Tech Sector Survey Says: Your Employees DO NOT Love Their Jobs

This may come as a shock, but our Canadian tech companies may not be great places to work.

“But hold the phone!” you say. “What about our super cool coffee machines and our team excursions to the paintball park? We let our guys wear grubby old t-shirts and flip-flops to work. How could they NOT love this place?”

This isn’t our opinion, but is in fact what became painfully clear in a recent survey of tech employees. And you’ll want to read on because some of these employees may be sitting in the next cublicle, wearing flip-flops and not giving you their best efforts.

We recently teamed up with the research genius that is Material Minds to measure employee engagement in the Ontario tech sector, and compared this to findings from south of the border. Here is what we wanted to know:

  • Do the people of Ontario’s Tech Industry love their jobs?
  • Are they engaged in their work?
  • Would they promote their employer to their friends?

The results were surprising to say the least. You can read the full survey results Here. But here are some of the most insightful bits:

PromotersPassivesDetractors Tech Survey Says: Your Employees DO NOT Love Their jobs

Only 23% of the employees in our survey would promote their company and tell others that its a great place to work.

And the rest?

77% of Canadians are unenthusiastic or actively disengaged. Wow! Most shocking is the fact that 41% of survey participants are active Detractors, meaning that they may be out there bad-mouthing you as an employer right now!

You know this is bad, but there are measurable results to your bottom line to also consider. According to Gallup Consulting’s findings; companies with average financial performance typically have the full engagement of at least 33% of employees, while companies with world-class performance have at least 67% engagement. Our tech sector isn’t looking so good.

If it is any consolation, the findings from the American population of tech employees was only slightly better, with 29% of employees indicating that they would promote their company as good place to work.

So, can we fix this? Here are a few more insights that shed light on the problem. The survey shows that employees, for the most part:

  • Are not highly engaged;
  • Aren’t highly supportive of their employer’s mission;
  • Know what is expected of them but don’t have enough time to do their work;
  • Don’t get enough recognition; and
  • Don’t get enough feedback.

Amidst all of this doom and gloom, where can we find opportunity? What conclusions can you draw for a company that wants to do better and be better?

You can count on us having some opinions and ideas, but we want to hear what you think about these findings. Do you agree? Can the problem be solved?

(This post was co-authored by Alex Stobe, my colleague at The Laudi Group.  Check him out here (ca.linkedin.com/in/alexstobe)  He’s a smart recruiter and all around good human.)

 

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So You Need to Hire, What are you Excited About?

I’m going to share the secret to success in recruiting. It’s the one thing that makes your message stand out. It defines a great recruiter. And it’s really quite simple. Maybe even too simple. Are you ready? It’s… excitement.

That’s right, excitement is the difference maker. Now, it’s possible that I have the luxury of working with companies that are worthy of excitement. Or maybe, because my clients are smallish tech companies, every job is critical. But, I’m genuinely enthusiastic about every new search assignment and eager to find the lucky person to take on the role.

I’m not talking about tail-wagging, squirmy dog kind of excitement. This is about genuine, authentic enthusiasm. It needs to permeate everything you do and everything you say, and it needs to be real.

Here is what excitement looks like:

1. Your Company is Exciting

Are you doing something that is truly innovative? Are your leaders extraordinary? Is the mission inspirational? Your recruitment message needs to convey this, with credible and tangible excitement.

2. This Role is Exciting

excited Need to Hire? Here is Something to get Excited AboutIf you don’t really NEED to hire someone to do this job, why are you bothering? How does the role impact your company’s success?

Understand who is going to love this job and what will fuel their passion.
Make sure your actions reflect your words. Act with urgency and send a clear message that you are on a mission to find the best person for this important role. Your actions must speak louder than the words in your postings.

3. You are Excited about your Candidate

Start by understanding what will make a great candidate stand out, and show your enthusiasm when you find it. The best applicants want to know why you think they will fit. Give them some positive feedback. Sure, Negotiating and Interviewing 101 recommend a poker face and little else. But, if you mask your emotions with indifference, that indifference will come right back at you. Good candidates will most certainly lose interest and find an employer who sees their true value. It is possible to be excited while simultaneously evaluating fit.

These enthusiasm factors could easily serve as the outline for writing a job description, or pitching to a recruit at a networking event. One thing is certain, if you get the excitement right, it will have a measurable impact on who you recruit… and what you become as a company.

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Check your Attitude! The Buy and Sell Sides of Recruiting

So you’re trying to improve the quality of your recruiting.

