Internal Mobility is Good for Your Company

Last night I was involved in another weekly Twitter #tchat (yes, it is my new obsession). Once again, this chat had some great contributors and some interesting information to consider. The chat’s subject discussed how companies and recruiters should focus on internal mobility for filling job openings. It seemed that a lot of the “chatters” felt strongly about this topic and believed that there were many benefits of this promotion track. The common believe was that a solid internal mobility program can be very good for your company.

Here are some informative and useful take-aways I got out of this chat:

Internal mobility can fuel employee engagement. The common theory behind this is: if you invest in your employees they are more likely to invest in you. If you want your employees to be more engaged in their work, make them feel like their contributions have a purpose. Make them know you’re taking notice of them and their efforts. Take time to discuss career goals and offer suggestions on how they can reach them. These things can put a little more pep in their step.

It can reduce turn-over. A good portion of people have admitted to leaving their employer because they felt they had no place to go. Sometimes that may be the case, but a good amount of time there are plenty of lateral or upper positions employees can move into. The issue is: employers don’t educate them on these opportunities. Make your employees aware of this to avoid losing your talent. And if you’re feeling really crazy, allow employees to create and pitch new positions that could be useful to the company (Hello, accountability!).

It can cost less to hire from within than externally. Recruiting and hiring processes are time consuming and expensive. This can be even truer if the candidate that was selected didn’t work out within the first few months. Looking at internal employees might reduce these issues. After all, these employees already know your business expectations and have met them. By now, I’m sure you’ve determined that the employee is a fit for your company. Instead of wasting time looking for diamonds in the rough, consider the gems you already have in your workforce.

Training time can be reduced. Like I mentioned above, the current employees already know your business. They know your systems. They know your managers. They know your clients. They know your mission. Basically, they know everything other than the general duties for the new position. Training them on those duties can be a piece of cake because they already have a clear understanding of how certain procedures affect the company. Think about how quick it would be to train them on those few things rather than an external hire who could take months before they completely understand the business in order to do their job well.

It can increase morale. Nothing can kill an employee’s morale more than watching a position they worked hard for be filled by some random outsider. This situation could even cause some resentment towards the newbie and the company. It is reasonable to say that not all positions can be filled internally. However, to keep the morale up, make sure you offer feedback and mentoring to those not chosen. Even if they don’t get the position, taking time to help them professionally progress can keep their positive feelings about the company intact.

It can make employees feel like they have a goal. Most employees want a job that makes them feel like they’re doing meaningful. They want to be accountable and have a sense of responsibility. However, these feelings can dwindle down if they don’t clearly see how their efforts are contributing to their professional growth. Talk to them about what they want and set a path that helps them progress towards their goal. Productivity could increase once they see how their work is directly correlated with their progression. Moreover, make sure you set realistic timelines and expectations so they don’t get discouraged if things don’t happen right away.

I know that not all job openings can be filled internally. Companies need to throw some new blood into the mix to ensure the workforce does not get stale from recycled perspectives and ideas. External people can bring something fresh into the workplace. However, your internal employees may be able to do the same if you give them a chance to prove it.

If you find this topic interesting, be sure to join in Twitter’s #tchat on Wednesday nights at 7PM EST. Additionally, leave a comment regarding this topic either on here or on the chat.

Links:
Recruiting as an Inside Job- Internal Mobility
Internal Mobility- An Inside Look at Talent

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Is your Company “Perky”?

Last night, I was introduced to the #tchat on Twitter. It was the first Twitter chat that I’ve been involved in, so it was pretty interesting to see how ideas and feedback could be effectively expressed with only 140 characters. I was really impressed by all the great responses the members gave during the chat session that it actually helped spark the idea for today’s post, which is about company perks.

The basis of the chat was about companies with “extreme perks.” Now, I’m used to the usual perks of health care, Employee Assistance Programs, and paid time off. But in order to really get an idea of an “extreme perk”, I had to dig a bit deeper. I researched the 100 best companies to work for in 2012 and narrowed my investigation down to the top companies for the best unusual perks. Below are three companies from that list and the extreme/unusual perk that they offer:

1. Google (obviously)- If you’re a dabbler, you’ll enjoy their perks of: free gourmet food; an outdoor sports complex; “nap” pods; a bowling alley; celebrity visitors; and free android devices.
2. NetApp– If you’re “working on your fitness”, you’ll be sure to enjoy their perks of: basketball courts; massage rooms; exercise classes; outdoor sand volleyball; and the hub for different sporting tournaments.
3. Zappos.com– If you’re preparing for a “superhero” lifestyle, their version of “Employee of the Month” program is a perk for you: employee is named “Hero” of the month; a parade in their honor; noise makers and the “I Need a Hero” song played for them; a covered parking spot (Nevada is hot!); a Zappos gift card; and of course, no hero can go without a cape.

