Q&A with Amber Vanderburg, Founder of The Pathwayz Group

Amber Vanderburg, Founder of The Pathwayz Group, is a multi-award-winning international businessperson, keynote speaker, and founder of The Pathwayz Group. In 2016, she was the only female, only American, and only blonde Academy elite football coach for the Adidas Gameday Academy and Paris Saint Germain Academy in Bangalore, India. She worked with an international team of coaches to transform the organizational design, training development, and corporate culture to cultivate a higher-performing team. Today, Amber works with international teams in action-focused team development training to guide teams to become more effective, more efficient, and more enjoyable.

Digital collaboration tools and work resources are on the rise making it possible for high-performing teams to achieve greatness without ever being in the same place.


MEDIA 7: You’ve received prestigious recognitions such as one of Oklahoma’s 30 Under 30 and Tulsa World’s 40 under 40 leaders. Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself and your career?
AMBER VANDERBURG
: I have been extremely fortunate to have people in my life that have helped to champion my success both professionally and personally and try in earnest to pay forward the support to champion the success of others. I love sports and have worked towards a career in football (soccer) but due to a series of head injuries, my dreams of performing in a contact sport were cut short. This led to a pivot in my career as a ‘Division I’ athlete in track and field (athletics). I  loved performing in elite athletics and working with my team to perform our best.
I earned an undergraduate degree in organizational communications and a graduate degree in organizational dynamics which specialized in team development and leadership. I was able to use these skills and knowledge to work in corporate human resources in the United States - building and leading teams to better performance. In 2016, I left corporate America to work with elite sports teams and athletes internationally. This remarkable cross-cultural opportunity was another way to challenge teams to improve - to raise the standard of performance.

When I returned to the United States, I started working as an HR Director for a leadership development company and traveled across the country meeting with people from all walks of life - facilitating the learning of critical team and leadership skills. Around the same time, I started traveling around the world meeting and challenging teams in organizations to improve their performance through innovative training programs. I built action-focused, gamified, and engaging programs that were inspired by educational, athletic, and corporate methods of learning. I founded The Pathwayz Group and today our team has facilitated workshops and training programs for companies and organizations from every inhabited continent. The adventure is only beginning.


M7: How does The Pathwayz Group help businesses create more efficient, effective, and enjoyable workplaces?
AV:
The Pathwayz Group has some extraordinary facilitators that lead action-focused, engaging workshops and training programs to improve team performance. Our workshops are unique because they are centered around action steps within workspaces. These sessions are designed on a foundation of practical experience, case studies, and data presented in an unconventional fun way. For example, participants learning about performance feedback will engage in a series of high-energy games to clarify performance expectations, give and receive feedback, and share feedback challenges in real life. I love how our participants respond during training programs with laughs and smiles and enthusiastically share that they will apply the team leadership skills in both professional and personal life.

Life is too short to work at a miserable place, let’s make workplaces awesome. We do that in our training programs that focus on three major areas:

●  How to create more effective workplaces with training in areas such as leadership development, performance feedback, and remote team collaboration.

●  How to create more enjoyable workplaces with training in areas such as team building, diversity and inclusion, and emotional intelligence.

●  How to create more efficient workplaces with training in areas such as time management, organizational agility, and data-driven decision making

We equip leaders and organizations with the tools they need to make workplaces awesome.


Professionals (especially young professionals) gain a vast majority of their knowledge from their peers - watching, listening, asking questions, and building relationships with others



M7: According to you, how can teams improve their performances? 
AV:
Teams can improve their performance by first clarifying performance expectations. Too often, I see talented team members stumble because of a lack of clarity. Unclear expectations lead to unmet expectations.
Then, step back. There are talented and innovative teams that are limited by a lack of ownership. I encourage leaders to clarify expectations by communicating the what and why (goal and purpose) and then allow opportunities for ownership within the how. This approach can lead to higher performance and competitive advantage. While every team is different and can improve in unique ways, this act of creating a culture of collaborative ownership can create an environment for better performance.


