We are excited to announce that Michelle Obama will be joining us for a fireside chat on the main stage at Talent Connect this fall in Dallas. LinkedIn’s 10th annual conference for talent and HR professionals will be held from September 25 to 27. The event will feature three days of engaging speakers, breakthrough insights, and industry best practices, and it will culminate with a conversation with Mrs. Obama in which she’ll reflect on her remarkable life story as well as her passion for bringing together talented people.
Mrs. Obama has been a lawyer, nonprofit executive, university administrator, and undisputed owner of the New York Times best-seller list with her memoir, Becoming, which sat at No. 1 for months on end. And, of course, she was the First Lady of the United States from 2009 to 2017.
In all her roles, Mrs. Obama has focused on building cohorts and coalitions of talented people who represent a broad range of viewpoints. Early in her career, for example, Mrs. Obama was a junior associate at the Chicago law firm of Sidley & Austin where she was “parsing abstract intellectual property issues for big corporations,” according to Becoming. But she was also doing campus recruiting for the firm and pioneered tactics to find talented law students from underrepresented groups.
Many years later, her chief White House initiatives — tackling childhood obesity, promoting education, supporting members of the military service and their families — were all built by connecting dynamic people and building communities of advocates, experts, and interested parties.
For Mrs. Obama, connections are an important thread in life. When James Corden, the host of The Late Late Show and Carpool Karaoke, asked her what she would miss about the White House, it was not the ability to order a grilled cheese from the kitchen at 3 a.m. “I’m going to miss the people,” she said.
Join us in Dallas for “Conversation with Michelle Obama” and learn more about the journey that has taken her from Chicago’s South Shore to Washington, D.C., with hundreds of stops across the country and around the world along the way.
If you’re looking for a stimulating read, here’s a great list for you. We found some of the best recent articles published for talent professionals and posted them below. They cover a wide range of topics, including how employers are preparing for a gender non-binary world and Google's checklist for finding and promoting it's best leaders.
You’ve got targets to hit and candidates to wow. But as your to-do list stretches endlessly before you, it may feel like you can’t possibly do both. After all, there are only so many hours in the day.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to make your time go further. Even making a few tiny tweaks to your work processes can make a massive difference, putting precious minutes and hours back into your week.
To send your efficiency into hyperdrive, we’ve compiled eight simple but effective tips that can boost your productivity, cut down on wasted time, and even make your job a little easier. For even more, you can download our new ebook, 50 Productivity Hacks Essential for Hiring.
1. Track how long you spend on each activity to spot your biggest productivity drains
Plenty of recruiters believe they could be more efficient, but many don’t know where to start. That’s because it’s hard to make effective changes if you don’t know what tasks are your biggest productivity killers.
Tracking your time can help. There are a number of apps, including RescueTime and Toggl, you can use to do this. RescueTime runs in the background and provides a report based on your daily online activity; Toggl lets you use one-click timers to track time spent on individual tasks. Both have free and paid versions. Though if you want to go really old school, you could also use a pen and paper.
Whatever method you use to track your time, try it out for a week or 10 days and review your results. You may find that certain tasks are taking up a disproportionate amount of your day, indicating an area for possible streamlining.
You may also be able to spot your most or least productive times of day, allowing you to schedule your work around them. For example, if you seem to be most productive in the morning, you may decide to spend that time focusing on your most difficult or important tasks, like sourcing or writing job descriptions.
2. Use a browser extension to declutter your tabs while sourcing
Stop me if this sounds familiar: You’re 10 minutes into an intense sourcing session and you have approximately 1,000 tabs open. At least, that’s how it feels. You have so many tabs open that they’re all tiny and you have to hover over them to see what the page contains, which makes hunting for the one you need a frustrating and time-consuming endeavor. And the more tabs you open, the slower your browser runs.
Cull the clutter by installing a simple (free) browser extension. If you use Google Chrome, OneTab allows you to store all your open tabs into one neat list that you can revisit once you’ve finished with the profile you’re currently evaluating. If you prefer Firefox, you can do something similar with Tree Tabs, which also lets you create a hierarchy within your list and arrange tabs into categories. There are others out there, but these are a good place to start.
Using a decluttering browser extension can not only make you more efficient at navigating tabs, but can also free up some of your computer’s RAM and speed up your browser. It’s a win-win-win.
