Topics:The Hiring Process Office Culture Interviews Employee Appreciation Employee Engagement Negotiation
Employee engagement has been a hot topic for nearly a decade. Studies conducted by Gallup indicate that companies with highly engaged employees report an 18 percent increase in productivity and a 23 percent increase in profitability, not to mention significant decreases in employee turnover, absenteeism, and product defects. With gains like these, it’s obvious why companies are keen to develop an engaged workforce. But that can be easier said than done. While there are several different definitions of employee engagement, they all relate to an individual employee’s opinion, attachment, and/or dedication to their job and employer. Many companies utilize employee recognition software and other ready-made solutions to help engage and validate their employees. However, employee engagement is an individual matter. While these solutions aid engagement, they will not work for everyone. If you notice one or more of your employees are not engaged with their work, it may be time for a new approach. Negotiation is a key element of business. However, it’s tactics are rarely discussed outside monetary situations (sales, contracts, salary, etc.). In his book, Never Split the Difference, Chris Voss states, "Life is a negotiation. The majority of interactions we have at work and at home are negotiations that boil down to the expression of a simple, animalistic urge: I want." With this mindset, the skills and tactics used to negotiate sales and salaries can be used to increase employee engagement. Your “I want” statement is simply, “I want my employee(s) to be fully engaged at work.” It’s not necessarily a selfish want. Engaged employees frequently report higher job satisfaction and increased well-being. But employees won’t become engaged in their work just because you tell them it’s good for them too. If you want to successfully negotiate engagement with your employees, you need to discover their Black Swan. Finding the black swan Black Swan theory was popularized by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, but it’s based on a saying from 17th-century London. It was common for Londoners to refer to impossible things as “black swans,” since only white swans inhabit Europe. But Dutch explorer Willem De Vlamingh discovered black swans do exist when he traveled to Australia in 1697. Today, most people use Black Swans as a metaphor to refer to unforeseen events that dramatically impact how things are done. The global COVID-19 pandemic is a perfect example of a Black Swan event. However, Black Swans can also be pieces of information that drastically change expectations. In negotiations, Black Swans are the unanticipated “I want” statements, the hidden motivation driving someone to act. If leveraged properly, Black Swans allow both parties to walk away with what they desire. Discovering your employee’s Black Swan is the key to helping them engage in their work. Maybe they're trying to gain experience for the next step in their career or simply saving up for a dream vacation. Whatever it may be, understanding their Black Swan will give you the insight you need to create a win-win situation. However, uncovering a Black Swan can be difficult. Many employees, especially unengaged employees, don’t know what’s really motivating them. If you try to just ask them outright, you’ll likely get very simple answers that don’t convey the whole story. If you want the truth, you’ll need to engage in what Voss refers to as tactical empathy. Tactical empathy is understanding the feeling and mindset of another in the moment and also hearing what is behind those feelings so you increase your influence in all the moments that follow. It’s bringing our attention to both the emotional obstacles and the potential pathways to getting an agreement done. It’s emotional intelligence on steroids. — Chris Voss, Never Split the Difference Use tactical empathy We all fall victim to the fallacy that everyone else thinks and feels the same way we do. We balk when others are offended or upset by something we consider to be completely benign. Unfortunately, instead of trying to understand each other, we often just assume the other person is an anomaly and continue believing everyone else is on our side. As humans, we don’t like things that are different. It’s a primitive reflex leftover from our caveman days where anything that was different was likely going to hurt or kill us. However, you have to overcome this aversion to differences if you have any hope of discovering your employee’s Black Swan. The moments when your employees do or say something you don’t understand or think is “crazy” are some of the best moments to discover their Black Swan. Engage them in conversation. Ask them for more information until you start to understand how they think and feel, or what their “I want” statement is. The following tactics will help keep your conversation flowing: Mirroring — Repeat the last (or most important) 1–3 words the other person said in the form of a question. For example, if your employee said, “I’m going skydiving this weekend.” You would simply respond, “Skydiving?” This indicates you heard what they said and are interested in hearing more. Labeling — If you notice a pattern in the conversation, label it. People feel validated when you can describe what they are feeling or thinking. If you misinterpreted something, it gives them the opportunity to correct you. To continue the previous example: Employee: I’m going skydiving this weekend.You: Skydiving?Employee: Yeah, it’s kind of a tradition I have with my sister. You: It seems like you have a good relationship with her.Employee: I don’t know if I’d say that. Skydiving is really the only thing we have in common. You could then continue the conversation by mirroring again or asking a follow up question until you understand the motivation behind your employee’s actions. If your goal is to find your employee’s Black Swan, they should talk more than you. There will obviously be times in the natural flow of conversation where you say something about yourself or tell a related story. It can help form a connection between the two of you. But if you’re talking about you, you’re not learning about them. Keep the conversation focused on your employee. Engage in casual social interactions Black Swans rarely appear in formal meetings. Remember, Black Swans are unanticipated “I want” statements. They’re less likely to surface if you have a preset agenda. Make the time to talk to your employees outside of your office. Stop to talk when you see them in the hallway or breakroom. Take a few minutes before and/or after a one-on-one to talk about something not-work related. It’s the casual, unguarded conversations where Black Swans are easiest to spot. It’s important to note that many people become nervous around those in positions of authority. They feel like they are going to be reprimanded or get in trouble somehow. It may take time and effort before some of your employees feel comfortable enough to have a casual conversation with you. Don’t get discouraged. If you continue to show genuine interest in your employees and their personal interests, they will eventually become more comfortable. Once you discover your employee’s Black Swan, you can start to successfully negotiate their active engagement. Negotiating for engagement Discovering your employee’s unanticipated “I want” statement turns the situation from you wanting something from them (“I want you to be fully engaged in your work”), to a situation where you want something from each other. For example, one of your employees really enjoys competition. They regularly get involved in activities like March Madness brackets or ping-pong tournaments. Even if the only prize is bragging rights, they seem to enjoy the challenge of competition. This could be a hidden “I want” statement: “I want to participate in competitions,” or even, “I want to win.” You now have the opportunity to provide your employee with something they want in exchange for what you want. Talk to them about how you could create competitions out of their daily tasks to make work more rewarding for them. Depending on their interest, maybe even have them organize and track weekly, monthly, and/or quarterly goals for your team. If you negotiate properly, you should see an increase in your employee’s productivity and they should start to feel more fulfilled. Don’t make promises you can’t keep It is absolutely crucial that you can fulfill whatever deal you make with your employees as soon as possible. If you’re using phrases like “I’ll see what I can do,” or “Depending where we are next quarter,” you are not done negotiating. Keep discussing what can be done until you have something you can act on and deliver within days. Making grand promises might motivate an employee for a week, but they will become actively disengaged as soon as they realize you cannot fulfill it. Let’s say you discover an employee’s Black Swan is that they want to become a graphic designer. They’re even going to school for it, but their current position has nothing to do with design. Promising to get them a job in your design/marketing department is obviously not going to work. Neither will promising you’ll “talk to the manager” to see if your employee can help out on a few projects. More realistic options would be to help your employee set up networking opportunities within your company or associates. Schedule a meeting with the head designer so your employee can ask questions about career growth, education opportunities, etc. Find small projects within your team or department that give them an opportunity to practice their skills. Have them design meeting handouts or training materials. You are not always going to be able to deliver exactly what your employee wants. But that is the point of negotiation — to collaborate with each other until you find a solution that both parties can realistically deliver. Investing your time There is no “quick fix” when it comes to employee engagement. Even plug-and-play employee recognition programs and software won’t change company culture overnight. Talking to individual employees and discovering their Black Swans takes time and energy. Progress may be slow, but as employees become more engaged you should start to see the benefits positively impact your business. Step-by-step, you’ll get back to where you want to be.
