Filed under: Business, Change, Human Resources, Leadership, Marketing, Recruitment, Resources, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: AIESEC, alumni, exchange, internships, opportunities
Filed under: Business, Change, Goals, Innovation, Leadership, Personal Discovery, Society, Sustainability, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: AIESEC, alumni, exchange, internship
It’s been a long time since it was called a time to move on for me. Since then, I have grown up a lot and I must accept that it was hard to learn to get by without you but I have done so while keeping you in my heart. I didn’t want to be like those creepy ex-boyfriends that show up uninvited.
Every time someone talks to me about becoming an alumnus, a dinosaur, head for the future, going into the life long connection or however you want to call it nowadays I tell them exactly the same thing, and AIESEC, the problem is that you get so deep into our hearts and go so much into the core of who we become, that letting go is initially a pretty hard thing to do; Accepting that it is someone else’s turn to learn and experience the amazing lessons and friends you gave me was a hard task initially and it required me to make a clean cut, a hard cut. So I wasn’t in touch for a while. I needed to catch up with myself without you.
And as your acronyms changed; Careers progress, people move countries, continents and new lessons are learnt; Life continues and one moves on, unavoidably. It seems that all that time I spent with you passed in a heartbeat and it seems that life is going by even faster than that, if my head could comprehend.
It is only after a couple of glasses of wine and in the company of those who shared you with me that I dare to say things like “Years later and I haven’t found anyone that understands me as well as my AIESEC friends”, because it is once or twice a year that every alumnus, dinosaur, headed for the future or life long connected accepts they are nostalgic. It doesn’t matter really how many years we spent with you we all get it here and there. If there is no wine confession, there will be a cryptic Facebook post.
And you were so good to us AIESEC… Many of us are getting ahead in many ways. The business skills that completed my academic education… You made it happen. May we be successful artists, technologists, scientists or business people, entrepreneurs, activists or politicians, we are conscious citizens in this world thankful to that, which made us who we are today: YOU.
There are few magical moments like having a conversation with a truly inspiring person, a real change agent in the middle of a conference on any imaginable topic only to discover they are too an AIESECer.
And then, the question that I really want to ask you pops in our heads… What is the job of an alumnus? Here is the advice I gave to some soon to be alumni:
- Join an alumni association.
- Give advice when you are asked for it.
- Act as a mentor of current members that want to learn something from you
- Chair a conference, a workshop or a local planning weekend when you are asked to.
- Get a trainee.
- Pass on your piece of history to those that can use it.
- Let AIESEC know you are there when it needs you.
- Remember ONE roll call and keep an AIESEC T-shirt; you will need it once.
- If honoured with the invitation, become a member of a BoA or an auditor.
- Show in small and meaningful ways that you will always be an AIESECer.
AIESEC, you have changed so much too. It is hard to keep up with what happens with you in only a few years time but any alumnus can feel nothing but pride when as I went back to you this weekend I discovered
- You do twice as many exchanges in my country as you did (2000!).
- You are present in twice as many universities as when I left you (1700!).
- You change the lives of three times as many students (86000!).
- You expanded to 30 new countries, making a total of 110
Who wouldn’t be proud to be part of a legacy like that?
We had an identity and now a way; We have done projects, leadership, issue based learning, programs and many more; There was 1996, 2005, 2010 and now 2015; there were green forms, pink forms, Match, Insight, Insight 2, myaiesec.net, the orange one and the blue one and many more will come, but there is one thing we all believed for the last 65 years and we will believe in forever: Exchange.
AIESEC, don’t let this letter be only the nostalgia of one that remembers the incredible rush of selling, matching and realising a management internship or the feeling of that full bucket of cold water spilling over my head…
For you are not only an organization for us, you are our life long cause. We are out here, millions of us. Find us.
I am back from an AIESEC National Conference in Germany. Truly inspired by AIESEC’s evolution and success, believing in the impact that AIESEC and its alumni can have together. In this post I think of every AIESEC member in the world, and the two alumni that with their role during my active time in AIESEC , starting in Mexico and until the culmination of my AIESEC International term, changed my life. I am forever thankful to Juan Manuel Ferron and Victor Loewenstein.
Filed under: Business, Human Resources, Recruitment, Society, Sustainability, Technology
What’s stopping equitable recruiting? If recruitment isn’t a level playing field, then the recruitment industry is at least partly to blame.
Across Europe and the rest of the world, institutional process has a definite and damaging impact on increasing executive diversity in the workforce. While a few voices work to erode that impact, we’ll still be facing discrimination — both conscious and unconscious — far into the foreseeable future.
While deliberate discrimination still happens far more than anyone admits, the battle against this barefaced prejudice is well advanced, although it may never be conclusively won. Unconscious bias, on the other hand, is far more subversive and wide reaching.
Even the most enlightened, diversity- and equality-conscious individuals and organisations are prey to it, and we all need a better understanding of it if we are to diminish its impact.
I have seen it where I least expected, a woman discriminating another woman based on gender. A mature manager discriminating another one based on age.
