It's no secret: this fall, good help might be hard to find. This fall, applications for jobless benefits fell to the lowest level in 8 months. What does this mean? The pool of people looking for jobs is quite small, so companies face tough competition for top talent, or an investment in keeping their existing workforce intact. Employee retention is the name of the game as we head into Q4, and though it may sound daunting, we've broken it down into some key areas that need attention to ensure your team remains truly happy and healthy as you head into the new year.

Hint: it's not about hosting more golf outings...

5 Employee Retention Strategies that Work

Keep communication lines open.

No, like really open. Set expectations for everything from high-level goals to working hours and availability, and establish quick regular check-in meetings. Keep your employees in the loop when something's going on or there's trouble in the industry. Keep them in the loop when there's good news to share.

Not only should you emphasize your openness to feedback with your direct reports, but try a more consistent and less demanding format like pulse surveys or HR chatbots, which allow for short and casual surveys and are open for employees to report issues in anonymous mode. An additional step in a project timeline could include post-project feedback collection: what could be improved about the process next time around? 

Respect their time.

A broad statement that represents many other tips, boiled down to their core message: respect the time of your employees and they will be more satisfied. What exactly does this entail? Well, lots of things.

The first is to establish working hours and non-working hours. State them, share them, adhere to them. Working outside of these hours? Schedule your email for later. If you have flexible working hours overall, then set core hours people are expected to be available (they could be the middle of the day, like 10am-2pm EST, or could take place in both morning hours and afternoon hours, like 10-12pm and 1-3pm EST). Whatever works for your company – and hey, you can ask your employees – will do, just so long as you are setting boundaries that will allow people to protect their solitary work time and their home life. 

The second is to make sure their "on" hours at work are used as efficiently as possible. Meaning: solid deadlines, no unorganized meetings, and goals broken down into actionable items. Before you call a meeting, be clear on what's to be discussed, and prepare any needed information so minutes aren't wasted searching for documents or data.

Emphasize the importance of wellness. 

Job satisfaction is largely dependent on the vague measurement of "is this working for me?" Does it offer the flexibility I need? Does it offer the benefits that are important to me? Encourage the use of vacation days, offer understanding or time off when an employee is struggling, and learn (and teach others) the signs of burnout. Sticking to the set boundaries for work hours also displays a respect for the mental health and wellbeing of your employees.

Set a great first impression.

The onboarding process is a new hire's first interaction with the inside world of your company – set them on the right track, from the start. Educate them on their responsibilities and how they fit into the bigger picture, giving them ownership over their role. Put forth your company mission and values, and explain how you and your team achieves and monitors them. 

An interesting idea to try: pair all new employees with a "buddy," someone else who works at the company, at any level or in any department, to meet with them, grab lunch, or check in to see how their time is going. Having an acquaintance from the start is a powerful step towards feeling a part of an open and welcoming environment, and one in which there is already an ally. 

Encourage professional growth.

This can be done through the age-old practice of attending conferences, but also can be as simple as setting aside time for micro-development. An example: every Friday afternoon for one hour, members of your team are encouraged to learn something new related to their job. Some ideas that come to mind are learning a few new functions in Excel, watching an InDesign tutorial, or reading an article about the future of A.I. This freedom, with boundaries, allows for a break from work and an increase in knowledge, something workers today crave.

The simple act of asking your team if there's anything they'd like to learn more about can open floodgates to an invigorating work environment. Have them report back to each other, in order to keep the enthusiasm going.

Keeping a team satisfied is no easy feat, but making the effort is the first, and most important, step in ensuring your professional environment is one that retains employees. Try some of these suggestions, and let us know how it goes! 

Posted: 11/7/2023 11:04:58 AM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments

When it comes to finding a new job with a prospective employer, you have lots of questions specific to the job itself. What are the responsibilities of the position, what’s the day-to-day workload, what are the skills needed for the job, etc. But, there’s always a bigger looming question that demands answering: what is it really LIKE to work there?

The term "company culture" grew in popularity over the last several decades as the workplace became a second home to many working Americans. What was once an indefinable quality with less importance to a job seeker now bears weight for a potential hire. Are you completely qualified but not a “culture fit”? Does the company offer a work-life balance that works for you? Now more than ever, companies are making efforts to establish what makes them, them. Picturing yourself working somewhere should be easier than ever, but company culture is often the mystery puzzle piece at the end of an application process. How exactly can you determine what the company culture is like?

Understanding what "company culture" really comprises is essential to create a framework for evaluating if it is a good fit. The main components of company culture:

  • Values and mission - what really matters to the company? 
  • Communication / Leadership Style / Team Dynamics - how do employees work together, how does the company communicate with their employees?
  • Work environment - what is the physical workspace like and what workplace actions does it promote?
  • Diversity and Inclusion - is there adequate representation at all levels of the company?
  • Employee Engagement / Development - are employees engaged with their work and encouraged to grow professionally?

For many of you, the typical ways of learning about a company will be perfectly sufficient: look at their website to peek at their workspace, browse their mission and values, and see if their employee page is as diverse as they claim. Check their social media accounts for any indication of employee championing, camaraderie, or recognition. But if you're looking to get even deeper than the words their marketing team has very intentionally prepared, we have a couple places that will suggest even more about what to expect if you joined the team.

Dive into job postings 

Job postings often require a company to sum itself up in a way that’s appealing to a prospective employee. Read about the company in one of their job listings to see what terms and phrases they've chosen to communicate as, potentially, a first impression to a prospective employee. What they decide to prioritize stating in a job posting could be considered at worst an unattainable intention, and at best a direct reflection of the essence of the company.

