How HR leaders can make remote work pain free

As employees begin to transfer from office desks to kitchen tables, their bodies will begin to experience pain that may be foreign. Due to several state governments creating laws about closing down businesses and emphasizing social distancing, working from the comfort of the home may become the new everyday norm. Read this blog post to learn helpful tips on how to stay healthy during this period.


In response to the COVID-19 crisis, workers around the world are leaving their office chairs and desks for couches and kitchen tables. As HR professionals work to keep employees healthy and productive while they're at home, back and neck pain from these ad-hoc arrangements will quickly become another challenge to tackle.

Back pain is extremely common — 80% of us will experience it in our lifetimes. Even under normal circumstances, research has found that back pain in the workplace can make it more difficult to focus and make decisions. And stress and anxiety can make the experience of pain even worse.

“Problems come up when you’re sitting in one position for too long slouched down, or with your back rounded forward,” says Jim White, exercise specialist at Fern Health, a company that provides digital musculoskeletal pain programs to employers. “This can overstretch the ligaments in your spine and put strain on your spinal discs, which protect your vertebrae from rubbing together.”

HR managers can help support employees working remotely by recommending how any workspace can be made safe and comfortable. White suggests the below tips, whether employees are working from their own home office or are making calls from the couch.

Check your posture. Posture alignment makes a big difference, White says. A daily posture checklist should include:

  • Align elbows and wrists. When sitting and typing, elbows should be at ninety degrees and aligned with the wrists. Shoulders should be relaxed and level.
  • Straighten up. There should be a straight line from the top of your head to your back. Don’t let the pelvis rotate forward – this creates a curve in your lower back that contributes to pain.
  • Check your chair. If you’re sitting in a chair that isn’t designed for an eight-hour workday, try placing a rolled-up towel behind your lower back. Living room couch your best option? Arrange pillows so your lower back is supported, and try not to sink in and slouch if your couch is particularly soft.
  • Keep the top of your computer screen at eye level. Positioning your computer too high or too low can contribute to neck and shoulder pain. If you’re sitting on the couch, put a pillow on your lap to raise the screen and protect your legs from your device’s heat.

Get a change of scenery (without leaving the house). Create your own “standing desk” by sending a few morning emails from the kitchen counter or a high dresser. And throughout the day, listen to your body. If your lower back feels stiff when you stand up, or if your feet or legs “fall asleep” while you’re sitting, these are signs that you’ve been in the same position for too long.

Continue to exercise. Without commuting or having access to the gym, it can be difficult to keep activity levels up – but it’s critical. Exercise increases blood flow to the muscles and is one of the best ways to combat pain, says White. Aerobic exercise can also help tackle anxiety, which makes pain worse.

Try simple stretches throughout the day. One perk from working from home is that employees most likely have more privacy and can take a quick break for a big stretch or even a few yoga poses. Try two or three of your favorite stretches from below and try to stretch every hour or so, White recommends. Just note that they may not be safe or tolerable for everyone.

  • Pec stretch: Stand in a doorway and place your forearms on each side of the doorframe. Push your chest forward slightly so you feel a stretch in your chest and between your shoulder blades. Hold for as long as is comfortable, up to 10 seconds. Repeat as tolerated, up to three times.
  • Child’s pose stretch: Start on a mat or towel on the floor on all fours. With your big toes touching, spread your knees apart and sit back onto your feet as best you can. Hinge at the waist and extend your arms in front of you or next to you. If you can, touch your forehead to the floor. Hold for up to 15 seconds.
  • Chair rotation: Sit sideways in a chair. Keeping your legs still, rotate your torso to the right and reach for the back of your chair with your hands. Hold your upper body there and hold for up to 10 seconds. Repeat on the other side, up to three times.

A comfortable workspace is critical to a productive day, especially in places that aren’t designed for the nine-to-five. During this chaotic time, HR leaders can provide guidance on creating a space that supports back and neck health, and helps employees avoid the added stress and distraction of being in pain.

SOURCE: Ryerson, N. (23 March 2020) "How HR leaders can make remote work pain free" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/opinion/how-hr-leaders-can-make-remote-work-pain-free


Mental Well-Being During a Quarantine

Maintaining Mental Well-Being During a Quarantine

In response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization have recommended that individuals who may have been exposed to the disease self-quarantine at home for 14 days. In addition, public health officials are recommending that healthy individuals practice social distancing, staying at home to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Following the advice of public health officials can help stop the spread of COVID-19, but if you don’t take proper precautions, your mental well-being could suffer while you’re quarantining.

If you’re self-quarantining or practicing social distancing, keep the following tips in mind to maintain your mental well-being.

Maintain a Routine

One of the best things that you can do to preserve your mental well-being is to stick to a routine. For example, if you’re used to going to the gym before work, try to wake up early and get an at-home workout in before you go to work or start your workday from home. Maintaining as much normalcy as possible with your daily routine can help keep your mood as lifted as possible, and prevent boredom and distress from taking over.

If you have children that will be at home now, it’s also important to create a routine for them. Whether they are practicing virtual learning with their schools or if they will just be home, you should implement a structured schedule for them so they know what your expectations are. Try to limit as much screen time as possible and incorporate learning activities throughout the day.

Get a Good Night’s Sleep

This suggestion goes hand-in-hand with sticking to a routine. While you’re at home, it can be easy to go to bed or sleep in later than you typically would. Breaking your normal sleep routine can have negative effects on your overall mental well-being, so you should try to stick to your typical schedule as much as possible.

Spend Time Outside

Unless health officials give you explicit instructions to stay in your home no matter what, try to get outside periodically throughout the day. This could involve going out in your backyard or taking a walk around the block, but shouldn’t include going to a park or other areas where large groups of people may be.

Being outside also helps to promote higher vitamin D levels, a vitamin the body makes when skin is directly exposed to the sun. Many people are deficient in vitamin D, so exercising outside can be a great way to correct that.

Leverage the Power of Technology

When in quarantine or self-isolation, it can be easy to feel lonely. Fortunately, advancements in technology have made it easy to connect with others without having to physically be in contact with them. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recommends reaching out to loved ones with technology to reduce feelings of loneliness and anxiety, and to supplement your social life while you’re quarantining or social distancing. If you’re feeling down, use video calling technology or social media to get in touch with friends and family.

Don’t Obsess Over the News

It can be easy to become overwhelmed by watching the news and reviewing the updates of the COVID-19 situation. While it’s important to be informed of the situation, you should not obsess over the news. For example, instead of monitoring the news all day from home, consider checking for updates once in the morning and once at night.

