October 2022

The Total Rewards Approach to Employee Retention

We still see the most robust labor market in recorded history despite record inflation and recession fears. Despite news of layoffs at FAANG companies and in the broader tech sector, candidates still have more choices and power in the labor market than ever. Even with historic wage growth of over 5% YoY, wages still significantly lag inflation leading to net wage growth of below -3%. Technology improvements and the continued failure of businesses to demonstrate caring and support for their people are still significant drivers of the current Great Resignation, which is rapidly becoming “Quiet Quitting” and “Job Ghosting.”

Total Rewards is a combination of both compensation and benefits.  The term benefit is not intended to be applied exclusively to medical, dental, and vision benefits.  Any benefits – vacation, sick pay, parental leave, tuition reimbursement, continuing education, Flexible Spending Accounts for Child Care, and more all fall into this broad category.  When we open our minds and eyes to the breadth of options in the benefits category of Total Rewards, it is easy to see an untapped arsenal of options available to retain top talent.

That is not to say that compensation is not important. Still, many companies have relied too heavily on direct compensation as a retention tool and too little on other forms of compensation.  Let’s look at some amazing ways Total Benefits Rewards can be leveraged to drive up retention and reduce unwanted attrition or turnover.

Compensation

In the years 2000 through 2019, the average annual wage increase in the US was 2.92% (Average Wage Index (AWI) (ssa.gov)), and the average inflation rate was 2.10% ($160,000,000 in 2000 ? 2019 | Inflation Calculator (officialdata.org)).  Hence, overall average wage growth was close to where inflation existed, justifying in the eyes of employers the 2-3% annual wage increases most employees who performed well in their jobs were used to seeing – but not anymore.

There are many levers that compensation specialists have at their disposal beyond base compensation. Some of these have a minimal impact on the bottom line, and it is very eye-opening to see just how little it could take to obtain and retain top talent.

A new and very hot back-to-office perk is a Pet Stipend.  This monthly sum can be used on dog walking, pet sitting, or some other form of daycare for pets.  Many of us have pets and love them like any family member. After working from home with these pets for so long, it is important to make sure they are cared for.

The four-day workweek is another trend.  While not appropriate for every role, judicious use of this schedule for office-based roles, leadership, or any role not mission-critical for onsite during typical operating hours can lead to impressive results.  A Maru Public Opinion Poll conducted for The Business Journal in February 2022 revealed the following:

  • 82% of workers would trade 8-hour days to 4 ten-hour days for the same pay.
  • 88% of earners at $100,000+ per year wanted this.
  • 76% of those making less than $25,000 per year also wanted this.
  • The Midwest was 84% higher than all other regions in the country in their desire for the 4-day work week.
  • 74% said they would leave their current jobs for a 4-day work week.
  • 97% said they would be more productive.

 

Other key compensation drivers of retention are too often overlooked by businesses, including free lunch (after all, who wouldn’t want a free lunch?), variable pay, performance management, and merit pay.

Employees respond well to variable pay.  This helps them connect the importance of what they do to the company’s results.  It provides them with greater control over their earning potential. Through variable pay, employees can see what the company values most and put their best efforts into those activities that are most impactful to the company and their own financial goals.  According to World at Work, a global association for human resources management professionals and business leaders focused on attracting, motivating, and retaining employees, “60% of companies are using performance sharing – up 19% from 2 years ago – and individual metric use dropped.” Despite this drop in individual metric use, “68% of HR leaders report an increased number of eligible employees to receive a cash bonus in 2021.”

Performance management is another element.  Reviews, whether frequent one-on-one meetings with employees or less frequent semi-annual or annual reviews, often provide data used by leadership when awarding raises, promotions, or other financial rewards.  Recent trends reflect that 16% of organizations are now using a rating-less performance review system.

When determining merit pay increases annually, 12% of companies base such increases on something other than individual performance.  There are many good things that employees do for the company beyond the key performance indicators for their role.  Using criteria other than individual performance measurements helps employees feel more valued by the company and less like they are just numbers on a page.

Benefits

When most employers think of benefits, they think of medical, dental, and vision insurance.  There are many more benefits that can be offered than just these.  Some are related, such as Flexible Spending Accounts used to pay for medical expenses or supplemental benefits intended to provide additional support when hospitalized or even to supplement income, such as short or long-term disability insurance.  And while the costs for medical, dental, and vision insurance are constantly increasing, other benefits beyond these can be offered and aid in retention.

Starting with the medical, dental, and vision benefits – if you offer them, it is highly recommended that you gain feedback regularly from your employee population about how they are using their benefits and the value they see in them.  Listen to what they are using and are not, what they wish would be in the benefits, and what they don’t want.  This can guide you in the early discussions annually with your benefits brokers to adjust the benefit offerings to meet the needs of your employees.  You may find some hidden nuggets that will allow you to reduce your costs or at least reduce the rate of increase in costs.

Beyond the medical, benefit trends reflect that employees want parental leave, student debt help, tuition assistance, retirement plans, and time off to volunteer. Each is an amazing tool that encourages retention.

Parental Leave, a benefit not just for the mother of a newborn or for childbirth, is extremely popular to the point where many counties and even states are enacting laws requiring such benefits.  Companies that offer parental leave for both fathers and mothers, applying to natural childbirth and adoption, ahead of any legal obligation demonstrate a strong desire to care for their people, which is very attractive to employees.

Despite the recent federal plan to forgive specific amounts of student debt, a lot of student debt will remain.  Not only are many employees not eligible, but not all debt for eligible employees will be forgiven, and more students in college will come out with debt over time.  Thus, student debt help and tuition assistance programs are excellent tools to attract and retain your organization’s early career and new graduate talent.  They can be leveraged to improve the knowledge, skills, and abilities of your existing workforce by using these to supplement continuing education for professional certifications or even for the pursuit of graduate degrees for key leadership.  The terms are often connected to longevity with the company, thus a robust retention tool.