You want to hire more people, people with talent who bring their ‘A’ game every day.

How do you do that? Do you need new tactics?

Better tools and technology, or a recruiter with a better network? Before you do anything, check your attitude. That’s right. The fundamental difference between success and failure in recruiting comes down to attitude and the role you choose in the process.

What’s your stance? Are you a buyer of skills or a seller of opportunities? You might think you’re a little of each, but most recruiters and companies lean strongly one way.

Don’t know which you are? Here are some hints.

The Buyer:

  • Your recruiting function runs like a purchasing department and probably rolls up into Admin and Finance; you use words like Talent Acquisition.
  • Your job descriptions look like shopping lists; you advertise pre-requisite skills and qualifications.
  • You look for exact fits; square pegs to fit into square holes.
  • You focus on the quantifiable attributes of a candidate that are usually listed on the resume.
  • Your interviews have the primary goal of qualifying candidates and minimizing the risk of a bad hire.
  • You pitch a role based on the deliverables. “We need you to do this/ make this/ behave this way.”
  • You feel that you have the control and power in the recruiting process.

The Seller:

  • Your recruiting function is quite independent and might report to Sales, Marketing or the CEO.
  • You advertise jobs based on the opportunity, culture, perks and benefits to the candidate.
  • You create loosely-defined job descriptions, defining outcomes and projects more than qualifications
  • You look for great people and create roles so they can add maximum value.
  • Your interview is an extension of the sales pitch. And you often do much of the talking and ask questions to define what the candidate wants in a role, with the focus on how to close the candidate on a future offer.
  • You see the candidate as having the power in the recruiting process.
  • While each of these recruiting positions might have merits, the risks are worth noting.

To the Buyers out there, you are scaring off great candidates by treating them as though they are lucky to be under consideration. You are making offers to people who don’t mind this feeling, but understand that you are simply purchasing skills and output, but not loyalty. You and your company will have a tough time with employee engagement and retention.

And Sellers, you’re not perfect either! You tend to oversell jobs and are at risk of hiring underqualified candidates. You might also pay more per hire than is required. The people you hire may approach their employment with a sense of entitlement that may not be deserved.

So what’s a good recruiter to do? How can you effectively embody the best of both Buying and Selling and find a happy balance where the prospective candidate is seena potential partner.

Perhaps it is too simple to suggest that a change in attitude alone will immediately fix your recruiting woes. And the outcome will be many interactions won’t be an immediate hire. But I guarantee that when a hire is made and a partner found, the level of engagement and overall success of the relationship will be incredible.

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Congratulations! Your Company is Great at Not Hiring!

I have come to realize that I see recruiting in a way that is not shared by many.  Where most see an HR function, I see a Sales and Marketing challenge.  While many companies look at their recruiting challenge as one of ‘Talent Acquisition’, I quite frankly don’t get that at all.   Look at how recruiting departments are designed like purchasing functions, where orders are filled, scarce skills are sourced, candidates are treated like commodities and talent is acquired for the lowest possible price.

I do understand how historically this made sense.  I am from a mining town, where my grandfather and his peers would line up at the gates of the mine waiting to see who would be selected for work that day.  A manager would walk out in the morning and select his workers for the day, making selections based on physical appearances – who looks strong and capable enough to get the job done.  Labour was an abundant commodity, with plenty available to fill the order of the day.   HR departments were designed around these economics, and were trained to be discriminating buyers of manpower.

The doom and gloom of today’s general employment stats may lead you to believe that we can still hire this way.  “Post it and they will come.”  And maybe this is true in some segments of the economy, but certainly not in tech, or with any company that needs the best people to succeed.   When there are lots of great mines and few great miners, we have a problem and we need to throw all of our thinking about Talent Acquisition out the window.

No, the fact of a skilled talent shortage isn’t news.  So why then do so many companies behave like they have an unlimited supply of people and time?  Are we so stuck in our ways that we can’t evolve from the commodity hiring mentality?

I think something else is going on…

There isn’t a people shortage, there is a talent shortage.  Not the same thing.  The problem isn’t that there aren’t enough resumes out there.  It’s that most of them belong to people you shouldn’t hire.  What if the wrong people apply to work for your company and you don’t keep them out!  Yikes! It’s your job to weed out the imposters and the time wasters that want to sit quietly and take a pay cheque!  Hiring is risky business, because making a mistake is expensive.  If you hire no one and blame the talent shortage, isn’t that better than hiring a room full of potential misfits?

