Media, Workplace

The article was published in The Globe and Mail on 22 November, 2019.

Employees don’t quit their job, they quit their boss.” It is a fact and studies bear this out. In the article Employees Want a Lot More From Their Managers from the Gallup publication Workplace (April 8, 2015), Gallup tells about one of their studies involving more than 7,272 adults who had left their jobs. It showed that 50% of them left to get away from their managers. A Canadian study released on October 8, 2019 by the Robert Half organization found that 39% of people quit their job because of a bad boss.


No doubt you can attract talented employees with a nice offer, but you won’t retain and engage them if they don’t have a great employee experience. And the manager’s communication has much to do with it.


In that same article, Gallup mentioned another of its studies, this one involving 7,712 adults. The study revealed that managers who consistently communicate with their employees and display a genuine interest to know them have a positive impact in their staff engagement level.


But being consistent isn’t enough. What practical and effective communication techniques should be used by managers? And how can managers communicate with their employees in a reliable and motivating way?


In the classic book: ‘How To Win Friends And Influence People,’ self-improvement and corporate-training guru Dale Carnegie showed how to communicate effectively, and I encourage anyone who is leading a group of people to heed his approach. Here are two tips.


Tip #1. Begin your conversation with praise and honest appreciation

Let’s say you just hired a developer. John is creative and driven. He typically delivers more than you expect but has a problem with deadlines. He is always way behind the due date and sometimes his delays directly impact the business.


The dilemma for you, his manager is how to address this problem without alienating an otherwise talented person. Put another way, how can you apply Carnegie’s approach to handling an effective conversation with John that benefit both of you?


You could say: “John, I really appreciate your creativity and drive. You have done this and that for the company and it looks fabulous and fits perfectly with our brand. The only area of improvement that I notice is when it comes to delivering the final work within the agreed timeframe. Do you mind sharing with me how you determine the timeframe needed to complete a project? Perhaps together we can find a better way.”


The goal is to be yourself and have a genuine discussion while supporting John. It is important to show you trust him and that a truly collaborative discussion between the two of you will resolve things.


Tip #2. When you make your request, convey to the other person that they will personally benefit.

Jen is your administrative assistant and recently prepared a great slide deck that was well received by a client. You want to use that same slide deck for another client but it’s going to require updates. However, your meeting with that client is the next day, so you need Jen’s help.​


So once again, how can you the manager apply Carnegie’s approach to handling an effective conversation with Jen that benefit both of you?

This is how not to do it:


“Jen, I meet a client tomorrow and need this deck right away. Update the background with their logo, change the date and names, and adjust the colours with their brand. Forget everything else and focus on this today so I can have it ready for my meeting.”


A much better approach is:


“Jen, your last slide deck was so well received. Thank you so much. I want to use it again for a meeting with ABC tomorrow. But it needs some updates and I have them. It would be great if you can make those changes and complete them by 2 p.m. which still gives us time to review and then we can go home at 5 with peace of mind. And tomorrow your work will make us look first-class again and you will have done your part once more to provide a great client experience.”


A final word of advice from Carnegie: “The only way I can get you to do anything is by giving you what you want.” In other words, good communication is a pillar of any relationship. So, communicate with your team the same way you wish everyone would speak to you at work or outside of work. Ultimately, this type of communication will impact employee engagement and boost productivity. A bonus is that you feel good about it yourself. It’s a win-win.

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Media, Workplace

The article was published in The Lawyer’s Daily on 19 November, 2019.

You don’t keep an employee for long if they don’t have a positive impact on your business, and 38 years of Coach’s Corner would indicate that hockey broadcaster Don Cherry was good for Hockey Night in Canada. He clearly had a positive impact on TV ratings over the years and was an asset for his employer. But sometimes good things end and for Cherry it came in the form of a rant which many viewers took as anti-immigrant.


Cherry was criticizing those who don’t wear a poppy on Remembrance Day and the implication from the now-famous “you people” was that he was targeting newcomers to Canada.


What he said was: “You people […] love our way of life, love our milk and honey. At least you could pay a couple of bucks for poppies or something like that. These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada.”


The statement pushed his employer Sportsnet to end the relationship after 38 years of service. Bart Yabsley, President of Sportsnet, described Cherry’s statement as “divisive remarks that do not represent our values or what we stand for.”


Sponsors soon followed up with their own response to Cherry’s comments. Said Todd Allen, Vice-president of Marketing for Labatt Breweries of Canada: “The comments made Saturday on Coach’s Corner were clearly inappropriate and divisive, and in no way reflect Budweiser’s views. As a sponsor of the broadcast, we immediately expressed our concerns and respect the decision which was made by Sportsnet today.”

Indeed, the initial communication was clearly the trigger for the separation and that is perhaps why, during his Nov.12 interview with Global News, Cherry said that he should have said “everybody” and not “you people.” But the damage had already been done.


In this case the employer chose to cease Cherry’s employment immediately, perhaps because, as lawyer Daniel Reid from Harper Grey LLP indicated, “almost any negative statement concerning an individual, corporation or group has the potential to be defamatory” and as per Yabsley’s statement, Sportsnet feels socially responsible not to divide Canadians. Furthermore, employment lawyer Jennifer Heath said “an employer can be held vicariously liable for the defamatory words communicated by [its employees…] in certain circumstances.”


In Ontario law, Defamation “is a statement to a third party about an identifiable individual that is false and damaging to the person’s feelings, pocket book, or reputation.” In that sense Cherry’s statement appears to be false; his allegations cannot be confirmed since there is no hard data on who wears poppies, and the statement appears to be damaging since many people were offended. Moreover, his statement appears to relate to an identifiable group of persons (“you people”). But is it enough to say that Cherry was terminated due to defamation? Group defamations are emerging areas at the Supreme Court of Canada, so as an HR consultant I would recommend conferring with a lawyer who specializes in such matters for deeper analysis.


However, because defamation is common in the workplace, it is important to highlight the need for employers to protect their organization and employees against it.


In the case of employee defamation, is firing the only recourse for an employer? No, but an employer should not tolerate it when an employee makes defamatory statements against another employee or the employer. Various recourses involving defamation depend on how you address applicable sanctions in your defamation policy. Sanctions can include a suspension, fine or termination. A best practice for an employer is to contact an employment and/or defamation lawyer, in addition to following your HR policies.

