“What’s the one thing you’d change about the world of work?”

We’ve learned so much this past couple of years about what we like about our employers and what we may unfortunately dislike. We have also learned whether or not we want to continue to work remotely or go back in the office, or both. A few of my contacts have flat out told me that they are not the “remote” type at all. They need people to stimulate them and keep them accountable to work at all. If they were remote, they would be in their jammies all day. I thought I would be one of those people but honestly found that I enjoyed being remote because I had more privacy to do my job than I did at the office. I worked in a place that had cubicles for human resources and this was not conducive for someone like me who handled all of the employee relations and investigations. Some might say that I could book a conference room for those conversations however, I would have needed to book it 9-10 hours a day every day. Being at home alone gave me the freedom to speak out loud where the only one that could hear me was the person on the phone and my pet bird!

I would like to hear what your preferences are and how you would like to see your current employer adapt to the new hybrid model. Did they pivot and shift during the pandemic? When they said that you would be returning to the office, if you have already, did they allow for remote work to continue or are they unwilling to do so? If they are unwilling, have they given the team a reason? If so, what was it? If not, what does that tell you about your organization?

I would love to have you comment below on what your ideal situation would be. What would that look like. We have seen lots of polls out there but not a lot of substance. Each company is different and not all positions can be remote. Not all companies can. What are your thoughts?

#ConversationsForChange #FutureOfWork

The Art of Active Listening

Have you ever been in a situation when you were sitting down with someone having a conversation and you were trying to listen to them? All you wanted to do was butt in and tell them your story, your opinion and all the examples that match theirs? Then instead of listening to them and hearing what they had to say, you did just that?

Active listening is one of the hardest things to do because it is about the other person in the conversation. It is about what they are saying and not about how you can “one-up” them or compare their stories with your own.

Now, active listening can have some paraphrasing in it. If you are trying to understand something, you can paraphrase what they just told you so you can make sure you understood what they just said, but it is not a time for you to say, “Oh, yeah, one time, this thing just like that happened to me and…”.

You might be really surprised how hard it is to listen to your friend or co-worker without talking over them or interrupting them. I challenge you to try it. I guarantee you will fail the first few times you do it but that is okay. I want you to fail. Failing forward is the only way we learn. Keep having these conversations and each time get better at not saying anything. Really try to listen so you can hear what your friend or co-worker is talking about.

If you practice long enough you will learn more and have better communication with that person. You will also gain their trust and admiration that you are someone they can count on. Most people just want to be heard. When they are, they feel validated. Some people may not normally have the chance to offer up their ideas for improvements in the workplace and the company may find that these team members and their ideas are valuable.

The best part of active listening is when you are sitting with close friends, and they need you. You can hear their frustrations or sadness, sympathize with them and in the end, you are able to ask questions, offer support, and tell them that you are there to listen whenever they need you. They will know this to be true and trust you. They will in turn, hopefully be there for you when you need someone to listen.

Conversational Interviews

Recently, I commented on a post about making interviews a conversation rather than an interrogation and it got me thinking about this blog that I do. I am one of those strange people that love to interview when I am looking for a job. I do not like looking for a job, mind you. I would rather have one however, I love when the interviewer asks questions that I have not had before, and I really get to dig deep into my past and talk about the fun that I have had in my past career as an HR professional. Yes, I have had fun!

If you are an HR person like me, you are truly passionate about the subject of HR. Employee relations, training, and yes, even the icky stuff like FMLA, ADA, and worker’s compensation. Of course, we prefer things that make us happier like the employee relations stuff and training, but it all balances out if we have a good team and a great boss.

Let us get back to the interview process though. In the beginning when we are hiring for a position and we have the luxury of conducting a phone interview with the candidate, I personally like to ask two types of questions. The first few are housekeeping questions. Why are you looking? What kind of notice are you giving? How did you hear about us? What kind of salary are you looking for? This last one is tricky because people get shy about this one. I personally like to give a range so that there are clear expectations of where the salary is compared to where their budget lies. If they know what the range is, they can see if it fits within their needs. If not, then the interview can end right then and there. We do not waste each other’s time. The next set of questions pertain to the job itself and I always begin by saying the following sentence: “I have a bunch of questions and I hope to have a fun conversation with you. During the course of our conversation, you might answer questions I have not asked you yet, so bear with me while I take notes, lets have some fun!” Then we begin. This is when you start the conversation. The interview may start out slow but if you engage in something they say, the candidate may start to relax and show you bits and pieces of their personality or the true passion they have for the position they are applying for.

One of my favorite conversations was with a man that loved to garden. We were hiring for a groundskeeping role, and he was talking about how much he loved to garden. He went on about the tools he liked to use to edge the lawn and how he took pride in making the edge straight up the walkway to the front door. It was moving. I know that sounds silly, but he was so passionate about what he did for a living that I moved him on to the next round and he got the job. He has been with the company for 12 years now. He does not need to be promoted; he is not looking for a management position. He is content and happy living his best life making the garden, lawn, and grounds beautiful and being happy in the process. A true work/life balance.

