As the technology industry continues to evolve, tech leaders face increasing pressure to drive innovation, lead complex projects, and foster a positive work environment. The dual demands of remote work and the changing expectations of the workforce have exacerbated poor management.
In the long run, if not dealt with, the effects of weak leadership and poor workforce management can be very costly for the organization. This is the period of massive resignation. Many employees have tied the absence of purpose at work to the leading causes of their exit.
Perhaps, you’ve been noticing unusual changes or even a drastic reduction in your workforce’s productivity level. It’s probably time to take a step back and rethink your management approach. Here are five urgent signs that suggest something may be wrong.
1. Lackluster Team Performance
Anil Mohanty, HR head at Medikaba says “When a significant portion of team members are underperforming, particularly over 60%, it’s often a sign of a leadership issue within the organization.” ¹
If a small portion of your team isn’t meeting expectations, it can be easily attributed to those individual team members. But when a large majority of your team is underperforming, it’s a call to investigate the reason. Largely, underperformance stems from lack of motivation and engagement.
Improving your team’s productivity is a multi-faceted process that requires patience. It needs devotion to listening and allowing team members to provide feedback.
Denise Brinkmeyer, head of Jump Technology Services, highlights the issue of a manager taking on too much work, which leads to a lack of time for coaching and feedback for the team. This creates a vicious cycle where the manager becomes overburdened and the team becomes dissatisfied.
She says, “A manager may need to admit they’ve found their leadership lacking. When the leader commits to change and follows through, the team may find new respect, which yields improved attitudes and performance.”
2. Undervaluing Female Contributions
This issue is particularly prevalent in the tech industry, where women are often underrepresented and face significant barriers to advancement.
According to research by McKinsey, Only 87 women and 82 women of color are promoted for every 100 men promoted from entry-level roles to managerial positions. ² There’s a mass exit of women from their workplaces. The answer is simple. These women want merely to perform their work responsibilities and they want opportunities to advance their careers.
When a company is not fulfilling this purpose, several things can be expected. Either their motivation to work reduces, or they switch jobs to get the advancement they seek.
In McKinsey’s report, a South Asian woman was quoted saying “I’ve asked several times what I can do to advance my career, but I’ve never received a satisfactory response. I’m considering leaving. And it will be my company’s loss because they did not provide me with opportunities to advance. I hit a ceiling that wasn’t necessary.”
Companies that are not perceived as being inclusive and supportive of women may find it challenging to attract top female candidates, and may also struggle to retain the women already on their teams. This can hurt the overall diversity and competitiveness of the organization.
3. Excessive Employee Exit
Revolent Group President Nabila Salem highlights that high staff turnover is a clear indication of poor leadership. According to her, the main reason for this is the lack of empathy from leaders toward their employees. ³
If employees don’t feel that their leaders care about them, they are unlikely to be passionate and dedicated to achieving the goals of the organization.
After the pandemic, many employees experienced a shift in priorities. Their viewpoint of the world and their jobs changed. They have begun to question the lack of connection to their jobs, hence the decision to quit. For most, staying with their current employer is solely dependent on whether the job brings them fulfillment or a sense of purpose.
Aside from other leading causes of high employee turnover such as a search for better working benefits, many people will voluntarily quit their jobs for a better work-life balance, career development opportunities, or to escape ineffective workforce management. Without a purpose-driven work culture, more employees will be out the door.
Leadership essentially covers the responsibility to hire, promote, and retain staff members. If employees leave the company to seek better career opportunities, it means the leadership is not providing adequate support.
4. Poor Communication
Poor communication has been recognized as a major indicator of inadequate or poor leadership in several studies and surveys. Research by Pumble, found that 86 percent of employees surveyed reported poor communication as a significant problem in their organizations. ⁴
This highlights the widespread impact of the issue on employees causing misunderstandings, demotivation, subpar decision-making, and decreased productivity.
Generally speaking, employees often look to their leaders for guidance. Top-down communication motivates employees to be more productive and innovative. A good leader can communicate objectives, goals, and visions clearly, while also capturing employees’ goals in a larger framework.
Managers who are unable to answer questions or clarify points may result in poor communication and bad leadership, leaving their employees even more confused and frustrated than when they began.
In some instances, poor communication can escalate into increased conflict and tension in the workplace, as employees may become disillusioned with their leaders or with each other.
