In business, professional success may come down to one critical skill that trumps all others, regardless of generation or industry, and it’s this: self-management. The new leadership. Here’s why.

Self Management IS the New Leadership

If you spend any amount of time reading the HR and staffing articles that fill social media news feeds and business magazines about attracting and managing Millennials you might come to believe that the balance of power has shifted from employee to employer. Today’s employers are admonished to offer flexible work schedules, create teams, eliminate hierarchy, do away with titles, offer cafeteria and non-traditional benefits packages and more if they expect to attract “the best and brightest” among Millennials and the younger generations that will follow them into the workplace.

What seems to be missing are articles telling Millennials and emerging generations how they can adapt, grow and develop in order to succeed, including advice that might shatter their misconceptions about what the work place will be like. Zappos, Amazon and the like have embraced hierarchy and work environments that work well for their business models; however, to think that one type of work style translates to all industries and business types isn’t logical. Companies that rely on constant invention and innovation need to be structured in a way that facilitates those activities, but the vast majority of businesses in the U.S. are not Amazon-like in work environment or organizational needs.

One size does not fit all when it comes to employers, nor does one size fit all when it comes to employees, regardless of age or assigned generation. Some people thrive in the holacracy; others, not so much. To think that one style of workplace would be best suited for everyone in a certain age group is as illogical as assuming that one type of teaching style suits all students. It’s just not true.

Here’s something that is true regardless of age, regardless of industry, regardless of work environment: Self-management is the new leadership.

Whether you work in a role with lots of goals and measures or few, whether you work in an environment with lots of oversight or little, and whether you work in a business that has lots of policies and procedures or hardly any, success in any type of business comes down to your ability to effectively manage the time and resources at your disposal, even if that only resource is you.

Self-management covers a lot of turf. It’s about managing work time in a way that is purpose-driven, focused, disciplined and productive – but that’s not all. It’s also about having self-control, and that includes time spent doing work but it also includes time spent in meetings, on teams, and time spent interacting with bosses and co-workers.

At its core, the new leadership – self-management – comes down to four main components: observation, discernment, wisdom and a bias for action.

Here are definitions for each along with synonyms that help to clarify them even more.


The action or process of observing something or someone carefully in order to gain information. In other words, you keep an eye on things. Synonyms: surveillance, scrutiny, watching, study


The ability to judge well. In other words, you have the ability to accurately interpret what has been observed (with at least some degree of objectivity) and begin to form conclusions or strategies as to appropriate response or next steps. Synonyms: judgment, acumen, shrewdness, sensitivity, intuition


The soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of experience, knowledge, and good judgment. In other words, you have the knowledge and/or experience needed to determine which would be the best options from among possible actions or strategies that should occur next. Synonyms: understanding, intelligence, astuteness, insight

Bias for Action

The fact or process of doing something, typically to achieve an aim. In other words, you’ve seen the problem, developed solutions, chosen the right one and you are willing and able to take action for resolution, response or progress. Synonyms: exploit, achievement, accomplishment, feat

Whether you’re a sole proprietor, part of a traditionally-structured business or a team-member in a holacracy environment, these abilities make you more valuable, more effective and more successful. If you’re an HR, staffing or recruiting professional, these abilities are going to set your best candidates apart, regardless of their age or assigned generation. If you’re a business owner who is wondering which of your staff should be developed for leadership or promotion, choose those that display these characteristics.

If you’re a Millennial – or someone even younger – who is about to enter the workforce, these are the attributes that will help you grow, adapt and succeed over the course of your professional career, perhaps more so than any other skills you have. Self-management is the new leadership (and it was the old leadership, too!)

Routines are great if they lead to more productivity and quality of work-life, but routines can also detract from your goals if they reduce efficiency or needlessly interrupt your time. Here are ten things that you can do at home to be more productive at work.

Be All That You Can Be – 10 Ways to Be More Productive at Work

Nine of out ten people admit that they have wasted time at work in one way or another, according to an infographic published by YAST (included below). While time spent on social networks and excessive socializing are among the culprits, nearly half of workers indicated that the biggest time waster in their workday was the need to attend too many meetings.

While human beings are not machines, and it would be impossible to make productive use out of every minute of every workday, there are things you can do to ensure that you get more out of your workplace. Whether you want to demonstrate your value in pursuit of a promotion or you simply need to make your business more profitable, understanding the flow of your work day can help you identify tasks that are eating into productivity or interrupting your focus – and preventing you from getting the most important things done.

If you are losing your first hour of the day to email, or finding that social media, socializing or scheduling tasks are keeping you from being the superstar you want to be on the job, try doing one or more of these ten things from home so you can get more done at work.

