Flexible Work for All: Employer Benefits


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Last week, we looked at the myriad of benefits that flexible schedules provide to employees. This week we will delve into some of the benefits for employers.

Today’s global marketplace operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

With all of the technological advancements within the last decade alone, consumers demand access to products, services, and customer support around the clock. Because of this, the traditional 9-5 work schedule is becoming inefficient at handling the wants and needs of the modern business’ customers.

Flexible schedules allow for employees to handle work tasks when they need to be handled.

What if one of your customers posts a scandalous tweet on your company’s page at 1 am? Unless there is someone that can handle conflict resolution immediately, there can be seriously damaging repercussions. When your employee arrives at the office at 9 am and gets done with their morning coffee run, more than 8 hours have already passed. Instead of one scandalous tweet tarnishing your company’s social reputation, there are now hundreds. This could have easily been avoided if your employee had the freedom to work when work needed to be done.

In addition to possibly saving your reputation, flexible schedules allow your employees to be more productive.

There have been numerous studies that show that productivity plummets around the 5-6 hour marks. Humans are not wired to be glued to a chair with their eyes on a screen for most of their waking hours. Breaks and short bursts of work have been shown to increase total productivity levels. Some employees are far more productive in the morning, while others may operate best in the evening. Imagine how much more can be accomplished if your employees could work when they are performing at their best.

Working remotely also allows employees to take care of their personal affairs. Because of this, when it comes time for work tasks, they can be fully focused on what they are doing instead of wondering when they might be able to fit in time to finally mop their floors. This option also takes away the need for a commute. By the time your employee arrives to start their work day, they may have already spent what would have been their most productive time of the day battling traffic. By eliminating this stressful, tedious, and often expensive part of the day, employees can put that energy into their duties and help your company succeed.

If you could allow the majority of your roles to work remotely, think about how much money you could save on office space, office furniture, and coffee. With all of those savings, you could re-invest in better products and experiences to make your customers happy.

Increasingly, employees want – and expect flexible work.

Rohit Singh, Director of Talent Management for MassMutual sees this as the new reality of work. In a recent interview, Rohit said, “The work that you do can spill over and the boundaries between personal and professional space will become less and less structured. Even today, the days that I work from home, I use my own technology to access our network but I am able to do my work as if I were in the office. Even our phones allow us to move over and access the same information. As an employee, I use multiple devices to get things done. For the employees, there needs to be an allowance of constant connectivity and the access of information at a click of a button. Look at the Uber app. You can click a button and you know when you will be picked up and who will be picking you up. It’s so constant and seamless. People are expecting the same things from the organizations that they work for.”
If you want engaged employees, to meet your customers where they are, and to save on overhead costs, consider adding flexible work to your organization.


Flexible Work for All: Employee Benefits


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In recent years there has been a rise in demand for flexible work. Whether the definition of flexible fits around hours or location, there is no denying that there has been an overall increase in interest shown by both employees and employers. This week we will look at the benefits to employees.

On the employee side, there is a multitude of reasons why flexible work is a huge motivator to join and stay with a company.

Flexible work accounts for the fact that at the end of the day, employees are human beings with lives outside of the office. Life, being the dynamic fluid thing that it is, often does not hold joys and challenges to the confines of the hours outside of business operations. Things happen when they happen. Just because it is 9 am on a Tuesday doesn’t mean that your mom didn’t just wind up at the hospital and you need to rush to her side. At 4:30 pm on a Thursday your wife goes into labor and you better be there or you might soon be a single parent. I could go on and on with examples of how life doesn’t fit neatly into the ‘outside of work’ hours, but I think you get the idea. If you had a flexible schedule, it would be much easier to handle all of the incidences that life continues to throw at you.

Being human, as even the top executives of an organization are, means that sometimes you are just worn out.

There’s a reason that so many articles have been written about avoiding burnout. That reason is that sometimes you just need a break. You need to ‘stop and smell the flowers’ so to speak. You are not going to be highly productive for an employer if you collapse out of sheer exhaustion or have a nervous breakdown because you are consistently forced to neglect your personal life. Flexible scheduling allows for you to take on work as it comes in and be productive in taking care of yourself.

This type of scheduling lets you take time for things like:

Preventative medical care – why do doctors only seem to operate during the hours that everyone else works?
Getting that new picture taken for your driver’s license – Dealing with the government also seems to only be feasible during traditional work hours.
Voting in an election – This would make much more sense as a weekend activity.

