We’ve had a lot of turnover in our company lately, a few in my own department (I manage IT). We try to get quality candidates who can hit the ground running. But it seems that there are always some fires to put out, so we tend to throw people in the deep end and hope they can swim. Many are sinking instead. I really don’t have time to keep training new people who turn around and leave. What can we do to improve our retention?
Dear, Concerned Captain,
Voluntary turnover (or quits, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls them) was on the rise in 2014 for private industries. With a tighter labor market (where there are more jobs than qualified workers), dissatisfied employees are more likely to jump ship. So let’s talk about how to get employees to stay at your company, or at least in your department.
Proper onboarding is important because turnover is costly – in time, recruiting costs, productivity loss, and morale. Onboarding is more than just filling out the HR forms and attending an orientation meeting. It’s the process of organizational socialization. You want to teach your new staffer about your company’s mission, values, and culture, as well as how he or she fits into your department and the organization as a whole.
To make an employee’s first day a less stressful experience, plan ahead for a smooth arrival. Since you’re in IT, I hope your business has a new hire portal that allows electronic completion of forms such as the W-4, I-9, etc. and access to the company’s policy handbook. Humanizing this portal with a welcome message from the manager as well as photos of teammates can go a long way toward easing the rookie’s mind.
You don’t want your new hire to show up and have no place to sit or a cubicle without a workstation. It’s up to you to provide all the tools to do the assignments for which you’ve hired him. Job duties should be outlined in a detailed, clearly written manual, hopefully in an electronic version that is easily searchable. Video training is great for visual learners, assuming you have the resources. If the outgoing employee is available to train the new recruit, take advantage of the opportunity for job shadowing.
While the first day is important to make the employee feel welcomed and valued, effective onboarding lasts weeks or months. It can take up to a year for a new employee to become fully productive. Check in regularly with your freshman – not just in passing – with weekly or even daily meetings to ensure tasks are understood and completed and to gauge satisfaction of both parties.
Readers: What is your company’s best onboarding practice?
I’ve been self employed since 1970 but have also held full time positions with other companies at various times, too. From about 1990 to 2007 I experienced so much business that I worked (at home) an average of 12 hours/day, seven days a week. It all came to an abrupt halt when the recession hit. I’m now looking for jobs doing just about anything, but no luck.
I feel my age is working against me but also my many years of experience. I’ve had interviews where the interviewer probably feared I was more qualified than himself. With a resume that shows so many years of self employment I think most employers think I’ll either leave when business picks up or I’ll steal their ideas or their clients. Any advice for switching from self employment to working for other companies?
Dear, Fearful Free Agent,
With the economic downturn, many entrepreneurs decided (or had the decision made for them) to return to a conventional J.O.B. Let’s review some of the upsides to “working for the man.” People in your situation can relinquish the financial worries (though the new position may bring apprehensions of its own). There will be a sense of stability that may have been lacking in your recent economic landscape. Also, being part of a team can be refreshing. Working solo, you sometimes miss people to bounce ideas off of or just to share what you did over the weekend.
That’s not to say the transition will be easy. You may give up the flexibility of setting your own hours for a 9-to-5 schedule. But that means no more burning the midnight oil! And the daily grind may come with benefits like affordable health insurance.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, you need to leap over the hurdles to land that position. An employer may have a bias based on age, but if you craft your résumé wisely, you should be able to secure an interview. For tips, check out my post Getting Hired (or not) Based on Age.
While you could be overqualified in your previous area of expertise, you may need to upgrade or learn new skills to broaden your marketability. Working by yourself, you may not have needed Outlook or other standard office fare. Check out local colleges and universities or Google “job training” to find resources in your local area to shore up your skill set.
When you were self-employed, you were actually both the boss and the employee, so you know a thing or two about wearing many hats and getting the job done. But be sure to nibble on some humble pie. While you don’t want to be modest about your experience and accomplishments during a job interview, your potential employer will be looking for clues that you won’t go rogue. Practice a response to the inevitable question, “Why do you want to work for someone else again?” Check out my past article, How to Overcome “Overqualified,” for some interview role-playing assistance.