Unconscious bias often starts with the first thing a recruiter experience of a candidate — their CV. Recruiters, helplessly are conditioned through long practice to review CVs in a certain way and to look for certain characteristics and features in them. Every recruiter gets reprogrammed when starting in another firm and we are effectively given a blueprint for assessing a CV against a job specification.
When I review a CV, I run through a checklist of what I expect to see and deviations from that ‘normal’ are exclusions or extraordinary happy surprises. With most recruiters, non-standard CVs are quickly discarded in the first or second cut and rarely see the light of day.
Unfortunately, a large proportion of diverse candidates have an ‘irregular’ career progression and ‘irregular’ educational backgrounds and I was right there at that pile. This barrier, at the very first link in the chain, is arguably the most pernicious form of unconscious bias — and almost certainly the most widespread.
Even for recruiters who do understand the value of increasing capability in such non-standard career paths, a common challenge is coping with generalist vs specialist experience. Candidates with broad generalist experience across 20 roles, for example, are difficult for a ‘straight-line thinking’ recruiter to cope with. Assessing overall competency across those 20 roles is far harder than assessing someone with a narrow field of focus, with the result that we tend to favour the specialist, at the expense of people who might bring far wider experience and diversity of thought.
Again, a large proportion of diverse candidates bring that generalist background to the table, and again, they stand to lose out.
Those two elements of unconscious bias are compounded in recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) situations, where the large organisations delivering the recruitment (and the third parties they employ) tend to rely on rigid processes because of their economic models and service-level agreements that inadvertently promote the kinds of unconscious bias described above. I have seen poor RPOs in action and they tend to draw talent from a very narrow band, risking the organisation’s employee value proposition with unsophisticated social media campaigns.
The same can be said about some preferred supplier frameworks that appoint ‘the usual suspects’. When the usual suspects recruit on your behalf, you’ll tend to see the usual suspects in terms of candidates as well. It’s potentially a negative cycle in terms of diversity, since those kinds of recruiters and recruitment firms typically lack the desire, client relationships or leverage to promote diverse candidates.
The simple elements of unconscious bias barely scratch the surface of the issue. Add them to the current market pressures, and the result is a narrowing talent funnel, drawing candidates from a narrow, homogenous group of people. Understanding and overcoming unconscious bias is the next big barrier for diversity champions to break down for sustainable progress.
Filed under: Business, Change, Goals, Leadership, Personal Discovery, Society, Sustainability
Filed under: Branding, Business, Goals, Human Resources, Leadership, Marketing, Planning | Tags: Emerging markets, Employer branding, Globalization, Market expansion, Recruiment
What are the divergent challenges global talent professionals are currently facing?
As the UK, Europe and the US start having the feeling of catching a breath after recession, businesses continue to follow strategies mapped out when an economic recovery appeared within reach, and are under pressure to grow despite an increasingly shaky economy. This has left organisations striving for growth with fewer resources, leading many to rely on growth in emerging markets to propel their businesses forward (few will do it for other reasons, like truly appreciating the potential of these regions).
This has created a dual challenge for global recruiters. In regions and countries in which the organization is well established, organisations struggle to improve the performance of the workforce in the face of declining employee engagement and effort levels as well as cutting through high volumes of applicants to find the often very specialised skills the organisation still requires.
In new markets, organisations are struggling to attract enough talent in very competitive labour markets with short supply of technical and managerial skills and high levels of staff turnover.
As a result, talent professionals are faced with a set of challenges that represent themselves unevenly across global labour markets and find solutions to new challenges in new markets.
Despite an influx of applicants in established markets driven by a soft labour market, recruiters continue to struggle to find the right skills to meet the needs of the organisation.
Another challenge for organisations recruiting for roles in developed economies is that, unlike many emerging economies, the talent they require is becoming even more entrenched in their current roles. Rising unemployment has made the most talented employees fearful of leaving their current roles with just a small part of those employees actively looking for a new job.
The situation is very different in emerging markets or new markets. For multinational companies, attracting talent in emerging markets has always been a challenge, and one that has grown since the financial crisis. Until recently, local employees favoured international companies, believing them to offer better career prospects and higher status than their domestic rivals.
Memories of the economic crisis and the rounds of redundancies made by multinationals however, means that many local employees now perceive local companies to offer more stable career paths and better prospects.
The stakes are high for international businesses operating in emerging and new markets, as their ability to capture market share will be largely dependent on the quantity and quality of their local team. A ‘one size fits all’ approach to talent across global labour markets is destined to fail. While high levels of unemployment in the developed economies have resulted in a flood of applications for every available role for established organisations, it is becoming increasingly difficult for organisations to attract and retain talent in emerging and new markets where their brand power might not be the same.
To cope with the divergence between new and established markets
Differentiate your sourcing strategy across global markets
When recruiting in the markets where an organization is already established, companies need to take a more strategic approach towards recruiting and move away from the mass branding they have undertaken previously to attract candidates. In new markets however, companies need to focus on promoting their employment brand, communicating their commitment to the country, their focus on individual employment development and their overall employment value proposition.