Retirement plans are offered by so many businesses today that some job seekers consider them an entitlement.  There are many different programs, from Simple IRAs to complete 401k programs and even pensions, for employers to choose from. Not offering some form of retirement program can make recruitment and retention a real challenge, and small business leaders are concerned about costs.  The costs and compliance and reporting burdens are often not as arduous as many believe, especially when the administration is outsourced.  As a retention component, review your vesting schedule with defined contribution programs.  Tiered vesting of employer contributions can be a powerful way to retain talent.

Millennials and Gen Z have demonstrated a strong level of altruism. The ability to take time off to give back to worthy causes, volunteer for non-profits, and help clean up their communities and the environment are robust attracters to these employees.  Companies that offer paid time off for volunteering can connect the earned time off to longevity with the company. Employers often tout this benefit and their employees’ impact on the community and environment to aid with talent acquisition, retention, employee satisfaction, employee engagement, and even business development.  Clients and vendors often form a business relationship in part because of the ethical focus of a company, and this benefit is a straightforward way to demonstrate a company’s ethical foundation.

The Total Rewards Approach

We are still amidst a historic labor market, tighter than any on record.  Stemming the tide of resignations and quiet quitting is critical.  When businesses focus on employee retention, they gain the ability to grow their business, not just their crops.  When resignations happen, they have a chance to transfer knowledge between employees and even generationally, maintaining critical capabilities to achieve strategic plans.  While no single silver bullet solution exists to drive retention, the Total Rewards approach is a crucial and essential lever for talent retention.

CONTRIBUTOR: Michael Maggiotto, Jr. PHR, SHRM-SCP, Head of Advisory at BEST Human Capital & Advisory Group

 


The Answer for Today and Tomorrow

In this unprecedented business environment, it may also be time to shift your thinking on recruiting and make an investment to bring on an experienced hiring partner. One that can help you acquire the right IT talent and put your company in a position to grow. We can help.

New Iron Solutions realizes that it is more important than ever not just to fill an IT position, but fill it with a candidate that will take your company to the next level. It may be time to bring on an experienced partner to help you navigate this new age as the cost of IT employee turnover and missed opportunities are just too high to ignore. We help drive the achievement of our client company’s strategic goals by identifying middle management to C-Level leadership professionals. They align with the culture, behaviors, and results valued by your organization.

If you have a temporary, project-based, IT, or direct placement need or want to know how we can help, contact New Iron Solutions online today or call 1-844-388-IRON (4766).

July 2022

Recruiting IT Workers

With continued upheaval and economic instability due to rising inflation, tight supply chains, and persistent pandemic fears, the labor market remains one of the tightest in recorded history. The Great Resignation has left many businesses scrambling to fill open roles and struggling to determine how to continue growth or achieve strategic plans with a seemingly revolving door of employees.

While the function of Recruitment is to add headcount to an organization or backfill open positions, little has been shared about Recruitment’s role in promoting employee retention.  The fact is that employee retention starts with Recruitment. The Recruitment function of an organization is the first impression candidates and prospective candidates may receive. Thus, it is critical to make it a positive one.  The following are several steps that Talent Acquisition partners can and should take to lay the foundation for long-term employee retention, whether internal or external.

Be Real

Often, recruiters approach talent acquisition as a transaction, “selling” the company by focusing on all of the exciting and wonderful features, perceived or real, about a company.  It comes naturally for many recruiters because they are often selected to be a Talent Acquisition professional based on prior or exhibited sales experience.  While salesmanship is not bad, it boils down to how you use the skill.

Whether in retail, B2B relationships, and even the most complex business interactions in the M&A arena, no one wants to be “sold” today.  What people want are solutions to problems.  Uncovering these concerns requires a consultative approach.  A true consultant will reflect care and compassion, listening to understand first before being understood.  A high Emotional Quotient (EQ) combined with an analytical approach will allow the Talent Acquisition professional to best consult with the candidate and help them understand the alignment between them and the role to be filled.  This soft approach opens the hearts and minds of candidates to what they can expect when joining a company and often is the first trigger towards high engagement.

Part of consulting is ensuring prospects and candidates understand the good and the bad about a company.  No company is perfect, just like there are no perfect candidates.  The exclusive pursuit of only the perfect will always disappoint, leading to disaster and an impossibly long recruitment cycle.

Every company has challenges. The right candidate must understand these challenges and be excited to tackle them. Of course, there must certainly be something in it for them, and the advantages should be presented to balance the discussion. In the end, there should be a win-win scenario where the advantages and disadvantages are shared, where both see that the right candidate will enhance the company’s advantages while solving their challenges.  The right candidate’s advantages should be the right fit to solve these challenges, while a company’s advantages should be able to support the candidate’s growth and development.

Be Engaged

Automation permeates so much of our lives, and the intent is to make things easier and faster, to do more with less.  Unfortunately, there are times and interactions where technology is just a poor substitute.  How many of us receive blind outreaches on LinkedIn, email, or even spam calls about products or services that have no alignment to us, what we do, want, or need?  Someone is throwing mud on a wall and hoping something will stick.  But how do you feel about such an approach when you receive one?  Do you think a candidate will feel different just because you deploy such an approach?

Everyone, to one degree or another, wants to be noticed and recognized for their accomplishments.  They want to be wanted and sometimes pursued.  When reaching out to the passive job market, craft personal messages that tell the prospective candidate you read their profile or resume. Connect the dots to show them what made you believe a conversation may be worth their time, and importantly – do your homework.

When Talent Acquisition professionals are disengaged, they ignore the little details that make the most significant differences.  They fail to catch experience, education, and geography.  There is a lack of analysis and understanding of career trajectory or directionality.  But the most critical miss of the disengaged Talent Acquisition professional is a failure to follow up.  They make promises they don’t or can’t keep.  Candidates and prospective candidates view this as disingenuous.  The perception is that the Talent Acquisition professional— to put it lightly— is not very professional.   If by some miraculous chance the candidate is hired, there is already an expectation of unprofessionalism at your organization, and therefore they start with one foot already out the door.

We all have unforeseeable surprises that derail our best intentions.  When this happens, the Talent Acquisition professional should be upfront, share, and sincerely apologize. Just as important as the apology is the commitment not to repeat the same mistake.  Go the extra mile to set communication touchpoint dates and follow up on those dates.  If a role is put on hold by the powers that be, then precisely share that.  Candidates are more understanding than Talent Acquisition professionals sometimes realize.  They work or have worked in businesses where hiring freezes have happened, layoffs may be seasonal, and the needs of the company are constantly changing. They get it.  So, tell them politely, but tell them.

