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This week, research finds that CEOs with heterogeneous networks may bring more value to their firms. Plus, dads support paid leave but they don’t always take it, and noise-cancelling furniture brings function and design together.

CEOs with diverse networks create more value: study

A recent Harvard Business Review article features new research that finds that “CEOs with strong connections to people of different demographic backgrounds and skill sets create higher firm value.”

The study, published in the Journal of Corporate Finance, examined data of more than 1,200 CEOs who led S&P 1,500 firms between 2000 and 2010. The researchers analyzed the CEOs’ networks and connections and measured their diversity.

Researchers tested two hypotheses: one, that CEOs with more diverse networks demonstrate greater innovation in their firms, and two, they are better able to make foreign connections and identify good business opportunities in other industries. Their findings showed positive associations for both.

The researchers note that the study is only “empirical” evidence, and that CEOs should first consider the costs of maximizing the diversity of their social networks. The takeaway, however, reinforces that diversity at every level of an organization is beneficial.

“Our results should encourage shareholders to consider how the diversity of the social network of upper management and board members can add value to the firm, given the changing face of the workforce and increasing global competition,” the researchers said.

Dads support paid leave for fathers, but don’t take it

Bloomberg reports that while dads support paid paternal leave, they don’t often take it. That’s according to new research from Ball State University.

Ball State sociology professor Richard Petts analyzed several sets of data on how people use parental leave, and who uses it.

Two of the key findings from the studies are that first-time dads were 77% more likely to take leave than a father who had two or more children. Only 36% of dads taking leave took all paternity leave permitted.

Bloomberg further noted the benefits for both parents in fathers taking leave, as per Petts’s research:

“When men take longer leave, two things happen: women return to work sooner, and men become more attuned to, and less tolerant of, those opportunity costs. What’s more, Petts said, dads who take longer leave also tend to be more involved in their child’s life and care overall.”

Related: Why paid parental leave is good for business

Will there be more noise-cancelling furniture in the future of work?

With the notion of the “corporate office” becoming more fluid, environmental designers are increasingly taking into account the idea that open office environments should accommodate many different worker needs without the rigidity of cubicles and impenetrable board rooms. Further, as noted by Stylus, “the future of work productivity demands flexible, fluid and comfortable environments.”

In the vein of creating adaptable spaces, companies are beginning to look towards noise-cancelling furniture to optimize productivity and create engaging workspaces. It’s a way to reduce noise levels (and the distractions that result from them) without forcing offices to sacrifice their openness.

While some offices may have already implemented the basics, like wall flaps or acoustic chairs, companies are beginning to design for aesthetic, as well as function. For example, at this year’s Stockholm Design Week, held in February, Swedish design studio Glimakra introduced the Barn, designed to be used in both corporate or public settings, for intimate meetings or as a working area in a larger space. It looks like a minimalist hut, a step up from a room with felt panels.

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By Senior Manager of Talent Management, John Whyte

The world of work is changing, as are employee expectations, and compensation needs to reflect that to be both fair and impactful.

The old-world approach to compensation would typically include an annual merit increase – and perhaps an annual bonus – based on a rigid budget.

Today, HR leaders need to be more fluid and creative with their compensation strategies, and take factors like timely rewards and pay equity into account. Armed with modern human capital management technology, they can help managers leverage data and insights to factor in things they traditionally may not have in the past. The result is smarter, more impactful and unbiased reward decisions.

Last year, Ceridian surveyed a sample of its customers to identify the greatest pain points that managers encounter in a typical compensation cycle. By far the most frequent response, 51% of managers stated that they don’t have enough information to feel good about the merit or bonus recommendations they are making for their employees.

From a leadership standpoint, consider the following questions as a starting point when thinking about how you approach compensation today:

  • What is important to your people?
  • What are the engagement drivers?
  • How do you empower managers to facilitate the process?

Here are four factors things to think about to successfully evolve your compensation strategy.