Every HR professional knows the important role corporate holiday parties play in employee appreciation. For many companies, it's the event of the year and has the largest budget. It makes sense; employees have worked hard all year, and the holiday season provides an easy setting for companies to show gratitude and appreciation. Many professionals believe corporate holiday parties play an essential role in creating a healthy, thriving environment for employees. But the question on everyone’s mind is,“How do you throw a successful party during a pandemic?” 2020 has been challenging for everyone. This year more than most, employees need the morale boost holiday parties often provide. However, mask requirements, social distancing guidelines, and restrictions on the number of people allowed at an event severely limit the traditional corporate party structure. Despite all this, employees still need to know they are valued. You can cancel the party, but you cannot cancel employee appreciation. So, what do you do instead? Think outside the box Corporate holiday parties have been used for a long time to resolve many employee needs at once. They provide: An opportunity for employees to socialize outside the office environment, thereby enhancing company culture and increasing morale. Closure to the year and relevant goals. A venue to celebrate successes, as well as give and receive validation for hard work. Motivation to start the next year strong. These needs still need to be met, but since a large party is no longer an option, it’s time to get creative. While you’ll likely have to come up with multiple solutions to accomplish the same things a party does on its own, you may also discover something that works better than what you’ve done in the past. Schedule a brainstorming session with HR staff, company executives, and other stakeholders to see what you can do to fulfill these needs. Here are some ideas to get you started: Give out personalized company swag kits, using employee’s name where possible. Host parties for departments instead of the entire company (depending on state safety guidelines). Share an interactive video message, presentation, or webpage recapping the year and establishing goals for next year. Offer extra paid time-off for employees. Design award icons employees can use as profile pictures on company communication tools. Utilize (or implement) employee recognition software. Have managers present personalized gift cards to each employee based on their interests/hobbies. Don’t be afraid to ask for employee input either. Your goal is to show appreciation to your employees, so why not ask them how to do it? Send a poll to your employees asking for their opinions. You can do this before your brainstorming session to get more ideas, or you can use the poll to narrow down the ideas your team discussed. Use video conferencing sparingly Some businesses are looking into hosting virtual parties using video conferencing platforms. There are a couple problems with this. First, since remote work has become the norm, video conferencing is now the virtual equivalent of going into the office. Therefore, hosting a party via video is the same as having the holiday party at your office. No one wants that. Second, it’s difficult for large groups of people to interact over video conferencing. People are more likely to passively watch than actively engage. If employees are not able to interact freely with each other, it makes it hard to develop feelings of belonging or unity — which greatly improve company culture and morale. That’s not to say you can’t use video conferencing at all, but think carefully about what you choose to use it for. If your leadership team usually gives a speech or year-in-review presentation, video conferencing may be a useful tool. Or if your company gives annual awards, that can also be done over video. Be strategic in your use of video conferencing for employee appreciation. Watching a series of talking heads does not do a lot to boost morale. Don’t just tell your employees that you’re grateful for their work. Look for opportunities to show them. Give your best effort 2020 brought all of us into uncharted territory in so many ways. Your employees know that. Your efforts to show employee appreciation without the traditional holiday party may be wildly successful or they may fail epically. The results aren’t as important as long as employees see that you’re trying to make the best of a terrible situation. No matter what, COVID-19 restrictions and safety guidelines are forcing us to change. But necessity is the mother of invention. This is an opportunity for HR professionals and businesses to innovate the ways they show employee appreciation. Don’t be afraid to experiment. You may be surprised at the solutions you discover.
Guest Post by Emil Hajric Your organizational knowledge is your company's most valuable asset. Really, it's invaluable. The knowledge your organization possesses as a whole is the thing that makes your company unique and allows your brand to stand out from your competitors. More than just the tacit knowledge held by your individual employees, your organizational knowledge is the combined product of this individual knowledge applied in such a way as to further your company’s mission. To be valuable to your company, though, this knowledge must be able to flow freely throughout your organization — and should continually grow in quantity and quality as time goes on. To allow for this open flow of knowledge, your team will need to cultivate a culture of knowledge and continuous learning. Key Takeaway: Focusing on a knowledge-sharing culture will improve your company's ability to reach worthy goals. Enhance organizational alignment Empower and retain employees Improve knowledge acquisition Spearhead procedural improvements Drive revenue, profit, and growth 1. Knowledge sharing enhances organizational alignment A group of talented individuals working in isolation just cannot produce the same results as a similar group working cooperatively. And, a group of talented individuals all working toward different goals just isn’t going to be good for business. Case in point: Gartner found that organizational alignment can lead to a nine percent increase in revenues — while a lack of alignment can cause a 12 percent drop in employee