Employment Application Dilemma

Dear Future Employer,

Why do you ask me if I have been terminated, laid off, or resigned and not include an “other” option? I know how important it is to find out so you won’t hire someone in your organization that will wreak havoc or cause problems, but there has to be a better solution or question that can be asked. How about another option for people to use?

Sometimes jobs are not a good fit for the employee.

Sometimes the employee is leaving a toxic manager or environment.

Sometimes employees are not a good fit for the organization.

Sometimes employees are asked to do things that are in opposition of their personal and business values and morals.

This is the tough one. What happens if an employee was asked to do something illegal and wouldn’t do it? Is that insubordination? It could be seen as such, but in my opinion it isn’t. There are toxic work environments and shady leaders out there and we must be mindful of them and the employees that work in them and for them.

Certain positions require the utmost ethical and moral behavior. When it is tested you must prevail with your ethics intact. The problem is, you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. If you give in to the request of the leader, then you risk having it backfire on you and end up being thrown under the bus when shit goes sour. If you don’t give in to the request you end up getting terminated. This is where looking for a new job is difficult.

So, I ask you first….PLEASE stop asking people to do things that are not legal, moral, or ethical. Easier said than done, right? Wrong! Just don’t.

When we answer truthfully that we have been terminated on your form, don’t use this as a reason to not bring forward for an interview. Instead provide us with a drop down comment section to write something that will give us a chance to explain and ease your mind at the same time. This will provide you the ability to ask more questions when you interview us. Remember too, we may be under legal documents that prevent us from saying anything against our former employer (release documents). That doesn’t mean that we are bad employees. That doesn’t mean that we are trouble makers. It could mean the employer had something to hide and this was the easiest way to deal with it. If you read the information we provide and you deem it to be legitimate then you already have a glimpse of the person you are thinking of bringing into your organization and the higher standards they strive for. Don’t you all want an upstanding employee with high integrity? I surely do.

Think of it this way, can you imagine how hard it must be for them to have lost a job for doing the right thing? For following the law? For standing up?

So future employer, not only should you update your applications with legal items, you should update this termination question section too. Please do the right thing.

Signed, Everyone.

Hot Topic: Diversity and Inclusion

I would like to have a conversation with you. Show of hands…How many of you feel that your organization is diverse and inclusive?

How many of you have had training on it?

Today we’re going to discuss ideas of what you can do for your white employees and your employees of color.

One of the most awkward things you’ll be hearing from me are the words “white people”. Yes, I know its cringe worthy but it has to become normal because white people are in the majority of roles such as managers, supervisors, and executives. Even the majority of most organizations.

Fortune 500 magazine wrote that white men account for 72% of corporate leadership. 73% of the senior executives of men and women are white. The rest are 21% Asian, 2% Black, 6% Two or more races, 2% Native American, and 1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander. This is just a look at only 16 of the 500 Fortune 500 companies that reported.

Most would say that HR is responsible for leading diversity efforts. It takes more than just HR. It involves management and the C-Suite to be motivated diversity leaders.

Why is this so important?

So how do we show the leadership why this is so important? Education. We need to really learn the history of how institutional racism began in our country around 300 years ago. Once you have shown the history of how the white man has oppressed people of color and not just by slavery, we can see how ingrained it is in our daily lives.

It is important to teach your entire team because it honestly isn’t what we learned in school and from my experience, depending on where you grew up, the history lessons varied greatly. My team members were shocked at our country’s history and stated that they never learned in school what we were taught during this training.

So after we learned the history of institutional racism what do we do to fix it? Well let me say in our lifetime we will not fix it no matter how hard we want to and believe me you will want to. If this has been going on for 300 years, how can we expect to fix it overnight.

Here is what we can do.

We can create an atmosphere and attitude of inclusion that creates an environment at work that you can be proud of. You can change your recruiting processes. Are you recruiting for diversity? I know you want to hire the best person for the job. So are you making sure the opportunity is open to all people and gathering a diverse pool of candidates to choose from? Committees: Do you have a diversity and inclusion committee? Is there a specific goal that the committee is trying to reach? Is the committee following the mission and vision of the organization?

Mission and Vision

Is your company’s mission and vision inclusive? That’s a big question. We have talked about company culture before and how the mission and vision needs to be easily stated by your team. So answer this question? If you asked your team members if they felt that your organization is diverse and inclusive would their answer be what you are looking for? Maybe it’s time for a complete overhaul.

