By Michelle Silverstein, Director of Corporate Marketing at Criteria
Looking back on 2020, the year was challenging in so many ways. Yet challenges present an optimal time to learn from experience and improve for the future.
In the middle of 2020, Criteria, surveyed over 400 hiring professionals to learn about how their hiring processes had adapted to COVID-19. We published the results in our annual Hiring Benchmark Report, and the responses were illuminating. From that data, we uncovered some interesting takeaways about hiring that can be used to improve and grow as we cruise into the new year.
1. Remote Work Is Here To Stay
According to our survey, 69% of organizations transitioned to remote work at some point last year. As a result, organizations had to establish remote hiring processes that were just as effective as in-person processes.
For those who were fortunate enough to be able to work from home, we were curious how they felt about remote work. In our survey, we asked: “Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, how has your opinion of remote work changed?”
What we found is that the majority of respondents, 54% said that their opinion of remote work has become more positive. Meanwhile, 42% said their opinion had stayed the same, and a paltry 4% said their opinion had become more negative.
On the whole, remote work has left a remarkably positive impression on those who had the opportunity to try it. From that same survey, respondents said that the key benefits of working from home were:
Less commuting (95%)
Flexible schedule (76%)
Better work-life balance (75%)
Fewer office distractions (72%)
More time with family (68%)
More productivity (64%)
What’s clear is that employees like and appreciate working from home, and that it can actually be more productive than working in an office. This suggests that even after the world returns to a “new normal” and offices begin to open back up, we don’t expect to see everyone go right back into the office. Instead, we expect to see a hybrid workforce model that combines a blend of remote and in-person work.
With remote work likely to play a major role in daily life moving forward, organizations need a way to optimize their remote hiring processes. Remote hiring has the same goal as in-person hiring: to find the best person for the job. Ultimately this means that organizations need a way to accurately and efficiently identify top talent without meeting them face-to-face.
2. The More Candidates, (Not Necessarily) the Better
2020 saw a sudden and massive rise in unemployment early in the year. The result was an influx of candidates flooding the job market. This represented a significant shift in the hiring landscape. Before, the hiring landscape was characterized as a candidate-driven market where qualified candidates were scarce and employers had to put forth greater effort to attract and retain top talent. But with more job seekers looking for opportunities, employers were faced with a welcome challenge: too many candidates.
The result? Hiring professionals started to perceive hiring as “easier” in 2020 than it was in 2019. In our survey, we found the following:
Across nearly every dimension, hiring professionals were having an easier time in 2020 than 2019. This may stem from the feeling of greater choice among a bigger candidate pool.
Nevertheless, the biggest challenge that hiring professionals face continues to be finding high quality job candidates. While more candidates may seem like a blessing, it doesn’t necessarily make it any easier to find that one person who is right for the job. On the contrary, a high volume of candidates can create problems of its own, with the need to efficiently and accurately identifying the candidates who demonstrate the highest potential to succeed.
3. Diversity Is a Priority Now More Than Ever
In our 2020 Hiring Benchmark Report, we also asked hiring professionals if increasing diversity in the workplace was a priority for their organization. What we found was that, for the majority of organizations, it was.
32% said increasing diversity in the workplace was a top priority at their organizations. 46% said it was somewhat of a priority, and just 22% said it’s not a priority. What’s clear is that most organizations are invested in hiring and retaining diverse teams. The question is, how are they going to achieve that goal?
Unconscious bias is pervasive in the hiring process. One way to combat it is by incorporating more data-driven elements that are tied to job success. The goal is to identify the right person for the job based on their abilities, not based on their connections or background.
4. There’s Reason for Optimism About the Future
There’s no denying that 2020 brought with it a lot of reasons to be pessimistic. However, when it comes to the future, hiring professionals are largely optimistic. In our Hiring Benchmark Report, we asked hiring professionals how they felt about the future for their organization, and the results were surprising:
The data painted an extremely optimistic picture. 66% of respondents were positive about the outlook, while 20% were neutral. Just 6% were negative and 9% were unsure. Despite the setbacks of 2020, hiring professionals are seeing the opportunity for growth in the future.
