Diversity in the Workplace - How to Attract The Right Kind of Talent!

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Whether you favour baby boomers or millennials when it comes to recruiting, most employers feel some pressure to revolutionise their workplace as new generations seep into the workforce. Today, ‘normal’ is at least three generations bundled together and working cooperatively, making for a truly diverse workplace.

The tricky part is not falling back on our perception of stereotypes, when it’s time to recruit again, in how we perceive and subconsciously categorise applicants. Maybe we make judgments without realising it about ear piercing or age, education or lack thereof. Even worse, our shutters come down when we see the ‘wrong’ suburb on a resume, or hear an accent different from our own.

Giving credence to stereotypes and our expectations of them can be damaging, in that it can set unfavourable limits to a small business’s growth capacity.

At #HR, we applaud leaders who look beyond stigmas and don’t mind breaking the mould to recruit on merit. Best practice is to create a culture of diverse minds, where employees engage with each other not because they are all the same, but because they see their business being stimulated and enhanced by others who think differently.

In such a culture, looking different has little to do with a person’s smarts.

Brett Davies, a computer design technician from County Durham in the UK, was the victim of just such misconceptions. After being turned down for hundreds of jobs, his hidden genius for all things visual finally landed him a two-week trial at Peacocks Medical Group. Coincidentally, the BBC was filming a documentary series featuring Davies at the time. They recorded his journey, in securing the trial position, and then landing his dream job – by solving a technical problem that had defeated every other employee who’d tried.

Davies, who had been out of work for eight years said, “I have autism. There isn’t anything different about me, I just think differently. Somehow the unwritten rules of social communication have eluded me.”

Stereotypical perceptions are often unfounded, such as those which the phrase ‘Autism’ inspires. To be a progressive business owner in progressive times, it can pay dividends to front up and get some understanding of how best to leverage qualities that are different from our own.

De-stigmatising and challenging stereotypes is proving beneficial for many companies, as their willingness to break ground brings them not only enlightenment, but profitability – and a highly motivated and fulfilled workforce.

Dave Kearon, Director of Adult Services with Autism Speaks, says...

‘This is not about charity or about what businesses can do for people with autism; it’s about what individuals with autism have shown they can do for businesses’

Research by Autism Speaks suggests that companies employing people with autism consistently give reports of extremely dependable and loyal employees, who follow company rules, arrive on time and are absent far less. Other strengths mentioned include intense attention to detail and a desire to get things right – perfectly right. One employer noted that the turnover rate of his employees with Autism was one third of his neuro-typical workers.

Challenging the status quo – although the status quo is fluid these days - takes grit, for sure. But all the research suggests that for those running a small business in today’s market, thinking openly and diversely offers many opportunities.

Employers who are on the hunt for employees with specialised skills are increasingly wise to the benefits of diverse minds. They remember that no-one is perfect and believe that looking beyond a stereotype can bring something truly unique and highly valuable to a workplace.

 

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How to Revitalise Your Brand in 2018! The 6 Things You Need to Know Now!

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With every new year or calendar marker, most of us try and take a break don’t we? Whether it’s for a laid back holiday by the pool, a mud bath and exfoliation, or an all-out sense of enlightenment with a super-chic Balinese ritual at a mountain resort.

Whatever form your recharge pleasures take, eventually it’s time to rise from the yoga mat and get back down to business.

If you’re looking for means of re-entering the management world with strategies that will keep your people engaged, happy and loving your brand in 2018, here are six quick, free and slightly out-of-the-box strategies that bring a holistic rejuvenation to your pursuits.

 

1. SAY THANK YOU

All those things your mother told you about the magic words are true. A Podium Designs survey found that only 16% of employees had heard the words ‘thank you’ from their boss in six months. Not a great statistic! Saying thank you is a meaningful and powerful strategy. It motivates people and lets them know they’re appreciated. A small gesture that goes a long way.

 

2. PUT DOWN THE DEVICE

Human relationships are what make people truly happy. Great leaders know how to send subliminal messages to their employees which indicate, ‘I am listening to you and I am completely engaged with what you have to say.’ Body language is key. When your phone pings, buzzes, flashes or beeps, this subtly says that your device is eventually going to take precedence over the flesh-and-blood person vying for your attention. So don’t hold it or have it beside you while you’re in conversation. Remove it completely. Put it on silent, and place it well out of reach. Be seen to do so! Hell’s bells, you could put it in a drawer. This way, all temptation to be distracted by or fidget with it disappears, allowing you to be completely attentive to the person in front of you.

 

3. GET SOME SLEEP

Whether you’re the CEO of a multi-million-dollar company or the administrator of a 24hour distribution plant, the psychological demands of running a business are equally exhausting. Our bodies each have the same basic needs. And sleep is a big one. Every element of our lives is enriched if we get enough of it. Nurture yourself and don’t be afraid to start pushing up more zeds – you may find that this makes you far more interesting and engaging!

