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Restaurant Experience Builds Core Work Skills

This post brought to you by National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. The content and opinions expressed below are that of upstartHR.

Earlier this week we looked at the importance of restaurant experience as a valuable tool for entry level self starters. Today we’ll continue with a glimpse into just how deeply rooted restaurant work experience is within the American workplace and what that means for future career growth. Here are a few stats from the infographic below that highlight this trend:

  • 69% of of employees ages 18-24 had their first job in the restaurant industry. This shows the impact of the industry in starting young people on a career path.
  • Many in the industry continue their education while working at restaurants. 64% of bartenders, 49% of managers and 41% of servers are enrolled in a four-year college or university. In addition, 48% of industry business operation employees are enrolled in graduate school and 45% of chefs or cooks are enrolled in hospitality or culinary arts programs. The industry allows for employees to further their education and careers.
  • Many of those employees are planning to stay in the industry, showing the long-term career prospects in the industry. 72% of business operations managers, 69% of chefs or cooks and 56% of restaurant managers plan to continue working in restaurants after graduation.

I don’t know about you, but I am pretty astounded at the scale and professionalism demonstrated by these figures.

This isn’t a profession where people “settle” for a position in the restaurant industry. The data shows that workers in this field are actively learning and growing, and many of them plan to continue working in the industry even after graduating. Anything else in the infographic below seem particularly interesting to you?

Infographic (Full size graphic here: Building Blocks)

 photo NRAEFInfographic2complete11_zps9a93cac5.jpg

Click here to review the other posts in this series:

A Good Place for Entry Level Self Starters

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How Long Is Your Recruiting Process?

So after reading an interesting post by my friend Tim Sackett recently, I stopped to think about the “ideal” length of the recruiting process. Here’s Tim:

People won’t read a 700 page book, they want 300.  No one wants to watch a three hour movie, make it two.  Why do we have to have an hour meeting, make it thirty minutes. Being too long is not a weakness you want to have in today’s world.  Being too long is now a sign that you probably don’t really know what you’re doing.  If you can’t be short and concise, you’re looked at as ‘old fashioned’. That’s what your candidates are thinking of your selection process.  You try and tell yourself, and your leadership, that we ‘take our time’ because we want to ‘make the right decision’. But your competition is making those same decisions in half the time.  You’re old fashion. You’re broken.  You’re taking too long. Source: http://www.timsackett.com/2014/08/21/its-too-long/

Here’s a short video where I give both sides of the issue (subscribers click through to view):

So, what’s the right answer for you and your organization? Read the rest of my thoughts on the subject in my post on Talent Acquisition Process Length at the Brandon Hall Group blog.

Restaurant Careers-A Good Place for Entry Level Self Starters

This post brought to you by National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. The content and opinions expressed below are that of upstartHR.

When thinking back to early career days, many people have restaurant or food service experience somewhere in their resume. And as some recent research shows, that’s not uncommon. In fact, about one in ten jobs is in the restaurant business.

As you can see in the infographic titled “An Industry of Opportunity,” restaurants provide a lot of opportunity for the young men and women of the workforce to get a start. 

The key areas I want to look at today are two specific statistics from the graphic.

More than 9 out of 10 restaurant employees say the restaurant industry is a good place to get a first job.

When we talk about careers, many young individuals see themselves as office workers, engineers, or other “professional” staff. However, there are some incredible opportunities to learn and grow in the restaurant field, and I think the benefits are often overlooked.

For instance, having the opportunity to serve customers face to face helps to build confidence, teaches young workers some of the critical body language skills (eye contact, firm handshake, smiling, etc.) that can lead to success at all career levels.

Nearly 9 out of 10 workers say restaurants provide an opportunity for people who want to succeed based on their own hard work.

I’m a self-starter, and I am excited to see this statistic, because it means that those entering the restaurant profession looking for long-term career opportunities will also have room to learn and grow. 

We’ve all worked in organizations that squash creativity or de-emphasize the importance of thinking ahead and trying to solve the problems of others. This field not only provides those benefits, but it does so in a fast-paced environment ripe with learning and development opportunities. 

