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Every week we comb the internet for the finest HR news, articles, and insights, compiling them here in a weekly roundup. In this week's roundup we look at some unconventional ways of improving engagement in the workplace, and we'll also examine how to hire and engage freelancers. and the future of on-the-job training.
According to a survey of 1000 American workers, furniture, lighting, functional space, and ambience like plants and art all contribute to the way they perceive their workplace environment. Matt Zajechowski examines these attributes of office design and decoration and reveals how each has an effect on the worker.
Read the full results of the survey here.
This is interesting, if only because it finally puts some numbers to what should be pretty obvious. It is hardly surprising that uncomfortable furniture, poor lighting, and a dull office environment are productivity killers. Perhaps most striking is the effect of potted plants - as mentioned above, those with lots of plants in the workplace were 85% more likely to feel that the environment was helping productivity. Compare that to the much smaller 35% associated with natural light. Since most workplaces can’t exactly go knocking holes in the ceiling, turning the workplace into an arboretum seems like a fair compromise.
“Gamification is proving to be an effective tactic to help motivate employees and increase engagement,” Meghan Biro begins. “We love logging on and tracking all sorts of progress on a digital screen to enjoy small, personal victories. So why shouldn’t the workplace capitalize on that mindset?” Nike, Codecademy, and Starbucks are all leveraging gamification to increase engagement - Biro provides six reasons why this trend will continue its upswing:
“Only good things can happen when your team is engaged and striving for a higher success score,” Biro concludes.
Gamification has become a popular topic of late, and its precise definition has become muddled as a result. Let’s start from the top: the companies leveraging “gamification” (Nike, Codecademy, and Starbucks) are not doing so with their employees. They are using app-centric rewards and challenges to engage their consumers. This is a critical distinction to make, as building relationships with the consumer is hugely different from crafting a productivity-enabling experience for employees. Boosting employee engagement with gamified challenges has great potential - but employers should be careful. When overlaying the traditional work environment with games and achievements, it is crucial that these efforts are not construed as patronizing, else they backfire and create employee resentment.
According to CareerBuilder’s latest jobs survey, 40% of employers plan to hire full-time, permanent employees in 2017, up from 36% in 2016. This uptick doesn’t just stop at full-time, however: part-time and contract positions are expected to increase as well. With this in mind, CareerBuilder provides five hiring trends to watch in the coming year:
For organizations still recovering from the recession and brand new startups, talent acquisition is competitive sport. Creating a strong employer brand will be critical for these companies to attract elusive “top talent,” and one of the best ways to positively impact employment brand is by crafting a great candidate experience. Those that can streamline their processes, identify, and snipe the best talent fastest will be the ones that come out on top.
“Freelancing represents 35% of the U.S. workforce,” Sharlyn Lauby begins, reflecting on this recent WSJ article. “And a growing number of individuals are choosing freelancing as a career (63%).” In other words, freelancing should no longer be considered a side gig that people do when they can’t find a real job. When it comes to freelancing, there are benefits for both freelancers and those that employ them. Freelancers, by definition, work as they please - so while they might not get the same benefits they would as full-time staff, they have the freedom to juggle personal responsibilities and interests. Lauby provides two tips for individuals looking to turn freelancing into a full-time gig:
Employers, on the other hand, “can flex up or down their operations easily.” Hiring full time (or even part time) staff is a lot of work, and in industries prone to flux, the ability to scale up or down at a moment’s notice is a godsend. Lauby gives these two tips for organizations looking to get into the freelancing game:
The “gig economy” is creating an opportunity for people to work profitable side gigs that create the opportunity for increased flexibility in their work. So what happens when the best know they’re the best? Many start their own businesses. They become freelancers, further contributing to the talent shortage among top talent. The best freelancers have limited time, as well as the freedom to allocate it where they choose. Creating an organization that freelancers want to add to their portfolio will be critical to engaging the top freelancing talent.
“The speed of change has many companies flustered and HR and training professionals wondering what needs to be done in order to keep up with changing technology,” Mike Haberman begins. “How do you teach the skills of the future when the skills of today are obsolete tomorrow?” The answer: don’t teach skills. Teach the competencies required to quickly grasp new skills as they become necessary. The German economist, Michael Zibrowius, puts it this way: “it was not enough to know how to lay bricks on mortar; one had to understand why and how a wall functioned, since they way to build it years down the line might be entirely different.” For the HR professional, the SHRM lists 8 behavioral competencies:
“These to not refer to a single skill set that requires technical knowledge,” Haberman explains. A perfect example is that of social media. Leveraging social media to recruit, retain, and engage talent is a skill, built around the competency of communication. If you don’t know how to communicate, you won’t be able to successfully use social media. Building competencies means learning how to learn. As required work skillsets continue to evolve, no aptitude is more necessary.
That we should learn overarching competencies (ie, learn how to learn) rather than specific skills is an idea that goes back to Plato. It is intriguing that somewhere down the line we lost this notion, content with the knowledge of a single, unchanging craft. The HR professional will play a critical part in this change, not only because of “big data” and the metrics it provides, but because they will be the ones implementing a “learn to learn” mindset within the workplace.