Monday, November 29, 2010

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us the Most

It's not money.

RSA presented this entertaining video.  As the video demonstrates, obviously money can be an incentive, but research (from Carnegie Mellon, University of Chicago, and MIT) shows that money is only an incentive in the short term, and mainly for rudimentary tasks that involve little cognitive effort.

For example, workers performing simple, repetitive tasks will work harder and faster, if money is the prize for top performers.

But workers who rely on critical thinking and creativity to do their jobs actually perform poorer when green carrots are dangled in front of their noses, according to research.

Why is this?

The only way workers can channel the ideas and thought processes that help them accomplish big things - the sort of things that have a true impact in their companies and on society - is by being engaged.  And engagement comes from genuine interest in ownership, autonomy, and mastery of a skill.

This engagement is called intrinsic motivation.  It exists in all of us, as human beings.  If properly harnessed - and this is the true challenge - it is the most powerful incentive available to employers and employees.  Intrinsic motivation is HR's utopian dream.

Still, why would money detract from that? Can't employees be simultaneously intrinsically and monetarily motivated?

The video doesn't address that question in depth, but here are our thoughts:

Yes and no.  Employees must receive enough money to live comfortably, taking the issue of money off the table.  When A) a worker isn't paid enough, or B) money is used to try to control the creative process, money then becomes a distraction from the task at hand.  The worker is either A) thinking he must find a different task to pay his bills, or, B) derailed from the most effective incentive - accomplishing the task itself.

Businesses whose models tap into intrinsic motivation quite possibly have the most productive and fulfilled employees.

What motivates you? We'd love to hear your comments.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Our Wish for You This Thanksgiving

May your work place be filled with excellent cooks
So your potlucks inspire hungry looks
May your trip home to family be safe and sound
And your scales never waver (not even a pound!)
May this time off restore your happiest attitude
May your life blessings inspire your deepest gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Candidate Bill of Rights

Last week we touched on recruiters and hiring managers, and what exactly makes (or doesn’t make) for a good job candidate experience.

On that same note, recently partnered with Monster to host RecruitFest. We liked Gerry Crispin’s ideas about the importance of the job candidate’s experience.

Crispin stresses reliance on underlying principles as guidelines for creating hiring processes. His 10 Employer Promises for Delivering a World-Class Candidate Experience include consideration – for example, thanking all applicants for their interest, regardless of qualifications, and following up with each and every applicant – and transparency – for example, providing actual contact information in all open posted positions, and screening candidates in order to stop unqualified candidates from wasting their time completing the entire application.

What benefits do we see in spending the time, money, and effort to create this quality experience? Both employer and candidate experiences are crucial to our success as a staffing solutions provider. By being honest with and taking the extra steps to properly screen candidates, we don’t just save job applicants time; we save ourselves time in the long run. Our applicants per job may be fewer, but we’re able to provide more targeted matches for employers.

Finally, whether we’re recruiters, employers, or job-seekers, we’re all job candidates at different points throughout our lives. We should strive to provide others with the type of application and interview processes we appreciate ourselves.

What sort of considerations do you appreciate as a candidate for employment?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Job Creation at the Heart of the G20 Summit

Unemployment in the Group of 20 leading world economies nears 8% of the total workforce, according to the International Labor Market.  With that statistic in mind, let’s take a look at the G20 Communique that took place last Friday.

What do our global leaders prescribe for an ailing economy?

They’re going to:

put jobs at the heart of the recovery, to provide social protection, decent work and also to ensure accelerated growth in low income countries (LICs)…

implement a range of structural reforms that boost and sustain global demand, foster job creation, and increase the potential for growth…

promote resilience, job creation and mitigate risks for development, [by] prioritiz[ing] action under the Seoul Consensus on addressing critical bottlenecks, including infrastructure deficits, food market volatility, and exclusion from financial services…

further strengthen the global economy, accelerate job creation, ensure more stable financial markets, narrow the development gap and promote broadly shared growth beyond crisis…


1. G20 leaders recognize a need for job creation.
2. Brevity as wit is not highly valued in government.

We are left with four paragraphs about job creation, and no specific plans or detailed action items.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Focus on What You Can Control, and Be Confident.

Here’s a topic that applies to all of us: employees, managers, recruiters, and CEOs. recently published an article about hiring confidently.  It struck a chord because, as discussed in the previous post, not all employers are hiring confidently, and not all people are acting confidently in our uncertain economic times.

