April 07, 2017 by By Josh Danson, Director of Content Marketing, Achievers
In today’s hyper-competitive business environment, businesses have identified the “secret sauce” for better overall performance. Highly engaged employees. The candidate who lands the job is the one who shows that they will be highly engaged at work.
Highly engaged employees always give 110%. They volunteer for new and challenging assignments. They’re always looking for ways to improve on past performance and they consider their success and the company’s success to be one in the same.
“A highly engaged workforce means the difference between a company that outperforms its competitors and one that fails to grow.” – Gallup, The Engaged Workplace 2017
Employers love highly engaged employees because they have a positive impact on a number of important business metrics. Because they go the extra mile for their customers, they drive up customer satisfaction and NPS scores, known to be accurate leading indicators of strong financial performance. They tend to stay with an organization longer, lowering attrition and recruiting costs and adding value with every day they stay with an organization. Highly engaged employees also communicate and collaborate well, helping to break down silos and increase cooperation between departments. They also project success and confidence into the marketplace, bolstering your employer brand and helping to advertise the quality of your company’s workforce.
Knowing all this, you can see why employers would seek to hire someone they knew was going to be highly engaged every time, if given the choice.
So how should you present yourself in an interview to demonstrate that you will be your prospective employers’ next highly engaged employee?
1. Be Prepared!
Engaged employees go the extra mile and make sure to show up to meetings and assignments prepared, having done their homework and knowing what the situation requires. You can show your potential to perform like this by demonstrating it as an interviewee.
Research the company’s needs. What are their biggest challenges and opportunities? Who are their top competitors? Visit Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Hoovers, and the company’s website. Read some of the content they have posted in their resources section and on their blog. You should be able to ascertain what their key messages are and then be able to speak their language in the interview.
Make sure you prepare a few examples of how you have addressed a particular challenge in the past, the solution you came up with, and the results you achieved. Bonus points if you can relate these stories back to the specific challenges you might face in the job you are interviewing for and which your prospective employer is facing.
2. Be Well
Health and wellness is one of the most important but often overlooked aspects of employee engagement. To consistently perform at the highest level, both body and mind need to be running like a well-oiled machine. This isn’t rocket science, but you would be surprised how many people, especially those many would consider high-performing are actually doing themselves a disservice by not getting enough sleep, or not making the time for exercise. We all lead busy lives, but it has been proven that getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night and at least 30 minutes of exercise a day makes a huge difference in both daily performance and overall health.
With that mind, be sure to get a good night’s sleep before your interview and, if possible, try to fit in a good workout as close to the interview as possible. If you can’t do that at least take a brisk walk or do some light calisthenics. It will get your heart pumping, help remove any pre-interview stress and put you in the right frame of mind to be limber in both body and mind. And lastly, don’t forget to eat. Not anything too filling that will end up lowering your energy as you try to digest a huge meal, but make sure have a nutritious breakfast that will help contribute to your mental acuity.
3. Ask Questions
Engaged employees are not afraid to ask questions and have the confidence to do so, knowing that a questioning mind is a sign of curiosity, which drives innovation. Critical thinking and an analytical mindset are two extremely important qualities of high performing employees. Today’s employers don’t just want unquestioning automatons, they want employees who will add to their company’s knowledge base and help bolster a culture of innovation.
As you are preparing for your interview by reviewing the company website, looking into their competition and reviewing recent their media coverage, be sure to write down questions that occur to you. Be prepared when you walk into the interview with 5-10 questions about company strategy, competitive landscape, product or market positioning, etc. Also, don’t forget to ask about the corporate culture and values. If you don’t share that company’s values, even if you do end up getting hired, chances are you are not going to be engaged at work and the marriage isn’t going to last long.
4. Be Confident and Know Your Strengths
Highly engaged employees know their areas of strength and how to apply those strengths to helping their company succeed. More and more companies today are moving towards strengths-based development and performance management to ensure that their employees are put in the best position to succeed on a personal level and to help the company succeed.
With this in mind, go into your interview feeling confident of your strengths and prepared to highlight them through specific examples of how you have used your strengths in the past to contribute to the success of a team or organization that you were a part. We can’t all be good at everything, but we all have unique talents and skills that can add an important element to the mix. If you’re not sure what your strengths are, reflect on past experiences. When did you receive praise and why? When did you feel proud of your work and why?