Check out the full infographic below for more details (link to full image):

 photo NRAEFInfographic11_zpsc5d9cea4.jpg

In the coming weeks I will be sharing more insights from the study performed by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, so stay tuned.

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Driving Social Learning Engagement

driving social learningRecently I was speaking to a local SHRM chapter about the changing world of HR through the lens of social tools. This isn’t the “you should use Facebook!” session, and I’m not sure if I even mentioned that platform a single time in the conversation. No, it was all about how both vendors and corporations are leveraging social tools to improve their learning, recruiting, and talent management initiatives.

One of the questions from the audience at the end of the session was this:

We are using a discussion board/forum as a way to increase the community aspect of our learning initiatives. However, we’re having trouble getting people to share out there. If we ask them to specifically, they usually do, but otherwise they don’t post. How can we get our people to be more engaged?

I think there are a few ways to make this platform more active, especially if it has proven to be a useful tool and isn’t just a “flavor of the month” sort of project.

  • Inertia: start some momentum by researching some of the most common questions posted in the forum and post a “frequently asked questions” section answering those specific inquiries. If you want to make it even better, you can link the specific answers to specific users, allowing people to follow up for more detail on their individual situation. Then it’s more of a two-way, social communication channel.
  • Hey, Bob, how do you feel about being an expert? Expert directories are becoming a more common way of helping to assign responsibility in a social learning context. In this situation you’d tag specific people to be recognized experts with the responsibility to respond to questions in their lane. That helps to ensure questions not only get answered, but that they get a response from someone who is qualified to actually respond.
  • Performance: if all else fails, make interacting part of everyone’s performance goals. When I took distance learning classes in college, we had requirements to post one thought and respond to one other person’s post on a weekly basis. It took maybe fifteen minutes to complete, but it kept a steady stream of insightful commentary flowing through the discussion board. We were graded on our participation, and I see no reason why we couldn’t expect the same from our employees.

These aren’t the only answers, and they might not even be the best answers; however, it’s important to recognize the problem (lack of engagement in this case) and begin testing solutions to resolve the issue.

Have you run into this sort of issue in the past? How did you resolve the problem? 

Job Seeker Tip #347-Passion Matters

I have been thinking about interviewing lately. I was telling a group I spoke to earlier in the week about the importance of finding people that are “sold out” on the culture and the organization. It never ceases to amaze me that some people still fail to prepare adequately for their interviews. No, I’m not talking about knowing how to answer the canned”What’s your greatest weakness?” type questions. I’m talking about being excited, upbeat, and ready to talk about how you are the perfect fit for the job.

Here’s a good example. I can still vividly remember an interviewing process for a subcontracts administrator position. We interviewed more than half a dozen people in the first round. Three of those were lukewarm and honestly left me wondering if they really wanted a job at all. Two of those were both enthusiastic and qualified. One of those was both very enthusiastic and very overqualified. Those three people were the ones brought back for a second interview, and in fact I was able to pick the person that was ultimately chosen days before the “final” selection (though that is always the hiring manager’s call in the end). How did I know?

  1. She made a great case for why the company would be better off with her specific experience.
  2. She shared with us her interest in why she would specifically like to work at our company (not just a company like ours, but ours specifically!).
  3. She was a great culture fit for us. Her previous actions and behavioral questions were closely aligned with our core values.

Honestly, I don’t care if you’re applying for jobs through Jobtonic, a job with my company, or something else. If you’re qualified for the position, and you can figure out how to do all three of those things, then you have a much greater chance of being selected than those who don’t. It’s not a magic bullet, but it’s a formula that I’ve seen play out on many occasions.

What is your take on passion and enthusiasm in the interview process? Is it a discriminator or just noise interfering with the process?

The Secret to Zappos’ Amazing Success

Today we’re hosting a guest post from a long-time friend and fellow HR practitioner. Jane Jaxon is the rockstar HR Director for a tech company in Boston. Learn more about her in the bio below the article. 

