Cyberloafing: Is it Really an Epidemic?

April 26th, 2013

Ask any group of managers to take a quick look around the office and list the top ten staffing issues they see as obstacles to company productivity, and they’ll answer in a similar way. They’ll talk about bad apple employees who undermine morale, confusion regarding project instructions, meetings that waste time and go on way too long, and absenteeism. They’ll probably also say something about cyberloafing, or the anxious irritation they feel when walking past an employee cubicle and seeing non-work related internet activity on the computer screen…for the third or fourth time that day.

It’s true that when the internet is made available to office employees, they’ll probably spend at least a small amount of time surfing the web each day for non-work related reasons. And if internet access is blocked or employees are prevented from visiting popular sites or public email accounts, employers will feel a backlash of justified resentment. But is there anything else about the practice of cyberloafing that employers and managers should know?

Cyberloafing and Productivity

As it turns out, the answer is simpler than you might expect: not really. Multiple HR studies a have been spawned by employer anxiety regarding the internet and its potential as a time-drain. But the results of these studies generally reassure employers and confirm what they already know: 1.) Employees like having internet access, and 2.) when they have it, they don’t use it very often.

About 60 to 80 percent of the time employees spend on the internet while they’re at work is spent on non-work related activity. But in most workplaces, these work hours spent on the internet are usually minimal and limited to five minute breaks between long projects, the first few minutes of the morning, and a few minutes stolen during the day to take care of personal responsibilities (such as making a dentist’s appointment) that take nothing away from employers. In fact, the ability to manage these responsibilities quickly while on the premises actually frees employees from distraction and allows them to remain in the office for longer periods of time.

So before you decide to panic and crack down on what appears to be an “epidemic” of loafing and low productivity, think carefully. Limiting internet access may actually create more problems than it solves. And in the meantime, there may be bigger time drains taking place all around you that offer a great return on each minute of your energy and attention.

Need help finding ways to get the most out of your talented employees? The NC staffing experts at PSU can help. Contact our office for a consultation today.

Build Your Personal Brand: Ten Easy Steps

April 19th, 2013

Branding simply means find a hook, a special selling feature, or a memorable association that helps a product stand out in the minds of potential consumers. But the branding tools that work for a product or company can also work for you, and after all, you ARE selling a product to potential employers: Yourself! Try these simple moves to help your name and face leave a lasting impression in the mind of your target audience.  

1. Create a value proposition. This is simple statement, ideally less than ten words long, that summarizes everything good that will happen for your potential “buyer” if they decide to choose you. As you draft this statement, you’ll factor in two things: what you have to offer, and what your target audience needs. A car company pitching to an audience of new parents might sell their product by saying “This car will keep you safe”. It’s a short statement that acknowledges what the audience wants most (safety) and what the product will do (provide that safety.) What do you target employers need? What can you do for them that will make their lives easier or their companies more profitable?

2. Find out how others see your offerings. Once you have a value proposition written out, you’ll need to determine how others would phrase that proposition. Their assessment may differ from yours, but both are important to your branding efforts. For example, you may think you’re one of the best hitters on the baseball team, or the fastest runner. But your teammates may value you more for your enthusiasm, your catching skill, or your determination.

3. Choose a color that represents you. Most of us carry the following cultural associations with different colors: Red often represents passion and dedication, Blue suggests calm and rationality, green suggests creativity, yellow suggests a positive and sunny outlook, and purple suggests dignity and poise. Which of these associations would you like to attach to your personal brand?

4. Once you’ve settled on a color, try to envision that color and work it into every part of your portfolio that your employers will see. Think about it as you complete your resume summary, your cover letter, and your professional online profiles. You can even work it into the outfit you wear to your interviews. You may possess all of these character traits at different times (most of us do), but if you had to simplify the most important elements of your professional personality, which color would best represent them? 

Remember: the most important tool for any branding project is simplicity. Simplify your messages in order to make them clearer, sharper, more memorable, and more effective. The NC job search and employment experts at PSU can help. Reach out to our office for more easy ways to create a lasting impact.

HR Metrics that Matter

April 12th, 2013

If you’re an experienced HR manager, you’ve probably had more than one encounter with the following situation: You face a crisis like high turnover or a weak hiring strategy, but every time you present the problem to upper management, they shrug and put you off. Finally, you attach a number to the problem. All at once, the attention and budget resources you need begin flowing your way.