Again, you get the idea. Sure, you can try to do these things on your hour-long lunch break, but it’s likely that you will be late getting back.

The second part of workplace flexibility is the option to work remotely.

With today’s technology, there is really very little stopping entire workforces from working remotely other than antiquated thinking. Most of today’s work is portable and it can be done almost anywhere. The above scenarios could also be alleviated by the ability to grab your laptop and go to the places you are needed. Or, you could get some laundry done instead of catching up on the latest gossip at the water cooler. The lack of a potentially long and stressful commute could add to the overall level of energy that you have to fully focus on work and add value to your personal life. Workers would save on gas and other transportation costs by being able to save the trip into the office for 1-2 days a week. This type of setup can leave workers feeling less stressed and more fulfilled in both their professional and personal endeavors.

Flexible schedules and remote work can benefit parents.

Have you ever had to drop a child off at daycare? It’s absolutely terrible. Although I do not yet have children, I see the struggles that parents sometimes face. Even if a parent puts their child into daycare, the stress of wondering if the blue minivan in front of you is going to stay stopped in a single file line until after you are already late for work can be overwhelming. Or if the daycare has to close due to inclement weather or a holiday and you still have to report to work, things can get a little worrisome. When parents have time to take care of their children’s needs and spend quality time with them, the children turn out better for it. This is important since their children are tomorrow’s workforce.

As you can see, there are many employee-level benefits for flexible schedules and remote working opportunities. Next week, we will look at how all of these perks of flexible workplaces can benefit employers.

HR’s Changing Identity


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Not that long ago, HR was known by a different name. Long before there was any mention of human in the name of those that looked over other human beings, HR was simply Personnel or Personnel Management.

The dark days of Personnel Management

In these times, which some may think of as the dark ages, HR had very little to do with helping employees and was almost singularly focused on helping employers and keeping the minions in line. Personnel Management was very busy making sure that anyone that every employee was accounted for and doing their daily work. Anyone who arrived after the starting bell was made note of and disciplined. Infractions for not following a plethora of seemingly ridiculous rules were swift and written clearly in huge employee handbooks. Once a year, Personnel Management would put together a lovely event, such as a company picnic, that was a showy way of telling employees they were appreciated and part of the company family. Often, after these events, layoffs would ensue. Personnel Management would handle those too, in order to make sure that the company remained unscathed- and avoid litigation.

Fast forward a few decades and personnel management transformed to Human Resources.

Human Resources were suddenly a softer part of the organization that started to have employee’s needs at its heart. When you needed someone to talk to (within reason) about the things going on in the office, HR was there. When you had questions about your benefits, HR was there.

Human Resources continues to grow.

Now that HR has been an organizational mainstay for a long while, there are more aspects of a once somewhat black-and-white department. Everything from legal issues and benefits to talent acquisition and employee retention is handled by Human Resources.

You’re a Chief What Officer?

With these spread out responsibilities, a sundry of roles have emerged. There are the top four accepted roles of HR overall, talent management, learning and development, and talent acquisition. Now that employee engagement and retention are such a big deal, we are seeing a flood of titles that have never before existed. There are Chief Happiness Officers, Chief Wisdom Officers, Engagement Officers, and the list goes on and on.
With all of these new titles and levels of responsibility, it is likely that we will see human resources undergo another significant transformation. In recent weeks, I wrote on the growing interdepartmental relationship forming between HR and Marketing. As more processes become intertwined, HR will undoubtedly form additional close working relationships with other departments. Like other once-siloed industries, there is no denying that HR’s increasing reliance on digital will bridge the gap between IT and security.
ServiceMaster’s Susan Hunsberger agrees that a transformation is certainly taking place. When asked about HR’s digital transformation she said, “A new era of digital HR is driving more targeted and customized engagement with employees and candidates. HR is on the forefront of this digital evolution and is partnering with marketing, IT, Data Science and public relations to drive innovation and transform the employee experience. This will require all leaders to think of employees and candidates as consumers and brand ambassadors. We’ll need our HR processes to deliver an experience that reflects the experience we want our consumers to have when they do business with us.”
While the specifics of what HR will look like in the near and distant futures remains to be seen, it would not be surprising if Human Resources becomes an entirely new group of functions with new names.

Are HR and Marketing the Next Epic Love Story? Part III: The Benefits of Marketing


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In the last post, we discovered how having a digital presence can strengthen your employer brand and help attract potential employees. This week, we will delve into the ways marketing can help HR in this new mission.

