Are Your Employees Planning to Leave in 2017?

December 27th, 2016 Comments off
Person silhouette standing in 2017 on the hill at sunset

Now may not be the time to get too attached to workers. According to a new CareerBuilder survey, more than 1 in 5 workers (22 percent) are planning to change jobs in 2017. Among younger workers, the numbers are even higher. More than a third of workers ages 18 to 34 (35 percent) expect to change jobs in the next year.

Employee retention is critical to the long-term health and success of your business. So what can you do to make workers stay?

When asked what extra perks would make them more willing to join or stay with a company, the most popular choices workers pointed to include:

  • Half-day Fridays: 40 percent
  • On-site fitness center: 27 percent
  • The ability to wear jeans: 23 percent
  • Daily catered lunches: 22 percent
  • Employee’s own office: 22 percent

While you may not be able to offer everything on the above list, below are a few strategies you can use to retain your talent in 2017 and beyond:

Provide a competitive benefits package. You’re competing for clients and for employees. Flex schedules, health insurance and specialty insurance (such as disability and life) make a difference when it comes to attracting and keeping employees.

Create an open and honest work environment. Give feedback on work performed and be willing to listen, really listen, to the concerns of your employees.

Get employees’ input: If you want to keep your best and brightest people, involve them in the decision-making process. Not only will it serve to provide different perspectives that can lead to smarter decisions, it will also boost morale,

Provide productivity tools: Ensuring your employees have access to the tools and information they need helps ensure they can do their job more productively.

Recognize and reward good work: Monetary bonuses are always nice, but recognition of a job well done goes a long way to creating good will and loyalty. The most powerful recognition is specific. For example, “good job” is acceptable, but “good job on the rebrand project” is much better.


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How to Retain High Performers in a Hyper-Competitive Market

May 17th, 2016 Comments off
How to Retain High-Performing Workers in a Hyper-Competitive Market

In an era where baby boomers are retiring at a rate of 10,000 a day and the economy is rapidly reaching full employment, recruiting has never been more important. Not only is it critical to find the necessary talent to meet your organizational strategy, but retaining high performers may mean the difference between success and failure.

It’s a Job Seeker’s Market

Finding and retaining quality workers in our current labor market in is the biggest challenge organizations face right now. A CareerBuilder/Emsi study has shown that demand is far exceeding supply in a broad range of fields. With so many job vacancies open, employees — particularly millennials — are not hesitating to switch jobs. Eighty-three percent of new millennial parents, for example, are willing to change jobs for better benefits. The Affordable Care Act has also decoupled health care from employers, freeing many employees from the need to look to companies for security. Finally, speed to hire is becoming even more important. Top candidates will not be on the market for long — often 10 days at most. If a job remains open for an extended period, top candidates may also see it as a poor reflection of your decision-making.

Where Recruiters Are Going Wrong

Unfortunately, the biggest mistake many recruiters are making in this environment is creating a distinction between recruiting and interviewing. Too often, recruiters are so busy determining whether the candidate is the right fit for the organization, and whether they have the appropriate knowledge, skills, and abilities, that they forget it is a two-way street. Just as important is selling the position to the candidate and convincing him or her why your organization is THE place to be. Technological improvements have made it easier to find and locate talent, but closing the deal cannot be ignored. Similarly, job descriptions need to be rewritten to accurately reflect the exciting aspects of the position.

Organizations need to determine what to prioritize in their recruitment strategy. With multiple stakeholders having competing demands, satisfying all groups can be a challenge. Key jobs and job-holders who will be difficult to replace should be at the top of the list. Realistically, positions that are easy to fill will likely be addressed first.

So, what can you do to stay ahead of the competition when it comes to addressing these concerns?

  1. Invest heavily in your employee referral program. With top firms finding nearly half of their hires from referrals, it is critical to not only educate employees on the tasks, duties, and responsibilities of the open position, but also to provide feedback on mediocre suggestions so that the employee has a clear understanding of the type of candidate needed.
  2. Make data-driven hires second nature. It is not just about collecting information, but applying the information in a way that drives change. Use the data you to manage to identify which interview questions provide superior results or which hiring manager determines the best candidate.
  3. Use data to predict the future. Data can also help you identify which employees are more likely to depart the organization.


In “Great Expectations,” Charles Dickens writes:

Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day.

Recruiting provides the opportunity to create that memorable link. The challenge is to form it.

This is the first installment in our Expert Recruitment Insights series. Missed John Sumser’s piece on today’s biggest recruitment challenges? Catch up here.


In today’s hyper-competitive labor market, it’s time to get serious about recruitment, and it all starts with creating a winning recruitment strategy. Get the guide.


76% of Full-Time Employed Workers Are Open to New Job Opportunities

April 25th, 2016 Comments off
76% of Full-Time Employed Workers Are Open to New Job Opportunities

More than 3 in 4 (76 percent of) full-time employed workers are actively looking or open to new job opportunities, according to CareerBuilder’s Pulse of Recruitment survey.

The research also shows that job seekers use an average of about 16 resources throughout each new job search. That’s a lot of resources, and only further proves the idea of today’s consumer candidate. Meanwhile, employers are doing their homework as well, using an average of 15 different resources to find candidates.

What Does This Mean For You?

This might not come as a huge surprise, but a higher base salary is the No. 1 reason candidates are looking for a new job.

With the vast majority of today’s workforce seemingly ready and willing to “jump ship” at a moment’s notice, it’s important for both employers and recruiters to understand what drives these candidates, so that they’re not just attracting them in the short term, but they also have an eye on retaining them in the long term. That means paying closer attention to things such as improved work-life balance, better advancement opportunities and improved benefits.

Follow the hashtag #PulseofRecruitment on Twitter for more stats and insights.

Join the conversation on Twitter: #TalentFactor.

50% of Employers List Retention as Top Business Priority

April 18th, 2016 Comments off

In a perfect world, if you were given unlimited resources, what business challenges would you prioritize first?

That’s the question both staffing firms and staffing firm clients were asked in CareerBuilder’s latest Pulse of Recruitment survey. What’s interesting is that while staffing firms would ideally like to balance their time among hiring, retention, using data and implementing new technology, employers chose retention as their top priority.

Top priorities

Green – top staffing priorities; Blue – top client priorities

What Does This Mean For You?

If you’re a recruiter at a staffing firm, it’s important to understand your clients’ top priorities. Given today’s competitive job market, it’s clear employers would like to devote more resources to retaining their best employees. By demonstrating how you can assist them with their hiring needs, they can then focus more time on overcoming their other business challenges – including keeping top talent.

The Importance of a Defined Talent Strategy: Q and A with Talent Strategy Institute Founder Al Adamsen

April 5th, 2016 Comments off
Defined talent strategy

“Talent strategy” might not be a four letter word, yet many organizations are still afraid to use the term, according to Al Adamsen, founder and executive director of Talent Strategy Institute. That may stem from the inability to define what it truly means and understand how it fits into a company’s overall business strategy. Yet having a clear game plan for acquiring and keeping top talent is crucial to a company’s success.

We interviewed Adamsen to gain insight on how organizations can build a winning talent strategy and the key role workforce analytics plays in its development and execution.

CB: Companies that want to stay ahead of the competition need a talent strategy in addition to other key business strategies. Where do you see data coming into play within a company’s talent strategy?

AA: When talking to business leaders and HR executives, ask them, “Do you regard people as a key asset? Do you have a people strategy? Can you share with me how you formulate, manage and message?” It’s likely that no one will share this information because they don’t have it.

Let’s talk about how to do this – how to consciously create the candidate and employee experience. Some of the questions you need to ask include:

  • Where do analytics come in to play? You have to know what is and isn’t already in place.
  • Who are your high performers and how are they identified? No one is happy with their performance benchmarks.
  • How do you understand what is keeping people at your company? Historical measures might not be appropriate. Let’s track this through the life cycle.
  • What is the best source for this data – internal, external or both? How would you value each of these sources?


When it comes to turn around, think about what your leaders want or need to know. Some might be focused on the wrong things, so you need to prioritize and then find out what data you need.

CB: Why is it so important for organizations to understand what a talent strategy is?

AA: I often cite the quote, “The beginning of wisdom is starting with the right terms.” “Talent strategy” is rarely used as a term by an organization. Really defining what a talent strategy is and how it fits into your business planning cycle is crucial. The organizations that are creating workforces well are measuring and finding ways to manage the success of the process. Organizations must focus on data, technology and people – if you only focus on one of these pillars, the boat is not going to float.

CB: Do you think companies should be establishing workforce analytics teams within HR, or should HR teams skill up to do more data analysis for talent forecasting?

AA: In today’s market, not many truly get this and fewer are addressing it. It’s one of the reasons why our discipline hasn’t matured. The person doing this work needs to have the internal cache to say, stop – we need to take a look at our performance management.

HR teams need to hire someone responsible for all four buckets of workforce intelligence capability: HR metrics, surveys, analytics and workforce planning. You need all four buckets funneling through one person, otherwise you’re just creating a lot of noise. This person shouldn’t be too senior or too junior. If they are too high level, they might not be willing to get into the “weeds.” If they are too junior, they may not have the ability to tell the story with the data.

CB: You mentioned that while workforce analytics is a hot topic, only about 20-25 percent of all companies are actually using workforce analytics data to drive decisions. What holds those other organizations back?

AA: Two things hold them back. The first is leadership involvement, and a leader’s decision to do the work. Many sit back and ask for insight, but they don’t support HR or the owner of the process with the right resources. Leaders have to make a conscious decision to make it a priority.

Also, organizations need someone to focus on this effort. Creating a story around the data is a full-time job – not a part-time one. If you are a large enterprise, five key roles are needed to be committed to it.

CB: Why would a company want to consider using a partner for external workforce analytics data vs. having an internal team do the work?

AA: Even if you are large company, this might be too much for one person. It might make sense to ask for help from an external team with more expertise. Smaller companies should really consider going externally. For this to take hold, there needs to be a reoccurring event where this data is displayed, whether that’s through a quarterly meeting, event, etc. If you use an external partner, it’s still important to have someone internally to lead and manage the process.

CB: How do you recommend telling a story with data, and how can this practice help HR when having conversations with key stakeholders who don’t understand workforce planning?

AA: When telling a story with data to stakeholders, it should come from an advisor who can build trust by offering ideas based on insights that have been empirically derived. Leaders often don’t know what questions to ask, so analysts need to do the work for them. It’s an analyst’s job to test new hypotheses and either validate facts or bust myths.

Al Adamsen is a globally recognized thought leader, advisor and educator in the areas of Talent Strategy, Workforce Planning and Analytics, Talent Measurement and Organizational Change. He’s the founder and executive director of the Talent Strategy Institute, a global association committed to expanding the production and use of meaningful workforce insight. For more on Adamsen, check out his LinkedIn profile.

Ready to build or revamp your recruitment plan? Download “How to Create a Winning Recruitment Strategy” today. 

How to Nourish In-Office Learning

March 15th, 2016 Comments off
Recruiting for the love of learning

There was a time in history when employees were at the mercy of their employer in terms of fringe benefits. A great package in the early 20th century might include a steady paycheck and the day off on Christmas — unless you were employed by a gentleman with the name Ebenezer. Things have certainly changed; so much so that it is now employers who must fight to offer the greatest benefit packages in order to attain (and retain) the best and brightest employees. One of the most popular benefits for employees is an opportunity to learn.

Whether through tuition reimbursement programs, paid professional certifications or free continuing education credits, fostering employees who have a deep love of learning is beneficial to all those involved. With this in mind, it’s important for managers to create learning opportunities within the office. Most programs focus on opportunities outside regular business hours; however, if you’re a people manager, there are things you can do today to help cultivate great learning environments without the need for employees to seek such opportunities during their free time.