Be Communicative

The most frustrating thing for candidates at all levels, from hourly non-exempt to C-level, is a lack of communication. To communicate to a Talent Acquisition professional but never receive communication in kind.

On the internal corporate recruiter side, this issue is over-the-top present.  It happens when most candidates apply for a position and never hear a response.  It is driving so many not to apply and is a massive contributor to the decline in the effectiveness of job postings.  All through the Great Recession, when unemployment was near 15%, high-quality top performers repeatedly applied to job postings with no response, not even an automated message indicating receipt of their application.  When there was an automated message, it was cold, calculated, and impersonal. Fast forward to the Great Resignation, and people are finding jobs as part of the passive market, so there is no need to apply, and even when they are actively seeking, the sting of the experience from the Great Recession is still on their minds.

Understandably, there is a risk to businesses when rejecting candidates.  The risk is the start of a discussion where a candidate walks away feeling they were rejected on the grounds of discrimination.  As a result, many companies choose not to communicate at all.  After all, if they don’t tell the candidate anything, there is nothing they can cling to as a claim of discrimination, right?

Wrong. It still happens. Only now, they are more disgruntled than ever due to a lack of respect through the failure to communicate.

Communication is the best way to protect the organization and build a relationship with someone interested in your brand.  Tell them they were not selected.  Encourage them to apply to future postings.  Craft messages that lift them up.  You asked them to fill out an application, disclose personally identifiable information, create a resume and prove their accomplishments to you.  The least you can do is treat them humanely and communicate.  Strangers on the street often receive more acknowledgment than many candidates or prospective candidates.

External agencies can be nearly as harsh. Pressed for speed by client businesses, this speed has the effect of decreased quality in candidate interactions.  Lack of communication and responsiveness sends a poor impression.  IF a candidate is hired after such a rough go with an external and internal recruitment team, think about their mindset.  How many would be fully engaged in their work and positively perceive the company?  Initial impressions are formed by a candidate’s first experience with your company, and that is through your recruitment process and the business partners involved in that process. The better the candidate’s experience, the higher the likelihood of employee retention long-term.

Retention Starts With Recruitment

When you are honest with candidates and prospective candidates, stay engaged with them throughout the process, and effectively communicate with them as people deserve, you set the stage for what they can expect upon being hired.  Even those who are rejected will feel the experience was positive enough that they will accept future calls, will be more likely to apply to future openings, and will share the good news about their interaction with the Talent Acquisition professional and the company to others throughout their network.  When new hires arrive for their first day, they will be energized and have a balanced perspective of what they are walking into since the good, bad, and ugly were already shared during the recruitment process. There will be a higher retention rate as a result of this positive experience.  Now, if we can avoid blowing this all up during onboarding!

CONTRIBUTOR: Michael Maggiotto, Jr. PHR, SHRM-SCP, Head of Advisory at BEST Human Capital & Advisory Group

The Answer for Today and Tomorrow

In this unprecedented business environment, it may also be time to shift your thinking on recruiting and make an investment to bring on an experienced hiring partner. One that can help you acquire the right IT talent and put your company in a position to grow. We can help.

New Iron Solutions realizes that it is more important than ever not just to fill an IT position, but fill it with a candidate that will take your company to the next level. It may be time to bring on an experienced partner to help you navigate this new age as the cost of IT employee turnover and missed opportunities are just too high to ignore. We help drive the achievement of our client company’s strategic goals by identifying middle management to C-Level leadership professionals. They align with the culture, behaviors, and results valued by your organization.

If you have a temporary, project-based, IT, or direct placement need or want to know how we can help, contact New Iron Solutions online today or call 1-844-388-IRON (4766).

April 2022

Onboarding a New Employee

The Great Resignation, or Great Reset, or Great Retirement.  It feels like a Great Headache, especially in a tight IT labor market. As a result, many business leaders turn to employee retention strategies to stop the bleeding, especially as another “great” appears on the horizon – this time from those who have made the switch – The Great Regret.

One strategy getting much play in the media and HR circles of late is onboarding new employees. However, many recent new hires report that employee onboarding fell far short in even providing the basics they need to succeed – including understanding relationship building (71%), company culture (62%), how to use technology at their job (54%) and even their benefits (46%). Employee onboarding is more than paperwork, a quick orientation meeting, and a checklist. It can help retain employees, create a more engaged workforce, and boost individual performance if done correctly. First impressions always matter, and after all, do you want your company to become a “Great Regret” for a new employee because of a failed onboarding experience?

A Typical New Employee Onboarding Scenario

Let’s look at a typical start to a new hire’s onboarding journey. It’s your first day on the job. The day begins filled with hope and promise. The interviews were exhausting, lasting several days stretched over several months. Many were conducted virtually due to the pandemic. The final interview included an in-person onsite series of interviews and a tour. So naturally, you are nervous even though you are confident you made the right decision.

As you walk into the office for your first day, you notify the receptionist that you are here. He looks at you quizzically, not knowing who you are nor whom you are supposed to see. Then, he asks you to have a seat, and he will track down who should greet you.

“This is odd,” you think to yourself. “The interview process seemed relaxed, organized, and well-executed.” Twenty minutes go by, and no one has come to greet you yet and begin your onboarding. Finally, you approach the receptionist and ask, “Am I supposed to be meeting with HR first or my direct supervisor?”

“I’m not sure,” he replies. “I contacted HR, but they did not answer. So I left a message with the HR Generalist, who typically handles new hire paperwork. I am sure they will be here any moment.” So, you go back to the seat in the receiving area where you had been sitting and continue to wait. Anxiety starts to build into frustration. “I did get the right start date, didn’t I?” you think. You pull out your cell phone, access your emails, and search for the welcome email with your start date information. “Yep, I got the right day and time.”

After another 20 minutes, an employee comes in through the front doors. The receptionist stops them on their way past the front desk, “Dan! So glad you are here. I left a voice mail for you a bit ago about this person starting today. Are you supposed to do their onboarding, or is the hiring manager?”

