When it comes to the employer branding debate, it’s not so much about the brand itself. Perceptions and feelings people have toward a workplace exist with or without actively managing them. The debate is more around how an organization is structured to support it.
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We often sit down with leaders of growing businesses to get their take on culture and talent. I recently spoke with Cathy Atkins, co-founder of Metis Communications, a public relations and marketing firm. Cathy has more than 17 years of experience helping companies get in front of the right audiences at the right time. With a mission of “doing our best work ever,” Metis works closely with high-growth, emerging companies that need a true business partner to help them build influence and create measurable results. The “Metis way” is something the company’s team embodies daily, which Cathy hopes will have a long-lasting effect in redrawing the boundaries for PR and marketing. Here’s what Cathy has to say about culture and talent at Metis.
Startups and small companies don't always have knowledge of or easy access to all the legal information that falls under Human Resources. Big companies, on the other hand, have dedicated HR professionals or even entire legal departments who specialize in this. Here are some resources about what HR associates legally need to know.
1) Running Criminal Background Checks? Be Careful, at Least in the Big Apple from The Wall Street Journal
"While criminal background checks are a common part of the hiring process for many companies, there has been legal pushback lately, with federal and state authorities both launching cases against employers they say are using the checks unfairly. How do you define unfair in this context? The thrust of complaints by both the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and New York State has been that blanket rejection of all applicants with a criminal background is not OK — especially if it can be proven that such a practice has a disproportionate impact on black or other minority applicants."
It all comes down to marketing. When a political candidate is lobbying for votes, he’s campaigning. I would argue he’s marketing. When a lawyer makes it to partner, she’s no longer practicing law, she’s marketing the firm’s services to bring in new business. When a recruiter is seeking out candidates, he’s recruiting. I call that marketing. We could all use a lesson or two in marketing because it applies to a heck of a lot. Most professionals in the HR space are not trained marketers. But so much of what we do involves the core of marketing. Instead, we think marketing is all consumer facing, but it’s just as important to market a company to both candidates and employees (and even alumni!) as it is to consumers.
We’ve talked about the importance of the link between HR and marketing. To help speak the language a little better, here are some tips to help you think like a marketer when marketing your employer brand.
The book Nudge by Richard H. Thaler, "is about choices—how we make them and how we can make better ones. Drawing on decades of research in the fields of behavioral science and economics... [the authors] show us how sensible “choice architecture” can successfully nudge people toward the best decisions." In the spirit of Nudge, this week's roundup features some ways to impact how work gets done in your office. Think of these ideas as "nudges" to enhance productivity.
1) Even Good Employees Hoard Great Ideas from Harvard Business Review
"One of the most heated debates involving innovation revolves around how to best incentivize people to develop and implement new ideas. Research on this issue offers a wide range of conclusions. For example, one recent research report suggested that offering financial incentives only raised the number of mediocre ideas and had little impact on breakthrough innovation."
The environment around you can greatly affect your mood and productivity. Think about days when you wake up to gray skies and endless rain. You have zero motivation to get out of bed. By contrast, when you wake up to the sun and 70 degrees, you have all the motivation in the world to get up and get moving. This translates to your work environment as well. You hear about new office spaces – like Facebook or Google – that are designed to motivate a desired behavior (be that creativity, innovation, collaboration, etc.) and reflect a company’s culture and brand. This is what Anne Regan does for a living – she designs office space as a Senior Manager at DBI Architects, which is a DC-based, full-service architecture and interior design firm.
This week's Talent and HR News Weekly Roundup features a primer for the modern recruiter and includes articles that cover tips to rethink your role as a recruiter. It's easy to fall into a pattern of doing things the way you always have. Face it, today's recruiting challenges are different from yesterday's challenges, and hopefully these tips will highlight some new approaches.
1) 5 Ways To Reinvent Your Recruiting Strategy from Forbes.com
"I’ve seen this happen before: even the very best in-your-face, cult-like workforce culture can’t survive a profits meltdown. What drew employees to the thriving company – bragging rights, benefits, big salaries and big personalities – will push them away when the shine is off the company, salaries and benefits are frozen, and career advancement is slowed. And forget about trying to fill those empty seats when business picks up – news of a shaky workplace and broken culture travels fast."
Everyone has heard of the nebulous term "engagement" when it comes to employees. We all know that engagement is relatively low across the board, so now what? You want to jump to action and bring that engagement level up. Below are some articles on how to engage employees and take this vague term and turn it into tangible action.
"Many leaders and HR pros are struggling to find a way to make multi-generational workforces mesh and be productive. The chatter is all about the changing workforce and managing generational “differences” or as I prefer to say “nuances”...When will we finally be ready to walk the walk (less talk, more action already) about bringing people together?"
Your company culture and your employer brand can be pulled through to any part of your organization that touches your employees, including a vacation policy. A company’s vacation policy, and how you promote it, can say a lot about your culture and brand. The spectrum is broad – from no vacation for the first year of employment to unlimited vacation. Some industries – such as the financial industry – require two weeks (to be taken all at once) for legal reasons. Some companies opt to make their vacation policies unique to their company. Here are a few examples of different vacation policies that connect with the culture: Netflix: Netflix’s culture of “freedom and responsibility” is pulled through to so many different parts of the employment experience. Its vacation policy is no different, allowing unlimited vacation as long as employees get their work done.
