Small Businesses Are Optimistic About The Future, Even As They Continue Navigating Covid-19

As small businesses struggle to survive the economic havoc caused by Covid-19, new research shows that small business owners are optimistic about the future. Some 75% of small business owners agree that if a crisis like the coronavirus pandemic were to happen again, they’d be better prepared to handle it, according to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management.

Additionally, 52% of small businesses surveyed expect to recover to pre-Covid profitability in six months or less. This optimism is encouraging to Liz Supinski, SHRM’S director of research products, who says that Covid-19 has been a “big driver of innovation.” Many small businesses, spurred by the limitations imposed by the coronavirus, have invented new products, while one in three of those surveyed say they’ve found new ways to deliver services. “For the whole world of work, this has been a large, uncontrolled experiment in changing what work looks like,” Supinski says. “It’s opened the door to a lot of ideas that have been dismissed because change is hard. And if things are good enough, then why would you change?”

According to SHRM, 43% of small business owners have pivoted their business models. One of those entrepreneurs is Denise Woodard, the founder of Partake Foods, an allergy-friendly, gluten-free, vegan cookie company. Since much of her New Jersey-based company’s marketing involved live demos and local events, Woodard has had to come up with new ways of promoting her brand digitally, including partnering with minority- and women-owned brands on a “Spot Us at Target” campaign and teaming up with The Blackbird Collective on Instagram Live and Facebook Live events.

This sort of flexibility is something that Supinski expects to see from businesses of all sizes during this period of business recovery. Three fourths of small businesses are planning to change their policies in response to employees’ childcare needs, with 43% implementing or considering flexible hours or compressed schedules, and 31% offering full-time remote work. “Small businesses are in a unique position because often they’re able to be more flexible with workers than larger businesses. They don’t have the same kind of issues,” Supinski says. However, she adds that small businesses run on small margins, which makes it harder for many to offer this kind of help to employees.

Not only has the coronavirus pandemic spurred innovation, but it’s also led to an uptick in reskilling and upskilling. SHRM found that 22% of small businesses have asked employees to learn new skills to support changes in their business. “There’s certainly a lot of opportunity here for businesses and workers to explore different ways of doing business and having a career and new ways that those two things can come together and change the way the world of work works,” Supinski says. “Opportunity out of adversity.”

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None of this is to say that small business owners aren’t without worries—53% report feeling somewhat or very concerned about the increased risk of lawsuits and liability while reopening amid Covid-19, as the cost of defending one can be burdensome. Despite these concerns, the way in which small businesses have been able to successfully pivot has made them optimistic about the future, and the support they’ve received from their local communities has only helped. “We’re seeing a lot of people put their money where their mouth is and really work hard to support local businesses during this time,” Supinski says. “You would hope that people would continue to appreciate those local businesses going forward.”

Woodard has witnessed this increase in support from the community around her. The company first saw an uptick in sales in March, when consumers were stockpiling groceries due to the pandemic. One of few Black-owned nationally scaled businesses in the country, Partake Foods, saw another increase in sales in May, following the death of George Floyd. “Our business has really received a large outpouring of support from people wanting to support small-owned business, women-owned business, Black-owned business,” Woodard says. “I’m hopeful for the future of small business in America.”

As small businesses struggle to survive the economic havoc caused by Covid-19, new research shows that small business owners are optimistic about the future. Some 75% of small business owners agree that if a crisis like the coronavirus pandemic were to happen again, they’d be better prepared to handle it, according to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management.

Additionally, 52% of small businesses surveyed expect to recover to pre-Covid profitability in six months or less. This optimism is encouraging to Liz Supinski, SHRM’S director of research products, who says that Covid-19 has been a “big driver of innovation.” Many small businesses, spurred by the limitations imposed by the coronavirus, have invented new products, while one in three of those surveyed say they’ve found new ways to deliver services. “For the whole world of work, this has been a large, uncontrolled experiment in changing what work looks like,” Supinski says. “It’s opened the door to a lot of ideas that have been dismissed because change is hard. And if things are good enough, then why would you change?”

According to SHRM, 43% of small business owners have pivoted their business models. One of those entrepreneurs is Denise Woodard, the founder of Partake Foods, an allergy-friendly, gluten-free, vegan cookie company. Since much of her New Jersey-based company’s marketing involved live demos and local events, Woodard has had to come up with new ways of promoting her brand digitally, including partnering with minority- and women-owned brands on a “Spot Us at Target” campaign and teaming up with The Blackbird Collective on Instagram Live and Facebook Live events.

This sort of flexibility is something that Supinski expects to see from businesses of all sizes during this period of business recovery. Three fourths of small businesses are planning to change their policies in response to employees’ childcare needs, with 43% implementing or considering flexible hours or compressed schedules, and 31% offering full-time remote work. “Small businesses are in a unique position because often they’re able to be more flexible with workers than larger businesses. They don’t have the same kind of issues,” Supinski says. However, she adds that small businesses run on small margins, which makes it harder for many to offer this kind of help to employees.

Not only has the coronavirus pandemic spurred innovation, but it’s also led to an uptick in reskilling and upskilling. SHRM found that 22% of small businesses have asked employees to learn new skills to support changes in their business. “There’s certainly a lot of opportunity here for businesses and workers to explore different ways of doing business and having a career and new ways that those two things can come together and change the way the world of work works,” Supinski says. “Opportunity out of adversity.”

