IBM’s Remote Work Repeal: It’s Bold But Is It Wise?

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IBM is scrapping its pioneering, decades-old remote work program, telling offsite employees to head back to the office full-time or find another employer. The reason? To improve collaboration and accelerate the pace of work, the company said in a formal statement. “In many fields, such as software development and digital marketing, the nature of work is changing, which requires new ways of working,” it added.

Plenty of analysts and commentators aren’t buying into that explanation, at least not fully. Many say Big Blue is eliminating remote work to downsize and cut costs, noting the announcement follows 20 consecutive quarters of falling revenues.

It’s hard to know what the real story is. Most likely there’s some truth in what both IBM and the pundits are saying, so the question becomes …

Sheer Genius or Utter Folly?

It’s far too early to determine whether IBM’s policy pivot is a stroke of genius or a huge mistake. Articles in both Bloomberg and Fast Company, however, have been highly critical of the decision. And a Forbes piece titled, “Why IBM’s Move To Rein In Remote Workers Isn’t The Answer,” implies the move smacks of desperation. “The fact is, this strategy is another shot in the dark. It’s a hope for something new but it’s not a plan,” author Jeff Boss writes.

IBM’s remote work program has delivered billions of dollars in cost savings and improved productivity—results the company has proudly touted over the years. Equally important, it’s going to take money, time and effort to bring tens of thousands of remote workers back into the workplace. This figure could end up being closer to hundreds of thousands; as CNN Money reported, about 40% of IBM workers (who now number almost 400,000) didn’t have a “traditional office” the last time the company reported on such data.

Given these facts—and the reality that remote work has become a mainstream practice among employers of every stripe and size—it’s difficult to imagine IBM’s talent brand won’t be tarnished by its reversal on remote work, not to mention employee morale and long-term loyalty. Think of all those employees staying on at IBM (temporarily or otherwise) yet becoming seriously disengaged.

A Business- and Life-Altering Decision1

In fact, reports of employee unrest and disengagement began almost immediately after IBM broke the news.

“Everyone I know is very upset,” said one employee, who was interviewed for a Quartz article, which went on to state: “Some workers furiously began looking for new jobs. Others say they have stopped contributing to long-term projects because they aren’t sure whether they’ll be around in the future.”

While these reactions are precisely the opposite of what IBM hopes to accomplish, they’re hardly unexpected, particularly from men and women who prized the ability to work from home as a major advantage of employment at IBM. Their employer had given them the autonomy to work when and where they chose; it had liberated them to care for children and elderly relatives with greater ease; and it had freed them from long, difficult or costly commutes.

For many IBM workers, these freedoms have been revoked. It doesn’t just change their work. It changes their lives.

Does Where We Work Trump How?

In his Forbes piece, Boss makes it clear that IBM could be hamstringing itself by slashing remote work. “It’s not about where people work,” he writes. “Where people work isn’t as important as how or why they work. Remember from Daniel Pink’s research on Motivation 2.0 that autonomy is one of three main drivers for people, along with purpose and mastery. If employees don’t feel their autonomous needs are being met, then off to another job they go.”

A growing body of research supports Boss’s case. As I noted in an April post, Gallup reports an “optimal engagement boost” occurs when individuals work remotely 60% to 80% of the time. And other studies have shown that the advantages of remote work include lower operating costs, increased retention and productivity, and greater employee well being.

To be fair, Gallup’s data also show that employees who work remotely all of the time—at least for particular types of work and job functions—may miss out on some meaningful conversations and connections with colleagues, which can negatively impact their productivity. This seems to be the argument IBM is making, in part at least, to justify repealing remote work.

Pioneers don’t always move straight ahead. Sometimes they have to backtrack and change direction to make progress. IBM claims to be doing exactly that—doubling back on its pioneering remote work program in order to move forward. It’s a bold move. Only time will tell if it’s a wise one.

Images: main image courtesy of Pixabay; secondary photo via PhotoPin (license)

 

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C-Suite and HR Still at Odds Over Talent Issues, Survey Finds

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Mercer’s Talent Trends 2017 report offers fresh insights into the lingering differences between how the C-suite and Human Resources view the talent landscape.

For instance, both groups agree the competition for talent will increase this year, the report states, “but executives see this even more acutely—43% of C-suite respondents expect the competition to be significant, compared to 34% of HR professionals.”

Although that’s not a massive disconnect, it’s a telling one. And it’s only the beginning.