1. Design a defamation policy It should include cases of defamation at work and on social media, and the topic of defamation vs. freedom of expression. But consult a lawyer who knows employment and defamation law when developing the policy. The policy can be part of your employee handbook, code of conduct, or a single policy on its own.


2. A policy is not implemented if employees are not aware of it.
Ensure employees are informed about it and understand it.


3. Educate employees on responsible ways to communicate 
and the need to respect their obligation to act faithfully both at work and outside it.


It would have been better for Cherry to say: “We all love Canada and our way of life. We have this due to veterans and soldiers who paid the price. Let’s all wear poppies and show our appreciation as proud Canadians.”

How you say things can be as important as what you say. Communication will always be important in relationships with others and we should learn how to communicate effectively no matter the circumstances and the audience.

References

Statement from Sportsnet (Nov 11, 2019). Sportsnet on Twitter

Reputation Matters: How Canadian courts are balancing protection of reputation and freedom of expression (2016). Daniel Reid, Harper Grey LLP

Don Cherry not apologizing for Coach’s Corner poppy rant (Nov 11, 2019). Gregory Strong,CBC

Don Cherry talks ‘Coach’s Corner’ firing, defends comments but would have ‘used different words’ (Nov 12, 2019). Global News on YouTube

The Truth About Defamation in Workplace Terminations (June 20, 2016). Jennifer Heath, Rubin Thomlinson LLP

What is Defamation in Ontario Law (2010). Gil Zvulony, Zvulony & CO PC

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Media, Workplace

The article was published in The Globe and Mail on 22 October, 2019.

Human resources is traditionally regarded as a “touchy-feely” function – in essence, a soft side of the business that isn’t as highly valued as sales or finance. Why? With no hard facts and figures at one’s fingertips, the HR function is challenged to prove its true value and return on investment (ROI) in the organization.


One study shows that CFOs transition well to CEO roles because of an ability to understand numbers and link them to the bottom line. Indeed, good CFOs know how to develop detailed strategies, understand the drivers of business value and can communicate this to investors. They also know about budgeting and forecasting, in addition to objective analysis. Unfortunately, this isn’t the reputation enjoyed by the chief HR officer.


It’s no surprise that CEOs don’t usually come from an HR background. But the chances of winning in today’s world are much better if you look at HR as a predictive science.


The reality today is that many small- and medium-sized organizations don’t even hire an HR professional to manage and oversee the work force. Instead, they delegate such responsibilities to a non-HR person, which can be a recipe for disaster.

In fact, HR is both an art and a science, but the science part gets overlooked. This is where the proper use and analysis of data is critical so HR leaders can attract, retain, develop, motivate and engage their people

There are things HR leaders can do, and a good place to start is by making the case of their value to the executive team and board of directors.


HR should strengthen and systematize everything they’re doing with data analytics in order to operate productively. When used properly, HR metrics can link work-force productivity to concrete results, with the outcome that the HR function dramatically transforms from a cost centre to a profit centre. This way, HR wins the respect it deserves. It’s a matter of approaching HR differently through a data-driven lens.

How functional leaders become CEOs (https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/how-functional-leaders-become-ceos)


In the McKinsey & Company article The CEO’s guide to competing through HR a leading U.S. health-care company’s HR department was highlighted for its use of data analysis in engaging its employees. The company was seeing high employee turnover, problems attracting quality nurses, bad customer experiences and declining revenues before HR began an extensive analysis of its nursing population.


What HR leaders found was that the company’s ineffective total-rewards programs were the root cause of the problems – so they improved them. Soon, the company was attracting and retaining higher-quality nurses. When HR rolled out the new plan across the company, employee engagement increased, and revenue jumped by US$100-million.​


So, if proper use and analysis of data is critical for HR leaders, how can HR leverage data and contribute to the success and profitability of the organization? Here are a few tips for how an organization – big or small – can improve its HR function.

1. Data involve numbers and facts : Hear what employees have to say through confidential, anonymous surveys. This is usually conducted by an outside firm, and it shows what works and what doesn’t.


2. Use an external firm for exit interviews : 
By conducting exit interviews through an outside firm, a company can ensure a departing employee’s responses are anonymous and confidential. It also offers a way to capture trends and use the information for better decision-making.


3. Job tenure versus performance: 
By monitoring job tenure versus performance, you can tell if top performers have the tendency to stay or leave, which will help you identify what issues are triggering departures.


4. Three things to monitor :  
Specifically monitor three things: promotions versus diversity, promotions versus job tenure and promotions versus performance – all of these will allow you to know if promotions are fair, inclusion is present and whether top performers are actually getting promoted.


5. Use “people data” : 
The best way to impact the bottom line through HR is to match “people data” to that bottom line. Track the impact employees have in their respective departments. For example, monitor the impact of new hires for the sales and marketing teams. Have sales increased since these people arrived? Have customer complaints decreased? Have new hires received accolades from clients or teammates? Get all this data at your fingertips.


Use these tips and shift HR from a “touchy-feely” function to a strategic one. It will help you and other executives on the leadership team – not to mention the board of directors – make more evidence-based decisions and facilitate forecasting. It will also increase the credibility of HR as a vital and valued function within the organization’s overall strategy.

References

How functional leaders become CEOs (April 2017). McKinsey Quarterly

The CEO’s guide to competing through HR (July 2017). McKinsey Quarterly

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Media

Human resources is traditionally regarded as a “touchy-feely” function – in essence, a soft side of the business that isn’t as highly valued as sales or finance. Why? With no hard facts and figures at one’s fingertips

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Reports

It is unbelievable to me, in this age of enlightenment and digital connection,that many still argue about the importance of equality between men and women in the workplace. Certainly, things have changed for the better since the Second World War. Women have become more involved and even assumed leadership roles in the labour market, to providefor their families but also –in equal measure–to pursue their own personal fulfillment. This is particularly true in Canada where so many women have become successful business leaders today.