None of this is to say that small business owners aren’t without worries—53% report feeling somewhat or very concerned about the increased risk of lawsuits and liability while reopening amid Covid-19, as the cost of defending one can be burdensome. Despite these concerns, the way in which small businesses have been able to successfully pivot has made them optimistic about the future, and the support they’ve received from their local communities has only helped. “We’re seeing a lot of people put their money where their mouth is and really work hard to support local businesses during this time,” Supinski says. “You would hope that people would continue to appreciate those local businesses going forward.”

Woodard has witnessed this increase in support from the community around her. The company first saw an uptick in sales in March, when consumers were stockpiling groceries due to the pandemic. One of few Black-owned nationally scaled businesses in the country, Partake Foods, saw another increase in sales in May, following the death of George Floyd. “Our business has really received a large outpouring of support from people wanting to support small-owned business, women-owned business, Black-owned business,” Woodard says. “I’m hopeful for the future of small business in America.”

Source : https://www.forbes.com/sites/samanthatodd/2020/07/02/small-businesses-are-optimistic-about-the-future-even-as-they-continue-navigating-covid-19/#76cf4c381a4e

How the State Bank of India is learning from crisis

How should a leader approach a challenge as unprecedented, volatile, and globally disruptive as the COVID-19 pandemic? As a learning experience. That’s the attitude of Rajnish Kumar, chairman of the State Bank of India (SBI). The veteran banker, who joined SBI in an entry-level role four decades ago, is now tasked with leading India’s largest financial institution through an uncertainty that no organization had anticipated.

Nonetheless, some of the digital initiatives SBI had undertaken before the crisis are helping to meet the moment. In 2017, for example, SBI launched YONO (“you only need one”), a mobile app that offers services for banking, investments, and trading, as well as a platform for online shopping. And, with 24 million accounts, it’s also the world’s largest digital bank. The institution began to rethink the operational side as well, reconsidering what a bank should be in the digital age. That includes service virtualization and remote work—plus a lot of deep reflection on India’s needs in the decades to come.

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Taking the long view, as well as embracing and reappraising digital and what it can and should be, is a challenging leap for any legacy organization, and SBI faces an especially rich stew of challenges. With more than 22,000 branches, some 448 million customers, and a market share within India of about 23 percent, the partly state-owned, partly publicly traded bank has the dual mandate of serving all Indians—including those who have grown up with the notion of a bank as a brick-and-mortar institution—as well as its shareholders.

Recently, on a videoconference with McKinsey’s Akash Lal and Joydeep Sengupta, Kumar took time to discuss his “CEO moment,” including how he is dealing with the crisis and reimagining SBI for the future. In addition to helping maintain the stability of India’s banking system and strengthening the bank’s own digital capabilities, Kumar is dealing with issues of personal leadership that will resonate with many global leaders, including how to avoid “los[ing] your cool in such circumstances” and living the idea that “whatever we learn through this process, it must not go to waste.”

The Quarterly: How are you doing in all of . . . this?

Rajnish Kumar: You know, we had tested for disruptions in a simulated environment. But this—this is testing in a real environment. No business or organization had anticipated that it would have to deal with the situation brought about by COVID-19. And, of course, it’s not confined to one country; it’s in all countries and economies. No question, we are in an unprecedented situation. I have spent almost 40 years now in the banking system. We are used to having disruptions, and there have always been localized disruptions. But nothing of this scale or effect.

Fortunately, we had been investing in our technology and digital capabilities and had been looking to build on that. So we have been able to keep our operations up and running, and there’s been no disruption of service as far as transactions go.

Source : https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/how-the-state-bank-of-india-is-learning-from-crisis

How to (Actually) Change Someone’s Mind

If you’re a leader, it’s likely that not everyone who works with you will agree with the decisions you make — and that’s okay. Leadership involves making unpopular decisions while navigating complex relationships with colleagues, partners, and clients. But often, you will need to get buy-in from these constituents, and therefore you will need to convince them to change their mind.

There is little friction involved in convincing people who are your natural supporters. But trying to change the mind of a dissenter, or a detractor, is a different story. How do you go about convincing someone who, for one reason or another, doesn’t see eye-to-eye with you? Someone who gives you a flat out “no”?

In the recent research we completed for Laura’s book, Edge: Turning Adversity into Advantage, we observed, and then interviewed, more than 60 leaders who were trying to convince business associates and other constituents to change their minds on a course of action that they initially disagreed with. The leaders who were most successful in overcoming others’ skepticism were those who diagnosed the root of the fundamental disagreement before trying to persuade. They first asked themselves, “What’s driving my detractor’s resistance?” These leaders often pinpointed which aspects of their arguments elicited the most pushback and the most emotional reactions. Then, depending on the answer, they approached the situation with one of the following three targeted strategies.

The Cognitive Conversation
When to use it: The detractor may be opposed to your argument because of an objective reason. If they’ve clearly articulated a logical set of objections, and they don’t appear to be hiding ulterior motives, approach them with a cognitive conversation. This is especially useful when the detractor is known to have a no-nonsense attitude and can easily set aside emotions in their decision-making process.

How it works: A successful cognitive conversation requires two things: sound arguments and good presentation. Take, for example, a situation where you are pushing to switch suppliers and you’ve found one whose materials and products are superior to the current supplier, whose products have been causing numerous downstream issues. But your colleague is in favor of sticking with your current supplier with whom he has a long-standing relationship. He expresses his resistance to your proposal by pointing out the higher prices the new supplier charges. You want to prepare sound arguments that disprove the detractor’s objections. In this instance, you might point out that the new supplier is actually less expensive in the long run, when you take into account all the additional production costs cause by the current supplier. You also want to use a logical framework and clear storyline to force the detractor to reassess their thinking. For example, you can emphasize that the decision is based on cost, quality, and service, but above all, cost and quality.

