Overcome Stubborns

Empowering Employees: Cultivating Career Advancement From Within

“External hires are practical if you need to hire immediately. The market right now is booming because we have so much talent. But it doesn’t solve a long-term issue, and if we don’t address the long term issue, it’s soon going to become a short-term concern.”This was the warning from Steph Ricks, senior account executive and partnership development leader at education tech platform Strategic Education, at From Day One’s live conference in Washington, D.C. Failure to retain talent, failure to provide them with advancement opportunities, whether vertical or lateral or some combination of the two, is an existential threat to a company’s potential.At the event, Ricks and her colleagues in HR and talent development assembled for a panel discussion on how employers can create opportunity within organizations by boosting internal mobility. The consensus was this: democratize, market, prioritize, and measure.Opening Mobility Opportunities to AllUnless the direction of travel is upward, it may be tough for employees to envision the ways their career might go. Examples likely exist in their current company, yet many remain unaware of the multidirectional career paths that surround them.Workers have to be able to see what’s available, says Terri Hatcher, the chief diversity and inclusion officer at global IT provider NTT Data Services. To show employees what’s available, the company uses an AI-driven talent-management system that can turn employees on to open roles that suit their skills. Hatcher also hosts storytelling events. In one recurring series, women in the company tell their stories about their career growth. “Specifically,” she said, “they talk about the programs in our company and the tools they’ve used that have helped them grow.”A workforce development strategy, to be truly effective, must be democratic. By analyzing the demographics of workers advancing up the ladder at NTT, Hatcher discovered that some segments were being excluded, and it had become evident in the composition of leadership teams. The middle management layer was the bottleneck. “We noticed that people in middle management were not advancing, and women were not advancing, so we took hold of that. There is no way we’re going to be able to see a difference in senior leadership if we don’t see anything change in middle management.”Encouragement also has to come from people managers, not least because they have the influence enough to ignite or dampen a career. Hatcher found that even though training programs were open to all, and women knew that they could nominate themselves, they weren’t quick to do so. “You might open up a program to everyone, but you’ve got to really market that program to everyone,” she said. “Your managers have to be in on it, they have to be encouraging people to get out there and get engaged. Because sometimes people don’t feel like it’s for them for whatever reason.”Maryland-based medical network, Adventist HealthCare had run its emerging leaders program for several years to warm reception, but in 2019, Brendan Johnson, the organization’s SVP of human resources, examined the demographic makeup of the program cohorts and found that the program participants did not reflect the company’s workforce. So they opened the program to everyone in the company – all 6,000 of them.The panelist spoke in a session titled "Creating Opportunity Within: How Employers Are Boosting Internal Mobility"“That completely changed the way that we made sure that everyone was aware of opportunities.” With that, leadership opportunities were no longer about who you know, but about how much you want to grow. Three years later, said Johnson, the demographics of the leadership program looked like the demographics of the workforce.Without clear expectations for high performance, leadership teams naturally sort themselves homogeneously, says Johnson. “If you don’t have a strong and very objective way to measure top performers, top performers end up being the people that look like your presidents and look like your vice presidents.”Knowing the right people and being exposed to new functions and departments can unlock tremendous opportunity. “I don’t think that any of us in this room would find our next opportunity by applying for a position,” said Ricks of Strategic Education. “I think it’s going to come down to our networks.”Carrie Theisen, the SVP of total rewards at Fannie Mae noticed that in her organization there were certain barriers to mobility, one in particular that the company had inadvertently erected: Pay grade bumps came only with promotions but as Johnson reminded us “not everybody wants to grow up and be a leader.” So Fannie Mae changed the pay structure so that individual contributors had the potential to make as much as people managers. To market opportunities, Theisen chose to link career progression with the company’s employer value proposition, live well, and build the employee experience in the service of advancement.Prioritize Internal MovesOne of the simplest tips came from Steph Ricks: give internal hires priority. She describes the standard practice as her former company, Wayfair. “When a [requisition] went live, we would interview anyone internal who applied for the role. If we weren’t satisfied, then we offered interviews to any employee referrals. If we didn’t find the talent we needed there, then it was open externally.”Theisen’s advice was to plan well into the future. “Succession planning is most effective when it starts at the top,” said Theisen. “We present our succession plans to our board quarterly. They include for every key role across the organization and the key successors. Are they ready now? Are they emerging?” She found that the board was eager to prioritize diverse representation at all levels, and this would be her contribution.Tracking movement and paying attention to changes over time, that’s how you get better at internal mobility, panelists said. At Adventist, Johnson reports quarterly to the board on internal versus external promotions. He aims for more than 40%, and in the last five years, he’s been able to report 50%–60% internal hires.And he has his own measures: “We shifted last year from measuring employee engagement to measuring employee fulfillment.” Engagement, he said, is about what the employee is doing for the company, hedging the question, “will you still be here in three years?” But by measuring fulfillment instead, Johnson hopes to shift the onus, and learn whether the company is doing enough to retain its workers.Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza is a freelance journalist and From Day One contributing editor who writes about work, the job market, and women’s experiences in the workplace. Her work has appeared in the Economist, the BBC, The Washington Post, Quartz, Fast Company, and Digiday’s Worklife.