3. Turn off your notifications and dedicate specific windows of time to checking emails
One thing that may become apparent when you start tracking your time is how often you check your emails throughout the day. While it might seem like a minute here and a minute there doesn’t really matter, all those minutes start to add up. To make matters worse, some research suggests it can take up to 23 minutes to find your focus again after an interruption, making even the simplest task take a lot longer than it needs to.
To minimize your distractions, turn off notifications on all your devices — especially when you’re tackling a task that requires your full attention. Dedicate specific windows to reading and responding to emails, like 15 minutes when you first get into the office and again after lunch, and try your best not to peek outside of those time frames. Closing the email tab on your computer altogether may help you resist the temptation.
If you’re worried about missing something urgent, you can always add a little note to your email signature to set expectations and let people know how they can get your attention sooner if it’s absolutely critical. That way, a candidate who thinks they’re going to be late to their interview will know to call you — or send a carrier pigeon — if you don’t immediately respond.
4. Bring all the processes you use to source, manage, and hire candidates together on an integrated platform
Even if you’ve become an efficiency master when it comes to using each of your separate systems, when you’re toggling between them all day, every day, you’re not as efficient as you could be.
Eliminate this unnecessary extra step by bringing all your tools together in one place. LinkedIn can help with this. Now, you can integrate LinkedIn Recruiter with your Applicant Tracking System (ATS), allowing you to easily share data and save time.
And for an even more seamless experience, LinkedIn will be introducing Talent Hub this fall. Talent Hub will give your workflow an upgrade by allowing you to handle a wide range of tasks within a single platform — from posting jobs to sourcing candidates to extending offers. What’s more, your entire team will have total visibility into the hiring process, helping you avoid redundancies and collaborate more easily. (We’ll keep you posted on the rollout later this year.)
5. Add a chatbot to your career site to answer candidate questions 24/7
It’s important to help candidates find the information they need. But every minute you spend answering basic questions is one less you can use for more value-added tasks — like actually getting to know them.
Chatbots can save you a lot of time in this area, helping candidates find answers to their questions, while also taking care of other repetitive, manual activities like providing status updates. There are a range of off-the-shelf options, like Mya and Olivia, available to you. Some companies, including Sutherland and Johnson & Johnson, have even created their own chatbots or interactive platforms.
As an added bonus, bots can do something you can’t: work around the clock without getting tired. This means candidates get their answer faster — and you won’t have to spend the first 30 minutes of your day answering questions sent the previous night.
6. Adopt the Pomodoro Technique and take five-minute breaks to clear your head between focused work sessions
When your to-do list becomes exhaustive, it can be easy to forget to take a break. But if you’ve ever found yourself trying to eat your lunch while conducting phone screenings, it’s time to reevaluate.
To get in the habit of giving your mind a breather, try the Pomodoro Technique. This time management strategy involves using a timer to separate work into intervals, typically 25 minutes, and reminding yourself to take a short break of maybe five minutes in between. Francesco Cirillo, who developed the technique, used a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato (pomodoro, in Italian), but the one on your smartphone is ideal. You can adjust the time based on what works best for you.
Of course, if you find yourself in the zone when your timer goes off, you don’t have to stop. But this technique is a useful way to be more mindful about taking breaks, preventing you from working eight hours straight and becoming less and less productive with each passing hour.
And if you have those days when you really can’t take five, consider switching up your location or even taking your phone screenings outside. The movement and change of scenery will give your productivity a bump.
7. Use an automated calendar tool to avoid the endless back-and-forth of scheduling screening calls
Scheduling phone screenings and interviews takes up a surprising amount of time. It often takes several back-and-forth messages to find a slot that works for you and your candidate, with long pauses between replies when they are at work or away from their computer.
Streamline scheduling with an automated calendar tool. If you use LinkedIn Recruiter, you can add a link to your calendar availability directly in your InMails using LinkedIn Scheduler. Candidates just have to click the link and select a suitable time and Scheduler will add the details to your calendar.
You can also explore tools like Calendly and YouCanBook.me. Both offer some basic features for free and more advanced options for a monthly fee.
8. Try Stacy Zapar’s Friday Feedback Blitz tactic to efficiently and consistently update your candidates
Keeping candidates updated after the interview can have a major impact on their impression of your company — and their likelihood to accept an offer should you make one. But responding to anxious emails and phone calls from enthused candidates can quickly become a time suck.
Avoid the temptation to respond to messages right away without damaging the candidate experience by blocking off time on your calendar every week to send a quick update. Recruiting expert Stacy Zapar does this every Friday afternoon during a focused two-hour session she calls her Friday Feedback Blitz.