Looking a little embarrassed, Dan says. “I’ll handle it,” and he turns to greet you, arms full of coat, coffee, umbrella, and thick, overstuffed computer bag. Fumbling with everything to free up a hand, Dan offers you a proper handshake and greets you. “Hi, I’m Dan, the HR Generalist. I hope you have not been waiting long.”

Mentally you are quite miffed and barely contain the thought, “waiting long? I have been waiting for nearly an hour now,” from coming out of your mouth. “Not too long,” you reply instead. “Very eager to get started for my first day.” Thus, the “Great Regret” begins.

This scenario plays out often in too many companies, from small independently owned businesses with under 20 employees to large publicly traded multi-national companies with over 60,000 employees globally. It does not matter if there is no HR presence, an HR department of one, or a large 100+ person HR department with certified professionals. This first-day scenario and the corresponding train-wreck of an onboarding experience that follows it can happen anywhere. An incident such as this starts the time clock ticking towards resignation day. Not what any business wants when they spend so much money, time, effort, and energy to recruit the right person for the position.

A compelling new employee onboarding program is a critical step in retaining employees. The only constant in business is change, and change is the most significant source of stress, worry, and concern for most people, regardless of career level. Therefore, the onboarding process should be designed to reduce the new employee’s stress, anxiety, and worry by transparently and effectively communicating with them. Effective communication is critical.

Since every company is different, you should customize your onboarding program to your company. Of course, it is necessary to complete the compliance forms (such as i-9s and w4s). However, meaningful information about the company culture, including the written rules (e.g., employee handbook, policies, and procedures) and the unwritten rules, are also critical. Yes – unwritten rules. Every company has them. They include how we communicate, make decisions, and the words we use. Using the wrong terminology can inadvertently send the wrong message and impact how your team will treat the new hire.

Then there is navigating the internal politics of the new company. Approach the wrong person out of order, and someone will be offended that you didn’t “follow the chain of command.” On the other hand, not communicating to the new hire that a chain of command exists sets them up for failure.

While every company is different, there are consistent things that can be done to ensure a smooth start to a new hire’s first day regardless of the career level or position into which they are hired.

The Typical Employee Onboarding Scenario – Revisited

Let’s look back at the scenario that we started with, only this time – let’s see how a strong onboarding strategy could have made a difference on an employee’s first day.

It’s your first day on the job. The day is filled with hope and promise. The interviews were exhausting, lasting several days, stretched over several months, and conducted virtually. The final interview included an in-person onsite series of interviews and a tour. You are nervous even though you are confident you made the right decision.

As you walk into the office building for your first day, you walk over to the receptionist to notify him that you are here. You hear your name called out before you cross halfway from the front door to the front desk. Stopping and looking in the direction of the voice, three people with big smiles approach. “Welcome! We are so glad you are here!” Hearty handshakes and brief introductions reveal that the Chief Human Resources Officer, your direct supervisor, and the Talent Acquisition Lead who guided you through the recruitment process were first to greet you. Brief pleasantries are traded, and the CHRO then directs everyone toward the HR offices to begin the onboarding process.

“We have a wonderful day in store for you,” says your Supervising Manager. “There will be many people to meet and information to share with you, but don’t worry. You will have plenty of time to take it all in. Change can be difficult, so we hope to make this as smooth a transition as possible for you. We are just so glad to have you here!”

SOURCE: Eagle Hill Onboarding Survey 2022

CONTRIBUTOR: Michael Maggiotto, Jr. PHR, SHRM-SCP, Head of Advisory at BEST Human Capital & Advisory Group

The Answer for Today and Tomorrow

In this unprecedented business environment, it may also be time to shift your thinking on recruiting and make an investment to bring on an experienced hiring partner. One that can help you acquire the right IT talent and put your company in a position to grow. We can help.

New Iron Solutions realizes that it is more important than ever not just to fill an IT position, but fill it with a candidate that will take your company to the next level. It may be time to bring on an experienced partner to help you navigate this new age as the cost of IT employee turnover and missed opportunities are just too high to ignore. We help drive the achievement of our client company’s strategic goals by identifying middle management to C-Level leadership professionals. They align with the culture, behaviors, and results valued by your organization.

If you have a temporary, project-based, IT, or direct placement need or want to know how we can help, contact New Iron Solutions online today or call 1-844-388-IRON (4766).

Employee Acquisition and Retention

February 2022

Guest Blogger: Michael Maggiotto, Jr. PHR, SHRM-SCP, Head of Advisory at BEST Human Capital & Advisory Group

Talent acquisition and retention are currently the most pressing issues facing businesses today. The sourcing, screening, interviewing, hiring, and onboarding of top employees to either grow the business, stabilize the company, or backfill positions vacated through voluntary or involuntary terminations is taking up an unbalanced and overwhelming amount of time and effort. The pandemic is a primary driver of the issue, which has brought on the new challenges of the Great Resignation/Retirement/Reset [insert “R” word here] and not just because of the dangers to the health and even lives of the employee population. Many employees are resigning their positions not to go on unemployment or even to move to a competitor but instead because of their perception of how they were treated in the early stages of the pandemic when layoffs and closures happened; because of their perception of how they are being treated today with the controversies around masking, testing, and vaccinations; and because they have discovered during the layoffs in the early stages just what is important to them or the need and benefits of a better work/life balance; and so are leaving to go into different industries, open their own businesses, or into jobs they perceive will provide better opportunity to support themselves and their loved ones.  Because of this, finding top talent and convincing them to join your organization is more challenging than ever before.

We are further seeing massive exits from the workforce – especially in the tech space. There have been significant drops in the labor participation rate. Many attributed this to the pandemic alone, and that is not the case. We have known since the early 2000’s that the Baby Boomer generation would eventually retire. Up until February 2020, it appeared they would continue working far longer than any other generation in the workforce, but the pandemic did have an effect in accelerating the exit of Baby Boomers from the workforce. They began to ask themselves, “Is this really what I want to deal with in the twilight of my life? Isn’t family more important? Shouldn’t I enjoy all that I have built, gained, and acquired throughout my life rather than add more stress or risk my life and those I love by working through this pandemic?”  While the pandemic has affected the decline of labor participation, it is primarily the exit of a generation already known to be leaving the workforce that is having the significant impact we are seeing today.