BY Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza | May 17, 2024
Overcome Stubborns
By Carrie Snider | May 17, 2024

Elevate Employee Engagement: Smart Strategies for Thriving Teams on a Budget

Employees crave meaningful experiences. But with limited time and budgets, how can companies build more purpose into the work experience? Fifteen minutes at a time, says Ben Sampson.Sampson is chief evangelist of social impact and employee engagement at WizeHive, which offers software platforms for managing scholarships and workplace giving, as well as immersive volunteer experiences via WeHero. At a From Day One’s webinar, Sampson spoke to the idea of how turnkey volunteering can increase employee engagement on a budget. Kelly Bourdet of Apparata Media interviewed.Coming from a volunteer background, Sampson knew how engaging it can be to help others.  One thing led to another, and he eventually co-founded WeHero to help facilitate opportunities for employees to engage in volunteering experiences through their workplace. “We're constantly looking at what employees need,” he said. More and more, he’s learned that employees want to work for a company with purpose. They want to go to work and feel like it makes a good social impact. Some potential employees even ask about those opportunities during hiring. On the flip side, employees are also extremely conscious of their time. “How can we be time sensitive to get employees engaged in our companies, and give them a good experience of continuously engaging over and over again?” Sampson asked. In the past, companies would typically ask employees to go out and find their own volunteer opportunities, then spend time out of the office. While employees love giving back, putting the burden of doing all the legwork doesn’t fit within time constraints or even company budgets. The key, Sampson and his team have learned, is meeting the company and the employees where they are and giving back their most valuable resource: their time.Journalist Kelly Bourdet interviewed Ben Sampson of WizeHive during the From Day One webinar (photo by From Day One)Companies big or small, hybrid or in-office, local or global, all can better engage through impact experiences. Having WizeHive take care of the burden of logistics allows employees to enjoy the process of volunteering without a lot of extra time while maximizing their impact. “Bite size volunteer opportunities make a lot of impact,” Sampson said. “Maybe that's building a water filter for 15 minutes out of your workday, maybe that is answering a video call from someone that’s visually disabled that needs help finding the bus stop. Volunteering can be a great way for engaging employees in a low-cost mechanism.”At one company with an office and a warehouse, Sampson says the warehouse personnel generally didn’t have the time to participate in volunteer projects. So they set up a station where all employees could put together backpacks with supplies for kids during lunch or a break. Warehouse employees felt more included and engaged.“They even got to see the kids picking up the backpacks, so that was really special,” Sampson said. Even though the project took very little time and employees didn’t even need to leave the workplace to do it, the project still had a big impact on the community.One thing to focus on when rolling out opportunities is showing the clear path to impact. What will be the result of putting in their time? Virtual events are especially popular, Sampson says, as more people can participate in them and they fit most budgets. Sampson’s team can also help match people with specific skills to volunteer opportunities. Doing transcription work for the Smithsonian or Ancestry are just two examples of something people can do that have a clear path of impact—saving pieces of history and helping people connect with ancestors. Leadership buy-in is crucial for success, Sampson says. Companies where leadership is engaged and participating in impact projects correlate highly with employee participation and engagement as well. Mercedes is one company where the CEO works alongside employees during their volunteer experiences, connecting employees with leadership and allowing them to see each other outside the typical work setting.But sometimes getting that leadership buy-in can be challenging. “What is something the HR side can use to argue for the value?” Bourdet asked Sampson.To understand what’s most important to that leader, likely profitability for the company, then offering metrics or other reasons why volunteerism is the answer. If that leader is focused on employee retention, Sampson has a metric for that. “What are the costs of employee turnover? For a lot of businesses that we work with, it’s millions of dollars.” So, if employee engagement improves through these impact projects, it could save the company money. For one company they were working with, Sampson predicted a $26 million savings over 12 months, if done effectively. “There is so much positive emotion when people volunteer.” One employee who was able to volunteer for the first time told Sampson, “It’s cool that my employer has given me the opportunity to do this.” Now that’s employee engagement. Editor’s note: From Day One thanks our partner, WizeHive, for sponsoring this webinar.Carrie Snider is a Phoenix-based journalist and marketing copywriter.

