I just returned from the Workhuman conference, which is unsurprisingly about making work more human. There were numerous impactful speakers and learnings - a few of which will stick with me longer than others.
See below for a few of my biggest takeaways from the sessions I attended:
Have the difficult conversations
According to Brené Brown, opting out of difficult conversations because they make you uncomfortable is the definition of privilege. Difficult conversations amongst team members are necessary for team success. Avoiding them for the sake of being “nice” or not wanting to feel discomfort leads to diminished engagement, trust and increased problematic behaviors, such as passive-aggression, gossiping and backchannel communications.
Hold yourself accountable
Ultimately, all you are able to control is your own work and way of looking at things. If you are unhappy in your current position or project, you have the ability to fix your own world. It’s easy to think “I can’t change everything, so I won’t change anything,” but that is counterproductive. You should plug and play and do what you can to create your own happiness.
No matter how hard you try, you won’t find success without vulnerability. Vulnerability comes from the same place as shame, fear and anxiety - but it also comes from the same place as courage, trust, empathy, adaptability, inclusion, and resilience - shall I go on? Vulnerability is not a weakness, and can lead to great work.
Anyone else attend Workhuman this week? We’d love to hear other’s biggest learnings!
Team bonding – two words when put together are usually met with a cringe or a groan. For whatever reason, team bonding activities feel like a chore, disingenuous, or corny. And while I can’t argue this is true 100% of the time, it feels more accurate than not.
As someone who helps to organize team outings, I feel a tremendous responsibility to make sure that I am putting activities forward that have purpose beyond getting drinks at a bar or eating at a fun new restaurant (not the worst activities to go to).
As a small team we have the flexibility to do more non-traditional activities. That’s why this February, the Havas People NY team decided to #jointhebattle and participate in Cycle for Survival – a charity event that raises money to help find a cure for rare cancer.
When I asked the team if they wanted to participate – I received a resounding “YES”. After all, it’s a pretty simple proposition – raise money and help find a cure for cancer. Who could say no to that!
Having participated in past Cycle for Survival events, I knew what I was getting into. For my co-workers/team members I was so excited for them to get to experience four hours of inspiration, motivation and perspiration! Being in a room filled with people who have their own answers to #whyiride, but one common goal (cure cancer!) is so inspiring – I couldn't wait to get there that Friday night.
Part of the culture at Havas People is that we roll up our sleeve and we work together. And that is just what we did - As a new cycle team we have raised over $3,000 for rare cancer research!! I am so proud to work with a group of people who care about giving back to the community and making a difference – no matter how much they sweat doing it!
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Starting any new job will always include a learning curve no matter your experience level. On some stratus I knew this as I joined Havas People. Coming from a medium-size in-house ad agency that focused solely on clients in or within-driving-distance of Kansas City, I was nervous of the global agency assimilation process. But it was nothing like I had expected, and let me tell you why:
Employer Branding is a perspective
I have a considerable amount of experience in branding/brand equity. I’ve navigated many a rebrand, M&A’s, startup branding, etc, on top of the day-to-day brand guardianship that’s expected of communications professionals. But, employer branding is not a task or skill that you learn – it’s a totally new perspective of branding that I had not been pushed to consider before.
Here was my thought process before joining Havas People: “Employer branding is key to hiring more professionals and building your business, similar to how consumer branding is key to selling product/services and building your business.”
And now: “The insights that make up your employer and consumer brand are the same, and if you’re not telling that story, your brand is broken.”
I was ready to come to my first day of work, grab my key card and computer, and Google a step-by-step tutorial of employer branding. But the reality is (for all my fellow CPG peers) branding is branding and at the end of the day, putting yourself into your employees’ shoes (versus consumers’ shoes*) is a mindset and a practice.
*Pro tip: Your employees are likely to be consumers and vice versa.
Working globally is challenging
Way more challenging than I expected, and the most impactful adjustment I had to make (and yes, that includes downsizing to a 250 square foot studio in NYC): taking people for granted.
When part of your team is located in a time zone six hours ahead of you, you find you’ve taken for granted the knowledge sharing that happens by osmosis when you work desk-side with your specialized peers. And as with all challenges, I’ve grown from the experience.
I now make an effort to ask my coworkers what they’re working on, what’s trending in their respective fields, problems they’re facing and accomplishments they’re celebrating. I’m intentional in making my briefs crisper and storytelling succinct.
I over-thank to show my appreciation and build a rapport. So, while learning new things from the people around me is no longer a passive task, it has ultimately made me a better, more intentional communicator.