Practice Positivity and Gratitude

Taking five minutes a day to write down the things that you are grateful for has been proven to lower stress levels and can help you change your mindset from negative to positive. While you’re quarantining or social distancing, it’s important to build time into your routine to practice positivity or express gratitude to change your mindset on your situation and boost your mood.

Summary

Your mental well-being plays a huge role in your overall health and well-being, and it should be prioritized. These six suggestions may help you maintain your mental well-being during a quarantine, but shouldn’t be considered as medical advice.

If you have concerns about your mental well-being while you’re in quarantine, please contact your mental health professional or use SAMHSA’s National Helpline by calling 800-662-HELP (4357).


Viewpoint: What’s Your Company’s Emergency Remote-Work Plan?

While coronavirus (COVID-19) is disrupting the workplaces of many in various countries, it is imperative that the United States takes as many precautions as possible. Many workplaces have emergency plans into fruition for storms and unforeseen weather, but are there plans in place for a virus that is spreading quickly? Read this blog post to learn more.


This coronavirus (or COVID-19) has taken a more serious turn in the U.S. with warnings that it could very well impact how, when and where we work:

"Disruption to everyday life may be severe," Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, cautioned at a news conference. "Schools could be closed, mass public gatherings suspended, and businesses forced to have employees work remotely."

The global spread of the virus may be a moment that reveals whether employers are ready to respond rapidly to unexpected workplace changes. Business travel could decrease or come to a full stop. More employees may need to work outside of local "business hours" and use video conferencing to operate across time zones. And, if it gets bad enough, many could indeed be asked, or request, to work remotely.

Are organizations ready? Chances are probably not. But even for those open to rethinking how the work would get done, are they ready for the inevitable post-crisis question: "Why don't we do this all the time?"

How do you prepare your organization to not only flexibly respond to this potential disruption, but also to use it as an opportunity to reimagine work broadly? Here are five steps to get started:

Acknowledge the possibility that all or part of your workforce may need to work remotely.

Hoping and praying it doesn't happen, or simply ignoring it, is not a strategy. Neither is handing everyone a laptop and saying "Go work someplace else" on the day they expand wide-scale quarantines. Plan as if the only way to remain operational will be for as many employees as possible to work remotely. Gather a cross-functional team together now that includes business-line leaders, IT, HR, communications and facilities to start to plan for different scenarios and optimize execution, should circumstances require a rapid response.

Map out jobs and tasks that could be affected.

Note which roles and duties: 1) Can be done, even partially, without a physical presence in the workplace, 2) Cannot be done, even somewhat, outside of the physical office, and 3) Not sure.

Challenge any potentially inaccurate default assumptions about specific jobs you may have thought couldn't be done remotely. And for those in the "not sure" column, be willing to experiment. For example, for years, I've been told, "Administrative assistants can't work flexibly." And, for years, I've worked with teams of administrative assistants to prove that is not true. Yes, certain tasks they complete require physical presence, but those can be planned for. The majority of their tasks can happen effectively outside of the traditional model of work and benefit the business.

Audit available IT hardware and software, and close any gaps in access and adoption.

Assess the comfort level with specific applications, such as video conferencing and other collaboration/communication platforms. Where you find gaps, provide training and opportunities for practice before people need to use them. Real-time mastery is not optimal and is inefficient. Identify devices owned by the organization that people could use and clarify acceptable "bring your own" phone and laptop options. Determine if there are any data-security issues to consider and how best to address them beforehand.

Set up a communications protocol in advance.

This communications plan needs to outline: how to reach everybody (e.g., all contact information in one place, primary communication channels clarified — email, IM, Slack, etc.); how employees are expected to respond to customers; and how and when teams will coordinate and meet.

Identify ways to measure performance that could inform broader change.

After the flexible response period is over, this data will allow you to reflect on what worked, what didn't and why. The data will also prepare you in advance to answer the inevitable question once the crisis has passed, "Why don't we do this all the time?" Depending upon the outcomes, you may decide to continue certain aspects of the flexible response permanently. For example, perhaps you cut business travel by 25% and substitute video conferencing. You determine afterward that about 80% of those meetings were equally as effective virtually. Therefore, a 20% decrease in business travel will continue, but this time as part of the organization's sustainability strategy to cut carbon emissions.

Global health emergencies, like COVID-19, are scary, disruptive and confusing for everyone. And if you plan and nothing happens? Then, at minimum, you have an organized, flexible work disaster response ready the next time there's a challenge to operational continuity, which chances are, there will be.

SOURCE: Williams Yost, C. (10 March 2020) "Viewpoint: What’s Your Company’s Emergency Remote-Work Plan?" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/employee-relations/pages/viewpoint-whats-your-companys-emergency-remote-work-plan.aspx


Coronavirus pandemic puts the spotlight on mental health resources

Mental health is a sensitive topic for those who are affected by it, but as businesses begin to close due to COVID-19, certain behaviors and uncertainty has led to an increased amount of anxiety. During this time, mental health is being challenged with balancing the stress of the COVID-19 outbreak and daily lives. Read this blog post to learn more.


Managing mental health in and outside of the office is a challenge for more than half of Americans, but the added stressors of coronavirus are pushing many people to reach out for help.

As attempts are made to quell the spread of COVID-19, companies have mandated employees work remotely and have cancelled conferences, gatherings and other non-essential travel. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended implementing “social distancing,” which involves minimizing exposure by avoiding large crowds, working remotely if possible, and practicing personal hygiene like washing your hands frequently.

“Obviously it’s a stressful time, and we’re seeing significant increases in sessions for therapy and psychiatry,” says Russ Glass, CEO of Ginger, a virtual mental health support platform. “The disruption in behavior and the uncertainty has led to a lot of anxiety.”

The increasing severity of the pandemic has many people on edge. The World Health Organization released guidance for dealing with stress and anxiety associated with coronavirus. Among their recommendations: avoid watching the news and implement plans to feel prepared and safe.

“Avoid watching, reading or listening to news that can cause you to feel anxious or distressed — the sudden and near-constant stream of news reports about an outbreak can cause anyone to feel worried,” the WHO guidelines say.

But for those with mental health issues, balancing the demands of work with this new reality can add additional stress and make work challenging.

“When people are experiencing fear, they try to exert control in whatever situation they can, but the results are often destructive,” says Ken Zuckerberg, vice president of training at ComPsych, a global EAP provider. “Employees are not performing their best if they’re dealing with feelings of isolation, or fears of being quarantined.”

Eighteen percent of Americans struggle with mental illness, and 61% of employees report their mental health affects their work, according to the CDC. Even in times when external stressors are not as prevalent, these issues lead to productivity loss and absenteeism in the workplace.