Creating two-way communication where employees can provide feedback is key. Tech leaders must foster open lines of communication with their employees by being responsive to their concerns and feedback. This way, employees are well-informed, motivated, and involved.
5. Uninspired Workforce
A lack of empathy, over-reliance on decisiveness, failure to support professional growth, and unrealistic expectations can lead to low employee morale.
Employees who feel unsupported and undervalued will be less motivated to perform at their best. Similarly, setting unrealistic expectations for project timelines without considering your team’s skills or the availability of resources will soon burn them out.
To inspire and retain a dedicated workforce, tech leaders must prioritize their employees’ well-being by providing clear direction and support, alongside a positive work environment.
In doing so, you may need to actively listen to what your team is saying. Critically consider if your expectation is causing your team to burn out, or have less motivation towards work.
Are your deadlines or work hours feasible?
Set achievable goals based on the availability of resources and team capabilities. In finding solutions to the problem of motivation, you may need to push for a collaborative culture, promote work-life balance, and encourage employee participation in decision-making processes.
What Good Leaders Do
Good leaders see themselves as career developers. They know that an uninspired team is a disaster recipe for low motivation and reduced productivity. They don’t wait till things get escalated. Instead, they address any conflicts or concerns that may contribute to poor morale, and find ways to create a more positive work environment for their employees.
For example, in many organizations today, the traditional 9-to-5 work week has been replaced by hybrid hours best suited to individual needs. It was found in research by the London School of Economics that working during unusual work hours, such as weekends and holidays, reduces employees’ motivation to work. ⁵
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As we welcome 2023, it’s important to acknowledge the gender gap in the tech industry. Despite numerous initiatives and programs aimed at increasing the representation of women in technology, the number of women in leadership positions remains low. With the overflow of opportunities in the tech industry today, this disparity is astonishing and limits the potential for innovation and progress in the tech industry.
It’s time to ask why more women aren’t in tech leadership roles. Is it due to systemic barriers or a lack of mentorship and sponsorship opportunities? These questions must be addressed to create a more inclusive and diverse tech industry.
The Hurdles Women Face in a Male-Dominated Industry
Most would expect that, in this age of people advocating for equality and inclusivity, women would be forging ahead at the same pace as their male colleagues. This is not the case, especially in STEM-related industries, where women may find it challenging to be noticed by most employers.
The rise of women in the industry is still being challenged by gender discrimination up to this day. Ninety-four percent of women say they are expected to do more than their male counterparts while undervalued. Seventy-five percent of female workers confessed that they had to take on more administrative tasks than necessary. This included preparing room and refreshments for meetings and sending email invites.1
Women in STEM and the Tech C-Suite Today
Equality and diversity can be improved in the industry when women continue pursuing tech opportunities. In a 2020 research by the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), there are now 45 percent of women taking up studies in STEM, a significant increase from 34 percent in 1994.2
Training women to lead and advance in their tech profession can also benefit the company’s growth and culture. This is because women leaders tend to offer mentorship to their co-workers and initiate activities that prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). An example of a DEI activity that you may want to try at work is an organized potluck to introduce different cultures’ cuisines to each other.3
What Women Bring to the Executive Table
As a woman leader, you can challenge creativity and perspectives at your workplace by sharing experiences from your unique point of view. Here are the benefits of why companies should make space for women like you in managerial and executive positions.
Women leaders bring diverse perspectives and solutions.
You approach things differently. Hiring women like you, particularly in leadership roles, brings new eyes to overseeing the company’s services. Letting men and women work together on an equal footing can lead to the workforce’s flexibility in addressing your target audience’s needs through diverse solutions.
Women’s ideas contribute to creativity.
You can challenge established systems and improve them. The generation of ideas between people who think differently from each other can hone critical thinking and thus open to better innovation. This can lead to the development of new products and services and the improvement of older offers a business has. This results in an increase in revenue and better adaptation to technological trends.
Several women have contributed to the technological age we are now experiencing. Some of these great women in the tech field are Chief Digital Officer Jacky Wright of Microsoft and CEO Susan Wojcicki of YouTube. Both women have transformed their respective digital spaces into the convenient and valuable tools they are today.
Women in tech can help a business reach beyond their current market.
Hiring and promoting women leaders in the business can help a brand connect and reach a vast audience. Individuals need to be represented in brands and in positions of power within brands to see that corporations and establishments care about them. The more inclusive a company is when hiring all genders and ethnicities, the more genuine the purpose of its services turns out to be.
