The Changing Face of Human Resources

There has been an earthquake-like shift in the employee-employer relationship and it has happened, not over decades, but within 2 years. It has changed the way employers interact with their employees and the way employees show up for work. In the past, even the advanced HR functions were still primarily transactionally based. This shift has necessitated that employers look at each employee in an authentic Are you an authentic HR leader? (humanresourcesonline.net)way, taking into account their needs on a holistic basis and not just during the workweek. Employees more than ever before are coming to the table with demands. Demands for work/life balance, for enhanced benefits, for more pay, and most importantly, for meaningful work where they can serve a greater purpose and be a part of something bigger than themselves. They are holding employers accountable in record numbers for taking a stand on important issues and being able to eloquently articulate how they are improving the world.  

COVID, while an incredible health travesty, has in some ways, sped up this revolution. It has caused people, employees, to step back and assess what is important to them, where they want to work, how they want to work, and what they are willing to sacrifice, if anything, for a job. In record numbers, over 4.4M in Nov 2021 alone, People Explained Why They Resigned During The Great Resignation, And Their Points Are Sooo Valid (yahoo.com)employees are quitting and quitting without necessarily having another position lined up. Quitting to pursue their passions and their interests and realizing that money is only a part of the equation to leading a happy life. The term The Great Resignation, Great Resignation – Wikipedia coined by Anthony Klotz, a professor of management at Mays Business School at Texas A&M University, who predicted the mass exodus in May 2021, is on everyone’s minds.

I feel very fortunate to be a part of an organization that started this journey long before the world had ever heard of COVID, to have embraced our WHY, and to have established inspirational Guiding Principles that serve as a daily roadmap for our teams for how we want to serve our employees, our residents and our broader communities. Well-being has always been at the forefront of our message and wellbeing in the broader sense of the word, incorporating physical, financial, social, emotional, and career wellbeing. As a people-first company, we continue to take the individual needs of our workforce into account, personalizing our offerings and doing what is right.

While the staggering numbers of employees who are quitting their jobs and moving on may slow in the coming months, the seismic shifts surrounding flexibility and employee demands that have occurred will remain. I am frequently asked by our employees and others if we will revert to the old ways of working without the flexibility and the hybrid The Next Great Disruption Is Hybrid Work—Are We Ready? (microsoft.com)schedules. My answer is always the same “No”. Once we enter a period of enlightenment it is impossible not to know what we know. People can be highly productive working from someplace other than the office, working irregular hours and days, and can be trusted to get the job done, whether you can “see” them or not.

Augmented Reality for Management Development Training

In this day of consumerization of personalization, employees are not looking for a one size fits all approach any longer, but for learning and development opportunities that are specific to their needs.  Augmented reality is a unique way to supplement your existing e-learning content and to engage your employees in the Learning and Development journey.  Using Augmented Reality For Hands-On Training (forbes.com)

Augmented reality (AR) is an interactive experience of a real-world environment where the objects that reside in the real world are enhanced by computer-generated information. AR can be defined as a system that incorporates three basic features: a combination of real and virtual worlds, real-time interaction, and accurate 3D registration of virtual and real objects.

For organizations looking to implement the next level of training, Augmented Reality or AR-based training is quickly cementing itself as the technology of choice. How Augmented Reality Is Changing the Training Industry (trainingmag.com) Augmented Reality training in a corporate setting is the ideology of bringing training to life by animating daily objects and scenarios that an employee interacts and engages with. 

Experts agree that for a behavior change to take place, learners must remain engaged throughout training. This is an ongoing challenge in L&D. Whether it be in a classroom or an eLearning course, with all of today’s distractions it is often difficult to grab and hold the attention of learners. E-mails are pinging, phones are ringing, text messages are coming in, all of which seem to demand immediate attention.

Another challenge can be providing learners with experiential learning opportunities, where they are actually able to interact or practice with whatever they are learning. When learning is engaging and experiential like this, the knowledge retention of learners increases dramatically. In addition, when learners are placed in an environment where they are “pulling” content through their own discovery versus being “pushed” content, that feeling of control can also result in much higher knowledge retention. Higher retention is critical to achieving behavior changes.

Printed learning materials can be brought to life by taking something static and creating animation and interactivity that engages the learner and demonstrates perspectives that simply can’t be shown with something static. Group activities can be transformed into interactive experiences that get the learners up and moving and working together as they scan various items to solve clues and obtain new knowledge along the way.

For example, a training app for a forklift may ask the user to sit down and aim their device camera downwards, and their screen will light up with virtual pedals next to their feet and driving controls above their knees.  This allows the user to practice in a safe environment, without any of the real-world risks.  Augmented Reality Training: Benefits, Types, Use Cases | Program-Ace Multiple people could be trained simultaneously without having to give up forklifts for production.