This strategy only works if you set candidate expectations up front. Stacy does this by telling every candidate that they won’t go into the weekend without an update from her — and then sticking to that rule, no matter what. That way, candidates know they don’t have to badger you for news, meaning you’ll have fewer emails, calls, and texts to distract you during the week.
Every minute counts, which is all the more reason to avoid burnout
Don’t compromise on quality to gain speed. Become better and more efficient at your job by making simple changes that have a powerful impact.
Focus on automating the most repetitive aspects of your work and cutting out or streamlining steps that add more time than they do value. Be mindful about your habits and try to tailor your schedule to play to your most productive times of day. Finally, don’t forget to take time for yourself. Burning out won’t make you more productive, so taking regular breaks is actually an efficiency boost.
If a recruiter ever needs to present more than 3-4 candidates in order to make one great hire, there is something fundamentally wrong with the hiring process being used. And, if two of the remaining three aren’t aren’t strong backups, something is even bigger is wrong.
Having just finished a series of meetings with a group of hiring managers and their recruiters, I am more convinced than ever that lack of understanding of real job needs is the root cause of too few qualified candidates.
Use the intake meeting to gather the information you need to attract the right talent
When I first became a recruiter, my early engineering and manufacturing background offered me the chance to only handle search projects where I had a complete understanding of the work involved. However, my recruiting effectiveness dropped when I started to get assignments for jobs I knew little about. I overcame this personal lack of job knowledge by being more inquisitive and asking the hiring manager this critical question when starting the intake meeting:
As part of having the hiring manager describe a few major objectives, it was also important to define what the new hire had to do in the first few months to ensure the person was on track to achieve those objectives. This list of 6-8 time-phased key performance objectives (KPOs) soon became known as a performance-based job description. Preparing this type of job description ensured that recruiters and hiring managers were on the same page when it came to sourcing, assessing and hiring the strongest talent possible without wasting time and effort.
The biggest benefit of this shift was the ability to expand the talent pool to include more diverse, high potential and passive candidates who could do the work but who had a different mix of skills and experiences than listed on the typical job description. As important, these candidates were 2-3X more responsive to our outreach messages since the job was quickly seen as a potential career move rather than a vague and ill-defined lateral transfer.
Along the way we discovered that in order to gain a complete understanding of the job, it was important that the most important KPOs were written as SMARTe objectives (Specific task, Measurable, Action verb, Results defined, Time bound and include something about the environment, e.g., pace, culture, hiring manager, unusual challenges). As a minimum the remaining KPOs needed to describe the task, the action or change needed and some measurable result or deliverable.
Here are some examples of converting skills, experiences and competencies into these types of performance objectives:
Instead of saying the person must have 3-5 years of experience selling SaaS software to the Fortune 500, it’s better to say, “Maximize the territory plan to achieve a quarterly run rate of $250K within 12 months.”
For a 1-2 year software developer with experience using C# and .NET Core Angular, an aggressive KPO could be, “Within six weeks, establish best practices for how the team will handle application data on the front-end, using Angular with NGRX.”
“Complete the implementation of the updated FCPA international reporting requirements by Q2,” is much more insightful than saying the person must have five years of international accounting experience and a CPA from a Big 4 firm.
Asking “How is the competency used on the job?” helps clarify any trait that lacks context. For example, a competency like, “Excellent communication skills,” translates to, “Present quarterly status reports to the executive team.”
Aside from clarifying expectations upfront using a performance-based job description, which incidentally has been shown to be the #1 trait of all successful managers, this approach also ensures recruiters are screening on criteria that best predicts performance and fit. Unless recruiters understand real job needs, they’re unable to properly screen candidates or convince top people about the career merits of the role.
The biggest benefit of all though was that once on the job, performance and satisfaction soared. The reason was obvious: People were attracted, assessed and hired based on work they found intrinsically motivating! Clarifying expectations during the intake meeting was the key difference. Too often they’re not fully clarified until after the person starts and that’s why success and satisfaction is problematic.
It’s important to emphasize that making this shift to a performance qualified approach does not require any compromise in ability, fit, performance or potential. It only requires an understanding that the skills, experiences and generic competencies typically found in job descriptions puts a lid on the quality of people being seen and ultimately hired.