And with those exits, who is left to fill the void? If the labor participation rate decreases, talent acquisition has a big problem on its hands. After all, they cannot recruit people who do not exist.

Talent Retention

Retaining the human capital they already have is what many businesses hope is an outcome of their efforts in talent acquisition and increased total rewards (compensation and benefits as a whole), and that is a mistake. Hope is not a strategy, and retention should be an initiative all its own. While the right talent acquisition and total rewards initiatives and strategies will significantly impact retention, there is so much more to it. To retain talent, businesses must understand that people do not join a company exclusively for the role into which they are hired, they enter a company for that role and the potential for personal as well as professional growth.  They look for increased responsibility, contribution to organizational success, giving back to the community, and income growth to achieve their own financial goals. While companies profess to provide this growth to employees, too many have been quick to replace employees before and even during this pandemic, and it has left a sour taste in the mouths of many employees. Businesses that are successful at reducing or eliminating the impact of the Great Resignation are genuinely focused on defining how they treated and currently treat their employee population differently and better than their competition; they provide a strong and positive culture that exemplifies caring and support for their people; they develop an active social cause employees welcome giving back to, and they clearly articulate a career path and the learning and development programs that will help their employees meet personal and professional objectives.  While this sounds like something that only the largest of the Fortune 500 firms could achieve, many small and medium-sized businesses are doing precisely these very same things on a different scale, and the scale of the initiatives should align with the scale of the business.

The Solution

Align yourself with expert and experienced partners. Whether conducting an HR audit of the entire function enterprise-wide or Interim Executive HR Leadership support, the right HR Expert advisor can provide the strategic support your company needs to overcome these challenges. Collaborating with all levels and functions of your business enterprise-wide, they can guide the human capital strategy aligned with organizational strategy and develop a roadmap to meet your needs. Even if you have a highly competent and seasoned HR professional on your team, they need help and support during these changing times. In this situation, perhaps HR Functional or Executive Coaching may be sufficient – someone to challenge the strategic thought process, encourage engagement, and guide performance through the unique set of challenges that your organization faces.  Executives at businesses small to large and across all industries agree that no one knows everything, that the sign of a strong professional is knowing when they need help and asking for it. Asking for help is NOT a sign of weakness but a display of strength and a passion for the business.

If you have not yet considered or selected a Strategic Human Capital Consultant to support your HR function and business, now may be the time. With so much at stake, so many struggles and challenges, know that you are not alone. Help is here.

The Answer for Today and Tomorrow

In this unprecedented business environment, it may also be time to shift your thinking on recruiting and make an investment to bring on an experienced hiring partner. One that can help you acquire the right talent and put your company in a position to grow. We can help.

New Iron Solutions realizes that it is more important than ever not just to fill a position but fill it with a candidate that will take your company to the next level. It may be time to bring on an experienced partner to help you navigate this new age as the cost of IT employee turnover and missed opportunities are just too high to ignore. We help drive the achievement of our client company’s strategic goals by identifying middle management to C-Level leadership professionals. They align with the culture, behaviors, and results valued by your organization.

If you have a temporary, project-based, IT, or direct placement need or want to know how we can help, contact New Iron Solutions online today or call 1-844-388-IRON (4766).

The importance of saying thank you

November 2021 • By the New Iron Blogger

Our client had told us that the candidate we sent had hit it out of the park during her interview – she checked off all the boxes, except one. Unfortunately, they did not receive a thank-you note (via email) after the interview, so they went with another candidate. The other candidate had similar qualifications, although slightly less stellar in the interview. However, he had taken the time to send a thank you email to express his interest in the position, the projects they were working on going forward, and how he could contribute. Some might suggest the client was shortsighted, but they told us – “No thank you note – no offer.”  A missed opportunity.

In 2019, Jessica Liebman, the Executive Managing Editor of Insider Inc., stated in a Business Insider article that she has a simple rule when she is hiring. “We shouldn’t move a candidate to the next stage in the interview process unless they send a thank-you email.” Liebman went on to state that bringing someone into your company is always risky. However, a thank you email (not snail mail – too slow) signals a candidate’s motivation and desire for the position and generally means they’re a “good egg.” There are only so many data points one can collect in an interview, she reasoned, that sometimes the thank-you note will make the difference in the selection of candidates. Our client obviously agrees.

She further clarified and stated, “To be clear, a thank-you note does not ensure someone will be a successful hire. But using the thank-you email as a barrier to entry has proved beneficial, at least at my company.” So, it makes sense, right? Not necessarily.

Unfortunately, back in 2019, and it continues today, social media went into hyperdrive to cancel her and her statements. Other hiring managers, reputable organizations (SHRM and LinkedIn), and publications joined the fray, with several siding in large part with those who disagreed. It got so bad, Liebman followed up with another article humorously titled, “Thank you for reading my story about thank-you notes!” a few days later to clarify what she meant. Many people were seemingly offended that anyone would actually “require” sending a thank you note after an interview. She went on to explain she was trying to be helpful and shed some light and that, “The biggest factors we consider are a candidate’s talent and fit for the role.” It was a “rule of thumb” and not official company policy.

What are the disagreements with Jessica Liebman’s piece on sending thank you notes after an interview that continue today? Any online search regarding the necessity of thank you notes after the interview will bring up a lot of articles and pundits that say they are not necessary. For example, thank you notes are antiquated and pointless [apparently not to her and the hiring managers and leaders we talk to regularly at New Iron Solutions]. Thank-you notes are to stroke the ego of the interviewer. Seriously? The application and job description said nothing about sending a thank you. Liebman’s response was priceless on this point, “Neither is being on time to the interview.”

Our favorite? Expecting a thank-you note is elitist and shows discrimination and bias because many people have never been taught this skill. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) are critical to any organization today. Different perspectives can lead to increased creativity, innovation, productivity, better decision-making, and a better work environment and culture, among many other benefits. Since 2019, we have been through a pandemic and social justice movement that has brought DEI to the forefront in hiring. However, we have never seen it be used as an excuse not to be courteous and to send a thank you. Laziness would be a better excuse. After all, especially in a customer-facing role, would you want anyone on your team that doesn’t know how to say thank you?