Mind the Gaps

Mercer’s report is based on the firm’s global survey of more than 400 business executives 1,700 HR professionals and 5,400 employees from 37 countries and 20 industries. Evidence of the gaps between the C-suite’s perspective and that of HR crops up in a number of places throughout the report:

Redesigning Organizational Structures and Jobs—In the opinion of executives, this is one of the top three ways to improve overall business performance in the immediate future. However, “only 11% of HR professionals indicated that redesigning jobs, roles, and responsibilities is a priority this year.”

Talent Analytics—Companies are collecting more information than ever from candidates and employees, the report states. Even so, “senior executives are not getting the kind of talent metrics they need to make better business decisions. For example, executives say that understanding the key drivers of engagement would be the insight that is most value adding to their business, but only 35% of HR leaders are able to provide this information.”

railway-1758208_640Employee Value Preposition (EVP)—EVP refers to an organization’s offerings and qualities that attract new talent and keep employees from going elsewhere. When it comes to what makes their companies’ EVP unique and compelling:

  • 50% of executives cite company culture, as opposed to 35% of HR professionals—a surprising reversal regarding the issue of culture.
  • 40% of executives cite brand recognition, while just 6% of HR professionals agree.
  • 14% of executives cite pay and rewards, in contrast to 38% of HR professionals.
  • 10% of executives cite benefits, compared to 33% of HR professionals.
  • 9% of executives cite diversity and inclusion; this figure rises to 25% for HR professionals. Frankly, both of these figures seem shockingly low given the changing demographics of the global workforce—not to mention the documented business benefits of diversity and inclusion.

The Implications for HR

While some of these differences aren’t earth-shattering, there are lessons to be gleaned from them—especially in light of HR’s desire to raise its profile as a strategic partner to the C-suite.

In some instances (redesigning jobs, for example), HR professionals might want to take a closer look at the issue and reconsider their stance. In others (such as compensation and benefits), HR might want to stick to its guns and provide new data to shift senior leaders’ opinions. At the very least, HR professionals can use Mercer’s data to pinpoint discrepancies between their own perceptions and those of business leaders. That’s bound to be helpful as HR sets its agendas for the months and years ahead.

Here’s how Mercer itself sums up the survey’s implications to HR:

“The C-suite certainly has People issues on their agenda this year. … This focus on the talent agenda provides HR leaders with an incredible opportunity to align with business priorities and maximize their impact. To secure a seat at the table, HR leaders must continue to represent the needs of employees, while also keeping a finger on the pulse of external trends. Amplifying their voice requires leveraging data in ever more sophisticated ways to tell a story that is both compelling and relevant. Without talent insights from HR, CEOs’ dreams and aspirations will struggle to leave the boardroom.”

Images courtesy of Pixabay

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Diversity: The “Readily Solvable Issue” That’s Not Getting Solved

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Apple just hired its first vice president of inclusion and diversity. In announcing the appointment, Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, called diversity a “readily solvable issue.”

Oddly, the company hasn’t seemed all that ready to solve the issue, given the fact that its previous diversity champion left Apple in 2015 and the role remained vacant until now. Plus, despite a years-old strategy to hire more women and underrepresented minorities, Apple’s workforce remains largely white and male. According to its latest diversity report, the company hired only 3% more females and 2% more African-American tech employees in the U.S. compared to 2014.

Apple is by no means alone in this diversity dearth. Bersin by Deloitte issued new research showing that while 71% of organizations aspire to have an “inclusive culture” only 12% actually have one.

Why are so many companies falling short on inclusiveness and diversity?

According to Bersin, the reason is pretty straightforward: only 6% of companies actually tie compensation to diversity outcomes. In other words, business leaders and managers are rarely held accountable for actually raising levels of inclusiveness and diversity. Bersin found that companies with truly inclusive cultures focus on personal accountability, measurement and transparency to achieve quantifiable diversity results.

Inclusive Cultures Are Winning Cultures

When you look at the bottom line, it’s clear that building an inclusive culture is good for business. Bersin’s research shows that companies with inclusive cultures are:

  • Six times more likely to be innovative than those that lack inclusive cultures.
  • Six times more likely to anticipate change and respond effectively.
  • And twice as likely to meet or exceed financial targets.

Despite outcomes like these, inclusive cultures continue to be the exception rather than the rule. To make matters worse, diversity has been paid so much empty lip service that “diversity fatigue” has actually set in at many organizations.