Here are four ideas to foster a love of learning:

Call It Out.

As you look to initiate any learning program, it will be important to make sure those who report to you are aware of the level of importance you place on learning. You may be thinking, “Shouldn’t my team already know this is important to me?” The truth is, most employees don’t expect or assume that an organization or their managers value learning above learning the in and outs of their particular roles and focusing on what they brought with them through the doors.

Invite Experts.

Expert guests may range from senior members of other teams with which you work, to professional educators. Picture these events as in-house conferences or seminars. If there is a particular certification that would help the members of your team perform more effectively, having an outside instructor come to you each week and working through the course as a team is a great way to build camaraderie, as well as ensure your employees have the specific qualifications you need to ensure long-term organizational success. For example, if you’re managing a group of project managers, there could be an opportunity to work as a team toward earning a Project Management Professional (PMP) certificate.

Set up a Laboratory.

Whether you want to call it a workshop, a lunch and learn — or another term people may be buzzing at the moment, having proctored learning sessions is a solid method to employ to edify your teams. The frequency of these sessions can be flexible, though in most office settings, monthly or bi-monthly works well.

Involve your employees! Don’t just pick a topic and hope for the best; there should be a dialogue around what skills and knowledge your people are interested in improving. And remember, not everyone on the team will be, or needs to be, in attendance at every session. One month you may focus on communication, another on organization skills or time management, and so on.

Carve out Time.

Providing the time to foster a love of learning doesn’t have to be a detriment to the bottom line and productivity. A mere 30-minute block for employees to focus on learning initiatives adds up to over 20 hours of annual, in-office learning. Think about it: Perhaps it’s the last 30 minutes of every Tuesday, or the first half hour on Fridays. By making it a point to provide specific time solely for the purpose of education, most teams can accomplish a significant amount of self-betterment.

Learning is an important piece of individual growth and development. This goes above the standard on-the-job training; that’s still essential, but it focuses only on the skills needed to complete the tasks employees were hired to perform today, rather than helping them grow within the organization and become the leaders of tomorrow. There is no right or wrong methods. Anything you can do as a manager to help your employees grow will both benefit the organization, as well as help demonstrate your people skills. These suggestions are a great start, but there should be no limit on learning, as there is no finish line. As Leonardo da Vinci said, “Learning never exhausts the mind.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: As the editor and content manager at ResumeEdgeMichelle Kruse has helped countless job seekers find success. With more than 10 years of experience recruiting for companies like Novartis and IBM, she has firsthand experience of what recruiters are looking for, and she shares that insight with those who need it most. She writes regularly to provide advice on resume writing and interviewing not only because it’s her job, but because it’s her passion.

75% of Employees Are Open To or Actively Looking For New Jobs

February 15th, 2016 Comments off

Here at CareerBuilder, we like to keep a pulse on the job seeker market to constantly foster a relationship between employers and candidates. Each year, we survey thousands of candidates and HR managers to gain valuable insight for our industry. The annual Candidate Behavior Study found that 3 in 4 (75 percent) of full-time employees are either open to or actively searching for new job opportunities. The average job seeker is more empowered than ever before – from a growing economy to advances in technology that make searching for new careers fast and easy.

What does this mean for you?

In the past, CareerBuilder and other industry thought leaders would distinguish between “active” and “passive” job seekers – those who are committed to finding a new job and others who are simply browsing to keep an eye on the opportunities available, respectively. With an overwhelming number of employed candidates open to new opportunities, the days of making this distinction may be over.

As a country, unemployment is under 5 percent (4.9 to be exact) for first time since February of 2008. As there is less talent to go around, job seekers are allowed to wait and evaluate all of their options before making a career change.

Our data shows a vast majority are open to discussing opportunities with potential new employers, so now may be the perfect time for a proactive sourcing strategy. CareerBuilder has the U.S.’s largest database of candidate contact information and work experience.

 Contact us today to learn more about CareerBuilder Search and other sourcing solutions to help tap into this larger pool of potential candidates. 

14 Best Things About Having a Work Spouse

February 8th, 2016 Comments off
14 Best Things About Having a Work Spouse

Every Valentine’s Day we celebrate the love between partners who are romantically involved — either dating or married. But there’s one bond that isn’t as widely celebrated: the relationship between work spouses.

Whether in or outside of your department, your work spouse is a co-worker you’ve become so close to that you’re practically inseparable within the confines of the workplace. Work spouses are basically office BFFs, regardless of whether they’re members of the same or opposite sex.

Here, in random order, are the top reasons why you should give your work spouse a shout-out this Valentine’s Day.

1. You don’t have to text your work spouse to save you a seat at the next meeting — they will do so on their own and guard it with their life. During meetings, you know what the other is thinking … because you’re always on the same page and are probably even thinking the same thing.

2. You are obsessed with the same TV shows — whether it’s a classic like Friends or a current buzzworthy series like Making a Murderer.

3. The best part of having a work spouse is that you never have to eat alone ever again. You’re so close to your work spouse that manners don’t even matter — they won’t wait until your food arrives to start eating and they will leave and tell you to box your lunch even though you aren’t even halfway through your meal. But you wouldn’t have it any other way.

4. You trust their opinion. Whether it’s a trivial decision like what to eat or wear or a more serious work-related one, you turn to your work spouse for direction and know you can always count on them to be there for you.

5. You have developed a language of your own with your work spouse that probably no one else understands. This includes words, acronyms, sayings, movie quotes, gestures, glances, texts, emojis and so much more.

6. Your work spouse is just an IM away when you need a quick break to discuss urgent matters — like the latest Making a Murderer conspiracy theory.

7. It’s the worst when your work spouse has the day off or, heaven forbid, is on vacation for a week. What are you supposed to do while they’re away? What is there to look forward to when you’re taking midday breaks?

8. Traveling for work is a lot more fun if you’ve got your work spouse to keep you company. You will even make the sacrifice of squeezing into a tiny middle seat next to questionable people — just so you can sit next to and keep chatting with your work spouse.

9. On the days you’re forced to stay at work after hours to wrap up an important assignment, you try to bribe or threaten convince your work spouse to stay late with you.

10. You act like your goofy self around your work spouse because you’re free to be yourself. You don’t hide a lot from this person — even if you watch shows like Vanderpump Rules or The Bachelor, your work spouse will never judge you (or they’ll judge you but love you anyway).

11. You tend to get along with similar types of people — and you also tend to have issues dealing with similar people. If your work spouse has a nemesis, that person becomes your nemesis, too. Whatever the situation, you know they always have your back.

12. You will get texts or Facebook alerts from your work spouse at any hour of the day or night or weekend because if something is funny or interesting right now, you can’t wait until the next morning at work to share it.

13. You will never, ever participate in or spread gossip about your work spouse or air any of their dirty laundry — even though you know more of it than anyone else in the office.

14. If you’re feeling stressed or just having a bad day, the first person you turn to is your work spouse. Chances are your work spouse will not only sense that right away, but he/she will also do whatever it takes — from making a coffee run to telling bad dad jokes — to make you feel better.

Share this article on social media and tag your work spouse in it!

7 Secrets to Retaining Your Talent in 2016

December 30th, 2015 Comments off
7 secrets to retaining your talent in 2016

In the much-touted war for talent, we often forget to look inside our organisations and realise the potential we have — until the moment we get that resignation across our desks. And at that point, it’s far too late. As a talent advisor, what can and should you be doing to make sure that those moments are few and far between?

Here are seven things you can start doing tomorrow that will not only attract the best talent, but will also make sure the best people in your organisation stay happy, motivated and (most importantly) with you.

1. Know your talent.

The first step to talent retention is talent identification. It sounds simple, but it is the area where most organisations fall down. Most talent identification processes merely skim the surface. They’re short term, risk adverse and highly subjective. How can you retain what you cannot see? Identify your future workforce needs and think about your skills shortages: This is about the future as well as the now.

2. Take risks.

When you take someone and place them in a genuine stretch assignment, you not only motivate them — you motivate everyone around them. Take a few risks, appoint people before they’re 100 percent ready, and back yourself to make the right choices. Demonstrate that talent really does progress around here and that success is rewarded quickly.

3. Break pay structures.

Most organisational pay structures reward longevity and external experience. This means if they’re home grown talent, they’re probably being paid under the market rate. If they want to get a big raise, they’ll need to leave. You’re going to have to break some of those internal mechanisms if you really want to retain your top talent. Time to crack open the piggy bank.

4. Recruit the best.

When you do get the opportunity to bring someone new in, make it a great hire. There’s nothing more motivational than seeing good people come in to an already great organisation. A little bit of healthy competition never goes amiss, and mixing up the talent pool should create a positive, productive tension.

5. Manage underperformance.

Why would you hang around in an organisation that tolerates mediocrity, or even worse — underperformance? The message you send out when you knowingly tolerate below-the-line performance is that it is OK. Talented people want to work with talented people, and they want to work in an organisation that recognises that. It’s time to deal with those perennial issues.

6. Get personal.

There’s a fine line between creating a bunch of prima donnas and being up close and personal with your talent. But you’re going to have to tread that line. Personal treatment, personal relationships, personal career management. All of these factors will help your talented individuals feel more valued. Just make sure you don’t overdo it: Nobody needs a screaming diva.

7. Leave them alone.

Show you care in actions, not processes. There are only so many talent reviews, box models and succession planning tools that any individual can be subject to before they start to think you’re all talk and no walk. Talent retention is about action, not action plans. So next time you’re tempted to have a meeting to discuss talent, challenge yourself by asking what has actually happened since the last time you met. Have you spent more time doing than you have talking?

This month, our team is sharing ideas on how to make the most of your remaining days in 2015 and set yourself up for success in 2016. Sign up for our newsletter to get the best recruiting insights delivered right to your inbox. 

1 in 5 Workers Plan to Leave Their Jobs for Younger, Prettier Jobs This Year

December 29th, 2015 Comments off
2016, silhouette of a woman standing in the sun, blue sky

Goodbye, 2015. It’s time to start fresh and resolve to do all the things we failed to do over the past year: Lose weight, quit smoking, say the correct name at the end of the Miss Universe pageant, etc.

For many Americans, “Get a new job” is on top of that list of resolutions. According to a new survey from CareerBuilder, 21 percent of workers plan to leave their current employers in 2016, a 5-point increase since last year. That number almost doubles (39 percent) when looking solely at workers ages 18 to 34 – which is even more significant when you realize only 23 percent said the same last year.

As if it’s not enough of a blow to learn your employees are looking for new jobs behind your back, more than a third of them (34 percent) are doing so while at work.

Why the Urgency?
One of the reasons workers are feeling the lure of another job could be increased confidence in light of a stronger hiring environment. After all, hiring this past quarter was projected to be its most robust since 2006, according to another CareerBuilder survey, with 34 percent of employers planning to hire full-time, permanent staff between October and December.

The fact that workers are looking for new opportunities doesn’t necessarily mean they are dissatisfied in their jobs, however. According to Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder, they may just be ready for a change or in need of a new challenge.

“It’s critical to keep up with your employees’ needs and continue to challenge them with work they feel is meaningful,” Haefner said.

Holding On to Top Talent
If you’re worried about retaining workers in the coming year, there’s hope. The survey also offered insight into how employers could improve their employees’ work life and as a result, entice workers to stay. When asked if they could choose extra perks to make their workplace more satisfying, workers cited the following benefits:

  • Half-day Fridays: 38 percent
  • On-site fitness center: 23 percent
  • Daily catered lunches: 22 percent
  • Massages: 18 percent
  • Being allowed to wear jeans: 16 percent

While it may not be possible to offer daily catered lunches or massages on the reg, the lesson here is to listen to your employees. Are you checking in regularly to understand your workers’ wants and needs? Do you have an open door policy that makes it easy for employees to voice their concerns? Are you implementing change where it’s needed? Consider making a resolution to pay more attention to your employees this year. You may be surprised by what you learn. 

