Article | March 19, 2020
Employee engagement may not be your top focus as a people professional right now, but adopting a few simple approaches to keep employees feeling valued, motivated and cared for will make all the difference in these uncertain times. Over the last few weeks we’ve all faced unprecedented challenges and obstacles, being asked to quickly pull together plans to support our people and to support our businesses in these times of uncertainty. We’re all living day-to-day in the operational world, battling one challenge at a time, waiting for the next one to come our way so that we can again swoop in to help our people and businesses survive.
Article | March 19, 2020
As work was catapulted into the remote mode in early 2020, organizations struggled to keep up and stay afloat. As the nature of the work itself changed in many organizations, we saw some of the best leaders step up and take charge. Dealing with a dynamic workforce is challenging but remote workforce management comes with bigger challenges that cannot be comprehended entirely until one gets into the thick of it. Take a look at this employer’s guide to work from home policy.
A big part of keeping a business afloat is responding to the changes in the market, and COVID-19 was an unprecedented anomaly in the economy that hadn’t been observed by the modern world until now. And while the economy has remained shaky since COVID-19 hit, many businesses have evolved in this period to not only survive but actively make the best of this situation.
Media 7 talked to the experts in various industries to understand how they managed their workforce during this time of crisis and noticed a recurring pattern. Three big aspects of remote workspace management came through these interviews – Leadership, Communication, and Flexibility.
One of the key requirements for remote workforce management in any adverse situation is strong leadership. Without leadership, the team lacks direction and support. Leaders instill confidence within the employees that helps the organization weather the storm. And while COVID-19 has offered a unique set of issues, leadership tactics in such a time of crisis still remain similar.
Thankfully, the world is connected digitally today, so businesses can still function. But with the pandemic, uncertainty has seeped in and employee morale has taken a hit. SharpEnd has been trying to make an effort to address this specific issue in remote workforce management with their leadership team.
“One of the main things our leadership team is focusing on is mastering remote management and leadership. How do you keep the team motivated? How do you make sure everyone is feeling included? What are you doing on a weekly basis to make sure that it’s not just professional, but there are social elements as well? We’re being very respectful of the fact this is a lockdown from the greater world and not just from the office.”
Cameron Worth, CEO & Founder - SharpEnd
One of the key tenets of remote workforce management is relying on your employees. Your employees are the single most important resource of your organization, and they need to be treated in an appropriate manner. For most organizations, working remotely hasn’t even been an issue, but the pandemic has affected the company culture and the social element. LoadSpring has come up with ways to counter just that.
“To LoadSpring our employees are number 1. They are the drivers to our success therefore their safety is our key priority. We have had a work from home policy for years so 100% of our team had the technology to work from home for years. The transition to 100% work from home was easy. What is hard is keeping the culture, our culture, from falling away when people do not have an office space to come to and share. We already had tech, like video conferencing, to keep connected but now we use it more and make people turn on their cameras so we can still see each others' body language which makes people feel more connected. Also we initiated a video conference happy hour for our teams so we can all feel connected in a personal way. This was a game-changer.”
Stacey Witt, Chief Marketing Officer – LoadSpring
When crises like COVID-19 occur, uncertainty and doubt foster feelings of stress and anxiety. In such times, people crave structure, guidance, transparency, and order. This is applicable even in a business environment, especially in the case of remote workforce management. In a landscape scale event such as this, strong communication can offer a direction to your workforce and foster growth. Lane4 Management Group identified the role of communication in times of crisis and stepped up their efforts.
“I’ve always believed that effective communication is key to a successful organization and I’ve managed to maintain this with people in my team during the pandemic. However, this does mean I find myself on Microsoft Teams for a lot of hours during the week. What this situation has made me notice is that operating remotely can still be highly effective given the number of digital tools we have available now. Although I still maintain that nothing beats a face-to-face conversation over a coffee!”