5. Be Yourself, Be Passionate
Highly engaged employees are passionate about what they do. They have connected to their work on a level that allows them to put their whole selves into it and make it more than “just a job”. This goes back to values. If you connect with a company’s values – whether those values emphasize a culture of innovation, of corporate social responsibility, or competitiveness – if you can see yourself in that company’s values, you are going to be happier and more engaged as an employee. So don’t be afraid to be yourself and to show your enthusiasm and passion for whatever it is that reflects those shared values.
If you follow these five tips, you should have no problem demonstrating you have the potential to be a highly engaged employee, and will nail your next interview. Soon you will be contributing your particular strengths to some lucky organization.
About Josh Danson: Josh is Director of Content Marketing at Achievers. An accomplished marketing and communications professional with more than 20 years’ experience in the fields of marketing and PR, Josh graduated from Kenyon College and lives in San Francisco with his wife and 9 year-old daughter. In addition to work and family, he is passionate about music, politics and fly fishing (not necessarily in that order). Twitter: @dansonshoes
Millennials, Millennials, Millennials! (Or, How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Next Generation)February 08, 2017 by Guest writer Joshua Danson, Director of Content Marketing at Achievers
For a Gen-X professional like myself, all the recent talk about millennials in the workforce can make you feel a little bit like Jan from the Brady Bunch when it seemed like all she ever heard about was, “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!”. These days, it’s almost impossible to pick up an HR trade publication or even a top-tier business publication and NOT read something about, “Millennials this,” or, “Millennials that.” With all this talk about millennials, if you are not part of the generation that was born between 1980-2000, it’s hard not to feel like the neglected middle child. Except it’s not our metaphorical over-achieving older sibling who’s getting all the attention, it’s our hipper, hungrier, younger relation that’s nipping at our heels, hogging the spotlight and challenging our assumptions.
But the truth of the matter is, with millennials making up more than 50 percent of the workforce and growing (they surpassed that milestone in 2015, according to Pew), there is no longer any denying the current and ongoing impact they are having on the way businesses operate today. And that’s a good thing. Millennials are precipitating change in many important and significant ways, I would argue for the better.
As baby boomers continue to retire, companies are facing the challenge of attracting and retaining millennials to replenish their ranks. With this backdrop, understanding the kind of corporate culture millennials desire and the forces that motivate them is key. But when you dig a little deeper, you will find that many of the same forces that motivate millennials also have a broader positive impact on the entire workforce, no matter their generation or demographic.
Millennials: They aren’t as different as you think
There has been a lot of talk about how millennials are different from other generations, but the latest studies show that may not really be the case. The differences between the older and younger generations have more to do with age and life stages than with the different generational experiences they had growing up.
Millennials share many of the same long-term career goals as older workers. These include making a positive impact on their organization, helping to solve social and environmental problems, and working with diverse people. They also want to work with the best, be passionate, develop expertise and leadership capabilities, and achieve both financial security and work–life balance. In fact, only a few percentage points separate the number of millennials, gen-Xers, and baby boomers who claim these as their top goals.
That doesn’t mean that companies don’t need to adjust and evolve to attract and retain millennials; it just means that the changes they make will resonate with, and increase employee engagement among, all their employees, not just the youngest. And while there are technology solutions that can help out in this area, technology alone won’t compensate for a corporate culture that doesn’t focus on showing workers true appreciation.
How to stop worrying and embrace the millennial transformation
If you’re a business looking to boost millennial appeal and improve overall employee engagement, consider making the following changes:
Emphasize a broader purpose. Create excitement around the company’s mission and purpose by connecting to broader social causes and cultural movements.
Encourage collaboration. Break down silos and encourage collaboration between diverse teams across your organization. Use team-building activities to help employees get to know each other and build interdepartmental connections.
Provide frequent feedback. Recognize contributions. Encourage employees to develop their skills and expertise by providing with training opportunities along with frequent feedback. Create a culture that recognizes and rewards achievements.
Provide opportunity. Look for employees who are ready to take leadership positions and give them the chance to show what they can do. Hire and promote from within rather than bringing in outside experts.
Reward and recognize. According to the “Happy Millennials” Employee Happiness Survey, 64% of millennials want to be recognized for personal accomplishments, but 39% of them report that their companies don’t offer any rewards or recognition. Show employees you appreciate and value their hard work by recognizing and rewarding their efforts and achievements.