Be cautious about not introducing emotions into the discussion, which could give the impression that you and your detractor are not on common ground. For example, you don’t want to make it seem as if you believe your colleague’s relationship with the former supplier is irrelevant. The goal is to show the person that, on an objective and factual basis, their initial stance on the situation isn’t as reasonable as your argument. Be warned, these detractors are not easily swayed by broad generalizations. Be ready to mentally spar with them and come prepared with facts that back up each aspect of your overall argument.

The catch: Don’t assume that getting a “yes” from this type of detractor signals a conversion into an everlasting supporter. You may have persuaded them on this specific issue, but they may disagree with you again in the future. If that’s true, expect to have another cognitive conversation on that separate argument.

The Champion Conversion
When to use it: When the detractor isn’t easily persuaded through cognitive arguments, or when they harbor a grievance in your relationship with them, engaging in debates may be futile. Take, for example, a management decision where you’d like to promote a qualified individual who performed brilliantly under your supervision, but a counterpart of yours argues that your subordinates often get promoted over hers. Even if your promotion candidate is objectively more deserving, others may still feel resentment and refuse to provide support.

How it works: Don’t jump in and try to convince the other person. Instead, invest time in personally learning about and building rapport with them. Here, it’s not about arguments or presentation, at least initially, but understanding their perspective and why they might feel personally affronted. For instance, you might ask questions about her team, and which team members she feels have the most potential. Gradually convert this detractor into someone who is your champion or advocate, perhaps by shedding more light on the qualities that you value in individuals, both on your team as well as your counterpart’s team, or showing how you value her leadership style. By the time the decision must be made, try to make sure you’re both on the same page as to which qualities matter for promotion decisions and that you’ve clearly articulated how your candidate exemplifies those qualities.

The catch: No matter how much of a champion the other person becomes, don’t expect them to agree with a decision that’s fundamentally illogical. You can’t rely on relationship alone; your stance still needs to be backed by clear logic. Additionally, these types of detractors can easily sense if you’re trying to manipulate the situation to get them on your side. Authenticity is key: allow the other person to see who you are so that they can more fully understand your point of view.

The Credible Colleague Approach
When to use it: There are times when the detractor’s deeply-held personal beliefs make them fundamentally opposed to your proposal. Take, for example, a colleague who might disagree with you on the need to run a necessary clinical trial for a new product. Because they believe that the clinical trial might be harmful in some way or run counter to their values, they oppose the idea, even though the evidence shows that the benefits outweigh the harm. It’s sometimes tough to pinpoint where these personal beliefs stem from, but some combination of the person’s upbringing, personal history, and unspoken biases will, at times, make it seemingly impossible for them to accept a decision, no matter what logical or emotional argument you throw their way. In these situations, there isn’t much you can say or do to change their mind.

How it works: Rather than trying to argue with someone who seems resistant, bring in a credible colleague. A champion of your position from another part of the organization, whether they are a peer or superior, may be better-suited to convince this detractor. This forces the detractor to disentangle who you are from what your argument might be and evaluate the idea based on its objective merits. If you and the detractor are at an impasse, the credible colleague might just tip the scales in your favor.

The catch: Calling in an external supporter is a double-edged sword. While it can achieve the outcome you want, it may exacerbate your detractor’s opposition, especially if the detractor feels that the credible colleague has forced them to take your side. It’s critical to find the right colleague who can tactfully advocate for your position while maintaining a cordial relationship.

It’s not easy to have detractors, and it’s even harder to change their minds. The key is to understand the source of their resistance and use a targeted strategy that best resonates with your particular detractor. You’ll have a much better chance of getting a “yes.”

Source : https://hbr.org/2020/07/how-to-actually-change-someones-mind

Innovation Erosion in a Virtual Working Environment

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many to work virtually from home, and it has also led to an unanticipated outcome — improved productivity. For example, a Deutsche Bank survey of employees found that on average, workers in the United States were more productive today, than before the pandemic.

Another study, from Prodoscore, suggests that U.S. workers were up to 47% more productive in March and April of this year when compared to the same two months a year ago. The use of virtual tools such as Zoom and Slack, along with the re-purposing of commute times appear to have generated greater productivity.

As a result, it would be easy to leap to the conclusion that we are ushering in a new normal: a work-from-home model. Some companies such as Facebook and Twitter have already declared this. However, according to network science, this could be a mistake. It is one thing to be more productive, but the core question is can we effectively innovate in such an environment?

To answer this question, we need to take a deeper look at what it means to be innovative. According to professor Charles O’Reilly of Stanford, there are three primary stages of innovation: idea generation, idea incubation, and finally scaling. The types of connections needed to enable the necessary interactions for these three stages are quite different. As a result, how we work virtually, matters significantly. In particular, we need to be concerned about the role social capital plays in creating healthy working relationships.

Social scientists suggest there are two types of social capital. Bonding social capital, which is exclusive in nature and therefore emphasizes in-team interactions, and bridging social capital which is much more inclusive of others from outside of a given team. These two types show up differently inside of a network, but when combined, they create the necessary connections for a healthy set of interactions that are both productive and innovative.