He led the Human Genome Project and he now heads the U.S. National Institutes of Health. His best-selling book, The Language of God, grappled with reconciling faith and science. And a few weeks back, he took a stand — not for the first time — in the uphill battle to get more women into science and to support the women already there. In a statement titled “Time to End the Manel Tradition,” Francis announced that he will no longer speak at conferences that aren’t committed to diversifying their panels.
“I want,” he wrote, “to send a clear message of concern: It is time to end the tradition in science of all-male speaking panels, sometimes wryly referred to as ‘manels.’ Too often, women and members of other groups underrepresented in science are conspicuously missing in the marquee speaking slots at scientific meetings and other high-level conferences.”
Francis’s position on so-called “manels” and “himposiums” is a reminder for companies that are looking to nurture diversity and inclusion: To be successful, diversity efforts need to infuse everything you do — recruiting, interviewing, hiring, employer branding, company culture, and beyond.
To recruit for diversity, companies need to have diverse recruiting teams
When candidates from underrepresented groups are considering a new job at a company, they want to see people who look like themselves succeeding and advancing. So, your career site and recruiting materials need, ideally, to feature women, ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, and LBGTQ+ folks who are flourishing at your organization.
And it helps if they also see people like themselves on your recruiting team.
And that shouldn’t come as a surprise. “Any company that is looking to hire diversity,” Rachel says, “should start with their own recruiting team.”
That advice — which seems obvious on the face of it — is too often ignored. Philip Dana, the VP of talent acquisition and HR operations for Zovio in San Diego, points out how your efforts to bring military veterans onboard can be similarly impaired if you don’t match your recruiters to your target demographic.
“I’ve seen too many times where companies will send a superyoung college recruiter to a military function and they’ll come back empty-handed,” Philip says. “Whereas there’s a former sergeant major right down the hall who’s been with your company for 10 years.” For even more fine-tuned recruiting, Philip suggests sending a former noncommissioned officer to recruit, say, technicians and a former enlisted person to recruit junior officers for roles as project managers.
Diverse interview panels will typically be less biased and will boost your hiring efforts
When employees from underrepresented groups are included on your interview teams, you show that you’re committed to different viewpoints and you send a positive signal to candidates who value diversity.
For example, Intel began requiring that all interview panels include at least two employees who were women or members of underrepresented communities in 2014. Before the mandate, 32% of new hires at Intel were women or people of color. Two years after the change, more than 45% were.
Another benefit of a diverse interview panel is that it will reduce unconscious bias in the hiring process and increase the chances for finding new employees who don’t come from the dominant group.
Diversity and inclusion requires a mind-set rather than a strategy
In the sciences, there has been a lively and ongoing conversation about the need to get more girls into STEM classes, particularly in undergraduate and graduate programs. But Francis Collins’s statement last week implicitly makes the point that such work, even if enormously successful, isn’t enough — science needs to have opportunities for women down the entire career path.
In much the same way, companies won’t achieve the diversity they’re aiming for simply by overhauling their sourcing and recruiting to focus on hiring more entry-level women and members of underrepresented groups. Women make up only 23% of senior VPs and C-suite executives in and United States and just 19% of the directors for S&P 1500 companies. Many executive teams and boards are merely closed-door “manels.” To get more women into senior leadership, companies can adapt the Rooney Rule and require female candidates for open leadership roles; create referral programs that target women; and design programs to train and retain women who are returning to the workforce.
The most successful diversity and inclusion efforts are woven into the fabric of everything a company does. They are not singular threads, no matter how bright or brilliant, attached separate from the rest. Similarly, companies do best to adopt a diversity mind-set rather than a diversity strategy. And that means they pay attention both to what’s happening with new hires — and what’s happening with senior leadership and the board of directors.
Final thoughts: Organizations need to welcome — and celebrate — contributions from everyone
In 1953, British scientists Francis Crick and James Watson described the double-helix structure of DNA accurately for the first time. So, what did Crick and Watson actually discover?
Rosalind Franklin’s notes.
At least according to a science punchline that points to the overlooked but critically important work of a young British woman who was a remarkable chemist and X-ray crystallographer.
The history of science is replete with bold leaps, brilliant breakthroughs, and marginalized women. But, as Francis noted, welcoming women doesn’t necessarily mean dismissing men.
“Certainly,” Francis said, “white men are wonderful contributors to the biomedical enterprise — I’m one of them. But at the same time, there’s a tendency to neglect the fact that we have lots of other people contributing to research.”
His position was cheered by Yael Niv, a neuroscientist who started a website that monitors the gender balance of speakers at neuroscience conferences around the world. “We’ve been working on this for years,” Yael told The New York Times, “and it’s great to have someone who’s a leading figure and a man do the same thing.”
