May 2022 Newsletter

Not everyone is so lucky

It’s a candidate’s market. Especially if you’re in tech – everybody wants you, so you’ll find it easy to get a good job.

But not everyone is so lucky.

We help our clients hire candidates with high-in-demand tech skills. The lucky ones.

But for those who are homeless, care leavers, victims of domestic abuse or facing other disadvantage, getting a good job is difficult and requires special support; support that most recruiters don’t provide.

So, alongside our day-to-day recruitment work, we volunteer with Radical Recruit (an organisation that supports people facing disadvantage to get jobs), we help spread their message (you might see some videos we’ve made for them) and we provide much needed money. 

For every candidate you hire working with us, we give Radical Recruit £500, which directly supports someone who doesn’t find it so easy to get a good job.

Hire a candidate, help a candidate.
Win win.

Rob Williams

Flexibility Doesn’t Guarantee Work-Life Balance: 3 Ways Companies Can Set Better Boundaries

“During the height of the pandemic, I had to fight to find some semblance of work-life balance,” said Daisy Lovelace, associate professor at Duke University, in a recent course on hybrid work. “It didn’t feel like I was working from home — it started to feel like I lived at work.”

Daisy isn’t alone in that feeling, according to data in LinkedIn’s new Talent Market Drivers report. Burnout rates have risen 9% in recent months, and while flexible work arrangements has been the fastest-growing priority for candidates during the pandemic, work-life balance is still the No. 1 priority for candidates overall.

According to Glint employee surveys, companies are doing a relatively good job of providing flexible work arrangements — but they’re performing worse where it matters most: work-life balance.

In other words, flexibility doesn’t guarantee better balance. In fact, LinkedIn and Glint data also shows that employees at the most remote-friendly companies are 32% more likely to struggle with work-life balance. 

LinkedIn’s Chief Economist Karin Kimbrough, whose commentary is featured throughout the report, said that while “companies can sometimes conflate flexibility and work-life balance, […] they’re very different, and they’re not equally controllable by the company.”

Flexibility can be provided by employers relatively easily with just a change of company policy. Conversely, Karin said, “work-life balance is something that requires a kind of consent from both the employer and the employee — and it’s often the worker who has to navigate those boundaries themselves.”

So, what can companies actually do to help employees experience greater work-life balance? Read on to see how some companies are helping workers set clear boundaries and untangle their personal time from the so-called “endless digital workday.” 

Experiment with 4-day workweeks to potentially improve work-life balance without hurting productivity

We looked at how a shorter workweek was trending back in March, and the momentum behind this idea has only grown in recent weeks. 

“For many organizations, what you lose in labor time you gain in greater productivity on the job,” said Will Stronge, co-author of a new book called Overtime: Why We Need a Shorter Working Week, in a recent story by NPR. “We can’t concentrate all the time, particularly if you’re overworked and burned out. So reducing the working week has reaped dividends in terms of productivity and worker well-being.”

Video game developer Eidos-Montréal recently announced they were moving to a four-day workweek, in an industry notorious for “crunch” — a term referring to frequent periods of overwork and burnout to meet tight deadlines. 

Governments around the world are also jumping on the trend in countries like Scotland and Spain. And earlier this month, U.S. congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez highlighted the need for a four-day workweek and called out a bill being considered in Congress called the “Thirty-Two Hour Workweek Act.”

Block off specific periods for downtime and time off across the entire organization

And even if your company isn’t ready to explore a four-day workweek, emphasizing the importance of downtime can pay real dividends. According to Caroline Webb, senior advisor at McKinsey and author of How to Have a Good Day, “Giving people a chance to unplug isn’t just a decent or moral thing to do. Breaks are needed for high performance.”

Several companies, including LinkedIn, recently gave most employees a full week off. Crucially, these organizations didn’t simply add a week of paid vacation — they coordinated around a specific week for almost everyone to take off. 

“Occasionally mandating that people take time off,” Caroline says, “can be a useful signaling device as long as staff have time to plan for it in terms of childcare, work deliverables, client expectations and so on.” It’s a way for leadership to say, “‘no, honestly, we’re really serious about you getting some rest.'” 