Establish long-term workforce planning and forecasting
In many organisations staffing planning focuses on identifying and responding to current talent needs and does not address longer-term strategic gaps within the organisation. In both established and new markets companies need to think about the skills the company is likely to need in the future and to build a pipeline of candidates that will meet this need.
Focus on skills not just experience
Recruiters need to encourage hiring managers or boards to focus on candidates’ skills rather than their knowledge, experience and education. For example, one friend’s employer, an insurer, wanted to ensure that new hires for a particular role were qualified actuaries. Having struggled to identify candidates the company changed its approach and began hiring people with backgrounds in banking and consultancy and found their new hires to be just as effective as the actuaries hired previously. I believe special approaches to technology and software development could also benefit from such an approach.
Use succession planning to build a pipeline of external talent
Business leaders should be encouraged to consider both internal and external candidates for key roles. Nowadays business leaders focus on strategies such as to identify three candidates who could fill a key role, one of which must be an external candidate, helping to build a pipeline of ready candidates based on the incumbent’s own network as part of the annual succession planning process.
Start building your employment brand in new markets
In addition, there are further, specific steps that we believe companies must take to build their employment brand in a new market:
Develop local career opportunities
While most employees within multinational companies in new markets once hoped to be posted overseas, more and more employees now prefer to advance their careers at home. Companies need to design their international rotations accordingly, at the same time exposing a higher proportion of their global leaders to key new markets.
Provide compelling career paths
While competition for talent has meant that many employees in new markets demand unrealistic, rapid promotions; a more pressing concern is the alignment between their current role and their professional interests. Creating a credible career path that charts a trajectory to personally fulfilling jobs and leadership roles that are managed carefully on an on-going basis will help to reengage employees.
Be clever about pay
In order to secure the right talent, local companies in new markets globally are prepared to pay up to 50% more to lure employees away from multinationals. However, many employees in new markets continue to express strong preferences for careers with international companies, and so a more moderate salary increase is likely to convince employees to remain in their roles.
Develop local roots
International companies that are well established in emerging markets can develop many of the advantages that local companies are perceived to have. A global brand that can demonstrate strong local roots will leave companies better placed to acquire the domestic talent it needs to keep growing in those new countries.
Talent gaps in the English speaking countries and the rest of the world
The talent gaps in both the English speaking countries and the rest of the world are real but not insurmountable if companies focus on tailoring their approaches to recruiting in these markets. Developing a strong team will be crucial for all businesses wishing to compete in an increasingly competitive market place, and so businesses need to focus their talent strategy on a limited number of candidates with the right skills in order to fill requisitions in the established markets, while boosting their brand to attract candidates in larger numbers in new markets.
Note I : In this article I have used the terms “New markets” and “Emerging markets” interchangeably, given that most companies will think of new or emerging markets in terms of emerging and developing economies, but I believe similar phenomena can be observed in countries in which any organization is starting operations without previous support of a strong employer or product brand. The same struggles some of my friends face in the Middle East at the moment, are the same challenges I face in my current role in Germany.
Note II: I refer to “English speaking countries”for the large majority of multinationals have their headquarters or regional offices in English speaking countries. This has a large influence in the way multinationals attack new talent markets abroad. I believe treating a new labor market or searching in a new labor market, as it was the US, the UK, Singapore or Australia (among other regional powers) is a huge mistake that should be avoided.
Over the last months I had the chance to have great conversations or overhear conversations of/with professional experience designers. Hearing and participating in them makes a path of learning that I started two years ago ever more visible and relevant. Analytics, SEM, SEO, diverse web and mobile applications and services and finally interaction design and user interphase design were just the tip of the ice berg of a larger and deeper topic that encompasses all of them and goes beyond.
Customer-centricity as a strategy for success is hot idea, but the idea itself is not new. Over 100 years ago, James Cash Penny built his retail empire with a well known commitment to the customer, and many have sought insight from his wisdom since then.
Attending a couple of industry conventions over the last year a buzzing term came to my ears for the first time inviting me to have look at how the way we do business, and deliver services and products to a global pubic. “Customer Journey” is the term that is revolutionizing the web and the business models that survive for it; It has renewed interest in the development of customer-focused service excellence as a differentiation and growth strategy. “Customer journey” is now, the subject matter that is studied by the new science/art of Experience Design.
Although the concept is not new, the tasks of “that guy” who is artsy/tech savvy start taking a new shape because innovative approaches are required for today’s digital world to ensure accuracy and efficiency in service delivery across online and offline channels supported by top notch tech. Adopting the technology and practices to achieve this might seem difficult, or hard to grasp for the traditional business but on the positive side, there is a wealth of information and advice available online to help anyone get started.
First, one must understand the big picture, and then tailor a plan based on the most critical needs and the best opportunities.
Taking in the Big Picture
A few phrases come to my mind to enable and adopt a complete customer experience strategy. Together these efforts create the foundation and framework to consistently deliver exceptional experience while leveraging the investment made in a software development project.
