Industry Trends

Diversity, Inclusion

DEI Initiatives that Have Been Making a Difference

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As is common in much of the corporate world, C-level support has historically lacked diversity and inclusion. As social awareness has increased in recent years, many organizations have taken actions that have made a real difference in making the C-suite more equitable.

Compile and Analyze Data

When it comes to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, knowledge is power. A company can’t improve its diversity and inclusivity without first understanding how diverse the organization is in practice. One of the most important initiatives one can take is collecting data that can be analyzed continuously. See how the composition of your team compares to other companies in your industry and the overall labor force. Pay close attention to key diversity categories, such as age, ability, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, generation, learning styles, race, language is spoken, etc. By collecting data and comparing it to other companies and your own organizational goals, you will be able to identify problem areas and hold yourself accountable for the goals you set

Identify Problems and Set Clear Goals

By collecting lots of data, you will have the resources you need to identify where you fall short as an organization in diversity and inclusion. Look beyond simple statistics to examine how diverse groups are represented within specific departments and job titles. For example, even if fifty percent of your employees are female, your organization isn’t inclusive if men fill all the leadership positions. In addition, survey individual employees to see if they feel their work environment is inclusive. This can help you identify less obvious problem areas. Once you identify specific problems within your organization that hold you back from being inclusive, you can begin to set goals. Identify what needs to change and develop an action-based plan to move your company to where it needs to be. The plan should address aspects of the organization like hiring practices, job descriptions, company culture, and company policies.

Involve Leadership and Management

Leaders who have decision-making power must be involved in any effective DEI strategy. You must also involve line managers from the beginning of the process. Without the help of leadership, there is no way to make real changes in hiring practices and company policies. Involving line managers is also important because they have a better understanding of what the company’s day-to-day culture looks like and can help ensure that the DEI goals the organization set match up with the reality of the workplace.

Consider Technology and Its Biases

 Technology is one area that diversity committees often overlook. For example, the technology used to hire candidates and evaluate employee performance can rely on data biased against specific minority groups. This bias can range from steering job ads toward certain candidates to flagging candidates for word choice. Thus, it is important to regularly assess the technology used in your hiring and evaluation processes to ensure they do not affect anyone group in an inequitable or discriminatory way. Data, questions, and criteria used to evaluate candidates and employees should be fair and should use measures that are relevant indicators of performance for a given role.

Many companies are actively working on improving the diversity, inclusivity, and equity of their organizations. Strategies that focus on collecting and analyzing diversity metrics, setting clear and measurable goals, involving leadership and line manager, and cutting out biases and technology can make a real difference in improving the inclusivity of your organization.

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Company Culture, Hybrid Work Environment

Maintain Company Culture in a Hybrid Work Environment

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Many organizations transitioned to alternative working arrangements during the pandemic to reduce the number of people in the office and meet social distancing requirements. Hybrid workplace models continue to trend as some high-profile companies announced that they would be allowing employees to work wherever they want. From employee safety to increased productivity, there are plenty of advantages associated with hybrid work environments. But, if work models like this are left unchecked, they present some unique challenges too. For instance, more companies are struggling to maintain employee morale because they feel disconnected from their colleagues and their purpose. Employee burnout is becoming more prevalent as a result. Fortunately, it’s still possible to maintain company culture in a hybrid work environment with these tips.


Promote a Sense of Shared Purpose

A common concern among many remote employees is the lack of teamwork and shared energy toward overall goals. Business leaders can help their teams overcome this by having regular discussions about shared purpose and how both individual and team contributions are connected to the success of a project. Hybrid workforces need frequent reminders concerning mutual dependencies while avoiding the temptation to micromanage. Instead, leaders should provide remote employees with the right tools and information required to complete work assignments. A sense of shared purpose can still be communicated through email, texts, video conferencing, etc.


Hold Employees Accountable for Results

One of the best ways to remind employees that their work matters is to hold them accountable even when working outside of the traditional office setting. It’s important to remind people that their work matters regardless of where it’s being done. The most successful hybrid work environments will have a good balance of empathetic management and accountability.


Manage Conflict Productively

It can be challenging to interpret people’s emotions during video calls, leading to even more conflict among remote employees. Disagreements are bound to happen in any work environment, but if leaders are proactive about keeping them respectful, then it helps create a positive work culture. Leaders today should encourage differences of opinions and have some standard operating procedures in place for conflicts.