Working women have come a long way in 69 years. In 1950, only 23.2% (1.1 million) of women in Canada aged 15 years and older participated in the labour market, according to the labour force survey (LFS) from Statistics Canada for that year.Today, the number has increased to61.4%, based on June 2019 Statistics Canada data.Now that we are there and accounted for, working alongside our male counterparts,allthe same rules of the game need to apply. It is imperative that we have access to the same employment rights as our male counterparts today. In short, “equality can’t wait”.

Gender equality: research shows that work is needed

There are 195 countries in the world today and the 2018 Gender gap report from the World Economic Forum made among 149 countries (meaning 76.4% of all countries in the world) confirmed some progress regarding gender equality, but also indicated that it will take 202 years to achieve equality in the workforce globally. That simply means that sadly, we are not even close to achieving gender parity.

But how can we really measure gender equality? After all, there must be clear guidelines to gauge and guide our progress. The World Economic Forum providesfour base-areas or dimensionsfor organizations and governments seeking to advance gender equality:

  1. Economic participation and opportunity
  2. Education attainment
  3. Health and survival
  4. Political empowerment

Based on these four dimensions, the World Economic Forum has created an equality score card for every country.The score card helps us measure the state of gender equality in each country for each dimension, along with the overall parity level in the country. A country which has achieved parity should have a total parity level or index of1.

Canada ranks 16th in the world for gender equality
The Global Gender Gap Report 2018 of the World Economic Forum indicated that the top 5 countries with the highest gender parity scores are: Iceland (0.858), Norway (0.835), Sweden (0.822), Finland (0.821) and Nicaragua (0.809). With a score of 0.771, Canada comes at the sixteenth (16) place out of 149 countries when it comes to gender equality.

Gender equality is a human right

While some may argue that gender equality as a biological debate, it is not. Equality is a human right. The United Nations defines gender equality as “the equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities of women and men and girls and boys.”

For this reason, equality should be present everywhere: at school, at home, at work, at the grocery store, etc. This also means that responsibilities and opportunities should not be given to someone because they are born male or female, but rather because they possess talents or skillsunrelated to gender. This should not be a feminist rallying call or counter reaction to the “all boys club”. The goal is not to push for more women in leadership roles because they are women, but rather to give a chance to the ones who possess superior “know-how”, experience and drive to excel in these roles.

Canada needs to improve its gender equality in two key areas

While Canada is a leader in many facets of gender equality, there is still work left to do.According to the World Economic Forum, 2018 Global Gender Gap report, equality is the lowest in two main dimensions: Economic participation and opportunity (Equality score: 0.748), and political empowerment (Equality score 0.365).

Economic participation and opportunity
The “economic participation and opportunity” dimension identifies the level of gender equality for five criteria:

  1. Labour force participation
  2. Wage equality for similar work
  3. Estimated earned income
  4. Legislators, seniors officials and managers
  5. Professional and technical workers

As represented in graph 1, many women participate in the Canadian labour market (0.913) and many as professional and technical workers (1.000).
However, Canada scores poorly in gender parity related to economic participation with low scores in the following areas:

  1. Wage equality for similar work(0.690)
  2. Estimated income earned(0.675)
  3. Gender equality in legislative, senior official and managerroles (0.551).

So, what can we learn from all of this? What is the current status of women in the Canadian labour market – and where do we urgently need to address our gender equality policies and practices?

1. Women are paid less than men


Canadian womendoing a similar work as their male counterpart are in general underpaid. Despite their high participation in the workforce, men, on average, are still earning more money than women. According to the Labour Force Survey of Statistics Canada “women in Canada aged 15 and older earned $0.87 for every dollar earned by men in 2017”. This isthe equivalent of working 47 days without pay (assuming women worked the same number of hours as men in a given year).Why? Surely women do not perform any less competentlythan men in their jobs. There is no good reason for this pay inequality.

2. Men still dominate leadership roles


Most decision-making and business leadership roles are filled by men.In 2016, women held less than 1/5 of all leadership roles in Canada.In fact, a 2016 study from Statistics Canada (Representation of Women on Boards of Directors, 2016) reveals that among 12,762 Canadians corporations and 44,658 directors or members of a board of directors:

  1. Women accounted for only 19.4% of directors
  2. 28.0% of corporations had only one woman on their board of directors
  3. Only 15.2% had more than one woman on their board of directors
  4. 56.8% of corporate boards of directors were composed entirely of men.
Why? Is it because women are not applying for these roles? Or is there a hiring bias at play?

Political Empowerment
The “political empowerment” dimension in the Gender Gap survey identifies the level of gender equality for three criteria:

  1. Women in parliament
  2. Women in ministerial positions
  3. Years with a female head of state.

As represented in graph 2., gender parity has been reached for the number of women in ministerial positions (1.000). However, work is needed to increase the number of women inparliament (0.370), as well as in the number of years in which a female head of state has held power (0.007).
As of August 2019, there are 91 women currently serving in parliament, representing just 27.25% of elected members of Canadian parliament.
Interestingly, since Canadian confederation in 1867:

  • Canada has had 23 prime ministers, justone of them a woman (4.3%)
  • Canada has had 29 governors-general, just four of them women (13.8%)

Women as organizational catalysts

With women representing half the potential in the world (101 males to 100 females, world sex ratio), gender equality brings great benefits to all organizations that embrace it.The most compelling statistics and findings, perhaps, come from the UN secretary-general’s high-level panel on women’s economic empowerment titled Leave no one behind – A call to action for gender equality and women’s economic empowerment. It concludes:

  • High levels of gender parity in organizations correlates to better financial returns.
    • “companies in top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have financial returns above industry means”
  • A gender-diverse workforceleads to higher innovation.
  • Businesses with more women in senior management or on a corporate board have stronger financial performance.
  • Companies characterized by gender parity have better potential to address complex problems byincorporating more diverse views.
  • Gender equality has a positive effect on female talent attraction, retention and motivation.
    • These women workers can easily understand the needs of female customers and address them accordingly. This is very important since “as customers, women make or influence 80% of buying decisions and control US$20 trillion in global spending”.
  • A commitment to women correlates with organization’s reputation and brand.

