HIRING. EMPLOYEE SELECTION

Are These Turnover Myths Hurting Your Company?

by Jeanne Knutzen | December 23, 2014

0 Hiring.Best Practices

By Karaka Leslie There's a lot of misinformation out there regarding employee turnover. Some "experts" recommend employers keep an almost hyper vigilant watch on turnover rates, while others recommend employers stop worrying about the rates altogether! Despite all the talk, however, nobody has come up with a foolproof solution for resolving high turnover. The needs, desires, and perceptions of your employees contribute to your rates, which makes solving the problem of high turnover more difficult than one might assume. That said, some misinformation is more harmful than others. Here are the top five myths to avoid taking at face value. MYTH #1 Low turnover means your employees like their jobs. One would think that all the time, energy, and effort spent recruiting employees would amount to a workforce where everyone is a perfect fit. Not so! While this is a nice idea, the truth is low turnover could simply mean your employees can't find jobs they want. That's why turnover isn't always a bad thing. When employees become disengaged, disgruntled, and (sorry) lazy but stay put, productivity decreases and their negativity impacts the entire work environment. One weak link will drag the rest of the team down, so a higher turnover rate is a better bet than a crop of toxic long-term employees. MYTH #2. If an employee leaves your company, he or she was never a good fit to begin with. Sure, sometimes a person just isn't as right for the job as you'd hoped, but your first thought as the employee heads for the door shouldn't be, "Well, he didn't really belong anyway." It's probably more likely that business processes or company culture is the root cause of the employee's departure. Poor management, inadequate training, or incomplete onboarding will lead to turnover more often than "poor fit." MYTH #3. Employee turnover is on the rise. Rumor has it that turnover has been skyrocketing within the last few years as a result of the recovering economy. However, in fact, turnover rates have remained relatively stable. A study done by SHRM found that between 2009 and 2011, employee turnover fluctuated approximately 2%. Employee turnover is an inevitable part of doing business, as employees will always have reasons to change jobs, but it’s not an expanding problem. MYTH #4. Employees primarily leave jobs for more money. Of course some employees leave their jobs after being offered more money by another company, but money isn't the main cause of turnover. Statistics show that employees are far more likely to remain at or leave a company because of their relationship with their manager or opportunities for growth. MYTH #5. Employee turnover is unpredictable. You can't always know beforehand that an employee has decided to leave. However, you can plan for a certain amount of employee turnover. One way to go about this is to evaluate your turnover rates from past years and use the percentage to forecast future rates. Doing so can help budget for recruiting costs and determine how much time HR needs to devote to managing employee turnover. Your company's turnover rate is a significant number, especially as it relates to employee satisfaction and recruiting costs. Still, when evaluating the issues that contribute to turnover within your business, it's important not to get sucked into some of the myths being paraded around. Each company is different, and you should consider the unique needs of your organization before determining whether your turnover rates are alarmingly high, alarmingly low, or just right.


  Karaka Leslie is one of the product managers at PayScale, a compensation data and software company. Karaka started her career as an agency recruiter, helping companies find the best talent. Since then, she has worked with numerous businesses to assist them with building a solid case for good compensation planning. Outside of compensation, she also founded a Community Giving group to help connect professionals to local community organizations focused on education and career services.    

We Are All Becoming Millennials

by Jeanne Knutzen | December 23, 2014

0 Hiring.Best Practices

By Darcy Jacobsen

It's hard to read anything about business today and not trip over references to millennials and the changes they are bringing to the workplace. It has everyone in something of a lather.

It is true that there are major changes afoot in modern business and they have happened with the influx of the latest generation of workers. But those changes are bigger than any one cohort.