- Refine and gather experience objectives
- Align staff to project purpose and goals
- Establish a multi-disciplinary Customer Insight/Experience Team
- Scope the customer journey and wireframe the touch points and details
- Design a comprehensive plan to manage experience
- Create and implement policies, procedures and tools to track customer interactions and deliver exceptional customer experience
- Deliver customers exceptional experience
- Measure and analyze actual customer experience
- Create and implement optimizations based on team, employee and customer feedback
Get oriented by understanding the steps, but start the project by getting your leadership team on board. While the long-term ability to create and deliver exceptional customer experience relies on the alignment and efforts of all your employees, it’s critical that leadership clarify and internalize the reasons and the expectations for these efforts first. Overview why you’re undertaking the project, how you expect to achieve success and emphasize the need for full participation in both planning and execution.
When the senior team shares the vision and understands the transformative nature of this project, there will be less friction, more active participation and better outcomes as staff recognize and develop new freedoms and responsibilities. This first effort in gaining leadership buy-in and soliciting their feedback can have major impact by exposing existing service gaps and identifying quick wins to improve customer satisfaction and smoother operations.
Think Design, Think Digital
Early in your analysis of improving customer experience, consider how the rise of new digital channels and rapidly changing customer behaviour is changing the way that prospects find you, leads convert, and customers expect to manage your business relationship. Today’s customer journey is full of digital touch points; well-connected prospects and customers are using online reviews and social feedback to meet at both ends of the lifecycle – to identify your business as the right solution, and more often than ever, to communicate your value to your next customer.
No matter where you start, improving customer experience should be a priority. What has been a historic staple of business success isreborn in the digital Age of the Customer. It doesn’t matter if you provide financial services; you are a large retailer or an individual entrepreneur… Experience Design should be the new pillar of your business and your users and customers should be in the middle, like King Bunny.
Filed under: Business, Change, Human Resources, Innovation, Society, Sustainability
An organization that is truly diverse understands both the differences and similarities in people. Inside the organization you’ll see people from all different backgrounds working together and how a blend of employees adds intrinsic value to the business.
An increasingly global network, due largely to the expansion of technology, people from all different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives are all coming together to work in various capacities. Virtual connections have significantly increased the capabilities of doing business.
A more diverse business environment is rapidly developing through e-commerce, customer service practices, supplier relationships, outsourcing, partnerships and merges to name a few. As a result people are exposed to differences.
Businesses who embrace diversity go above meeting the confines defined by the law because they recognize the advantages from a both a business perspective and from a social one. They understand diversity shouldn’t divide employees, but instead unite.
There is a strong business case for diversity because companies who are genuinely diverse and invest resourcesin diversity initiatives have found lower turnover rates, and less discrimination lawsuits brought against them for sexual, race and age discrimination.
Additionally, what we all have heard before is: People who are diverse in culture, background, social class, gender, age or religion all bring something different of value to a company because of different life experiences and perspectives. Each employee helps shape a unique perception on work projects, processes and issues because of the differing backgrounds. These distinct viewpoints help businesses grow because of the innovative ideas inspired by diverse viewpoints.
From the social perspective, investing in diversity initiatives means equal practices for all people within their organization without exercising positive discrimination either is the right thing to do. Organizations that have become intensely aware of the value of diversity and from a humanistic point treat everyone equally and with the same respect.
A great case for this is made for example in the commented book, Womenomics while being careful once again of maintaining objectivity; As I mentioned before, exacerbating differences in a superficial way is too one sided. Only genuine appreciation for the unique value different people bring to business will drive growth and could in some cases become a key driver for organizations to operate in a true synergic and organic way, and this kind of adaptability is of utmost importance for those that want to be successful in the future.
What has been observed though is that companies which invest resources in diversity measures experience strong levels of growth. It has been proven customers like to see themselves represented within the companies they do business with, so in addition to the other business and social reasons for diversity, the market base is a high consideration and strong argument for diversity as well.
Also traditionally known… Diversity naturally drives innovation because the differences in ideas, incentives, knowledge base and experiences all promote new inspirations and initiatives. When people who work together think alike, this good to an extent, but it is the challenges which make a company grow.
Businesses which hold strong conviction and dedication to diversity illustrate they recognize the value and advantages that naturally follow diversity. The committed company celebrates the differences which exist amongst different backgrounds and realizes the worthy contributes people all bring to their organization beyond the obvious differences.
Filed under: Business, Change, Meditation, Personal Discovery, Planning, Technology, Uncategorized | Tags: Change, dynamic climate, life-work balance, personal style
My life is changing so fast at this point that I can barely cope. As exciting as it is to the outside, it is uncomfortable, it makes me feel insecure and I start feeling the need of proofing myself once again, even if I thought I was completely exhausted of this process. What is the world demanding of me? Of everyone? Can we even say “enough is enough”?
As the saying goes, the only people who like change are busy cashiers and wet babies. We find change disorienting, creating within us an anxiety similar to culture shock, the unease visitors to an alien land feel because of the absence of the familiar cues they took for granted back home.
