5 Ways to Demonstrate Your Value — Remotely

When working remotely for an extended amount of time, many employees can feel as if they are not visible to the organization. Read this blog post for helpful tips on how to show value, while working remotely.


With unemployment levels at the highest since the Great Depression, many individuals don’t have the privilege of working, and those who do feel nervous about how long they’ll have that opportunity.

If you fall into the latter category, I can appreciate your very legitimate concern. Many companies are struggling to bring in revenue, let alone turn a profit. And with remote working arrangements, you don’t have the visibility with your colleagues and managers that you normally would. When you were in the office, you might have had informal interactions with these individuals multiple times a day. Now, if you don’t have a meeting on their calendar, you may wonder if they remember your presence — and more importantly, your importance to the organization.

I can’t guarantee that your position is secure, and there will certainly be factors outside your control. But there are ways that you can make yourself and your accomplishments more visible to your organization, even when you’re not in the same building. The following suggestions are five concrete steps that you can focus on right here, right now, to increase your odds of thriving in your job during this tumultuous time and demonstrating your value while working remotely.

Do Your Work

Getting your work done is always a good idea. But especially in times where businesses and organizations are having to make hard decisions about who to keep, doing your work — and doing your work well — is essential.

As a time management coach, I’ve been working with clients throughout this time of uncertainty. (Thankfully, I was already remote!) And the sense I am getting is that there was a grace period in March and part of April as individuals were adjusting to working from home. Managers were more forgiving if there was a dip in productivity or missteps here and there. But now that it’s been multiple months of remote work, higher standards of output are returning. If you haven’t done so already, put a system in place for keeping track of your tasks and ticking them off, even if your schedule is modified because you have other responsibilities at home.

Tell Others

I don’t recommend that you give yourself a shout out at every single meeting, and I definitely don’t advise that you take undue credit for others’ work. But if you have accomplished something significant, share it. That could look like covering a few highlights of your work with your boss each week, either in your one-on-one or through email. Or speaking up in a meeting to share about what your team is doing. Or even giving a presentation on some best practices that could help other colleagues in a similar role. Focus on not only what you did but how it produced positive results for your organization. This is not bragging but simply informing others about how, even though they might not see you working, you’re getting great things accomplished. And this gives you increased visibility across the organization as people understand the role that you fill and the value you add.

Help Your Boss

Although you don’t want to overload yourself with extra work to the extent that you burn out or can’t keep your commitments, look for ways to make your boss’s life easier. For instance, turn in your work early so your manager has extra time to review it before a meeting, or be extra prepared in your one-on-one meetings so they are as concise and effective as possible. These little things help reduce the pressure on your boss, so they are not worried about whether you’ll deliver and if you’re on top of your work. And if you have extra capacity, offer to help with extra assignments or take work completely off of your manager’s plate. This shows that you’re not only someone who gets their work done but also someone who takes initiative. Although your immediate supervisor doesn’t always have a say in layoff decisions, if they do, they’ll put in a good word for you if you’re making things easier for them.

Play Nicely

With my clients, one of their least favorite ways to spend their time is in brokering arguments between people on their team. It drains energy, and they generally consider it a waste of time.

Spread Positivity

One very unfortunate outcome of this season is that it’s brought out some very anti-social behavior in people. Many people’s response to their own fear is controlling others. I’ve seen more vicious online behavior and more people yelling at strangers in public in the last two months than I’ve seen in my entire life. And since the biggest subject on most people’s minds and on all media coverage is Covid-19 — an anxiety-producing topic for most — the air has been tainted with the stench of negativity.

As a bonus, if you can be humorous, do so. Laughter and positive energy draw teams together and make people feel good about being around you. While doing good work and being a positive presence doesn’t guarantee your position will make the cut as you face layoffs, it does increase your odds because you’re demonstrating your value to the organization and the people around you.

Much of what happens with the job market and your particular job will be out of your hands. You can’t control what businesses are considered essential or not, nor can you control organizational changes and headcount. And there are many factors in place that determine the market demand for your work. However, if you follow the five pieces of advice above, you will do what you can to make the most impact and get credit for it within your current role. And you’ll make a positive impression in the process.

SOURCE: Saunders, E. (01 June 2020) "5 Ways to Demonstrate Your Value — Remotely" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2020/06/5-ways-to-demonstrate-your-value-remotely


People Analytics Guide Return-to-Work Choices

With many workplaces beginning to return to work, many leaders are using analytic tools to make decisions regarding staff easier. Read this blog post to learn more.


Human resources leaders are turning to people analytics tools to help make difficult decisions as their staffs return to the workplace and face a damaged economy. Whether it's figuring out how to keep workers safe, making decisions on furloughs and layoffs, or ensuring the right number of employees are in the right roles, these technologies collect, blend and analyze people data to guide HR leaders in their "what if" scenario planning.

Research shows the use of people analytics software was on the rise even before the coronavirus crisis hit. Now experts say many HR leaders are doubling down on the use of those tools.

Platforms Integrate Data

People analytics platforms fall into a number of categories. One group can help users integrate and analyze the diverse data sets related to COVID-19 and the composition of their workforces. They help answer questions like which people in key roles can go back to the workplace and which should continue working remotely; assist in developing first- and second-level succession plans in case workers get sick or need to step away to assist family members; and help align workforce planning with shifting business strategy and uncertain revenue forecasts.

AON is one vendor with an analytics tool that helps HR leaders think through workforce costs amid COVID-19. The London-based company's Talent Modeler platform can help determine the impact of shift reductions or help leaders choose from a range of options such as furloughs, attrition, pay cuts or layoffs.

Experts say sophisticated people analytics also can help leaders evaluate alternatives to layoffs, such as hiring or promotion freezes, shortened work schedules, or reducing costs like real estate expenses.

Nicholas Garbis, vice president of people analytics strategy for One Model, a people analytics provider with offices in Austin, Texas, has seen an evolution among HR leaders he's spoken to throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. As organizations begin their return-to-work planning—which largely entails addressing employee fear of COVID-19 infection as well as monitoring the reopening of child care centers—more are now planning for the "what if" scenarios that will arise this summer, he said.

