Workforce

The Membership Tricks That Work Like Magic

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May 16 @ 6:25 am CDT

We’ve all witnessed a magic trick at one point or another in our lives. Whether it’s a card trick, a rabbit being pulled out of a hat, or a disappearing act, all of these illusions are meant to do just that – create the “illusion” or mirage of something real. If you had your own magic wand, what type of magic would you cast upon your association? Would it be an increase in membership, a boost in revenue, or enhanced value for your stakeholders? Believe it or not, you can accomplish all of this (and more!) with a few key changes to your membership approach – no trickery or magic necessary. Many organizations think they understand why members join their community, but nine times out of ten, they’ve got it wrong. When someone joins your association, it’s not for the networking or programming opportunities, the advocacy you provide, or perks you offer. Rather, people are joining your association because they believe you can help them solve a problem they personally identify with. No matter what type of organization you are (professional, trade, community, or social), your target audience will be driven to your doorstep if they think that you hold the solutions to the challenges they face. To understand the problems you should be solving, its best to begin by understanding what kinds of problems your members are currently dealing with. The most powerful piece of advice I can share with you is this: what is happening within your membership is reflective of what’s happening in the workforce. Many associations fail to recognize this, and are suffering the consequences in the form of disengaged and declining membership. The good news is that there are solutions that can help reverse this trend. In order to understand how we got here, we must go back in time. Membership decline was a phenomena first reported in the mid-late 1990’s at a time when workforce decline was also happening simultaneously.…

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scary employee retention stats - female employee holding head down at desk

Scary Employee Retention Stats 2021

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May 16 @ 6:25 am CDT

The costumes have been put away. The haunted houses have closed. Attention has shifted from watching horror movies to watching for Black Friday deals. Halloween has ended, but there’s still much to fear. Since 2013, our firm has celebrated Halloween with its Scary Stats campaign, reporting on the scariest workforce stats of the year. This year was no exception — but this year we’re not in a rush to turn our attention elsewhere. Why? Because the frightening fact is, in the eight years since we started publishing Scary Stats, there’s been no improvement. And this year, scary stats took on a whole new meaning when a record-breaking 4.3 million people quit their jobs within a 30-day time span, and 10.4 million job openings remained unfilled. Even before we started publishing Scary Stats, we knew this moment was coming. In the year 2000, Gallup reported employee disengagement hit an all-time high. Companies started throwing money at research and perks and created new office spaces in an attempt to improve employee engagement, yet the stat remained unchanged. For 21 years, we raised a restless, unhappy workforce. Now, our creation is a full-fledged adult. And like a negligent parent, we’re reflecting on the last two decades with awe and regret, wondering what we created and kicking ourselves for not paying closer attention. These two stats help to tell the story behind the making of this frightful mess commonly referred to as the Great Resignation: The difference between executive and median employee pay continues to increase. CEOs now make 299 times more than the average worker. In 1965, executive pay was 24 times worker pay. In 2017, it was 275 times. Flexibility emerged as a workplace value when Millennials started entering the workforce in 2000. Consistently, 92% of this generation has said they expect employers to provide flexible work environments. In 2021, Deloitte reported 82% of companies now see flexible work arrangements as critical to employee retention, but only 47%…

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Let’s Talk About X – and Y and Z: How to overcome a fear of age diversity

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May 16 @ 6:25 am CDT

A friend recently posted a photo of her five-year-old daughter playing with teddy bears and Barbies, just as children have done for many decades. But there was something different about how the treasured toys were lined up and the child was holding a thermometer. As it turns out, she was playing COVID hospital. We’ve all been impacted by the pandemic. It is an unprecedented, shared global experience and a defining, historic moment. But we have not been impacted the same. What children learn and observe about the world at an early age is hugely influential to their development. During those brain-developing years behaviors, values, and attitudes are shaped. Like trees, we mature, and adapt to outside forces, but the foundation from which we start is always there. Our roots are ever-present and undeniably strong. This is how generations are formed. Shared childhood experiences lead to the formation of similar responses to those experiences. Regrettably, there have been efforts to squelch the exploration of generations, with some people believing the practice leads to stereotyping. Other pundits have referred to generational research as a waste of time, believing all people are more or less the same. While I can appreciate the intent to rid the world of stereotypes and find similarities, there’s a fatal flaw in each of these arguments: Inclusion doesn’t happen by ignoring our differences. It can only happen when we learn to recognize, understand, accept, and celebrate our differences. Here and now, in the aftermath of the George Floyd incident and #MeToo movement, conversations about race and gender have become more prominent, and equity initiatives have edged closer to the forefront of priorities for social change. But all too often, conversations about age diversity are considered too controversial and too difficult, and the perspectives of younger generations consistently end up being dismissed or ignored. Delve deeper and you’ll understand why: Young people are the personification of change. They are a reminder change is necessary and…

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How to Bring Belonging Back

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May 16 @ 6:25 am 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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Leader holding a paycheck out.