This Generation Y, or the Millennial Generation, born between 1982 and 1999, has created an enormous amount of anxiety as employers scramble to figure out what will attract and retain them. Generation Y will, after all, constitute 75% of the workforce by 2025. Those who win the hearts of millennials will win the war on talent. No question. But there are those on the flip side of the issue who argue that nothing is new under the sun, that the differences cited in generational attitudes are fiddle faddle, and that the uniqueness we see in this younger group is largely age and development related. That is, the thought is that millennial attitudes will shift as they age and eventually fall into the same patterns as older generations. Both sides are missing the real story. It is true that our youngest workers have ushered in a lot of new ways of thinking about old ideas. But the truth is, we are ALL becoming millennial. Take this Pew test for yourself (How Millennial Are You?) and encourage those around you to take it as well. You might be surprised at how little the results correspond to chronological age. (I scored 97% millennial although I belong to Generation X.) The fact is, we're looking so hard at this new generation that we are failing to reflect enough on the changes that are sweeping the rest of us—traditionalist, boomers, and Gen Xers included. I've been crunching data recently for our upcoming Workforce Mood Tracker report and I have to say that I've been surprised that millennials do not differ from the workforce at large in as many areas as you'd think. Consider these seven qualities that we tend to attribute to our youngest workers, and how they really describe the way we've all changed: Millennials are digitally connected 24/7. I'm a Gen Xer and I sleep with my phone next to my pillow. So does my Mom. I was in a large meeting yesterday with mixed generations, and it dawned on me that not one person out of the group was wearing a traditional watch—but every one of them had their phone on the table or in their pocket. According to the Pew Internet Project, 91% of Americans now own cell phones and 55% now own smartphones. That number is expected to grow to a near 80% share by 2017. The average person checks their phone 10 times an hour. That's person... not just millennial. We are ALL connected by mobile devices, and those of us who aren't will be soon. Any attempt to connect with your workforce that doesn't take this into account will fail. Millennials don't stay for the gold watch. No one stays for the engraved gold watch anymore. (No one even wants an engraved gold watch anymore, and if they got one they'd probably put it up on eBay). When employees do stay, they stay for their co-workers and their work. When I started my career, a respectable resume had you spending at least five years in every job; then the statistic dropped to two years. Nowadays, some employers even react the opposite way–if you have too few listings on a resume they may worry you might be complacent, in low demand, or resistant to new ideas. Average tenure rates with millennials in the workforce are around 4.6 years–but that number has remained more or less the same, with some economy driven variation, since the 1980s. That means if you're waiting around to reward and thank people until they hit their five year anniversary, they have probably already moved on–regardless of what year they were born. Millennials desire continuous positive feedback. Guess what? No one likes negative feedback... even when it is constructive. And we all like positive feedback. In fact, according to Gallup, managers who give little or no feedback fail to engage 98% of employees. Those who concentrate feedback on strengths reduce employee disengagement to less than 1%. The power of feedback is a recurring topic for us on this blog, so I won't get into too much detail on it, but suffice it to say that all employees are hungry for ongoing, real-time feedback that confirms they are doing good work and shows they are appreciated for it. When we get positive reinforcement, we are more satisfied, more engaged, and happier. Millennials demand flexibility and choice. The Millennial Generation certainly didn't discover individuality or flexibility, but their advent has coincided with a broader recognition that employee well-being–physical, psychological, and developmental–is good for business. That recognition, combined with the millennials' expectation to be treated like special snowflakes, has opened up a realization that our work lives can be much richer if we are given more control, choice, and ownership over them. Companies, too, have begun to understand that when we trust employees like responsible individuals, they will behave like responsible individuals and will work all the harder for it. Most forward-thinking companies have begun to adapt this more flexible way of thinking about their workforce–designing more choice into their total rewards and talent management strategies–and are reaping the rewards. Millennials want meaningful work and to give back. Morality and responsibility have re-entered our cultural dialogue with this generation, but they are not alone in caring about these ideas, which long pre-date them. They want to work for companies with a strong mission and cultural values. They want to work for companies who have strong moral standing and practice virtuousness. Well, so do we all. According to Don MacPherson from Modern Survey, "employees are now 37 times more likely to be fully engaged if they know and understand their organization’s values." Meaning and mission have grown in importance for us all and do not belong only to our youngest employees. Millennials expect to be developed and groomed. Again, desires for advancement and development are highly associated with millennials. Only companies with strong L&D plans have a hope of keeping this generation on board. On the other hand, this is also true for all employees. When BlessingWhite asked workers why they leave companies, the #1 answer was a "lack of opportunity to grow or advance." Stagnation affects employees in every life stage, and we all respond positively to hopes of learning or advancing in our careers. Millennials need social approval and crowdsource everything. Anyone who has a relative under the age of 30 will no doubt have witnessed firsthand the intensely social nature of the Millennial Generation–especially in how they use electronics and the internet to rate and share experiences and to gauge their own success through the eyes of their peers. Social connections and crowdsourcing are advancing not only because of adoption by millennials, but because technology has finally made them possible. Connecting with one another benefits us all, and the more workplaces make that possible, the more workers in every generation will thrive. Academic research bears this out. A recent meta-review of academic studies on generational differences found that "leaders should view generational differences not merely as idiosyncratic inter-group differences, nor as a reflection of age differences at a moment in time, but as manifestations of broader trends in society and work that continue to evolve as the generations move through their respective life courses." The study, published by Sean Lyons and Lisa Kurons in the Journal of Organizational Behavior, goes on to conclude: "This means that past management practices cannot be assumed to work in the modern context and today's practices cannot be presumed to work in the future. The generational trends evident in this review suggest that workers are becoming more independent and self-focused and less committed to their organizations and, as a result, are more mobile in their careers. Workers are increasingly seeking personal fulfillment in their work, and leaders and employers who can satisfy their individualistic growth needs will have a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining talent. Employers may accept these trends and adjust to a new reality of transactional, short-term employment relationships, or must work to provide flexible work conditions, job offerings, and leadership to simultaneously meet the needs of multiple generations." Now to be sure, millennials are further ahead and leading the charge on all of these things I listed above, and Lyons and Kurons' article makes it clear there ARE proven differences among cohorts. But these are changes that affect us all. Millennials are clearing a path to make all our work lives better. It's time we stop thinking of this as a generational shift, and start thinking about it as a workforce shift. We are all millennials, now.
  Darcy Jacobsen is a content marketing manager at Globoforce, the world’s leading provider of SaaS (software-as-a-service)–based employee recognition solutions. Through its social, mobile, and global technology, Globoforce helps HR and business leaders elevate employee engagement, increase employee retention, manage company culture, and discover the power of real-time performance management. Contact Jacobsen or follow her writing at www.globoforce.com/gfblog.