Zappos is my HR idol. I have posters on the wall, read articles about them in HR Beat, ask them to sign things – you know how these crushes go. I’m obsessed not because of their dreamy eyes or perfect coif, but because they are known world-wide for their happy employees (many of whom are in a call-center – no easy task!), clearly defined values (that they have the cojones to hire and fire by), and because they scaled culture without negatively impacting their bottom line (they still are the dominant player in their market).

I was lucky enough to tour their HQ in Las Vegas recently. They do Insights tours daily and quite literally open their doors on company culture. There were some obvious takeaways as to what makes them special – the perks, zany work environment, and tons of things they do to make work-life easier for employees – but I walked away thinking I finally get their special sauce. Hint: it isn’t what companies focus on poaching when trying to create a special culture, but it’s what they should focus on.

The Zappos secret

So what makes Zappos, Zappos? Employees really, truly feel comfortable being themselves. It’s not just a show they put on for the tour, it’s palpable. Zapponians dress in what makes them comfortable. Work stations are tailored entirely to their owner – be it a prim and proper organizational center or an ode the their favorite sports team or hobby. Work seems to be an extension of who each and every employee is as a person. Oh yeah, and their CEO is out there for everyone to run into, talk to, and approach with issues.

How can we, as HR professionals, allow and encourage employees to be themselves? It starts with the interview (maybe even before). Give candidates a chance to talk about what gets them excited outside of work … and genuinely care to hear the answer. It will let them know that they can be more than a contributor at your company – they can be a person. Boy does that make a difference!

It also comes from the top. Is the leadership team opening up and sharing a bit about who they are as people with your employees? Is your CEO accessible and open with employees? Do you celebrate your employees as people instead of just as contributors? The answers to all of the above should be a resounding yes.

Aspiring to be like Zappos is a challenge, but I’m convinced that there is a business reason to try. Recruiting gets easier through referrals and word of mouth. Happy, engaged employees will work harder, be invested in the company’s success and stick around much longer. And coming to work doesn’t feel like, well, work. Who wouldn’t want that?

About the author: Jane Jaxon is the HR Director of a high-growth tech company in Boston where she gets to focus on building a great workplace and scaling people operations. Jane’s favorite buzzwords of the trade are eNPS, talent density and (of course) people operations. She likes neither pina colada’s nor getting caught in the rain, but sure loves marathoning critically-acclaimed tv series, reading in the sun, plotting her fantasy football world domination and, lastly, keeping a stealthy social media presence. Find her on LinkedIn.

HR Data: It’s About the Application

brandon hall groupLater today (1p EST, to be exact) we’re going to host a free webinar on our new DataNow tool.

In a nutshell, DataNow pulls from almost-real-time data to give users the opportunity to find out what companies are doing in terms of talent acquisition, talent management, workforce management, HR, etc. Instead of pushing out data that is a year or more old, this will allow us to share our latest data from surveys almost immediately.

It’s been a great process watching the team build it, and personally I’m excited about how companies are going to use it. It has always been my thought that while we at Brandon Hall have ways we think companies and practitioners will use the data, we’ll be surprised at some of the ways people find to leverage the information to make their businesses better. That’s the fun of new, innovative products!

Here’s an example of how a company might use this tool. Imagine you’re developing a plan to implement a new talent management system. Currently you’ll probably have to rely on data that is anywhere from a few months up to a year or so old (at least if you’re working with Brandon Hall Group–I can’t speak for other research firms).

Now you’ll be able to access data shortly after a survey closes. Having the latest information at your fingertips will help you to make a more informed decision and potentially help you avoid issues that other organizations report as problematic.

This aligns with what I’ve been saying for a while: data isn’t about the collection, it’s about the application. I’ll have a blog post on that coming pretty soon, because with all the pushing of “big data” these days, I think it’s worth the reminder.

If you’d like to check out the webinar, here’s the link. If not, I’ll have more good content for you later this week. Thanks!

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