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Why job adverts matter if you want a diverse workforce

January 4, 2019
job adverts matter if you want a diverse workforce

Metro Bank placed a great job advertisement on Linkedin recently. It wasn’t the contents of the job that caught my eye (although that looked interesting too). It was the footnote at the bottom.

The footnote read:

Diverse teams really are the best teams. We know that candidates (especially women, research tells us) may be put off applying for a job unless they can tick every box. We also know that ‘normal’ office hours aren’t always doable, and while we can’t accommodate every flexible working request we are happy to be asked. So if you are excited about working with us and think you can do much of what we are looking for but aren’t sure if you are 100% there yet… why not give it a whirl? Good luck!

It’s one of the best job ads I’ve read because it felt sincere.

Are organisations serious about diversity?

Employers say they want more diverse workforces. However, I often question whether this is really the case? Research tells us diverse teams are better for decision-making and have a positive impact on the bottom line. But job advertisements and the way organisations are structured haven’t particularly changed in order to make diversity happen.

Working hours, childcare costs and the gender pay gap detract women from the workforce. We are also seeing women self-selecting themselves out of the equation before they even apply for a role or feel they don’t have a right to be there.

Job ads are putting them off.


Why the language of job adverts matter if you want a diverse workforce

Research shows women will only apply for a role where they meet all of the criteria, whereas men will apply if they meet 60%. This research is widely quoted, yet job advertisements continue to be written in a way that actively discourage women from applying.

Texito, a US-based augmented writing software company uses artificial intelligence to review job descriptions. They look for masculine and feminine language and provide alternatives to words that their data shows deters women from applying. Their data highlights certain phrases like ‘manage a team’ as appealing more to men than women. Conversely, ‘develop a team’ attracts many more female candidates. They also highlight that words such as stakeholder are a barrier to ethnic minorities. After Australian company Atlassian used their software to rewrite their job advertisements, they increased the number of women in technical roles by 80% within two years.

If organisations are serious about diversifying their workforce, then they must understand that language matters. It matters within workplaces, boardrooms and when recruiting new hires.

It’s not enough to say women must become bolder when applying for roles – if we’re serious about changing the workforce, we need to speak to them directly. Job adverts matter if you want a diverse workforce.

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Why every organisation needs to define their purpose

July 19, 2018

Organisations are good at describing what they do. They’re not always quite so good at defining why they do it. However, when most of our basic needs are and what we buy is a choice –  the ‘why’ is what makes us purchase one brand over another. The ‘why’ is also what makes us want to put in the extra effort at work. Human beings are emotional creatures. We are led by reason and emotions, but we make 70% of our decisions with the emotional part of our brain. When people connect with brands, it’s based on how it makes them feel and not necessarily the features or products. This is why every organisation needs to clearly define their purpose. Employees want to know what their organisation stands for and understand why they do what they do.

Start with why.

Simon Sinek in his Ted Talk on Start with Why discusses a pattern he calls the Golden Circle. The Golden CIrcle starts with why in the middle and what on the outside. He uses the Golden Circle to illustrate why some leaders and organisations are able to inspire action. All great organisations start with why.

When an organisation tells us their ‘why’ and we believe it, then we want to be part of it. We have an emotional connection with their values because they represent what we believe in. Sinek explains the brain is made up of three sections: the neocortex, the analytical part; and the limbic brain, which compromises the two middle sections and is responsible for all our feelings. The limbic brain is where all our emotional connections take place. The necortex and not the limbic brain is responsible for language which is why we often struggle to articulate our feelings.

The limbic brain is powerful enough to drive our decision making. It’s what gives us the sensation or feeling of a decision being right or wrong. When we rely too heavily on the rational side of the brain, we start to overthink, second guess ourselves and become overwhelmed. Our limbic brains often know the right thing to do – we just sometimes struggle to articulate why. When organisations don’t tell us why they exist, we are forced to think with our rational part of the brain. We then struggle to make a decision or are left feeling uncertain. This is why every organisation needs to define their purpose.