performance. In other words, organizational alignment has a direct relationship with both employee and company performance. This organizational alignment cannot exist without cultivating a culture of knowledge sharing amongst your team. Or, perhaps more accurately: You can try to create alignment around your organizational mission and vision — but it’s not going to stick over the long-term without an ongoing focus on sharing knowledge. In terms of on-the-ground alignment, a team that isn’t constantly communicating and sharing information will easily become disjointed and unable to reach even its most immediate goals. But, a team that does understand the importance of continuously exchanging knowledge will stay on the same page when working toward both granular and big picture goals. This sets the stage for maximum team performance throughout your organization. 2. Knowledge sharing empowers your employees — and keeps them onboard Building a culture of knowledge sharing and ongoing learning communicates a clear message to your team members: Your knowledge and expertise matter to our organization. Without it, our organization would not exist as it does today — and would not be able to grow into what it will be tomorrow. The fact that you’re calling your team members to share the knowledge they bring to the table shows that their value to the company goes beyond the tasks they perform on the job. This recognition will go a long way in the eyes of your individual employees: 40% of U.S. employees say more recognition would motivate them to put more effort into their work Nearly 9 in 10 employees who feel recognized are more trusting of their organization and their bosses 63% of employees who feel recognized say they’re unlikely to be looking for a new job It’s in the open exchange of ideas, expertise, and experiences that your team’s — and your individual employee’s — purpose becomes truly apparent. In continuously sharing and gaining more knowledge, your employees will both become more valuable to your organization and feel more valued as a member of your team. This intrinsic motivation is key to optimizing employees’ performance and overall outlook on the job. 3. Knowledge sharing improves knowledge acquisition and retention Individual knowledge acquisition and organizational knowledge retention are two sides of the same coin. Of course, each side can benefit from the creation of a knowledge-sharing culture. In focusing on knowledge acquisition, think employee onboarding and ongoing professional development. Building your organization around the sharing of knowledge means you’ll always be able to get your team members up to speed with any need-to-know information regarding their professional duties. (As we said earlier, an individual employee’s knowledge will only get them so far. To be truly valuable to your company, they need to integrate their knowledge with that of your organization.) You’ll also be able to continuously improve your onboarding and training efforts as time goes on. For one thing, as your organization becomes more knowledgeable, you’ll be able to deliver even more comprehensive learning content and experiences to your team members. Moreover, you can make ongoing improvements to these experiences as you survey and gather feedback from your employees over time. Knowledge sharing also ensures that your organization retains important knowledge when employees retire or otherwise resign. With proper knowledge management processes in place, best practices, step-by-step instructions, and procedural demos will be documented and continually improved upon — and will continue to provide value to your organization long after an employee leaves. Successful knowledge sharing also leads to knowledge centralization — making it ultra-accessible to all who need it, when they need it. This not only makes onboarding and training a snap, but also enables your team to continue building on the knowledge that accumulates throughout your company’s lifespan. 4. Knowledge sharing leads to procedural improvements Your team should always be looking for ways to improve internal processes as well as overall productivity levels. And, it really does need to be a team effort. In addition to worrying about improving their own processes, team members should also be focused on helping improve their colleague’s productivity levels, as well. This goes back to creating alignment and helping your employees better understand your company’s vision. It’s not necessarily about any one team member’s performance, but about what the team can achieve together. As team members begin sharing their knowledge, expertise, and experiences more freely, it will become easier for the team as a whole to understand what works and what doesn’t regarding their current processes. In contrast, a lack of knowledge sharing means a lack of diversity in terms of insight, experiences, and ideas amongst your individual employees and your overall team. Without this diverse input, breakthroughs and a-ha moments will be few and far between. This leads to the effective creation and optimization of standard operating practices throughout your organization. Instead of developing SOP from the top down — without actually involving those responsible for completing said tasks — you’ll create them collaboratively, using any and all applicable knowledge possessed by your team to do so. The best part? Since your team members will be openly sharing best practices with one another, this development of SOP will happen almost organically. As you make these feedback-based improvements on the fly, you’ll then be able to easily document said processes to bring them into official use within your organization. 