As part of my morning routine, I was sifting through emails on my iPhone today when I came across an email from Gap Inc. with the subject line, “Gap is doing more…” I normally delete these sorts of promotional emails, but this subject line was catchy enough to get me to click through. I assumed it was some sort of corporate social responsibility effort, like reusing waste products from the supply chain or partnering with a non-profit. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it had to do with increasing the minimum hourly rate of their employees to $9 in 2014 and to $10 in 2015. As a customer and former employee of the Gap, I applaud the company, and it’s not necessarily because I feel strongly one way or the other about the minimum wage debate. To catch you up to speed on the minimum wage debate, here are a few quick facts:
Talent and HR News Weekly Roundup: Tips and Must-haves for Developing HR Policies and Writing Policy Manuals
No matter how small you are, HR Policies and Manuals are an important part of your organization. They reflect your culture and the type of business you want to operate, as well as protect your company should a legal issue occur with an employee. Below are some tips and must-haves for developing HR policies and writing policy manuals. 1) Checklist: Essential Items for Employee Handbook from HR World
"One of the most important features of any successful business is a trusting but professional relationship between the employer and the employed — and one of the best ways to establish this is through employee handbooks. These handbooks set out company policies, procedures and expectations, clearing up confusion and avoiding conflict down the line. Furthermore, they create a structured work environment and help build company loyalty. However, employee handbooks have also been the downfall of many companies. When poorly written, they can do everything from creating a hostile work environment to legally binding an organization to promises it didn't even know it made."
Last night millions of Americans tuned into the Oscars to find out who the most talented people are in show business. Why do these awards matter to us so much that we even broke Twitter from excessive retweeting? Awards mean credibility. It’s a way for industries to call out excellence and inform the public of the best of the best. The actors, writers, and directors who were nominated and won last night worked hard to get to that point. The exclusive club of Oscar winners practically guarantees a spot in any movie of the actor's choice. The personal brand recognition of an Oscar winner sky rockets, and the public is now more willing to spend $12 to see his/her movie. The same applies to your employer brand. As a startup or growing company, you are competing with bigger, well-known brands for talent. You are always looking for ways to show credibility early on, and one way (certainly not the only way) could be to stand out through employment-related awards.
Over the weekend, I was explaining what I do to a few friends. In describing what we do, I emphasized the need for strong company culture, employer brand, and talent strategy because these elements of a business affect the bottom line in the long run. By not caring about these things, companies risk high turnover, among other consequences. Costing between 25% and 250% of a single employee’s annual salary, high turnover has a profound effect on the bottom line. While explaining this to my friend, he asked, “is there ever a time when turnover is good?” I had to think about this one for a bit. According to Software Advice, new employees who replace those who left can bring new ideas; however, high turnover is traditionally thought of as a negative indicator. That said, there are some industries where turnover inevitably is, and likely always will be, high. For example, retail, food service, or customer service are all industries with high turnover. These jobs consist of a workforce that is typically compensated on an hourly basis.
There's a whole lot of content out there for recruiters. Some good, some not so good. If you're looking for some of the best reads for recruiters, we've sifted through recent content that's out there and highlighted some of our favorites below. And please share anything you have come across in recent months in the comments below. 1) Recruiting: Darwinism or Creationism? from Recruiting Blogs
"Baby I Was Born This Way: Uh, no you weren’t. You were in a really good job that required either A. Good sales and client development skills B. Good research and/or organizational skills, or C. a love for making money. Nobody grows up wanting to be a recruiter. We happen to luck into to it, and for some of us (the lucky ones?) it becomes the found career path."
Serving in the military is incredibly honorable. Service members learn so many useful skills and have the ability to perform well under intense pressure. Transitioning to civilian life can be an adjustment though. Veterans may have picked up desirable skills along the way, but it's not always easy to understand how to transfer them to a "normal" job. This week's talent and HR news weekly roundup features best practices in veteran recruiting - organizations and industries who are focused on recruiting veterans and ensuring their success in the civilian world.
1) 25 Most Influential Companies for Veteran Hiring from Profiles in Diversity Journal
"Some of the most influential corporations in America today have helped to create transformational programs in the business community that are impacting lives and bringing together communities in support of our service members and their families. These organizations have a deeply rooted commitment to supporting like-minded organizations in their efforts to help veterans make the transition to a civilian workforce. Their efforts have helped to promote promising new approaches, create innovative tools and garner support for best practices more quickly, so that the entire business community can benefit."
We now live in a world where consumers are more connected than ever before, and a small customer complaint can go viral. As a result, companies need to be just as connected to not only their customers, but also to their own employees to stay ahead. This is the basis of a book I recently read, “The Connected Company.” A part of the book that really struck me comes from this exerpt:
“Since 1960, services have dominated US employment. Today’s services sector makes up about 80% of the US economy. Services are integrated into everything we buy and use…companies like GE and IBM, which started in manufacturing , have made the transition, and now make the majority of their money in services.”