After the “manel” announcement, other male scientists came forward, embracing Francis Collins’s stance and making one final point on the issue: Women and members of other underrepresented groups need allies, white men who are willing to use their privilege on behalf of others by serving as mentors, sponsors, and champions to foster diversity and opportunities for all.
First impression bias is the primary cause of most hiring mistakes. Why? Because when we feel good about someone right away, we tend to ask easier question. And, when we feel negative right way, we ask more difficult questions. In other words, we (often subconsciously) look to confirm our first impression.
This is the primitive friend vs. foe reaction taking place every day in the interviewing room. As a result of focusing on the candidate's presentation over their performance, we often hire people who underperform and avoid hiring people with weaker presentation skills who are top performers. This double negative impact is summarized in the grid below.
So, how do you fix this? Start by switching the decision process from presentation to performance. In this case, the red arrow is horizontal rather than pointing down. You’ll be amazed at how simple it is to make this change, and how important. Here’s how you do it:
1. Conduct a phone interview first
Bias is reduced dramatically by avoiding the visual impact of first impression. A phone screennaturally shifts the focus towards work history and major accomplishments. As part of the phone screen find out why the person changed jobs and if the change was successful, and dig into the projects and the teams the person was assigned to and if these teams or projects are growing in scope and importance. If the above is positive and you invite the person for an onsite interview, you’ll be less impacted by his or her first impression.
2. Script the opening of the interview to increase objectivity
When starting an interview, don’t make a yes or no hiring decision for at least 30 minutes. This overcomes the tendency to ask people we like questions to falsely confirm their ability and people we don’t like questions to falsely prove their incompetence. The Appendix to The Essential Guide for Hiring and Getting Hired has a complete set of sample scripts that cover the first 30-60 minutes of the interview.
3. Use reverse logic to reprogram yourself during the interview
Our natural biology kicks in when meeting anyone for the first time. The “friend vs. foe” response causes us to be more relaxed and open-minded with those we like and uptight and defensive when meeting those we don’t. Counteracting this first impression bias starts by recognizing it’s occurring, then doing the exact opposite of what comes naturally. In this case, it’s giving the benefit of the doubt and being more open-minded with people we tend not to initially like and being more cynical with those we do. This way everyone is evaluated objectively.
4. Shift your point of view 180°
Assessing team skills before individual strengths is another way to minimize the impact of first impression bias. You can do this by first conducting a work history review and asking this team question followed by the fact-finding questions shown:
Can you please describe a major recent team accomplishment?
Who was on the team and what roles did they play?
When did the project occur and what was your assigned role? How did this role change during the project?
How did you get on the team and did you select any of the team members?
What were the objectives of the team and were they met?
What was your biggest contribution to the team? How were you recognized formally for this?
Who did you influence the most? Did you coach anyone? Did anyone coach you?
Did you receive any formal recognition for being on this team like an award, promotion or being assigned to a more important team?
By itself, this type of question and fact-finding reveals a lot about the team skills of the person being interviewed. If you ask a similar question for a few other major team accomplishments over different timeframes you’ll be able to observe the growth rates of the person’s team projects.
This trend provides tremendous insight about the candidate. Growth in the size, scope, scale and importance of the teams indicates the candidate is respected and trusted by senior people in the company. How and why the person got selected confirms work quality, reliability, cultural fit, the ability to deal with customers, vendors and executives and if the person has developed a cross-functional and strategic perspective.
5. Measure first impressions at the end of the interview
Whether the impact of first impressions is important for on-the-job success or not, it’s important to assess it when you’re not being seduced by it. At the end of the interview, ask yourself objectively whether the person’s first impression will help or hinder on-the-job performance. If you can wait that long, you’ll discover that in many cases your negative reaction to a candidate is due to the person’s temporary nervousness or something unimportant. As important, in just as many cases you’ll discover there isn’t much substance behind those you initially perceived to have a positive first impression.
Delaying the yes/no decision for 30-60 minutes and asking everyone the same questions will help increase objectivity and reduce hiring mistakes. As important, by assessing team skills first you’ll quickly understand if the candidate is a top performer or not and why. This is how you confidently avoid hiring people you shouldn’t and hiring those you should.
It’s summer, and you know what that means — a new crop of bright-eyed, bushy-tailed graduates have thrown their caps in the air and are turning their full attention to the job market.
