Unlimited vacation days, flextime and telecommuting are all policies aimed at making employees happier and more productive at work. Jody Thompson, co-founder of consulting group CultureRX, says these measures are short-sighted. What inspires employees to produce more, higher quality work, she says, is complete autonomy over their schedules and 100 percent accountability for the work they do — not formal policies that require management approval and oversight. Here, Thompson discusses a workplace management model she helped create, called Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE), that aims to turn the 40-hour workweek on its head.
How does ROWE change how managers and employees think about work?
It’s a big shift. Managers are used to managing schedules and the 40-hour workweek. They’re used to employees asking questions like "Can I work from home?" and "Can I leave early?" Work becomes secondary and less relevant in the conversation. It’s a big switch for managers to not have to manage that piece. Using ROWE, people shift to managing 100 percent of their own time and can no longer default to "I’ve put in my time, so I’m done regardless of deadlines." It flips everybody’s mindset. We’re accountable for what we’ve been hired to do — the work.
And how does it change the way individuals and companies get work done?
It’s good for people because they know what they’re supposed to do, and they have control over their time. They know that if they do the right thing every day and produce what they’re accountable for, they’ll have a job. For the company what’s really great is that everybody has clarity about what they’re supposed to be doing. People aren’t just filling time, so there’s more planning, more direct communication, more productive meetings, and less wasted time.
What's the learning curve like for employees working according to your ROWE model?
Some employees have to experiment with different ways of working to find what works. In one example, an employee always wanted to work from home, and her work didn’t require her to be in the office. When she started working in another location, she didn’t do as well. Because her manager was now managing the work and not the person, she was having a different conversation with her. Instead of saying, "Well, you’re not getting your work done. You better get back in the office," she said, "We have had a conversation about what you need to produce and you’re not producing that. Let’s talk about what you need to do because you need to produce what we agreed upon. You were producing at that level before. Is there anything you need from me?" This person said, "I’ve been trying to work some different ways, and it’s not working for me. I’m going to make some changes because I know what I need to produce." This person decided she needed to come into the office, but the manager didn’t tell the person to do that because she was accountable and autonomous.
Can you describe how companies manage people instead of their work?
Often when business isn’t doing well, companies say, "Let’s get everyone on deck," when what they should be doing is having conversations about getting everyone on point. How can we get everyone on the same page about what they need to produce and the results we need to see? Getting everyone on deck, or back in the office, doesn’t mean people are going to understand what they need to be doing. They, in effect, started managing the people instead of the work, and that’s the wrong way to go about it.
What's the difference between how accountability and autonomy are defined under ROWE as opposed to core values?
A lot of organizations say that accountability and autonomy are part of their core values. But here’s where it doesn’t play out. They’ll say, "Yes, we want our people to be accountable and autonomous, but not our receptionist and not our call center," so they start to pick and choose because they’re still thinking in a flexibility mindset. They might say, "Well everybody can be autonomous, but if you’re going to work offsite you need to ask your manager’s permission." That’s not autonomous.
What will it take for companies to embrace ROWE?
It will take decades. ROWE is a social change that is disrupting what we believe about work. The concept is simple, but beliefs can be hard to change. One belief is "I believe people at work are working," and that belief in and of itself makes you think that people can’t be working anywhere but at work. Another deeply held belief: "I believe the best relationships are built face-to-face." If you believe that, you’re going to want everyone in the office and collaborating around a conference table. That’s ridiculous — the next generation is collaborating using FaceTime and Skype. But if you believe the best way to do it is in a conference room, you’re going to force people to come to the office.
These beliefs are holding us hostage, and it’s going to take a long time to break them down. We'll do it, one company at a time.
