Leveraging Diversity Recruitment as a Branding Strategy

First Friday Report: June 2015

Diversity recruitment programs have long been a means of promoting inclusion and tolerance, and upholding anti-discrimination regulations that began with the Civil Rights Act of 1964. We’re all familiar with the standard EOE statements and diversity quotas that exist at many organizations. However, in today’s work environment, companies are beginning to look at how they can leverage fresh perspectives on diversity as a branding strategy to recruit and retain top talent. These branding strategies are becoming increasingly important as we prepare to meet the generational challenges and needs of the 2020 workforce, which will contain Millennials, Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers.

Click to watch the video.

Discussions around diversity used to primarily focus on the prevention of labor force discrimination. Employers are now expanding upon that to consider the value and impact that diversity of ideas can have on employee engagement, as well as company growth and performance. Recruiting and retaining talent with unique problem solving approaches, varied skill sets and cultural backgrounds enables everyone on the team to gain insight and inspiration that encourage a more collaborative environment.

The role of diversity will be further challenged by Millennials who are projected to make up 50 percent of the 2020 workforce. This generational group is very focused on the authenticity and meaningfulness of initiatives, so they will potentially seek to reevaluate how diversity recruitment programs should be implemented in the years to come.

“Gone are the days of homogeneous work environments, where everyone basically has the same approach to an organization’s business operations,” says Nancy Halverson, vice president of global operations for MRINetwork. “Globalization is the future of commerce, and in order for organizations to remain competitive, they will need to attract and engage top candidates that think differently and attack work differently from what the company has been previous accustomed. Employers that are able to communicate their commitment to this modern version of diversity, as a key component of their branding strategy, will be the most successful at enticing the best talent.”

For employers looking to revisit their diversity recruitment and branding efforts, Halverson advises starting with one initiative at a time. Here are some examples of potential initiatives:

Employee Development Committees – Open to all employees, these groups focus on providing networking, mentoring and career development opportunities to meet the specific needs of various members of staff including women, minorities, LGBT and veterans.

Heritage Events – Typically focused on nationally recognized months such as Black History Month (February), Women’s History Month (March), Hispanic Heritage Month (mid-September to mid-October), or National Disability Employment Awareness Month (October), your organization can use these events to celebrate the contributions of these groups to American society and culture.

Vendor Diversity Programs – Serving as a community outreach effort, the goal of these programs is to partner with small or disadvantaged groups like minority institutions, veteran associations or HUBZone businesses that are interested in working as a supplier for your company, and provide mentoring opportunities that increase the number of successful individuals within these organizations.

Once you determine your starting initiative, be sure to discuss it during the interviewing and onboarding processes. Promote it on the website in areas where you discuss the company culture, leverage it in marketing materials, and via community or public relations initiatives. Internally promote via flyers, email, intranets and internal work-related networks such as Yammer.

For organizations that already have diversity programs, consider surveying your staff annually to gauge their level of satisfaction and determine if these initiatives are meeting their needs. Then look at these programs, one by one, to see how they can be better implemented to provide meaning and value to employees.

Ultimately, companies will have to determine if simply meeting the legal diversity requirements affects productivity and the organization’s culture. Halverson adds, “Whether it’s acceptance of your employees’ race, age, sexual orientation or outside the box thinking, diversity recruitment really should be evaluated by how well employers celebrate and brand, both internally and externally, difference and flexibility within a variety of functions in the workforce.”

May 2015 Employment Situation Report

Employment Summary for
May 2015

According to the most recent Employment Situation Summary released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the nation added jobs during the month of May, despite a slight increase in the overall unemployment rate.

Employment Situation Report May 2015

U.S. adds 280,000 jobs
Overall, total nonfarm payroll increased by 280,000 positions in May, compared to a growth of just over 250,000 jobs in April. From an industry perspective, the most gains were seen in the professional and business services field, which added 63,000 jobs. Within this sector, the areas that saw the largest increases included computer systems design and related services, temporary help services, management and technical consulting services, and architectural and engineering services.

