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Career Transition, Outplacement and Mobility

Optimising The Value of Outplacement Support

Optimising The Value of Outplacement

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Optimising The Value of Outplacement

There are numerous data sources that show providing outplacement support delivers real business benefit and positively impacts organisational KPIs. 

However, these benefits are only realised when eligible employees use the service. If they don’t know what outplacement is, they’re unlikely to take that first step and access the support that can help them secure their next move. Closing this knowledge gap is therefore critical and communication is the key to doing that. 

We frequently get asked by organisations about the best way to share information about the outplacement support they are providing for their employees. Although the best way will be unique to the specific individual or organisation concerned, our experience over the last 50 years has highlighted several proven approaches that can help ensure the highest possible levels of engagement and participation.

Notification day support

Having a consultant on site at the notice meeting so that they can meet with them straight after they’re told about their position being made redundant can be useful for both the individual impacted and the people giving the news. Regardless of whether the news is anticipated or not, people experience a range of feelings. Whilst some may view it as an opportunity to rethink their career options, most in the very early stages of their transition experience feelings of shock, anger, confusion and worry. Having someone on hand who is experienced in helping employees understand and manage their feelings whilst being able to clearly highlight the full range of support being offered can help calm the situation and provide reassurance that they have access to specialist teams committed and resourced to help them make their next move as quickly as they need.

Be there after the shock wave

Many employees when first told the news are not able to take in and fully understand all the information they’ve been given. They may be processing the reality of a separation from their organisation and not be in a place where they’re thinking about their next career move. It’s why many of our clients choose to continue to offer onsite support for some time after the notice meetings particularly if more than a handful of employees are impacted.

Share information over and over

Once the news has been processed, employees can start to think about their next move. Providing them with information about the support offered with clear details on how to get in touch as soon as possible is key. Because of the amount of information being passed onto the employee at a time when they’re likely to be struggling to process it all, we advise organisations to provide details about the outplacement support available in several ways on a number of occasions:

  • Awareness sessions
  • Directly to the employee immediately after the notice meeting
  • Email the information to the employee straight away and then again, a short period afterwards
  • Include information in any packs sent to the employee’s home
  • Ensure the line managers have the information to pass on
  • Ensure the HR team have the information to pass on
  • Post details of the support available on the intranet and /or in the employee handbook or benefits book.

As with any communications, different employees prefer to receive information in different ways. For some this may be written brochures, for some it may be short and snappy emails, whilst for others it may be video. Providing this information in several formats and at various points during the early stages of the transition process helps ensure as many people as possible receive the support they need.

Proactive support

When organisations partner with us so that our dedicated engagement team proactively engage with employees eligible for outplacement support, there is a large increase in the take-up rate of the service. The figures below highlight the impact.

Why contact details are key

In the immediacy after being told their role has been made redundant many people are not in the right position to take on board the information about the service they are entitled to use. It’s information that gets lost in the often-greater questions surrounding timing and redundancy payments.

  • Many people want to access the service available to them but are not comfortable making that first contact. This reluctance may be for many reasons – reluctance to be seen to be asking for help, lack of confidence, uncertainty as to what to say or expect, anxiety about taking a step into the unknown, a reluctance to accept that their departure from their organisation is really happening. The reasons are many. Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein have brought nudge theory to prominence in recent times, particularly when it comes to “nudging” or giving “micro nudges” in the areas of health and wellness. Often all it takes is one carefully thought out call by an expert to the employee to break that barrier and for them to take the support they need. A gentle “nudge”, never coercion, can encourage a shift in behaviour that brings benefit to the individual.
  • It’s common for individuals to feel anger towards their employer, particularly in the early stage of the transition. This anger often shows in a reluctance, often outright refusal, to engage with anything that is deemed to be from the employer. A call from an independent third-party professional can help the employee access the support they need regardless of their feelings towards the employer. 
  • Many people have little knowledge of what outplacement support is or how it can help, or they hold inaccurate assumptions about it, so they incorrectly think they cannot benefit from accessing their programme. Many for example do not realise that outplacement programmes can help with things like starting a new business, actively retiring and personal branding in addition to all the resources, tools and connections to prepare and complete a successful job search.
  • Many people, particularly if they haven’t looked for a new job for some time, do not realise how fast the job search landscape has changed. They don’t know the extent to which an outplacement programme can help them land a new job more quickly than if they go it alone by equipping them to optimise their social media profile, create a CV that gets recognised by ATS and other AI-based CV crawlers and directly connecting them to hiring managers looking for people with their skill set. 

We need a candidate’s contact details so that we can actively engage with them. Many organisations are concerned about providing this information while also ensuring they comply with data privacy requirements. We take our responsibilities for managing candidate’s personal data very seriously and have robust measures in place to protect the information of our candidates and clients and ensure that we meet the requirements of GDPR. In our experience, the vast majority of employees agree to allow their email address or phone number to be shared with an outplacement firm when they realise it could mean landing a new job that much faster. 

Better engagement, better benefits for all

If an organisation has brought outplacement services, they are already aware of the myriad of benefits that offering such a service brings to their employees directly impacted by redundancy, their wider employer population and the organisation. By taking onboard some of the steps outlined above, organisations can help to ensure that as many eligible employees as possible access the service and benefit from the investment made.

Career Transition, Outplacement and Mobility Change Management

Outplacement vs Career Transition Support

Outplacement vs Career Transition Support

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Outplacement vs Career Transition Support

Many people, including providers of these services, use the terms interchangeably. This interchanging of words is partly driven by the negative overtone of the word “outplacement” resulting in a preference to use the more positive term “career transition”, particularly to their employees being offered this kind of support. Career transition suggests a proactive journey to something else whereas outplacement often conjures up images of something being done to an employee on their way “out”.

Perhaps not surprisingly, in a recent poll we conducted amongst HR professionals, when asked about what they would change about outplacement programmes, many said the word “outplacement” was the first thing they would change!