Bonuses and spot rewards

Salary increases compound over the years, while bonuses are one-time rewards that fuel total compensation without creating a long-term impact on budgets. Bonuses don’t only have to come in the form of fixed annual or semi-annual cycles.  They can be spot rewards for completing a project or achieving a specific goal. These types of bonuses can energize employees in a timely fashion without bloating the salary budget for years to come.

Non-monetary factors

Budgets are tight, and we can’t always give our high-performing employees the financial rewards that we wish we could. The good news is, employees are placing greater value than ever on less tangible forms of job satisfaction.

For example, Gallup reports that employees who feel they are being developed and not just managed are over three times more likely to be engaged in their jobs.  This opens the door for well thought-out career development plans and training opportunities that may yield greater benefits down the line than nominal pay increases do in the short term.

Related: The annual performance review is dead – create a performance development culture instead

Pay equity

On Jan. 1, 2018, Iceland became the first country to require companies with 25 or more employees to prove that they are not paying women less than men for the same job. While not always codified into law, efforts to close the gender pay gap are accelerating worldwide.

Last month, Starbucks announced that it had achieved 100% pay equity by gender and by race in the U.S. and is working to do the same worldwide. A push towards pay equity is a powerful tool in building an employment brand and attracting top talent worldwide.

Empowering managers with the right tools and information

Managers are busy. A merit or bonus cycle is yet another task piled on top of endless job responsibilities and is an uncomfortable process for many. In addition, it is a process that managers may undertake once or twice a year, so they are often not comfortable with the tools used to make pay adjustments for their teams.

As noted earlier, it’s important to organizational success to provide managers with the information they need to feel good about compensation recommendations.

Compensation tools must provide managers with relevant and easily accessible data, while focusing in on employees who need attention based on factors like performance, position in pay range, and flight risk.

See how Dayforce Compensation leverages data to provide insights for managers to make informed compensation decisions

Evolving your compensation strategy reflects relevance in the changing world of work. Taking these factors into account and leveraging data to make more informed decisions results in a more engaged workforce, and a competitive advantage.

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The U.S. Equal Pay Act was signed into law 55 years ago, but the topic of the gender pay gap is hotter than ever. Here’s a look at some of the big conversations that happened around this year’s Equal Pay Day.

Let’s start with this tidbit, (which is either unsurprising or shocking, depending on where you sit at the table): Fortune reports that one in three Americans aren’t aware of the gender pay gap, according to new research by Lean In and SurveyMonkey.

Additionally, Fortune’s story addresses common myths about the pay gap for people who are unfamiliar with it (such as the notion that women are paid less because they’re less educated).

Equal Pay Day originated in 1996 by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE). It fell on April 10 this year, because that day symbolizes the day through which the average U.S. woman would have to work in 2018 to earn what the average U.S. man did in 2017.

A necessary reminder (via CNBC, and Vox): the April 10 date doesn’t apply to all women. Black women’s Equal Pay Day is Aug. 20, and for Latina women, it’s Nov. 1.

CNBC quotes Lisa Crooms-Robinson, law professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Howard University, on how organizations can address the racial gap within the gap:

“‘For most organizations, this would require a shift that goes beyond diversity committees and affinity groups,’ says Crooms-Robinson, in regards to creating workplaces where women of color are not only hired, but also promoted and treated equally. ‘Committed organizational leadership at the very highest level is essential to make such a significant culture shift.'”

For more on the numbers, The American Association for University Women provides stats on pay gap variations for different racial groups in its report, The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap.

The day is observed globally, though it won’t fall on the same date in every country.

The U.K. last observed Equal Pay Day on Nov. 10, 2017, symbolizing the day, as the Telegraph writes, when women stop earning relative to men because of the gender pay gap.

U.K. businesses with more than 250 employees were required to report gender pay information by midnight on Wednesday, April 4 of this year. In last week’s Roundup, we covered key findings from the published data.

