10 Best Cities For Young Professionals Seeking Work-Life Balance

Written by Megan Wells. First appeared at InvestmentZen. Reprinted with the special commentary for The HR Tech Weekly® ▸ 

Des Moines, Iowa, Skyline by Michael Tompsett

Good Job, Good Life

When career progression is the priority, choosing where to work often overshadows where to live for many young professionals. Yet, work-life balance remains important to this generation. A vibrant nightlife and great food scene, or good schools and activities for families top the list of desirable attributes in a location. Promoting other aspects of an area to candidates helps attract top talent.

Rent

Knowing your city’s housing costs makes the take-home pay real for a potential new hire. Few want their monthly income eaten up by rent to live in a cool neighborhood. With an average rent of less than $1,000 per month, Des Moines, Iowa, starts to look pretty good when coupled with a mean salary near the $50,000 mark. For a candidate considering a job offer in this city, the lure of generous disposable income could close the deal.

Walkability

Sharing with a candidate how “walkable” a city is reduces the negative impact of other factors like cost of living. Many dream of living in a diverse and exciting city environment where they complete daily errands on foot rather than in the car. San Francisco and Oakland, California, rate high in walkability.

Unemployment

Emphasizing an area’s strong local economy offers a sense of security in both the company and the area. Three cities currently have a low unemployment rate of 2.1%, Aurora and Denver, Colorado, and Madison, Wisconsin. While a potential employee needs to keep the car in these locales, a thriving city outweighs the time spent behind the wheel.

When looking to achieve a balance between a great job and a great life, help candidates to see the bigger picture. Smaller cities offer much in the way of generous salaries and affordability when compared to their big, coastal counterparts, leaving more time and income for the important things in life.

10 Best Cities For Young Professionals Seeking Work Life Balance

Many young professionals are eager to begin a financially independent lifestyle. With a new paycheck, saving, spending and lifestyle habits are likely to evolve. For most people starting off a new career, it’s important to have discretionary income for enjoying life outside of work. Living in a city large enough to offer activities and entertainment, with minimal use of a car can also be an added benefit.

By understanding these characteristics, we observed these national averages:

  • United States unemployment rate for metropolitan areas, according to BLS, is 4.1%
  • United States average rent index, according to Zillow, is $1,426
  • United States annual mean wage, according to BLS, is $49,630
  • According to WalkScore data, the average WalkScore in the U.S. is 41.3.

Then we asked ourselves, which cities can beat the averages and provide extra incentive for young professionals?

InvestmentZen was able to gather and analyze data from a number of sources to determine which 10 cities have the best stats for a strong work-life balance.

Methodology:

We used a weighted average to compared unemployment rate, walkability score, Zillow Rent Index, the annual mean wage for all occupations, and population for over 500 U.S. cities to determine which had the best balance of work life balance. These indicators prove to be the making for some of the best cities in the U.S. for young professionals.

These cities turned out to be great for young professionals who are looking to enhance their quality of life.

10. Aurora, CO

  • Unemployment Rate: 2.1%
  • Walkability Score: 43
  • Zillow Rent Index: $1,788
  • Annual Mean Wage: $55,910

The second city in Colorado to make the list (and the third most populous city in Colorado)  Aurora is home to many niche industries. While there are still more traditional business service suppliers, aerospace industries and bioscience firms are a major part of the economy in Aurora.

9. Oakland, CA

  • Unemployment Rate: 3.1%
  • Walkability Score: 72
  • Zillow Rent Index: $2,999
  • Annual Mean Wage: $69,110

With lower rent than sister city, San Francisco, residents of Oakland have the opportunity to work in San Francisco and commute back home to a less expensive apartment in Oakland (though the wages and unemployment rates are similar in both cities).

8. Milwaukee, WI

  • Unemployment Rate: 3.2%
  • Walkability Score: 62
  • Zillow Rent Index: $1,136
  • Annual Mean Wage: $49,350

Milwaukee is the second city in Wisconsin to make this list. The primary occupation groups in Milwaukee, according to BLS, are production jobs like machine operators and metal and plastic workers. Other heavily staffed industries are office and administration staff. The higher than average walkability score and relatively low rent are two contributing factors that bring Milwaukee to the list.

7. Detroit, MI

  • Unemployment Rate: 4%
  • Walkability Score: 55
  • Zillow Rent Index: $627
  • Annual Mean Wage: $50, 960

Though the unemployment rate in Detroit is still high, the city is coming back from its collapse. Detroit is becoming a hub for artists, architects, and engineer. Billions of dollars of construction projects have been spent to rebuild infrastructure, including transportation which is making the city more accessible and attractive to many young professionals.

6. San Francisco, CA

  • Unemployment Rate: 3.1%
  • Walkability Score: 86
  • Zillow Rent Index: $4,207
  • Annual Mean Wage: $69,110

Even with the sky-high rent index, the wages, walkability and unemployment rate are enough to boost San Francisco to the 6th spot on the list. It’s no secret that the tech industry is booming in San Francisco. The economy in the bay area has outpaced the rest of the state, and the country, in economic growth for the last five years.

5. St. Paul, MN

  • Unemployment Rate: 3.3%
  • Walkability Score: 59
  • Zillow Rent Index: $1,232.50
  • Annual Mean Wage: $55,010

Just across the river from the larger city of Minneapolis, St. Paul has grown in size over the last couple of years. New music venues, restaurants and night spots are popping up making the city an affordable but fun option for young professionals. The nicely balanced mean wage to rent index allows young professionals to life affordably and enjoy a nice work-life balance.

4. Tacoma, WA

  • Unemployment Rate: 3.4%
  • Walkability Score: 53
  • Zillow Rent Index: $1,155
  • Annual Mean Wage: $61,170

Tacoma has the second highest annual mean wage on this list, and with a zero percent income tax in the state of Washington, stretching a paycheck can also help pad discretionary income for young professionals.

