Millennial Anxiety in the Workplace

Numerous articles have been published about Millennials and anxiety in the workplace. One recent poll found that that 18-34-year-olds experience work-disrupting anxiety or depression at a rate of 30%, twice as much as the other age groups. The reasons are likely twofold. Millennials are more willing to talk about and ask for help with emotional issues than previous generations, and Millennials suffer from higher anxiety levels due to societal, social, and technological forces not experienced by older generations.

Colleges and universities have been providing mental-health services to Millennials for years to keep up with the demand, but the role employers play in helping young workers cope may be less obvious. Working with Millennials who display high levels of anxiety and the behaviors associated with anxiety (stress, depression, withdrawal and a lack of focus) is a very real problem for HR and managers. They lack awareness of this generation’s experience with stress and often react in ways that exacerbate the problem and are counterproductive. The result is missed work, increased attrition and decreased productivity.

Companies can successfully tackle this issue by learning how to lead effectively across the generations. Generational training teaches managers how to engage in meaningful dialog and workforce strategies that attract, grow and retain younger workers while simultaneously honoring the differences, needs and contribution of older workers. For more information on this training and other solutions for bridging the generational divide in your organization, visit my website or contact me directly

Succession Planning is a Dirty Word

In many organizations, the term “succession planning” is so loaded that it prevents people from engaging in effective dialog about the future needs of the business and the talent available to meet those needs.

Among current executives, succession planning invokes fear that their skills and experiences are no longer relevant to the business. On a deeper level, succession planning may also trigger feelings of mortality as leaders ponder their longevity and identity post retirement.

Among employees hungry for more development and mobility, succession planning can be associated with inequitable and subjective leadership practices. Employees assume that “favorites” will get slotted for desirable roles, while the most deserving candidates go overlooked. Succession planning may also reinforce organizational beliefs that senior management lacks transparency since most succession planning practices are perceived by employees as “black holes.”

Let’s be honest. Succession planning is a dirty word. It’s met with skepticism, cynicism, avoidance and even sabotage in some instances. If this is the case in your company, consider removing the term all together from your vocabulary and replacing it with positive language and positioning that describes what you are really striving for, which is to build strong and deep leadership pipelines and develop careers.

Embedding this positive positioning within your culture can avoid the negative emotions and implications associated with succession planning and can enable your organization to achieve its talent management objectives.

A company’s success and legacy across future generations depend on new approaches to and language for succession planning. For more insight and practical solutions to planning for the development and succession of leaders in your organization, visit my website or contact me directly.

Effective Beats Flashy When Onboarding

To effectively onboard new hires, you must be disciplined, not innovative. Sure, you can build some clever bells and whistles, unique to your corporate culture and industry, into your new employee orientation and first days on the job. I have done this successfully with numerous companies, embedding fun and meaningful events and touch points into the process to acculturate new hires and amplify their enthusiasm. The real success, however, comes from a disciplined and practical approach to onboarding newcomers that accelerates their time to productivity and keeps them engaged in your organization for the long haul.

Getting the basics right and focusing on what really matters to new employees during the onboarding period is critical to an organization’s success and should be emphasized over flashy presentations and company swag. To learn how to effectively onboard new hires, download my whitepaper, New Hire Onboarding - Why Effective Is Better Than Flashy. I will also be speaking on the topic in depth at the annual SHRM conference in Las Vegas this month. If you plan to be there, please join me during my Mega Session, The First 90 Days Will Make Or Break Your New Hire, on June 25 th at 10:45.

Recruiting Your Next HR Executive

I have been doing some compelling work with CEOs in the past year, supporting the recruiting of their Chief People/HR Officer. They reached out to me for this expertise because this position is so important to their company’s success in attracting, onboarding, retaining and growing new talent for the long term, and for developing future leaders for the succession of their soon-to-retire executive management.