Scotland-based independent non-profit media platform The Ferret has since mapped the published data based on the location of the U.K. companies’ headquarters. FastCompany this week also shared a map showing the gender pay gap in every state. According to the map, Louisiana has the biggest gender pay gap. Men earn $15,238 more than women in that state. Florida has the smallest pay gap, with men earning $5474 more than women.

Related: Ontario’s proposed pay transparency bill: what it could mean for employers

What this means for the workplace

Companies that have made efforts towards achieving pay equity were also featured prominently as part of this week’s conversations about Equal Pay Day. The stories highlighted key ways organizations need to address the pay gap.

Leaders discussed the importance of using modern technology in partnership with truly reviewing and re-evaluating hiring practices, creating policies to ensure equal pay, and analyzing the gender wage gap within organizations.

Certainly, there’s complexity from a compliance perspective, to ensure requirements in specific jurisdictions and countries are met. HR has a crucial role in this process, not only working closely with other key leadership stakeholders, but shifting organizations to a mindset that these practices can’t be reviewed only once a year.

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The ROI business case for investing in new payroll solutions starts with making pain points and cost saving opportunities crystal clear to the CFO. Here are some key pain points to highlight and an action plan to get it done.

Often, senior leadership is less concerned about the efficiency, speed, or health of the payroll process and more so about accuracy and compliance. Because of this, investment in system upgrades may be directed towards supporting or maintaining the current solution, versus considering new technology.

But many payroll teams spend too much time and resources to get the gross-to-net-to-zero processed accurately and in compliance, using a solution that may be built on decades-old technology. Payroll executives therefore need to build a strong ROI business case for investing in new technology. This process starts with helping senior leadership understand payroll pain points, which fall into five key areas.

Payroll errors

Payroll errors are difficult to measure. Research from the American Payroll Association reveals that even best-in-class payroll departments don’t achieve 100% accuracy. That error rate could be anywhere from 0.2% to almost 2% of the total payroll. For a mid-size company, say 500 employees earning an average of $60,000 per year, a 1% payroll error accounts for $300,000 in cost.

These errors usually come from erroneous deductions, incorrect timesheets, unaccounted for overtime and holiday pay, tax withholdings, or wage garnishments. The best way to determine payroll error is to take the percentage of payroll where error was in favor of the company (and has been fixed to make it accurate for the employee) and assume a one-to-one relationship on the other side. Any reduction in that error from using better technology is considered a hard cost savings. This will appeal to a CFO.

Payroll productivity

Calculate the time it takes from obtaining gross data – including wrangling timesheets for hourly employees – to closing out the payroll period and generating reports. Automation, especially if the system combines time and pay in one application, will reduce the time required.

Though this is a soft cost saving, position it as a way of enabling staff to focus on more strategic or pressing elements of HR – compensation planning, ACA, and more.

Self-service

Robust employee self-service will free up some of the payroll team’s workload. When figuring out the ROI, account for the time spent by payroll on issues that can be resolved via self-service, such as time-off and scheduling discrepancies. While staff won’t be completely free of dealing with payroll-related issues (you will still have to deal with password resets from time to time), a good chunk of productivity can be gained.

Cost of current process

To run payroll efficiently, what are you paying for today’s process and system? Sometimes all those costs – for example, software, hardware, in-house printers, tax accountants, and more – could add up to more than the proposed solution. Regardless of what that number is, this is a hard cost saving that needs to be accounted for when calculating the benefits of the new solution.

Compliance risk

With a poorly-performing system and process, your company may incur fees or have to settle with regulators due to incorrect tax withholdings. Additionally, if the time and attendance system is not in sync with payroll, wage and hour mistakes and employee misclassifications can arise.

It’s important to account for all of this using likelihood percentages. Probabilities help to determine these likelihood percentages.

What’s the action plan?

