop and execute effective strategies and processes to source, attract and recruit talented candidates for current and future staffing needs. The TAM’s remit is diverse and encompasses employer brand development, social media recruitment campaigns, headhunting, agency relationship management, university talent development initiatives, reporting and analysis of recruitment/retention data, relocation assistance, visas and immigration, database and process management as well as mentoring and overseeing recruitment staff who administer day to day recruitment workflow processes. It is an incredibly varied and busy role with relationships – both internal and external – at its heart. There is never a dull day!

How is this different from agency recruiters?

As a TAM, being a part of the business that you are helping to build and shape is incredibly rewarding. Hiring talented people into open vacancies is still the ultimate aim, but the buzz comes from understanding the impact that these new employees will have on the projects and teams, and the part they will play in Sumo’s future. Having an offer accepted is only the first step in a successful hire; helping new recruits to relocate their families and lives is hugely important in ensuring that we have a happy and settled employee and ultimately a successful placement.

What involvement does the Talent Acquisition Manager have in the company’s strategy for recruitment?

The TAM works closely with senior management to understand Sumo’s short, medium and long-term staffing requirements, and then designs and schedules appropriate strategies to deliver. Developing our employer brand and social media content with the marketing department, seeking collaborations with universities and institutions to increase and engage with emerging games industry talent, and collaborating more widely with local organisations to promote Sheffield as a city to live and work in are all vital to achieving our long-term recruitment aims.

How does the Talent Acquisition Manager work with external partners?

Working with external partners is crucial. Investing our time and effort in university talent development initiatives such as Brains Eden and Search for a Star/Rising Star has given us a terrific talent pipeline for entry level employees in all disciplines. Working with good recruitment agencies is also important; of course, we do everything we can to drive direct engagement with prospective employees, but we recognise that some candidates will be agency introductions, and have a great relationship with several recruiters who work hard to understand Sumo and consequently source excellent candidates for us.

What kind of skills are Sumo looking for in someone interested in this kind of role?

We are looking for a highly capable internal recruitment professional who is passionate about bringing the best people into our business. They must be good at balancing priorities and solving problems against tight deadlines, and able to communicate at all levels with diplomacy, patience and confidence. We are looking for someone who has implemented and managed talent strategies and recruitment processes in an in-house role in the highly skilled/creative/digital industries. Games knowledge is a bonus but not essential. The culture at Sumo is open, collaborative and team focussed with a relaxed atmosphere where people are passionate about what they do. It’s a really exciting opportunity and a role where someone can really make their mark.


Effectively Deploying Employees as Your Brand’s Frontline

Having a strong brand identity is vital when it comes to driving any business. Yet often times companies overlook or underutilize one of their most valuable brand-building assets…their employees.

Brands rightly invest a great deal of time and resources into developing a brand identity and creating a brand experience that resonates with their clients or customers. And who better to provide consumers with insight into a company’s brand than its employees? Employees can be an extremely powerful tool to help drive a company’s brand because they are the very people who live the brand experience every day. What’s more, when leveraged properly, employees can become brand ambassadors who help increase a company’s bottom line. How, you ask?

A company’s employees are the equivalent of having an army of spokespeople to champion the brand on a regular basis. The key to making sure they are reinforcing the right brand message is helping them understand the company’s products and/or services and ensuring they have the same brand experience that you want for your consumers. That means communicating with employees in a way that reflects your brand’s values.

The way a company communicates with its employees is often reflected in how employees share (or don’t share) the company’s brand experience with the world. If employees are not engaged, they simply become an untapped resource for brand reinforcement. This is an area where most companies have huge growth potential. In February 2017, Gallup released its “State of the American Workplace” report, which found that the U.S. – and the world at large – is “in the midst of an employee engagement crisis.” According to the report, the majority of employees (51 percent) are not engaged, which has been a steady trend over the last decade and a half, where employee engagement has either stagnated, or in some years, even decreased. In fact, the report found that from 2012 to 2016, employee engagement increased by only three percentage points.

One of the first things employers can do to help increase employee engagement is examine whether or not employees are armed with the information they need to effectively communicate the brand message. It’s also important that employees feel invested in the brand. This happens through frequent and consistent internal communication. Communicating regularly with employees makes them feel knowledgeable, valued and personally connected to the brand. This reinforces the brand values that you want consumers to experience.

