HR/Business

An Asian woman facing opposite direction in a crowd

How to Bring Belonging Back

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October 23 @ 5:47 pm CDT

Early in my career, I was recruited to sit on an association’s board of directors and given the opportunity to spearhead a priority initiative for the organization. I was thrilled and jumped at the opportunity to take on such a prominent role. Imagine my disappointment when I attended my first board meeting and the initiative was tabled. The next several meetings I attended, the initiative continued to be backburned. It wasn’t long before I found myself feeling frustrated, unappreciated, and overlooked. My admiration for the association and passion for the project waned. I felt like I no longer belonged. Feeling like we don’t belong is a feeling we can all relate to, yet many organizations are struggling to foster a sense of belonging – and have been for quite some time. We know this to be true because most associations have reported declining membership trends for the past decade, just as employers have reported declining levels of employee engagement. And here and now, the workforce turnover is so massive, this era is being referred to as the Great Resignation. Belonging by definition means two things: ownership and a secure relationship. We feel like we belong when we’re invited to actively contribute and share our opinions and ideas, and we are listened to, respected, and positively encouraged. In the late 1990s, belonging began to transition. From workplaces to membership associations, the same trend was observed: Young people were less likely to join/stay/engage/renew. In other words, young people were less likely to feel like they belong. Why the sudden shift? And why have so many organizations struggled to re-engage young people? I’ve spent a lot of time researching this trend in an effort to find the answers. The answer is quite complex, but here’s the condensed version: The shift in belonging is a direct result of significant social change and the era during which younger generations have come of age. Young people are wary of forging connections and…

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Losing Our Empathy: How to Team-Build When People Could Care Less

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October 23 @ 5:47 pm CDT

Blame it on a 24-hour news cycle, social media, corruption, the increased use of profanity, or savage political campaigns, but one thing has become very apparent, we have lost what connects us to each other — our empathy. Whether we’re arguing about politics or vaccinations, guns, or abortion, or which lives matter most, our society has been unable to successfully cooperate or community-build for quite some time now. In my line of work, this means more clients calling with concerns about teambuilding and inclusion. Employers are observing increased conflict and lower tolerance. Young employees are less likely to stick around in a setting like this, so the lack of empathy is also contributing to turnover. Empathy is the ability to emotionally understand what other people feel and how they see things from their point of view. Empathy leads to compassion and the desire to care for or help someone else. And our empathy is currently missing. New scientific research revealed adults today are caring less for others and more about themselves — and this has negatively influenced youth and young professional development. According to the research from Indiana University, declines in empathy among young people started happening in the early 2000s alongside a rise in mental health problems. Both outcomes are believed to be directly associated with burn-out. With the mainstreaming of technology, shifts in parenting and education, and a greater social emphasis on competitiveness, testing, and success, children were facing challenges earlier generations didn’t face. Researchers believe this generation’s self-care and care for others was backburnered to focus on personal success and survival. Here and now, children are observing communities in conflict, even during a global pandemic. Time will tell how this experience will influence their development, but the research indicates the conflict and lack of compassion is already more prevalent among adults than at any other time in history. The questions at the top of mind right now for many leaders and teams is:…

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kid at superbowl

Take It To The House, Kid – What the 2020 Super Bowl Ads Reveal About Ourselves, Our Society

October 23 @ 5:47 pm CDT

By Sarah Sladek It’s the 100th anniversary of the NFL and the dawn of a new decade, and the advertisers who invested in the 54th Super Bowl made some history of their own. For starters, women and girls headlined the football extravaganza, more ads than ever before. Secret’s Let’s Kick Inequality, Olay’s Make Space for Women, Microsoft Surface’s Be the One, and Pepsi’s Paint It Black ads featured the achievements of women and tackled feminism head on. The female-focused advertising aligned with three historic moments on the field: San Francisco 49ers’ Katie Sowers made history as the first female coach at the Super Bowl; Kansas City Chiefs’ CEO and Chairwoman, Norma Hunt, also referred to as the First Lady of Football, is the only woman to have attended all 54 Super Bowls; and Jennifer Lopez and Shakira became the first Hispanic women to headline the half-time show, and Demi Lovato, whose father is of Mexican heritage, performed the national anthem. Another interesting play: advertisers invested in creative collaborations. When We Come Together was Procter & Gamble’s first multi-brand Super Bowl ad featuring the mascots and spokespeople of Bounty, Charmin, Mr. Clean, Febreze, Old Spice, Head & Shoulders, and more. Chester Cheetah made a cameo in the Sabra Hummus commercial and Tide incorporated a multi-part campaign featuring Bud Knight from Budweiser (a character Bud Light killed off in their 2019 ad), Wonder Woman, and The Masked Singer. In years prior, the majority of advertisers went for the comical approach, but this year’s game plan took the heartfelt route. Two ads were inspired by actual events: Google’s Loretta featured the true story of an elderly man remembering her late wife with the help of voice-activated Google Assistant, and WeatherTech’s CEO bought a Super Bowl ad to thank the vet school at University of Wisconsin, for saving his beloved golden retriever, Scout. Kia’s Never Give Up ad features Las Vegas Raiders’ running back Josh Jacobs giving advice to his…

