HRA Blog

Reading the Tea Leaves on 2015

Written by Barbara Irwin on .

As the year draws to a close, I find myself scouring the Internet for 2015 HR predictions and talking with my team on what the next year holds for our field. While often I find that many of these predictions seem to roll over year after year and the articles repetitive, I do find a few once and a while that catch my attention.

Before turning to an article that I found interesting, one thing I feel that organizations want to consider for 2015 is how the rapid advancement of technology will continue dynamically and at time dramatically change the workplace. Whether it’s how to utilize social media more effectively in recruiting, remote working policies, knowledge capture/retention or training and development, organizations need to realize that their employees want to be in flexible, mobile-friendly and social work environments.

There was an article in Forbes by Dan Scwabel the founder of Millennial Branding, a Gen-Y research and management consulting firm, on his observations for the coming year. Some, I have actually blogged about, but two of his predictions really struck a chord with me.

More millennials are taking leadership roles.

That number of millenials who are in management roles is expected to grow in 2015 as they become the largest percentage of the workforce for the very first time. Scwabel found that 27 percent of millennials already hold management level positions, five percent are in senior management positions and two percent are at the executive level.

He also pointed out that in another study by CareerBuilder, they found that 38 percent of the workforce is already managed by millennials and that’s already caused a few problems including favoritism towards other millennials and them thinking they know more than older workers.

What struck me is that organizations can do a better job in training their next generation of managers, especially from those that are preparing to leave the workforce. Not only will this ensure that the skills are passed on to the new millennial managers, but it will allow for a level of understanding and respect for the older generation of workers. More on this Baby Boomer retiring workforce shortly.

More people stepping out of traditional career paths.

This issue is interesting because it’s a two way street. Companies are looking to hire more temporary workers and consultants because due to the lower financial investment and overhead, while contractors is seen as a more legitimate and obtainable career path due to the Internet and the accessibility it’s give workers. Scwabel pointed to a recent study by Elance-oDesk shows that 53 million Americans are now contractors, which is 34 percent of the American workforce.

Also, interestingly, data from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey show that among employed 65-to-69-year-olds in 2013, nearly one-third of men (31 percent) and almost one-half of women (46 percent) were working part-time. One extrapolation from this data that organizations should consider is to ease the Baby Boomer workforce into retirement. This gives them the flexibility to continue to work, even part time, the ability for your organization to leverage their knowledge and skill sets and the opportunity to develop a flexible multi-generational workforce.

These issues go back to my earlier point about technology being a huge factor in the workforce of today and tomorrow. Organizations should consider taking a closer look at these non-traditional career paths as ways to find the best talent available to drive their organizational missions. However, care should be given to weave these types of employees effectively into their teams and build the organizational culture around them so that the “traditional” employees aren’t negatively impacted.

Overall, 2015 promises to be another great year and your organization should use this opportunity to set some new goals and objectives to strengthen your teams, and in turn, strengthen your organizations

Happy New Year from all of us at HR Advisors Group!

Five Steps to Creating a Positive Culture

Written by Tiffany Aukema on .

I recently had a conversation with a colleague about culture in the workplace. Her firm is experiencing low morale, high turnover, and a general air of negativity. She asked me, “How can we create a positive culture and where do we begin?” For days after our conversation, her question still had me thinking. The words ‘culture’ and ‘values’ are always tossed around when organizations look to improve morale. Talking about it seems to make the issue more manageable and, in turn, seems to be a step in the right direction. But, is it? Is it even possible to ‘create’ culture?

In thinking about this topic, I actually looked up the word culture in the dictionary and found that most definitions don’t fall in line with how we describe culture in the workplace. Interestingly, the most relevant definition I found was in a British dictionary: the total of the inherited ideas, beliefs, values, and knowledge, which constitute the shared bases of social action.

I think this simple definition provides the basis for a great start to creating a new culture. Employers should first consider who they are today. What are the inherited ideas, beliefs, values, and knowledge? Which of these ideas, beliefs and values are worth building on and which ones are detrimental to the organization. As counterintuitive as it sounds, special attention should be paid to those values that are worthless. Why are they perpetuated and what can be done to ensure they are reversed?

Once the organization identifies which ideas, beliefs, values, and knowledge are important, the real work begins and a new culture will begin to emerge.

1. Face the music!

Employers should take a hard look at their current problems and be up front about addressing them. When employees see problems confronted head on, they will begin to trust the organization to take care of them and will start to believe their employer has their best interest at heart.

2. Figure out who you want to be.

Collectively agree upon who you want to be and what you want to stand for. Then, make every action and every decision a reflection of this definition. As you move forward and progress, stop and regularly ask yourselves, is this in line with who we are and what we represent? Sometimes this means changing your original decision or making a hard choice. In the long run, if you allow your values to guide you, you won’t make many wrong decisions.

3. Hire the right people.

Rather than looking strictly at a resume and interviewing a candidate based on their experience, education, and skill set, consider asking questions that help you understand their motivations and values. Ask the candidate, what inspires them, what they love about their careers or what they find most draining in the workplace. Hiring the right people is the easiest way to ensure your culture is sustained.

4. Communicate.

This doesn’t mean just talking about culture and values. Talk about what is working and what isn’t working on a regular basis. Ask your employees how leadership is doing and what they could be doing better. Seek feedback and provide feedback. Be transparent.

5. Learn it. Know it. Live it.

Setting goals around your values shouldn’t just be about this quarter or next. And, it should more than something you have on a piece of paper or is part of your five year plan. In order to truly have a culture that is created, sustained, and one to be proud of, every member of the organization needs to understand it, recognize its importance, and LIVE IT.

At the end of the day, most people want to be proud of their ideas, beliefs, values, and knowledge. We all tend to focus on our personal value system, why shouldn’t we invest more in our professional value system, as well?