Overcome Stubborns
By Lesley Alderman, LCSW | May 15, 2024

ADHD in the Workplace: What You Should Know–and What Can Help

Pete came to our weekly psychotherapy session frustrated with work. He had just returned to his office, post pandemic, and found the new, open plan noisy and overwhelming. Pete, which is not his real name, has attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and is easily distractible and sensitive to noise. He had trouble concentrating, was irritated by the constant chatter of colleagues, and, as a result, was feeling less productive.“Could you talk to your manager about getting some accommodations?” I asked.“No way!” he said. “That would be a career killer.”Pete’s wariness is not uncommon. A few of my psychotherapy patients with ADHD have confided in their managers, but most feel it’s unwise to do so. They fear they will be stigmatized and sidelined.Edward Hallowell, M.D., agrees with their concern. The founder of the Hallowell ADHD Centers and one of the leading authorities on the disorder, explained to From Day One: “We’re not there yet. Most corporate professionals think of ADHD as some kind of mental illness.”Given that ADHD is not well-understood in the workplace, how can employees speak up about their needs in a way that feels safe? And how can managers and HR leaders better understand how to respond to those needs–whether employees want to name their ADHD, or not? A well-accommodated employee is, after all, a happier and more productive one. “It’s in everyone’s best interest to remove obstacles to someone’s performance,” said Hallowell. Here’s what experts recommend:Know What It IsADHD is a neuro-developmental disorder characterized by symptoms of restlessness, impulsivity and difficulty sustaining attention to boring tasks. It tends to run in families and is often inherited from a parent. There are three types: inattentive (dreamy and distractible), hyperactive-impulsive (restless and talkative), and a combination of the two. Most adults with ADHD have the inattentive type. Though it was long considered to be a childhood disorder affecting mostly boys, research has shown that it persists into adulthood—about 30% to 70% of children with ADHD continue to have symptoms later in life.Ned Hallowell, M.D., a pre-eminent expert on ADHD (Photo courtesy of the Hallowell ADHD Centers)An undiagnosed adult may think of themselves as spacey, messy, or undisciplined—and they often suffer from low self-esteem. A recent study found that only 10% to 25% of adults with ADHD receive an accurate diagnosis and adequate treatment. “They are often inaccurately diagnosed with anxiety or depression, which are really just the fallout of untreated ADHD,” said Ari Tuckman, a psychologist in West Chester, Penn., who specializes in the treatment of ADHD. As Hallowell puts it: “It’s like driving on square wheels.” In dealing with tasks, you will make progress, but it may take longer.And That the Diagnosis Is On the RiseWhile children are still the most likely group to be identified with the disorder, the number of adult diagnoses has been rising for decades. The pandemic accelerated the trend: the overall incidence in adults (30 to 49 years old) nearly doubled from 2020 to 2022, fueled mainly by an increase in diagnoses among women, according to Epic Research, a medical-record software company. While it’s not clear exactly why women are being diagnosed more often, experts theorize that it may be due to increasing smartphone and technology use, which can amplify distractibility and stress, as well as a greater awareness that ADHD can be also be a women’s issue. As more adults are diagnosed, they—like Pete—often face workplaces that are not ADHD-literate.How It Affects Work Performance–But Not Always in a Bad WayPeople with the disorder may have difficulty with organization, time management and procrastination—all of which can make it hard to meet deadlines and work within teams. They find tedious tasks, such as scheduling and filling out expense reports, unusually challenging and have a different sense of time than others. “People with ADHD have more difficulty seeing time and feeling the future,” notes Tuckman,More than half (56%) of adults with ADHD said they believe the disorder “strongly impacts their ability to succeed at work,” according to a 2008 survey by McNeil Pediatrics. A more recent survey by Akili, a therapeutic-technology company, interviewed 500 adults with ADHD and found that employees with ADHD felt the disorder had a negative impact on their career.     And yet, people with ADHD often display qualities that work in their favor, notes Hallowell, who himself has ADHD. He sees the condition as a trait, not a disorder, that has positive benefits like creativity, humor, and spontaneity. “There’s more to it than most people realize,” he said. “ADHD is terrible term. We have an abundance of attention. Our challenge is where to put our focus.” People with ADHD can spend hours on topics that interest them and see details that others might miss, a trait sometimes called hyperfocus. Many successful people have talked openly about their ADHD, including Michael Phelps, Simone Biles, James Carville, astronaut Scott Kelly and JetBlue founder David Neeleman.How to Get DiagnosedIf you persistently miss deadlines, are chronically late, and feel like staying organized is a big effort, first ask a trusted friend or colleague if they find you more scattered than others. Then, make an appointment to see a psychologist or psychiatrist who specializes in treating the condition. There is no one standardized test—instead a professional will take a thorough history and may ask family members and friends to complete questionnaires about your behavior. You may be asked questions like, How often do you misplace items, feel bored and restless, or lose track of what needs to be done? If you meet the criteria, your doctor may talk to you about medication, therapy or coaching and, if needed, provide a diagnosis so you can receive accommodations at school or at work.Understand What HelpsMost people diagnosed with ADHD rely on medication to control their symptoms. Typical medications include stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall, which increase the levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. There are also non-stimulant drugs such as Strattera. Stimulant medications that treat ADHD are the “most effective of medications in psychiatry,” said Tuckman, and help tame distractibility and impulsivity. About two thirds of people with ADHD diagnoses are prescribed stimulant medications, and that percentage has remained fairly consistent since 2013, according to Epic Research. Some people can help manage their symptoms by exercising regularly, getting proper sleep, and implementing strict organization and reminder systems. Or they hire very competent assistants.Once you are diagnosed and have figured out the best treatment, it’s like “getting fitted for the right eyeglasses,” said Dr. Hallowell. “Things come into sharper focus.”How to Make the Workplace More ADHD-FriendlySmall modifications can go a long way to helping people with ADHD perform better on the job. Tuckman suggests considering adjustments in the three domains described below. As an employee, you can make tweaks on your own or ask your manager for help. As for managers, if you have a worker who is struggling with organization and meeting deadlines, you could take the lead at putting these practices into place.Make distractions softer. Quiet spaces, headphones, and working on off-hours (say, early or late), can help mitigate the clatter of a bustling office. Often working from home is a good solution.Make important information stand out from the chatter. Putting assignments in writing, recording meetings, and highlighting deadlines can help workers whose focus is not great to stay on task.Bring the future closer to the present. Those who struggle with adhering to deadlines will benefit when big projects are broken into smaller chunks, and check-ins are on the calendar with frequent reminders of when tasks are due.So, Should You Tell Your Boss?If you have ADHD, you may be covered under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). However, you might not want to play that card unless you absolutely must, says Belynda Gauthier, a retired HR director and past president of Children and Adults with ADHD (CHADD). “The first time I did a presentation on ADHD in the workplace, I launched into detail about how the employee should approach his supervisor or manager and suggested that he might want to go directly to HR first. An audience participant interrupted to tell me that her HR office actually is the problem for her. Oops! I took this to heart, did some serious thinking, and revamped my presentation. I no longer recommend revealing one’s diagnosis until and unless it’s necessary.” Indeed, 92% of surveyed adults with ADHD believe that their colleagues hold misconceptions, the most common of which is “people with ADHD just need to try harder.” A better strategy might be to simply approach your manager with a positive attitude and a few solutions. “Be sure to tell them what you are good at,” advised Hallowell.Gauthier suggests something like: “I am really enjoying processing these widgets, and I think I’m doing a good job. I believe I could do an even better job if I could move to that cubicle that’s farther from the copy machine. So many co-workers use it all day and everyone stops to say hello.” Avoid the use of the word “but” to qualify your suggestions and don’t be whiney, she says.      Accommodations can help, but sometimes the best solution is finding the right job in the right environment with the right supports. “When I finally figured out I had it, it was a relief,” David Neeleman said in a recent interview with Forbes. “I was just really careful to surround myself with people that could complement my ADHD. I have people around me that help implement a lot of the ideas I have.” When you can turn your intense focus on something that truly fascinates you, ADHD can be a bonus rather a deficit.Lesley Alderman, LCSW, is a psychotherapist and journalist based in Brooklyn, NY. In her therapy practice, she works with individuals and couples. She writes about mental health topics for the Washington Post and has been an editor at Money and Real Simple magazines and a health columnist for the New York Times.(Featured photo by Valentin Russanov/iStock by Getty Images) 