3. Denver, CO

  • Unemployment Rate: 2.1%
  • Walkability Score: 61
  • Zillow Rent Index: $1,582
  • Annual Mean Wage: $55,910

Denver’s population has grown since 2010 by more than 93,000 (15.5%), largely due to a rise of newcomers headed to the mile-high city. One of the continually growing industries in Denver is its microbrew and craft beer scene, which can be a nice career path or fun extracurricular in this city.

2. Madison, WI

  • Unemployment Rate: 2.1%
  • Walkability Score: 49
  • Zillow Rent Index: $1,075
  • Annual Mean Wage: $50,830

Madison is a rapidly growing city. Between 2015 and 2016 Madison grew more than any other city in Wisconsin. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Madison surpassed a quarter million residents in the last year. According to the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, they accredit the growth to economic opportunity, livability factors and accessibility to amenities. It’s also notable that 55.1% of adults aged 25 and older have at least a Bachelor’s degree or higher.

1. Des Moines, IA

  • Unemployment Rate: 2.7%
  • Walkability Score: 45
  • Zillow Rent Index: $814.50
  • Annual Mean Wage: $49,420

The number one city on this list has exceptionally low unemployment and moderate wages. Another influential marker for Des Moines is the low rent – of the ten cities to rank on this list, Des Moines has the lowest rent.

Click here for a full, ranked list of data (including metros under a population of 200,000).

About the Author:

Megan Wells, San Francisco, CA

Megan Wells is a data journalist and content strategist based in San Francisco, California. Wells currently focuses on personal finance, mortgage, and fintech content. Wells’ work has appeared on Fox, Nasdaq, MSN, Motley Fool, and more. Wells also spoke at the 2015 Exceptional Women In Publishing conference.


Source: 10 Best Cities For Young Professionals Seeking Work-Life Balance – InvestmentZen

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College Students Should Hedge Their Bets Smartly in the Gig Economy

What’s Your Major?

As folks file back into college classrooms, at record paces at many universities this fall, it’s important that everyone has their eyes wide open about the correlation between the college degree and getting a good job post-graduation. All people who have attended college (whether they graduated or not) have been asked a hundred times, if they’ve been asked once, “What’s your major?” This is the proverbial question that everyone asks, at Thanksgiving, when college students come home for the holidays. Of course the reason the question is asked is the family member of friend wants to try and predict the odds that your education will lead to a “good job” (whatever the heck that is). They want to know whether to be ‘concerned’ about your choice or be ‘super-excited’ about your job prospects post-graduation. Usually these questions have good intentions, but choosing a major can be nerve racking and cause stress.

What Do You Want to Do for the Rest of Your Life?

When I was an undergraduate student at Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri in the mid-1990’s I, too, was asked this question many times by friends and family. For me, when I answered “Sociology and Criminal Justice” I was usually greeted with a “Oh, that sounds interesting”, which of course, is code for “What the heck are you going to do with that degree?” The thinking, in the 1990’s, was that one’s major was directly connected to the job they would do for the duration of their working career. So, therefore, if you had a major/minor in Sociology and Criminal Justice you were likely going to be a probation or parole officer, social worker, or maybe work at a prison. The trend in higher education for decades had been educating people for more ‘specialization’ given their concentrations/degrees. Most people wanted to be able to draw a straight line between a person’s college degree and their career path.

The answer to the, “What’s your major?” question has a much different meaning in 2017. The market has changed in gargantuan ways and college students should pay attention and ‘hedge their bets’ accordingly. It is no longer wise to go to college and get a degree without having thought long and hard about what you want to do with the degree and the likelihood that your studies will lead to a great job. The idea that “if you have a degree you’ll get a good job” is long gone and college students should take heed. I will argue that choosing a major in college is akin to making bets on the roulette wheel in Vegas and there is strategy involved–if you are savvy. To start, there are several questions that students need to ask themselves when they are early in their college experiences.

Pivotal questions that all college students should be asking themselves: 

  • Is there demand in the economy for what I’m learning in college – for what I’m majoring in? Does my major ‘translate’ to wide variety of in-demand jobs?
  • What are the prospects for the next few decades for my choice of study? What are economists forecasting? Are experts saying there is a shortage or surplus of those people with my background, skills, and abilities?
  • Am I wired to be a risk-taker and able to live with the reality that what I studied in college may NOT translate to a ‘good job’? Am I comfortable adapting to constant change?
  • Would I be happier if I chose a ‘safer’ major (and career path) where high demand has been proven and I will have a higher probability of getting a full-time job upon graduation?
  • Have I done research on how much money people in my career choice make? Have I done the math to figure out if this amount of money is enough to live on and be ‘relatively happy’ with?

Know Your Numbers

Get the Odds in Your Favor

When in college and trying to figure out a major/minor and where you envision your career going it’s critical to be informed with up-to-date information on key statistics regarding the job market, student loan debt, and the potential value of your major in the marketplace. For starters, it is critical to have a general understanding of current trends in the economy.

Specifically, it’s most helpful to know what types of jobs are in high demand and if economists are forecasting continued demand in the foreseeable future. A recent article titled, “America’s 10 toughest jobs to fill in 2017” is a great place to start. The list for 2017 includes: data scientist, financial adviser, general and operations manager, home health aide, information security analyst, medical services manager, physical therapist, registered nurse, software engineer, and truck driver. If I were in college today I would be thinking about how my studies in college were going to prepare me for a job that is high demand. This is the type of strategic thinking that can increase your odds of success. The math is easy. Would you rather be competing with 400 people for one open position or 40? The answer is obvious.

On the other hand, it’s also good to know what jobs are incredibly competitive and may lead to frustration post-graduation. Kiplinger put together an interesting list that is worth checking out. They determined this based on starting salarymid-career salary, annual online job postings, and projected 10-year job growth. The “10 Worst College Majors for your Career” included: exercise science, animal science, religion, radio, television and film production, graphic design, anthropology, paralegal studies, art, photography, culinary arts.