This coming phase requires HR leaders to have better data and insight into the state of their current workforce and how it may need to change in the short term. "You need to be able to accurately assess your capacity, starting with the kind of workforce gaps that may have emerged from early March to now," Garbis said. "What talent have you lost, for example, to furloughs, layoffs or health issues?"

One Model's analytics platform collects and blends diverse forms of people data into a unified model to help surface these kinds of insights. HR should examine the state of "talent segments" in the organization as well as gauge potential coronavirus risks, Garbis said, then create a short-term strategic plan to define future workforce needs.

"HR business partners should be consulting with business leaders right now to say, 'This is the mix of people and roles you have now. What might you need your workforce to look like in six to 12 months?' " he said. "You want to ensure you're growing where you're supposed to grow and shrinking where you want to shrink."

People analytics also can help redeploy employees to areas experiencing increased demand. Ian Cook, vice president of people solutions for Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-based Visier, said a financial services company he knows was considering furloughing employees in one area of its business until it experienced a spike in another area—life insurance sales. "That allowed them to move some front-line customer service people over to selling life insurance policies," Cook said.

In another case a regional bank used analytics to decide to move a call center to shift work and parallel work teams with physical distancing, said Bhushan Sethi, joint global leader, people and organization for PwC, a research and consulting firm in New York City.

"The goal was to help manage call center capacity and infection risk," Sethi said. "Almost 50 percent of CFOs in a recent PwC survey said they would have to implement some form of shift work when they bring people back to the workplace."

Employee Coaching Analytics

Employee coaching tools can give managers and employees feedback on how their communication or management styles have changed as a result of remote working arrangements. One vendor in the space is Cultivate, which creates reports that give employees a summary of their digital behaviors at home.

"These analytics could show managers, for example, how responsive they've been to certain employees in the work-from-home setting or how much overall time they've spent with certain workers," said Stacia Garr, co-founder and principal analyst of RedThread Research, a human capital research and advisory firm in Woodside, Calif.

Measuring Inclusion During Remote Work

This category of analytics can help HR understand how remote work is impacting leadership development, performance-based promotions or the inclusion of diverse employee populations. Some experts believe, for example, that a remote working environment can make it easier for implicit or unconscious bias to take root.

"We know that people's networks have contracted as a result of remote work, and there also can be less insight into employee performance," Garr said. "When we aren't seeing each other in person as often and aren't as aware of what others are doing or thinking, it can open the door to unconscious bias and stereotyping."

Organizational network analysis technology can track employees' connections to give HR a better understanding of how remote workers are interacting during COVID-19, Garr said. "The tools can give you an indication of who is being included in conversations, who is on e-mail threads and who is being invited to meetings. It can help you see if people across the organization are being included on an equal basis." Some of these vendors include TrustSphere, Polinode, Innovisor and OrgAnalytix.

Employee Surveying and Sentiment Analysis

Many companies are deploying employee listening tools to stay abreast of how workers are feeling at home and to gauge their sentiment on returning to the workplace. Platforms like Qualtrics, Yva, Perceptyx and Limeade offer such survey tools, some of which include artificial intelligence capabilities to make it easier to compile and analyze survey results.

"Organizations are using these surveys to measure employee feelings about a return to the workplace, with the understanding that not everyone is of the same mind about that return," Garr said. Such surveys sometimes ask employees to register their preferences for a return to the workplace. Might they want to work certain shifts or travel into the office on certain days, for example, and work other days at home?

COVID-Specific Employee Health and Safety Tracking

Some people analytics have adapted to allow HR leaders to merge publicly available COVID-19 data with their internal people data to assist in workforce planning. Visier integrates COVID-19 data sources and automated analysis to help users make more-informed decisions related to staffing.

Visier's database allows leaders to see which of their employees are in areas most impacted by the coronavirus and helps to manage business continuity challenges.

"We've layered the latest COVID-19 case data into the application so business users can see by geography how deeply the virus has gone into their populations and can view projections from the University of Washington model about peaks and changes in various states," said Visier's Cook.

SOURCE: Zielinski, D. (22 May 2020) "People Analytics Guide Return-to-Work Choices" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/technology/pages/people-analytics-guide-return-to-work-choices-coronavirus.aspx


How to Monitor Your Employees — While Respecting Their Privacy

A recent survey found that 55 percent of millennials that had partaken in the survey plan to leave employers that prioritize profits over people. Read this blog post to learn more.


Even before Covid-19 sent an unprecedented number of people to work from home, employers were ramping up their efforts to monitor employee productivity. A 2018 Gartner report revealed that of 239 large corporations, 50% were monitoring the content of employee emails and social media accounts, along with who they met with and how they utilized their workspaces. A year later an Accenture survey of C-suite executives reported that 62% of their organizations were leveraging new tools to collect data on their employees.

These statistics were gathered before the coronavirus pandemic, which has made working from home a necessity for thousands of companies. With that transition having happened so rapidly, employers are left wondering how much work is actually going on. The fear of productivity losses, mingling with the horror of massively declining revenues, has encouraged many leaders to ramp up their employee monitoring efforts.

There is no shortage of digital tools for employee monitoring — or, as privacy advocates put it, “corporate surveillance.” Multiple services enable stealth monitoring, live video feeds, keyboard tracking, optical character recognition, keystroke recording, or location tracking. One such company, Hubstaff, implements random screen capture that can be customized for each person and set to report “once, twice, or three times per 10 minutes,” if managers so wish. Another company, Teramind, captures all keyboard activity and records “all information to comprehensive logs [that] can be used to formulate a base of user-based behavior analytics.”