Adrian Moorhouse, Managing Director - Lane4 Management Group
Some organizations have also been able to use this shift in communication channels and leverage it to enhance their remote workforce management through it. ENGAGE is one of the many organizations that has embraced the new normal and made optimum use of the technology to stay in touch.
“The focus of our work and the way we deliver it has had to shift significantly. For example, whereas much of our leadership coaching work used to be delivered in-person at clients’ offices, we are now doing all of our coaching remotely (via Zoom, Teams, WebEx, BlueJeans, etc.). This has been a seamless transition – both for us and for our clients – which opens up new opportunities for the future, even when we return to some form of normal.
Our own internal teamwork has shifted solely onto Microsoft Teams – we have short, 30-minute meetings each morning (“What’s coming up / who needs help?”) and evening (“How’s today been/ how are people feeling?”)
Luckily, the availability of so many collaboration tools, and the agility of both our own team and those of our clients to adopt these, has made the situation much more manageable than we could have predicted.”
Andy Brown, Chief Executive Officer - ENGAGE
As for organizations that lead with technology, the switch has caused no major upheaval. According to Phillipe Guiheneuc of Akio, their teams have seamlessly transitioned to teleworking as they were already equipped with the infrastructure and the experience to undertake effective remote workforce management.
“As an IT company, Akio is well equipped for teleworking - some of the teams were already doing it long before the coronavirus crisis. Because we work in the field of customer relations, we regularly manage sensitive periods with our customers, for instance when they face peak inactivity. The period of lockdown and the lifting of lockdown have therefore not caused any major upheaval in our business. For example, Akio has not had to use the administrative unemployment scheme; on the contrary, we seek at all times to increase the production capacity of the teams.
This is particularly true of the teams of IT developers, because they are organized in Agile mode, a work organization that easily adapts to remote working”
Philippe Guiheneuc is the Marketing Director - Akio
Flexibility is often talked about in respect to work timings and shifts. However, COVID-19 has changed the nature of this discourse and ushered in new aspects to remote workforce management such as location independent work and result-oriented practices. The organizations that have practiced flexibility since before the pandemic have been rewarded with a higher adaptability to crisis and changing cycles. Pricefx is one such organization that has leveraged their flexibility amidst the pandemic to execute sales cycles in a unique manner.
“Pricefx is a flexible work environment. Before the pandemic, we allowed employees to work in their home office or come to our office (whichever they prefer), and flexible working hours to balance work and life. The global pandemic forced us to reduce our global team travel to zero, and to lean in on how to execute virtual sales cycles and implementation cycles in a way we had not before.”
Patrick Moorhead, CMO - Pricefx
Schneider Electric is another organization that benefited from a flexible work policy in terms of remote workforce management. Their Director of Global Procurement Strategy, Sri Gopinath has had to change his global interactions from in-person to virtual meets, but even while working with several time zones, he has managed to stay on top of everything.
“Our people are already used to working in flexible environments; therefore, the pandemic was not a big shock when we were required to work from home if our role permitted us to do so. My role is global, which needed frequent travel prior to the crisis. I have maintained my global scope and interactions while working from home considering that I work with all time zones, which can get quite challenging when we are trying to work together or meet at a mutually convenient time.”
Sri Gopinath, Director of Global Procurement Strategy - Schneider Electric
Remote workforce management is one of the most important skills for business leadership today. Even as the world is slowly working its way out of pandemic-related adversities, it is clear that remote work is here to stay. Now, the onus of adapting is upon businesses and leaders, to step up and offer the right direction, clear communication, and the required flexibility to their employees in order to thrive when working remotely.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a remote workforce?
A remote workforce is a team of people working together virtually from various locations. Remote workforces are efficient and cost effective for an organization.
How do you effectively manage a remote team?
In order to manage a remote team effectively, one needs to have clear and specific communication channels that offer direction as well guidance.
How to manage a remote team?