I know what you are likely saying at this point, “But Jason, my passion is in graphic design and the arts…I don’t want to study data science”! This is totally fine and I understand the balance between doing what one is passionate about vs. doing what will pay the bills. But, the point is college grads need to have an accurate picture of what they are up against and then decide what matters to them most. From my experience I think the “passionate aspect” is highly over-rated. I’ve found that a job is what you make it and so something that may not immediately strike you as ‘your passion’ can in the long-run be a great fit.

Along with knowing what majors are hot and not, it’s also critical to understand how the gig economy is impacting jobs and work in America. It may be that what you’ve trained for and studied to be is no longer possible as a full-time job with a pension, health insurance, and the rest. This is a reality that should be researched while you are in college.

The New Rules of the Gig Economy

The U.S. and global economy is constantly changing and requiring different skill sets from folks who want to be successful in the workforce. In a nutshell the days of working for the same company for 30+ years and retiring with a generous pension are few and far between. The “new” model is the trend toward the “Gig Economy”. What is the gig economy you ask? One definition: the trend toward project-based, temporary contracts that is permeating many (almost all) professions. The gig model is also known as: sharing economy, the on-demand, peer, or platform economy. Based on ratings-based marketplaces and in-app payment systems.

Rise of the Gig Economy

There are several companies that are good examples of the gig economy including: UberLyftJunoTaskRabbitPostmatesHandyDogvacay, and Airbnb. The trend for workers is they aren’t needed on a full-time 40+ hour/week basis. Rather work is needed on a ‘demand-only’ basis. This is, causing disruption in the work place.

There are many factors that have contributed to this shift, but understanding it could be the key for college students to find happiness in their careers. Estimates are that by 2020 up to 50% of the U.S. workforce could be involved in ‘freelance work’ – yes 50%! There are several pros and cons to the rise of the gig economy of course. For an interesting take on whether the Gig economy is working check out Nathan Heller’s piece in the New YorkerIs the the Gig Economy Working? The pros are that there is flexibility and freedom for workers and for customers they get things done in a quicker (and often cheaper) way. The cons are a lack of stability and being able to accurately predict income. One recent article cited that “85% of side-gig workers make less than $500 a month.” It will be interesting to see if the gig economy results in higher incomes in the next couple of decades as more and more ‘traditional’ businesses embrace the ‘gig way.’ Again, having an accurate picture of the ‘raw numbers’ can be super-helpful.

Before you pick a major in college you should know where there is demand in the job market and be aware of trends in the economy like the rise of the contingent workforce. In other words, you should hedge your bets accordingly. The casino game of roulette provides the perfect analogy.

Roulette Game Explained

The casino game roulette may look complicated and intimidating for those that have never played it. In reality the rules are pretty simple. The game revolves around luck, of course, and the player’s threshold for risk and reward. Roulette is all about odds and hoping that the ball drops on numbers/bets that the player is on.

There are several bets you can make and some have long odds and some are shorter. People place their bets with chips on the board and then the ball is thrown and the wheel is spun. After several times around the wheel the ball lands on a number and if players are playing that number they are paid.

Roulette is Akin to Choosing a Major

Make no mistake, regardless of what Vegas insiders might say, the game is dumb-luck, period. However, it can be a whole lot of fun and is often a social event where people make the same bets and everyone is happy (if they win). The house has the edge, of course, but the player can determine different levels of risk based on their betting style and bank roll.

Here are the basic payouts and the odds from the most to least risky:

  • Playing a number straight up is 35:1 odds – $10 bet earns the player $350 if that number hits
  • Playing 2, 3, or 4 numbers by placing chips on corners or in-between can be 18:112:19:1 – $10 bet earns the player $180, $120, and $90 respectively
  • Playing 0 or 00 is 35:1 odds (like all the other numbers) – But if Green/Zero or Double-zero hits all of the outside bets lose –  of course this is one way the house gets an edge on the player
  • Playing 1st 12, 2nd 12 or 3rd 12 – Player is playing numbers in that section – 2:1 odds – $10 bet earns the player $20 return if number in that area hits
  • Playing the columns – Player is playing all the numbers in that particular column – 2:1 odds – $10 bet earns the player $20 return if number in that column hits
  • Playing Red / Black (there are 18 red and 18 black numbers) – 1:1 odds – $10 bet earns the player $10 if red hits and they played red (vice versa with black)
  • Playing Odd / Even (there are 18 odd and 18 even numbers) – 1:1 odds – $10 bet earns the player $10 if odd number hits and they played odd (vice versa with even)
  • Playing 1-18 / 19-36 (betting that any number between 1-18 or 19-36 to hit) – 1:1 odds – $10 bet earns the player $10 if number between 1- 18 or 19-36 hits and they placed that bet

So, roulette provides players a plethora of betting options and ways to manage their risk and reward with every spin. I’ve played roulette for years and witnessed people win and lose a lot of money on the game. It turns out this is similar to making a decision on your major and career choice. Do you want to try and enter a field with long odds or shorter (more friendly) odds? This is a key questions college students need to ask. Given the shifts in the economy there are careers and college majors that have a much higher (and lower) chance of success for college graduates.

Picking a Major Is Like Playing Roulette – Odds Matter

Picking a major in college and trying to lay out one’s potential career path is very important. Having a firm grasp on the competitiveness and ‘odds’ of being successful is also essential. We should never underestimate the power of ‘expectation setting’ for our careers. If students decide to major in things that have a high probability of leading to jobs in high-demand areas like data science, financial advising, nursing, or physical therapy that is akin to betting Red/Black or betting the 1st 12 on the roulette wheel. This is a safer bet and the odds of being successful are higher than normal. On the contrary, if a student decides to major in anthropology or photography that is similar to playing a few numbers straight up on the roulette wheel and ‘hoping for the best.’ The payoff is great, but the odds of that student “hitting” (or landing a job) are much lower. Odds matter and shouldn’t be overlooked when important decisions about majors and careers are on the line.

Let It Ride?