When I’m hiring, what’s more important – skills, knowledge, experience, or “fit”?

by Jeanne Knutzen | December 10, 2014

0 FEATURED BLOGS, HIRING. EMPLOYEE SELECTION, Hiring.Best Practices, Lead Gen Content - "Fit", Temporary and Contract Staffing get connected

When you're hiring you need to know what qualities are most critical to hiring success. Here's how to decide what's most important now.... … Read More »

Will Unlimited Vacation be the Death of Vacation?

by Jeanne Knutzen | November 21, 2014

0 HIRING. EMPLOYEE SELECTION Employment Vacation Policies, Inc., Michael Haberman, Omega HR Solutions, Paid Vacation Days

By Mike Haberman As many of you have probably heard by now, Richard Branson has created a "non-policy" vacation policy. He said he modeled it after the Netflix policy. According to writer and entrepreneur Daniel Green, "Branson described the 'non-policy' as giving employees the flexibility to take as much vacation time as needed when they feel 100% comfortable that they are up to date on every project and that their absence will not in any way damage the business or indeed their own career.'" Green then raised the question, "Is this a good or bad thing?' I raise the question of whether this could be the death of vacation time in the United States. AMERICANS ARE NOTORIOUS American companies are notorious for their vacation policies that give just about the least amount of time off in the entire world. Denmark is a much happier place because of time-off, and more productive, too. Despite having the least amount of vacation in the world, many U.S. workers still don't take all their allotted time. According to Venessa Wong at Bloomberg Businessweek, as quoted by Anna North, "Already, some 40 percent of American workers don't use all their paid vacation days." The criticism of Branson's move is that the non-policy states that:

The policy-that-isn't permits all salaried staff to take off whenever they want for as long as they want. There is no need to ask for prior approval and neither the employees themselves nor their managers are asked or expected to keep track of their days away from the office. It is left to the employee alone to decide if and when he or she feels like taking a few hours, a day, a week or a month off, the assumption being that they are only going to do it when they feel a hundred percent comfortable that they and their team are up to date on every project and that their absence will not in any way damage the business–or, for that matter, their careers!"
The emphasis in the criticism is the statement that the employee must feel "100% comfortable that they and their team are up to date on every project and that their absence will not in any way damage the business–or, for that matter, their careers!" The naysayers feel that few Americans will ever have that confidence in their work and thus by that being the provision to live by, this policy could actually spell the doom of vacation. Not only will employees not take unlimited vacation, they will resort to taking no vacation because the work is never caught up and most people are unsure of their standing in the company to feel absolutely sure their careers will not be harmed. THERE ARE COMPANIES WHERE IT DOES WORK. Branson, by his announcement, got a lot of press; but in reality there are many companies that offer unlimited vacation. The Motley Fool is one such company. If you want to read some testimonials on this policy read the comments attached to Anna North's article in the online version of the New York Times. US VERSUS THEM One problem I see in these policies is the potential "us versus them" situation that is being set up. These unlimited vacation policies only apply to salaried exempt employees. The Fair Labor Standards Act does not allow them to be applied to non-exempt employees because you have to track their time. That is the basis on which they are paid. Just saying "work whenever you want" becomes very difficult with an hourly, non-exempt employee. Additionally, many of those positions are not ones where the employee can just take off anytime they want. Customers have to be served, food has to be delivered, and products have to assembled. That is a much different situation than that of a manager, consultant, advisor, marketing specialist, IT professional, etc. With this divide, what are the employee relations issues that companies will be faced with? I like the idea of unlimited vacation, but I have to tell you that even I, as an independent consultant, feel guilty if I take too much time off. I don't think I am alone in that mental dilemma. Michael Haberman is cofounder and senior HR consultant of Omega HR Solutions, Inc. His company offers HR solutions that include compliance reviews, wage and hour guidance, supervisory and managerial training, strategic guidance, executive advisement, and more. He can be reached at mhaberman@omegahrsolutions.com.

Political Arguments in the Workplace

by Jeanne Knutzen | October 23, 2014

0 HIRING. EMPLOYEE SELECTION political arguments, Robin Throckmorton, Strategic Human Resources, Strategic Human Resources Inc., workplace policies

By Strategic Human Resources, Inc. Question: With election time drawing near, we have some employees who have been very vocal about their political beliefs, including making insulting remarks about those who do not share their views. This is making other employees uncomfortable. What can we do as an employer to control political arguments in the workplace? Answer: Under the Federal Election Campaign Act, employers have the right to regulate and control employee work time and, as a result, may restrict any political activity during work time by prohibiting certain activities and behaviors that interfere with an employee's (or other employees') work. This includes wearing campaign buttons or t-shirts, leafleting, and disruptive commentary in the workplace. According to Michelle Reid, Esq. of Dallas-based Employment Practices Solutions, intelligent political dialogue can increase camaraderie and interaction between coworkers, but it can quickly escalate into arguments and lead to formal complaints and a divisive work environment. Reid states all organizations should have a policy that addresses discussions that may not be suitable for the workplace and the importance of maintaining a tolerant environment. Further, since political discussions between two people with opposing views rarely have a happy ending, train managers on how to diffuse an impassioned political discussion. Strategic Human Resources, Inc., is a national full-service HR management firm based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Our president and founder, Robin Throckmorton, can be reached at Robin@strategichrinc.com.