Despite the easy availability of options, however, monitoring comes with real risk to the companies that pursue it. Surveillance threatens to erode trust between employers and employees. Accenture found that 52% of employees believe that mishandling of data damages trust — and only 30% of the C-suite executives who were polled reported themselves as “confident” that the data would always be used responsibly. Employees who are now subject to new levels of surveillance report being both “incredibly stressed out” by the constant monitoring and also afraid to speak up, a recipe for not only dissatisfaction but also burnout, both of which — ironically — decrease productivity. Worse, monitoring can invite a backlash: In October of 2019 Google employees went public about spy tools allegedly created to suppress internal dissent.

Tempting as it may be to implement monitoring in the service of protecting productivity, it also stands in stark contrast to recent trends in the corporate world. Many organizations have committed to fostering a better employee experience, with a particular focus on diversity and inclusion. There are not only strong ethical reasons for having one’s eye on that ball, but good bottom line reasons as well. The Deloitte Global Millennial Survey from 2019 found that 55% of millennials plan to leave employers that prioritize profits over people. Retention — which should be a priority for all companies, given the high expense of making and onboarding new hires — becomes difficult and costly for companies that don’t reflect those values. Given the risk of alienating employees coupled with the possibility of error and misapplication of these tools, it is quite likely that, for many, the juice just isn’t worth the squeeze.

Even so, some companies will still find it worth the tradeoffs. Justified fear of a collapsing economy reasonably drives employers to monitor their employees to ensure they are being productive and efficient. Indeed, they may even have ethically admirable aims in doing so, such as for the sake of their employees’ health and the health of the country as a whole. Furthermore, if the tools are deployed with the goal of discovering which employees are in need of additional help — more on this below — that may be all the more reason to monitor. But if your business concludes that it ought to monitor employees (for whatever reason), it is important to do so in a way that maximally respects its employees.

Here are six recommendations on how to walk this tightrope.

1. Choose your metrics carefully by involving all relevant stakeholders.
Applying numbers to things is easy, as is making quick judgments based on numeric scores spit out by a piece of software. This leads to both unnecessary surveillance and ill-formed decisions. It’s simply too easy to react to information that, in practice, is irrelevant to productivity, efficiency, and revenue. If you insist on monitoring employees, make sure what you’re tracking is relevant and necessary. Simply monitoring the quantity of emails written or read, for instance, is not a reliable indicator of productivity.

If you want the right metrics, then engage all of the relevant stakeholders in the process to determine those metrics, from hiring managers to supervisors to those who are actually being monitored. With regards to employee engagement it is especially important to reach both experienced and new employees, and that they are able to deliver their input in a setting where there is no fear of reprisal. For instance, they can be in discussion with a supervisor — but preferably not their direct supervisor, who has the authority to fire or promote them.

2. Be transparent with your employees about what you’re monitoring and why. 
Part and parcel of respecting someone is that you take the time to openly and honestly communicate with them. Tell your employees what you’re monitoring and why. Give them the opportunity to offer feedback. Share the results of the monitoring with them and, crucially, provide a system by which they can appeal decisions about their career influenced by the data collected.

Transparency increases employee acceptance rates. Gartner found that only 30% of employees were comfortable with their employer monitoring their email. But in the same study, when an employer shared that they would be monitoring and explained why, more than 50% of workers reported being comfortable with it.

3. Offer carrots as well as sticks.
Monitoring or surveillance software is implicitly tied to overseers who are bent on compliance and submission. Oppressive governments, for example, tie surveillance with threats of fines and imprisonment. But you don’t need to pursue monitoring as a method of oppression. You would do better to think about it as a tool by which you can figure out how to help your employees be more productive or reward them for their hustle. That means thinking about what kinds of carrots can be used to motivate and boost relevant numbers, not just sticks to discourage inefficiencies.

4. Accept that very good workers will not always be able to do very good work all the time — especially under present circumstances.
These are unique times and it would be wrong — both ethically and factually — to make decisions about who is and who is not a good employee or a hard worker based on performance under these conditions. Some very hard-working and talented employees may be stretched extraordinarily thin due to a lack of school and child care options, for instance. These are people you want to keep because, in the long run, they provide a tremendous amount of value. Ensure that your supervisors take the time to talk to their supervisees when the numbers aren’t what you want them to be. And again, that conversation should reflect an understanding of the employee’s situation and focus on creative solutions, not threats.

5. Monitor your own systems to ensure that people of color and other vulnerable groups are not disproportionately affected.
Central to any company’s diversity and inclusion effort is a commitment to eliminating any discrimination against traditionally marginalized populations. Precisely because they have been marginalized, those populations tend to occupy more junior roles in an organization — and junior roles often suffer the most scrutiny. This means that there is a risk of disproportionately surveilling the very groups a company’s inclusivity efforts are designed to protect, which invites significant ethical, reputational, and legal risks.

If employee monitoring is being used, it is important that the most junior people are not surveilled to a greater extent than their managers, or at least not to an extent that places special burdens on them. For instance, it would be particularly troublesome if very junior employees received a level of surveillance — say, sentiment analysis or keyboard logging — that only slightly more senior people did not. A policy that says, “This is how we monitor all employees” raises fewer ethical red flags than a policy that says, “This is how we monitor most employees, except for the most junior ones, who undergo a great deal more surveillance.” Equal application of the law, in other words, legitimately blunts the force of charges of discrimination.

6. Decrease monitoring when and where you can.
The impulse to monitor is understandable, especially in these times. But as people return to their offices — and even as some continue to work from home — look for places to pull back monitoring efforts where things are going well. This communicates trust to employees. It also corrects for the tendency to acquire more control than necessary when circumstances are not as severe as they once were.

At the end of the day, your employees are your most valuable assets. They possess institutional knowledge and skills others do not. You’ve invested time and money in them and they are very expensive to replace. Treating them with respect is not only something they deserve — it’s crucial for a company’s retention efforts. If your company does choose to move ahead with surveillance software in this climate, you need to remind yourself that you are not the police. You should be monitoring employees not with a raised baton, but with an outstretched hand.

