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Soft Skills Development Can Take Your Company to New Heights

In today’s environment, there’s a lot of focus on hard skills development, especially among professionals in finance, accounting, and tech roles.

Hard skills, such as programming knowledge, reporting, and data analysis, are sought after by employers who need individuals with specific capabilities to drive their departments forward.

However, there’s a lack of focus on soft skills, which can be just as important to organizations that need help increasing revenues and developing key business relationships with partners and customers.

You can help your employees work on their soft skills through individualized and group training programs, often at a low cost. Here are a few critical soft skills that most businesses can benefit from.

Teamwork

Teamwork is essential for workplace collaboration and special projects. Rarely can a company or department succeed on the back of one individual; usually, multiple people are necessary to assist in projects and tasks. In a department like sales or marketing, employees may regularly work with other team members and with clients, too.

Building your organization’s teamwork skills can lead to better communication among employees. In addition, they’ll learn about their unique strengths, allowing them to understand who to go to when they have specific needs.

Problem-Solving

You might not think about problem-solving when you think of soft skills, but it’s a critical trait to have. Individuals with the ability to solve problems don’t give up when tough times arise; instead, they think about the issue critically and seek to find a solution, sometimes using uncommon methods.

Problem-solving is a soft skill people can work on by regularly solving increasingly tricky issues. You can improve your team’s problem-solving skills by providing them with theoretical problems and observing how they work through them.

Communication

Communication is another soft skill often overlooked by hiring managers. Many people highlight their communication skills on their resume when looking for a new position, but they offer little proof to satisfy their claims.

Poor communication skills can harm relationships, lead to bad team performance, and result in declining customer relationships. When your employees can’t communicate effectively, critical information is lost.

For instance, poor communicators might fail to notify your customer of the need to renew a service, resulting in lost revenue. Or they might not tell a manager when the inventory of a product is low, resulting in customer dissatisfaction.

Body Language

Body language can have a more significant effect on people than words. Poor body language can result in miscommunication and angry customers, but this is easily avoidable with the proper training.

Improving body language is especially important for individuals in customer-facing roles, like salespeople and customer service professionals. Employees can accidentally offend others with the wrong body language by conveying anger, boredom, or a lack of interest.

Fortunately, training can help workers ensure they aren’t using body language incongruously with their true intentions. For instance, you could show your workers videos of proper body language versus ineffective body language. You could even film them in action, allowing them to identify how they can improve themselves.

Time Management

When you think of time management, you probably envision arriving to work on time or scheduling your day in accordance with your current priorities. However, time management is much more than simple scheduling. It also involves handling your tasks promptly, ensuring that no one is waiting on you to finish something you’re responsible for.

Good time management is a principle you’ll want to abide by when it comes to customers. Clients expect their appointments to begin when scheduled and don’t want to wait in long lines to purchase a product or service.

You can help your employees work on their time management skills through simple exercises designed to make them mindful of everyone’s time.

Etiquette

Etiquette, or good manners, is another soft skill that you can impose on your employees. While most individuals are taught the importance of manners by their parents and teachers, sometimes people need a little refresher course, especially if they’re in a customer-facing role. Employees who undergo training will learn the importance of etiquette in business and client relationships and other aspects of their lives.

Make Soft Skills Training Essential For Your Organization

We’d love to help you develop vital soft skill leadership skills for your people. Connect with Chris Kelly to learn more about Relevant Movement’s coaching program, where we help you upskill your team with leadership skills and more.

5 Talent Acquisition Tips for 2023

How do you plan on attracting and retaining the best talent for 2023? The most successful companies are evolving their recruitment strategy, adopting more of a marketing approach rather than merely posting an ad on a career site. Talent acquisition demands that you put your best foot forward and learn to focus on the things that matter the most to your prospective employees. The following 5 tips can help you showcase your employer brand and connect with the needs of today’s job seekers.

