The Snitch

Just a little of everything HR

Archive for March 2009

Negotiate like you mean it

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If hostage negotiators are able to persuade hostage-takers to surrender, give up their weapons and hostages with a success rate of 95%, why is it that business leaders are unable to negotiate business deals at unable to be that successful?

The trick is to develop a relationship and bond between you and the other party, says former hostage negotiator George Kohlrieser and  author of Hostage at the Table.

To learn how to negotiate better, watch the clip below:

Have trouble loading the video? Why not check your company or computer’s firewall settings to make sure that Youtube videos can be streamed on your computer.

Written by Human Resources

March 31, 2009 at 3:10 pm

Do you dare to bare?

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Do you dare to come clean on your C&B secrets?

Do you dare to bare your company's C&B secrets?

Money money money! It’s something we all work for, yet it’s considered to be a taboo conversation topic. In our latest issue of Human Resources magazine, we focus on issues related to compensation & benefits. How do companies benchmark wages? When do you reward someone with a higher salary?

In this new issue, you will find:

Written by Human Resources

March 30, 2009 at 5:44 pm

Will blanket wage cuts hurt your company?

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In order to tighten their belts, some companies are adopting a blanket, across-the-board wage cuts for all employees. But this could end up chasing your top talent away, says CEO of coaching company Thought Perfect,  Pratap Nambiar.

Have trouble loading the video? Why not check your company or computer’s firewall settings to make sure that YouTube videos can be streamed on your computer.

Written by Human Resources

March 25, 2009 at 4:44 pm

What do jobseekers want?

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Getting beaten in the war for talent?

Is your employer brand taking a beating from competitors?

Ah, it’s the $1,000,000 question: What is it that Singapore employees want?

In a survey conducted by B2B branding specialist StrategiCom and Singapore National Employers Federation, it sought to understand what key employer brand attributes drive employee attraction and retention. (See our original story here.)

Here’s the full breakdown of the survey answers.

5 most important attributes to attract employees

(Ranked in order of importance)

  • Allows a lot of freedom to work on one’s own initiative
  • Recognition and appreciation of employees work
  • Opportunity for long-term career progression
  • Attractive overall compensation and benefit package
  • Training and development

5 most important attributes to retain staff

(Ranked in order of importance)

  • Attractive overall compensation and benefit package
  • Recognition and appreciation of employees work
  • Job security
  • Opportunity for long-term career progression
  • Training and development

5 least important attributes to attract employees

(Ranked from least important)

  • Dressing
  • Conservative working environment
  • Internationally diverse mix of colleagues
  • Humanitarian organisation
  • Only recruiting the best

5 least important attributes to retain staff

(Ranked from least important)

  • Dressing
  • Accessible location
  • Employees with varying background
  • Internationally diverse mix of colleagues
  • Use your degree skills

It’s interesting how an attractive C&B package only ranks as number 4 to a potential employee, but later becomes the number 1 retention attribute. And from these results, it’s clear that recognition and saying ‘thank you’ is a simply but surefire way of both attracting and retaining employees.

I’m also surprised at how the survey respondents say a ‘accessible location’ do not matter much to employees — because I’ve definitely heard complaints about companies being located too far away from work before. And with ‘humanitarian organisation’  not attractive a trait for attracting employees – does this mean companies don’t really need to perform acts of corporate social responsibility to attract candidates?

What do you think? Do these results tally with your company’s employee value proposition?

Written by Human Resources

March 25, 2009 at 11:55 am

Why women mean business

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With women making up half the population, it makes good business sense for companies to tap into this large group of potential customers, talent and future leaders. Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, CEO of 20-First and author of Why Women Mean Business gives reasons as to why recognising changing gender trends can only help bolster your company’s financial bottomline.

Have trouble loading the video? Why not check your company or computer’s firewall settings to make sure that Youtube videos can be streamed on your computer.

Written by Human Resources

March 24, 2009 at 9:28 am

Manage your emails.. now!

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Going nuts over the sheer volume of emails?

Going nuts over the sheer volume of emails?

While emails are now the de facto form of communication, many employees  (including myself) do not often know how to utilise this tool to communicate effectively. What are email headers supposed to say? How do we sign off? What goes into the bulk of content?

In the book The Personal Efficiency Program , Kerry Gleeson gives some rules of thumb for managing emails which I thought were helpful and dead-simply to implement immediately.