SOURCE: Blackman, R. (28 May 2020) "How to Monitor Your Employees — While Respecting Their Privacy" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2020/05/how-to-monitor-your-employees-while-respecting-their-privacy


How COVID-19 has changed the recruiting tech stack

 


The rapid shift to telework for many office-based employers is not only forcing companies to conduct recruiting virtually, but also making them reconsider every aspect of their talent acquisition strategies. After implementing additional technology solutions amid the pandemic, experts suggest that some changes will be permanent.

While the talent acquisition function tends to lead technology adoption among HR groups, interviews were still commonly held face-to-face at some point in the process and deliberation over candidates often took place in in-person meetings. But recruiting leaders may find that digital processes offer new advantages and end up keeping them even when they return to their offices.

Improving the function
While many organizations scrambled to put together online fixes for manual or in-person processes during the pandemic, improvement took a back seat to maintaining continuity. Now that change is not so rapid, business leaders are focusing on how to improve in these conditions.

Recruiting is no different. Existing technology solutions can address strategic imperatives that were top of mind before the pandemic, such as workforce data, candidate experience or recruiter productivity. More importantly, these technologies can still be deployed while everyone is working from home.

"I think as you start to look at how things like machine learning can be applied, there's a lot of opportunities," Mark Brandau, a research principal, global industry analyst at Forrester, told HR Dive. "The ones I gravitate to are things that automate the process."

Scheduling, communicating with candidates and optimizing job board spend — the same way marketers do with online ad spend — represent the "low-hanging fruit" when it comes to recruiting technology, Brandau said. The tools are usually simple to use and do not depend on the technical maturity of the organization for adoption or implementation.

Having every single recruiting activity occurring within some sort of technology also allows for better data collection. While organizations are trying to collect as much as possible, it's a challenge to validate data entered by people and also can be subjective, such as a hiring manager's perception of a candidate after a first-round in-person interview.

"Something we suspected before the pandemic is organizations don't have a lot of necessary data to make adaptive forward decisions," Brandau said. "That includes candidate data and [talent] market data."

Having better data by having more widespread technology will allow talent acquisition leaders to be more informed about the metrics that matter and how they can improve the function's effectiveness. Efficiency gains, like being able to immediately schedule an interview, can improve the candidate experience and save recruiters time.

"They either want to automate [sourcing and screening] more because of high volume or they want to find better quality candidates," Brandau said. "So they're focused on automation and quality of time" to improve the caliber of candidates entering the funnel and their experience.

Expanding into onboarding
In a pre-pandemic interview process, once a candidate accepts a job offer, after the initial excitement from both parties subsides, there is often a hand-off to a different colleague to manage the onboarding process. Today, with remote work as the norm and more automation coming, there is an opportunity for talent acquisition to bolster, if not completely own, onboarding.

"Once a client understands and gets wind of what's possible with onboarding, especially as a part of a bigger HCM transformation, when you tie in learning and procurement and other things that can happen and goals within onboarding," Brandau said, "they start to light up because they see it way more transformative beyond talent acquisition."

Being able to seamlessly move into value-add onboarding activities without the possibility of a clunky handoff can pay off in many ways. It can boost a new employee's preparedness and excitement. It can also serve as an extension of a company's brand, Brandau said, noting the connections between candidate experience, employment branding and the overall branding of a company. Tactically, onboarding automation can include signaling procurement for a new computer or other supplies a new hire may need.

Organizational leaders often are interested in automating the first steps of onboarding to support a new employees' alignment with organizational goals and maximize the experience of their first 90 days, including what training they may need. "So there's a lot of there's a lot of immediate benefit, as opposed to longer term benefit, when you think about ROI and visibility and brand reinforcement, that's why they gravitate that way," he added.

Finding new sourcing channels
Another opportunity for remote recruiting teams is expanding the geography and scope of sourcing channels. When recruiters no longer need to travel to career fairs and instead interact with prospective employees virtually, they can speak to more candidates. And when candidates don't need to play email tag to schedule an interview, they move the process more efficiently.

SOURCE: Kidwai, A. (14 May 2020) "How COVID-19 has changed the recruiting tech stack" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.hrdive.com/news/how-covid-19-has-changed-the-recruiting-tech-stack/577953/


Work from home forever? Businesses are divided on that

With many businesses working remotely still due to the coronavirus, many businesses are debating on if working from home will become permanently and are even divided on that decision. Read this blog post to learn more.


The work-from-home movement is gaining steam in Silicon Valley as a flurry of companies — big and small — are embracing remote-working policies beyond the pandemic. But even as some executives extol its virtues, other tech leaders aren’t so sure, opening a growing divide inside the industry over the future of work. It’s a worthy debate.

On Thursday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced his company will start allowing some existing employees to work from home permanently. He said Facebook will also “aggressively open up remote hiring” for engineering talent in areas it doesn’t have an office, saying as much as 50% of the company’s employees could eventually work remotely within 10 years. In similar fashion, Shopify CEO Tobi Lutke said his e-commerce software company will allow its employees to work from home indefinitely, adding he expects that most of his staff will work remotely going forward. The days of “office centricity is over,” the executive posted on social media. The two companies join Twitter, which said last week it will let employees work from home as standard practice as well.

Not everyone in technology is on board. Take-Two Interactive Software CEO Strauss Zelnick said on an investor call this week that he believes sustained strong productivity will get more difficult the longer people are forced to work from home, adding that “there is no substitute for in-person collaboration and connection.” That follows comments from Microsoft Corp. CEO Satya Nadella, who expressed concern in an interview with the New York Times last week that early positive remote-work productivity metrics may mask underlying deficiencies, in terms of managing and mentoring employees. He also raised worries about potential burnout and mental-health issues. “Maybe we are burning some of the social capital we built up in this phase where we are all working remote. What’s the measure for that?” he asked.

There’s something to be said for this pushback. Sure, there are many pluses to offering off-site work flexibility — including better employee retention and the ability to hire from a more diverse talent base in other geographies — but corporations should realize the work-from-home trend isn’t a panacea. In fact, there are significant drawbacks and challenges that shouldn’t be overlooked.