1. Define Productivity

What does productivity look like in your organization? You’re undoubtedly aware of the so-called “quiet quitting” movement, where workers choose to perform the minimum requirements of their jobs and no more. But if you define productivity as more than just the number of hours worked, you can easily boost employee engagement and make an employee feel valued. In fact, you’ll likely see greater engagement by tying employee productivity back to the company’s underlying mission. Employees will be more eager to give their all to a cause or purpose that’s bigger than themselves. Keeping this mission in front of your workers can motivate them, inspire them, and avoid the temptation of “quiet quitting” or burnout.

2. Prioritize Work-Life Balance

Employees (and job applicants) are looking for an employer who respects their time and non-work commitments. Offering a strong work-life balance can be a huge selling point when it comes to talent acquisition. Some of the most common ways to achieve this balance include:
  • Offering flexible hours
  • Offering work-from-home or hybrid options
  • Refraining from encouraging overtime work or long hours
  • Encouraging employees to participate in fitness or wellness programs
More importantly, your company’s management must demonstrate a commitment to work-life balance and model a commitment to self-care and meaningful time off. These commitments not only help you attract new recruits but also help you retain your most dedicated workers.

3. See Boomerang Employees as an Opportunity

Record-setting inflation is increasing the cost of living for all Americans, but retirees are hit especially hard. It’s therefore not unusual to see Baby Boomers retire from a lengthy career only to return to the workforce a short while later. Often, these workers make lateral moves within their respective industries, occupying a different role than before yet at the same level of seniority or pay. For hiring managers, these “boomerang” employees present an enormous opportunity. Older employees can contribute invaluable experience and skills to your workforce. And even if they’re new to your team, their life experience alone can make them a mentor for rising stars.

4. Find Ways to Cultivate Loyalty in a Hybrid Environment

Even as the 2020 pandemic has tapered off, America’s workforce has retained a hybrid schedule, working from home for at least a portion of the week. But if you’re not careful, this could eventually be an alienating experience, especially for new hires who aren’t familiar with your company culture. When new hires don’t feel that they “fit in,” they might take their skills elsewhere. How can you focus on company culture in a hybrid environment? Be deliberate in planning the hybrid schedule. Aim to have specified days when the entire team is fully present. These days make “centers of gravity” that keep team members productive and accountable and help new recruits integrate more completely into your company culture.

5. Use Data to Adapt Your Company Culture

No two companies are alike. Your company culture should be as unique as the people on your team. The future of HR demands that talent managers take a bottom-up approach to company culture, allowing employees to have a direct voice in the policies and practices that define their workplace. Employee surveys can be a great way to gather feedback, and in larger organizations, you might tap into previous employment data to identify and analyze patterns. You’ll adopt a fluid approach to your company culture this way and allow it to evolve with your team members rather than forcing employees to adapt to your company.

Support Employee Attraction in 2023

AssetHR is an industry leader when it comes to recruitment, benefits management, and other core tasks. To learn more about how to support and encourage employee attraction, contact our experienced team today.

Strong Company Culture in a Hybrid Environment: 4 Tips for Success

The 2020 pandemic shattered the myth that productivity collapses when employees work from home. Now that most restrictions have been lifted, many employers have continued offering hybrid schedules in which employees work from home for at least a portion of the week. 

But it can be challenging to develop and maintain company culture when your workforce is not fully present. Here are some tips to help you build community and foster loyalty in a hybrid workforce.

Set Expectations for In-Person Days

First, you need to recognize the strategic importance of in-person days. This is especially true when you onboard new employees who will need an in-person environment for training as well as understanding your unique company culture.

You can facilitate this by deliberately scheduling in-person days when the entire team is present. If necessary, you might consider appointing an employee to coordinate in-person days by ensuring that your team members’ schedules align. 

Set expectations for these days. For example, you might ask team leaders to conduct meetings, agree on training procedures, or share progress updates on a given project.

In-person days can form multiple “centers of gravity,” providing stability for your hybrid workforce and helping your new hires feel like members of the team.

Measure Productivity by Output, Not Hours

It’s tempting for managers to assess employee success based on things like hours spent working. In fact, some computer programs even allow company leaders to keep track of how their employees spend their time. Not only does this communicate a lack of trust, but it also misunderstands what it means to be productive in a hybrid environment.