I have been able to refine the support I offer CEOs and their teams in finding and selecting exceptional Human Resource executives. The results have been gratifying:

“My company was in dire need of a seasoned executive to transform and lead our HR team. I hired the Interchange Group to help me understand the role I truly needed and then lead the process of finding the perfect fit. Amy has deep knowledge, wisdom and understanding in the HR executive space. She was pivotal in helping to find our new VP of People, who is a home run for Delta!” - Tim Schmidt, CEO, Delta Defense

“Amy expertly served Elevations by assisting us in interviewing and selecting our Chief People Officer. I truly benefited from Amy’s counsel to help me with a vitally important decision that will have a lasting impact on our organization. We now have the best executive to help us strategically manage our human capital that will enable us to be a market leader.” - Gerry Agnes, CEO, Elevations Credit Union

I can now offer this new support to you or to other CEOs you might know in need of this unique service. My short white paper, The Top 10 Competencies CPOs Must Possess, presents a quick overview of what needs to be considered in the recruiting and selection of your next HR executive.

Thanks for your consideration of this. I would appreciate hearing from you.

Predict Job Candidate Success

Spring and summer are busy recruiting times for companies that rely on graduates from colleges, trade schools and high schools. Assessing candidates effectively for key skills and competencies is critical to their success and requires the right tools.

Many employers are adopting new skill-based assessment techniques such as virtual reality. With VR, companies can safely assess applicants' skills, ranging from problem solving to wel0ding, in a simulated environment without having to tie up costly production resources, staffing and raw materials for screening. The assessments deliver instantaneous feedback and proficiency scores to hiring managers.

Employers are also using predictive assessments such as behavioral-based interviewing to calculate candidate success. Behavioral interview questions are situational, open-ended questions that ask applicants how they have responded to various circumstances that have occurred in the past, thus predicting how they will perform in the job for which they are applying. Such assessments provide hiring managers with a realistic understanding of a candidate's competencies, knowledge and experience.

For more strategies to successfully source and hire the talent you need, you can download my whitepaper, "Modernize Your Recruiting Or Lose To The Competition" or contact me directly.

Online & Mobile Matter When Recruiting Millennials

Online recruitment has become the primary way applicants look for jobs, yet the "careers section" of most websites are static pages with vague company and contact information. They leave job seekers, especially Millennials, with a poor impression of the company and discourage candidates from engaging further Websites and online application processes that are not mobile-compatible also reduce an employer's likelihood of attracting and hiring Millennial talent. To be successful, recruiters must view their websites as marketing tools that vividly, and interactively demonstrate to candidates what opportunities are available and why they should want to work at the company.

Today's job candidates have high expectations of the recruitment process. Finding and successfully enlisting the talent needed to replace retiring workers and meet the demand for future growth will require new sourcing and hiring methods. For more strategies on how to stay competitive and relevant to younger generations download my new whitepaper, “Modernize Your Recruiting Or Lose To The Competition” or contact me directly.

Be an Employer of Choice in 2019

To be an Employer of Choice in today’s tight labor market, organizations must understand that the talent landscape has evolved dramatically and that the person determining whether a company is an Employer of Choice has changed. Millennials now represent the largest generation in the U.S. workforce. Their expectations -- for diversity, transparency, collaborative work cultures, fluid organizational structures, flexible work environments, and positive social atmospheres -- are challenging most companies’ workplace norms. And just as important, other generations, having been introduced to these concepts and to the Millennials’ incredible demographic influence, are adopting these expectations.

It is critical that companies recognize the changing talent landscape and adopt new methods for attracting and engaging employees. To understand what it takes to become an Employer of Choice download my whitepaper, “Becoming An Employer of Choice In The New Economy – 5 Strategies For Creating Your Competitive Advantage,” or register for my webinar on March 22, Becoming an ‘Employer of Choice’: Best Practices to Recruit, Retain and Shine.

Why Your Hi-Po Program Won’t Work

High-Potential (Hi-Po) programs, while well intentioned, don’t work in reality. Research shows that they fail to show a meaningful return on investment and can damage engagement and morale. Here are some of the most common reasons why Hi-Po programs are unsuccessful.