In summary, achieving gender parity is a must. It is a social change that has been proven to generate significant gains for businesses and economies. Gender equality means organizational effectiveness and prosperity. It builds businesses and boostsa country’s economic development and growth. Most importantly perhaps, the presence of equality enhances motivation and participation in the labour market as it also increasesthe personal fulfilment of both women and men alike. That is why, once more, “equality can’t wait”!

References

Leave no one behind – A call to action for gender equality and women’s economic empowerment – United Nations
Gender, diversity and inclusion statistics – Statistics Canada
Women in corporate Canada: Who’s at the top? – Statistics Canada
Study: Representation of Women on Boards of Directors, 2016 – Statistics Canada
From stamping out stereotypes to finding your ‘spark’, here’s how to close the global gender gap – World Economic Forum
Gender gap report 2018 – World Economic Forum
The Gender Wage Gap and Equal Pay Day, 2018 – Statistics Canada
Members of parliament – House of Commons

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Business, Success

The majority of the workforce is not engaged. It’s a well-known, widespread problem around the world.That means most of your employees are not emotionally involved or committed to your company today.

You’ve felt the frustration, heard the complaints and seen the steady stream of statistics: Gallup says a staggering 85% of employees worldwide are not engaged or actively disengaged at work. The Canada Human Resources Centre measures disengagement at 60% of Canadian employees, reporting that unhappy workers are costing North American businesses more than $350 billion annually in lost productivity.

In other words, we are facing a workforce engagement crisis. Failure to address this predicament now in an effective way could seriously jeopardize a company’s future.

So, what are most companies doing to stave off the devastating effects of disengagement in the workforce? For the most part, we have seen two trends: 1) The emergence of total rewards programs. These are programs designed to incent and motivate employees through compensation, benefits, work-life, performance & recognition, development & careers opportunities tied to time, talents and results. 2) The increase of motivational coaches. A cavalcade of experts, mentors and consultants are striding in to save the day with their special employee-focused programs, practices and inspirational keynotes.

But what if there was a third approach? What if, we started a little earlier, at the very beginning of the employment journey?

What if a real answer to optimizing workforce engagement and lasting loyalty lay in a brand-new approach to recruitment? Could a shift in perspective during the process of hiring new employees possibly, dare I say, save companies hundreds of thousands of dollars in productivity every year? Let’s explore…

Rethinking the interview process and how we view experience

One of the biggest challenges a company faces is attracting the right people. Individuals who will meaningfully contribute to long-term business success. People, however, are unpredictable and complex, and that means recruiting can be a high-risk throw of the dice for organizations. Scanning for mirror image experience and exact-match skillsets on a resume doesn’t always work to successfully fill an open position. So why not take an alternate approach and focus on an applicant’s values and abilities instead? According to billionaire investor and philanthropist Ray Dalio, people are “unlikely to change much” so it’s important we become discerning and not necessarily rank experience over attitude and ‘aptitude’.

1. Focus more on values and abilities
Values and abilities are one of the most important identifiers of great candidates. They provide a rare window into future performance, revealing whether a candidate truly needs or wants the job. Are they passionate about your organization? Can they succeed, even when things might change? Do they fit well within your organizational culture? These are the questions you should be asking yourself before deciding on your shortlist.

According to Dalio, values (meaning the “deep-seated beliefs that motivate behaviors and determine people’s compatibilities with each other”) are the most important thing to look at when picking people for long-term relationships, including employment. Abilities (meaning the “ways of thinking and behaving”) come next — and skills are the least important of all. Yet many of us make the mistake of overlooking values and somehow abilities during the job interview phase.

How Thomas Edison saw spark in an otherwise unqualified job candidate

You may never have heard of Edwin Barnes. But at the turn of the past century he was famous for becoming Thomas Edison’s right hand man – the force behind the launch of the Ediphone. Barnes possessed no skills, experience or special inroads back in 1905 when he boldly approached one of the greatest inventors on the planet, making a brazen pitch to become his associate. He had no sales experience, no credibility and nothing on paper to substantiate his claims that he could take Edison’s business to the next level. But Thomas Edison looked beyond his lack of credentials, instantly impressed by his great ambition and internal drive. He recognized those special values and abilities – and assigned them more weight than what was on his “resume” at the time.

Edison took a chance on Barnes, initially hiring him as a floor sweeper. In less than two years later, Barnes had risen to become Edison’s principal sales associate. He started commercializing the Ediphone, a product that other people from the Edison organization doubted. More than a century later, we still talk about their partnership as one of the most powerful business associations of all times.

The Barnes Edison success story serves to illustrate that work experience is not always “the be all and end all”. While lack of work experience might be considered a “reasonable, logical and legitimate reason” for many employers not to proceed with a candidate, enlightened recruiters today are beginning to look beyond this. A lack of relevant work experience is, after all, not always ‘null experience’ (like the case of Edwin Barnes). This is especially the case when interviewing immigrant candidates who may have plenty of “experience”, but simply lack “Canadian experience”.

2. Flexibility around work experience

Oftentimes, hiring managers will demand something like “at least 3-5 years of experience in the field, and in the country.” This can be a big mistake. There is now a wave of newcomers in the talent pool with less than one year of experience here, but perhaps 5 years of experience overseas in the same capacity. These new Canadians are likely to be motivated, successful individuals simply looking to be given a chance. Don’t miss a golden opportunity to find out more about these dedicated individuals. They might be a good fit for your organization.

Many employers are impeded by a restricted view of who the best candidate should be. Sadly, they miss the opportunity to bring on board the next company hero. For those who can break through from their limiting beliefs, a whole new pool of potential talent becomes available.

Maybe these people lack the requisite skills to do the job they applied for at this time? But, with a little training, could they qualify in a few months? Could there be an alternative role in your company to start them in? With a little investment, could they develop requisite skills and serve your organization proudly, passionately and productively for many years to come?