Augmented reality is a promising technology with a strong future in eLearning and especially for corporate training.

Perks in a Work from Home World

While working from home, in and of itself, used to be considered a perk, it is quickly becoming the norm, whether 100% remote or the more popular hybrid model where employees work two or three days from home and the remainder in the office.  However, this change has made other “in-office” perks more elusive.  5 HR trends you should be paying attention to in 2022: HowNow (gethownow.com)Benefits like free lunches, after-work happy hours, and casual Fridays are difficult to consider when working in an all or partial work from home environment.  So, what perks do employees want most in this new world?  

Global benefits and rewards platforms are popping up all over that allow companies to care for, connect with and celebrate their employees no matter where they are or what they want.  These platforms focus not only on physical wellbeing but also on social/emotional and financial wellbeing.  As the lines between work and home continue to blur, employees have growing expectations that employers will view them as holistic human beings where work is a part of their identity, but certainly not their whole identity.  A study by Perkbox Global Employee Benefits and Rewards Platform | Perkbox suggests that over half of the employees surveyed said Employee discounts are the most coveted.  This was followed by a three-way tie for greater recognition for your work, unlimited amount of vacation time, and at-home entertainment.  There is also growing demand for mental health or wellness days and extended free mental health counseling services. 

Employee Discounts

There is a myriad of market leaders who provide Employee discounts.  Some of the larger include names like Corporate Offers, www.corporateoffers.com Next Jump www.nextjump.com, and Anyperk www.anyperk.com.  Most of these services have both a free, limited option service and a paid service.  Normally these will differ in the way an employer can customize the specific offerings to their employee base.  If you choose to go this route, do your due diligence.  A common complaint is that these services may not offer better discounts than employees can get on their own

Recognition

Study after study has proven that there is a very weak correlation between remuneration and an employee’s job satisfaction.    A study from the Saratoga Institute looked at more than 19,000 exit interviews. When they asked the managers or supervisors why their employees had quit, nearly 90% of the supervisors cited reasons related to remuneration. In nine out of ten instances, they believed their employees quit to pursue a job with a larger salary. On the other hand, 88% of employees said clearly that their reasons for leaving had nothing to do with their salary. The data on this issue is pretty cut and dried. In most instances, people choose to leave their current position because of poor leadership from the person they report directly to.  What employees really want, once they feel they are compensated fairly, is to be appreciated personally and professionally by the company and their manager.  They want to be connected to a larger purpose, but they also want their work and contributions to be acknowledged and appreciated, no matter how small.  

Certainly, ensure each of your team members is fairly compensated for the work they are doing, but remember to take the time to truly appreciate what they are contributing and help them to see how it is connected to the larger company goals and purpose.  Take time to call out the traits that are unique and let them know you appreciate them!

Internal Mobility

Internal mobility The Complete Guide to Internal Mobility — Paddle (paddlehr.com)refers to the movement of existing employees across different departments or roles within the organization.  These may be “permanent” roles such as an employee who moves laterally from an Accounting position into a Finance position or an employee who is promoted from Accounting Supervisor to Accounting Manager.  

An internal mobility program can ensure employee retention, leadership development and produces well-rounded employees who truly understand the various aspects of the business. It also reduces cost, time, and effort in hiring outside talent.

The successful cross-functional movement of employees starts with a well-thought-out program and a receptive work culture. In order to grow, leadership and HR must develop a culture where employees have an opportunity to learn new skills.

https://harver.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Attractive-Employers-According-to-Millenials.png

In PwC’s most recent Millennials at Work survey, they found that the #1 most attractive employer attribute was the possibility of career progression.

Talent Profiles

Internal mobility is only truly possible if you know what each employee is capable of and the skills that they already possess. Auditing each team member, preferably during the hiring stage, and then again annually, will enable you to track the skills each employee has, what skills are needed and what gaps remain.  Managers should use Talent Profiles to assess career opportunities for each person on their team.

Career Paths

Develop learner pathways that employees can reference and develop self-directed training programs that will assist employees in transitioning into new roles or to learning new skills

Succession Planning

Succession plans are necessary so you have a clear idea of what will happen if an employee leaves their position. Who in the organization could be tapped for a promotion?

As Harvard Business Review Succession Planning: What the Research Says (hbr.org) bleakly highlights, all CEOs will inevitably leave office, yet research shows most organizations are ill-prepared to replace them. However, a CIPHR study found that although 92% of companies admitted it was a risk to not have a succession plan in place, only 25% felt they had the right candidates to fill vacant positions. To fill the void, you can look within your current talent pool, or hire externally.

