Technology vs. Human Capital

By Adam Gellert, Founder / HR + Recruitment Consultant at Linkus Group

Technology versus Human Capital

Definitions for the term obsolete include: ‘no longer used, as something newer exists’, or ‘out of date.’ How terrifying is it for an employee to be anticipating being no longer needed in a workplace, or expired for the lack of a better word? This is in fact the reality of many workers in today’s society – whether they are members of the manufacturing, hospitality or even business services industry.

Today’s world consists of constant changes in technology. It includes product and service upgrades, replacements, and many versions of the same products that can essentially make a process easier. Can technology be compared to Human Capital? Just as there are employees who have industry expertise, there are employees who can upgrade their knowledge through training and development, leadership programs and cross training in new business areas. Employers can replace other employees who are better suited for the job – all in all to ensure that a business has the best human capital.

The reality is, that technology can do the exact same thing but in a more efficient, fast and less costly manner. This is very common in the manufacturing industry where entire jobs become obsolete as they are replaced with technologies that can produce a higher output than what employees can produce. However, it is also becoming common in the business services sector. Imagine having to analyze a data set of over 1 million documents – it would take many employees hours of work to accomplish this task. A computer program on the other hand has the ability to complete this task in a matter of minutes. Another recent trend is investment in Cloud Computing – where businesses can access information anywhere they go – small businesses will not have to worry about renting offices and actual workspaces. Why wouldn’t businesses want to invest on such technologies? Below are a list of pro’s and con’s of the use of technology in today’s average business.

 Technology vs Human Capital

Benefits of Technology:

How technology can’t replace human capital:

Paperless business – Environmentally friendly businesses

Planning and Management – Integrating new technology is not as easy as it looks – should you purchase a brand new software program as soon as it becomes available? Or should you wait and not jump on the bandwagon and take the risk of the product being obsolete soon.   Technology is fast paced – you snooze you lose, it can also be very costly
Increased productivity – Better production results from efficiency when a new technology is introduced Re-training – New technology does not necessarily mean replacing employees – but it can mean employees may need to be re-trained and educated on how to use the technologies – which brings room for errors, and costs. There is also the importance of meeting the needs of employees through job security, employee activities, etc – something that computers cannot do.
Smaller workforce – Easy to manage, reduces costs Maintenance – What if there is a glitch, system error, or the technology merely breaks down? Yes, you can upgrade a system, but this is a cost. Technology cannot be mentored or coached to become successful as an employee can be
Better communication – introducing up to date technologies allows for fluidity in communication throughout the workforce Costs – As mentioned in almost every point above, technology can be expensive. If it is used to replace employees, businesses will have to ensure that there are no redundancies in processes to avoid unwanted costs.
Stay competitive – being up to date in technologies allows businesses to stay competitive in today’s fast paced industry

Although we live in a technology driven world, there are advantages and disadvantages to the use of technology and maintaining human capital in a business. It is ultimately up to the business to decide if it has the capacity to keep up to date with constantly changing technology, or whether to invest in the good old -fashioned human capital.

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Does Minimum Wage Hikes Equal Higher Unemployment for Canadians?

Before discussing the effects of minimum wage, here’s a basic explanation of what the term actually means. “The basic labour standard that sets the lowest wage rate an employer can pay to employees who are covered by the employment legislation is known as minimum wage. The main purpose to impose minimum wage is to protect non-unionized workers in unskilled jobs today.  In Canada, Employment legislation considers it an offense for any employers to pay covered workers less than minimum wage.”

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Besides protecting Canadian employees from wage discrimination, what does the hike in minimum wages overtime mean for the Canadian employment market?  According to the Canadian Federation of Independent business (CFIB), increasing the minimum wage hurts minimum wage workers “by reducing the businesses’ capacity to hire and retain them. In fact, the CFIB predicts that a 10 per cent increase in the minimum wage would trigger up to 321,000 job losses.”1 This statement does sound daunting for the many small businesses in Ontario, however history of minimum wage hikes shows that this in fact is not true.  Between the period of 2007 and 2010, Ontario has raised its minimum wage 4 times and the unemployment rates have stayed the same, and have even decreased – except for 2009 during the economic crisis.  Other provinces in Canada such as Quebec and Alberta have had similar experiences as well during the hike of minimum wages. 