Here’s where modern advancements in technology provide employers with opportunity. Today, social media and smart phones provide employers with the biggest opportunities for employees share their employer’s brand experience. This is particularly true as more and more millennials – many of whom are highly active on social media – enter the workforce. Having employees use social media to share positive brand experience can actually impact a company’s bottom line. A recent article in the Boston Globe explains how. Encouraging employees to share news about the brand equates to earned coverage, which saves companies money on advertising and paid social engagement, while increasing the potential consumer base through positive brand reinforcement. It’s even better when employees decide to share positive brand experiences on their own because they are inherently connected to the brand.

The question then becomes: how do companies get employees to be more informed and more engaged so that they are motivated to become brand champions? A simple answer is to create an internal brand experience that’s reflective of the company’s external brand. We certainly know this is sometimes easier said than done – particularly with large global organizations. However, Forbes recently shared a great article, Seven Simple Steps To Turn Your Employees Into Brand Ambassadors, which listed solid recommendations that companies can implement. And now is a great time for companies to refresh their internal communications strategies, keeping their brand identity in mind, as we move toward the New Year. One thing to add to the recommendations listed in the Forbes article is to strengthen the pool of brand ambassadors by investing even more into recruiting and communicating with the next generation of talent who will be promoting the brand. According to a report by The Brookings Institution, millennials will make up approximately 75 percent of the workforce by 2025. It makes sense for companies to develop internal branding strategies that align with the expectations of the majority of the incoming workforce. This builds a solid foundation for the next wave of brand ambassadors.

Earlier this year, Ogilvy’s Worldwide CEO, John Seifert participated in the 2017 Millennials in Marketing Summit, hosted by Ogilvy’s Young Professionals Network in conjunction with Forbes, which shed more light into what millennials are seeking in today’s modern workforce, including the most effective communications models that resonate with the digital generation. One of the key takeaways from the summit emerged from the commerce industry, which found that millennials are much more drawn to video content over traditional email. Seifert, was joined by a sizeable group of top industry leaders who lent their expertise to the conversation, including Rachel Tipograph, Founder and CEO of MikMak, who was formerly the global head of digital and social for the retail giant, Gap. During the summit, Tipograph shared that video content was so important to the marketing mix for the brand that she would often communicate that “ should feel more like Netflix and Snapchat than Amazon or Alibaba.” In an era when brands need to meet consumers where they are, it’s just as important to meet employees where they are in the workplace. These and other key insights provide sage learnings that brands should keep in mind as they continue to shape their internal communications plans in 2018 and beyond, including how best to leverage video content to communicate to staff. You can read more about the summit in an article by Chris Celletti on

It will take some time, investment, and consistency to arrive at the right formula in terms of the type of internal communications, frequency, style, etc. that works best for a company. Creating or changing internal branding won’t happen overnight. Keep in mind however, that effective internal brand communication can definitely make a difference in turning employees into true brand ambassadors, which can have lasting dividends for the brand, and ultimately, a company’s bottom line.

The simple fact is, when employees are engaged and they know more about the brand, they do more to promote it.


Performance Management Tool – A Catalyst for Organizational Culture

Employees are the key engines of organizational performance. The world today is different! Competitive, disruptive and innovative is the new momentum! Successful organizations are diligently working towards re-inventing the wheel to generate higher efficiency, execute better on business strategy, and do more with less to remain competitive. India now stands at the point of inflection that is transforming the way work is conducted and changed the way performance is driven and measured. A key driver of this transformation is adopting “an organizational approach” to performance management. Aligning the individual to the larger entity and a greater purpose! Creating new performance indicators, measuring employees on relevant metrics and motivating critical talent may be a vital enabler for corporate success. Performance management is a key tool to enhance accountability and build a high-performance culture.

In a fast-changing time, there’s been a sharp upturn in successful organizations making their performance management systems more aligned to their company’s culture, vision and long-term growth aims. Successful organizations realize that they are driven by people, their capabilities and therefore their performance management system (PMS) must ‘engage efficiently’ with its people, become more effective, rightly conceived and rightly implemented.

PMS is the nervous system of any organization. It’s because the “Fairness Quotient” that PMS builds up in an organization, is the real reflection of how it engages with its employees and shows results through overall organizational performance.

A Closer Look at the Importance of Performance Management
A healthy PMS attracts people from the outside world as the organization is perceived as an ‘Employer of Choice’. Talent acquisition becomes easier when your fairness system is regarded as an ‘an industry benchmark’ and begins to command respect and a higher aspirational level, from potential employees.

