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Three steps to better retention through improving workplace satisfaction

Photo Credit: Glenn G, Flickr

According to the recent Hays report on Fit and Retention, nearly half of Canada’s working population are unhappy in their current role which means employers have a retention risk on their hands.

The second part of Hays “Fit” Series takes a look at the impact that finding your ideal fit has on workplace satisfaction and what factors could contribute to someone’s dissatisfaction. It’s a challenging balance to have both the right fit as well as career progression and salary to keep your employees happy.

We’ve all hired someone we think is a good fit, but after the “honeymoon stage” they’re less engaged, and less productive – and they might be considering moving to another company in hopes of finding something fulfilling long-term.

What can you do to improve retention?

Before you hire:

1. Make the most of the interview process

Encourage hiring managers to see the interview process as a two-way street – make sure candidates get an accurate information about the work culture so they can also make better decisions. Include questions about management preferences, social behaviour, and preferred work environment. The Fit report also shows that only one in five employers are using behavioural or psychometric testing. These tests can be an excellent addition to your hiring toolbox.

2. Involve the team in the final decision

When considering a new hire you’ve considered how well they will fit with the existing team and their direct manager. Arrange an opportunity for them to interact informally with the team. The number one contributor to an employee feeling they fit in was their direct manager so encourage the manager to take them to coffee to have an informal introduction before making a final job offer to make sure you’re on the same page about the role and their career.

 For your current employees:

3. Ask the right questions

Instead of trying to brainstorm why someone may be unhappy in their current position there is a more straight forward approach to take: ask your employees directly. Identifying the problem and taking steps to address it can inhibit retention issues. Hays has an annual global employee survey with a more than 90% participation rate and our HR team actively looks for ways to improve any issues flagged.

 4. Be seen taking action

When you have the results, release an overview of the findings, and offer specific actions you will take to address the main concerns. The Hays HR team ensures they communicate with all employees to let them know that they’ve been heard, and that changes are in the works. It takes time to implement new programs, so being seen to listen and make changes based on suggestions can go a long way towards re-engaging your workforce.

Get more insight from the Hays “Fit” Series 2: Fit and Retention including a practical exercise for assessing workplace satisfaction.

Hays Canada division manager Rachel Finan has more than 14 years of experience working in HR recruitment, She excels in making the right match and brings expert insight into market trends, employer needs, and candidate requirements.

Mentorship and the So-Called “Entitled Generation”

By Mark Tighe, Flickr

Photo Credit:  Mark Tighe, Flickr

Friends, family, people of the internet…we need to talk. I have a difficult message for some of you, but it’s something that I think you need to hear. I know you think you’re helping, or at least not hurting anyone, but I disagree and I am officially putting my foot down. I cannot and will not listen to you whine about millennials anymore. That’s it. I proclaim the air, land, and water in my immediate vicinity to be a ‘no millennial bashing’ zone, and any violators will be dealt with harshly from here on out.

I’m sorry it’s come to this. Really, I am. But you left me no choice. 2016 has been a particularly rough year in millennial-bashing so far. A small sample of the things I have heard or read from various sources among you in the last month:

“If you hire a 20-something good luck, they don’t know how to work.”

“…a New York Times food column on cereal reported that 40 percent of millennials said cereal is an inconvenient food because it requires cleanup after eating.”

“The work-ethic decline is real,” said Jean Twenge, the author of  “Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled — and More Miserable Than Ever Before”

“Entitled, that’s what I think they are.”

“…(former) Yelp employee Talia Jane Ben-Ora became momentarily famous as the poster-child for all things wrong with the entitlement mindset of young adults in today’s America.”

First I should say that I don’t believe that these generalizations are very accurate or useful, but let’s put that aside to address the larger issue since they’re widely perceived to be true, which is what led me to this breaking point.  The last straw was that I decided a few weeks ago to start challenging some of the people who casually toss around these assertions as though they are fact. Since virtually all of these viewpoints seem to be grounded in a feeling that millennials are not like ‘us’, and somehow ought to know how to do or be something different, instead of arguing about their validity I asked people if they would consider mentoring a person to help them develop the viewpoint, skills, or qualities that the speaker seemed to feel they were lacking.

People did not particularly enjoy this line of questioning.

A condensed synopsis of the responses I heard:

  • “They are not interested in being mentored”
  • “I wouldn’t even know where to get started”
  • “I don’t have time for that”
  • “They already think they know everything”
  • “I’m too busy”
  • “Why should I; they should figure it out on their own like I did”

Does reading that make you as sad as it does me? Do we not all have a child, sibling, niece, nephew, neighbour, or friend that falls into this big, faceless group we apply the ‘millennials’ label to who isn’t anything like the lazy, entitled millennial stereotype? Maybe it’s your 20-something cousin Timmy who works weekends while at university. Maybe it’s that new girl in Accounting who seems really engaged, or your own child who is working on establishing a solid career path. Think about that person. Does it seem fair that their interviewers, boss, or colleagues might assume that they probably don’t know how to work hard, but whatever…it’s not like it’s their job to provide them with advice about how to manage these perceptions and navigate their organization’s culture.