Tips for Finding and Developing HiPos in Your Company

by Jeanne Knutzen | September 29, 2014

0 Hiring.Best Practices Darcy Jacobsen, high potential employees, HiPos, HR position, IED and Stanford Business School, succession plan, succession planning

By Darcy Jacobsen According to a study by Quantum Workplace, 1 percent of executives believe that their succession plans are excellent. Okay. You might be in the lucky minority. You might be that rare company that has a fantastic multi-level succession plan based on substantive, nuanced data, which not only makes your high-potential employees feel invested, but also yields great leadership for your organization. But it's statistically unlikely. You're probably more like the rest of the world. You would love to have that kind of succession plan. It comes up in meetings all the time, but when it comes to actually creating it, there's a sort of paralysis that sets in. Shoulders are shrugged. Helpless looks exchanged. There's no clear path. No sense where to start. And it all gets pushed off to the next meeting. Or quarter. Or decade. "The majority (of executives) do not think that their organizations are doing enough to prepare for eventual changes in leadership at the CEO and C-suite levels," says Stanford professor David Larcker in the 2014 Report on Senior Executive Succession Planning and Talent Development. "Nor are they confident that they have the right practices in place to be sure of identifying the best leaders for tomorrow. These findings are surprising, really, given the importance that strong leadership has on the long-term performance of organizations. Research shows that companies with sound succession plans tend to do better." I got an email from a reader the other day who provided a great view from the trenches on this topic. He is a candidate for a director of HR position at an IT company, and after an interview where the CEO and COO grilled him about his ideas for succession planning, he wrote: "Succession planning from my experience (or lack of) is like the HR equivalent of searching for the Holy Grail! I have yet to work for a public or private company that has been able to even dip their toes into this sacred pool." According to a 2010 survey by Korn/Ferry, 98 percent of companies believe a CEO succession plan to be important–but only 35 percent actually have one in place. Likewise, DDI's 2011 Global Leadership Forecast found that only 1 in 3 organizations have high-quality, effective development plans for leadership in general, and in a 2011 AMA Enterprise survey only half of survey respondents said their organizations were somewhat effective in their ability to retain high-potential employees. Would we all like to have a great succession plan? Yes. Do we all know where to start? Apparently not. According to the 2014 Report on Senior Executive Succession Planning and Talent Development published by IED and Stanford Business School, here are the Six Key Elements of Successful Succession Planning:

  1. Strategic Planning – Determine what capabilities, roles, and talent are needed to execute the business strategy today and in the future.
  2. Talent Assessment – Gauge the executive team's bench strength. Do we have who we need (now and in future) and if not, how do we get there?
  3. Recruiting – Develop a talent pipeline for key roles/jobs.
  4. Performance Assessment – Let people know they are valued contributors and provide them opportunities for development, exposure to executives, networking across divisions, etc. (Get them on the corporate radar screen.)
  5. Development – Create development plans for individuals. (e.g., leadership workshops, classes, on-the-job learning, assignments, special projects, 360s, external classes, etc.)
  6. Retention and Engagement – Rewards and recognition, work environment, opportunities for development, job autonomy and scope of responsibilities, etc.
This is fantastic advice, but it may not have gotten you any closer to implementation. If you're like most companies, there are three underlying challenges that are preventing you from putting that plan into practice. They sound like this:
  • How do we identify and assess succession candidates and HiPos in the first place?
  • What are the components of a development plan that keeps them engaged and onboard?
  • How do we track their work performance and growth over time?
Here are five brass-tacks tips we can offer for overcoming those challenges:
  • Stop talking in generalities. What is the definition of "high potential" in your organization? Not the Wikipedia definition. YOUR definition. Your culture is unique, and so is your leadership style. If you have not defined what it means to be high-potential–specifically at your company–how can you expect people to execute on that? This paper from Kenan Flagler Business School at UNC includes some nice case studies, and did find some commonalities among the competencies organizations look for in their high-potential candidates. 70 percent of respondents looked for future performance potential and 69 percent looked for strategic thinking ability. Other criteria included a drive for results, current and sustained performance, culture fit, and commitment to the organization. Ultimately, though, the definition has to come organically from your own company culture.
  • Use recognition data to find your HiPos. This is the single best piece of original advice I have in this article. Want to find your best future leaders? Look at who your employees are already recognizing as informal leaders. Performance management cannot always discern high performance from high potential. According to the Corporate Leadership Council, only 29 percent of high performers are also high-potential employees. If you want to see who the informal leaders in your organization are, look at the recognition work circles. Those people who are in the center of them? Those are the people who have the biggest influence on your company. Chances are, all of your future leaders are there.
  • Be more incremental. Many companies focus all of their planning on their chief executives, and go no further. Succession planning cannot be for the CEO alone and focusing all your attention only on getting people to the top spot can be paralyzing. Creating a healthy talent pipeline means developing at all levels. As former Campbell's Soup leader Doug Conant recently shared in an interview: "To succeed in an enduring way, you must develop well-rounded leaders who can work in a frenetic environment. If you're not looking forward, watch out. Even the mighty will fall. While the CEO manages succession, the board needs to champion the development of talent. Leaders change, markets change, and it's hard to find and maintain an enduring proposition without an enduring stream of talent." Instead of worrying about getting the elite on a direct track to the C-suite, concentrate more of your succession efforts on simply getting a pipeline full of people with leadership potential.
  • Use positive feedback as a development tool. There's a raging debate out there about whether or not you should tell your HiPos that they are being developed for leadership. No matter which side you fall on, it is critical to make these employees feel that you are developing and valuing them. Positive feedback is critical to this process, and it will keep HiPo employees feeling aligned, engaged, and relevant. I think this CCL paper has some other terrific insights into what specifically companies are doing for development of HiPos, and how HiPos feel about it. Note the word "cloud" on page 13 of the CCL paper. HiPos equate their identification with recognition, so it is important to continue that reciprocal process throughout their development.
  • It's a marathon, not a sprint. Identifying candidates and throwing development their way isn't enough. You need to assess, track, and continually evaluate their progress. Mentoring is a fantastic method for both development and assessment, because it puts someone on the ground with the candidate who is focused on their progress and well-positioned to judge their progress. Performance evaluations are also important, of course; but again, recognition can be an invaluable tool to give you insight into how those identified future leaders are performing, and how valid that assessment continues to be. There's some good advice in this Aon Hewitt paper on both initial identification and ongoing assessment of succession candidates.
I hope as you seek to transform your organization's succession plan into one that's a cut above the competition. Let us know how you do, and please share any insights you might have with us. Darcy Jacobsen is a content marketing manager at Globoforce, the world's leading provider of SaaS (software-as-a-service)–based employee recognition solutions. Through its social, mobile, and global technology, Globoforce helps HR and business leaders elevate employee engagement, increase employee retention, manage company culture, and discover the power of real-time performance management. Contact her or follow her writing at www.globoforce.com/gfblog.