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The From Day One Newsletter is a monthly roundup of articles, features, and editorials on innovative ways for companies to forge stronger relationships with their employees, customers, and communities.

Overcome Stubborns
By Carrie Snider | May 28, 2024

Building an Agile Talent Strategy: A Case Study

A single mom applying for a clerical job may not have the amount of work experience as other applicants. But as Johan Julin, senior manager of talent assessment at the Los Angeles County Department of Human Resources says, by not looking at the single mom’s life experience as a valuable asset, they’d be missing out.“This person probably had to multitask quite a bit. They had to manage multiple priorities, budget, children, and time,” Julin said. The candidate could have been an agile hire who would not only be able to fill the immediate role, but also overcome changes and uncertainty.Julin weighed in on this important topic at From Day One’s webinar about “Building an Effective Talent Strategy for the Skills of the Future.”Leveraging Skills-Based AssessmentsFilling the roles of the largest municipality in the country is no small task. Los Angeles County employs an impressive 115,000 people, in jobs as diverse as tax collectors, librarians, garbage collectors, lifeguards, and coroners.Due to the sheer volume and regulations surrounding the government positions, Julin says that right now, from the day someone applies until their first day on the job is close to 290 days. “It is my job to bring that number down,” he said.One major aid in accomplishing that is technology. Specifically, better leveraging skills-based assessments, which they’ve used in some variation for years, but are underutilized and could be the key to unlocking an agile talent force. Technology that could help organizations better review job applications, like that single mother who applied for a clerical position.In conjunction with talent management company SHL, LA County recently developed an assessment that uses a candidate's lived experience to assess their suitability for various job roles. “I can't even tell you how excited I am about this,” Julin said.Going back to the single mom example, without the traditional experience on her application, she’d likely be passed over. But with this assessment that values real-life skills, their talent pool has not only increased, but includes outside-the-box thinkers who may be more empathetic.“This assessment does that for us. It evaluates those kinds of experiences and gives them points for it, so that they’re on a level playing field with everyone else. And the best thing of all, it can be administered in five to ten minutes, which has my hiring managers jumping up and down with joy.”Nelesen of SHL spoke with Richard Chambers of General Mills and Johan Julin of LA County in the From Day One webinar (photo by From Day One)Andrew Nelesen, global solutions director at SHL, moderated the webinar, and spoke about a recent study they conducted of tens of thousands of participants who completed an assessment with the resulting data on 96 soft skills.“We did this massive correlation to figure out what combination of these 96 skills tend to be predictive of success across different job contexts,” he said. Ultimately, employees with a growth mindset are most successful, regardless of role or level, he says.It’s all great stuff. What Julin envisions, however, brings in all the assessment results into one big skills database that could help talent at Los Angeles be more agile.“Let’s say there’s a disaster in some part of LA County, and we urgently need people to, I don't know, say, speak Armenian. If we have a consolidated database of skills, we could instantly call up a list of people who fit that bill.”Start Where You AreRichard Chambers, manager of global supply chain talent management and enterprise performance management at General Mills, also spoke in the webinar. He leads the company’s global assessment practice for a talent base of 30,000.One thing he stressed was no matter how big or small the organization, building agile talent can be intimidating. How do you even start? What’s the best way to approach it? The important thing is to just start. Do those best practices and make hiring a good experience. Gather data along the way, he says.“We’re going to test and learn. And we’re probably going to change our strategies and approach a few times along the way, because the world around us is changing, and what we learn is going to continue to change.”Chambers says companies should model the agile behavior they’re hoping to see in their talent. They start with the pre-hire side, improving the applicant experience, assessing skills, developing a conversation from the start.“This ties into one of our bigger goals as an organization, which is really around careers.” In the wake of the Great Resignation in the general workforce, Chambers says they want to help new hires look at work differently. “We want people to be able to feel like they can have a robust career at General Mills and stay with us as long as they want.” That includes development opportunities, showing employees assessment data so they can see opportunities for personal growth, but also transferable skills for different positions within the company.The skills they value?  Resilience, adaptability, natural inquisitiveness. The world is only going to continue to change, and people need to change with it. Those are the kind of people that are agile. He added that assessments are great equalizers, as they look at the skills rather than the degrees, and from a diversity and inclusion perspective, it gives talent power.One of the biggest challenges in using assessments to build agile talent is trust. Recently, Chambers launched an internal assessment. Some employees wonder, how will this data be used?“We’re always transparent about how we’re going to use your data,” he added. “It’s truly intended for development purposes.” Organizations must build trust and show employees that they want not only the best for the company, but for the talent.Editor's note: From Day One thanks our partner, SHL, for sponsoring this webinar.Carrie Snider is a Phoenix-based journalist and marketing copywriter. 