Bonding social capital is represented as cohesive groups that are able to move fast and quickly iterate. These connections are often represented as small, distinct teams (grey clusters in figure 1 below). Bonding social capital acts as a kind of social superglue that holds a group together.

On the other hand, bridging social capital represents the connections across groups (blue connections across teams in figure 1). They are outward looking, connecting to external resources so that people can progress beyond the current status quo.

Figure 1. Healthy network diagram

For an organizational network to be healthy in generating a balance of productivity and innovation, both forms of social capital are necessary. When combined, bridging and bonding connections enable the three phases of innovation.

Idea Generation Connections
Bridging social capital is critical to the idea generation process. Bridge connections provide access to more ideas, insights and information and they enhance discovery.

Sociologist Ron Burt’s research suggests that individuals who bridge across cohesive teams are best positioned to have insightful ideas. In one study of nearly 700 managers, he was able to determine that the value of any given idea corresponded to the degree in which an individual had bridging social capital. That is, the more individuals were positioned to discover from other groups, the more valuable their ideas were.

Bridging social capital is the lifeblood of innovation. These connections provide the fertile intersections for new innovative possibilities to be discovered.

Idea Incubation Connections
Bonding social capital provides the superglue to forging cohesive teams that best facilitate the incubation and refinement process around a given idea. Bonding connections are represented by many redundant connections within a given team, which often result in deeply trusting relationships. This level of trust enables individuals to more openly debate, build out and refine ideas.

Harvard researcher Lee Fleming analyzed data from more than 35,000 inventors and found that while bridge connections help generate valuable ideas, they actually hamper the development and application of these ideas. That is, for ideas to be useful, they need to lead to new inventions, experiments and iterations. Fleming found this happens best in small, cohesive teams with high levels of trust.

Bonding social capital enables the development and incubation of new ideas. Coincidently, these are the same interactions that enable productivity.

Scaling Connections
Finally, once ideas have been built out into a minimum viable product or solutions, they need to be scaled out across an organization. Bridging social capital plays a critical role in linking up these newly crafted concepts to drive formal support and resourcing.

Fact is, ideas that are developed deep within cohesive teams are 43% more likely to be rejected by the broader organization. We know this as the “not created here” phenomenon. This is where bridging social capital becomes essential. Bridge connections can help unleash the excitement and energy necessary to facilitate diffusion. These connections are critical to scaling ideas beyond small teams.

For an organization to remain innovative, it must constantly operate across all three stages. This requires both forms of social capital. The challenge is the two forms of social capital do not form and evolve in the same manner. That is, social scientists have found that bonding social capital is much easier to generate than bridging social capital.

Furthermore, bridging connections are far more fragile and therefore susceptible to quickly eroding. In one study, Ron Burt evaluated 801 bridge connections across a four-year time period. By year two, 720 of these connections had already eroded. That’s nine of ten newly formed bridge connections deteriorating within one year of being established.

Figure 2 demonstrates this erosion with 30 bridge connections being removed. The result is a fragmented network that remains productive, but will lose innovation capacity across time.

Figure 2. Decay of bridging social capital in virtual network diagram

It turns out that newness is a liability to bridging social capital. This was not true for bonding connections, which could explain why productivity has not suffered in a virtual working environment. We are already seeing evidence of bridge erosion since the lockdown. A recent study found that employees are communicating 10% less with more distant colleagues. While at the same time, communication has increased by 40% with close teammates.

Adding yet one more obstacle, another study implied that bridge decay is even more pronounced with disruptive events, such as family challenges, a relocation or let’s say a major pandemic. These events compete for a person’s time and energy, making it harder for them to maintain distant connections.

The decay rate of bridging social capital is intensified when other bridge connections are actively eroding within the network. Such rapid decay of bridging relationships creates a bleak picture for innovation in a virtual environment. Especially when it comes to generating new ideas and then scaling innovations across an organization for broader support.

However, the prognosis is not entirely bleak. There are some things we can do to reinforce these bridge connections in a virtual context. There are two scenarios where bridging social capital remained relatively stable.

For example, bridge connections that survived beyond the three-year mark, were quite enduring. Additionally, individuals who were intentional about cultivating bridge connections, were able to sustain them, even through the fragile early years.

As HR professionals, we have a responsibility to help our organizations see the whole picture. We need to help them resist the temptation to leap into a new normal of working-from-home without first considering the downside risks to long-term innovations. We must also offer a new set of solutions that help to cultivate bridging social capital, the lifeblood of innovation.

Source : https://www.hrexchangenetwork.com/hr-talent-management/columns/innovation-erosion-in-a-virtual-working-environment

HR directors predict wave of flexible working requests

HR directors expect 70% of their workforce will have flexible working once coronavirus restrictions are lifted, a 45% increase on current levels.

More than 13 million people across the UK plan to ask their employer for changes to their long-term working pattern, according to research from Direct Line Life.

HR is therefore already preparing to receive more flexible working requests once the pandemic has eased, with over two fifths (43%) of HR directors giving the option to work from home five days a week.

Cost of travel and being at work was a key reason behind changing working styles for around a third (31%) of people, as well as commuting time at 23%.

More than a quarter (28%) of those hoping for more long-term flexible working said they have demonstrated they can do this successfully during the pandemic, a sentiment no doubt shared up and down the country.

Spending more time with family and wanting to lead a healthier lifestyle was also cited as a key reason for the change.

One in six said they were concerned over pollution levels and 5% said they plan to spend more time exercising and becoming healthier.