Keep the Lines of Communication Open

Transparent, open communication is the key to maintaining a positive hybrid work environment. Since some employees miss out on the latest updates, leaders have to focus more on keeping everybody in the loop by sending out regular newsletters, updating social media accounts, sharing industry trends, etc.


Successful hybrid work models can require fine-tuning along the way. But, if you’re proactive about promoting a sense of shared purpose, managing conflict productively, and holding employees accountable, then a positive culture is inevitable.

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Customer Service

C-Suite Executives Affect Customer Service

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Companies are well aware that delivering strong customer service is essential to customer satisfaction. It affects a company’s reputation, as well as the average lifetime value of customers or clients.

One aspect of customer service that is not always as obvious is the impact that C-suite executives have on customer service. To maximize customer service, C-suite executives should consider the following steps.

C-Suite Executives Should Focus on Employee Engagement to Promote Customer Service

Satisfied and engaged employees tend to deliver better customer service. As such, savvy C-suite executives listen to their employees and encourage feedback. Research shows that companies with higher ratings for customer experience tend to have more engaged employees. They also tend to have more collaborations with HR.

Essentially, engaged and happy employees have a higher willingness to resolve customer issues. They will go out of their way to deliver the best possible customer experience.

C-Suite Executives Should Encourage Meaningful Connections

Another action that C-suite executives can take is to ensure that the company uses social media channels and reviews to create meaningful connections with clients. C-suite executives who incorporate this strategy will notice that consumers are more emotionally engaged with the brand. Research has shown that high engagement translates into more sales.

C-Suite Executives Should Integrate Silos

C-suite executives should also take the time to address any silos, or isolated divisions, within their organization. There are several aspects to this. To begin, silos reduce the level of employee engagement, as employees in siloed departments may not feel as appreciated.

Additionally, it is nearly impossible to ensure consistent messaging when there are siloes within a company. This is crucial, as customers will have an improved experience if messaging is consistent. Consistent messaging ensures that your product design team can deliver what the sales or marketing teams promise. Inconsistent messaging can lead to confusion and disappointment.

C-Suite Executives Should Understand Their Audiences

Any C-suite executive hopefully realizes that their marketing team must understand the audience to appeal to them. However, more than just the marketing team needs to have this understanding. The product design team needs it to create products that customers want.

Most importantly, the C-suite executives need this understanding themselves. C-suite executives are in control of the overall direction of the company. To move the company in the direction that your customers want, you must understand their needs and goals.

The C-Suite Can Include a Chief Customer Officer

The actions of all C-suite executives can affect the customer experience. That being said, many companies have chosen to have a Chief Customer Officer (CCO) who focuses on this. In the case of a CCO, other C-suite executives keep the elements of this list in mind at all times, but the CCO focuses on them.

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3 Reasons Why You Should Hire the Unconventional Choice

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The benefits of new perspective are innumerable. However, to make a real difference in a business, hiring one nontraditional candidate probably won’t suffice. Companies must proactively seek this type of candidate every time.

Unconventional Choices Expand Your Talent Reach

Strict instructions for the type of hire you are looking for can limit your talent pool. Today, many job seekers hire someone to post their resumes for them. Basing the hiring process on how a resume looks and reads could mean you hire someone that isn’t who you thought they were.

Looking for a candidate with a specific degree or years of working experience in a similar field, for example, automatically closes out the opportunity for the unconventional choice. Instead, expand your reach and begin looking at resumes focused on your company’s values rather than only job experience in the field.

Often, you’ll find someone with transferrable skills and a passion for continuous learning that will open your business up to a whole new world of creativity and work ethic.

Bringing New Ideas to the Table

The unconventional choice is someone with a diverse or different background from what your company traditionally seeks in a new hire. Hiring someone based on their potential opens up the business to a fresh and unique perspective. They can more easily think “outside of the box” because they have experience solving problems differently.

Thus, the unconventional choice can potentially:

  • Cut down project times
  • Create new solutions yet to be thought of by anyone else
  • Increase worker efficiency
  • Encourage other workers to test the limits of creativity

Unconventional Choices Help to Diversify Your Customer Base

Your employee base should be equally or more diverse than your customer base. A diverse employee roster means the potential to form relationships with every type of customer increases. This is especially true for any business that deals directly with the customer.

Maybe the unconventional choice has experienced highs and lows that your other employees have not. This background gives them a greater opportunity to connect with different customers because they have direct experiences with their issues.