10 Ways Doing More at Home Makes You More Productive at Work

Evaluate your email

Scroll through email before going in to work. Respond to anything that is critical or acknowledge emails that will be responded to later. Make a short list of those items that need to be dealt with as soon as you arrive at the office. Knowing that your email has already been evaluated, hold off on checking your inbox until later in the morning (or even after lunch), focusing instead on working productively to complete mission-critical projects.

Find your First Five

List the first five things that you will do after getting to work, then discipline yourself to do nothing else before those five things have been completed. Obviously emergencies or unexpected problems may derail your plans, but knowing how you will hit the ground running instead of trying to piece a plan together after you get to work will help you get more out of your first few hours on the job.

Plan for Physical Needs

Reclaim the minutes – or hours – spent wondering what’s for lunch by preparing healthy, energy-improving snacks and a lunch ahead of time. If you do plan to order out, try creating a week-long menu you can follow instead of spending time each day trying to figure out what sounds good.

Summarize a Successful Day

As you think about the work day to come, determine what one (two or three, etc.) most impactful things you can do that would make the day successful in your eyes, regardless of what else gets done.

Track the Day’s Traffic

A few seconds spent checking the day’s traffic could mean minutes – or even hours – that you don’t spend on the road. Make checking your route to work online a habit before you walk out the door each morning, and predetermine a few alternative routes that you can take if your first choice is jammed up.

Plan for Personal Needs

To be more productive, you need to eliminate distractions. Is it time for an oil change? Do you need to pick up kids, dry cleaning or groceries after work? Before you leave for work in the morning, list out the personal tasks that you also need to accomplish and decide when you will get those done in light of your work day needs.

Scan the News Sites

Phone alerts and social media status updates about industry happenings, current events, celebrities and other items of interest can all create interruptions. Before you go to work, hit up a few news sites online so that there will be fewer surprises during the day.

Screen Social Network Feeds

Social networks can be valuable tools in helping to build business, but they can also become a black hole when it comes to lost productivity. Just as with email, scroll through your social media feeds before leaving for the office and avoid visiting these sites again until later in the day.

Add to Your Energy and Enthusiasm

From a first cup of coffee or protein-packed breakfast to an hour of exercise, coming into the day with more energy will help you be more productive on the job and feel happier, too.

Schedule reminders

Perhaps even more so than a to-do list, setting up reminders and alerts that pop up during the day can help to keep you on track when it comes to regaining your focus or finishing time-sensitive tasks.

Infographic: Biggest Work Place Time Wasters via Yast

Biggest time wasters at work infographic

Here are ten contingency planning ideas to cope and compensate the next time business emergencies affect to your organization.

Contingency planning for business is crucial because things happen. Phone systems go down. Staff responsible to open up don’t show up. Storms hit. Servers crash. Popes and potentates visit. The truth is, there are any number of reasons why customer service could get interrupted on any given day.

Emergencies, Contingency Planning and How to Pass the Time When the Phone System Goes Down

contingency planning ideasDo a Google search for lost business productivity and you’ll find a slew of articles on the cost to business in lost productivity due to insomnia, social media, surfing and even the demands of managing one’s fantasy football team. It will make you wonder how American workers ever get anything done at all (ha ha).

While you might be able to address and reduce productivity and sales lost to causes like those, you may not be able to do anything to remedy things when your phone system goes down, your server crashes, or outside causes make it impossible for you to do business as usual.

On days like this, you can wait it out, or you can take action and make the best of things. With the latter in mind, here are ten things you can do when your phones go down to recoup your losses and retain your sanity!

Contingency Planning – 10 Things to Do When the Phones Go Down

Reach Out and Touch Someone

Send notifications out by email, social media and smoke signal – if necessary — to let your customers know that a temporary problem has occurred and you’re working to sort it out. Let them know of any contingency planning options they have for doing business with you. Let them know when they can expect things to be back online, and let them know when they are.

Circle the Wagons

Lock things down and ensure the safety and security of your employees, premises, data, etc. A small problem like a phone system outage is an ideal time to practice your emergency preparedness plan and see how well the plan will work in case of an even worse disaster. Take what you learn to improve your plan for the next time.

Shop Around

A system failure might indicate a problem with the platform or your own infrastructure. When you find out what went wrong, make sure you can make it right or consider replacing critical infrastructure with a more reliable system.

Commiserate with the Community

Do you have products that could help out other business owners or community members who have been affected by the same problem that took your phones down? This is a great opportunity for your business to make its presence felt in the community by helping out where you can.