M7: What do you see as the most noticeable change right now happening in the workforce, encouraged by the rise of digital technologies?
AV:
The most noticeable change in the workforce right now is the rise of remote work. This trend was accelerated by COVID-19 but was already growing in popularity prior to the pandemic. Digital collaboration tools and work resources are on the rise making it possible for high-performing teams to achieve greatness without ever being in the same place. While some companies are planning on returning to the office or considering a hybrid workforce, many states that remote work is here to stay.
Due to the rise in remote work, many companies are becoming more globalized. I’ve heard many recruiters and leaders respond, “If an employee doesn’t have to be at the office, then why should I hire exclusively local?” With a rise in global teams, networks are expanding, and cross-cultural teams are becoming even more commonplace. This is leading to a need for more intentional development of cultural competency, effective team collaboration, and shared remote resources.


People come to work, receive a task, and wait for instruction. Opportunities for ownership within teams establish opportunities to be uniquely better.



M7: What do you believe are the top three challenges for businesses in the post-COVID-19 era? 
AV:
With a massive percentage of employees working from home, there is a challenge distinguishing one place from the next. The top three challenges I believe that workforces are finding, all lie within this new paradox of work. Many companies are challenged to establish a cultural competitive advantage. I often ask leaders, “What is the difference between me sitting at home working for you versus sitting at home working for your competitor?” The answer must be more than salary. Cultural competitive advantage is really important and traditional, and it is being challenged in this evolving workforce. Google’s elaborate workspaces and on-site perks were sizable efforts in distinguishing themselves from some competitors. Coming to the office on your birthday to find balloons, cake, and a little celebration was appreciated and increased engagement. Jeans Fridays were a big deal in some formal companies. However, foosball tables, birthday cake, and jeans Fridays are not as relevant in today's evolving workforce with remote work and some in-office employees still hesitant about germ sharing activities (like small birthday gatherings). The first big challenge that businesses are facing in a post-pandemic world is establishing a cultural competitive advantage.

The next big challenge is relationship-building. Gallup studies have consistently shown that having a best friend at work is the number one factor of engagement at work. I’ve posed many remote companies with the question, “What does remote best friendship look like?” and “How can we cultivate an environment conducive to creating “best friendships”?” Best practices in engagement and retention will be reimagined as we move forward in this post-pandemic world.

Furthermore, professionals (especially young professionals) gain a vast majority of their knowledge from their peers - watching, listening, asking questions, and building relationships with others. Many professionals are entering the workforce for the first time in their living room. Onboarding and training new and freshmen employees look very different. Many are experimenting with new ways to include new employees into the company culture through relationships, traditions, and training. Whether fully remote, hybrid remote, or returning to the office - chances are the employee demographic has changed and the next big challenge companies are facing in a post-pandemic world is to establish, maintain, and grow relationships.

Ironically, the final challenge I believe that employers will face comes from a natural knee-jerk reaction to the first two challenges - screen time. There was a concern at the very beginning of the pandemic among some organizations that work-from-home employees would not get their work done - what we discovered was the opposite. Today, employees are more productive than ever...and at risk of burnout. Expectations by leaders to log in after hours, time zone differences and owned hours leading to notifications outside of traditional work hours, and ease of access to work at home during weekends can lead to more stress, errors, and burnout with a pressure to always be available. This is stemmed from a slew of many factors. I encourage my teammates to turn off their notifications and switch to “Do Not Disturb” when out of work. I practice this in my own life as well.

In addition to work screen time, many parts of the world are still only able to access features like workouts, concerts, and family communication via screen time. The world is starting to open up but it’s not fully open to everyone. An online happy hour or game night might be the last thing that teammates really want or need. Sometimes, the best thing to do is allow space to unplug and relax. This makes things like competitive advantage and relationship building extra challenging which creates space for innovative solutions.