I’m guessing you wouldn’t want that for your cousin, friend, or child…I’m guessing that you would hope that their co-workers and managers would give them the benefit of the doubt and maybe even give them some advice or guidance. I’m guessing that you see where I’m going with this.

I’m not saying that there aren’t ‘entitled millennials’ in our workplaces; maybe there are some. I’m saying that assuming everyone in this age group is a hopeless lay-about is both inaccurate and (irony alert!) lazy! Of course we can complain that people younger than us seem not to understand the ways of work (probably based on a few anecdotal examples), but even if it were true complaining about it doesn’t change anything. Alternatively, we could take a crack at understanding what’s driving the behaviour that we’re interpreting as lazy/entitled/’fill-in-stereotype here’, and if warranted offer some mentorship, guidance, or advice based on our own experience. Maybe we’ll get shut down…but maybe we won’t.

Don’t have time for that? Sorry, but if you have time to complain (and it really seems like a lot of people do) then you almost certainly have time to mentor. I’m not suggesting that we spend hours daily formally training someone. I’m talking about being receptive to opportunities to share what you know with those who might benefit. Whether at work, at home (I sure hope that you’re giving cousin Timmy some good advice), or through some of the programs or platforms available in your city, industry, or profession.

Still think it sounds like too much time, effort, and risk? The genius micro-mentorship platform Ten Thousand Coffees allows you to create a profile and screen one-hour coffee meeting requests from less experienced members interested in meeting for coffee and learning from you. One hour, people!!!

If you are a person who feels that some of the stereotypes I’ve mentioned are true, I’d like to challenge you to try on a different lens when observing others in the workplace; a lens that assumes most people are doing the best they can with what they know; a lens that doesn’t iook for proof of the entitlement narrative in your interactions with others.

Instead of writing off an entire generation, perhaps you might consider viewing challenging interactions as an opportunity to influence our organizations’ next generation of professionals and leaders. I think that with a little fieldwork you’ll find, as I have, that ‘millennials’ are an enormously diverse group who defy the labels and stereotypes applied to them (as any gigantic demographic cohort does). And contrary to some perceptions, many of them are open to and eager for mentorship, as long as it’s offered in the right spirit.

Ultimately, we have a choice – do our part to work better, together…or continue to complain that a vast swath of our colleagues, neighbours, and fellow citizens should be different from we assume they are, while refusing to question those assumptions or do anything about it. If you elect to pursue the latter option, I’m very sorry, but I do not want to hear about it.

Postscript: I wanted to take another few sentences to reiterate my plug for Ten Thousand Coffees, which I’ve found to be such a great platform to meet engaged, eager professionals who are looking to receive or exchange advice and knowledge. If you want to know more, please check out their website and consider creating a profile.

Jane Watson is a senior HR practitioner in downtown Toronto. She is seriously committed to mentorship, having served as Chair of the HRPA Toronto Chapter’s Mentorship program, a repeat mentor at ACCES Employment’s speed mentoring events, and an enthusiastic Ten Thousand Coffees member. She also blogs about HR, work, and organizations (less frequently than she should) at Talent Vanguard.


Mentorship–What it is NOT

Photo Credit: evan p. cordes, Flickr

Photo Credit: evan p. cordes, Flickr

Last week, I met a friend who works with a mentorship partnering program and her organization helps people by finding them mentors who are experts in the same profession or industry. I am a true advocate of mentorship and conversation with her opened discussion on why and how of mentorship. I wish to share it with here so that next time we approach the concept with a better understanding. Starting a new job or making a career transition could be stressful, mentorship programs support this progression. Some things to consider about mentorship –

Mentoring is not about job, it’s about career

You mentor is not a step to your next job. A mentor is expected to understand your interest, learn your strengths and prepare you to overcome your shortcomings so that you can progress in your career. But is you are only looking for someone who could help you get a job, you are not utilizing the partnership to its best. It’s your chance to know the profession you are in so that you can excel in any role that you take now or later.

Mentoring is not dependency, its guidance

As a mentee, you have to be professional and well prepared to seek ideas, network and knowledge from your mentor. Mentors can offer guidance, share experiences but they don’t want you to follow their career path or be like them. Their role is to encourage and assist you, not direct you. You are expected to take charge of your career and reach to your mentor for Support, feedback and advice.

Mentoring is not always in career crises

You can benefit from mentorship at any point of your career. I personally believe that digital technology and social media has given a wider and broader reach to the concept of mentorship. You can connect with anyone in any part of the world by following them on social media, connecting with them thorough visual media like Skype or hangouts and learn from their success stories.

“The mind is not a vessel that needs filling, but wood that needs igniting.” Plutarch

That’s why mentorship is important; it finds the passion in you and ignites your mind with experience, enabling you to follow your path in the light. But before you look for a mentor, ask yourself – why do you need a mentor, whom you are looking up to be your mentor and what you wish to gain from them?

I have recently registered for a formal mentorship program and  am excited to begin another earning journey. If you have an experience to share on mentorship, do post in comments. I will be happy to hear more thoughts on the topics.