Emotional connection drives engagement

Employees want to work for a company they believe in and have an emotional connection with where they work. A great organisation can make them feel like they belong and create loyal brand ambassadors. The more connected an employee is, the more engaged they are likely to be. They’re more likely to feel passionate about their job, be committed to their team and put discretionary effort in. They are personally invested in the success of the organisation because they care about the work that they do.

The more motivated the employee, the more productive they are likely to be contributing to overall growth. An engaged employee spends 4.5 hours/day on work, whereas disengaged employees spend 2.7 hours/day. They are also more likely to project positive behaviours, which have an impact on people around them. Engaged employees create great work cultures and organisations people want to work for.

work

Why wellbeing at work matters

June 12, 2018
wellbeing at work

Have you ever felt issues in your personal life were stopping you from concentrating properly at work? Or you’re thinking about work at home, suffering with sleepless nights and finding it hard to switch off?

Yep. Me too on both counts. And I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Employee experience

Work used to be much more of a transactional relationship: you turn up, do your job and get paid for it. These days, employers expect more from us. Changes in the way we work mean there is a less of a demarcation between work and home lives. Technology enables us to pick up emails on the go and without even realising it, we’re working longer hours and not giving ourselves time to rest. So, it stands to reason that in return, we would like an environment where we can thrive.

Good employers are picking up that stressed employees don’t make the best employees. They are less likely to be productive and bring their whole selves to work. Whereas those who feel valued and cared for are far more likely to put in discretionary effort and be a positive energy in the workplace.

A focus on wellbeing at work creates a good employee experience, which in turn creates a better employer brand. It helps attract better candidates who want to stay; rather than endless churn that tends to happen in poorly managed organisations.

Why wellbeing at work needs to be more than just a programme

One of the ways, employers are trying to create a more positive working environment is through implementing wellbeing programmes in the workplace. However, to be truly beneficial, they need to focus on life outside of work as well as inside. We all have hard times, which may not be to do with work itself, but still impact on our performance. A good wellbeing programme understands that personal and professional lives overlap.

Wellbeing programmes can consist of mindfulness, financial management classes, yoga, nutrition workshops, talks from interesting speakers, the list is endless. I think most people, me included, appreciate when people they’re being invested in. However, before committing to big spends, there are some basic essentials to consider. 

Regular management training at all levels

The more experience you have at management, then the better you tend to be is probably true if you’re a reasonably self-aware, self-reflective person who has a desire to do things better. These are characteristics I’ve seen from people working at all levels of organisations and I’ve really admired them for it. However, it’s not universal.

One element of business culture that I’ve never quite understood is that technology, systems and processes upgrade all the time – and organisations put in training and support to move people through the changes. Yet management and what people need from managers also evolves – but somehow people are expected to just keep up especially when they’ve been managing for a while. If you want to improve wellbeing, then put regular management training in place for everyone who manages people.

Flexible working

Research shows flexible working improves employee motivation and their productivity. So why don’t more organisations offer it when it seems such a no brainer for improving wellbeing at work? I tend to think people view flexible working as complicated and contractual – however, the reality can be as simple as enabling working from home (if the job allows) and a bit of leeway on start and finish times. If you really want to commit to flexible working, then put it in job adverts, write it into policies and make it mandatory for managers to say why the job can’t be done flexible, rather than the other way round. 

Practice what you preach

Honestly, it doesn’t matter how good your wellbeing programme is if you don’t put the basics in place. No amount of stress management can minimise the impact of a difficult work environment. If you believe in the wellbeing of your employees, then practice it more than you preach.

Things to consider before setting up a wellbeing programme

  1. Look at a budget for a wellbeing programme and set clear accountabilities for the administration of it.
  2. Ensure you have senior stakeholder sponsorship.
  3. Set specific goals. Do you want to improve engagement, reduce absence, take care of employees?
  4. Include employees in your plans to take into their thoughts and ideas.
  5. Consider how you will evaluate. Use insight to change and evolve as you embed activity.
  6. Remember that wellbeing at work is just one part of employee experience. However, through taking action, you’re creating a culture where people can thrive.
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