A recent HR Magazine article offered insights from Toby Mildon, the BBC’s diversity and inclusion lead, on how companies can fight diversity fatigue. One of his recommendations is that employers identify where diversity leaks are occurring in business processes. In the BBC’s case, one of these leaks was found in the selection stage of the recruiting process. To plug the leak, the company created a blind test of candidates’ skills. “It consisted of a task they would be expected to do in their first 100 days on the job,” Mildon said. “We saw a 300% increase in ethnic minority candidates selected for interview after introducing that.”

As the article also points out, organizations with good gender diversity are about 15% more profitable than those without it. If sound business ethics aren’t enough to convince employers to fight through their diversity fatigue, hopefully bottom-line results like this will be.

For such a readily solvable issue, there’s still a lot of progress to be made.

Posted in company culture, diversity, HR, workforce, workplace culture | 1 Comment

Why You Don’t Need More Star Talent

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The world’s best-performing companies possess more star talent, right? That’s the secret to their success, right? And these companies attract superstars through extravagant salaries and perks, right?

Turns out all of these assumptions are dead wrong.

Research shows the best-performing companies have roughly the same number of star performers as all other companies. And it’s not compensation that buys (or retains) star talent.

It’s About Clusters, Not Numbers

As outlined in a February article in the Harvard Business Review, Bain & Company performed detailed organizational audits on 25 global companies and surveyed more than 300 senior executives at large companies worldwide regarding workforce productivity. Its analysis revealed that the clear distinguishing factor of best-performing companies is not how many star performers they have but rather how they deploy these individuals—namely, in clusters.

According to Bain’s research, star talent makes up 16% of the workforce at the best-performing companies. This figure is 14% for the rest of the pack—not exactly a staggering difference. However, while the average company deploys star talent in an “unintentionally egalitarian way” (spreading their A players evenly across all roles in the organization), the best companies use “intentional nonegalitarianism,” purposely focusing their superstars in areas where they’ll make the greatest impact on company performance.

“As a result, the vast majority of business-critical roles—upward of 95%—are filled by A-quality talent,” the HBR article states. “In some technology companies, for example, software development is critical to business success. So the best-performing companies in this industry make sure that software development roles are filled with star talent. In other industries brand management matters more, so the A players tend to be clustered there.”

In short, stars are clustered where they can make the biggest difference to their organization’s performance. The egalitarian approach, the article observes, “may seem fair, even admirable, but it does not produce superior results.”

Money Doesn’t Buy Star Talent

There’s no denying that money matters to your employees—including your superstars. But dollars alone won’t bring them through the door or keep them from leaving.

A recent CNN Money article points to Uber as a prime example. Despite facing its share of challenges and PR hurdles, Uber has achieved remarkable growth: the company booked a stunning $20 billion in rides last year. As the CNN Money article notes, Uber has “enticed some of the most brilliant minds in tech to leave cushy jobs at Google, Facebook and Twitter” to undertake grueling roles with “long hours and a limited work-life balance.” Yet, the company doesn’t rely on high salaries or a battery of perks to attract these superstars.

What draws them? “Unique opportunities,” they say, including “the chance to solve real-world problems and a culture that frees them to experiment with radical solutions in a burgeoning field.”

Gallup tackled the subject of star talent in a March article titled, “What Star Employees Want.” Unfortunately, the data it presents are a bit confusing. Fortunately, the upshot isn’t.

The article states that 41% of surveyed employees say “a significant increase in income” is very important to them when considering a new job. However, Gallup clearly references a survey of employees in general—not star performers. Second, although it posits the importance of income, it goes on to show that income ranks fourth on a list of five key attributes employees consider when pondering a change of employers. Here’s the list in order of importance to employees:

  1. The ability to do what they do best.
  2. Greater work-life balance and better personal well-being.
  3. Greater stability and job security.
  4. A significant increase in income.
  5. The opportunity to work for a company with a great brand or reputation.

I’m not entirely sure what to make of the Gallup piece (especially its lack of focus on the “star employees” mentioned so prominently in its title) but it unquestionably mirrors the conclusion of the CNN Money article: the work itself is what matters most to star talent.

Indeed, Gallup urges employers who are hiring talent to talk about pay but to bring more to the discussion than pay alone. “People make decisions based on both reason and emotion, but they are more likely to be led by emotion. Therefore, organizations should clearly present how candidates can contribute to a role and an organization.”

What Is a “Star Performer” Exactly?

Aaahhhh … there’s the imperative and fundamental question raised by this entire discussion.

