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Pandemic. Social distancing. Quarantine.

In the last couple weeks, we're finding ourselves in unprecedented territory. New terminology and nationwide directives have steered our everyday lives towards isolation and physical distancing.

investing-in-your-career

These upcoming weeks will bring an excessive amount of time spent at home. Whether working or watching / schooling children from home, the extended period without social interactions can seem daunting. Take advantage of the break in your routine and use the extra free time to get steps ahead in your career. We'll help!

Network, digitally.

Check in with your network - now you have a good excuse to reach out digitally. Ask how their work-from-home experience is going, and see what they've been up to at home. At a time like this, society is craving human interactions. Your contact will likely be well-received.

Were you due to attend any upcoming conferences that were cancelled? Take advantage of any services offered as substitute – many conferences have made their programming available virtually, some even offering virtual "cocktail parties," letting attendees meet each other through video chats.

Work on your portfolio.

Have you wanted to rephotograph or make new mockups of your work? Been meaning to reorganize your website? You've come upon some extra hours every week to do so.

Do something new.

Order yarn and give knitting a shot. Have a go at making bread. Spend 20 minutes everyday doodling. Investing in your creativity might seem like a waste of time, but your brain will benefit from a change in course.

Learn something new.

There are a billion and five documentaries available on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, PBS, or online. Expand your interest in a topic or two and spend an afternoon learning something new. Your creative brain is an investment in your career, and providing it with fresh information can generate sparks that lead to innovation.

Rejuvenate your cover letter.

Away from the pressure of time constraints, your likelihood of crafting a killer cover letter improve greatly. New wording or different organization might better your first impression to an employer, so give your cover letter a second look.

Work on your resume with friends.

Start a video chat session, or even just a set time for you and a group of buds to clean up your resume and get feedback from each other. It will fulfill your need for social time while also moving along on personal goals.

Don't skimp on your job search.

Companies haven't slowed down their hiring, they've just gone digital. So, don't be afraid to keep rolling on your search! Mentally prepare for the likelihood of a video interview rather than an in-person.

If none of these sound good to you, you can always clean up your computer! Delete old files, improve file naming systems, or clean out your inbox. There's always something to be done, and your future career moves will thank you.

Posted: 3/24/2020 2:36:04 PM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments


There's a reason a show like "The Office" was such a hit – cubicle dwellers and open space innovators alike can relate to working in an environment run by a boss like the clueless Michael Scott. In real life, though, bosses can be more cringe-y than lovable.

Most bosses are without proper training, having been acknowledged as a standout employee and promoted to a position of management from within. There is a lot of power in the position – a boss can make or break a successful business. The team itself can be plowing away on a path to performing but without the right leadership, falling flat is inevitable.

office-team-working-together

We walk through some of the most common issues with a manager below, but will send you off with some solutions for bettering your position as a leader. Direct your team towards efficiency and productivity, by establishing your trust, respect, and confidence in them.

Issue 1: Micromanaging

Spending time checking in with employees, monitoring their progress on projects and investigating their every move doesn't make you a good boss. It makes you a dreaded presence in your team's space, and a gripe among your subordinates. Yes, it's important to know the status of a project, but trust your employees to get the work done by deadlines and believe in their abilities to manage their time and process.

The next time you find yourself getting a little too involved in the day-to-day of your employees, it's time to ask yourself the real question. Are you afraid of losing control? Do you feel like you're an expert in your industry and are just looking for an opportunity to give input (where it may not be needed)? Think about it this way - if you were your boss, and the work was getting done, does there need to be someone checking in every minute? Probably not.

Issue 2: Not seeking input

The easiest way to convey your trust and respect in your team? Ask them for input! All too common is the manager with an ego, abusing their power by making all decisions without any input from the people doing the work. You aren't the only one knowledgeable in your field – consulting with your team brings additional perspectives and new ideas to the decision. Also, it shows one of the most important qualities for happy employees: you value their opinions.

Issue 3: Encouraging agreement

You didn't hire sheep. You hired people with proven skills in their field, and over time they've developed a dedication to your company. When you meet about projects, it's important that your employees are encouraged to offer dissenting points if they have them.

It can be challenging to acknowledge that your status may push team members to a place of complacency in speaking up, but it's very often the case. 'Approval from the boss' is something our authority-pleasing selves desire, and being agreeable is an accessible route to achievement.

So, not only is it crucial to discourage blanket agreement, but to also openly welcome disagreement.

Issue 4: Not advocating for your team

A bad boss doesn't provide resources for their employees, either to help them learn, to grow professionally, or to achieve smaller personal goals. They often adopt an attitude of "I didn't receive any help, so neither should you." Fair isn't always fair in the business world, so give your team a chance to thrive, even if you weren't offered the same opportunity.