I want this to be a thought provoking article. It is only a little bit of information of what you can do. I want you to look at your organization and see if you can mix it up and do at least one thing differently. Hire a diversity consultant. Hire a diversity director. Organize a committee. Change your recruitment strategy. Just make a change for the better and keep going. Keep changing, keep getting better. If you show your employees, customers, and vendors that you are pro-diversity then others will follow suit. More and more companies will do what you are doing. Every little bit helps. Diversity and Inclusion is not something that every stops. You must keep working on it. Every. Single. Day.

Best to Work For?

We’d all like to say that we are the best company to work for or an “Employer of Choice”. The reality is that the only way to really know or find out if you are is through open communication, employee engagement surveys, and a constant dialogue with your team members.

Communication

You must first build a trust with your employees. In my opinion this always starts with communication. That can mean via an intranet for the staff (provided they all have access to it); a monthly or bi-monthly all-staff meeting; departmental meetings with supervisors, managers, and directors passing along information, goals, and accomplishments; or group email announcements (again, the employees must have access).

If you have diversity in your organization, English will most likely be a second language and need to be taken into consideration when creating an article or group emails for all-staff distribution. You must be sensitive to all employees in the organization.

Meat and Potatoes

The next items are the intrinsic and extrinsic values the employees need to have in order to feel safe in your workplace. We have covered these meat and potato items before but a short list here doesn’t hurt to repeat.

  • Compensation
  • Medical
  • Dental
  • Vision
  • Recognition

Mission and Vision

Does the organization have a clear mission and vision that could be stated by any employee in the company at all levels? If not, then that should be your priority. It shouldn’t be more than a sentence or two and should be verbalized and demonstrated from the executives through the entire management team. You must model the behavior you wish t see from your team.

This mission and vision statement is the foundation of your culture. Look at the tenure of your employees. Are you tapping into their knowledge of the organization? It is very likely that they were here before you and have a lot to say. Give them a safe place to say it.

Recognition

Recognition is a key component towards a good culture and a great place to work. Don’t use it as a tool to tame the troops. Recognition has to be genuine and I have recently read a book on the five “love” languages of recognition in the workplace. Not all of your team members are going to appreciate a gift card. Especially since they will have to taxed for it.

Some employees just want you to personally say “Thank you” to them. Others might appreciate a nod in a staff newsletter or department meeting. Knowing what your team members appreciate is part of the solution to being a great place to work. It means you are paying attention and are invested in them. They see it. They see almost everything you do or at least their perception of what you do.

Employee Engagement Surveys

The best advice I can give is to really make the survey as easy and anonymous as possible. You don’t want your team to answer the questions the way they “think” you want them answered. You want them to give you real, straight feedback. The Good, Bad, and the Ugly. It might sting a bit but this is how an organization that is truly committed to culture change will find out the best they have to offer and the worst. This will make you an employer of choice. Suck it up and do it right.

Total Rewards in a Nut Shell

Are Your Total Rewards in Check?

Imagine a candidate has multiple offers on the table. Why should they choose your company to work for? The short-term reason is the monetary aspect but that only gets you so far.

The long-term reasons include a variety of intrinsic and extrinsic values that you want to be sure your organization has and be competitive with.

Compensation Strategy

This is the jumping off point. Be sure you have a set but flexible compensation plan that allows for brand new and seasoned employees while maintaining pay equity. I know that’s a mouthful. However, if you have pay grades and you put specific positions into each grade, then you have the flexibility I’m speaking of for all your employees.

Make sure if you offer incentives, such as bonuses or commissions they are specific to a position or level of management and keep them consistent across the board.

Sales and Marketing typically receive commissions based of of monthly or quarterly sales. Directors or Department Heads usually receive an annual incentive bonus for reaching preset goals.

Professional Development and Training

Employees want to feel like they matter in an organization. One way to do this is to invest in development and training so they grow in their roles. If they feel your are investing in their education at the workplace, their reasons for jumping ship to another organization will diminish.

There are several types of training and development.

  • Seminars and Conferences: These are usually specific to their position i n the company like HR, Marketing, Executive Leadership, and Sales.
  • Tuition Reimbursement Programs: You can either assist in their further education by paying for it or you can offer to pay for certificate or license testing fees. You may even do both.
  • Annual Required Training: If you have this type of training because of a license or state required mandate, be sure that your professional development for this group of people is in addition to this already mandatory training.

