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Daily Archives: July 25th, 2012


Although I think that the discussion here is a little exaggerated (some businesses have asked me to help recruit graduates without feeling the need for such things as a position description, selection criteria and pay rates…), clearly some innovative businesses are exploring new ways of signalling their style to attract the right candidates…


that the discussion of the

For proof that recruiting has entered a new era, one need look no further than an exceptionally novel internship application submitted this summer by Shawn McTigue. This playful 2:50 video by Shawn was a response to Mastercard’s call for applicants to creatively promote the benefits of a “cashless society.” It was his take on the “something creative” all interns were required to link to as part of the application. The rest of the process involved engaging on MasterCard‘s Facebook page, uploading a resume via LinkedIn, and following MasterCard on Twitter for further directions. The campaign represents the future of recruiting, where the process demands that applicants showcase their skills –and in the process makes them stronger candidates.

Forget the resume; today, employers pay more attention to candidates’ web presence, like their top Google search results, their Klout scores, their number of Twitter followers or the number and quality of recommendations they have on LinkedIn. Companies are looking at how individuals build their personal brand and contribute to that brand on a daily basis. And when it comes to job candidates, the ability to leverage YouTube and Twitter is just the beginning. Applicants are increasingly required to demonstrate creativity and innovation while addressing a company’s business challenge posed during the recruiting process.

Today, most companies have managed to integrate social media into their recruiting function. A recent survey conducted by recruiting platform Jobvite found that 92 percent of U.S. companies are using social networks and media to find new talent in 2012. But this has become the bare minimum expectation for competitive employers. To stand out, recruiters and Chief Human Resource Officers must go beyond simply leveraging social media to recruit talent; they must build a process that creates a more professional candidate; a process where candidates have an opportunity to showcase their innovation and creativity.

In considering the best ways to re-imagine recruiting, I used Spigit’s new crowdsourcing innovation platform, ICON, to do some crowdsourcing of my own. I asked users how they thought companies should build innovation into the recruiting process. Many responses suggested posing business challenges to candidates and asking them to compete on finding solutions.

So how can your company re-invent recruiting in a way that demonstrates openness, transparency, fun, collaboration and innovation?

1. Democratize the talent pool
Use contests and games to allow applicants to set themselves apart by way of their ideas and contributions rather than the standard, one-dimensional credentials presented on a resume. Performance in these contests reveals aptitude rather than education or experience, and that’s where the job market is going. After all, as profiled in my book, The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop & Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today, a study by University of California at Berkeley estimates that knowledge doubles every two years and in some fields every six months.

Contest-driven hiring makes for smarter candidates, not only because the brightest applicants will come out on top. Just as importantly, those applicants will have received an education in the company’s priorities, goals, and mission during the recruiting process.

2. Run Time-Bound Business Challenges
MasterCard’s “Cashless Society” campaign yielded over 350 qualified applicants this year, compared to the 20-30 applications the company has traditionally received upon advertising a job.

Applicants were asked to use a third party social media site to explain what a “cashless society,” meant to them, and given four weeks to complete this challenge. Some, like Shawn, created videos; one successful campaign came in the form of a Tumblr blog, called “Cashless ’til May.”

The application process itself is becoming part of the interview as forward-looking companies see the opportunity of creating a more professional candidate. Social recruiting is now morphing into social interviewing, as companies require candidates to showcase their skills, knowledge and competencies in a public manner.

3. Recruit for Impact
In addition to cultivating a workplace family, companies must build a strong employer brand that resonates with potential employees. In the same way that social media now throws a spotlight on candidates’ personal brands, it forces companies to be vigilant about developing their employer brand as a way to attract top talent. They must use social media not only to gain and maintain a following, but also to cultivate a brand that resonates with what young workers (Millennials and beyond) are looking for in an employer.

The research on this may surprise you. In a survey of 1,726 college students conducted by the firm Net Impact, researchers found that 58% of the student population would take a 15% pay cut to work for a organization whose values matched my own

This is giving more organizations the incentive to build their commitment to corporate social responsibility into the recruiting process.