I know that sometimes we focus on the gaps in employment. I even have some gaps. Life happens. Sometimes we take time to have kids, we get laid off and have a hard time finding a new job due to the economy, we have ill family members that need care. As an HR professional, I tend not to focus on these too hard. I will ask about them, I want someone that is serious about staying in a position because as we all know, turnover is expensive. We do not want to have to rehire someone over and over again.

It is time to have those fun conversations with your candidates, see what you can find out. Listen to the other jobs that they have worked and the other skills they gave obtained for the current position you are offering. Education in a field is great, but you cannot beat real-world work experience. When a candidate is comfortable, they will reveal more of themselves to you.

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.

Why do I feel guilty when I am on vacation?

We have all hear it, “Don’t log in”, “Don’t check your email”, “Try to relax”. Yeah, right.

How can I relax when even after I have set my “out of office” notification, the constant chiming of the email notifications brings me anxiety and guilt for not looking and not working?

Oh, I know I need a break. I know my brain and my body are exhausted. I also know that just like everyone else, I deserve time off now and again.

However, the thought of only being gone for three days and returning to three hundred emails is a tad overwhelming.

I am at home on “vacation” during COVID-19. My original plan was to have my first vacation after landing the new job poolside in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii with a flight of Mai Tai’s at the ready. So, I have turned the heat up, put on some Hawaiian music, and found a documentary about the ocean that I am playing in the background on mute.

It. Is. Totally. Not. The. Same. (sigh)

I will make some Mimosa’s to mock the Mai Tai flight, only because I do not have the ingredients for them, and I am not interested in going to the store in my COVID mask. Oh, did I tell you, this is only day one.

I think I will nap as my head and my body are reminding me that I promised to rest during this time and are counting on me to keep to my word. It is also raining outside (go figure), so I cannot exactly take out my lawn chair and sit in the sun.

Tomorrow is another vacation day. I will be more rested and ready to figure out some activities to keep me from opening that laptop that is staring at me from my makeshift home office desk.

Ding, ding, ding…there goes three more emails into my inbox.

I think it is time for another Mimosa.

A Million Tears

Normally I would write about something HR related but I can’t. I don’t have anything to say that at this point has not been already said. As a person with the great capacity to love on people, I find myself unable to comfort the fears of my friends, family, and neighbors during this time and it is in my nature to try and fix things.

This is a scary time. All of us are on edge. In the past few weeks, I have seen the good that can come from a tragedy such as this. However, it doesn’t mend the mind when you stop to take a well-deserved rest. It’s in that moment when you finally take the time for yourself that you start to think. You start going down that rabbit hole like Alice, but when you hit bottom there is no bottle to drink, no morsel to eat. All that is left is the fear.

That is when the tears come. I have never been afraid of crying as I feel it is a great release of stress and anxiety. So I encourage you to cry, scream, and hug yourself. Consider it mental health. My favorite place to cry is the shower. The hot water warms me to the bone and the water coming down on my face washes away the saltiness of my tears. The heat of the shower on my head lulls me into a state where if I am fast enough, I can fall asleep still warm in my core.

Rest, Sleep. These are also things we need. I am just as guilty as many of you working from home. That computer is so close, maybe, just one more email, one more report. No. Stop. Give yourself work hours. This is a very trying time and any sense of normal is better for you. Wake up in the morning and put your work clothes on. Take breaks, take a lunch time, and get some fresh air. End your day at the same time every day and if you can, cover up that laptop.

Have dinner with your family. If you are single, like I am, text or call a friend. Watch a TV show, read a book, color, paint, or just rest. Take off your work clothes and put on your workout gear. Go for a walk, exercise on your deck or in the yard. Go up and down the stairs a few times to get your heart rate up. Then, clean yourself up and put on those Jammies. This is your time.

Again, those tears may come. You have been watching the news everyday and hearing the same horrible news. Overload. That’s where I am now. Instead of the news, I now put in my favorite movie and do my dishes.

I speak to my friends and they are stressed too. More tears. Friends with children at home from school. They are trying to balance working at home and being a teacher. Some are not working, no paycheck, no money. Donate to a food bank if you can. Put food on your local Buy Nothing page. Offer what you can to others in a safe way, a safe distance. I won’t use the statement that keeps us a certain distance apart because I am overwhelmed with it. It’s the only thing you hear each day.

I write to you not just to remind you to take care of yourselves. I write today because this is me, taking care of me. Writing makes me happy and helping people does too.

I’m sending you all the love and light in my heart. Be safe, stay home, and we will get through this together.

Sneaky….not so much!

I have been in the applicant pool for a few months now and you can’t fool me when you have this fancy HRIS system that sets up a “profile” for me to check my applications and I am required to put my birthday in it. Why do you need this information? You are not supposed to discriminate against me or anyone else on the basis of age among a long list of other items.

You Can’t Fool Me

As an HR professional in the market place, you can’t fool me with this tactic. I guess you feel like people are so desperate that they will give you the information so they have a chance to get in to your company.

When an applicant is applying to multiple organizations, the thought of having to first fill out a profile and then an application is daunting. In my opinion, you should be making the application process much simpler for people. They should have the ability to send you their resume, answer a few pertinent questions for your team and be able to receive text messages for the status of the application.