By being fair and consistent to all of your employees, you will benefit from their newly acquired education that ultimately give the organization the push it needs to reach the yearly goals set by leadership.

Retirement Plans and Benefit

401(k)’s or 403(b)’s

Today’s retirement plans are easy to administer if you have the partners. Your financial adviser and record keeper. These two entities are there to assist you and your team members.

Financial advisers should be knowledgeable and have the ability to communicate with the employees to educate and guide them through to retirement.

The record keeper should have an employee portal or website that is easily navigated and gives the employee a snapshot on their front page of how much money they have saved to date, the percentage or dollar rate of deferral they are currently using, the funds they are investing in, and a retirement calculator to see how they are doing and what they need to change in order to reach their retirement goals.

The website should also be user friendly for making changes online, requesting loans, or taking distributions. The investing funds should be listed including a Pre-tax and Roth option. Make sure you don’t have too many options. Employers have a fiduciary responsibility to make it the best plan it can be at a reasonable cost to the employee.

Benefits

To compete in the market you need to have the standard benefits such as Medical, Dental, Vision, Life, and Accidental Dismemberment. Some organizations offer short-term and long-term disability as a paid benefit where others have it as a voluntary program.

What other benefits are available that you can add to your total rewards package to give you an edge?

  • Pet Insurance
  • Voluntary Life Insurance
  • Voluntary Accident Plans
  • Voluntary Cancer Plans
  • Bus passes – either payroll deduct or employer funded
  • Wellness Plans – giving a cost break to employees for reaching certain health goals.
  • On-site Child care
  • Additional Holidays
  • Discount Service Memberships
  • Gym Memberships – either on-site or employer funded

These are just a few of the options you can add to your total compensation package.

Work-Life Balance

This provides employees flexibility in their schedules including non-traditional work hours like a 4-10 or 3-12 work week.

Opportunity during the year to take a paid volunteer day so that the employee can use their time to volunteer for causes that are important to them or their families.

Employers should make sure, no matter how busy they are to give the mandatory break and lunch periods to their team members. People need “brain breaks” to re-focus, decrease stress, and refresh. Encouraging your employees to use their vacation or PTO time gives them the rest and relaxation they need. I don’t have to remind you (too late), that you don’t want your employees working while on vacation either. That’s not really resting now, is it?

This may not seem like a work-life balance suggestion but purchasing the technology that will make the work portion of your employees days much easier and efficient will help to keep stress at a manageable level.

Organizational Culture

Without diving down the rabbit hole of company culture which is an entire topic on it’s own, let me just state that is is a powerful recruiting tool. A great company culture attracts people who want that type of environment in the organization they are potentially spending forty-plus hours a week at. Culture can inspire employees to be more productive and can decrease turnover. That in itself should be enough reason to make it a priority. I will restate here that organizational culture does not just lie within human resources. It is a company-wide initiative and must have buy-in at all levels starting with the CEO.

You’ve Got Style

I am pretty sure we have all read about the seven leadership styles. What I would like to do is pick one or two and see if we can dissect them a bit to see how effective they may or may not be.

Seven Styles:

  • Autocratic
  • Democratic
  • Coaching
  • Strategic
  • Transformational
  • Laissez-faire
  • Charismatic

We’re going to chat about three of them.

  • Coaching
  • Transformational
  • Democratic

Coaching

The Coaching Style offers hands-on advice to problem solving. This type of leader believes that people come before profit. So, If you put the professional growth of the team first, then the profit will follow. They should not be confused with a coach, but do have coaching skills. This is done by receiving and providing valuable feedback and having motivating conversations with their team members.

This style is popular because it can level the playing field, it builds confidence, promotes individual and team excellence, develops strong commitment to common goals, and produces valuable leaders.

Big Picture Thinking

Coaching leaders show how the work fits into the overall goal by encouraging employees to try new things on their own. This shows them how they have the different pieces to put together into the final product. Coaching leaders use their empathy and self-awareness to encourage each person on the team to develop their individual strengths even though they assign challenging assignments. The key is providing them with the tools for their success.

Transformational

The Transformational leader boosts morale, motivation, and performance by creating a singular sense of identity and purpose for a project. In it’s ideal form, it creates valuable and positive change in the followers with the end goal of developing followers into leaders.