As Zelnick pointed out, there are unquantifiable benefits derived from being in the same physical location. Scheduled videoconferencing meetings don’t engender the same spontaneous creativity compared to the many back-and-forth brief conversations during a typical day at an office. And nothing beats face-to-face interactions for building the relationships and trust required to persuade your colleagues on big decisions.

It’s notable that even as Facebook projects confidence and forward-looking thought leadership in its charge toward its new work-from-home culture, it is implementing the change slowly. Zuckerberg said only the company’s senior engineers with strong performance reviews will be initially allowed to apply for remote-work flexibility, adding it will be a measured transition before extending the policy to non-engineers.

To be frank, it wouldn’t surprise me to see many of these companies slow down their transitions to remote working. After all, the world is only a few months into this massive remote-work experiment. The initial productivity benefits may dissipate and significant negative consequences may well appear over time. Best not to rush into any drastic decisions.

SOURCE: Kim, T. (26 May 2020) "Work from home forever? Businesses are divided on that" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/articles/work-from-home-forever-businesses-are-divided-on-that


Viewpoint: 3 Steps to Make Learning Part of Company Culture

Workplaces are constantly changing, and so is the world of work. Where things are constantly changing, culture is changing as well. Read this blog post to learn helpful tips for learning company culture.


As technology transforms the world of work, learning is moving from the periphery to the core of corporate strategy. Upskilling is quickly becoming a business imperative, and hiring managers are teaming up with talent developers to ensure that business leaders have the talent they need to thrive.

With good reason, LinkedIn Learning's 2020 Workplace Learning Report shows that nearly all of today's talent developers have no problem securing executive buy-in, and CEOs now spend 20 percent more time learning soft skills than their employees spend. But in a workplace where the pace of change continues to accelerate, it takes more than just buy-in to build a learning culture that companies need today. As we work through the pandemic, an agile learning culture is needed now more than ever—one that enables employees to demonstrate their ability to quickly adapt to new environments, new protocol and shifting market demands.

Over the last year, Kraft Heinz's embrace of ownership—a principle that is core to our DNA as a company—has helped us to spark a learning transformation at Kraft Heinz. Here are three practices that can help you do the same.

1. Own your learning.

It's no secret that great leaders lead by example, and it's no different with learning initiatives. Learning champions must inspire and encourage others throughout their organization to pursue learning. That's difficult to do without first fully embracing learning themselves.

As chief learning officer, I needed to put myself in my learners' shoes. I couldn't tell them it was possible to carve out time in their busy lives for learning without first doing so myself. So, in February 2019, I made a commitment to learning something new every day. As part of that daily learning commitment, I completed a variety of learning experiences through our company's corporate learning platform, Ownerversity, and began sharing what I learned through our internal messaging app, the KetchApp.

Using the hashtags #LearnLikeAnOwner and #MakeTimeForLearning, my colleagues were able to follow along on my daily learning journey, picking up work-relevant lessons, tips and insight and—most importantly—seeing just how much I personally valued learning. They saw what was possible. A year later, learning has become a cultural conversation topic across the organization.

2. Build and keep building.

Taking a grassroots approach to building excitement for learning has helped inspire a movement among our employees. But we also knew that movement had to actually lead our workers somewhere worthwhile. For us, it was not a matter of "if you build it, they will come." It was the inverse: The employees were already on their way, and we had to ensure we continued to build and enhance a learning ecosystem that could truly support their aspirations and learning goals.

It started with making a commitment to learning at every level and ensuring that the learning was ongoing and democratic. Anyone who wants to learn can have that opportunity, every day. Requiring more than a one-and-done approach, this initiative needed a team dedicated to developing the tools to make sure that can happen.

Our learning offerings allow for active learning, encourage continuous reflection and help employees see the impact learning can have on their careers. Those offerings include custom courses, as well as access to thousands of LinkedIn Learning courses and other digital resources focused on business, technology and creative subjects to help employees build the skills they need throughout their careers.

3. Activate ambassadors.

One person alone cannot champion learning across an entire company. Learning champions must create a network of like-minded ambassadors at every level who can inspire and encourage their co-workers. Building a learning culture cannot simply be a top-down mandate; it must be a ground-up movement.

We expect all of our employees to seek out high-impact learning experiences, commit to learning—even if for just a few minutes—every day, and encourage others to do the same. On some days, that could be dedicating time to an e-learning course, but on others, it could be listening to a podcast, attending a live learning event or reading a magazine article. Last year, to help promote this goal, we created learning-commitment categories to help guide employees in setting aside time to learn from September through the end of the year. The goals included 15 minutes per month, 15 minutes every other week and 15 minutes per week. Even our CEO and chief people officer pledged to make one of these commitments.

Some employees have become especially invested in this new culture of learning. We recently invited 20 dedicated learners to a #LearnLikeAnOwner retreat, rewarding their commitment to learning, and also providing them with tools and resources they need to inspire others. They returned to their roles within the organization with the knowledge and confidence of being official learning ambassadors. Other employees know they can turn to these learning ambassadors for the inspiration, encouragement and guidance they need to pursue learning every day.

What I've learned over the past year as chief learning officer at Kraft Heinz is that leading by example paired with creating an environment of excitement and inspiration can truly fuel a cultural change.

SOURCE: Bassey, P. (21 May 2020) "Viewpoint: 3 Steps to Make Learning Part of Company Culture" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/organizational-and-employee-development/pages/viewpoint-3-steps-to-make-learning-part-of-company-culture.aspx


How to Be a 'Favorite Boss'

When managing employees during the crazy times that COVID-19 has brought upon many workplaces, many business professionals are finding new and innovative ways to get the job done. Read this blog post to learn more.


COVID-19 has certainly rocked our world as human resource professionals, but the opportunities we have before us as we navigate a global pandemic are innumerable. Think about it: We're managing employees' anxiety while moving toward a new remote business model that focuses on accountability and productivity. We're finding new and more effective ways of communicating when we don't have the benefit of MBWA (Management by Walking Around). We're strengthening our team and creating a deeper sense of trust and camaraderie. And we're building bullets for our resumes and LinkedIn profiles: remote learning, delegation, and virtual accountability and performance delivery. In other words, our entire business worldview has been turned upside down, yet we're still finding new and innovative ways of getting the job done—in some cases, even better than in the past.