Overcome Stubborns
By Katie Chambers | May 22, 2024

Humanity and Innovation: Fostering a Purpose-Driven Work Culture

John Deere has been in business for close to 200 years, with a reliance on four core values: quality, integrity, innovation, and commitment. But just this year it added a fifth value: humanity.“When you think about who we are as an organization, and how it’s articulated, it means that we will treat our people and our planet with dignity and respect. And that means that we create environments that are inclusive. They’re diverse in that we have practices that are internally sustainable, as well as externally sustainable,” said Crystal T. Jones, head of talent acquisition, Americas at John Deere. With centuries of success behind it, the organization was still ready and willing to update its mission and practices to stay aligned with evolving cultural values.In an era of rapid change, purpose-driven environments are increasingly more important. How can leaders navigate cultural shifts within their organizations that prioritize meaningful work, and foster employee satisfaction and belonging, loyalty, and overall well-being? Jones and other industry experts answered these questions and more at From Day One’s Chicago conference.Building a Purpose-Driven Work Environment“It’s no secret that companies with a purpose driven work environment are by many measures more successful,” said moderator Kim Quillen, business editor at The Chicago Tribune. But it can be daunting to try to predict what employees want. “The big thing with purpose is to continue to talk about it,” said Trevor Bogan, regional director, Americas at Top Employers Institute. “Don’t be afraid. It can evolve and it can shift.” Bogan says that his company tracks this through employee surveys.Mikki Sud, EVP, global head of total rewards at JLL says her organization links its activities back to its purpose of “creating healthy, inspiring, innovative spaces for people and our planet” both internally and externally. “With 40% of our carbon emissions coming from the built environment, we have a critical role in helping create a sustainable world,” she said.“But also, we connect our employees to those goals through robust training efforts, like net zero carbon training, as well as AI and automation. And last year, we saw a 20% reduction in our carbon emissions through these efforts,” Sud said. Leaders as Purpose AmbassadorsOrganizational purpose must be driven by leaders who can be encouraged through training and incentives. Tracking of purpose-driven behavior is also embedded in JLL’s talent review and performance management process, says Sud. “Our hope is that as leaders fully start to embody [our values], that eventually it will start to disseminate across the organization, and then the sense of belonging to the enterprise will be enhanced as a result,” she said.Gus Viano, VP of global diversity, equity & inclusion at Brink’s, notes that while leaders may attend trainings and have good intentions, sometimes their actual actions still don’t embody the organization’s stated values.The panelists spoke to the topic "Cultural Transformation and Meaningful Work: Nurturing a Purpose-Driven Workplace" at From Day One's Chicago conference“Employees feel engaged when they hear our leaders talk about DEI, but then when they see that behavior not represented in their actions, then they have serious doubts,” Viano said. So, inclusion training may require some difficult, frank conversations. For larger corporations with a global reach, Viano says, it’s also important to be mindful of different cultural norms and expectations surrounding DEI. You may have to adjust training language and areas of focus based on those local sensitivities and needs. Bringing Your Whole Self to Work“People don’t leave their diversity in the trunk of their car when they come to work. They bring the whole self to work, invited or not invited,” Viano said. Employers need to be ready to engage with employees from many walks of life and communicate purpose to them in a way that keeps everyone excited.Different generations are looking for different types of meaning in their work, Bogan says, and Gen Z especially wants to see their identities reflected in the leadership team. “When organizations have a diverse workforce, when they have women leaders, when they have people of color, when they have people from different countries and different perspectives, the profitability goes up, the well-being goes up, [and] the purpose and feeling of belonging goes up,” Bogan said.“It’s no longer about what’s written on your website. Candidates want to see and feel what you say.”Jones also emphasized the importance of ensuring employees can see and understand the impact of their work on the wider community, to help drive that sense of purpose and meaning home.Encouraging employees to come to the office, helps drive engagement and a sense of belonging, Sud says. “A recent Bloomberg study showed that those in the office actually spent 25% more time on career development,” she said. “It's a sense of belonging, and the fun that comes from being in the office, the personal interactions, the sharing of stories of your families or your hobbies. You can’t really have that watercooler talk in a virtual setting.” That said, Sud believes it’s also important to recognize that employees need quiet time for work too. “We are really being deliberate about creating the ‘me’ spaces as well as the ‘we’ spaces,” she said.Rewarding and Measuring SuccessEmployees should be rewarded for driving purpose and be recognized in a way that is most meaningful to them. “Our rewards are linked to business purpose and performance, connecting individual team and organizational performance. So when we deliver the best solutions for our clients, JLL does well and our people do too,” said Sud. Compensation should not be the only driver. “It’s the culture, it’s the purpose, it’s the leadership aspiration,” Sud says, that brings employees satisfaction.Just trying out new strategies from time to time is not enough, Bogan says. “You need to get involved with data and analytics to see and measure what you do really well and what challenges you have. That’s really impactful, because the numbers don’t lie,” he said. Having the hard data will help leaders justify the need for new programs and tactics, though the data should be shared by all. “If we silo, then we’re not getting better. We’re not learning about how we work, hearing different ideas and different perspectives,” Bogan said.Purpose-driven analytics should be not just quantitative but also qualitative, Jones says. “We’re interested in not just what you do, but how you do it,” she said. Through engagement surveys, Jones says, John Deere saw the need to add humanity to its core values. “Just make sure you’re not just asking the questions,” she said, “but that you’re ready to deal with the responses that you get back.”Katie Chambers is a freelance writer and award-winning communications executive with a lifelong commitment to supporting artists and advocating for inclusion. Her work has been seen in HuffPost and several printed essay collections, among others, and she has appeared on Cheddar News, iWomanTV, and CBS New York.