Moreover, outside of Canada there are examples of how minimum wage hikes can actually increase productivity.  Seattle had victoriously increased their minimum wage to $15, imposing the highest minimum wage in the US.   Following its path, San Francisco is intending on increasing their minimum wage to $15 as well.  What does this mean for its workers? It means workers get paid for the hard work that they put in, and are not feeling as though the rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer.  This means that for example, fast food establishments that are known for high turnover will have a more stable workforce.  A major effect of raising pay checks for earners at the bottom of the wage scale is that these earners are likely to spend more of their income on local goods and service than higher-income earners. In turn, these households will increase patronage of area businesses, giving a boost to their community’s overall prosperity”2

Research conducted about minimum wage indicates how beneficial a hike in wage would be for workers. For small businesses that have to abide by the minimum wage hikes, keep in mind that this allows for retaining employees who are satisfied with their pay, and also provides a larger pool of skilled candidates looking for work – such as recent graduates.  Although these increases are not large, it is still considered a wage increase for minimum wage workers. Increasing minimum wage does not necessarily lead to higher unemployment rates, but rather it has little or no impact on unemployment – which is always a positive for the Canadian labour market.

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Flex-time at the workplace

By Adam Gellert, Founder / HR + Recruitment Consultant at Linkus Group

The average full time employee works 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, with the same schedule through the length of their career with a certain company.  Employees often spend more time at work than they do at home.  How do you ensure that employees stay focused and motivated, maintaining their ambition and drive, throughout their entire career with your company?  The answer lies in flex time.

flextime

What is flex-time?

Flexible work arrangements or flex-time are options given to employees to help ensure their ability to achieve work-life balance.  These arrangements could include allowing employees to work part-time, job-sharing agreements, customizing work hours to 10am-6pm instead of 8am-4pm, or compressed workweeks where employees work longer hours to have more time off on weekends.

Benefits of flex-time

From an employee perspective, flex-time option could be a unique benefit of working at a company, as it is not a widely offered.  Flex time allows employees to better control their day, avoid rush hour commutes, and of course provides work-life balance – allowing individuals to complete errands and appointments while they are not at work.  As a result, employees stay focused, motivated, and efficient during work hours.

What does flex-time mean for an employer?

Employers have historically found a structured and streamlined flow of continuous work to be an effective format for organization design. Flex-time may sound like it could cause havoc for employers. However, if planned correctly, flex-time actually benefits employers. It allows for employers to schedule work across a longer portion of the day, it helps retain staff who have important interests outside of work, it creates a more efficient shared workspace, and it can improve staff coverage when someone is away.

Implementing flex-time does offer challengers for the employer, including ensuring fairness between employees, finding ways to have effective communication while some employees are off-the-clock, and maintaining trust and supervision.  In order to overcome these challenges, clear policies should be created and implemented in the organizational strategy. Tracking hours worked is one such effective strategy to ensure employees are committing the required hours of work.

There is no reason to lose valuable employees to repetitiveness and work-life constraints.   Incorporating flex-time in an organizational strategy can improve the overall health of an organization.

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Why Should Someone Work for You – The Company Interview

As Spring hire season fast approaches, many companies are ramping up their recruitment strategies to ensure that they onboard the best talent.  At the same time, the number of eligible workers applying for jobs will also increase. The pool of candidates will include students, recent graduates, and also individuals who are looking to make a career transition. With such a large pool of candidates, top talent is inevitably mixed into the crowd.

standout in a crowdIt’s common to think as an employer ‘they want/need the job, they need to prove themselves worthy in an interview,’ however this is a serious misconception. In order to attract top talent, a fit must be established.  Employers need to express their need for top talent, and why a potential candidate should work for them. It’s a two way street.  Companies need to clearly establish what makes their organization a great place to work.

Here are 3 things to add into the interview process to explain why someone should want to work for you:

1. Skip the usual job description only advertisementYes, it’s easy to copy and paste the job description, add the location, a salary range and expected start date – but this is not a way to attract top talent.  Here’s a look at some of the information available to candidates on Coca-cola Company’s career page:

What do we offer

  • The Coca-Cola Company’s extraordinary heritage, our leading brands and the global scale of what we do;
  • The challenge of meaningful work – our unique global system offers constant opportunities to develop world-class skills and a truly international career;
  • A unique culture where people convert their passion into action;The kind of competitive compensation you would expect from a world leader.
  • The kind of competitive compensation you would expect from a world leader.
  • View our infographic:  Coca-Cola At A Glance

What do we expect from you

  • The ability to contribute, to make a difference and have a tangible impact – turning your passion into action;
  • Creative and fresh thinking in your work and your life, regardless of your role;
  • A spirit of collaboration – you thrive when you work with a diverse range of people with different views, perspectives and priorities;
  • A pragmatic and commercial mindset that understands the challenge of sustainability.