 

4. KINDNESS

Authentic and consistent kindness is a truly powerful thing. Grow the ability to be nice without expecting something in return – or calculating the leverage you’re gaining! Kindness has to be habitual and firmly felt. Strangers are important too, and niceness shouldn’t be reserved for only those you know. Treat every person you meet as if they are the most important person in the world - because they are. If not to you, then maybe to someone else.

 

5. FRIENDLINESS

Friendly behaviour involves smiling, giving encouragement, conversing and laughing - attributes that studies have shown are appreciated, respected and often admired by those we work with. Friendliness requires neither agreement nor approval and is rarely offensive if it is authentic. Best of all, most people have learnt this skill well before they have met you. So friendliness is something you need only role-model, rather than teach. ‘Don’t wait for people to be friendly, show them how.’ Wise words, if anonymous.

 

6. PERSUASION

Building agreement when points of view differ around the table can be tricky. Sure, sometimes an authoritative approach or executive decision may be required, but simply insisting it’s your way or the highway without bothering to get buy-in from your team can be really unsettling. To get others to buy into the way you see things, you’ll need to ask the right questions. Asking your colleagues to think about things - by asking the right questions – often allows them to arrive at the same conclusion themselves. This is the art of persuasion.

 

Building good relationships with the people around you is guaranteed to achieve great results. Favouring a natural blend of professionalism and humanity brings a new lightness and enjoyment to our workplaces year in, year out and creates something truly magical.

You need only keep it kind and simple and you will soon find that you are fostering an awesome platform for that deepest workplace joy - employee engagement.

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How to Motivate Your Staff and Increase Productivity in the Workplace

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In the throes of a new role, new-starters can be depended upon to burst onto the scene with a bucket load of excitement. Meeting new people, gaining exposure to fresh ideas and new challenges, it’s incredibly exciting and pumps us up.

Recently, I caught up with a chap who was in just this zone. With a spring in his step and a jovial demeanour, he oozed the energy that we all wish we felt every day on the way to work, and which our employers would like us to feel too.

This guy had more bounce than Tigger. So what accounted for it? Well he’d changed jobs and was past the drone of on-boarding. A project manager, the serial contract nature of his career means he changes employers more often than most. And as a top performer, there’s never any shortage of high profile companies lining up engage him on their next big development.

Having worked with the best on contemporary and ground-breaking projects, he always has insights to spare and share, and this time was no different. His new employer was leading big changes in the Australian market, he said, launching innovative concept stores across the nation. A small business doing big things. The job, he said, was awesome. But it was everything that went with it that put the spring in his step.

Here’s his top 6 of why this job stands out from all others:

 

1. ACCOUNTABILITY

When recruiting, the CEO asked every new starter a very direct question. ‘Will you let me down?’ His directness and ambition made it crystal clear from the on-set that he preferred his people full of grit and prepared to take accountability for their actions. My friend liked that. It gave him a pleasingly high benchmark to reach for.

 

2. CLARITY

Job title and seniority was paid scant regard by his new employer. From CEO to administrator, everyone sat on the same chair, typed into the same technology and wrote with the same kind of pen. No one was precious about anything and anyone suffering a momentary ego outburst was swiftly reminded to pull their head in.

 

3. FUEL

With only super-expensive café-style choices available in the company’s locale, my friend had opted for the supermarket for cheaper lunchtime choices. Ready-made salads and other heathy snacks – paleo, organic, no sugar, low fat – all the staples were there, in a battery of choices, good to go and ready to eat. Lower carbs and sugar put paid to the 2pm slump many of us experience, and he no longer needed an early afternoon caffeine pick-me-up.

 

4. LOCATION

A small, cramped workplace made him more likely to head outside at lunchtime. Since the office was opposite a beautiful iconic beach, this meant he was straight into the freshest air in the southern hemisphere. The excuse to get away from his desk and out of the office was a golden opportunity, and sent his afternoon productivity levels soaring.

 

5. TRANSPORT

The out-of-city-centre location changed his commute from train to bus. Such a small thing, he said, but with surprising impact. Dedicated bus lanes and express services were surprisingly efficient. There was always seat, and a chance to relax and catch up on podcasts and the newspaper - a novel change from strap hanging on a city commuter train.

 

6. INTELLIGENCE

Every person in the team was hand-picked. Not just in how they fit the job criteria or for their technical skill, but for their outlook. As a team they were all very different, he said, but the difference worked for them not against them. Good solutions were arrived at fast. They all came at things from different perspectives and sometimes there were odd viewpoints on the table, but there was also no pretence – and all opinions counted.

 

Six simple things. Unremarkable in isolation, but collectively they made a tangible and refreshing difference in both pleasure and productivity. My friend was engaged and relaxed, and completely satisfied that he was in the right job with the best group of people.

Sure, some of these changes were self-led, others the result of solid leadership. What that demonstrates is that engagement is a partnership. Both employer and employee need to get it right. That’s the springboard from which amazing things can happen.