Overcome Stubborns
By Wanly Chen | May 22, 2024

Firing Up the Talent Engines at One of the World’s Largest Airlines

When the pandemic hit, businesses and offices began to shut down operations for a rare moment of stagnancy. The travel industry especially took a drastic hit: flights were near-empty as people stayed home. For one airline, however, the pause was the optimal time to expand. In the first few years of the pandemic, United Airlines hired over 30,000 employees, a decision that differed from many other industries at that time. “​​In the months of the pandemic, we pre-hired in a couple of areas, pilots in particular, because of the long training timelines,” Kate Gebo, executive vice president of human resources and labor relations at United Airlines, said in a fireside chat at From Day One’s Chicago conference. “That was not something that we had historically ever done, but in the first few years of the pandemic, we hired 15,000 people each year for two years.”The choice to increase hiring during the pandemic was ultimately the right move, Gebo says. Revenge travel led to high post-pandemic flight demands and with a shortage of pilots on the horizon, airlines needed to take advantage of every moment to prepare, Gebo told session moderator Stefan Holt, an anchor at NBC5 News. Kate Gebo, Executive Vice President of Human Resources and Labor Relations at United Airlines, was interviewed in the fireside chat      She reflected on how United Airlines stayed ahead of the game during the pandemic and the strategies she takes to ensure United stays in front. “When we looked at the pandemic, we asked ourselves, ‘Are we going to stay the same or are we going to take this as an opportunity and grow?’” Gebo said. “We didn’t want to come out where we came in, we wanted to jump ahead.”Fueled by early retirement and an aging pilot population, analysts predict the global aviation industry will be short by 80,000 pilots by 2032. The shortage is a dire situation for airlines as they look to expand. At United, taking learning opportunities in-house became a valuable resource for talent and employees.“We don't want to just rely on whatever is out there, so we bought our own flight school, United Aviate Academy, in Goodyear, Arizona,” Gebo said. “We wanted to invest and provide world-class training, so you not only learn all the technical issues with flying but also understand the leadership and the culture at United.” Being a major airline with its own in-house flight school has its perks. The school builds a pipeline of talent for the airline and increases interest in the aviation industry, Gebo says.“Many other folks began to believe that they could get into aviation,” Gebo said. “Even though there's a little bit of a struggle because the qualifications and the training are tough, there’s a sense of accomplishment that we’re building here at Aviate Academy.”For United’s pilots and crew members, learning is still readily accessible to the community through designated training centers, Gebo says. “Our pilots have to go back to the training center every six months to up their qualifications or anytime they change aircraft types so during the pandemic, we decided to invest in a flight training center in Denver for our pilots,” Gebo said. “We can't just decide to hire a flight attendant and have them show up the next day, so we also invested in an in-flight training center in Houston for our flight attendants.”With heightened scrutiny surrounding Boeing planes, production of the planes is taking longer, affecting airline companies as they wait for delivery of aircrafts. To balance the now-abundance of pilots, United has encouraged their pilots to take time off, an announcement that caused some backlash. But unlike other industries, laying off employees isn’t a viable option, Gebo says. “Even though Boeing can't deliver an aircraft for us or push delivery of an aircraft, we have already hired those pilots six or nine months ago to make sure we were ready for the original schedule,” Gebo said. “We are oversubscribed on pilots right now and the delay in deliveries is so impactful to us because we are carrying those extra costs.”Keeping crew members on board is worth it in the long run, Gebo says, reflecting on the company’s choice to hire more during the pandemic.  “Turning the talent engine off is dangerous to your business because once you shut it down, it’s so hard getting the momentum back up,” Gebo said. “In the dark days when there were only 10,000 passengers, the easy answer would have been to shut it all down, but thank goodness we absolutely didn't.”Wanly Chen is a writer and poet based in New York City.