Unfortunately as much as I (and you would too, I bet) would like to think that your life will become stable at some point, the matter of fact is that in this century, as an active member of the global economy…
Change is a business fact of life
Is your company is currently undergoing major changes that will affect the lives of all of its employees? These changes are probably in response to the evolving needs of your customers. They are made possible because of improvements in telecommunications and digital technology. They are likely guided by accepted principles and practices of total quality management. And you can expect that they will result in significant improvements profitability–a success that all employees will or will not share. Because our customers’ needs are NOW, we must make changes swiftly, which means that all of us must cooperate with the changes, rather than resist them.
But people do not like change all that much. It doesn’t matter how good you are at adapting, there will always be those fluctuating moments when change gives you the feeling of an “empty stomach”. We tend to respond to change the same way we respond to anything we perceive as a threat: by flight or fight. Our first reaction is flight–we try to avoid change if we can, we seal ourselves off from those around us and try to ignore what is happening. This can happen in the workplace just by being passive. We don’t volunteer for teams or committees; we don’t make suggestions, ask questions, or offer constructive criticism. But the changes ahead are inescapable. Those who “cocoon” themselves will be left behind.
Even worse is to fight, to actively resist change. Resistance tactics might include negativity, destructive criticism, and even sabotage. If this seldom happens at your company, you are fortunate.
But you have to realize… we are not bunnies… Rejecting both alternatives of flight or flight, we seek a better option–one that neither avoids change nor resists it, but harnesses and guides it.
In the life I chose, I have looked for individual practices to enable change to become the means to my goals, not a barrier to them. Still with all the different practices and approaches I have taken here, things are easier said than done.
Both fight and flight are reactions to perceiving change as a threat. But if we can change our perceptions, we can avoid those reactions. An old proverb goes, “Every change brings an opportunity.” In other words, we must learn to see change as a means of achieving our goals, not a barrier preventing us from reaching them.
Another way of expressing the same thought is: A change in my external circumstances provides me with an opportunity to grow as a human being. The greater the change is, the greater and faster I can grow. If we can perceive change along these lines, we will find it exciting and energizing, rather than depressing and debilitating.
Yet this restructuring of our perspective on change can take some time. In fact, coping with change follows the same steps as the grieving process.1 The steps are shock and denial that the old routine must be left behind, then anger that change is inevitable, then despair and a longing for the old ways, eventually replaced by acceptance of the new and a brighter view of the future. Everyone works through this process; for some, the transition is lightning fast, for others painfully slow.
I have tried different practices of meditation and collective intelligence to adapt better to this, and if it is truth that this is a great help, for a human being with a standard level of consciousness (me), there is still a long way to go.
Different individual approaches to change in organizations
As one writer put it recently:
Our foreparents lived through sea changes, upheavals so cataclysmic, so devastating we may never appreciate the fortitude and resilience required to survive them. The next time you feel resistant, think about them and about what they faced–and about what they fashioned from a fraction of the options we have. They blended old and new worlds, creating family, language, cuisine and new life-affirming rhythms, and they encouraged their children to keep on stepping toward an unknown but malleable future.
Human beings are created remarkably flexible, capable of adapting to a wide variety of environments and situations. Realizing this can help you to embrace and guide change rather than resisting or avoiding it.
Corporate employees typically follow one of four decision-making styles: analytical, directive, conceptual, and behavioral. These four styles, described in a book by Alan J. Rowe and Richard O. Mason,3 have the following characteristics:
Analytical Style - technical, logical, careful, methodical, needs much data, likes order, enjoys problem-solving, enjoys structure, enjoys scientific study, and enjoys working alone.
Analytical coping strategy - You see change as a challenging puzzle to be solved. You need plenty of time to gather information, analyze data, and draw conclusions. You will resist change if you are not given enough time to think it through.
Conceptual Style - creative and artistic, future oriented, likes to brainstorm, wants independence, uses judgement, optimistic, uses ideas vs. data, looks at the big picture, rebellious and opinionated, and committed to principles or a vision.
Conceptual coping strategy - You are interested in how change fits into the big picture. You want to be involved in defining what needs to change and why. You will resist change if you feel excluded from participating in the change process.
Behavioral Style - supportive of others, empathetic, wants affiliation, nurtures others, communicates easily, uses instinct, avoids stress, avoids conflict, relies on feelings instead of data, and enjoys team/group efforts.
Behavioral coping strategy - You want to know how everyone feels about the changes ahead. You work best when you know that the whole group is supportive of each other and that everyone champions the change process. If the change adversely affects someone in the group, you will perceive change as a crisis.
Directive Style - aggressive, acts rapidly, takes charge, persuasive and/or is manipulative, uses rules, needs power/status, impatient, productive, single-minded, and enjoys individual achievement.
Directive coping strategy - You want specifics on how the change will affect you and what your own role will be during the change process. If you know the rules of the change process and the desired outcome, you will act rapidly and aggressively to achieve change goals.
You resist change if the rules or anticipated results are not clearly defined or when you are not involved in the process.
But what to do when change is imminent and you have not been even asked?
1. Get the big picture. - Sometimes, not only do we miss the forest because of the trees, but we don’t even see the tree because we’re focused on the wood. Attaining a larger perspective can help all of us to cope with change, not just the conceptualists. The changes under way in global organizations today follow at least four important trends, which I believe are probably reflective of businesses in general.
