Tag Archives: Guest Post

6 Surefire Strategies to Recognize Remote Employees

award-3741918_1280Remote employees are becoming more and more common in the modern workplace. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly a quarter of US employees do some or all of their work from home.

While the trend is positive across virtually all industries, it’s particularly common in certain fields. For instance, more than 50% of technology workers report spending some time working remotely, while the number of employees working remotely in the healthcare sector is substantially less.

Given the shift toward remote work, many companies are now asking themselves how best to keep employees feeling engaged and recognized from afar. The task is daunting, as many of the typical one-off opportunities that managers used to take when recognizing team members don’t naturally present themselves in an environment with distributed employees.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to more effectively engage and recognize remote team members:

  1. Make Time for Real Conversations

Messaging tools like Slack are great for quick questions, but encouraging real conversation makes a big difference. Not only is much of communication about inflection, facial expression, etc – but conversations, whether over the phone or through video chat, encourage folks to ‘check in’ on each other more generally. These pleasantries can feel like inefficient uses of time, but in fact, they provide a crucial opportunity for employees to connect and recognize each other.

  1. Support Continuing Education

Employees who work remotely often have less built in access to training and educational opportunities than someone working from headquarters. One way to truly show your remote employees that you are invested in their development is to provide them high quality access to online learning opportunities. One example is Udemy for Business, which gives employees access to a set of educational courses to complete on their own time.

  1. Offer Mentoring Opportunities

Mentorship relationships often occur naturally in traditional workplaces. However, that’s often not the case in workplaces with substantial number of remote employees. Consider being more prescriptive with a mentorship program if you have a substantive remote workforce, surveying junior employees about they type of mentorship connections they would appreciate and then proactively connecting them with senior members of your organization.

  1. Recognize Special Occasions

There are key times to remind someone they are valued, such as birthdays, work anniversaries, onboardings and farewells. For these occasions, consider replacing the paper card that’s passed around and signed in a traditional workplace with an online group card for employee recognition. With Kudoboard, for instance, colleagues spread across the globe can add messages, pictures, videos or GIFs onto a collaborative card to celebrate a recipient’s special occasion.

  1. Surprise Them

Ever wonder why gambling is so popular (even though the odds are often bad)? It’s the psychological concept known as intermittent, variable rewards. In other words, an occasional surprise reward to recognize an employee’s efforts can make a big difference. We’d rarely recommend that a manager be more unpredictable; however, using this strategy judiciously by being a bit creative about when you provide a boost can be surprisingly motivating.

  1. Bring Everyone Together

Remote workforces are a tremendous asset. However, there’s nothing that can replace an in-person gathering to foster connections and make recognition feel real. No matter how committed you are to a remote workforce, consider some regular cadence (quarterly, bi-annually, etc.) to bring your employees together to ensure that a cohesive culture continues to thrive.

 

How SMART are your goals?

Lee, JarrettAbout the Author: Jarrett Lee is a Research Associate Intern working with me at Lighthouse Research. His research focuses on case studies of companies that successfully deliver results on their talent and learning transformation projects. He is pursuing a Bachelor’s of Communication Arts as well as a Master’s of Science in Human Resource Management from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. 

Goal setting is one of the most popular and talked about HR topics. Goal setting is unique in that it is directly involved in all aspects of life. Goals can be career-based, family-oriented, or even personal. Larger goals such as career goals may take years or even your lifetime to accomplish, while smaller goals may only take weeks or days. Regardless of whether it is professional or personal, all successful people set goals.

So what is goal setting? Goal setting is the process of identifying something you want to achieve and an end result you will reach. How do you go about setting your goal? One commonly used tool for setting goals is the mnemonic SMART.

SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.

The Six W’s of Goal Setting

Specific goal setting refers to the six “W” questions: who, what, when, where and why. Setting specific goals can increase your chance of accomplishment and help the make the goal real to you. Your goal must also be measureable in some way to determine accomplishment. It is also best to track your progress continuously. This will help keep you focused on accomplishing your goal and show how much you have already accomplished.