What exactly do marketers do?

To put it in the simplest terms, marketers create awareness of your brand and a drive desired action from the group of people you are trying to reach. Marketers do extensive research, develop strategies, and employ tactics in order to accomplish these goals. While some of these aspects can be handled by a singular person, there is often a group of people that work together to turn each element into a cohesive strategy-based campaign. This is very similar to how HR functions in terms of different people handling different aspects that all fall under the same organizational goals.

How can marketers help HR?

Marketers can help HR immensely when it comes to the arts of employer branding and talent acquisition. Traditional branding as an intangible idea is based on the work and strategies from marketing. Yes, companies can have an amazing product or service and survive off of those things alone. However, if they want to not only survive, but thrive, they should have some form of marketing, and the branding that comes from marketing, in place. Just think about almost any company that you are familiar with. Do you know why that company came to mind? You guessed it: Marketing.

Marketers can bring the acquired knowledge from crafting –and maintaining; traditional branding to the task of creating a strong employer brand. While the many details of how a digital presence should be built and handled thereafter could be daunting to many HR professionals, these would be second-nature for a seasoned marketer.

In a previous interview, Sebastien Girard, VP of Talent Acquisition for Parkland Health and Hospital System illustrated the bond that is forming between marketing and HR when he said, “There are even some companies that have talent acquisition not reporting to HR anymore, but instead, a standalone department or reporting to marketing. Talent acquisition is becoming less about “post and pray” and more about building employer brand awareness.”

Target the right talent with marketing strategy.

For talent acquisition, take a moment to think about what this really entails. Yes, it entails writing a killer job description. Yes, it also entails deciding who you want to apply for the job. It also entails figuring out how to best reach those people that you want to apply. This is where marketing comes in. Before, crafting strategies and tactics for the latest marketing campaign, marketers have to decipher who the target audience actually is. Part of this is discovering what matters to members of that audience, finding the right messages to send to them, and where they will most likely go to find that message.

Let’s say that you are trying to attract a part-time representative for a call center. This position is considered entry-level and would not provide more than 20 hours per week.

A marketer would look at this position and think to themselves, “Who would be the right target for this position?” With this frame of mind and a bit of market research for your area, the answer would likely pop up as college students. From this, it could be determined that the way to communicate the benefits of this position would be something like:

“Our company is seeking a part-time representative for call center operations. This is a great position for college students! We offer flexible scheduling of work shifts that do not exceed 20 hours per week. During call downtime, there is an opportunity to do homework activities. This position provides experience in X, Y, and Z with opportunity for movement into other areas upon completion of education.”

In this example, all of these benefits that have been communicated are things that college students may worry about when thinking of adding a job to their already full schedule. Then a marketer would think about where college students would look to find jobs. In this case, college internship boards, school newspapers, and other such places would be the best bets for getting this posting in front of potential candidates.

Once potential pain points are alleviated and the position is posted in the right place, the desired candidates will apply.

This is nothing new to marketers. If a close relationship with HR is formed, part of the biggest battles in the war for talent can easily be won.

Are HR and Marketing the Next Epic Love Story? Part I: Employer Branding


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In the last post, we looked at using a marketing approach to create compelling job descriptions that will attract rock star talent. For this post, we will look at one of the ways marketing and HR may soon be intertwined.

How do you attract and retain employees?

It has been apparent for many years that employer’s needed a compelling reason for employees to want to work for them. Years ago, this reason was pretty black and white – people need wages to buy the basic things needed to survive. For a long time, that reason alone offered plenty of motivation to bring in boatloads of eager workers. Flash forward to a couple of decades ago and things changed a bit. While wages were still incredibly important in attracting potential employees, more was needed to keep personnel rolling in. We started seeing things like healthcare and benefits, 401k, and pensions (the disappearance of which may be somewhat to blame for current retention issues).  Back then, the average career path was relatively linear.

The linear career path is disappearing and with it is the organization’s hold on its employees.

In a recent interview, Derek Hann, CLO for PayPal, illustrated this norm with his statements, “Over the last 40 years, we’ve gone from getting hired by a company, working for that company for 25-35 years and ultimately getting a gold watch and a retirement package. That was the accepted and excepted model About 20 years ago, we dramatically moved away from that and moved towards making your way as best as you can. This is done by proving your worth to a company, staying as long as you can, gaining as much experience as you can and moving on when you are asked to, need to, or have an opportunity to go do something bigger better or more exciting.”

