The Work From Home Genie is out of the bottle, or the lamp
LTG has been talking with business owners, senior executives and candidates internationally and many are looking at Work From Home or remote-working as the way forward for their companies and careers. While some industries have been working remote for decades many resisted for a wide range of business reasons. Some are essential to having the work done at a specific facility but many have had other rationale. The pandemic may have forced the situation. Had this been 2-4 weeks long we would have all gone back. But the WFH Genie is out of the proverbial bottle, or the lamp now.
For some people they desire to get back to a more traditional workplace. Some of the standards:
1-Prefer 2 distinct locations in life -- 1 for work, 1 for everything else
2-Being able to manage the group of employees in one location is preferable -- Meetings, training, management of teams and personalities has been easier.
3-Confidentiality and Security -- depending on the nature of the business, being able to lessen liabilities by containing the work location
3-Social community -- Many fully enjoy the traditional work community and build life long connections
4-Love -- A quick Google search shows various sources that cite anywhere from 20-33 percent of people met their spouse through work. What will those stats look like in a year or two from now?
5-Road Warriors with great sound systems in their cars -- Some enjoy the commute to unwind after work cranking tunes or catch up with friends and family waiting for the gridlock to ease. Others to continue working from the car.
On the flip side:
1-The overhead costs -- Keeping large commercial real estate holdings and related maintenance costs
2-Killer commutes -- 5-20 hours/week per employee in lost time now potentially used for other purposes
3-Daily Daycare Scramble -- Racing to drop them off or pick them up each day
4-Environmentally, a lower carbon footprint -- Less traffic, less pollution
5-Quality Family time -- Many parents are spending more time with their growing children
While the pandemic has been tragic in some areas it has forced the creation of new technology and initiatives that would not have happened without this global situation. We will see many new innovations in the coming years that sowed their seeds in 2020. Even in just the past year, many companies have pivoted to stay vital and even to grow during this challenging time.
We are looking forward with optimism to see what positive initiatives 2021 and 2022 brings and we look forward to partnering with both clients and candidates to be part of the changes as well as the return to normal traditional workplaces. It will be very interesting to see how many companies and employees have had their 3 wishes but want to put the WFH genie back in the lamp and return to the traditional work place versus the remote.
Post Covid-19, What does work look like for you?
Back in March 2020 I recall being on the phone with studio execs at a video game company in Vancouver. They had just put out the official news to send everyone home. At that very same time, their studio in China had employees returning to work. They had masks on all day, temperature checks and stringent cleaning but after 10 weeks at home they were now all back at work but their western studios were just starting to shut down to pivot to work from home.
At the time we speculated about maybe this would be 5-10 weeks in N.America and then we’d all be back to work as usual. We had no idea what the future of 2020 would look like at the time. The lock-downs, the quarantines, etc. And companies and their employees getting used to working from home. The saved time versus commuting, more time with young children with 1 or both parents home, the ability to produce confidential client work from hundreds of locations versus just 1 were all new ground for many.
But with a vaccine or potentially several vaccines on the near horizon, will we all be going back to traditional bricks and mortar locations? Has the work from home or “WFH” era stretched so far that some employees won’t go back if they can avoid it? Will they look to move to other companies that have more flex time versus those who go back to more pre-covid norms of 40-ish hours in the office?
Apple mentioned early in 2020 that their goal would be all employees back to work when possible. Facebook made a prediction that 50% of their employees would return at some point. Other tech firms made the statement that this was their new norm and remote work was the way all work would be done moving forward.
LeFort Talent Group has met with various leaders this past year to discuss this. The overlying comment from many is that when it is SAFE to bring teams back they hope to bring back all or a high percentage of their employees. Truly it’s a new era as many WFH requests in the past were disruptive in some firms or challenging to manage. It seemed much more effective to have everyone on a similar schedule and in one location.
Many businesses have multi-year leases on equipment and large real estate holdings and look forward to getting the teams back to manage them in one spot. From surveys and anecdotal discussions this year people seem to be slotting into 3 camps. 1, those that look forward to going back. 2, those that don’t want to go back. 3rd, those who are hoping for a blend of work from home and possibly a day or two at the studio/office.