Keep your spirits up during your job search. To help, here’s a humorous music video, “Self Employment Made Harder By Difficult Boss”:
Readers: Have you successfully gone from entrepreneur to company man (or woman)? What was the most difficult part of the transition? What do you like most about having a traditional job?
I have just started looking for a new job, and recently I have been hearing about employers searching Facebook profiles before even interviewing a candidate. How can my profiles on social media sites impact my chance of finding employment? Thank you!
Dear, Fellow Facebooker:
Social media and networks have become an extension of our lives. We can catch up with old friends, learn about the latest news, and even get leads to open positions. But with all the positives that can be enjoyed, take your social experience with a grain of salt. Yes, employers are most definitely looking at the Facebook profiles of their candidates. After reading a post at one of my favorite blogs, TradePost, I was alarmed at how quickly Facebook screening is becoming a big issue in the employment world. For an idea of what I am talking about, read “Asking for Facebook Passwords: Good Screening or Bad Idea?”
Here are some of the dos and don’ts to adhere to if you hope make a great first impression.
Make your profile private. Put the security gates up before you start your job search. You can even hide your profile temporarily or make your name not appear in search results.
Keep your pictures G-rated. This includes your profile picture, pictures you have uploaded, and ones that your friends have tagged you in. Even if your page is blocked to the public, there may be a chance that the hiring manager is a connection with a mutual friend and can see your pictures. As a rule of thumb, steer clear of pictures of drinking activities, illegal drug use, sexually explicit images, and anything that you wouldn’t share with your grandparents.
Restrict wall posting privileges. We all have some friends who haven’t quite figured out what is appropriate (and what’s not) to post to Facebook. Be cautious on how much slack you give to these troublemakers and limit their ability to comment/post on your wall.
Untag yourself from professionally unflattering photos. Yes, we all have some great pictures that bring us back to our college days. Great for reminiscing, bad for business. Again, a G-rating is preferred.
Avoid controversial topic discussion. When it comes to politics, religion, and other social issues, it is best to remain neutral while hunting for a job. You are entitled to your own beliefs, but it is best to keep them under the radar on your Facebook profile.
Accept friend requests and invites of people you know. It isn’t uncommon for people to create fictional profiles to gather privileged information. If you have anything that you wish to hide (hopefully you have gotten an idea of what I am talking about by now), do not give strangers access to your profile.
Whatever you do, do not provide employers with your log-in credentials. It may hurt your chances of getting the job offer, but this a serious breach of privacy – and several states have even made it illegal for employers to ask. I most certainly would not want to work with a company that was comfortable crossing those boundaries.
I hope this will help all of my readers become savvier when it comes to their Facebook profiles. Managers and Supervisors, a must-read for you as well is another post of mine called “Facebook – A Hiring Manager’s Best Friend.”
Readers, what do you think is the most damaging discovery an employer could make through Facebook? What is your #1 Facebook profile no-no?
And if you still don’t believe me, check out this news clip about Facebook privacy and employment:
I have been working at my current job for about two years. From the time that I started until now, my job responsibilities have grown. Even if I am not planning on leaving my current position, should I keep updating my résumé? If so, how often?
Dear, Résumé Refresher:
Thank you for your question! Keeping your résumé up-to-date is very important to your current and future career success. Creating a résumé that is high quality and worthy of attracting future employers takes a lot of time and effort to produce. Don’t let the cobwebs build up and cover up what made you shine in the first place. Even if you are not planning on making a job change anytime soon, it is important to keep your CV current and include your recent accomplishments and duties. With the way the employment market and economy has been over the past few years, it is always good to be prepared in the unfortunate event that you are laid off.
As a good rule of thumb, everyone should plan on updating his or her résumés at least every six months. Be sure to include recent accomplishments, newly bestowed responsibilities, and anything important that is representative of your current position. If you have joined new professional organizations or become involved in new community groups, be sure to include this as well. It is important to add these as you go along because we all have a tendency to forget important details. What will also be helpful is to make what I like to call a “kudos” file. In this file, you can keep copies of performance reviews, recommendations, or testimonials to show how great of an employee you are!