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The Question Every Leader Should Ask

The Question Every Leader Should Ask

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October 23 @ 5:47 pm CDT

By Sarah Sladek –  It’s happening again. Way back in June of 2018, I authored a blog on what was being referred to as “the big global crack up”. In nations throughout the world – Spain, China, Germany, Britain, and the United States, to name a few – economies were unable to generate enough jobs to absorb their young people, creating generations of disaffected, unemployed, or underemployed for which the world had little to offer. The youth revolted. Protests erupted throughout the world. Notably, thousands of students in England demonstrated against a government move to enable the country’s universities to triple tuition fees, and the Arab youth bulge led a charge that overthrew dictators in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, and Libya within a matter of months. At the time, the former Italian Prime Minister Giuliano Amato said: “The older generations have eaten the future of the younger ones.” Mark Goulston, then Vice Chairman of Steele Partners, wrote: “If you look around you at the different generations, you will see that a revolution is brewing. But it is not brewing between democratic and totalitarian regimes. It is between generations.” In 2011, nothing in the world was stable, similar, or secure – especially for the world’s youth. As the end of 2019 approaches, it would seem history is repeating itself. Teenagers in the U.S. are organizing against gun violence, students in Hong Kong are battling for democratic representation, young people from South America to Europe are agitating for remaking the global economy, and youth worldwide are advocating for climate action. In the past year-and-a-half, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg has addressed heads of state at the U.N., met with the Pope, sparred with the President of the United States, and inspired 4 million people to join the global climate strike on September 20, 2019, in what was the largest climate demonstration in history. Because of her, hundreds of thousands of teenagers from Lebanon to Liberia, have skipped school to lead their peers…

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Workplace Etiquette

Workplace Etiquette: The haunting truth of ‘ghosting’

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October 23 @ 5:47 pm CDT

By Sarah Sladek, XYZ University CEO Workplace etiquette. Turns out, that’s a pretty controversial subject right now. Recently I presented at a conference for healthcare executives and heard many complaints about the youngest generations in the workforce and their disregard for etiquette. Topping the list of complaints: quitting via text, not showing up for work, and calling the boss by his first name. Is the etiquette divide the indication of a generation gap or a social shift? Turns out, it’s both. Across the United States, so many people are not showing up for job interviews, not responding to job offers, blowing off a job they’ve already accepted, or even mysteriously not returning to work, that economists have taken notice. In December 2018, the practice of “ghosting” made the Federal Reserve Bank’s list of official labor market trends. Ghosting is slang for describing the practice of breaking off a relationship by ceasing all communication and contact without any apparent warning or justification. Reactions to the ghosting milestone have been mixed, often aligning with career stage or generation. For example, most executives believe it’s a sign of the times and lament our deteriorating ability to be social or halfway civil with each other. But some people—mostly entry-level or mid-level employees who tend to represent younger generations—are basking in the ironic twist that it’s employers, rather than job applicants, left wondering why they were so quietly and uneventfully rejected. Scarred by past events, these people argue that for years it was customary to not hear back from a prospective employer, even after interviews and extensive screenings. Some experts believe ghosting is on the rise because of the job market. Unemployment is at its lowest point in decades and there are more job openings than there are people looking for jobs. As a result, this has emboldened workers to skip the awkward conversations with their bosses and quickly move on to other opportunities. Others say the rise in ghosting is…