For years, companies that offer “unlimited” time off have found that employees weren’t taking much time off at all. Buffer even had to offer employees a $1,000 bonus to take more time off. A coordinated week off for everyone ensures employees are taking advantage of the vacation days afforded to them. 

Similarly, coordinating “no-meeting days” can allow workers to get things done more efficiently — which leaves more time to step away from work. Atlassian calls these “GSD Days,” a playful acronym for “Getting S*** Done.” The company suggests that for large organizations stretching over several time zones, Mondays (for Asia-Pacific orgs) and Fridays (for orgs in the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa). 

On the other hand, Facebook chose to eliminate all Wednesday meetings last year. Other companies, like OpenTent and Wilderness, also use the middle of the week to focus, calling these days “Deep Work Wednesdays” or DWWs.  

Don’t overlook how caregiving benefits can also be a diversity, equity, and inclusivity (DEI) issue 

While work-life balance clearly affects all workers, it’s particularly important to women, who already shoulder a disproportionate amount of unpaid domestic labor. Highlighting the DEI aspects of work-life balance may help build institutional buy-in and support for such initiatives. 

According to LinkedIn’s Talent Drivers survey data, “good work-life balance” was the single most important priority for both male and female candidates as of June 2021. But on average, women were more likely to prioritize it than men (66% of women listed it as a top priority vs. 61% of men). 

At the very start of the pandemic, Stanford University sociology professor Shelly J. Correll was already raising the alarm about how companies may be overlooking the gendered nature of work-life balance, and how the pandemic could exacerbate it. “The great majority of employees,” she said in April 2020, “report experiencing conflict between the demands of work and the demands of family. For heterosexual couples, resolving this conflict is decidedly gendered, with women continuing to perform significantly more housework and childcare.” 

Promoting better work-life balance at your company may make it a more appealing destination for women, or any employee balancing their professional lives with unpaid responsibilities. “Remember that in addition to being a hardworking, productive member of your team,” Daisy Lovelace tells employers looking to support teams as offices reopen, “your employees have other roles in their personal lives.”

“For example, caregiving isn’t limited to parents,” she says. “In some scenarios, your employees might need to care for elderly relatives, neighbors, or provide childcare for other family members. If your organization has resources to support this, remind them of their availability.”

Final thoughts

Work-life balance was the No. 1 priority for candidates before the pandemic. The massive shift to remote work has only blurred the boundaries more and thrown this issue into stark relief. 

With the Great Reshuffle shaking up workforces, there’s never been more urgency or incentive for companies to get work-life balance right. Those organizations that can set healthy boundaries stand to have a competitive edge when it comes to attracting and retaining talent. 

Full article from LinkedIn here.

How Business Leaders Are Polishing Soft Skills to Navigate the Great Reshuffle

Talent professionals have felt the back-and-forth forces of the pandemic and recovery firsthand: from facing massive layoffs at the start to seeing demand for people in their roles skyrocket amid the Great Reshuffle. 

Their bosses have been buffeted by the same forces, and those talent leaders have been vocal about the changes and challenges they’re facing — both in terms of attracting new talent and retaining their current teams.  

To grapple with these swirling changes, business leaders across the organization — within HR and beyond it — are working on building up their own skills to thrive in this new world of work. In LinkedIn’s recent Talent Market Drivers report, we saw that many learners were adding skills to meet market demands. 

New data from LinkedIn Learning shows how the same is true of business leaders. By homing in on the 15 most popular courses taken by business leaders, we can see that they’re particularly working on their soft skills and ways to impact the broader company culture — topics near and dear to HR’s heart. 

As a whole, these courses reveal how leaders are increasingly focused on improving their own:

  • Coaching, training, and caring for direct reports
  • Communication skills regarding diversity, inclusion, and equity (DEI)
  • Executive presence in hybrid work environments

Read on to learn more about what leaders are learning, what it means for company culture more generally, and what you can do to help make these changes at your own organization — whether you’re a business leader, talent leader, or talent professional.  

Learning how to be better coaches and teachers

Coaching Skills for Leaders and Managers, led by Sara Canaday, was among the five most popular courses for leaders. 

“Building talent has become an essential leadership competency,” Sara says. “Leaders who consistently coach their team members help their organizations grow at unprecedented levels.” And those leaders who fail to coach their teams, she says, “miss a great opportunity to make a tremendous impact.” 