Top Reasons to work for The Coca-Cola Company

  1. Ability to make a difference
  2.  Ability to grow
  3. We want to become…
  4. We have embarked on a strategic journey…
  5. Values
  6. Be part of a diverse team
  7. One-of-a-kind experiences
  8. A unique culture
  9.  Accessibility to more than just a Company…
  10. Rewarding environment

The company has further written and visual material explaining the top 10 reasons to work for them.  This creates interest for potential top talent, and allows candidates to see whether a fit could exist.  It provides a rich picture of the company that captures the interest of readers.  Keep in mind that these readers could be anyone, including future employees, people who might refer the job to a friend or family member, or even employees of your competitors who may be looking for their next move.  This type of information should be shared throughout the entire interview process to keep the candidates interested and excited of the possibility to work with you!

2.  Provide valuable information to candidates when selected for an interview  – Provide candidates who are selected for interviews with PDF brochures or links to informational video’s for them to familiarize themselves with the company’s values and mission.  Set yourself apart from companies who merely ask if a candidate is available for an interview at a set date and time, and create a fit earlier in the process.  This makes the selection process more refined, as it will be easier to identify top talent – those who are prepared and a great fit with the company.

3.  Once a fit has been established and the ideal candidate has been selected, maintain and strengthen the employment relationship – Don’t let time constraints and fatigue of the interview selection process tire you out. Recruitment isn’t complete once an offer has been accepted.  Most employees quit within the first two weeks of employment if they do not identify a fit with the company.  This means ensuring that the on-boarding process has as much information and support for the candidate as promised prior to employment.  Provide them with resources and tools that will help them settle into their new role. For example, provide the names and phone numbers of key contact points in the organization.  Conduct a performance review two weeks into employment to see how the new employee is doing.

Remember that the job search process is a two-way street, both for the employer and candidate.  Each party has their own  wants  and needs — the goal is to establish a fit, to create a long lasting employment relationship.

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Creating a recruitment strategy for 2014

As 2013 has come to an end, there is an opportunity for businesses to start the New Year with a new and improved recruitment strategy.  However, not every business will want to make such a change.  Of course, if the existing strategy has been working, why change it?  This is the opinion of many recruitment managers who feel they can repeat previous successes in the upcoming year.

However, businesses should consider that to attain new goals they should revamp or modify their recruitment strategies.  In order to keep up with the talent in today’s workforce, change must be embraced.  Whether it is creating a short-term strategy, onboarding new employees into the organization or even creating an incentive program to motivate existing employees, change allows managers to stay alert and competitive.

2014 growth

Here are a few ways to build change into your recruitment strategy in 2014:

Identify short-term goals that need to be attained
Setting short-term goals to help you reach your long-term goals is the key to success.  Having short-term goals will help create steps and allow you to streamline your focus, while still keeping the big picture in sight.  Having daily or weekly goals allows employees to be more focused, and aware of the business strategy.

Assess the strengths and weaknesses of your team
Every employee has individual strengths and weaknesses that can benefit your business.  Magnify the strengths as they can create new core competencies for your business.  However, weaknesses should not be ignored.  Identifying weaknesses will allow for improvement, learning, and growth.

Create incentive programs to motivate employees
It’s a new year, and most people create resolutions and goals in their careers.  Make use of that new energy and create incentive programs to boost employee morale.  Incentive programs can come in hand with the short-term goals that your business has created, and allow for successful attainment of those goals.

Be transparent – ensure any change is communicated throughout the organization
Transparency in an organization is a must.  Of course, there is a fine line between confidential information and information that can be shared with your employees. However, ensuring that your strategy is communicated with the entire organization will allow for successful execution of the strategy.  It will ensure that everyone is onboard with the strategy and will raise any questions that employees may have early in the process.

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HRPA Toronto’s Dinner Series: Performance Management with Bruce Croxon from CBC’s ‘Dragon’s Den’

The founder of Linkus Group and HR & Recruitment Consultant, Adam Gellert, is proud to be helping to bring together this exciting event as a member of the HRPA and friend of SpriggHR Inc.

HRPAevent

Details:
Tuesday, November 12, 2013, 5:30pm – 8:00pm
Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel, 123 Queen Street West
Register Here

Three Cool Ways Companies are Promoting Work/Life Balance

by Amanda Levine, Guest Writer
With the job market more competitive than ever, potential hires are finding more and more creative ways to set themselves apart from their competition. The same is ringing true for the other side of the coin. Companies are fighting to attract the best talent by making themselves seem more attractive than their competitors.