Recruiting a tech superstar who didn’t look good on paper

Recently, I had a client ask me to help them find a tech expert. The requirements for the job were simple: X amount of years of experience in North America plus the typical expertise and technology skillsets
Bill was a great candidate, so I put him forward. He immediately demonstrated confidence and passion about the work by preparing an animated intro about himself. He knew what he wanted to accomplish and had a “burning desire” to succeed. Bill was undeniably ‘skilled’; however, I knew he did not possess the typical North American work experience that the employer was seeking.
After a quick review of Bill’s profile, my client responded: “Bill seems smart, but It might be difficult for him because he doesn’t have enough experience in North America”
Knowing the greater importance of “fit”, I decided to go to bat for Bill. I pointed out how he was not only smart, but also customer-focused, a fast thinker, data-oriented and someone who really knows what the work is about. How he also appears to be very driven and enthusiastic about the opportunity and the company.
In short, I recommended that they give him a chance because his values aligned with their organization. My client ended up trusting my words. They met with Bill and made him an offer immediately.
After one full year in the role, Bill is now considered a super-star employee. Knowledgeable, creative, well-liked and fully aligned with the organization, he has become a totally engaged and productive member of the team.
What’s more, Bill’s values and drive have helped the company to better serve and retain some of their largest clients. This highly engaged employee is undeniably contributing to the success of the organization and is likely to do so for years to come.
While workforce engagement remains a challenge, with a fresh approach to recruiting it is no longer impossible to achieve. Those hiring managers who take a different view and bring new people on board who share values and abilities that align with the company culture– regardless of their skillsets and direct experience — will likely have the best success.

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Business, Success

The world is still abuzz with the big 2019 NBA championship win by the Toronto Raptors. Those of us who watched rode a roller coaster of emotions as we cheered for our team (I confess I could barely watch as the tension rose and fell on a moment’s notice). Amidst the excitement, we were fed a steady stream of statistics: 110 points scored per 100 possessions. Fred VanVleet’s 30 points made on 57 attempts. Superstar Kawhi Leonard’s amazing average of 30.5 points per game. One of the most crucial aspects of basketball today, in fact, is analyzing and comparing athletes. Player analysis factors into every aspect of the game – recruiting, player development, strategy and more. Professional sports today in general is data driven. So, what if we applied the same data-centric thinking to the world of HR?

In the sports industry, statistics and data were not always given such strong emphasis. In the past, coaching and scouting talent was all about the “feel” the scout and coach had for the player. Sure, they could assess whether the player scored a lot of goals or played a two-way game, but it is only very recently that scouting and coaching started to put a lot of emphasis on data analytics to complement the “touchy feely” side of assessing players, or what coaches and scouts call their instincts. Today, the world of human resources (HR) is also gradually waking up to the power of data. HR traditionally has been regarded as the soft side of the business. It has never won the respect or focus that finance and other departments receive within a corporation due to a lack of numbers to quantify its impact. With no hard facts and figures at their fingertips, HR leaders have been unable to prove the true value and return on investment (ROI) of their function within the organization. While there are some signs of change, HR is still struggling to effectively use metrics in order to link employees’ productivity to enterprise results. For this reason, corporate leaders continue to label human resources as “just a cost centre”. In reality, HR is a great deal more than a cost centre. To make its case to the executive team and the board of directors, HR must strengthen and systematize its “touchy and feely” approach with data analytics to operate more productively. When used properly, HR metrics can powerfully link workforce productivity to enterprise results. Suddenly, the HR function dramatically transforms from a cost centre to a profit centre.

Successful sports organizations put their people first

In the world of sports (as in the corporate arena) people are the number one asset for any franchise. Efficient professional sports leaders, however, do a far better job of recognizing the importance of great talent within their organization. They are laser-focused on their athletes: who they are, how they play and what they value. Their top priority is attracting retaining and engaging the most talented players available. And they do this very effectively through a) building a powerful culture and b) offering a set of customized monetary and non-monetary rewards to draw the best of the best: competitive salaries, optimal care, individual development, fame, etc. World-famous organizations like the National Basketball Association (NBA), understand, perhaps better than anyone else, the link between people and bottom line.

How the NBA demonstrates the worth of athletes

In sports, data plays a major role in people management. This is certainly the case inside the NBA. Many rewards offered to the players are tailored and quantified. Data or metrics are used to precisely track rebounds, assists, points, steals, blocks, turnovers, field goal percentage, free throws percentage, fouls and beyond. These firm numbers give coaches, trainers and key actors in the franchise a clear window into the state of the team and the performance level of each player. Data allows them to make predictions, including:


  • Areas where player development is required
  • Levels of player efficiency
  • Overall team strengths and weaknesses
  • Which adjustments are required to improve overall play in future games

What’s more, solid metrics empower and enable the leadership team to estimate risks, plan meaningful player transfers or trades, calculate winning probabilities, estimate returns on investment and measure profitability. It provides sports franchise leaders with an undisputed correlation between people and the bottom line. That is what data analytics does, especially when it is “efficiently managed”!

But how can we apply such metrics to link people and bottom line in non-sports organizations?

 

Can it work in our own companies as well as it does in the NBA?

 

How can we measure the impact of HR from top-down or bottom-up?

Rethinking HR as a predictive science

First, we must understand that HR IS NOT different than other functions in the organization. Just as there are ways to predict sales, there are many HR decisions that can be just as predictive and require a proactive approach. Sadly, many leaders are still very reactive when it comes to workforce-related decisions. Here are two common obstacles to success.

1. Hasty hiring


Strong employment decisions require a medium to long-term planning. HR managers often make last-minute hiring decisions, right at the moment they discover a need for additional support (excluding hiring decisions due to a sudden employee resignation). Hiring decisions work best when they can be planned far ahead, ideally 3-6 months in advance or more depending on the job. This decreases the likelihood of hiring the “wrong” candidate too hastily, someone who is not properly vetted and may lack requisite skills, motivation to succeed or is simply not a good fit with the company culture. NBA teams have a minor league or players on the bench to offset these sudden departures due to injury or a trade.

2. “Touchy feely” approach erodes value

 

Many people exclusively approach HR as a “touchy feely” function. This has been a stumbling block and significant reason why HR is not adequately valued and respected by company leaders. The value and true worth of HR is still not recognized by a large percentage of corporate leaders; some of them do not even see the need to hire an HR professional to recruit, manage and oversee their workforce. For instance, in small and medium-sized organizations (SMEs), it is commonplace to have HR-related responsibilities (onboarding, hiring, employee relations, performance management, recognition, compensation, etc.) delegated to a non-HR specialist. Often this is the owner themselves, an administrative assistant or operations person. I have even seen mature companies with as many as 75 employees using a non-HR professional to handle all people-related matters! Why? The exclusive “touchy and feely” side of HR has over time served to erode its value.