Why does this happen? The answer is two-fold. On the one hand, executives and upper management may have a difficult time making clear sense of general trends supported by anecdotal evidence. They don’t walk in your shoes every day, and as a result, their view of the complete picture is limited. At the same time, HR managers deal in a currency of human behavior, human needs, and human nature, all of which can be challenging to quantify.

But it’s in your best interest to find a way around this and learn to speak in terms of simplified trends and hard numbers. Doing so will help you make your voice heard at the big table and get your department the priority treatment it needs. Start by gathering metrics like these.

Measurements of Hiring Success

The three most important metrics of hiring success usually deal with 1.) time to hire, 2.) length of tenure for each new hire, and 3.) overall quality of hire. You need candidates fast, you need employees who stick around, and you need these employees to be strong contributors. The first is easy to quantify in length of days. The second can be measured with careful records that are maintained as HR teams move through transitions. And the third can be gathered by assessing manager opinions on a weighted rating scale every year. Interview mangers carefully every year during the first five years of a new employee’s tenure.

Measurements of Retention Success
Successful retention is often built around three distinct metrics as well, including 1.) Employee satisfaction levels, 2.) Salary rates as compared with market rates in the same geographic area, and 3.) advancement opportunities. Employees won’t stay if they aren’t happy, aren’t being paid fairly, or are outgrowing the company.

Control salary rates by completing regular research and communicating this research clearly with the finance department. Make sure the people who set your hiring budget know exactly what your open positions entail and the accepted market value of this type of work.

As for employee satisfaction and advancement opportunities, maintain and open door policy and clear communication channels, but don’t stop there. Quantify and record all the information your gather from employees about their frustrations with the workplace. And don’t underestimate the value of a meaningful, detailed exit interview.

For more on how to gather meaningful HR data and convert that data into numbers your executive decision makers can understand, reach out the NC staffing experts at PSU.

Looking for a Perfect Fit Candidate? Keep these Things in Mind

April 8th, 2013

As experienced hiring managers know, there’s a difference between a great candidate and a great match. Great candidates are everywhere. They may represent only one out of every five applicants in your pool, but if you’re patient, they’ll turn up in a matter of time. Regardless of geography, level or industry, as soon as you put your job posting in a place where they’ll find it, great candidates will beat a path to your door.

But great candidates aren’t necessarily what you need. They may be smart, hardworking, cheerful, and well groomed, but these things may have no bearing on their ability to thrive in this particular job. What most employers actually need is a good match. That is to say, someone smart, hardworking, prepared for the tasks ahead, experienced with the challenges of this position, and able to get along well with existing employees in your company. This is a much taller order. But nobody said error-free staffing would be easy.

To attract and identify great matches– not just great people– keep these tips in mind.

1.  Don’t be afraid to narrow your pool if you know you’re focusing in on the right candidates. For example, if you need an organic agriculture expert, placing your add on will attract thousands of eyes. But hanging your add on a bulletin board at the local food co-op will attract the specific eyes that you need. It may also save you from sorting through a mountain of not-quite-right resumes.

2. You can’t find cultural matches until you understand your culture. Every day in the staffing industry, we consult with managers who want culturally appropriate candidates, but when we ask them to talk about the culture of their workplace, they go blank. Or worse, they describe a fantasy culture that they find appealing (fast paced, driven, collaborative, or the most common: fun), but this culture doesn’t reflect their actual workplace at all. Do an honest assessment. If your office is full of happy, thriving introverts, hire an introvert. Don’t pretend an outgoing, extroverted chatterbox will do well there.

3. As you draft your post, be as clear as possible about the attitudes and aptitudes you want. Even if you may deter some candidates by describing your office as “quiet” or “noisy” or your teams as “competitive” or “collaborative”, you’ll be selecting for those who like these descriptors and turning away those who don’t.

4. Get plenty of input from multiple perspectives. Try to have more than one manager in the room during interviews. This way you won’t have to depend as much on gut feelings, which can prevent expensive mistakes. While you’re at it, conduct multiple rounds of interviews. This means two or even three (but don’t surpass three).

Turn to the NC staffing experts at PSU and let us help you find the best possible matches for your open positions. Arrange a consultation today.

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