This type of thinking also impacts advertising and sales. For example, an advertising idea could connect with the customers in ways that the traditional employee can’t because they don’t have the same experiences.

According to Harvard Business Review, hiring random people for the job in hopes of diversifying your company won’t produce benefits on its own. You must have a strategy in place. Focus on getting to know a new hire’s potential and deciding how that potential best fits the company.

These changes can all help boost your business in different ways because you took a chance on the unconventional choice.


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Why a Vacation Might Be the Right Decision

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After a less than normal 2020 year and many people in America going without work or travel for much of the year, 2021 summer vacations look a bit more promising.

Even before the global pandemic, Americans had 768 million unused vacation days in 2019. It’s time to take those vacation days back! Studies show it’s not only great for employees’ mental and physical health, but it’s essential for productivity as well.

Used Vacation Days Increases Productivity 

According to multiple studies, the work martyr trend continues to gain popularity, and Millennials are some of the main culprits since they now make up much of the workforce. From 1978 to 2000, Americans took an average of 20 vacation days per year, which plummeted to 16 days in 2014. Interestingly, new research points out that taking time off work can improve workforce efficiency.

The Wall Street Journal states that workers that take appropriate time off are healthier than workers that don’t, and healthier workers are more productive. Therefore, companies should urge their employees to use more time off each year.

Companies like Netflix, Glassdoor, and Dropbox first initiated the “Unlimited PTO” trend because they believe that employees that feel cared for work harder and better. They believe that efficient work requires sufficient vacationing to recharge and perform at their best, leaving how long to vacation up to the employee.

Many other companies started softly mandating their employees to take a minimum of two to three weeks off per year. If the employee doesn’t take time off, their boss is supposed to bring it up during their yearly review.

Vacation Days Improves Employee Mental and Physical Health

Not only are vacation days essential for productivity, but they are also essential for worker mental health. The US Travel Association found that taking the proper amount of vacation time improves the worker’s happiness with:

  • Their career
  • The company where they work
  • Personal and coworker relationships
  • Physical health and well-being

When employees are happy, their anxiety and depression symptoms subside as well. According to Corporate Wellness, rested employees are productive employees, but they are also physically and mentally healthier employees.

A Psychosomatic Medicine study, conducted over nine years, found that regular vacations reduce the risk of heart disease in men and women.

Why Employees Still Don’t Take a Vacation

By now, it is a well-known fact that employers want their employees to take vacations, and employees themselves want to vacation. So why aren’t employees taking advantage of their PTO?

Aside from the work martyr complex, here are a few reasons employees work through their vacation days:

  • Feeling guilty for making their coworkers pick up the slack while they’re gone
  • Fearing they won’t receive a promotion if it looks like they are always gone
  • They have no one willing or able to take time off with them
  • Pressures from bosses to meet deadlines
  • Concerned about how much a vacation costs

Most of these fears are anxiety-based. In reality, well-planned vacation time can debunk all of these fears and benefit the employee, coworkers, and business.

The US Travel Association also wants you to save the date for National #PlanForVacation Day on January 25, 2022. Everyone is invited to take time to travel and regroup for the coming year. It’s about time American workers cut into the 768 million unused vacation day tally.


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Invest in Your Employees to Help Them Thrive

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People hire great candidates, and then won’t get them the required licenses or tools they need to succeed in the industry. It’s up to you to remove these barriers to success by making strategic investments in employee engagement, professional development, advanced technology, and mentoring. Start by recruiting the best candidates, then enhance their opportunities for success using some of these strategies.

Spend Time with Every Employee

Too many organizations put the needs of their customers before their employees. Great leaders understand the importance of investing heavily in their employees, and the best way to find what employees need to succeed is to go directly to the source.

Great leadership styles prioritize spending personal time with employees to build relationships and ensure alignment. Studies even suggest that leaders should spend up to six hours per week interacting with their employees to boost inspiration, engagement, and motivation. Even ten minutes spent with seven people each week can be an effective way to connect with employees. From taking employees out to lunch to inviting them to conferences, personal time investments are the most valuable because they help create a trusting work environment.


Remote workers also need engagement. How do you do it? A growing number of organizations are appointing Chief Fun Officers to encourage teamwork and enjoyment. Just three or four minutes can change the whole outcome of the day by transforming a hostile work environment into a positive one. Leaders must work through this by setting up zoom meetings, communicating with employees while walking down the hall, and visiting employees where they are. If you ask them to come to you, consider how that impacts them.