Remember to K.I.S.S.

Continue reading “Sneaky….not so much!”

Why Does it Take So Long to Hire?

The time it is taking employers to make decisions on hiring is excruciating. I am all for finding the right person for the job and the right fit, but if after multiple phone screens and in-person interviews you can’t decide, then you don’t have the right person or you are being way too picky. Employers should be hiring with diversity and inclusion at the forefront of their thinking as well. But if you wait too long, you will lose the candidate that could take your organization to the next level.

Please Consider the Candidates Timeline

You as the employer, have no idea of the circumstances of your candidates and why they are looking for new employment. Unemployment only lasts six months and there are no extensions in Washington State. So, this could mean that your candidate is on the brink of homelessness or bankruptcy at no fault of their own. I’m not saying that all candidates are in this dilemma but there are many people that I have spoken to that have been looking for a position for up to and more than a year. They report that unemployment is low and companies are having a hard time finding people, (so they say) I just don’t buy it.

Speed Up or Fine Tune Your Processes

You can find good people quickly. That same first impression or chemistry test you all use when meeting a new friend or potential mate can also be used to find a new employee. Do you like their knowledge, skills, and abilities? Are they answering the questions correctly? Do they have a nice demeanor? Then give them a shot! You may be saving a life in the process or the life of an entire family.

What Can HR Leaders Do?

Work with your executive teams and hiring managers to set compensation ranges, job descriptions, and hiring timeline expectations. When you are organized in the beginning and you have a generous advertising budget you will gather the resumes you need to start the phone screening process and get people in the door to begin interviewing. There will always be those exceptions in the process, but ultimately you can speed this up by planning ahead and being organized.

Recruiting Trends

They say we’re in a candidate-driven market.

They say that the candidate picks the employer, not the other way around.

With the use of social media to advertise your position, comes the added amount of candidates seeking work at your organization. Are they quality candidates? Do you have a quality company? How do you stand out to create the kind of experience that will entice a candidate to come to your organization, apply, accept an offer, refer others, and stay for the long haul?

Make sure that you are truly comparing the resumes you receive to the job descriptions you write.  Make sure that you are in as much contact as possible with your applicants. I know that when you receive hundreds of resumes that this may not be easy, but even a standard response email is better than being ghosted by a potential employer.

Candidate Experience

One of the trends that are really important in recruiting is the candidate experience. This occurs at the beginning of sourcing through the onboarding process. How does the candidate feel about their experience with you? What is their overall perception of your company based on these experiences?

I briefly mentioned above about being ghosted. This occurs way more often than you think. This is not the kind of experience that an applicant wants when job hunting. The applicant tracking systems also have a login and password. So think about the potentially large amount of ATS systems that a job hunter is having to navigate. Sometimes a text message on the progress of an application is appreciated more than an employee having to remember the login credentials for each ATS to find out where they are in the process or if they have been declined without so much as an email. Pay the extra money to set up this type of text programming for your candidates to enhance their experience with you.

What is the importance of the candidate experience?

If your candidate, now employee, has had a satisfying experience they will refer others to your company.

Their great experience along with the culture of your organization gives them the confidence to refer people they know to your company. They expect that you will treat them the same way they were treated.

If their experience is far from satisfactory, the organization could potentially lose a lot of money. Companies with a bad reputation will lose employees, or worse.

Job seekers won’t take jobs with companies that have a bad reputation. The result of this is that there will be limited or no employee referrals. If the culture of your organization is such that no referrals are coming in, then you must reevaluate what your mission is in order to gain the trust of your employees and create the type of experiences that translate to more referrals, candidates, and new hires.

Is It Happy Hour Yet?

Why do we limit happiness to an hour?

We have all been there; It’s Monday afternoon and the first day of the workweek, already you and your colleagues are itching to get to happy hour to bitch about your day. Why aren’t we happy at work?

Now, I’m not saying that leadership should have an open bar in the office, but the atmosphere obviously requires an upgrade if by 10:00 am your team needs a collective drink.

Of course, what I’m talking about is company culture. Is yours so bad that your team would rather be buzzed to cope? How can you change it?

The Bartender is Essentially your HR Director

The bartender is always there to listen. Listen to your troubles and offer tools to cope. The difference is, they are handing out rum and cola, where your HR team can provide tools like mediation, suggestions for improvement, and company-wide training.  Now, HR can’t solve all the problems of corporate unhappiness alone. To change the culture and make things “happy” again, you must start at the top and require buy-in from your leadership. Communicate with the workers to find out what they think can be improved. Reevaluate the mission of the organization or write a new one.

Don’t Belly up to the Bar, Raise it.

  • Raise the bar on the expected behavior of the team at all levels
  • Raise the bar on the benefits you offer
  • Raise the bar on the compensation you provide

Expect Results to change, but not immediately. Like a fine wine, culture change takes time and nurturing.

Cheers to You!

You have gone through the process of culture change. You have partnered with your HR Director and created an atmosphere that your employees can enjoy. You have asked for feedback and listened to your team members to provide better products and services for them and their families. Great job! This rounds on me!