We have 2 problems that are in opposition.

  1. The wrong people want to work for you
  2. The right people don’t know you exist

Look at these 2 problems and choose the one you’d solve.  If you’re like most, you chose the one that avoids risk rather than the one with the big upside.  So you build a recruiting function to address the question of RISK, and it puts process, tools and rules in place to weed out the potential cultural misfits, technical lightweights and the unwashed masses.  In fact, most every HR person is trained to reduce costs and eliminate risk, and will focus on NOT hiring the wrong guy.   If you look for imperfection, you will find it almost every time.

I say it’s time we start working from a different set of assumptions.  Think of what would happen if you recruited like a sales team. Of course, qualifying people is a critical part of the process, but focus your recruiting energy on attracting and bringing in the best, then expect greatness from the people you hire.   Rather than looking for a perfect fit for your culture, you create a culture that is designed for the most talented people; that inspires their best work and accomodates their harmless imperfections.  Accept that you’ll fail a few times before you get it just right.  But in the process you’ll unearth hidden gems and build an environment that perpetuates success.

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Your Managers are Sabotaging your Recruiting – Part 2: A Little Prep Goes a Long Way

In my last post, I wrote about how your efforts to build a dream team are being thwarted by managers who fail to share your sense of urgency, who stall the process and withhold feedback.  Sadly, there are other ways that your team is slowing the growth of your company, by hindering your efforts to attract and impress the best prospective employees.  The next offence is the manager who fails to prepare.

SIN #2 – “Who are you and why should I care?”

You would probably fire a sales person who went into a pitch knowing nothing about the prospect, but do you know how often your interviewers  fail to prep adequately for a meeting with a potential employee.

It is all too common that a resume is quickly reviewed in the 5 minutes between the calendar alert and the meeting.  Not only does the quality of the interview conversation suffer, but you’ve failed to impress upon this person that they will be valued as part of your team.

The excuses are noble.  Your interviewers have important jobs, and their work performance is measured on tangible results that are not directly linked to recruiting.  So an interview that pulls them away from their ‘real job’ feels like an interuption.

But will you land the top employee prospects if he or she is made to feel like a nuisance?  And will your organization seem truly dedicated to growth if your team is sending the message that it doesn’t respect the time and effort of a qualified candidate.

Here are some simple tips:

– set calendar reminders at the beginning of the week and at the start of each day for all upcoming interviews

– attach resumes and all interview notes, including those from your recruiter or from previous interviews to the calendar event

– use tools like google docs to share notes, if not a proper candidate tracking tool

– make sure your interviewers are confident in their interviewing skills by providing training and sample questions

– set specific interview objectives, outlining the skills that each interviewer needs to assess in the meeting (technical skills, leadership style, overall fit)

– and lastly, be sure that everyone knows that their role is also to be interviewed and to help land the candidate; so prepare them to answer questions from the interviewee and explain why they love the company

So, set the expectation with your employees that interviews require planning, and model the right behaviours at a leadership level.   If you drive through the organization a message that hiring and growth is a priority, your team will do their part to help you attract and hire great people.

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Your Managers are Sabotaging your Recruiting Efforts! Part 1: No News is Bad News

As a tech executive, you already know that success is driven by your innovators, marketers, sellers and tech wizards. You invest a lot of time to source and assemble a dream team. So it may come as a surprise that the same managers who are helping you steer the ship may be sabotaging your ability to hire great people.

Over the next few posts, I’ll explain some of the top sins that your managers are likely committing. I’m not suggesting that you’re faced with a mutany. Odds are that your leaders are blissfully ignorant of how their actions (or lack of action) is impacting your success. And the good news is that there are easy fixes.

SIN #1

No News is Bad News.

We hear about it a lot. A candidate’s resume sits in the inbox for weeks until the hiring manager realizes that it’s a gem. But time has passed and that individual is off the market, or has lost the initial enthusiasm about the role and company.

Then after an interview, there is silence. Will there be another interview? Is there a fit – why or why not? No one knows what happened. The candidate is left hanging and unimpressed. And they’ll tell their friends.

As recruiters, we expect our clients to review a new resume within 24 hours, and to debrief within 48 hours of each interview. It’s smart recruiting and a courtesy to candidates who invested their time and paid for gas, parking or public transit. It also sends a message to every candidate, whether they move forward or not, that your organization is efficient and that your managers can make decisions.