“People at work who are dealing with behavioral health issues self-report 20% or greater productivity loss and also develop other chronic health conditions,” Glass says. “Employees are coming to their employer and saying, ‘I need help but our current insurance plan or current EAPs aren't providing the right level of access. I can't get care.’”

Now more than ever, employers need to provide resources that address these mental health issues, Glass says.

“Companies have to be thinking about both physical and mental health and recognize that this is a very stressful time for their employees,” says Glass, whose mental health platform, Ginger, connects users with behavioral health coaches for chat and video-based sessions. Users can seek help from therapists and psychiatrists through the platform. Glass says they’ve reported an 16% increase in session volume and a 10% increase in their daily users in the past two weeks.

For those struggling with anxiety or feelings of isolation because of coronavirus, WHO recommends people maintain their daily routines and reach out for support and connection.

“Even in situations of isolation, try as much as possible to keep your personal daily routines. Stay connected via email, social media, video conference and telephone,” the guidelines say.

Ensuring the mental well-being of all employees, especially in high-stress times, involves providing communication and access to help, Glass says.

“Putting resources in place or communicating the resources you already have in place can be helpful to your employees,” Glass says. “If you're feeling anxious, it’s a good time to reach out to family members or friends or your behavioral health coach and talk through it. Have some outlets to discuss this in a way that's not just social media.”

SOURCE: Place, A. (13 March 2020) "Coronavirus pandemic puts the spotlight on mental health resources" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/news/coronavirus-pandemic-puts-the-spotlight-on-mental-health-resources


5 ways hiring will feel more, not less, human in 2030

The interviewing process, the hiring process, and the process regarding paperwork are becoming easier with the help of technology. Although technology is creating a more efficient way to complete these processes, it may create a dehumanizing feeling. Read this blog post to learn more about keeping the human touch in the hiring process.


While 2030 may feel like something out of science fiction, recruiting will likely look more human than android. Trends such as using artificial intelligence and cloud technology to curate candidate analytics are on the horizon, experts said. But any new technological trend must be paired with a focus on onboarding, upskilling and reskilling current employees to compliment new talent that all require a human touch.

1. Talent acquisition agendas go strategic

EY Partner and the Americas Leader for People Advisory Services Kim Billeter told HR Dive that HR transformation and technology will be the cornerstone of any organizational transformation.

“HR is going to play a far more important role going forward in the overall visualization and disruption of an organization,” Billeter said.

A recruiter’s job — bringing new talent, and retaining and upscaling that talent — will drive the success of business transformation as a whole, not just the HR function, she said. Billeter helps clients understand how digital transformation includes both digital aspects and embracing human beings. A successful transformation will require hiring talent with hybrid skills, or hard and soft skills. In the coming years, Billeter said companies will use both internal and external recruiters in finding talent for specialty areas.

Recruitment will be “done largely by the internal teams and organizations,” but organizations will also incorporate external niche recruiters to find candidates with very specific skills, she said. For example, a company may have a D&I; executive-level position in the slate. To find the right candidate, they may use a specialty recruiting team to really focus on all aspects of the hiring agenda, Billeter explained.

Sourcing upfront to get niche or digital skills will become essential for recruiters. However, a lot of organizations are realizing that hiring talent with advanced or emerging digital skills can be costly, and they can’t hire them fast enough, Billeter said.

“So, we’re seeing more focus on upscaling and rescaling [existing employees] perhaps than just the puristic talent recruiting,” she said. That’s the “real value for organizations,” she added.

2. Curating candidate analytics happens in the cloud

There will be a focus on not only measuring a candidate’s technical skills but a candidate’s ability to align with a company’s culture, Billeter said.

“Quality-level metrics are a little harder to try to define as it relates to recruiting,” she said. But, “we’re seeing clients wanting to get to those candidate pools in a far more qualified way.”

That can be challenging, though.

“If a company’s strategy is in innovation, how can you measure if the candidate brings innovation?” Billeter said. “That’s where a lot of the next level thinking is coming. Curating a lot of that analytical data as it comes to really qualified candidates, and moving them in a very different way than we’ve done before.”

She said the companies that have been the most successful in implementing technology have done the hard work to “both standardize [and] understand the nuances of the processes.” But there aren’t a lot of organizations that know how to effectively utilize talent acquisition solutions or cloud HCM solutions, which provide methods intended to improve operations and cut expenses, Billeter said. Companies such as ADP are working to create a user-friendly workforce analytics platform intelligence to drill into a candidate’s potential.

One feature of ADP’s DataCloud platform is intelligent recruiting, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

“Organizations say they have a hard time sifting through resumes for candidate relevancy,” Imran Ahmed, director of product marketing at ADP DataCloud, told HR Dive.

The new Storyboard feature uses a combination of machine learning and predictive analytics, along with advice based on ADP’s experience in human resources, Ahmed said, comparing it to Google Analytics.

“Storyboard is the exact same scenario where we’re pushing [insight] to the front of the organization,” he said. “We pull all of this information from various sources of data that we put out, and we actually serve up these recommendations to provide guidance.”

The tool can provide a narrative about human resources business challenges, such as the aging workforce, he said. For example, he said you could find out which positions are retirement eligible and what impact the positions have on the organization — low, medium or high.

Companies can also mimic the profiles of talented past employees to curate desired qualifications for a position, he said. “You can drill down so deep in this information to actually find look-alike employees,” Ahmed said.

In regard to choosing and implementing cloud solutions, Billeter said it’s essential to first solidify the goal of an organization’s transformation. It’s also important to keep in mind that it’s a “business-led transformation not an HR function transformation,” she added.

3. An entry-level hire will be the company’s future CEO

Organizations will still put a big emphasis on hiring for a diversity of ideas, which enhances a company’s culture and leads to profitability, according to Terrance S. Lockett, senior diversity program manager of Campus Advisory at Oracle.

“That’s why it’s critical that we get this diverse talent,” Lockett told HR Dive. But, in his opinion, a trend will be more of a focus on inclusion and equity, and “less about the word of diversity, per se.”

Recruiting diverse populations at the collegiate level will remain important as companies move those candidates up the talent pipeline into leadership roles, instead of looking outside of the organization for top executive talent, he added.

Organizations are focusing on the C-suite and “shaking up the board, shaking up the chart.”

“So it’s going to start from campus to recruiting,” Lockett said. “It’s key now that we get those people with potential because that’s going lead to the next wave of focusing on more internal growth of diversity.” According to the results of a survey by Zapier released on Jan. 27, 2020, millennials and Gen Zers want to stay a job for a significant amount of time, defying myths that younger generations tend to be job-hoppers and thus not worth the investment.