Before I made a career change to content marketing I applied to several ‘assistant professor in sociology’ jobs in the Seattle/Tacoma area. Having achieved a Ph.d. and taught for 14 years, at several institutions of higher learning, I figured I’d be a good fit for many schools (whether 4-year institutions–public or private or community colleges). From the dozens and dozens of applications I filled out I ended up getting very few interviews and no job offers. One community college HR person told me that there were over 400 applicants for the ‘Assistant Professor of Sociology’ position I applied for. The odds were not in my favor–aka Hunger Games.

These are incredibly difficult odds and something I should have been more aware of when I was an undergraduate (picking a major) and in graduate school too. Clearly, I speak from learning some very hard lessons. I followed my passions and it didn’t work out as planned. The other structural change in academia that I should have seen coming was the shift from 70% of professors being full-time (with benefits and decent wages) and 30% being part-time (with no benefits and low pay) to the reverse in the last ten to fifteen years. Now, only 30% of professors are full-time with benefits and 70% are part-time. This is a shift in the work force that is crucial. I followed my passion and ignored the economic reality that was staring me in the face. Blindly ‘following your passions’ can be a recipe for disappointment.

Don’t get me wrong, following your passions should also factor into these decisions. However, students need to have a firm grasp on the odds-game given their major and career choice. What’s more it may be that students find they are most happy by being involved in the gig economy (for the benefits I’ve outlined in this article). The number of people working ‘side hustles‘ in the U.S. economy is clearly growing and can help bridge the gaps when full-time jobs aren’t as plentiful (or as satisfying) as they used to be. When I was between jobs I had football and basketball officiating to help keep money coming in and keep me busy. Side-hustles truly can be a life-line if things get tight. They might also lead to creative business opportunities that you didn’t know were possible.

In conclusion, the days of picking a major and career-choice based solely on your passions and what you ‘dream about doing’ are long gone for 95% of college graduates. The smarter way to go is to research heavily the job market and figure out how much risk you are willing to live with and calculate the odds that you can achieve the career-path you wish to pursue. And, of course, even if you do everything I’ve said you still may end up doing or being something different than you envisioned, but at least you will do it with your eyes wide open.


Source: College Students Should Hedge their Bets Smartly in the Gig Economy – Crelate

Remote Work Is Changing the Way We Lead

Remote Work Is Changing the Way We Lead

Written by Georgiana Beech, specially for The HR Tech Weekly®

Vintage Workplace

It goes without saying that businesses must adapt to changing employment trends or risk becoming obsolete. In order to recruit top talent and build an innovative, valuable workforce, companies must offer environments and perks that are attractive — that is, they must be modern and malleable.

With technology becoming entrenched in all aspects of the modern office, opportunities for remote work are abundant. According to the University of Alabama, 20 to 25 percent of American workers currently telecommute in some way, though up to 90 percent would like to. Slowly, the traditional office is fading.

Employees can now be scattered not only across the county, but across continents. With a multitude of business applications available, managing projects at a distance has never been easier. Communication between multiple departments (or even cooperating companies) streamlines the workflow and ups efficiency.

However, management across teams comes with a new set of challenges. Leaders need to switch up their style as much as employees do. Previously, American attitudes toward business have endorsed an every-person-for-themselves school of thought, encouraging workers to worry only about their personal progress.

Now, distance has forced a more group-minded approach. Employee development must be focused on critical thinking and problem solving. When working remotely, even though technology provides abundant connection, there is less immediate support available. Therefore, employees must be capable of higher-level assessment and problem management.

Managing employees equipped with more abstract skill sets may be challenging for some leaders. Your team may become noticeably self-sufficient, solving more problems on their own. This can be challenging to cope with if you’re used to leading with a very assignment-driven agenda.

You may also see your team diversify as you take on members from other companies or countries. Working with employees from different cultural backgrounds can create barriers to effective communication. You may have to contend with factors such as power distance, communication expectations, and conflict management styles.

Even if you feel comfortable navigating intercultural communication, your employees may not. With communication being a fundamental tenet of successful telecommuting, it is important to make sure that your employees feel prepared and empowered to tackle these challenges.

It can seem overwhelming to adopt a management style that’s appropriate to remote workers. It may even seem overwhelming to implement the technology necessary to make remote work possible. Based on the economic trade-off, though, the learning curve is worth it. Employees are happier and often more productive, in-office business costs lower, and you keep your business on the forefront of trends.

The infographic below, provided by the University of Alabama, details the current attitude towards remote work, as well as some of the implications for leaders as their offices make the switch.

Virtual Team Leadership: The Highs & Lows of Leading a Team Remotely
Source: Virtual Team Leadership: The Highs & Lows of Leading a Team Remotely | UAB Online Degrees
Diversity and Inclusion (D&I)

It’s here: the full Diversity & Inclusion recruiter!

Implementing diversity & inclusion (D&I) in the workplace elevates your business to the next level. Reduce bias in your recruitment process, hire the candidate with the best matching competencies, thanks to a full D&I recruiting HRTech solution as add-on to your ATS.

The Zurich based HRTech innovator softfactors launched its latest addition to their softfactors recruiting suite ready for HRTechCongress in Amsterdam: a diversity & inclusion recruiter utilising a core screening engine purely focusing on the competencies of the candidates. No CV, no gender, no name, no age, no religion, no race – just the competencies and match to the job. True diversity & inclusion. (Download Whitepaper)

Are you taking D&I serious in recruiting?

Research by Forbes, Howard Business School and The Economist suggested that companies following a true D&I strategy have a number of direct business benefits e.g.

  • Business growth
  • Higher earnings & return on equity
  • Increased sales revenue growth
  • Better ability to serve clients

The benefits of D&I are clear – but to truly execute it, you have to rethink your recruiting process and tools. Still, most hiring process bursts with bias, as human beings interact  with other human beings. When we discuss bias, we typically think of the “obvious” sources of bias like gender, race and age, but many other unconscious biases influence the way we evaluate a candidate:

  • School bias
  • Beauty bias
  • Affinity bias
  • Conformity bias

The goal of diversity hiring is to identify and remove conscious and unconscious biases that could lead to hiring candidates based upon other criteria than the best matching competencies. This can best be achieved using an unbiased recruiting tool, but also needs awareness amongst recruiters and hiring managers.