Ultimately this is a lesson in resilience and adaptability. Setbacks don’t have to debilitate any forward-moving progress. Even in times of strain, organizations can keep making plans for the future and building towards those goals, even if the vision has to be altered due to changing circumstances.
How Criteria Can Help
Criteria’s assessment platform is designed to help teams hire and grow. If an organization is the sum of its people, then each new employee has an important role to play. When assessments are incorporated into a long-term hiring strategy, organizations can start to see incremental improvements in everything from performance and productivity to employee retention and engagement.
By administering assessments early in the hiring process, organizations can quickly identify which candidates are most likely to succeed in the role. This can save invaluable time in screening and interviewing candidates, making it easier for the hiring team to maximize their time and efforts towards finding that right person for the role.
Criteria’s assessments are designed to help organizations hire diverse, high performing teams. Through a rigorous validation process, Criteria’s team of industrial and organizational psychologists ensures that the tests are non-discriminatory and accurate. And when assessments are administered early in the hiring process, they help to highlight candidates who may have been overlooked based on resume alone.
About Michelle Silverstein
Michelle Silverstein is the Director of Corporate Marketing at Criteria, a leading provider of pre-employment assessments. With a background in B2B, SaaS and HR Technology, Michelle is a passionate advocate for helping companies make more informed talent decisions through evidence-based hiring practices.
Turning your consultancy on a dime hasn’t been easy, but some of the challenges are thankfully diminishing. In fact, the nuances of converting to a virtual workforce and a mostly or completely offsite project work are now last on the list of Top 10 Challenges Facing Professional Services Leaders, according to respondents in a recent SPI Professional Services Talent Benchmark.
However, there are plenty of challenges still remaining including around many around hiring and retaining the right talent. Here are some tips taken from the recent Technology Advice Paper: Top 10 Critical Consulting Moves for 2021.
Don’t Neglect the “Soft Skills”
When it comes to talent, consulting staff (and clients alike) must punch up their skills as online communicators and collaborators – to best engage without in-person lunch meetings or stand-up presentations. Those soft skills are now critical to your firm’s success.
In stressful working environments, clients seeking consulting support appreciate meaningful interactions with a more balanced professional staff, skilled at effective collaboration, with a bit of compassion.
Hire for the Long Term
Many businesses are trying to make short-term adjustments today so they can more easily adapt as needed tomorrow. But when it comes to hiring talent today, leadership must invest for the long term. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reported that on average it costs a company 6 to 9 months of an employee’s salary to replace him or her.
Make your firm attractive to the top talent that’s available by offering opportunities for learning, growth, wellness, personal connections, and family flexibility. Your firm will find that the opportunities you offer to your talent today will pay off in retention, employee satisfaction and even client satisfaction down the road.
Like most sectors, consulting firms have faced various levels of disruption as a result of the pandemic. This post outlines 5 ways to get back on track in 2021.
Over the course of this year the mainstream news media has given us a clear understanding of the impact of the pandemic on consumer businesses. But understanding the impact on the consulting sector is a bit more nuanced. And, like many things in the world of consulting the answer to how the pandemic has impacted the sector is, “it depends.” Research and anecdotal evidence varies.
How the Pandemic Has Affected Firm Revenues The fact of the matter is that for the majority of firms, 52% of them in fact, 2020 will be a year of revenue decline. While a good portion (~30%) will stay revenue neutral, we estimate only 4% of firms will experience substantial growth this year (growth in excess of 30% or more). In short, if your firm has unlocked meaningful revenue growth this year, you’re not quite a unicorn but your experience is definitely far from the norm.