According to PaddleHR, The Complete Guide to Internal Mobility — Paddle (paddlehr.com) 66% of job seekers look at the current company before looking elsewhere for a job.  Now is the time to stem the tide of the Great Resignation The Great Resignation: Why people are quitting their jobs (cnbc.com)and ensure you are offering your employees a reason to stay!

Unlock Your Potential

We have all heard the staggering statistics around the rise in mental health issues over the last 18 months as the world and the people who populate it struggle through COVID. The coronavirus (COVID‐19) pandemic’s impact on mental health (nih.gov). The pandemic is not just a medical phenomenon; it affects individuals and society and causes disruption, anxiety, depression, stress, stigma, and xenophobia. Quarantine and self‐isolation can most likely cause a negative impact on one’s mental health. A review published in The Lancet said that separation from loved ones, loss of freedom, boredom, and uncertainty can cause a deterioration in an individual’s mental health status. Patients with mental health disorders in the COVID-19 epidemic (nih.gov).  Whether your workplace is your kitchen table or your high-rise office, the fact of the matter is that most of us spend the majority of our waking hours “at work”.  Employers, therefore, have an obligation and a societal duty to offer solutions to this ever-growing mental health crisis.

Never has the focus on employee well-being been so critically important and been quite as honestly the difference between life and death. The Impact Of Covid-19 On Suicide Rates (psycom.net). A new report by The Well Being Trust released last month found that 75,000 additional people could die from what they called “deaths of despair,” (which include suicide and substance abuse) because of Covid-19. Suicide is likely to become a more pressing concern as the pandemic spreads and has longer-term effects on the general population, the economy, and vulnerable groups,”  according to David Gunnell, professor of epidemiology at the University of Bristol.

Employers have a responsibility to create robust employee well-being programs and to ensure that they offer something for everyone.

Physical well-being

Employees are being told to isolate and many gyms have been shut down for months, leading to a lack of physical exercise and all the added health benefits it brings. The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise – HelpGuide.org  That shouldn’t stop you from offering exercise opportunities through programs like Vitality Online Fitness Training | My Vitality Coach.  You can run group engagement activities with prizes galore!

Emotional Wellness

Outside of the standard EAP’s which have experienced a jump in employees utilizing their resources, there are also programs like TalkSpace Talkspace – #1 Rated Online Therapy, 1 Million+ Users that offer one-on-one counseling, couples therapy, and Psychiatry, all 100% virtually with licensed practitioners.

Financial Wellness

Large numbers of employees in the hospitality business sector were impacted by COIVD when restaurants, hotels, and the travel industry literally ground to a halt.  While stimulus checks and increases in unemployment staved off starvation, the stress associated with not being able to pay your rent or mortgage and not knowing when you will be employed again is huge.  Offer employees the opportunity to engage with a financial coach to understand how to best manage through this difficult time.

Social well-being

We are social creatures by nature and the stress caused by not being able to hug, interact, and see our loved ones and co-workers is tremendous. Consider forming online interest groups that are designed to foster not only an inclusive workplace but to organize learning opportunities and discussions to encourage and elevate open and honest conversations around the topics that matter most.  Sometimes just knowing you are not alone, is all that is needed to help you realize that this will eventually pass.

Employers have a unique opportunity to engage with their workforces during this pandemic, to do the right thing, and to come out as a stronger team on the other side!

Is Patience a Virtue?

We live in a world where the pace is constantly increasing.  An analysis of the history of technology shows that technological change is exponential, contrary to the common-sense ‘intuitive linear’ view. So we won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century—it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate), according to Wikipedia. Accelerating change – Wikipedia

90% of the world’s data was generated in the last 2 years How Fast Is Technology Growing Statistics [Updated 2021] (leftronic.com).  The adoption of mobile devices has led to the mass adoption of mobile banking technologies.  5G network technology is expected to be 100 times faster than the 4G standard, delivering 10 gigabits per second. The technological progress of mobile broadband networks will enhance IoT, bringing faster wireless internet to cars, refrigerators, and other innovations.

Workers in technology companies and other high-growth industries, routinely work 60+ hour weeks just trying to keep up.   In the last 40 years, Americans, just on average, have been working longer hours for more weeks a year. The average worker in 1980 put in 38.1 hours for 43 weeks a year. Today, the average employee works 46.8 weeks a year for a total of 38.7 hours a week.  Small increase but hey add up!