Focus on Employee Development 

Training employees and having them leave is better than not developing them and staying with your company. It’s imperative to show new hires that you are dedicated to employee development to keep them from seeking other jobs where their development is central. If you want to be known as an employer who cares, create an environment that promotes continual improvement. These companies win in the end with rosters of loyal, exceptional employees.

If you want to attract and retain better employees, then it’s never too late to start investing in your human resources. Personal time investments are an excellent place to start. Then, focus more on keeping your remote employees engaged. Don’t overlook the power of ongoing employee development, either.


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New Leadership Help Lead Companies Through Hypergrowth

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VimpelCom and Compass are both companies that experienced rapid growth around their initial product offering periods. Hypergrowth can be incredibly challenging, with every meeting seeming to focus on overcoming obstacles. Shortages in staffing and network capacity seem to exacerbate the problems.

With proper management and organization, companies can successfully navigate hypergrowth. In some ways, start-ups have an advantage over established companies when it comes to hypergrowth, as they are more flexible and management sits at the top. However, when the right people are in place, midsize and large-size companies can successfully navigate hypergrowth.

The Impact of the Compass CFO

Compass is a company offering digital tools for real estate agents. Kristen Ankerbrandt joined the team as its CFO in 2018. This followed her 12 years of experience at the Carlyle Group and time as a Goldman Sachs investment banker.

Ankerbrandt had extensive experience with acquisitions and mergers, which she applied to Compass. The most relevant of this was her experience with tech companies and investors during growth periods. According to Ankerbrandt, the most vital characteristics of a successful CFO in this position are managing well and being direct.

Her leadership was critical during this time of expansion and growth.

The Impact of the VimpelCom CEO

Compass faced similar challenges during times of hypergrowth during its adoption of cellphones in the Soviet bloc. To prepare for this growth, Alexander V. Izosimov joined the team as the CEO, focusing on management basics.

According to Harvard Business Review, when Izosimov joined the team, all meetings were crisis meetings, with decisions made in panic mode. According to Izosimov, a combination of solid culture and his management strategies helped the company thrive.

Some of those management principles included selling first and asking questions later, not over-focusing on innovation, organizing “like McDonald’s,” having the front line handle decisions, and creating a “can-do culture.”

Do Not Neglect the Rest of the Team

In addition to hiring the right C-level executives for your company’s rapid growth, companies in this phase should prioritize hiring qualified talent for other roles. Remember that one of the many challenges companies in this phase frequently face is low staffing, so an effective hiring strategy is critical.

According to Forbes, the best strategy to find an ideal team includes creating a relationship with the company’s hiring managers, increasing inbound methods of finding talent, and following up on slow hiring processes. Additionally, working with industry-specific recruiters can provide you a competitive edge when successful hiring is crucial.

How to Follow their Example

Both Compass and VimpelCom recognized that to get through hypergrowth periods, they needed strong management with excellent organizational skills. This is an example that all midsize to large companies should follow when focusing on hypergrowth – find the proper C-level executives to provide the necessary organizational leadership.


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Why Qualified People Are Hesitant to Lead

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Vince Lombardi said, “Leaders are made. They are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.” It’s difficult to argue against one of the most successful NFL coaches in history, especially when research supports his claim.

Research shows only about 30% of leadership is genetic, while 70% results from life lessons and experience. Many excellent and capable employees are hesitant to assume leadership roles. Below are some of the reasons why and a few things that can help organizations identify and develop potential leaders.

Recognize Promising Employees

The first step in getting more qualified people to lead is identifying leadership potential. Then, there’s a fine line between encouraging employees to become leaders and forcing them into positions they are not comfortable with. It’s also important to remember that just because an employee has significant knowledge and on-the-job experience doesn’t automatically mean that they have an innate sense of leadership.

When recognizing potential leaders, start by looking for employees who show an eagerness to learn in their current roles. People who hold themselves accountable for successes and failures usually make good leaders too. Potential leaders will have a history of staying calm amidst challenges and bringing solutions to the table during those times.

Understanding Perceived Leadership Risks 

Recent studies have indicated some of the main reasons why qualified people are hesitant to lead. The degree of interpersonal risk associated with being a leader scares employees. Employees fear that they may have to compromise their interpersonal relationships with colleagues if they chose to become leaders. Others are reluctant to become leaders because they don’t want to be seen differently. In addition, some people are afraid of taking the blame for failure. Fortunately, there are some practical ways to help people overcome these risks and still become strong leaders.