Chloe Couper, business manager at Direct Line Life insurance, said coronavirus has changed the mindset of millions of workers in the UK.

She said: “Many people wouldn’t have considered their employer would accept a flexible working request, despite it being legal to make one but now companies and employees have become used to home working as the ‘new norm.’

“Going through such a serious pandemic will understandably make some people want to reassess their lives and priorities going forward. Protecting health and family are vital and it is great to see so many wish to spend more time doing both.”

Working from home two days a week was the most popular option when looking to carry on flexible working arrangements.

Given office space is a large cost for most businesses, the opportunity for more staff to work remotely may reduce overheads for organisations.

Research was collected by Opinium among a nationally representative sample of 2,002 UK adults in April and by Pure Profile of 100 UK HR directors.

Souirce : https://www.hrmagazine.co.uk/article-details/hr-directors-predict-wave-of-flexible-working-requests-1

A Closer Look at the Influence of HR Metrics in a Global Pandemic

What hasn’t changed in the last five months when it comes to how we do business? Surely, that list of things is shorter than the list of things that have been impacted by COVID-19. How we work, how we communicate and how we measure the effectiveness of our work is all adapting to the new reality this pandemic has thrown the world into.

Human resource metrics are no different. The pandemic has HR leaders looking at everything from remote work performance to employee wellbeing through a different lens. The role of HR leaders in this pandemic is vital, or as The Economist recently noted, “the role of the Chief People Officer in the pandemic is like that of the Chief Financial Officer during the financial crisis.”

“There’s a level of focus on our people that I have never seen before,” said Rana Stanfill-Hobbs, Director of Insights at Ultimate Software, during a session titled “HR Metrics: Measuring What Matters in and After a Global Pandemic” as part of our recent HR Tech North America Digital Summit.

“The things that we have been talking about around trends in mental health, thinking of our whole selves and taking a holistic approach to the workforce is all driving toward the same place of recognizing the workforce as human beings and thinking of how we can provide better support and resources.”

The Employee Experience Takes Center Stage
Looking at the trends emerging from the COVID era, the ones that stand out focus on AI augmentation, health as a driver of productivity and the importance of the employee experience. HR is playing a central role in creating a connected and collaborative culture across the enterprise and with that, comes an obligation to measure to the effectiveness of such an effort.

“We’ve all been working to address these things, but they have such a magnitude now that I could never have predicted,” Stanfill-Hobbs said. “Who we’re measuring has not changed, but how we do it, how often we do it, what we’re measuring and how we’re providing those insights is all changing. It’s been changing, but it’s happening in ways that either we did not predict or at a much faster rate than we expected.”

The focus of those questions is aimed at uncovering who the people are that make up the organization, what their employee experience is like and understanding the organizational brand beyond what it’s known to do as a business.

Many of the metrics being used by HR haven’t changed, but the reason for collecting them and the impact of the findings has been greater than ever before.

“Now is an interesting time because the humanistic components of brands, how they support their employees and their community, has come to mean something different,” Stanfill-Hobbs said. “The way that organizations are responding (to the current environment) will have a very long tail to it. It’s not just their relationship with their employees, it’s going to impact future recruitment and their relationships to their customers as well.”

Another piece of the experience puzzle is understanding how the organization meets its people both physically and psychologically. Mental health and diversity and inclusion are two areas that are of high importance right now and part of that more holistic approach to employees.

“Because we’re now thinking about the physical and psychological environments we’re interacting with our employees in, and the fact that we may not be able to control the setting, we see a lot of inconsistency in their experiences,” Stanfill-Hobbs said. “So how do we meet them, how do we understand what’s important to them? How do we make sure we’re taking care of them and understanding what they need?”

Workforce Planning
In answering the question of who are our people, the next part is to determine what skills and attributes people have that will help the business cope with the new reality or transition to new business models. It’s a necessity for businesses to know who their people are and who needs reskilling. Organizations then need to offer learning in effective ways and inspire a culture of learning that helps people develop skills that will see the business through the crisis and into its new future on the other side.

“All of that is now in a totally different cadence than I’ve ever seen,” Stanfill-Hobbs said. “Workforce planning has traditionally been structured around a subset of jobs that we know are most important to keep our business successful now and to keep us achieving our goals. So now we have to start thinking about new tasks and positions that have to be done and take inventory of who we have that can do them. There’s a real opportunity to assess what can be done by technology, what can be done by non-traditional workforces and be creative and far more democratized in our approach to who can do this work.”

A lot of this data driven transformation was on a timeline to become reality in the next 2-5 years for many organizations. Now, that timeline has tightened to a matter of weeks and months. Stanfill-Hobbs emphasized how important it is to not lose the momentum that has resulted from such a fundamental shift.

“I’ve talked to so many organizations who have said they couldn’t go to remote work, the business model doesn’t work for that, culture doesn’t work for that,” she said. “Now many of them have had to do that and the nature of work has fundamentally shifted. I think that’s really exciting, because we’ve been forced to have a more distributed leadership model, and that means we’re working in a distributed data environment.”

The word opportunity is important here. A distributed workforce is a big opportunity to embrace technology such as AI, machine learning and sentiment analysis. AI is capable of augmenting the business, for example, through personalization of learning content and pathways, recruiting and candidate matching, increasing retention by identifying employees at risk of attrition, chatbots and sentiment analysis.

That technology thrives on data, meaning now is the perfect time to create more data through surveys and new modes of communication that will help organizations understand their employees better and simultaneously make the technology more effective.