Clearing the path for employee success is the surest way to ensure job satisfaction and employee retention. But, without also clearing obstacles from that path, a manager is just as problematic. Your employees count on you to advocate for their time, creativity, and expertise. You're their spokesman, their cheerleader, and a trusted ally in your workplace, and it's your responsibility to push for the projects they want, turn away tasks for which they lack the bandwidth, and promise deadlines that are achievable.

A straightforward solution: the Stay Interview

You have likely heard of an exit interview, a discussion on an employee's way out the door about their experience at the company. It's a reactive approach to employee feedback that allows for complete honesty, but also leaves no opportunity to salvage the employee.

Being conducted during employment rather than at it's termination, a stay interview is a proactive approach to understanding employee satisfaction. To get you started, here's the important question to ask your employees: what makes you come to work everyday?

Their answers will give you a glimpse at their motivation, and a peek at where the core of their loyalty lies. It also shows, once again, that you respect them, value their presence on the team, and trust them with the responsibility of the business's success.

 

Reducing employee turnover is much easier than recruiting, so retaining satisfied and thriving employees should be the goal of all managers. Efforts can be made to keep your team thriving, and it starts with a manager. Give these tips and try, and let us know how it goes!

Posted: 2/28/2020 10:44:00 AM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments


43 out of 100 workers plan to look for a new job in the next 12 months, according to a recent study by global staffing firm Robert Half. Imagine what your company would look like after losing 43% of your staff, and join the ranks of employers who are "very concerned" about these findings.

why_employees_quitEmploying typical tactics like improving communication and bumping up employee recognition can help, but there are many other reasons a team member leaves for greener pastures. The reasons for professional departure range from psychological to monetary, but there are ways to retain some of your best hires without making massive changes to your company.

What make employees jump ship?

They want more money

Large debts – student debt, housing expenses, childcare expenses, car payments, and more – plague the budget of the average American, and higher salaries provide job satisfaction and peace of mind. The truth might hurt your company wallet: when it comes to retention strategies, better compensation is the clear frontrunner. The Robert Half study reports that 43% of workers leave a job for more money, with less than half of that number responding with the second highest reason:

... and more time off / better benefits

As one of the most overworked nations (with no mandated paid sick leave), it's no wonder that time off and decent benefits are heavily valued in the American workplace. Increasing vacation time, closing the office during the holidays, honoring summer Friday hours, or changing up your lunch policy are all small ways to boost morale and keep your people sticking around.

Work flexibility is becoming the norm.

More than three quarters of workers in a Crain's study say flexible schedules and remote work are the most effective non-monetary ways to retain talent. Allowing employees the freedom to work in a comfortable environment, avoiding a daily commute and working at their prime productivity throughout the day is an incredibly easy way to give your employees another reason to stay. It's not just good for your team, it's good for business - 85% of companies say productivity has increased due to greater flexibility.

There's no path for advancement

If you've hired any members of Generation Z, you might have noticed an uptick in expectations. A survey revealed that 75% believe they'll deserve a promotion after working in their position for only a year. Offering new job titles and setting a plan for career growth are potential solutions, but younger employees may just have different expectations that should be addressed directly.

Other generations feel similarly, seeking a need to feel "essential." Giving them ownership and control over their responsibilities along with a clear path for advancement results in a loyal and productive team.

They aren't learning

A third of employees who quit attribute it to lack of skill development. Workers want to contribute to companies who support their careers and professional development, so once they stop learning, you can count on an empty cubicle. Ambitious people have a growth mentality, so give them the opportunity to attend workshops or seminars and bring back some fresh ideas and enthusiasm for your industry. Retaining top talent means allowing the space for professional as well as personal growth.

They want a new boss

You've heard the saying: people don't leave companies, they leave managers. A boss with seemingly small bad habits can have a massive effect on the success of your business, so take a look in the mirror and make sure you're prioritizing team satisfaction.

We'll touch more on this topic in our next blog post, but until then, take these tips to heart and keep your top performers right where they belong – on your team!

Posted: 1/15/2020 11:12:52 AM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments


Year's end may seem like a pointless time to be in search of your next career move, but that can't be further from the truth. Spotty holiday schedules and limited 4th quarter hiring budgets aside, December can be an excellent month to take advantage of free time and ramp up your job search. We'll get you started on a holiday career hunt so great, you'll start next year with one check marked off on your New Year's Resolution list.

Dust off your contacts list.

A cheery "Happy Holidays" message is an easy excuse for reaching out to check in. See what your contacts have been up to and let them know you're open to finding something new. Spend some time circulating at your neighbor's shindig, chatting with the new faces, and see what comes up. A large amount of career moves come from networking, so reach out to your alumni association and get in touch with past colleagues. Even if their companies aren't hiring, you'll be fresh in their mind when something comes up.