There are several ways to motivate employees in a remote mode:
Plan virtual activities
Conduct webinars for upskilling
Encourage transparency in communication
Communicate expectations clearly
Article | March 19, 2020
We live in a world where equality, in numerous forms, continues to reside at the forefront of many people’s minds. From gender to race and everything in between, things have certainly improved, but there is still a very long way to go.
Today, there are a mere six female CEOs in the UK FTSE 100, with the average male CEO earning 17% more than the average female CEO. Gender equality has been in the spotlight far longer than other protected characteristics such as race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, age and it continues to remain prominent.
And here, CEO and founder of AssessFirst, the innovative artificial intelligence recruitment firm, David Bernard, asks why, if we are losing the battle for gender equality in the FTSE 100, we should expect to see diversity, equity and inclusion successes across a much wider cross section of the business community.
A race to equality and diversity
The business case for gender, cultural and ethnic diversity is strong, and is only getting stronger.
Since 2015, McKinsey has conducted extensive research and produced compelling reports that demonstrate ironically, whilst the business case for diversity is robust, international progress is weak.
The latest reports show that those pushing ahead with gender diversity are 25% more likely to financially outperform companies in the bottom quartile. What’s more, for ethnic and cultural diversity, the top quartile companies are 36% more likely to be profitable than bottom quartile companies.
The UK (aside from the US) leads the way with gender equality on executive teams. But representation here only grew by 5% between 2014 and 2019. McKinsey's global data set for 2017-2019 shows a mere 1% increase. This pitiful and indeed slowing progress is a problem. We need to do better.
Yes, the UK and the US lead the way with gender diversity, but there is still a long way to go, and neighboring countries need to make quick and impactful changes.
And, let’s not forget, whilst gender equality is of pressing importance, businesses and leaders should ensure that other cases, such as culture and ethnicity, are considered no less important.
A knock-on effect
I see a lack of diversity and equality in workforces as a psychological manifestation of who we are.
We, as are all humans, are programmed to find differences in our perceptions distasteful. We just do not like change - even if we adapt to it in the end - and even 'feedback' on our actions is naturally offensive to us.
So, with that in mind, it is inevitable that we have ended up in a situation where we have an echo chamber of talent that isn't necessarily supported by objective performance data.
The problem manifests itself everywhere; from the executive hires in the world's biggest companies to the latest bartender pulling pints at the local pub.
Conventional hiring and recruitment, such as only using a CV to identify and rank talent, is part of the root cause of bias decision-making (however implicit it may be) because the initial filter sifts candidates based on their upbringing, education, experience, or even appearance.
We are, thankfully, at the start of a movement of change. But this is a problem that is hundreds, or maybe even thousands, of years in the making. We need to unpick that problem with a collaborative and collective effort.
Covid-19 impacted diversity, equality and inclusion progress
There has been a polarization of diversity, equality and inclusion efforts, also known as DE&I, as a fallout of Covid-19, the ongoing pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns.
In the spring of 2020, companies rightly turned their attention to the Covid-19 crisis. Most have continued to do so – either to stay afloat or even gain a competitive advantage – which meant DE&I became more of a focus for some whilst a matter of less significance for others.
Those that deprioritized DE&I - perhaps as a short-term measure to consolidate HR and hiring resources - have weakened their position; whether that is in their ability to retain, recruit, or mobilize their workforce, or even all those stages in the talent lifecycle.
Diverse talent is often most at-risk during times of challenge and hardship, as downsizing can have a disproportionate impact on roles held by those from more diverse backgrounds. And with increased home-working practices, all manner of inequalities can manifest in ways that will hit the bottom line and badly impact minorities.
For example, those who are managing childcare responsibilities during periods of isolation or school closures or those who are living in shared accommodation may be frequently working against the odds in order to keep pace with their peers.
Without a diverse collective of perspective catering to a diverse workforce, these problems can multiply to cripple performance from the ground up.