As indicated in the HBR article, it’s hard to deploy your star talent effectively without first identifying them. “Most companies employ some form of assessment based on performance and potential, typically as a vehicle for determining compensation and career progression,” the article states. “Following this approach, A players are employees who score highly on both dimensions.”

If you need additional help identifying your stars, an article from Lifehack cites seven traits they typically posses including initiative, integrity, adaptability and passion. You might also look at the Workopolis blog post, “8 ways to spot a star performer.”

There’s no cookie-cutter approach to identifying star talent. The definition is unique to every organization. But the one universal element is that “star talent” refers to truly extraordinary performers—the best of the best. There’s a whole level of reliable, solid performers below them who are vital to your business.

While you probably don’t need more stars, you do need to decide who they are if you want to deploy them for the best possible outcomes. And you may well need more of those solid performers to boost your organization’s success … but that’s a separate issue for another day.

Instead of a Hiring Spree, Redeploy Your Stars

The good news: star talent doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. The great news: you likely don’t even need to hire more superstars.

You just need to rethink the way you’ve deployed the ones you have. And to maximize retention of your superstars, take a page from Uber’s playbook and free them to experiment more, to bring greater creativity to their work, and to be real-world problem solvers.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

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The War for Talent Isn’t Over or Lost, Fast Company Article Notwithstanding

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“The War For Talent Is Over And Everyone Lost.”

That’s the headline of Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic’s and Adam Yearsley’s recent Fast Company article, and here’s the callout that follows it: “Instead of winning a war for talent, organizations appear to be waging a war on talent, repelling and alienating employees more successfully than harnessing their skills.”

Don’t mince words, guys. How do you really feel?

I have to admit, I understand their point of view. The corporate recruitment process is broken. There’s a pervasive employee engagement malaise. And organizations continue to struggle to create great company cultures.

However, there’s another way to look at all of this …

1) The War for Talent Isn’t Over At All

It just needs to be waged differently.

Companies using the traditional talent acquisition model basically advertise their jobs, offer compensation packages they hope will attract the best possible candidates, evaluate applicants based on their resumes and work histories, and ultimately hire the individuals they believe are most qualified. Increasingly, though, employers realize this isn’t necessarily the best “battle plan” to compete for talent. In fact, it’s exacerbated their problems. Seventy-one percent of employers claim they can’t find candidates with the right skill sets, according to a Forbes article.

In order to attract the right kinds of talent, a growing number of employers are shifting to a new talent model—one that puts their company culture, their values and their work environments front and center. This model makes tremendous sense, particularly in light of one of the key findings of LinkedIn’s 2016 Global Talent Trends report: more than two-thirds of the 26,000+ professionals surveyed by LinkedIn said they want to know about a company’s culture and values above all else when considering a job. Not salary, not benefits, not perks. Culture and values. “They may know about your company,” the LinkedIn report states, “but they lack a clear picture of what it’s like on the inside—and the typical job description isn’t helping.”

As a result, savvy employers are illuminating their organizations’ inner workings by developing stronger social media profiles, for instance, and encouraging current employees (i.e., their best brand ambassadors) to openly share their work experiences on sites such as Glassdoor and Great Place To Work. Their new job ads put greater emphasis on life inside the company and opportunities for personal growth and development rather than merely listing job responsibilities and requirements. These companies are also borrowing an effective tactic from the marketing function by creating articles, videos and other content that are tailored to their candidates’ interests. This content never directly “promotes” their organizations; instead it shows these employers understand their talent and want to help them excel in their careers.

In addition, this new talent model delivers an improved candidate experience, eliminating byzantine application processes and forms that take ridiculous amounts of time and effort to complete. Candidates actually hear back from employers after applying to jobs; some are even interviewed for more than one position because these employers look for additional job “fits” early in the evaluation process.

The authors of the Fast Company article don’t seem to like the “war for talent” analogy much. Like it or not, the war for talent goes on.

2) “Everyone Lost” Is Hyperbole—and Hyper-Hopeless

Don’t get me wrong, when it comes to talent acquisition and management, there are many things all of us could be doing better.

Employers could be delivering a better candidate experience; they could match employees to specific roles and projects more effectively; and they could coach, mentor and develop their people with greater care. Workers, for their part, could be better at selecting jobs and companies they’re truly aligned with; they could take a more active role in their own career planning and development; and they could take greater responsibility for managing their own performance and engagement.