Companies need to make themselves attractive to candidates.

There is a war for talent going on and your company needs to seem like the most desirable company out there in order to attract and retain the best talent.

I want you to think about the word branding.

What does the word mean to you?

Is your mind conjuring up logos, color schemes, and consumer products?  Are you internally hearing loud radio spots (what is up with the volume?), or that funny squirrel commercial that you saw last week (that was also likely about 20x the comfortable decibel level)?  Those things along with customer support, social media, digital presence, and other aspects, are all part of the overall notion of company branding. The idea of company branding has been around for ages and while its characteristics (Ie. Social media, digital ads instead of print, etc.) may change, its fundamental core purpose remains the same. That purpose is to attract consumers to the company’s products or services- and the company itself, and to retain those now-loyal consumers.

Employer branding is important now – and HR is responsible for it.

Part of putting an organization at the top of job-seekers lists and keeping existing employees engaged is having a strong employer brand. Like the commercials, social, and digital presence you thought of, your brand needs to positively take its hold in the minds of its current and potential employees.

We have previously discussed some of the aspects of creating a winning employer brand including:

 While some HR professionals are not worried about taking on this endeavor, many are fretting about whether or not they are building the brand effectively.

Branding is nothing new to marketers.

Branding is core to the marketing mix. An enormous amount of attention goes into making sure that every little detail of the communications from and any representations of the organization are reflective of its brand.

 It would seem that a wise endeavor would be to bring marketers into the HR fold.

A partnership between these two departments would make your employer brand succeed and give you an undeniable edge in the talent war.  Next time, we will take a deeper look into why this pairing will be both necessary and beneficial in the coming years.





Want to Attract Top-Level Talent? Write Like a Marketer.

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Last week, we looked at some of the ways that online applications – and the subsequent lack of follow up, can hurt your recruiting efforts. This week, we will look at using a marketing approach to posting job descriptions that attract rock star talent.

When posting a job online, do you think about who might read it?

Of course, you do. If you don’t, then you really may need to take some time to evaluate why you are posting openings at all.

Before you post, you sit down and answer all of those questions I mentioned last week; the ‘who, what, where, why, and when’ of the position. When you have formulated all of the possible answers to these questions, you, or the hiring manager, work up a neatly summarized description with a few bullet points here and there.  Then you post it on LinkedIn, Indeed or whatever job board you decide to use, and then you wait. Applications come flooding in and you may begin to notice that many of the candidates do not seem to fill the ‘rock star’ ideal you had envisioned.  Dejected, you take a second look at the posting and begin to notice that the written details of the job you posted aren’t necessarily geared to interest the types of candidates you are actually looking for.  Before you revise the description and post it again, after taking a moment to send an automated ‘we went another direction’ message to those applicants who did not come close to fitting the criteria, take a second to ask yourself, ‘What would a marketer do?’

In marketing and advertising, those who create written information with the goal of obtaining an action from the reader, have to carefully consider the information presented and how the reader will receive it. When I say ‘receive’ I do not mean whether the information shows up in their inbox or in their physical mailbox. I mean the way that the reader will internalize the information upon reading it.

Would you apply for the job you posted?

Put yourself in the rock star candidate’s shoes and read your post. Did your description include a bunch of ‘position will require Microsoft Word skills, proper understanding of the English language, ability to breathe without being reminded’ statements? Did you mean to say, ‘We are looking for a highly skilled candidate that will engage our current and potential customers by using strategy to create informative communications’? The latter statement is far more likely to attract the type of candidates that you are looking for.

You MUST think about who you are trying to reach with your post.

If you’re trying to reach an entry-level candidate with little to no formal education, that will receive constant supervision, then the first description might suffice. If you want an innovative rock star that will launch the organization with occasional guidance, then the second description is a far better choice. Talented people want to be able to envision themselves positively in potential roles. The first description gives the vision of sitting in an office; staring at a computer and having your boss stare over your shoulder and telling you what to click next. While some people may want that, those are not the candidates that will make a difference for your company.

Flaunt pain points and benefits to the employee for solving them.