So, does patience Four Reasons to Cultivate Patience (berkeley.edu)have a place any longer in our amped-up society?  It does when it comes to human interaction.  You can be impatient with the process, focus on meeting deadlines and project plans and strive to deliver ahead of schedule.  However, there is an inverse relationship between being able to achieve the above and the amount of patience you show to the individuals on your team.  Give your employees time to finish their thoughts before jumping in.  Make sure you listen more than you speak.  It can be tempting to jump in right away with your own ideas but resist that urge and just listen and ask probing, not leading, questions. For many people, silence is uncomfortable. A break in a conversation for too long can feel awkward. Rather than succumbing to it. Use it to your advantage. Next time you feel like jumping right in to say something, pause and count to 10 in your head. You’re likely to find the other person in the conversation will step in to fill the silence. If you’re a manager, this is a powerful tool. It gives your people an opportunity to fully share what’s on their minds. How Managers can be more Effective Listeners to Better Lead their Teams (getlighthouse.com)

Different people process information at different speeds.  Giving your team members the freedom and opportunity to process all of the information and then revert back with questions will likely yield superior results in the end.  They will usually be more receptive to whatever change you are bringing forth as they will have had the time to adjust.  Not everyone can move at the same pace and human nature is to resist something until you have had time to think it through.

Start with the strongly held belief that everyone comes to work wanting to do their best.  Giving your employees the space they need and being patient with those who move at a different pace is the key to successful leadership!

Reimagining Recruitment

Being unable to hire qualified workers is the most critical and widespread challenge businesses face today in the post-pandemic world.  Businesses that don’t have enough employees are forced to reduce their hours, scale down operations, and in some cases, permanently close, all leading to a less than rosy economic recovery.  

In a recent Committee to Unleash Prosperity paper CTUP_BonusUnemploymentBenefitsLaborShortage.pdf (committeetounleashprosperity.com) by Casey Mulligan, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago, who served as chief economist at the White House Council of Economic Advisers, the latest monthly jobs report from the Department of Labor for April and May have shown disappointing employment increases, flat job participation rates, and a slight increase in the number of Americans collecting unemployment benefits.  Two weeks before the May jobs survey, the BLS counted 9.3 million unfilled jobs in America, even with more than nine million Americans “unemployed.” The 9.3 million unfilled jobs is almost 2 million beyond the pre-pandemic record for the U.S., and the policy riddle is why more unemployed workers are not getting back in jobs. Small business owners around the country—construction firms, restaurants, bars, retailers, hospitals, and factories—are complaining that workers they want to rehire are less likely to work now. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, some nine of 10 small employers are citing a shortage of workers as a top concern. 

Back in March, Congress and President Biden enacted the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. H.R.1319 – 117th Congress (2021-2022): American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 | Congress.gov | Library of Congress

Because of the $300-a-week bonus unemployment benefits enacted in March 2021, along with other expansions of welfare benefits and cash payments unrelated to work:

  • In 21 states and DC, households can receive a wage equivalent of $25 an hour in benefits 
    • with no one working. 
  • In 19 states, benefits are equivalent to $100,000 a year in salary for a family of four with 
  • two unemployed parents.
  • In all but two of the blue states, $300 Supplemental Unemployment Insurance benefits 

plus other welfare pay more than the wage equivalent of a $15 minimum wage

There are 1.4 available workers per job opening in the US. This rate is just half the average of the past 20 years

Clearly, corporations are going to need to woo these workers back to work.  According to Jennifer Shappley,  Jennifer Shappley | LinkedIn the vice president of global talent acquisition at LinkedIn, the key to success in fighting the war for talent, is for corporations to offer flexibility to their employees. 

Forward-thinking companies recognize that employees, just like consumers, are attracted to different types of flexibility.  The below are some ways you might consider enticing your prospective employees and current workforce back to the office

  • Offer a hybrid model where they work 2-3 days in the office and the remaining days in an alternate location
  • Create more inclusive job advertisements. Job listings referring to “responsibilities” rather than “requirements “. LinkedIn finds a 14% increase in candidates when job posts mention responsibilities, but not requirements
  • Consider whether a 4- year bachelor’s degree is necessary.  LinkedIn reports a 20% increase in managers hired who didn’t possess a traditional four-year degree.
  • Be empathetic and concerned about your employee’s mental health- allow sick days to be used for “wellness days”
  • Re-imagine the workplace to be warm and inviting
  • Create informal areas where employees can collaborate with each other
  • Sponsor afternoon events where employees can enjoy a glass of wine and each other’s company

At the end of the day, monetary compensation is only one reason why employees work.   Help your employees to balance their work and personal lives, provide a comfortable and relaxing work environment and allow them responsibilities where they feel fulfilled at the end of the day and you will attract the candidates you need!

