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If Change is the Only Constant, Then Let’s Get Better At It

For people going through career transitions, it often feels as though their very survival is on the line. For others, it’s an opportunity to explore new avenues and discover opportunities. If an individual doesn’t have a paycheck or other source of income during a transition, it can seem like some of the most fundamental needs – food, clothing, and shelter – are at risk, and in some cases, they are. Although career transition may be a critical event in a person’s life, organizational restructuring and downsizing to meet market demand are an ongoing part of the corporate ebb and flow.

In an environment where corporate change and career change are the only constants, HR professionals can get better at helping manage transitions for impacted employees. With some understanding of what change means at an individual level, we can start helping people navigate these difficult times in their lives with more grace, clarity, and ease.

Change is accelerating

The career change process is accelerating and we’re all being asked to pivot in our careers much more frequently than in years past – both by choice and by circumstance. On an average of 2 to 5 years, any given person may quit their job to start a business, fold a business they started, change the focus of a business, move to a new position by choice, or leave a company involuntarily.

In a recent #SmartTalkHR webinar, “How to Help Employees in Crisis Learn to Pivot” I discuss tools for HR professionals to use when helping employees who are facing involuntary career transitions. The following is a quick dive into some of the concepts I discussed. To learn more, view the webinar in its entirety here.

From crisis to pivot

Instead of referring to these big moments of career teams in crisis – midlife or quarter-life crises, where we only get two in our lifetime – we need to reframe the conversation and give people language around pivot and pivot points to create a sense of optimism and remove the perception of personal failure.

Changing the language around career transitions will help people to see that there is nothing wrong with them personally, that change is happening more broadly, and that there is a clear way forward. The term “pivot” is often referred to as plan B, referring to the change in direction a failing company takes to stay in business. When it comes to careers, pivot is a mindset and a method to proactively identify what’s next.

In the case of employees in crisis, they’re not going to feel like they’re getting pivoted because they were successful. But, strangely enough, as I’ve talked to people who have been laid off, their role was restructured or reorganized, or they were put on severance, no one yet has said that an involuntary separation was the worst thing that ever happened, after they processed the shock and emotional transitions.

In fact, just about every person I’ve spoken with has said that they either wanted, or needed, to make a change and that an event at the company was the catalyst they needed. Some have even told me that it ended up being the best thing that ever happened, or that it was a blessing in disguise. In fact, for some people, opportunities and circumstances opened up that they never could have imagined. The key is for people in transition to be able to take the reins back and know that even though these circumstances have happened, they have a choice about how to proceed.

In any pivot, especially if someone gets pivoted involuntarily, there will be a certain amount of shock and surprise and some processing that has to take place. But, after that processing — and often in parallel with it — pivot planning has to happen, it’s how we move things forward.

High net growth and impact

High net growth individuals are not just asking “What am I earning?” but, “What am I learning?” “How am I growing?” And when those needs for growth are being met, they turn to impact. “What kind of impact am I making in my role within the organization – on the clients that I work with, on my family, on my community, and even in the world at large?” These two needs for growth and impact often go in tandem.

One point to make when helping people navigate a pivot point in their careers is the growth potential. Although the money aspect can be quite stressful, it’s also likely that if their role was no longer a fit, if they weren’t growing, if they weren’t making an impact, this is an opportunity to turn their attention even more towards the two values of growth and impact.

Pivot from a place of strength

 I define a career pivot as a methodical shift in a new, related direction that’s based on a foundation of strengths and what is already working for an individual. Career pivots that are the most successful are transitions in a new, related direction. It’s not a 180 degree turn, it’s not starting from scratch, and it’s based on what is already working. Reminding individuals who feel like they’re in a state of crisis that they are not starting from scratch can be empowering, and a good way to turn the conversation from doom and gloom to hope and possibility.

Start with a conversation about what is working, and what the individual sees as success one year from now. Some questions to ask someone who has been pivoted, include:

  • What did you enjoy about your role?
  • What did you like about the company?
  • What part of the company culture was a good fit?
  • Are there geographic areas where you want to work?
  • What are your strengths?
  • What were you to “go-to” person for?
  • How can you parlay your strengths to a new, related direction?

Sometimes people want to pivot from one industry to another. The key is to look for a small enough change where the work will be related and connected to something that the person has experience with and where they can build in new and resonant directions.

Riskometer: the four zones

 When it comes to the scope of a pivot or next steps, individuals’ risk tolerance and current state usually falls into one of four buckets:

  1. Stagnation – If individuals don’t make change at all, that’s when they fall into stagnation. These individuals are not engaged and not productive.
  2. Comfort zone – The individual is content with their current work and may pivot to change industries while continuing to do the same job.
  3. Stretch zone – This is the optimal range for change. Change is a stretch, it’s edgy, and possibly a little nerve-racking, but mostly exciting.
  4. Panic zone – When people try to pivot too sharply outside of what they were already doing, what’s working, or away from their strengths.

If someone is involuntarily separated from their job, they may be catapulted into the panic zone. The key here is to help them break down the next moves and next steps into manageable pieces. One approach is to suggest an intermediary pivot – a job that isn’t a perfect fit to provide the time to work toward an ideal pivot while fulfilling the need for a paycheck to meet basic needs.

Helping others pivot

 The key to helping someone pivot successfully is to use the language of pivot and to address the zone the individual is currently in. If they’re in panic zone, break things down into smaller next steps or next moves that are tied to their strengths and what’s already working.

Remember, the person you’re working with is not starting from scratch. They’ve likely already pivoted multiple times, but now you can share some positive messaging and a framework to help them see the opportunities before them. When you introduce the language of pivot, ask the individual how they have pivoted successfully in the past and how they landed in their current position – by choice or by circumstances? One important thing to know when helping someone to pivot, not everyone is going to have the same pivot strengths.

Some people make every single pivot based on serendipity of their network coming into play. They just happen to bump into the right person at the right time over and over again. Other people are strong at proactively finding opportunities, while others might be skilled at pitching project-based work and starting part time. There’s a wide variety of ways people pivot.

In summary, one of the best ways to help someone figure out their strengths is to identify what has helped them in the past and where they want to end up, even if it’s a general idea for now of how they want to feel, how much they would like to earn, how they want to grow, and what type of impact they’d like to make This creates brackets for the pivot: where the person is now and where they want to end up. Together, you can work to bridge the gap by scanning for people, skills and small experiments.

If you want to hear more about helping others learn to pivot, including the four stages of the Pivot Method, watch the entire webinar here.

Jenny Blake is a career and business strategist and international speaker who helps people build sustainable, dynamic careers they love. She is author of the book, PIVOT – The Only Move That Matters is Your Next One, available through Amazon.

The post If Change is the Only Constant, Then Let’s Get Better At It appeared first on RiseSmart.

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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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