Tag archive for "employer of choice"

by Richard, Management

Time for an Employer Brand Checkup?

No Comments 10 January 2011

I remember seeing a cartoon depicting a couple in the southern US, watching TV in a cluttered living room, strewn with beer cans, newspapers, and laundry. The wife hangs up the phone and says, “Paw, put on a shirt and straighten up the front room. Company’s comin’!”

If the momentum of a slow recovery pans out, with the attendant moderate uptick in hiring whose prediction was reported last week in USA Today, then a lot of employers will need to put on their shirts and straighten up the front room, because for the first time in years, company is sure enough comin’ through the HR office, the metaphorical “front room” of most organizations.

A December 1, 2010 article by Andrea Davis, in Employee Benefit News, reports that with hopes of at least a modest recovery, up to 60% of high-performing employees are eyeing plans to leave their organizations in 2011. That remains to be seen, of course, but what’s certain is that there’s lots of pent-up desire to seek greener pastures, and a more robust hiring picture will certainly open the gates for those who may feel abused and taken for granted during hard times.

If you’re planning to ramp up your hiring after a hiatus, it may be wise to do a checkup on your intake process, remembering that your reputation as an employer has everything to do with the caliber of your applicants. Some (no, lots of) organizations have become sloppy, cocky, and arrogant in how they treat potential new hires, reasoning that the labor supply/demand imbalance gives them the upper hand. They’ve apparently forgotten that every applicant represents a window, with a mouth, into the character of their organization.

If you know an organization like that (wink, wink, nod, nod), here’s a checklist you might want to send them anonymously:

  • Do we have enough HR staff to handle an increased workload without botching the job or burning themselves out?
  • Is the HR staff sufficiently trained in all aspects of their jobs, especially those who will be conducting interviews?
  • Does the professionalism and consideration with which we treat job applicants accurately reflect the way we treat our employees?
  • Do we treat every interviewee as we would a guest in our home?
  • Who – or what – is making decisions to take applicants to the next step? Do real humans have input at every point? Or are we letting software determine who gets to play on the team?
  • How well do we communicate with applicants? Do we let them know, in a timely and professional way, that they’re out of the running? Or do we assume they’ll figure it out by our inaction?
  • Are we looking for the right qualities? Things that really matter? Or are we stuck on irrelevant “qualifiers” that leave the best talent to the competition?
  • Do those we don’t hire feel at least about 80% as good about us as those we do?

Richard Hadden (twitter at http://twitter.com/ContentedCows) is a leadership speaker, author, and consultant who helps organizations improve their business results by creating a great place to work. He and Bill are the authors of the acclaimed business classic Contented Cows Give Better Milkand Contented Cows MOOve Faster, and the brand new book Rebooting Leadership. Learn more about them and their work at ContentedCows.com.

by Richard, Exemplars

SAS – Fortune’s Best Place to Work

No Comments 28 January 2010

Once again, SAS, the Cary, NC-based business analytics software and services provider, finds itself on Fortune’s list of 100 Best Companies to Work For. This time, it’s #1, a slot that has been home to such venerable exemplars as Wegman’s Supermarkets, Google, The Container Store, and Genentech.

SAS is the real thing. It’s relatively easy to splash onto this list once or twice. But showing up for 13 years in a row takes more than luck.

Why They Keep Making It
Fortune’s annual article about the list always seems to focus on the perks and creature comforts of the best places to work. We think that misses the mark. Most of the companies that rise to the top echelons of the ranking deserve to be there – but more for their culture of leadership, trust, and excellence than for their gyms, childcare, and free food.

Thirteen years ago, the year SAS showed up on Fortune’s first “100 Best” list, I toured the SAS campus outside Raleigh, while researching Bill’s and my first book, Contented Cows Give Better Milk. Here’s an excerpt from the passage we wrote about SAS:

“Every floor of each of the eighteen buildings on its sprawling Cary, North Carolina, campus has a well-stocked break room with a veritable cornucopia of stuff to eat and drink, everything from crackers to M&M’s, all paid for by the company. Everyone is trusted to consume only what they want. There’s nothing to stop someone from shoving three boxes of Cracker Jacks in their bag and schlepping them home for those nights when they’ve got the munchies. Well, maybe there is. Perhaps it’s the fact that they’re trusted not to.”

Fortune’s online article about SAS and the list features a string of comments from readers, many of whom appear to be current and former employees. Almost all are in agreement with Fortune’s #1 assessment of the company. (One guy allowed, “dont like them [sic]“.

But another, styling himself Viktor Kunovski, put it best:

“The best companies in the 21 century will be the ones who understand that:

  • Fact 1: Employee fulfilment drives customer satisfaction.
  • Fact 2: Customer satisfaction drives shareholder value.
  • Fact 3: Leadership development drives employee fulfilment. [sic]

Congratulations SAS, just show the way.”

Did someone say Contented Cows Give Better Milk?