In searching for diverse talent, Lockett said Oracle, a multinational computer technology corporation, has partnered with Historically Black Colleges and Universities to find science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) talent, but the company is also focusing on what he referred to as high diversity institutions (HDIs). For example, an HDI could be a college or university in which the engineering program has a high concentration of women students.

Lockett said that at Arizona State University, 40% or more of their engineering students are women.

4. Adjusting to communication styles becomes the norm

Billeter said a focus on enhancing communication styles for recruiters will grow in importance.

“If someone is very analytical, you’re communicating with them much differently than someone who’s on the more emotional side or more communicative,” she explained. “You’ll have to understand how to engage with them to get a more productive conversation.”

Even if a candidate is more analytical and prefers technology to be present in the interviewing process, like the 24/7 ability to ask questions online through chatbots, there still needs to be personal, one-on-one communication, Billeter said.

“It can’t just be only technology-based,” she said. “The human side of this is going to win the day.”

In addition to online conversations or phone calls, Billeter recommended that if a candidate is based in a location outside an organization’s headquarters, a company representative in that location could meet with them. She also said having “a quality candidate pool based on analytics and curating all of the different experience data” will enhance the delivery model, resulting in moving the process forward more quickly.

5. Candidate, employee and customer messaging merge

This year employers will begin to connect the candidate, employee and customer through one, insync company experience. “We’re seeing the employee and the candidate experience needs to meld into the customer experience because often times employees and or candidates are going to become customers,” Billeter said. “You have to be attracting the talent that’s going to drive your overall business strategy, but most importantly your customer strategy.”

She said chief human resources officers will focus on experience strategy first — one that involves both heightened tech and the human touch.

“The medium with which we meet people is going to be a combination of human as well as technology as well as ... living, feeling and seeing the culture of an organization — all of those things have to come together for it to be a good experience,” Billeter said.

No matter what year it is, candidates consider the quality of the recruitment process and their impressions of the recruiters, according to December 2019 survey results from career site Zety.

“If you can’t get the experience part of this equation right, you are probably going to be an unfortunate loser in the talent game,” Billeter said.

SOURCE: Estrada, S. (09 March 2020) "5 ways hiring will feel more, not less, human in 2030" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.hrdive.com/news/5-ways-hiring-will-feel-more-not-less-human-in-2030/573153/


Tips for Making Your Workplace More Sustainable

Companies are continuously looking into ways to become a more sustainable workplace, which includes buying in bulk, reducing paper, and recycling. Read this blog post to learn helpful tips for becoming more eco-friendly in the workplace.


Employees at CareerPlug, a software company in Austin, Texas, loved their Keurig coffee. In fact, the 60 employees used around 300 of the brand's disposable K-Cups each month.

However, one employee on the company's sustainability committee was bothered by the amount of waste this practice was generating. Instead of trying to eliminate the coffee system, however, she proposed a solution: The company could save money and help the environment by investing in reusable K-Cups.

CareerPlug implemented her idea and, according to Natalie Morgan, director of HR, the company has reduced its monthly coffee budget from $126 to $42.

"Not only did we eliminate 300 K-Cups per month," she said, "we reduced costs by 67 percent."

At a time when climate change is dominating headlines, companies around the world are evaluating how they can put more sustainable practices into place.

"As hubs in our communities, workplaces represent a large footprint to create an impact within our broader society," said Anne Robinson, chief talent officer at VillageMD, a professional medical practice in Chicago. "Driving action against eliminating waste and reducing our carbon footprint are such critical elements to ensuring generations to come are able to enjoy and benefit from the environment that we know today."

To help make your office more environmentally friendly and do your part to protect the planet, here are some easy habits to put into practice.

Recycle, Reuse Paper or Go Paperless

Think about all the times you use paper in the office. You likely print out employee onboarding and performance review forms, the employee handbook, notes for distribution at meetings and notices to hang around the office. Recycle or try reusing paper, suggests Angelique J. Hamilton, founder of the HR Chique Group consulting firm in Jacksonville, Fla.

Also have employees view documents with their teams on shared drives instead of distributing paper copies. "Not everything needs printing out, especially not the documents handed out during meetings, which are glanced at for five minutes," said Nate Masterson, HR manager for Maple Holistics in Farmingdale, N.J. "Use online document-sharing platforms to collaborate and share work in the office."

Digital tools such as Google Drive, Slack, Dropbox, Basecamp and Asana can help employees make the leap from paper-based to digital communication.

Develop a Remote-Work Program

Most Americans—76.5 percent, to be precise—take a car to work every day, according to research by the World Wildlife Fund. Transportation is the second largest contributor to carbon emissions, behind the electricity sector.

One way to cut back on those commuting emissions is to allow employees to work from home at least some of the time, said Tony Bergida, HR director at Frosty Tech, an engineering firm in Overland Park, Kan. "Allow employees to work from home a couple of days a week, which, in addition to reducing the impact of commuting, [also] cuts down on in-office snack packaging, electricity use, trash creation and more."

Consider the Landscaping

When thinking about workplace sustainability, don't forget about your outdoor areas. Hamilton recommends xeriscaping—the practice of using plants that require less water and arranging them in ways that they need less water to thrive.

Many communities, especially those in areas plagued with water shortages, are rewarding companies that decrease water usage in this way through rebate and tax relief programs, such as those offered by the Los Angeles County Waterworks Districts.

Cut Back on Water Bottles

Many cities are now charging retailers that give customers plastic bags, and restaurants are being encouraged to seek alternatives to plastic straws and utensils. But many companies are still providing single-use plastic water bottles to employees.

A more environmentally friendly approach is to buy or rent a water dispenser for the office.

Buy Snacks in Bulk

Providing snacks to employees is a great perk. However, if you want to reduce plastic use and waste, buy in bulk instead.

Morgan said the CareerPlug team "evaluated how we were ordering breakroom snacks and realized we were buying a lot of individually packaged items. We purchased some reusable containers instead and now buy most of our snack items in bulk."

Seek Buy-in

When implementing waste-reduction initiatives, said Robinson at VillageMD, organizational leaders should model the change they want to see. They should publicly invest in and support programs that make a difference, which demonstrates to employees the behaviors they should emulate.

Robinson said her company involved employees from the beginning by creating a task force to plan and implement sustainability goals. "Employees are passionate about this, and they're wanting to do this."

You'll also need to educate employees on waste reduction to ensure they know why changes are taking place. Robinson is creating communication that explains the company's plan for putting different types of trash and recycling bins around the office, what employees can dispose of in each, and how to properly operate new composting equipment.

Becoming a more eco-friendly workplace will not only show employees and job candidates that the company is Earth-friendly but also that it cares about offering a healthy work environment.