Source : https://www.hrexchangenetwork.com/hr-tech/articles/a-closer-look-at-the-influence-of-hr-metrics-in-a-global-pandemic-1

The Real Leadership Challenge Of 2020? Creating Cultures Where Everyone Feels They Belong

We’re midway through 2020, and suffice to say, the year hasn’t gotten off to a great start. But as we look ahead to the next two quarters, leaders across every sector know that while the immediate crises may have abated, the tough work remains to be done.

Now, leaders are not only tasked with trying to stabilize their operations and drive growth, but they also know that in whatever form they seek to rebuild their organization’s culture, it must be with a committed effort toward diversity, inclusion and equality.

It shouldn’t take social movements like #MeToo or #BlackLivesMatter to awaken a collective consciousness around long and justly held grievances or systemic biases, and reactionary responses or promises that pay lip service to the problem as opposed to doing the hard work to forge sustainable and systemic solutions don’t help.

Let’s face it: Despite millions of dollars and years of effort to address diversity and inclusion, most organizations haven’t moved the dial far or fast enough. What’s needed is a different approach. So, as we head back to the drawing board, we’d be well served to change course on a few fronts:

1. Stop Framing The Issue As A Problem
For too long, we have framed the issue of diversity and inclusion as an intractable problem, debating whether quotas are right or targets are fair. Instead, we need to reframe it as a catalytic, powerful solution, focusing on the competitive advantage our organizations stand to gain if they were made up of truly diverse workforces.

How White People Can Talk To Their Kids About Racism
When you think about the unprecedented challenges today’s businesses contend with, not to mention the intensified competition across the globe, how can we ever hope to “win” if we only have the input of a subset of the population? When organizations lack diversity, a huge part of the innovation spectrum is missed. To look beyond the obvious requires a broad range of perspectives from a diverse set of people.

Think about all the voices and opinions that are not reflected in the products we design and the services we offer. Think about the silence (of the majority) that’s literally coded into the future as a result of imbalances in workforce representation. The Global Gender Gap Report by the World Economic Forum in 2018 found that only 22% of the global AI workforce is female. With numbers like that, it’s all but inevitable that artificial intelligence will end up amplifying the unconscious and unexamined biases of society today, and at an industrial scale.

It’s scary to think about all the amazing ideas and answers to thorny questions that will never be considered simply because the right people aren’t around the table to even hear the question.

Without true cognitive diversity, we’re placing an invisible ceiling on our capacity to create and innovate. In industries such as technology, we must remain committed to widening the aperture of who gets to participate in the shaping of products and services upon which the world will depend. If we don’t, we run the risk of putting humanity’s digital future on a plane that’s flying on only one wing.

2. Don’t Just Solve For One Variable
As more organizations commit to addressing inequality, we can’t allow the pendulum to swing too far in the direction of one “diversity” variable, at the expense of others.

As an example, the past few years have seen a major uptick in efforts to increase gender balance on corporate boards. It’s been a welcomed effort, but with it comes the risk that we “check the diversity box” by increasing the percentage of female representation. But if those women are disproportionately white, there’ll be even fewer openings for which women of color may be considered.

Another issue with optimizing around one variable such as gender or race is that we pay less attention to the nuances that go into creating true cognitive diversity in our organizations. So much goes into shaping who we are and the perspectives we bring to the table—but too often the factors that make us different on the inside take a back seat to the ones that make us different on the outside. For instance, it’s rare that we factor in things like socioeconomic upbringing or overcoming extreme adversity as sources of cognitive diversity, and yet anyone, of any color, will tell you that growing up poor or experiencing tragedy shapes your worldview in immeasurable ways.

As we look to create workforces fit for purpose in the future, let’s ensure we see people for everything they are, as opposed to narrowing them to single variables.

3. Give Diversity Its Due
The real elephant in the diversity room, which few openly admit, is just how hard diversity can be to do and to do well. We encourage managers to go out and hire diverse teams, making the above arguments about how much better off we’ll be as a business. At the same time, we bestow upon them aggressive quarterly targets. I’ve had more than one sales leader over the years point out that they could hit their quarterly sales quota if they were able to simply hire who they wanted and hit the ground running.

It’s not an unfair comment. Diverse teams take longer to recruit and can be more difficult to manage. It’s obvious that if every team member has the same view, went to the same few colleges, thinks the same way, and ostensibly rows in the same direction, it can make for smoother managerial sailing. But it’s also likely that you’re reaching the same, limited, conclusions.

Moreover, when your company does hit rough waters, you’ll be worse off if you can’t call upon broad and varying skill sets.

Along with insisting on diverse slates of candidates for jobs, we also need to ensure that a diverse panel of people is conducting interviews. A recent study by McKinsey found that 39% of respondents say they had turned down or decided not to pursue a job because of a perceived lack of inclusion at an organization. (Note that’s not an absolute lack of inclusion, merely a perceived one.) In competitive talent markets, no organization can afford to attract only 60% of prospective candidates.

However, simply recruiting diverse talent is insufficient. We also need to develop managers so they have the capabilities required to lead diverse teams and to instill in them the (soft) skills required to create cultures of openness, empathy, and psychological safety, where each individual feels they can bring their best and be their best. In other words, we must build cultures of belonging.

4. Understand That Inclusion Won’t Matter Without Belonging
The last way in which we need to reorient our mindsets and efforts around diversity and inclusion is to understand that there’s a monumental difference between being included in a room and actually feeling like you belong.