The acceleration of DE&I
The generational leap of tech-first remote working for so many companies provided an opportunity to build inclusive and agile cultures. Though we may be coming out of the ‘crisis', there remains a golden opportunity – and one that businesses should seize.
Traditional management structures, reinforced by physical office environments, have been fundamentally changed forever - even if we see a hybrid home-office working pattern become the norm from this point onward.
With this revolution, HR departments find themselves in a situation a pathway to achieving diversity and inclusion goals seems more realistic.
Make or break: what’s next?
There is no silver bullet. There is much to consider and even more to do.
But, with a few simple changes, real and meaningful progress is possible. What encourages me is that with all the companies that I speak to, particularly within the UK, there is almost wholesale agreement that this is an important issue - notwithstanding the economic arguments. However, the same cannot be said for all other countries across the globe.
The most common question I receive from those who recognize the criticality of this however is, "But, where do we start?"
And to that, my response is always the same; "What is the data telling you? What is your workforce saying about your DE&I efforts?"
We must know what the scale of the problem is before we can tackle it. Every single company is unique, and the manner of their ideal solution is unique to suit.
Once the problem is identified, I recommend a few ideas that can be considered to start spinning the wheels of change:
1) Get unbiased views of candidate potential (internal and external)
2) Consult with your DE&I team, committee, or lead when publishing job descriptions
3) Implement DE&I training for your workforce
4) Offer remote working opportunities where practical and appropriate
I'm proud that AssessFirst continues to help companies of all shapes and sizes with their DE&I goals through our data-led psychometric technology. We practice what we preach with our own remote workforce and using this technology as part of our own talent lifecycle management. But I recognize that fantastic technology is most effective when it is embedded as a part of a wider reaching strategy.
I have hope for the future, though there is ongoing work to do, and there will be for quite some time. But as the UK economy stirs back to life within what feels like the closing chapters of ‘crisis’, we can also bring the equality gaps to a close with renewed urgency.
Working in partnership with a handful of partners in the UK, we created a Diversity and Inclusion strategy guide.
Article | March 19, 2020
The global business environment is experiencing unprecedented change, and the sudden transition from a full-time working office to remote working has changed almost all businesses and job styles. Hence, HR should develop new capabilities if they want to remain relevant.
If you are a software company selling HR Technology, it may sound like a more significant challenge. However, the idea of selling HR Tech solutions to the C-suite is not easy, but it is not very complicated also. The HR Tech software encompasses various categories, namely HR management suits, recruitment, online interview, workforce management, time & attendance management, performance management, administration benefits, core HR and much more. Once you know the needs and expectations of the C-suite (decision-maker), it's a relatively simple process. C-suite executives love numbers. Generating revenue and profits are the top priority for all leaders.
Heading in the market with a new Human Resource Management Software (HRMS), the C-Level executives will be remaining the key decision-makers of your product or service. This article will help you know what it takes to convince a C-suite that an HRMS will help them with excellent ROI and improves workforce & workplace management.
What C-suites are looking for from HR Tech
Efficient recruitment solutions
HR Tech can be applied throughout the recruitment journey of a candidate. Companies searching for industry-specific candidates can now access a large, diversified and pool of skilled talent who is a perfect fit for the position and the work culture. In addition, companies can now hire the right talent beyond their zip code. Applying artificial intelligence and data science algorithms will better picture the candidates’ skill sets and ability to work under pressure. Advanced technology can send automated/customized emails to job aspirants with information such as – interview schedule, test score, etc., reducing the turnaround time.
The need for succession planning comes into the picture due to retirement, promotion, resignation, or diversification of employees. Systems that integrate recruitment are geared towards better succession planning, which is a long-term strategic concern of the c-suite. According to a survey by Harvard business, 63% of private firms did not have an exigency plan for CEO succession, while 69% of firms with less than $50 million in annual revenues lacked a plan. Such complex situations can be handled by making short-term backup plans, such as having a suitable candidate who can take charge of matters without the CEO. He should be able to objectively evaluate the CEO’s effect and role on the organization. Remember, succession planning and talent management are closely related processes; therefore, there is a need to integrate succession planning with talent management and the hiring process.
