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Career Transition is Not Just for Layoffs Anymore

Talent is mobile. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average tenure of an employee is 4.2 years as of January 2016, a drop from the same survey in 2014. The reasons for the faster turnover rate is an indicator of labor market strength and generational changes.

From an employer’s perspective, the practice of talent hording is no longer an effective strategy. An employment practice that does work: creating a work atmosphere that encourages mobility and professional advancement. According to a recent survey by Indeed, the number one reason employees change companies is for career advancement. Interestingly enough, it’s the same reason they change roles within an organization.

Institute effective redeployment programs

In an employment ecosystem where professional development and advancement are at the top of everyone’s minds, employers who can offer career advancement through well-developed redeployment programs are more likely to hold onto the talent they value most.

 According to RiseSmart’s 2017 Guide to Severance and Workforce Transition, a majority of companies surveyed allow employees to apply for positions in divisions or departments across the company, other than the ones where they currently work. Nearly half  of all employers surveyed have a dedicated redeployment program designed to make the process easier. We also found that those companies who are most successful at redeployment are those that not only allow employees internal mobility, but they also provide some level of coaching, resume assistance, and networking guidance.

As redeployment and mobility initiatives take on greater importance, organizations may want to look for partnering opportunities with a third-party vendor to implement redeployment programs that empower employees to identify internal jobs and prepare them to successfully apply for, interview, and land those jobs. While these programs have traditionally been managed from within the organization, few companies have the resources to provide all the services that make redeployment successful.

Invest heavily in employees for the time they’re there

 The compact has changed between employers and employees. No longer is there an expectation that employees will stay with your organization until retirement. Instead, thought leaders, like Reid Hoffman, are talking about companies entering into incremental alliances with employees. He sees the initial employee compact as a four-year tour of duty, with a discussion at two years. In his model, if the employee is able to meet goals and make a contribution to the company during the four-year tour of duty, the company would then help that employee advance with another tour of duty within the company or a position elsewhere.

Since both the employee and the employer have an interest in a four-year model, each invests heavily in the relationship. The result for the employees is not a lifetime of employment, instead they gain the skills and rich experiences that make them valuable and employable beyond their current positions.

During an employee’s tour, companies that provide career guidance, training, and professional development opportunities reap the rewards of an employee who’s engaged and prepared to make a significant contribution to the organization. The employer-employee relationship is such that ties and mutually beneficial experiences do not have to end when the employee chooses to move on to another organization.

The goodwill created between the employer and the employee opens the door to future relationships with employees who decide to leave. Boomerang employees, those who leave an organization and return back to that same employer later in their careers, are becoming a commonplace occurrence. In fact, a study done by Workplace Trends, found that nearly half of the HR professionals surveyed claim that their organization previously had a policy against rehiring former employees, but 76% say they are more accepting of hiring boomerang employees today than in the past — and that was two years ago. From all indications, those numbers have grown.

Attract the best with career support

As companies continue to compete for the best and brightest, offering opportunities for personal and professional growth are becoming more commonplace. The gig economy, originally a fallback explanation for when unemployed, is becoming an attractive, and in many cases lucrative, employment option for people who want more control over their time.

According to the 2017 Upwork and Freelancers study, the current number of freelancers is 57.3 million, representing 36% of the working population.

Moving forward, the contingent workforce will put further pressure on employers hoping to attract the most highly sought after talent. The amount of support a company is willing to give these employees will have a huge impact on whether or not they are able to continue to engage with them and keep them warm for future projects. Members of the flexible workforce will require specialized career coaching and professional development designed to help them succeed as independent contractors. Companies willing to invest in programs for these highly-skilled workers will get the highest return on their relationships and engender brand loyalty.

Investing in things that matter

While ping pong and free soda are great immediate rewards, and probably won’t be replaced by more meaningful perks, career development opportunities impact lives and make a lifetime of difference. Employees looking for a workplace that provides them with meaning and purpose, and who are looking for ways to feel connected to work, will be attracted to those organizations that invent in people in meaningful ways, like career counseling and development.

The evolution of work is upon us and AI, automation, and robots are already here. While some jobs may be eliminated completely, others will be changed forever. Today’s employees are feeling the tension of an uncertain future, not knowing yet just how their jobs will change, or if they will even have a job in the future. When these employees are encouraged to invest time and energy in their careers through programs developed for them by their employers, they are more likely to let go of anxiety and adopt a sense of comfort as they prepare for the next step.

The underlying changes in employment and the shift to an employee relationship economy are creating an environment where career development and personal and professional growth are going to be top of mind for the successful employees and employers of the future.

Making exits smoother

The question for both employees and employers remains, where do you want to go and how do you want to get there? Setting long-term goals and understanding that leaving a company or losing an employee is just another milestone in the employee-employer journey. No matter what the reason, companies need to ensure that the transition into, through, and out of their organization is smooth. Offering redeployment solutions, career counseling and professional development opportunities, and providing outplacement and career transitions services to all exiting employees (whether voluntary or involuntary) will help companies maintain enthusiastic employee and alumni sentiments and grow a positive brand image.

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About Mildred Blankson

I am a Human Resource Professional with a Masters Degree in Human Resource Management. I have several years of experience in Human Resources and i hope this blog will be a great resource in helping you find the perfect job or candidate that you seek.

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How to Leverage Company Benefits to Recruit and Retain Top Talent

One-third of organizations have increased their overall benefit offerings in 2016, according to a research report compiled by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). As recruiting and retaining top talent continue to become increasingly difficult for employers, robust benefit packages play a key role. When salaries and perks (think: free lunch) are nearly equal from company to company, employees are likely to opt for the company that offers the best benefits and greatest opportunities.