The Price is Right: Why Higher Salaries Won’t Single-Handedly Solve the Workforce Crisis

May 16 @ 6:25 am CDT

Six years ago, Dan Price, the founder and CEO of Gravity Payments, set off a media firestorm when he raised the firm’s minimum salary from $35,000 to $70,000 and slashed his own $1 million salary down to $70,000. He was hailed a hero by some and harshly criticized by others. Many analysts predicted the company would soon be bankrupt. But that has not happened; instead, the company is thriving. Six years later, revenue has tripled, the number of employees has doubled, the turnover rate was cut in half, and both the starting salary and CEO salary remain at $70,000. Here and now, wage increases are top of mind as employee turnover is skyrocketing and prospective employees are being wooed with higher starting salaries and sign-on bonuses. Undoubtedly, pay raises are needed. The wage gap is significant. According to the Economic Policy Institute, average CEO compensation is 320 times more than the salaries of their typical workers. (Six years ago, it was 265 times.) But make no mistake about it: money can’t buy love. For 20 years, Gallup has reported 70% of the workforce is disengaged, and companies have thrown money at the problem investing more than ever in perks and bonuses to try to reverse the decline. Yet, employee engagement hasn’t improved. At all. If money isn’t having the desired effect, what will? Trust. The organizations thriving and successfully engaging employees are trustworthy. Specifically, employees believe their leaders are credible, honest, and fair, and that their leaders respect them. Some people will read Price’s story and only see dollar signs. Those people are missing it. Employee engagement can’t be bought. While fans and critics alike marvel at Price’s pay structure, that’s only half the story. His team has been referred to as fiercely loyal which can only come from a trusting, people-first workplace culture. Here’s how one employee described Gravity Payment’s leadership during the pandemic:   “They didn’t do any layoffs. They didn’t raise merchant fees. They let the…

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Kick the Quit: Why Work Isn’t Working and What to Do About It

May 16 @ 6:25 am CDT

The Great Resignation. The Talent Tsunami. Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the speck of sand in our eyes – it stings, it’s anxiety-inducing, and it’s become impossible to ignore. We knew this moment was coming. For decades, government leaders and demographers warned organizations to plan for the Baby Boomer retirement wave. For the past 20 years, Gallup has reported high, unyielding rates of employee disengagement. Then the turnover rate among young professionals hit a historic high and retaining talent was cited as the top management challenge globally. Work hasn’t been working for a while now. The pandemic made an already miserable and fleeting workforce rethink their career and life trajectories and take action. As a result, a record-breaking 11.5 million workers quitting their jobs within a three-month time span – April-June 2021. (U.S. Dept of Labor) This is just the tip of the iceberg. Studies indicate several thousand more workers are likely to jump ship within the next 3-6 months. It took time to get into this mess, and it’s going to take time to get ourselves out of it. Best to start working on work immediately.   To engage people is to understand them, and that can only come from time spent in a relationship with them   As with any crisis, addressing the situation is best achieved once one understands what is causing it. I’ve spent the past two decades researching workforce engagement trends and it all comes down to three undeniable truths:   We inherited institutions designed for the 20thcentury, which are unable to cope with the mounting pressures of constant change and disruption in the 21st century. When leaders fear change and struggle to be open to new ideas, technologies, or people, employees immediately disengage. Appreciation, respect, care, trust, and a sense of teamwork and belonging are considerably more influential in an employee’s decision to engage than compensation, benefits, or workplace perks.   Employees are more unhappy and more likely to leave because many leaders and…

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How to Deal with an Organization in Denial

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May 16 @ 6:25 am CDT

A year ago, President Trump was under fire by experts and pundits for being in denial about the seriousness of the pandemic. In the early weeks, the President referred to the virus as a hoax, refused to issue a federal stay at home order, and hesitated to fully utilize the Defense Production Act. Unfortunately, leadership denial isn’t exclusive to presidents or pandemics. Henry Ford’s denial ended up costing the company a whopping $250 million. Model T sales were declining, yet Ford dismissed the figures because he suspected rivals of manipulating them. One of his top executives warned him of the dire situation and Ford fired him. When he finally decided to make a new car, Ford shut down production for months and the company lost its lead in the market. Denial is a prominent problem among leaders, and it can lead to serious consequences. I was thinking about the power of denial recently while facilitating a meeting with a company’s leadership team. Even after presenting data to indicate irreversible decline unless the company changed course, the team struggled to see the problem. Their conversation immediately turned to a quick fix, which was the equivalent of throwing a rock into a raging ocean. Solution aversion is a powerful barrier to organizational change. Research indicates the majority of leaders rely on the ‘ostrich’ response to change, denying or ignoring the need to change until something forces a response. A popular meme, which features a cartoon dog surrounded by flames, captures this sentiment perfectly. The caption says: This is fine. There’s brain science and social science involved in our responses to change, but the bottom line is this: When the path to a solution seems too overwhelming or difficult, we prefer to avoid it. From backburnering a diet to avoiding a tough conversation, the struggle is one we can all relate to in our personal lives. Likewise, in the workplace leaders will downplay the importance of investing in a…