For anyone planning on hiring these new graduates, it’s important to know as much as possible about them. The 2019 LinkedIn Grads Guide to Getting Hired contains many insights and U.S. workforce trends that, together, paint a complex picture of the Class of 2019. For example, the report looks at when companies are hiring new graduates and which majors lead to the widest variety of jobs. It also examines where graduates are taking jobs and what are the most popular jobs, companies, and industries for freshly minted professionals.
Here are three insights from the guide and what they mean for your graduate hiring strategy.
1. New grads are most interested in learning in-demand tech skills
Recent grads are truly invested in learning in-demand skills, which is good news for companies. And the thing they’re most interested in mastering is data visualization, which combines the sought-after skills of data science and creativity.
Here are the top five skills new grads are learning:
New grads are even pursuing courses in these skills on LinkedIn Learning, showing they’re proactively thinking about keeping their skill set up to date.
The class of 2019’s eagerness to learn means that you can focus on hiring for potential over existing skills and offer on the job training. In addition, if you offer learning opportunities, like subsidized access to online courses, this can also be a big selling point for your company.
2. The most versatile college majors include business administration and management, marketing, and psychology
Many majors arm grads with transferable skills that are applicable across a wide range of jobs and industries. So, looking beyond the majors traditionally associated with a role can significantly open up your search.
LinkedIn found that the most versatile college degrees — those that led to the largest variety of jobs — include business administration and management, marketing, psychology, and political science and government. On the tech side, computer science and information technology made the list. Many other business-related majors are also represented, including finance and economics., and business administration and management.
To look beyond the major, consider removing references to specific majors from your job descriptions or noting that they’re preferred but not required.
Or, you could remove the degree requirement altogether and focus solely on skills and capabilities. This strategy will not only help your job descriptions appeal to a broader pool of grads, but can often help you uncover qualified candidates who don’t possess a degree at all — helping to level the playing field for applicants who, say, attended a trade school or served in the military.
3. Software engineer tops the list of the most popular jobs for new grads, followed by registered nurse and salesperson
Software engineer is the most popular role for new grads this year, with an average entry-level salary of $83,000. But it’s not just tech roles that are attracting lots of fresh faces — registered nurse, salesperson, and accountant are all popular roles too.
Interestingly, the fourth most popular role on the list is teacher, an occupation that is known for its relatively low starting salaries. But an educator is an example of a role that offers a real sense of purpose, which is a major draw for today’s job seekers.
Helping grads understand that their work could have a meaningful impact is a big differentiator for any role. If your company has an inspiring mission or even just offers days off for volunteering, those are also powerful ways to back up a paycheck with some purpose.
Don’t let this year’s grads all get snapped up elsewhere. Welcome new skills and perspectives into your workforce by thinking outside of the box about where you search for talent and which perks you highlight in your marketing content.
Remember that Gen Zers have a very different outlook on the job market than millennials do, so strategies that have worked for you in previous years may need a refresh. Use the Grads Guide insights as a compass and you’ll be off on the right path.
Employees who don’t feel recognized for doing great work are twice as likely to be job hunting and 34% more likely to leave their current company within a year. And it’s easy to understand why — even if you enjoy your job, feeling like no one values your work can be discouraging, to say the least.
Luckily, recognizing employees doesn’t need to require a big budget or fancy perks. There are plenty of simple ways that you can let employees know how valued they are.
For inspiration, we’ve listed what six companies are doing to recognize their employees — and boosting engagement, increasing retention, and building loyalty in the process.
1. Red Velvet Events used a troll doll named Pockets as a trophy and now drape a special jacket over the chair for a week
For several years, creative planning agency Red Velvet Events had a particularly quirky way of recognizing employees. Every Monday in the weekly staff meeting, one team member would be given Pockets, a 90s-era troll doll with bright red hair, to display proudly on their desk. The previous week’s recipient would nominate the next, publicly acknowledging that employee for going above and beyond in their work.
Team members would often add their own flair to Pockets, adorning it with accessories and jewelry, drawing tattoos on the bottom of its feet, and even creating a castle for it to live in. When the doll was fully decorated, the team got a new one.
By 2017, they’d gone through five totems and decided it was time for a change.
Today, Red Velvet Events recognizes employees by presenting them with Pockets 3:0. The brainchild of the business development team, Pockets 3:0 is a hand-painted denim jacket that recipients can drape over the back of their desk chair for a week. First, though, they get to model it in the weekly meeting. They also receive a little note from the previous recipient explaining why they were chosen.