Understanding comes from knowing people closer and earnestly. You, a woman with the heart to lead, understand what it’s like not to be treated well. Having someone as you lead can help your team better understand the pains and challenges other members of the minority group experience.
How You Can Have a Place at the Executive Table
The first step you need to take when wanting to advance in the tech field is to look for a company that has the same ambition and vision as you do.4 Find an employer that will challenge you to grow while believing in your capabilities. This is one of the best ways, among others, that can help you get a seat on that executive table.
Build connections that matter.
The tech industry is a fast-developing world, and one effective way to intentionally build connections is by seeking mentors who can provide guidance and support. Attend networking events and industry conferences, and actively seek opportunities to connect with other professionals in your field.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to individuals you admire and ask for their advice. Building relationships with peers and colleagues in your workplace is also essential. Collaborating on projects and offering support can help you build strong working relationships and demonstrate your value to the team.
Learn to adapt to trends and work strategies.
To be a great leader in any field of expertise, you should work on becoming a good learner first. Ask meaningful questions whenever possible and observe the people leading above you. See how you can improve their processes by learning and understanding their whys and hows.
Lead the way you want to be led.
Be the person you would want to look up to. You can do this by addressing the needs of the minority by advocating for developing systems that can help them move with ease in their daily lives. Bridge the gap between who you were and what you want to be.
Believe in your worth as an expert.
You may find yourself stuck in a situation that underappreciates you. Know when to speak up or pursue other opportunities if your efforts go unnoticed. This can be your chance to move on to your next big opportunity.
Identify what your strengths are and where to use them best. It would be more fulfilling to find a job that shares the same values or advocacies you have to give more meaning to your hard work.
Mentor other potential women leaders.
Create a space of solidarity and inclusivity for every individual who needs an open door to a hopeful future. Women can help create a sturdier foundation in the technological field by standing arm to arm against discrimination.
You can do this by sharing your insights with others and allowing them to showcase their best skills.
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The swift changes across all industries in today’s global economy have affected all roles from top to bottom. But only a few know that these changes have impact up to the level of the C-suite, particularly in CIO and CTO positions.
Today, CIOs and CTOs both play vital roles in ensuring that information technology (IT) systems and services are in tip-top shape. Also, as technology leaders, they are important in ensuring that the company reaches its business goals and that the services they offer also benefit external customers.
However, as organizations evolve at breakneck speed through technology, how do we draw the line between similar roles?
The CIO Role
Traditionally, the Chief Information Officer or CIO is the company executive who leads the teams in implementing and managing information and computer technologies.1 The CIO primarily calls the shots for IT operations within an organization.
The CIO analyzes how new technology that a company adopts improve existing business process. They can also set out to integrate new systems to improve existing ones.
As technology continues to evolve and with more companies doing their digital transformation, the CIO role is becoming increasingly popular. As a result, many job candidates with years of IT experience behind them are attracted to apply for CIO roles in a tech company or a business.
The CTO Role
On the other hand, the Chief Technology Officer or CTO in the C-suite leads in fulfilling a company’s technology needs in the vital areas of Research and Development (R&D).2
CTOs also consider a company’s short-term and long-term needs, including company resources toward investing in new technology that will drive the company’s growth.
The CTO typically reports to the CIO and also to the CEO. Back in the day, most companies only had a CIO. However, as technology became indispensable for all companies and new technology became ubiquitous, many organizations now have one CIO and one CTO.
Deep Diving into the CIO and the CTO Roles
The CIO: Outside Looking In
The significant difference3 is that CIOs are more inward-looking. It’s because a CIO must ensure that costs and expenses are managed wisely in a company’s IT infrastructure. Hence, a CIO’s primary clientele is his colleagues. A CIO is obsessed with figuring out how to do more with less.
The CTO: Inside Looking Out
On the other hand, the CTO is not so much concerned about the internal process. Instead, they focus on new ways, innovations, and technologies to improve a company’s business goals and growth prospects. Thus, a CTO is more outward-looking as the focus is on improving customer experience through the company’s products and services.
Technical But Entrepreneurial
In totality, the CIO and the CTO are viewed by their colleagues as a technology leader, having the shared responsibility of helping reach business goals, lead in technology strategy, and support the company’s business strategy. Hence, and especially more so today, both functions also play the role of a business leader.