Come Together

Rather than leave employees to their own devices while they wait for things to come back online, take advantage of their downtime to engage in team building activities or deliver brand and product knowledge training.


While staff are on hand and standing by, hold a brainstorming session to find ways to resolve or respond to the crisis on hand. If resolution is out of your control, use the time to brainstorm ideas for improving customer care, tapping new markets, improving efficiency, or for some other facet of your organization.

Order In

Let employees know you care and make waiting more enjoyable by bringing in food, beverages, or other supplies that can help them weather the storm or wait out the outage.

Divert to Cells

A company phone system outage does not have to mean lost orders. Let customers know that account executives can be reached by cell phone so that customers can place orders, make payments, check on the status of their shipments and so on for the duration of the outage, or purchase prepaid cell phones for use as part of your emergency preparedness plan.

Ask for Help

In times of emergency, even competitors can become trusted partners and friends. Reach out for help or (better yet) establish relationships ahead of time which can be tapped for assistance when inside or outside forces take your business offline.

Throw in the Towel

No business owner likes the thought of closing up shop for the day but sometimes throwing in the towel, regrouping and getting the rest needed to fight another day is the right thing ‐ and the best thing – to do. Decide ahead of time how long employees will be required to wait around before being sent home and how employees will be notified that they should not come in to work on days when opening is not a viable option.


Financial Contingency Planning 

Our cash advance financing might be the ideal solution when you need working capital to recover after an equipment failure. Likewise, if your point of sale or merchant services infrastructure let you down, now might be the right time to find a new credit card processing company or replace your POS equipment and software.

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Strengthen your brand, focus on what is most profitable and shed inefficiencies. Five ways to turn business ideas into reality and make your business a better place for customers and staff.

5 Strategies That Can Turn New Business Ideas into Reality

No matter what type of business you own or how long your doors have been open, there is always something that can be improved. As new business ideas emerge it can be challenging to implement even the best of them when it means challenging the status quo and overcoming internal resistance to change.

1. Create a formal system for evaluating business ideas.

“It is by acts and not by ideas that people live.” Anatole France

Entrepreneurs and business owners usually don’t have a shortage of ideas. Without a formal system where ideas can be evaluated, plans of action can be developed, responsibilities can be assigned and measurements can be defined and tracked over time, most ideas – even the best of ideas – might never see the light of the work day.

2. Involve everyone.

“Ideas are like pizza dough; made to be tossed around.” Anna Quindlen

There’s a saying that goes, “too many cooks spoil the brew.”  This might be true in the kitchen, but in organizations that want to grow and change, the more people that weigh in, contribute, buy-in and become personally invested in change initiatives, the better. When your staff feel listened to and ideas are refined to reflect their feedback and concerns, they are much more likely to buy in and get behind transformative business ideas.

3. Embrace real change.

“The difficultly lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.” John Maynard Keynes

It’s human nature to resist change and fall back on what is familiar, especially if new behaviors don’t bring instant gratification. Remember you will not be able to achieve new goals with old ways of thinking and old ways of doing. The pace of change in today’s competitive marketplace alone dictates that you need change ambassadors in your organization if you want to grow. Empower and rely on people on your staff who aren’t afraid to take on big challenges and learn new things!

4. Proselytize.

“Eventually everything connects – people, ideas, objects. The quality of connections is the key to quality.” Charles Eames

If you want to achieve big things, you can’t afford to have staff that don’t believe in the vision. Everyone in your organization, everyone, ultimately has the power to contribute toward or against your business goals. Make sure they are all on board.

5. Invest adequate resources.

“Money is a wonderful thing because it enables you… to invest in ideas that don’t have a short-term payback.” Steve Jobs

Your willingness to fund and allocate staff, time and other corporate resources to a given initiative is a direct reflection of your commitment to achieving the goal. No matter how sound or exciting your business ideas are, without allocation of adequate resources – including money – turning them into reality will be difficult.

Our business finance tools could be ideal options if your business lacks the working capital needed to execute ideas that will help your business grow in the New Year. A merchant cash advance can provide your organization with a lump sum of working capital that can be used for many different business purposes.

How to Make and Keep New Business Goals

An Outbound Engine survey found that less than half of small businesses have a plan for growth. But many business ideas need a marketing or operational plan in order to succeed. As you implement new ideas make sure they are tied to plans that include specific goals and measures. offers up several tips for setting and sticking to goals, and we’ve adapted their list for business owners here:

  • Don’t try to do too much at once, limit to one or two goals that are most important
  • Set realistic goals with specific, measurable benchmarks and a finish line
  • Don’t wait until New Year’s Day – make goal setting part of your organization’s process on an on-going, systematic basis
  • Be accountable and assign goals and tactics to specific people with dates set for measures, reports, and contingency plans
  • Be accountable to your accountability plan – where does the buck stop?
  • Communicate and celebrate incremental successes
  • Embrace change; you can’t achieve new goals with old thinking and the same tactics
  • Each day ask the question: what can I do today to move toward the goal?
  • Make sure that your company is “healthy;” fix what goes wrong internally so that employees can focus on reaching the goal
  • Have some fun along the way!