5. Knowledge sharing drives revenue, profit, and business growth So far, we’ve focused on the more intrinsic benefits of building a culture of knowledge sharing among your team. To be sure, these intrinsic gains will lead to tangible, monetary gains for your business. Unfortunately, the best way to illustrate this is to show what happens when organizations aren’t focused on sharing knowledge: According to a 2018 report from Panopto, ineffective knowledge sharing causes the average US business to lose $47 million in productivity. Panopto provides further context, explaining that “a business with 3,000 employees loses $8 million annually, a 10,000-employee business loses $26.5 million annually, and a 50,000-employee business loses $132.7 million annually.” This massive loss in productivity stems from much of what we’ve discussed thus far: An inability to quickly and easily locate, digest, and apply organizational knowledge Poor cross-team alignment and communication Loss of organizational knowledge Check out Best Company’s list of project management software available to find the best tools to help aid your company with knowledge sharing. Poor knowledge sharing capabilities also hinder an organization’s ability to make improvements. So, in addition to the actual losses sustained, poor knowledge sharing also leads to missed opportunities for growth over time. With that in mind, it’s accurate to say that the losses your business will incur due to poor knowledge sharing processes is incalculable. Conversely, cultivating a culture of knowledge sharing can lead to massive monetary growth for your business. Not only will you minimize operational costs and losses, but you’ll also unearth new, previously-unseen opportunities for growth just as a matter of doing business. For your knowledge sharing initiatives to go as planned, your team needs to have full control over your organization’s cumulative knowledge. Fortunately, there are a number of tools and services available to help your team better manage your customer-facing and internal data. Visit Our Business Services Page Our software reviews can show you which tools are right for your business’ current purposes — and which ones to keep an eye on as your company’s business intelligence needs grow. Learn More Emil Hajric, the founder and CEO of knowledge base software company Helpjuice, is an organizational learning expert and author of Knowledge Management: A Theoretical and Practical Guide for Knowledge Management in Your Organization.
Guest Post by Anastasia Iliou What is your company doing to support employees through COVID-19? Aside from genuinely caring about your employees, their well-being directly impacts your company's success. Happier employees are bound to be much more productive and loyal. You need to budget for good benefits that help keep your team happy and motivated. Everyone’s eyes are on employers right now to see how they react in a crisis, and your employees are your biggest ambassadors. The happier your employees are, the more productive and supportive they are likely to be. Word of mouth is still one of the best marketing tactics out there, and who better to spread the good word about your company than the people who are there every day? If you have employees who are struggling due to reduced hours, high medical costs, loss of other family income, etc. due to COVID-19, any of these employee benefits can help minimize the damage and make you a hero: Great health care choices The COVID-19 pandemic provides a great reason for you to review your company’s current health care options. Are you offering enough options? Do the plans you offer include a telehealth option? Do the plans cover COVID-19 testing and treatment? Making positive changes to your health care options (even if you have to wait until next year to enact the changes) can help you show your employees that you care about their well-being. You need your employees to stay healthy. If your employees are coming to work sick because they can’t afford to visit a doctor, you’re going to end up with a sick and unproductive workforce. It is in both your employees/ best interest and yours to offer good health care. Additional mental health benefits Back in April, 45 percent of adults reported that COVID-19 negatively impacted their mental health. If as much as 45 percent of your workforce could be facing serious mental anguish, you need to prioritize mental health benefits! When your employees are not mentally healthy, they probably can’t focus as well, they are likely less productive, and they might show up to work with a poor attitude. Aside from the mental health care that your insurance offerings will provide, what else are you doing for your employee’s mental health? One of the best ways that you can show that you care as an employer is to offer a subscription to a mental health service like Talkspace. You can also offer “mental health days” as a part of your sick leave policy, you can designate a “zen room” in your office where employees can go to take a deep breath, and you can offer occasional yoga or meditation sessions during the workday. If you prefer a more hands-off approach, you can supply gift cards or provide a stipend for mental health care. Strong family leave policies If you don’t already have one, now would be a great time to enact an inclusive family leave policy that allows employees to take an official leave to take care of sick family members without having to worry about their job. Family