Mitigating the Risks

Many potential leaders in your organization may see leadership as risky. We can help people overcome these additional challenges by including them in significant projects and commending them for their leadership contributions in company newsletters, social media channels, and boardroom meetings. Lastly, career consequences tend to hold people back from leadership opportunities. If you can provide high-potential people with safer environments to maintain their credibility, more of them will be willing to advance their careers.

Since most people aren’t born leaders and may be reluctant to take on new responsibilities, companies have to be proactive in identifying those promising employees and focusing on their development.


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How to Help Your Employees Develop

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Although some organizations argue that external training programs are the most effective, there are also plenty of advantages associated with internal training for both employers and employees. As executive recruiters, employers are always asking us what they can do to improve employee retention. If you’re already offering competitive salaries, the opportunity to do meaningful work, and exclusive benefits, the next step is to enhance your training and development opportunities. For instance, there are various informal methods that can be very constructive for developing talent internally. When it comes to talent development, sometimes it can be helpful to go back to the basics.

  1. Schedule regular one-on-one meetings. Talent development should be a top priority of any manager. Unfortunately, too many employers fail to learn what training their employees need to reach their short- and long-term career goals. The best way to learn is to ask them what they find most compelling about their current position, what tasks they find most challenging, and how they want to grow. Then, be an active listener and show them empathy during these meetings.
  2. Encourage job shadowing. Job shadowing isn’t only effective for potential job candidates. It can also be helpful for current employees so that they can view what life is like at many different levels of an organization. A growing number of employers are promoting take your coworker to workdays to improve engagement and create knowledge across company functions. It’s easy to start a program like this by asking employees to list a couple of different jobs they would like to shadow for a day.
  3. Assign formal mentors and coaches. Perhaps one of the best ways to develop talent is to assign formal mentors. However, be prudent when choosing mentors. Successful mentors will already have the requisite knowledge that enables them to teach new employees.  They should also be well versed in your work culture, honest, and have strong communication skills.
  4. Cross-train your employees. It’s essential to assume the next person-up strategy for those times when your key players are out of work due to vacation, retirement, or changing roles. Cross-training can be effective for building a team of employees with a working understanding across many different disciplines. Although it might cost you some short-term productivity, your organization will become more efficient in the long run.

The good news is that these talent development methods don’t require many resources or a significant investment, but they can still make a significant impact. Remember that most employees want to advance and there are many ways you can support them along the way. 


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Emotional Intelligence Can Make You A Better Business Leader

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Many different skills and traits can help someone become an exceptional business leader. However, one of the most important of these skills is emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, understand, and positively control your emotions. Here are some ways that this ability can make you a better business leader.

Helps You Connect with People More Easily

Emotional intelligence allows you to manage your emotions when interacting with other people and helps you identify how others around you are feeling. Together, this enables you to connect with employees and colleagues more easily. If you can empathize with others and understand their emotions at any point in time, employees will connect with you. Over time, this will allow you to form close relationships with your team built on mutual trust and respect.

Helps You Adapt to Changes

Leaders with high emotional intelligence adapt to changes in the workplace faster than others. This is because people who are good at understanding and regulating their emotions have an easier time recognizing the positives that come with change and are more receptive to new thinking. In contrast, people with low emotional intelligence often fear change and become bogged down by what-ifs. We live in a world that changes rapidly, so adapting to change quickly is one of the most significant advantages you can have as a leader.

Emotional Intelligence Keeps You Humble

Emotional intelligence can help prevent you from becoming too arrogant and proud. If you stay humble as a leader, you are more likely to listen to your team members’ ideas with an open mind and treat them with respect. Employees want to work for humble and level-headed managers because they feel more comfortable voicing their opinions. Thus, open-minded leadership can help cultivate a safer work environment. High emotional intelligence will also make you more receptive to feedback, which can help you improve your leadership skills over time. 

Helps with Employee Retention

The quality of leadership that a company has plays a significant role in the employee experience. One of the top reasons that people quit jobs is because they don’t like their manager. It can help you become the kind of leader people want to work for. Emotional intelligence also helps you engage employees, improving team morale, employee motivation, and retention.

Emotional intelligence is one of the most critical business skills you can have as a leader. It allows you to communicate with others and foster healthy work relationships effectively. It also helps you regulate your emotions, so you react favorably to changes. Lastly, this skill helps you stay grounded and receptive to feedback, new ideas, and other people’s opinions.


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