How Firms Have Responded to the Challenge While that’s all interesting, it doesn’t really help you very much. The real question is how did firms respond when faced with adversity? What did firms actually do to counteract the challenges 2020 threw at them? And, eventually, what does it mean for the road ahead – will some of these adjustments be “keepers” to maintain for the long term, and which adjustments should simply be “lessons learned”?
In our research, we looked at this on two levels. First, we wanted to understand if firms made moderate or significant changes to their business strategy. We classified this as developing new service offerings, creating new channel relationships, entering new markets or opening new geographies. As it turns out, 75% of firms did one or more of these things. And, as you might expect, firms were more likely to invest in new delivery methods (more digital ways to service their existing clients) than they were to say, enter entirely new vertical markets.
Second, we wanted to understand how firms adjusted at a tactical marketing and business development level. We considered this to be things like investing in new digital selling tools (i.e. LinkedIn Sales Navigator), investing in paid digital media or SEO services, or launching a virtual event series. Similarly, 78% of firms modified their marketing and business development tactics in one of these ways.
As you might expect, firms were more likely to invest new marketing resources into things that had the most promise in directly connecting them with clients in a “virtual conversation.” But we also know from other research that the volume of thought leadership coming from consulting firms during the pandemic drastically increased. In fact, in July I spoke with the editorial leaders of 3 of the largest global IT services firms and they all told me the same thing, “We published more in the last 3 months than we did in the last 3 years.” So, we do know this — clients are flooded, now more than ever, with objective opinions on what they should be doing going forward.
So, What’s Working? And What Should You Do in 2021? Obviously, every firm is different. Your response is directly commensurate with the nature of your firm – its ability to adapt, its hunger for change, its contractual obligations, its budget, its buy-in for marketing, and more. A business strategy firm that predominantly works with retailers obviously faces a much different go-forward model than an operations consulting firm working in the manufacturing sector or an IT services firm working with healthcare organizations.
Based on what we’ve seen in our research and in our client base, I go into a lot more detail on these Top 5 strategies for the year ahead in this webinar. They include:
Isolate Growth Opportunities Going Forward– All of your marketing and business development energy needs to operate within a narrow intersection of needs and wants.
Industry Alignment Opportunity– Economic crises tend to accelerate trends already in motion. We’ll talk about the one sector that continues to shine bright, and why you should align your firm with it somehow.
Raise the Quality of Your Thought Leadership Content– Clients don’t need more voices. But they do need better ones. Use 2021 as an opportunity to bring quality forward, not repeat the same stories everyone else is telling.
Enable Your Salespeople to Be Thought Leaders – Most consulting firms rely heavily on thought leadership to start conversations with potential clients. But few do a very good job of helping sales continue the story.
Double-Down a Portion of MarketingInvestments – Conferences and in-person interactions will re-emerge sometime in 2021. But that doesn’t mean client executives are going to rush back to the table. We’ll discuss the best ways to connect with potential clients in 2021.
Effectively managing talent is critical for project-focused companies who rely on their people to provide value to the business. Leverage these ten tips to ensure your people are working at peak productivity, delivering exceptional projects to delight clients, and driving organizational growth. Each of these tips will help you manage and retain more top talent while consistently contributing to the overall business strategy.
Keep Communicating – Make a conscious effort to listen and talk to your employees about their frustrations and aspirations within the company. Take time to really listen; remind them how much you appreciate their work and value their contribution to the firm. Keep the lines of communication open by leveraging continuous feedback sessions and implementing project-based appraisals.
The Stars Are Aligned – Keep your top performers in tune with the current corporate strategy. This creates a culture of reciprocity and mutual understanding for both the company and its employees. You will start to see personal goals align with the overall organization’s goals.
Emphasize Strengths – Use development plans to address the weaknesses and problems of your employees while honing in on their talent potential. Consider strategically assigning employees to projects that will help them strengthen new skills. Utilize development plans, career paths, and learning opportunities to help employees recognize their strengths while closing competency gaps.