Another thing to do is to review job postings that are similar to your field and pick out the important buzzwords. With the high number of companies using keywords to filter out unqualified applicants, it is an important step to add a few to your résumé. In the chance that your dream job comes knocking at your door, you won’t find yourself scrambling to have a strong and relevant résumé.
By staying on top of your CV now, you will be in better shape later, prepared for anything that may come your way! If you need more advice on how to make sure your résumé stands out from the crowd, see my post Reasons for No Résumé Responses for tips.
Here is a great video about how to update your résumé effectively!
Readers, how often do you update your résumé? What tips do you have for making your résumé the leader of the pack?
As the HR Director of a company with 56 people, Obamacare is on the top of my mind. My company is on the fence about what we should do. We don’t want to let go 7 people to be under the magic number of 50, but we want to avoid the steep penalties. What are your thoughts on how to best handle this new law as an employer or business owner?
Dear, Seeking a Solution:
Thank you for the question! Business owners and employers are all struggling with the looming question of how they will handle the coming implementation of Obamacare’s penalty provisions. I am glad to hear that my readers are already thinking about the subject and beginning to get their strategies in order now. In your situation with just over 50 employees, you are in the category that must provide affordable health insurance or face hefty fines.
After doing some research and evaluating the options, I have determined that the best course of action for businesses like yours is to move your excess employees over to a staffing firm’s payroll. Here is how I came to this conclusion.
By migrating 7 workers to a staffing firm’s payroll, you can cut your “full-time equivalent” staff below the 50-person limit, which means your company will not be subject to fees and penalties. The staffing company becomes the official employer of record and is responsible for providing health care or absorbing the penalty. In our reader’s case, if they were to move the 7 people from their payroll to a staffing company, it could save them $14,000 in penalties and potentially even more in insurance costs.
Lower insurance rates for your employees. Larger staffing firms have so many employees on their insurance plans that they are able to negotiate great group rates. This cost savings can be passed on to you.
By moving your a portion of your workforce to a staffing firm, you will not be required to comply with the complex reporting requirements. The employer must report regularly to the IRS, its employees, and to all states in which the company does business. This will reduce costs and provide a savings in administrative overhead.
On a recent episode of his CNBC show Mad Money, financial analyst Jim Cramer noted that the demand for temps is mushrooming, “fueled in part by the pending implementation of Obamacare.” He says: “Businesses of all sizes are searching for ways to cope with this law, and the easiest way to avoid paying these expenses is to hire more temps.”
Employers, what are your plans for managing the Obamacare mandate? Will you be turning to staffing firms for help?
I have just joined LinkedIn to aid in my job search. As a novice to the entire site, I was hoping you could offer some advice on how to take advantage of the introduction feature that is available. Some of the lingo is foreign to me and any insight would be great. Thanks for your help!
Dear, Learning LinkedIn:
Congratulations on joining LinkedIn. It is a great tool that will aid in your job search and help you build a strong professional network. For those of you who are now just hearing about LinkedIn, it is a business-focused social networking website that connects users with other professionals, recruiters, and companies of interest. The site offers many tools with the basic free service that everyone should take advantage of.
LinkedIn works through connections. These are to LinkedIn as friends are to Facebook. When you have identified another user with whom you’d like to “connect,” you can make a Connection request, which the other user can accept or deny. An accepted connection is considered 1st degree.
Outside of the 1st-degree circle of connections, you have
2nd-degree Connections: Think of these as a friend of a friend. They are directly connected to one of your professional connections. Keep this in mind when I discuss LinkedIn Introductions.
3rd-degree Connections: Consider these as your 2nd-degree connection’s additional connections. To make it simple, think of this as your co-worker’s friend from graduate school’s boss.