leave is a benefit that your employees will hope they never have to use, but will feel better knowing it’s there. It’s another great way to show your employees that you care. Keep in mind that the U.S. Department of Labor added a temporary rule that will expire on December 31, 2020, in regards to COVID-19. The rule states that the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act requires employers to provide up to 10 weeks of paid (and two weeks unpaid) emergency family and medical leave. This rule only applies for employees who are caring for a child whose school or other care facility is closed. Additionally, the Family Medical Leave Act requires that employers provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave for employees who need to quarantine, are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, or are caring for a child. Once that rule expires, you have an opportunity to show that you care about your employees by enacting your own family and medical leave benefits. On-demand pay Sometimes called early wage access, on-demand pay is a benefit that usually does not cost employers anything but can have a huge positive impact on employees. By signing up for an on-demand pay app, you won’t have to do the work yourself — your employees can simply log into the app and get paid any day they want. Especially during a financial crisis or now during COVID-19, it can make a huge difference for your employees to not have to wait two weeks (or longer) to collect their paycheck. The longer they have to wait, the more debt they’re going to fall into while trying to support their families. If your company is the one to provide them with on-demand pay, they’re more likely to stay loyal to you. Time off for community service People who are lucky enough to still have good jobs through the pandemic may be thinking about ways they can help the less fortunate. As a company, you might be thinking the same thing. One way that you can serve your community is by allowing your employees to take time away from work to serve. That means that an employee who wants to work at a soup kitchen for a few hours on a Monday should not be required to use their PTO days. You can manage this by offering one workday per quarter or a few days per year that employees can choose to complete community service instead of showing up to work. Alternatively, you can organize company-wide community service events in your local community. Host food drives and blood drives, sponsor local events, send a group of employees to clean up local schools and parks, etc. Of course, benefit needs will vary by industry and company and these decisions should not be taken lightly. It is important, however, that every company take a look at how their employees were affected by COVID-19 and come up with a solution to better protect them moving forward. Anastasia Iliou is the marketing lead at Rain Instant Pay. Rain is an on-demand pay and financial wellness benefit for employees. Rain’s mission is to put an end to predatory financial products like payday loans.
Guest Post by Trevor McDonald Whether you're the interviewer or the interviewee, job interviews can be stressful. Even as an interviewer, you may feel overwhelmed with stress — but you know the person you're interviewing has even more anxiety. And while there may be some merit to seeing how people handle pressure, you may not get the full picture of someone's value if they feel intimidated and anxious. It's important to help your candidates feel at ease, especially when you're interviewing for a position where someone doesn’t need exceptional people skills. It might be different if you’re interviewing for a high-stakes PR job, but if you’re hiring a data entry clerk, people skills aren’t necessarily an indication of how they’ll perform their job. In this post, we’re going to cover some of the best tips to help you put candidates with ease and make better connections during the interview process. 1. Start with sincere introductions The reason why so many candidates get flustered during interviews is that there is an implied shift in power where the interviewer is in control. It’s akin to a student talking to a teacher or a driver talking to a police officer. But if you want to get the most out of this interview, you’ve got to level the playing field. Your interviewee should feel comfortable interviewing with you without feeling judged. To kick off your interview, offer a friendly hello and a beverage. Simple gestures can help your candidates feel like you care about their well-being. It makes the experience feel more human, which is always a good thing. And remember that offering a glass of water is more than just a gesture of kindness. It can quell a dry throat and give candidates a chance to pause and reflect over a sip when you’ve just asked a difficult question. 