Overcome Stubborns
By Wanly Chen | May 21, 2024

Developing Crucial Competencies Among Managers to Enhance Inclusion

To improve workplaces, leaders need to reevaluate how they are growing their managers and provide the proper support. In a From Day One webinar, Lydia Dishman, senior editor of growth and engagement at Fast Company, spoke with leaders about the strategies they’re taking to address skills gaps in their companies, especially those related to boosting workplace inclusion.Self-aware leaders display a higher level of confidence and empathy, resulting in stronger teams and effective leadership. Yet despite most leaders believing that they exhibit self-awareness, research shows only 10-15% of leaders are self-aware.The disparity comes from the challenge of displaying vulnerability, Khalil Smith, vice president of inclusion, diversity, and engagement at Akamai Technologies, says.“​​We need to be given at least an opportunity to have some of that autonomy to say, “I think that I can be better here or here,” Smith said. “It’s not a bad thing to say, ‘I do struggle with giving difficult feedback and that's not something that’s going to hold me back.’ This is different from being externally assessed because it builds the self-awareness that we need,” Smith said.By showing empathy for others, leaders can cultivate a safe work environment for others to grow, which can be a win-win situation for companies and employees. Singleton Beato, global executive vice president and chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer at media group, McCann Worldgroup, says empathetic leaders can reap the benefits of a stronger team.Amanda Grow of ETU, Singleton Beato of McCann Worldgroup, Diana Navas-Rosette of Microsoft, and Khalil Smith of Akamai Technologies spoke in a panel moderated by Lydia Dishman of Fast Company (photo by From Day One)“Being self-aware allows one to understand how to present constructive and corrective feedback in a way that isn’t demeaning to someone,” Beato said. “Doing so safely helps employees to feel that they have the support of the manager and helps them to be aware of not only whatever the correction needs to be but also to feel empowered to make that correction.”Leaning on Newer Learning MethodsWhen compared to traditional learning methods, researchers found immersive learning like VR training to yield better results and also positively impact employees’ performance. Amanda Grow, director of customer success at learning company, ETU, says learning simulations can also provide opportunities for employees to learn skills that may be difficult to learn in traditional settings.“One of the key elements in learning simulations is teaching people how to work through situations that they don't feel comfortable in,” Grow said. “Simulations have the ability to bring some of that emotion to life and make you feel uncomfortable or make you feel anxious.”During these simulations, employees dealing with challenging emotions have an opportunity to self-reflect on their emotions in a safe space, Grow says. “We want to teach people how to reflect and understand their internal processes,” Grow said. “That's going to be valuable if we want employees to improve their self-awareness.”Research found employees who have personal development opportunities are more engaged and have higher retention rates, showing how learning can play a large role in how employees perceive their work and growth.Whether it’s through traditional learning modules or providing a safe environment for employees to learn, leaders play an instrumental role in bridging the gaps. Diana Navas-Rosette, general manager of global diversity and inclusion solutions, communities, and activation at Microsoft, says that Microsoft is leaning on newer technology to offer personalized learning opportunities.“Simulations stand out as probably one of the most innovative solutions that we have in our portfolio right now. They are immersive and allow learners to practice the skills realistically and safely,” Navas-Rosette said. “A learner navigates through a simulation and then gets a report at the end that tells them what they did well and where they have areas of opportunities for them to grow. Employees can always come back and practice if they want to, allowing it to be a continuous relationship with a solution for them to build that skill set.”Wanly Chen is a writer and poet based in New York City.

Overcome Stubborns
By Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza | May 20, 2024

Optimizing Tech and Data to Recruit Top Candidates

With every new wave of tech, there comes the fear that it will make some workers obsolete, but when it comes to artificial intelligence eclipsing recruiters, they needn’t worry, said Steve Bartel, CEO and co-founder of AI-powered recruiting platform Gem. “AI is nowhere close to completely replacing jobs. I think for a long time, maybe forever, AI is going to be more of a co-pilot. My read is that AI is going to really speed us up.”Bartel, whom I spoke to during a From Day One webinar on how employers are using the latest in AI to make hiring more effective and efficient, says there are two reasons AI will help rather than hinder talent acquisition.First, companies are drowning in applications. “Thirty percent of our customers are seeing 1,000-plus applicants for a [single] job,” he said. Second, at the same time applications are flowing in by the thousands, talent acquisition teams are being asked to do more with less. “They’re being asked to backfill tons of critical roles. As hiring starts to pick up, a lot of recruiting teams are left under-resourced and under-budgeted.”For overloaded teams, well-deployed AI can be like a rocket booster for recruiting programs, letting humans do what they do best. Artificial intelligence will automate the most manual and painfully tedious parts of the job: for instance, writing the first draft of an outreach email and even personalizing that copy. It can conceive and deliver candidate nurture campaigns that support long-term client relationships. But it can’t fly alone, nor should it. Ultimately, only people can recruit employees into companies.“A lot of us got into recruiting because we really care about bringing great people into the organization, we really care about forging amazing relationships with candidates,” he said. “AI is not going to be able to replace the human touch. In fact, it’s going to free us up to provide a better candidate experience.”Journalist Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza interviewed Steve Bartel of Gem during the From Day One webinar about recruiting top candidates (photo by From Day One)According to Gem’s own research, 73% of companies today are exploring investment in AI for recruitment automation. A few years ago, the share of employers with such plans was a fraction of that. Directives are coming down from the C-suite, and the imperative is to start using AI–but many still aren’t clear on the use cases or where it’s most beneficial.At the mercy of vague orders, talent acquisition teams are moving quickly to comply, and they risk making mistakes. The first mistake Bartel sees is not fully vetting a vendor or tech platform; one way to do that is to look under the hood at the information feeding it and the tech powering it.“A lot of AI demos really well, but when you actually use it in practice, that’s where you run into making pretty silly mistakes, quite honestly,” Bartel said. “Try to run a real trial based on your own data and use cases. Talk to customers to validate that it actually works once you deploy.”A good recruiting platform also works with your current tech stack. If it doesn’t, recruiters risk cold-contacting current candidates, recent event attendees, or runners-up for interviews. You may end up spamming your existing talent pool, and ultimately damaging your employer brand.Further, some platforms may be running on outdated information. “A lot of vendors are still on these legacy AI stacks that they’ve invested 10 years into building, but that are suddenly obsolete,” he said.But recruiters don’t have the time to be bogged down with stale information. “My number-one theory continues to be that recruiting teams are being asked to do more with less and that they’re overworked,” said Bartel. Tech should take a load off the shoulders of recruiting teams. The standard is now a customer-grade candidate experience, and unless talent acquisition is given the room to provide it, recruiting will suffer.Editor's note: From Day One thanks our partner, Gem, for sponsoring this webinar. Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza is a freelance journalist and From Day One contributing editor who writes about work, the job market, and women’s experiences in the workplace. Her work has appeared in the Economist, the BBC, The Washington Post, Quartz, Fast Company, and Digiday’s Worklife.