But it’s a candidate’s market -you see the news – there are more jobs than people to fill them. So they [the interviewer] should be sending the candidate a thank you. We can concede this point to a degree in that all companies need to do a better job notifying candidates and letting them know why they did not get the position. Point well taken, and it is also something we strive for at New Iron Solutions.

A lot of the consternation on this could be the post-pandemic culturally questioning and upending times we live in – where being contrary on social media is expected and merely aiming for “likes” and that all-important re-share. However, we can only speak to our own experience working with clients and candidates and heartily thank those who disagree (because it is helpful).

As business leaders, hiring managers, and recruiters, it is often about overcoming buyer’s remorse. When a hiring manager or company leader is getting ready to make a hiring decision, they are looking for those elements, however small, that can put a candidate over the edge and calm their fears about making a bad hire. For example, our client mentioned that they liked the candidate, but she had not sent a thank you. To the client, it was a reasonable expectation – another box to check. By sending a thank you note, the other candidate checked that box and received the offer instead.

For the candidates we work with, our resources stress the importance of the post-interview thank you email. A candidate should always ask for the interviewer’s email address during the interview (whether on the phone or in person). Rarely, if ever, has it been questioned. After all, it is another opportunity to sell yourself to the prospective company. It doesn’t have to be a long note – say thank you, say that you want the position, and use it also to state why you are the best fit for the role (one or two reasons you are the best candidate for the job or maybe there was something you missed during the interview) and that you would welcome further discussion. Then, send it within 24-hours while you are still fresh in the interviewer’s mind. Is that so hard?

As the “Great Resignation” continues, there are already hiring and employment trends happening that would have been unthinkable just 2-years ago. But, during the times we live in – more gratitude and simple courtesies go a long way. We have heard it said many times, “I like doing business with him or her because I like him or her.” The same can be said for behavioral, cultural fit, and bringing a new team member on board – and having one who is grateful to be there. So, as we enter the holiday season, a time for giving thanks and reflection, here is hoping the time-honored thank-you note and a spirit of gratitude is a trend that continues and grows.

The Answer for Today and Tomorrow

In this unprecedented business environment, it may also be time to shift your thinking on recruiting and make an investment to bring on an experienced partner. One that can help you acquire the right talent and put your company in a position to grow. We can help.

New Iron Solutions realizes that it is more important than ever not just to fill a position but fill it with a candidate that will take your company to the next level. It may be time to bring on an experienced partner to help you navigate this new age as the cost of IT employee turnover and missed opportunities are just too high to ignore. We help drive the achievement of our client company’s strategic goals by identifying middle management to C-Level leadership professionals. They align with the culture, behaviors, and results valued by your organization.

If you have a temporary, project-based, IT, or direct placement need or want to know how we can help, contact New Iron Solutions online today or call 1-844-388-IRON (4766).

Employee Retention

September 29, 2021 • By the New Iron Blogger

“The Great Resignation” or “The Great Reshuffle” and for Baby Boomers who’ve had enough – “The Great Retirement.” However, for most business leaders, it is becoming a “Great Headache.” We live in a time of “greats,” and they are not too good. At New Iron Solutions, we see firsthand high levels of career unhappiness across multiple generations in all industries. So, as workers continue to leave in record numbers and leaders worry about keeping their best and brightest while bringing others on board to fill gaps and continue their growth, how do we begin to get a handle on this and start a “Great Retention” instead?

Of course, the pandemic is often seen as the root cause. After all, entire industries and labor pools have been affected (i.e., travel and hospitality), and some are seemingly changed forever due to the last 18 months. However, many of these challenges were already underway well before the pandemic – skills shortages, “war for talent,” record low unemployment, demographic shifts, generational attitudes concerning work, technology, and more. The pandemic just accelerated many of these changes.

How do we change from the reactive mindset of the last 18 months to a more proactive approach designed to not only attract great candidates but to keep your best and brightest from seeking greener pastures elsewhere? In our discussions with clients and candidates, there are three “Cs” to pay attention to in the ever-changing employment landscape: Culture, Communication, and Capital (the human form). 

Culture

When talking with candidates, we typically ask what is prompting them to seek a new opportunity?  Far and away, the number one answer is business culture. They report no empathy, understanding, work/life balance, and how their company handled the challenges of the pandemic has them looking to leave. In fact, according to a recent PI People Management Report, nearly 50% of employees are considering striking out for something new. Moreover, this trend is largely driven by those earlier in their careers – 49% of millennials and 56% of Gen Zers are looking to leave their current positions.

As we dig further into cultural challenges, we find a significant disconnect between company leaders and their employees in perceptions versus reality. For example, research from Human Resource Executive finds that 84% of CEOs believe empathetic organizations get stronger business results. On the flip side: 83% of employees would consider leaving their job to join a more empathetic employer.

Since the pandemic started, people who work from home across all generations are logging an average of two more hours of work per day. According to a recent Finery Report survey, 83% report working overtime was the norm, and 70% regularly work on the weekends. Pandemic burnout, resetting priorities, and a need for work-life balance are real. However, it also creates opportunities for companies with cultures that better address it through more flexible work schedules and letting employees have choices, setting clear work-life boundaries (fostering the need for a life outside of work), and increasing support.

Communication

Working from home and hybrid work arrangements, while showing increased productivity, also make the employee feel less seen, heard, and valued. Our previous blog post addressed the need for frequent one-on-one communications in business settings to help bridge the gap. The message – Talk, or they will walk. Communicate with your people frequently and one-on-one.

Human Capital

Another casualty of the last (18) months has been learning and development (L&D) programs – only 29% of organizations have clear development plans for their employees. In addition, 50% of employees say they are dissatisfied with L&D opportunities in their own companies. During the pandemic, investment and focus have been on making hybrid and WFH work for their people. However, without continued L&D, many employees leave because they seek these opportunities at other companies or are learning and upskilling independently, which is especially true in tech.