The primary reason to ensure appropriate functioning of performance management process, is to tighten the link between strategic business objectives and day-to-day actions. In effect, it also ensures that all other verticals are aligned in such a manner that promotes ‘fair practice performance management’. Effective goal setting (including timelines), combined with a method to track progress and identify challenges, contributes to success and bottom line results. This spurs the ‘capability program’ to reward employees for exceptional effort, contributing to job satisfaction and productivity.

Given this background in any given organization performance management is generally most underrated, while it should be the foremost fair and efficient system.

So what does it take to make performance management work? Research identified three factors that are prerequisites for success. These elements help ensure that performance management facilitates strategy execution.

Mindset Performance: I believe that mindset-performance management is a tool to drive results. Both managers and employees should understand the performance management system’s purpose, including how it supports broader organizational goals. It is critical that managers understand how it supports strategy execution and why it warrants their attention. This means, strong support by executives at all levels and a top-driven approach.

Competence: Managers are competent at performance coaching, goal setting, development planning, and appraisal. Manager skill in these areas is essential for success, and technology is not a substitute.

Clear visibility, regular individual analysis, and company-wide employee appraisals help identify corporate competencies and skill gaps. The time spent with performing resources in regular periodicity is essential for the momentum to continue.

Reinforcement: Managers meet periodically with direct reports to formally review progress. This is a defining characteristic of the best performance management systems, because it ensures that performance coaching, feedback, and monitoring of goals regularly take place. However, a key aspect is to keep ‘reinforcement’ insulated from ‘pay’ discussions. Reinforcement is about feedback both on personal and professional areas, constructing the future, discussions about growth and learning. When the discussion is combined with pay, individuals tend to assimilate only the understanding of the pay decision.

If these aspects are integrated into the company’s performance management system, then it begins to operate like a strategic tool that will drive results. Today’s performance management solutions need to be viewed as a complete suite of talent/ competency alignment and measurement tools going beyond just performance reviews and appraisals. They help employees understand how they can do what they are good at, and even excel further if they are linked to learning resources and utilize these for overall organizational objectives. Technology is a valuable enabler and therefore must be put to use for the overall effectiveness of PMS system. When performance is tracked through structured matrices across roles, the delivery of results is as sharp and its seriousness sets in, this then this tends to cascade through the organization.

In conclusion, the primary objective of performance management is to align every employee’s productivity to the organization’s goals and growth objectives. The HR function in PMS comes to center stage only when they don’t just run it as an owner of the process but the owner of the practice and build it knowing well the context of markets, competition, a deeper understanding of business. HR must have relevant knowledge, practices, tools, and frameworks which are contextually right to be aligned to the organization’s strategic growth. This can be possible if the HR function is deployed as a ‘practice’ with a deeper process and mission-oriented outlook. In current times, employees are looking at a different level of engagement with their employers framed around opportunity, development, and coaching and they may be less interested in measurement. The newer generation or millennials, in particular, have different expectations and priorities from workplace engagement, therefore an updated, flexible, wholesome and yet integrated performance management processes is the need of the hour to make sure there is a sufficiently strong alignment of employees with their skill sets, roles and overall organizational vision and growth.

Five Strategies To Drive Your Career Success In 2018

Imagine getting up every day feeling stalled in your career. You greet the world with your best smile and “can do” personality, and you’re even achieving the results that are expected of you, but you dread Monday mornings. To the outside world, you are winning but deep down inside you are unhappy and your energy is waning daily.

You are not alone. According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report, nearly 70% of U.S. employees are disengaged at work. Often when I am coaching clients who are unhappy in their careers, they tend to initially focus on external factors like their boss and the work environment. However, they quickly realize that the most important and game-changing factors for driving their careers are themselves.

As you think about driving your career success in 2018, consider the following strategies:

1. Start with the end in mind: Visualize the outcome you want to create for your career by the end of 2018, and consider the following questions: What is my vision for my career? What type of experiences do I want to have? What type of impact do I want to have on the world?

A powerful tool that I have used to help clients articulate their career visions — and that I’ve used personally — is a vision board. A vision board is a visual representation of the big picture you want to create for your career and life. Vision boards can be extremely powerful in illustrating your career hopes, dreams and aspirations in a way that inspires you to strive for them.