"Workplaces are ultimately part of a larger community, and caring about your environmental impact is both healthy for your external reputation and your corporate connection to the individuals in your workplace," Morgan said. "It's also, plainly, the right thing to do to be engaged in this global conversation and take a stance for positive impact."

SOURCE: Lobell, K Ora. (26 February 2020) "Tips for Making Your Workplace More Sustainable" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/ResourcesAndTools/hr-topics/employee-relations/Pages/Tips-for-Making-Your-Workplace-More-Sustainable.aspx


Industrywide Initiative Brings Blockchain to HR

Although many HR professionals would think of a blockchain as an obscure element of technology with very little practical application in their jobs, it can protect those who are involved in exchanging data in digital environments. Read this blog post to learn more.


To many human resource professionals, blockchain may sound like an esoteric technology with little practical application in their jobs. But an ambitious initiative called the Velocity Network Foundation (VNF) shows how blockchain has near-term benefits for both recruiters and job seekers. Experts say the project is one of a growing number of uses for blockchain—in talent acquisition, payroll and data security.

Blockchain technology allows two or more people, businesses or computers that may or may not know each other to safely exchange data in digital environments without having an intermediary validate the transaction.

The VNF is a nonprofit consortium of 15 companies in HR technology and education industries. It was formed to reinvent how the career records of job seekers and students are shared in the global labor market. A blockchain-powered platform streamlines the way work history, professional achievements, skills, talent assessments and educational certifications are verified, stored and shared.

Founding members of the VNF are Aon's Assessment Solutions, Cisive, Cornerstone OnDemand, HireRight, Korn Ferry, National Student Clearinghouse, Randstad, SAP, SumTotal Systems, SHL, Ultimate Software, Unit4, Upwork, Velocity Career Labs and ZipRecruiter.

Benefits for Job Seekers, Recruiters

On the VNF platform, job seekers create and own a verifiable digital record of their career credentials and can share it with others. According to a 2019 global study from Accenture, more than 70 percent of 10,000 surveyed employees said they want to own their work-related data and take it with them when they leave their jobs—and nearly half (48 percent) of C-level executives were open to allowing them to do so.

Experts say portable work records help recruiting teams. Recruiters get easier access to an all-in-one digital collection of employment history and can evaluate candidates more quickly.

Yvette Cameron is co-founder and executive vice president of Velocity Career Labs, a developer of blockchain technology that helped establish the VNF. Cameron said the foundation is initially focused on building a platform that serves as a "public utility layer." The project's second phase will enable network members to build and integrate applications that facilitate the exchange of credentials between job seekers or students and employers and educational institutions. Being open and transparent about the process is key to the foundation's success, she said.

"We wanted to include members from across the industry to solve the challenge of how career records are shared in the labor market because we believed no single vendor or organization could address it," Cameron said. "Taking an industrywide approach means the VNF will be owned by nobody and governed by everybody."

Debasis Dutta, vice president and general manager of product management for vendor SumTotal Systems in Gainesville, Fla., said the network will benefit job seekers and recruiters alike. In a labor market where verifiable skills are increasingly in demand and the relevance of college degrees is shrinking, Dutta said employers need quick, secure access to a job-seeker's skills.

"We're leveraging blockchain to address the problem of job candidates or employees owning their own verifiable career credentials and making the process of checking employment history and skills more efficient for recruiters," Dutta said.

Cameron said blockchain means job candidates no longer have to be at the mercy of their employers' systems to get quick access to information about their work histories. "The goal is to put people back in control of their digital professional credentials in a trusted and verifiable way and fix the underlying data exchange problem we have in the labor market," she said.

Apratim Purakayastha, chief technology officer with the Skillsoft group (which owns SumTotal Systems), said blockchain-inspired approaches like the VNF also can help when creating internal project teams. "Organizations that are constantly bidding for projects often have to assemble project teams with the right skills, and prospective clients want to see proof of those skills," he said. "If verified career credentials can be quickly shared with clients through blockchain, it improves the chance of success in those projects."

Blockchain Gains Traction in HR

HR's use of blockchain is growing incrementally. Research and advisory firm Gartner found that 12 percent of 500 surveyed HR and technology leaders are using blockchain-based solutions in their HR function today and another 23 percent are experimenting with the technology in their area of responsibility. Of the latter group, half are running blockchain-inspired pilot projects in their HR function, the study found.

Matthias Graf, a senior director analyst in Gartner's HR practice, said the top three HR process areas where study respondents reported using or piloting blockchain are in HR analytics and reporting, policies and governance, and workforce planning. But Graf also noted an important distinction between "adoption" and "maturity levels" of the technology within human resources.

"If you take a closer look at where blockchain solutions are most advanced in HR, the picture differs," he said. "The most mature applications can be found in the areas of compensation and benefits, recruiting and employee relations, and labor law."

An example is paying gig workers. Blockchain solutions can facilitate real-time payments, the Gartner study found, bypassing intermediaries like payroll aggregators or banks. Blockchain can make it easier to employ and pay workers in far-flung locations around the globe where the payment infrastructure may be limited, as well as make it more efficient to verify the identity and experience of such workers.

Chris Havrilla, vice president of HR technology and solution provider research for Bersin, Deloitte Consulting in Atlanta, said using blockchain for instant pay can expand access to gig talent and make contract jobs more attractive to top candidates.

Blockchain and Data Privacy Regulations

Companies considering using blockchain often wonder how it aligns with data privacy regulations like the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Gartner's study found 40 percent of respondents cited "data security and privacy concerns" as their top worry about using blockchain, followed by 31 percent who cited "integrating blockchain technology with existing technology architectures."

Cameron said no proprietary data or personally identifiable information from users will be stored on the VNF blockchain platform. "Depending on the approach that's taken with blockchain, you can be 100 percent compliant with GDPR," she said. "In our approach, career credentials are owned by the individual and stored privately in a trusted way on their own devices. You decide as a job candidate or student who gets access to those credentials, when and for how long."

SOURCE: Zielinski, D. (27 February 2020) "Industrywide Initiative Brings Blockchain to HR" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/ResourcesAndTools/hr-topics/technology/Pages/Industrywide-Initiative-Brings-Blockchain-HR.aspx


How to Evaluate Hiring Assessments

HR professionals and managers need reliable ways to gather and evaluate various assessments. Read this blog post to learn more about how to evaluate assessments.


When faced with a hiring decision, HR professionals and managers have to consider everything they know about the applicants. But that might not be enough information to make a choice. To get more information and add objectivity to the decision-making process, many organizations use assessments.

"When these tools are used correctly, they're tremendously valuable," said Eric Sydell, Ph.D., an industrial-organizational psychologist and the chief innovation officer at Modern Hire, a hiring platform. "There's a level of objective assessment about a person that can be very predictive."