Effective HR management defies these limiting beliefs and powerfully demonstrates the true worth of the HR function to company leaders. After all,

HR is both an art and a science but typically only the art side is emphasized. (the definition of science “meaning the state of knowing [or] know-ledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding.” Merriam Webster Dictionary).

Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre

 

For this reason, the proper use and analysis of data is critical for HR leaders. Effective data analysis can maximize an organization’s ability to attract, retain, develop, motivate and engage talent for the realization of organizational goals. What’s more, meaningful data can empower business leaders, helping them make more “evidence-based” decisions and facilitate forecasting. Most importantly the use of intelligent, proactive, data-led HR practices will serve to powerfully increase the credibility of HR as a vital and valued function within your overall organization strategy.
So, considering what HR is and the importance of data, how can HR leaders optimize the impact of the HR function? How can they leverage data analysis in order to measurably contribute to the organizational success and profitability of their company?

Re-imagining metrics: beyond sales and customer support productivity

In applying the success story of the NBA and other successful sports organizations, it becomes clear that the impact of HR can be optimized by:

  • Seeing the organization as people-driven: an “engine” that can only produce expected results if all the parts operate efficiently, and
  • Focusing our energy on training, testing, evaluating and sorting people based on data in a way that resonates with shareholders.


Every player matters: organizations as engines

When it comes to basketball, many would agree that without Masai Ujiri (The president of basketball operations for the Toronto Raptors) and Nick Nurse (The head coach of the Toronto Raptors), the two-time basketball champion Kawhi Leonard would have never joined the Toronto Raptors and lead the team to their first championship victory. The historic success of the Raptors has not rested squarely on the shoulders of one person but rather has been the outcome of everyone’s efforts within the organization! Even the staff in charge of preparing the players’ jerseys had an impact. This reality applies in non-sports organizations as well.

In his book Principles, the billionaire investor/philanthropist Ray Dalio defines an organization as “a machine consisting of two parts: culture and people”. He recommends to “think of [our] teams the way that sports managers do: no one person possesses everything required to produce success, yet everyone must excel”.

This principle opposes the traditional bias towards sales and customer support roles within an organization. In fact, the level of productivity of sales and customer support units are always a “hot topic” during leadership and board of directors’ meetings because they are perceived as more quantifiable and linked to revenue. However, we should be able to say the same about other units in a company. This reality in organizations is an opportunity for HR to step up and make an additional, measurable and meaningful impact on the bottom line.

Organizational success truly depends on each and every one’s excellence as part of the team. To make this case to management, HR leaders need to take steps to define for every role in the organization (not just sales and customer support), using meaningful statistics that tie to bottom line. With solid data in hand, the executive team and shareholders will get more visibility and greater ease in decision-making. As a result, the value of HR will finally be incontestable.

The process starts with clear definitions. So, how can we begin to define which HR metrics have the potential to transform HR from a cost centre to a profit centre?

New HR metrics: engaging the workforce through a process of personal evolution
As practiced within the NBA, we must focus on HR metrics that help us fully understand our workforce: who they are, what they do well, where they need our support, and what we can do to help them improve performance (number of accolades, errors, achievements, etc.). This approach aligns with the work principle of Ray Dalio who recommends to “constantly, train, test, evaluate, and sort people” (Principles, Ray Dalio). In other words, HR metrics should assist business leaders to help employees evolve and companies get their returns because, “when you get personal evolution right, the returns are exponential” (Principles, Ray Dalio).
Metrics that link HR and the bottom line
Apply the following metrics in tab 1 for smarter predictions and prompt decision-making in your HR department:

(Note: These metrics will serve you best if you have already hired the best-fit employees and have the right HR processes in place. Also, the examples in tab 1 are not an exhaustive list and vary depending on the responsibilities of the role and hierarchy within the organization.)
Tab1. HR metrics that can be linked to bottom line: A mirror of NBA metrics
NBA metrics
(Definitions from Wikipedia)
Equivalent HR metrics
(Definitions from the Author of this article)
Turnovers

Def. When a team loses possession of the ball to the opposing team before a player takes a shot at their team's basket.
Number of errors or Products defects

Def. Mistakes that can be easily handled and, if immediately resolved, won’t affect the organization. The impact of the mistake is typically internal to the unit, department or organization and does not touch the customer (e.g. Wrong numbers or math in reports, typos in communications, bugs in programming)
Fouls
Def. Infraction of the rules more serious than a violation. Most fouls occur as a result of illegal personal contact with an opponent and/or unsportsmanlike behavior.
Number of Complaints (from clients and colleagues)

Def. Heavy mistakes from employee that cause a client escalation (e.g. Privacy breach, bad product delivery). This can have an impact on the client loyalty and/or company reputation. These can also be complaints from colleagues (e.g. Harassment, assault, discrimination) and they ultimately have an impact on the company image and potentially on the bottom line if not promptly managed.
Steals/rebounds/ blocks

Def. Steal: When a defensive player legally causes a turnover by his positive, aggressive action(s).

Rebound: When a player retrieves the ball after a missed field goal or free throw.

Block: When a defensive player legally deflects a field goal attempt from an offensive player to prevent a score.
Number of leadership initiatives

Def. Actions that demonstrate employee leadership and desire to improve things, address issues that can slow the process of achieving the goals of the unit or the organization (e.g. Recommending a new process to reduce errors, roll up their sleeves and jump in to help the team when necessary, i.e..: launch a revolutionary product ahead of competitors).
Assists

Def. When a player passes the ball to a teammate in a way that leads to a score by field goal, meaning that they were "assisting" in the basket
Number of instances of effective teamwork and fellow employee elevation

Def. Actions that demonstrate employee engagement for effective teamwork and employee elevation (e.g. Knowledge transfer/training, coaching, empowering others, promotions processed per direct report).
Fields goals percentage/ points

Def. Field goal: A basket scored on any shot or tap other than a free throw, worth two or three points depending on the distance of the attempt from the basket.