Getting talent that is the right cultural fit and has the qualifications you are looking for can be tough. So here are a few things that can be game-changers when it comes to attracting the best employees. Companies who have the most edge seem to be the best at promoting work/life balance. Here are a few ways they are doing this:

games at work

1. Games

It’s like the adult equivalent of our mothers telling us to ‘go out and play’. Most of us are chained to our computers, and with recent studies showing how unhealthy that can be, employees are being encouraged to take 5 to get up, move around and get the blood flowing. They can shoot pool, play ping-pong, or, in the case of Google Zurich, rock out to a round of Rock Band.

Relaxing workplace

2. Getting Zenned Out

Many employers are finally catching on to the fact that overstressed and overworked people are simply not the most productive and effective. Sure, we get vacation days, but according to a study by Inside Science, only 38% of Americans use all their vacation time. With companies downsizing left, right and centre, employees end up having more work to do and don’t feel they can take the time off. So some creative employers have come up with ideas for employees to take a mini ‘stay-cation’ at work. Many workplaces now offer yoga for employees during lunchtime or quiet sanctuary-like spaces for people to relax so they can come back to their desks feeling refreshed rather than stressed.

workfromhome

3. Flexible Work

The traditional ‘Mad Men’ style office is no more. While being together in an office environment promotes team building and culture, many people have multiple responsibilities outside of work.  So to increase job satisfaction, motivation, and reduce absenteeism, companies are starting to allow a lot more ‘flex time’. Meaning employees can work remotely for a certain amount of time each work-week. New technology makes this easier than ever. Things like GoToMeeting, Skype, Yammer and Smartphones have shattered the cubicle walls. Coworkers these days can be in different time zones let alone different cubicles! Allowing for employees to mold their working hours and spaces to what works best for them will, ultimately, work best for the employer as well.

Aside from the obvious benefits of a pleasant workplace and increased job satisfaction, helping employees find a better work/life balance can also help businesses improve their bottom line. So keep your employees happy, relaxed and satisfied and they will repay you with hard work, loyalty and efficiency.

The Creative Career Experience

Fashion Career

by Natalie Good, Guest Writer

Growing up, many of us are given mixed messages when it comes to career choices. As children our teachers tell us we can be anything we want to be (even princesses!). Our creativity is nurtured and rewarded; and as we continue through those formative years, we crave the validation that came with creating something wonderful.

As children become teenagers the creative career perspective shifts. We are surrounded with a plethora of mathematical and scientific study options. There’s biology, trigonometry, chemistry, algebra, political science, and the list goes on; however, we are presented with only a handful (at best) of courses in the arts. The days of “look at this beautiful picture Susy drew!” are replaced with “Jonny got an A in math class!” This eventually leads to, “You should meet Mike, he’s a lawyer.”

I was one of those teenagers that continued through life carrying the messages of my earlier teachers. I believed that with the right amount of passion, drive, experience, and effort anything was possible. After completing my degrees in English and Fashion Design, I ventured out into the creative world with guns blazing. I was going to make it. After all, there are successful designers. Just check your labels!

After years spreading my seeds across various areas of the fashion industry, I decided it was time to take my future into my own hands and I started my own label with a friend. Perhaps I should have taken it as a sign when my partner decided to leave, but I was stubborn and relentless. I was going to make it.

Three years and mucho dinero later, I feel left further behind than where I started. My bills are bigger and it only seems harder to find work. The few fashion companies that actually do business in Toronto are barely hiring. If they are hiring, they would like you to perform circus acts (see: kiss major behind, have no life, or be always available) for as little money as possible. We are no longer living in the days when our creative skills were applauded. My dreams have been placed somewhere in some cubby with a pair of rain boots and a box of crayons.

So where does this leave me now? Good question. See, the thing is, I am still that girl who believes I can be anything I want to be; only now I believe in the power of patience. We all have the ability to achieve the goals we’ve chosen, and it is nobody’s right to tell us otherwise. The experience I had owning and operating my business was invaluable; I have learned so much and developed skills that will be highly valuable to future employers.

Though we all occasionally lose our footing, the key is to keep on going. It’s not about finding a job, it’s about finding the right job, and that can take some time. But in the end it’s worth the wait… and the work!

 

Growth Strategy: Plan Your Hiring Ahead of Time

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by Adam Gellert, Recruitment & HR Consultant / Founder at Linkus Group

Startup companies are no different than mature companies – their success is contingent on finding good talent.  When a startup company is ready to hire, they usually need the new resources on an ASAP basis, but it is critical that they do not compromise on the quality of talent they hire, as the adverse affects of a “bad hire” are amplified in a small business.