  • Managers elect people into the program for the wrong reasons – To counter perceived flight risks or as an alternative to pay raises, for example

  • The criteria for participation lacks clarity and consensus - Managers operate under inconsistent assumptions of what “high-potential” means

  • Managers lack the ability to identify high potentials candidates - Companies end up investing in people who are unlikely to succeed in next level roles

  • Hi-Po programs are divisive and undermine teams - Those not selected to participate feel demoralized, while the “chosen ones” often feel embarrassed or undeserving

  • Hi-Po programs are perceived as biased - Millennials, in particular, view Hi-Po programs as inherently inequitable

The majority of High-Potential programs underperform, but the need to engage and develop leaders for the future is critical. Simple succession planning practices, targeted leadership development and intentional access to opportunities and executives are successful alternatives. These strategies are better, more cost effective and less time-intensive for building talent pipelines, developing leaders and increasing morale. To learn more, contact me directly.

Your 2019 Recruitment Strategy

Recruiting will continue to be a top challenge for employers across industries in 2019. In this tight labor market, companies must be willing to focus on the candidate experience or they will lose talent to the competition. Diligently following these strategies will create a significant competitive advantage:

  1. Make it mandatory that each candidate is thanked for their application and told when they will hear back about next steps in the application process. For large companies, the notification systems can be automated, but ensure the message does not come across as machinelike.

  2. Keep candidates apprised of their application status at set intervals and inform them about where they stand in the decision process. Close the loop with every candidate that applies for the job, not just the ones who get the job. The people who do not get hired have just as much influence on an employer’s reputation as those who join the organization.

  3. Allow various application options so that candidates can apply by uploading their resume or via their social media profiles. Shorten application forms to include only the questions that are absolutely necessary and eliminate the need for applicants to create accounts in order to apply for jobs.

For other critical recruiting strategies and information download my whitepaper, Rethink Your Candidate Experience or Ruin Your Brand, or feel free to contact me directly for more information.

Inspiring Students for the Future of Work

This year, my work and research brought me face-to-face with the challenges companies confront in securing skilled workers and the demands placed on our educators to equip a new, Post-Millennial Generation, for the future of work.

The future of work will require strong STEM skills and a high level of collaboration and innovation. That’s why the Interchange Group is donating funds this holiday season to FIRST®, an organization that engages kids, kindergarten through high school, in exciting, mentor-based, research and robotics programs. FIRST® provides unique, hands-on STEM learning experiences and scholarships to hundreds of thousands of students. The organization is transforming our culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated and where young people dream of contributing to society.

To learn more about FIRST®, click on the following links:

I am FIRST: Inspiring Dreamers
Tania’s Story: Empower One Leader, Change the Lives of Many
FIRST and Malachi Change the World

Happy Holidays!

Set Realistic Goals for Succession Planning

There’s something about the end of the year that triggers agitation and activity around planning. Individuals assess their financial and professional outlook, and we see a renewed focus on long-term priorities like estate planning.

I see a similar phenomenon in organizations. Management takes stock of what it has achieved and reflects on strategic priorities for the future. It is at this time that I see renewed energy around succession planning. Leaders turn their attention to the growth and sustainability of the business and seek out strategies to identify, develop and retain talent for future roles.

Once the first quarter of the new year rolls around, however, more immediate business needs often push well-intentioned succession planning efforts aside. This is a common occurrence and leaves organizations unprepared for the challenges that lie ahead.

Succession planning activities must be simple and practical in order to be sustainable. To ensure you set and achieve realistic succession planning goals for 2019, follow my advice in HR Magazine’s latest article, Tomorrow’s Leaders – A Strong Succession Plan Can Strengthen Your Organization, or contact me directly for some year-end counsel.

A No-Brainer Way to Attract & Keep Millennials

An unprecedented 60% percent of Millennial college grads borrowed money for student loans. With the average educational debt totaling almost $28,000, student loans are now the second-greatest outlay for Millennials, trailing only rent or mortgages. Student debt weighs so heavily on Millennials that 53% say they would stay in a job they didn’t like due to their student loan obligation and 71% say they would value a student loan refinance benefit from employers.