2. Do some anchoring. - When everything around you is in a state of flux, it sure helps to find something stable that isn’t going to change, no matter what. Your company’s values (whether articulated or not) can provide that kind of stability for you around decision making. Concentrate in the identity of your organization and make decisions based on your own good and that of the organization as a whole.
3. Keep your expectations realistic. - A big part of taking control of the change you experience is to set your expectations. You can still maintain an optimistic outlook, but aim for what is realistically attainable. That way, the negatives that come along won’t be so overwhelming, and the positives will be an adrenaline rush. Here are some examples:
- There will be some bumps along the road. We shouldn’t expect all of the changes ahead to be painless, demanding only minimal sacrifice, cost, or effort. In fact, we should expect some dead ends, some breakdowns in communications, and some misunderstandings, despite our best efforts to avoid them. We may not be able to anticipate all of the problems ahead, but we can map out in general terms how we will deal with them.
- Not everyone will change at the same rate. The learning rates of any employees will distribute themselves along a bell curve. A few will adapt rapidly, most will take more time, and a few will adjust gradually. Also, many younger employees may find change, especially technological innovations, easier than those older. The reason may be, as one observer explains, “Older people’s hard disks are fuller.”4 On the other hand, you may find some younger ones surprisingly reluctant to take on a new challenge.
- The results of change may come more slowly than we would want. As participants in an “instant society,” conditioned by the media to expect complex problems to reach resolution in a 60-minute time frame, we may find the positive results of change slow to arrive from the distant horizon. If we are aware of this, we won’t be so disappointed if tomorrow’s results seem so similar to today’s.
4. Develop your own, personal change tactics. Get plenty of exercise, plenty of rest, and watch your diet. Even if you take all the right steps and follow the best advice, undergoing change creates stress in your life, and stress takes energy. Aware of this, you can compensate by taking special care of your body.
Invest time and energy in training. Sharpen your skills so that you can meet the challenges ahead with confidence. If the training you need is not available in your organization, get it somewhere else, such as the community college or adult education program in your area.
Get help when you need it. If you are confused or overwhelmed with the changes swirling around you, ask for help. Your manager, or co-workers may be able to assist you in adjusting to the changes taking place.
Make sure the change does not compromise either your company values or your personal ones. If you are not careful, the technological advances jostling each other for your attention and adoption will tend to isolate you from personal contact with your co-workers and customers. E-mail, teleconference, voice-mail, and Intranet can make us more in touch with each other, or they can keep us antiseptically detached, removed from an awareness that the digital signals we are sending reach and influence another flesh-and-blood human being.
Aware of this tendency, we must actively counteract the drift in this direction by taking an interest in people and opening up ourselves to them in return. We have to remember to invest in people–all of those around us–not just in technology.
The “new normalcy”
Ultimately, we may discover that the current state of flux is permanent. After the events of September 11, Vice President Richard Cheney said we should accept the many resultant changes in daily life as permanent rather than temporary. “Think of them,” he recommended, “as the ‘new normalcy.’”
You should take the same approach to the changes happening at your workplace. These are not temporary adjustments until things get “back to normal.” They are probably the “new normalcy” of your life as a company. The sooner you can accept that these changes are permanent, the better you can cope with them all–and enjoy their positive results.
And if change, constant change is the rule of your life and your industry… if you can never expect for “things to settle down”… then, please be welcome to my club. For those who like it, it is exciting, enticing, fabulous and never stopping… yet, remember to sit down from time to time to catch your breath and to realize the beauty of it all.
Filed under: Business, Human Resources, Society | Tags: economic recovery, employment, employment agencies, hiring, labor, Temp work
The recession supposedly ended two years ago. Corporate investments and proﬁ ts are up. But unemployment remains, and many companies that do have job openings are taking forever to ﬁll them.
So what gives? If companies are making and spending money, why aren’t they hiring?
Countless experts and major news outlets have weighed in on the issue, and no one can offer a simple answer. Rather, there appears to be a number of factors that have come together to create the perfect storm—a jobless recovery. There is no easy ﬁx, and the result of these combined factors could be a permanent shift in the US and western Europe hiring . . . and the way you recruit.
But we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves. First, let’s analyze why a jobless recovery is happening. While we can’t possibly explore every reason that may be holding employers back, there do appear to be a few root causes perpetuating this jobless recovery that are worth discussing.
Reason #1: Uncertainty in the economy
The ofﬁcial end of the recession was in the summer of 2009. But the so-called recovery has been so slow, it’s hard for many people, especially those still on the unemployment lines, to decipher the difference between now and the thick of the recession. Every time there seems to be a little spark in the economy, something (natural disasters, high gas prices, the debt ceiling debate, etc.) quickly snuffs it out.
Meanwhile, several governments are anything but employer-friendly. New laws and “crackdowns” on existing regulations are making hiring increasingly more expensive and complicated. And then there are the unknowns. For example, how will budget cuts in the wake of the debt ceiling deal affect businesses? What will happen to Greece? When will it be enough for Germany? What will the still-to-be-enacted provisions of the healthcare and social reforms do to insurance premiums?