As technology continues to pummel through the global economy and this post-pandemic workplace continues to evolve, how must you expect the role of the CIO and the CTO to change further? Is it already enough that they possess superior knowledge on emerging technology and above average skills in information technology?
What does the 21st century enterprise and Industry 4.0 need from a CIO position or a CTO position today?
The CIO Role and The CTO Role Redefined
Why should their roles change in the first place?
When these roles emerged in the 80s, the global economy and the world of work looked completely different. For one, there was no pandemic. Also, geographical boundaries seemed more apparent many years ago compared to today.
Moreover, the current IT, computer science, and business innovations were not yet present back in the day. As a result, technology did not singlehandedly lead to growth and transformation the way that it is now.
But one significant change we see today is the merging of technology and business. Back then, the stereotype for scientists and geeks was that they stayed in laboratories, basements, or libraries. Today, geeks are found heading some of the world’s most familiar brands and in the zenith of the corporate ladder.
This was only made possible when technology and business seamlessly merged. You may be skilled in computer science or IT, but do you also have what it takes to communicate your ideas to leaders who may need to become more familiar with technology?
Does your technological prowess able to tide you through leading a team and finding solutions to problems? Can you effectively implement your vision to help external stakeholders, such as customers and other vital clients?
Technology as Business Strategy
In today’s rapidly changing world, technological superiority needs to be complemented by an entrepreneurial mindset. Hence, CIO and CTO roles need to expand from concentrating only on technology infrastructure but also to covering business strategy.3 CIOs must also become business strategists. This is the bare minimum today in the tech sector and outside of it.
According to Axiom’s lead data scientist and tech mentor Donncha Carroll, today’s CIOs and CTOs must strike a balance between their obsession with systems and their keen eye for improving customer experiences. Tech models must combine with business models and in-depth knowledge of business markets, even if you are a tech professional. This is why more business leaders are becoming CIOs and CEOs, even if their backgrounds are not primarily in technology or an allied field.
What Does This Mean for Job Candidates?
As a tech professional replete with years of experience across several tech roles, while these credentials are admirable, it remains a reminder for you not to be complacent but to continually upskill.
Expand your horizons and look for short courses on business, business strategy, and leadership, which can greatly complement your technical know-how. The secret is that your soft skills must balance your technical or hard skills. Your left brain should complement your right brain — the yin and the yang.
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Employee mental health is key to your company’s success, as it directly impacts your employees’ performance, productivity, and motivation. Organizations will find it hard to achieve long-term growth without programs and policies addressing mental health at work.
Anxiety, burnout, depression, and other mental health issues affect employees’ well-being. You may not notice, but some of them may have already been showing signs of mental health issues. For instance, do you have an employee showing a drastic personality change? Do they seem agitated, stressed out, or even angry? Do you notice someone who seems to be withdrawing from the rest of your team? Has an employee approached you about dealing with feelings of hopelessness?
These are all signs of a possible mental health condition, and it happens more in the workplace than you think.
A 2021 Gallup survey of employees across the United States revealed that 57 percent experience significant work stress.1 That is an easy and alarming majority. Imagine how this stress can translate to other workplace issues and impact your employees’ quality of work.
This is why it is pertinent that managers take on a vital role in helping employees manage their mental health at work and proactively. Together with their employee, managers must confront any mental health challenges in the workplace.
However, in confronting mental health wellness in the workplace, many managers make mistakes that, unfortunately, tend to do more harm than good. Here are the most common ones.
Mistakes that Managers Make on Mental Health Wellness
1. Failure to Mitigate Mental Health Stigma
A significant percentage of the US workforce often shies away from revealing the real status of their mental health with their superiors. This was the insight from Modern Forrester Consulting’s June 2022 survey conducted among employees, hiring managers, and C-suite executives.
Despite their prevalence, workplace stress, burnout, and mental well-being remain taboo topics that an employee would rather not discuss. The survey reported that only 51 percent of employees feel comfortable discussing their mental health status with their bosses, and 49 percent would rather not.2
Most employees value what their employer thinks of them for practical reasons. They want to be viewed as competent individuals that employers can depend on anytime. With this “ideal” perception that they don’t want to change, they deem approaching their employer to discuss mental health may be seen by their boss as a sign of weakness, incapability, and liability.
This is why managers must go out of their way to let employees know that mental health is not taboo. They must take the lead in breaking the stigma and creating an environment where mental health concerns are discussed and addressed.
