May 2011 15
Obviously, there are a lot of reasons the team over here at CareerBuilder is excited to be in Las Vegas this year for SHRM – spectacular food, shopping and shows, the chance to relive the epic skydiving Elvises scene from Honeymoon in Vegas, etc....but the chance to meet all of the conference attendees is at the top of that list. Honestly. (I mean, Vegas is great and all, but if you’ve seen one American Storm show, you’ve seen ‘em all...I’ve heard.)
SHRM, after all, provides us one of the best opportunities to get quality one-on-one time with you, the people who are the driving force behind our mission to match the right people with the right companies. That said, if you’re planning to go to SHRM this year, I highly encourage you to visit us at booth 2217 on the showroom floor.
Here's a run-through of everything we've got going on:
Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial kick-off to summer, is upon us. Grills will be dusted off and fired up; burgers, brats and corn on the cob will be prepared; bikes will be ridden down ridiculously long paths; swimming pools will be cannonballed into; bathers will be sunned; time with family and friends will be had; and... work will be done?
A new CareerBuilder study of more than 5,600 workers shows that many employees are excitedly taking the fishing rods out of storage, only to sadly put them back hours later in an Arrested Development George Michael-type moment. Due to financial constraints and demanding work schedules, many workers are giving up their vacation plans this year by either choice or necessity (see a snapshot here). Twenty-four percent of full-time workers, in fact, reported they can’t afford to take a vacation this year, up from 21 percent in 2010. Another 12 percent reported they can afford a vacation, but don’t have plans to take one this year.
Despite these sour numbers, the majority of workers are still planning to take some time away from work -- the physical "work," at least. Three in ten workers plan to take work with them on vacation. Thirty percent said they will contact work while on vacation, up from 25 percent last year.
On the flip side...
While some workers are stuck pretending their vacuum is a jet-ski this year, more than one-third (36 percent) of workers reported feeling more comfortable taking a vacation than they did in 2010. The economy is healing in various ways, and some people's wallets are also healing enough that vacation is now an option. Twenty-six percent of workers are planning a vacation of 7 to 10 days, while 11 percent expect to be gone 2 weeks or longer. On the more conservative side, 24 percent are planning for a 3 to 5 days for vacation or a weekend getaway. And many (including CareerBuilder's own VP of HR), say traveling across the world or just setting up camp in your house -- and away from your office -- is good for your health and may translate to better work while in the office:
“Taking advantage of vacation or paid-time-off benefits is critical not only to your well-being, but to your overall job performance,” said Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder. “Workers who set aside time for R&R tend to have less burnout, more creative energy and higher quality output. While financial challenges and heavy workloads may make vacation planning difficult, it’s important to find time to recharge away or at home. It can ultimately translate into a more gratifying work experience that benefits you, your family and your employer.”
So, how can employers turn the vacation outlook from bleak to beachy? Here are Haefner's tips for helping your employees -- and you -- take better advantage of time off:
Do you ever wonder how companies like Google, Best Buy, P&G, Harrah’s, Dell, Starbucks and Sysco – to name just a few – consistently rank on Best Places to Work and Most Desirable Employers lists? It’s not just the fancy perks like free gourmet meals, stock options, on-site fitness facilities and flex schedules. (Well, not just that, anyway.)
The secret to their success is data.
These companies are able to position themselves as best places to work because they rely on data to inform all of their recruitment decisions. They gather data on everything from job seeker and employee perceptions, behaviors and desires (including even the above-mentioned ‘fancy perks’ employees want most) to industry trends and talent supply and demand. They then analyze this data to understand where to focus their recruitment efforts to get the best return on their investment.
Harrah’s, for example, used metrics to evaluate the effects of its health and wellness programs on employee engagement and the bottom line. Starbucks and Best Buy have established metrics that can precisely identify the value of a 0.1 percent increase in engagement among employees at a particular store. Sysco implemented analytics to identify which workforce factors influence employee satisfaction and how they correlated to higher revenue, lower costs, higher retention and stronger customer loyalty. The company then applied these findings to identify what actions by management will have the greatest impact on the business. Similarly, Google used talent intelligence to identify eight effective leadership behaviors, which the company now uses as criteria when considering performance reviews and staffing decisions.
Six Habits of Highly Successful Employers
The above are just a few examples of how companies rely on data to understand both current and potential employees and use this intelligence to position themselves as desirable places to work. So how can you create a similar experience with data to see bottom-line results? Consider the following key concepts that companies who successfully recruit with data get right.
As anyone who has found themselves knees-deep in a friend’s tagged photos can tell you, social media sites can be addicting. So it’s no surprise that this newer medium scares the pants off of many companies, causing them to block sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube at the office.