Culture Fit? There’s an App for that!

by Jeanne Knutzen | August 21, 2014

0 Hiring.Best Practices Culture Fit, Employee Culture fit, Employee Selection, good.co, HR Professionals, Job seekers and employees

By Ira S. Wolfe Culture fit is very often the determining factor on whether an employee stays at a job long-term. With one out of two workers quitting before 18 months, managers could use some help. Despite years of urging hiring managers and HR professionals to focus employee selection on culture and team fit, many hiring decisions still ignore attitude and personal values, especially at a time when skilled workers are scarce and unfilled jobs plague many businesses. When the education and experience fits, it seems to blind managers to the fact that no matter how good the wings, pigs won't fly. However, if managers don't get the importance of culture fit, job applicants sure do. A new app has been released that helps jobseekers and employees figure out how well matched they are–or aren't–to the company. The app, developed by Good.co, is another warning shot across the employer's bow when it comes to hiring. Too many companies prefer to ignore and look the other way. Employers aren't the wizard behind the curtain anymore. When they finally pull back the curtain and look outside, the job and labor markets will look much different. Job applicants are now often more savvy, more sophisticated, and better equipped to make job choices than managers are prepared to make good hiring decisions. While employers have been reluctant to assess jobseekers for job and culture fit using various assessments, jobseekers seem to be doing it on their own. Jobseekers–at least the ones owning the skills and talent–are now making the decision to apply or accept a job based on fit, not the other way around. This reversal of fortune should scare the bejeezus out of management. What's more is that Good.co ditched their web application and decided to focus exclusively on mobile devices. It's another sign as to how job applicants are using mobile devices to look for and apply to jobs...while many companies are still living in a world of paper and email applications. Jobseekers want to apply for a job, chat with management, participate in an interview, and even complete pre-employment assessments via their mobile devices–just like they shop, buy, communicate, and even complain with businesses every day as customers. Yet employers still insist jobseekers fill out lengthy applications on paper or on a non-mobile-friendly website or email a resume. Far worse, the response and feedback to jobseekers is slow to non-existent. It's another indication of how out of touch many businesses are with the new realities of staffing a workforce. I'm not saying that this app is the end-all-and-be-all of employee screening. It's not. But it is the beginning of a tsunami-like shift in how employers will hire and how jobseekers (and employees) will find new jobs. It's an indication of how much technology, social media, the Internet, and a demographic shift has changed recruiting and employee screening. For now, these jobseeker-side personality quizzes are mostly entertaining. But as tech companies accumulate more and more data, hiring and retention will become very interesting as jobseekers and employees assess their fit with a company long before the company even has a chance to contact them. Ira S. Wolfe is a nationally recognized thought leader in talent management and an expert in pre-employment assessment testing, workforce trends, and social media. Wolfe is president of Success Performance Solutions (www.successperformancesolutions.com), a pre-employment and leadership testing firm he founded in 1996. He is the author of several books, including Geeks, Geezers, and Googlization; The Perfect Labor Storm 2.0; and Understanding Business Values and Motivators. He can be reached at iwolfe@super-solutions.com.

Ground Rules for Applicant Follow Up

by Jeanne Knutzen | August 21, 2014

0 Hiring.Best Practices Applicant Follow Up, Application Process, Interview Process, Recruitment Process

By Debbie Hatke Question: What are the ground rules for following up with job applicants after they've applied (even ones that aren't even minimally qualified)? Answer: This is definitely a challenge in today's job market when applying to a job is a click away. If the candidate was interviewed but not selected, it is extremely important that you send them a letter notifying them of your decision. Doing this is beneficial to both you and the candidate. Notifying someone that they did not get the job is respectful; it allows them to "move on" and continue their job search. This can help establish you as an employer of choice–a company that treats both their employees and prospective employees with respect. You should also keep in mind that current interviewees may be future customers of your business or know someone who already is. Sending a candidate a letter can be good for your reputation as a business as well as an employer. If you are worried that you simply don't have the time to write and send a candidate letter, consider that doing so will actually help you organize your recruitment process, which will save you time in the long run. By telling interviewees that you will follow up with them and then doing so in a timely manner, you'll have fewer calls and emails to respond to. Also, once you get a basic letter written, it will take very little time to personalize before sending it out to each candidate. Some important things to consider when writing the letter are:

  • Address the candidate by name, and try to personalize the letter as much possible.
  • Always thank them for their time, effort, and interest. It's nice to include a heart-felt compliment such as, "Your qualifications were impressive."
  • State the reason why they did not get the position. Generally, the reason given is that the position has been filled by a candidate whose credentials were better suited to the position. There is also nothing wrong with simply stating that the position has been filled.
  • Describe the company procedure, if there is one, regarding keeping resumes on file. You may also offer the applicant the opportunity to apply for future positions. Of course, only do so if you are sincere.
  • Wish the applicant well in their future job search.
  • If you are sending the letter by regular post, always include your signature.
It's important to keep the letter brief, and remember to be honest, kind, and tactful. Finally, be sure to send the letters out quickly after making your decision, but not so quickly that the candidate feels like you didn't give them fair consideration (Two to three days post-interview is a good rule of thumb). A well-thought out hiring process helps you better target candidates, and how you treat current candidates definitely has a positive impact the response you get with future searches. Debbie Hatke is the Talent Strategy Manager at Strategic HR, Inc., a national full service HR consulting firm based in Cincinnati, OH. If you have questions or comments about this article, you can contact her at Debbie@StrategicHRinc.com.