The leisure and hospitality field increased its workforce by 57,000 jobs in May, with nearly 30,000 of those positions coming from the arts, entertainment and recreation sector. Healthcare gained 47,000 positions, most of which were associated with ambulatory care services, including home healthcare services and outpatient care centers, and hospitals. The retail sector gained over 30,000 positions in May, with automobile dealers adding the most jobs in this industry, while financial activities grew by 13,000 jobs.

Employment was relatively unchanged in manufacturing, wholesale trade, information and government, while the mining industry lost jobs for the fifth consecutive month.

Unemployment rate increases despite job gains
Even though the country added a significant number of jobs, the nation’s unemployment rate ticked up slightly from 5.4 percent to 5.5 percent. The number of employed people remained essentially unchanged at 8.7 million. The number of unemployed new entrants, or people who have never worked but are now attempting to enter the workforce, grew by 103,000 this month, contributing to a slightly higher jobless rate.

Salaries increased in May, with average hourly earnings going from $24.88 to $24.96. In the past 12 months, hourly wages have grown by 2.3 percent. Average hourly compensation for private-sector production and non-supervisory employees increased by 6 cents to $20.97.

The New York Times explained that this modest employment growth was an overall positive sign for the U.S. economy. The trade balance improved, shrinking by $50.6 billion. Additionally, the number of people applying for unemployment benefits has been on the decline, remaining around a 15-year low for the past 13 weeks. While household spending is still somewhat conservative, falling gas prices will likely encourage more people to loosen their budgets in the coming months.  As a result of these positive indicators, the source added that analysts generally expect the Fed to be ready by its September meeting to raise its benchmark interest rate above zero for the first time since December 2008.

View the full Bureau of Labor Statistics report here.

Reduce Time, Waste, and Cost with Process Maps

process maps for project management

A process map is a tool for visualizing workflow and breaking down a complex process or problem into actionable steps.

90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text. (source)

Harnessing this power will enable you to solve problems faster and with clarity. Process maps are a core tool of Six-Sigma methodology, which began in manufacturing and is now used across all types of industries to reduce time, waste, and cost.

A process map may also be called a workflow map or network diagram.

Here is an example of a simple process map everyone can relate to:

Simple process map
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_process_mapping

Simple process maps are typically made of:

Nouns (inputs/outputs): The tangible product or effect

Verbs (actions): The actions needed to achieve the tangible product

Decisions: Typically yes/no. Will cause for multiple branches in process map.


By using a process map, you will:

Maximize your resources by knowing what is needed ahead of time, and visualizing the scope of your project.

Reduce waste by planning ahead, understanding the resources that are needed, and the steps from start to finish.

Save time because you know what to expect and how to communicate these expectations to your team. This will reduce time spent in planning sessions and will encourage clear and data-driven communication.

Define the scope to stay focused and prevent wasting time on other issues that are not directly related to your project.

Process maps are not just for work. From deciding if you should fix or replace an appliance in your home to where to take your family on vacation, process maps gather the data necessary to get the job done while limiting surprises and hangups.

PRO TIP: While breaking down a process is useful for attaining smaller goals in a timely fashion, keep processes between 5-9 steps. Our brains can only take in so much data at once. The purpose of the process map is to see the big picture and the steps that get you to your goal. Learn more about process maps on The Voluntary Life podcast.

Hack Your Menial Tasks

Over the past few years, productivity has seeped its way into popular culture and the workplace. Sites like LifeHacker, and slews of new apps to simplify and synergize your calendar with your email, which then syncs up with your pedometer, that finally beeps to let you know it is time to stand up and have a stretch can be overwhelming.

The idea of having the tools to be more productive is empowering. We want to overhaul our routines and see results right away, but become frustrated when we set ourselves up for failure. How can we integrate these tools in a tangible and sustainable way?

The answer is slowly, steadily, and one step at a time.