Every human being can think of a moment in their lives when they felt they didn’t belong. It’s not a feeling you forget. But for some, that feeling plays out every single day. If there is a difference between who you are on a Sunday versus who you must be at work on a Monday, then you’ll never perform at your best because you’re only bringing a fraction of yourself to the job each day.

McKinsey’s study found that “respondents who feel very included in their organizations are nearly three times more likely than their peers to feel excited by, and committed, to their organizations.” Alternatively, in cultures where people don’t feel they belong, they self-sensor, they act small and they play it safe.

Think of the wasted potential when you or your colleagues are sitting there wondering if they should voice their opinion or share their idea, for fear of being judged. On the other hand, a culture of belonging unleashes people’s creativity and potential and tells them it’s safe to take risks—an obvious prerequisite to innovation and change.

The degree to which employees feel they belong drives meaningful results and affects the bottom line. It correlates highly with higher retention, fewer sick days, greater productivity, higher employee satisfaction scores, and a stronger talent brand.

Moreover, it’s a culture of belonging that allows you to leverage and gain the benefit from the diverse team you’ve worked hard to recruit and retain in the first place. Put another way, if diversity is a seed and inclusion is a crop, then belonging is how you harvest them.

This is a watershed moment for leaders, especially here in the United States where it’s clear that communities, employees, and society writ large, is desperately seeking capable and courageous leaders who’ll rise to the occasion and drive sustainable and lasting change. While nothing we do now can erase the egregious wrongs of the past, everything we do can make a meaningful difference in the future.

Let’s make that a future where all belong, and one that belongs to all.

Source : https://www.forbes.com/sites/anitasands/2020/07/27/the-real-leadership-challenge-of-2020-creating-cultures-where-everyone-feels-they-belong/#699d67e54cb4

Fostering diversity and inclusion in a remote environment

During times of geopolitical and societal unrest, when many employees are isolated and struggling to balance their personal and professional responsibilities, inclusiveness becomes even more vital to support the wellbeing of staff and help promote the long-term success of the organisation.

Programs focused on underrepresented people of colour are particularly critical considering the disproportionate effect of the pandemic on these groups.

A study by APM Research Labs showed the overall COVID-19 mortality rate for Black Americans is more than double the rate for other ethnic groups, an inequity that is mirrored in England and Wales.

Like all aspects of business, diversity and inclusion initiatives have begun to shift to a remote approach.

The good news is that groups and programs designed to support employees can meet and communicate virtually, such as Employee Resource Groups (ERGs).

While there is no playbook for how to support employees during a pandemic, there are ways to cultivate and nurture diversity and inclusion when working apart.

Communicate and engage often

Employers proactively initiate communications and engagement. For instance, we started by talking with the leaders of our ERGs and launching a series of sessions to keep the lines of dialogue open among our community, with several of our black and brown employees sharing perspectives on their life experiences.

These sessions are most successful when leaders ask employees for feedback and then use that information to shape upcoming programming.

Listening is the key to establishing new levels of trust and transparency. In fact, leaders should over communicate with their teams to enhance engagement and to maintain a sense of community.

Commit to D&I

Outward vocal commitments followed by concrete actions and responses demonstrate to employees that an organisation is committed to diversity and inclusion.

While political and societal unrest can bring discomfort, it also provides growing resources for employers to sign onto initiatives and advocacy efforts and make public statements, internally and externally, for example, around racial injustice for people of colour.

However, these actions are meaningless unless rooted in action. Employers must implement a robust program to grow, cultivate and support diverse talent while providing learning opportunities designed to foster a supportive and inclusive environment.

Hire with D&I in mind

While building a robust pipeline of diverse candidates can be challenging, given that the traditional method of engagement via conferences and venues is limited, organisations must embrace new technologies to engage with potential employees through virtual meetings or proprietary events.

For instance, the Spelhouse Symposiums, which connect candidates from historically black US colleges to employers, moved to an online event with revised content advising attendees on how to navigate the marketplace during a pandemic.

Companies should leverage these opportunities to talk about COVID-19 with candidates and outline future plans, information that is especially crucial when speaking to candidates of colour who may have concerns that they’ll be further marginalised as a result of the pandemic’s impact on working life.

With the impact of COVID-19 putting a squeeze on many organisations, employees may have concerns that groups and programs they rely upon for support, development and empowerment could be deprioritised or eliminated.

By shifting inclusion initiatives to a virtual model that includes proactive communication and creative approaches to hiring, company leadership can demonstrate to all employees that they are a valuable part of the business’s success and future.

Keisha Bell is managing director and head of diverse talent management at financial services company DTCC.

Source : https://www.hrmagazine.co.uk/article-details/fostering-diversity-and-inclusion-in-a-remote-environment

Was Data Privacy Written in the Stars for 2020?

In 2019, 70% of Americans felt their personal information was not as secure as it was five years ago
HR administrators are most likely to be the first to address requests for data access and erasure.
Most organizations plan to spend more than $100,000 on privacy solutions, training and workforce.

If you believe in horoscopes, the year 2020 was predicted to be “quite challenging, especially health-wise, but also financially, with obstacles, impediments, and unpredictable situations, which will mainly occur during the first half of the year.”

Maybe we should take astrologers more seriously.

2020 began with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) providing California residents with data privacy rights like those for EU residents under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Much like other transformative events including the COVID-19 pandemic, this landmark law is changing the way we live and work. With personal and professional security top-of-mind, concerns around data privacy and protection only continue to increase.