Out of Your Network: TheseLinkedIn users are not currently connected to your 1st-, 2nd-, or 3rd-degree connections.
What I think is a great tool available on LinkedIn is Introductions. We all know that having a person on the inside of a company we want to work for is a step in the right direction. One of your professional connections may be willing to facilitate an opportunity for you to meet an insider who can help you land your next job opportunity.
Here is an example. You want to work as an Administrative Assistant at The Select Family of Staffing Companies and hope that you can find that opportunity by speaking with the head of Human Resources, who you don’t currently know. Your friend Steve, however, is connected with the head of HR at Select. What better way to catch the HR Director’s eye than by having her trusted friend Steve “introduce” you two?
So how do you find these introduction opportunities? I thought you might ask!
Start by going to Company Search and entering the name of the company for which you want to work. If you need to refine your search, you can choose the following parameters that meet your search needs: location, industry, and/or relationship type (2nd or 3rd connections).
Once you have located the company, look to the fair right of the screen and find the “How You’re Connected” section. Click on 2nd-degree connections.
Here, you will see all the people at the company with whom you share common connections. Select the individual to whom you would like to be introduced and hover over to the right of the “Connect” button. A dropdown menu will appear. Click “Get introduced.”
Select from the list one of your closest, most trusted connections and ask for the introduction.
Enter text into the subject line and why you want to get introduced.
Finally click “Send Request” and wait for a response – and hopefully a foot in the door.
I hope this helps you understand just one of the great tools available on LinkedIn. For more information, LinkedIn has put together a short video on how to make the most of the site for your job search:
Readers, what are the tools you use the most on LinkedIn? Have you found it useful in your Job Search?
I took a new job a few months ago in an industry that I am unfamiliar with. I am very eager to learn as much as I possibly can about this new area and want to find a mentor to help guide me through this transition. What should I look for in a mentor and how do I find one that is best suited for me?
Hi, Mentor Wanted:
Mentors are great resources to help build your knowledge in a new industry. I strongly believe that everyone should have a mentor and develop a strong relationship during their career. Good mentors provide a source of inspiration, understanding, motivation, and knowledge. Their guidance and perspective can help shape your decision-making and help you become the best professional you can be.
When looking for a mentor, it is important to understand what you want out of mentor-mentee relationship. Before you begin inquiring about mentee opportunities, be sure you have the answers to the questions:
What are your career goals?
How do you hope to benefit from a mentor?
How do you think you can contribute to the relationship?
How often do you wish to meet or communicate?
What are the expectations for each person involved?
Once you have a clear understanding of what you would like from your mentee experience, it is time to do some digging and find your new mentor. I found a great article called The Wealth of Mentoring from one of my favorite resources, TradePost, that spells out some great tips for finding a mentor that will mesh with you. Coupled with a few of my own, these suggestions are great to keep in mind during your search:
Similar Career Goals: Find a mentor who is not only accomplished in your field but who has career goals that match your own.
Be Selective: Find someone who you think will be the best fit to help you in your career.
Personality Match: Find a mentor whose personality complements your own.
Referrals: Ask your human resources department, colleagues, and friends for good ideas of possible mentors.
Look outside of your office: Finding a mentor that is not directly related to your company can be great. Look to associations, business groups, and even family friends
Your new mentor may be younger: Don’t discriminate because of age. I am a full supporter of teaching old dogs (like me) new tricks!
Don’t limit yourself: Have a variety of mentors to help strike a balance in all areas of your profession.
Keep in mind that finding a great mentor is not a race. Select carefully and spend time developing the relationship. The mentor you decide to work with may become your next business best friend and ally.
Readers: What qualities do you look for when selecting a mentor? What is the most important must-have trait you want in your mentors?
I need your advice on something. Ever since I can remember I have been terrified of public speaking. Just the thought of it gets my stomach all stirred up. I have goals and aspirations to be an executive someday but know that I need to overcome my fears to get there. What can I do to make speaking in public less difficult?