Technically there is a difference between the two terms. Outplacement is used to describe the support given to someone whose role has been made redundant. Typically in these instances, the person whose role has been made redundant looks to secure their next move outside of their existing organisation. In contrast, career transition can have many different drivers. Yes, in some instances it may be redundancy, but for others it may be a need or choice to change direction in their career and may not necessarily result in them leaving the company. For many the difference is subtle which makes the interchangeability of the two words all the more understandable.

Does it really matter?

Is it just semantics? Does the language really matter? At the risk of sounding like a politician, yes and no. If organisations buy outplacement support but it is not fully promoted, understood or taken up by employees because of the negative name association then it means the employees and the organisations are not getting the value they need. That matters. If people are not taking up the career transition support offered because they think it’s only for those definitely leaving the company to secure a new role, then employees and their organisation are not deriving the benefits such programmes can deliver. That matters.

Actions over words

But HR professionals who are all too familiar with the old age HR personnel debate appreciate that terminology is only part of what matters. It’s actions that have a far greater impact than language. Words aside, what matters is HR teams choosing the right kind of career support for their employees and clearly communicating to each and every employee what this support looks like for them, the value it can bring to them personally and how and when they can access their individual programme.

When it comes down to it, employees won’t remember or care whether they were offered a career transition programme or an outplacement programme. What they will remember is they were treated with dignity and respect, and therefore supported in the best way possible. They’re more likely to speak well of you to potential customers and employees, more likely to “boomerang” back to you in the future, more likely to be brand advocates for your organisation and ultimately more likely to secure their next move faster. And that is what matters and makes the difference.

Career Transition, Outplacement and Mobility Change Management

What is Outplacement?

What is Outplacement?

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What is outplacement?

What is outplacement?

Outplacement is a service offered to employees who have lost their job, or will be losing their job through redundancy, to help them move onto the next stage in their career. Whether that means a new role or something entirely different, the service is paid for by employers but delivered by an independent provider who works with the organisation and the employee to smoothly transition people out of the organisation. With services like career coaching, CV writing and interview preparation, you are giving your employees the best possible chance of positively moving forward which helps protect your employer brand and minimise the risk of any negative backlash.

No two redundancies are alike, so you can expect the outplacement support to be tailored to the situation. For example, if it is a very senior executive who is leaving the business, there are support services that are specifically designed for those highly visible transitions that are more complex and take longer than average, like the ICEO service. Or it could be that you are closing a particular office in another part of the country which means there will be a high volume of redundancies over a long period of time and on-site support will be needed to manage the entire process. Whatever the situation, the right outplacement services will be able to cater to your needs, so it is important to consider the best possible support.

Why provide outplacement support?

Redundancy costs can present a heavy, albeit necessary, financial burden. With budgets under pressure and the average time in a role less than five years, organisations may be questioning whether they should add to these redundancy costs by providing outplacement support to affected employees.

Although most business leaders acknowledge that being socially responsible and “doing the right thing” are all valid and noble aims, the rising pressure on budgets means leaders must present a robust commercial business case for all expenditure. The tangible benefits experienced by organisations as a result of offering career transition support are many and varied, resulting in a compelling business case that business leaders ignore at their peril.

1. Improved employee morale, motivation and productivity

Employees remaining with the organisation can be as profoundly impacted as those individuals who lose their jobs. Feelings of insecurity, anxiety and demotivation are all too common and can quickly and negatively impact performance, sickness absence and productivity. Seeing friends and colleagues being let go without adequate support with the knowledge that it could so easily have been them, only adds to the feelings of unease and taints their opinion of the organisation. Employees with these negative emotions and unfavourable views of their employer are unlikely to provide the discretionary effort and collective input organisations need to flourish in these competitive times. In research conducted by the Aberdeen Group, 63% of organisations surveyed cited the desire to improve engagement and retention amongst existing employees as a driver of outplacement initiatives. The same research found that best-in-class companies are 2.5 times more likely to use outplacement services.

Findings by the Centre for Organisational Research (COR) showed that in businesses using outplacement services, both productivity and profitability increased in the 12 months following downsizing, with staff turnover, sick days and lateness remaining the same in the same 12-month period. When comparing businesses using outplacement services with those which did not, productivity increases were twice as common and profit stability or improvement was 50% more likely – evidence that the benefits are tangible, not merely theoretical.

It’s therefore vital that leaders take the following steps to support those who remain:

  • Communicate, communicate and communicate some more. Whether it’s sharing a clear vision of the future, clarifying the new business structure, roles and responsibilities or reconfirming how the change can bring long-term stability and growth, regular, honest and open communication is key. Without this, misinformation will spread and the rumour mill will go into overdrive.
  • Acknowledge and allow for an emotional response. We spend as much, if not more, time at work as we do at home so it’s normal for survivors to experience a range of emotions. Make it OK for people to talk and ask for help if they need it.
  • Offer external support. Whether it’s counselling, an employee assistance programme (EAP) or coaching, leaders can help ensure employees feel supported by making them fully aware of the services available, emphasising that it’s confidential and providing information on how to access the support on offer.
  • Offer employees training on managing change. Giving employees the opportunity to explore and understand the emotions around change and learn tools and strategies for managing themselves and others during periods of change can really help morale and motivation.
  • Provide career development. Post redundancies, employees need to understand their opportunities for future advancement and how their future career goals are aligned with those of the organisations. Without this understanding or belief, survivors may choose to pursue their career elsewhere at a time when you need them the most.

2. Brand and reputation protection

Social media allows people to share their views to thousands in a matter of seconds. Negative experiences relayed to the masses can quickly damage the employer and customer brand. The speed and high impact this can have explains why our research shows that 71% of participants cited improving reputation and protecting the brand as the key driver for procuring outplacement. However, for the same reasons, positive experiences and opinions can also be shared at lightning speed with huge reach. Providing genuinely useful help to employees going through career transition can therefore help to protect and even enhance the organisation’s brand and reputation.

3. Attracting future talent and shortening the time to hire

We are in the midst of a skills shortage and that shortage looks set to grow in coming years. Organisations are finding it harder than ever to recruit skilled workers, with almost three quarters of businesses struggling to make the hires they need. Combine that with the lowest unemployment rate for 44 years and it’s clear why organisations are in fierce competition for scarce talent. Research by Aberdeen Group shows organisations with formal outplacement initiatives are 81% more likely to shorten the time taken to fill key positions. In fact, they’re two and half times more likely as those without outplacement programmes to indicate that this metric improved by 10% or more. Due to the faster rate at filling vacancies, these organisations are nearly 50% more likely to reduce the cost per hire too.

Providing outplacement support helps minimise and avoid legal risk, a key driver cited by 12% of participants in a recent survey of ours. A study by the Centre for Organisational Research found that legal action reduced by 72% amongst employees using outplacement services with their displaced staff. With legal costs running into the tens of thousands per case, reducing the likelihood of legal action by providing career transition support makes sound financial sense.

With such strong evidence of the commercial benefits that offering outplacement support to employees delivers, HR professionals need to question whether their organisation can afford not to provide it to their employees affected by change. Outplacement support only represents a fraction of the overall cost of a redundancy package, yet is arguably the only part that offers a genuine return on investment.

Cash versus outplacement

Cash versus Outplacement

We sometimes get asked by our clients what the best practices are around offering the cash equivalent to outplacement services rather than providing access to the programmes themselves. And whether these recommendations change depending on the profile of the employee eligibility.

In short, we advise that for all employees regardless of seniority or function, the value derived by an outplacement programme is always higher than the cash equivalent, both for the departing employee and their employer. Perhaps you’re thinking that it’s not surprising that a company selling outplacement programmes would advise this, but it’s precisely because we see thousands of people come through our doors when their role has been made redundant and see first-hand the issues they face that we know the cash equivalent is of limited use. Here’s 3 reasons why:

1. Think about the reasons why you offer outplacement support to your employees.

 It may be because you feel it’s the right thing to do. It may be to help protect your corporate and employer brand or to help you attract future talent. It may be to help you manage the employee morale, motivation and productivity of both your “surviving” and departing employees or to reduce the legal risk. Or it may be a combination of some or all of these reasons. Whatever the rationale, these benefits are only derived if the impacted employee is given the support, tools and expertise they need to be able to secure themselves the future that they want, whether that be securing a new role, retraining, retiring or setting up their own business. An employee that takes the short-term appeal of cash is still unemployed and with less tools at their disposal to build the future they want — leaving the organisation at risk of not being able to meet their strategic objectives of supporting employees impacted by change.

2. The importance of speed

We know that people using our outplacement programmes find new jobs on average 65% faster than if they searched on their own. Without this focused support, your employees are likely to be in limbo for longer, increasing the chance of them developing and expressing negative feelings about your organisation.

3. Memory of cash fades as quickly as it is spent.

The job market is changing rapidly. Employees that have been out of job search mode for a while quickly realise how unprepared they are to secure a new role in the world of algorithm-based job boards, applicant tracking systems and immersive assessments. Many struggle to navigate their way through this maze and remain unemployed not through choice long after the cash has gone. At this point, many forget it was their choice not to take up the offer of outplacement support and their anger, blame and frustration towards your company grows and is shared amongst their networks, increasing the damage to your brand.

But it’s not all about reducing risk. There are many positive benefits that organisations gain from offering outplacement support to their employees (see page 19) that cash equivalents simply do not deliver.

Looking at the tangible benefits gained combined with the reduction of the potential risks and it’s clear why best-in-class companies are 2.5 times more likely to use outplacement services and why 71% of UK employers report that they do not offer cash in lieu of outplacement.

Career Transition, Outplacement and Mobility Change Management People Development

Building Skills to Renew an Existing Workforce

Building Skills to Renew an Existing Workforce

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Like many businesses, Microsoft Australia is preparing its workforce with the skills of tomorrow as the company ponders the challenges ahead in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. What is different is the path they are taking to renewing the existing workforce rather than replacing them.

The changes wrought by the coronavirus have included a speeding up of the digital transformation trend, placing demands for new skills on companies in every sector and affecting even a technology giant like Microsoft.

“This is a dramatic escalation of digital transformation and the demand has been significant,” the firm’s local human resources director, Ingrid Jenkins, says.

“Our customers are accelerating their digital transformation. They are looking to us as a partner in bringing that technology acumen and expertise into the conversations. So we have a definite focus around technology skills.”

But rather than hiring in new staff and making redundant those staff whose skills are no longer needed, the company is reskilling and upskilling its existing staff.

The company is boosting its workforce’s skills in cloud technology, data analytics and artificial intelligence, and cyber security – all central elements of a move to increased digitisation.

“What our customers are asking is that depth of technical acumen,” Jenkins says.

But technology “will only get you so far”, and the company is also placing a focus on analytical thinking, problem solving, creativity and consulting skills.

“It’s actually about deeply understanding your customers and industry enough to make that technology relevant,” she says. “Using the power of technology to help customers and industries with their business challenges or opportunities requires our teams to have that deep industry knowledge. So we’ve got a big focus around industry acumen.”

Jenkins says technology is moving so quickly that Microsoft couldn’t keep up simply by hiring new staff with the new skills, even if it wanted to.

Instead, each member of staff has a mandatory learning program designed specifically for their role to help them meet what will be the core requirements of that role for the future.

In addition to the core requirements training, staff have the option of taking on additional training which will help them grow into new roles. The company provides a day a month for workers to dedicate to their learning.

“Our people absolutely appreciate just how much investment there is in their skilling and keeping their skills up-to-date and relevant. They get our industry. They get how quickly things evolve and change and how they have to come up to speed,” Jenkins says.

Ultimately, she says, renewing talent rather than replacing it is a smarter business decision which can help to foster a better team culture overall.

digital transformation

James Mcilvena, the Australian managing director of workforce transformation and development organisation LHH says there simply aren’t enough qualified people in the workforce to meet demand for the skills that will help organisations grow in the future.

“Organisations need these future roles and they’re going to need to grow rather than hire when it comes to these roles,” Mcilvena says.

“It’s a smart investment of their money. If you think about the cost of taking an individual who already has the institutional knowledge from working with your organisation for 10 years, you can actually reskill and retrain that person for a lower cost than paying a redundancy and then a recruitment fee to bring a new person in.”

There are two different but related approaches, he says.

Upskilling is where staff have a significant component of the skills already needed to carry out a future-proofed job and are learning to supplement their existing skills.

“Reskilling is taking a role that might not exist in two years and saying we’re going to set you on a completely new path,” explains Mcilvena. “You might go from being a customer service rep to becoming a data analyst, a complete 180 when it comes to reskilling.”

The first step to equipping a workforce with the skills needed for the company’s future is to get a full understanding of where the company is headed and the challenges it might face, and to consider the roles that might be displaced or affected by the changes, and the new roles that will be created.

Companies then need to assess the staff to target where their investment can be maximised. If someone doesn’t have a head for figures or basic mathematical ability, trying to reskill them into a data analytics role, for instance, would be a waste of time and money.

Secondly, if companies want to get a good return on their investment in retraining, they need to spend the money on staff who are keen and open to learning new skills. Those who want to evolve with the business.

Finally, redeploying talent into the right roles is essential. “There is no point making products you can’t sell, and the same logic applies here,” Mcilvena says. “Once you have invested in your talent, you need to ensure they are placed and supported in the roles that will drive business outcomes and prosperity for the long term. If you don’t get this right, you can’t protect your investment. It takes a dedicated approach, not an internal job board.”

For the company, the financials of getting this right are just responsible business management. This is before considering there is also a pay off in terms of increased employee engagement and a stronger employer brand, says Mcilvena.

“The overwhelming response from employees is the positivity in feeling rather than outcomes being dictated to them they have more control of their own destiny,” he says.

To learn more about developing a renewable workforce, visit https://lhh.com.vn/the-new-roi/

Source: afr.com

Career Transition, Outplacement and Mobility Change Management

Six Steps for Coping With Stress and Anxiety During a Pandemic

Six Steps for Coping with Stress and Anxiety During a Pandemic

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Six Steps for Coping With Stress and Anxiety During a Pandemic

It’s tempting to try and dismiss our feelings especially at a time like this when we’re all trying to cope and stay strong for those around us. But the reality is that stress response are our bodies’ way of protecting us, and early warning signs such as feeling angry or tired can be crucial indicators that we need to intervene before the stress becomes overwhelming. 

Here are six science-based tips to help you maintain your mental wellness during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you’re finding yourself with increased levels of stress and anxiety in the past few weeks as the coronavirus has taken its hold on our world, then you’re not alone. Recent research suggests many people experienced moderate to severe psychological impacts during the initial COVID-19 outbreak in China. This is a very normal response and one we can take some practical steps to manage effectively. It’s important that we do this for a number of reasons. 

First and foremost, managing our stress levels has a significant and positive impact on our immune system and the World Health Organization has emphasized that boosting our immune system and taking adequate preventative care plays a crucial role in fighting the Coronavirus Improving our ability to cope with the situation will therefore also improve our overall well-being and the likelihood of fighting the virus. It’s also likely that this situation will continue and possibly worsen in the weeks to come; it’s important that we put strategies in place to deal with stress now so it doesn’t overwhelm us, and we can continue to be there for our families, our friends and our colleagues. Here are six science-based tips to help you maintain your mental wellness during the COVID-19 pandemic.

1. Know how you’re feeling

The first step to dealing with heightened stress and anxiety is recognizing that you’re dealing with it in the first place. Stress can manifest itself in many ways including sadness, confusion, irritability, procrastination, physical tension and body pain, lack of energy and even problems sleeping. We all have a different stress response, and it’s important to know ourselves and check in with ourselves physically and mentally on a daily basis to know how we’re feeling and to recognize the symptoms of stress. Skipping this step and ignoring how we are feeling impedes our ability to be able to manage our stress.

2. Making sense

It’s tempting to try and dismiss our feelings especially at a time like this when we’re all trying to cope and stay strong for those around us. But the reality is that stress responses are our bodies’ way of protecting us, and early warning signs such as feeling angry or tired can be crucial indicators that we need to intervene before the stress becomes overwhelming. The human body has adapted over many centuries to be able to react and protect itself from external threats such as a global health pandemic, so it’s perfectly normal to experience a stress response at this time. Create a habit of making time for yourself every day to notice this in yourself and make sense of the situation in order to avoid overlooking your stress.

3. Small changes, big impacts

The good news with dealing with the early signs of stress is that often small changes to our daily routine can often make a big difference. These daily rituals and routines will differ for everyone and will depend on your typical stress response. For example, if you typically experience stress in a physical way such as feeling tired or tense in your body you may decide to go to bed 30 minutes earlier than usual or take time for a relaxing bath.

4. Avoid the common thinking traps

An important element to building these strategies it to recognize what you can control and release the need to control what you cannot. There are practical things we can all do in the current situation to protect ourselves and our loved ones. This includes good personal hygiene and practicing social distancing, but there is also a lot we have no control over. It sounds simple; but ruminating on these things won’t help. So take a moment to acknowledge those things, and then let them go. Try to be mindful of the many myths that are out there that may be misleading and stopping us from focusing on what is in our control. Avoid catastrophizing and blowing situations out of proportion; or the other common thinking trap which is where we predict a future state that is based on our biggest fears versus the facts of the situation.

5. One small step

Increasing our level of exercise can be one of the easiest and most effective ways of boosting our mental wellness and strengthen our immune system. While it may not be possible to get outside and go for a brisk walk, there are lots of routines we can do in our own homes to help get us moving. And, even better if you can have a family member or friend join you either in person or virtually.

6. The human connection

While we all practice social distancing, it’s important not to overlook the need for human connection at this time. A more useful way to think about it could be physical distancing so that we don’t neglect the need for social connection with our friends and family – as this is another important building block in combating stress. Checking in with others through a phone call or video chat can also serve a dual purpose as it could be that the other person may also be in need of a friendly human connection. 

Now more than ever, we must prioritize our individual health – and that includes our mental well-being. Leverage these six tips to recognize your feelings and maintain your overall mental health as we navigate COVID-19 together.

These tips are designed to be educational in nature and in no way a substitute for professional clinical support. If you notice that your signs are difficult to manage, please consider seeking professional help.

Source: lhh.com

Career Transition, Outplacement and Mobility People Development

How to Emphasize Soft Skills in Your Personal Branding

How to Emphasize Soft Skills in Your Personal Branding

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How to Emphasize Soft Skills in Your Personal Branding

Those who have strong soft skills are usually great listeners, persuaders, and collaborators. They make the workplace easier for others.

For decades, there’s been a strong emphasis on technical or hard skills in the workplace. Hiring managers picked people based predominantly on their work experience or training. 

However, employers have realized that work experience alone isn’t enough to create a productive and engaging workplace.

“People get hired because of their hard skills but get fired because of their [lack of] soft skills,” said Irish management consultant Bruce Tulgan.

This situation forced employers to reconsider what they look for when hiring. Now, they’re not just looking for hard skills. They’re demanding soft skills like never before.

The Rising Demand for Soft Skills

Today, soft skills are needed more than ever. Soft skills are interpersonal or people skills. Those who have it are usually great listeners, persuaders, and collaborators. They make the workplace easier for others.

Employers are searching everywhere to hire these people, but they’re not having a lot of success.

In 2015, The Wall Street Journal surveyed 900 executives and discovered that 92% of them thought soft skills were just as or more important than hard skills. However, 89% of them had trouble hiring people who had these skills. 

The next year, LinkedIn surveyed 281 hiring managers. About 58% of the managers said that the lack of soft skills in job candidates had limited their company’s productivity.

LinkedIn discovered that these were the skills managers were looking for:

  • The ability to communicate
  • Organization
  • Capacity for teamwork
  • Punctuality
  • Critical thinking
  • Social savvy
  • Creativity
  • Adaptability

If you excel at any of the skills listed above, pat yourself on the back because you’re a unicorn. Not only are you great at completing tasks, you know how to be a team player.

Someone like you is in high-demand. You should take advantage of your scarcity by emphasizing it in your personal branding. 

When you’re known for your soft skills, you have to worry less about chasing after employers because they’ll start coming to you.

How to Show Off Your Soft Skills in Your Personal Branding

Use your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile to show that you have great soft skills. Write compelling examples of behaviors and results that quantify your intangible skills.

Too often, soft skills are awkwardly woven into a job seeker’s summary (“Multi-tasking team player who consistently demonstrates adaptability, leadership, open-mindedness, and positivity”) and then it’s left for the reader to determine the validity of the claims.

Beneath each job listing, include bullets that illustrate your accomplishments (three to six bullets for your most recent job; one to three for older positions). 

Use the SOAR model (situation, obstacle, action, and results) to tell the story concisely and completely. For example, if you’ve said you’re “adaptable,” include an event where you spearheaded change or successfully adapted to a new process or format.

Instead of merely saying you’re a “team player,” include an example of a time when you relied on your interpersonal and communication skills to gain consensus.

Overused, worn-out words tend to become meaningless, leaving you undifferentiated from everyone else vying for a position. Soft skills can give you a competitive advantage, but it’s up to you to make the intangible tangible.


The demand for soft skills is high but the supply is low. If you’re great at working with others and making them feel at ease, you should express this to potential employers.

You can do this by crafting your unique knowledge and experience into your personal branding. Highlight in your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile the soft skills you demonstrate effectively and consistently in your role.

However, remember to give qualitative examples. Vague terms will only confuse employers. Use numbers, time, percentages, and detailed examples to show that you can drive results.

Soft skills are your competitive advantage. Be proud of them!

Source: lhh.com

Career Transition, Outplacement and Mobility Change Management

5 Tips for Remote Networking

5 Tips for Remote Networking

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5 Tips for Remote Networking

COVID-19 and the shift to remote work (and remote life) has caused professional networking to become completely virtual. Here are our top five tips for successful networking while remote.

1. Make a list of people in your network

Your network is likely much larger than you think it is! Make a list of former colleagues, classmates, teammates, friends of friends, etc. that you think it would be beneficial to reach out to – whether it’s their experience, their role, or the company they work for that appeals to you. Since most people are working remotely and don’t have a ton of extracurriculars going on, now is the perfect time to re-connect.

2. Utilize LinkedIn

Once you have your list, head to LinkedIn. As you may already know, LinkedIn is a great resource for professional networking. However, before you begin your outreach, make sure your LinkedIn profile presents the best version of yourself. We recommend double checking the following: an updated professional photo, your current (or most recent) job title, an accurate and up to date job history, and relevant skills. Additionally, don’t forget to fill out the summary section at the top of your profile with a brief bio about yourself.

When sending out invitations to expand your network, always include a personalized message. This intro message should be short and sweet, and if you are connecting with a 2nd or 3rd connection, make sure to reference the mutual connection you share.

3. Join online networking groups

Now is also a great time to consider joining online networking groups. Start by looking for alumni, industry, or interest groups on LinkedIn or Facebook, or even just doing a Google search. Aside from social media platforms, there are now virtual networking opportunities on sites like MeetUp, where once in-person events have now transitioned to virtual. Outside of official groups, you can also make professional connections by participating in online forums or chats; think about Reddit, StackOverflow, or other sites specific to your industry. Lastly, industry publications and podcasts often have a dedicated space for their community to connect via LinkedIn groups or Slack/Discord channels.

4. Participate in online classes

Taking a remote class is not only beneficial for upskilling and advancing your career, but can also be a great tool for networking. For example, when you take a class through a program like General Assembly, you will be invited to a Slack channel with your classmates and teacher to ask questions and participate in group discussions. Once the class is over, don’t forget about the relationships you made – connect with the people you “virtually” met in class. Just like that, you’ve added another layer to your network filled with people that have similar interests as you!

5. Schedule virtual coffee chats

Just because most of us are now working and living remotely, it doesn’t mean you can’t meet (virtually) for coffee! Invite your connection to a video call where you both chat over a cup of coffee or tea. This is a thoughtful and low-stress way to catch up with an old colleague or meet a new connection. These virtual coffee chats are a great way to bring familiar comfort to this new remote way of meeting with people.

Whether remote or in-person, professional networking is about building and maintaining relationships over time. Be proactive and don’t wait until you need to find a new job to start networking. Use this time of wide-spread remote work and remote life to make meaningful connections that will last throughout your career.

Source: vettery.com

Assessments & Analytics Career Transition, Outplacement and Mobility Change Management People Development

Reinventing Today’s Workforce: Welcome to the Skills Economy

Reinventing Today’s Workforce: Welcome to the Skills Economy

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Reinventing Today’s Workforce Welcome to the Skills Economy

“We are definitely seeing that the knowledge economy is becoming the skills economy,” said Michael Priddis, CEO of Faethm, who shares the opportunities for companies that adopt a data-enabled and human-first approach to workforce transformation, in response to automation, COVID and recession, to rapidly upskill and reskill their workforces to transition to the jobs of tomorrow.

Ranjit de Sousa, President, LHH

After several years of diving deep into the future workforce needs of successful companies, Mike Priddis, CEO of Faethm, has come to a bold conclusion.

The “knowledge economy” is dead. Long live the “skills economy.”

“We are definitely seeing that the knowledge economy is becoming the skills economy,” said Priddis, whose company uses AI to predict the impact of forces such as automation, robotics, and the pandemic on current and future jobs. 

“Today, knowledge and access to knowledge is easy. Google is on any device we’ve got. Applying that knowledge is different. We are entering a period where learning skills will be critical.”

Priddis said many business organizations are struggling to embrace this rapid transition from knowledge to skills-based economies. That is, he said, due in part to the fact that economic disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the pace and magnitude of all forms of transformation.

Priddis calls this “the slingshot to 2023” what once used to take years to design, plan and put into action must now be brought to fruition in a matter of months.

“Prior to January of this year, most organizations were preparing for a transformation of some sort. Now, the pace of transformation has accelerated at an alarming pace to ensure that companies survive. We call that the slingshot effect.”

Unfortunately, Priddis said, current approaches to education and workforce management do not match up well with the slingshot phenomenon. Most post-secondary institutions still focus heavily on traditional approaches to education, where knowledge is acquired over a period of years in an academic vacuum but never applied in the real world. Employers, meanwhile, remain wedded to buying talent or hiring people with new skills, rather than reskilling existing workers to meet new business demands.

“The best boss I ever had said ‘the half-life of learning is 30 minutes unless you get to apply it,’” Priddis said. “What that implies is that we need to have action-based learning, taking place in context. We need to be giving people not just the information but a chance for people to practice that skill.”

If you apply those principles in a real-world example—like a company forced to transform to address the impact of a global pandemic—the emphasis very quickly shifts to identifying those jobs that are vulnerable to automation, or cannot be performed effectively in a remote environment and those that have longer-term future viability.

Priddis said Faethm works with clients to analyze the impact of external trends on current workforces and the skills required to be future-ready. This analysis is predictive, he said, identifying portions of jobs that might be replaced by technology (automation), jobs that might evolve with technology (augmentation) and the new and emerging jobs that will need to be filled to support deployment of these technologies (addition).

This analysis should help companies to not only meet future skills needs but identify people within an existing workforce that can transition from vulnerable to emerging roles.

“Our biggest contribution has been to show companies that the people they are going to need in the future, they already have,” Priddis said. “It’s a pretty simple equation. It’s cheaper to retrain and redeploy than to make redundant and rehire.”

Even though almost everyone wants to take a “humanistic approach,” where the well-being of individual employees is not sacrificed to a bottom-line objective, not every organization can see the value in retraining and redeploying, Priddis said.

“We all want to do right by people,” Priddis said. “But most companies also know that it’s the lens of dollars and cents that drives decisions at the executive table. The problem is that if everybody sheds staff, they don’t need with no thought about what they’re going to do next, it creates chaos.”

Thankfully, Priddis said an increasing number of companies are starting to see that the humanistic approach may also be the most cost-effective approach.

That was certainly the experience with one Faethm client who was facing a pressing need to reduce its workforce of accountants. Few jobs have been more impacted than accountancy, Priddis said, which involves a range of skills that are easily performed by AI applications. However, a predictive analysis of other remaining and emerging jobs within the same organization revealed opportunities for the accountants to be retrained.

Specifically, Faethm was able to determine that an accountant’s skill set was very similar to that of a cyber security analyst—a high-demand job in organizations all over the world. 

“The only gap we could see was the specific cyber-security knowledge and that was a trainable gap,” Priddis said. “It didn’t make any sense for this company to shed their accounting staff, spending all that money on redundancy and then hiring new cyber security people. They could teach those accountants to be cyber analysts.”

Priddis said predictive analysis can function as a data-driven “GPS” that can help employers anticipate future workforce scenarios and inform decision making.

That means organizations need to acquire the capacity to transform their workforces in a more rapid and agile fashion as new and potentially seismic technologies arrive.

“It always struck me as slightly ambitious and perhaps slightly naïve to think that we are in a position to determine exactly where we’re transitioning to,” Priddis said. “I think most organizations, rather than trying to figure out where they are going, should be building capabilities to continuously experience these sorts of changes. The ability to change, and to have a dynamic workforce that can adjust as the context changes, is probably the single biggest muscle that organizations need to build.”

Source: lhh.com

Career Transition, Outplacement and Mobility Change Management Organizational Development People Development

Top Four Takeaways to Advance the Convergence of Learning and Work

Top Four Takeaways to Advance the Convergence of Learning and Work

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Top Four Takeaways to Advance the Convergence of Learning and Work

It’s time to change the way we think and deploy learning. We need this shift in thinking not only to meet future skills needs, but also to start mining the maximum value possible from human capital, the real engine of growth and success.

Ranjit de Sousa

If you listen closely, you can hear the sound of the future of work colliding head-on with the future of learning.

This is a collision that has been building for a long, long time. However, the convergence of a number of powerful forces—artificial intelligence, the global skills shortage, the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise of the contingent workforce—have put a new edge on the debate about how best to prepare ourselves for the future of work. 

Increasingly now, we are realizing that our future capacity to build, create and problem solve—the foundational tasks that help drive vibrant economies and create fulfilling jobs—is fully and completely determined by our ability to provide learning opportunities that are fully aligned with the human jobs of the future. While some of us are just waking up to this reality, others such as the World Economic Forum, have been predicting this for years.

“The current moment provides an opportunity for leaders in business, government, and public policy to focus common efforts on improving the access and delivery of reskilling and upskilling, motivating redeployment and reemployment, as well as signalling the market value of learning that can be delivered through education technology at scale,” according to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2020

Those are lofty goals that many of us in the human capital industry have been advocating for some years now. And there has been some progress. However, because of the massive corporate and technology transformation ushered in by COVID-19, there is urgency to address the lack of overall progress we have made in preparing workers around the world for the future of work. Even when individual nations or companies show us the way with innovative solutions, far too many of us lag behind unsure of what to do and when to do it. 

As the WEF report put it, a marriage between learning and work will require “a holistic approach” that must involve “multi-stakeholder collaboration between companies looking to support their workforce; governments willing to fund reskilling and the localization of mid-career education programmes; professional services firms and technology firms that can map potential job transitions or provide reskilling services; labour unions aware of the impact of those transitions on the well-being of workers; and community organizations that can give visibility to the efficacy of new legislation and provide early feedback on its design.”

This is a steep hill that we must climb. And we’re only going to reach the top if we start to reconsider some of the oldest, deeply seeded assumptions about the relationship between learning and work.

Towards an on-demand world of learning

The Higher Colleges of Technology, the largest institution of applied learning in the United Arab Emirates, did not wait for a global pandemic to start changing its approach to education. For several years now, HCT has been preparing to reimagine itself as a virtual institution. To minimize risk during the pandemic, HCT moved quickly to ramp up its plans to deliver learning remotely and took all of its courses online in March 2020.

However, HCT is doing a lot more than just taking traditional, in-person learning and moving it online; the school has adopted an on-demand model for delivering education that allows students to pursue training in specific job-oriented skills as opposed to a standard, years-long journey to a degree. Now, students can enroll and learn from anywhere and build an education plan that is less about acquiring academic credentials and more about meeting the real-world needs of a specific job.

HCT is not just an advocate of a new approach to learning; it is also practicing what it preaches. HCT now offers one of the world’s first “e-Teacher” programs, training a new generation of instructors who will have specific expertise in virtual instruction and the use of leading-edge digital learning tools. 

If we learn anything from the HCT story, it should be how this school willingly challenged all our preconceived notions about what relevant education looks like in a modern context, and how we structure learning to bridge the gap between education and occupation. 

Increasingly, employers are beginning to challenge their own notions of what skilled really means. Higher education, with its lofty price tags and years of commitment is still a valuable commodity. But employers are focusing less on academic credentials and more on things like “relevant experience.” At the same time, more and more countries are starting to invest heavily in apprenticeship programs where learning and working are perfectly married.

Re-inventing the sequence of learning and work

Everyone used to know the path to a great job: work hard in secondary school to qualify for a top post-secondary program; work hard at college or university and get a degree; use the degree to secure a good and lasting job. If we’ve learned anything during this most trying year, and in recent years, it is that this sequence is no longer viable.

Heather E. McGowan, a future-of-work strategist, recently released a book called The Adaptation Advantage, in which she argues that the “learn-to-work” pathway has been replaced with a “work-learn-work-learn-work-learn” journey. A few years ago, McGowan coined a phrase that I believe all employers should etch into their human capital strategies: “Learning is the new pension.”

On that basis, we at LHH have been encouraging leaders in learning & development and human resources to start changing the way we think and deploy learning. We desperately need this shift in thinking not only to meet future skills needs, but also to start mining the maximum value possible from human capital, the real engine of growth and success. Here are our top four takeaways to advance the convergence of learning and work:

1. Learning needs to become foundational

Employers should incorporate learning as a core element in our contracts with employees. For too long, we have focused on the individual’s obligations to the employer: engagement, productivity, creativity, loyalty. In our current context, we now know that employers must reward these commitments with our own commitment to life-long learning opportunities so that strategies like coaching, reskilling and redeployment become principal tools for managing workforces.

2. Learning needs to become more flexible, more purposeful

Old and outdated approaches to learning at work must be eliminated and replaced with new, digitally powered and on-demand education that uses the best online tools and learning strategies, and provides the best consumer-grade user experience. We have the power now to put learning literally in the palms of our hands through mobile apps and smartphones. This means we can also organize learning to be part of the workday, or outside working hours, whichever is preferable for the individual. And it needs to keenly focus on both the employers’ future skill needs, and the individual’s future career goals.

3. Leaders will need to become coaches, mentors and teachers

A key leadership function today is the ability to coach employees to develop their own abilities and become the best they can be. But effective coaching is an acquired skill. Companies should invest in leaders to build coaching capabilities that drive employee performance, including building new competencies for conducting expert coaching conversations related to performance, development and careers.

4. Learning must be viewed as an investment, not a cost

Generally accepted accounting principles require organizations to categorize investments in reskilling or retraining as costs and not investments. Many forward-thinking advocates, however, have been arguing for new accounting models that allow employers to re-categorize these expenses as investments, just the same as the purchase of a new building or a new machine. The Adecco Group has led internationally on this topic, publishing numerous white papers calling for a modernization of accounting rules so that learning is fully reclassified as an investment. This could spark a new generation of investment in learning that could future-proof our workforces.

During the pandemic, as we’re all struggling to meet a tidal wave of new challenges, we risk losing sight of the opportunities that come with change. Now is perhaps our greatest opportunity to re-imagine our approach to learning so that it is part of the basic contract between employer and employee. Those organizations that accept the challenge and seize the moment will find they have unleashed a future full of potential and success.

Source: lhh.com

Career Transition, Outplacement and Mobility Change Management Coaching People Development

Living Your Best Life: 4 Key Lessons that Will Advance Your Career

Living Your Best Life: 4 Key Lessons that Will Advance Your Career

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Living Your Best Life 4 Key Lessons that Will Advance Your Career

If you want to be the CEO of a Fortune 100 company, then your career path needs to be much more deliberate

Caroline Pfeiffer Marinho

After three years away from the corporate world, Shanthi Flynn knew she was ready to take a step forward in her career.

A former top executive at some of the world’s largest and most iconic companies—including Ford Motor Co., The Boots Company and A.S. Watson Group—Flynn had taken three years off to focus on her family. It wasn’t clear when or even if she would return to the corporate world.

And then one day, she uttered seven words that would ultimately serve as a turning point in the evolution of her professional career.

“My older daughter, who was three at the time, kept biting her younger sister on the face,” Flynn said recently in an LHH Conversations Series live-stream event. “I found myself saying, ‘Stop biting your sister on the face’ repeatedly. It’s not something that I ever thought I’d be saying.”

The desire to return to the corporate world was getting quite strong. However, Flynn conceded that it wasn’t clear she could return to a senior job with a large corporation, something that she very much still wanted. “When I took my career break out, it tested my value proposition,” she said.

“I thought, ‘I’ve got three kids now, it’s hard to step back into a separate world.’ I had been used to making fast decisions and I was confident. Being out of the game for three years created doubt in my ability to return. My confidence had a dent for the first time in my career.”

Unexpectedly, a headhunter contacted her about a high-level job with Walmart Asia and—within months—she was back on her career track once again. “I’m a strong believer that if you make the right choices, you’re competent in what you do and can tell your story in a compelling way, then it won’t matter if you take time out to do different things.”

Flynn would go on to work five years for Walmart before striking out on her own as a strategic leadership consultant. In early 2016, she accepted the position of chief human resource officer with the Adecco Group in Zurich. Two years ago, she went back to her own consulting practice, with a focus on keynote speaking and advising executives and boards, leveraging her deep and broad HR expertise as well as business leadership.

Through her varied, three-decade career as an HR executive and business leader, Flynn said she learned many important lessons about how to manage a career, how to thrive as a woman in what is still largely a man’s world of business and, last but not least, how a well-structured network is your best lifeline at key career inflection points.

How women can thrive without giving into the temptation to ‘act more like a man’

Flynn started her career at the Ford Motor Company plant in Dagenham, a suburb of East London and a seminal monument in the history of United Kingdom labor law. It was there, in 1968, that 187 female Ford employees walked off the job for three weeks. The strike was a catalyst for the 1970 Equal Pay Act which attempted to prohibit the inequitable treatment between working men and women.

“My choice to join Ford Motor Company in the UK was probably my most foundational choice,” Flynn said. “I spent nearly 10 years there; my first three years were in a car plant where there were probably about 30 women and about 10,000 men. So, as you can imagine, it was a pretty male-dominated environment.”

Although the atmosphere was generally tough for the women working there, Ford was a “truly global company that invested heavily in its people.” Flynn was able to move very quickly through several jobs, which not only built out her resumé but “helped me build my confidence.”

The lessons acquired from being one of the few women in a male-dominated company still resonate today. “As a woman, you can be tough and decisive,” she said. “Those are not male attributes. You just have to be yourself. If you try to copy all the men in the room, you’re not bringing anything different to the table.”

If you learn anything in your career, learn to be opportunistic

Flynn said that even with all the best laid plans, no one can completely predict the course of their careers. Especially today, when so few people spend their entire working lives with one organization. The trick for those people who want to get ahead is to focus keenly on what kind of job they ultimately want to hold, and then look for those opportunities to realize that dream.

That will mean using a broad interpretation of “opportunity.” Don’t get hung up on obtaining a particular title, or on the idea that every move you make needs to be upward. Try to assess the potential in every opportunity, no matter how unlikely it may seem at the time.

“If you want to be the CEO of a Fortune 100 company, then your career path needs to be much more deliberate,” Flynn said. “You need to know all of the steps you have to take on that journey. Look for those opportunistic moments that allow you to make a different decision or take a different course.”

No matter where you go or what you do, keep building your network

When Flynn first went to Hong Kong in 2002—she followed her husband who had received a teaching position—she admitted to having a huge gap in her career network. Back in the UK, Flynn said she had developed an extensive, high-level network of contacts who both sought and offered support.

In Hong Kong, however, it was like starting over. “I had absolutely no network in Hong Kong,” she said. “So, I went to a headhunter and said, ‘I’m not looking for a job, but I would like to know who are the best networkers in Hong Kong in my space. Ultimately, the headhunter helped connect me to a network with nearly 200 people.”

After developing a new network, Flynn said she set about applying best practices to allow her to get the most out of the people she was meeting. At the top of that list was to not rely solely on connections made through social media. 

“LinkedIn is a blessing and a curse,” she said. “With social media, sometimes you can be in contact with people and not really in contact with people. You have to meet people and have a tangible conversation to develop a network connection. Go for a coffee or try to have a phone or video call, to build presence.”

After building presence, it is important to also remember to be deliberate in what you want from your network. “Before you reach out to your network, you have to have an idea of what it is you want from them in terms of advice or even sponsorship. ‘I’d like to work for the company you work for, how do I do that?’ You have to have some questions that you need answered.”

The best advice I’ve ever received

Flynn said that one of the best parts of cultivating a solid professional network is that you are exposed to some truly sage advice. Of all the things she has been told over the years, Flynn said advice on being “bold and fearless” stands out.

“Sometimes, people overthink things. You have to think through your career decisions carefully but there’s always an element of leap, where you cannot know everything, you cannot gather all the facts.”

Now having moved from an operational role into an advisory and consulting role, Flynn said she still tries to practice a bold and fearless approach to her life and career. She will never stop learning new skills or challenging herself. Her focus, as always, is to help others grow.

“I don’t think I would change anything about my career,” she said. “I very rarely ever look back. Learn from the past and always look forward.”

Source: lhh.com

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