Something that has been working for me (for three months and counting!) is an application called the Tomato Timer.

Tomato Timer

The average attention span can focus 100% on a task for about 25 minutes. Research shows that the best workflow for most people is to work for 25 mins, then take a 5 minute break to avoid burning out or overlooking important details.

Additionally, if you are a morning person (like me), complete the dreaded tedious tasks in the morning when you are at your best. Powering through these first thing will give you the motivation you need to tackle more difficult tasks before lunch, and prevent the dread of procrastination later in the afternoon when you crash.

If you are not a morning person, apply this strategy to the time of day where you feel the most motivated and can quickly knock out clearing that inbox, scheduling those meetings, or writing that blog post you have been procrastinating for a week or so. (This may or may not be an anecdotal circumstance.)

What other applications do you use to keep you on track? Tell me about your favorite productivity apps and routines in the comments.

Until next time,

Sales Support Manager
MRI Chattanooga

What Red Flags Could Your Team Be Giving Off in the Interviewing Process?

May 2015 First Friday Report

During the typical interviewing process, most companies focus on identifying red flags and weeding out candidates who are not ideal. While this is a necessary practice, employers should also give consideration to the red flags their team members could be waving, and how this may be deterring future hires. As the executive, managerial and professional labor market has become overwhelmingly candidate-driven in the last few years, more employers are realizing they must overhaul their interviewing procedures, to attract top performers who frequently have several job offers at their disposal.

Click to watch the video.

The main goal of an interview is to provide both the hiring company and the candidate an opportunity to determine if there is a mutual fit. On the candidate’s end, more emphasis is often placed on the tangible insight they can gain from the meeting, including how interviewers respond to certain questions, inconsistencies with how various team members discuss the potential role, and the aspects of the job that are emphasized vs. those that are minimized. On the company’s end, the assumption is the candidate has most of the required skills to take on the open role. The focus from their perspective is more about cultural fit, intangible insight and the overall impression left by the candidate.

In light of the fact that employers must now attract and recruit in a candidate-driven market, they should be thinking about the lasting impression they are leaving with prospective hires. “Companies really need to transition away from interview methodologies that are solely focused around what the candidate is bringing to the table, and think more about how they are presenting themselves to applicants,” says Suzanne Rice, director, U.S. franchise development.

Rice suggests the following for companies that are looking to revamp their interviewing process:

Provide direct responses about the role and the company.Candidates will see through vague or evasive responses. If the position has experienced frequent turnover or ongoing challenges, be honest about the issues and discuss how the role has been restructured. This is an opportunity to show that thought has been given to the position and its overall purpose in the company strategy, rather than just trying to backfill the role.

Demonstrate an enjoyable working environment. Candidates are looking at everything from their potential workspace, dress code and how team members interact with each other to work from home policies, office amenities and perks. Avoid any negative discussion of past or current employees, and don’t be dismissive of subordinates who may be briefly introduced to candidates. Use every opportunity to show a fun workplace, engaged employees and why you like working for the organization.

Maintain consistency. No matter what team members are tasked with interviewing, everyone should be on the same page about the responsibilities that will be assumed in the role. If the candidate receives conflicting information about the position, they have no choice but to assume this confusion will continue if they take the job.

Promote opportunities for advancement. Most candidates look at how a new role will provide them with new growth opportunities. Employers want someone who will remain in the position for a significant length of time, but it’s important not to forget to discuss any training or upward mobility programs, providing viable examples of how employees can advance within the company. Future employees want to feel their new employer is invested in their professional development.

Regardless of how your organization approaches the interviewing process, the main goal should be to leave candidates with a positive impression. “Not every candidate will be right for the company, but their ability to talk about their interview experience in the marketplace and potentially disseminate info that presents the brand in a good light, is invaluable. The ‘interview’ should be approached not only as a way to qualify potential new hires, but also leveraged as a marketing opportunity to communicate why the organization is a great place to work.”