In fact, uncertainty and challenge can bring out the worst in people, cause them to abandon their principles, and do things they wouldn’t have otherwise done, such as in the case of the hiring manager in’s article, who told each of her interviewees if it were up to her, she wouldn’t hire anyone.

Think of how her statement affected those job seekers.  Maybe they too became a little less confident in the market, the company, or themselves.

As the article mentions, the hiring manager’s doubt probably spoke to a company hiring process and policy she didn’t trust.

But whether or not she trusted the policy, deep down she knows she was wrong to spread the doubt to her interviewees.  In a perfect world, her company’s choices shouldn’t change her principles.  She should remain professional under any and all circumstances.  She likely can’t control her company’s hiring process, but she can control her reaction to it.

On another level, what made her mistrust her company’s hiring process?  Did the company have a plan in place that didn’t reflect the needs of the current economic environment?  Or was the hiring process also not based on principles, but a reaction to fear brought on by the recession?  We can only speculate.  But the hiring manager’s feelings suggest something was amiss.

The lesson here is to accept uncertainty, focus on what you can control, and use the knowledge you do possess to make principle-based decisions.  If you’re a company, hire fairly and wisely.  If you’re a hiring manager, represent your company (and yourself) well by sticking to the facts and withholding negative opinions.  And if you’re an interviewee, put your best face forward and know, with confidence, that when you put forth the effort and stick to your principles, you will succeed.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree that sticking to principles brings about inner confidence? What are some important attributes of a confident employer or employee, in your opinion?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Temporary employment in the United States is up. What does that mean?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics just released its Current Employment Statistics Highlights for October 2010.  Changes in temporary help tend to be a leading indicator of changes in employment overall.  And temp help is way up.

What are some possible reasons for an increase in temporary help?  Well, the increase could be merely part of the cyclical ebb and flow in business.  More likely, the increase points to a secular shift, due to several factors.

First, healthcare reform.  Employers hesitate to commit to the increasing legal and administrative responsibility involved with full-time employees.

Second, the economy.  Business leaders are unsure about how the economic recovery will unfold.

Finally, this past summer saw jobs coming back to the United States from overseas.  And that trend most certainly accounts for the current increase in U.S. labor demand, temporary or otherwise.

What do you think?  Why is the demand for temporary workers up? What does that increase say about overall employment in the United States?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

How Will Healthcare Reform Affect Businesses?

How will healthcare reform affect companies?  We won’t really know until January 1, 2014, when all aspects of the Healthcare Reform bill are set into motion.

How will healthcare reform affect your company?  The answer remains to be seen, but depends on your level of proactivity in strategizing your company's future.

One thing is certain.  If you have over fifty employees, Healthcare Reform will affect you.  Quite a bit.  CEOs are starting to talk about the financial implications – and their inevitable effect on company culture.

Here are some important facts top executives must consider.

1.  If your company employs at least 50 part- or full-time workers, you won’t be required to offer them insurance, strictly speaking.  But if you don’t, and at least one of your full-time employees gets a government subsidy for health insurance, you must pay a $2000 fee for every one of your full-time employees.

2.  If your business offers coverage, you will still have to take extra action to help low- or middle-income workers who want to purchase their own insurance.  You must provide a free choice voucher equal to what your firm would have offered via the company plan.  This voucher applies to employees who make less than 400 percent of the poverty level, which is about $10,800 for an individual and $22,000 for a family of four.

3.  If you employ over 200 people, you must auto-enroll your workers in the plan.

4.  Fees and penalties are not tax deductible.

5.  In addition, insurance benefits must be listed on employees’ W-2 Forms, and you will need to understand complexities such as each employee's entire household income.  The new healthcare law is complex, and the burden of compliance and administration falls on the employer.

With these and other considerations in mind, top executives have taken their heads out of the sand. They're looking the facts in the eye, and developing realistic strategies so that their businesses thrive amid the coming change.

What sort of considerations is your company making with regards to the new health care system?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Let's Start a Dialogue Around Healthcare Reform.

Healthcare reform is happening.  We know there'll be financial implications affecting all of us: individuals, families, businesses, and corporations.

Whether your company chooses to ignore the coming change, or come up with a strategy to tackle challenges head on, could mean the success or failure of your business.  It's the difference between a company that passively lets things happen to it, and one that takes the reins.  None of us can perfectly predict the future, but we'd like to start a dialogue around healthcare reform, its financial implications, and how those implications may change your company culture.