Every week we identify the latest and greatest HR news, articles, and insights, compiling them here in a weekly roundup. In this week’s roundup we examine the #1 skill recruiters need for long-term success, removing blind spots in performance management, and running an ethical organization. We’ll also take a look at how to improve employer branding, as well as a huge untapped talent pool.
Matt Charney, FistfulofTalent
With job growth continuing to boom, it is only natural to expect the talent acquisition field to flourish alongside it. “Employers must add 500,000 new recruiters annually before 2023 to meet the BLS estimate (5% YoY growth),” says Matt Charney. “Take a closer look, though, and you’ll see that if you’re a recruiter, you’re probably justified in not worrying about your job today. It’s your future career you should probably be worrying about.” See, recruiting is somewhat unique in that:
- It pays well.
- It has no educational barriers to entry.
These two factors result in significant amount of recruiter turnover: since 2012, the average job tenure in the recruiting function has dropped from five years to two. Should the economy constrict (as is somewhat inevitable), the new wave of ambitious yet inexperienced recruiters will find themselves the first on the chopping block. In this case, the differentiating element that provides job security will the the ability to sell and close candidates. As Charney explains: “There’s a reason that the person with the most job stability in any company is the top salesperson. It’s because they’re a profit center, and if you bring in revenue, you’re on the right side of the bottom line.”
In a time when “recruitment marketing” has made huge strides in its purpose, function, and hype, Charney provides a refreshing take on the recruiter’s primary duty. Unlike others who are disillusioned with the notion of recruitment as a marketing function, Charney does not see it as entirely useless – rather, he sees it as one of the easiest functions to automate. Recruitment as marketing does have its place, particularly when it comes to building a positive employer brand. For customer facing organizations, positive brand building has the potential to provide a better ROI than standard marketing. But closing the best candidates, like closing the best deals, is a uniquely human skill. It requires the ability to empathize, communicate, and connect in a way that computers likely won’t be able to for decades.
Wally Hauck, TalentCulture
When traditional performance reviews went the way of the dinosaur, organizations turned to one of two alternatives:
- “The River of Software”: hoping to spend less time and paperwork on the review process, some organizations leveraged any number of tech tools to do so.
- The “No Ratings” River: hoping to “avoid the difficult and often damaging conversations which managers dread and which upset employees,” other organizations did away with ratings entirely.
According to Wally Hauck, when organizations jumped into these rivers they were not addressing root causes when they did so. Rather, they were merely addressing symptoms of root causes: frustrated employees, disappointed managers, and wasted time preparing for meetings. So after implementing more frequent feedback, no ratings, and an array of software solutions, we still have the same problems: frustrated employees, disappointed managers, and wasted time preparing for meetings. Only 8% of HR executives believe their performance management systems made a significant positive improvement in employee performance. Hauck identifies two reasons why:
- A blind spot, leading to a failure to recognize the system of which each employee is a part. “One of the main reasons the typical appraisal fails is because it is inconsistent with systems thinking,” says Hauck. “Systems thinking requires the placement of responsibility for results on the design and functioning of the system and the avoidance of placing responsibility for performance on the individuals or parts of the system.”
- The idea that the manager is the only individual capable of providing valid feedback.
In order to address the real root causes of dysfunction in the workplace, the above two issues must be addressed. By focusing on the system and creating a situation where multiple employees receive feedback for their work as a team (from each other, not a manager), steps can be taken to diagnose and cure these root causes.
Hauck addresses an issue that is common to departments faced with a variety of shiny new tech solutions: afraid of being left behind, they jump aboard the bandwagon without a firm grasp of “why.” Sometimes software just isn’t a solution, which is why it is critical to identify the problem before throwing tech at it. That feedback should be system-focused rather than individual-focused is an insightful take, given the team-based workplace where innovation thrives. Ideally teams would sort out their internal problems and provide each other feedback without HR’s prodding, but situations are not always ideal. I can see instances where management takes a presiding role during feedback sessions, refining and focusing discussion (rather than acting as its focal point), being particularly useful for struggling teams.
Valerie Bolden-Barrett, HRDive
Ethical quandaries in the business world continue to make headlines. Setting (and following) ethical standards decreases the risk of lawsuits and bolsters the business’ reputation among their peers and consumers. Valerie Bolden-Barrett provides three keys to running an ethical organization that sticks to its standards:
- Accountable Leadership. “Chief executive officers and other high-level company leaders hold themselves accountable for following and enforcing the same ethical standards as their employees,” says Bolden-Barrett. Ethical standards needs to be both carried out and instilled – and that starts at the top.
- Acceptable Conduct. Acceptable conduct does not mean doing the bare minimum to hit moral targets. It means a zero-tolerance policy for any standards violation, and full compliance with laws and regulations.