Talent leaders have long talked about instilling a culture of recruiting, where everyone — not just recruiters — can help attract and recruit candidates. Sara proposes a similar concept: a culture of coaching, where it’s incumbent upon all leaders — not just learning and development (L&D) professionals — to coach those working below them. 

“Coaching has proven to have an enormous bottom-line impact,” Sara says. Coaching obviously helps employees learn new skills, and it can also foster stronger team relationships. “Employees’ connection with their leaders increases their loyalty to the company,” Sara says, “which improves retention, lowering the cost for hiring and training.”

One critical lesson for leaders — or anyone aspiring to be a better coach — is learning how to listen. This flips the common misconception that “coaching is all about speaking forcefully and saying the right things,” Sara says. Instead, she adds, “great coaches in the business world improve their impact with exceptional listening skills.” 

In her course, Sara details five steps to improve your listening skills as a leader and a coach:

  1. Listen on a deeper level
  2. Be patient
  3. Manage your body language
  4. Clarify confusion
  5. Summarize and paraphrase

Following these steps (and other lessons on active listening) can help leaders and talent professionals alike become more empathetic and effective coaches, enhancing your company culture. 

Other relevant courses among the most popular for business leaders: 

  • Coaching and Developing Employees with Lisa Gates
  • Giving and Receiving Feedback with Gemma Leigh Roberts  

Learning how to lead more inclusive conversations

Skills for Inclusive Conversations, led by Mary-Frances Winters, was also one of the five most popular courses for business leaders over the last year.

“These conversations can be difficult,” Mary-Frances says, “because we have been mostly taught not to talk about such topics as race, religion, or politics — especially at work. So it stands to reason that we might not have the skills to do so effectively.”

Since an inclusive workplace is one of the fastest-growing priorities for candidates considering a new job, it’s critical that leaders learn how to hold constructive conversations about sensitive topics and help people feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work. 

To drive more inclusivity at your own company, Mary-Frances says to strive for “reciprocal empathy: the ability to see situations from each other’s perspectives.” In short, you don’t have to personally agree with a coworker to respect their perspective. 

To achieve that, Mary-Frances helpfully lays out eight steps that she details in the course:

  1. Establish ground rules
  2. Acknowledge polarizations and differences
  3. Establish shared meaning
  4. Distinguish interpretations and clarify definitions
  5. Suspend judgment
  6. Respect the other’s view
  7. Consider impact, not just intent
  8. Know when to pause the conversation 

From seasoned leaders to entry-level interns, we can all learn to be more conscientious, humble, and respectful of each other’s perspectives and lived experiences. Doing so can help build a more trusting company culture where employees can feel comfortable bringing their authentic selves to work.

Learning how to project an executive presence on video calls 

Leaders can suffer from imposter syndrome as much as anyone else: despite already achieving positions of power, the single most popular LinkedIn Learning course among business leaders was Jessica Chen’s course about Executive Presence on Video Conference Calls. 

Video meetings have become the new normal for many organizations during the pandemic — and leaders may be facing more scrutiny or feeling more insecure about how they show up on camera. 

In her course, Jessica details an array of tactical tips, including these four points that she suggests running through before any important on-camera appearance:

  1. Wardrobe is ready and environment is clear of distractions
  2. Test internet, audio setup, and camera position
  3. Close software and silence phone
  4. Test run with a friend 

Along with technical advice, Jessica also shares how leaders can be more expressive and compelling on camera with positive body language. For example, the way you sit in your chair can affect the way others perceive you. “If you’re going to be speaking and presenting, the best way to sit is to actually sit on just the front half of the chair and not scoot all the way back,” Jessica says. 

“In fact, this is the way many TV news anchors sit when they’re on air because it opens up their diaphragm […] which helps project their voice,” Jessica adds. (She would know, since Jessica is a former award-winning newscaster herself.)

Of course, leaders should strive to value substance over appearances and to extend understanding to team members who may be feeling Zoom fatigue and want to turn their video off. But for those who want to improve the way they engage their teams and inspire confidence virtually, these steps can help ensure that you’re showing up in the best possible light.

Full article from Linkedin here