In fact, according to a 2010 survey by OpenDNS, Facebook was blocked by 23 percent of the provider’s business users, making it the most blocked website last year, beating out Playboy and Limewire.
This trend comes in stark contrast with the 2011’s projected $3.08 billion in social media advertising revenue from companies screaming, “I want to play, too!” And it’s making me think something here is amiss.
When stripped down, isn’t business simply all about communicating? Advertising the features of your latest product, talking to potential employees about job opportunities, fostering relationships with clients and vendors – it’s no wonder social media is the new forefront; it enables this communication to take place in a much more organic way. But companies need to harness its power internally just as much as they have begun to embrace it externally.
In my work as a social media community manager for various companies, I spend a lot of time on the different platforms, and, oftentimes, even my less-than-delicate sensibilities are shocked. It’s no surprise that people on the Internet are ruder and cruder than they are in real life – they feel protected by the lack of face-to-face interaction in cyberspace. Nonetheless, when I see the expletive-laced, all-caps, or just plain aggressive posts some people make, I can’t help but think, “Do you email your mother with that keyboard?”
Not only that, but some brands seem to feel that social media is their own personal sales playground. Companies with carefully executed TV, radio, and print ads as well as eye-catching promotional campaigns think nothing of spamming fans on social media with sales pitch after sales pitch, ignoring questions and customer service issues. They’d never do this in person or over the phone, so why is it OK to be rude on social media? It’s not.
Lately, I’ve been desperately seeking politeness, so I turned to the definitive source – Emily Post. More specifically, an updated version of her most famous book: Emily Post’s Etiquette: The Definitive Guide to Manners, Completely Revised and Updated, by Peggy Post.
The book is dictionary-sized, but it’s definitely a great reference to have in your home for situations ranging from how to behave in the office to how to wait in line at the ATM and how to politely turn down a wedding invitation. Here, I’ve taken some of the tips for everyday etiquette and applied them to social media for businesses.
The Posts recommend using standard courtesies when presenting the “public you.” For companies and businesses, let’s just consider your Facebook and Twitter accounts to be the public you as well.
- “Keep your voice volume to a reasonable level.” In social media terms, this means don’t post in all caps, with 10 exclamation points. Your fans followed your page because they like your brand – half the battle is won! You don’t need to sell to them – you need to engage them. Don’t post excessively, and think carefully about whether your post is relevant, fun, and social. Talking loud and often in person isn’t always the way to engage, and it won’t work on social media either. With engagement, sales and/or employee applications will come.
- “Keep your language clean.” It should go without saying, but many people post curse words, foul language, and even direct threats on public forums like Facebook and Twitter. If your brand’s fans are posting aggressive complaints or foul language, don’t stoop to their level. Many companies find themselves in a terrible position when they unleash their snark on fans. For a primer on what not to do, see Nestle – it caused quite a ruckus last year. It’s hard to tell in writing if you’re being snarky or not. So unless it’s a really strong brand identifier for your company, keep the sarcastic comments to a minimum, even if they’re in jest. The risk of offending someone is too high. In addition, do your fans the courtesy of writing well – grace them with grammatically correct and fun-to-read posts.
Wikipedia defines frienemies as “either an enemy disguised as a friend or a partner who is simultaneously a competitor and rival.” Think about it: In your experience, are recruiting and HR enemies disguised as friends, rivals, or true business partners?
Over the years, I have witnessed many organizations in which HR and recruiting are indeed frienemies. In other words, the relationship on paper is good, but there is an undercurrent of something you can't quite put your finger on. I've often wondered, “Was that a dig just now?” as someone offered a comment that could have really been either a compliment or a jab.
Let’s examine the differences between friends and frienemies in more detail:
- Protect one another's interests
- Respect each other’s differences
- Value one another’s contributions
- Support and reinforce the efforts of the other
- Respectfully disagree
- Encourage direct communication
- Shift the focus off the other person's accomplishments
- Devalue the other person's function
- Downplay the other person's contributions
- Undermine the other person's efforts
- Circumvent direct communications and favor gossip or tattle-tailing
- Plague new ideas with negativity
Frienemies in action
I’ve listened in on many meetings where one party talked about what was wrong with the new hires recruiting had brought on, or a manager mentioned that HR was not responding to some need. Such is the life of “frienemies,” as they just can’t help themselves. They sabotage you and secretly (or maybe not so secretly) enjoy it.
I’ve also witnessed many organizations where these two parties work powerfully in tandem. High levels of accountability and consistency are hallmarks of this type of environment, so it’s no surprise that these organizations happen to be the highest performing ones.
The potential for conflict between HR and recruiting is high, even though they often share a reporting structure. This is due in part to fundamental differences between the two groups:
- Each focuses on different skill sets.