2. Show up on time One of the worst things you can do as an interviewer is to show up late for an interview. You know that person has gone through great lengths to show up on time, so as a sign of respect, it’s a good idea to do the same. Don’t let meetings run long that could interfere with your interview. It’s bad manners and it can leave a bad taste in the interviewee’s mouth. Imagine this person was your ideal candidate and they have to decide whether or not to work for you. If they see that you don’t respect their time, they’re probably going to decline any job offers, or even leave the interview early without even meeting with you. Your poor punctuality will end up wasting your time and theirs. Remember that candidates are also interviewing you as a boss and the company you work for. If you want that candidate to remain excited for the opportunity to work for you, respect their time. 3. Choose the interview location wisely Most interviews are conducted in the interviewer’s office or a conference room. There usually aren’t many options available to you. But if you want to connect better with your interviewee, you may want to spend a few minutes thinking about where you want to conduct your interview. The space you choose should have comfortable chairs, natural light, and comfortable temperatures. If your office is too stark, dark, and cold (or hot), the candidates you interview are likely to be distracted by their discomfort. You should also choose a space that’s private. No one wants to feel like they have an audience during an interview. This rules out common spaces like break rooms or employee lounges. Holding an interview in a common space also sends the impression that you aren’t taking it very seriously, which sets the wrong tone off the bat. 4. Explain your role and how you got there If you really want to connect with your interview candidates, open up the conversation by talking about yourself a bit. This isn’t open season to brag about your accomplishments or get too personal. Keep it professional and job-focused. Talk a little about your career background and what led you to work for (or found) the company. This should be brief but allow for the candidate to interject and ask a question or two. This can break the ice and make it feel more like two colleagues talking than an actual interview. Because the candidate probably has questions about the company, you can use this time to cover the basics. Talk about the company story and background and touch on company culture and morale. You want to remain honest, so if there’s something you don’t want to say, just avoid it. Emphasize the positive and do your best to deliver a warm welcome. Just one word of caution: If you plan to ask the candidate what they know about the company, you may not want to give too much away in your introduction. 5. Keep questions reasonable A skilled interviewer will ask pointed questions to get to the root of what they want to know: 1. Is this person qualified for the job?2. Is their personality a good fit for company culture? This advice isn’t telling you to hold back, but be careful of asking questions that are too much of a challenge. And this means avoiding trick questions. We all know trick questions when we see them. We may not always know the right answer, but we know when someone is painting us into a corner. If your candidate picks up on this, you’re probably going to lose some trust. It’s only going to put the candidate on the defensive, and it’s probably not going to get the result you’re after anyway. Some interviewers will also ask questions they know the candidate can’t answer. And they do this to see how the candidate will respond. Will they tell you they don’t know the answer or will they make something up on the spot? There can be some benefits to this if you think you’re dealing with a dishonest person, but in most cases, it’ll just make candidates unnecessarily uncomfortable. And if you’re ever in the position of being a candidate, this is why it’s important to tailor your resume to highlight your strengths and knowledge. This way the interviewer knows what to ask about. Interviews can be challenging for everyone, but you’re always going to get more from the process when you make a genuine connection with candidates. Trevor McDonald is a freelance content writer who has a passion for writing. He's written a variety of education, business, health, and lifestyle articles for many different companies, currently writing for Resume Coach. In his free time, you can find him running with his dog, playing his guitar, or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.
Guest Post by Alice Corner Company culture can mean a myriad of different things to different people, but most commonly a good company culture boils down to "Is this environment a good place to work?" The culture of a company is becoming more and more important in recruitment, with many traditional Human Resources roles being pivoted to People & Culture Managers and even, in some of the more trendy companies, Chief Happiness Officer, Manager of Vibes, and Employee Journey Advisor. Part of the reason so many people are hesitant to embrace the idea of creating a good company culture comes down to the PR of the topic. There are as many misconceptions about what good culture means as there are Vibe Managers in the world (aka too many). For example: people think a good company culture means having trendy perks like a beer fridge or office dogs, and that a good company culture can only thrive in tech companies or start ups. Venngage teamed up with Glassdoor and MIT to analyze 500 of America’s most economically important companies to bust some of the common myths surrounding company culture. By looking at a unique set of data from MIT that rated companies on elements like agility, collaboration, diversity, and respect, and cross referencing those companies with Glassdoor reviews from current and former employees, we were able to get a handle on what makes a good company culture. Creating a good company culture is important for both keeping your current employees happy, but also for recruiting new team members. Recruiting is becoming harder than ever, with recruiters increasingly reporting potential hires ghosting their offer — so creating a great culture is a wonderful way to stand out. Trendy perks aren't that important