Dear, Stage Frightened,
Public speaking ranks very high up on the list of people’s biggest fears. According to Live Science’s article “What Really Scares People: Top 10 Phobias,” public speaking and social phobia ranked #4 behind scary spaces, spiders, and snakes.
Being in front of a crowd with all eyes on you can be intimidating and anxiety ridden. I myself have had my fair share of being stage shy. The thought of speaking to a group made me feel like running for my life. I have always been jealous of those lucky individuals that look carefree, unscathed, and darn-right comfortable when they are giving speeches and presentations. Not fair, right? Well, life is not fair and when life gives us lemons, what do we do? Make lemonade.
Before you start even thinking about presenting a topic in public, you have to figure out the key elements. My friend, Bonnie Cox at Power Training Institute, has a great amount of experience in public speaking and has offered her professional advice to us! How lucky are we? Here are Bonnie’s proven tips to become at ease with your presentation skills and make you a pro in no time at all.
Try to relax. Your audience is there to see you deliver a great presentation. They are not there to see you fail. Luckily for them, you won’t!
Know your topic cold. Practice it until you are comfortable.
Remember that everyone has stage fright. Let it work for you, not against you. It can be very energizing!
Focus on what your audience wants or needs to hear. It’s not about you.
Stay humble. If you are more focused on what you can give to your audience, you’ll be less focused on yourself.
Do not draw attention to your hiccups or your nerves. You are probably the only one who notices them.
Arrive to your presentation at least 15 minutes early.
And from Anita’s bag of tips and tricks, a final piece of advice to leave you with… As scary as it may sound, the only way you are going to be more comfortable with your public-speaking self to is practice, practice, and practice some more. The more times you present, the less anxious you will be and the better you will become. Baby steps are usually the best way to go about it. It may sound silly, but try practicing your speech out loud in front of the mirror. Once you have nailed it, enlist your friends and family to test your skills out on. It should be a
no-judgment environment, one you are completely comfortable with. Then move on to bigger stages and audiences. You will be a master in no time.
Toastmasters has come out with a great video called Five Basic Public Speaking Tips. Check it out here:
Readers, what do you do before and during a presentation that makes you the star of the show?
After working as a Sales Associate at a high-end interior store for 4 years, I have finally received word that I am being promoted to Store Manager. I am very excited to have this opportunity and to have reached my goals. What are some tips you have for new managers in transition and just starting out?
Dear, Proud to Be Promoted,
Congratulations on your promotion! This is a wonderful accomplishment that you should be extremely proud off. The hard work you have been putting in has certainly paid of!
Becoming a manager comes with a large new set of responsibilities and tasks that must be executed to keep your store or business running on a
day-to-day basis. Not only are you responsible for your own work and performance, but you must manage those who now are under your supervision too. It may seem overwhelming at first, but from the looks of things, I think you are on the right track.
Before you begin your first day as the new manager, schedule some time with your new boss to discuss expectations and roles they expect you to fill. Ask questions about how they feel about the team you are directing and what issues they feel need to be resolved first. Once you have a list, I suggest formulating a plan that you can submit to your boss before you assume your managerial role. This shows responsibility and initiative and confirms with your boss that they made the right decision by selecting you for the position.
Take some time to reflect on your past and figure out the managers in your life that you look up to. Ask yourself what these individuals did or did not do to make their office a great or terrible place to work. Find the key elements that you admire most in your mentors and implement these into your management strategy. Remember that this strategy is not set in stone. It will need to be shaped and molded to fit you and your team appropriately.
First off and most importantly, you have to refrain from letting the ego boost go straight to your head. Sometimes, as people are given more power in the workplace, they can be more aggressive and demanding. Do your best to maintain an even keel. On the flip side, don’t be a pushover and forget that you ARE the manager now. Be confident in providing direction, offering constructive criticism and feedback, and monitoring and managing performance/attitude issues.