M7: Your book, Uniquely Better, will be releasing soon. Could you please tell us a little bit about it?
MV:
In 2016, I left my corporate job to become the only American, only female, and only blonde Academy football coach for the Paris Saint Germain Academy and Adidas Gameday Academy in Bangalore, India. As I emerged into the land of masala and chai, I found remarkably talented and driven players that were operating under a strict command-obey dynamic. Players would stand in a line, kick a ball, wait for direction. While this may be an efficient way to teach a skill, in a game scenario it was disastrous. I witnessed players kick the ball exactly the way that was taught during matches then turn to the sideline for future instruction. I noticed that the players had mastered tasks but didn’t understand game applications. We see these parallels in our business life every day. People come to work, receive a task, and wait for instruction. Opportunities for ownership within teams establish opportunities to be uniquely better. This book is a powerful story of transforming a team from lines, laps, and lectures to one of creativity, collaboration, and captainship! I share four specific opportunities for ownership and address the challenges, triumphs, setbacks, and rewards of leading a  team to higher levels of performance.

ABOUT THE PATHWAYZ GROUP

The Pathwayz Group believe in cultivating a workplace that is awesome. They work with teams in action-focused training to help create more efficient, effective, and enjoyable workplaces. They focus on effective leadership, team building, and strategic human resources. In their sessions, people are highly engaged while having fun and walking away with things they can actually do to improve performance and thrive.

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This echoes the most common approach taken by current retirees surveyed2, a group in which just over one quarter (28%) either transitioned careers or gradually phased down from their primary career. “Attitudes and expectations for retirement continue to evolve, and we expect the desire to approach retirement in phases will continue to grow with future generations,” said Chris Littlefield, president of Retirement and Income Solutions at Principal®. While there are some similarities in how generations want to retire, they have different expectations on timelines and the age at which they plan to retire. The youngest generation, Gen Z, expects to retire at 55 – approximately 10 years earlier than baby boomers (68) and Gen X (64), and four years sooner than millennials (59). Employees prioritize saving for retirement The survey revealed employees are focused on balancing basic needs with long-term savings outcomes against a backdrop of ongoing economic pressures that continue to top their list of concerns. Employees of all generations ranked saving for retirement as their top financial priority, followed by affording basic needs and paying off consumer debt3. "Saving for retirement is the No. 1 financial priority for employees surveyed, which validates that access to workplace benefits and financial wellness programs is helping Americans save for retirement and achieve better financial outcomes,” Littlefield said. “Going forward, increased personalization as well as tailored savings and investment strategies that take into account an individual’s financial goals, lifestyle, health care needs, dependent care obligations, retirement income expectations, and other unique factors will help achieve improved financial security in retirement.” Retention and recruitment of older employees critical for business success Employee interest in phased retirement has added value for employers. Most employers (77%) agree that the knowledge older employees have about their company is crucial to their business’s success. Employers concerned with “having valuable employees retire” are more likely to take actions to either retain them or hire employees who previously retired from other companies. Despite this, not all employers have experience with offering phased retirement. Only 11% of small and midsized businesses4 reported they offer phased retirement job opportunities on a regular basis compared to nearly one quarter of large businesses5. However, interest is there, as 61% of businesses that don’t offer a phased retirement still receive questions from employees about the options. See all results and insights from the latest Principal Financial Well-Being IndexSM (PDF). According to the Alliance for Lifetime Income This wave included a survey of 137 individuals between the ages of 50 and 75 who consider themselves retired or have previously fully retired and gone back to work. In order to be included in the survey sample, employees must work full-time, and their employer has to offer either health insurance or retirement as an employee benefit. Businesses with 2-499 employees Businesses with 500-10,000 employees About the Principal Financial Well-Being IndexSM The Principal Financial Well-Being IndexSM surveys business owners, decision makers and business leaders aged 21 and over who work at companies with 2-10,000 employees and offer either health insurance or retirement as an employee benefit. The nation-wide survey, commissioned since 2012, examines the financial well-being of American workers and business employers. In 2020, the Well-Being Index was transformed from an annual survey to a regular pulse, offering three waves, revisiting questions and measuring sentiment regarding timely issues in the small and midsized business marketplace. In the first pulse of the Well-Being Index in 2022, the employee audience was added to the survey to compare and contrast key sentiment from employers. The survey was commissioned by Principal® and conducted online by Dynata from November 6-13, 2023, with a total of 500 business owners, decision makers and business leader participants and a total of 200 employee participants. This wave included a survey of 127 individuals who consider themselves retired or have previously fully retired and gone back to work. The research report focuses on providing a holistic perspective on key trends and timely issues in the small and medium business market. About Principal Financial Group® Principal Financial Group® is a global financial company with 19,500 employees1 passionate about improving the wealth and well-being of people and businesses. In business for more than 140 years, we’re helping more than 61 million customers1 plan, protect, invest, and retire, while working to support the communities where we do business, and build a diverse, inclusive workforce. Principal® is proud to be recognized as one of the 2023 World’s Most Ethical Companies® by Ethisphere2, a member of the Bloomberg Gender Equality Index, and a “Best Places to Work in Money Management3.”