Getting the most out of millennials and other generations in the workforce requires creating a culture that encourages, supports and rewards success. When companies do this it has a positive ripple effect across the entire organization, regardless of generation. So don’t fear or resent the millennial onslaught. Embrace them and the positive changes they are bringing to a workplace near you.
Josh is Director of Content Marketing at Achievers. An accomplished marketing and communications professional with more than 20 years’ experience in the fields of marketing and PR, Josh graduated from Kenyon College and lives in San Francisco with his wife and 9 year-old daughter. In addition to work and family, he is passionate about music, politics and fly fishing (not necessarily in that order). Twitter: @dansonshoes
February 02, 2017 by Anna Peters
For global companies–or any organization–with multicultural and diverse teams, a good manager must be aware of cultural differences, and they must embrace team members’ differences. Differences can lead to conflict, but just participating in a cultural awareness training is probably not the answer. There is more to learn about effectively managing diversity.
Differences can lead to conflict within your team. And that is good.
A 2014 study published in Securitologia, authored by Dr. Krystyna Heinz, pointed out that “if a company wants to do business internationally, it needs to have knowledge related to diverse management process.” I would add, even a company who only does domestic business needs to have this knowledge, given the increasingly diverse workforce.
Being more aware of different cultural values is the first step (but it’s only the beginning). If you’ve participated in any cultural awareness training, you’re familiar with the iceberg analogy. If you’ve forgotten, I’ll explain. Culture is like an iceberg. The aspects you can see or hear—clothing, food, language, etc.—are only the tip of the iceberg. The vast majority of what makes our culture unique is hidden from view. The Heinz study puts it this way: “Culture values are invisible behaviours.” Many cultural values will impact business and relationships at work, for example “family, money, religion, seniority, individualism, hierarchy, and others.”
Your challenge is not to overcome these differences, but to embrace them. These cultural differences may lead to conflict, but in business that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, teams whose members don’t challenge one another end up being less productive. According to the Heinz study,
“For most people the word conflict has negative connotations, but if no conflicts occur during team working, the team will probably not be effective.”
The manager’s job is to “identify the underlying cultural reasons of conflict, choose the right strategy, and to intervene.” Cultural differences can lead to obstacles to high performance if they are not addressed, so the manager’s role is absolutely critical to making diversity work. Continue Reading
January 16, 2017 by Anna Peters
Contributing writer Ted Bauer
Turnover is a concern for businesses. While exact loss numbers around employees departing is hard to track, most CFOs agree that it hits the bottom line. There are obviously intangible issues with turnover, too. The remaining employees (a smaller number) have to share the same (or greater) workload, stressing them out. And certain employees are huge knowledge bases or social connectors. Losing them can strip your business of valuable resources well beyond any cost incurred hiring and training the replacement.
On top of all this, there is some belief that Millennials change jobs faster than Boomers. (Statistically, though, average U.S. job tenure is about 4.6 years — and in 1983, it was 3.5 years. So Millennials have actually gotten more loyal to companies.)
How can turnover be prevented, regardless of generation?
Let’s begin with a little science. Paul Zak is a specialist in researching oxytocin (a chemical in your brain). He gave a popular TED Talk in 2001. Oxytocin is one of the biggest drivers of trust-based relationships in humans, and more oxytocin release — which is tied to much greater happiness and less corporate turnover — tends to come from autonomy over work as opposed to increased compensation.
There’s Idea No. 1, then: focus less on compensation as a driver of behavior, and more on providing employees with autonomy over what they can do, i.e. do not micro-manage them at every turn.
The second idea is something called “The Hawthorne Effect.”
Per Wikipedia, the Hawthorne Effect is “when individuals modify or improve an aspect of their behavior in response to being observed.” This all comes from a place called Hawthorne Works (get it?) in Cicero, Illinois and some experiments done with light bulbs. If you make the room more bright — increase the light bulb, in other words — workers end up being more productive. But if you dim the light bulb again, productivity drops back to normal (or below-normal levels).
The modern application of the Hawthorne Effect, then, is that if you’re more responsive to worker needs, those workers will be more productive. Care about employees. Listen to them. Engage with them. Be supportive of them.
Too often, we think we can solve an issue like turnover or low employee morale/engagement with a new software suite. We can solve accounting issues that way, or even business process (BPO) concerns, but engagement and turnover are distinctly people issues. You solve people issues by investing in people, not technology. That’s the big takeaway here.