We need to shift to a mindset of developing our employees and their skillsets instead of simply replacing them – especially since the replacements are not to be found or would find a lack of L&D unattractive. According to Kristy McCann Flynn, an Organization Development Expert in her recent article The Reason Behind the Great Resignation That No One is Talking About, “Antiquated approaches and overpriced software solutions aren’t the magic bullets employers believe them to be. Companies may have gotten by with these in the past, but in today’s competitive hiring environment, they simply don’t cut it. As a result, employees are jumping ship.” The solution? Ask your people what they are looking for and what would make them more productive and successful, provide professional coaching and mentorship programs, and ditch the “one size fits all” approach for more personalized L&D. According to McCann Flynn, “Organizations are now in a critically short window of opportunity where they can opt to either offer learning and development that actually works or watch employees go elsewhere.”

No question, this can all be challenging for Gen Xer and Baby Boomer leaders for whom terms like “work-life balance” and “burnout” may have been seen in the past as weaknesses, but they are real and affecting everyone regardless of generation. Starting a Great Retention at your company starts with a people-focused approach to culture, communication, and continued investment in your human capital. First, examine your culture – is this how you would want to be treated if you were the employee? Are we offering our people the flexibility, choices, work-life boundaries, and support that increases engagement and retention – or are we lacking in these areas? Second, are we regularly communicating with our people, improving connection, and listening? Lastly, are we increasing our investment in L&D, which will not only increase engagement and retention but will bring a measurable return in increased productivity and growth? Once leaders can positively answer these questions, then their own “Great Retention” can begin and continue well after the pandemic has faded into history.

The Answer for Today and Tomorrow

In this unprecedented business environment, it may also be time to shift your thinking on recruiting and make an investment to bring on an experienced partner. One that can help you acquire the right talent and put your company in a position to grow. We can help.

New Iron Solutions realizes that it is more important than ever not just to fill a position but fill it with a candidate that will take your company to the next level. It may be time to bring on an experienced partner to help you navigate this new age as the cost of IT employee turnover and missed opportunities are just too high to ignore. We help drive the achievement of our client company’s strategic goals by identifying middle management to C-Level leadership professionals. They align with the culture, behaviors, and results valued by your organization.

If you have a temporary, project-based, IT, or direct placement need or want to know how we can help, contact New Iron Solutions online today or call 1-844-388-IRON (4766).

One on One Meetings

August 9, 2021 • By the New Iron Blogger

No question, the pandemic has made many tough jobs even more challenging – especially that of a manager. As we continue to emerge, many articles about employee retention report vast numbers of employees preparing to leave because of “burnout,” how they were treated, record “quit rates,” and a lack of talent across most industries. In a recent survey, 47% of business leaders say they worry about keeping employees engaged and productive – as well as just keeping them (see our post on The Great Resignation of 2021).

15Five, a leader in employee engagement and management software, has just released their 2020 Workplace Report, and while there is no quick fix, a solution is emerging – frequent one-on-one meetings. When managers regularly communicate through ongoing one-on-one meetings, especially in work from home and hybrid environments, they increase their effectiveness as managers and their teams and company overall. The numbers are staggering:

  • 82% of employees with weekly one-on-ones say they’re getting the support they need during the pandemic from their managers.
  • 78% of employees state that weekly one-on-ones provide the necessary feedback they need to improve performance.
  • 71% express more trust in their leaders, 72% feel more comfortable bringing up issues, and 73% are more motivated to go above and beyond in their role.
  • Importantly, 1.4x are more likely to say they are currently looking for a new job with monthly or less frequent one-on-ones instead of weekly.

 

Working from home and hybrid work arrangements, while showing increased productivity, also make the employee feel less seen, heard, and valued. Regular one-on-one meetings help bridge the gap – 15Five has even called it “the antidote to micromanagement.” Consider the outside pressures your employees have been under the last (18) months. It is no wonder that “burnout” is often cited as the reason for leaving a company or manager – they are losing the feeling of connectedness to their manager, team, and company. Staying up to date with an employee through weekly meetings helps managers understand how their people are handling their work and where they need more support and guidance.

The message – Talk, or they will walk. Communicate with your people frequently and one-on-one. Company leaders must also show how they are different from other businesses and the steps they will take to attract and retain talent. Absent a strong business case around this, and managers may continue to face a mass exodus of talent and struggle to rehire regardless of communication.

The Answer for Today and Tomorrow

New Iron Solutions realizes that it is more important than ever not just to fill a position but fill it with a candidate that will take your company to the next level. It may be time to bring on an experienced partner to help you navigate this new age as the cost of IT employee turnover and missed opportunities are just too high to ignore. We help drive the achievement of our client company’s strategic goals by identifying middle management to C-Level leadership professionals. They align with the culture, behaviors, and results valued by your organization.

If you have a temporary, project-based, IT, or direct placement need or want to know how we can help, contact New Iron Solutions online today or call 1-844-388-IRON (4766).

Resignation 2021

June 21, 2021 • By the New Iron Blogger

A “Great Resignation is coming,” according to Anthony Klotz, an associate professor of management at Texas A&M, and many economists and labor experts agree. The quit rate for April (those leaving their jobs) was the highest in 20 years, 24% higher than pre-pandemic, and it shows no signs of slowing. Moreover, vaccines are fueling new freedom to make the career changes that many employees wanted to make pre-pandemic, and others feel they need to make now.

Additionally, in some sectors, the demand for labor is so high and supply so low that the market has sharply shifted back into the Candidate Driven mode that existed pre-pandemic. Only now, it is far more heavily weighted on the candidate side.

We see it ourselves here at New Iron Solutions in our interactions with clients and candidates. Current trends and surveys all indicate that there is a substantial shift happening in the workforce. As a result, many people who retained their jobs through the pandemic are questioning how their companies handled the problem, how they were treated, their work-life balance, burnout, and are now more than ever ready to make a change.

There are many demographic, psychographic, and geographic shifts also compounding the problem. The unemployment rate is dropping while the number of firms unable to fill roles is increasing. Thus, it is not just “labor sitting on the sidelines collecting unemployment,” as many suspect. If it were, the unemployment rate would be higher or growing. With the unemployment rate dropping while the number of firms unable to fill jobs growing, this suggests a shifting marketplace. Talent will continue to reject open positions by industry sectors as they find more favorable jobs in other preferred industries.

