• Engaging the Five Generations in YOUR Workplace

    By Brinkley Pearce, Office Manager, Express Employment- Tuscaloosa, AL

    Today’s workforce is the first in history to include workers from five different generations. While this adds welcome diversity, it also poses significant challenges for keeping workers engaged and on board.

    A recent Ernst & Young survey shows that 75% of managers find it challenging to manage inter-generational teams and 77% reported that the different work expectations among each generations is a key challenge.

    Consider the general mindset of each group toward office meetings as an illustration of this challenge:

    • Traditionalists (born prior to 1946) will typically arrive early and expect a paper agenda.
    • Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) will expect a PowerPoint presentation and are willing to put in any extra hours required if the meeting runs long.
    • Gen X (born between 1965 and 1976) employees will prefer to watch a video and expect the meeting to end by 5 p.m. to honor work-life balance boundaries.
    • Millennials (born between 1977 and 1997) will want the meeting to have a strong purpose, and will use collaborative digital tools to share meeting information and expect others to do the same.
    • Generation Z (born after 1997) employees will want to call in from a remote location, no matter what the time, because they view the workplace as essentially an anytime-anywhere proposition.

    It’s About Motivation

    How can employers keep all segments of this diverse workforce engaged? A Harvard Business Review article explains that it is not a matter of trying to get everyone to work in the same way, but about leveraging each group’s strengths and understanding what motivates team members the most.

    The author suggests that managers shouldn’t assume they already know how to motivate employees who are older or younger. Instead, it’s important to have individual conversations with workers to determine what they want out of their own professional lives.

    Millennial workers, in particular, typically need to feel their input has value and tend to have some very ambitious goals. A Wall Street Journal guide to managing across generations suggests giving Millennials special assignments outside of their job descriptions, such as placing them on a task force working to solve a business or workplace problem.

    Different Generations, Similar Expectations

    While each workforce generation has come from a different era, a report by the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School Executive Development Program suggests that different generations may have more in common than employers realize, from wanting the business as a whole to succeed to wanting success in their individual careers.

    Interestingly, workers from all five generations agree on the characteristics of an ideal business leader:

    • Leads by example
    • Is accessible
    • Challenges and holds others accountable
    • Acts as a coach and mentor
    • Helps others see how their roles contribute to the organization

    Despite technology, communication and work style preferences, there are universal attributes that cross generations and can lead to team bonding. Whether it’s the way your employees care about their families or their vision for the team’s success, those common threads can be the beginning of a more cohesive and engaged multi-generational team. This bonding breeds an atmosphere of trust and a valuable level of respect for what each individual brings to the table, no matter what generational group they are in.

  • Mentorship: An Investment in the Next Generation

    By Brinkley Pearce, Office Manager, Express Employment- Tuscaloosa, AL

    According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the Millennial generation will overtake Baby Boomers as the largest generation in the workforce. To add to that, 28 percent or per cent of Millenials are already in management roles.

    In the past, mentorships or apprenticeships played a significant role in the training of the next generation of workers. Unfortunately, with the changing dynamics of the workplace, this practice of teaching and leading has faded away in most industries.  Here are three reasons mentorships should be a part of your business plan for your workforce.

    Reduce Turnover

    An estimated 60 % of employees plan to change jobs in the coming months and asurvey by Express Employment Professionals recently revealed that college graduates aren’t expected to stay in their first job longer than one year. Emphasizing the importance of mentorships with your team will help keep your Millennial workers developing as they grow in their professional career.

    A survey of young managers published in the Harvard Business Review found that mentorship was one of the highest ranking items “important” to them. Unfortunately, it also ranked lowest in the number of employers who provided mentoring to their young leaders.

    The impact of the lack of mentorships on turnover doesn’t end there, however. A survey by Virtuali, a leadership training firm, found that 64 % of Millennial leaders believed they were unprepared when entering their leadership role.

    If young workers are placed into leadership roles without the training needed to be successful, they will inevitably negatively impact the team they are managing and any hiring decisions they make, leading to costly turnover.

    Attract Top Talent

    If Millennials are looking for mentorship opportunities or programs in the companies they are wanting to work for, and are even willing to leave their current job to work for a business that offers such programs, what are you doing to attract the top, young talent?