How can an automated screening and assessment support your D&I recruiting process?

The new softfactors diversity recruiter module neutralises the candidate information to present the recruiter with only the information necessary to assess the candidates competencies and the match to the job in question. It offers multiple levels of D&I process depths with several D&I recruiting tools:

  • D&I screening process
  • D&I reports
  • D&I assessment solution
  • D&I candidate compare features

And the good news is: it works with any ATS (i.e. Workday or SuccesFactors) with an availble API. Come and visit softfactors at HRTechCongress in Amsterdam from October 22 – 24, 2017, Stand 527. And get a free D&I recruiter demo or trial version its cloud services.

Download a comprehensive, free whitepaper on D&I recruiting by Lucy Dubin, PhD, and Christer Balle here.

6 Tips to Better Manage Your Landscaping Business

Getting into the landscaping business is a truly rewarding experience as the fruits of our labor are actually palpable. However, as our influence reaches more and more people and our business starts to expand – we are faced with a unique transitionary period where we need not only manage ourselves but others under our wing. Despite the number of challenges we are all destined to face, none of these are insurmountable. In reality, most of the pitfalls of expansion can be avoided by utilizing the previous experiences of others and laying out a solid plan. This turns a turbulent period into nothing more than a smooth ride.

Scale accordingly

First and foremost, a business owner has to understand that management systems are an ever-evolving entity and that every company and situation requires a specific approach. What once worked for a one-man operation will most-certainly not be enough to manage five people, let alone fifty. Ignoring this issue is a surefire way to end up in a logistical nightmare with no way of reliably knowing what transpired within the past month, let alone the fiscal year. By figuring out our needs and hiring personnel to manage employees or come up with systems to keep track of everything efficiently – we pay a bit more upfront but save thousands in the long run.

Hire responsibly

There’s no way around it – your employees will be the face of your company, like it or not. They will be the first, and hopefully not last, face they see when procuring a service. Whatever the task might be, it is an absolute necessity that these people are sufficiently trained and upbeat about their job. Nothing breaks a deal like a general unwillingness to do one’s job and a bad attitude towards customers. A bad employee will get rooted out eventually, sure, but the damage they could do to your brand and company isn’t something that will go away as easily. Tread carefully.

Train your people

When you do actually find people worthy of your trust, make sure to train them in the field. Always offer them opportunities to improve upon themselves and rack up those references for their CV down the line. Any form of training can be presented as a bonus to employees as it increases their skill set while also reflecting positively on the company itself as its workers are trained and have a wide variety of skills. This will also allow you to somewhat tweak pricing to reflect the quality and professional help you’re offering to potential clientele.

Motivate

With an increasing workforce, it can get extremely hard to find the right methods to motivate everyone equally. However difficult and time-consuming it might be, it is imperative that every employee feels appreciated and like they have a higher purpose – a reason to work hard. Make sure any company needs are communicated properly and that every worker knows exactly what their job is and when it is complete. Leave no room for misunderstanding and be as transparent as you can afford – this forms bonds akin to a family instead of an office and makes them feel like part of something bigger.

Invest in GPS tracking

More than just a safety net for rogue drivers, GPS tracking allows for drivers to get from point A to point B more efficiently and improves customer support. Installing GPS tracking isn’t a big deal and you have systems like Teletrac which offer real-time tracking with updates every few minutes. This can help give updates to worried customers, help provide an ETA, find out where a driver has been during his shift etc. This also has the Big Brother effect – employees will know that they have a GPS in the truck and will avoid slacking off.

Quality makes a difference

With all of that out of the way, it’s time to focus on what we’re actually offering to our customers. Simply put, quality service only works if complemented by a quality product. Your employees can be experts in the field all they like if they don’t have the right materials to work with. Strike a deal with a trusted local supplier like Sand4U or other trusted companies in your region to guarantee the best materials and even use their own influence to your PR advantage. With quality personnel and a quality selection of materials, the sky is the limit.

The gist

Handling a company is no easy feat and surviving in this dog-eat-dog world is truly an accomplishment. When starting out, it’s important to look ahead without getting ahead of ourselves. This essentially means that we need to anticipate future problems, come what may, without going so far as to lose sight of what’s directly in front of us. By following these steps, we set up a good set of guidelines to make sure we stay our course through and through while allowing us enough flexibility to adapt and overcome any challenges our business is sure to face down the line.

How Easy Is It for Your Employees to Be Employees?

How Easy Is It for Your Employees to Be Employees?

Author: Jen Stroud, HR Evangelist & Transformation Leader, ServiceNow

How Easy Is It for Your Employees to Be Employees?

I once worked for organization where most employees exiting said their reason for leaving was because it was just too difficult to be an employee there. Wow! Too difficult to be an employee? As HR professionals, we hear concerns about managers, pay, or even leadership as reasons people leave. Those are big challenges most organizations face at one time or another, and they are not easy to solve. But when an employee says it’s too hard to be an employee, that should get your attention quickly.

Jen Stroud, HR Evangelist & Transformation Leader, ServiceNow
Jen Stroud, ServiceNow

An HR leader told me that making work life easier for their employees is vitally important. This leader works for a company that is in the business of saving lives every day. They want their employees focused on this critical mission rather than on who can answer their benefits question or what process they need to follow to be reimbursed for a course they’ve taken. And they’re not alone. All executives want their employees focused on their mission, whether it’s creating innovative products, building a sales pipeline, or servicing customers. Organizations hire employees to perform a role that is vital to a company’s growth and stability. Any obstacle that gets in the way of that mission should be removed. Yet, the challenges often remain because some people view change as difficult and too disruptive or we have bought into the belief that one system can solve all our HR technology needs. It’s also possible that no one is asking employees what they think or ignoring the signs of frustration until it’s too late.