The authors of the Fast Company article put much of the blame on employers for workers’ disengagement and professional restlessness. Yet, as researchers have pointed out, employees themselves are also responsible for their own engagement. According to a 2016 TalentSpace blog post, a large-scale study of highly engaged employees across a range of industries, continents, cultures and demographics is documented in Timothy R. Clark’s book, The Employee Engagement Mindset. The study found “highly engaged employees take primary responsibility for their careers, their success and their fulfillment. They own their own engagement. They are the driving forces.”

Yes, employers everywhere continue to make talent-related mistakes, and workers are still creating roadblocks to their own fulfillment. But this doesn’t mean everyone has lost. It means we need to keep improving—employers and employees alike.

Talent acquisition and management have evolved dramatically over the past several years. It’s no wonder many companies are struggling to cope with these changes. The good news is there are companies such as Capital One and Comcast that have redefined and redesigned they ways they’re engaging with talent. If you’d like to read about these companies and others that are blazing trails to a new era of talent management, download a copy of the Talent Board’s 2016 North American Candidate Experience (CandE) Research Report and pay special attention to the case studies.

3) Organizations Are Screwing Up, Not Waging a War on Talent

Obviously there are employers who don’t treat their talent well, and there are others who do a crappy job of managing one or more aspects of the talent lifecycle. But the vast majority aren’t doing these things willfully. They’re not trying to undermine their own success or ruin their brand reputation. And they’re certainly not trying to send their best talent screaming for the door.

They’re making these missteps largely out of ignorance, flawed strategy and/or a lack of proper investment in the infrastructure necessary for effective talent management. (Arguably, subpar investments are deliberate on occasion but I’d counter-argue that cheaping-out on your talent investment is often a result of flawed strategic thinking.) In fact, infrastructure is a critically important element of effective talent acquisition and management. As Kevin Grossman stresses in his TalentCulture blog post, without the right recruiting infrastructure in place, it’s next to impossible to tap into today’s richest talent channels, build robust candidate pipelines, efficiently track and manage talent relationships, or deliver a great candidate experience.

Believe it or not, many employers are still trying to put the right recruitment infrastructure in place. Again, this doesn’t constitute an outright “war on talent.” It’s a problem they’re addressing, as evidenced by the roughly $2 billion annual investment they’re making in HR technology.

On the Other Hand …

Although I spent the last thousand words presenting alternative views to those of Dr. Chamorro-Premuzic and Mr. Yearsley, I’m not saying they’re entirely wrong. And Ted Bauer, a writer whose work I admire, echoes their opinions in his incendiary post, “The war for talent became the war ON talent.” The three of them make some damn good points. I’m just offering a different perspective.

At the end of the day, these three gentlemen are asking employers to wake up to the ways they’ve failed—and continue to fail—their talent as well as their companies. I’m not arguing against that. It’s a great way to map out a better path to a brighter future.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Posted in company culture, employee engagement, HR, recruiting, talent acquisition, workforce, workplace culture | 1 Comment

Can A.I. Heal the Broken Recruiting Process?

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Here’s how broken the corporate recruiting process is: 85% of job applicants never hear back from employers after submitting a job application … and 71% of employers claim they can’t find candidates with the right skill sets. The good news, according to Louis Efron’s Forbes article, is that a fix is on the way, and it’s going to make life better for employers and job seekers alike.

The fix: artificial intelligence.

Specifically, Efron is referring to an A.I. platform called Mya, which was created by FirstJob to automate as much as three-quarters of the recruiting process. One day, Efron reckons, Mya could automate the entire process.

“Mya is disruptive in every way,” he writes, “and she’s set to revolutionize the talent pipeline. As the first fully automated recruiting assistant, she instantly engages with applicants, poses contextual questions based on job requirements, and provides personalized updates, feedback, and next-step suggestions. By delivering custom messages designed to address specific recruiter pain points, and acquiring critical applicant answers, Mya enables recruiters to focus their time on interviewing and closing offers.”

Mya appears to be everyone’s white knight, restoring order to the chaos-riddled candidate experience and easing the recruiter’s burden at the same time. But how well has she actually performed? Efron says she’s improved recruiter efficiency by 38% and raised candidate engagement by more than 150%. “Even more impressively, candidates are 3 times more likely to hear back from a recruiter if they respond to Mya’s questions,” he notes.

Pondering the Implications of A.I.

Mya’s early performance aside, there’s a whole host of questions about A.I. and recruiting that are far from being answered definitively. Which of the dozens of recruiting tasks is A.I. best suited to? Is A.I. even practical or affordable for most companies? How will candidates feel about its use? And these are just the tip of the iceberg.