With more job openings than unemployed workers to fill them, many people might find themselves wondering whether the grass is greener – or the money is better – on the other side of the fence. Here are six ways to combat high employee turnover before it becomes a talent drain.’s 2018 Retention Report offers valuable insights for businesses combating high employee turnover. In 2018, they estimated 42M workers changed jobs (or one of every four U.S. workers). With nearly full employment and a growing economy, employers competing to attract and retain talented workers would be wise to find ways to reduce voluntary turnover and discover whether top talent might be about to make a move.

To Leave or Not To Leave – Common Causes of High Employee Turnover

Of the 42 million workers who changed employers last year, the study estimates that 77 percent of the turnover could have been avoided.

6 Ways to Slow Down High Employee Turnover

When it came to employee-initiated separations, the top causes cited fell into five main categories:

  • 21% – wanted a better opportunity or opportunities for advancement
  • 13% – wanted to improve their work-life balance
  • 11% – were unhappy with their manager
  • 9% – left for well-being (personal or family health issues)
  • 9% – left for a job with better pay and benefits

High employee turnover is an expensive problem. In addition to the money and time that goes into advertising and recruiting activities, organizations with high turnover also need to be aware of how time and resources needed for on-boarding, human resources tasks, training add to the cost of high employee turnover. The study estimated that turnover cost employers $600B in 2018 and will cost employers $680B in 2020.

If direct costs were not enough, high turnover usually results in decreased productivity and can negatively impact the customer experience and employee morale.  And yet, fewer than one in three study respondents said they either have a proactive recruiting strategy in place or were in the process of defining a more strategic approach to the problem of employee turnover.

When you consider how many organizational resources are being spent filling open positions where employees left voluntarily, it stands to reason that even small reductions in employee turnover could have big benefits on an organization’s bottom line,  including increasing profits, reducing expenses, and improving employee morale and the customer experience.

6 Ways to Slow Down High Employee Turnover

1. Make sure you find out why employees are really leaving.

When an employee is leaving voluntarily, and especially when it is a top performer, an employee in a hard-to-fill position or its a surprising (and unwanted) departure, make sure you know why they are really leaving. There are many reasons why an employee might not tell you the real reason they became dissatisfied or what benefits they perceived would be theirs if they left for opportunity. If you feel that you might not have the whole story, you can also see whether their co-workers or manager can shed additional light on the subject, or evaluate the opportunity they left your organization for to see whether you can identify advantages they might have found there.

2. Look for patterns.

Departments with higher turnover or positions that are hard to keep filled may be indicative of a variety of factors that can result in higher turnover. From a bad fit on the team, to a bad manager or a need to redefine a position’s responsibilities, organizational areas where you find higher than expected turnover should always get a closer look.

You might also like: So You Made a Bad Hire – Now What?

3. Do a competitive evaluation.

Do you know what direct and indirect competitors are offering employees in the way of salaries, benefits, bonuses and employee perks? Your competitive evaluation shouldn’t end with the reasons that customers shop elsewhere. Make sure that you know the most talented and skilled workers – the workers that could make your business more profitable – might choose a competitor’s employee culture over yours as well.

4. Benchmark vital statistics.

Just like a nurse might come in and take a patient’s vital statistics at a regular frequency, you should be ‘taking the pulse’ of your employee culture. Use surveys, polls and suggestion systems to gauge employee satisfaction and identify areas where the employee culture, compensation, or working conditions can be improved.

5. Get employees involved in shaping the organizational culture.

Nothing impacts buy-in so much as giving people a voice in the process and its outcomes. Whether you form committees to help improve different aspects of the employee experience or use surveys and polls to influence decision-making, make sure employees know how they can get involved in shaping employee culture and – in doing so – positively impact the organization as a whole.

6. Eliminate dead ends.

One of the main reasons employees leave voluntarily is for a better opportunity or one where they will have opportunities to advance. No employee in your organization should be in a dead end job! Whether the road to advancement is for them to get more training and skills or for the organization itself to grow, make sure that everyone knows that there is a ‘next level’ and has clear direction on how to get there.

Firing a bad hire isn’t the only action you can take when you realize you made a mistake. Here are four ways to make the most of a bad (hire) situation.