January 09, 2017 by Anna Peters
Contributing writer Ted Bauer
Here’s a statistic that may blow your hair back a little. Per Gallup, 82 percent of managerial hires end up being the wrong one for the company in question. Why is it so hard to be a good manager, and why do so many companies perpetuate bad management? If this 82% stat is true, but there are still companies making tons of profits each year, does bad management truly affect the bottom line?
Why is it so hard to be a good manager?
Laszlo Bock is the VP of People (commonly thought of as Human Resources) at Google. Last year, he gave an interview to UPenn’s Wharton Business School — and within the interview, he hits on a core problem of good management. In his words:
The reason you get promoted is because you’ve done good work, you’ve hit your goals, you’ve made good decisions. You’re in this job, and of course, you immediately want to make good decisions, hit your goals, move things forward. You forget that when you’re an employee you want your manager helping and giving you advice and then kind of getting out of your way.
As a manager, your whole mindset shifts. [Y]ou start saying, I gotta make sure everyone delivers. I gotta micromanage. I gotta watch things. It’s not intuitive as a manager to give people more freedom and back off. That’s one of the things we’ve discovered — that you have to limit the power of managers. Then people perform way, way better.
One of the more popular business books of the past 20 years, Marshall Goldsmith’s What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, refers to this same concept: namely, management isn’t intuitive to most people. Instead of thinking about their new direct reports as people with lives and contexts of their own, many new managers think of employees as productivity targets or KPIs. Limiting the power of managers can actually make organizations more effective, counterintuitive as that might be on face.
The other issue with bad management is training. Per research, most people receive their first managerial role at age 30. Their first managerial training, though, isn’t until age 42. Not all managerial trainings are created equal — some might potentially regress a manager — but to go over a decade between “becoming a manager” and “getting trained to be a manager” is a significant issue.
What’s the tie to the bottom line?
Tony Robbins makes an excellent point about organizations scaling in this interview with Tim Ferriss. The argument is this: at some point, a company is 2-3 people (the founders). Eventually that becomes 5, then 10, then 20, etc. Every time you add a person and another layer, the communication channels become a little bit more frayed. Managing a three-person company vs. a 3,000-person company is hugely different. Companies are often good at scaling production for their products, but scaling the culture and managerial skill sets often gets left behind.
This has consequences. According to one set of research (admittedly from a small sample size), poor leadership costs companies $144,541.30 per day. That might be the annual salary of someone in a leadership role, and their poor leadership is costing the company that amount each day. Additional research from Northwestern has shown that poor leadership, often in the form of unclear priorities and wasted time, costs organizations $15.5 million per year. By contrast, organizations with very strong management levels often double their profits.
There are many metrics people use to attempt measuring “bad management,” and one of the most common is turnover. Bad managers obviously contribute to turnover; most research across the past 30 years has indicated people tend to leave their boss, not their actual job or company. Research from Dale Carnegie Institute at the end of 2016 showed that 41 percent of North American workers planned to try for a new job in 2017. The most-cited reason? Bad management at their current job. That’s nearly half the North American work force entering a new year with one foot out the door. Consistent turnover has many negative repercussions for a company’s bottom line, and losing four of every 10 employees in a calendar year is really bad.
How can we improve managers?
There are dozens of ideas here, but Bock’s advice above makes some sense: limit their power, or shift their focus from “managing productivity” to “managing the priorities of their people.” There’s research from MIT showing that 67 percent of senior leaders can’t name the priorities of their CEO. Once you get a few levels below that, priority assignment is a large game of telephone. As a result of these unclear goals in the middle management levels, research has shown that 21.4 million managers are contributing no economic value back to their company. That’s 17 percent of the U.S. full-time work force, and close to 42 percent of all people holding managerial titles. They could be made more effective with a shift in how they’re measured and compensated.
The other improvement could come from increased training around how to work with different styles of people, how to communicate better, how to align company strategy with daily execution, and the like. One of the most common traits of companies who regularly get on the ‘Best Places To Work’ list, such as Google or Mercedes Benz, is an almost religious commitment to training and developing people. It’s hard to expect managers to improve when they’re waiting 12 years between initial promotion and initial training.
January 06, 2017 by Anna Peters
Photo from exaqueo.com
We asked a few people who attended last month’s College Recruiting Bootcamp about their takeaways. Several weeks after the event, they are still thinking about our conversations regarding relationships, data and metrics, and work culture.