Peer recognition initiatives help strengthen team bonds and allow coworkers to thank each other for their hard work. And by letting employees put their own spin on the recognition, it can become a tradition that makes your culture stand out.
2. Groupon employees wear their tenure on their sleeves with customized jackets
E-commerce platform Groupon celebrates employee anniversaries in style. When employees hit their one-year “Grouponiversary,” they’re rewarded with a Groupon-green Adidas track jacket personalized with their name or nickname and the company’s logo.
After earning their jacket, employees receive a star patch for every subsequent anniversary. This is a great way to let employees wear their tenure as a badge of honor all year round.
Of course, those jackets would get pretty crowded with stars after a few years. So to mark an employee’s fifth Grouponiversary, they receive a coveted black version of the jacket.
“At Groupon, employee satisfaction is a priority,” explains Nadia Rawlinson, Groupon’s former vice president of global HR, in a blog post for Spreadshirt, the company that prints Groupon’s jackets. “Our track jacket program fosters a sense of pride and inclusion among staff and is just one of the ways we demonstrate our appreciation for loyal employees.”
Celebrating anniversaries in a meaningful way like this makes employees feel valued and gives them something to aspire to. Using branded swag as part of the celebration also encourages them to become brand ambassadors, letting them show the world how proud they are to work at your company.
Marketing agency Three Girls Media has a 100% remote workforce, so it has to get a little creative when it comes to celebrating its employees. That’s why every quarter, the team meets up for a themed virtual party.
Past hangouts have included coffee chats, pizza parties, and even an arts and crafts event. In advance of the party, the company sends everyone a gift card to get food, drinks, or other supplies according to the theme. This costs about $250 per party, but the small gesture of thanks really resonates with employees.
“We really try to show our employees we appreciate them and their hard work,” says Emily Sidley, senior director of publicity at Three Girls Media. “We’ve found recognizing them as individuals goes a long way in driving motivation. Our current team is the strongest it’s ever been.”
Virtual hangouts and parties are ideal for farflung workforces, ensuring no remote employee is left out. While there are plenty of free video tools you can use, spending a little money on rewards like gift cards is a nice touch, making the celebration feel even more special.
A few years ago, Eppstein Uhen Architects decided to throw a party to celebrate the career and accomplishments of one of its employees, John Miceli. And to add a fun twist to the decorations, they commissioned a local printer to create four life-size cutouts of John.
While one of the cutouts featured John hard at work in a hard hat, the other three showcased some of his other interests. One showed him lounging on the floor with a bottle of wine. Another saw him impersonating Elvis.
“The combination of a little client imagination [and] a sense of humor...resulted in great decorations for the celebration,” BPI Labs, the creator of the cutouts, wrote on their website.
Not all recognition has to revolve around work. Finding ways to celebrate other aspects of an employee’s personality or recognize their extracurricular activities can make them feel like part of the family — and bring a little levity to the workplace.
5. Typeform uses spontaneous rounds of applause to ensure no achievement goes unnoticed
Typeform, an online surveys and form building service, has developed a fast, free ways to show its employees a little love. Whenever someone does something noteworthy, the people around them are encouraged to start applauding. It doesn’t have to be a big achievement either — even small, everyday accomplishments can be applause-worthy.
“It sounds a little cheesy and sales-y,” writes Sançar Sahin, former VP of Marketing at Typeform, “but it’s actually a nice Typeform tradition.”
What makes this tradition even more meaningful for employees is that when one person starts applauding, the whole office will join in.
“The beauty is that most people have no idea why they’re applauding, but the person receiving the applause does,” Sançar says. “It’s a nice, momentary break for celebration.”
Taking a second to stop and say thank you, whether it’s through applause or just a few kind words, can mean the world to employees. Getting the whole team in on the appreciation is also an easy way to show everyone how much you value the work they’re doing.
Appreciated employees are happy employees
Whether you’re giving gifts, hosting events, or just saying “thank you,” even the smallest gestures can leave employees beaming from ear to ear. This not only helps them feel more connected to their work, but to the company as a whole.
What’s more, many employees will want to talk about the fact that they were recognized — telling their family and friends and sharing the story on social media. This can have a big effect on your employer brand, showing prospective candidates you’re a company that really cares about its employees and isn’t afraid to show it.
If you’re looking for a stimulating read, here’s a great list for you. We found some of the best recent articles published for talent professionals and posted them below. They cover a wide range of topics, including why candidates are ghosting new employers and how you can instantly spot a great leader, according to Warrn Buffet.