4. Make innovation a requirement
In a business environment fraught with uncertainty, a survey of 1,500 chief executives conducted by IBM‘s Institute for Business Value (IBM), identified “creativity” and “innovation” as critical leadership competencies for the enterprise of the future.

But companies are not waiting until an employee’s start date to begin training for innovation. Instead, they are building innovation aptitude into the recruiting process.

Increasingly we will see companies during the recruiting process ask applicants to solve a business challenge, provide input design on a new product or service, pitch an idea, or defend their analysis of an obstacle the company faces. These types of challenges are created to identify candidates who can demonstrate both innovative thinking, as well as T shaped skills, meaning a depth of knowledge in one area combined with as the ability to collaborate across disciplines.

For Shawn McTigue, Mastercard’s #InternsWanted challenge was the motivation he needed to get the creative juices flowing. “It told me that MasterCard was not looking for the same old thing,” Shawn said. “They were looking for exactly what they asked for, which was creativity and someone that would go outside the boundaries.” As a result of the contest, MasterCard selected Shawn for an in-person interview – however, he had in the meantime landed a full-time summer job elsewhere.

5. Build Gamification Into The Recruiting
Professional service firms like Deloitte, Accenture and PwC are the earliest adopters to re-thinking recruiting, and PwC is now building competitive games into the recruiting process in order to train applicants in critical thinking, teamwork and communication – key skills needed for success at the firm. The company’s platform, xTREME Games, is designed to build a range of business skills needed for success among undergraduate accounting students.

So readers, what are you experimenting with in your company to source talent in new and innovative ways?



There was a time, not so long ago, when I was busy, busy, busy. At least I thought I was.

I told people I worked 60 hours a week. I claimed to sleep six hours a night. As I lamented to anyone stuck next to me at parties, I was basically too busy to breathe. Me time? Ha!

Now I work 45 hours a week and sleep close to eight hours a night. But I’m not getting any less done.

About the Author

[Vanderkam] Mark Bennington

Laura Vanderkam is the author of “168 Hours” and the forthcoming “All The Money In The World: What the Happiest People Know About Getting And Spending” (Portfolio, March 1). Ms. Vanderkam lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and three children.

My secret? I started keeping track of how I spent my time, logging how many hours and minutes I devoted to different activities such as work, sleep and chores.

I soon realized I’d been lying to myself about where the time was going. What I thought was a 60-hour workweek wasn’t even close. I would have guessed I spent hours doing dishes when in fact I spent minutes. I spent long stretches of time lost on the Internet or puttering around the house, unsure exactly what I was doing.

I’m not alone in this time fog. If you believe results from the American Time Use Survey, done by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and other studies, plenty of Americans have faulty impressions of how they spend time in our “too-rushed-to-breathe” world.

We all have the same 168 hours per week — a number few people contemplate even as they talk about “24-7” with abandon — but since time passes whether we acknowledge it or not, we seldom think through exactly how we’re spending our hours.

We also live in a competitive society, and so by lamenting our overwork and sleep deprivation — even if that requires workweek inflation and claiming our worst nights are typical — we show that we are dedicated to our jobs and our families. Being “busy” and “starved for time” is a way to show we matter. Put another way, it makes us feel important.

[0214subway] Getty Images

 But if you think about it, complaining about a lengthy to-do list is not only boring, it’s a sad hook for one’s self-esteem. Owning up to how we spend our hours gives us more control of our time, and ultimately, of our lives.

Here’s how to do it:

Keep a time log. If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, you may have tried keeping a food journal. Sure, you’re eating grilled chicken for dinner, but the eight M&Ms you grab from the receptionist’s candy jar add up, too.

Like tracking meals, tracking time keeps us from spending it mindlessly or lying to ourselves about what we do with it. Write down what you’re doing as often as you remember for at least a week. Add up the totals. Checking Facebook five times a day at six minutes a pop adds up to two-and-a-half hours in a workweek — curiously, the exact amount of time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends we exercise.