For better solutions, a comprehensive hire-to-retire, HR Tech-driven succession planning culture must be rooted within the organization to uplift employee efficiency, encourage retention, ease risk & uncertainty and ensure cost-effectivity.
Predictive analytics comprises several statistical, also known as data mining techniques that study the historical data and its outcomes. These actions then try to derive a formula or algorithm that best mimics these historical findings. This algorithm then uses existing data to predict future outcomes.
How does HR apply predictive analysis? HR possesses a large quantity of people data, usually managed in the Human Resources Information System (HRIS). Applying predictive analytics to the data, HR can become a strategic planner that depends on data-driven and proven predictive models rather than gut feeling. Unfortunately, not all organizations are capable of designing a predictive model for HR. As per Deloitte’s People Analytics Maturity Model 2018, only 17% of businesses globally had accessible and utilized HR data.
Challenges of driving HR Tech decisions
Steps to attract C-suite to buy HR Tech software’s/solutions
“Great salespeople are relationship builders who provide value and help their customers win.”
- Jeffrey Gitomer, American Author, Professional Speaker, and Business Trainer.
Verified client reference
Many C-suite executives are risk-takers, but they do not want to be the early birds regarding Human Resource Management Software (HRMS). They will not adopt a product without studying about a product or knowing its track record of success. As a comparative study, it is always advisable to provide them with references of similar-sized companies or industry, with a relatively similar workforce or work culture.
Ensure a long-term vision and alignment
All C-suite officials are long-term visionaries. They are capable to chart an expectation plan for the company for 10 years or so. A potential HR Tech software/solution should have a roadmap that your C-suites can invest and support. As core strategic planners, they need to know how the HR Tech will help them attain their company vision supporting HR and employee benefits.
Highlight features that match C-suite expectations
Every C-suit executive comes from different background and mindset; therefore, their particular area may vary. For instance, some may be interested in data analytics, while others seek the finest user experience. Therefore, it is advisable to do extensive research and data analysis on what the decision-makers want from your HR Tech software or solution. Then, based on the research, one should plan a meeting that will showcase the decision-makers area of interest.
The bottom-line of investment for almost all the c-suite executives will remain cost-efficiency and getting value for solutions.
Create a proven growth plan
C-level executives find new ways to run a successful organization with fewer resources and deliver the best service to the organization and workforce. Simultaneously, the HR team seeks the finest talent in the industry to hire and retain for a successful endeavouring.
The need and requirements of every organization may vary. For example, having the best-in-class or all-inclusive HR Tech solution or software from daily operational excellence to showcasing some of the most effective talent acquisition tools. As an HR Tech sales executive, your role is to understand the needs and help the decision-makers buy your solution that will offer all the features they were looking for to run a successful organization. Overall, HR Tech is a booming industry with an increased budget, so software development companies are developing trending HR Tech solutions, targeting leaders and C-suite executives have several opportunities to make a lasting impact.
Q. Are HR’s part of the C-suite?
A. The C-suite executives are the CEO, CFO, CIO, and/or COO, while HR is designated D-level or director.
Q. What are the things you must highlight to sell a HR Tech to a C-level executive?
A. 1. Verified client reference
2. Ensure a long-term vision and alignment
3. Highlight features that match C-suite expectations
4. Create a proven growth plan
"name": " Are HR’s part of the C-suite?",
"text": " The C-suite executives are the CEO, CFO, CIO, and/or COO, while HR is designated D-level or director."
"name": " What are the things you must highlight to sell a HR Tech to a C-level executive?",
Verified client reference
Ensure a long-term vision and alignment
Highlight features that match C-suite expectations
Create a proven growth plan"