Having a vision is the starting point. Then through inspiring the employees with influence, motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration the team makes sacrifices for the good of the whole.

Is this you?

Have you ever taken control of a group situation by explaining the end goal, conveying a clear vision and a passion for the work? If you did and then energized the rest of the group to get you to this goal, then you might be a Transformational Leader.

Democratic

This leader makes decisions based on the input of each team member. The leader with make the final decisions but each team member has an equal part of the project.

This is an effective style because it allows the employee to exercise authority at different levels. Something that they will use later on in their careers. Everyone is given the opportunity to participate, ideas are freely exchanged, and discussion is encouraged while the democratic leader is there to offer guidance and control.

How do you compare?

Many people believe that the Democratic style is the most effective style and works well in organizations that desire innovation. Using this style you get the reward of group member participation, high productivity, and more ideas and creative solutions.

How do you develop your own leadership style?

It is important to be yourself, authentic, and always professional. Think about your natural way of being and use those skills to show authority in your own positive way.

Having flexibility in situations will require you to access different types of leadership approaches but this will allow you to be sensitive to the needs of the team members you are working with while attaining your goals.

Don’t be afraid to try something new or different. Ask for feedback from your senior leadership team and really listen to how you could have approached a situation differently than you did.

Why is all of this important?

It goes back to my previous article on employees not leaving their jobs, but leaving their managers. Leaders have people follow them. Managers have people work for them. Leaders inspire and engage and create of vision that their people (followers) turn into reality. They make people become a part of something bigger than just reaching a goal. When this happens, you receive employee engagement, higher morale, and higher productivity. Turn over decreases and you have the basis of a positive company culture. You can sell a good company culture. Your team members will talk about it and people will want to work for you because of it.

It’s Time for the In-house Interview

So you have phone-screened your candidates and you pick a lot to come in and meet the team. Today is the day. What will happen?

You decide that you can spread out the three candidates in one day. Make sure you and your team are fresh all day. Each candidate deserves your complete attention without distractions or fatigue

Types of Interviewee’s

All of these candidates are coming in hopeful, energetic, and a bit nervous at the same time. Let’s take a look at what could happen and what you can do to counteract it.

  1. The “One word answer” candidate. What should you do? Well, obviously the interview will be shorter but let’s see if you can get the person to open up a little. If you have asked all of the pertinent questions for the job, ask the person what they are passionate about. The person may surprise you and start blabbing about their passions. This is when you can see the real deal. The person behind the fear.
  2. The “Can’t stop talking to save my soul” candidate. These ones are hard for me because I want to keep on schedule and when someone just keeps rambling on, it is really hard to concentrate. This person is usually this way all the time. It’s not nerves. Let’s be real. You may love it or not, but it is hard to listen to. Of course we don’t let that get in the way of seeing if the person is qualified for the job, but it does go to “fit” within the organization.
  3. The “Confident Interviewer” candidate. I feel a kinship to these types of candidates. I have been in my field long enough that I am confident in my skills and abilities and at a certain level, the employer should be understanding that the position they are hiring for the person they speak to has the education and skill level they are looking for. Sometimes we are wrong. I know this. However, the majority of the time it is true. So this interview goes by smoothly and someone on team feels that the candidate is cocky or conceited. Is this really true? Or…is it the fact that confidence can make others uncomfortable if they are not as confident in their own roles.

I know I sound like a head shrinker in this case but be aware that this may happen. We don’t want to lose a good candidate because someone on the team is threatened. We also want to make sure that we are not basing this decision on gender too. If a man is confident, they are seen as go-getters. If a woman is the same, she is seen as a bitch or conceited. Let’s make sure we are providing equity in the workplace and not allowing this to happen.

Pick the Final Two

Of these three, who would you pick to come back? Only you and your team can decide. You know your culture, what the job entails, who they have to work with, etc. Make sure you decide on the person based on their skills and abilities and then fit for the organization. Don’t just pick someone because everyone liked them. Make sure they can do the job.

Also, a person may surprise you when they get hired and they have the pressure of being “on”. They might relax and show you their personality a bit easier. Yes, this can backfire. Let’s concentrate on the good for a while and play that this has a great outcome, shall we?

The Last One Standing

Here is your winner. You have had all of the interviews, you have asked all the questions and answered some too. Congratulations on picking your new team member. There is nothing in HR as satisfying as giving someone a new job. I love the feeling of it and I love seeing their face on the first day!