Points: Score in a game. Points can be accumulated by making field goals (two or three points) or free throws (one point).
Number of:

  • Units produced
  • First call resolutions
  • Sales
  • Successful reports
  • Effective presentations
  • Accolades from colleagues and clients (e.g. In sales roles, people will use the Net Promoter Score (NPS), which is a number that represents the chance of a client to recommend a company to other potential clients)

    Def. All these metrics are tangible outcomes that are expected to be achieved by employees. The higher they are, the better it will be for the organization. They have a direct impact on the bottom line.

In summary, the moment has come for HR to evolve, and shine, like the Raptors and other successful sports organizations, through the effective use and analysis of HR metrics. As an HR leader, it’s time for you to rise to the challenge of data analytics and systematize your HR practices to increase productivity, drive higher levels of engagement and prove your department’s true worth. New measurement tools and tactics are now within your reach, to transform your department’s image. No longer will you be perceived as merely a soft ‘touchy feely’ side of the organization once you quantify your value and emerge as a true profit centre. Be guided by a data-driven approach tied more closely to your organization’s mission and wonderful things will transpire. You’ll gain greater visibility, win the respect of senior executives, inspire your staff — and make a predictive, measurable impact on your company’s bottom line.

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Reports

The war for talent is undeniable and regardless of age, employees will quit their job for a competitor if what they want and/or value is not available in the company where they currently work.
We are living in an era where Workforce Engagement needs to be an essential element of business strategy and a key driver of the bottom line. Today, with the ubiquitous access to the internet, workers can now apply for jobs more easily, plus they can quickly gain infinite access to information about other companies and solicit attractive offers from competitors. 

Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre
 
I. Introduction

Managers, friends, and family members are constantly saying things to me like, “employees don’t stick around anymore”, “employee loyalty has disappeared”, and “millennials will jump ship between six to 12 months maximum”. It has become such a reality for many people that some managers make their hiring decisions based on that fact.

 

Several months ago, I consulted with a client whose employees were mostly between 18 to 34 years old. My client confessed to me that when they were making new hires, they were simply giving these new employees what they wanted and were soon after increasing some of their salaries further to ensure the employees didn’t leave their company for a competitor.

 

Despite my client’s cash incentive efforts, their organization still suffered from low job tenure and a recurring high turnovermostly due to resignations. Why? Is it because most of their workforce was young workers? The leadership team was divided on the answer: some thought that the resignations were due to the employees age; some others perceived that bad leadership caused the departures. My experience shows that this client’s story is not a unique case.

As business owners, CEOs, managers or leaders, none of our decisions should be guided by fear and assumption, especially organizational decisions (e.g. pay increases and budget forecasting). All of our decisions must be based on true knowledge about the labour market and our competitors, and they must be in alignment with our company’s vision, goals, and strategy.With this in mind, I wondered what the Canadian labour market from 1976-2018 showed concerning job tenure, and if the prevailing opinion about employment length is supported by actual data.

“In other words, does the data show that millennials are causing the Canadian labour force to have a lower job tenure today than in past generations?”

Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre
iI. CANADIAN LABOUR FORCE JOB TENURE BETWEEN 1976 – 2018

II.1   Overall Job Tenure

When we look at the Canadian labour force tenure without taking into consideration the workers’ age and the type of work (full-time and part-time), job tenure (meaning the number of consecutive months or years a person has worked for their current or most recent employer) has increased along with the number of workers since 1976, as illustrated on graph 1.

Source: Data from Statistics Canada were used to make this graph
In January 1976, 10.4 million people were in the Canadian labour force, and in December 2018 this number reached 19.9 million. In the meantime, the job tenure moved from 83.7 months to 102 months for this period.

This overall job tenure progression demonstrates a good standing for the Canadian labour force, and allows me to confirm my first finding:

“Finding 1.On average, Canadian workers stay longer in a company today than they did 42 years ago.

Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre

Does this stay consistent when we consider job tenure based on workers’ age? Let’s take a look.

II.2   Job Tenure Based On Workers Age
Graph 2, below, shows us that the worker’s age correlates with job tenure. In fact:
  • Workers aged 15-24 stay in their organisation an average of 18.5 months
  • Workers aged 25-44 remain in their company an average of 73 months
  • Workers aged 45 years or more have an average tenure of 165.25 months
The correlation between the worker’s age and the job tenure is not a new reality and has historically been justified by many factors: low wages for young workers, family responsibilities for middle-aged workers, and older workers’ preparation for retirement, etc.
Source: Data from Statistics Canada were used to make this graph

But do millennials (born 1981 – 1996) have a lower job tenure than the generations of workers preceding them? For instance, did employees born in 1960 stay longer at their jobs when they were in their 20s than a worker born in 1982 did when they were the same age? Let’s take a look.

II.3     Behaviour Of Generations Regarding Job Tenure

Using data from Statistics Canada and the Pew Research Centre, I have defined five (5) generations of workers for the period between 1976 and 2018 in Canada:

  • The Silent Generation (born 1919-1945): These people experienced World War II, as well as many technological advancements, including live-voice broadcasting through radio.
  • Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964): These people experienced the birth of television.
  • Generation X (born 1965-1980): These people experienced a computer revolution and adapted to today’s technology.
  • Millennials or Generation Y (born 1981-1996): These people grew up in a digital world where the internet became the new norm.
  • Generation Z or Post-Millennials (born after 1996): These people are growing up in a tech-heavy world with artificial intelligence on the rise.

Assuming a typical retirement age of 65, I have mapped the presence of each generation of workers for each age group in the table below:

 

 

Using the data from the table below, I analyzed the behaviour of each generation of workers regarding job tenure, from their younger age range in the labour market (15-24 years old) to middle-age (25-44 years old) and finally for the group 45 years old and over.

Tab1. Breakdown Of The Canadian Workforce Per Generations Of People Between 1976 and 2018

II.3.1     Canadian Workers Aged 15-24 years between 1976-2018

  • Millennials joined the 15-24 age group in 1996 and are still part of that group at the end of 2018.
  • Before the arrival of millennials, the average job tenure of workers aged 15-24 years was 19 months.
  • Since the arrival of the millennials, the average job tenure of that group is now at 18 months.