Some tips include:

  • When composing an email message, make sure the subject matter of the subject line is clearly stated. Note if it’s for action, information, reading or otherwise.
  • Limit yourself to one topic per email message.
  • Avoid the Reply All key.
  • Use paragraphs and proper grammar.
  • People often view an email more negatively than they would a telephone call or face-to-face meeting. To avoid misunderstanding, keep sarcasm out of your email.
  • Compose better messages. Use bullets for clarification. Underline those things you wish to stress.
  • Do not reply to an email when you are upset.
  • Avoid long emails. If a lot of text is required, create a separate document and attach it to the email.
  • Activate the automatic spell check function so that the email leaves your office without spelling errors.
  • If revising or adding to an existing email document, make revisions in colour so they are obvious to the recipient.
  • If the message in the email is bad news, don’t send it. Instead, set up a meeting and a call.

Related post:  Our video with Martin Severn, director of Productivity Managemen on three ways to better utilise your email and outlook.

Written by Human Resources

March 19, 2009 at 11:13 am

Blessing in disguise?

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Recently retrenched? Dont cry, it may be a blessing in disguise.

Recently retrenched? Don't cry, it may be a blessing in disguise.

Can getting retrenched be a blessing in disguise? Yes, says Andrew Taylor, a UK freelance journalist and author of the book Burning the Suit.

In an interview with JobsDB, Taylor talks about how getting the slip proved to be one of the best things for his career.

It was only a little later that I realised what an opportunity it might prove to be. I had been stuck for several years in a job which paid the bills all right, but which had long since ceased to enthuse me, and being eased out of it gave me the impetus I needed to go out and find something more rewarding.

Taylor goes on to cite other examples of people whose sought out to fulfilll their life-long dreams after being retrenched.

Other people looked at the skills they had picked up, and found new ways to use them – like the nurse who used her years of comforting people in the extremes of grief and loss to turn herself into one of very few female funeral directors in the UK, or the television journalist who used his experience of speaking in public to help him forge a new career as an actor.

Without the initial shock of being retrenched, none of these people would have achieved these goals, and their lives would have been less fulfilling because of it.

However, Taylor does admit that people will inevitably suffer from strong feelings such as anger, disbelief, panic and fear, he advices those recently retrenched to take some time in figuring our what the person wants to do next, and not just latch on to any “passing log because you think it will help you stay afloat”.

Another important thing is to sit down and write yourself a list of the things you’ve done. The three A’s – Assignment, Action and Achievement – are what potential employers will want to hear about, and putting them down on paper will not only give you a good start in any interviews that come up, it will help repair your battered confidence as well. What jobs have you been given to do, how have you carried them out, and what did you learn and achieve in doing them?

What do you think? Have you ever been retrenched and found that it helped kickstart your career? Can a retrenchment ever be a good thing?

Written by Human Resources

March 18, 2009 at 3:18 pm

Sexist workplaces hurt men too

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I’ve got sex on my mind.

I’ll explain.  I just came back from  a very interesting roundtable lunch hosted by ipac financial planning. The topic revolved around gender in the workplace and had keynote speaker Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, author of Why Women Mean Business. (Plug: I did a video interview with Avivah on Wednesday and will post it later next week on this blog!)

As discussions go, Wittenberg-Cox talked about more female graduates coming out of schools these days, how women are now becoming consumers that businesses want to target, and how it all translates to the workplace and positions of leadership.

We also talked about maternity and paternity leave (remember that the proposal to add more paternity leave days was struck down by the government last year) and how governments such as Sweden have made it such that either parent can stay home with the child.   One participant then brought up a personal anecdote about how his company gives fathers five days of childcare leave, and yet as a father of two, he has never taken utilised any of those days before.

The argument against sexist workplaces has long been documented.  When a workplace subscribes or favours a certain gender construct, whether it is believing that women tend to be more family-orientated compared to male employees or that male employees are better at operations roles and women are  better  for  support functions, the company inevitably suffers from a lack of diversity,  poor employee retention rates, a lack of women talent, a smaller hiring and talent pool, yada yada yada.

You might think that it’s solely a women’s issue, but workplaces that favour a certain gender construct will hurt male employees too.

If the company culture has built up a gender construct by promoting certain gender traits, employees of either sex that do not abide by the norm will find it hard to succeed.

For instance, if the company has a very gung-ho, alpha male type culture where the men are supposed drinking after work at the pub on Fridays, what if there are male employees who don’t want to go drinking? How does this affect them?