2. Determine your career motivations: In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Polonius famously says, “To thine own self be true.” It’s extremely important to understand your motivations and how they align to your career. Starting from a blank canvas, consider what’s important to you in your next career opportunity. What are the intrinsic and extrinsic benefits you desire?

Extrinsic benefits are typically tied to compensation, for example, paid time off, profit-sharing, salary or bonuses and stock. Conversely, intrinsic benefits are non-tangible and are often tied to emotions. Intrinsic benefits may include words of praise, meaningful work, learning and development, autonomy and work-life balance. One exercise my clients leverage to categorize and prioritize their career motivations is to write down their Must Haves, Nice to Haves and Trade-Offs. After completing the exercise, they have a deeper awareness of what’s most important to them.

3. Redefine your strengths and weaknesses: Earlier in my career, my manager at the time shared with me their perspective of my core strengths and weaknesses. Even though I didn’t particularly agree with my manager’s opinion, I moved forward on the prescribed trajectory. Once I began to feel disengaged in my career, I decided to redefine my strengths and weaknesses on my own terms.

I leveraged the brilliant work of Marcus Buckingham, a motivational speaker, business consultant, author and performance management expert, to help me redefine my strengths and weaknesses. According to Buckingham, your strengths are what light you up and energize you.

Think about the work you’ve done when you lost track of time because you were so engaged. Once you understand these strengths, it’s time to get clear about your weaknesses. Typically, when people think of a weakness, they automatically think about a limitation. But Buckingham believes a weakness is any activity that weakens you or zaps your energy. You may even be good at it. Once you understand your weaknesses, you’re able to determine what type of opportunities would add meaning to your career and life.

4. Leverage your network: Recently I was speaking to a client who wanted to accelerate his career in a different direction. When it came time to discuss relationships that could potentially support his career transition, he couldn’t name one person. Having the relationship capital to support you in moving your career forward internally or externally of your organization is truly invaluable.

As you evaluate your network, explore sponsors, mentors, previous managers, colleagues and other relationships that will help you in accelerating your career. If the relationships don’t exist, create them. With nearly half a billion professionals on its platform, LinkedIn is a tremendous tool for building new connections.

5. Implement an accountability system: Any viable business has an accounting function with checks and balances to ensure the achievement of financial goals. Similarly, it is critical that you have an accountability system in place to support your career goals. One aspect of the system is to have a career plan with key goals and milestones. Because 92% of people who set goals do not achieve them, consider engaging a professional coach, mentor, colleague, community of practice or friend as your accountability partner.

Steve Jobs once said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”

Now is the time to move forward with owning and driving your career success no matter what. As we enter the new year, get clear about the outcome you want to create for your career, determine your career motivations, redefine your strengths and weaknesses, leverage your network and implement an accountability system to accelerate your career.

Learning tech trends to watch in 2018 and beyond

Heading into 2018, learning professionals have plenty to keep an eye on when it comes to technology. Some trends are showing promising results and requiring leaders to think about their jobs differently.

We asked Christa Manning, vice president of solution provider research for Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP, to tell us about these emerging trends in learning to watch for this coming year and beyond.

Manning helps businesses align their workforce support strategies with the right third-party software and service partners and governance models to deliver functional capabilities and employee experiences that support productivity, engagement and workforce efficiency. Questions and answers have been editing for length and clarity.

HR Dive: What’s new in learning technology right now?

Christa Manning: There are so many exciting new things in learning technology. It’s rapidly expanding with innovations to make learning more impactful and relevant.

We’re seeing an explosion of startups doing new things with micro-learning, video and self-authoring tools; and, at the same time, a lot of the bigger platforms starting to incorporate the same type of capabilities right within the flow of work. You might be able to access social media profiles of colleagues who are subject matter experts right from within your email system. Or, in your collaboration platform you could click on a link that would bring you to a piece of micro-video learning that your colleague has created.

HR Dive: How are employers responding?

Manning: It’s exciting and daunting at the same time because most organizations really never start from a clean slate. They have to come up with a technology strategy where learning and development is a part of it: but you can’t throw the baby out with the bath water. You need to find what’s helping you adapt and change and add and complement.

That’s really brought about the popularity of learning experience platforms, one of the areas we’re most focused on right now, because it tries to tie together the proliferation of lots of different tools and content with more of a self-directed pull by the individual. Self-directed learning and collaborative learning are the two big trends that are impacting technology providers. A new report by Bersin, “Corporate Learning Solutions,” delves deeper into the issue.