    It’s a competitive advantage for your business to invest in mentorship opportunities for your team and promote such programs when recruiting. Whether you’re battling other businesses in your industry or your city, it’s clear that having established mentorships for your employees will help you gain the attention of the most talented workers available.

    Strategic and Effective Training

    Imagine the impact ongoing teaching and guidance could have on a generation of workers that will eventually fill leadership roles at businesses across the country. Mentors can provide unique knowledge and understanding about the company and industry’s history, the reasons behind the way things are done, and personal encouragement when an employee faces challenges and tough decisions.

    “The value of a mentor who can help cultivate leadership skills one-on-one in real-time, reduce the anxiety in taking big steps, and focus leaders on achieving their goals – is huge,” said Ken Perlman, engagement leader at Kotter International, a leadership research and consulting firm.

    If your company doesn’t currently have some type of established mentorship program in place, it’s time to seriously consider developing one. Statistics and research continue to show the value of mentorships, not only to your employees, but to the long-term success of your business.

    As Millennials make up more and more of the workforce and leadership in business today, it’s the responsibility of current leaders to implement ideas and programs, like mentorships, to keep their companies competitive and successful.

  • Communication Secrets of Great Leaders

    Brinkley Pearce, M.A. – Office Manager, Express Employment Professionals

    There is no specific group of character traits or abilities that makes a leader great. Some are boisterous, others are soft-spoken. One might be humorous, while another is more serious. Consider some of the greats—Martin Luther King, Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. They were all very different people from diverse backgrounds, yet they were able to inspire others and their messages have stood the test of the time for one reason—their ability to communicate.

    You may not be leading a country or have the eyes of the world focused on you, but as a business leader you are being called to inspire your employees, share how your company can help others, and guide the business to success. And that requires an ability to communicate as well. As an article from Forbes points out, “a large number of organizational problems occur as a result of poor communications … that underscores the need for leaders to focus on becoming great communicators.”

    Every leader should strive to be a good communicator, and practicing, communicating and learning from your mistakes will help you reach that goal. But, there are three secrets that will help you become a great communicator, which in turn will help you become a great leader.

    Secret #1: It’s Not About You
    Really, this isn’t just a secret of communicating, but a secret of life in general. However, when you’re communicating, you have to always be conscious of the fact that it’s not about you! It’s about your audience. Do they understand, relate to, connect with or react to what you’re saying? “The message is not about the messenger,” concurs Forbes, “it has nothing to do with the messenger; it is however 100% about meeting the needs and expectations of those you’re communicating with.”

    Secret #2: It’s Not About Talking
    Being a great communicator isn’t about talented speech writing, amazing articulation or spreading information and ideas. At its core, communication is about listening. Every time you communicate it is in response to something, whether a direct question, a situation or a need. And your response will mean nothing if you haven’t truly listened. As President Woodrow Wilson said, “The ear of the leader must ring with the voices of the people.”

    Secret #3: It’s Not About The Who, What, When or Where
    People, especially employees, want to know more than just the facts of a situation. They desire to understand the why and the how. Why is this happening? How are we going to accomplish this goal? Why did you make that decision? How will this impact me? If you’ve truly listened, you’ll know exactly what questions your audience is asking, and how to answer. This doesn’t mean you should neglect the facts; you just have to make it a priority to leave your audience with the key take-aways they were wanting.

    Ultimately, you will not succeed professionally, or personally, if you lack the ability to communicate. As a leader who has been tasked with inspiring your team, assisting your customers and building a successful company, your effectiveness rests on your willingness and commitment to become a great communicator.

  • How Giving Back Can Impact Your Company’s Future

    Brinkley Pearce, M.A. – Office Manager, Express Employment Professionals

    People go into business for many reasons – to provide a needed product or service, to fulfill the dream of entrepreneurship, to make a difference – but one of the top reasons is to make money. It’s a noble task to financially provide for yourself and your family, and in the process, you can also create the opportunity for others to earn a living.

    However, with more attention being placed on corporate giving and social activism, there has been a push for businesses of all sizes to give back. And while giving back does require time, effort and sometimes money, it does provide benefits. CECP, a coalition of CEOs focused on social improvement, found that “companies that have increased giving by more than 10 percent since 2010 also increased median revenues by 11 percent or per cent …. and, profits increased for 59 percent or per cent of those companies.”

    Giving back can also increase employee morale and provide good PR for your business. Here are a few ways your business can give back.