All these factors have some economists talking about a “double-dip” recession. With that fear lurking, you can’t really blame employers for being cautious. After the devastating layoffs of the Great Recession, the last thing anyone wants to do is hire employees they will eventually have to lay off.
Reason #2: Companies learned to run lean
Another thing the recession taught employers is that they can do more with less. In previous recessions, employers were reluctant to make deep cuts to their workforces, so they kept more workers than they needed and productivity fell. Not so in this recession. Companies cut to the bone, and workers were just expected to work harder.
Now that companies know they can run lean, they are reluctant to add to their overhead, even as their business picks back up. Every candidate that is hired direct (perm) adds a huge payroll expense, plus they have to ﬁgure at least another 40 percent or more for employer taxes, workers’ compensation, unemployment, medical, dental, and vision insurance, etc. So a $100,000 direct-hire now costs an employer at least $140,000.
As an interesting fact I know that the return on investment (in payroll) of top employers worldwide is something around 1:12. Yes, for every Euro or Dollar they spend in a person they make sure to get 12 back… if that is not lean management I don’t know what it is.
And as technology advances by leaps and bounds, it’s getting even easier to get more done with fewer people. When companies ﬁnally reach the breaking point where they have no choice but to hire, they are only hiring as much as they absolutely have to, which brings us to the next issue.
Reason #3: The candidate dilemmas
Even when companies say they are hiring, it’s taking them forever to do so. Recruiters already know this and won’t be surprised to learn that it is taking hiring managers up to four times longer to fill open positions, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Why? Well, with all of the people looking for jobs, some hiring managers ﬁgure it’s a buyer’s market and are not willing to settle for anything less than the “perfect candidate.” Even when a recruiter brings a hiring manager a great prospect, it’s not uncommon for the hiring manager to ask for more candidates.
There is a different candidate dilemma in sectors like healthcare and technology, where there appears to be a true skills shortage. The Wall Street Journal stated that, although there are 4.68 unemployed workers for every job opening, companies say they can’t find the people with the right skills they need at wages they can afford in those areas.
The result: A ‘fundamental change’
The fact of the matter is that every company that stays in business will at some point have to hire again. But that doesn’t mean they have to commit to direct hires. Many instead are utilizing contractors to get the additional help they need while maintaining flexibility. As a result, contract stafﬁng has been one of the few bright spots in the recovery. In August, temporary/contract stafﬁ ng revenue rose 16 percent over last August, and temp-to-hire revenue rose 19 percent, according to Stafﬁng Industry Analysts.
That’s nothing new. If you’ve lived through previous recessions, you’ve probably seen for yourself how temporary/contract stafﬁng typically increases following a recession as companies test the hiring waters. But as Adecco CEO Tig Gilliam stated in a recent CNN interview, this time it’s different.
This recession was so tough, companies are very much more focused on ﬂ exibility going forward, and I think they are going to be looking for increasingly ﬂexible work environments in the economy as we get this recovery going.
Yes, I wish everyone good luck in planning their lives with more than a one year view of the future. Even more to my fellow staffers who suffer even more because of this than anyone else in the business.
This is no short-term ﬁx. Results of a recent study published in The Wall Street Journal show that 58% of employers expect to hire more part-time, temporary, or contract workers, not just over the next several months or year, but over the next five years.
A new workforce model
So what we are seeing is more of a permanent shift where companies are maintaining a core of direct employees and supporting that core with a larger outer ring of contractors. This new workforce model can help them navigate around the issues we’ve discussed by:
1. Allowing companies to remain lean because they can quickly bring in just the amount of help they need and just as quickly reduce their workforce when business slows.
2. Eliminating the fear of devastating layoffs because contractors know from the get-go that their assignments are for a speciﬁc period of time.
3. Limiting companies’ overheads because there are no employer payroll taxes, beneﬁ ts premiums, or administrative costs with contractors.
4. Allowing companies to “try-before-they-buy” because if they are not sure they have the “perfect candidate” or question a candidate’s skill set, they can engage them in a contract-to-direct arrangement.
The harsh reality
Business has always been challenging, but for many companies, it’s getting harder to make money than ever before. There are more government regulations, taxes, and more types of insurance. There are more attorneys waiting to pounce when a business makes a mistake. Technology has increased the pace of everything. Competition has increased. Margins have decreased, etc., etc.
Many of these challenges are not going away even when the economy improves. The harsh reality is that, even if the economy bounces back better than ever, direct job orders may never come back to the level you once enjoyed. Contracting used to be just a nice extra source of income, but it quickly could become THE source of income for many recruiters and other project managers or sales reps.
Companies are changing the way they’re doing business to survive in this new economy.
But I am left to wonder… is this really the best solution?
Reason #1 Against contract hiring: Agency fees are ridiculous
Any given company will pay a fee to a temp agency of 70% – 90% of the salary the temp will receive every month.