Overcome Stubborns
By Angelica Frey | May 16, 2024

The Benefits That Employees Want to See Enhanced in 2024

What does a covetable benefit look like in 2024? Take the pharmaceutical company Moderna’s lifestyle spending account, a cherished benefit that Jeffrey Stohlberg, Moderna’s director of company benefits spoke about in a panel session at From Day One’s Boston Benefits conference. Moderna gives employees $300 a month to use on lifestyle-related activities or purchases. “In addition, if you commute to work in a sustainable fashion,” referring to walking or taking public transportation, “Moderna gives you an additional $100 a month,” said Stohlberg.What constitutes ‘lifestyle’ can differ, a gym membership passes muster, craft beer, not so much. But this is one case of companies encouraging and incentivizing employees in the pursuit of their well-being. When 80% of employees say that they’d stay in a company solely for their benefits, it’s imperative to figure out the ones that matter. “We work with individual employees on how it affects them,” says Britt Barney, head of client success at financial-wellness platform Northstar.To her, it’s about getting tactical with employees making sure it fits in their individual financial brand. “Make sure it’s customizable,” because an intersectional and individualized approach to benefits nurtures diversity and inclusion.At the security company Akamai, a recent survey revealed that most employees want remote work. “95% of our workforce stays working from home,” said Ken Wechsler, Akamai’s VP of total rewards. “Keep things that are good,” he said. For example, the company completely shuts down and institutes wellness micro breaks, where employees are encouraged not to check their phone, or required to appear on video during calls.At Moderna, about 70% of the workforce is in the office. “There is a big focus on collaboration,” said Stohlberg. “People have gotten Zoomed and Teamed out.” The company offers three mental-health recharge days, which employees are highly encouraged to fully take advantage of. Upon their return to the office, the benefit team routinely asks all employees what they did during their recharge days.Cost-Effective BenefitsEvery benefit has a financial implication. “Mental health is a very expensive service,” acknowledged Britt Barney. “Our number one claim is related to anxiety, mental health, and depression, with 42% of the employees children,” said Stohlberg. “It’s a significant issue, and partnering with a mental health vendor has been impactful.”The panel session titled "The Benefits That Employees Want to See Enhanced in 2024" was moderated by Rebecca M. Knight, Contributing Columnist at the Harvard Business ReviewMental health still has some cultural barriers to overcome. “The stigma was that young people were using therapy, [older people] not as much,” Stohlberg said. “Now, over the last few years, we’ve seen employees across the spectrum use therapy.” They offer 26 complementary sessions, and after those are maxed out, you can use the same therapist through BlueCross.Wechsler found similar success in offering complimentary sessions, “I was excited to say we offer 16 [complimentary] mental-health sessions.” His company has 90 employees who act as the point of contact to direct those who need it towards the EAP. The Allure of SemaglutideCompanies have started offering coverage for GLP-1 drugs. “The science of GLP-1 is a real thing, it’s not something that is going away,” said Brian Harty, head of total rewards at Accolade. “These are blockbuster drugs, not just in suppressing appetite, but also for addiction and heart health. The science of it, that’s what I am excited about.”Accolade currently covers GLP-1 drugs for diabetes, and does not cover it when it’s intended for weight-loss medication. There are doubts regarding whether it’s a worthwhile investment, at an estimated cost of $14,000 per year, per patient. “40% of Americans qualify for Wegovy, with a BMI > 27,” Harty said.“When you introduce it like that, there’s no way you can change [the cut-off] to a higher BMI.” For his company, it would mean investing millions.Moderna, by contrast, offers it for weight management and diabetes. “In 2023 we saw a spike related to weight loss management: We looked at claims data, and after mental health, obesity and weight management were the second drivers,” said Stohlberg. Not everyone who wants to manage their weight is encouraged to take semaglutide, though.Moderna also uses a virtual weight-loss management program, where employees can work with a physician specializing in weight loss. “It’s not a path to GLP-1s but [the physicians] can provide medication for that person.” “Why do people need drugs like this?” asks Barney, advocating for a holistic approach. “Weight [can be attributed to] stress and environment. Physical health is not just physical health.”Angelica Frey is a writer and a translator based in Boston and Milan.

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