Motivating Back Office Employees

Dear, Anita,

I manage a back-office department in a large company. My team doesn’t interact with the clients nor upper management very often. The work can be repetitive and sometimes boring. How can I keep morale up on my team?

Dear, Back on Track,

Every company has internal operations departments performing business-critical functions that may not be, well, very sexy. The sales team or research & development may get all the glory, and these hard-working back office employees may feel out of the loop or under-appreciated.

WeSpire’s annual employee engagement survey reports that engaged employees have managers that care about them, are recognized frequently, and feel they are contributing to their teams in a meaningful way.

Use some of your regular staff meetings to keep employees posted on what other departments are up to. You may wish to invite upper management to give brief corporate updates quarterly. The goodwill from an annual visit and interest in your team from the CEO would be remembered for months.

Occasional team-building events away from the office can break up a monotonous routine. Be sure to celebrate birthdays and note work anniversaries (if your team is large, observe all the birthdays in the month with one cake). A quarterly potluck lunch is a great way to enhance camaraderie. You could even come up with silly contests for your corner of the world (for instance, the first one to reach a particular weekly milestone gets a $5 Starbucks gift card, or every time someone encounters a last name starting with Z, they ring a bell).

Not all motivation is touchy-feely. Money talks… (and I’ll leave the last half of this common colloquialism unsaid). Make sure your employees are paid adequately, and offer real bonuses (not just coffee shop gift cards) for measurable performance results. Don’t wait until the annual review to give feedback; offer verbal pats on the back frequently. Hold regular one-on-one meetings with each team member, and you’ll be able to gauge when one of your employees may be spiraling into discouragement.

The real key to create lasting job satisfaction is to get employees to buy in to your company’s mission. Explain the “why” along with the “how” for departmental duties. Day-to-day tasks feel less onerous when there is an understanding of how they affect the company as a whole.

President Kennedy was touring NASA in the 1960s, and he encountered a janitor with a broom. When asked by the POTUS what he was doing, the custodian replied, “I’m helping put a man on the moon.” The takeaway: No matter how small the role, everyone contributes to the success of an organization.

Managers: What are some of your best employee engagement strategies?
Employees: What could your manager do to keep your morale high?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

Subscribe to receive weekly emails with career tips and advice for job seekers, employed people, and managers and supervisors.

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Be a Social Seeker, Part 2

Dear Readers,

Last week, we explored how to search for a job on Facebook. Here, we’ll see how other social media platforms can help in your hunt for a new position.

Twitter_000015982279Twitter Tips

Twitter is probably the best for connecting with companies and people you don’t already know. You can develop a Twitter relationship, and hope it hatches into something more.

First, fill out your bio. Like everything on Twitter, you have to keep it short and tweet! You have only 160 characters to give your virtual elevator speech. As with Facebook and LinkedIn, you want to include a professional-looking head shot, maybe even the same one you use for other social platforms for the recognition factor.

Follow companies you have an interest in and the people who work at those companies, and engage with them. Retweet, yes, but add thoughtful commentary or ask a perceptive question. In your tweets, point to your LinkedIn profile or your personal website or blog, if you have one. But don’t just use Twitter for self-promotion; offer valuable content for your field or circle of interests.

Use Twitter Lists to organize the deluge of tweets into a collection of useful information for your job search.

Level Up on LinkedIn

Check out my past post about LinkedIn essentials. Beyond basic connections, you can sleuth out the HR contact or potential hiring manager for a company you are interested in working for. If you can find a connection to hand-deliver your résumé to HR down the hall, your chances are much greater to get your foot in the door. Your connection may even have some insight about the job that’s not available in the ad.

You can also check out people who currently work at a company to see what their career paths have been. Perhaps one of the companies in an employee’s previous experience is just the place for you to apply now. Similarly, try an advanced search for people in or near your zip code who have the same skill keywords as yours.