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Just Say Thank You! How to Manage Employees Effectively

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Are you saying goodbye to your staff too often?

Worse still, have you got a revolving door where staff are concerned? And are those still with you looking fidgety? These are signs you shouldn’t ignore!

Often it’s the simplest of things. The things your mother taught you.

A new survey in the UK found that only 16% of employees had heard the words ‘thank you’ from their boss in six months. Podium Designs did research with 750 workers to find out about workplace satisfaction.

Ask yourself: when did you last say thank you, and mean it? If you value your staff, how do you show it?

It’s easy to keep it simple and let your employees know they’re appreciated. You know it. Your mum knew it. Here’s three off the top of our head:

  • Leave a post it note on someone’s computer saying ‘thanks for that report – top job!’
  • Better still, stick your head round their door and say it in person.
  • Next time you send out an email to everyone about a win you’ve had, thank one or two people who made a difference.

But beware! Don’t leave anyone out. If it helps, be methodical. Write yourself a list of names and tick them off as you thank them. Don’t do it too often. That would be weird. And don’t write it on a whiteboard in your office.

But get that revolving door to stop turning. (And don’t leave anybody trapped inside.)

If you start to notice gaps in the list, ask yourself what’s going on. Is someone not pulling their weight? Or are you ignoring them?

We get it, we get it. You don’t want to feel as if your mum is trailing you round the office telling you to mind your Ps and Qs and say thank you. How boring is that?

So, get more adventurous! Saying thank you doesn’t have to be a chore. Develop a cunning plan around staff motivation – and get known as the way coolest and most welcoming place to work.

We love this post from 6Q blog with 40 great ways to say thank you to your employees.

The writing’s on the (office) wall. Leaders who say thank you have more motivated staff, better rates of retention, and a better reputation as an employer.

So get onto it! Say thank you! And when you’re done saying thank you, talk to your staff. Talking is free and the outcome could be profitable.

Got a unique or favourite way of thanking your staff? Leave us a comment below!

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3 Simple Ways To Keep Your Employees Happy

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A business should never be quiet.  Sure, there might be some moments when you hear only the clicking of keyboards or the gentle hum of a hard-drive. That’s when you know your team is head-down making the magic happen. Give yourself a pat on the back. But make it brief! At #HR we never recommend resting on your laurels – because things can change in a heartbeat.

When they’re not heads down over a keyboard, database or phone line, there should be a healthy balance of movement and banter about your people. And there’s always one or two who stand out, for all the reasons small business owners love and admire. They’re the ones who love your brand and put their own heart and soul into making it work. Others may have talent. These people bring something extra to the table – what Tim McClure, Professional Speaker and Brand and Leadership Consultant, describes as creativity, ideas and keenness in his article for Jonathan Mills.

The inspiration and aspiration of these highly motivated individuals can, if nurtured, bring an extraordinary exuberance and pep to your business and drive it forward just as vibrantly as you can.

So it’s a worst case scenario when your most passionate employee goes quiet. As a result, there’s a palpable unease and a lack of the usual energy rippling through the place. As McClure observes, ‘Passion is contagious, and so is not having it’.  

What should you do when you notice the effects? You should act straight away.

Doing nothing is all-too common a response, and it’s definitely not best practice, taking you down a bumpy and complex road of uncertainty and possibly expense – if this pivotal person leaves and you have to replace them.

Here are our top three tips for dealing with the situation:

 

1. BE QUICK TO RESOLVE CONFLICT IN THE WORKPLACE

Problems can manifest overnight, or in moments around the water cooler.  They become contagious, and even toxic. If you value your team, you’ll act on discontent the moment it manifests. And because you recognise the value of that special player within your ranks, you’ll be focussing on them.

 

2. ALWAYS LISTEN TO YOUR EMPLOYEES - BE CANDID AND OPEN

This is one of the most mission critical people in your organisation. They help create the culture. If things have gone off-track, this individual will have something insightful to say about it and you need to know what that is. So stop, and listen. Respond but don’t interrupt. Create a comfortable space and time where they have the chance to talk without negative comeback. You’ll learn something, and you’ll have started equipping yourself with the knowledge you’ll need to fix it – with your employee alongside you.

 

3. DEMONSTRATE STRONG LEADERSHIP - BE DECISIVE AND PASSIONATE

In his article, McClure outlines the reasons why a passionate employee loses their mojo. Often it’s because of an issue with your leadership – a breach of trust, a lack of consistency, overlooking someone. It’s essential to get your leadership mojo back in good shape quick smart.  Resolve your employee’s problems decisively, and most importantly, get their buy-in. How you handle their grievance will determine whether they continue to love your brand - or move on to love another one. 

Dealing with passionate, smart people can take all the emotional intelligence skills you have. And showing them how valued they are is critical. If you’re facing a situation like the one above, think about getting help to address it. If that means bringing in a consultant who is across best practice and can mediate talks between you and a passionate employee, what better way to show that person what they mean to your business. 

 

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