What Workers Are Looking For

If, on the other hand, your New Year’s resolution is to attract and hire more workers this year, the survey also asked workers what they want in a new job. While it’s easy to assume it takes a big paycheck to lure top talent, the following factors were considered more important than salary for workers considering a new position.

  • Job stability: 65 percent
  • Affordable benefits: 59 percent
  • Location: 56 percent
  • Good boss: 51 percent
  • Good work culture: 46 percent

Keep these benefits in mind when posting jobs or discussing new opportunities with potential employees.

  • Stress, for instance, your company’s strong culture and what makes it unique.
  • Be sure to highlight your benefits and why employees love working there.
  • If there are opportunities for career advancement and long-term potential, mention that as well.

The hiring environment can be competitive, so it’s important to know your strengths as a company when trying to attract in-demand candidates.

How Companies are Rewarding Their Workers This Holiday Season

December 10th, 2015 Comments off
Holidays in the office

It looks like most employers are choosing nice over naughty when it comes to thanking their employees this holiday season. According to a new CareerBuilder survey, more employers plan to offer holiday perks in the form of parties, bonuses and gifts this year than in years’ past.

Rewarding Employees with Revelry

A holiday party is a common way for companies to celebrate the end of the year, but over the past few years, many employers have cut back to save money. The good news is 66 percent of employers surveyed say they plan to throw company holiday parties this season, up from 63 percent in 2014 and 59 percent in 2013.

holiday party

The not so good news? Employees may be attending these festivities begrudgingly – if at all. Just 38 percent of workers say they plan to attend the office holiday party. The overwhelming majority (93 percent) say they would favor a “thank you” in the form of a holiday bonus or time off, while only 1 percent prefer a party and 6 percent have no preference.

Doling out the Dollar Bills

Workers wishing for more money in their pockets are in luck: More than half of employers (54 percent) plan to give employees a holiday bonus this year, up from 47 percent in 2014. And some of those bonuses may be bigger than expected: 14 percent of employers say they will give a larger bonus than last year.

Making it rain

Giving the Gift of … Duct Tape?

Many employers also plan to show their appreciation for their employees’ hard work with presents. Forty-five percent of employers will give employees gifts this year – up from 40 percent in 2014 – and 47 percent will give charitable donations.

Employees are planning to get in on the gift giving action as well: 21 percent of workers say they intend to buy holiday gifts for co-workers (the same proportion as last year), and nearly the same amount (20 percent) plan to buy a gift for the boss.

While most workers usually stick to more traditional holiday presents, others like to grab things from their junk drawer on the way to work get a little more creative with their definition of the word “gift.” Some actual gifts workers have received include:

  • A squirrel toilet seat decal.
  • A pair of Christmas socks that look like elf feet.
  • A roll of duct tape.
  • A bell on a string.
  • A mystery bag with a coat in it.
  • A giant heart shaped box of candy … from Valentine’s Day.
  • A picture of a bear.
  • A bowling ball.
  • Homemade sausages.
  • A ceramic sheep you can dress up seasonally.

Gift giving

What are you doing to reward your employees this holiday season? Let us know in the comments!


Giving Thanks: How to Show Your Appreciation to Employees

November 25th, 2015 Comments off
Giving thanks

Thanksgiving is all about giving thanks (to the people you love, to the makers of stretchy pants). So there’s no better time to show your employees just how much you appreciate them.

While the jury is still out on whether hugs in the office are appropriate, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite articles on employee recognition to inspire you to give thanks to your employees this holiday season.

Wear Your Thanks on Your Sleeve

Want the world to know just how much you appreciate a certain employee? Try making a custom “Employee of the Month/Week” t-shirt and wearing it around the office. For more on that fun (albeit potentially creepy?) idea, plus four other ways to show your appreciation, check out 5 Fun Ways Supervisors Can Recognize Employees.”

Spread the Love

Showing your appreciation should go beyond saying thank you – it should be engrained in your day-to-day interactions with your employees. This not only means connecting with your employees on a professional level, but on a personal one as well. Find out more in 6 Ways to Get Employees to Love You as a Leader.”

Help Them Grow

To truly show your employees that you care, invest time in their professional growth. And just remember, there’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach to developing your team members. Learn the best ways to support your employees (and enjoy some awesome farming analogies) in Fertilize the Soil: 3 Ways to Nurture Your Employees.”

Use Technology to Say Thanks

While credit should still be given in person, you can rely on technology to help you track data associated with your company’s rewards and recognition practices and identify ways to improve upon your culture of recognition. Read more in It Shouldn’t Be This Hard to Say Thank You at Work.”

Give Them a ‘Fun’ Break

Sometimes, all it takes to show employees that they’re appreciated is to give them a break from their work and have a little fun as a team. And really, who doesn’t love an office potluck? For more ideas, check out “Want More Fun at Work? 10 Things Your Company Can Do Right Now.”

How do you show your employees how much you appreciate them? Tell us in the comments section below.

The 1 Question You Need to Ask to Retain Great Employees

November 11th, 2015 Comments off
Why retention isn't just about money

People say retention isn’t about money. But if it’s not about money, what’s it about?

A few years ago, I had a pretty sweet gig as the HR leader at an automotive component manufacturing company. I’d joined the company for the purpose of starting up a new facility. As a result, I had been involved in hiring all of the employees, creating internationally-recognized continuous programs, and developing a culture that was well-known in our industry for employee involvement levels that produced world-class, quality results.

I loved my job. And I loved having a voice in practically every decision made in creating a high-performing organization. I was there when the first brick was laid, and I had even chosen the carpet colors, the curtains, and the office furniture. I was living every HR pro’s dream of having the infamous seat at the table and was treated by my boss and peers like a valued member of the executive team.

Then, one day, our company – which had been a 50/50 joint venture between two international corporations – was purchased in full by one of the partners. It was a great move for our business, and the shift in ownership resulted in very little disruption to our business operations or any noticeable effects on our employees…

Except for the other members of our executive team — and me.

Super seniors

Immediately after the purchase, several senior VPs from the parent company were assigned to our facility. Our existing leadership team still existed, but now there was a “super senior” executive layer that met without us each week and made decisions for the organization. I still loved my job, but I hated not being involved in strategic planning or decision-making.

Despite the changes and my frustrations, I didn’t consider leaving the company. The work was interesting. I was paid well. My benefits were great. My boss was great. Our culture was still great.

Then one day I got a call from an executive recruiter, which was not uncommon. The recruiter asked a simple, but profound question:

I hear that you’re very happy, but I’m curious. If I gave you a magic wand, and you could change one thing about your job, what would that be?”

My answer came quickly. I missed being in that meeting each week (sitting at the table that I had personally selected out of the office supply catalog). To me, being a part of the leadership team, and functioning as a trusted advisor to the CEO and my peers had been the most fulfilling part of my job and career. Now, that opportunity was gone, and I had no idea what the next step for me was, if any, with the company.

That recruiter was the first person to ask me what it would take to make me happy.

Too little, too late

A few months later, when I turned in my resignation after accepting an offer to be a part of an executive team tasked with a turnaround, my surprised boss asked what he could do to keep me with the company.

I took the other job because he asked that question too late.

Don’t wait to focus on what it would take to retain your key employees and top performers. Re-recruit them often and make it a priority to engage in regular conversations about what they see as the next steps in their career.

Also, ask what they would change about their job or the workplace if they didn’t have to worry about how to make it happen. Remove obstacles, create and communicate your plans, and demonstrate that you’re committed to helping them grow. If you don’t take the time to do this, they’ll likely be open to pursuing opportunities to find their bliss elsewhere.

I believe the most powerful tool you have in your retention strategy doesn’t cost a dime. It’s an imaginary magic wand. Give it to the employees you want to retain, invite them to use it, and listen to their needs — before someone else does.


Throughout the month of November, our resident talent advisors are focused on how recognition is vital for both talent acquisition and retention — and how the right technology tools can help you move the needle. Subscribe to Talent Advisor to stay on top of the latest blog posts and discussions.

Saying Thanks with Smart Recruitment Technology

November 2nd, 2015 Comments off
Recognition through HR Recruitment Technology

Are you familiar with the work of Dan Pink? He is the author of five books about psychology and work, his most well-known of which is “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.”

The story about a boss who gets it.

A few years ago, I read a blog post from Mr. Pink about a founder and president of a company who built his company on the concept of appreciation and recognition.

Every year, this boss comes to work on Thanksgiving and calls his employees. He expresses his heartfelt gratitude for a job well done. Then he calls clients and thanks them for their business. Then he calls his friends and family members to tell them a personal story about how they’ve helped to change his life, his business, and make him the man he is today.

This story isn’t unique.

All over the world, the best executives and business leaders understand that culture drives strategy. New Balance gives employees a free turkey at Thanksgiving. Some companies offer generous PTO around the holiday season. Saying thank you is one of the most effective retention strategies, and if you’re not recognizing and rewarding the right behaviors, you put an undue burden on your recruiting staff to fill vacancies when people quit their jobs.

Recognition makes recruiting easier.

Recruitment technology, robust talent acquisition strategies, and recognition strategies aren’t three separate efforts. When done right, recruitment technology assists in the sourcing and hiring of astonishing workers who have heard about your exceptional culture and expect to be recognized for their accomplishments.

If you miss the opportunity to appreciate and reward your workforce, or if you overlook the benefits of creating a positive candidate experience, not even best recruitment technology or sourcing strategies can save you.

Retain the best with smart technology and recognition strategies.

This month, The Hiring Site will feature posts by accomplished talent advisors who understand the link between recruiting, technology and recognition. We will offer smart and practical solutions on how you can deliver big results when it comes to culture, employee engagement, and recognition strategies. We’ll discuss best practices to navigate the intersection of recruitment technology and retention. Most of all, we’ll think about the benefits of technology and the real-world limitations that most recruiters face when they work in the trenches.

One thing is for sure: Saying thank you is the killer retention strategy. Technology is great, but it’s important for our workers to hear how much they make a positive impact on their colleagues and their company’s overall productivity.

Introducing CareerBuilder’s Zombie Survival Index

October 29th, 2015 Comments off

You know how the story goes – you wake up one morning and the roads are desolate, reanimated corpses shamble around groaning for brains, and you fall in with a ragtag group of survivors, all of whom inexplicably never use the term “zombie.”

But where are those plucky survivors most likely to be located? To find an answer, CareerBuilder and EMSI created the Zombie Apocalypse Index, an utterly foolproof, totally necessary and 100 percent accurate study of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas best equipped to survive should the dead return to attack the living.

The index ranks the 53 largest* U.S. metropolitan areas in four key categories based on the populations’ occupational skills and prominent industries. These categories include ability to mount a defense against the zombie horde, ability to contain the virus and start rebuilding, ability to find and produce enough food to outlast the epidemic and ability to discover and distribute a cure.

Check out the full map to see how your hometown would stack up.


While STEM-related skills may be the most in-demand right now, in the event of a zombie apocalypse, demand would shift toward more survival-related skills. Cities with a high percentage of their population in military and protective services (e.g. law enforcement, firefighting and security) jobs stand a better chance of holding off the zombie assault.

To account for the availability of firearms, this score also takes the percentage of total exports coming from the metro’s small arms manufacturing industries.

Top Cities

1. Virginia Beach, VA (22.7 points)
2. Atlanta (20.4 points)
3. Baltimore (17.3 points)
4. Washington, D.C. (16.6 points)
5. Kansas City (14.9 points)


Once the undead horde is fought back, the next order of business would be to keep the zombies at bay and begin rebuilding. This score is based on availability of skilled engineers and construction workers. Population weight density was also factored in – if the walls are breached, the infection will spread faster in cities with a high PWD.