Much like real estate listings riddled with coded language like "charming" (old) or "cozy" (small), job postings can be excellent indicators of life at a company. Take a look, paying close attention to the words they use in a few different areas. First, what kind of benefits are offered? If they have a more lenient vacation or PTO policy than some, or flexible work hours, or even offer earned sabbaticals, they likely support a healthy work-life balance. Paid parental leave outside of the traditional maternity leave can indicate the same. Next, examine the required skills and qualifications listed. If there are several specific technical skills listed, they may place higher value on expertise and skills. On the contrary, emphasizing soft skills like collaboration, teamwork, or a positive attitude might suggest a supportive, people-oriented workplace. Also consider the tone of the writing - is it formal and traditional, or casual and conversational? In many cases, this is a direct reflection of the workplace. Last, review the level of detail provided about the role. A more elaborate and detailed description of the position may be an indicator that they value transparency and clarity. A much more condensed or succinct description may be your first clue that this is a fast-paced working environment.

Find their employees on LinkedIn

Look for employees on the team you're considering, as well as elsewhere in the company. Is there a diverse range represented? Are they active and engaged on LinkedIn? Do they belong to any professional groups or affinity groups? Do they share company news and events? Looks for signs of enthusiasm, passion, and dedication to both their fellow employees as well as the mission of the company. Sharing company news and projects with their network demonstrates pride and engagement with their work, and being supportive of others is a great quality to have in a work colleague. This is also indicated in the Recommendations section of a profile: have they written any thoughtful recommendations for others or received any from colleagues at their place of employment? A company is nothing if not a collection of individuals, so you might as well dig in and learn more about them. 

Explore the path some of these employees have taken within the company. Have they been promoted or moved around departments? This may indicate that success is tracked and rewarded. If several employees appear to be moving up the ladder, the company may be growing and prioritize promoting from within. Employees' loyalty to the company, rather than jumping ship and working elsewhere, suggests job satisfaction. Overall, joining a team of supportive, collaborative, and passionate people will yield successful results in your career, and looking through LinkedIn profiles can reveal a lot about potential workplaces.

There are many different ways to approach evaluating company culture, and getting an accurate reflection of it can be a real journey. We encourage you to invest time into determining company culture before starting a new position, and don't be afraid to think outside of the box. Investigating job listings and LinkedIn profiles with a mission to reveal the true ethos of a company can be an enjoyable and informative process!

Posted: 6/28/2023 2:53:50 PM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments

Huge numbers of people are leaving their jobs.

Last summer, immediately following the release of nationwide vaccines, a return to a "normal" workday for many Americans brought with it clarity of professional and personal priorities. What became known as The Great Resignation marked a tidal wave of employees voluntarily abandoning their positions, leaving a record breaking 10.9 million jobs open last July, with 3% of the U.S. workforce resigning later in October.

the great reshuffle

The Great Reshuffle

Since then, a shift in the landscape has led to fewer employees resigning altogether, but many switching jobs in search of positions that better suit their needs. It's being called The Great Reshuffle, and many are considering it to be the biggest transformation the job world has seen in modern history.

What is going on?

People want flexibility (or need it)

As a result of the Great Resignation, a decrease in available workforce has given knowledge workers the power to be choosy about their next steps. People are happiest when they have control over when, how, and where they work, and the personal life shifts caused by the pandemic have really clarified those realizations. 

School closings, mask regulations, and social-distancing recommendations have made daily life slightly more complicated, so it's no surprise that the employed workforce is attempting to simplify their lifestyle with flexible workdays. Since remote working was adopted by a large number of companies in 2020, employees are realizing a lack of employer flexibility can be a deal breaker. Many are leaving current positions or forgoing new opportunities if flexibility is not an option. 

Employers must differentiate themselves

Having hybrid working options is critical for employers moving forward, but the benefits cannot stop there. Companies are now competing for a pool of employees who are more particular than ever, with a need to stand out by investing in a "company culture" that is admittedly very different than it looked even five years ago. In this case, we're not talking about ping pong tables, office swings, and free snacks; we mean fostering a supportive community of team members, with respect for personal time and encouragement of open communication.

But, when a workplace has no central location for its employees to gather, how can connections be maintained and a workplace culture thrive?

Encourage open communication beyond meetings

Zoom is not the permanent solution to replace all in-office meetings. (After all, how many of those in-office meetings did we realize could be replaced with a single email?) To keep up colleague relationships, allow for quick calls, short chat messages on your platform of choice, or other means of communicating outside of a formal Zoom room. Only having cringe-y "digital happy hours"? Mentally set aside a few minutes at the beginning or end of a meeting to catch up before moving on to other work, so it feels like you're still connected to the people you work with.

Embrace "family-friendly" schedules

Being understanding of personal obligations will strengthen employee loyalty - just be sure to keep communication lines open and honest. A lot of trust needs to be built among teammates working remotely, and employees need their leader to be supportive and also transparent about expectations.

Allow "not camera ready" moments

Let's face it – we're not all donning a full suit and tie every morning anymore. Part of the appeal of remote working is the time saved without a commute or need to be presentable. Respect fellow workers habits and give some notice for a video call, or accept the fact that someone might keep that camera off.

Employers paying attention to this massive workforce migration towards flexibility will thrive if they invest in a company culture that supports the professional and emotional needs of their teams. Job seekers don't just hope for it anymore, they demand it.

Posted: 3/16/2022 5:10:49 PM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments