Every month, our Hiring Insight newsletter brings you of-the-moment and evergreen advice for recruiting, vetting, onboarding, retention, work culture, and more. As we enter a new season, we’ve been looking back at some of the most helpful and illuminating stories for hiring managers and HR pros. Here’s a roundup of excerpts from our favorites, with links to the full articles, just in case you missed them.
It is well documented that financial stress lowers productivity, engagement, and overall well-being – a fact borne our in our workplaces every day. And because they’re nearly five times more likely to be distracted on the job, finds PriceWaterhousecooper, each financially-stressed employee can cost a businesses $5,000 every year. Notably, more than half of nonprofit employees responding in Work for Good’s national survey stated they were financially uncomfortable. Too often, they are also unfamiliar with ways to manage debt and increase savings.
One effective way to correct that is with a financial wellness program – an option well within reach of every nonprofit, but largely overlooked. Financial wellness programs provide resources to help employees improve financial competency, confidence, and well-being. The result is lower stress, higher productivity, a decrease in turnover and absenteeism, and an increase in engagement – all of which leads, ultimately, to increased organizational impact.
As the next step in its ongoing mission to help nonprofits succeed, Work for Good’s parent company, the Georgia Center for Nonprofits (GCN), has just launched Mission:Money ... Using the resources at missionmoney.org, you can design a win-win-win financial wellness program that improves productivity, helps employees in their work and home lives, and requires minimal investment. Support like a financial wellness program is also a big advantage for recruitment and retention in an increasingly competitive job market.
I am nearly always exhilarated at work. I wasn’t always that way – it was something I had to learn and develop. I have been researching and experimenting with it for over 20 years.
Here is what I have learned about how to help people be inspired:
1. Define a shared purpose
While we gain meaning from the journey, what inspires us is usually the dopamine-producing pleasure of seeing ourselves make progress towards a goal. While the destination may be far away, if we believe in it and want it, we can be exhilarated by making measurable progress toward it.
2. See the superhero in people
My friend Tara Russell is an inspiring manager. When I see her working with her team, you can feel the energy and exhilaration. She takes the time to see the potential in people and to help them see it. When you are around someone who sees you for who you are and who you can become – it is inspiring. It gives you a sense of significance which produces serotonin, but also gives you a sense hope and anticipation for the future (our friend dopamine again).
3. Let people grow and fail
It is a cliche at this point, but it’s an important one: Give people permission to fail. This isn’t just to drive innovation, but also the experience of taking risks, which is thrilling and inspiring. When you ask people about the manager who most consistently inspired them, they almost always point to the one who believed in them enough to push them out of their comfort zone.
There are three fundamental mistakes that most organizations make when it comes to improving culture, and until you can address these three challenges, your culture efforts are bound to disappoint.
1. You don’t understand your culture.
This sounds sort of boring, but I think it’s profoundly true: Very few people actually understand what their culture really is. They have a vague sense of what it is, and they can ascribe a handful of words to it – maybe through core values or something like that. But they don’t understand it. They don’t know how it works. They don’t know how their people actually experience it. They don’t see the inner contradictions in the culture that play out every day in the workplace. They don’t see the impact that culture is having on technology usage or internal communication.
Understanding your culture (deeply and broadly) is a requisite first step to making it awesome, yet most leaders skip it and jump right to defining their “ideal culture.”
The Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) provides a great place to start with their brochure, Every Business Should Have a Plan, which rounds up each component of a smart plan, with links to reliable source for exploring topics in-depth. Here’s a selection of FEMA’s advice:
Continuity planning: Determine “which staff, materials, procedures, and equipment are absolutely necessary to keep the business operating,” including key suppliers, and establish succession procedures. It’s also critical to plan what you’ll do if your building or other work site is inaccessible.
Employee communication: Make sure you have two-way communication channels established, as well as an out-of-town number where employees can leave an “I’m okay” message in case of a catastrophe.
Emergency supplies: Encourage all employees to have a portable emergency supply kit on-hand covering the basics – “fresh water, food, clean air, and warmth” – as well as a battery-powered radio, flashlight, first aid kit, whistle, plastic sheeting, and duct tape. (The American Red Cross provides this helpful supply checklist.)
...Texas-based emergency prep consultants Technical Response Planning provide a useful summary of the planning steps recommended on the Dept. of Homeland Security’s Ready.gov site. Here are a few worth noting:
Perform a risk assessment and review every hazard or threat scenario indicated.
Identify response resources on-hand, including the people, systems, and equipment within your facility that can help stabilize an emergency situation. Next, look to external sources to fill in the gaps.
Coordinate with public emergency services such as fire, police, HAZMAT teams, and emergency medical services to share knowledge of your facility and its hazards, understand their capabilities to stabilize an emergency, and determine their response time to your facility.
They make excellent mentors. Nothing helps younger staff grow and learn like having a mature worker on-hand to share their experiences, wisdom, and insight into what worked (and what didn’t) in challenging situations.
They’re focused on end-goals. They won’t drone on endlessly at meetings, wasting everyone’s time trying to prove their value, because they already know the value they bring to the company.
Highly developed soft skills. Groomed through decades of face-to-face communication – in a time before texting, cell phones, and Skype – the older worker knows how to handle a lunch meeting with no hesitation, to engage a standoffish client by connecting personally, and more, using empathy, skill, and confidence. Younger workers can gain much by watching this in action.
They’re not afraid to speak up. The older worker is not going to sit on a great idea or time-saver because they fear stepping on someone’s toes. When they see something that can be improved, they make it known, and will present it with respect for all involved.
Less ramp-up time. After 20 years in a career, older workers understand how each cog fits, and can easily jump in, learn a company’s specific process quickly, and run with it.
They WANT to be there. More concerned with delivering great service, products, and performance than things like status symbols, titles and a corner office – they’ve been there and done that – older workers tend to apply to jobs they really want to do (rather than seeking a stop-gap or stepping stone).
Deciding who to hire is part science, part art – even if you actually are a scientist.
Take Thomas Edison. When he interviewed candidates for research assistant positions, he offered them a bowl of soup. Why? He wanted to see whether they would add salt or pepper to the soup before they tasted it.
Those who did were automatically ruled out. Edison wanted people who didn't make assumptions, since assumptions tend to be innovation killers.
Many people use little tests as part of their evaluation process. For years, I used what I called the "receptionist test." Interviewees give you their best: They're up, engaged, and switched on. But how do they act when they aren't trying to impress you?
What candidates do while they're waiting in your lobby can tell you a lot, so I would always ask the receptionist how she was treated. I found out what they did while they waited in the lobby. I asked if there were any chance encounters with other employees. Occasionally, I picked up a disconnect between the show a candidate put on for me and the way they acted with people they weren't trying to impress.
After all, a nice guy in the lobby may not be a nice guy on the job, but a jerk in the lobby will always be a jerk on the job.