The good news is that with the technology solutions available today, HR leaders can dramatically impact the employee service experience in a positive way. But you have to be willing to look at your employee service experience and your HR technology landscape in a new way. You have to be willing to imagine the art of the possible and be ready to disrupt the status quo. I have met with several HR execs over the past few years who cannot acknowledge the need to disrupt their HR service landscape. Instead they trust that the investments they’ve made in the past will pay off one day. HR has been a laggard department when it comes to innovation and change. The good news is that this doesn’t have to be your reality.

Your Employee Service Experience

First, ask the simple question, “Is it easy for employees to take care of their basic HR needs and be productive in their jobs?” Are you providing your employees with a service experience at work that resembles their service experiences outside of work? Employees bring expectations to work every day. If they use an app in their personal lives that makes it easy to get something done, that is the type of experience they expect at work. And while no two organizations are alike and employee expectations vary, it is safe to say that most organizations face the same challenge—the majority of employees have high expectations for their employee service experience. Consider the following when assessing your current state:

  • Do you provide a one-stop shop for all HR questions and requests?
  • Are employees able to view their submitted requests at any time?
  • Are you keeping employees notified on the status of their requests in the manner they most desire (via text for example)?
  • Can employees easily find information pertinent to them and quickly submit requests to HR?
  • Can employees do all of this from their mobile device?

Your HR Technology Landscape

Digital Employee Experience

In most organizations, HR teams spend more than 30 percent of their days repeating the same information to employees over and over again and doing other repetitive work. Unfortunately, the information is not always consistent and correct. Often, response times are long leading to frustrated employees. In addition to preventing HR teams from focusing on more strategic initiatives, old school work environments that rely heavily on email communication and lack automated workflows are encouraging attrition as employees make the decision to move on to other organizations where they feel more valued… where it’s easier to be an employee. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How much time is your HR team spending on the daily administrative minutia of answering the same questions over and over again whether by email, phone or in person?
  • Are they still manually updating systems and processing paperwork?
  • Are employee needs being anticipated? Are their expectations being managed?

Are the HR systems in use at your company fit for purpose or are there gaps that prevent you from providing a service experience to your employees that will make them feel valued and prepared to fully contribute to your mission? Most companies have invested in technology designed to manage employee information and transactions. The missing link is often the “interaction” component. Consider the following questions:

  • How is email used in your company to manage employee questions and requests?
  • Can you easily determine how many and what type of requests are coming into HR or your employee information needs?
  • Do employees have access 24/7 to a knowledge base that will inform their decisions about benefits?
  • Can your HR team easily and independently make modifications to workflows and forms without having to engage with IT or professional services?

There are great HCM solutions available in the market today though I have yet to see one that alone can truly accomplish all of these. Email continues to be used in most organizations to manage interactions with employees even though it provides no visibility into request status and no structure or metrics for HR. The good news is that service management technology exists that integrates with existing HR technology to fill in these gaps allowing organizations to streamline and modernize the entire employee life cycle.

If employees are not giving you direct feedback as they leave your company, they may be posting their thoughts on sites such as Glassdoor or otherwise letting potential applicants know about their experience. Don’t wait for disaster to strike or be overwhelmed by the challenges in front of you. All great journeys begin with one bold step. The first step in your transformation journey could be a matter of adding structure and visibility to your employee request and information processes. Seize the opportunity to make a difference—a difference that will have a long term impact on the viability of your company. Invest in your employee service experience and you may reap the rewards of higher employee engagement and longer employee tenure. At the very least, you will have far fewer complaints about the ease of working in your organization.

8 Best Practices to Protect Your Enterprise Network

How to Simplify Your Self-Storage Business with HR Outsourcing

Starting a business is a challenge. It is, however somewhat of a dream for quite a lot of people. Knowing that self-storage businesses are thriving due to the ever-growing need for more storage space, it’s perfectly normal that you are thinking about starting your own self-storage business, and why shouldn’t you? The real question is – how to do it in the best possible way?

We’ve searched the web for you, and we’ve made this short guide that should help you understand how to simplify your business and still keep it professional and on a road to success. As you’re probably thinking about starting small, you must think about maximum efficiency. So, without further ado, let’s dive in and check how outsourcing strategies can help you out with your business.

Why Outsourcing?

One of the most amazing things about self-storage businesses is that they could be run very efficiently with a small staff. As a business owner, even the opportunity to avoid making internal departments and different segmentations of your employees should sound amazing. Well, outsourcing can help you out with this issue significantly.

Let’s take a look at how any employees do you really need. First of all, the main idea behind self-storage is that customers can come and go as they please. This means that you don’t need too many people tend to their needs. You would need someone to take care of security, maintenance, and housekeeping. Other than these staff members, all other parts of your business could be addressed externally.

In order to truly provide the best service and focus on your customers, you should think about hiring a B2B finance company to handle your finances. There are incredibly affordable marketing companies and services that can take care of your advertising and marketing needs and your human resources could be handled by outsourcing professionals. This way you really don’t have to burden yourself with multiple roles, and you can focus on the development of your business.

Hiring New Stuff Personally VS Outsourcing Human Resources

Let’s focus a bit on your employees and the entire process of hiring. When it comes to finding the perfect candidate for the job, you may already know that it can be tricky. One of the worst scenarios is handling employee turnover. There’s quite a lot of time involved in the entire process, as you need to make the offer, wait for the candidates to respond, find the best ones, provide them with the proper training and regulating all the things that follow like tax documents, payrolls and so on. And if that employee gets a better offer after a month or two, and decides to leave, you have to go through the entire process over again.

When it comes to outsourcing an HR company, you only have to find the one that suits your needs, and that’s all. What you can expect from them is that they go through their professional networks and connections in order to find the candidate that suits your needs in the best possible way. They help the employee implementation and some even provide full HR support if needed, so your company has the best possible retention. While they’re doing their job, you can really focus on the necessary tasks needed to help your company evolve and flourish.