 

Let’s not make a big deal for only one month of difference! Millennials are not the only generation of workers in the group between 1976 and 2018. Remember that Generation X belonged to that group until 2004, and Generation Z (or post-millennials) joined the group in 2012.

Tab1. Breakdown Of The Canadian Workforce Per Generations Of People Between 1976 and 2018

 

Source: Data from Statistics Canada were used to make this graph

Finding 2.The job tenure of the 15-24 age group remains steady over the course of the last 42 years, despite the presence of Millennials.

Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre

 
II.3.2     Canadian Workers Aged 25-44 years between 1976-2018
  • Millennials joined the 25-44 age group in 2006 and are still part of that group today. The job tenure of the group has decreased to 71 months on average since 2006 and the tenure has never been higher than that since. From 1982 to 2005, this average was 76 months, as shown in graph 4 below.
  • Again, it’s difficult to blame millennials for this drop-in tenure, since Baby Boomers were also a part of this group until 2008, as well as Generation X (who have been part of this age group since 1990).
II.3.3    Canadian Workers Aged 45 and over between 1976-2018
Workers aged 45 and over have experienced a drop-in job tenure from 167.42 months on average until 1998 to 162.75 months on average since 1999, as shown in graph 5. Paradoxically that group does not include millennials, but instead includes: The Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, and Generation X at various points of time. This leads me to confirm my third finding:

Finding 3. There are factors other than workers’ age that are influencing employment length. This explains the noticeable drop in tenure of Canadian workers aged 25-44 and 45 and over.

Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre

Knowing that generations are usually impacted by what they experience, what type of major changes (economic, technological, political, social, environmental, etc.) in the early 2000s started impacting the labour market and could have influenced the job tenure of Canadian core workers (25-44 years and 45 years and over)?

Source: Data from Statistics Canada were used to make this graph
II.4     The Age Of Digital Connection
Since the late 1990s/early 2000s, we are now living in the age of digital connection. With the rise of the internet and enhancement of communication devices, switching jobs has become easier than ever, which is likely having an impact on job tenure. Here are just a few ways that the internet has changed the workforce:
  • Through their phones or other communication devices, workers can quickly learn about other companies and what they have to offer employees with Google, Workopolis, Indeed, Glassdoor, etc.
  • Social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter provide an increased visibility to the labour force.
  • Online job applications makes it faster and cheaper than ever to apply for a new job.
  • In other words, the age of digital connection allows workers to have easier access to alternative job opportunities.

Instead of staying in an organization by default due to limited information about the market, workers can now more easily find an employer who could offer them what they truly value and/or want (better salary, career development and opportunity, flexibility at work, respect, benefits, recognition, inclusion, etc.)

Finding 4. Due to the rise of the internet and enhancement of communication devices, switching jobs has become easier than ever, which is impacting job tenure across all generations.

Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre

III. OPTIMIZING WORKFORCE ENGAGEMENT IS THE APPROACH TO TAKE FOR LONG JOB TENURE

The problem is this: A malaise in organizations adds up to factors that impact job tenure: low employee engagement.


In other words, organisations are experiencing a workforce engagement crisis, and their failure to address that could jeopardise their bottom line in the long term.


Today, 85% of employees in organisations are not engaged or actively disengaged at work (Gallup) and, for the Canadian labour force, a 2016 study from the Conference Board of Canada reports that only 27% of employees in Canada are highly engaged. The increase in recent decades of active Canadian workers who are looking for a new job is an expression of the Canadian labour force disengagement. Manon Langevin (an analyst with Statistics Canada) confirmed in his study titled Workers looking for a new job that, “In 2014, 12% of salaried workers in Canada reported that they were looking for a new job, compared with 5% in the mid-1990s.”


In other words, no matter their age or years of service, an employee can decide to leave your organisation for a competitor if they believe they will receive what they want and/or value with that new company. In that sense, a recent employees survey from Mercer (Inside Employees’ Minds, 2015) confirmed that 56% of Canadian workers who are satisfied or very satisfied with their organisation are still considering leaving, and 67% of senior management in Canada are seriously considering leaving their organisation at the present time.

Those results should be enough to urge CEOs and other business leaders to find ways to optimize workforce engagement, not tomorrow, but right now for current employees, and from day one for future employees.


Solutions to workforce engagement optimisation must adapt to the specific needs of the generation of workers in your organisation, as workers of different ages value different things. In addition, never assume that employees are happy: you must effectively monitor your workplace by making it a high-feedback environment and constantly act upon what you learn.

IV. CONCLUSION

In conclusion, instead of focusing on false ideas about why employees are less loyal in today’s workforce, we should all follow the trends of companies that are workforce-centric and understand the importance of employee engagement for their bottom line (e.g. Google, Microsoft). Today, candidates can afford to be more selective when it comes to their future employers, and they often have multiple offers to choose from. So, when they choose to join your organisation, it is because they believe in you and your company. We need to optimize their journey from day one and treat them as our most valued asset, because they are. Employees want to work for you, but they will leave if they realize that choosing to work in your organisation was a wrong decision. A focus on employee engagement will help us avoid using the poor excuse about the lack of loyalty of millennials and will provide us with the opportunity to reconnect with how we can win the hearts of our staff by showing them that they are truly valued.

V. APPENDIX

Tab 2. Canadian Labour Force Job Tenure From 1976 -2018 And Rounded Per Generation – Created With Data Retrieved From Statistic Canada Report “Job tenure by type of work (full- and part-time), annual 1”

VI.    REFERENCES

Unemployment rate, participation rate, and employment rate by sex, annual. Statistics Canada

Job tenure by type of work (full- and part-time), annual 1. Statistics Canada

Generations in Canada. Statistics Canada

Dimock M., Defining generations: Where Millennials end and Generation Z begins (2019). Pew Research Center

Inside Employees’ minds (2015). Mercer

Canada’s Best Employers – 2019 Ranking. Forbes

Langevin M., Workers looking for a new job (2018). Insights on Canadian Society – Statistics Canada

Armstrong T., Wright R., Employee Engagement: Leveraging the Science to Inspire Great Performance (2016). The Conference Board of Canada

Dismal Employee Engagement Is a Sign of Global Mismanagement. Gallup

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