We have seen the rise of a new job description during the pandemic. “Head of Remote Work” has popped up in several industries. Truly, businesses will need to find ways to help retain this work force as well as manage and monitor productivity. All the social glue that keeps teams together is harder to quantify when they are all at home.
New technology has already cropped up in the past 6 months and platforms have become more robust to handle the extra traffic. We look forward to seeing what new innovations evolve in the next 12-24 months to facilitate a potentially new way of working for some businesses. A hybrid of WFH and work in the office. Less time commuting, potentially more family time for those with children at home.
2021 will be another adventure compared to 2020. We look forward to the positive shifts and changes in work and work culture. This pandemic may have created several new paths forward for many of us. Where will you want to work? What camp is most preferable for you? WFH, a blend of both or do you prefer to get back to a location out of house?
We are all prone to judging someone before we get to know who they are. Almost all of us know someone that surprised us by being completely different (in a great way) than what we initially pegged them to be. Keep reading to learn how allowing biases to have a role in hiring decisions can prove to be a huge mistake.
Bias Can Lead to Hiring Mistakes
Bias can happen in every aspect of your personal and professional life, even in the hiring process. Many biases begin when reviewing resumes. People can begin to make assumptions about another person simply based upon their name. While an organization cannot legally deny a highly qualified candidate an open position based upon age, gender, sexuality, or marital status, it does occur.
There are other biases such as poor credit, unemployment status, appearance, and weight that can be gray areas depending on the position. In fact, overweight or obese candidates are more likely to face discrimination and be paid 1-6% less than equally qualified average weight people. This is more prevalent in women than men. The higher a person’s body mass index (BMI), the less hirable they are.
Emotional bias is one that is hardest to pinpoint and control. Many times a hiring manager will have an emotional connection or gut feeling about a candidate. The candidate could share many traits of that manager’s best friend or even themselves. This type of emotional bias could result in a mis-hire.
Another large group of top talent that is often overlooked are those without perfect credentials or are job jumpers. These can, in fact, be some of the best hires for many reasons. In regards to those without perfect credentials, it is important to hire for attitude and train for skill. In reality, every new hire will have some learning curve. Hiring someone with fewer credentials or experience means you are hiring someone with fewer bad habits.
Not convinced? Look at the qualification requirements for open positions at your organization. Even look at the qualifications required for your position. Do you currently or did you possess the requirements necessary for the position when you were hired? Most requirements (short of those in highly technical or medical fields) in job postings do not predict success. Truly, a proven track record is more impressive than direct experience. Those with weaker credentials tend to stay longer and are cheaper to hire. They can also be game changers by bringing in new ideas and a fresh perspective to the organization.
Even though the concept of long-term tenures is antiquated, 43% of employers will not consider job jumpers, but this could be a very shortsighted way of thinking. Not only are most skills transferable, job jumpers tend to be super talented professionals. This is why they tend to be recruited. They are adaptable and easy to attract and procure. Best of all, they are innovative and bring ideas and skills from the competition.
Do not get trapped in bias, whether it is physical, emotional, or based upon a candidate’s experience or tenure at previous companies. These biases will risk your organization’s ability to hire some of the best talent that is available.
Do not make the mistake of hiring someone without first checking their references. In order to get a solid overall picture of who it is that you are hiring, it is important to include references in developing that picture. Keep reading to learn why reference checks are imperative to the hiring process.
Reference Checks Done Right
Reference checks are an important way to reduce the risk of making a bad hire. In fact, it is the number one way to avoid a mis-hire. It seems that many organizations have stopped performing this vital step in the hiring process. Whether it is because there is too much reliance upon assessments and checking up on candidates through their social media accounts, not performing a thorough reference check is a huge mistake.
Part of a successful hiring process consists of a process for reference checks. This process can include looking at a candidate’s social media and LinkedIn accounts. However, doing so can create bias, so it is best that the final decision-maker not perform this task.
When checking references, the goal is to understand the type of relationship the candidate had with former colleagues and managers. These relationships are very important. The relationships with their colleagues show how they work in a team environment. The relationships they had with former managers are very telling of their work ethic. The length of these relationships are also important and will give you a better idea of the candidate as a person.
A reference check can be thought of as another way of assessing the candidate’s fit for the position. It is a way to determine how the candidate will succeed in the organization’s culture.
Some great questions to ask include:
• How does the candidate relate to others, especially in stressful situations?