The Rehire: How To Win Back Good Employees

by Jeanne Knutzen | August 21, 2014

0 Hiring.Best Practices Boomerang Employee, Employee Rehire, Hiring Manager, Returning Employee, Snyder Effect

 By Jessica Miller-Merrell The economy is like a pendulum and has been swinging back toward prosperity. As a hiring manager or organizational leader, it may have been only a few short years ago you were scheduling meetings in regard to corporate layoffs. Layoffs cost your organization more than the size of its employees. And, you lost more productivity than you can simply regain with the sourcing, hiring, and training of a new body. Experience, insight, and industry knowledge walked out the door with every pink slip. Today, you want to regain the momentum you lost, wind up, and take off down the path of prosperity and growth. Add the extra challenge of the talent that stayed the course with you through the slowdown which is now being syphoned off by other companies, further weakening your company's internal talent. You need to add new talent. You need qualified candidates. You need them now. You may be faced with the prospect of a rehire. Often referred to as a boomerang employee, a rehire is defined as someone who is a returning employee. Their role may be the same or different, but they left the organization at some point either voluntarily or involuntarily. They already understand the culture of the organization; they know what is expected and are familiar with the work environment. The boomerang employee doesn't just have to be a victim of a layoff. He or she could have left for what seemed like a greener pasture. Maybe they retired and realized they weren't quite ready. Whatever the case may be, they used to work for your company and now don't. But, having them back could mean a boost to your company's productivity and talent. I call this the coach Snyder effect. Rehires come in all shapes, sizes, and ages. Take head football coach Bill Snyder of the Kansas State Wildcats. Snyder took the head football coaching job at Kansas State in 1989. What Snyder did for the Wildcats is nothing short of legendary and his list of awards and accomplishments through the years are amazing. He retired in 2005 and Kansas State moved on; the tradition amazing football KSU fans had grown to expect took an immediate nosedive. It didn't take long for rumors of a return from retirement to start churning. And, in November 2008, coach Snyder was rehired and returned to the sidelines in 2009 – a rare return in college football. The same holds true for Howard Schultz, former Starbucks CEO, who returned to lead the then struggling coffee house chain in early 2008. Schultz returned to replace Jim Donald as the head coffee bean. Upon Schultz's return, organizational changes were made resulting in store closures, layoffs, and product offering changes. It seems that this boomerang made an impact as sales for Starbucks continue to soar since his return. Jay Leno is another great example. In 2004, NBC brought on Conan O'Brien with the intentions of replacing Jay Leno as late night show host. Leno retired as host in 2009 ushering in a new era as O'Brien took the lead spot. Ratings suffered and Leno was effectively rehired into his old position, debuting the new old Late Show in March 2010. Should you bring back lost employees and is it a good idea for your company? Before you start sifting through past employee files, there are some things you should consider. HOW-TO: WIN BACK GOOD EMPLOYEES Continue to establish a line of communication. Keep the communication lines open with former employees, often referred to as alumni. This could be through LinkedIn, alumni networks, and/or an alumni newsletter. Be creative, but don't badger. Demonstrate value. This means giving something to your alumni community first that creates value, conversation, and discussion. Maybe it's a free resume writing class or webinar. Create value and put yourself in the shoes of your alumni network. What's important to them should be what you're writing/talking to them about. Build a rehire database. Just like a talent pipeline within your organization, your rehire community and database should include ratings, information, and insights from previous managers and management. Build your most wanted list and target your must hires and re-hires. Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is an author, speaker, HR professional, and workplace social media expert who has a passion for recruiting, training, and all things social media. She is the president/CEO of Xceptional HR and a leader in the HR community with more than 12 years of industry experience.

My “Go To” Interview Questions

by Jeanne Knutzen | April 29, 2014

0 Author-Jeanne, HIRING. EMPLOYEE SELECTION, Hiring.Best Practices, RECRUITING/CANDIDATE SOURCING, Temporary and Contract Staffing get connected

Getting to know a candidate quickly requires a simple set of interview questions designed to cover the "discovery" basics. … Read More »

How do I Format and Draft a Job Offer Letter

by Jeanne Knutzen | November 26, 2013

0 Hiring.Best Practices, Human Resource Roles accounting staffing agencies seattle, staffing agencies in seattle, Staffing Agencies In Seattle WA, staffing agencies seattle, staffing agency seattle, staffing agency seattle wa

After weeks of careful sourcing, resume collection, conversations with recruiters, and a long, meticulous interview process, you’re finally ready to choose a candidate. And luckily for you, the choice is easy. Your final contender has it all: wits, drive, a strong work ethic, a pleasant attitude, and affordability. So now you need to make it over the final hurdle: presenting an offer she can’t refuse. And making sure she isn’t lured away by your competitors before her start date. Just to stay on the safe side as you draft your offer letter, keep a few tips in mind: first, retain two back up candidates so you can don’t have to start over if this one gets away. And second, remember that your letter is only part of the process. You also need to reach out to the candidate by phone, and you’ll want to stay socially connected with her between the date of the offer and the day she steps onboard. Try to prevent a change of heart by keeping her thoughts focused on a future with you, not her past with the company she’s leaving behind. Here are a few ways your offer letter can send the right message and accomplish this goal.