And as in the case of the participant today, while the idea of men taking five days of leave to look after their children was all fine and dandy on policy. But if nobody else was taking those days off,  this would send a organisational message that it’s not okay for men to take those days off — because that’s just not what men do at work.

So really, sexist workplaces with reinforced gender stereotypes isn’t just a women’s issue. It’s a gender issue.

Written by Human Resources

March 13, 2009 at 5:08 pm

Why playing at work is good for you

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Even robots deserve some funtime.

Even robots deserve some funtime.

Ever felt like the king of the world whenever you’ve successfully completed a particularly tough PC game? Well, if you can channel the same excitement into your work, soon enough you can be king of your office too.

Whenever you hit a problem at work, sometimes the best way to learn or solve the complication is to start treating it like a game. Playing, it seems, makes you feel better at your job, which naturally inspires you to be more productive at work.

Rubbish, you say? Hardly so. Even if Maslow forgot to list it in his hierarchy of basic physiological needs, playing is as essential to our health as sleep or food is. So says Stuart Brown, author of the new book Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul.

Playing is actually nature’s version of troubleshooting for us. When we play, the problems we face would somehow filter through the unconscious mind and work themselves out. Just don’t be afraid of trying stuff out and to see what works. Learn from any mistakes and do it differently next time.

Playing also makes you feel alive which helps when you are back at work. Try spending a few hours doing something you love over the weekend, it can make you feel new again.

“If adults can begin to reminisce about their happiest and most memorable moments,” says Brown. “They can capture the emotion and visual memories of those moments and begin to connect again to what truly excites them in life.”

Going through this process, he adds, may also encourage someone to give serious consideration to move to another job that makes them happier or reignite their current life with elements that once brought them joy.

What’s more, with the recession upon us, there is also the worry of performing badly and getting laid off. Playing would then give you the “emotional distance to rally” as an individual or a team.

In his book, Brown cites a CEO who held an employee meeting to talk about a recent bad financial quarter. After the CEO bravely took the blame for the company’s performance, he informed everyone that there was a toy dart gun with foam darts under every seat. They were all invited to take shots at him.

The CEO then went on to explain how they, as a company, were going to turn things around. Firing the toy guns had made everyone felt better and that things might not be as bad as it seems. In a way, it inspired them to figure out ways to fix the problems.

Go on then, start playing at work today. It might just make your day.

Via USNews

Written by Lee Xieli

March 12, 2009 at 4:28 pm

Yak yak yak yakkity yak

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A lot has been said about the importance of communicating with employees to keep them engaged during this downturn.  After all, employees aren’t stupid. They know what is happening in the global economy and how their businesses are being affected.

But often,  many companies treat their staff as if they were indeed idiots by keeping silent on company matters. This leaves a gaping void for gossipy snitches to spread company rumours and dissent among the ranks.

So even if you wanted to communicate to your staff, what should you say? What goes into the content of the talk?

According to Culture to Engage, communication during a downturn should revolve around four aspects – the situation and what is happening with the company, actions taken to overcome the downturn, expectations of employees during this period and any other options they may have.

Communicate the situation. Keep your employees up to date on what is happening, both inside and outside your business. The more you ensure they are aware of what occurs and what it might cause, the more you reduce the risk of emotional upheaval. This communication may be as simple as a daily/weekly summary of what’s happening to the economy, the industry and what it means, potentially, to your company.

Communicate the plans and actions. As soon as you know, for sure, actions your company might take, communicate the plans to your employees. These are times when trust in leadership is critical to employee engagement. Keeping secrets is highly erosive.

Communicate the expectations. You probably communicate what’s expected of employees when they’re hired and when their positions change. (You should!). Consider these “changing times.” As your expectations of your employees change–like taking on greater responsibility in the face of downsizing–explicitly communicate the new expectations. Allow the employees time to register the changes, then verify that they understand them. And accept them.

Communicate the options. Another critical supporter of employee engagement is participation in decision-making. Certainly, the employee’s having a say in decisions about job, career, work performed is in this category. Explain in detail the options your employee faces. The options may be taking on additional responsibilities or not, staying with the company or not, accepting a reduction in pay for the same hours or more hours for the same pay. You know what the options are, but your employees may be shell-shocked and lose sight of the options they have.

Which then raises the question:  Is your company transparent on how it is faring during this economic downturn, or did you hear about such news through a grapevine? Also, can there ever such a thing as too much communication?

Written by Human Resources

March 11, 2009 at 12:11 pm