- Often they are blended into the same hierarchy, typically under an HR umbrella, implying that greater value belongs to HR.
- HR may have more authority than recruiting.
- Recruiting is typically more operations-focused.
- HR is about administration and compliance.
- Recruiting is about selling an employment value proposition and company culture.
Most of the time, someone who is really good at HR rarely favors recruiting, and vice versa. This is because recruiting is more sales oriented, where HR is more administration oriented — and these are completely different skill sets. There is no good or bad; they are just different.
I will confess that I have my own biases. I started out strictly dedicated to talent acquisition. I would have made a terrible HR generalist. The thought of having to handle compensation and benefits was enough to send me into the fetal position in a corner. And here’s the key: You don't want me doing that work -- it’s not what I’m best at. The value I bring to an organization is in selling their employment value proposition to the market and figuring out who should work for them.
How can HR and recruiting work better together?
“Our employees are the heart and soul of our business and the reason we continue to enjoy prosperity and growth.”
In the following excerpt from CareerBuilder's recent interview with Carl Albright, CEO of InfoCision, Albright reveals, among other things, his leadership philosophy, the impact people have on his business, and how a first-grader gave him his greatest leadership lesson.
WHAT IS YOUR PHILOSOPHY AS IT RELATES TO PEOPLE AND THEIR IMPACT ON YOUR DAILY BUSINESS?
Join us at any employee of the month ceremony, and you’ll hear the same sentiments time and again: “I love it here,” and “I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else.” These sentiments come from a very simple philosophy on which InfoCision was founded over 28 years ago: People make a difference. InfoCision’s vision is to be the highest quality direct marketing provider of the 21st century. “Commitment to Excellence” underscores our uncompromising commitment to quality and integrity. “Whatever It Takes” reflects our willingness to go above and beyond. These two simple ideas define how we interact with each other, our clients, our vendors/partners, and anyone else we come in contact with.
HOW DO YOU ENGAGE WITH AND RELATE TO YOUR EMPLOYEES?
Engaging employees is a top priority for InfoCision, and frequently telling our employees how they each generate value and help the company is key. Daily, we work hard to break down barriers that can hinder communication. We maintain and promote a true open-door policy, creating an atmosphere of mutual trust. At every level, we encourage open communication, feedback and discussion. I personally attend our 30-plus call center employee of the month ceremonies, providing a company update and short- and long-term outlooks. During these town hall-style meetings, employees are free to ask any question, and I always give an honest answer.
WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT LEADERSHIP LESSONS YOU'VE LEARNED?
The most important leadership lesson I’ve learned didn’t come from a book or mentor; it actually came from my son. Both he and his brother play sports and have the potential to be very good athletes. One day I asked my oldest, who is in first grade, why he thought his friends liked him - fully expecting him to say it’s because he’s good at sports. But instead, he said it’s because he’s nice. When I asked him again, he said it’s because “I let the girls play kickball with us.” When I asked him once more, he said it’s because “I roll the ball slowly to Petey, who has a hard time kicking the ball.” I was really proud of his answers, because just like in business, it comes down to giving the ultimate effort…and being humble.
HOW DO YOUR EMPLOYEES AFFECT YOUR BUSINESS, PARTICULARLY AS IT RELATES TO CLIENT SERVICES?
By creating an award-winning workplace, we are able to attract, retain and motivate top-performers. The fact that they enjoy their jobs and feel valued comes across in their daily interactions. The result is a higher ROI for our clients and a competitive advantage for us. Our employees are the heart and soul of our business and the reason we continue to enjoy prosperity and growth.
HOW DO YOU MAKE YOUR OVERALL TALENT STRATEGY A PRIORITY?
First and foremost, we strive to make sure our employees feel that InfoCision is a place where they can create a fulfilling career for themselves. Employees are free and encouraged to seek out new roles within the company. In fact, four executives started on the phones, and I started out as an assistant call center supervisor. In 2002, I created InfoCision Management Corporate University to provide a clear path for advancement and the training and development needed to succeed – all at no cost to employees and all on company time. We have the best talent in the industry – truly talented and innovative professionals – and our continued growth is a reflection of that. Our staffing levels grew by 14 percent in 2010, and in 2011 we’re projecting a 10 percent increase.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO RALLY THE TEAM AND REINFORCE YOUR EMPLOYMENT BRAND?
Our business is about building relationships, and InfoCision has a unique view of the relationship world. Having been a teleservices company for close to three decades, we have expanded into a full-service, multichannel marketing partner. Technology, coupled with the struggling economy, has changed the way marketers are forming and maintaining relationships. But one constant that has always risen to the top is to deliver an extraordinary customer experience.