Top Cities

1. Denver (22.7 points)
2. Houston (19.2 points)
3. Salt Lake City (18.9 points)
4. Seattle-Tacoma (18.3 points)
5. Detroit (16.2 points)


Guns and walls can help keep the zombies at bay, but the zombies are really just a symptom of the real problem. The best bet for long-term survival is learning what is causing the zombie outbreak and developing a cure or inoculation. For that, metros would turn to the biomedical research and development industries.

Top Cities

1. Boston (20 points)
2. San Francisco (12.5 points)
3. San Diego (12.2 points)
4. Indianapolis (11.6 points)
5. Baltimore (11.4 points)


In a full-blown zombie crisis, you can’t rely on imported food to survive. That’s why the local food industry in each city is another major factor in odds of survival. To determine each city’s ability to feed it’s population, CareerBuilder looked at exports of non-perishable food manufacturing or wholesale goods industries. These include rice milling, breakfast cereal manufacturing, fruit and vegetable canning, roasted nuts and peanut butter manufacturing.

Availability of clean/fresh water, however, presented numerous additional variables, and therefore was held constant across all cities.

Top Cities

1. Grand Rapids, MI (20 points)
2. Columbus, OH (19.2 points)
3. Rochester, NY (9.5 points)
4. Memphis, TN (8.7 points)
5. Buffalo, NY (7.8 points)


Representing America’s best hope for finding a zombie cure, and boasting considerable scores in both Defense and Containment, Boston tops the list of the cities most likely to survive the zombie apocalypse, with a total score of 43.99 out of 100 possible points.

1. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH (43.99 points)
2. Salt Lake City, UT (39.49 points)
3. Columbus, OH (39.31 points)
4. Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD (39.29 points)
5. Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport New, VA-NC (38.55 points)
6. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA (37.49 points)
7. San Diego-Carlsbad, CA (36.96 points)
8. Kansas City, MO-KS (35.03 points)
9. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO (34.66 points)
10. Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN (33.91 points)


Where some see a problem, others see opportunity. And while these cities currently stand the worst chances of surviving a zombie apocalypse, a boost in certain industries could go a long way toward evening those odds.

  1. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA (5.64 points)
  2. Tampa-St. Petersberg-Clearwater, FL (11.03 points)
  3. Los Angeles-LongBeach-Anaheim, CA (12.98 points)
  4. Riverside-San Bernadino-Ontario, CA (13.34 points)
  5. Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI (16.38 points)
  6. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL (16.78 points)
  7. Jacksonville, FL (17.21 points)
  8. Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI (18.31 points)
  9. Providence-Warwick, RI-MA (19.24 points)
  10. Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV (19.41 points)


By kick-starting food production or engineering industries in any of these metros, you could save a lot of lives and make a killing at the same time. That is, assuming the entire population hasn’t been turned into zombies before you get there.

*More than 1 million residents

Would your area survive a zombie apocalypse? Check out the full interactive map here.


Can HR Create a Killer Workplace Culture?

September 28th, 2015 Comments off
Can HR create a killer workplace culture?

I have a reputation for being cynical, but I don’t think HR can create a culture. I think HR and executives work together to create an atmosphere, which is a construct for extracting the best and most aspirational behaviors out of a group of disconnected people who come together for the sole purpose of work.

Culture is something grander and loftier than a particular set of behaviors and norms that people adhere to in the workplace.

If you attend the Laurie Ruettimann School of Human Resources, you will learn that creating a culture takes four things: creativity, collaboration, curation and continuity.

  • You need an environment that nurtures big thinking.
  • You need people who work together without being racist bullies, sexist jerks, homophobic morons or otherwise bigoted human beings.
  • You need someone who advocates on behalf of the employees who have big ideas and break the rules.
  • Then, you need an infrastructure or governing body that is larger than your executive suite and dedicated to championing all of those efforts through the existing political channels.


Your company probably doesn’t have culture.

If anything, it might be a cult of leadership that worships at the altar of your CEO or an attractive employee. When those people leave, it’s back to making widgets and thingamajigs in a depressing environment.

My talent advisor colleagues think I’m nuts. They think culture is a thing. When I asked them to weigh in on how to create a killer culture, they had very vocal opinions.

Tim Sackett is the executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, which is a very successful staffing firm in Michigan. His mother started the company. For the Sackett family, culture is everything.

Tim said:

If you find yourself at Costco picking out a ping pong table to improve your culture, you’re doing it wrong. There’s no equation for a great culture. It’s one part great visionary leader, two parts ping pong table, then mix in free pizza and beer on Thursday. You still might not get it right. Culture is mostly space and time. Get the right people on the bus who are ready to work hard, at a time where your business can thrive.”

He also adds:

To have a successful culture you need a leader that is part Dr. Phil, part Mark Cuban and part Willy Wonka!”

(I hate all of those people, by the way.)

The Hiring Site’s resident professor, Dr. Matthew Stollak, has a more academic approach. He said:

Every company turning a profit has a successful culture. No one espouses the glories of, or wants to imitate, the culture of a company that is out of business.”

(That’s true. Don’t emulate failures. Thanks, Matt.)

Our dear friend and very fun talent advisor, Steve Browne, is running for the SHRM Board of Directors. He said:

Culture can’t be captured on an employee engagement survey. An engagement survey is a cloak that often hides how employees feel. Unfortunately, HR buys the survey as the gold standard report card.”

Steve thinks your company’s culture exists in the trenches. If you want to know how employees feel, dig deeper. I think that’s probably true about most anything at work. If you wish to know the truth, you need to step out of your comfort zone and be prepared to have a human-to-human connection with your workers.

Finally, I asked Neil Morrison how he feels about culture. He told me that he liked yoghurt. (Get it? You culture yoghurt. And you spell it with an “h” if you’re British, which he is.) So basically I don’t know how he feels about it, which sums up my entire friendship with Neil. He’s a human resources leader who likes bad puns. That’s enough for me.

Let me sum this up for you: Whenever some HR consultant talks about culture, I think he’s talking about creating a pleasant atmosphere for work. My talent advisor colleagues disagree with me. What do I know? They might be right.

But wherever you fall on the spectrum of this debate, nobody will disagree that creating a great place to work is hard. As talent advisors, you’re the fulcrum between employees and management. Good luck in creating a balanced, collaborative work environment. You need it!

Are you ready to embrace new HR technologies and change the very nature of HR? How has tech made your job easier? Leave me a comment below! 


Throughout the month of September, our resident talent advisors are focused on offering tactical advice to human capital management professionals do their jobs smarter. Subscribe to Talent Advisor to stay on top of the latest blog posts and discussions to help take your professional game to the next level.

Empower 2015 Recap: ‘The State of the Health Care Workforce’

September 25th, 2015 Comments off
State of the HC Workforce

HR professionals in the health care industry recently joined Inavero’s Founder and CEO Eric Gregg at Empower 2015 for a breakout session about the findings from CareerBuilder’s 2015 Health Care Workforce Study.

The goal of the session was to uncover the truth about what’s happening in health care recruitment today, provide best practices to apply to talent acquisition and retention strategies and demonstrate how to create a better candidate and employee experience.

If you missed the session, never fear. Here are five key takeaways you can start using today:

No. 1: Find Candidates Who Love What You Offer

Gregg started off by sharing a visual example of Girl Scouts selling cookies in front of a marijuana dispensary. His point? Just like these smart, savvy girls did, you have to identify who are the most likely candidates to love what you offer and find a way to get to them.

And considering the complexity of the job search today, targeting them can prove to be a challenge. The typical health care candidate utilizes between three to four different types of resources during their job search, according to the study. So if you want to recruit top talent, you need to reach them with consistent messages of differentiation and employment branding across multiple platforms.

No. 2: Put More Emphasis on Mobile

Eighty-six percent of the health care workforce has a smartphone, and they’re using it in their job search. They’re researching companies, searching for jobs and communicating with employers. So not only should your organization’s career site be mobile-optimized, you need to consider whether your emails are mobile-friendly as well.

Health care workers have an expectation that your communication channels will be mobile-optimized. In fact, when coming across a health care provider’s website that is not, half of employees believe your organization is behind the times. As Gregg pointed out, this leaves a bad taste in their mouth if they try to visit your site or engage with your email in a mobile environment and it doesn’t work. And the last thing you want to do is give potential employees a bad impression.

No. 3: Understand the Candidate’s Mindset

As Gregg reminded the audience, when people are job hunting, they are at one of the most stressful points of their lives. Gregg referenced a study conducted a few years back that asked respondents what life events they considered to be more stressful than their current job search. Fifty-seven percent said they think that a family sickness or illness is less stressful than their search. That just goes to show what state of mind a candidate is in when they’re looking for a new opportunity.

So, when a candidate is interacting with an employer, the employer can either make things less or more stressful. And people always remember the things that lead to more stress. That creates a huge responsibility – and opportunity – for employers, because they’re laying the foundation as an employer of choice. If you provide candidates with a positive hiring experience, and show them you have what they want, you’ll become that employer of choice.

No. 4: Invest in Training for New and Seasoned Employees

The study showed just how big of an impact training has on employee satisfaction and engagement. When it comes to both onboarding and ongoing training, the more extensive the training, the more likely the employee is to recommend the organization as an exceptional place to work.

Professional development – typically delivered through some type of formal training – is a critical driver of overall loyalty to an organization. So, while it may take some investment upfront, it will pay off in more satisfied employees and a strong employer reputation.

No. 5: Reinforce the ‘Why’

When asked what the most rewarding aspects of their job are, “helping people” was far and away the top answer (36 percent; the next highest on the list was “growing your skills/learning” at 12 percent).

It’s so easy to get into the minutia of the job that employees forget the big picture, or why they got into health care in the first place. As an employer, you should reinforce this “Why” to your staff. Do this by telling stories of how a department or individual impacted someone’s lives. By reminding them about their role in helping others, it will ultimately help with retention.

In Conclusion: A Marathon, Not a Sprint

Gregg’s parting thought was that making changes to processes takes time and experimentation – some things will work, and others won’t. Progress isn’t always going to be pretty, but there will be big lessons in both your successes and failures that you can apply the next time around. He also stressed that employers have a huge responsibility because they’re involved in hiring/the job search, which is one of the most personally defining parts of a candidate’s life. So as an employer, you owe it to candidates to improve the process.

Want even more insights from the 2015 Health Care Workforce Study? 

Why Paternity Leave is Good for America

July 24th, 2015 Comments off
Why paternity leave is good for America

In March of 2013, I became a father for the first time. My wife and I were doubly blessed with twins — a boy and girl. I realized quickly that the pundits were correct: Nothing prepares you for being a full-time parent.

Fortunately, being in academia, I had significant discretion in planning my schedule. I could stay home three mornings a week while my wife worked. However, it often meant heading into the office at 5 a.m. on Saturdays to catch up on the work that I missed while I wasn’t in the office.

The one option that was unavailable to me, however, was paid leave. At the time of the birth of my children, my organization did not have a child bonding policy for faculty. Time off is particularly difficult for most professors as work is divided into distinct segments: 10-week quarters or 15 to 16-week semesters. Even with proper family planning, one cannot simply come in after 12 weeks and finish out the semester, or teach for five weeks and then leave their class to someone else to complete the work. Additionally, many faculty will work on nine-month contracts, and do not accrue vacation pay that could provide income while they take time off under FMLA.

These challenges are, in many ways, no different than what many employees face when they want to take time off to address family issues.

So, why should talent advisors be in favor of paid paternity leave for organizations?