After identifying these five pain points and benefits of investing in new technology, your next task is to develop an action plan, which can include the following:

  1. Calculate payroll technology ROI. If a vendor provides a calculator, make sure that it’s built and backed by a third party. ROI stands on one leg: credibility.
  2. Make sure vendors demonstrate how their solutions can address the biggest pain points. Assume and use conservative savings in each area based on that demo. For instance, if you think that the new system will reduce 80% of the workload, use 60%.
  3. Ask vendors to produce post-implementation case studies from customers. Again, this is about credibility: We don’t live in a world where we are able to try payroll software for a year before we make a decision to buy.
  4. Engage stakeholders to help you defend the analysis. It is critical to make sure that human resources, payroll, and benefits buy into the savings. In any presentation to the CFO, a united front will go a long way.
  5. Look for other savings. With software-as-a-service, the cost to add modules is relatively cheaper than it would be for legacy on-premise or bureau solutions. A lot of efficiencies can be gained by automating time and attendance and ensuring very tight integration with payroll. Opt for a system that has one database and a single rules engine governing time and attendance. Otherwise, if employees are misclassified in one system, or the systems don’t reconcile, you’re back to a bottleneck and possibly being out of compliance.
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To remain competitive in today’s changing world of work, now is the time to re-evaluate your talent management strategy. Talent management is becoming an essential part of business strategy, no longer simply a functional aspect of HR. Leading organizations are taking a holistic approach to talent management that powers the entire employee experience. This approach integrates technology to make proactive versus reactive decisions, and takes changing employee expectations and desires into account.

Here are five talent trends you should be thinking about when setting your talent management strategy.

Building and maintaining a strong employer brand

We’re operating in a tightened labor market, and unemployment is at an all-time low (the U.S. currently sits at a 4.1% unemployment rate). There’s also a shortage of skilled labor, which is especially true for the technology and health care industries. Add to this that candidates are placing increasing importance on a company’s reputation and culture. A recent poll found that 50% of candidates say they wouldn’t work for a company with a bad reputation – even with a pay increase.

In short, candidates are in the driver’s seat. Candidates today look at all facets of a company when considering making a move, and they want to know more than simply salary and benefits. Sites like Glassdoor make it easy for candidates to learn about organizations, and negative reviews could stop them from applying. LinkedIn, and other professional networking platforms, let job seekers easily connect with people who have worked, or currently work, at your organization.

If there was ever a time to have a strong employer brand, now is that time. A strong brand is critical when it comes to recruiting and retaining talent, and leading organizations use this knowledge to differentiate themselves in a competitive landscape.

Related: Three ways to deliver a stand-out recruiting pitch

The evolving employer-employee relationship

Gone are the days where an individual works for just one or two companies during their careers. Recent LinkedIn data revealed that between 1986 and 2010, the average number of companies professionals worked for in the five years after they graduated has nearly doubled. Professionals who graduated between 1986-1990 averaged 1.6 jobs in their first five years of working, while those who graduated between 2006-2010 averaged 2.85 jobs.

With that said, employers need to think of the employee-employer relationship as a subscription model, similar to a consumer subscribing to Netflix or Spotify. The subscription either gets renewed, or cancelled because there is something new and better available.

In this vein, it is imperative that you provide employees with opportunities to develop themselves through continuous learning so they stay longer. Also, if you can expect to only have an employee for three to four years, you can’t afford to take a year to get them onboarded and productive.

The changing workplace environment

Today’s employees are looking for an experience that stems beyond pay and benefits. They’re looking for a strong culture that allows for work-life balance and an opportunity to be heard and contribute meaningfully to an organization.

In addition, more and more people are working virtually and more are contingent workers, which includes contractors, freelancers and gig workers. Thirty-six percent of today’s U.S. workforce is freelance, according to the Freelancing in America Survey. The survey also found that 50% of the U.S. population will be freelancing over the next decade, if the growth in freelancing continues at this pace. This means that employers must evolve their processes and tools to meet employee needs and stay relevant in the changing work landscape.