Benefits of HR Outsourcing

We’ve explained how outsourcing an HR company can help you out with finding the perfect employees, but there are other reasons why you should consider this move, whether you’re running a self-storage start-up or you’re running a large company. Here are some of them.

  • Keeping the staff count low – As you don’t need so many people to help you run a successful self-storage business, you definitely don’t need an internal HR department. Usually, quite a lot of business owners take the role of an HR manager and they lose precious time on tasks that would have been completed with ease by an outsourcing HR firm.
  • Technological advancements – You would be surprised how many storage owners still use old time tracking processes or paper insurance enrollments. Quite a lot of them still operate using pen and paper, and having an HR outsourcing company take care of some of those things can speed up things quite significantly. With online platforms, time tracking and attendance systems you can really boost your business.
  • Compliance – Having to track everything, from your employees’ medical records and overtime pays by yourself can be quite hard. With an HR outsourcing firm, you don’t have to think about that. We’ve talked about it with a lot of self-storage business owners and Super Cheap Storage professionals from Gold Coast have emphasized how this solution helped them focus more on their customers and their needs.
  • Single solution – Once you replace numerous vendors with a single streamlined process, and once you know that a single team of professionals is handling your affairs, you, as an owner get to focus on your primary duties, while the entire workflow is not disrupted.

Wrapping It Up

No matter what type of self-storage business you’re running, whether it’s a startup or a well-established self-storage facility, you should always look for the ways to make your business more efficient and customer-adapted. Having enough time to complete your tasks as an owner is crucial if you’re planning on running a successful self-storage business. A thorough research and some planning can help you a lot in a long run, so start thinking about outsourcing solutions for your business.

Creating the right learning environment for your employees is imperative. Here's how you can do just that.

How to Create a Better Learning Environment for Your Employees

Encouraging employees to always be developing their skills is good for their mood, career development, and even team bonding.

When you offer employees the chance to learn and grow, it shows that you value them. This makes them more effective in their role – both because they’re expanding their skills and because they don’t feel like just another cog in the machine – and therefore makes your business more successful, too.

From attending conferences online to making classes more interactive, technology makes staff training easier than ever. Here are just some of the ways technology helps you to create a better learning environment for your employees.

Make training part of company culture

Training should be seen as a key part of company culture. It’s only when employees are supported and guided in their growth strategies that they can really excel.

However, it can be difficult to for employees to find the time to work on their skills around their busy schedules. Automating certain tasks, such as speeding up data entry using Excel macros, gives them more time to spend on expanding their skills.

Other repetitive tasks, such as organizing meetings, can also be automated by adopting features such as calendar sync. When a team’s calendars are connected to a booking software, the meeting organizer can select the meeting attendees, then leave the software to work out the rest. It can even work out the most suitable meeting room and schedule the meeting around the availability of that room.

Give employees easy access to the training resources they need

Employees need the right equipment for their training session so that they can get the most out of it. This could involve laptops, projectors, screens, or even parking spaces.

In a large organization the availability of these resources can’t always be guaranteed. Connecting the calendars of these resources to a booking software allows them to be reserved in advance. Training sessions can even be scheduled based on the availability of the necessary resources.

The schedules of guest speakers can also be connected to your booking software, meaning that you can book a training session based around both their schedule and the schedules of everyone that needs to attend. Nobody needs to miss out because they’re on vacation or at another training event.

It’s not always necessary to attend training events in person anymore, though.

Many conferences now offer e-tickets, which allows employees to attend without the extra expenses of travel or hotel stays. This saves your business money while employees still get to develop their skills.

E-tickets often come with the chance to rewatch lectures after the conference is over, which can also be a valuable resource. It also means employees can watch talks at a time that is most convenient for them and don’t have to miss out on anything because of time differences.

Make learning more engaging

We’ve all had to sit in a cold, dank room surrounded by colleagues while someone talks at us all day. Sometimes what can be explained in an hour is dragged out into an all-day event to justify guest speakers or room rental.

This isn’t an effective, fun, or engaging training method.

When employees can use technology, learning instantly becomes more engaging. Training modules can be turned into games; meetings can be simulated or even attended in VR, and employees can get their questions answered instantaneously by a chatbot.

Chatbots can help employees both inside and outside of a training room – should a new hire have any questions, for example, they can ask the chatbot and get an answer straight away. This means they don’t have to disturb their colleagues to get answers, and they don’t have to wait around for their colleagues to be free, either. Your latest hire can get to grips with things and start helping the team faster.

In-house training can also be made more interactive with the use of virtual reality. Virtual reality can be particularly useful for dangerous jobs where on-the-job training isn’t always possible, but where it’s important for employees to develop their skills before completing their tasks for real.

It can also be beneficial for training sales teams or telemarketers in how to deal with difficult customers, or to teach pilots how to fly before they go up in the air.

Virtual reality can also benefit remote-working employees as they can feel just as much of a part of team meetings as those who are there in person. They can also be more immersed in client meetings.

Growth is important for people and businesses

Retaining highly skilled employees is one of the most difficult tasks that a business faces. Finding a way to keep them is important if your business is to grow, though.

One of the ways in which businesses can help to attract and retain the best employees is by offering them the opportunity to constantly learn and expand their knowledge. The most successful people are always learning new things, so it makes sense that these people, in turn, help to build a successful company.

Investing in employees’ skills is a win-win situation, it prevents staff from going to the competition and helps to build a business’s employer brand. The more advanced and interesting the development package, the more attractive it is to employees. One of the ways employers can make this attractive to employees is to invest in the right technology for the job. The better the technology available to employees, the more control they have over their schedule and the faster they can develop their skills.


Source: How to Create a Better Learning Environment for Your Employees | Cronofy Calendar API

About the Author

Kristina is a writer, digital marketer, and social media addict. She spends her days working as a content marketer for Cronofy, and her nights writing novels.