Instead, company leaders should set clear expectations and benchmarks for every team member. This means that employees are achieving their goals when they’re at their desks as well as when they’re making meaningful contributions to a larger project. 

This strategy ensures that workers are engaged in the goals of the company rather than merely punching the proverbial time clock.

Provide In-Person Learning Opportunities

Sometimes, you’ll need to lure your staff members back to the office with in-person events. Training seminars or other learning opportunities can be a great way to do just that. You’ll likely discover that offering educational opportunities will foster greater loyalty among your staff, who appreciate the chance to develop new skills.

Combine these opportunities with a free lunch, and you have the perfect recipe for an in-person event. Even if the event isn’t mandatory, you may be surprised at how many workers come to the office to participate.

Find Ways to Create Community

Hybrid environments naturally favor knowledge workers who can access company data from anywhere. But warehouse workers and other employees don’t have the luxury of working from home. If you’re not careful, this can create friction.

Offering community-building events can be an effective way to bring everyone together. For example, if you find ways to give back to the surrounding community, your team members will be more willing to pull together for a common purpose.

Even remote workers can form a community. Tools like Slack or isolved can help your employees communicate and collaborate on all their projects, helping them feel like a part of a team even when geographically separated.

Deploy Satisfaction Surveys

Learn from your employees. Regular employee engagement surveys can help you gauge employee satisfaction and give you ideas about how to adapt. What’s going well? What needs to change? Your employees may be able to highlight challenges that you’d never have considered without their input.

At the very least, these surveys give employees a voice in your company leadership. But be careful. If your employees never see results or adaptations based on these surveys, they might conclude that their opinions don’t truly matter to senior management. 

Find ways to regularly integrate employee feedback into the workplace so that your team members feel engaged in your company culture.

Boost Employee Engagement

Looking for additional ways to boost employee engagement in a hybrid environment? AssetHR can help. We offer industry-leading human resources guidance and assistance to help you develop a dynamic, engaging company culture. Contact us today to discover how we can enhance the way you do business.

Orientation vs. Onboarding — What’s the Difference?

The concepts of orientation and onboarding are often treated as synonymous in the world of HR, but the truth is that they are two different things. If you want to create a strong employee experience from the first moment a new hire walks in, it’s important that you understand the differences.

While orientation is always important for a new employee, onboarding is the step that needs the most attention. Onboarding is one of the major keys to employee engagement and retention. To make sure you understand the differences between orientation and onboarding and their individual purposes, take a look at the following definitions.

What Is Orientation?

Orientation is the process of getting a new hire situated in their new workplace. It involves introducing them to their coworkers, their managers, and the organization in general. They are given a rundown of their new position and they also take the time to fill out any paperwork they’re required to file. 

Orientation usually takes the first few days — and possibly even the first full week — of a new hire’s employment.

What Is Onboarding?

Onboarding is the process of ensuring that a new hire becomes fully integrated into the organization. While orientation includes a walking tour and a meet-and-greet, onboarding is a more rigorous process in which a new employee is able to dive into what makes their new company tick. 

During onboarding, the new employee learns about organizational values, company culture, and the goals they will be working with their colleagues to achieve.

Another big distinction between orientation and onboarding is that onboarding is a far longer process. While a new hire should be properly oriented to the basics of their work within the first week, the onboarding process will take a minimum of three months and possibly up to a full year. 

It’s generally believed that an onboarding process shorter than 90 days will not be an effective one and can result in a lot of turnover.

How to Develop an Effective Onboarding Process

Orientation is certainly important, but it’s a fairly cut-and-dry process. Onboarding, on the other hand, requires a lot more attention to detail and an organization-specific approach. If you want to create an effective onboarding process, you need to develop it carefully by following these steps.

Map Out Your Goals

To create the framework from which your onboarding process will be born, you need to know exactly what your onboarding goals are. 

The basic idea is to provide your new hires with the knowledge they need to successfully integrate into your organization. Obviously, that knowledge and the method used to acquire it is going to vary from company to company. Onboarding must therefore be specifically tailored to your unique business.

To determine what your specific onboarding goals will be, start by answering the question, “What do we expect out of a fully onboarded new hire?” Then go from there.