Some surveys state that as much as 25% to even 50% or more current employees are prepared to leave their current employer. Current employers are also concerned, with 47% of business leaders saying they worry about keeping employees engaged and productive – as well as just keeping them. 

What are employers to do?

First, lean into the problem, and talk to your people. According to Liz Kislik and her Workplace Wisdom Blog, it may be time to have “Stay Interviews… A thoughtful, constructive process of checking in with your people can help you identify who might be a flight risk and what leverage you have to change their minds. Plus, it can be fuel for organizational improvement as well as preventative if you take the opportunity to express how your employees and your business can grow together.”

Second, when hiring, we cannot look at candidates the same way as we did pre-pandemic. According to Michael Maggiotto, SHRM-SCP and Head of HR Advisory at BEST Human Capital & Advisory Group, “To meet the demands that this new economy has created, we must hire differently, be open to change, and focus on successful behaviors.” Thus, long gaps in employment should not raise red flags during this transition period, but candidates should adequately explain how they occupied their time during such gap periods

According to Maggiotto, “Transferrable skills will be critical, and hiring managers will have to differentiate between what is teachable and what is not. For example, you can teach people the product or service your business sells, but you should not have to teach people the motivating behaviors that lead to success. They should bring those with them.”

Lastly, the companies that differentiate their recruiting by focusing on behavior traits, competencies, and transferable skills will be the winners during this transition from an employer-driven to a candidate-driven market. In addition, HR departments that partner strategically with executive leadership will adapt their total rewards program to retain and obtain critical talent, and this partnership will be vital going forward.

The Great Resignation may indeed be occurring, or it could be a brief period resulting from pandemic-related “burnout.” Regardless, use this time wisely to prepare and continually improve to make your company one where people want to stay and grow – pandemic or not.

The Answer for Today and Tomorrow

New Iron Solutions realizes that it is more important than ever not just to fill a position but fill it with a candidate that will take your company to the next level. It may be time to bring on an experienced partner to help you navigate this new age as the cost of IT employee turnover and missed opportunities are just too high to ignore. We help drive the achievement of our client company’s strategic goals by identifying middle management to C-Level leadership professionals. They align with the culture, behaviors, and results valued by your organization.

If you have a temporary, project-based, IT, or direct placement need or want to know how we can help, contact New Iron Solutions online today or call 1-844-388-IRON (4766).

Cyber Security

April 12, 2021 • By the New Iron Blogger

The numbers are staggering. According to the FBI, there were more than 11 times as many phishing complaints in 2020 compared to 2016, as the pandemic exacerbated the problem (attacks in 2020 more than doubled from 2019). According to the Proofpoint 2021 State of the Phish Report, 74% of U.S. organizations experienced a successful phishing attack last year alone.

Not only are phishing attacks and email fraud increasing in sophistication, but victims are also starting to point the finger at their Managed Services Providers (MSPs).

In January 2020, Boardman Molded Products of Boardman, Ohio, filed suit against MSP Involta LLC for falling prey to a phishing attack that cost the company $1.75 million. Boardman is suing for Breach of Service Order and Professional Negligence and Malpractice and is seeking at least $25,000 in damages. The suit also claims that 114 PUPS (viruses) were found on Boardman’s virtual server.

This landmark case has the potential to set a precedent for the MSP landscape and should be followed closely.

After reviewing the case, many questions came to mind:

  • Could this situation have been averted with end-user security training?
  • Did Involta and Boardman have the proper insurance in place to cover this type of situation?
  • What if the ruling is in favor of the plaintiff?
  • How much of an impact will the verdict have on the MSP industry?

 

So, what would I do if I owned an MSP or use an MSP to manage my IT needs?

First, I would call my insurance company and ask them to read the case filing and verify that our policies would cover this situation.

The typical reply is that the client should have Cyber Insurance in place with clearly defined coverage for financial losses due to phishing. And as for the service provider, they should have professional Errors and Omissions coverage that would defend the suit and pay if a judgment is made. But perhaps most importantly, a firm client/provider contract should be in place to limit the liability.

I would then follow up with more questions:

  • Is there specific language we need to have in our contract with our clients to limit our exposure? Do you, the insurance company, have examples of language we can provide to our attorneys?
  • Would requiring our clients to take security training help in limiting our liability?
  • Would mandatory security training provide a discount on our annual premiums?

 

My second call would be to our attorneys and forward them the case filing with our insurance company’s response.

  • I would have them review our current contract and recommend changes per the insurance companies’ guidance with any other current or past litigation in mind..
  • Discuss adding a security training clause that the client can either accept or reject.
  • Ask if the client rejects it, will it increase or decrease our exposure?
  • If we do not have a limitation of liability clause, can we add one? If so, can our liability be limited to X number of months of the monthly service charge for any damages if we are found liable?
  • Is our contract in alignment with the coverage provided by our insurance?

 

Additionally, is the contract’s language strong enough that it will be very difficult for the client to obtain a change of venue? Laws can vary dramatically from state to state, and there can be many variables regarding liability.

Some final takeaways:

  • If you do not offer end-user security training, now is an excellent time to offer it for you and your clients’ mutual well-being.
  • Discuss with your sales team the implications of this lawsuit and, if a client brings it up, how they need to discuss it.
  • Review your client contract annually with your insurance company and attorney. Insurance companies amend their policies annually, and laws change with new precedents to follow.

 

You should always educate yourself and your client, be proactive or be prepared to litigate.

If you would like a copy of the lawsuit for you and your company’s review, click HERE or email danp@newironsolutions.com directly.

The answer for today and tomorrow

New Iron Solutions realizes that it is more important than ever to not just fill a position but to fill it with a qualified candidate that will take the company to the next level. The cost of IT employee turnover and missed opportunities are just too high to ignore. We help drive the achievement of our client company’s strategic goals by identifying middle management to C-Level leadership professionals. They align with the culture, behaviors, and results valued by your organization.

If you have a temporary, project-based IT or direct placement need or want to know how we can help. Contact us online today or call 1-844-388-IRON (4766).