- Ethics Initiatives. “No one knows better than HR how to help employers behave like good corporate citizens for their employees and the surrounding communities, and operate within the law,” explains Bolden-Barrett. In an era where consumers are much more aware of corporate misdeeds, it is critical to nip violations in the bud before they become the standard way of doing things.
If you need to reaffirm the necessity of the HR function, simply search for “HR” in Google News. In this March edition of “Business Scandal of the Month,” we’ve got Thinx, a period-underwear startup accused of providing low pay and sparse benefits for its largely female workforce, coupled with management that can only be described as “sexually rambunctious.” Needless to say, Thinx did not have an HR department, HR policies, or an HR manager. Without an HR function to keep a constant eye on ethics initiatives, leadership, and standards, even the most forward-thinking organization will fall prey to putting profits over people.
Ushma Mistry, The Undercover Recruiter
With sites like Glassdoor gaining users by the day, employment branding is becoming key to attracting the best talent, regardless of industry. Ushman Mistry outlines the six markers WilsonHCG Research Institute uses to gauge employment branding in the Fortune 500:
- Career pages. Ease of application, consistent updating, and specific employer branding are all cornerstones of great career pages. “Your career page is a candidate’s introduction to your company and will help them decide whether or not they will express an interest in working for your company,” Mistry explains.
- Job boards. Job boards that use relatable language in job postings, detail perks and benefits, and use fleshed-out company profiles create a high level of engagement with candidates actively seeking work. Since job boards are flush with openings at other organizations, it is critical to make yours stand out.
- Employee reviews and candidate engagement. “There is no-one better to say how good your company is to work for than the people who work for you,” Mistry says. “69% of people would not take a job with a company that has a bad reputation, even if they were unemployed.”
- Accolades. Making awards and positive press centerstage on your career site is a simple and effective way to attract the best type of talent for your organization, as well as giving your brand credibility.
- Recruitment marketing. Employers that leverage a recruitment marketing strategy are already lightyears ahead of their competitors.
- Corporate social responsibility. “According to a 2014 survey by Nielsen, 67% of millennial respondents prefer to work for a socially responsible company,” Mistry explains. “When you consider that this group will make up 50 percent of the workforce by 2020, it’s something companies need to make a priority if they want to stay competitive.”
Any application, story, or form that is candidate-facing is also customer-facing. We’re also seeing that an emerging majority of the workforce takes corporate ethics into account when deciding where they will apply. It would not be unrealistic to assume these two factors impact each other, creating a vicious cycle for organizations perceived as unethical, and a virtuous cycle for their more well-received counterparts. Most organizations are beginning to tackle at least some of the above, but an area that is still ripe for leveraging is that of job descriptions. According to Andre Lavoie at Aberdeen Essentials, job descriptions that focus on the needs of the candidate (rather than communicating demands levied on the potential employee) yield three times as many highly rated applicants. When was the last time you saw a truly candidate-focused job description? Not a job description that hides its demands behind pseudo-witty startup speak, but a description that actually detailed the benefits the organization can provide the candidate? Job descriptions of this variety remain unicorns in the recruiting industry – so there is still a first-to-market advantage for those who leverage them.
Jenny Holt, Workology
The words “talent shortage” get thrown around a lot, but many recruiters are overlooking a huge pool of untapped talent: those with disabilities. “Many people with disabilities, particularly those with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), haven’t been able to find a job,” Jenny Holt explains. “Yet many are eager to work and are more than capable.” Adopting a more inclusive workplace environment can have positive effects across the organization, from increasing the number of high quality applicants to encouraging creativity and outside-the-box thinking in teams. 60% of those with ASD have average or above average intelligence, and make focused, methodical employees; but social difficulties can make the hiring process unnavigable. By reevaluating your hiring process – from adverts to interviews – and working to make it more inclusive, you gain access to a wealth of untapped talent (85% of those with ASD are unemployed). “There should be no unnecessary criteria which automatically excludes certain people and only include the skills and experience which are essential for the job,” Holt says. “Interviews should also be flexible and allow for any modifications needed to allow an individual to be considered for the job.” It is important to maintain a support network for the disabled even after they are hired. Assigning each a mentor to guide them through their first few weeks on the job will help them settle comfortably into their role.
It’s amazing where a bit of empathy and outside-the-box thinking will get you, even in a “talent shortage.” Deloitte recently delved into changing definitions of “diversity” in their 2017 Human Capital Trends report, indicating that one of the “new rules” of diversity hiring is the definition of diversity in a broader context. We know that increasing gender and racial diversity in the workplace can improve revenue per employee by upwards of 30%. In the digital age where innovation is king, incorporating those who possess cognitive differences is not only the right thing to do, it may well be the most profitable.