Employee resource groups, which create spaces for members of historically disadvantaged or minority communities to come together in support of each other and to help leadership understand and respond to their unique challenges and concerns, are a cornerstone of diversity and inclusion practices at some organizations. Yet there is also a growing understanding among D&I leaders that the most effective initiatives are inclusive in the broadest sense, involving everyone in the organization, not only those in specific affinity groups.
That’s why we’re seeing more inclusion campaigns focused on cultivating allies and helping members of more privileged demographics recognize their own unconscious biases. When the Harvard Business Review devoted an entire issue to D&I last year, it focused heavily on the challenge of getting everyone on board with diversity without courting backlash.
In a controversial move, Deloitte has decided to take this shift toward a more broad-based approach one step further by eliminating ERGs altogether in favor of groups whose membership is not limited to specific demographics, Jeff Green reported recently at Bloomberg:
After 24 years, WIN, the women’s initiative at Deloitte, will end. Over the next 18 months the company will also phase out Globe, which supports gay employees, and groups focused solely on veterans or minority employees. In their place will be so-called inclusion councils that bring together a variety of viewpoints to work on diversity issues. …
“We are turning it on its head for our people,” says Deepa Purushothaman, who’s led the WIN group since 2015 and is also the company’s managing principal for inclusion. Deloitte will still focus on gender parity and underrepresented groups, she says, but not in the same way it has for the past quarter-century, in part because millennial employees—who make up 57 percent of Deloitte’s workforce—don’t like demographic pigeonholes.
In a session at last week’s WorldatWork Total Rewards Conference and Exposition, Taco Bell Vice President of People and Experience Bjord Erland discussed how the fast food chain has handled turnover—a major challenge in its sector—in recent years. At HRE Daily, David Shadovitz passes along some insights from Erland’s talk:
Leadership was hearing that pay was a major reason people were leaving. But in order to come up with the right game plan, HR knew it needed more data. So it brought in global consultancy Mercer to better understand the key drivers behind the high turnover and identify ways to address it. When it looked at why workers stuck around, Taco Bell, a unit of Yum! Brands, found that a flexible work environment and strong culture were major drivers. As to why people were leaving, factors such as a high level of stress, lack of training and better opportunities elsewhere emerged as a big contributors. …
Well, the big “Aha!” for Taco Bell was learning that earnings were far more important to workers than their rate of pay. Were they working enough hours, including overtime, to bring home a bigger paycheck? (Erland noted that Taco Bell’s pay was competitive with others in the industry.) In light of these findings, Erland said, the company began to increase its use of “slack hours” to increase the amount of employee take home pay. “Turnover improved when employees were able to bring home more earnings,” he said.
Last week, we talked about the impact the end-of-year holiday season has on productivity as many employees slow down at work in the weeks leading up to the holidays. Perhaps even more startling, though, is what happens to employee engagement afterwards: Our recent career pathing research at CEB shows that gatherings among family and friends around the holidays can lead to a 2 percent decline in career satisfaction and a 16 percent spike in job search activity. It’s one reason why the first week of January tends to be the most popular time of year to look for a new job. (CEB HR Leadership Council for members can read more about the effect of holiday gatherings and other “career risk triggers” here.)
To address the end-of-year slump, employers can try using the final weeks of the year as a time to deliver on other aspects of the employee value proposition. If your company can afford it, use the “lighter mood” of the holiday season for team-building exercises or charity activities.
It might be too late for some organizations to rescue their employees from the grips of this special Christmas brand of idleness at work, but there are some things you can do in the New Year to make sure to keep engagement levels high year-round, and to combat all of the potential career triggers that pop up throughout the year for your employees (like birthdays, work anniversaries, or high school reunions):
- Encourage ongoing performance conversations, which will allow managers to formally reconnect with employees and assess job performance and alignment.
- Curate a workforce of engaged high-performers by emphasizing enterprise contribution.
- Train your managers to have development conversations at the right times to avoid the dangers of other career risk triggers.
At Fast Company, LinkedIn’s Director of Product Management Gyanda Sachdeva points out that “the number of US workers with full-time jobs who freelance on the side is sharply on the rise”:
According to our data here at LinkedIn, the share of those users in our top professional fields has doubled in the past five years. What’s more, the number of people freelancing on the side of their day jobs is growing more than three times faster than the number of full-time freelancers on LinkedIn. …
For one thing, it’s clear that some people are more inclined than others to add part-time freelancing to their repertoires than others. We’ve noticed, too, that men are doing more part-time freelancing than women, and millennials are doing so more than any other age group. Of all the users who list freelance work on their LinkedIn profiles, 20% have a full-time job in addition to their freelance business. That means full-time freelancing still dominates, but the side-gig model is quickly catching up.