"When you find yourself at a point of pure creation, you'll be amazed at what you're able to accomplish," said Kim Congdon, global vice president, human resources and talent management for Herbalife Nutrition in Torrance, Calif. "The obstacles you've faced before melt away, and you have an opportunity to reinvent yourself, your relationship to your team and your leadership brand."

To keep yourself motivated and growing in the right direction, ask yourself this question: "How do I become someone's favorite boss, and what might that look like in the COVID-19 era?"

Favorite Boss Characteristics

When you ask people about their favorite boss, their eyes light up and they say things like:

  • She always made me feel like she had my back.
  • He challenged me to do things I didn't think I was capable of.
  • She made me feel included, she appreciated my input, and I felt like I could almost do no wrong when working with her. My confidence soared.

"What you realize when hearing these types of descriptions," Congdon said, "is that when people describe their favorite boss, they talk about who that person is, not necessarily what that person did. It's the [boss's] character, encouragement, and personal concern and involvement that makes them someone's favorite boss." So the next question to ask yourself, especially in times of emergency, should be "Who am I, and who do I choose to be in this work relationship and during this challenge?"

Applying the Favorite Boss Standard to COVID-19

In addition to maintaining open communication, building a stronger team as we work remotely, and producing and measuring performance results, what other challenges are we facing right now? The list is long:

  • Loss of safety and security.
  • Loss of control due to unpredictable events.
  • Lack of emotional and social support (and feelings of loneliness and isolation).
  • Loss of loved ones.
  • Overwork, exhaustion and lack of self-care.

"We're not expected to turn into psychologists overnight," said Steve Axel, executive coach and transition coach for senior leaders in San Diego, "but many of these and other concerns are very real for certain people. Your role isn't to diagnose anything—you're not the appropriate resource for that. But you are responsible for helping people help themselves. Leading with empathy, always having a listening ear, and being careful not to make anyone feel judged for their fears or anxieties will go a long way in helping people come to terms with so many unknowns and their natural reactions to them."

You need to not only manage performance but also demonstrate the soft skills of listening, empathy and concern for your employees as they make their way through the crisis. Here's what your communication and leadership strategy might focus on during the pandemic:

  • Communicate organizational resources, like your employee assistance program, or local resources such as pastoral care and social services.
  • Be a calming influence for your team by introducing moments of pause or meditation.
  • Form "battle buddy" relationships. Pair up remote team members and ensure that people have each other's backs at all times.
  • Help people change their perspective so they'll change their perception of current events. Talk about how this too shall pass. Encourage people to think about where we will be one to five years from now when we look back on this time. How can your team use this period to develop their careers and skills?
  • Share recovery stories. Discuss prior generations and how they came to terms with seemingly insurmountable challenges—from the two world wars to the civil rights battles of the 1960s to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

"The point is, it's not business as usual," Axel said. "For some it may be, but for others who need more guidance, structure and direction, be there for them. Be present. Exercise mindfulness. And most important, come from observation rather than judgment. No one wants to be judged, especially if they don't feel particularly in control of their lives or feelings right now. Your gentle guidance, concern and empathetic ear will help them find themselves again. That's what a coach does—not give answers but help people come to their own solutions in their own time."

Favorite Bosses Also Push Productivity and Achievement

"We've got a job to do, work to be performed, and goals to meet in terms of performance and productivity," Congdon said. "'Favorite bosses know how to motivate and engage their people to perform at their best because nothing builds confidence and self-esteem like knowing that you're hitting it out of the park performance-wise."

To that end, follow some of these best practices when leading your team, either remotely or in return-to-work mode:

  • Create a shared document where everyone on the team can document their weekly progress, roadblocks and achievements. Use it for celebration and recognition.
  • Assign different staff members to lead weekly staff meetings and make them responsible for the agenda and follow-up items.
  • Schedule weekly or biweekly one-on-one meetings to check in on individuals' physical and mental well-being.
  • Schedule quarterly progress meetings on annual goals, roadblocks and achievements.
  • Ensure that remote workers' work/life balance needs are being met (e.g., by not working all hours of the night) and that nonexempt employees adhere strictly to wage and hour guidelines for meal and rest periods as well as overtime.

Now, more than ever, people are looking to leaders in business to respond quickly and proactively. This is the time to lean in, lead through the changes coming your way, show compassion for others, exercise the selflessness necessary to coach and mentor, and ensure high levels of individual and team performance. Help your employees process their physical and mental reactions stemming from fear and uncertainty and focus on work/life balance, productivity and shared achievements. You can use COVID-19 to redefine your leadership and communication style so that others look to you as that special boss; that individual who taught them how to lead, pivot and bend through a pandemic; and that leader who had their backs and encouraged them to discover their personal best through challenging times.

SOURCE: Falcone, P. (22 May 2020) "How to Be a 'Favorite Boss" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/organizational-and-employee-development/pages/how-to-be-a-favorite-boss.aspx


COVID-19 will disrupt many established workplace trends

 


Over the past few months, the coronavirus pandemic has altered almost every aspect of how people around the world live their lives and do their jobs. In the months to come, it will continue to disrupt and transform routines. Sooner or later, though, the emergency will end. Lots of things will go back to the way they were before January 2020. Some won’t.

So much has already been written and said about the latter group of possibilities that I hesitate to add to the cacophony. But it may lend some structure to the discussion to sort the changes to come into three broad categories.

The first involves pre-existing trends that are being accelerated by the pandemic. The second involves trends that have been reversed by the pandemic. Then there’s … everything else.

Perhaps the most obvious case of a trend being accelerated by the pandemic is working from home. Doing so was actually more common back when tens of millions of Americans still lived on farms, shopkeepers lived above their stores and women sewed garments at home for piecework rates. But since 2000, which is around when broadband internet access began to become widely available, white-collar workers have driven a rise in the percentage of American workers who say they usually do their jobs from home, from 3.3% to 5.3%.