Think Like a Headhunter – When it comes to your top talent you must know who they are, what skills they possess, and their potential within your firm before someone else does. There are few things worse than losing an important project leader or an individual contributor at a critical juncture in a project delivery cycle. Think like a recruiter and cultivate your existing talent by including them in succession plans. Employees are more likely to stay with you longer if they understand their path within your organization.
Be More Inclusive – Research shows that 75% of diverse organizations are more likely to see their innovative ideas brought to life. This statistic stems from leaders embracing diversity and encouraging their employees to speak up about their opinions. Creating a diverse and inclusive environment allows employees and managers to embrace innovation.
Know What Success Looks Like – Define success by creating competency models. The ability to measure your employees’ performance allows you to determine their success within the construct of your company. Best-in-class companies don’t rely on subjective thoughts to determine their talent performance, but rather, they create competency models throughout their organization to build a model of sustainable success.
Who’s Ready to Move Up? – Identifying potential leaders is one step towards filling vacant leadership roles. The second step is to have a clear path to identify and develop their skills. Most companies identify but forget to develop leadership skills. Take the time to identify, develop, and refine your potential leaders.
Plan, Plan, Plan – The best thing you can do to face the competition for talent is to plan. Creating and building a robust and comprehensive talent management solution strategy is a big feat. Take the time to plan and build your talent management solution strategy for effective and sustainable success that flows from within.
Embrace Data – Big Data seems overwhelming, but with the help of a unified technology solution, it can be a manageable and powerful tool to fuel the success of your company. Having a unified HR technology solution can help you handle talent-related data and provide straightforward and powerful analytics utilized in all stages of the talent management strategy.
Reduce Turnover, But Do It Right – Low turnover sounds great, but make sure that the small number of people leaving are not your best people. Turnover is expensive, but no matter the size, make sure that the attrition of your best talent stays low. Top performers are difficult to replace and can have a material impact on your project delivery
Last week we highlighted a cast of characters in the Witches and Warlocks category who cast their spells on the workplace, creating a toxic work culture.
This week let’s take a look at the flip side of a toxic work culture— horrible bosses, AKA Trolls!
Trolls are horrible bosses who make you want to scream with their bullying, micromanaging or up-and-down, rage-like behaviors. The troll boss may hog the credit for your achievements, throw you under the bus or show a total disregard for your wellbeing.
The Devil – Or in this case “The Devil Wears Prada”. Who could forget Miranda Priestly, portrayed by the talented Meryl Streep in the film? Just thinking about that icy stare sends shivers down my spine. Her character is ruthless, manipulative, and unnecessarily cruel. She regularly demands impossible tasks from her employees, like scheduling a flight out of Miami during a major hurricane or getting a copy of an unpublished Harry Potter book, just so her daughters can read it before the release date. She imposes upon her employees at insane hours with no regard for their personal lives. The absurdity makes it comical, but there is nothing comical about being bullied in real life. We’ve all either encountered or witnessed bullying in our lifetime. A study by Workplace Bullying Institute, showed that 19% of American workers reported being bullied or having previously been bullied at work, with another 19% who reported witnessing it. Bullying can be psychologically and emotionally damaging and can be very difficult to overcome.
The Micromanager – I think most of us have seen the memes of Gary Cole playing Bill Lumbergh in the movie, Office Space. This cult classic has generated inspiration for countless memes on social media, including the most famous, “If you could go ahead and do that, it’d be GREAT!”. And while Bill models several troll boss traits, he is the consummate nitpicker and is constantly focused on trivial matters such as report covers instead of spending time on more important issues. He spends most of his day hovering over his staff and well…micromanaging, right down to the enforcement of Hawaiian shirt day.
Micromanagement is a sign of weak leadership. What are the signs? A micromanager is constantly asking for updates and is more likely to revise your work than provide feedback on how it could be improved thus providing a development opportunity. You are not allowed to make even small decisions, and because this type manager is quick to find fault, in even the smallest of details, projects are likely to be delayed and stress increases well beyond normal levels, sometimes even to the point of causing physical harm.