  1. Families are more divided by distance than ever.

    One of the issues my wife and I (as well as many, many others) face is that both our immediate families live far away from us. It is a seven-hour drive to my parents’ house, and even farther to my wife’s. We no longer live in the ’50s — a time when a significant number of employees had multigenerational relatives in the same town to lean on. Paid parental leave thus provides many employees an ability to take care of their immediate family without worrying about income or work obligations.

  2. It can appeal to fiscal conservatives.

    While some might be concerned about the cost to employers, a Rutgers study found that paid family leave was cost-effective. The presence of paid leave led to not only greater labor force attachment, but also to decreased use of public assistance, such as food stamps, as well.

“At a time when governments are struggling with deficits and working families are struggling to stay afloat, this new study shows that allowing workers to take paid time off to recover from illness or care for their families saves precious government and taxpayer resources, while giving families the stability they urgently need,” explained Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families.

3. Paid paternity leave is a tool to attract and retain top talent.

With unemployment falling, and competition for talent increasing, paid paternity leave can be used to differentiate employers. Further, research conducted by Ernst & Young Global Generations found that millennials “value flexibility and paid parental leave” more than Generation X or boomers.  Also, for millennials, companies that offer paid leave are more likely to recommend that company, be more engaged and happier, and even join the company.


my employer’s new policy

My employer realized that in a competitive marketplace, where attracting faculty to come join our organization is difficult (it gets cold in Northeast Wisconsin in the winter), paid paternal leave can help us stand out from other colleges and universities. Consequently, the college recently adopted a child bonding policy that provides an opportunity for faculty members to take parental leave for up to a two-semester length of time over a rolling four-year period. A faculty member may choose to take off during, or immediately following, the full semester in which the birth or adoption takes place. The policy also provides 85 percent of the employee’s salary for the full academic year. In a culture where community is emphasized, addressing parental leave is both natural and crucial. Talent advisors everywhere would be wise to emulate this path.

Throughout the month of July, our resident talent advisors are discussing issues around work-life balance. Subscribe to Talent Advisor to stay on top of the latest blog posts and discussions around unlimited PTO, modeling good work-life behaviors as an employer, working from home, gender differences and PTO, maternity and paternity leave, and much more. 

Great Vacation Policies: Ideas, Tips and Advice

July 22nd, 2015 Comments off
Great vacation policy tips, ideas and advice

One of the key responsibilities of talent advisors is to maintain continual awareness of trends related to the changing needs and wants of the workforce. This is necessary to ensure the companies they work for are able to attract, recruit and retain the talent needed to meet business needs.


And just what is it that the workforce seems to want these days (beyond more pay – which few would turn down)? According to research conducted by Accountemps, employees want more time off, ranking “more vacation days” ahead of better benefits, more schedule flexibility, additional training and free food at work.

While it’s probably not surprising that employees say that they would like to have more time off, a study conducted by GfK Public Affairs and Corporate Communications, in conjunction with Oxford Economics, revealed that Americans are actually taking less vacation time than at any point in the last four decades.

The study also revealed that more than 40 percent of employees in the U.S. fail to take advantage of all of the paid time off they’re granted each year, increasing the potential for burnout and workplace stress:

There was a clear correlation between those who have more unused PTO [paid time off] days and those who reported feeling ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ stressed at work, particularly for those employees who leave more than 11 days unused.”

So, how are business leaders and talent advisors getting creative in an effort to address the fact that employees desire more time off — but seem reluctant to take it?


1. Unlimited Vacation

Popularized by Silicon Valley startups and some high-profile companies, only a small percentage of companies have been brave enough to offer unlimited vacation time — a situation in which employees can take as much time off as they want, as long as their work gets done. And while there have been some spectacular and highly publicized failures, quite a few companies have also reported great success, including Netflix, Virgin America and several others.

2. Mandatory Vacation

Unlimited vacation may sound like a simple concept, but some employers have reported that employees feel pressure to take less time off than their boss or others on their team. To address this, they’ve provided guidelines in regard to how much time is “typical” or “expected,” or have moved to requiring or incentivizing minimum vacation time amounts. For example, Hubspot has a mandatory two-week vacation policy (in addition to unlimited vacation) and Evernote encourages employees to take at least a full week of vacation at a time by offering a $1,000 bonus for doing so.

3. PAID, Paid Vacation

If your employees are super stubborn and still won’t take time off, follow the lead of companies like FullContact, which pays employees $7,500 to go on vacation (on top of their paid vacation) – but only if the employee commits to disconnect and not work while on vacation. Or Moz, which reimburses employees up to $3,000 of vacation-related expenses each year. Moz’s founder and current “Wizard of Moz,” Rand Fishkin, wrote that the benefits to the company and to the employee outweigh the costs: “…it’s in all of our employees’ great interest to take time to do what they love with friends, family, whomever (we’ll pay their vacation expenses too so long as you go with them) and disconnect for a few days, or a few weeks.”

4. Summer Hours

If your company is not ready to go all of the way with unlimited or paid, paid vacations, another popular option is to offer summer office hours for employees. Our friends at CareerBuilder have seen great success with this benefit – offered during the months of July and August – which allows employees to shorten their workweek and have Friday afternoons available for relaxation, personal hobbies, or time with family or friends. The shortened summer workweek is a popular benefit mentioned in annual employee engagement surveys and is well received by potential candidates who are considering the company as a place to work.

To attract and retain top talent today, companies have to continually evolve their pay and benefits offerings and consider how they can build a workplace that not only facilitates employees being as productive as possible while on the job, but that also encourages them to disconnect and recharge in order to maintain their sanity, relationships and enthusiasm for the work.

Considering how your organization can meet the desire for more time off – and actually get employees to take it – may be the ticket to increased productivity, profitability and success!

Throughout the month of July, our resident talent advisors are discussing issues around work-life balance. Subscribe to Talent Advisor to stay on top of the latest blog posts and discussions around unlimited PTO, modeling good work-life behaviors as an employer, working from home, gender differences and PTO, maternity and paternity leave, and much more. 

Gender-Neutral Leave Policies Need to Happen Now

July 8th, 2015 Comments off
Gender-neutral leave policies need to happen now

Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group, made news recently with the announcement that new dads and moms will receive 12 months of fully paid leave. Unfortunately, only 0.2 percent of employees will gain access to this benefit. Male and female employees must also reside in London or Geneva and have four years of tenure with Virgin Management in order to benefit.

However, few companies worldwide match or come close to what Branson offers a small cadre of his employees. In general, women have much more access than men to paid leave (even though paid leave for mothers in the United States is still pretty dismal as well). For paid maternity leave, the International Labour Organization notes that only two out of 185 surveyed countries — the United States and Papua New Guinea — do not provide leave to new mothers. Meanwhile, fathers are far less likely to receive paid leave, with only 79 countries having some form of paid paternity leave. Great Britain, for example, recently passed a law that provides 50 weeks of leave, of which 37 weeks of pay is split between parents.

If talent advisors are advocates for employees, how can they promote more gender-neutral leave policies?

Consider the following:

  1. Many men are full-fledged contributors trying to balance both work and family demands.

    As a parent who stays home three mornings a week to help raise my two-year-old twins, meeting both work requirements and family needs is daunting. When at home, I feel guilty about not being at work prepping for classes, grading homework, or developing my scholarship. When at work, I feel like I am missing key developments of my children. Max Schierson, the former CEO of the company MongoDB, recently stepped down from that crucial company role as he wanted to spend more time with his family — and more and more men are following suit.

  2. Giving men more time off can have a positive impact on childcare.

    A recent OECD study found that dads provided with leave were more likely to change diapers, for example, than those who did not take leave. Similarly, “a Norwegian study found that it improved performance at secondary school; daughters, especially, seemed to flourish if their dads had taken time off.” As author Liza Mundy discusses in an article on The Atlantic, paternity leave “shapes domestic and parenting habits as they are forming.” In fact, she says, studies have found that fathers who take paternity leave are more likely to not only change diapers but also bathe their kids, read them bedtime stories, and get up at night to tend to them a year into the child’s life.

  3. The absence of paid leave for men can exacerbate male-female pay and work differences.

    As Claire Cain Miller notes in The New York Times, maternity leave policies “can end up discouraging employers from hiring women in the first place, because they fear women will leave for long periods or use expensive benefits.” Providing paid time off for men may in fact have positive economic and domestic effects for women. It’s been shown to relieve them from doing the bulk of the domestic load: Ankita Patnaik analyzed Quebec’s paternal leave policy and found a 23 percent increase in the time men devoted to household chores. Meanwhile, mothers were more likely to work longer hours, be employed full-time, and earn a higher income.

And as a World Economic Forum report found, it’s mothers — not fathers or babies — who benefit the most from paternity leave:

Countries with the strongest economies are those that have found ways to further women’s careers, close the gender pay gap, and keep women — who in most nations are now better educated than men — tethered to the workforce after they become mothers.”


Family-friendly labor policies still tend to lean in favor of women being the primary caregiver. If organizations want to keep top female talent, starting to address differentials now in the application of leave based on gender is crucial.

Throughout the month of July, our resident talent advisors are discussing issues around work-life balance. Subscribe to Talent Advisor to stay on top of the latest blog posts and discussions around unlimited PTO, modeling good work-life behaviors as an employer, working from home, gender differences and PTO, maternity and paternity leave, and much more. 

The Emotional Cost of Turnover

June 24th, 2015 Comments off
Talent advisor Steve Browne on the emotional cost of turnover

Talent advisors often read articles and blog posts about the front end of the employee life cycle. We are in a war for talent, after all, and posts about attracting talent, employer brand, hiring best practices and onboarding are everywhere. While it’s true that we can always improve the way we attract, recruit and retain employees, we rarely talk about the “end” of the employee lifecycle — when people leave for another job — unless it’s wrapped up in fearful language.

When we do read about turnover, there are plenty of posts on how to fire legally, how to avoid litigation, and how to stop yourself from doing some boneheaded thing when terminating an employee. All too often, we share “HR horror stories” and malign our staff who choose to leave our organizations. We treat their departures like it’s scandalous news in a tabloid. It isn’t healthy, and it makes talent advisors wary of the end of the employee life cycle.

Turnover is natural. Turnover is an occurrence. Turnover has a financial implication, of course, but there’s also an emotional component that all talent advisors must consider.

Step Back with Me for a Second

Are you still at the first job you started with in your career? You may be, and I applaud that, but I would venture to say that the vast majority of people reading this have held more than one job. If you left a job, voluntarily or not, you were part of turnover. The company you left is probably still around even though you aren’t. Since this transition has happened to almost all of the employees who were in the workforce since the beginning of humankind, stop magnifying turnover and learn to work with it.

Don’t Celebrate the Departed

There are plenty of situations in which we want someone to leave a company. It is tough to admit, but we know it’s sometimes true that if an employee leaves, a dark cloud will be lifted from a department or organization.

When that employee leaves, you have to be careful of people celebrating the dead. That may sound harsh, but I’ve seen it happen more often that I’d care to admit. It isn’t right. When a person leaves, we need to show grace and help our remaining team members forward in a positive manner. Gossipy, open-ended conversations about a current or former employee’s faults and failures will kill your culture. Avoid doing this.

Grief is Real

What do you do when an esteemed employee — someone who is admired as a nice human being and a top performer — leaves your company? When this occurs, people experience a genuine sense of loss. They may grieve. You need to be there as both a leader and a counselor to help people work through this loss. Don’t blow it off or tell people to get over it. That’s not helpful, and it will also kill your culture.

Meet People Emotionally Before You Address Them Rationally

As I mentioned earlier, turnover happens. And you have to remember that, whatever the circumstance, these are human beings who are leaving your organization. People with hearts, minds, souls and families. It isn’t about swapping out a new piece of furniture and sending the old pieces to the curb. These are people whose lives change when they leave the company. They face an emotional shift just as much as those who stay behind.