In a Forbes article, William Arruda advises, “Ignore [Anita Clew’s and] LinkedIn’s advice to only accept connection requests from people you know” because LinkedIn’s search algorithm favors those who are in your network. Chances are, you don’t yet have a connection to the person who may hiring you next. (Okay, I may just have to update my rule to not accept all requests.) Arruda urges you to shoot for 500 connections, as that number seems to pack some psychological magic on those who view your profile.

Explore LinkedIn’s Alumni feature, recommends Wayne Breitbarth, author of The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success. Be sure to also join your Alumni’s LinkedIn Group. Speaking of Groups, join any that are relevant to your industry and skills. LinkedIn allows you to join up to 50 Groups. To get the most networking value, be an active participant in your Groups.

linkedinmemeAs mentioned in Part 1, 94% of recruiters are active on LinkedIn. HR professionals are checking out your LinkedIn profile whether you are actively looking for a job or not. If you have a good enough profile, you may be contacted by a recruiter. Wouldn’t that be the ultimate outcome in passive job searching!

Pore over Pinterest

You’ll have a better chance finding a job ad on a coffee shop bulletin board than a bona fide job opening posted on the Pinterest. But there are atypical ways to use this digital bulletin board in your job search. Search for career-oriented keywords, such as “résumé” or “interview” and you’ll find a wealth of informational gems. The individual “pins” are visual bookmarks that, when clicked, take you back to the original site. You can follow Anita Clew on Pinterest, and check out my boards that contain past blog posts, as well as ideas on interview and office attire, work lunches, or even inspirational quotes to keep you going when the job or the job hunt gets you down. To get started on Pinterest, here’s a beginner’s guide.

Enter the YouTube Universe

Just like Pinterest, you can use keywords to search for videos to further your career knowledge and sharpen your job hunting proficiency. But YouTube is also an opportunity to upload your own video résumé or introduction. After all, Justin Bieber got his big break by posting a recording of his performance on YouTube! You’ll want to keep your video about 60-90 seconds in length and as professional as possible (call in favors from any friends with film experience). Include a link to your YouTube video in your cover letter, and you’ll seen as innovative with leading-edge skills.

Get started in your social search by choosing the one social media site that you are already enthusiastic about and employing it in a new way… for your employment.

Readers: Which social media platform has been most helpful in your job search?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

Subscribe to receive weekly emails with career tips and advice for job seekers, employed people, and managers and supervisors.

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Be a Social Seeker, Part 1

Dear Anita,

I just heard that a friend of a friend got a job through Facebook. I never thought beyond LinkedIn for job searching on social media. Do you have any tips on how to use Facebook or Twitter in my job search?

Social Job Search InfographicDear, Social Butterfly,

I was surprised myself to see that, according to Jobvite, a whopping 76% of social job seekers found their current position through Facebook. While I couldn’t ferret out a statistic for how many people actually found a new job through LinkedIn, success stories are easier to find. And Jobvite does indicate that 94% of recruiters are active on LinkedIn, so don’t abandon the popular professional networking site just yet.

Pew Research Center found only 13% of LinkedIn users check their account daily, 25% check weekly, and 61% check less often. By contrast, 70% of Facebook users check the site daily. So it makes sense that people who are more active on Facebook may benefit from including their online friends in their job search tactics.

Facebook Job Search Tips

Conduct a Facebook makeover, including a more professional profile picture to replace that blurry selfie. Use your About section as a mini-résumé. Be sure to include all past workplaces and college information and, just like LinkedIn, add keywords about your professional skills.

Be aware: 93% of recruiters are likely to look at a candidate’s social profile and 42% have reconsidered a candidate based on social content. The three biggest offenders, according to Jobvite: illegal drug references (83%), sexual posts (70%), and spelling/grammar (66%) which narrowly beat out profanity at 63%. Go through several screens of past posts (this could be up to a year’s worth, depending on your Facebook frequency factor). Delete any posts you wouldn’t want a hiring manager to see (or “Limit Past Posts” under Settings). Untag yourself in unflattering photos and enable the setting that allows you to review tags people add to your posts before appearing in your newsfeed. If you have some friends with no regard for social etiquette, you may also want to enable the review feature to keep offensive comments from appearing on your wall.