A study performed by Trinity Solutions showed that 70% of people polled considered quitting their jobs and 30% did quit because of being micromanaged.
The most ironic thing about micromanagers is that they often believe their oversight is a measure necessary to achieve excellence. However, the time spent helicoptering over their employees is likely exactly what is keeping them from effectively managing their department.
The Brilliant Jerk – It almost sounds like an oxymoron. There was certainly nothing moronic about Gregory House in the TV Series titled, House MD. The Huffington Post referred to his character as the “Sherlock Holmes” of medicine. But unlike Holmes, House goes out of his way to be rude, shirk responsibilities that he feels are beneath him, and thinks the hospital policies are “suggested guidelines”. There is no question he’s a genius when it comes to the practice of medicine, but what is the cost of keeping someone like House around in the real world?
We’ve all worked with a gifted high performer who was an undeniable jerk. To put it simply, they don’t play well with others. Historically, this type of toxic boss tends to get a free pass when it comes to being rude or abrasive as long as they are delivering results. However, new studies have shown, there is a high cost to tolerating or even rewarding the brilliant jerk.
They can tear an organization apart from the inside out. They introduce toxicity into organizational culture that reduces moral and increases team turnover. In the long term, this toxicity will erode even the best of strategies.
The Work Institute estimated that 77% of turnover could have been prevented by employers. And that turnover on average it costs 1/3 of an employee’s annual salary, and 1 to 1.5 times the annual salary for high tech jobs.
The Rage-aholic – I can think of no better example of a Rage-aholic boss, than Gordon Ramsay, Celebrity Chef. He has been wildly successful with his cooking themed shows like Hell’s Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares, Master Chef, Hotel Hell, and 24 Hours to Hell and Back – just to name a few. Viewers can hardly wait to tune in to each episode to see Ramsay scream in the faces of incompetent chefs, struggling and sometimes delusional restaurant owners, or even difficult customers. He is not swayed by gender, looks, or social status. He is an equal opportunist when it comes to raging.
Whether it’s scallops sticking to the pan, undercooked lamb, or unsanitary food handling, Ramsay is notoriously abrasive and ready with a robust collection of swear words and devastating insults. With his bullish belittling, he leaves behind a broad wake of dumbfounded and tearful, kitchen staff.
When we see characters like our troll bosses on TV or in the movies, we laugh. In real life having a toxic boss can take its toll. You may dream of telling your boss to go jump in a lake? But they’d probably just delegate it to you, micromanage it, and then take credit for the awesome splash!
It’s important to know when to stand up to your boss and equally important to be professional in your approach. You’ll want to think through any possible repercussions to ensure the truth doesn’t set you free from your job. Be specific, be confident, and recognize that you cannot control the response, but you can get outside help. If the behavior is extreme or unlawful you should immediately seek help from your HR department. You may not the only person being impacted by the boss’ behavior. No one should feel unsafe, disrespected, or unappreciated at work. Speaking with HR will give the organization an opportunity to protect you and your peers from suffering a toxic work culture due to a troll boss.
We’ve shown a lot of examples of troll bosses, using fictional characters that people can easily relate to, so using that same theme, who is our favorite “Best” TV boss?
As a longtime fan of NCIS, the honor goes to Leroy Jethro Gibbs, who is head of the NCIS Major Case Response team. He is a strong leader who will take the heat for his team and frequently shows a caring side. He does all the right things you would expect of a great boss. He offers clear direction, gives stretch projects, trusts his team to get the job done without micromanagement and has a good sense of humor. He goes out of his way to makes thoughtful gestures to his staff, like keeping Abby well stocked in Caf Pow, her favorite high energy caffeinated drink. He also provides positive feedback when the team achieves measures of success. You can see how meaningful it is by the pride beaming from Tony’s face when Gibbs says, “Good job DiNozzo!”