Medical and financial benefits aside, employees are looking for lifestyle and career benefits. SHRM reported that the top reason employers increased benefits in 2016 was to remain competitive in the marketplace—and the three biggest focus areas for change were in the health (22%), wellness (24%), and professional and career development (16%) categories. Robust benefit packages that include career development, health and wellness, and flexible working options provide a platform for employers to stand out. Nearly one-third of employees look for external positions because they desire “overall better benefits,” second only to higher compensation.

The type of benefits you offer speaks volumes on how you treat and support employees, which always manifests by way of your external employer brand. It’s not enough to say “we have great benefits,” because “great benefits” are now table stakes. Companies have mastered the art of talking about perks, from catered lunches to team building activities. Failure to talk about the real support and development opportunities you offer to employees might translate to missed opportunities. So how can hiring managers and recruiters promote employee benefits to help with recruiting and retention?

#1: Kick “industry standard” out of your vocabulary

When recruiters and hiring managers list their company’s benefits and summarize with the catch-all phrase, we offer “industry standard” benefits, it’s not enough. When all else—compensation, vacation days, and perks—are even, offering a standard benefits package won’t help your company standout enough to secure commitment from a top employee. Even though it might be tempting to default to a quick response, it pays to provide more detail about the benefits your company offers, in length, during the interview process.

And even more importantly than providing a laundry list of benefits (but kudos to you for that list!), explain how these benefits fit in with core company values. For example, if you offer flexible work arrangements and flexible hours, explain that these arrangements support your company’s value of work-life balance. If you provide a gym membership or showers at work, talk about how it enhances company culture or creates opportunities for employees to get the exercise they desire in a convenient way.. When recruits begin to see how your benefits support their shared values and interests, they’ll see the benefits you offer are much greater than “industry standard.”

Employers hoping to keep a competitive edge are offering more than the “industry standard” at every stage of the employee journey, including at severance – according to a recent study by RiseSmart. If you’re on the cutting edge of severance offerings, use those benefits to differentiate your company form the competition.

#2: Talk about goals in the recruiting and interview process

Before an employee is even hired, find out what they’re looking for in their employer and what their short and long term goals are. Ask questions like, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” and “How are you hoping your employer will support you along your career journey?” Employees, many of whom are seeking opportunities for career development and continuing education, need to know you plan to invest in their individual career goals.

A Career Builder survey found that 45% of employees, regardless of generation, plan to stay with their employer for less than two years. During their tenure, they expect to benefit and grow with each new role and and at each new company. It’s important to convey to prospective employees that you invest in each individual employee, regardless for how long they plan to stay in the role for which they are being hired.

#3: Amplify the employee voice

Remind employees early on that they have a voice to share about company culture and employee benefits. Glassdoor, for example, recommends employers invite new hires to reflect on their first few months at the company. Whether this leads to internal feedback or a public review, it can assist efforts aimed at creating a positive employer brand.

L’Oréal recently launched a #LifeatLoreal hashtag to encourage employees to share photos of their experiences at work. The campaign all stemmed from the idea that people would trust their peers on social media when it came to L'Oréal being a great place to work. Employees posted a wide variety of pictures, including snapshots of various benefits and perks in action—such as flex days and catered lunches. Encourage employees to share the experiences they enjoy the most on the social channel of their choice.

#4: Keep employees engaged with benefits

On average, salary is only about 70% of an employee’s total compensation. When employees don’t take advantage of the benefits offered by the company, it’s equivalent to leaving 30% of the total compensation package on the table. Employers who keep employees engaged with benefits are more likely to see benefits manifest as part of the employer brand. An employee is highly unlikely to leave a Glassdoor review that mentions a positive benefit if she has never actually utilized the benefit.

Try hosting monthly or quarterly Q&A sessions to discuss available benefits. When you roll out a particularly hefty benefit, such as a new 401K offering, or an update to parental leave policy, give employees ample opportunity to ask questions. You could also share success stories from employees who have taken advantage of a particularly niche benefit, such as an hour of free lawyer services, to showcase how the benefit is used and encourage other employees to check it out.

#5: Benefits are the forgotten negotiation tool

If you are a hiring manager or recruiter engaging with a candidate, think beyond salary, or equity. Everything is negotiable, from vacation days to health insurance choices. Savvy employees, especially as the war for talent continues to heat up, will use benefits as negotiation tools—but don’t shy away from doing the same thing on the employer side. It’s often easier to offer more benefits than to secure additional salary for an employee.

Don’t be afraid to talk about your full complement of benefits, including your severance benefits. Prospective employees may feel more comfortable about joining a company that will take care of them, in the event of a downsizing or restructuring event. You may want to consider offering perks like outplacement and career transition services to employees who leave voluntarily as well as those who are involuntary subjects of a layoff. Knowing that you are invested in their career, even after they leave, will help you create a workforce of dedicated, engaged, and satisfied employees.

The world is small and everyone is connected. When you invest in employees, it leads to a positive employer brand. In the new Employee Relationship Economy, former employees will someday become vendors, customers, brand evangelists, recruiting references, or even boomerang employees. In a world where the employee/employer relationship is no longer finite, it’s important to convey your full support for employees’ career endeavors at every stage of their career journeys -- beginning early in the recruiting and interview process.

In every recruiting conversation, highlight your dedication to each employee’s career. When you frame up your organization’s benefits in context of how they fit in with the employee’s journey, it’s easy for the candidate to see how your company would support his journey. Communication about employee benefits can go a long way in the recruiting process—and will have a direct impact on your employer brand. If you offer much more than “industry standard,” you should be screaming it from the rooftops. Your current and prospective employees deserve to understand just how committed you are to their personal and professional journey.

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