If your job search is on the down-low, even if you are not Facebook friends with your boss, you may be a friend of a friend so there is always a possibility the word could get back. Double-check your Privacy Settings and take the extra few seconds when posting to use the audience selector. Create a Facebook List to group your business and networking contacts. Then, when you post something career-related, you can use the audience selector to share it with your professional list, and your Aunt Bessie won’t see the latest industry article that she has no interest in.

But keep in mind, good old Aunt Bessie may live next door to the CEO of a company that’s hiring for your position! The Status Update (to Friends and Family only if you’re currently employed) is the most obvious way to use Facebook in your job search. While you don’t want to overdo posting requests for career help, remember that out of sight is out of mind, especially in the fast-moving social feed.

Like the companies you are interested in working for on Facebook. Many savvy businesses are publicizing job openings across all social media.

Facebook’s Graph Search in the bar at the top of the site allows you to type in phrases such as “People who work at Facebook” or “Employers in San Antonio” to see what connections pop up. Not nearly as powerful as LinkedIn connections (and glitchy since a recent upgrade for mobile devices), this Facebook search may still yield some useful contacts to Friend or Message.

No matter the platform, social media can definitely be your friend in your job search. Next week, we’ll look at Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and some beyond-the-basic tips for LinkedIn.

Readers: Have you use Facebook to successfully land a new job? Tell us about it!

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Quitters Never Win… or Do They?

Anita,

I’m at a point in my job where I think I’ve hit the salary wall. I basically have to wait for my manager at my current company to retire in order to move up. He’s older, but I don’t know exactly if and when he plans to leave his post. My best friend thinks I should bail and that I could find a better-paying job at another company. I’ve been here only a few years, and don’t want to look “flighty” on my résumé. What should I do?

Dear, Resigned to the Idea,

Collapsing wall making a dollar symbolI grew up hearing the phrase, “Winners never quit and quitters never win” and come from a generation where loyalty was valued. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but recent articles are swaying me to believe the best way to get a significant raise these days is to quit one job and change to another.

When you stay with a company for many years, your raise is usually based on a percentage of your current salary. The average salary increase last year was 2.9%, according to Mercer’s US Compensation Planning Survey. (There are some standouts that earn a 5%-10% raise, offset by federal employees receiving a 1% raise and those poor souls who get no pay bump at all.) With the inflation rate hovering around 2.1%, the extra spending money after an annual raise may be inconsequential.

In a Forbes article, Employees Who Stay In Companies Longer Than Two Years Get Paid 50% Less, a hiring manager explains that if you start fresh with another company, you’ll likely command a higher base salary, which is often more than a raised salary offered by your current employer.

pay raise ahead roadsignTalk to your manager about what it would take to increase your salary. (He may just spill the beans about his retirement plans.) Before the meeting, check out Salary.com or PayScale.com to see the range of wages paid for your position in your geographic area. You don’t want to use this information to threaten, but to enlighten.  If a raise is out of the question in your current position, tactfully explore the option of moving to another department within the organization. Or negotiate for a bonus based on completion of a task outside your normal scope of work or for reaching a milestone.

If pay raises or bonuses are not forthcoming and you don’t feel that you can wait it out for your boss’s chair, consider searching for a new position with a significant salary increase. Mull over the risks to changing jobs. What if that exciting start-up offering competitive salaries and amazing perks goes belly-up? What if your new boss is a micromanager? Factor in future career goals. Some more established companies do frown upon job-hopping. They may have a policy of tossing any applicant résumé that has, say, more than three jobs in the last 10 years. So before you take the leap to another company, be sure that the salary and/or title increase is worth it, both personally and professionally.

Readers: For what percentage salary increase would you consider leaving your current job?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

Subscribe to receive weekly emails with career tips and advice for job seekers, employed people, and managers and supervisors.

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Disclaimer

Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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