Be honest. While Americans claim to sleep six to seven hours per night, time logs show we sleep more than eight. One study tracking people’s estimated and actual workweeks found that those claiming to work 70, 80, or more hours were logging less than 60.

Ask yourself what you’d like to do with your time. Claiming to be busy relieves us of the burden of choice. But if you’re working 50 hours a week, and sleeping eight hours a night (56 per week) that leaves 62 hours for other things. That’s plenty of hours for a family life and a personal life — exercising, volunteering, sitting on the porch with the paper, plus watching TV if you like. Set goals — maybe three hours of exercise and swapping out two hours of TV for reading — and see where in your 168 hours you could make that happen.

Change your language. Instead of saying “I don’t have time” try saying “it’s not a priority,” and see how that feels. Often, that’s a perfectly adequate explanation. I have time to iron my sheets, I just don’t want to. But other things are harder. Try it: “I’m not going to edit your résumé, sweetie, because it’s not a priority.” “I don’t go to the doctor because my health is not a priority.” If these phrases don’t sit well, that’s the point. Changing our language reminds us that time is a choice. If we don’t like how we’re spending an hour, we can choose differently.


July 24, 2012
The Watcher

The Watcher

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The tap on the shoulder is happening in all departments. Most organisations have used the past month or so to plan their restructures. That means they have a list of services that need to be cut. They will have a list of positions who are no longer going to be part of the “renewal journey”. But sackings are about real people – not positions, services or faceless bureaucrats. They are people with partners, children, responsibilities, bills and dreams. Many of those have been crushed. Not because they were bad at their job but because someone decided to undertake debt reduction through sackings.

Nobody wants to take a deployee into their work unit. In some areas the deployee list is referred to as the exit lounge or God’s waiting room – a form of slow professional death.

Here are two personal stories of staff that come from opposite ends of the “renewal” process:

35-year-old mother of two, “Wendy” had worked in the public service for nine years:

“We’d been told the week before that the cuts were coming but when the manager asked me if I had a few minutes to spare and to come into her office, my legs went to jelly and I could feel my chest tighten. At that moment I knew for sure she was going to tell me I had to go, and she did. It wasn’t about the quality of my work or my work ethic, I was told, it was all about delivering a set number of sackings for the government. I remember feeling sorry for her having to do the dirty work, and being determined not to cry. (But) I left the office feeling more humiliated in front of my work colleagues than I did walking into the office. I left the building to catch my breath and then it hit me that I was out. OMG what about the bills, the mortgage, my husband’s temporary job…

“There is still a choice to be deployed elsewhere, and there is a lot being made of that, but the brutal truth is being a “deployee” would be the most humiliating of all. Nobody wants to take a deployee into their work unit. In some areas the deployee list is referred to as the exit lounge or God’s waiting room – a form of slow professional death.

“I am hurt and sad but I can live with that and move on. The Director General sent a message that there is a free employee assistance scheme. This is their answer to thousands of public servants being dumped – go get counselling. In the meantime, this doesn’t get finalised until the end of August so now I get to sit in a work unit where I am not considered necessary with all the embarrassment and humiliation that goes with that.”

Long-term public servant Anne, 54, is very happy to be taking a redundancy package:

“I put my hand up for one and they agreed. I have had 25 years in the public service. I had planned to stay around for another five years but the last few months have taught me that enough is enough. I’ve been around long enough to have seen most things in the public service but the level of brutality and thuggery that I have witnessed all in the name of saving Queensland is absolutely horrifying. My heart goes out to all those losing their jobs who are not in a position to say ‘enough’ and walk out. I also feel for those left “intact” (for now) as they will have to wait for the next round of executions, and the next and the next and the next. I am disgusted and I don’t want to be part of it all anymore.