Living our Purpose

sherrie-suski-wfhAs a purpose driven, value led company, Tricon understands how critical it is to embrace our humanity, and to be understanding and compassionate, especially during this pandemic. Our Purpose Statement and Guiding Principles take center stage at this time and we will do whatever we can to support the well-being of residents and employees. Our physical, social, emotional and financial benefit programs, that already existed, were well designed to help our employees through this crisis, and we further expanded our offerings to include additional services that are tailored to this specific situation. Everything we do is through the lens of care and support.

That’s the culture of Tricon. When you get culture right everything else falls into place and there is no better time to let that shine than right now.

Some of our employee benefits include:

  • Continued all employees on full pay whether or not we have full time work for them.
  • Continued employees who could not work at all due to childcare responsibilities on full -pay for
    6 weeks while they made alternate arrangements
  • Waived all member cost share (copays, deductibles and coinsurance) for the testing AND
    treatment of COVID-19
  • Made available a free 24-Hour Helpline, through Cigna Behavioral, that is available to all
    employees so they can talk about any stress or anxiety they are feeling during this time
  • Implemented immediate paid medical leave for any employee diagnosed with COVID-19
  • Offered paid caregiver leave for employees caring for a family member diagnosed with COVID-
    19
  • Assured employees with monthly or quarterly incentive plans that Tricon would account for
    COVID-19 impacts to operations and continue to pay them the average of what they had
    received for the last 3 months
  • Provided access to free mental health professionals, via phone or text, through the Employee
    Assistance Program
  • Offered free, live financial planning webinars
  • Provided 100% coverage for virtual doctor visits and online health care services for employees
    with chronic conditions or who are immune compromised
  • Presented well-being modules and challenges geared to staying physically and mentally healthy
    at home
  • Introduced contests to add some fun into the day- like Jellybean counting.
  • Conducted wellness checks- that included personal phone calls to each employee
  • Distributed Pulse survey that allow Tricon to tell if there is an area of employee concern that has
    not been adequately addressed or a specific geographical region that needs extra care

Tricon has really gone above and beyond to show incredible support to our employees and their families during this turbulent time.

Employee Engagement in Action

Employee Engagement must be close to the top buzz word for 2019 or perhaps even the last decade.   While everyone can speak eloquently about the benefits of encouraging employee engagement and the importance of it to producing top business results, ask more specific questions and those once vivacious people go silent.  Few actually spend the time to detail the specifics of what activities actually do increase employee engagement in the workforce. Before we increase our spending in 2019 by 45% on increasing employee engagement as predicted by G2 Crowd, let’s figure out exactly how we should be allocating those additional dollars.

Productivity 

Productivity yields employee engagement. A novel concept as most would argue that it is the reverse; a previously engaged employee yields better productivity.  However, this gives us a significant opportunity to ensure that we provide our employees with every opportunity to not only produce, but to understand how what they do fits within the framework of the organizational objectives.  Establishing waterfall goals is an easy an effective way to assist employees at every level to understand their ability to accomplish objectives and feel proud of their contribution to the organization, thus yielding more productivity.

Employee Recognition

Employee recognition can come in many forms, individual, team or even Company.  We use a peer to peer recognition program called Good Gotcha’s. Anyone can nominate anyone else for doing something good.  A subset of those are then chosen and announced at our quarterly all hands meeting. We also have quarterly awards structured around our Guiding Principles, an annual President’s award and Community service award.  Don’t forget about company awards, there is Great Places to Work and the corresponding Fortune awards, AON Top places to Work and many local awards.  Employees feel proud to work for a company that is recognized nationally as one of the best places to work!

Promoting Wellness

Healthy employees are happy employees!  While only about 10% of employers have implemented a formal wellness platform, they provide opportunities across a host of health initiatives for your employees.  We use Vitality and could not be happier.  Employees have the ability to earn points for individual or team fitness challenges, for taking healthy actions like getting a physical of biometrics performed, buying healthy food and participating in physical, mental, emotional and financial wellness opportunities offered by the company.

Continuing Education/Learning

Almost all employees want the opportunity to develop their skills whether that be through lattice, vertical or ladder, horizontal learning opportunities.  We offer a three fold approach to learning that encompasses action steps, which are specific projects an employee can tackle to enhance their value to the company, internal training opportunities through custom content and courses and also through Franklin Covey’s All Access Pass and external training courses or certifications.

The list is likely endless.  Almost anything you do with the employees’ best interest in mind can be utilized to enhance employee engagement, and, ultimately, company performance!