About Cronofy

Cronofy connects HR software to users’ calendars via a unified calendar API.

To discover how calendar sync can save you and your users time and money, and help to hire the best candidates, watch our Real-Time Scheduling video.

Wheel Gear

What potential HR struggles can early stage start-ups encounter?

Active

With every great idea and every platform or app that promises to be the next great disturber, there is normally a common challenge faced by many SME’s and early stage start-ups, and that is hiring.

The hiring process can potentially be a long and drawn out process that is both time-consuming and expensive. Here are just some of the potential HR struggles that today’s start-ups face.

They neither possess the skills, tools or networks

Recruitment can be a fine art. Finding the right person is difficult enough and knowing where to look and having the appropriate networks to search for these people is a big initial challenge in itself. Then there’s assessment, in most early stage-ups, many of its senior officials will have to take on different hats and sometimes may have to go on instinct when looking to hire someone.

They don’t have the budget

In follow up to this point, with some early stage start-ups not possessing the appropriate HR skills, there may be need to call up on the service of others. This could be through posting on a job posting site, or hiring agency help which of course means investment. They may also not be in a position to hire a HR Professional full-time in their embryonic stage so don’t have a great deal of options. With Development as we know requiring huge investment, the cost of finding and hiring someone can be a daunting prospect.

They don’t have the time

A great idea can be just that and never see the light of day. Traction is key for the success of any start-up, and this needs to be almost immediate. Looking for someone to potentially hire can be a long and arduous process. Where you may get hundreds of applicants for one role, trawling through the many CV’s and profiles can be extremely time consuming and most senior figures will want their time and energy invested elsewhere.

They don’t have the control

All of these points lead to one issue, control, and the lack of it. Hiring someone is a big decision and something you feel you want to be a part of. Much like buying a house, hiring someone is something you want close control over from start to finish to ensure you’ve hired the right person and there’s no grey area or doubt left in mind. Leaving it in the hands of others isn’t something most start-ups are fond of but something they comply with due to their circumstances.

About the Author:

Chris Henry

Chris Henry-Reeve has 7 years of experience in online content marketing, social media community management, as well as experience in public relations and creative project management. Chris is a regular commentator on retail and experience led marketing, plus societal changes and their impact on industries such as recruitment. He was responsible for the launch of a new marketing insight magazine entitled HATCH which enjoyed a distribution of 10,000 copies and saw it stocked in premium airport lounges and private members’ clubs such as SOHO House, as well as enjoying a live launch event attended by over 250 industry professionals. Chris also has consummate experience in video development and production, being responsible for the management of several marketing video case studies and previously working with an online video focused start-up.

About iContract:

iContract is an online platform transforming the hiring process of contractors in the field of legal, finance and tech.

Talent seekers can be instantly recommended to relevant contractors based on the specific needs of their company and the contract they are posting.

Ensuring more transparency in the contractor market, iContract matches you to contractors that are tailored to your unique needs. Reducing the need for long and arduous assessment processes such as CV trawling, iContract connects you to the right candidate quickly and effectively.

Learn more here www.icontract.co.uk
AI is all the rage, but is it dangerous?

AI is all the rage, but is it dangerous?

AI on the digital map

Artificial Intelligence continues to be a major trend in HR as companies look to improve hiring decisions and efficiency. As a computer scientist and expert on hiring research, I can attest that there are definitely components of hiring that can be improved with AI. One example is using algorithms to automatically remove identifying information from resumes to make identity-blind resume review more efficient. We can also use AI to help companies write better and more inclusive job descriptions that attract a broader pool of qualified applicants. A company concerned with employee turnover could use AI to identify employees who may be likely to leave based on variables like how many managers they’ve had, pay equity, and length of tenure. These are all exciting applications of AI that could make a real difference to a company’s hiring success.

AI and Recruiting

The main place people seem to be interested in using AI in recruiting is in reducing the number of resumes recruiters have to review to get to the best candidate. This makes perfect sense: given how easy it is to apply to a job with one-click these days, recruiters are understandably overwhelmed with the number of resumes they receive.

Unfortunately, there is a huge risk that using AI in the recruiting process is going to increase bias and not reduce it. Why do I sound so pessimistic? Because AI is completely dependent on the training set that is used to generate its predictive results. We’ve already seen how this can go horribly wrong in trying to identify images and create Twitter posts. When it comes to hiring, a critically important function for companies, AI can perpetuate biased patterns and teams that are very similar to existing ones.

Here’s an example where AI does not serve a company well. Let’s say a corporate hiring manager always looks for candidates who went to Ivy League schools. When an algorithm looks for patterns of the employees at the company, it will notice that there are certain schools that are more common among current employees, and it will seek candidates from those schools. However, research has shown that where someone went to school is not predictive of how well they will perform in a job. So, the algorithm has now found a “signal” in the data that is not predictive of how well a potential candidate will actually do the job. In this case, AI is simply feeding recruiters “more of the same,” which may not be what your company needs to achieve future goals.

Using AI in this way won’t be help organizations predict what they need to achieve future goals. AI is essentially “driving in the rearview mirror” – it is based on what has been done in the past. That’s why AI can’t replace recruiters, who have specific knowledge on the best types of people to hire to meet certain skillsets that will move a company forward.

How to spot potential bias in AI

The possibility of bias in AI training sets won’t occur to many algorithms designers, so it is up to the organizations that are deploying these algorithms to ask the right questions about what testing has been done to ensure bias was not trained into the algorithm itself. For example, if you’re considering video software that analyzes nonverbal communication to predict candidate quality or a pre-assessment that claims to predict job performance, ask whether there were observed group differences in the training data. If they can’t tell you, think twice about using it.

You’re still smarter than AI

Use AI to augment your hiring wisely. No amount of AI can replace following best practices in hiring, like identifying key skills and values before sourcing candidates and using structured interviewing. Some AI can help improve these best practices and get you closer to your goals, faster. Just make sure you have your eyes open for potential biases along the way.