When setting your goal, make sure it is attainable. Goals will only be accomplished if they are realistically possible. Setting unrealistic goals is setting yourself up for failure. Goals should also be relevant to your situation. Inconsistent or irrelevant goals will not provide any real benefit, even if you accomplish them. Lastly, your goals should be time-bound; setting a time specific deadline will create a sense of urgency and help keep you motivated to accomplishing to your goals.

Take Action on Your Goals

Using these five components of goal setting help you specify a goal, determine if it’s attainable and realistic, measure your progress and set a deadline for achievement. It is also important to remember while SMART goals can help you set your goal, it takes determination to accomplish your objectives. Goal setting is an ongoing process, and while your end goal may not change your steps to accomplishment just might.

How Office Design Affects Company Morale

Employees are the heart of every business, and your biggest asset. They’re the people who make sure things get done when and how they’re supposed to, managing your processes, interacting with customers and clients, and showing up day after day. While of course their main motivation is the paycheck at the end of the day, today’s employees are also looking for a satisfying work place in which they feel they play an integral part. Doing all you can to keep company morale high means securing happy employees, and satisfied employees make loyal ones. Keeping your employees feeling content and satisfied in the work place means making sure they’re comfortable, and one aspect that often takes the backseat is office design. Want workers who are proud to come in every day? Make sure their work space is conducive to that feeling with these office design tips.

Take Temperature into Consideration Continue reading

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.

Applying Marketing Principles to HR

Today we’re honored to have 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. 

Marketing 101: You need a product that meets the needs of your target customer or audience, then you need to promote it where it will be seen by and sought out by potential customers.

Branding 101: Define what you are about and what space in the market you occupy. Stand for something you believe in. Build such a strong connection with your audience that they take on your brand identity on as their own.

Wait, this is an HR blog, right? It is. Why are these concepts so basic when building a business and customer base, but relatively foreign in the HR world? Human capital is critical to the success of a company, yet basic marketing principles and resources are rarely allocated to our teams. It seems silly. A business cannot succeed without both the right product or service and the right people to deliver that product or service.

I suspect many of you don’t have marketers on your team, but there are some simple steps you can begin to take on your own to differentiate yourself and strengthen your employer brand to attract a better pipeline.

Understand your value proposition. What value can you deliver to prospective candidates? Examples include: location, work/life balance, opportunity to work with cutting edge technologies, top-of-the-market pay or great mentorship and development programs. Ask your current employees what the best part of working for your company is. And market it! Make sure pictures and language on your website highlight your differentiators. Invite employees to write testimonials or post to Glassdoor. But above all, be honest.

Figure out your market and focus your advertising appropriately. Each position has a unique market and needs to be treated as such. For example, we ask our team to review our job descriptions when we’re adding to the team to give us feedback – the oozing-with-personality job descriptions we use for entry level positions just may not appeal to senior level developers or a CFO. When I’m looking for an engineer, I ask our current team where they spend their time browsing and to tell me about the most effective cold call or email they have received and I tweak my recruitment approach accordingly. Finally, when we land a fantastic candidate, we take note of how so we can better focus our efforts next time.

Deliver. You need your public persona to match the candidate (and employee) experience. If you differentiate by the intelligence of your team, candidates expect to talk to smart people. If you pride yourself on corporate values and culture, the interview experience and questions should reflect that. You cannot attract or retain the right people if you aren’t able to deliver on the experience you’ve marketed. Just think – would you go back to a hotel that showed beautiful rooms and an ocean view but delivered an inferior product? Neither will candidates.

No company is perfect in every area, but you can be much more successful if you are able to identify what your strengths are, how you compare to the competition, and your audience, then relay that message in an effective way. How do you stack up? What differentiates your open reqs and opportunities from the competition?

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.

The Struggle Between a Caring Work Environment and Talent Density

Today we’re honored to have 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. 