Teach your team that shorter cycles are good for everyone. You take advantage of momentum, send a very positive message about respect for the individual and display the sense of urgency and execution that fast companies thrive on. You’ll get more accepted offers, and just as important, you’ll create a legion of impressed people who will tell their friends about their positive experience.

Start by setting a good example and keep high expectations. The results of an expedited process will surprise you.

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Get Employee Referral Results Without the Referral – 3 Key Insights and a Heap of Tips

Employee referrals are arguably the most effective way for companies today to recruit.  Here are the stats:

#1 in quality of applicants

#1 best source of above average applicants

#1 in retention within the 1st year and beyond

What can we learn from the success of referrals to make all of our recruiting efforts better?

The premise of the great employee referral is simple – you like the people you have working for you now, so you want to hire more like them.  Not necessarily creating a homogenous workplace devoid of diversity, but certainly a team that shares similar values, work ethic and passion for the company.  The easiest way to work the odds is to hire the friends, classmates and previous colleagues of your best people.   Great humans know other great humans.

3 important things happen with a good referral program:

  1. Your employees will do the screening for you, only referring people who they like and trust – people who they think will make them look good.  They’ll instinctively refer people with the right ‘fit’ for your team.
  2. Your employees have pre-sold the job and have probably prepped candidates for the interview.  So you start the process with a candidate who is pumped up about the job and who has extra insight into the organization, the hiring manager and the role.
  3. The referred candidates end up, no doubt, on the top of your stack of resumes and are fast tracked into the process.  They are treated with extra care and probably have a better overall candidate experience.

The bad news is that you can’t rely exclusively on employee referrals to fill every open role on your team.  The good news is you CAN get the same results, even when your candidates come from other sources.  Here’s how:

1. Discover the human behind the resume

Odds are, meeting an actual live candidate to determine ‘fit’ is only done after you’ve sorted resumes by education, technical skills and other magical ways of turning a big anonymous list of applicants into a managable group.  While your employees are thinking about fit from the start, your traditional resume gathering and screening tactics rarely go past the cold hard facts on a resume.  At the extreme, big companies will use software to further de-humanize the process, turning a candidate into a few dozen fact-based points on an application form and a file attachment.

Granted, interviews take time so you ideally want to meet just a few people and then make a decision.  But if you’ve only looked at a resumes, or worse yet done a keyword scan, you’ve certainly missed some great humans who could make difference on your team.

To get better insight, try this:

  • Take the time to look at your best people and understand what values, characteristics and attributes are common and how they make your company great.
  • Find ways to ask revealing questions to uncover ‘who’ the candidate really is at the beginning of the process
  • Look at other sources of insight, like LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs etc.
  • Expand your ‘employee referral’ network to partners, suppliers and customers and make sure they know what human qualities you are looking for

2. Prep and Pizzaz

Enable your candidates to put their best foot forward by arming them with as much information as possible prior to the interview.  They will be impressed and will be able to better provide you with the information you need to determine whether they are the right hire.  It is easier than you think, and it really doesn’t give anyone an unfair leg-up.

  • Send your candidate a list of people who are going to be involved in the hiring process and links to their LinkedIn profiles.
  • Share relevant press releases or links to parts of your website that are particularly relevant to the role.  This is an easy email to prepare and can be used again and again.
  • At later stages in the process, connect the potential hire to someone in the company who would be a peer, so that they can have a candid conversation about the culture and the daily work
  • Make sure your job description is not just a shopping list of skills.  Tell candidates about the role, the company and build in some excitement.  Then describe the type of person who would be most successful in the role, so that your candidates can see themselves in the role.

3. Treat every hire as a strategic hire and every candidate as your next top performer

This may sound like more work than necessary for some hires, but every great employee has a story of a job they didn’t take because of a bad recruitment experience.

  • Provide timely and personal feedback after each meeting
  • Aim to progress candidates as quickly as possible through the process, so that they see that the role is an important hire, that the manager is decisive and that the company is indeed moving and growing quickly
  • Be respectful of a candidate’s time and effort in the process and avoid last minute cancellations, unprepared interviewers and ambiguity about next steps

So really, why are employee referrals better hires?  Because they are always better candidates, or do better results come from a hiring process that starts with an assessment of human factors like fit and values vs the dry facts on a resume?  If we do a better job of helping our candidates prepare for an interview, will we have better results?  And if we treat our candidates with more care during the hiring process, do our employee relationships have a stronger start?  I believe that these answer to all of these questions is a resounding Yes!

Please comment with your feedback and with more tips and ideas!

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