Providing student loan repayments is no-brainer way to attract and keep Millennials. And since only 4% of companies currently provide this benefit, employers who offer repayment assistance will have the upper hand in the war for talent. For concrete examples of how companies are providing and structuring student loan repayment benefits, read Glassdoor’s 12 Companies Offering Student Loan Forgiveness Hiring Now. For more strategies and tips on how to attract and retain Millennials in your organization contact me directly.

Rethink Your Candidate Experience or Ruin Your Brand

Chances are, your current hiring process is ruining your employer brand. Consider these statistics:

  • 60% of job seekers report a negative candidate experience with the employers they engage.

  • 72% of job seekers report sharing their negative candidate experiences online.

  • 55% of job seekers report avoiding certain companies after reading negative online reviews.

Job seekers begin to form an opinion about a company, as an employer AND as a business, the very moment they begin the application process. One negative candidate experience creates a ripple effect as applicants vocalize and post their dissatisfaction with how they were treated and discourage others from applying. Millennials, who represent three-fourths of active job seekers, are especially quick to share their experiences online and pay particularly close attention to reviews from their peers.

Most employers are oblivious to their role in creating a negative candidate experience and fail to understand the broader impact their behavior has on their company’s brand and ability to recruit top talent. Wondering what constitutes a bad experience for the applicant and how ensure a great one? Download my new whitepaper, Rethink Your Candidate Experience or Ruin Your Brand or feel free to contact me directly for more information.

Should You Ditch Your 8-Hour Workday?

I recently read about a company that reduced its work day to 5 hours for all employees without reducing salaries. As long as employees fulfilled their job duties within those 5 hours, they were free to leave the office. As a result of this change, productivity increased across the company, sick leave decreased by 12% and employee engagement rose dramatically.

The idea of living more and working less isn’t new -- Timothy Ferris first published his best-selling book, The 4-Hour Workweek, in 2009 –- but it is gaining momentum now that flexibility-focused Millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers and Gen Xers as the majority generation in the U.S. workforce.

Millennials are replacing unproductive, hour-long sit down meetings with stand-up meetings that accelerate fast decision making. They are retiring email as the primary mode of information sharing and investing in real-time, collaboration and communication technology. When they reach positions of leadership and authority, Millennials fundamentally change the way work gets done.

Ditching your 8-hour workday may not be possible for all employers for a variety of reasons, but it’s a worthwhile exercise to consider. If you only had 5 hours to get work done, what would you eliminate? How would you have to innovate?

Organizations must evolve to stay competitive, and we must prepare leaders and their workforces to excel under conditions and in environments that are very different from what they know and are used to. For more information on successful strategies to implement, visit my website or contact me directly.

The Post-Millennial Workforce is Here!

The Post-Millennial workforce is here. The oldest of this new generation are graduating high school, and employers, especially those facing a shortage of skilled labor, are preparing for this next influx of talent. Demographers use a variety of names to refer to this generation – Generation Z, Plurals, iGens – but none of these labels has yet to stick. And while it is clear that the members of this generation will be the most technologically savvy in history, most of their other values, characteristics and behaviors are misunderstood.

Post-Millennials have witnessed the disruption of all political, societal, and economic norms, realities and codes of conduct. These influences combine to create a generation that embraces grit and fixes problems. They are the Post-Millennial clean-up crew. Their characteristics and strengths will both complement and undergird the new models for life and work ushered in by the Millennials.

The Post-Millennial generation will be one of the most important cohorts for the U.S. workforce. They will be the solvers and silent leaders and employers will need them. To learn about this new generation and how to attract and retain them in the workplace, download my new whitepaper, "The Post Millennial Workforce," or feel free to contact me directly for more information.