HR professionals and hiring managers don't have the ability to make accurate predictions in the same way assessments can. "Our brains don't work that way," he said.

But buyer beware, Sydell warned, "There are a lot of tools out there that sound great on the surface" but fail to deliver valid and reliable results.

Multiple Options Present Tough Choices

Ryne Sherman, chief science officer at Hogan Assessment Systems in Tulsa, Okla., said he suspects that most large corporations are probably using reliable and valid assessments, while smaller businesses may not be. Unfortunately, he said, "With this industry, there is no regulating body at all—literally anybody can make an assessment tool and start selling it with no background and no science put into it whatsoever."

Perhaps because of the open nature of the field, there are a lot of tools to choose from and many of them are complex, making the selection of one of them a potentially confusing—and even risky—decision to make.

Must-Haves for Effective Assessment Tools

Ryan Lahti, Ph.D., is an industrial-organizational psychologist and the founder and managing principal of OrgLeader, a management consultancy in Newport Beach, Calif. He uses a variety of assessment tools in his work. There are many factors to be considered when evaluating an assessment tool, he said, but the three key ones are validity, reliability and the population that was used to develop it.

Validity deals with how accurately the tool measures the concepts it claims to measure. Lahti pointed to three forms of validity:

  • Content validity indicates how well the tool measures a representative sample of the subject of interest. At a minimum, he said, you want a tool that has content validity.
  • Criterion validity indicates how well the tool correlates with an established measure or outcome—for example, correlation to strong performance ratings.
  • Construct validity indicates how well the tool measures a concept or trait—for example, conscientiousness.

Reliability is a measure of how consistently the tool measures issues of interest. If you were to give the same assessment to the same candidate more than once, how similar would the results be?

Finally, the population used to develop the tool is an important consideration and should be the same as the population being assessed. "For example, you would not want a tool developed on an adolescent population to be used to assess working adults," Lahti said.

Sherman offered the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) test as an example. The popular assessment tool used by organizations to screen candidates was designed for diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions, he said. That can be a risky tool to use for assessing the potential of job applicants.

What to Watch Out For

As HR leaders consider various assessment options, they need to thoroughly evaluate whether the assessments they're considering incorporate the must-haves. Look out for companies that don't publish information on validity, reliability and the population used to develop the assessment.

Some companies, Lahti said, will say that their tools are used by a lot of Fortune 500 companies.

"While this argument shows they have good sales and marketing departments, it does not prove the companies have sound assessment tools," he said.

Sy Islam, Ph.D., an associate professor at the State University of New York at Farmingdale and a vice president at Talent Metrics consulting firm in Melville, N.Y., said employers should ask test companies to show their worth. "Vendors should be able to provide you with a validity coefficient, which is a statistic—a correlation coefficient—that indicates how much predictive validity the assessment has," he said. He warned against accepting "black box" explanations like "the tool is proprietary and cannot be explained." The ability to support your assessment could become an issue if your company becomes involved in a lawsuit, he said.

"What you don't want to do is rely on high-level summary statements, marketing statements or hype that is generated by these companies," Sydell said. "There are a lot of different buzzwords and catchphrases that vendors will throw out there. It's really important to look beyond that and dig below the surface." And, while he says you don't need a Ph.D. to do that, it is a good idea to seek help from someone who is familiar with these types of assessments and can help evaluate their efficacy.

"I would strongly advise finding a local industrial and organizational psychologist who can evaluate different vendors and talk to you about best practices," Sherman said. The proper assessment and selection of candidates is just too important, and potentially risky, to cut corners.

SOURCE: Grensing-Pophal, L. (27 February 2020) "How to Evaluate Hiring Assessments" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/talent-acquisition/pages/how-to-evaluate-hiring-assessments.aspx


Older workers are staying in the job market. Here’s why

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the amount of employees over the age of 65 has risen by 697,000. With over two million jobs being created over the past 12 months with the help of the economy, the older generations are still wanting to be employed. Read this blog post to learn more as to why.


Older workers are sticking around the job market. This is why
The number of workers aged 65 and above increased by 697,000 as the economy created more than 2 million new jobs over the past 12 months, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in this CNBC article. The spike in the number of older workers represents about 36% of the overall increase, reflecting a trend over the past 10 years. “The norms about working at older ages have changed quite a bit, and I think in a way that really is to the advantage of older workers who want to keep working,” says an expert.

What ‘Rothifying’ 401(k)s would mean for retirees
Clients will not benefit from a switch to a retirement system where contributions would be made on an after-tax basis even if it could result in bigger tax revenue in the near term, experts write in The Wall Street Journal. "Over their lifetimes, workers would accumulate one-third less in their 401(k)s under a Roth system. This is because, with no tax advantage from contributing to a 401(k), workers would save less and those lower contributions would earn less over the years," they write. Moreover, "lifetime tax revenue generated by the average worker under a Roth regime would fall 6% to 10%, compared with the current regime."

Stop 'dollar-cost ravaging' your clients’ portfolio in retirement
Retirees who stick to a 4% withdrawal rule during a market downturn are putting their financial security at risk, as their portfolio would not recover even if the market eventually improves, writes an expert in Kiplinger. Instead, seniors should focus on how much income they can generate from their portfolio, he writes. "[I]t means choosing investments — high dividend-paying stocks, fixed income instruments, annuities, etc. — that will produce the dollar amount you need ($2,000, $3,000, $5,000 or more) month after month and year after year."

Will clients owe state taxes on their Social Security?
Retirees may face federal taxation on a portion of their Social Security benefits — but they could avoid the tax bite at the state level, as 37 states impose no taxes on them, writes a Forbes contributor. "While probably not a big enough issue to warrant moving in retirement, it is something to consider when choosing where you want to spend your retirement," writes the expert. "At the very least, you need to know about Social Security taxation when figuring out how much additional income you will need to have in order to maintain your standard of living during retirement."

8 ways clients can start saving for college now
There are a few savings vehicles that clients can use to prepare for college expenses, but they need to consider the pros and cons, according to this article in Bankrate. For example, clients who save in a 529 savings plan can get tax benefits — such as tax deferral on investment gains and tax-free withdrawal for qualified expenses — but will face penalties for unqualified withdrawals aside from taxes. Parents may also use a Roth IRA to save for their child's college expenses, but these accounts are subject to contribution limits and future distributions will be treated as an income, which can reduce their child's eligibility for scholarships or assistance.