- Megan Scott, Account Supervisor
Have you ever gone on a date you thought went really well, only for days and weeks to go by without hearing a word from your date? This is called ghosting.
Ghosting, defined by Webster’s dictionary as “the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication,” was once reserved for dating. Ghosting is now common practice in recruiting.
Attending Indeed’s annual conference, ghosting was a hot topic at a panel discussion. Numerous employers explained that feedback showed ghosting to be one of the top complaints from job seekers.
Many candidates send their application to a company they’re excited about, come in for an interview, to then wait by their phone (or inbox) and never hear a word. More than just lacking common decency, it reflects negatively on the employer’s brand and leaves a poor taste in candidate’s mouths.
Candidates don’t forget when companies don't respond or update them. Numerous studies show shunned candidates are less likely to buy from a company after being ghosted. They also are far less likely to apply at the same company in the future, and may share their poor experience online and with friends.
Communicating actively shows respect to candidates for the time invested in applying, preparing for an interview, and traveling to an interview. It’s also an opportunity to leave a positive impression - leading to potential referrals and return applicants.
Even if it is bad news, don’t be a ghost - send that email.
HR technology is an umbrella term for technology that automates the human resources function. There is automated tech for employee payroll and compensation, talent acquisition and management, workforce analytics, performance management, benefits administration, etc.
While all of that is great to know, why should you care about HR tech?
First, there are the financial benefits. HR organizations that “regularly use data to make talent and HR strategy decisions” generate 30% greater stock returns than the S&P 500 over the last 3 years.*
And then there are workplace benefits, specifically related to diversity and inclusion.
Pay equity legislation is a hot topic for businesses nationwide. Eliminating discrimination in wages is challenging – pay transparency laws restrict companies from asking about employee salary history; work loads differ for same job titles; different merits receive more compensation than others; etc.
Cue HR tech to the rescue. Technology plays a critical role in navigating these challenges and committing your organization to fair pay. Pay equity in turn leads to flourishing morale, a stronger brand (internally and externally) and a growing business – not to mention proactive protection against potential lawsuits.
One tool that offers solutions to the issue of diversity and inclusion is Syndio. By compiling data about employees (gender, years of experience, IQ, etc) with internal work information gathered from employees, Syndio is able to measure the inclusion of individuals, identify high/low collaborative groups, internally influential employees and retention risk. As it relates to pay equity, Syndio can use this information to identify compensation tiers for different positions and current employees being underpaid/overpaid.
With this information, companies are able to audit, measure and potentially fix current inclusion efforts. All of which would not be possible without HR tech!
So don’t fear the technology opportunities around us – work with the technology experts to embrace them and discover your business’ potential.
*Putting HR Tech to Work for You, Zev J. Eigen, JD, PhD
We recently attended SHRM New York City’s annual conference. One of the breakout sessions discussed the future of work and the workforce. This session largely broke down the changing motivations of today’s workforce, and what is valued in a job.
It really struck me when the speaker mentioned that the number one reason people leave jobs is because they feel they aren’t valued, or able to contribute the way they would like to.
Not that they’re overworked, but that they would like to do more - and aren’t given the support, tools, or opportunity to do so.
This is unfortunate, because it’s something that can so easily be changed. Engaging employees, valuing them, making them feel included, and offering opportunities for growth is something all companies can do and should be doing.
Investing in your employees has proven benefits, including increased engagement, increased performance and retention.
Here are some simple things you can do to lean in to the changing values of the workforce, and keep employees happy:
1) Highly individualized leadership - Seek to discover every employee’s potential. Remember your team is made up of individuals. Every employee brings different experiences and attributes to the table. Treating everyone the same does a disservice to your organization, and your employees. Tailor conversations and reviews to individual’s interests, goals, and personalities.
2) Don’t focus on past performance, focus on contributions - This point is pretty self explanatory, but checking off tick boxes in generic performance reviews has limited value. Focus instead on positive contributions individuals have made, providing concrete proof of their value. This method of feedback has been shown to increase moral, makes employees feel seen and heard, and most importantly - lead to future development and growth.
3) Be transparent - Employees experience their organization through their direct leaders. In many companies, there is not direct access to the C-suite. The further down the ladder you get, the less engaged an employee is, frequently do to the lack of information and inability to see the bigger picture. Transparency is a unifier and helps grow relationships and employee investment. Keep employees in the loop with what’s happening in your organization and give them an opportunity to get involved in new initiatives and projects.
At the end of 2017, a global study* found that only 19% of employees perceive a strong match between how their employer represents itself and the reality of their experience as an employee.