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Millennial Nomads

Millennial Nomads, and how it could affect retaining employees…

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October 23 @ 5:47 pm CDT

According to a survey conducted by AfterCollege networking site, 59% of current job seekers look for a flexible work schedule from a prospective employer, while 70% said they’re more likely to accept a job if there’s the option to work from home at least one day a week. Both of these rank second to work/life balance. So, how is the Millennial Nomad lifestyle possibly affecting your work culture? A Millennial Nomad, someone who sees themselves as an explorer, a thinker, a person who embodies being wanderlust and doesn’t necessarily have one single place they call home. It’s the stories you read about where a person buys a van, redoes it, and then travels the countryside. But it’s also people who, in their workplace, have the option to work remotely, so they do. According to a survey conducted by AfterCollege networking site, 59% of current job seekers are looking for a flexible work schedule from a prospective employer, while 70% said they’re more likely to accept a job if there’s the option to work from home at least one day a week. Both of these rank second to work/life balance. Now, as more and more Millennials ditch the corporate 9-5 for this nomadic lifestyle, other Millennials have taken notice and built companies around helping more people become Millennial or Digital Nomads. Take for instance companies such as WiFly Nomads or The Remote Experience. These are two, of many, companies that give you the option to work remotely from a chosen destination with 20 or so other like-minded individuals. You can take your passion to travel, skip the van living, and work remotely from some paradise halfway around the world. And if your work doesn’t offer remote work, well, they’ll help you find a job that does! It’s like studying abroad in college, but now you’re studying abroad for work. And Baby Boomers, I know what you’re probably thinking, this is just an excuse for the younger generation to get out of work. But,…

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4 people solving Workforce Crisis

3 Steps to Solving a Workforce Crisis

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October 23 @ 5:47 pm CDT

When Danny Hearn contacted XYZ University five years ago, two daunting issues loomed over industries throughout the region of Hickory, North Carolina: how to attract and engage Millennials, and how to solve for the aging workforce crisis and talent shortage. “Our number one business issue is attracting young people to manufacturing jobs. It’s at a crisis stage. We have 3,000 jobs that go unfilled every day. Most are really great manufacturing jobs that require smart, skilled people,” said Hearn, who is President and CEO of the Catawba County Chamber of Commerce in Hickory, NC. Hearn had read Sarah Sladek’s book, The End of Membership As We Know It, and XYZ University’s report, America’s Aging Workforce Crisis.He invited Sladek to Hickory to present to area employers and Chamber of Commerce executives from throughout the southeast. At first, Hearn reported that some leaders were resistant to change, but as they implemented the strategies that XYZ University provided, the outcomes made a positive impact on their bottom lines. Specifically, Hearn shared his key learnings and developments as a result of XYZ University’s guidance. Lesson 1: Invite, engage and listen. XYZ University suggested that leaders bring young employees, members, volunteers, and leaders to the table, and requested their feedback on specific workforce and community initiatives. “At the Chamber, we conducted a young professionals survey that led to a successful strategy, ” Hearn explained. “For example, we discovered that the word ‘member’ didn’t resonate with young adults, and that our membership fee formula was outdated. As a result, the Chamber created a tiered structure for ‘Investors’ and ‘Shareholders’. If we hadn’t asked for their feedback, we never would have known we were alienating young people.” Lesson 2: Millennials do not engage for the sake of tradition, but because they want valuable, life-long learning experiences. Before the survey, the Chamber had launched a Young Professionals Group, and the leader of that group was a Baby Boomer, ex-officio, non-voting Board member. Sladek explained to Hearn this model of keeping young professionals at arms-length, under the guidance or someone else, would never work. Now, the Chamber has literally brought young professionals to the decision-making table; at least half of the Chamber’s Board members are now under the age of 40. In addition, the Chamber started engaging young professionals in the creation of…

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Workforce

Recognizing Generation Stereotypes In The Workplace

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October 23 @ 5:47 pm CDT

Ever have one of those moments when you realize it’s a generational difference that’s causing you frustration? I had one recently with my mother-in-law. I could barely sit through the story she told me about how she repeatedly scours the stores looking for a specific fondue pot she broke years ago. “Why not just order it on Amazon?” I asked her, flabbergasted. Well, she hadn’t thought of it. After our conversation, she ordered it on Amazon. That also surprised me because I thought she was afraid of online shopping. With more than three generations working together, misunderstandings based on stereotypes happen all the time in the workplace. Getting past stereotypes is the first step in being part of and creating excellent teams. It’s tempting to say that stereotypes exist for a reason, and use that as general proof they are true. Of course, there is a reason, but that doesn’t make them true, and it doesn’t excuse you from getting past them. If you’re buying into stereotypes, you’re limiting contributions by others and missing opportunities yourself. Let’s take another approach. Gen Y: Entitled & lazy While many may see the shirking of “busy work” as lazy or entitled to better things, could actually be a desire not to waste time. Leverage their skills and motivate seemingly entitled and lazy team members. When assigning Millennials work it will help if you: Explain why it’s important, not just that they need to do it Show them the bigger picture Give them regular feedback Offer challenging work, don’t let them get bored Gen X: Cynical & poor team members Don’t count Gen X out for group activities just because you’ve heard they are cynical loners at work. When given the right motivations, Xers are great team players. You’ll encourage teamwork if you: Give them choices, let them use their resourcefulness Give them goals and let them figure out how to reach them Provide mentorship Avoid micromanaging Boomers: Out of touch & disinterested in learning new things After years of being called on by parents and…

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