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Modern HR Software Solutions Introduce New Features to Enhance Workplace Efficiency in 2024

Factorial | February 05, 2024

With the New Year underway, many businesses are reevaluating their HR software solutions to increase efficiency and effectiveness in the evolving HR management landscape. Gartner data highlights that businesses frequently replace HR software due to system inefficiencies, missing features, and reliability concerns. Key reasons for dissatisfaction include inefficiency (34%), insufficient functionality (29%), and unreliability (13%). In response to these challenges, modern HR software solutions are offering five new features designed to enhance efficiency within its software AI-powered Applicant Tracking System : New AI-powered Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to streamline the traditional CV screening process, a major bottleneck in recruitment. This innovative feature allows hiring managers to assess applications based on various criteria such as company values, job descriptions, CVs, offer letters, and custom questions. The result is a significant reduction in screening time, ensuring a comprehensive evaluation process. Geofencing Precision: Geofencing Precision addresses challenges faced by organizations with multiple locations or flexible policies. By incorporating geofencing capabilities into its time-tracking features, HR software solutions help prevent unauthorized overtime, a key contributor to increased labor costs and decreased workforce productivity. This enhancement allows HR leaders to enforce accurate clock-ins at designated workplaces, thereby reducing labor costs and enhancing employee accountability. Insights V2 Data Analytics. Insights V2 provides organizations with comprehensive data for informed decision-making. Users can now filter company data using multiple parameters, simplifying the process of checking and exporting valuable metrics in real-time. This timely and accurate insight is crucial for strategic decision-making. Time-Saving Documentation: Time-Saving Documentation enables users to pre-fill forms with document templates and fillable PDFs. This streamlined process, combined with personalized data, enhances efficiency for employees verifying information, meeting the growing demand for tools that simplify administrative processes. Seamless Payroll Integration: HR software solutions are seamlessly integrating payroll and benefits administration with HR management processes. This aims to enhance organizational efficiency by reducing manual errors, improving accuracy, and fostering collaboration between HR and finance departments. Recognizing this, Factorial, a leading provider of HR software solutions, is introducing innovative features from AI-powered applicant tracking to payroll integration. Jordi Romero, Co-founder and CEO of Factorial, emphasizes, "These new features reflect our dedication to empowering HR teams globally. By harnessing the power of technology, we aim to transform the way organizations approach human resources, fostering efficiency, collaboration, and success." As businesses strive for greater efficiency and effectiveness in the new year, Factorial is committed to providing support and solutions. About Factorial Founded in 2016, Factorial offers people-centric solutions for HR teams, automating processes so they have more time to dedicate to the people within their organization. With over 75,000 users across 65+ countries, Factorial serves clients such as KFC, Booking.com, and Whisbi. Factorial became Europe's newest Unicorn in 2022 following a Series C investment round.