In a 2019 survey by Pew Research Center, 70% of Americans felt their personal information was not as secure as it was five years ago. And while most Americans support the “right to be forgotten,” they admit they have little to no understanding about privacy laws and their data rights.

Individual Privacy Rights
While CCPA defines several individual rights, HR administrators are most likely to address requests for access and erasure. Individuals should be able to call, email or submit these requests on a website or at a physical location.

The Right to Request Access to Information gives individuals the right to request that an organization disclose their personal information in an easily accessible and readable format.

The Right to Deletion entitles individuals to request that a company delete their personal information. There are exceptions like in cases where the data must be retained to comply with business or legal obligations.

Individuals may bring a Private Right of Action against a business for not appropriately protecting their data allowing them to seek damages. An organization may also receive civil penalties for intentional violations of non-compliance.

Data Privacy: The Cost for Employers
Californians have seemingly taken advantage of their new rights. With more people at home and spending time online, the volume of requests has been higher than anticipated. Results from a Truyo study indicate that most companies surveyed honored privacy requests not just from California residents, but from all individuals. In addition to responding to requests, companies must ensure these requests are tracked appropriately including maintaining records of request details and outcomes.

With elevated concerns, tight deadlines to respond and more laws on the horizon, the need for a well-defined privacy strategy is imperative. As a result, most organizations plan to spend more than $100,000 on privacy solutions, training and workforce.

“Adding further to the complexity is the expansion of regulatory compliance. Coming up to two years after the European Commission’s introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), more than a quarter (26%) of IT executives cite ‘ensuring compliance with GDPR and other data protection laws’ among their top-three external challenges.”

– Adobe 2020 Digital Trends Report
Future Predictions
The horoscope concludes with, “Nothing should be left to chance in 2020, and money, earnings, businesses, and careers need to be protected.” At Ultimate, we’ve developed technology so our customers don’t have to leave the protection of their employee and business data to chance. Plus, it doesn’t require clairvoyance to see how UltiPro® handles privacy management.

Source : https://www.humanresourcestoday.com/?open-article-id=14181319&article-title=was-data-privacy-written-in-the-stars-for-2020-&blog-domain=ultimatesoftware.com&blog-title=ultimate-software

Are You Willing to Hire “Athletes” Rather Than Specialists at Your Company?

First up, the term “athlete” in this post is meant to describe hiring those who are generally smart, intellectually curious, quick on their feet, learn quickly, are great communicators and have DNA for drive/initiative – rather than hiring someone with domain experience in a job as your first concern.

With that description in mind, do you and/or your company favor athletes over specialists? Sometimes? Never? In what circumstances?Hfm

I’m drawn to the question since I read this passage from Diary of a Very Bad Year: Interviews with an Anonymous Hedge Fund Manager by Anonymous Hedge Fund Manager:

“HFM: I didn’t go to business school. I did not major in economics. I learned the old-fashioned way, by apprenticing to a very talented investor, so I wound up getting into the hedge fund business before I think many people knew what a hedge fund was. I’ve been doing it for over ten years. I’m sure today I would never get hired.

n + 1: Really?

HFM: Yeah, it would be impossible because I had no background, or I had a very exiguous background in finance. The guy who hired me always talked about hiring good intellectual athletes, people who were sort of mentally agile in an all-around way, and that the specifics of finance you could learn, which I think is true. But at the time, I mean, no hedge fund was really flooded with applicants, and that allowed him to let his mind range a little bit and consider different kinds of candidates. Today we have a recruiting group, and what do they do? They throw résumés at you, and it’s, like, one business school guy, one finance major after another, kids who, from the time they were twelve years old, were watching Jim Cramer and dreaming of working in a hedge fund. And I think in reality that probably they’re less likely to make good investors than people with sort of more interesting backgrounds.

n + 1: Why?

HFM: Because I think that in the end the way that you make a ton of money is calling paradigm shifts, and people who are real finance types, maybe they can work really well within the paradigm of a particular kind of market or a particular set of rules of the game—and you can make money doing that—but the people who make huge money, the George Soroses and Julian Robertsons of the world, they’re the people who can step back and see when the paradigm is going to shift, and I think that comes from having a broader experience, a little bit of a different approach to how you think about things.
When you think about hedge funds, the book quote above displays a common trend. In the early days of any industry or specialty, it’s easier to hire the best athlete available, mainly because domain experience doesn’t really exist or is generally unavailable. The industry is too young.

But as the industry matures, risk taking on new hires goes down – because candidates with domain experience are widely available.

We could all probably stand to hire more athletes who are capable of not only doing the job in question, but become an agile talent asset for the company. But just saying that you’re open to hiring an athlete doesn’t mean you’ll have success.

For best results in hiring “athletes”, you’ll need to define what makes someone an athlete. You won’t generally find that on a resume, you’ll need an assessment package. For me, a candidate would qualify as an athlete if they have a high cognitive capability, low rules orientation (because I want to throw them at anything I want, they can’t be hung up on that), high details (drives execution) and great writing and verbal skills.

They’d also have to be familiar with the term, “fake it ’til you make it”, which I think is the mindset of any “athlete” worth her salt as defined by this post.

Source : https://www.humanresourcestoday.com/?open-article-id=14193639&article-title=are-you-willing-to-hire–athletes–rather-than-specialists-at-your-company-&blog-domain=hrcapitalist.com&blog-title=the-hr-capitalist