Meaning, if a temp gets $1 per hour, the company they are working in will have to pay between $1.70 and $1.90 for the temp to get that $1. and temps are no longer only juniors… there are senior temps, temps with leadership responsibility. Now calculate… For the $50,000 net salary a temp recruiter earns per year in Germany, or the $45,000 she/he gets in France, their asignee will have to pay:
In Germany $85,000 (+70%) and in France $85,500 in France (+90%!!!!).
If the country’s legal framework allows fixed term contracts E.g. Employing someone directly for a period of 1-2 years this move will save the company a lot of money, fixed term hiring keeps its flexibility AND you get rid of the other monsters that these companies bring to us.
And another important thing… in many countries a 12 months contract in this framework will allow your employee to get unemployment insurance from the government (Germany, Ireland, etc.) which in the normal temp basis (only 11 months hire) they don’t get. If you are going to get the best out of this person, promising them nothing in exchange… is it not only humane and fair to offer a little comfort in case of the worst as you are hiring them to be thrown to full life uncertainty? Think about it, with this employment situation, your temp cannot get a credit to buy a car, a house or pay their wedding… look a little behind the curtains.
Reason #2 Against contract hiring: Give a punch to employee engagement
Contractors these days are no longer blue collar workers. Today contractors have university degrees and work hand in hand with permanent employees in the same level of complexity, with the same level of confidentiality and I dare say the same level of results. A top performer leaving for no good reason is a low blow to any team’s morale.
Plus… how could anyone give their best performance until the end knowing they are out anyway? If they know they will leave and they were told once the contract was a part of the process to get hired?
You tell me how productive you can be if you have no idea if you are worthy or not, or for the simple matter… if you have no idea what will happen to you.
And then contractors only get reference letters from their employers, aka. the temp agencies… really this has no value.
Reason #3 Against contract hiring: Service? What is that?
An employee will go to the Human Resources department with different issues. Contractors get sent to their agency contacts which in my experience provide little or no guidance to the contractors around issues like immigration, insurance, taxes, sick leave, etc.
Most contractors get payslips that are hard to decipher as Egyptian hieroglyphics. From the moment they sign a contract, the documents are so unclear that there is rarely clarity on what the person will earn… an index per hour plus minus something… surprise every month… oh… and holidays are not paid fully, not even if they are only those stipulated by law. And in case their is a salary problem, no one to back them up.
Yes, many contractors finish their contracts feeling betrayed, maybe you get even in legal trouble… who knows…
With close to a decade in Staffing, I just don’t think this is the solution.
Filed under: Business, Change, Human Resources, Leadership, Personal Discovery, Resources, Travel | Tags: brimm, complicated questions, cosmopolitans, different cultures, international careers, national boundaries
A couple of days ago I received a an academic paper from my friend Petroula. It lacked the statistical backup I have grown used to see in my day to day (my current employer is obsessed with numerical data) but it described accurately something far more complex.
Trapped in the every day frenzied life style I live, I didn’t reply to say thank you for sending it. It was the first time I read in the words of other person what comes to my mind very often for the past few years, what I have been blamed of, reproached and praised for for my entire adult life. Yes, my choice and achievement, that didn’t come for free. That thing that many envy, that many wish and set as a goal to achieve and that from time to time I feel I have been cursed with: A truly global life. Unstoppable. Unavoidable. Wanted… my only option.
Meet the Global Cosmopolitan – member of a talented population of highly educated, multilingual people who have lived, worked and studied for extensive periods in different cultures.
Global Cosmopolitans describes the world of some (me and my very close friends belong there), a world where national boundaries have become permeable through the opportunities for international careers and personal travel, a new breed of individual has emerged who both reflects this change and promises to be the key player in the next stages of globalization. This is the ‘Global Cosmopolitan’, a featured actor in this emerging drama who has lived in different countries, learnt to speak multiple languages and acquired an ease of moving to new situations. However, being a Global Cosmopolitan can also result in increasingly complex issues of personal identity. New and complicated questions such as ‘Who am I?’ and ‘Where is my home?’ are hidden under more easily discussed topics such as languages spoken, countries visited and passports obtained. This exciting new book by Linda Brimm affords a unique view into the world and experience of Global Cosmopolitans. The author combined the stories of many that could be me or my close friends, told in their own voices, with a variety of useful concepts for understanding the experience that seems to be very rare. So rare that I feel alone in it most of the times, and in company in it just when people like Petroula, sharing that same connection with me, are there.
It was beautiful to see how many of my friends reacted to this book in different ways. Many of us think about it, talk about it for long hours twice a year when we get the chance to meet, and now it is there, on paper… for anyone living with us, thanks to us or despite us.
When my boss described me once as “the first truly international person I have ever met”, I felt flattered. When a colleague at work calls me from time to time “a corporate gypsy” it hurts for reasons he doesn’t understand.
This paper describes accurately the circumstances, fear, frustration and strengths one person gains by choosing ”not to have a home” as most understand it; Bewildered by the wonders of the world, developing an addiction to change, to new information, to new people, to a different kind of success… You simply need to read it.
This type of thing really make you see how the world is flat.
And here some more http://www.globalcosmopolitans.net/