We don’t like to talk about emotions because they are unpredictable and messy, but that’s why I work in human resources and love being a talent advisor.

So remember that turnover is natural. Shift your focus and treat it as if you knew it was coming. You’ll be glad you did.

Throughout the month of June, Steve and our talent advisors will continue dishing out their best advice on effectively managing your talent and helping them thrive. New to Talent Advisor? Sign up here to get new articles delivered to your email inbox.

5 Ways to Retain Great Workers During Mergers and Acquisitions

June 22nd, 2015 Comments off
5 ways to retain great workers during mergers and acquisitions

When large organisational change happens, it isn’t surprising that employees first think, “What does this mean for me?”

This happens everywhere and in every company, regardless of where employees sit in the organisation. And a merger or acquisition is probably the largest, most uncertain organisational change a company (and its employees) can go through. So how do you give people a sense of purpose, create as much certainty as possible, and retain as many of your people as possible?

Well, as I come to the end of the second year of a complex merger, here are the things that I’ve observed make a real difference in a company’s ability to retain workers.

1. Visible Leadership.

Your leadership team is your biggest asset — but only if people have access to them and can see how they’re reacting. And whilst they will also be feeling uncertain, it’s your job as the HR pro to make sure that they have a private space to express that rather than expressing it in front of the people they’re supposed to be leading.

2. Transparency.

Perhaps the most overused, but underdeployed management practice. You’ll be surprised how capable your employees are of dealing with the things you want to “protect them” from. You don’t have answers to everything? That’s ok; just let people know that.

3. Keeping the Trains Running.

Development courses, internal recruitment, annual events: You’ve got to keep these things going. They’re gold dust for reassuring people that some things aren’t changing, and that you’re still concerned about their careers. If you can, turbo-charge these things and make them stand out even more during a big organisational change.

4. Cutting Quickly.

If you’ve got to make cuts, changes, or restructure, then do it quick and be honest about it. People are expecting change and they won’t believe you if you say it’s not coming. It’s Elastoplast management. Slow pain is big pain.

5. Explaining Why.

If you’ve been working on a big deal for a while, it probably makes complete sense to you. But the people around you are trying to catch up. Why is the deal happening, what is the benefit and what does the future look like? Don’t think you’re going to have to communicate this just once, either. Repeat and repeat until you’re blue in the face.

Finally, we hear so much about the need for HR to add value, and a major change is your chance to show that you can. If you have something coming up, go and talk to a fellow pro who has been through it. Ask them what they did that worked and what they’d do differently. Because I guarantee they’ll have something to share.

Throughout the rest of June, our talent advisors will continue to dish out their best advice on effectively managing your talent and helping them thrive. Learn how to stay ahead of these HR trends, and learn why old-school metrics are vital to tracking recruiter performance.

Is Employee Engagement Even a Thing?

June 12th, 2015 Comments off
Why it doesn't matter whether we call employee engagement, as long as we do it in a genuine way.

My name is Doug Shaw. I am a human resources consultant, speaker and artist. And as you’ll see from this post, I am British.

I specialise in organisational collaboration, community development and exploring creativity. Connecting different groups of people is a vital part of my work, and I use a unique blend of conversational techniques, social technology and artistic methods to help people make work better. People typically ask for my help when they want to achieve something collaborative and creative, and when they want to do this with each other, rather than to each other.


A 2013 survey found that only 1 in 5 people have even heard of the term employee engagement. As a ‘thing’, I’m not convinced it matters. What matters is how the experience makes people feel.

Employee engagement seems like a fad because that’s what it is for many people. It is often experienced literally as a tick box exercise. Here’s a survey, fill it in, we don’t want to know who you are (which to me says we are not really interested in involving you personally with improving the business), we will publish a fancy report and then — because we’re too busy/lazy/bitter and twisted — nothing more will happen until the next survey when you get to tell us ‘nothing ever changes around here’. Frequently, we end up with employee engagement feeling like little more than ‘how can we, the business, get/squeeze/extract more out of our people’.

Not helpful.

However, if employee engagement were to be positioned as a stepping stone on the journey away from an industrialised model of work, towards something more co-created, more meaningful, more enjoyable, then I think the return on investment would need to be articulated as something mutually beneficial. How could we do that?

The principles behind the engagement process need to be responsive and open: Ask, listen, respond in a timely fashion. Demonstrate pace. Lead by example. Do what you say you will. Anonymity should only ever be optional. I believe the principles of responsiveness and openness will be reciprocated and will come to represent the ROI of taking engagement (i.e., your people) seriously.


There are only three things you can influence: How you think, how you feel and how you behave. Choose your attitude; make stuff happen.

Most work is coercive, meaning that it is done to you. This habit becomes hugely disempowering and we begin to respond to this experience by demonstrating things such as learned helplessness and learned irresponsibility. Bad work sucks at your soul, which is why we need soulful HR people like you to help others engage.


OK, here’s my no brainer. Notice people. Say hi to someone, spot someone doing a good job and let them know you appreciate their efforts — right there, right then. Stuff like that. Small repeatable actions make big differences.

I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that talent advisors should encourage everyone to take 15 minutes out of every day to meditate. I don’t mean going around hugging trees and wearing kaftans, but instead, try using something like Headspace to learn about and appreciate the importance of being present and taking time out for yourself.

In truth, what people do with that 15 minutes is none of our business, but I think giving them time to pause and reflect shows that we care. I’ve been meditating every day for over 130 days straight and I’m just beginning to feel a benefit from it. Research is indicating that meditation is good for our psychological and physiological well-being, and helps us think better, too.


One final piece of advice? Ignore employee disengagement at your peril. Higher stress levels and more burnout are just the beginning. Remember how we’re in a war for talent? Your best people will leave, because they can, and this will just put more pressure on the remaining, increasingly disengaged workforce.

Throughout the month of June, our talent advisors will be dishing out their best advice on effectively managing your talent and helping them thrive. Learn why even talent management pros need fans, and take a look at how these companies are effectively managing talent

Don’t Be the Last to Know: Four Key Principles for Predicting Retention

March 30th, 2015 Comments off
financial symbols coming from hand

Unemployment in the United States has fallen dramatically. Retaining high-performing employees is more important than ever for organizations to meet their goals. In addition, data available about our employees and their performance is growing exponentially. An often cited statistic from 2013 was “90% of the world’s data had been created in the previous two years.” It is a safe bet that we have continued to create, gather, and report all sorts of data at even higher rates since 2013. Much of the information filling our databases is about our employees.

Imagine you are tasked with using your company’s data to create an employee retention strategy.

There are four principles to retain talented employees within your organization.

Determine Your Organization’s Objectives

Knowing what your organization wants to achieve may sound obvious. A “Retention Initiative” might imply that the organization’s goal is to reduce turnover across the enterprise. Upon further discussion and debate, you might uncover that the biggest retention issue is with top performers in the sales department. If that is the case, start there. Focus is critical. If you don’t know what needs to be achieved, success is impossible.

Acquire Quality Data

Most organizations of a certain size gather and track all sorts of metrics about employees. That, however, doesn’t mean the data gathered is of high quality or uniform. Something as simple as location can be compromised. In one database an employee’s location can be represented as an abbreviation – MN for Minnesota – and in another database the state is spelled out. That sort of inconsistency makes the information challenging to interpret and integrate.

More important, though, is your ability to identify the right metrics and eliminate noise. “Time to Hire” is a metric many organizations track along with “Quality of Hire.” If you are hiring engineers, “quality” should trump “time” every time. If your firm cleans football stadiums, being short staffed will hamper your ability to complete the job. Training your cleaning staff doesn’t take months or weeks, so “time” will very likely trump “quality.” Treating each metric equally is a mistake that can prevent action from occurring quickly.

Start Simple

A reliable predictor of employee retention often comes from an employee engagement survey. On the survey, people are often asked about their willingness to stay with the organization for a long time. A negative response to that question is a reliable predictor of employee retention. If that is reliable in your organization, start there. As a next step, you might consider adding a second variable. How long has an employee been with you? A short-tenured employee who does not intend to stay a long time is even more likely to leave. Continue to experiment and add variables until your prediction model is optimized.

Communicate Often

When you know and can restate the organization’s objectives, you will get the attention of your leaders by supplying them with information that is easy to understand and actionable. Don’t wait until you have created the “perfect” model that predicts employee retention. Share the findings frequently along the way. Let the leaders know that you will continue to refine your model over time, but they should begin consuming and making adjustments with the information you have now.

Information available to predict what keeps employees at their organizations is better than ever. Using these four principles to hone your predictive retention model will ensure you lead your organization toward retaining the right people more often.


Don MacPherson

Don MacPherson is President and Co-founder of human capital measurement company Modern Survey. He and his colleagues are passionate about improving the employee experience while helping organizations achieve their goals by creating cultures of engagement. Don is equally passionate about helping others and seeing the world in his free time. He is a 15-year veteran of Big Brothers/Big Sisters and has traveled to over 60 countries. A highly regarded speaker, Don tells stories about human motivation from his experiences at Modern Survey, as a mentor, and world travel.

True Life: I’m A Talent Advisor and Metrics are a Necessary Evil

March 13th, 2015 Comments off
job candidate behavior

I’m a big believer in breaking stereotypes and reclaiming HR. That’s why I am excited to introduce you to Marc Farrugia, Vice President, Human Resources at Sun Communities — the leading provider of manufactured home communities and RV resorts.

I expected Marc to be an executive nearing retirement who likes Labrador Retrievers, fly fishing, and sensible corduroy pants. Instead, I met a dynamic talent advisor who is passionate about the metrics that matter: technology, recruiting and HR systems and processes.

You work for an RV company, but you are not a retiree who’s coasting his way into the sunset. What’s your journey as a talent advisor?

I attended Penn State and earned a BS in Organizational Leadership and an MS in Human Resources and Employee Relations. I went to work for Quicken Loans and obtained a great foundation for my career. That’s where I discovered my passion for HR technology. I joined Sun Communities and brought that passion me. My primary focus was to automate an outdated HR department. Everything was a paper-driven process. My team implemented a variety of systems to get things working seamlessly. It was a huge undertaking, but tech touches team members, employees, executives and some vendors. It was important to get it right.

How do you break stereotypes and embody a new way of thinking about HR?

My HR team at Sun Communities has been recognized for technology and innovation. We push our technology vendors to improve their own products. Confidence is key. I have data-driven discussions with board members, but I’m not afraid to take risks. If I feel like something will work, I am all for trying it out and getting my team excited about new possibilities. When people dream, there’s good energy. Sometimes, metrics are a necessary evil that halts momentum and innovation.

Technology seems to be at the core of your talent acquisition function. True?

Yes, we have worked hard to integrate multiple technological platforms into a system of proactive email blasts, talent networks, and other creative ways to reach the right people for the right job. We also use technology to facilitate rehiring alumni and boomerang employees. We’ve worked tirelessly on the integration of recruiting tools, marketing platforms, and incentives strategies, too.

How does Sun Communities invest in its own HR pipeline?

Two points here, Laurie:


1. We are an employee-focused company. We live up to our values, and we ask our people where they want to go — at Sun Communities and beyond. I ask my crew to explore other career options and think about speaking, writing, and advocating on behalf of human resources. I speak at conferences, too, and I know what a game-changer that can be.


2. I have learned that, in HR, flexibility is a big issue for my employees. I listen for cues and make sure that my team knows that their individual needs will be addressed. Sun Communities has a strong culture of recognition, too, and we go above and beyond to make sure that all employees are recognized in the function and the company.