Startups and small companies don’t always have dedicated HR resources who can stay on top of employment law or enroll a lawyer to help with HR matters. To help understand common hurdles and trends for startups and small businesses related to employment law, we recently touched base with Rebecca Signer Roche, Senior Counsel on all labor and employment matters for DynCorp International. Previously, Rebecca was a labor and employment attorney at Littler Mendelson, P.C., and at McGuireWoods, LLP.
Lexi Gordon, exaqueo (LG): Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. I think many small and growing companies aren't aware of just how important HR law is when it comes to building a business and managing risk. First things first, when it comes to employment law, what are the most common issues/concerns you see with newer and/or small companies?
Rebecca Signer Roche (RSR): Here’s a list of the most common issues and concerns I’ve seen with those types of companies:
It’s no surprise that recruiting is evolving, and even changing as I write. Gone are the days when a simple newspaper ad brings in qualified candidates. Technology is making it easier to connect with and understand people. We have more access to data and people than ever before. This week’s roundup showcases some recent articles speaking to the future of recruiting. Fads? Or legitimate shifts in recruiting?
1) 3 Things That Should Define the Future of Recruiting from TLNT
“The future of recruiting depends on the future of technology. As we’ve seen, man hangs on for dear life as technology progresses. The person (or company) who understands the progress of tomorrow will have a leg up on the competition.”
I am a (older) milliennial. So that means I’m adaptable, enthusiastic, entrepreneurial, a multitasker...as well as lazy, entitled, and a job hopper. I’d say some of those traits ring true to me personally. I also know some Gen Xers and Baby Boomers who have some of these tendencies too. A recent study showed that millennials prefer being physically present in the workplace versus telecommuting. This could also be true for most extroverts (who make up 50-74 percent of the population), regardless of age.
Yes, I’m a millennial because I fit within the age demographic. I am also female, am one of four children (shared the middle), grew up in Buffalo (go Sabres!), and started working at 15 (shout out to my first W-2 provider, Fowler’s). I think those aspects of my life also influenced my work ethic and preferences, in addition to the year I was born. I also hardly think I have similar wants and needs as someone 10 years younger than me (also a millennial).
Bosses get a bad rap. Let's face it, they're in tough spots - managing upwards, downwards, sideways, crossways. Needless to say, they juggle a lot. We’ve all had experiences with both bad and good bosses - those who could care less what you did on the weekend, and those who go the extra mile to advocate for you during performance reviews. You need to have enough of them in order to recognize those qualities that make a boss great because sometimes we don’t realize we have a good boss until we have a really bad one. This week’s weekly round-up includes insights into what makes the best boss, so pay close attention all you current and future bosses!
1) Why Gay Men Make the Best Bosses from Details.com
"...during Snyder’s five-year study of American executives, he stumbled on some startling findings: Gay male bosses produce 35 to 60 percent higher levels of employee engagement, satisfaction, and morale than straight bosses. This is no small achievement: According to human-resources consulting firm Towers Perrin, only a measly 14 percent of the global corporate workforce are fully engaged by their jobs. And the Saratoga Institute, a group that measures the effectiveness of HR departments, found that in a study of 20,000 workers who had quit their jobs, the primary motivator for jumping ship was their supervisors’ behavior."
2) Top 10 Traits of an Exceptional Boss from Huffington Post
"They’re effective, not productive. We live and work in a fast-paced, ever-changing, highly competitive world. Maybe there was a time when process and productivity ruled, but these days, management needs to be flexible and adaptive. Sure, you’ve got to prioritize, but once you figure out what needs to be done, it’s generally more important to be effective than to squeeze every last iota of productivity out of yourself and your people."
3) On Leadership: Things a Great Boss Never Does from PR News
"A great boss never…assumes he or she is the smartest person in the room. - Nikki Bracy, public relations account executive at Vitamin. Organizations are full of creative and talented people, and all of the smarts are not reserved for the corner office. Good bosses need confidence in their own intelligence, but they should also have an open disposition and seek input from all levels of the company."
4) Best of the Rest: Articles for Your Boss from The WorkBuzz (powered by CareerBuilder)
"Fear doesn’t really work as a motivational technique – and it takes on a life of its own in an organization. “Some leaders believe that a little fear actually keeps everyone on their toes,” says Laurie K. Cure of Innovative Connections, Inc., a consulting company that focuses on organizational effectiveness. “I maintain the belief that creating safe, open work environments is a better way to ensure innovation, creativity and productivity.” Why Fear Doesn’t Create Accountability via Intuit. Lesson: Fear can be stifling. Transparency and respect are more powerful leadership tools."
Be tough on problems, not on the people helping you solve them. Yes, you’ll have to make some difficult decisions but this doesn’t mean you should be difficult to deal with. Inspire your team – don’t terrify them. “This is being ‘soft.’ The tone you set will reverberate through the culture of your organization.”A crash course in leadership… via Fast Company. Lesson: Working side-by-side with people to solve problems will work. Raising your voice and losing your cool won’t really help."
Lexi Gordon is a Lead Consultant for exaqueo, a workforce consultancy that helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact exaqueo to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to scale the right way.