Set a schedule.

Having several days off doesn't necessarily mean you'll have the time to invest in your job hunt. It's easy to get wrapped up in holiday festivities (even if "festivities" means more time lounging on the couch), so make your job search a priority. Set aside daily time dedicated to sifting through job boards and filling out applications. Maybe even make it the first thing you do each day - start your mornings with a dose of productivity!

Make a game out of it.

You can't have a cookie until you've applied for a job.
No night out with friends until you've updated your resume.
No touching the eggnog unless your cover letter is up to par.

Fit your job search into a personally-enforced rewards program, and keep yourself invested in the process. Who better to hold you accountable than the same "you" who determines those beloved New Year's Resolutions every January?

Lead the pack.

In December, the application piles get a little lighter. Not only are applicants preoccupied with gift giving, family time and all that accompanies it, but employers are hitting the end of their yearly budgets, often leaving little room for new hires. Remove that fact from your brain and embrace the chances of finding a new opportunity – hey, if the job is posted, they could use someone, and it might as well be you!

If your dream company isn't hiring at year's end, use this time to get ahead of the New Year, New Job crowd. Send your resume to the top of the pile the moment a spot opens up by using the time off to prep your materials. Re-edit your cover letter, fine tune your resume, and polish up your portfolio.

Whip up delicious hot chocolate and settle in for a (hopefully not) long winter's job search. Set aside your urge to relax and get moving on your next career move. Use the holiday time off to your advantage, and make finding a job... well, festive!

Posted: 12/13/2019 11:05:05 AM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments


In our last post, we discussed the importance of valuing workplace diversity and inclusion. The term "workplace diversity" has been in use for some time, but "workplace inclusivity" can have some of us scratching our heads. While diversity introduces variety to your team, an inclusive work environment is one that allows employees to truly be themselves.

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You might think: people can always be themselves in our office, but there are often instances where an employee feels uncomfortable revealing certain information about themselves. Situations all too common in the office: a woman eliminates family photos from her desk to avoid seeming "serious" about her job, or a man takes vacation time for doctor's appointments to avoid indicating he's working through some mental health issues. These are only a couple examples, but "identity covering" is a frequent tactic in the workplace. A Deloitte University Leadership Center for Inclusion resport found that 61% of employees "cover" at work, meaning they aren't necessarily hiding something, but may be downplaying it in fear of attracting unwanted attention.

How to create a diverse and inclusive workspace? We'll get you started.

Share your story and be available for theirs.

When struggling at work or outside of work, open up about it. Talk about your life. Be honest about what you did over the weekend, and ask the same of your team. Revealing bits of your personal life displays openness and vulnerability, allowing your employees to feel welcome and free from judgment. Don't hide pieces of yourself, and you can expect the same from them.

Create a path for advancement.

In a diverse workplace, not all employees have informal networks among their superiors. It's important to have a path in place for someone to move up the ranks with achievements and recognition.

Establish diversity and inclusion programs.

If your team is large enough, creating joinable groups to unite people across the company can be a great way to allow space for discussion and incorporate feedback processes to larger topics. Consider the wheelchair-friendliness of your office, and give thought to perhaps adding gender-neutral restrooms. Evaluate the diversity of leadership at your organization. Involving your employees in the design and implementation of any further diversity or inclusion programs ensures future efforts are time well spent.

Be intentional about meetings.

Who is running your team meetings? How diverse are your project teams? Eliminating a day-to-day bias is the first stage of creating an inclusive environment. Being aware of meeting and team composition is important.

Categorize your numbers.

Employee satisfaction surveys and focus groups show your intentions are in the right place, but you shouldn't let above average reviews make you complacent. Statistically, the majority's views will overpower that of the minority, so take a look at the data separated into smaller categories. A great example is a Harvard Business Review study of a global law firm: while half of the firm's employees were women, only 23% of the firm's partners were female. Further segmenting their survey data, HBR discovered women didn't want to be partner as often as men. A follow-up survey revealed there were strategies to increase the number of female partners, by making some small changes.

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace is an ongoing discussion that continues to change with a shifting workforce landscape, but one thing is clear. Providing a diverse environment that allows people to be who they are will increase productivity and ultimately improve your business.

 

https://hbr.org/2019/02/survey-what-diversity-and-inclusion-policies-do-employees-actually-want

https://hbr.org/2014/11/help-your-employees-be-themselves-at-work

https://hbr.org/2018/12/to-retain-employees-focus-on-inclusion-not-just-diversity

https://theundercoverrecruiter.com/benefits-diversity-workplace/

 

Posted: 11/22/2019 10:11:45 AM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments