It Seems We’re Always Short Staffed – What the heck can I do now? (Part 3)

Over the past two weeks, we’ve been discussing one of the remnants of the Covid Pandemic – that many businesses are in need of more people to operate at full capacity.  While the reasons for this new phenomenon are varied, we believe the answer is doing three things right:  

  • Sourcing – finding the best people to fill the open positions in your company is the first step we explored.
  • On-boarding – starting new employees in a way that builds job satisfaction and loyalty was discussed last week.
  • Retaining – today we’ll discuss ways to keep and retain the good employees you have on staff and the new employees you intend to hire.

Retention is more than a checklist of things to do – it’s part of your culture.  Retaining good talent has to become part of your company’s DNA in order to be successful.  It all starts with a culture of valuing individuals for their unique talents and abilities and showing that in how you communicate and, most importantly, in how you make decisions.  Nothing will sabotage your retention efforts faster than saying one thing and behaving in a way that is inconsistent with that message.  While a great retention plan has many components, here are three ideas for retaining the talent that already exists within your organization and reducing turnover:

  1. Listen, Learn, Act – Use employee surveys to find out what is working and what isn’t.  Share the results and learn from the surveys through open discussion and dialog.  Then, make appropriate changes and ACT.

    Formal employee surveys are extremely valuable but shouldn’t be the only way to gauge employee satisfaction.  This is an ongoing process and should be done with regular interactions.  Look for signs of decreased employee morale such as:

    • Tardiness – Employees who are engaged show up on time.  If someone starts to be tardy or absent regularly, have a discussion not just about the repercussions, but learn why their attendance has changed. 
    • Errors or reduction in productivity are other signs of decreased employee morale.  And, this could be the cause of lack of training.  You need to find out why accuracy is suffering by having an honest conversation.  First aim to understand the reasons, then make plans together to improve their work. 
    • There are certain things that employees don’t often share with their managers.  Read our blog about 3 tips employees want to tell their managers, but don’t to make sure you and your team are having honest conversations.
  1. Recognition Matters – Defined recognition programs are a great way to start.  Informal (and frequent!) recognition matters too.  Thank you notes, publicly praising an individual’s work or production, and just saying “thank you” help to build recognition into your company’s culture.  For more ideas on employee recognition, read our blog about the recognition everyone wants but few receive. 
  2. Regular Reviews – In order to help build purpose and meaning into a job for your employees, schedule regular reviews of their work.  Sure, annual reviews for salary adjustments are good but a much more frequent and planned approach to reviewing employee performance is key.  An added benefit – when you are frequently reviewing employee performance (and asking for ideas on how the company can improve!) will surface any employee concerns well before they can fester and become a larger issue. 

Curing the current employee shortage isn’t easy.  The key to doing so lies in sourcing the best candidates, thoughtfully on-boarding new employees, and then establishing a culture that helps to retain them long-term.  We would love to hear any thoughts or suggestions you’d like to share with us – it’s easy to do by reaching us through our Contact Us page. 

We are Always Short Staffed – What the heck can I do about it? (Part 2)

Last week we began a series on one of the remnants of the Covid Pandemic.  The fact that it seems just about every business is in need of more people to operate at full capacity.  While the reasons given for this new phenomenon are varied, we believe the answer to this issue is doing three things right:  

  • Sourcing – which we explored last week.
  • On-boarding – today we’ll dig into starting new employees in a way that builds job satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Retaining – next week we’ll look at keeping the good employees you have today, and the new employees you intend to hire.

The saying goes “you never get a second chance to make a good first impression” and nothing could be truer for the new employees first few days on the job with your company.  Studies show that effective on-boarding programs can improve retention by 82% and that most employee’s decisions to stay with a company long-term are made within the first six months of employment.  Employees have a variety of competing emotions when they start a new job.  Nervousness, excitement, intrigue, maybe even fear.  The best employers recognize this and, as the famous song goes; “You’ve got to accentuate the positive.  Eliminate the negative.  Latch on to the affirmative.  Don’t mess with Mister In-Between.”  To that end, here are three ideas for maximizing your on-boarding programs:

  1. On-boarding starts before day 1 – You found a great candidate and offered them a position.  Now you need to make sure they don’t change their mind before they even start.  This is your opportunity to both ensure they start and get them excited about working for you. 

    Communicate after the initial offer and acceptance.  Prepare a list of frequently asked questions and ask if they have any other questions.  Let them know that you are looking forward to working with them and are preparing for their first day.  Share an overview of what they can expect on the first day.  And, of course, be clear about where and when they should show up.

    And make sure you are preparing properly.  Do you have a check list for this with things such as computer set up, time cards, or name tags?  Be prepared so day one goes well.
  1. Day 1 – According to an article from Employee Connect the first impression is made in seven seconds.  The article offers a simple checklist that works for most situations.  Of course, adjust to make it work for your company.
    • Have the workstation ready with username and passwords ready to be created. Have some simple items like paper and pens for them to use.
    • Plan the right amount of time for the first week.  Prepare appropriate assignments beforehand so they are not overwhelmed and not being idle. 
    • Get the team onboard by introducing the new employee to the team and giving them time to talk and get to know each other.  Possibly have a team lunch.  You may want to assign another team member to be their mentor and go-to person when you aren’t available. 
    • Check in often!  You are probably busy doing your “real” job but making the time to check in on your new hire will make your job easier it the long run. 
  1. Establish and Plan the Learning Path – Plan the training over the appropriate timeframe not throwing everything at them at once – or worse, throwing them into their job with zero training.  Create a schedule of all the training and when they need to have the knowledge to do specific tasks. 

    A simple guide could look like this:
Knowledge neededDate when knowledge
is needed
Available trainingDate to
provide training
to new hire
How to navigate CRM programTwo weeksOnline training from software systemDate
How to run reports in CRM programBy end of next monthOne-on-one
with Joe Smith

Once you’ve sourced the new candidates for your company, the next step is “making a The employee on-boarding experience is key to retaining new employees and ending the turnover cycle.  Retention programs are the final piece to the staffing puzzle and we’ll cover that in next week’s blog.  We would love to hear any thoughts or suggestions you’d like to share with us – it’s easy to do by reaching us through our Contact Us page. 

We are Always Short Staffed – What the heck can I do about it?

Remnants of the Covid Pandemic.  The Great Resignation.  Reducing hours of operation – or closing altogether on some days – due to short staffing.  Help Wanted signs.  Lucrative signing bonuses.  It seems to be everywhere you turn, just about every business is in need of more people to return their operations to full capacity. 

The reasons given for this new phenomenon are varied.  Changing demographics reduces available workers due to retirement on one end and the exorbitant cost of child care squeezes the other.  Too much government assistance.  Demands for flexible working arrangements.  Nobody wants to work anymore.  The gig economy.  People have a new sense of value on work/life balance.  Organizations aren’t paying a living wage.  Whatever the reason(s), I think the answer can be found in doing three things right:  

  • Sourcing – finding the best available employees for your organization.
  • On-boarding – starting new employees in a way that builds job satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Retaining – keeping the good employees you have today, and the new employees you hire today to stay longer.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll explore all three of the keys to staffing your organization.  Today, we dive into sourcing.  Sourcing new employees is the first step to addressing your staffing issues.  Even before the business shut-downs of the pandemic, employees were looking for more than just a job.  They were looking for a purpose and to be valued for their contribution.  Now, more than ever, they also want flexibility.  So how do you source the best possible candidates to join your organization?  Here are three ideas to optimize your sourcing efforts:

  1. Competitors – steal their good employees!  The labor shortage for other companies can be your gain!  Do your competitors have good employees who are unhappy for some reason?  Why are they dissatisfied?  Finding the answer to those questions can help you, and the currently dissatisfied employees, both win.  Are they unhappy with their non-flexible hours?  Promote your flexibility.  Do they not have the training to do their job well?  “You know who” (i.e., Orgwide) can help you maximize your training – including improving your on-boarding!  Promote the things you do for employees through social media or local news outlets to set yourself apart from your competitors. 
  1. Customers – ask them to refer their friends and relatives.  They already enjoy doing business with you and know that you run a great operation.  Ask them to be part of your recruiting efforts and help some of their friends or family find a great job. 

    Create a “fact sheet” of the reasons employees love working on your team to share with customers. 
  1. Team Member Referrals – often the best source of new employees is your current group of employees.  They are most likely to refer those who will “fit” your organization.  They know that you have great jobs, training and benefits.  And they probably know people who are unhappy with their current situation. 

    Give them talking points to share your company’s stories with their friends and family.  You can even use the same “fact sheet” you created for customers.  And offer referrals bonuses to incentivize your employees to bring others onboard.  Stretch those bonuses out to pay when you hire their referral, when that person reaches 30 days, and a final bonus when the new hire referral reaches 90 days of employment!

Once you’ve sourced the new candidates for your company, the next step is “making a good first impression” through a thoughtful and purposeful on-boarding experience.  We’ll cover that in next week’s blog.  We would love to hear any thoughts or suggestions you’d like to share with us – it’s easy to do by reaching us through our Contact Us page. 

How to Be a Good Manager in a Post-Pandemic Work Environment

For a lot of organizations, one of the biggest challenges stemming from the pandemic is adjusting to long-term work from home (WFH) arrangements alongside, or even displacing, working from the office (WFO). There is a cascade of adjustments that stem from this one difference, affecting virtually every aspect of work.

These challenges are especially concerning for managers, who have to navigate leadership roles in a new era. In order to ensure that team members are performing at their best even under extraordinary circumstances after the pandemic, here are a few tips for managers.

Plan for Equality in Scheduling

Probably the biggest shake-up caused by the WFH setup is what happens to personal and work-related schedules— especially for employees who are parents. In a BBC article, Melinda Gates asks whether gender equality at work will increase in this changing world. Jean-Nicolas Reyt of McGill University cites data that shows remote working mothers are balancing duties better, partly because fathers are taking on more.

Linkedin’s Rosanna Durruthy points out that leaders will need to step up and think about childcare working around the rapidly-disappearing 9-to-5 as it relates to both WFH and WFO. Equity also relates to areas like disability and racial health disparities, and poses challenges for a manager’s schedule, too, so if you want to respond to your team members’ needs, you need to build these into your hybrid plan.

Leadership That Values People

To expand on the previous point, it’s important that leadership be people-centric. Managers with organizational leadership qualifications are better able to blend skills in business and psychology for people-centered leadership. True leadership isn’t about eking the most numbers out of a team, but about prioritizing the value a person can bring to the company.

Prominent businesses with this philosophy include Marriott and Costco, both of which have withstood adversity for decades running against purely data- or shareholder-centric models. From making people-centered company policy decisions, to simply spending time among staff, there’s great value in this approach.

Keeping Employees Engaged

One area to pay attention to in a people-centric approach is engagement. Having engaged employees is part and parcel of creating consistent, quality output. We’ve previously written about how motivation also lowers absenteeism and improves in retention of high quality staff through things like showing appreciation and setting expectations. Creating a positive workplace culture, and therefore outcomes, is a major role that managers play, especially after the pandemic.

Focus On Wellbeing and Health

The pandemic has forced us all to check in with ourselves. Forbes reports that 66% of employees expect to be in a hybrid work style after the pandemic.

One of the biggest challenges of WFH for employees is stress relief. Software can be a double-edged sword from the management side here too: instead of using monitoring software to put pressure on team members, consider what the data says about their patterns and needs. Talking directly to employees using video calls, rather than through just emails or messages, will help put a much-needed human touch on proceedings. Managers can also implement de-stressing practices within the organization that different employees might prefer, such as yoga, meditation or book club.

All in all, solving existing and anticipated issues by centering your team and their relationships, rather than making them points on a graph, is key to a better, healthier, and more productive work culture out of the pandemic.

Written by Ivana Landen

Talking Dogs: Learning and Communication regardless of species

Every kid grows up wanting super powers or special abilities. When I was a kid, I wanted the ability to speak to and understand animals. I just needed to teach my beloved pets how to do it.  Well, my dream may be coming true!  I realized this very learning is (successfully) occurring right before our eyes when I discovered whataboutbunny on TikTok. My first introduction to this learning phenomenon, was a dog having an existential crisis. 

Standing by her vast array of audio buttons on the floor, Bunny the “sheepadoodle” decided to hit the button that says who, followed by the button saying this. She then padded to the mirror on the ground a few steps away, and gave herself a look. Her owner gasps and reiterates what was just said. “Did you just say ‘who this?’ and then look in the mirror?” The owner presses the who and this buttons, and then states, “That’s Bunny,” while hitting the button that says Bunny. Bunny listens, then goes to stare out the windowed door for a few sped up seconds while she processes. Bunny then returns to the board to hit the button that says help.

(Here’s the video, if you’d like to check it out for yourself! Bunny: Bringing you existential content since dogs could talk)

The Story of Two Dogs:  Bunny and Stella

After seeing this, I had to see more, so I did a deep-dive. The TikTok account currently has 7.1 million followers and over 168 million likes and was started by Bunny’s furr-mom, Alexis Devine. Devine was inspired to study speech pathology and how it’s taught to dogs by the first known person to pioneer it, Christina Hunger and her dog Stella. Hunger had been recording their foray into speech education on her Instagram account hunger4words. Hunger’s job requires her to help toddlers with speech and developmental delays communicate using Augmentative and Alternative Communication, or AAC. Alternative means to speech could be writing, drawing, sign language, or in this case, audible buttons that say a word when pressed.  

In the past, the common practice of speech pathologists was to simplify and minimize the words presented to a nonverbal individual via their AAC device. It was believed that too many words might overwhelm the individual, however the opposite effect has been seen. Some AAC experts are starting to give their patients more and more words with which to work, and are seeing just how well the human brain can communicate and understand, despite the lack of speech. These findings make sense with what we already know when it comes to humans’ learning language; babies can understand words and language long before they are able to speak them. This circumstance is presented again later in life when we begin to tackle a second language in school. The brain is quick to understand language, but slow to create it on its own. Or in a dog’s case, it lacks the organs necessary to speak it. 

Hunger realized through her work that if Stella can recognize common (and exciting) words like walk or treat, then why couldn’t she be taught other words using AAC? Her, now over 800,000, followers can see the miraculous discovery she made, including Devine. Devine started studying Hunger’s research so that when she got Bunny in October of 2019, she could start learning how to communicate. Bunny, as of April 2021, knows 92 words and can string together not only coherent sentences, but existential ponderings. Devine has taught Bunny how to utilize nouns like outside, park, and walk, as well as complex nouns such as I, you, this, that, and many more. Devine continues to push Bunny’s learning as far as it will go, providing her new challenges and buttons week after week. In addition to understanding how to use verbs like is, went, and come, this dog knows emotions such as concerned, ouch, and love you. In other TikTok videos, Bunny has asked: Why?, Where Dad?, and even Why Do? when her new puppy sibling chaotically attacks her blanket on the couch.  

With this new method of communication, Bunny has been able to recognize her reflection as herself, and many other aspects about her existence (including her species) that before now, most animals have not been able to comprehend. This progress in the science of learning has provided many insights into the larger capabilities and capacities for learning, even across species! We have so much more to discover about learning itself.

Kelsey Alter

If people can teach dogs how to communicate, what more can you do to help your employees learn new things?  Training and learning are changing every day and Orgwide can help you maximize the advancements.  And who knows— maybe an old dog could teach YOU a new trick. 

Help the Orgwide Ninja Save Christmas

It’s the night before Christmas and all through the land, Santa is in need of a helping hand.
The Ninja has noticed – with shock and with awe – that the gifts in the sleigh have started to fall!

This year, our team created a “game” from Twas the Night Before Christmas as our annual electronic holiday card –
click to Help the Orgwide Ninja Save Christmas and bring joy to young and old.

From the entire Orgwide Family – Happy Holidays!