From a technology perspective, this means providing your people with modern, engaging solutions that can be accessed remotely and via mobile – that is, tech that empowers your employees on their terms.  Younger workers won’t interact with a human capital management solution that is only available via a desktop and that looks like it was built in the 1990s. But if you offer technology that creates an employee experience that feels like a customer experience – accessible, intuitive and mobile-friendly – they’ll be all over it.

Acceptance of HR’s role as strategic, not tactical

I believe that HR is now finally accepted as a strategic function, and not simply a tactical function responsible for running payroll, processing new hires, and managing benefits enrollment. From my perspective, the argument has always been very simple. For the majority of organizations, their most important asset is their people. Not only do people typically represent the biggest expense to an organization, it is the people that enable organizations to meet their desired business outcomes.

With that said, it is HR’s role to recruit strong talent, develop people, and align and incentivize them to achieve desired business outcomes. However, to do this, HR leaders need access to insightful data and tools that enable them to make informed business decisions.

Growing compliance complexity

Compliance complexity continues to grow. Examples include the following:

  • With GDPR, multinational organizations with people in the EU must support the right for individuals to have control over their personal data. Failure to do so can result in a fine of $20M Euro or 4% of gross revenue, whichever is bigger.
  • The Affordable Care Act in the U.S. has added tremendous administrative complexity for organizations.
  • New minimum wage laws are popping up all over, and often vary drastically by local and state or province.
  • New pay equity laws are starting to require that organizations not only report on gender pay equity, but close the gaps as well.

Leading organizations are making talent management a priority, starting now. Keeping these trends in mind as you develop your talent management strategy, and understanding how they impact your approach to talent management – from recruiting to retention to development – will help to give you an advantage in the changing world of work.

Written by Paul Jelinek, Ceridian’s Director of Product Management

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This week, a Brooklyn councilman introduces a bill aimed at giving employees the right to disconnect, and managers are well-positioned to help lonely employees. And, the U.K.’s pay gap reporting results are in.

Can work-life balance become the law?

Last month, Brooklyn, New York council member Rafael Espinal introduced a bill that would prevent employers from requiring employees to check emails and other work-related communications outside of the employees’ usual work hours.

The Disconnecting from Work bill would apply to businesses with 10 or more employees, which would be fined $250 per employee for not following the rules. Employers would incur further penalties for retaliating against employees, or in cases of employees being fired.

Espinal elaborated on the bill to CNN (via affiliate WCBS):

“There’s a lot of New Yorkers out there that don’t know when their work day begins or when their work day ends, because we’re all so tied to our phones,” Espinal told CNN affiliate WCBS. “You can still work, you can still talk to your boss, but this just is saying that, when you feel like you’ve hit your boiling point and you can’t do it anymore, you’re able to disconnect and decompress for a while.”

France passed a similar law in 2016. The country’s “right to disconnect” law requires companies with more than 50 workers to create a charter of good conduct, outlining the hours that employees can send or answer emails.

Both bills have incited discussion about their effectiveness and relevance. These conversations highlight a key point: employees are looking to employers to take responsibility for recognizing how lack of work-life balance can impact employee health and productivity, and managing it accordingly.

The loneliness epidemic: managers can help

A recent research article in the Harvard Business Review says that employee loneliness should be important to managers and senior leaders. He writes:

“The U.K. found loneliness to be such an issue, they have appointed a Minister of Loneliness to head up the daunting task of figuring out solutions to what the former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy calls “the most common pathology,” with nearly 40% of Americans reporting being lonely.”

The authors add that lonelier workers don’t perform as well, quit more often and are more dissatisfied with their jobs. BetterUp and author Shawn Achor conducted a survey of American workers to understand employees who were most at-risk for feeling lonely at work, and understand how best to support connections amongst employees in the workplace.