Talent Tech Labs’ recent Trends Report, Volume 7 offers fascinating insights into these questions from several subject matter experts. They explore A.I.’s incredible potential for positively transforming talent sourcing, candidate engagement and the selection process. To be honest, some of their commentary was pretty technical and way over my head … but they also addressed basic and practical concerns many of us have about A.I. and talent initiatives.

For instance, Shon Burton, one of the report’s contributing authors, asks: “Is it ethical to predict race, gender, honesty, intelligence, performance, reliability, or culture fit? Is it OK to use A.I. as a proxy for candidate communication and, further, to optimize and manipulate the candidate to accept the lowest predicted pay rate?”

He invites readers to do a little thought experiment: imagine you’re a job candidate who has to qualify for a role, negotiate pay and communicate healthcare concerns to an A.I.-based system—a system that’s constantly “analyzing your interactions with it and using that information to predict your suitability for the role or the lowest salary you are likely to accept.” How would you feel about that experience—and that employer?

The real question isn’t whether we can build this type of application, Burton says, but whether we ought to. However, Burton knows that genie is already out of the bottle. “A.I. is here to stay,” he writes, “in HR as well as every other industry.”

A.I. to the Rescue—But How and When?

Burton candidly admits that A.I. may cause the candidate experience to “suffer in the short term,” especially as automation takes over more of the communication and evaluation processes. There are bound to be glitches along the way, especially since A.I. tools are built and programmed by humans. But he also believes plenty of big advantages will spring from A.I.

For example, job seekers consistently cite lack of response from recruiters as one of the most frustrating aspects of the candidate experience. Burton says that not only could an A.I. assistant intelligently respond to every applicant who doesn’t get a particular job but it could also offer coaching based on an analysis of the individuals who did get the job.

So, the obvious question is when will A.I. really take hold and repair the broken recruiting process?

According to Brian Delle Donne, president of Talent Tech Labs, the A.I. applications furthest along in their development are those that solve the sourcing rubric, identify matches between resumes and job requisitions, parse data, and predict a candidate’s fit. Applications that truly solve engagement challenges, predict behavioral outcomes and mimic human intuition are “still mostly future state.”

“For true Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning to come into prominence in TA, there is most likely much work to do and a significant cost of entry, especially for startups,” Delle Donne writes. “We believe that the data giants of Google, Facebook Microsoft, IBM, and others could decide to build their own solutions (as each are dabbling with now) or conversely make the data available to companies with specialized domain knowledge in HR and Talent Acquisition.”

In other words, it’s anybody’s guess when A.I. will well and truly cure the recruiting process’s ills. In the meantime, however, the healing has begun.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Posted in Digital HR, HR, HR transformation, recruiting, talent acquisition, technology, workforce | Leave a comment

Optimal Engagement Boost Occurs When People Work Remotely 3 to 4 Days a Week

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According to Gallup research, there’s a remote work sweet spot that optimizes employee engagement and productivity.

An “optimal engagement boost” occurs when individuals work remotely 60% to 80% of the time (roughly three to four days a week), Gallup says. These employees are 31% more likely to “strongly agree that they make more progress in their workday” than those who work remotely fewer days per week. And employees who work remotely all of the time actually lose ground in terms of engagement and productivity—at least for particular types of work and job functions—because they miss out on some meaningful connections and conversations with colleagues during the week.

Gallup plans to explore the issues surrounding full-time remote work in an upcoming article. I’m looking forward to reading it because the “disconnect” Gallup refers to is often not the fault of remote workers. Rather it’s the result of poor performance management and communication practices—problems that employers must learn to resolve to fully leverage the advantages of remote work (e.g., lower costs, increased retention and productivity, and greater employee well-being, to name a few). You can read about these advantages in the recent Entrepreneur article, “4 Reasons Why Smart Companies Are Going Remote.”

What Else Drives Engagement?

Gallup’s research also reveals that high engagement is closely tied to how well employers meet workers’ developmental and personal relationship needs. When examining the most engaged employees (again, those working remotely three to four days a week), Gallup found they’re the most likely of all employees to strongly agree that someone at work:

  • cares about them as a person;
  • encourages their development;
  • and has talked to them about their progress.

In addition, these individuals are the most likely of all employees to say they have opportunities to learn and grow.

Bottom line, working remotely gives employees flexibility to maximize their productivity, while working onsite enables them to interact face-to-face with coworkers and managers. It’s this “best of both worlds” approach—applied in the right proportions—that lifts engagement.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Posted in company culture, employee engagement, workforce, workplace culture | 1 Comment