• What are the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses?
• What is the best way to manage the candidate?
• Would you rehire them?
Asking great questions that will help uncover even more insight on the candidate will allow you to determine if they are the best person for the position. It can also be the most important determining factor if two or more candidates are frontrunners for the position. How people talk about a person when they are not present is usually the most honest information one can obtain.
Every hiring manager wants to know that the candidates they hire work out well in their various positions. It is always a possibility that a hiring manager will bring on a bad hire. However, it is also important to know what constitutes an actual bad hire. Keep reading to learn why bad hires occur and how to differentiate between a bad hire and one who simply works differently than you.
Identifying the Source of Bad Hires
After all the work of interviewing and on-boarding, it is disappointing when faced with a bad hire. Sometimes bad hires are not easy to identify until months into their tenure. Many times the bad hire is a result of the hiring manager, not the team member.
When faced with a new hire that has been properly on-boarded and trained in your organization’s processes and procedures, but is not living up to their potential as identified in the hiring process, it can be hard to decide whether or not they are a good fit. There are three main identifiers to help you determine if this person is the right fit for the role and organization as a whole. It is important to analyze these identifiers early. That way, if the person is not a great fit, you can restart the hiring process quickly.
The three main identifiers are:
Hiring managers can be a main contributor to making bad hires. The biggest mistake hiring managers can make is hiring someone like themselves. It is important to be able to get along with your colleagues, but you do not need to be their best friend.
Other times bad hires occur before the hiring process begins. When organizations are not looking at the entire corporate life cycle, it can be difficult to determine what problem the new hire is to solve. It is nearly impossible to hire the right person for the role if the purpose of the role is unknown.
Hiring someone who is not able to grow with the company or hiring too many thinkers, instead of producers, is a recipe for hiring disaster. Every organization needs a balance of these two types of individuals, regardless of the industry.
In many industries and roles, hiring someone with 70% of the technical skills and background and then training for the remaining 30% works well. However, some roles require 90 to 100% of the skills. If an organization does not properly identify those highly specialized roles, hiring managers can fall into the trap of thinking that they can train for the deficit.
Finally, as technology changes the way we work, some hiring managers may feel that they have made a bad hire if the new team member is not working as hard or as many hours as their colleagues. Everyone works at different paces and it is important to understand that hours worked does not equate effort. Instead of looking at how long someone is toiling at their desk, look for productivity and innovation.
Bad hires are frustrating for both the hiring manager and the new hire. Identifying where you went astray can help in future hiring efforts.
How to attract the best and brightest to your company is a challenge we are hearing from most, if not all of our clients right now. Once you find them, hiring, on-boarding, motivating, and ultimately retaining them become the next challenge.
At Lefort Talent Group we speak to candidates every day and are uniquely qualified to lend insights on how to help you with the above targets. Watch your emails from us over the next few months! We will identify strategies you can implement right now in your business to help you find, attract, and retain the best people. Regardless if you use our services or not, the topics within our emails will give you a competitive edge in the "War for Talent".
Continue reading below as we address the talent attraction and retention processes.
Act Fast When Hiring or Risk Losing Out on Great Talent
If candidates had a countdown timer on them like online sales or eBay auctions you would see that there is not much time to make hiring decisions. The most qualified candidates have even less time on their countdown timer. As more and more Baby Boomers transition out of their roles, there is an increased talent shortage and urgency to fill all of the vacancies.
Today’s economy is facing record low unemployment rates and there are more open jobs than ever. Despite this, it is taking more time to fill these jobs. Access to more potential candidates through job boards has hiring managers worried about missing out on selecting the perfect fit for the role.
Leaving positions open for longer means larger workloads for teams and managers alike. Employees of all levels are having to juggle their current responsibilities while picking up slack from the vacancies. For hiring managers, this means that reviewing resumes and conducting interviews can be delayed.
While the hiring manager is an important decisionmaker in the process, the team is equally important. If you do not want to lose out on great talent, empower a senior member of the team to review resumes, conduct interviews, and even make hiring decisions. From there, they can hand off logistics – such as negotiating an offer – to the hiring manager.
Slow decision-making can also occur when you are choosing between two highly qualified candidates.
When candidates are in a dead heat for the position, do not delay the decision and risk losing both opportunities. Instead, quickly initiate the following procedures.