“The last straw was when some of those who were responsible for creating personal empires and pet projects – what we are now told we can’t afford – began getting promoted. Winners are grinners I guess and the rest of us pay the price. Yes I am very happy to be going; not because I hate working but because I hate what I am seeing and feeling. I am also very sad as this is not how I saw my “retirement”- 25 years ago.”

Numbers games
The Government has been deliberately evasive about how many are going, although the actual number is dribbling out a little at a time. The Together Union calculated the job losses at 10,000. That’s based on the number of public service jobs before Newman was elected compared with now. It will not end here. The Treasurer has written to every minister with a list of savings to be achieved over the years 2012–13 through to 2015-16. Critical to these savings is a three per cent reduction in non-frontline staff each year. So what if staff are facing are waves of sackings for the next three years? So much for builing an apolitical frank and fearless public sector and increasing permanency.

According to reports, staff at Transport and Main Roads are expected to learn their fate this week with their Director General and one-time Queensland Liberal party president Michael Caltabiano believed to be a strong supporter of a large (40 per cent) reduction in what is now euphemistically known as “back of house staff”. The Department of Community Safety is looking to chop about 230–240 staff over two years. There are rumours of major cuts at QBuild. The level of fear within departments is escalating as the body count increases.

The nepotism fiasco
Political messaging is largely about symbolism – and there could not have been a worse contradiction than sacking people because the state can’t afford them and the appointment of 25-year-old Ben Gommers – son of Arts Minister Ros Bates and former Toy R Us salesperson as the Departmental Liaison Officer for Transport and Main Roads. This is an apolitical public service position, and that’s a pretty important qualification. If ever there is a job in the public service that demands apolitical frank and fearless advice, it is this one. Being a DLO is also a position which requires extensive knowledge of the department; the policy areas; the ministerial system and, oh yes, the public service. We are assured Mr Gommers was appointed to a $100k position on merit. Well here’s a bit of frank and fearless advice for both Minister Bates and Minister Emerson. Firstly, if you’re going to appoint a member of your family, or a colleague’s family, there’s a couple of basic things you might want to look at. Don’t appoint them outside the Ministerial office – despite what the “that’s the way the world works Premier” may say, public service positions are subject to a closer scrutiny and can buy you a whole world of political grief. So while it’s nice to be proud of your children (many parents are – including those who lost their jobs last week), if you want to run the merit claim make sure you can (a) name who was on the selection panel, (b) be prepared to release the selection and assessment report; release at least the number of applicants – assuming there was more than one – and release the advertisement. Oh, and stop hiding behind privacy laws. Privacy laws have never inhibited a minister from releasing information if it suited their purpose. Invoking privacy laws is usually also used only when it suits the minister.

Some are travelling better than others
Politicians are not the only ones who seem to be disconnected from the renewal process. It seems that some of our senior bureaucrats are having a little bit of trouble with this thing called empathy. The recently appointed Director General of Tourism, Major Events, Small Business and the Commonwealth Games (and previous Associate Director General of Education), Richard Eden, is probably leading the way. His newsletters are prime examples of what not to do when you are trying to impose change. At a time when people are wondering who has jobs; what the future holds for the department, what the timelines are, what the structure will be, he spends his newsletters waxing lyrical about his eight-day trip to China with Minister Stuckey; his attendance at a Telstra Awards dinner and his attendance at a tourism function in Cairns. Frank and fearless advice for the Director General: there’s a big chance your staff are being offended rather than informed by your communications.

Meanwhile, the Director-General of the Department of the Premier and Cabinet, Jon Grayson, is reported to have told a group of directors general that he’s concerned the public service renewal process would not be seen in a positive light – can’t imagine why that might be.

Read more:

Print Article16 July 2012 7:15am

 HR professionals should provide oversight and advice about position descriptions, but managers should ultimately “own” them, says HR consultant Michael Sleap.

Many people – and particularly managers – aren’t aware of the benefits of having good position descriptions (PDs) in place, he tells a webcast recorded for HRD Plus subscribers.

“The benefits aren’t well understood or well communicated, especially in organisations where PDs are seen as a bureaucratic form-filling exercise, or even a compliance exercise. The benefits and the ‘why’ tend to get lost in that message.