Perks can be a great thing for your company if used properly. They can attract talent or potentially help talent choose your company over a competitor. They can make the workplace more enjoyable to be at, thus reducing absenteeism. They can be used to recognize employees’ efforts, making them feel appreciated. It can help reduce stress in employees’ personal lives if they work long hours (i.e. on-site dry cleaning, cafeterias, on-site baby care). And it can be a tool to motivate employees to reach company goals.

Although these are some great ideas, they are only possible if you are a giant in the business world. If your business is not quite on that level yet, there are plenty of other options you can choose that will be better suited for your company. Some suggestions from #tchat’s members were:

• Doughnut or bagel day on Fridays.
• Gift cards given to an employee that went “above the call of duty.”
• Tickets to local sporting events.
• Giving a few hours of “free” PTO to the employee of the month.
• Randomly allowing “casual days” throughout the month.
• Creating a company team for your local sport and social club.
• Company events such as a picnic, in which employees can bring family and loved ones.
• Public “Fuzzies” (saying thanks to a teammate during a meeting).
• Or simply just saying thank you to your employees and giving specific reasons why you appreciate their work.

No matter how extreme or simple your company perks are, they can make all the difference to your employees. You may find it wise to ask your employees what they would want for a perk and try to incorporate it in your plan. Test a few out and see the positive difference it can make.

Links:
Google Perks
Zappo’s Heroes
NetApp’s Sports Hub

What Employees Really Want from Their Leaders

I noticed that employee engagement and motivation issues have been trending a lot in posts found on my LinkedIn and Twitter feeds. Therefore, I felt that this was a perfect topic to end the workweek with. A few months ago, I had posted a discussion question on the LinkedIn:HR group asking my HR peers to tell me what qualities made a good leader. Not only did they give me some fantastic feedback, but employees also spoke up and let me know what they wanted from their leaders. I thought that sharing this with all of you could potentially spark ideas on how to fix some of your companies’ motivation problems and maybe help find a way to make the workplace better as a whole.

As always, when I think of good leadership, I recall my time working as a customer service representative with CreateSpace (an Amazon.com company). The team leads and office manager were simply amazing and I couldn’t help but respect their leadership skills. Melissa Woodrow, one of the team leads of that department, was kind enough to give me some insight on what qualities made her to be the phenomenal leader that she is today.

“I have been a Lead for quite a while (over 4 years) at a great company. I believe leadership has a lot to do with your personality rather than being taught. Sure, you can ‘learn’ how to handle difficult situations with employees. You can ‘learn’ how to coach employees. But you can’t really fake empathy. And the bottom line is: if you don’t care, employees won’t care for you,” she stated.

Comparing the statement she gave against the comments employees had given me, I’d have to say that they are well aligned. A large portion of employees had said that they wanted a leader to be more personal with them and show that they listened and cared. “The most important thing is earning trust in others. That’s where it all starts. Listen. Show good judgment. Be interested in what they are doing. Have fun,” Woodrow added. Along those lines; Jimmy Ruane, an individual who has grown up in a military family, said he has met some of the most admirable leaders over the years. He informed me that the best leadership quality he has seen was a leader who always puts his people first.

One comment I made in my discussion post had a lot of others chiming in with their whole-hearted agreement. I had declared that a good leader is someone that wants you to do better than they had and wants you to do the things they never could. Too often, especially in this economy, leaders fear their job security by letting other’s outshine them. Other leaders simply let their egos get in the way of mentoring their employees to reach their highest potential. In these situations, it’s no wonder why employees lose motivation. Most employees want to grow in some way or another so if you don’t foster that desire they’ll eventually look for other ways to do so, even to the point of leaving your company.

If you want to be a good leader and want your employees to be more committed, then you need to be invested in them. Jim Sweeney, an employee of Amazon.com, had told me that he feels a sense of loyalty to his company due to the fact that his leader (his department manager) invested in his future. He recently started to go back to school to obtain a Bachelor’s in Computer Science in hopes to pursue a career in Software Development. His leader had already taken time to know this and sincerely thought about how to help. Soon after, she told him she was setting up time each week for him to be mentored by someone in the SD/IT department.

“She (his manager) really showed me that she cared about my professional growth and, in turn, made me want to grow with Amazon. It just validated my feelings about committing to this company long-term,” Sweeney said. That is quite a statement coming from a Gen Yer, a generation that is notoriously known for job hopping every couple years.

Leadership style is also something to consider. Human resources professionals had told me that some of their better leaders had been using the participative leadership style. This style includes the employees in information, brainstorming, and discussion. Employees responded well to this type of style because they felt like their opinions were heard and that they truly were contributing something. Also, this allowed employees to feel more accountable in the success of the company.

Leaders, it’s not always about leading the pack and expecting them to follow. Sometimes you need to be a part of the pack to really understand what they want and need from you. Once you successfully implement that into your leadership strategy, you’ll find that your employees will follow without hesitation.

Links, People, and Companies to follow:
The Right Kind of Employee

Jim Sweeney, Amazon.com employee

CreateSpace

Amazon.com

LinkedIn

A special thanks to my brother/Marketing Extraordinaire, Jeff Perez, for teaching me how to use HTML properly 🙂