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How Cancel Culture Will Change Your Organization

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May 16 @ 6:25 am CDT

Given the opportunity to time travel, would you choose to visit the past or the future? I was participating in a virtual happy hour when this question popped up. Some experienced professionals jumped in, sharing moments in history they wanted to visit. The conversation was bubbly; people were happily caught up in their imaginations of what it would be like to experience a bygone era. Then a student from Georgetown University spoke up, and just like that, the mood shifted. “I want to visit the future”, she said. “I want to visit the future to see how much damage has been done by the actions of our society today.” Gen Z (1996-2009) are the teens and early 20-somethings who have become largely renowned for holding up the mirror to society, forcing us all to take a closer look. Under  their watch, the concept of cancel culture has been trending for most of the past year, which has become a polarizing topic of debate. Regardless of age or experience, feeling ignored drives  people to disengage, quit, protest, and cancel. The process of ‘canceling’ usually goes like this: A public figure or organization does or says something offensive. A public backlash, often fueled by political views and social media, ensues. Then there’s call to take away their cultural cachet, whether through boycotts or disciplinary action. Cancel culture has been referred to as a mob mentality, encouraging lawlessness, censorship, and the erasing of history. It’s also been referred to as a long overdue way of holding people accountable for propagating racist and sexist ideas, toxic behaviors, and making unethical, immoral decisions without any regard for others. Although it started as more of a political debate, cancel culture has now moved into the arena of generational debate. In 2019, the OK boomer meme and videos were an attempt by Gen Z to ‘cancel’ the generations that came before them. OK boomer was meant to be cutting and dismissive; a snarky…

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Why They Quit: How To Retain Young Talent

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May 16 @ 6:25 am CDT

As vaccines are being distributed, there is hope the worst of the pandemic is nearing an end. But if research is any indication, another kind of crisis may just be heating up. As SHRM defines it, a “turnover tsunami” is brewing, with more than half of employees surveyed planning to look for a new job this year. Employers were experiencing high rates of turnover prior to the pandemic. In fact, voluntary turnover had been steadily rising since 2010, and was cited as a chief global concern by both the UN and World Economic Forum. When the pandemic hit, quit rates reached their lowest level in nine years – and now they’re bouncing back. Just this week, I’ve heard from three executives lamenting the loss of young talent. The fact remains that professionals under the age of 39 account for more than half of all voluntary separations. Why? Increased employee turnover is the outcome of a shift in workforce needs and values, and it’s a shift that is here to stay. This is a topic I’ve researched a great detail and the answer is quite complex. In brief, here are two reasons why young professionals are three times more likely than other generations to quit: Inclusion We’re observing an ever-widening gap between twentieth century managed organizations and twenty-first century raised workers. Young professionals don’t understand the management processes and hierarchies common throughout the past century. These generations have only known a world powered by innovation, collaboration, globalization, instant gratification, knowledge, acceptance, and access. They struggle to comprehend why decisions can’t be made on the fly, why they can’t have a seat at the decision-making table, and why it’s always been done ‘that way.’ Stability Millennials came of age during the Great Recession-the worst economic decline our country had experienced in 70 years. Gen Z has come of age during the most disruptive         decade in history. These experiences have shaped the career trajectories of young professionals in more…

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Inclusion efforts that really work – and those that don’t

May 16 @ 6:25 am CDT

Why is inclusion a target many organizations struggle to reach? This is a question I’ve pondered since entering the workforce. Early in my career, I found myself working in a role where I was one of the youngest employees. In my next role, I would work for an association struggling to engage young members. Both of these experiences led to the launch of this business and research on how to successfully manage and build inclusive organizations.  An inclusion strategy can’t exist on good intentions – it’s about intention meeting impact.  There have been many points in history when society reflects on its inclusiveness. Here and now, racial inclusion is at the forefront of our discussions, and leaders are seizing this moment to advance diversity efforts at their organizations.  While their intentions are good, an inclusion strategy simply can’t exist on good intentions alone.  Throughout my work in this area, I’ve seen organizations misunderstand what an inclusion effort actually involves and make costly mistakes in the process. Here are some common pitfalls to avoid. During Black History Month, many brands were eager to show solidarity, distributing campaigns and posting commitments. The same reaction occurred after the #MeToo movement. Similarly, many organizations believe social media campaigns are a surefire way to engage young people. Inclusion ensures everyone has equal access to opportunities and resources, and can fairly and respectfully contribute to the organization’s success. It is not a marketing strategy. Right now, many C-suites are thinking about hiring a head of diversity and inclusion, and membership organizations are considering adding the role to their boards of directors. This could be a great addition, but thinking a designated role will make all the difference is a mistake. Inclusion has to be owned, developed, and supported collectively. One person can’t achieve systemic organization-wide change. An inclusion strategy can’t exist on good intentions – it’s about intention meeting impact.   Practice cognitive diversity, consistently bringing people of different ages, skills, and backgrounds to inclusively work on projects…

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