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Payroll

ADP® Assist with Generative AI Features Makes HCM Decisions Easy, Smart and Human

ADP | February 02, 2024

ADP®, a leading global technology company providing human capital management (HCM) solutions, announces the availability of ADP Assist, a cross-platform solution powered by generative AI (GenAI). ADP Assist enhances HR productivity, aids decision-making with data-driven insights, and streamlines day-to-day tasks for practitioners, managers, employees and executives with simple, human-like conversations. It harnesses the power of ADP's unparalleled data and expertise along with GenAI to simplify the world of work. ADP Assist builds on ADP's current AI capabilities and is currently in early release with some ADP clients today with a planned rollout for all clients. "For 75 years, ADP has been at the forefront of payroll and HR innovation. With ADP Assist, we're providing an intelligent platform that simplifies HR tasks, leaving time for people leaders to be more strategic," says Maria Black, president and chief executive officer of ADP. "It's not just another technical solution; it's a comprehensive experience that combines ADP's unmatched HCM dataset and expertise to empower HR professionals, leaders and employees." Data Drives Innovation Data is at the core of all ADP products and solutions, informing and driving ADP's approach to innovation and AI technology. ADP has the industry's largest and deepest HCM dataset with over one million clients spanning 140 countries and 41 million wage earners globally. ADP's extensive and unique dataset is used to train ADP's AI to anticipate what users want and need. ADP Assist turns unmatched data into highly credible and actionable insights so that clients can make smarter decisions. Easy, Smart and Human "In a constantly changing workplace, innovation must keep up and meet people's real-world needs," says Sreeni Kutam, president of global product and innovation at ADP. "ADP Assist is the next step in our vision to create an HR ecosystem that is not only efficient but empowers employees and HR professionals alike. We've created a platform that understands the complexities and dynamics of modern HR management and offers smart, user-centric solutions. And, as always, we are committed to the secure and ethical use of data to support these technologies." ADP Assist seamlessly integrates with ADP products across multiple ADP platforms. It anticipates what users want and proactively delivers actionable insights in plain language. Using an intuitive, conversational interface, ADP Assist provides valuable and contextual insights which touch every aspect of HR – payroll, time, talent, benefits, recruitment, analytics, reporting and compliance. ADP's portfolio of currently available GenAI- and AI-powered tools deliver the following capabilities Easy payroll. ADP Assist validates payroll information. It checks for payroll anomalies and uses GenAI to identify and help resolve missing tax registrations and answer questions by drawing on ADP's large, up-to-date dataset of compliance information. This saves HR effort and helps clients to ensure employees are paid accurately and on time. Smart analytics. ADP Assist uses GenAI to dramatically simplify report creation by understanding context and generating insightful reports in an easy-to-understand format. HR practitioners and leaders can easily access internal, national and global workforce data from ADP's deep HCM dataset to analyze compensation, turnover, candidate profile relevancy and talent market insights. Human insights. Intelligent and AI-based HR support for employees and clients can anticipate and solve common employee problems across HR, payroll, time and benefits. This reduces frustration for employees and eliminates certain low-value tasks for managers and HR practitioners. ADP Assist can send personalized, proactive notifications to employees on their mobile device or desktop to help resolve HR issues quickly, keeping them productive. AI-powered conversational interface makes it easy for employees to get the information they need without involving HR. Search by Intent. The RUN Powered by ADP payroll and HR solution features an omni search bar that understands intent behind the search terms and uses GenAI to mine ADP's deep knowledge base to deliver easy-to-use and effective content. "In the age of AI, the better the data, the better the artificial intelligence," says Holger Mueller, vice president and principal analyst for Constellation Research, Inc. "ADP is uniquely well-positioned in the field of HCM vendors given the breadth and depth of its data. ADP is using that data to make AI more human, focusing on customer success in a worldwide space. This really makes a difference not only for HR practitioners but for leaders and employees." About ADP Designing better ways to work through cutting-edge products, premium services and exceptional experiences that enable people to reach their full potential. HR, Talent, Time Management, Benefits and Payroll. Informed by data and designed for people.

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The Pathwayz Group believe in cultivating a workplace that is awesome. They work with teams in action-focused training to help create more efficient, effective, and enjoyable workplaces. They focus on effective leadership, team building, and strategic human resources. In their sessions, people are h...

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