HR Dive: How are learning professionals adapting to this shift?

Manning: Curation has come into the role of the learning professional in that you may not be creating content yourself, or leading the creation of content and tracks and curriculum, but facilitating the curation, and the collaborative creation of new content by internal employees and peers helping each other and understanding what assets are out in the marketplace that are popular and impactful and available to the workforce.

HR Dive: Is there a downside to emerging tech?

Manning: The downside with newer technology is really being able to understand what is going to be relevant to your business strategy and your talent strategy and not being distracted by all the new bells and whistles and the next shiny thing.

With learning, you have both the systems to think about — the technology, the integration, the user interfaces, the ways you’re collecting data and doing analytics — and then you have the proliferation of content. Do you really need every new MOOC? You have to make sure that the systems not only facilitate learning and productivity and development and knowledge, but also that the content you’re offering is relevant and curated.

HR Dive: What’s next for learning technology?

Manning: I think that artificial intelligence is going to have two major impacts. First, it’s going to help with curation; looking at machine learning and algorithms to find patterns of what employees are looking at, what are their ratings — positive and negative — of these systems will auto-generate recommendations to make personalization and matching of content for compliance and for career development reasons very relevant and compelling.

Second will be the impact on how work is getting done, helping organizations and HR departments augment the unique human aspects of contributions in the workforce. For example, I couldn’t sift through every video everyone in my big, global corporation has watched; rather, I’ll be able to spend time focusing on what is it about the content that people like and do more of that type of training.

It will also change the role of HR and workers themselves as these tools surface the knowledge that people need in a just-in-time fashion, so that training as we know it almost becomes obsolete, and changes into a different thing entirely.

HR Dive: What’s not working in learning tech right now?

Manning: While there will always be a role for compliance training and tracking to mitigate risk or protect from scrutiny, we need to change the way it’s delivered to be more compelling.

The once-a-year, check-the-box, long-form content is really going away both for traditional purposes and for career development and compliance. Learning is becoming much more continuous and collaborative.

HR Dive: How is tech evolving to meet the need to reskill or upskill employees?

Manning: I believe it gets back to the augmented workforce idea. We need to identify what’s helping people be more successful, and we’re starting to see systems that can help with this. Who’s talking to whom that is driving project outcomes or team outcomes? Figuring out what skills are making people more successful is key.

This often starts with a learning experience platform. To the extent an organization needs tracking or virtual classrooms or scheduling tools, we’re starting to see some of those traditional elements and capabilities baked into the tech offered by startups. Small firms start with these newer micro-learning, mobile-first, social-enabled solutions that expand as needs become more complex.

HR Dive: What are some best practices for learning professionals right now?

Manning: The most compelling leaders find a way to connect content to an organization’s broader purpose and mission. Doing so helps with completion of the modules and lets the employee realize there’s something in it for them. A manager may get a reminder for compliance training, then see something about leadership or customer service that looks compelling: it’s short, it’s quick, they can click on it. Now you’re drawing people into assets available to improve as a worker in addition compliance training.

They also know that training is shifting toward enablement; they understand how to enable employees to do their best work, especially when it comes to the tasks that require characteristics that are unique to being human, like empathy, innovation and the ability to drive change.

8 Trends That Will Impact Worksite Wellness In 2018

The New Year will bring in some exciting corporate wellness trends for 2018. For employers that want to lead the pack in employee health and well-being, some of the newest trends might help you take your employee wellness program up a notch. If you’re wondering what’s next for the ever-evolving wellness industry, take a look below for some workplace wellness trends can you expect to see in 2018.

A Shift in the Focus of Wellness Programs

When corporate wellness programs first took off, the focus was primarily on smoking cessation or weight loss goals. Current wellness programs have come a long way since then – and program offerings have expanded to focus on more than just the physical aspect of health. Employers are now using corporate wellness programs to increase employee engagement and to become an employer of choice. Companies are doing this by combining more traditional well-being efforts with career development efforts.

Wellness goals and career development can be combined to create a more positive work environment and successful employees. This idea of collective well-being will not only help support a healthy workforce but will increase a company’s reputation of caring for its employees. Wellness initiatives will begin to include aspects such as learning and development classes, employee recognition and workplace design. For companies looking to increase recruitment and retention efforts, shifting a focus to include collective well-being will help keep current employees happy as well as attract new talent.