Attracting highly skilled employees requires a fantastic job description that accurately describes your pain points for the potential employee to solve. Another important aspect of the job description should illustrate how you will solve an employee’s pain points too. Employee pain points can include financial stability, a need for health insurance, and an environment that fosters continuous learning. Make sure that your post addresses these things. Many highly skilled candidates won’t even bother applying to a job that doesn’t list a pay range since they see this as their time being potentially wasted with an offer much lower than expected.  Some may not apply because you don’t list that you offer the awesome benefits packages that you have.  Candidates want a mutually beneficial relationship with their employers. They don’t want to just hear about what they can do for your company. They also want to know what your company can do for them.

In his previously mentioned interview, Sebastien Girard, Vice President of Talent Acquisition and Workforce Planning for Parkland Health and Hospital System, agreed, “Candidates want to make sure that you understand what they need. We are in an employee market now, not an employer market. Having that trend changing from what it was even just five years ago, it’s more of a ‘what’s in it for them’ versus ‘what’s in it for the company’ approach.”

When you take the time and effort to think about whom you are trying to entice when creating a job posting, you will attract the right candidates.

After all, why wouldn’t you put time and effort into the job description? Think about how much time and effort it would take to post the wrong type of job description, go through the interview process, realize that you didn’t attract the right person for the job and have to start at square one.

Happy posting!


Is Your Application Process Killing Your Reputation?


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The recruitment process is often a long and arduous task for an organization’s HR department- and potential candidates.  HR professionals know that the task of finding a hiring manager’s next rockstar is not an easy feat. Many on the outside looking in think that it may be as simple as posting a job, skimming through the applicants, scheduling a few interviews, and picking a winner.

If only the recruitment process were that simple.

Before a job can just get posted all willy-nilly on a digital job board, there is the process of setting up the position itself.  What will the title be? What is the salary range? When do we need to have the role filled by? Then there are all of those compliance details. Are we looking at enough applicants? Does our proposed ad contain any inadvertently discriminatory language? It’s enough to make your head spin.

As difficult as the hiring process is for HR, think about the job seeker’s experience.

The war for talent is heating up and companies are competing for the best talent to propel their organizations into the future.  However, from a job seeker’s point of view, it often doesn’t seem that the war for talent even exists. Applicants are told to ‘apply online’ for almost every position imaginable. I have personally heard stories from friends and family where they have taken the time to go to potential employers only to be turned away with the canned ‘apply at our website’ response. They think to themselves, ‘But, I’m right here with my resume. Yet, they go home and spend an hour on the application process. They upload their resumes, only to then have to manually enter every single piece of information from their uploaded resume into horribly picky little boxes (why are there never examples of acceptable responses on those things anyway?), and they click submit.

What happens after an applicant hits submit?

Then they wait. Then they wait some more. Then eventually they forget that they even applied at your company. Or, they remember that they did – and they also remember that you never took the time to even send them a ‘Dear John’ email explaining that they weren’t what you were looking for.  This is not a good impression for a company to leave with potential candidates.  With all of the automation being used in the HR space, you would think that a simple ‘We are going with another candidate’ email would be on the checklist. After all, your candidates did what you wanted. They spent an hour of their lives, that they will never get back, filling in your finicky boxes and submitting their information into what often appears (for lack of any response) to be a virtual incinerator. Are there cyber dogs that we are unaware of that eat job applications or something?

Don’t create poor impressions with candidates.

Earlier this year, I spoke with Sebastien Girard, Vice President of Talent Acquisition and Workforce Planning for Parkland Health and Hospital System regarding the importance of designing a great candidate experience. In this interview, The Future of Talent Acquisition: Is your Company Prepared for Change? Sebastien and I discussed the poor impression the lack of follow-up can create (we also talked about talent acquisition’s potential move into the marketing space: more on that next week).

When asked what he felt makes a positive candidate experience Sebastien stated, “We are in an employee market now, not an employer market. Having that trend changing from what it was even just five years ago, it’s more of a “what’s in it for them” versus “what’s in it for the company” approach. Candidates expect that customer service approach and responsiveness. They expect to feel important and they expect transparency. I don’t think that a job seeker is expecting to get every job that he or she applies for but there is a desire to have transparency when things go well -or if things don’t go well and when it doesn’t, why. Candidates expect responsiveness even when it’s bad news. If I don’t get the job I don’t want to wait a week and a half to get the bad news. I want to hear it right away.”

Happy candidates could translate into happy employees.

Why are we not treating the potential talent that our organizations are supposedly fighting one another for with even a basic level of respect and appreciation of their time? With a perspective shift, we can start handling potential candidates with a more human approach. If we start with this approach with candidates, think of how engaged they will be as employees.