1. Be personable. The legal language of the letter is important, but give your words a personal touch, and make sure the tone is warm, welcoming, and enthusiastic. Make it clear that her arrival is considered an exciting and positive event, not just another bureaucratic item to check off a list.

2. If the offer will be contingent on anything, from a criminal background check to a medical exam, social media review, reference check, or blood test, make each of these items clear. Arrange them not in a block of text, but in a list of distinct bullet points.

3. Provide clear instructions to the employee regarding her next step. Will she need to sign the letter and return it by mail or email before a certain date? Will she need to contact the HR office by phone to formally accept the offer? Will she need to submit any additional material to deal with the contingency items listed above? These instructions should appear in the letter’s final paragraph, right before the close.

4. The terms of employment should be made clear in the letter. If this is an at-will agreement or a defined contract, include the terms in the letter or attach them in a separate document.

5. Summarize the insurance benefits associated with the position and clearly state the annual compensation.

The requirements and recommendations associated with your offer letter will vary with the position, the industry, and the laws in your state. If you are looking for staffing agencies in Seattle, contact us today.

3 Ways to Onboard a New Temp: A Must-Do Checklist

by Jeanne Knutzen | August 27, 2013

0 Best Practices /Flexible Staffing, HIRING. EMPLOYEE SELECTION, Hiring.Best Practices, Temporary and Contract Staffing temp agencies in seattle, temp agencies in seattle wa, temp agencies seattle, temp agency in seattle, temp agency seattle

Welcoming a new temp and welcoming a new permanent employee both come with different responsibilities and different kinds of consequences, but both can have a powerful impact on company success. … Read More »

When It Comes To Purchasing Staffing Solutions – Words Matter

by Jeanne Knutzen | June 27, 2013

0 About Staffing Agencies, Agency Pricing Practices, Best Practices /Flexible Staffing, HIRING. EMPLOYEE SELECTION, Human Resource Roles get connected

What you call your flexible worker makes a difference in what vendor you talk to, how much you pay, and what you can expect! Here's why.... … Read More »

Prepare for a Changing Hiring Landscape

by Jeanne Knutzen | February 28, 2013

0 Hiring.Best Practices, Human Resource Roles Adjust Your Hiring Strategy For 2013, Hiring Strategy Challenges For 2013, Prepare For A Changing Hiring Landscape, Seattle Staffing, Seattle Temporary Staffing, Seattle WA Staffing Agency, staffing agencies in seattle, staffing agenciesi in seattle wa, Staffing In Seattle, Staffing In Seattle WA, Temporary Staffing In Seattle

In the world of HR and business management, every era brings a new set of exciting opportunities, and along with those opportunities come challenges unique to the age. 2013 is no exception, and savvy hiring managers are already looking for ways to adjust and streamline their approaches to candidate sourcing, and screening in the year ahead. Here are a few of the most important ways in which recruiters, managers and HR pros will need to adapt.

Prepare for the 2013 Hiring Landscape

1. Optimize Mobile Utilities

A few years ago the world started to go digital, and companies that ignored or shrugged off the arrival of the Internet age did so at their peril. Those who weren’t ready to launch websites and start thinking about SEO were swept aside, and online selling and marketing are now commonplace for almost every business model, product, and service. Now it’s time for the next step: taking web utilities and making them accessible by mobile device. If talented job seekers can reach you online, that’s great. If they can reach you from a mobile device while on the go, that’s better.

2. Match Skills with Positions

Workforce shaping and in-house training are becoming watchwords for the next decade. It’s no longer enough to simply hire smart young candidates brimming with potential. In a world of increasingly focused and narrow skill sets, you don’t need ambitious go-getters; you need Level 2 CNC programmers, licensed and certified technicians, designers, engineers, and artists who specialize in your tiny corner of the marketplace.

3. Cultivate a Pipeline

How far into the future does your long-term staffing plan extend? If your answer is “three years or less,” that’s no good. Get the most out of your existing talent by making sure your best employees have a place to go when they’re ready to advance. And if you have a position that’s likely to open up during the next few years, groom and train someone in-house; you’ll mitigate risk and save countless resources when that day arrives.

4. Use Visual Media

Visuals are fast becoming the most effective message delivery system to your pool of talented potential employees. Find a way to incorporate graphs, illustrations, videos and multi-media into your job posts and other targeted information, like the “careers” tab on your webpage. Every open position in the company should have its own frequently updated blog, and that blog should be heavy with visual media and visual messages.

For more information on preparing your hiring strategy for the challenges ahead, reach out to the Seattle staffing and HR experts at Pace. Our years of experience allow us to look into the future and see what’s coming, and we can help you do the same.