4 Ways to Recover After Making a Bad Hire

One of the most important challenges when growing a business is making good hiring decisions. But what happens when you don’t?

Are bad hires really a big problem? A CareerBuilder survey of more than 6,000 hiring pros worldwide says yes. Among U.S. employers, one in four said that one bad hire cost their company more than $50,000 and more than four out of ten said that making a bad hire cost their organization more than $25,000.

Bad hires cost more than money, and the negative impacts of hiring the wrong person for the job can ripple to all areas of the organization, reaching all the way to the customer experience. Among the other company costs listed by businesses that made bad hires were:

  • 41% – lost worker productivity
  • 40% – lost time for recruiting and training another worker
  • 37% – cost of recruiting and training more than one person for the same opening
  • 36% – negative impact on employee morale
  • 22% – negative impact on customers

Writing on, Human Workplace CEO Liz Ryan recently shared a list of 9 Ways Employers Screw Up Hiring, noting that many organizations hire good people but then squash their energy and ideas “under the weight of mindless bureaucracy.” While some of the reasons Ryan cites as the cause of bad hiring decisions and practices are related to the hiring process itself, others are intrinsic to the organization itself, such as designing jobs poorly to begin with.

So why is it so common for employers to make bad hiring decisions? While there could be many factors that ultimately result in hiring the wrong candidate, it is vitally important for an organization to get to the root cause, giving the high cost of making a bad hire. Some of the factors that lead to bad hires include rushing the process, skipping essential tasks (like checking references), allowing internal biases or agendas to influence the outcome, or having the wrong people conducting interviews, such as people who do not understand the requirements of the job or makeup of the department very well.

Infographic – So you made a bad hire. Now what?

Change the Job

So you made a bad hire – now what? One action to consider is whether the job can be changed to better suit the candidate hired, since you did not hire the right candidate for the job. It might be far less costly to your organization in terms of money, morale and productivity to modify the job description or move people internally in order to put your bad hire in a position where they can become a good employee.

Invest in the Candidate

If your bad hire is a good person, the right response might be to invest in training and education that the candidate needs in order to fulfill the responsibilities of the position. When you invest in employees – from new hires to workers who have been part of the team for years – you may be investing in employee loyalty as much as you are investing in worker productivity.

Start Over

The realization that you have made a bad hire might be painful, and even embarrassing, but the good of the organization may dictate that the remedy is to let the wrong candidate go and renew your search for the right one.

Convey the Cost and Fix the Problem

Whether the right corrective action to take after hiring the wrong candidate is to move them to a different role, train them up into the role they were hired for or cut your losses and start again, it will cost your organization more than money. From plunges in productivity and internal morale to negative reviews left online from someone let go or candidates you passed over, it’s important that everyone in your organization understands the importance of getting the hiring process right.

While some bad hires can ultimately become good workers, there are situations where no amount of internal remediation is appropriate. In the CareerBuilder survey noted above, some of the behaviors of bad hires included an inability to work well with others, negative attitudes, problems with attendance and punctuality, and poor customer service.

Make sure that you dig deep when checking references. If you feel that you have not spoken with people who could tell you what it is really going to be like to work with a potential candidate, ask for additional contacts.

Take advantage of the first 90 days. Most employers consider the first 90 days of a candidates employment to be probationary; this is your chance to evaluate new hires closely to see whether their performance matches up to their resume and interview claims and look for signs of behaviors that could become big problems in the future (such as new hires that have trouble taking direction, accepting criticism or working with others).

You might also like: 5 Signs Your Company Culture Needs Fixing, Fast


Cost of a Bad Hire Infographic –

Infographic - So you made a bad hire. Now what?

A global study by Manpower Group Solutions cites “type of work” as the top reason employees leave. Employers and HR leaders charged with keeping top employees may improve efforts by updating traditional employee reviews to include opportunities to modify an employee’s role, as well as salary.

Top Reasons U.S. Workers Leave Provide Clues for Keeping Top Employees

Manpower Group Solutions whitepaper “Below the Surface: Emerging Global Motivators and Job Search Preferences” offers clues HR and staffing agencies can use to improve not only recruiting efforts, but retention efforts as well. Factors that impact U.S. employee career decisions:

  • 58% – Type of work
  • 57% – Compensation
  • 49% – Benefits offered
  • 35% – Geographic location
  • 34% – Opportunities for advancement
  • 29% – Schedule flexibility
  • 18% – Company brand / reputation
  • 18% – Industry


Keeping Top Employees - The Top Reasons US Workers Change Jobs

Not only is “opportunities for advancement” listed as a top consideration for U.S. workers in general, it relates to the top reason U.S. employees say they leave for other employers: Type of work.