SOURCE: Peralta, P. (18 February 2020) "Older workers are staying in the job market. Here’s why" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/news/why-older-workers-are-staying-in-the-job-market


Viewpoint: Your First 90 Days as a New Manager

Did you know: the average turnover rate, from the Vice President Level, has decreased from 3.3 to 2.2 years. With this being said, it's important that when coming in as a new manager that the first few words said will impact the image given to colleagues. Read this blog post from SHRM to learn helpful tips on how to make being the new manager a little less difficult.


"The president of the United States gets 100 days to prove himself. You get 90."

That's how author Michael D. Watkins opens his seminal book on leadership transitions, The First 90 Days. The three-month period, as he explains, is a quarter, the time frame used by companies to track performance, and it is long enough to offer meaningful indicators of how a new manager is doing. Research shows that success or failure within the first few months of a new management role is often an accurate predictor of ultimate success, he adds.

"When leaders derail, their failures can almost always be traced to vicious cycles that developed in the first few months on the job," Watkins writes.

These vicious cycles frequently begin in a few similar ways, says leadership expert George Bradt, co-author (with Jayme Check and John Lawler) of The New Leader's 100-Day Action Plan. Some new managers do not realize the impact of their early words and actions, and are inadvertently sending colleagues the wrong message. Others focus on a new strategy before earning trust and support from the team. Others expend too much energy on the wrong projects and neglect the priorities of stakeholders, Bradt writes.

Moreover, recent widespread trends in the business world have made the task of mastering the first three months on the job even more important for new managers, Watkins says. Chief among these trends is that management is turning over at a faster and faster rate.

"The pace of transition has gone up pretty dramatically," says Watkins. As evidence, Watkins cites a recent study of Fortune 100 global healthcare companies. Since 2013, average turnover time at the vice president level decreased from 3.2 years to 2.2 years. "There's a premium on getting up to speed faster," he explains.

Watkins's approach is to break down a new manager's first 90 days into 10 separate directives: Prepare Yourself; Accelerate Your Learning; Match Strategy to Situation; Negotiate Success; Secure Early Wins; Achieve Alignment; Build Your Team; Create Alliances; Manage Yourself; and Accelerate Everyone.

Given this, we asked Watkins and Bradt to contextualize their guidance and highlight key best practices for managers. We also asked a few seasoned managers with successful track records in new leadership roles to provide their insight and perspective on what drove their success.

Preparing and Assessing

Preparation for a new managing role is crucial, and the preparation process should begin before the first day on the job. In most cases, it should start before the first job interview, explains Michael Sarni, CPP, recruiting and training officer for the Emergency Management Agency of the City of Lockport (Illinois), and president of Security Consulting Specialists.

In Sarni's view, a manager candidate conducts due diligence research on the company before being interviewed. The information-gathering process continues during the interviews, with the manager candidate asking informed questions about role expectations and the workplace environment. "A good manager…should always be preparing for future outcomes," Sarni says. "This must start before the first day they walk in the door and continue to the last day they leave the office."

Of course, the manager should also take time before the interview to prepare answers to common interview questions. In Bradt's view, all interview questions boil down to one of three basic questions: What are your strengths? Will you be motivated? Are you a fit for the organization? Given this, managers should prepare answers before the interview that convey three fundamental points: My strengths are a match for this job. My motivations are a match for this job. I am a good fit for this organization.

Another key aspect of preparation is learning about and assessing the company's culture. "I think understanding the culture—and adjusting one's approach accordingly to new challenges and opportunities—is ultimately the key to success in the first 90 days," Sarni says.

Sometimes, a manager can do this by using scouts and spies: customers, former or current employees, or anyone who has been involved with the firm and can speak to its culture, Bradt says. Sometimes, these associates can be a good source of information on an organization's unwritten norms, such as the actual hours most work, as opposed to the hours prescribed in the employee handbook; how employees socialize outside the office; how connected and active staff is through email and texting; and more.

Managers can also learn about the firm's culture simply by being hyper-observant every time they visit the office–taking note of people's interactions and demeanor, their dress, the office's physical set-up and structure, noise level, and other signs. "You can learn an awful lot by simply walking into a place," Bradt says.

In general, new managers who fail to understand a company's culture stand a much higher chance of ultimately being rejected by it. But now, Watkins says, with millennials representing the largest generation in the U.S. workforce, a new dynamic has come into play. A millennial employee joining a new company may in fact make the effort to assess the company's culture—but find it lacking. "They're not terribly tolerant, necessarily," Watkins says with a laugh.

This has created a crossroads, he says: "Is it incumbent on them to adapt to the culture? Or will they ultimately be the agents of change of the culture?" At some firms, the current situation is bi-directional adaptation: millennial employees try to fit in with the culture (at least in some ways), but the company also tries to evolve its own culture so that younger employees stay engaged and not leave. "A lot of companies are grappling with that. It's a real generational shift," Watkins says.

Overall, it behooves new managers to be aware of this generational shift and consider how they might contribute to the company's overall goal of ensuring its culture does not drive away promising employees. "Onboarding is the leading edge of engagement, and engagement is a core part of retention," Watkins says.

Owning Day One

Although preparing, learning and assessing are all key steps before the job begins, they alone will not guarantee a successful transition, experts say. The first several days of the new role will bring their own challenges.

Rex Lam, a Hong Kong-based senior consultant with Guardian Forest Security, has successfully transitioned into a few different management positions since he joined the security industry 15 years ago. While he also supports the importance of preparation, he says that well-prepared managers who are excited about their new ideas must avoid coming off as a know-it-all.

"Avoid the impulse to immediately want to make an impact for the good by changing everything. The attitude should be to learn and listen first, and do not let perfection be the enemy of good," Lam says.

Sarni advises extending the learning process that most new managers undergo in the early days, so that it covers more than just the security department. "Taking a methodical approach to learning as much as you can, not only about your own department and how it fits into the organization, but also about all the other departments with which security impacts operations and culture, should be an early objective," he explains.

He also recommends that new managers try to make the effort to learn what's below the surface. "Always dig a little deeper to learn and understand an operation further. The more one is prepared for the unexpected, the easier it is to adapt when the unforeseen challenge presents itself," he adds.

Bradt agrees with the importance of listening and soaking in information as soon as the job begins, but he also said that too many managers show up with a passive, just-do-no-harm attitude. This is inadvisable; all eyes are on a new manager during the first few days and people start forming opinions based on limited contact. "If you show up looking clueless, people are going to assume you're clueless," Bradt says.

Instead, new managers should come in on the first day with ideas of how they want to position themselves strategically, and what message they want to convey. Then they can listen and learn, and also ask directed questions that support this strategy and message.