It’s a troubling statistic, but not a surprising one. Across marketing – from consumer to employee – until the last decade the emphasis has been on broadcast messaging. In other words, telling your audience what you want them to believe. It’s an outdated strategy in a world where information has been democratized, transparency is expected, and sharing across channels is the norm. Consumers and employees alike expect to voice their opinions – and to have them listened to.
But perhaps employer brands have been slower than those in the consumer space to harness the potential that comes with this new landscape. Which is a particularly big missed opportunity as the changing world of work has made culture and authenticity key priorities. Millennials in particular want to work for a company that shares their beliefs. To do that, you need to first believe what that company has to say.
But whereas 90% of companies now operate on the basis of the customer experience (CX)*, it’s very recently that the employee experience has been acknowledged as a driving force.
At Havas People, we’ve been building strategies around the Employee Experience (EX) for some time. What do we really mean by that? We mean a focus on the day-to-day reality of your employees, your candidates, and even your alumni. We find ways to use our expertise in communications to add value at every touchpoint of the employee experience. Working with clients in this way, we’ve noticed a number of key benefits.
1. Better hiring
We don’t mean simply compelling attraction messaging or even good hiring stats. We mean hiring more of the right people. With an authentic look into your employees’ reality, you’ll connect with more people who share the motivations and behaviors that you instill in your workforce, not just the most talented or experienced.
2. Better retention
A focus on the employee experience by definition prioritizes and celebrates your people. After years of hearing that “Employees are our most important asset” companies are now putting that philosophy into practice with models created employee-first. This can create a very powerful social contract between employer and employee.
One of the benefits of that strong social contract between employer and employee is that – when your employees genuinely feel proud to work for you – they want to share that experience and become advocates for your brand.
4. Increased productivity and performance
Ultimately a great employee experience builds engagement. There’s a deeper sense of purpose to your work in a company which you believe in, and where you can enjoy going to work every day. In turn, this can improve productivity and performance.
There are many ways to start enhancing your employee experience, many tools available and different priorities to consider. But one simple rule to bear in mind is to consider all decisions through the lens of the employee experience. While it may sound like an unnecessary layer for decision-making, consider the potential.
People are an organization’s greatest asset. We all understand that. Isn’t it time we did something about it?
* The Employer Brand Credibility Gap: Bridging the Divide, was commissioned by global communications and engagement firm Weber Shandwick in partnership with KRC Research.
* Gartner 2017 Research Study.
* Gartner research study
It is national #STEMDay in the US.
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, STEM related occupations are growing three times faster than other occupations. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics workers play an important role in the growth and stability of the U.S. economy, and are vital to our society.
Linkedin recently took a look at STEM heavy fields and the gender representation within these jobs.
"In honor of National STEM Day, we looked at how women around the globe are faring in STEM-heavy industries—software and IT, healthcare, and finance. This included looking over the past 10 years on what women studied in university to ultimately land them in their respective careers," LinkedIn wrote.
They found that gender gaps begin early, and "While women are pursuing degrees relevant to STEM fields, they are severely underrepresented amongst graduates with technical degrees, and there is a high demand for more women in STEM fields."
Read more about Linkedin's findings, and programs they've created to help create more inclusive talent pools and advance women in tech here.
Jo Schopper, Account Executive
I just joined the team here at Havas People, previously working in digital marketing for numerous brands and public figures. Coming to the world of employer marketing from a more mainstream background may seem like a big jump, but in reality there are numerous parallels and ways thinking like a marketer can help improve the employee experience, specifically in recruiting.
Here are my initial thoughts after just one week here with the team:
People first – Creating a positive, user-friendly experience during recruitment can go a long way. Job seekers can in some ways be looked at like customers. Treating a customer poorly or not responding leads to lost sales; the same can be said for job candidates. Any poor impression during the recruiting process can lead to them losing interest in the position or company, not only while job seeking, but long term. This can have huge repercussions if they tell friends, post on social media or post a review of their experience on websites like Glassdoor.
Everyone is a recruiter – Your employees are your best ambassadors and biggest advocates. If an employee is happy at your organization, they’ll talk about it. This creates a huge pool of potential talent waiting to be tapped into, simplifying recruiting processes. Building a strong brand and sense of community makes employees feel like they're a part of something special, increasing the chances they will recommend the organization to others.
Paid ads and targeting – For retail, social media paid ads move the needle, as organic posts are becoming more obsolete. The same can be true for job postings. Sponsored ads on websites like Linkedin, Indeed and even Facebook have many advantages over organic posts. They allow you to target by entering certain demographics and criteria you’re searching for, give your posting better positioning on the site, and allow for better tracking and reporting leading to an easier recruitment process.
Jo Schopper, Account Executive