Both of these career decision factors – type of work and opportunities for advancement – are even more important to today’s younger workers, with more than one third of Gen X and nearly half of Gen Y workers citing it as a top consideration. HR leaders and business owners who persuade workers that there is room for change and upward mobility within the organization may have more success in keeping top employees on board who might otherwise leave for another employer where they perceive increased opportunities exist.

Keeping Top Talent – Making Role Review Part of the Employee Review Process

The traditional employee review speaks to a worker’s performance against their current duties and salary. While some employers may leave the door open for an employee to talk about their future aspirations, its uncommon for an employer to provide significant latitude for employees to weigh in on their current role and list of responsibilities.

Managers who regularly engage staff about the type of work they are doing, are interested in doing, most enjoy doing, and least enjoy will be more likely to uncover a worker’s dissatisfaction with the type of work they are doing before losing top employees to other employers. This could be especially helpful for HR leaders and business owners in small and mid-sized companies, where an employee may perceive few opportunities for advancement exist.

Employee development programs, team building workshops and employee satisfaction surveys can also be helpful in discovering strengths and abilities managers – or even employees themselves – may not have been aware of. For instance, Gallup’s StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath includes the same StrengthsFinder assessment that can be completed individually online. Identifying the strengths and preferences of workers isn’t just about giving people a chance to do work that is enjoyable and meaningful to them, it can also help employers identify role changes that might make workers more productive – and their business more profitable – in the process.

According to, “People who use their strengths every day are six times more likely to be engaged on the job.” StrengthsFinder 2.0 and similar resources also provide guidance for managers, so that every leader in a business from the owner to department manager or team leader is on the same page when it comes to using an individual’s strengths as motivator, barometer and even for setting performance goals.

Employee Retention – 4 Questions to Make Anyone’s Type of Work More Meaningful

Here are three questions business owners and HR leaders can ask about anyone’s role within the company to identify ways in which an employee’s role could be make more meaningful – impossible to replicate in any other workplace. The first three questions come from a post which was re-shared by Jeff Haden on; the fourth question is derived from an American Psychological Association ( report on psychologist discoveries of what makes work meaningful and “how to create value in any job.”

  1. Autonomy: How much control does the employee have over their own choices?
  2. Complexity: Does the employee have opportunities to master new skills and improve?
  3. Connection: Does the worker see a payoff – a connection between effort and reward?
  4. Aspiration: Does the worker feel an innate higher calling to their job or type of work, or that fulfilling their responsibilities supplies what might be an intangible “good” for someone else?

Employee retention can reduce expenses and give your company the competitive advantage it needs to win in a competitive marketplace, but many companies expend far more on recruiting and hiring than on efforts to keep top employees. Make sure you’re in touch with workers to ensure they are satisfied with the type of work they have to do today and what they feel their role is in the future.

You might also like: A Bad Employer Rap Can Scare Top Talent Away

The U.S. labor market is an increasingly diverse workforce when it comes to age as more and more Millennials enter the labor force and U.S. workers stay on the job longer. Here are three top causes business owners need to champion in organizations with a multi-generational workforce.

Business Owners Must Successfully Cultivate 3 Things for a Multi-generational Workforce

1. An Organizational Culture that Works for Everyone

Life expectancy in the U.S. is at a record high and more Americans are staying in the workforce to an older age; for instance, in 2015, workers aged 65 and up outnumbered teenage workers for the first time since 1948. Indeed, between 1977 and 2007, while the numbers of workers aged 16 to 24 increased by 59 percent, the growth rate for older generations was even higher:

  • 101% more workers aged 65 or older
  • 75% more men in the workforce aged 65 or older
  • 147% more women in the workforce aged 65 or older
  • 172% more workers aged 75 or older.

Business owners and human resources leaders are increasingly faced with unique challenges directly related to managing a multi-generational workforce, especially in bigger organizations. One of these challenges is how to nurture an organizational culture that works for everyone, regardless of generational divides.

Multi-generational work forces in large organizations, in particular, are likely to have a significant number of workers represented in each generation. Each of which (generally speaking) leadership styles, work ethics, world views, and wage and benefit needs that vary significantly from one another.

When considering how to nurture an organizational culture that is conducive to success across the four-generation workforce that currently exists in the U.S. (Millennials, Generation Y, Generation X and Baby Boomers), leaders have to consider the issues of work-life balance, the role of technology, and factors that result in high levels of employee engagement as they pertain to generational characteristics.