Their research found that tenure, gender, race, ethnicity and salary weren’t predictors for loneliness. The factors that did impact loneliness, however, were people’s professions, and their social networks outside of work.

The research further found that colleagues and managers are in the best positions to identify loneliness. Here’s what the authors said about how they can help:

“Our study suggests that the single most impactful leadership behavior you can undertake to counteract loneliness is to create opportunities for building shared meaning with colleagues. Understand what makes their work meaningful to them, and then connect that to what makes it meaningful for you.”

Results of the U.K.’s gender pay gap 2018 reporting

All companies in the U.K. with more than 250 employees were required to report gender pay information by midnight on Wednesday, April 4. More than 10,000 businesses published their data, which revealed a reported median pay gap of 9.7%, according to the BBC. The numbers also indicated that 78% of companies pay men more than women on average.

The data was filed based on a “snapshot date,” which was April 5, 2017 for most employers. The Guardian points out that the data isn’t perfect, because “due to exemptions, high-level executives, including partners and non-employed, typically low-paid workers are not included in the data.”

But it does make conversations about the pay gap a lot harder to ignore, and opens the door for employers to begin addressing hard questions – and that includes the 1,500 or so employers who haven’t yet reported their information.

As Rebecca Hilsenrath, chief executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, told the BBC:

“We want them [firms] to look at their flexible working practices, we want to look at them tackling bias, conscious and unconscious, and we’re looking to them to address instances of pregnancy and maternity pay discrimination, which is rising in this country.”

Home Department Secretary of State Amber Rudd added in the Guardian that transparency leads to action.

“Businesses should see reporting gender pay gap data as just the first step on the road to creating fairer and more equal workplaces across the U.K.,” she said. “They should be putting action plans in place to break down the barriers to women’s progression in their organizations.”

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Conversations about the gender pay gap are top of mind amongst many employers and their employees. And now, the Ontario government has proposed Bill 203, the Pay Transparency Act, 2018 which, if passed, will require certain employers to track and report compensation gaps based on gender or other diversity measures.

It would also require all employers to comply with rules regarding job postings, recruitment questions and compensation disclosure. While Ontario is the first province to propose ‘pay transparency’ to address the gender wage gap, similar legislation already exists in Germany, Australia and the United Kingdom.

If passed, the bill could include the following provisions, which would be effective January 1, 2019:

  • Publicly advertised job postings would need to include a salary rate or range
  • Employers would not be able to ask job candidates about their past compensation (but employees could share this information unprompted)
  • Employers will be prohibited from reprisals against employees who discuss or disclose compensation.
  • Large employers would need to report compensation gaps based on gender and other diversity characteristics. This information would need to be publicly posted in the workplace and disclosed to the province. This reporting requirement would only apply to Ontario public service initially, followed by employers with more than 500 employees, and would eventually extend to employers with more than 250 employees.

What employers need to be aware of

On a micro level, this type of legislation could significantly impact recruiting and hiring practices for employers of all sizes. The added transparency could affect organizations that find a competitive advantage in avoiding disclosing pay. Furthermore, these changes could lead to disharmony amongst employees, especially those who perform the same job for less than their colleagues.

Lastly, while this change has been proposed in Ontario only, other provinces may be considering adopting the same or similar approaches. One only needs to look at Quebec’s recently announced proposed changes to their minimum employment standards legislation on the heels of Ontario’s Bill 148 as an example.

Ceridian will continue to monitor Bill 203, Pay Transparency Act, 2018 as it moves forward.

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In this week’s Roundup, learning soft skills are a focus for employers and employees alike, according to a new report from LinkedIn. And, Stephen Hawking believes work gives people purpose, while there’s more evidence that diverse workforces are good for business.

Robots don’t have soft skills: LinkedIn report

LinkedIn released its 2018 Workplace Learning Trends Report this week, with optimistic news for those concerned that the workforce will be replaced by automation and robots.