Marc is a great example of a VP of Human Resources who emulates the role of talent advisor and understands the value metrics and their place in fostering talent. I was so distracted by his compelling story that I forgot to ask him about fly fishing and dogs!

Visit the Sun Communities career page and check out Marc’s social profile to learn more about his role as a progressive and tech-savvy talent advisor.


How to Determine Which HR Data Matters

March 11th, 2015 Comments off
workforce data

I may sound a bit old-fashioned in saying this, but I’ve seen HR evolve dramatically over my career. It is great because if our field doesn’t evolve, then we will cease to be relevant and useful to our companies. An area where we continue to experiment in being effective is around data.

Most of the HR data you hear about is functional and irrelevant. We use it to justify our existence more than we use it to move the organization forward. We spend hours on reports to make sure we note the ROI of each endeavor, the cost per hire, turnover ratios, etc. Honestly, those are HR report cards. Without a context, they remain stale numbers on a spreadsheet.

Another trend I see is that we measure the negative elements of our organizations. We have perfect attendance awards mixed with layers of attendance records tracking, which measures whether people come to work or not. Performance management software measures what people aren’t doing more than what they accomplish.

As a talent advisor, you can turn data around and show how the work of HR contributes to the bottom-line of a company. It’s a challenging shift to do the opposite of what you’ve been doing, but the outcomes are well worth it.

When you understand that the entire organization works from a data standpoint, you will see that it’s important for talent advisors to speak from this perspective, too. Remember, you are a business person first — you just happen to practice HR. If you don’t approach your role in this manner, you will always be relegated to the sidelines, and you won’t be able to impact the company.

To break the trap of traditional HR measurements and data in my company, I decided to gather and develop data that matters.

Retention, not turnover
For instance, my organization measures retention and not turnover. That’s a metric that matters to our leadership team. We gathered the retention data by taking a snapshot of our current employee make-up across all locations and positions. After six months, we captured another snapshot to see what had transpired and how our retention looked. It revealed that we continue to have a great deal of work to do to improve where we currently stand. Probably just like you.

The difference in my approach? I gathered data that mattered to the COO and CEO. I collected important data points and showed our leadership team not only how we were made up, but the movement of our employment status across both our locations as well as each role that was in every location.

After sharing the data and researching the trends and best practices on retention strategies, I presented an approach to see how our hiring, onboarding and training practices could improve. The goal would be to see our retention increase across the board. And I linked our HR endeavors to business objectives. If we can save time and money by hiring fast and better — and linking our hiring practices to things like guest satisfaction surveys — everybody wins.

Talent advisors must tie the HR data they have to the business needs. Just throwing numbers against a wall to say you generated beautifully crafted minutia is a waste of time. So take a look at the data you currently work from and ask yourself if it is truly addressing a business need. Is it another curtain of HR justification? Change your direction and only provide data that matters.

At the end of the day, relevant data is the only thing that your senior management team wants to see from its talent advisors.

Using Workforce Data: 6 Habits of Highly Successful Employers

March 6th, 2015 Comments off
6 habits of highly successful employers

What do companies like Google, REI, Facebook and Southwest do to land on “Best Places to Work” lists so consistently? While you may think it’s the brand recognition or the attention-grabbing perks (such as nap pods or free snacks), the answer is actually much more practical: They understand the importance of workforce data.

The fact is the best way to gain a real competitive advantage in attracting top talent is by building a recruitment process around data. Smart companies trust the data they gather on everything from job seeker perceptions and behaviors to industry trends to guide their recruitment efforts — connecting them with the right candidates and yielding a higher return on investment.

How can workforce data impact your organization?

Sign up to download “Using Workforce Data: Six Habits of Highly Successful Employers,” and learn from companies that are already successfully utilizing their workforce data to inform their recruitment efforts and impact the bottom line — and how you can, too.


Get the Guide

What Workers Want to Change About You – And What to Do About It

March 5th, 2015 Comments off
Change direction

Like the burn book from “Mean Girls,” employees have dished on what they don’t like about their managers in a recent TINYpulse report from TINYhr. In the study, “New Year Employee Sentiment Report,” respondents were asked, “If you could change one thing about your manager in the new year, what would it be?”

The top five answers given were:

  • Become a better, more open communicator – 15 percent
  • Have the boss quit or retire – 11 percent
  • Improve empathy and people skills – 10 percent
  • Increase raises – 8 percent
  • Become a better collaborator/team leader – 7 percent


What does this mean for you?

While monetary recognition made the list, it didn’t crack the top three, and three out of the five answers focus on how bosses communicate and interact with their employees.  This goes to show that a little more communication, transparency and team building can go a long way in boosting employee morale.

The next question in the study explored what employees would do if the tables were turned.

When asked, “If you were promoted to be your boss’s manager in the new year, what’s the first thing you would change?” the top five answers given were:

  • Fire, demote or improve the caliber of employee – 16 percent
  • Establish standards for behavior and company policies – 11 percent
  • Improve communication – 11 percent
  • Improve wages and benefits – 10 percent
  • Modify working hours – 9 percent


What does this mean for you?

Interestingly, the top answer related to cleaning house and removing “dead weight,” so to speak. This shows that employees are not only invested in their own career, but they also want to surround themselves with people who are also devoted to doing their best work.

As the study points out, “peers have a huge influence on workplace satisfaction, and greater weight should be put on who is hired … and who is fired.”

The study concludes by saying, “You have a great deal of control over your employees’ desire to stick with you or run for the hills. Take stock of what they’re asking for in the new year, because you can be sure your competitors are.”

What changes have you been making to improve employee morale this year? Tell us in the comments section or tweet at @CBforEmployers.

3 Keys to Investing in Your Global Workforce

February 25th, 2015 Comments off
Embrace the three T's: Trust, Time, and Tolerance.

The biggest lessons of my career have been when I’ve been placed in positions of responsibility and allowed to make or break a situation all by myself. Sure things go wrong, and you get the occasional bloody nose, but then you learn not to do that same thing again.

It’s an approach I try to take to my team.

I am an executive HR leader at Penguin RandomHouse. I have a board role and responsibility for the U.K., with additional oversight of the markets in APAC, India and South Africa. I want to allow people around me enough freedom to learn — even if things go wrong. Especially when things go wrong.

The greatest thing I can invest in my team isn’t money. In fact, money comes way down the list.

Instead, it’s the three T’s.

1. Trust.

You remember when you first learned to ride a bike and without stabilizers or training wheels? Nobody paid you to do that, or sent you to on a training course. You did that yourself because your parents set you off and trusted that you’d succeed (and ideally not kill yourself). Likewise at work, if you want people to grow and learn you need to trust them to do things they’ve never done before.

2. Time.

I’ll just do it myself, it will be quicker.”

I’ve said and thought it too. And of course it is. It is quicker for me to make a meal for my kids than it is for them to make it themselves. But at the end of the day, when I’m not there, how will they know what to do? In the same way I want my kids to grow and become functioning adults, I want my team to develop, grow and have careers that are bigger and better than mine. And they will only do that if I take the time to show, explain and support them when they need it.

3. Tolerance.

Because sometimes things won’t work out. If you trust people, you need to keep on trusting them. That’s the deal. And that sometimes means you need to go into a dark room and have a word with yourself. Things will go badly from time to time, but letting people work out their solutions and helping them to figure it all out is what you’re there to do.

My genuine belief is that, if you want people in your global workforce to grow, you need to focus on what you can give. Start with the three T’s. Sometimes it isn’t easy. It can feel rather frustrating. But the rewards far outweigh the initial hard work.

Throughout the month of February, the Talent Advisor Portal has been featuring HR leaders who will help you learn why and how and why to invest in talent in 2015 — even on a shoestring budget. Welcome Neil Morrison as our newest Talent Advisor voice — he’ll be sharing his wisdom from a global perspective. See what you’ve been missing this month. New to Talent Advisor? Sign up here to get new articles delivered to your email inbox.

Fertilize the Soil: 3 Ways to Nurture Your Employees

February 11th, 2015 Comments off
3 Ways to Nurture Your Employees

Companies work in mysterious ways. There are times when we talent advisors believe we should keep our employees at arm’s length. We are discouraged from getting to know workers on a personal level, and we teach junior HR professionals to detach because we incorrectly assume it’s the right thing to do.

Taking this approach is reckless. If you choose to withdraw from your workforce, you create big obstacles and hurdles to trust and security that are almost impossible to overcome.

There is an aspect of being a talent advisor that is missing in most workplaces. I think that’s the role of fertilizer.

I am not talking about cow manure, although that’s a good analogy because things don’t grow without organic compost and fertilizer. In order to grow as a talent advisor and help your organization succeed, you need to inject the intellectual soil and be the catalyst that provides the vitamins and nutrients for employees to grow.

Let’s just look at the disconnect between employee behaviors and HR policies. Talent in today’s workplace doesn’t want the obligatory, forced personnel practices that include impersonal performance review discussions and a one-off employee survey. They expect to develop and grow — and for HR to help them do that.

You promised that to them during the hiring process, too.

But you can’t deliver on those promises to your employees unless you are also learning and growing. That’s why talent advisors must understand that the days of “paying your dues” and seniority-based favoritism in the workforce is over. It was never an effective approach, anyway, and now employees will see your organization as being out of touch if you still think the command-and-control style of management makes an impact.

By taking on a fertilizer role, you can become a farmer of your people. You will be amazed to see how they respond.

Here are three tips I’d like to give you as you put on your coveralls:

1. Feed everyone differently.

Too often, HR wants everything to be “one size fits all.” That has never worked with employees because every employee is different. Feed people what they need and don’t turn development into another homogeneous program.

2. Do it daily.

I can hear the groans already coming from your office. “How can I develop people daily? Don’t you see how busy I am?”

Sound familiar? Talent advisors need to recognize that we don’t exist without employees. So if spending time daily is an obstacle or a chore, I’d encourage you to look at this from another angle. You get the chance to touch and impact everyone in your company. By being the fertilizer who gives daily attention to people, you will also grow and have a better pulse on what is happening with your employees.

3. Teach others to fertilize, too.

If you try to develop each employee yourself, you will become overwhelmed. Talent advisors need to spend additional, focused time with managers and supervisors who have responsibility for others. Take your time and get to know those who are responsible for managing people. You will not only have the chance to teach them this valuable approach, but you will gain more credibility organizationally.

It’s Time to Dig In

This farming analogy may seem like a stretch, but know this: if you don’t foster and nurture your employees, they will either wither and die on the vine or leave your company. So join me in getting your work boots on, and let’s dig in and get some soil under our nails. Employees are looking for ways to grow, and you are the one who can help them achieve their goals.

Steve Browne, Talent Advisor

Throughout the month of February, the Talent Advisor Portal is featuring HR leaders who will help you learn why and how and why to invest in talent in 2015 — even on a shoestring budget. Join CareerBuilder and talent advisor Steve Browne for a can’t-miss webinar, “Wake Up! It’s 2015 — Time to Make Employee Investment a Reality,” on Thurs., Feb. 19 at 2:00 Central time. Register now.

14 Smart Ways to Invest in Your Talent (On a Budget)

February 4th, 2015 Comments off
talent advisors share their best tips to invest in talent

“Give us your best ideas for how talent advisors and their companies can better invest in talent — without spending a ton of money.”

That’s what our fearless resident talent advisors Jennifer McClure, Tim Sackett, Steve Browne and Matthew Stollak were asked to do — and they didn’t disappoint.

(Psst… You already know why it’s so important to invest in your talent… right? That it’s vital to recruitment, retention, and your bottom line? If not, make sure you’re subscribed to our Talent Advisor content, because our talent advisors have a lot to say about it in the month of February.)