For instance, Millennials may be less likely to accept work that impinges on their family or personal life than member of older generations. Members of younger generations also have more experience with technology and are less likely to find a workplace attractive that prohibits use of social media and personal technology.

While the factors that produce employee engagement among younger workers may be vastly different than those that stimulate engagement for older workers, organizations that purposefully shape and manage internal culture may naturally enjoy higher levels of employee engagement across all generations.

2. Flexible Benefits Options

The benefit and compensation packages that will appeal to top talent across generations in a multi-generational workforce may vary widely, from preferences and needs regarding health and wellness to paid and unpaid time off, educational reimbursement and training, and so on.

Even worker preferences for the way benefits are communicated and managed (or self-managed) may be widely disparate by age range. Human Resources can bridge these gaps by giving employees more ability to tailor their own options and ensuring that benefits are communicated in multiple formats (written, in-person, digital, etc.)

3. Relatable Leaders Who Value and Bring Out the Best in Workers of Any Generation

Seven out of 10 of U.S. Human Resources pros surveyed in a Randstad Sourceright Talent Trend Report listed managing a multi-generational workforce as one of their biggest challenges. With a workforce now representative of Millennials, Generation Y, Generation X and Baby Boomers, the report summarizes that “companies need to look to developing a balance of different incentives to engage, motivate, and ultimately improve workplace productivity.”

Regardless of age, the individuals who emerge as the most successful leaders in succeeding years will be those who members of any age group find relatable. These leaders will have an innate or learned ability to value the workers who report to them for their strengths as well as to bring out the best in them, regardless of the generation in which they may fall within the multi-generational workforce.

Indeed, HR Executive Online points out that Millennials are coming into their own, emerging as new leaders within the workforce, noting that HR leaders in large companies devote time and resources to development and retention of these emerging leaders who will “morph into leaders who will, in turn, guide the subsequent generation.”

The U.S. labor market is evolving and will continue to evolve with the emergence of each new generation of worker. Consequently, the challenge business owners and HR professionals face in helping to foster an organizational culture attractive to talented individuals across or regardless generational divides will continue to be an ever-present one.

Move over, Yelp; bad customer reviews aren’t the only negative feedback hurting businesses today. Poor employee reviews, ratings and a bad rap as an employer can scare top talent away, leaving you unable to attract the high performing candidates you’re looking for.

How a Bad Brand Reputation With Employees Can Scare Top Talent Away

What Candidates and Customers Might See that Could Scare Top Talent Away

Unhappy candidates and employees can turn to sites like Glassdoor and leave anonymous reviews about a business. They can rate a company from 1-5 stars and leave a detailed review which includes pros and cons of the company as well as advice to management.

These employer reviews become part of the public domain, and may turn up in searches not only by future job candidates but with potential customers, vendors and lenders as well. The strength of your company culture could impact your ability to attract top talent, clients, partners and investors.

Imagine that you’re a job candidate who has been offered a job with Company X. You decide to do a little research before deciding whether to accept the offer, negotiate for more money or turn them down and wait for a different opportunity. When you Google Company X reviews, this pops up:

Current Employee

3-Stars – Doesn’t Recommend

Title: Work Hard and Keep Your Head Down

Pros: High Quality Product, Excellent Union Benefits and Backing (You’ll need it!) -Strong Community Involvement

Cons: -Rampant Favoritism -Total Lack of CommunicationDiscrimination -High School Politics

Advice to Management: Uphold the SAME standards for all employees. Everyone (even management) should be held to the same standards, policies, etc. -All the time. (Not just when you need to fire someone…)

Still think you want to take this job?

Chances are that if you come across this review, even if there are other reviews that are more positive, you will be inclined to pass on this opportunity. Even more so if you are a candidate whose skills are in high demand or who would be leaving an organization with a strong company culture to take the next step in their career.

The Moment of Truth: What Would Your Employees Have to Say?

You won’t know how staff are feeling about the company and their roles within it if you never ask. Conducting anonymous satisfaction surveys that allow staff to rate satisfaction with various aspects of the workplace and give them opportunities to share suggestions is a great place to start. Act on suggestions when you can and where they have merit. Acknowledge suggestions (even if you cannot act on them) so that staff will know that they were at least considered.

Likewise, be thoughtful in the way that you select candidates for interviews and the process you ask them to endure. Make sure you keep them informed throughout the process and don’t leave them hanging. Whether you extend a job offer or not, consider getting feedback from candidates about your recruiting and hiring process for insights you can use to make improvements.

Brands that Scare Top Talent Away Today Sacrifice Tomorrow’s New Hires, Too

As it turns out, Yelp might just be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to review sites that can hurt an organization’s reputation, and in turn negatively impact its ability to grow. Recruiting sites like Glassdoor give current and former employees and even mere candidates the ability to weigh in with a review and rating of employers.