Again, SAS’s remarkable perks are but a manifestation of the trust between the company and the people who work there. The fact that employees have unlimited sick days is great, but even greater is the fact that the company trusts people not to abuse the trust indicated by the policy. Those who do – get to look for other jobs…so that those who don’t – get to keep the privilege.

Richard Hadden (twitter at http://twitter.com/ContentedCows) is a leadership speaker, author, and consultant who helps organizations improve their business results by creating a great place to work. He and Bill are the authors of the acclaimed business classic Contented Cows Give Better Milk, and the followup Contented Cows MOOve Faster. Learn more about them and their work at ContentedCows.com.

by Richard, Leadership, Management

Hire the Best…They’re Out There

No Comments 19 January 2010

The US Census Bureau is witnessing, firsthand, one of the consequences of the bad economy. Very much unlike the last time it was in heavy recruiting mode (1989-90), the supply of talented, qualified, educated, and eager workers for the decennial project is plentiful.

USA Today quotes US Census Bureau Director Robert Groves (not to be confused with Defense Secy Robert Gates or Press Secy Robert Gibbs), as saying “The horrible recession has benefited us in an indirect way — our applicant pool contains a set of people with experience and background and training that is unprecedentedly rich”.

And so does yours… if you’re recruiting. And smart employers are ALWAYS recruiting, whether they’re hiring or not.

Here’s what those same smart employers know, are learning, or will learn from this:

  • Just because there are more people in the pool doesn’t mean it’s easier to spot the best swimmers. In fact, in many cases, an oversupply of labor makes the job of hiring – and hiring well – even harder. Whenever you hear the words “inundated” and “applications” in the same sentence, you can be pretty sure of hearing the words “it was just a bad fit” being uttered not too far down the road.
  • This is a case where hi-tech has to be paired with hi-touch. If you over-delegate this core leadership function to so-called smart selection systems, or to HR (whose job it is to help, not do it for you) – or if you don’t – you’ll get what you deserve.
  • These days, making the right choice is as important as ever, because making the wrong choice shows up more than when the economy is on a firmer footing. Prosperity insulates against lots of bad decisions, including bad hires.
  • Relying on (hoping for?) an “any port in a storm” mentality on the part of the unemployed workforce is a great way to miss the recovery. Pre-recovery is precisely the time you don’t want to foul the gene pool with “just anyone”. The best applicants will still discriminate with respect to employer reputation. Don’t let your competitors get the good ones – and they’re out there.

Richard Hadden (twitter at http://twitter.com/ContentedCows) is a leadership speaker, author, and consultant who helps organizations improve their business results by creating a great place to work. He and Bill are the authors of the acclaimed business classic Contented Cows Give Better Milk, and the followup Contented Cows MOOve Faster. Learn more about them and their work at ContentedCows.com.

by Bill, Management

Doing Layoffs Right

No Comments 23 March 2009

We have long maintained that one of the most telling measures of whether an organization is an employer of choice, and thus deserving of a fully engaged workforce, is not how they treat people on the way into the organization, but how they treat them on the way out.

In business as in life, there are beginnings and endings, and it seems of late that, in the world of business, the endings have gotten the upper hand. With better than a half million American workers per month losing their jobs, employers are getting more chances than they’d like to prove whether or not they walk the talk by handling layoffs with decency and professionalism.

In the March 23/30 issue of Business Week, Jack and Suzy Welch spoke out about the subject in a piece entitled, “Layoffs: HR’s Moment of Truth.” As usual for this duo, the article is well written and on point. Some thoughts of theirs (and ours) on the subject:

1. If anything in this world demands being handled personally, it’s taking someone’s job away. The manager is the one who made the mess (by hiring more people than they needed), so they should be required to clean it up, face-to-face. No excuses, no surrogates, no wimping out.

2. As the Welch’s put it, HR needs to serve as “the company’s arbiter of equity…by making sure that severance arrangements, if they exist, are appropriate and evenhanded… People need to walk out saying, “at least I was treated fairly.”

3. No “drive-by shootings.” During the immediate post-termination period, some human being needs to check in with each departed employee, at more than a superficial level, to listen and be of assistance where they can. This can be handled by an outplacement counselor from firms like Russell Montgomery Associates/OI Partners, or by a trained member of the HR staff. It’s not the most pleasant duty, but it needs to be done, thoughtfully and with heart.

4. Considerable care and attention also needs to be paid to the “survivors”,  the ones who dodged the bullet, and on whom you’re counting to sell, design, and deliver your products and services going forward. There is a lot rattling around in their heads at the moment, and you’d be well advised to remember that people who are preoccupied with their own concerns don’t move very fast, generate a lot of ideas, or serve customers particularly well.

A thought leader in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website at www.contentedcows.com


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Considered thought leaders in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette and Richard Hadden speak to, train, and coach managers on leadership practices for better business outcomes.

OUR PREMISE: Having a focused, engaged, and capably led workforce is one of the best things any organization can do for its bottom line.

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