If a key team member was not present for the interview process, ask them to talk to each candidate to help gauge the candidate’s fit within the team. In a short phone interview with the prospective employee, the team member may be able to gather very important information that did not come up in the initial interview process.
However, after conducting these conversations, you may still be in the same position and no closer to making a decision. In this case, you should ask yourself whether you have the option to bring on both candidates. Top talent is on the move, so instead of trying to determine who has the most potential, bring on both. You will not only shorten your decision time, but also have two new valuable team members that can potentially pay for themselves over time.
Regardless of the labor market, great active and passive candidates always have options. If you want to add someone with the skills and experience needed to round out your team, you have got to act fact. Taking too long to bring them into the hiring process or make a final decision will dramatically increase your time to fill vacancies, adding additional stress to your current team.
Start Your Hiring Process Off Right with a Great Job Post
The first step in the hiring process is posting the vacancy. Whether the position is newly open or newly created, the job posting can be the make-or-break point of hiring smart. The job posting begins your organization’s relationship with the candidate. It is your first impression, which determines what type of candidate you attract.
Think of your job posting as an advertisement for a product. That product is the open position. Create desire and interest by describing more than just the job itself. Grab the candidate’s attention and interest by selling the company culture and work environment. Use the AIDA model in your post - attention, interest, desire, action.
Many hiring managers are eager to attract the best talent with the least amount of effort. Yes, time is of the essence when you need to fill an open position. It is important to remember that the candidate’s time is equally precious. Top talent will not respond to postings that appear fake, require lots of work to apply for, or seem too good to be true.
To avoid having your job posting seem fake, include a phone number. This instills trust and confidence with the candidate. Many hiring managers will argue that posting a phone number will prompt a flood of phone calls. This is not the case. It will simply show the candidate that you are a real company, with a real opportunity, and are open to calls with questions. In many cases, those candidates who do call could be your top choices because they are invested in learning more about the organization and position.
Keep your application process easy and candidate-friendly. Candidates do not appreciate having to submit their resume and cover letter, in addition to completing a lengthy online application that asks essentially the same information. Top talent will not complete “homework” in order to apply for the position. They are also turned-off when required to disclose their salary requirements.
Some of the best talent out there are passive candidates. These candidates can be elusive, but not impossible to find. Most can be found at conferences or industry seminars. About 15% of all job seekers reach out through their personal network first. Involve your team in seeking out your next best hire.
Hiring smart begins with the job post. Make sure your post creates desire and interest by describing not only the position, but the company culture as well. Make the application process easy and remember that your next best hire might be someone within you or your team’s personal network.If you want to hire top talent, then you need to know how to quickly attract their attention within your job posting. Keep reading to learn the keys to success in creating a job posting that attracts the best candidates in the industry.
If you take a look at the listed job requirements for pretty much any entry-level position, you will likely see a college degree is included. Many hiring managers consider this to be a bare-minimum for any applicant, but by including this, you might actually be overlooking a lot of qualified candidates. In fact, not having a college degree may actually make some individuals even more successful on the job.
Why You Should Weigh Experience More Than a Degree
Fixing the talent shortage in your organization could be as simple as determining if a college or graduate degree is truly necessary in order to successfully perform the job functions. Granted, there are many roles in healthcare and other fields that require very specific training and credentials. Those roles absolutely need to be filled with appropriated qualified individuals. However, for the vast majority of open roles in most companies, a degree might not necessarily be needed.
A 2018 study conducted by Manpower shows that 45% of employers and 67% of large organizations struggle to find quality talent. Positions such as IT workers, technicians, administrators, and sales representatives do not learn the bulk of their skills in a classroom. More often than not, they learn what they need to know on the job.
One can argue that the experience of college is important. It allows for exploration and maturity, which is crucial to overall development and long-term learning. Yet, this learning is in a controlled environment and does not necessarily give students the skills required for a highly specialized field. It also does not always give practical, hands-on experience.
One large pool of highly skilled individuals that seem to be most impacted by degree requirements are veterans. While some have college degrees, many do not. However, what they often have are highly technical skills in IT, and experience working in engineering and maintenance. They also have tremendous leadership and critical thinking skills, which are incredibly valuable in all industries – and are skills that cannot be taught in a classroom. Since this group is accustomed to learning in real time, they also tend to be very trainable.