He empowers his team to be independent thinkers instead of micromanaging. He expects them to find their own solutions and trusts they will get the job done. Throughout the series many of the team have been offered external opportunities. But the loyalty that comes from strong leadership and culture drives top talent retention.
Welcome back to Week 2 of our Halloween Monster Mash Blog Series! This week we are talking about the Ghost, and Frankenstein! Spoooookyyyy!
The Ghost – A person involved in the recruitment process who ghosts a candidate after he or she has advanced to the interview process.
What is ghosting? It is the practice of suddenly withdrawing from all communication without explanation.
Anyone who has tried to find a job in a fast-paced market has likely been ghosted at some point. An astounding 65% of job seekers say they never (or rarely) receive a rejection notice from employers.
On the flip side, anyone involved in the recruitment process knows it can feel overwhelming to personally respond to everyone who expresses interest in being hired to your company. Even more so if you are processing hundreds or even thousands of applicants.
In today’s tech savvy world, we have applicant tracking systems that can send an instant, automated response stating only candidates being considered for the role will be contacted. This is a great way to level-set on the front end.
But what about the candidate who spends hours of their time, often juggling a busy schedule for phone screens, video interviews, face-to-face, and even call back interviews, only to then be ghosted if not moving forward? Not only is it a terrible feeling, but it’s a drain on the time and energy they could be putting into other areas of their job search.
You might be thinking, if the company doesn’t plan on moving forward with a candidate, why should it be concerned with their candidate experience?
Today more and more job seekers are leaving negative feedback regarding their candidate experience on job search sites such as Glassdoor, social media and social networking sites, or sharing by word of mouth, making company brands more public than ever.
According to Glassdoor, 58% of job seekers consider a positive experience to include clear and regular communication, 53% clear expectations, and 51% feedback regarding rejection.
Additionally, 40% of applicants state they would pull out of the recruitment process due to a poor first interaction with the Recruiter or Hiring manager, this is only 4% less than the number one reason given, which is the announcement of a recent layoff.
This means it is important that some type of response be given to all that have taken the time to apply and interview. While automated responses are a useful tool for candidates not being recommended for interview, anyone who advances to the interview stage should receive timely follow up on the status of their candidacy. It may not be a comfortable conversation, but by creating a personalized interaction, it’s sure to help you stand out as a true professional and be a good reflection on your employee brand.
The Frankenstein – a group of HR systems that have been ineffectively pieced together resulting in inefficient business processes or data integrity issues.
Typically, when deciding on HR software the choices are between a best-of-breed approach or a comprehensive package. Either can be successful if approached with a strategic plan.
Best of breed typically offers custom solutions that can cater to complex program designs and provide a more granular level of function reporting, but little in the way of HR Analytics or cross functional dashboards. Additionally, systems can get bogged down due to multiple integration points.
Purchasing a comprehensive package is generally considered to be very user-friendly, with features like single sign on, and the benefit of robust reporting capabilities. Older versions offered little in the way of granular level customization, but rapid advances are being made in this area.
At times, companies will start with one “base” system and as the business grows, systems will be added based on individual department needs in an ad hoc way with no real strategic design. This is what we call the Frankenstein.
The Frankenstein will drain your team of valuable time and resources and increase the potential for error. It often involves pulling multiple reports to get all the data needed for comprehensive analytics.
Automation and streamlining processes mean more than simply adding technology to a current process. It’s important to understand what problems you want the system to solve, what is working with the current process, and what is not.
You’ll want to consider what you need for customizations and at what level, create a list of required features, narrow the list of solution providers, maybe ask a few trusted resources for recommendations. Consider scheduling demos for the top 3, discuss the system pros and cons and then select the one that meets the majority of your needs and provides the best overall price.
Implementing the right system can redesign how your HR department does business, streamline interdepartmental processes, and potentially provide a high return on your investment. You may even be able to accomplish more with a smaller team! Take that, Frankenstein!
Thanks for reading this week’s installment, we hope you enjoyed it! Be sure to check back next week for more of our twists on HR processes.