3 Ways to Tackle the Talent Shortage

Companies are facing unprecedented labor shortages. The retirement of Baby Boomers is outpacing hiring, and employers are running low on their talent inventory. This phenomenon, often referred to as the Silver Tsunami, is occurring across industries, in large and small companies, in rural and urban areas. The underlying problems -- a lack of skilled labor, the inability to recruit and retain new generations of talent, and the lack of adequate succession planning to replace retiring Baby Boomers -- are all part of the same continuum and a core focus of my work.

I will be addressing all three of these challenges, and providing new insight and practical solutions for tackling the talent shortage, at the annual SHRM conference in Chicago this month. If you plan to be there, please join me during one of my sessions below.

Succession Planning for the 21st Century
Pre-Conference workshops on June 16 & 17

The First 90 Days Will Make or Break Your New Hire
Mega Session on June 18

Get Ready for the Post-Millennial Workforce!
Smart Stage on June 19

If you are unable to attend but would like more information on these critical issues, please feel free download and share any of the resources on my website or contact me directly.

Bridging the Talent Gap

A recent Manpower Group Talent Shortage Survey revealed that the top 10 jobs most difficult for employers to fill in the U.S. are skilled trade workers, drivers, sales representatives, teachers, restaurant and hotel staff, accounting & finance staff, nurses, laborers, engineers, and technicians. Regardless of industry, geography and size, employers are facing a steady, and largely unmet demand for talent.

To bridge the talent gap and meet the demand for a strong, competent workforce, companies must take matters into their own hands by sourcing and developing a new generation of employees. For concrete strategies, follow these 6 Best Practices for Bridging the Talent Gap

Don’t Keep Succession Planning Secret

Finding qualified candidates to succeed your key executives is important, but so is letting people know that you have a succession plan in place. Most companies that engage in succession planning do the opposite. They conduct clandestine succession planning conversations, never consulting with potential successors, and never communicating succession planning efforts to the broader community. This mistake is quantifiable and avoidable.

Not consulting with potential successors is a losing scenario. Absent information on their prospects with the company, high potential talent will jump ship. Alternatively, candidates who are not consulted about their prospects get slotted for roles that they have no interest in or intention of filling.

Not communicating succession planning efforts to the broader community, internally and externally, is also a risk. It signals a lack of business continuity planning and of leadership development, both of which trigger a loss of trust in the prospects of the company.

It is critical that boards and executives instill confidence in their companies by making their succession planning efforts transparent. For strategies to successfully plan for the succession of your key roles, contact me directly or access my website for more information.

Closing the Skills Gap

In the United States, the demand for educated, skilled workers is quickly outpacing the supply. The situation is especially dire in the manufacturing industry, which is expected to face a shortage of 2 million employees over the next 10 years. This has drastic implications for the economy and society.

To help reverse this trend, the Interchange Group is donating funds this holiday season to The Manufacturing Institute, a non-profit dedicated to building a skilled and diverse pipeline of manufacturing talent. The organization’s focus on valuing women in manufacturing, attracting the next generation of youth into manufacturing, and transitioning veterans into rewarding careers in manufacturing is directly aligned with my own passion and efforts.

I encourage you to choose a cause to support this holiday season that is meaningful to you.

Happy Holidays!

Maybe Retention is the Wrong Strategy

Companies spend massive amounts time, money and headspace on strategies to increase employee retention, hoping that doing so will indemnify them from the risks of losing valuable employees, or thinking this will solve whatever labor shortage they face that threatens the health and growth of their business.

Do they have it all wrong? Maybe retention is the wrong approach. Perhaps there is a better way.

Retention is an overrated strategy that jeopardizes a company’s success, longevity and competitive advantage in the workforce. Employers who are willing to embrace this new model of work, where enthusiastic employees give organizations 100% when they are there and readily transfer knowledge to the next generation of talent when they move up or on, will have a significant competitive advantage in the labor markets and industries they serve.

To understand why retention may be the wrong strategy for your company, read my new white paper, Six Reasons Why Employers Must Rethink Their Focus On Retention, or feel free to contact me directly.