Are You Hiring Game Changers?

by Jeanne Knutzen | January 25, 2013

0 Hiring.Best Practices

The following article was written by Randall Birkwood, owner of Ascendant Talent and a good friend of the PACE Staffing Network.  We think Randall’s list of changes we should be making to the hiring process in order to hire Game Changers is must  reading for Hiring  Managers and HR/Recruiting  professionals.  You have staffed your team with all the right people: they graduated from top universities, worked at leading companies, stayed at each company the requisite length of time, and exuded intelligence in the interview process. Yet you see other companies with far less surface talent achieving incredible results and outstripping you. Why is this? The most likely reason your company is failing to progress is that you still hire based on standard interview processes that have been followed for decades. You focus on qualifications only, and ignore focusing on the individual attributes that will help you find the game changers. A game changer is a person who thinks outside the box and approaches problems differently from the rest of us. They approach problems with passion, a unique perspective, and their thinking inspires others to build on their ideas. With game changers on your team you can move from average to an industry leadership position. Good examples are Apple and IBM, which transformed themselves from fading brands into dominant positions by adopting the ideas of leaders who were game changers. Three football teams have had great success this year bringing in game changers. The Seattle Seahawks (Russell Wilson), Washington Redskins (Robert Griffin III), and Indianapolis Colts (Andrew Luck) have seen vast improvements after they drafted rookie quarterbacks who have the unique attributes of game changers. An example of a game changer in the music industry is Steven Tyler. In his entertaining autobiography he discusses how he approaches the four elements of writing a song: melody, words, chords, and rhythm. He explains, “You know right away if a song has that magic. It has to have those extremes—the one thing it can’t be is okay. Okay is death.” He adds: “Never mind the melody, never mind the chords—no, no, no. You start with infatuation, obsession, passion, anger, zeal, craze, then take a handful of notes, sew them into a chord structure, create a melody over that, and then come up with words that fit it perfectly.” His diverse way of thinking is completely different from standard music writers, but as a game changer, his unique perspectives have resulted in incredible successes. If we analyze the way the majority of companies hire, we see a system that is designed to hire okay performers. We focus solely on the tangibles: the candidate’s job history, education, and interview performance. We ignore the game changing intangibles like diversity of thought, work ethic, intelligence, and common sense. As an example, diversity of thought means approaching challenges using varied thought processes based on personal creativity and different life experiences. If you can combine diverse thinking with a strong work ethic, intelligence, and common sense, you have a game changer. The results of game changers can often transform the way we do business. To hire game changers, you will need to make modifications in the following areas:

  • The job description. The hiring manager and recruiter should schedule an hour meeting at minimum. Focus on listing what the new hire will successfully achieve in the first year before there is any discussion of candidate requirements. Then list minimal technical requirements and the personal attributes needed to be successful. You will likely discover that there is a far wider gamut of backgrounds that fit your position than you did prior to the meeting. The final position description should place more emphasis on what the new hire will do versus just a laundry list of candidate requirements. In fact, make sure you are displaying the minimum requirements so you don’t exclude potential game changers from the candidate pool.
  • Attracting game changers. They didn’t necessarily go to the best universities and score high on interview presence. They are sometimes the quiet person who got big results, and didn’t necessarily look for attention. To find game changers you should build recruiting strategies that focus on meaningful achievements at other companies or universities, and then find out who was responsible for them. Many times you will find a game changer came from a small- or medium-sized company where there were fewer resources available, thus the need for more personal initiative. This part involves hard work as you will need to network with your company’s employees, as well as outside contacts—but if you want to improve company performance you will need to take these steps.
  • Assessing for game changers. Re-examine your standard interview questions and hiring process. Your focus and emphasis should be on assessing for diversity of thought, work ethic, intelligence, and common sense, and not just work experience and technical skills. Sure, the candidate will need to meet minimum technical requirements of the role, but you will also need to focus on the four areas above. First dig into how they approached specific challenges in the past. (Example. “At your last company, describe something that was implemented primarily because of your idea. What was your role and what was the outcome?”) Learn in great detail how they got from point A to Z. What were they specifically responsible for, and how did they approach each situation? Second, present real challenges or problems in the interview and look for their diversity of thought, work ethic, intelligence, and common sense in solving them. Finally, ensure you include diverse thinkers on the interview team. (You may also want to explore assessments that test for these personal attributes, as a supplement.) With an interview process that focuses on assessing for these attributes you have a much greater chance of identifying game changers.
  • Making offers. Game changers are motivated by challenges far more than their peers. Yes, they like to be compensated well. But you know you have a game changer when she has been presented with your challenges, and creatively and passionately digs into solutions — and she doesn’t even work for you! Your best bet is to challenge her and let her know what she will be responsible for achieving when she takes the role. If your challenges are interesting, a game changer will take the bait every time.
  • Keeping game changers. Since their main motivation is creatively and passionately attacking challenges, the manager’s job is to keep them engaged in the long term. This is done by keeping them challenged on an ongoing basis, giving them resources, praising and rewarding, and simply getting out of their way except when needed.
Challenge yourself to move beyond traditional hiring methods, looking only for tangibles — and hire game changers who will bring the intangibles. Redefine how you approach the job description, how you attract and assess candidates, and how you hire and motivate, so you are a destination for game changers. You need them, because they will move the dial forward from average to spectacular. Your alternative is being okay, and as Steven Tyler says, “Okay is Death.” Randall Birkwood is a former director of recruiting at T-Mobile USA, Cisco Systems, Microsoft Corporation, and Intermec Technologies. While at T-Mobile his organization was cited as  a top 10 benchmark firm in recruiting and talent management. He has been an advisory speaker at General Electric and AT&T for VPs and HR Directors, and has spoken at a number of conferences in the U.S. and UK. He was the subject of a cover story on the "War For Talent" in Internet World Magazine.