April 2015 Employment Situation Report

The most recent report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the job market rebounded throughout the month of April, contributing to a lower unemployment rate.

Job creation on the rise
Overall, the nation added 223,000 jobs during April. Although this was slightly lower than the 224,000 jobs projected by economists, it demonstrated a return to the positive growth trend seen over the last 12 months, compared to the 85,000 positions added in March. About 62,000 of these jobs were in the professional and business service sectors, which had been averaging just 35,000 new positions each month. Within this larger field, services to buildings and dwellings added 16,000 positions, computer systems design and related services added 9,000 jobs, business support services grew its workforce by 7,000 and technical consulting services expanded by 6,000 positions.

The healthcare industry created 45,000 jobs in April, with ambulatory care services gaining 25,000 positions, hospitals adding 12,000 jobs and residential care facilities expanding by 8,000 positions. The construction industry also experienced growth after having a stagnant March. The field gained 45,000 positions, with 41,000 of these jobs being specialty trade contractors. Transportation and warehousing gained 15,000 jobs. Sectors that saw little change in April included manufacturing, wholesale trade, information, retail trade, leisure and hospitality, government and financial activities.

Unemployment Rate and Job Creation

Unemployment rate ticks down
As a result of this significant job growth, the U.S. unemployment rate dropped slightly to an average of 5.4 percent. Bloomberg Business reported that this is the lowest jobless rate the country has seen since May 2008.

The BLS report revealed that wages grew as well. Average hourly earnings went up by 3 cents to $24.87, while average hourly earnings for private sector production and non-supervisory employees grew by 2 cents to $20.90. Bloomberg explained that while any compensation increases are a positive sign of growth, these minuscule expansions are unexpectedly low compared to rates of overall job growth.

“The pace of employment is quite encouraging. Wage growth is accelerating, but it’s quite gradual, more gradual than we would expect in a market where the unemployment rate is 5.4 percent,” Gregory Daco, head of U.S. macroeconomics at Oxford Economics USA Inc., told Bloomberg.

The New York Times reported that the April employment data suggests the Federal Reserve will not be in any rush to take it’s long-awaited first step in raising short-term interest rates, which have been near zero since the onset of the financial crisis in 2008. According to the source, most experts now expect the Feds to move in September or beyond as the probable beginning of any gradual tightening effort by the central bank.

View the full Bureau of Labor Statistics report here.

April First Friday Preview: What’s your one hiring rule?

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was recently quoted as saying “I will only hire someone to work directly for me if I would work for that person. I think this rule has served me pretty well … Facebook is not a company for everyone in the world.” This is apparently Zuckerberg’s one absolute for hiring. Regardless of whether you agree with Zuckerberg, consider your one hiring rule, or even your top three, and how they have impacted the success of your business. Have these rules been constant or have they evolved over time? Most importantly, how effective have they been in shaping a unique company culture that attracts and retains top talent?

Hiring rules are developed to help companies ensure they recruit candidates who are well-suited for their organization. Aside from degrees and certifications that may be state or federally mandated for specific roles, these guidelines have more to do with what companies attribute to successful hiring, as opposed to hard and fast hiring rules. No matter what businesses consider to be their hiring musts, every organization can benefit from periodically assessing whether their hiring rules are truly yielding the employees they seek, or if they are creating unnecessary hoops for candidates and interviewers.

Google is a prime example of an organization that is revered as the ultimate dream company, yet saw the importance of re-evaluating its hiring process. Up until a few years ago, prospective Google employees frequently were required to undergo more than 10 interviews. The lengthy hiring process created a time-intensive ordeal for hiring managers, causing the company to frequently lose top talent to its competitors. Google overhauled its process and limited each candidate to five interviews, recognizing that the longer candidates are on hold, the more time they have to get another job offer or accept a counteroffer.