To kick things off, below is a collection of our talent advisors’ best anecdotes and advice about how to start investing in your talent (on a budget). Whether you’re struggling to find new ways to invest in your people, trying to convince someone at your company (or yourself) it’s worth doing in the first place, or feel like you’re in a pretty good place but just need some new inspiration, there’s an idea here for you.

first, Realize that “Thank you” really does go a long way.

MCCLURE: “Invest in your employees by taking the time to say “thank you” and to genuinely appreciate their efforts. No consultants needed. No time out of the office for training. Just a few minutes each day, or a few hours each month, of your time could generate the greatest return on investment.

BROWNE: Recognize employees in-person on their shift and at their location. We do this with cookies, balloons and gift cards.

 Surprise and delight your employees.

MCCLURE: Want to invest in a unique benefit that will help your employees stay focused on their work – while still getting personal errands and family obligations taken care of? Provide concierge services. Both small and large employers can contract with a service (like Best Upon Request) to handle mundane, but necessary, tasks like picking up dry cleaning, dropping your car off for maintenance, or meeting the cable guy.”

STOLLAK: Create a safe room where employees can decompress from a stressful day.”

help people stretch and get inspired outside of their work role.

SACKETT: “I gave $100 to each of my employees and gave them 24 hours to go pay it forward. I said. ‘Here is $100. Leave work right now and go find someone who could really use this. Make someone’s day better.’ They then had to come back and share their story with everyone. The stories were awesome and uplifting and people loved it. We all feel like we want to do more, give more, etc., but life gets in the way. It’s not Oprah money, but everyone loves an extra $100 bill. My employees loved it more that they got to give with it.”

STOLLAK: Start awarding innovation awards to employees who offer ways to make their job better.”

MCCLURE: “Inspire and encourage your employees to achieve their personal dreams by hiring a Dream Manager for your organization. A Dream Manager works with employees individually to help them envision their dreams, establish concrete plans to achieve them and hold them accountable. The Dream Manager idea was originally started by the owners of a janitorial services company in Cincinnati, OH. A Dream Manager helped Jancoa employees realize dreams such as purchasing a home, starting their own business, and stopping smoking – helping them to become more fulfilled and loyal employees in the process.”

STOLLAK: 1) Get a site license for a site like Grammarly.com to help your employees write more effectively and become better communicators. 2) Build a learning library of business books at the office that employees can borrow, read and learn from, and return at their convenience.”

elevate them to the next level.

BROWNE: Set up plans for people to go to professional development events – on purpose.  Get folks to meet/connect with these events and the people in their specialty/industry/role.

MCCLURE: Encourage your employees to share their expertise by speaking at industry conferences and events, instead of just signing up to attend. Support their efforts by investing in speaking coaches to help them showcase their talents – and your company as their employer – with maximum impact. Encouraging your employees to shine professionally will help them grow, and will also showcase your company as a place where smart and successful professionals work.”

BROWNE: Eliminate performance reviews and start a tangible development program! And teach supervisors how to give immediate feedback — it’s so easy if it becomes a habit.”


STOLLAK: Invest in employees by getting rid of the bad managers who are often the biggest performance drain and cause of turnover.”

BROWNE: Destroy the desks of your HR staff.  Mandate that they are out with the people as part of their job description, compensation, etc.

STOLLAK: Host an HR Hackathon — A 48-hour all-hands-on-deck hack session IS the onboarding program. What better way to introduce a new hire to what the organization is all about?

Throwing it back out there to all of you — what is the best piece of advice you’d give others on investing in talent? What’s an idea you’ve found to make a difference at your own organization? Let us know in the comments or give us a shout at @cbforemployers on Twitter.

Throughout the month of February, the Talent Advisor Portal will be featuring HR leaders who will help you learn why and how and why to invest in talent in 2015 — even on a shoestring budget — and why it’s about more than making them love you. New to Talent Advisor? Sign up here to get new articles delivered to your email inbox.

Forget Hiring: Why It’s Time to Reskill Your Own Employees

February 2nd, 2015 Comments off
Don't hire -- instead, focus on investing in your own employees.

Talent advisors know continuous learning is critical to both the employee experience and their workforce planning strategies. When times are tough, the first thing cut from the budget is often money for training and development. However, talent advisors think differently. They take a counterintuitive approach by investing more in their workforce, recognizing that it is crucial not only to achieving organizational goals, but also to retaining high-performing employees and helping them become even better.

Why Invest in Training?

Many organizations fear that employees will leave, and with them will go the investment made in them. As the adage goes, though, “What if you don’t train those employees, and they stay?”

Without you making an investment in their training, your workers are less likely to be up-to-date with the latest knowledge in their field. Further, stagnating or deteriorating job skills will impact your organization in several ways, including decreased customer satisfaction, minimal improvement (if any) in productivity, co-workers who won’t want to work with someone who doesn’t make them better, and increased errors. Finally, even if employees do leave (which will often be for reasons outside your control), if you have made efforts to invest in their growth and development, they are more likely to have a positive impression of your organization as well as be an advocate for your business in their interaction with others.

Why reskill current employees?

As technology and demand change, organizations have to decide whether it is worth devoting additional resources to current employees or looking elsewhere for the skills they desire. A recent study by Matthew Bidwell, an assistant professor at Wharton, found that not only do external hires cost more, they also receive poorer performance reviews for their first two years on the job. Further, Bidwell notes that those promoted from within are less likely to get laid off than external hires.

Current employees are known commodities; the organization has a stronger understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. An external hire with 100 percent of the competencies needed, however, is an unknown. A new hire may look good on paper and kill it in the interview process, with weaknesses not showing up until he or she is on-site. Even if the new hire is ready skill-wise, that person may still not be ready to step in and perform at maximum speed. There is a learning curve culturally as the person begins to understand the organization and where he or she fits in with others.

showing a Commitment to your Employees

Pouring resources into reskilling also demonstrates a commitment to your employees. Your organization has already invested a significant amount of time and energy into each employee, right? From the costs associated with recruitment to the salary, overhead, office space and other associated costs, your organization wants a new hire to succeed. In turn, continued investment in employees may reduce turnover. As noted last month, young professionals are more likely to apply and commit to organizations that emphasize personal growth and professional development.

For the talent advisor, investing in training is not a luxury, but a necessary component of a well-thought-out business strategy. Achievement of business goals cannot occur without up-to-date employees leading the way.


Matthew Stollak on reskilling your employees


Throughout the month of February, the Talent Advisor Portal will be featuring HR leaders who will help you learn why and how and why to invest in talent in 2015 — even on a shoestring budget — and why it’s about more than making them love you. New to Talent Advisor? Sign up here to get new articles delivered to your email inbox.

It Shouldn’t Be This Hard to Say Thank You at Work

January 28th, 2015 Comments off
Tech talk: It Shouldn't Be So Hard to Say Thank You at Work

Most people only think about employee rewards and recognition when they have a service anniversary or during the annual review process. That’s a mistake, and not only because It’s a huge industry (nearly $10 billion dollars huge).

I recently interviewed my friend, Paul Hebert, vice president of solution design for Symbolist. Symbolist is an organization that creates “human” programs that connect people and organizations at an emotional level.

Paul thinks talent advisors should examine how technology is changing the way people say “thank you” at work:

My husband once received a nice set of luggage for his 10th anniversary at work. Wait, Is that what you do for a living?

You’re right, Laurie. My industry is associated with lapel pins, clocks and crystal vases. But today’s professional reward company does quite a bit more than peddle merchandise.

In fact, the value we bring to HR departments has very little to do with the award itself. It’s more about helping embed a culture of recognition in a company through training, communication, measurement, reporting and ongoing support.

How can technology help recognize and reward people who are aligned with a company’s culture?

First of all, technology doesn’t reward anyone. People do. So the technology simply makes it easier and faster. If you have a company where no one recognized anyone before you put a system in, you will have a company with a slick technology solution that no one uses.

When you do the work and get your employees and managers on board, the technology can raise the level of engagement. To use some buzz words: With the right system, you can now track the big data associated with recognition and rewards in your company very easily. You can see which managers are engaging within their teams, and which managers are engaging outside their teams.

Every transaction is tracked and gives managers unequaled insight into the culture of recognition they have at their company.

What can’t technology do for users of this software?

Technology cannot fix bad culture. It can’t fix a company that treats its employees like garbage. Too often, clients will expect employee engagement to increase once software is purchased. That just doesn’t happen.

then, I asked Paul to tell me the future.

Predicting the future is hard, Laurie. Anyone have flying cars yet? I think there are a few things I would put my money on, though:

  1. Employee rewards and recognition will become portable. Employees will be able to download and package the recognition events they received at one job and use that as evidence of their talent when applying for another position. Anywhere.
  2. The tech behind rewards and recognition will become bundled with other talent management tech. Frankly I’m a bit surprised it hasn’t happened yet. But what do I know? Where are those flying cars?
  3. Training employees on how to do recognition right will become mission critical. Many companies — especially small ones — can drive a huge increase in engagement through training and never install a reward system.


Paul uses proven motivational theory, behavioral economics and social psychology to design marketing, motivation, incentive, recognition and reward programs that drive extraordinary company performance. If you want to connect with him, you can read his awesome blog and learn more about an industry — and technology — that’s worth knowing about!


Throughout the month of January, the Talent Advisor Portal has been featuring HR leaders who will help you win the war for talent by interpreting technology trends, breaking stereotypes and rethinking your approach to technology. See what else they’ve had to say. New to Talent Advisor? Sign up here to get new articles delivered to your email inbox.

30% of Employed Workers Regularly Search for Jobs

January 12th, 2015 Comments off
Talent Factor

Though there’s a good chance unemployed workers have more urgency in their job search and thus are more likely to quickly commit to job offers, the passive job seeker — currently an employed worker, but keeping an eye out for better opportunities — is a staple for recruiters.

And according to a new CareerBuilder survey, 30 percent of workers say they regularly search for job opportunities even though they’re currently employed, and 16 percent are determined to land a new position in the New Year. Among workers ages 18 to 34, 23 percent expect to have a new job by year-end.

What this means for you

Passive job seekers don’t always identify themselves during their search, so where are you left to look for them? Here are the eight workers to include in your recruiting efforts. How can you more effectively recruit each of these types of workers in 2015? Take a look at the full report for more info on what will make employees think twice about leaving their company this year.

1. The Career-less.

Offering opportunities with a career path is essential to more than half of workers: 52 percent feel like they just have a job, not a career — and 24 percent of these workers plan to find a new employer in the New Year.

2. The Underemployed.

These workers either don’t have responsibilities that utilize their skill sets or experience, or are overqualified for the positions they have, leaving 39 percent of workers feeling underemployed; 31 percent of these workers plan to change jobs in 2015.

3. The Undertrained.

The 22 percent of workers who are dissatisfied with training and learning opportunities in their firms may be preparing to look elsewhere for work—35 percent of these workers plan to change jobs in 2015.

4. The Overlooked.

Twenty-three percent feel overlooked for a promotion in their current job; 31 percent of these workers plan to change jobs in 2015.

5. The Immobile.

Of the 26 percent of workers who are dissatisfied with career advancement opportunities in their firms, 37 percent plan to change jobs in 2015.

6. The Underpaid.

Forty-one percent didn’t receive a pay increase in 2014, 22 percent of these workers plan to change jobs in 2015.

7. The Mismanaged.

Never say a good boss isn’t an important factor in someone’s career: 31 percent of workers rate their boss’ performance as poor or fair, and 27 percent of these workers plan to change jobs in 2015.

8. The Imbalanced.

Seventeen percent of workers are dissatisfied with their work/life balance; 33 percent of these workers plan to change jobs in 2015.

Get the full story: Read more about job seeker resolutions in 2015 now.


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