Create an Onboarding Team

Your next step is to identify the leaders of your organization who will be playing a pivotal role in the onboarding process. Define their onboarding roles so they can fill them as effectively as possible. 

Onboarding is not a job for one or two key members of an organization; it’s a process that should tap into as many resources as possible throughout the company.

Create an Onboarding Plan

Mapping everything out on paper is critical to ensuring that you have a clear timeline with well-defined milestones. This process is something that will require trial and error, as you won’t really be able to see how it works until it’s put to the test.

Continually Review, Monitor, and Reassess

All onboarding processes should be treated as a work in progress until many successful new hires have found their way comfortably into your organization. Even then, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t constantly look for ways to upgrade the experience. 

You can keep improving the process by reviewing data, requesting feedback, incorporating new technology, and enlisting the help of an HR company that specializes in onboarding.

Your onboarding process can make or break the employee experience. AssetHR’s isolved integration helps our clients to create streamlined, highly effective onboarding practices. Connect with Chris Kelly today to learn more.

The Power of a Strong Generational Workplace

A special thanks to Jaime Taets, CEO of Keystone Group International, for submitting this blog to our team! You can connect with Jaime on LinkedIn here.

“Boomers are uncomfortable with technology and have no idea how to use the internet to increase efficiency. They only want to do it how they’ve always done it. They are oblivious to how the internet and social media could accomplish more faster.”

“Millennials feel entitled and expect constant attention. They want a promotion two weeks after they start. And they won’t pay their dues or put in the level of effort it takes.”

“Gen Xers are such job-hoppers. They get bored and suddenly jump ship. They have no idea what company loyalty is. All they think about is themselves and their career ambitions”

These are all comments that we hear relative to how one generation looks at the unique attributes of another generation. Just like in society, when someone looks, believes, or acts differently than us, we make assumptions and judgements. The same assumptions and judgements are happening every day in your organization related to the Generational Divide. So how can organizations bridge that divide and create a workplace that is inclusive and takes advantage of the strengths that each generation, and each human brings to the table?

Truly fix a problem I believe that we need to understand it first. And when I speak and train on the generational divide, I am surprised by how many people take the generational differences at face value and don’t really dig in to understand why those differences are there.
Boomers who are looked at as inflexible or stubborn and set in their ways are really living out the values that were created when they were in their formative years.

Some of their parents or grandparents lived through the Great Depression and the Boomers themselves were born shortly after the end of WWII. What they have experienced in their lives has impacted beliefs that they carry into their personal and professional lives. They have beliefs around professional accomplishments, job security and loyalty, working hard and you will be rewarded. There’s nothing wrong with those beliefs, except that the world has changed and some of those beliefs are not as important in the new business climate.

Or take the Millennials. This generation was deemed the decade of the child. It was the generation where everyone got a participation trophy for their contribution, information was instantly available to them, and they had exposure to a lot of information at early ages. They saw their parents strive for wealth and success and they determined those were the things they wanted – they want to “have it all” and they “deserve the best”. This generation is super family-focused and therefore wants to ensure their work environment balances their personal lives. They want to be included and want constant feedback and validation about how they are doing.

I could go on for pages about the historical events that shaped each of these generations and the jokes and memes that we use to stereotype each generation, but I won’t. Why? Because underneath all our life experiences, our beliefs and our judgements, each of us is human first. We all have basic human needs, things like certainty, significance, love, connection. It doesn’t matter what generation we come from; we need these things.

So, when exasperated leaders ask me how to manage across generations my response to them is always the same. First, seek to understand because when we understand how someone’s background, no matter what their age or generation, we soften the edges of our own judgement. We can start to see the situation through their eyes and connect with them on a deeper level. Second, ask different questions. Instead of asking the same type of questions and expecting something different, start asking different questions that cause people to think differently, to examine their own beliefs about a situation.

Being a good leader doesn’t mean to have to be an expert on each generation or admit to fully understanding why each generation is the way they are. Good leaders get to know the needs of each individual and authentically engage and motivate them based on their own unique needs.

Leadership is relatively simple in concept but not easy to do. But putting in the effort to improve your leadership skills will be an ROI that is always strong.