According to the survey of 4,000 professionals globally – including talent developers, managers, employees and executives – the top priority is training the workforce for soft skills. As noted in the report, “robots don’t have soft skills.”

These so-called soft skills include things like leadership, communication and collaboration, with slightly less emphasis on role-specific skills. This indicates that employers are putting a greater focus on addressing expectations of the modern workforce, and adjusting their approaches to stay competitive. They are putting a greater focus on on-going, continuous upskilling and training to prevent skills gaps internally.

Managers, take note: the survey found that manager involvement is key to increasing employee engagement with learning. In fact, 56% of employees said they would take a manager-suggested course.

Related: Social learning at work: what it is, and how to do it

Stephen Hawking’s wisdom on the value of work

Legendary scientist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking died Wednesday at the age of 76. Known for his work on black holes, relativity and the origins of the universe, Hawking has also been called an inspiration by millions of people.

In 2010, Hawking shared three pieces of advice he passed on to his children in an interview with Diane Sawyer. One, noted by the BBC, was related to work.

“Never give up on work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it.”

The BBC cites the American Psychological Association’s recent synthesis of findings that back up the idea that feeling a sense of purpose and meaning with work has positive effects on people. One finding is that “Employees who know their work has a meaningful, positive impact on others are not only happier, they’re also more productive” (Grant, 2016).

Additional research discovered that “no matter the size of the goal … having a sense of meaning and feeling a sense of progress can contribute to happiness in the workplace” – that is, small wins fuel motivation and drive innovation as much as bigger ones.

The BBC concludes that people who focus in on what they love allows their work take on greater meaning and purpose than simply clocking in and paying bills. A takeaway for employers? Creating a culture that helps connect employees to purpose, and encourages their personal and professional development is a key step in the process.

More evidence that a diverse workforce is good for business

London-based INvolve, an organization that fosters more inclusive cultures, recently shared a study with Quartz that found “a significant positive correlation between diversity and financial performance” of companies.

The study, commissioned by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), looked at data on 517 U.K. firms and analyzed the relationship between their financial performance, workforce composition and company policies.

Additional key findings: the most diverse workplaces are 12% more likely to outperform their industry average than the least diverse workplaces. And, the firms with the most developed diversity policy are 15% more likely to financially outperform their national industry mean than those with the weakest diversity policies in place.

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A modern approach to learning is increasingly critical for sustained business success. This means looking beyond structured and traditional corporate training, and instead understanding how people actually learn, both at work and in day-to-day life.

Leading organizations are creating cultures of continuous learning by providing multiple options and approaches for employees, and leveraging technology as part of the process. Employees want to learn on a schedule and in a format that works for them.

Related: How to embed a learning culture within your organization

While there’s a place for formal learning, a large part of practical, effective learning actually happens through informal and non-traditional methods and environments.

According to research findings from several sources, 70% of learning comes from real-life and on-the-job experiences, tasks and problem solving, and 20% through direct feedback and from observing and working with others. The other 10% comes from traditional, formal training (think classes, courses and reading).

In today’s world of work, social or informal learning is an effective way to address employees’ learning needs. It’s the idea of learning with and from others within the organization, informally and by sharing knowledge. According to the Association for Talent Development, social learning approaches have a 75:1 ROI ratio over web-based training.

There’s also psychological theory around social learning. Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theorystates that people don’t learn the same way, so learning isn’t one-size-fits-all. Learning comes from observing, imitating and modeling the behaviors of others. In this context, the learner is active, not passive.

Related: Want to retain high performers? Boost loyalty with learning

Social learning can be applied in an organization in a number of ways, including group discussions, panels, coaching and mentoring, or workshops. Here’s how you can implement social learning as part of a culture of continuous learning.

Call on subject matter experts for workshops or how-to videos

There’s critical knowledge hidden within every organization. It may sit with different business units or departments, in documents, or with particular subject matter experts.