Talented candidates that research employers before accepting a job offer or even submitting a resume could pass your company by if they find that other candidates you have interviewed or former employees had negative things to say about your company culture.

Certainly you don’t want to scare top talent away, but that’s not the worst of it. Not only do poor reviews on Glassdoor and similar sites affect your ability to attract top performers to your staff, but reviews on recruiting and hiring sites can also turn up in online search results which means they can cost your company new business and sales as well.

Consider some of these statistics from survey results published by Corporate Responsibility (CR) Magazine and Cielo as it pertains to an organization’s ability to attract high performing employees if they have a less-than-stellar reputation when it comes to organizational culture:

  • 86% of females and 67% of males would not join a company with a bad reputation
  • 46% would require a pay increase of 50 percent or more to consider taking a position at a company with a bad reputation
  • 92% would leave their current jobs if offered a role in a company with an excellent reputation

Make sure your plan for brand reputation management extends to its reputation with internal customers and even candidates who are interviewed for open positions, whether they are ultimately hired or not.

Recruiting and hiring decisions often hinge on hard skills and real life experience that indicate a candidate’s prowess in performing certain tasks, operating machinery and equipment, leveraging technology and so on. Soft skills are harder to measure, but may be even more beneficial to your professional success and the growth of your business.

3 Soft Skills that Strengthen Teams

Growing a business usually means adding people to the team that have experience and education that is directly related to the tasks and responsibilities they will be completing on the job, or which is indirectly related but considered transferable; that is, their knowledge and work history shows that they can adapt and learn what a new employer needs them to do. Based on a candidate’s resume and interview it’s usually fairly easy determine whether they have the direct or transferable skills you are looking for. It’s more difficult to determine whether the soft skills that they bring to the table are the ones that will make your team better, but you can discover them if you know what to look for.

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are personal attributes that enable and improve an individual’s ability to interact effectively with other people. Soft skills are probably being utilized all around you, every day. They are in use when sales people are negotiating, when co-workers are sharing problems and sympathizing with one another, when customer service pros are interpreting and resolving customer complaints, when team members are brainstorming, weighing options and dividing up responsibilities, and so on.

How can you uncover soft skills during the hiring process?

The things a candidate has done in school and on the job reveal their hard skills; the outcomes they have achieved, the route they took to get there, and even the words they use to describe situations about their interactions with colleagues and customers can help you uncover their soft skills.

3 Soft Skills and the Teams that Need Them


Having the ability to accurately determine what a person is feeling and considering a situation from their point of view can be a serious advantage for sales, customer service and human resources. While we often associate it as a key skill for the two latter teams, it’s not uncommon to find a sales team filled with less-than-empathetic individuals bent on getting to “yes” with a client, sometimes by any means possible. Sales teams might actually get to “yes” faster when they employ empathy to uncover a prospects real objections and concerns, which often go unstated.

In truth, there aren’t many roles in a business where empathy will not be an asset and so is desirable in most candidates. While it might be a plus for any candidate, it should be a must for managers.


Academic research brought to bear on the impact of having women on teams revealed an impressive truth; teams with women perform better because women score higher on the metric of average social sensitivity. What this translates to – in essence – is the equivalent of mind-reading in business. Social sensitivity makes women more able to pick up on and decipher non-verbal cues such as facial expressions, body language, tone, etc.

With intuition, employees can get to the real issues more quickly, but they can also better understand the motivation, mindset and outcomes that can help in negotiations and resolving conflicts. Intuition is the soft skill that leads to win-win situations, and it’s a soft skill that can propel sales, customer service, human resources, and teams responsible for product development and innovation farther, faster.


While this is not a treatise on the benefits of having women on your team, a University of Massachusetts Amherst study of 120 undergrad engineering students found that teams made up mostly of women or which had equal numbers of men and women performed better. In teams that did not have this balance, first-year female students were reluctant to contribute ideas and experienced higher levels of stress and anxiety. In teams where women were dominant or represented in roughly equal numbers to male counterparts, there was less stress, less anxiety and higher levels of contribution.

Most business owners understand why creating an environment where contributions – from any employee – are welcome can lead to business improvements, cost savings and innovations that help with growing a business more quickly. However, it’s not all that common to find a business where that atmosphere is present and maintained over time. If balance can be achieved merely by ensuring that both men and women are represented on a team, it seems like a no-brainer! Sales teams, product development teams, management teams and even department-to-department, bringing balance to the workforce could help you grow your business more quickly.