If a major technology force like Google saw the importance of revisiting how it hires, perhaps it is time for your organization to do the same. “Many companies have established long-standing hiring rules that they swear by, but the reality is hiring is not a static function, nor is it effective if the process deters potential “right-fit” candidates,” says Nancy Halverson, vice president of global operations for MRINetwork. “Further, when employers have open jobs for long periods of time because they haven’t been able to find the “right” employee, it’s a clear indication that they may be out of touch with how to attract and retain high performers that will thrive in their organization’s environment.”

Halverson provides the following tips for re-evaluating hiring rules:

  • Review the number of hires over the last five years and assess how many of those individuals have become significant contributors in their respective domains, or to the company’s overall success. What characteristics do they have in common?
  • Annually consider the organization’s top hiring rules and whether they are still effective in recruiting quality talent that will fit seamlessly within the company culture.
  • Review hiring situations that didn’t work out, but don’t obsess on the reasons these individuals were unsuccessful in their roles. Instead focus on the positive skills or experience that they possessed and see how these attributes could be beneficial to the department or the company overall.
The rules of engagement are constantly changing when it comes to hiring, and potentially so are an employer’s hiring tenets. Halverson notes, “As retention is becoming more critical than ever, the true testament of whether an organization’s hiring rule(s) work is revealed in their ability to engage and hold onto top producing employees that are essential to the success of the company.”

March 2015 Employment Situation Report

While the unemployment rate remained stable for the month of March, and job growth was lower than expected, the U.S. continued to add jobs across a variety of sectors.

Workforce grows as employment situation remains stable

According to the Employment Situation released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the country’s unemployment rate did not change during March, remaining at a steady 5.5 percent. The overall number of people in the workforce was 8.6 million, up 126,000 from February.

Between March 2014 and March 2015 the number of employed people has increased by 1.8 million, contributing to a 1.1 percent drop in the unemployment rate. The report explained that the civilian labor force experienced little change this month, staying solid at 62.7 percent. Notably, this number has mostly stayed between 62.7 and 62.9 percent since April 2014.

New Picture (1)

Healthcare, retail and business services expand hiring

The 126,000 new positions were spread among a variety of fields. The industry that added the most workers this month was the professional and business services sector, which grew by 40,000. Within this general field some of the areas where hiring went up included engineering services, management and technical consulting services, and computer systems design and related services. Healthcare also saw a larger workforce in March, growing by 22,000 employees. Most of these jobs pertained to ambulatory care and hospitals. Within this sector, nursing care facilities shrank by 9,000 positions. The retail industry continued its growth, adding 26,000 jobs.

One of the fields that lost positions this month was mining, which shrank by 11,000 workers. This industry added 41,000 jobs last year, but so far has lost 30,000 jobs in 2015. Many other industries, including food service, manufacturing, construction, government, financial activities, transportation and warehousing, and wholesale trade changed very little throughout March.

Wages on the rise

The report indicated that hourly earnings increased for workers this month, going up by 7 cents to equal $24.86. This number has increased by 2.1 percent over the past 12 months. The average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 4 cents to rest at $20.86.

Economists anticipated more growth

While the report is stable, economists had predicted much larger growth, explained Nasdaq. Industry experts had anticipated that the nation would add 248,000 new jobs this month, while the actual number was significantly less. The source noted the Federal Reserve acknowledges that March’s report fell flat in the face of economists’ predictions, but it is not worried that the country’s economy is declining. If numbers get back on track to improving at higher rates, the organization plans to increase interest rates.

View the full Bureau of Labor Statistics report here.

February 2015 Employment Situation Report

The U.S. experienced a positive labor report for February as the nation continued to move toward a strong employment situation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Not only did the overall employment rate drop, but positions were added to a variety of sectors.