The percentage is a lot higher than that right now! Only 29% of employed Americans said they could work from home in a 2017-2018 Bureau of Labor Statistics survey. But given that those who can’t work remotely have been laid off or furloughed in huge numbers since March, nearly half of those who now have jobs in the U.S. have likely been doing them from home, estimates Adam Ozimek of the online labor marketplace Upwork.

My guess is that many of these people will be eager to return to the office when the pandemic is over. But large office buildings may not go back to full-scale operation for quite a while, and by the time they do many employers will have rethought their office-space needs, many workers will have rethought their commutes and many organizations small and large will have discovered new ways to collaborate from afar, with all sorts of consequences for office dynamics, business travel, commercial real estate and maybe even the shape of urban growth.

This growing freedom to work from somewhere other than the office will be empowering and liberating for some. But working remotely is for the most part a privilege of the affluent and educated, and some of the other trends getting a boost from COVID-19 don’t seem all that favorable for workers. For example, industry after industry in the U.S. has been growing more concentrated since 2000, and new-business formation has been on the decline a lot longer than that.

Yes, young companies gained a little ground in 2015 and 2016. But a new data series from the Census Bureau indicates that the formation of new businesses with hiring plans is down 32% since mid-March versus the same period last year, so that resurgence is over for now. Any economic downturn is going to favor strong companies over weak ones, but the particulars of this one seem to favor the giants even more than usual. Big tech companies are strengthening their grip as the pandemic progresses, and the fact that the five biggest such companies in the U.S. — Microsoft, Apple, Amazon.com, Alphabet and Facebook — account for more than 20% of the value of the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and nearly 50% of the Nasdaq Composite Index explains a lot about the resilience of the stock market amid economic calamity. Buyout firms that target troubled companies have also been seeing big stock-market gains. Consolidation is accelerating, and while conditions for those employed by giant, profitable companies in technology and some other sectors can be pretty great, the overall bargaining power of workers suffers.

Another workplace trend of long standing is increased automation. Fears of a rapid, massive displacement of humans by robots haven’t yet been realized, but machines have been taking over human tasks for centuries, and the pandemic seems likely to accelerate this process, especially for jobs that involve people performing physical labor in close proximity to one another — from meatpacking plants to Amazon warehouses to, perhaps, commercial kitchens. The need for distancing will eventually abate, but once companies invest in machines that do some or all of the work, those machines are unlikely to go away. There’s also been a rush to enlist 3-D printers to solve temporary supply-chain problems that will likely lead to their permanent, often-labor-replacing use. Such innovations can drive the productivity growth that improves living standards, not to mention displace jobs that are objectively awful, so this isn’t all bad news. But short-term it again reduces workers’ bargaining power.

So much for trends that are being accelerated. The most dramatic reversal so far has been the end to the long rise of employment in leisure and hospitality. The sector, which includes restaurants, hotels, casinos, museums, gyms, sports teams and, of course, bowling alleys, accounted for almost a quarter of U.S. payroll job growth over the course of the just-ended expansion — and lost almost half of its jobs between March and April.

The damage to the industry is severe and will persist for quite a while. If government efforts to keep these businesses on life support falter, it could take many years to repair. But once the threat of the coronavirus has passed, or receded into the background of seasonal respiratory ailments, almost everyone is going to want to hang out with friends, go to restaurants, sports events and shows, and travel again. The upward trend will surely resume; the big question is just where the starting point will be.

 

A lot of the biggest questions about the post-coronavirus work environment will be answered by political action or the lack thereof. Will the failures of the mostly job-based U.S. health-insurance system in a job-destroying pandemic lead to major reforms? Will the greater toll the pandemic has exacted on the disadvantaged encourage efforts to reduce economic inequality? Will the safety net be reformed to address the effects of automation? Will renewed antitrust enforcement counter the trend toward consolidation? Or do I have the direction of change all wrong here, and what we should really expect is more government dysfunction and maybe some tax cuts? I DON’T KNOW! And nobody else does, either. Predicting what might happen seems far less useful than working to bring about the change you want to see.

SOURCE: Fox, J. (15 May 2020) "COVID-19 will disrupt many established workplace trends" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/articles/covid-19-wont-change-everything-for-workers-right


3 steps to optimize intern onboarding and training

Internships are often used to help students form a decision of where they may want to continue their career, or what field they may want to pursue. Read this blog post to learn three steps on optimizing interns and their training.


HR leaders face myriad challenges in crafting a positive candidate experience and establishing a strong culture across organizations, and there's an added twist when it comes to internship programs: this must be achieved in an exceptionally short amount of time.

"As much as Facebook is evaluating interns for their long-term potential as future employees, we know for certain that interns are also evaluating whether Facebook is where they want to launch their career," Oscar Perez, diversity recruitment and programs manager at Facebook, told HR Dive. "Interning allows college students to make more informed decisions about the type of company they want to work for and helps them crystallize a vision for the type of employee they want to be."

The intern experience trifecta

Multiple academics and learning experts echoed Perez's sentiments to HR Dive, generally suggesting that HR can find success with three steps: a short, formal onboarding; building in mechanisms for continuous skill-building; and a focus on the value of exposure to the business world.

Some formal onboarding

While some experts suggest that employee onboarding plans should cover at least a new hire's first 90 days, that's obviously not feasible for an internship that may last only 90 days.

"Something on the order of 10 to 15% is not unusual," Brooks Holtom, a management professor at Georgetown University told HR Dive. "Two or three days of up front training, and then maybe two hours a week on a Friday helps to increase both the capacity of the people but also the probability that they enjoy the work and they come back."

Still, an employer's onboarding for traditional employees may provide a roadmap, especially when it comes to the early days. This should include administrative tasks, introductions and acclimation to tasks.