Bradt offered the following example to illustrate: A new manager, taking over a leadership position, does due diligence and finds that while the firm is in decent financial shape, competitors are nipping at its heels and gaining ground. So on day one, the new manager listens and learns, but also asks many other department heads, "I've looked at what you've done so far, and it's amazing. What do you think you're going to do next to stay ahead of the curve?" That type of directed question reflects an active focus-on-the-future strategy and message, rather than a passive approach, Bradt explains.

Similarly, a new manager for a firm that needs to be more customer-focused can decide to spend some of day one meeting with customers, outside of headquarters. Here, Bradt recommends following the leadership maxim "Be, Do, Say." New leaders will be judged on all three, in that order of influence. What a leader says comes third; what a leader does comes second; who a leader is comes first. So, if a new leader continues to meet with customers through the first 90 days, at some point the leader will "be" a customer-focused leader in the eyes of staff. That will be part of his or her identity.

Early Wins

Early accomplishments, even small ones, are usually a big boost toward ultimate success for new leaders. If someone asks an employee, "How's the new manager?," while it's nice if the employee says he or she is likable, it's even more indicative of future success if the employee can say he or she already accomplished X.

Lam offers the example of taking over a management position for a company that wanted to alter operations so that it could plan more than three years ahead of time, rather than focusing completely on the current workload. For Lam, targeting the underlying systemic issue led to an early win. "The key is to identify the bottleneck and focus on eliminating the root cause," Lam says.

In this case, Lam identified the bottleneck—inefficient processes—that prevented the team from having enough resources and time for advance planning. So, he decided to target inefficiencies. He improved the resource allocation process for the service team; the team's quality of work increased, and costs immediately went down because outside service contractors were no longer needed. The team was also spending too much time filling out detailed reports for small expenses such as subway and bus fares; Lam distributed pre-paid cards, and this tradeoff won back time for staff.

The cost and time savings became quickly apparent, resulting in an early win for the new manager and eventually developed into a significant accomplishment. "I was fortunate to make the correct decisions," Lam says.

And the chances for notching early accomplishments increase if they are based on a broader strategy that is appropriate for the type of mission that is needed. Watkins recommends that new managers use his STARS model to match strategy and situation. Using this model, the new manager must assess the business mission at hand (Start-Up, Turnaround, Accelerated Growth, Realignment, Sustaining Success) before designing an appropriate approach and strategy.

Alignments and Allies

Often, Watkins's directives of Achieve Alignment and Create Alliances are related for new managers in the security field, Sarni says. Since security touches on every facet of a company, alliances between the security manager and managers in other departments are critical. These alliances can be made with the goal of interdepartmental collaboration, for the benefit of all.

"Often, the security function is viewed as a hindrance to operations in other areas of the organization," Sarni says. "But, if the security manager takes the time to learn as much as possible about those operations and proceed from the philosophy of being a partner with those other functions, security can find ways to not only better secure the environment, but also improve upon methodologies others are using."

Toward this aim, the new security manager can begin to educate selected managers from other departments about how security can align with and support that department's goals and objectives. "Building those partnerships and empowering other departments to feel that they have a stake in security's outcomes—and showing how it can benefit them—dramatically improves the chances of success," Sarni explains.

However, Sarni concedes that this is no easy mission. It takes people skills, emotional intelligence and some deft explaining. "These concepts may sound simple enough in theory, but the reality is far more challenging and delicate," Sarni says. "The brute force approach, even with a mandate, rarely yields the best results. Finesse, patience and understanding the nuances of the environment generally yield the most desirable outcomes."

Forming alliances and creating alignments with other departments is especially crucial for new managers charged with overhauling operations. "Through most of my career I have acted as a 'change agent' for the organizations to which I have been hired," Sarni explains. "But even in that environment, where I have had a mandate from senior management, generating buy-in from peers in different areas of the organization has taken creativity, sensitivity, and perseverance."

On a one-on-one level, it's always best for the new manager to create alliances that function as a two-way street. When discussing issues with other managers, two questions are often very helpful, experts say: What is a best practice that will help me in this firm? How can I help you be successful?

Building Your Ever-Changing Team

Team building for new managers takes a certain mind-set, says Lam, and for new managers who previously worked on their own, it requires a mind shift toward the collective.

"When you are one person, you are the star. When you are the manager, you are a star maker," Lam says.

In many cases, one of two situations apply. A new manager will take over an existing team, with the hope that it will stay intact. Or, the new manager is tasked with building his or her own team. In either instance, one principle is equally valid, Bradt says: every team member should be playing to their strengths.

This should be kept in mind by new managers busy with building their own teams and actively hiring. And it should also be remembered by new managers inheriting an intact team. They should still do a "role sort" in the first 90 days, and make sure everyone is in the right job. A good skill set/role match could mean a star in the making, whereas a mismatch can make for all sorts of problems down the road. Bradt says that one of the top regrets cited by leaders is "not moving fast enough on people" (i.e., reassigning staffers to best-fit positions) earlier in their tenure.

Finally, Watkins cites two recent trends that may have a big impact on team leading. One trend is that more teams are becoming virtual, with some members in different time zones and less face-to-face communication. This type of team can still be managed effectively, but it can take additional skills that not all managers have.

The second trend is turnover. The rate of turnover for team members is even outpacing the rate increase for management turnover. This is true in part because younger workers are more likely to leave a job if they are dissatisfied with the company. As a result, many teams are in a state of constant flux.

"What I find now, pretty much consistently, is that virtually all teams are at some point of transition at any given point in time," Watkins says. This can mean an added challenge for the new manager: learning to lead a team consisting of parts that never completely stop moving.

The Future

What will the new managers of the future have to contend with?

In the last decade, culture has become more important to the ultimate success of the company, Bradt says. Fast forward 10 years, and that continues to the point where "culture is the only thing that matters." With the continuing advancement of technology, companies will be able to duplicate almost any type of competitive advantage in product and services and operations that their competitors may have.

So the only real meaningful component that will separate companies from each other is culture. "Their culture is the only thing they can own," he says.

As for Watkins, he believes that recent innovations like artificial intelligence and the growth of ever-more-sophisticated analytical machines may have a vast impact on how work is done, giving him some pause when he considers the future. He knows that the exact extent and ramifications of this transformation (including the impact on management), and the time frame, cannot be predicted with certainty. "But I tend to believe it's going to happen sooner rather than later," he says.

"I'm wondering if there will be managers in 10 years," he says. "Your manager could be an algorithm."

Mark Tarallo is senior content manager of  Security Management magazine.

This article is adapted from Security Management magazine with permission from ASIS © 2019. All rights reserved.

SOURCE: Tarallo, M. (19 February 2020) "Viewpoint: Your First 90 Days as a New Manager" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/organizational-and-employee-development/pages/viewpoint-your-first-90-days-as-a-new-manager.aspx