“So HR professionals have a really important role of trying to educate managers and employees about the benefits of PDs, and selling that into the organisation as well.”

The biggest benefit of having PDs in place is the role clarity it provides for employees, says Sleap, a principal consultant at Right Management.

“People who have role clarity are much more likely to be engaged with the work they’re doing and with their organisation, and we know that high levels of employee engagement drive better business results.

“Role clarity is something that virtually all employees are craving – to be clear on what they’re accountable for, and have that set of shared expectations with their manager – so you set people up for success when they first move into a role. But also review it on a regular basis so that those expectations that were set up when they moved into the role in the first place are still actually current.”

The next big benefit of well-drafted PDs is that they align employees’ work with the strategy of the business, Sleap says.

“That can create even further engagement for employees, because if they can see how their work fits into the overall business strategy and how their work contributes to the results of the business, then that’s going to improve their engagement levels as well.”

Further, he adds, “if [employees] understand the alignment between their role and the business strategy, they’re more likely to focus on the highest-priority work”.

Finally, PDs underpin other important people processes in an organisation. “It’s really important to get the PD right… for things like recruitment and selection, onboarding processes, performance management, and so on.

“On the performance management side of things, it can be a lot harder to write your performance objectives if you haven’t really clearly defined the accountabilities of the role in the first place.”

The costs to a business of not having an effective system for managing PDs can be great, Sleap warns.

“One of the big costs of not having position descriptions in place is underperformance… What we see in some cases is that an organisation has identified an employee is not performing to the right standard. What might then happen is the manager or the HR team goes and writes a PD.

“What that indicates is the process is around the wrong way. The fact the PD wasn’t there in the first place means there wasn’t clear and shared expectations of performance. If the PD had been there, perhaps there wouldn’t have been that performance issue detected. Really, without having a PD in place you’re exposing yourself to the risk of underperformance unnecessarily.”

It is also harder to defend unfair dismissal and other claims without a PD, he adds.

“Having an up-to-date, clearly defined and signed off position description can be a really important document to have in place.

“That can be a motivating factor for some managers, to put the work into the PDs early on, and mitigate the risks associated with things like industrial law.”

Sleap points out that most organisations would not engage a consultant for an $80,000 assignment without defining what the person is accountable for and what they need to deliver.

“If you flip that around to an ongoing employee, quite often there’s not that same thought put into what that person’s role is, what they are accountable for, and it might not be reviewed on a regular basis. There’s a lot of investment going into your employees. How can you afford not to ensure that their work is really well defined and you have role clarity in place for all of them?”

Whose job is it?

Position descriptions are similar to most other HR processes, Sleap says, and organisations should have in place an effective system to manage them.

Exactly who should write the PD tends to be a contentious issue, he notes.

“Most importantly, it needs to be a partnership between employees and their manager. That’s the most important part of the whole PD process; that’s how you get value from position descriptions. You have the employee and the manager sit down and discuss the aspects of the role, and particularly identify any areas of the role that are unclear. It’s important to identify those unclear areas early on, either for a new hire or, say, at the annual review process. It’s those areas of lack of clarity that can lead to problems down the track.”

With this established, “it doesn’t really matter who writes the PDs, as long as the discussion takes place”, he says.

It is, however, vital for line managers to “own” the final PD.

“It’s not good enough for a manager to say to the employee, ‘You go and draft your PD, write it up, and I’ll fire it off’. That’s not how you’re going to get role clarity, and it’s not how you’re going to get engagement as well.

“The manager needs to own the final product. It doesn’t mean they need to do all the work, but a manager is accountable for an employee’s performance and therefore needs to be involved all the way through.

“What HR is left to do is play an advisory role, and a quality control role, and to coach managers and employees through the process as well. They become the experts for advising and supporting, but not doing all the work for people.

“The big advantage of that is it keeps the ownership within the line, rather than PDs being owned by HR.”