    The Community
    The most frequent idea associated with corporate generosity is giving to the community. The majority of people have heard about the various philanthropic programs set up by major corporations like Apple, Kellogg and Johnson & Johnson. But, smaller companies can have just as much impact in their local communities without the negative side effects that some business leaders might worry about.

    An article from Inc., stated that “The coordination of just a few annual community or volunteer events will connect your business with hundreds of positive, productive members of your community. In many cases, this can be even more cost-effective than traditional promotional activities.”

    The article went on to point out that giving back can also result in great “ROI for small business,” “employee engagement,” “buy-in to marketing programs,” and “opportunities to connect directly with community leaders and other key influencers.”

    Another opportunity to give back is through a business’s own employees. And, while most business leaders may not lump such things as employee bonuses, gifts, workplace benefits, tuition reimbursement and appreciation events with other types of generosity, these are ways that businesses can give back to their most important assets.

    And it has its own forms of ROI, including heightened morale, increased engagement, higher productivity, and decreased turnover rates. At the end of 2014, Forbes published an article that highlighted a survey of over 200,000 employees across hundreds of companies.

    TINYpulse, the employee engagement firm that conducted the research, asked, “What motivates you to excel and go the extra mile at your organization?” Respondents indicated that camaraderie, peer motivation, feeling encouraged, and being recognized, which can all be achieved by employers giving back to their workers, motivated them to work harder.

    Poet and award-winning author Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back.” There are always ways that companies, even small businesses, can “throw something back.” Ultimately everyone wins when companies give back, including the businesses themselves.

    See how Express Tuscaloosa is Paying it Forward this Holiday Season!

  • How To Get Back on Track When Goal Setting Goes Wrong

    By Brinkley Pearce, Office Manager, Express Employment- Tuscaloosa, AL

    Finding success in life isn’t about hitting every goal you set. Any entrepreneur can tell you that failure is just another step in the journey to success. What’s important is how you react to those failures. 
    First, realize that you’re not alone. A survey reported in Inc. magazine revealed that 77 percent of small business owners have yet to reach their vision for their companies.
    Don’t waste valuable time beating yourself up over missed goals. According to a report by Psychology Today, this will lower your energy and feelings of self-worth, making it harder to get back on track.
    To move forward, it’s important to analyze whether poor goal setting is what tripped you up. This is all too common, and according to The Globe and Mail Career Lab series, you’re more likely to succeed if you set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results Driven, Timely) goals.

    Drill Down

    According to an article by Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson, thousands of studies have shown the importance of narrowing your goals to specific, concrete targets.
    So, rather than setting a broad goal, like “achieving better success at work,” set specific benchmarks that are measurable, such as reaching a certain position, or making a target salary or commission. To support this long-range goal, assign yourself medium-term steps, which you’ll need to accomplish to reach your target. Get feedback from your boss or mentor on what you’ll need to achieve to meet this goal, and which stumbling blocks you may have to overcome.

    Keep It Real

    If the only way to make your goal is to work a 70-hour work week for the next year, you are likely going to burn out. Inc. magazine notes that while a challenge is important, if you set goals that are too challenging, you will wind up exhausted and unable to maintain the personal relationships in your life. Fatigue and burnout often lead to mistakes that limit your abilities to achieve your goals.

    Check Your Time

    Once you have your goals in place, it’s essential to align time management with your future plan, according to an article in the Harvard Business Review. This will help you determine whether the way you spend your time now is going to allow you to reach your future goals. Look for things that bog you down, distract you or steal time from your objectives.
    The idea is to find any areas of misalignment, and then adjust your workflow or the goal, as needed.

    Don’t Go It Alone

    It’s easier to meet any goal when you have sound advice and guidance from others. In fact, an article by life coach Lesley Knowles notes that accepting help and support from others is essential to success.
    Friends and family can be your greatest cheerleaders and offer helpful encouragement. On the business side, your best bet is to find a mentor who is knowledgeable in your field. A good mentor can help you stay focused on your goals, suggest new strategies you may not have considered, and hold you accountable if you become distracted from your plan. 
    Better goal setting can make a real difference in your ability to overcome roadblocks on your path to success. Before you set your next round of goals, make sure you take a moment to enjoy your success. Celebrate with those who supported your journey. Then, consider which goal setting elements helped you get where you are, and use them to set your vision for the future.