Cassandra Jennings, University Relationship Manager, FDM Group: The greatest takeaway from the bootcamp experience is that no matter the industry or company, we have a shared need to connect and build campus relationships that are successful and make a difference to the bottom lines at our firms. Though technology is ever changing, students still need to connect and we need to wade through all of the external noise and help students understand who we are, what we do and how we work in an honest and down-to-earth voice.
Along with the challenges of messaging, we also need to keep an eye on meaningful metrics to help us communicate the importance of university relations and the positive impact it makes on the business.
We are a few weeks away from the bootcamp and I’m still thinking about how our company, FDM Group can convey our brand on campus in a meaningful way. We hired more than 600 students in 2016 and anticipate that our campus recruitment numbers will increase exponentially this year as our business continues to grow in North America. This is an exciting time at our firm and we need students to understand that this is a great opportunity to get valuable work experience and a great place to launch a career with us. Continue Reading
December 28, 2016 by Libby Rothberg
In today’s “Q & A with the Experts”, College Recruiter spoke with Ashley White, Human Resources Director for The American Productivity & Quality Center. We asked Ashley about how 2017 might look the same or different regarding their recruitment strategy.
What does your recruitment strategy look like for 2017?
Ashley White: For 2017, our employee engagement and retention strategy is based on “manage and measure.” Management for us means managing the employee experience from the very beginning of their employee experience. In my experience, engagement is different for each individual and organizations that “do” engagement effectively create opportunities for their teams to connect with the organization’s mission and each other in different ways (team building, social events, charitable efforts etc). We expect to continue providing all of these in 2017. For example, our managers are expected to budget for and carry out team building events each quarter with their teams. With any strategy, measurement is important to justify expenses, make improvements and chart progress. APQC will utilize an employee satisfaction survey done twice annually to capture this data. The ongoing challenge with surveys is ensuring that you’ve crafted the questions so that you receive valuable feedback that creates actionable results. With that said, we will spend time utilizing best practice research to guide our question selection.
Ashley White is the Human Resources Director for APQC (The American Productivity & Quality Center). She manages all aspects of human resources including benefits, compensation, recruiting, and strategies. She also leads the APQC operations team that focuses on developing next-generation leaders within the organization. APQC is a non-profit that produces some of the leading benchmarking and best practices research around talent management and other business topics. Connect with Ashley on LinkedIn.
December 07, 2016 by Anna Peters
An organization that retains its talent saves costs, to start with, in recruitment and training. It also likely has higher morale, which can lead to loyalty and more innovation. Creating a culture, however, that is highly welcoming and engaging enough to affect retention can be elusive. One of 2016’s top companies to work for includes Bozzuto, a real estate services organization. College Recruiter had the pleasure of speaking with Allison Lane, Director – Corporate Communications & Marketing at Bozzuto. She shared what their company does to make it a great place to work.
Put the time into listening and connecting to employees and all stakeholders
Above all, Allison says, “we put employees first.” That seems so simple. It means, however, that employees are more important than anything else. It takes empathy and patience. It also takes a lot of time to listen to your people.
Engaging all stakeholders are important too. That builds a culture of community and trust. Bozzuto makes sure that they connect in a meaningful way to job candidates, partners, and the residents of their properties. That level of engagement requires an investment, but when I asked Allison about how they measure ROI, she said they don’t have to. “Investing in our people is just part of our DNA.”
Establishing or changing anything about a company culture comes from the top, or at the very least, has true buy-in. For example, Bozzuto’s founder does regular site visits and meets with people in their environment. He believes in “managing by walking around.”
Technology can, and should, help connect people at the organization. For example, Bozzuto offers Bozzuto Voices, where any employee anywhere can comment, make a suggestion, praise someone else, etc. This sort of transparent communication can help build mutual trust with employees.
Hire for fit, and include all
While Bozzuto recruits for the right skills, they also look for cultural fit. Allison says, “If you’re not nice… you gotta be nice.” As for engaging Millennials, Allison brushes off the generational differences. Just engage people as individuals, she says. Don’t assume you know something about them because of their age.
Want to read more tips about creating an engaging culture, or recruiting entry-level talent in general? Stay in touch with College Recruiter on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Hiring now? College Recruiter is really good at helping organizations hire dozens, hundreds and even thousands of entry-level hires.