2. Lack of Focus on Mental Health SUSTAINABILITY.
In another survey, more than 70 percent of C-suite executives feel they are promoting an environment conducive to workplace mental health. It’s because their employees have paid time off to attend to work-life balance, including free time to cater to their employees’ mental wellness.2
However, the survey also revealed that only 53 percent of employees feel welcome to use their paid time off, considering all the demands in the office. Moreover, only 46 percent feel welcome to take time off for a mental health break.2
Any employer should know that mental health initiatives, such as counseling, yoga, quiet times, and the like, will only work if they approach mental health holistically. They must not be used as palliative solutions to deep-rooted problems in company operations, policies, and structure.
Employers should take a closer look at the potential causes of mental health problems among their employees. Are your employees overworked? Do you need to make changes in your workforce, a shift in the organizational chart, or the daily workflow? Are certain people causing undue stress in the workplace? These are hard questions that call for transparent answers from managers.
3. Lack of Flexibility in the Company
Unfortunately, many employers are still in denial about how the pandemic permanently changed the world of work. As a result, some managers fail to truly understand how this global public health crisis and its resulting mental health breakdown have negatively affected the workforce. Hence, they insist on operating as if the pandemic never happened.
One recent study revealed that 74 percent of employers believe their employees demand too much mental health support. Moreover, 71 percent of employers believe mental health programs are too expensive, and 69 percent do not see the need to prioritize mental health benefits since employees did not receive the same before.
As a manager, reflect on the possibility of offering remote work to your employees. Have you ever considered offering time flexibility to your employees? This could be helpful, especially to mothers and homemakers. How about assigning “no meeting” days to your employees?
Once you are past these most common mistakes, here are some actionable tips that can help boost your initiatives for holistic and sustainable mental health awareness efforts in your organization.
1. Build a Company Culture that Thrives on Connections
Assign people from within your organization to check on their colleagues periodically. This is where your middle managers can best come in. This is needed more now that remote work has become quite ubiquitous.
Encourage regular check-ins during coffee breaks or right after town halls. Make your company more human by establishing a culture of good communication and personal connection.
2. Spend Time with Your Employees.
Designate dedicated time with your team. If your company is already too large for you to meet all your employees in one go, break them down according to teams. Sponsor regular company lunches or dinners, and create regular programs where you can spend time with your employees.
It need not be the whole day. Instead, spend a few hours with them over lunch or early dinner and over some drinks. Model this behavior to your employees by simply living a little. Being an example to them can go a long way.
3. Offer Flexibility at Work.
If you want to retain your employees while contributing to workplace mental health, then you may want to implement a more flexible working schedule for them. Allow more time for employees to work remotely so that they can properly manage work-related stress connected with the daily commute, inclement weather, and affairs at home.
4. Create a Psychologically Safe Workplace.
Along with establishing open communication lines, spending dedicated time, and offering flexibility at work to employees, you must also develop a workplace that’s free of discrimination and celebrates diversity and inclusion.
When your employees feel welcomed and accepted, they also tend to be more open and communicative. Hence, it is YOUR responsibility to create this kind of environment where they can grow and thrive—for your mutual benefit.
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How has employee engagement changed in the post-pandemic workplace?
The world of work is now very different than it was just a few years ago. The arrival of new business models, the reliance on technology, new regulatory policies, and the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted and transformed the workplace.
To top it all, employees and job candidates have changing priorities. Many feel empowered to have specific demands on their employer and can easily move to another company if these demands are not met.
Yes, employee engagement tends to drop significantly over the years. I mean, have you not heard anything about the Great Resignation?
A study from Harvard Business Review estimates that 55 percent of people employed in August 2021 plan to look for a new job in the next 12 months. This pattern has put employers, hiring managers, and staffing firms on the edge as they now need to be more proactive and aggressive in attracting and retaining top talent.
More and more employees are finding it necessary for their employers to recognize their hard work. With the added flexibility at work made possible by the Covid-19 pandemic, many employees feel that their employers may not appropriately acknowledge their hard work. The Global Trends survey revealed that 59 percent of employees perceive a sense of recognition from their employers.
On the other hand, salary is predictably always the main priority for employees who participated in the survey. Fifty-two percent feel that they are paid fairly compared to other companies. However, the survey revealed that this percentage has also dwindled compared to recent years.