We recently reviewed thousands of company profiles on LinkedIn and one finding made us pause.
According to the data, companies with more women in the C-suite tend to have more women in their workforce overall. In fact, when there is a female executive in the C-suite, the average percentage of female employees is around 41%. On the other hand, when a company does not have any female executives, on average, only 34% of its total workforce is made up of women.
1. Use the Rooney rule to pave the way for more female board members
Here’s something to think about: at the rate we’re going, the U.S. won’t achieve gender balance on company boards until 2055 - but more diverse boards tend to perform better, as they’re more likely to mirror the diverse makeup of their customers and corporate employees. Experts like Anna Beninger, senior director of research at Catalyst, tell it like it is: “In order for boards to appoint more female CEOs, there first have to be more female board members to vote for them.”
You can speed up that 2055 projection, and combat the tendency to select non-diverse board members, by applying a form of the Rooney Rule — a rule instituted by the NFL requiring teams to interview at least one minority candidate for an open head coach or general manager position. Major corporations like Microsoft, Costco, and most recently Amazon, use this type of process for board selection, pledging to consider at least one woman or minority candidate whenever there’s a vacancy. And since BBVA adopted the Rooney Rule into their hiring and promoting practices, almost 40 percent of the new appointments to key roles have been women.
2. Embrace work flexibility as part of your company culture
People can’t be everywhere at once. And that’s a hard fact to overcome when you’re trying to be the best employee, executive, parent, significant other, friend - the list goes on. Try building the ability to have a flexible schedule into your company culture to promote a healthy balance between work and home life. In doing so, you’re instilling a true company value that allows all employees equal opportunity to reach leadership level without sacrificing personal gains.
Women in particular stand to benefit from this - we found that women are 22 percent more likely than men to cite flexible work arrangements as a very important factor when considering a job, with women ages 36 to 45 being most likely to do so. And what’s good for employees is good for business too. According to a recent study by Stanford Graduate School of Business, when employees were given the ability to work outside the office, it had a significant impact on productivity and employee retention.
Sometimes, for flexwork to “work” you have to get creative. Nearly half of Humana’s staff work remotely at least some of the time, but their call center employees couldn’t take advantage of this policy because calls could only be recorded at their desk. Rather than ignoring the issue, Humana stepped up and launched a pilot program last year that provided call center employees with at-home technology that let them enjoy the benefits of flexwork too. PwC been working at it for 10 years, and now has a culture of “everyday flexibility” that allows employees to work where and when they choose.
3. Create mentorship and leadership development programs
A great way to build up your female leaders is through mentorship and hands-on development. But in the era of #MeToo, it seems that men, especially senior-level leaders, are becoming less willing to meet one-on-one with women. In fact, a survey released by Leanin.org and Survey Monkey found that 60% of male managers now say they’re uncomfortable mentoring women — a 33% increase from last year.
With anti-harassment identified as one of the four trends impacting HR and talent acquisition in 2019, it’s clear that the #MeToo movement has pushed the topic into the spotlight. But Sheryl Sandberg says it’s time to do more: “It’s really important not to harass anyone, but that’s pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored.” Some companies are already taking action to combat any feelings of concern by addressing cross-gender connections head on. Sodexo, for example, developed a formal year-long leadership and mentorship program that emphasizes cross-gender and cross race/ethnicity connections among junior staff and managers.
Beyond one-on-one mentoring, the Harvard Business Review found that to reach those executive positions, women need to have a close circle of reliable female contacts, and companies can have a hand in helping develop those connections. Bank of America’s Women’s Executive Development Program, for example, began as a one week, in-person event almost 10 years ago, and has now expanded to a 10-month experience that includes assessments, development sessions, and executive sponsorship.
At LinkedIn, an employee-led effort called WIT (Women in Tech) challenges the gender imbalance among software engineers and other technical roles. Led by a group of female tech executives, the group is committed to attracting the best women to join the team and become mentors and role models for the next generation of talent.
These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg. Working with women’s colleges and professional organizations to source potential leaders early or creating referral programs that focus on female candidates are two more ways to get more female leadership in your workplace. And these tactics are working - in fact, the Fortune 500 has more female CEOs now than ever before - but to find true gender parity, we need more than 33 females in the driver’s seat. With women ready and willing to shift the gender balance at the executive level, the next step is to provide these professionals with the tools and support to make it happen.