"For all interns [at Facebook], the first day of their internship is spent in New Hire Orientation," Perez shared. "Where you get to hear from employees around the company on guiding principles that we anchor in as a company, critical logistical information that you'll need to navigate your time as an intern, [and] get an understanding of the other interns that will be your ‘home-base' community during your time at Facebook."

From there, interns meet their teams and learn more about the scope of their internship project, Perez continued. They also attend role-specific training on tools, expectations and critical concepts for both their role and beyond.

It may help to think about onboarding in three parts — pre-boarding, orientation and ramping up to productivity — according to Leslie Deutsch, director of learning solutions at TEKsystems. Deutsch previously shared a model for onboarding traditional employees; a similar, albeit more streamlined, structure can help when thinking about interns, she said.

"You want to give them exposure to your organization," Deutsch told HR Dive in a February interview, adding that it's important to make clear company values, mission and vision. Although, if interns are there to support a specific project or initiative, it may need to be more detailed, she said.

Pre-boarding can also be valuable, both as a way to engage the intern as a high-potential full-time candidate and to ensure they are learning as much about the company as they can before their first day. "I've seen pretty commonly [that] the onboarding and training actually starts before they even formally start the job. It's about building the relationship," Nicole Coomber, a professor of management at the University of Maryland, told HR Dive. "There are a lot of smaller interactions that happen before they come on board so that they have a lot of clarity on what they're actually doing when they get there."

Continuous, experiential training

Following formal onboarding, HR will want to focus on continuous learning, according to Holtom.

He noted that such efforts are good for building capacity and making sure that interns feel they are gaining from the experience. There are a lot of ways to deliver this kind of training, however, and it does not need to be formal or in-person; it can be worthwhile, for example, to make learning opportunities experiential.

"[Students] want to gain the experience that prepares them for the next professional opportunity and the chance to build relationships with other professionals in their field. That really sets apart a positive internship experience from a negative one," Rachel Loock, associate director of career services at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business, told HR Dive.

For graduate school interns, experiential learning can be particularly valuable because they are already experienced professionals that may be making a career switch. They may need to get up to speed on certain software or business concepts to successfully make that switch.

"MBA internships are often used as a ‘bridge' to pivot from one industry or function to another,  Doreen Amorosa, associate dean of career services at the Georgetown McDonough School of Business, told HR Dive. "Successful internships allow MBA students to demonstrate newly acquired academic skills which enable those career transitions," she said.

SOURCE: Kidwai, A. (13 April 2020) "3 steps to optimize intern onboarding and training" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.hrdive.com/news/3-steps-to-optimize-intern-onboarding-and-training/576014/


The Saxon Advisor - May 2020

Compliance Check

what you need to know


Eligible Automatic Contribution Arrangement (EACA). For failed ADP/ACP tests, corrective distributions must be made towards participants within 6 months after the plan year ends – June 30, 2020.

SF HSCO Expenditures. The last day to submit SF HSCO expenditures, if applicable*, for Q2 is July 30, 2020. *Applicable for employers with 20+ employees doing business in SF and Non-Profits with 50+ employees.

Form 5500 and Form 5558. The deadline for the 2019 plan year’s Form 5500 and Form 5558 is July 31, 2020 (unless otherwise extended by Form 5558 or automatically with an extended corporate income tax return).

Form 8955-SSA. Unless extended by Form 5558, Form 8955-SSA and the terminated vested participant statements for the plan year of 2019 are due July 31, 2020.

Form 5558. Unless there is an automatic extension due to corporate income tax returns, a single Form 5558 and 8955-SSA is due by 2½ months for the 2019 plan year.

Form 5330. For failed ADP/ACP tests regarding excise tax, Form 5330 must be filed by July 31, 2020.

401(k) Plans. For ADP/ACP testing, the recommended Interim is due August 1, 2020.

In this Issue

  • Upcoming Compliance Deadlines:
    • Eligible Automatic Contribution Arrangement (EACA)
    • The deadline for the 2019 plan year’s Form 5500 and Form 5558 is July 31, 2020.
  • Providing an HSA, FSA, or HRA Health Plan for your Employees
  • Fresh Brew Featuring Lexi Kofron
  • This month’s Saxon U: How To Legally Work With Gig And Contract Workers
  • #CommunityStrong: Families Forward Donation Drive

How To Legally Work With Gig And Contract Workers

Join us for this interactive and educational Saxon U seminar with Pandy Pridemore, The Human Resources USA, LLC, as we discuss how to legally work with Gig and Contract Workers.

Providing an HSA, FSA, or HRA Health Plan for your Employees

Bringing the knowledge of our in-house advisors right to you...


When open enrollment hits annually, it is not uncommon for employers to feel exasperated when staring down a list of acronyms such as HSA, FSA and HRA. As it should go without saying, the most common first thought is, “What does any of this mean?” Even the most seasoned experts have difficulty with understanding the complexities of various care options.

““It is your account; yours if you leave the employer and can contribute as long as you have an HDHP and can use the funds until they are gone, even if you are no longer in an HDHP.” said Kelley Bell, a Group Health Benefits Consultant at Saxon Financial.

Advice from Kelley

Fresh Brew Featuring Lexi Kofron

"Stay calm and collected on phone calls, and stay organized!"


This month’s Fresh Brew features Lexi Kofron, a Client Service Specialist at Saxon.

Lexi’s favorite brew is a Cinnamon Dolce Latte. Her favorite local spot to grab his favorite brew is at Starbucks

Scott’s favorite snack to enjoy is Pretzels and Hummus.

Learn More About Lexi

This Month's #CommunityStrong:
Families Forward Donation Drive

This May the Saxon family donated a bunch of household items and outdoor activities to Families Forward. Their staff goes out each week in masks and gloves to hand out these donations to the families in need through their program. Here are some pictures they provided when they passed out the donations and our trunk load of donations!

Are you prepared for retirement?

Saxon creates strategies that are built around you and your vision for the future. The key is to take the first step of reaching out to a professional and then let us guide you along the path to a confident future.

Monthly compliance alerts, educational articles and events
- courtesy of Saxon Financial Advisors.