In 2019, 67 percent felt that they were receiving the appropriate salary, while 73 percent felt that, in time, they would get the recognition they deserved in their organizations. Looking at the 2019 numbers and comparing them with the 2021 numbers, as discussed above, you will see that employees’ satisfaction with their salaries and the recognition they get from work has considerably taken a nosedive.
2. Career Growth
Now more than ever, employees and job candidates seek clear opportunities to grow their careers. Staffing firms are getting more interview questions from job seekers about specific career paths they could take in a prospective company and the possibility of climbing up the corporate ladder in the foreseeable future.
Employees who have not been swept away by the tsunami of the Great Resignation remain closely concerned and curious about what their company can offer them in terms of career growth. Thus, an unclear career path is a significant factor in an employee deciding to leave the company and rejoin the job market.
3. Employer Support to Get the Work Done
Most employees are concerned about how much support they can get from their organizations to get the work done.
Various factors come to play when it comes to employer support, such as transparent processes and procedures, an organizational structure that lends ample support to employees with a clear delineation of tasks, and the organization’s technology infrastructure.
Easy access, clarity of roles, and an efficient technological stack tell if employees decide to stick it out with a company or move on.
4. Hiring and Retention of Top Talent
Staffing and retention of talent are also top drivers of employee engagement. Sadly, the latest appears to point out that even reputable companies find it challenging to attract and retain top talent.
In 2019, 77 percent of companies reported that they could attract the needed talent. However, in 2021, this has been reduced to 69 percent.
Regarding having the appropriate number of staff to perform a specific task, only 50 percent of employees feel that their company needs more team members to perform daily operations and still retain best practices or achieve quality output.
In talent retention, 75 percent of top organizations feel that they can retain their best people in 2019. In 2021, this number already dropped to 65 percent.
Keeping Employees Engaged Circa 2022
Amidst all these challenges, how can companies keep their employees engaged so as not to let them get swept away by the Great Resignation? Moreover, how can staffing firms contribute to employee engagement in a rapidly changing labor market?
Here are some helpful tips:
1. Recognize Your Employees Regularly and Recognize Them Generously.
Raising your employees’ salaries often will keep them engaged in the utopic labor market. Alas, this is easier said than done.
However, one thing you can be so generous about is recognizing your employees.
Showing employees how much they are valued by recognizing their hard work is an excellent way to engage them. Celebrate their successes with monetary rewards, plaques, paid days off, unique gifts, a big party, or whatever suits your company budget best. The important thing is to make them feel appreciated.
2. Be Transparent with Career Growth Opportunities.
One of the main tasks of HR is to identify clear career growth opportunities for employees in the company. A recent survey from Gartner revealed that only 1 out of 4 employees feel that their company has a clear direction for them regarding career growth. This is why 3 out of every four employees are easily attracted to external roles.
In the hiring process, it is pertinent to set a career trajectory. This begins by communicating role benefits and requirements as transparently as possible. However, since the world of work is rapidly changing, skillsets become obsolete in just a short time. It is wise to invest in upskilling and reskilling your employees to make them more suitable for their current role’s present and future demands.
Upskilling and reskilling your employees also make them better qualified for any upward movement in the future.
3. Make Your Policies and Practices Measurable.
As mentioned earlier, your company processes, clarity of roles, responsibilities, and your organization’s tech stack are all essential resources that determine employee engagement. This is why it is vital to review your processes regularly and to review if your practices are considered best practices insofar as your employees are concerned.
This means you should talk and communicate with your employees more often than you should. Get their constant feedback by asking them to participate in surveys that will give you unique insights into what practices work for your company and what processes should be out of the window.
Maximize your managers and supervisors to get as much feedback from employees as possible. Have regular town halls to resolve potential bottlenecks and mitigate concerns.
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Job titles are normally a source of pride for any employee. Once you post role openings on job boards and online job ads, the first thing that a job seeker typically looks at is job titles. Especially when an individual already has prior job experience, job titles are a big consideration.
Job titles in your company are not only associated with your organizational chart. Jobseekers frequently match the job descriptions with the job titles, and along with these job titles come a myriad of expectations. Usually, the expectation is that the higher the job title, the heftier the salary is, and so are the benefits.
Misleading Job Titles
The pandemic disrupted the global economy in so many significant ways. When it comes to hiring talent, especially in tech and other critical positions, the impact of the pandemic is nothing short of major. As companies competed for top talent in the COVID-19 economy, many organizations resorted to job title inflation.