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4 Ways to Expand Your Social Media Recruiting Strategy
Social media is ubiquitous, and companies are using it in many different and innovative ways for enhancing their sales, marketing and customer services. So why is it then that many HR departments still fail to see social media as more than a job board? Outside of the office, the same HR people happily engage with friends on Facebook, share news and ideas on Twitter, look at pictures on Instagram and send snaps on Snapchat. But when they put their work hat on they seemingly forget why they use social in the way they (and hundreds of millions of other users) do every day, and resort back to just posting jobs (in a boring way) on social media! Of course there is nothing wrong with job posting, and it's often an effective approach to reaching an audience, but not all of the time. According to LinkedIn, only 12 percent of the working population are actively seeking new employment. So, if all you do is post jobs on your LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook page, you are consciously ignoring the other 88 percent of the working population who might be interested in hearing more about your company in general. Creating and sharing interesting content about your company such as employee stories or volunteer days help bring your employer brand to life. It might even trigger people to reach out to you and find out more about your job opportunities. In truth, mixing up your social media feeds with a variety of content will provide more depth and candidate engagement. Here are four ways to expand your social media strategy and engage with new potential candidates. 1) Candidate Sourcing With people using an average of more than five social networks, sourcing talent via social media makes absolute sense. Branch out from just using LinkedIn and look to sites like Twitter, Facebook and Google+ to search for and engage with prospective talent. Try search tools like Followerwonk to search Twitter bios for keywords and job titles, a clever Chrome browser extension called Intelligence Search that easily searches Facebook and using the search bar at the top of Google+. They will help you identify new talent. If you are looking to build social media pipelines then try Hello Talent. It is a great free tool that allows you to build talent pipelines from many different social networks by using a browser extension. 2) Competitor Monitoring Social media is a fantastic source of information and data. By using tools like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck, you can monitor the social media activity of your competitors. Both of these tools allow you to set up search columns, where you can enter things like keywords, hashtags, Twitter names and track when any of these are mentioned on sites such as Twitter. You can use the interact or use the insights accordingly. 3) Resources for Candidates Consider your Facebook page (or Twitter channel) as a real-time customer services channel for you to engage and communicate with both new and existing candidates in the recruitment process. Provide links to your social media pages to candidates at all stages in the process and encourage them to visit the pages and ask questions about any part of the process. You can also share useful information about working for the company, including locations, employees and other relevant news. 4) Live Recruitment Events Not everyone can attend the many recruitment events happening every month. But by using social media like Twitter, Facebook Live, Instagram and Snapchat, you can easily provide live commentary for these events you attend or host. Real-time video via Facebook Live and interaction via Twitter chats are superb examples of ways to regularly engage with a live audience of potential candidates. With social media firmly established in our working lives, I question how much more evidence HR departments will need to fully embrace this "new" form of candidate engagement. Photo: Twenty20
Cartoon Coffee Break: Unconventional Recruiting
Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Cartoon Coffee Break" series. While we take talent management seriously, we also know it's important to have a good laugh. Check back every two weeks for a new ReWork cartoon. Missed the Recruiting Trends conference? From the state of recruiting automation adoption, to the role that the human element still plays in recruiting, our recap covers everything you need to know. Header photo: Creative Commons
The Latest Office Benefit Is Tackling Student Debt
Modern companies are more than just employers — increasingly, they are also gyms, cafeterias and even laundromats. As perks like yoga class, free lunch and complimentary dry cleaning become the norm, companies continue to push the boundaries on ways to attract and retain top talent by providing much more than a paycheck to employees. The latest in the slew of new workplace benefits? Student loan assistance. In April, Chegg partnered with Tuition.io to give full-time employees extra cash for student loan reduction. Then in September, consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers announced it would provide up to $1,200 to help employees pay off loans annually. As a benefit, student loan assistance programs are certainly still in their infancy— one survey found that only 3 percent of companies offer such a benefit. But experts say that may soon change as companies seek to differentiate themselves in a competitive hiring environment. "We think student loan benefits are poised to be the next big benefit; similar to what 401(k) matching was when it was first introduced," says Dana Rosenberg, who leads employer and affinity group partnerships at Earnest, a lender that offers student loan refinancing and works with companies to create loan pay-down programs. The Burden of Student Debt Such programs could be extremely attractive to debt-laden Millennials. Around 40 million Americans collectively carry $1.2 trillion in student loan debt, and the graduating class of 2015 was the most indebted class in history with an average debt of $35,000 (a superlative they won't hold for long come May 2016.) For employers looking to adjust benefits to correspond to the changing demographics of their employee base, student loan programs hit the mark. "In 2016, our employees will be 80 percent millennials, and we also hire close to 11,000 employees directly out of school each year," says Terri McClements, Washington Metro managing partner of PwC. With student debt often preventing young people from participating in 401(k) plans and reaching traditional life milestones, the benefit could potentially make a large impact on employees' financial and personal well-being. A study from the American Student Association found that 73 percent of people with student loans reported putting off saving for retirement or other investments due to their debt, 75 percent reported delaying a home purchase and 27 percent reported it was difficult to buy daily necessities. "Student loans can be a very stressful thing to deal with, so if we can give our employees peace of mind, that's great," says Caroline Gennaro, corporate communications manager at Chegg. The Allure for Employers Student debt assistance programs aren't just attractive to employees, either. Rosenberg says there are significant benefits for the organizations that offer them as well. "Employers that offer programs to help their employees get out from under their debt load are seeing big benefits: increased retention, more competitive recruiting and, perhaps most importantly, happier employees who have additional cash flow to put towards their life goals," Rosenberg explains. Rosenberg says happier employees are more engaged employees, who tend to be more productive. Studies show that companies with high employee engagement experience lower turnover and have double the rate of organizational success than their less-engaged counterparts. Student loan benefit programs may also lead to a more diverse workforce, attracting employees whose financial backgrounds meant they had to take on more debt for their education. "Diversity and inclusion are also very important to us, so the ability to offer this benefit can help minorities who come out of school with a higher debt burden," says McClements. A Promising Response Companies say the response to their student loan assistance programs have been overwhelmingly positive. Chegg has had more than 80 people sign up since they started their program this summer, and they've already eliminated roughly 86 years of collective loan repayments for their employees. Companies are also finding these programs are a way to differentiate themselves from organizations that may offer more generic benefits. "As a company in the San Francisco Bay Area, we are always looking to attract the best and brightest in the industry, and this benefit is a big draw," says Gennaro. Photo: Shutterstock