to your company culture Sure, having catered lunches, a beer fridge, corporate retreats, and company parties is the ideal situation for a lot of workers; it’s not often something smaller, leaner companies can stretch to. And as the world’s biggest fan of our super cute office dogs, I absolutely appreciate trendy perks, but there are ways every company can improve its culture without building a slide in their lobby, a la Google. Surveys most commonly mentioned health insurance, 401k, and vacation and paid time off as the most important things a company can offer. This makes sense — trendy perks are a luxury, whereas decent health insurance, a good 401k, and a fair paid time off policy are essentials for a healthy and happy worker. If you are a start up that heavily invested in providing enough sparkling water for the office — don’t panic. This can absolutely still be seen as a perk, but make sure that your employees are fully aware of your less glamorous but more essential policies too. If your company culture isn’t where you want it to be, revisit your existing employee perks to see if there’s any room for improvement. Perhaps you could implement working from home for employees, or more flexible hours. If in doubt, survey your workers to get ideas as to which perks they would benefit from the most. Great company culture starts at the top Your CEO isn’t just the figurehead of your company externally, they are also the leader of your workplace culture. In fact, Venngage found that companies whos CEO had over a 90 percent approval rating consistently also ranked highly for company culture. A dynamic and engaging leader can make all of the difference in a dissatisfied workplace, so it’s important to make sure that your CEO is clearly following your company values and providing a good role model for the rest of your employees. This becomes more difficult in bigger organizations, especially those with multiple sites. At Venngage, if I want to know what the CEO is up to, I just look to my left! But there are ways for leaders to be present even from a distance. Ask yourself: Is our CEO clearly representing the values of the company? Is our CEO good at acknowledging those who represent the values of the company? Is the on-site Senior Leadership Team (SLT) present? Do the CEO and SLT make an effort to turn up to company social events? Is there regular communication from the CEO and SLT on high level progress and goals? Easy ways to be more present could include creating a weekly presentation sent to all staff of the top issues or highlights from the last week, conducting a monthly all-hands meeting (even via video link!), or scheduling team building exercises or social events. You’d be surprised how much of a difference being treated to lunch can make to an employee's impression of the management team. Remember, a good company culture just means that employees enjoy working at your company, so lead by example. Work/life balance creates a great company culture Saying that a good work/life balance is essential to a good company culture might seem like an "Okay, Captain Obvious" moment, but in smaller companies or companies going through rapid growth, it can be incredibly easy to become too focused on targets and forget that your employees are people first, workers second. Burnout is a real problem in many workplaces and costs the economy about $190 billion in healthcare and lost productivity costs. And burnout has a knock on effect. If one person has so much work that they can’t complete it and become ill, the person who has to pick up their work will be put in a difficult place too. Creating a workplace that values employees as a whole person is an essential factor to creating a great company culture. How this looks will vary from company to company, but here are some common ways to help encourage a great work/life balance: No emails after a certain time Encourage management to not send 9 p.m. emails. Instead, schedule them to send in the next period of working time. Every company has its own standard hours, so adapt this for your business. Allow short-term flexible working At Venngage, we have an incredible work from home policy because we understand that sometimes stuff just happens. If you have an appointment or wake up with a cold, then you are free to work remotely that day. As a result, workers are more focused and productive when they're in the office. Manage workloads and expectations Something that agile companies do incredibly well is work in short bursts. Instead of working on a project for months and months before releasing, they will work on many smaller weekly projects, releasing on a weekly basis. Working this way ensures that the workload is evenly spread. By scheduling on a weekly basis, any issues with workloads or capacities can be flagged straight away and expectations of deliverables are clear. Review and improve your company culture regularly It’s easy to lay out plans on paper, but it’s vital that you regularly check in on your employees to make sure they are happy with the culture and that the changes you have made are effective. Conducting a quarterly employee feedback survey can be a great way to measure the mood of the office. Don’t forget how useful having the reputation of a good company culture is in attracting new hires, building your company brand, and retaining your current employees. Alice Corner is a Content Marketer at Venngage who likes good design, social media, and visual communication. When she’s not writing about those things, she’s making videos about those things on the Venngage YouTube channel.