Ask any recruiter and they’ll tell you they have a love/hate relationship with employers that call them saying they need help hiring for a position that should have been filled “as of yesterday”.  Of course, it’s exciting for a recruiter to go into their back pocket and pull out that perfect candidate. However, recruiters know that depending on the hiring need, immediate results aren’t always possible. They know that the best candidates aren’t always on the market when you need them so, some good, solid planning can go a long way in a successful search.

Prepare, create a recruitment strategy long term and be mindful and creative of potential hiring needs down the road. 

Have you been in a rush and forced to make decisions based on necessity when hiring? This is very common.  Successful companies know that their greatest employees are what make their company great.

A friend of mine shared a story with me the other day.  He walked into a Starbucks, and observed four of their staff at work. The first one was taking orders at a satisfactory pace, yelling out “double vanilla latte, hold the foam”, another walking around aimlessly and almost confused restocking shelves while paying customers swarmed in. The third just standing in the back washing dishes occasionally at a slow crawl and then, the one that stood out all along, the superstar making four drinks at the same time, while cleaning up after herself and making conversation with the customer’s by name. He thought- “Without her the company would collapse!”

He could tell by observing her in action that she’s a dedicated, hard working, shines under pressure and will be a favourite amongst customers – really the reason you go to a Starbucks and pay ten dollars for a coffee. It’s these scenarios you’ve got to think about during your recruitment strategy planning. Think about how the staff you spend your time and money hiring will fit within your culture really, really well.

Know that any growing business on the verge of stardom is going to need those key players on their team to build on that success the initial team has already worked so hard to create. If you’re on your own right now and hiring, that first team member is all the more critical.

Do the following:

Plan

You’ve got a business plan and set important goals. Now set a recruitment strategy. Get thinking about what roles will you need to fill to get that work done, now and a year from now.

Be methodical

Let’s say you need an Account Manager to handle the business you’ve worked so hard to bring in. What attributes will they need? Is organization more important than customer service skills or industry knowledge?

Be realistic

When you start the hiring process you’ll find its often going to be hard to find someone that checks off all your “must haves”. Set your sights on a few must haves, aim for a few more “nice to haves” and finish up your list with skills that would be a “home run” but not critical.

Execution

Recruiting requires more than one set of eyes and takes a lot of skill to fully plan, execute and hire.

Now that you’ve got a plan, you’re ready to start hiring!

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Personality Tests are Fitting

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by Nicole Cristello

“Fit” is a term that is becoming more familiar among businesses of all sizes. An employee may have an impressive resume with years of relevant experience under their belt, but whether or not they will easily accept and value a company’s culture is a completely separate consideration.

It costs a company approximately 1.5 times a worker’s salary to replace them. Hiring the wrong candidate can lead to increased theft, absenteeism, violence, harassment, and an overall decrease in motivation. For these reasons, personality tests are becoming a popular means of determining whether an individual is not only the best person for the job, but the best fit with the company.

Personality tests are a beneficial means of assessing employee fit before making the commitment to hire them. Employees who fit the company culture tend to be happier, more motivated and more satisfied, which leads to better results and therefore a higher ROI.

Recommendations for employers considering using personality testing as part of their recruitment process:

Ensure Resources are Available

Testing requires time, money, as well as ongoing support and modifications. If a company cannot commit to providing the necessary resources or does not have access to them, then personality testing may not be the most appropriate option.

Don’t Rely Solely on Personality Tests

Personality Tests should always be used in conjunction with other types of recruitment tools. Also, don’t assume that testing is valuable in every situation. Be sure to assess whether personality tests are advantageous to your particular business and the positions you are hiring for.

Train Key Managers to Administer Tests

Ensure key managers or trained personnel are administering the tests to ensure that they are being scored and evaluated correctly.

Eliminate Bias – Ensure Reliability & Validity

Tests must be reliable (the results should be consistent over time) and valid (the personalities being assessed should be indicative of those necessary to perform the job successfully). Bias toward specific individuals or personality types should never influence the hiring decision.

Understand, Maintain & Assess

Companies choosing to use personality testing must first understand the importance and purposes of it. Ongoing maintenance and assessments of the reliability and validity of these tests are necessary.  Continual improvement and adjustments are also critical as a company and the jobs within it evolve over time.

Potential Risks

Invasion of Privacy

Some candidates see testing as an invasion of privacy and do not trust that they are accurate predictors of their potential success on the job.

Cheating

Some questions have obvious “correct” answers and candidates may choose the response that will give them the most favourable results in order to increase their likelihood of being hired.

Situational & Environmental Factors

Applicants may respond that they would react one way on their test, but their behaviours may be completely opposite once on the job. Situational and environmental factors such as motivation, stress, confidence, and satisfaction can also strongly influence an applicant’s behaviour and cause them to react differently than they would have answered on any test.

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