If you haven’t already, get to know the people you will be working with and allow them to get to know you. Staff meetings are a great way to come together as a team and learn from one another. I think hosting staff meeting about once a week is ideal, but schedule according to what your work requires. It helps build team strength and confidence. Next, take the time to meet with each employee individually. This will help build a one-on-one professional relationship and an open forum for questions and concerns. It will give you the opportunity to learn about their work style, what they need from you as a boss, and what you want from them as an employee. The collaborations help you and your team members get on the same page.
Once you have gone through the above steps, take out the management plan that you had created at the beginning of assuming your new role. With all the information gathered from your employees, bosses, other managers, and your own insights, make a few final tweaks and fine-tune your course of action. This is another good time to sit down with your boss to get any advice or suggestions from him or her. Once you are given the green light, grab the bull by the horns and take on your responsibilities full force.
And before I sign off, whatever you do, do not become this guy!
Have you been promoted to a managerial position recently? What did you find the most useful in making the transition?
I have been at my current job for about 6 months. I absolutely love working here and want to be the best employee for the company. As much as I try, I have trouble getting to work by 8:00 a.m., and my boss has pulled me aside to discuss the issue. I do not want to lose my job and disappoint my manager and the team. Please help!!
Getting yourself moving in the morning can be a difficult task for the non-morning types. It is far too easy to reach over and snooze your alarm 4 times or to stand in the shower for an extra 10 minutes while you wake up. These and other time-takers can cause serious delays. It is very important that if you are required to be at work by 8 a.m., that you are. In fact, I’d say it’s important that you be at your desk ready to work by 8 am; nothing impresses a manager more than someone who’s reliable and eager! Punctuality and time management are ranked very highly by employers and your peers.
Before we get started, I want to hear from you!
So what are some tips to stop sneaking into the office 10-15 minutes late? Here are a few that I have found helpful in the past.
Prepare at Night for the Day Ahead
Before you settle down for the evening, make plans to organize a few things for the next day. If you bring a lunch to work, go ahead and get it ready for the quick grab-and-go on your way out for the day. Check the weather and select the clothing that you want to wear the next day. Have your shoes and jacket by the door, along with your car keys and briefcase/purse, so you won’t be searching frantically for them when the morning minutes begin to disappear. If you can, shower at night to save yourself about 10-20 minutes for other things that may come up.
Set an Alarm or Two
It is sometimes as difficult as raising the dead to get out of bed in the morning. Sometimes, the only thing that would get us out a slumber would be an atomic bomb or the smell of crackling bacon and fresh chocolate donuts. Do yourself a favor and set two alarms. Just in case the first one fails (or you subconsciously give it the silence smack), you will be sure to wake up.
Make and Maintain a Routine
If you make a plan for your pre-work mornings, you are more apt to anticipate and adapt to changes and upsets that may occur. When a plan is place, you can be more certain that you are not forgetting your cell phone on the kitchen table, or to let the family dog back in the house, or leave with two different shoes on. The more established your routine is, the easier and quicker it will become second nature.
Be Aware of Other Routes to Work
We all know that accidents happen and hope that it isn’t while we’re on the way to work. Hitting traffic is a common occurrence with commuters but can happen unexpectedly and put a damper on your daily drive. If a traffic jam rears its ugly head, be prepared to take an alternative route to work. Navigate these roads and clock how long it takes you. One day, it maybe your saving grace between being on time and arriving past the opening bell.
Plan to be Ahead of Schedule
My final piece of advice is to always plan your morning schedule around arriving at work 15 minutes before you are supposed to be there. If you need to be at your office by 8, plan your morning around being there at 7:45. It will make your morning less hectic, and if you have some time to spare, you can enjoy a cup of coffee at your desk or take some time to unwind before the day gets moving.
A Few Additional Tips
If you just can’t get the above changes going, trick yourself by setting your clocks ahead 15 minutes.
Also, if you are going to be late, let your boss know rather than trying to sneak in behind his or her back. Trust me, bosses know when you’re not there on time – and if you lie about being on time or try to hide your lateness (or worse – give a different excuse every day), it just makes matters worse.
Readers – What do you do to streamline your morning routines? I’d love to hear about them!
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.