This is the type of knowledge employees can’t always get from formal training – they ask about on the job, and directly from individuals who they consider to be experts. But, it’s not reliable, effective or scalable for employees to continue to ask subject matter experts for information the fly.

Learning from SMEs via workshops or video, are ways that organizations can uncover, capture and share this information to the wider organization in a more systematic way.

Facilitate group discussions

There are several ways to facilitate discussion amongst learners, whether in the moment or on an on-going basis.

Lunch and learns or panel discussions are easy ways to assemble groups of learners to hear about a particular topic, and then ask questions and discuss potential challenges, thereby learning from each other and collaborating.

Forums and discussion boards are also hubs for discussion – for example, asking questions related to a particular learning video and encouraging employees to answer and discuss them, or post their own experiences for further learning.

Coaching and mentoring

Coaching and mentoring facilitate self-directed learning, with the employee taking the lead in managing their own learning and skills development. Working with their manager, they set on-going professional and personal goals and determine the support and tools they need to achieve them.

Managers play a key role here in enabling employees to achieve their goals through support, direction and instruction – whether formal or informal.

Coaching and mentoring also promote a performance development culture and boost employee engagement.

Encourage employees to collaborate on projects and initiatives

Social learning is effective because it triggers learning through collaboration. The appeal of social learning to today’s workforce is that it empowers employees to take the lead in their learning, and facilitates opportunities to collaborate with peers.

Social learning also provides a way for employees to collaborate, discuss and share before and after more formal training, expanding the opportunity for retaining what they’ve learned and putting it into action.

Data from a Towards Maturity study found that organizations that used different approaches to learning were four times more likely to respond faster to business change, three times more likely to report improvements in staff motivation, and twice more likely to report improvements in customer satisfaction scores.

Plus, social learning promotes a culture of learning because, as per a point made in FastCompany, you’re asking them to do it themselves, versus simply telling them you want them to learn. Additionally, FastCompany writer Sarah Kessler adds, putting employees into teaching mode brings out their passion and confidence.

Read more about how to integrate learning into the employee lifecycle

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The HR and Talent Management Benchmarking Report, conducted by HR.com in partnership with Ceridian, found that the top two priorities for HR departments in 2018 are focusing on learning and development, and talent acquisition (see our previous post here). The third most widely cited area of focus, according to survey respondents, is to streamline HR operations in 2018.

This means that HR professionals want greater efficiency, especially in larger organizations. Many organizations reported failing to get satisfactory levels of performance out of large portions of their workforce. Respondents identified an opportunity to empower business decision-makers – and potentially improve workforce performance – through better use of data.

This finding echoes the general trend that leveraging data sets for human capital management will be a bigger priority in 2018 and beyond. Leveraging data can also impact the top priorities identified in the study – learning and development, and talent acquisition.

How do your 2018 HR priorities stack up against other organizations? Download the report

Organizations need to leverage data for talent acquisition and retention

However, while talent acquisition is a top priority in 2018, the report found that relatively few organizations use data analytics to assist in their talent management efforts. 10% of respondents use data analytics to predict talent outcomes, while another 10% use analytics to both describe workforce issues and predict talent outcomes.

There are many opportunities for organizations to increasingly leverage data to make real-time and smarter business decisions. For example, more organizations are looking to use data algorithms during the hiring process and in talent management to suggest the best candidates and identify individual strengths, critical skills and traits of high potential employees.

Additionally, leveraging data is a key component in organizations moving away from antiquated annual performance  reviews and annual engagement  surveys to an “always-on” approach to collecting feedback.

Download the HR and Talent Management Benchmarking Report for the top takeaways

Successful organizations are shifting their mindsets around the value of data in human capital management. Data is more than simply record-keeping – it is a critical asset that can provide major strategic insights that help leaders run their businesses better.

Are you collecting data to make strategic decisions about your workforce? See how Dayforce can help.

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