Sleap outlines what a PD should – and should not – include, and how to set up an effective system for PD management, in this Click here for information about upgrading your subscription.

17 July 2012 7:18am

 A senior corrections officer who was dismissed following his third domestic violence conviction has been reinstated, after a tribunal found an insufficient connection between his out-of-hours conduct and his job.

The case is a useful reminder of factors to consider when disciplining employees for conduct that occurs outside of work hours, say the Lander & Rogers workplace relations and safety team in a recent Bulletin.

The worker in question was a senior corrections officer at Goulburn Correctional Centre.

After his third conviction for domestic violence, his employer – Corrective Services NSW – terminated his employment.

The worker sought reinstatement.

According to the Bulletin, the employer based its decision on two grounds:

    1. that the worker’s history of criminal offences was fundamentally incompatible with the role of a corrections officer, whose role involved upholding the law, and with public service employment generally; and

  1. that as a result of his criminal history, Corrective Services had lost trust and confidence in him.

In the NSW Industrial Relations Commission, Commissioner Elizabeth Bishop ordered Corrective Services to reinstate the worker and pay back his lost wages.

“Central to the Commission’s reasoning was the fact that Corrective Services had failed to show a sufficient connection between [the worker’s] convictions and his employment, or that his convictions would have an adverse impact on the integrity or reputation of Corrective Services,” the Bulletin says.

The worker acknowledged that his convictions had the effect of tarnishing his employer’s reputation and integrity, but Commissioner Bishop held that this acknowledgement was only his opinion, and wasn’t determinative.

Landers partner Neil Napper says third-party evidence of reputation damage was lacking.

“Media comment or feedback from third parties, whether they’re suppliers or customers or clients of the organisation would be typical examples [an employer could rely on].”

The problem is that seeking out such evidence – if it isn’t forthcoming – involves publicising the situation, which would be like “cutting your own throat”, he says.

The Bulletin also notes that the Commissioner rejected the employer’s assertion that it had lost trust and confidence in the worker.

“No reasons were given for the [employer’s] assertion, nor was it supported by evidence,” the Bulletin says.

In fact, the Commissioner drew attention to the worker’s “totally unblemished work history”, his dedication, and the commendations he had received during 15 years of service.

“This case demonstrates that the mere fact that an employee has engaged in reprehensible, and even criminal, conduct does not automatically give an employer the right to take disciplinary action,” the Bulletin says.

“A sufficient connection with the employee’s employment is required.”

Avoid surprises

Napper says that the appropriate response to out-of-hours misconduct comes back to the employer’s policies and procedures.

“For example, is there a disciplinary policy that deals with these sort of infractions? What does it say? What sort of powers does it give or purport to give to the employer short of dismissal? Could there be a demotion? Could there be some sort of final warning? What does the policy provide for? Has that been communicated to staff? Are they aware of it?

“This all goes to the notion of fairness,” Napper says.

“If and when the employer wants to take action, will they be seen as acting in a fair and reasonable way?”

These days, any disciplinary action can be the source of counter action by employees or their unions, Napper warns.

“In order to make sure you get it right as an employer, you really need to make sure that any step you take doesn’t come as a surprise to the individual.

“The general test is if it’s going to be a surprise then you’ve probably got it wrong,” he says.

Drawing on other key cases, the Landers team offers three tips for employers regarding out-of-hours conduct:

    1. Ensure that clear policies are in place concerning the conduct of staff while they are in uniform or travelling for a work-related purpose. The importance of the policies should be clearly impressed on employees, and the consequences for breaching a policy should also be made clear.

    1. When contemplating disciplinary action against an employee for their out-of-hours conduct,
      consider whether it occurred while they were in receipt of any allowance or other benefit. That won’t necessarily be a determinative factor in establishing the fairness of subsequent action, but it could be relevant.
  1. Before taking disciplinary action for an employee’s out-of-hours conduct, consider whether the conduct could reasonably be expected to damage the company’s reputation, or otherwise expose it to liability.