More Personalized Experiences

Employees want personalized experiences in their corporate wellness programs. Wellness isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” solution. Wellness initiatives that are important to one employee might not be as important to another. Every employee’s journey to a healthier lifestyle is unique, and it should be treated as such. To create a more personalized experience for employees, employers will continue to use more digital platforms to host their wellness programs.

Using these types of platforms will help employers determine specific wellness goals and activities for each employee based on their current health status, interests and preferences. For example, data can be easily collected through integrating fitness trackers with a wellness portal. This technology can be used to help connect employees with similar health and wellness goals as well as support and reward individual progress. Employers can expect to see higher participation rates with a more personalized approach to employee wellness.

Emphasis on Mental Health

Mental health programs are becoming more popular now than ever. While mental health remained a stigma in the workplace for many years, more employers are now embracing mental health education as a part of their workplace wellness programs. With 84% of employees experiencing physical, psychological or behavioral symptoms of poor mental health, it’s essential to break the stigma of mental illness in the workplace.

Many employers are leading the way by emphasizing the importance of mental health in wellness programs and including wellness objectives to help promote healthy mental well-being. Expect to see more employers promoting the use of mental health days, providing assistance or coverage for therapy or counseling services and encouraging employees to practice self-care.

Keeping Wellness Simple

This upcoming year, more workplace wellness programs will be switching to a “less is more” approach. One possible reason for employers not seeing the participation levels they want in their wellness programs is because the program is too complicated. Employees desire simple, uncomplicated wellness tasks and objectives – most likely because they already have enough on their plates. The last thing employers want to do is stress out employees even more by asking them to complete complicated tasks.

Workplace wellness programs can be simplified by focusing on five key factors that contribute to a successful wellness program: accessibility, communication, health assessments, screenings, and health education. By keeping employee wellness simple, employers can expect higher participation rates and less confusion surrounding wellness initiatives.

Focus on Sleep

Employers have been discovering the importance of a good night’s sleep. Well-rested employees ultimately perform better. Unfortunately many full-time American employees are sleep deprived – and it’s impacting their work. A 2016 study from RAND Corporation estimated that sleep deprivation costs U.S. employers roughly $411 billion annually. RAND also found that sleep deprivation leads to lower productivity levels, along with a higher risk of mortality.

Expect to see more employers educating employees about the harmful effects of sleep deprivation, and even adding some sleep challenges to their wellness program. Some top companies have already made adjustments to help employees get enough rest by adding on-site nap rooms and sleep pods. Flexible hours can also help employees catch up on some valuable rest.

AI and Wellness

It looks like AI might be finding its way into corporate wellness this upcoming year. Some experts are predicting that AI software will become a prominent feature of HR and wellness, as it can be used to identify trends and make accurate forecasts for the future. Employers can use this technology to collect and analyze huge amounts of data to improve their wellness initiatives. AI software will be able to provide better personalization and rapid responses for employees.

Virtual healthcare providers are another exciting prospect for employers embracing AI software. Employers could potentially use AI powered chatbots to assist employees with questions regarding nutrition, disease management and overall healthy lifestyle management. These chatbots will be available 24/7 on any mobile device – making wellness even more convenient for employees.

Healthy Vending Machines

Vending machines might just be making a comeback in 2018. While traditional vending machines serving up soda, candy and greasy chips have made their way out of most health-conscious companies, a new type of vending machine is making its way in. Healthy vending machines are stocked with nutritious snacks like mixed nuts, dried fruit, fresh veggies, hummus, and healthy drinks. Investing in a healthy vending machine could be a great way to contribute to a healthy workplace culture. Employees will be much more likely to reach for healthy foods when they are readily available in a company kitchen or break room.

Wellness Mergers

As the wellness industry continues to grow, we’ve seen a big change in the industry: wellness mergers. Wellness providers are beginning to merge with one another to become larger and more comprehensive. Large wellness providers will be merging with small wellness vendors that provide more niche solutions. These mergers aim to expand their reach as well as provide clients with a wider array of employee wellness solutions. Clients might benefit from these mergers from more competitive pricing, along with the ease of working with one wellness provider rather than multiple vendors.

This upcoming year should prove to be an exciting year for workplace wellness. With companies shifting their focus to collective well-being, providing personalized experiences, embracing AI, and continuing to support holistic wellness aspects, 2018 might be the best year for employee wellness yet. Make it a New Year’s resolution to incorporate some of these new wellness trends into your current wellness program to keep things fresh, exciting and relevant for employees.