Sachdeva also discusses some of things motivating workers to take on these side gigs. In addition to the “obvious” financial motivation, he notes, freelance dabblers are motivated by personal branding & networking, future development, and independent work. Plus, there is the possibility of transitioning to a career as a full-time freelancer, which some see as a path toward flexibility and control over their schedule and work environment. I would add to that list purposeful work, or feeling connected to something you are passionate about. Basically, Sachdeva makes it clear that there are a lot of upsides for employees—especially young, cash-strapped, passionate millennials—in freelance dabbling.
But does it benefit their employers?
As more and more organizations wake up to the fact that they need workers with liberal arts educations, employment rates and starting salaries are on the rise among graduates with degrees in the arts and humanities, Nikki Waller reported at the Wall Street Journal last week:
Class of 2015 graduates from those disciplines are employed at higher rates than their cohorts in the class of 2014, and starting salaries rose significantly, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ annual first-destination survey of recent graduates in the workforce. Degree holders in area studies—majors like Latin American Studies and Gender Studies—logged the largest gains in full-time employment and pay, with average starting salaries rising 26% to $43,524 for the class of 2015, compared with the previous year’s graduates. Language studies posted the second-highest salary gains.
Though area studies majors comprise less than 1% of all graduates in the survey, the pay numbers show employers are seeking hires with communication skills and comfort in multicultural environments, said Edwin Koc, NACE’s director of research, public policy and legislative affairs. … Behind the numbers is a growing desire among employers for hires with strong communication skills, said Mr. Koc. After complaining that new hires’ soft skills are not up to par, “employers may be reconsidering how they’re approaching recruiting college graduates, and may not be so focused on hiring a particular major,” he said.
The bottom line here is that soft skills are increasingly in demand and also in short supply. Undeniably valuable in today’s work environment, these skills are generally harder to teach and cannot always be easily assessed or identified during the interview process. Sourcing for more talent with liberal arts backgrounds is one way to soft skills, but there are also some other ways that they can ensure they are hiring for and building soft skills among their workforce, such as:
Bravetta Hassell at CLO highlights a new survey with some troubling findings for heads of Learning and Development:
According to Spherion Staffing’s 2016 Emerging Workforce Study, nearly one-third of workers do not feel like their companies provide them with adequate skills training, nor do they think their current skills make them promotion-ready. Further, only 14 percent of workers surveyed said they’d give their organization an ‘A’ grade for learning and development programming. Even more troubling, some 45 percent of companies report they’ve increased their learning and development investments in recent years.
One potential reason for the gap in understanding? Current training offerings aren’t relevant to employees’ daily responsibilities, 45 percent of workers reported.
Our research from this year confirms the magnitude of this problem. The average L&D function has increased spending by 16 percent in the past three years by adding more learning channels, making learning more fun, and creating more timely content. However, our research (which CEB Learning and Development Leadership Council members can check out here) has shown that this spending has since fallen flat.
This month, the restaurant chain Chipotle unveiled an expanded tuition reimbursement program that it says will allow its employees to take college classes for as little as $250 a year:
The program … is a partnership with Colorado-based Guild Education and will allow employees at the burrito chain to pursue undergraduate or graduate degrees, taking college courses, earn a GED, or study English as a second language. The partnership builds on an existing tuition reimbursement program that already exists at Chipotle. That employee benefit received a big notable upgrade about a year ago, when Chipotle expanded the benefit to part-time employees after previously only offering the perk to salaried workers.
Here’s how Chipotle came up with the $250 figure: Employees would have access to up to $5,250 in tuition reimbursement per year provided by the company. An additional $5,815 could come from federal grants (though only for qualified candidates). Through those programs and the discounted tuition that Guild is offering, that’s how college costs can in some cases reach such a low figure. …
For Chipotle, an investment in the education of the company’s more than 60,000 employees can make sense strategically: about 90% of Chipotle restaurant managers came from lower-paid crew positions.
It’s encouraging to see large corporations with lots of hourly employees like Chipotle taking the lead on expanding tuition benefits. This is something we’ve seen in the news quite a bit in the past few years (thinking of places like Starbucks, which expanded tuition benefits to cover all four years of college last year). This type of benefit has been shown to pay off for employers as well as employees: Earlier this year, Cigna found that its tuition reimbursement program was producing an ROI of 129 percent!