When faced with a stubborn vacancy, take a hard look at the skills and experience that are absolutely necessary to successfully performing the job duties. Does the ideal candidate really need a four-year degree or MBA? Or would you consider someone who does not have a degree, but instead has years of hand-on experience and professional development? The truth is, even someone with a degree will probably need some training. Each new position requires orientation to the organization, subject matter, systems, and/or clientele.
They say that life is the best educator. When looking for your next great team member, consider removing degree requirements whenever possible. Be open to viewing soft skills, experience, and professional development as education. This will greatly increase the pool of candidates for your position and may even help you fill your roles quicker and with better talent.
Why do people avoid conflict? Conflict avoidance can stem from not having seen conflict being both directly confronted and effectively resolved in childhood. It can also stem from one not being perceived as agreeable, especially for those who have ascended to higher roles within an organization. Those new to a leadership role may find it difficult to initiate difficult conversations with former co-workers or work friends.
Dealing with Conflict
All relationships are based on trust. When that trust erodes, it can strain the entire team. Trust begins with leadership. The ability to engage in difficult conversations is the hallmark of a great leader. However, many people are averse to conflict and, therefore, avoid discussing topics such as quotas, performance, poor attitude, and colleague relations. According to VitalSmarts, $1,500 and up to eight hours of time are wasted on each critical conversation avoided.
Those who struggle with conflict may utilize text or email to engage in difficult conversations. These means of communication are fraught with the tendency for miscommunication, due to the inability of the recipient to gauge tone and of the sender to gauge reaction.
There are some simple steps to engaging in difficult conversations:
Strengthening your leadership skills by strengthening your relationships will help instill trust within your teams. The key to building and maintaining trust is the ability to effectively engage in difficult conversations.
We all know just how important feedback is to employees. It helps them develop their skills and work toward their career goals. But many organizations forget that feedback should be a two-way street. If you want to truly support your team, and create a more positive and productive workplace, you also need to be open to receiving feedback yourself.
Receiving Feedback Is Just as Important as Giving
Leaders are accustomed to giving feedback and constructive criticism to their teams. This is actually one of the hallmarks of a great leader, the ability to give consistent and helpful feedback, tailored to each individual employee. But take a minute to consider just how often you solicit feedback from your team?
As more and more organizations embrace collaborative work environments, many still people feel intimidated by management, especially leaders at the upper levels of the company. Even when leaders roll up their sleeves and work in the trenches with their staff, there can still be a feeling of us-versus-them.
Generally, middle management receives regular feedback from their managers. However, those in the C-suite may only receive feedback from investors or a Board of Directors, which can come infrequently, if at all. Not asking for honest feedback from your team is a huge missed opportunity – and a risk.
In order to create an environment where feedback is openly given and received, you must first foster a culture of communication. Anonymous submissions to a suggestion box or responses on employee satisfaction surveys are not the best means to gauge how you and other leaders are doing. Having honest conversations with your team members about projects, goals, workload, or just getting to know them more on an individual level will help them feel more comfortable and open.
Attempt to understand the dynamics and issues of your team and organization before directly soliciting feedback from colleagues and staff. It is not possible to help employees be more open if you are seen as clueless about what happens within the walls of your office.
Start slow and bring the discussion to a neutral location. Invite one or two team members to coffee or lunch. Allow yourself and your team to become comfortable with the process. Asking for feedback in a casual environment will feel less threatening for everyone involved. And removing the perceived hierarchy of sitting in your office or a conference room will create an environment that is more like colleagues than manager and staff – at least in this scenario.
Finally, be ready to face some harsh truths without becoming defensive. Once a culture of honest communication is established, you may receive feedback that is not entirely favorable – and that is to be expected. Be prepared to own your mistakes and shortcomings and become dedicated to making any necessary changes.
The key to becoming a better leader is to understand how you can best support your team. Soliciting honest feedback from the people who work with you on a daily basis is the single best way to do so.
Lance LeFort is sought out by leaders in Animation, VFX, Video Games, and Digital Entertainment who recognize the need to attract the industry’s best talent. Through LeFort Talent Group’s extensive network of relationships and their “deep dive” qualification process, they are able to identify and secure individuals who represent the top tier of professionals.