Unemployment rate drops
The unemployment rate decreased by .2 percent in February to 5.5 percent. Youth unemployment, a point of concern for the nation, experienced a positive shift as well, dropping by 1.7 percent to stand at 17.1 percent. The number of residents dealing with long-term unemployment remained relatively unchanged at 2.7 million. The civilian labor force participation rate also changed very little, coming in at 62.8 percent.

es_february_2015 (1) es_february_2015

Gains seen across a variety of industries
Overall, the country added a total of 295,000 jobs during February, exceeding the current average monthly gain of 266,000. Food services saw a significant hiring increase, adding 59,000 jobs. The professional and business services sector grew by 51,000 positions. Most of these new jobs were in the technical consulting services, computer systems design and architectural engineering fields.

The construction industry grew by 29,000 positions, most of them in the form of specialty trade contractors. Healthcare services added 24,000 jobs, many of them focusing on ambulatory care and hospitals. The transportation and warehousing sector expanded by 19,000 jobs, mostly couriers and messengers, while the retail industry continued its upward employment trend by adding 32,000 positions. Manufacturing also saw a notable increase of 8,000 jobs.

Industries that saw little change during the month of February include information, financial activities, wholesale trade and government. The mining sector saw a slight loss in its workforce.

Wages up slightly, Federal Reserve rates could increase
According to the report, average hourly earnings improved by 3 cents to the current average of $24.78. Despite this only slight improvement, the U.S. dollar reached its highest value in 11.5 years against a number of currencies, reported Reuters. This general positive growth could inspire the Federal Reserve to hike rates come June, explained the source. Although the Fed has kept overnight lending rates close to zero since December 2008, the strength and potential present in the labor report could be grounds for increases.

View the full Bureau of Labor Statistics report here.

First Friday Preview March 2015: What is your office space engaging?

What Office Space Says About Company Culture and Employee Engagement

Over the last few years, the image of desirable office space has changed considerably. The goal of rising through the ranks to earn a big corner office is increasingly becoming a thing of the past, as many companies shift from designated offices and cubicles to open workspaces. This transformation reflects a growing trend toward work environments that are more conducive to open communication and collaboration between team members, as well as a focus on condensing office space to reduce rental expenses.

New Picture (3)

It is no longer acceptable to dread coming in to work every day. Top candidates expect to work hard, but they want to have fun doing it, and enjoy the people with whom they work.

The new concept of office space isn’t just taking hold at technology and marketing firms, or hip restaurants; more conservative industries such as banking and education are increasingly adopting this model. Despite all the benefits of this modern work approach, it’s not for every company, nor for every potential hire. As the improved labor market prompts more companies to hire, more attention will need to be placed on what the office environment communicates about the company culture and employee engagement, and if these messages are being communicated effectively.

Believe it or not, office space, a seemingly minor aspect of work life, is growing in importance, so much that a recent article described a candidate who left a job interview, after catching a glimpse of his/her prospective workspace. “While this may seem like a rare or unlikely occurrence, this is the reality, especially when we consider the wants and needs of a growing Millennial population,” says Suzanne Rice, director of U.S. Franchise Development. “This generation of workers, which the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects will make up 75 percent of the 2030 workforce, wants to immediately get a sense of the office energy, and most importantly, what the company culture says about how they will be treated once hired.”

Baby Boomer executives are not immune to these changes. In many companies that prefer an open office environment, the C-Suite is also finding it must deal with smaller work spaces, if not complete elimination of designated office space altogether.

Ultimately, with retention and employee engagement being some of the biggest challenges facing employers today, office space is just a part of the message that organizations can communicate about company culture. Amenities, company-funded perks and team interaction, both inside and outside the office are additional features that have the ability to tell a story about the cultural health of the organization.

It is no longer acceptable to dread coming in to work every day. Top candidates expect to work hard, but they want to have fun doing it, and enjoy the people with whom they work. “When employers include employees in the development and maintenance of the company culture, this creates a real opportunity for them to connect with workers, making it clear that they want them to be active participants in shaping the future of the organization,” adds Rice. “This is where true employee engagement starts, by interfacing with employees, facilitating ongoing, two-way dialogues and communicating this value in the marketplace. Further, this is what can make all the difference to top performers who have multiple job offers, and are faced with deciding whether to join or stay with a company.”