Job title inflation happens when a bigger job title is bestowed to a position that does not accurately describe the work being executed. Sometimes, there is no commensurate pay to the inflated title. Many companies began using this to improve the optics of a particular position to potential candidates, thus attracting top talent into the company.
This led some hiring managers and executives to look for a way to appease employees as well as job applicants without spending too much money. They started offering lofty-sounding job titles to appease both employee and candidate egos, which may come with or without a salary increase. Companies have also used this technique to soften the blow of not giving a significant raise to staff or a lucrative compensation package to job candidates.
To mitigate the effects of the great resignation in the US, title inflation, once only common among startups and small companies, was also adopted by medium-sized and large companies.
An inflated job title means that your employee is performing a role that is much larger in scope than what the current job actually requires. This has devastating consequences for the employee, the company, and the industry.
Inflated Job Titles: The Dangers of Faster Promotions and Condensed Careers
According to HR and workforce management expert James J Clark, faster promotions and condensed careers are not cost-effective and may strain your company’s hiring and labor expenses. This is because various compensation and benefits packages are derived from level eligibility, such as incentive schemes and career growth opportunities.
Therefore, if your employee is misclassified, your company inaccurately awards them benefits that they would not be eligible to receive. This will pose a big question of how your company will maintain equity across positions and fairness among employees.
When Job Titles Become Disastrous in the Senior Levels
Inflated job titles in a company are more disastrous at the executive level than at any other level in the organization.
Suppose that a company provides a much bigger title to a role to attract talent, knowing full well that the title does not match the duties and responsibilities of the same in the external market. When the employee leaves and applies for your company, you are then easily deceived or misled that a candidate is qualified to fulfill the duties and responsibilities of the role – not realizing that your job candidate’s declared position in the resume is just an inflated one.
As a hiring manager, you may end up hiring a candidate with virtually no experience handling the role, significantly lacking in skills required for the new position. Sadly, there is a strong possibility of a completely unqualified individual taking on a job and beating an otherwise qualified candidate who did not use an inflated job title to land the role. This may also be defeating for an employee who may find a hard time landing a new job for the same role after holding an inflated job title in a previous company.
Even more worrying is that data shows that inflated job titles are slowly becoming the norm in many companies, regardless of size. A recent study from Bloomberg revealed that the number of senior jobs available for jobseekers rose by 57 percent, pointing to the reality that title inflations happen mainly in the director and managerial levels of the organization. Senior contributors are offered lead or manager titles, while managers are offered Associate Director titles.
Job Titles Disillusionment and Equity in Your Company
The statement “Job titles are cheap as they actually do not cost anything” may be accurate or inaccurate depending on which side of the fence you are on.
A study from Rasmussen University revealed that inflated job titles are also a bane for many job candidates. This may confuse and disappoint highly qualified applicants if the role turns out to have duties and responsibilities that are more suitable for a lower position. With expectations unmet, job candidates and you, as hiring managers, merely end up wasting precious time, effort, and resources.
When your company practices title inflation, you also open your organization to the dangers of implosion. Keep in mind that the basis for any promotion is a meritocracy. Employees must be given a senior job title because they fully deserve it based on your eligibility criteria.
In some instances, pay bands also rise alongside a higher job title. While this may be good for prospective employees in your company, it can be disastrous for employees already in your company as they might feel taken for granted.
A study co-authored by Harvard Business School Associate Professor Tsedal Neeley revealed that employees and new hires given senior job titles faster than they can actually perform the duties and responsibilities connected with the title tend to create chaos within the organization, especially with tenured employees. This breeds insecurity and a prevailing sense of doubt within the organization.
In the larger scheme of things, this can result in guilt, distraction, and instability among your employees. When employees are disappointed or frustrated, their feelings and disposition take away the vision and purpose of the work itself, which is counterproductive and harmful in the long run.
Promoting A Fair Job Title Starts with You
As hiring managers and business owners, you are ultimately responsible for keeping job titles and promotions in check. Instead of finding yourself appeasing your employees or offering bloated job titles to new hires to keep the hiring process up to speed, your company has to be clear and transparent with employees and job candidates.
Maintain a healthy organizational structure, assign titles to employees by merit, and if the need arises, work with partners who can excellently screen your job candidates to give you the best candidate to fill a particular role in the company.
After all, what are job titles when in reality, every role in your organization is critical to your company’s success?
KEEP JOB TITLES’ INFLATION IN CHECK WITH FOX SEARCH GROUP.
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