Building a caring work environment and increasing talent density: compatible or mutually exclusive?

If you’re reading this entry for an answer, skip ahead to the comments section, because you definitely won’t find it here. The question is of critical importance to where we are as a company and I’m actively debating it in my quieter moments. People – their collective personality and their performance – are our differentiator in a tough tech market.

caring work environment

Is building a supportive environment a goal of your organization?

A little background: our company culture is built on integrity, ownership, simplicity, service and balance. We’ve strictly held to our core values in hiring decisions, resulting in a place that people enjoy working because they get to work with intelligent, driven and truly amazing people they care about. Our people also know that HR, the Leadership team and our co-founders care about them on a personal level, which is both a key to retention and to recruitment.

But to build a successful company that scales, we need the most talented team possible. Talent attracts and retains talent and builds a better product. There’s the idea that winning teams succeed because they have the best players on their team. Successful sports teams cut fan favorites to upgrade their roster and aren’t slow to trade away players when underperforming. It’s all understood as part of the business of winning. But it also feels very impersonal and at odds with the familial culture we’ve built.

Is there a happy medium? Can a company truly care about its employees while remaining committed to increasing the level of “A-players” on the team? How does one handle the model employee that just isn’t up to the task at hand?

As I shared, I’m not sure what the answer is, but I think it’s possible for a company to toe the line by investing in “coaching up” struggling employees, being clear about expectations and where the gaps are, and making a genuine effort to get people to where they need to be. To be sure, this requires a genuine commitment from the top of the organization and far more effort than any alternative, but I think it can and should be done.

There will always be cases where things just don’t work out. Treat departing employees with dignity, respect and honesty. Ask yourself, “Does this feel right?” Others in the organization will know if you gave the departing team member a fair shake to keep their job, and will take note of how you treated them on the way out. If you can navigate this maze, I think you can have both talent density and a caring corporate culture. Who knows what success awaits from that point forward?

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.

Social Media Recruiting (Guest Post)

One of the highlights of my early career days was a year spent in a group called NMU–NASHRM Mentor University. I learned much, developed some amazing friendships that I still appreciate to this day, and got to participate in a pilot program to improve the career prospects of local HR professionals. This year the group is still going strong, and one of the assignments was to create a blog post and have it published online by a known HR blogger. Donna Quinney, an HR pro from Huntsville, was paired with me. Her first ever blog post is below. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Donna!

Social Media Recruiting: Should You Believe the Hype or Not?

I had the privilege of serving as a Mentee with NASHRM Mentor University program this past year. As part of the program, we were asked to prepare a 30 minute Powerpoint presentation, present to the class, and develop a blog post from that information. My presentation was titled “Social Media Recruiting: 7 Good Benefits Every Recruiter Should Know.”

Much to my surprise, I found that there was less negative and more positive information out there on social media recruiting. I’ve heard a lot about the security risks associated with having too much of your personal information hanging out on the internet. That’s it…the only negative I could find on social media recruiting. But I must say, that one negative could potentially cause some major problems for you, your financial state, and most importantly your family. So be careful with that!

But, on the flip side, there are several positives for implementing a social media platform in your recruiting strategies. Here are just a few that I discovered:

  • Cost Saving – Post positions on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. It’s basically free!
  • Improves Talent Pool – Connects you to the largest active and passive job seekers!
  • Fill Positions Faster – Compared to traditional approaches: newspaper ads and/or job boards!
  • Increased Candidate Diversity – Helps widen your search options even further!
  • Company Branding – On-line presence gives candidates a glimpse into the company culture/ environment!

Now that you are up to speed on a few benefits of social media recruiting, are you ready to jump on board and recruit your next new hire via LinkedIn or Facebook? Are you convinced that social media recruiting is here to stay or is it just the next big hype? I’ll let you decide!

Thank you NASHRM Mentor University for a great year…and the yummy cookies! I’ve officially been HR stretched!