Monthly Archives: October 2016
With flu season around the corner, employers are gearing up for an increase in sick calls from employees — but some of those calls might not be truthful.
A CareerBuilder study found that 35 percent of employees called in to work sick this year when they were actually feeling just fine. December is the most popular month for employee sick days, followed by July and January. Not surprisingly, Mondays and Fridays are when workers most frequently take sick time.
Even though many workers have paid-time-off plans that lump vacation and sick time together, nearly 30 percent still feel the need to make up an excuse to take the day off. Employees pretend to be ill for a variety of reasons, and the research revealed the two most popular: because workers just don’t feel like being at work that day or because they need time off to attend a doctor’s appointment.
Other common motives are that employees just want some time relax, need to catch up on their sleep or need time to run personal errands.
While most employers give the benefit of the doubt when employees take sick days, some bosses are a little more skeptical. One-third of the employers surveyed said they have checked in one way or another to see if an employee was telling the truth.
When investigating whether an employee really was ill, the majority of employers either ask for a doctor’s note or call the employee at home to make sure the individual is there and resting. Some, however, take things a bit further. Nearly 20 percent of employers who have checked up on an employee have driven past the worker’s house to make sure the person is there.
Employees should beware that getting caught for calling in sick when they feel fine can have grave consequences. The study found that 22 percent of employers have fired someone for lying about being ill, up from 18 percent in 2014.
Many workers have only themselves to blame for getting caught in such a lie. More than one-third of employees have been busted because they posted something on social media that gave away that they weren’t ill, the study found. Of employers who have used social media to catch someone faking an illness, 27 percent of the bosses have fired those employees. Many employers, however were a little more forgiving, with 55 percent simply reprimanding the employee for the lie.
Although many workers take time off when they aren’t sick, a large chunk still come to work when they really are under the weather. Nearly half of the employees surveyed said they come into work when they’re sick because they can’t afford to miss a day of pay; 60 percent come in because they’re worried the work won’t get done otherwise.
The study was based on surveys of 3,100 full-time workers and more than 2,500 full-time hiring and human resource managers.
Lazy. Entitled. Narcissistic. Unreliable. Delusional. Shallow. These are just a few of the terms that have been used over and over and over again to describe the millennial generation.
This demographic cohort, widely accepted as people born between the early 1980s and mid-1990s, has been studied and discussed since the term “millennial” was first coined in 1989 by authors Neil Howe and William Strauss. But the surge of research, articles and reports about millennials over the last decade — mostly published by Gen Xers and baby boomers — all seem to draw a lot of the same conclusions: Individuals of this generation are immature, selfish and don’t want to work as hard as their parents and grandparents did.
Of course, the inherent problem with making broad generalizations about a young generation is that they grow up. The “selfish” and “delusional” characteristics millennials may have exhibited can very easily be attributed to the naivety of youth. Now that the youngest millennials are college-aged and the oldest ones are more than a decade into their careers, it might be time to revisit the common wisdom about how to manage and engage with this generation in the workplace.
The evolving millennial mindset
It makes sense that millennial mindsets are shifting as they age and move into new stages of adulthood, said Sherry Dixon, senior vice president of Adecco Staffing USA.
“Like the generations before them, millennials are not exempt from growing up, taking on more responsibilities and experiencing new ambitions,” Dixon said. “For example, they may be focused on getting a promotion, or they may be looking to buy their first home. These types of big life events come with unique hurdles that can bring about self-reflection and understandings that lead to new attitudes in and outside of the workplace.”
It’s also worth noting that this generation grew up in a completely different world and job market than their predecessors, which has tremendously impacted their views and attitudes, said John Covilli, senior vice president the Americas for Dale Carnegie Training.
“We must remember that most millennials were forced to navigate the first stage of their professional careers during the Great Recession of 2007 and 2008, a time when hiring was at an all-time low in the United States,” Covilli told Business News Daily. “That’s a tough way to start a career, but it helped millennials develop a resilience that is crucial in the professional world.”
Covilli believes that as millennials have continued to grow and experience the “real world,” that resilience has shifted into pride and commitment to their work.
“This generation knows their skills, understands the value of work, and embraces the importance of technology to a level that is critical in every profession,” he said.
Why should we still care about millennials?
With the oversaturation of articles and studies about millennials in the workforce, employers may be feeling some fatigue over the suggestions to bend over backwards for this generation. It’s true that you shouldn’t only craft your workplace around millennials: Jason Liu, CEO of sales enablement software company SAVO Group, noted that adjusting management approaches is more about adapting to overall shifts in work style and culture, rather than catering to a generation.
“The way we work today is significantly different than 10 years ago, and 10 years prior to that,” Liu said. “The ideas of open concept offices, working from home and agile transformations across … an entire organization have an effect on how managers and employees work together. As the way we do our work transforms, the way we manage needs to transform as well.”
Although practices like flex hours and remote work policies do align closely with young people’s workplace preferences, it behooves employers to offer these types of perks to compete in today’s increasingly tight job market, said Dixon.
“Taking time to understand what motivates employees at all career stages — and refining management practices accordingly — is key to the success of an organization,” she said. “It would be a mistake to overlook the needs of a group with as much influence as millennials will have in the years to come.”
To Dixon’s point, millennials are the largest living generation in the country, and their numbers will continue to grow in the workforce in the coming years. However, no matter what your company’s demographic makeup is, you do need to pay attention to what your employees want — especially those who currently occupy or will soon be assuming leadership positions.
“A company cannot grow and prosper if it employs management techniques that are outdated and obsolete,” Covilli said. “It’s important to listen to your employees, no matter if they’re 20-years-old or 50-years-old, and embrace their views on how a business is run. A company is only as strong as its employees, so if they’re unhappy with the way your business operates, it’s going to be difficult to motivate them to go the extra mile for you.”
“Millennials bring both desire and skill to working collaboratively, sharing insights, gathering feedback and management will miss out if it fails to harness the power of these skills and interests,” added Liu.
Managing your millennial employees
Smart employers have learned that company policies and management practices need to be flexible enough to adapt to the individual needs of employees. If your workforce is millennial-heavy, here are a few tips to help you connect with this maturing generational group.
Communicate often. One persistent stereotype about millennials is that they crave constant praise and attention. While it’s true that this generation still wants open and frequent communication, it’s not necessarily for the sake of their egos: Dixon said millennials look for this because they are concerned with growth at work.
“They are looking for honest and consistent feedback from their managers to help them improve and develop their skills,” she said. “Employers might consider taking it a step further by laying out a long-term plan for advancement within the company, or offering annual training opportunities.”
Embrace change. In the business world, you have to be ready for change, and that couldn’t be truer than when you’re discussing the millennial generation, said Covilli.
“They live in an era that offers instant gratification, instant information at the touch of a button — that’s not the world that many of us in management positions have lived in before,” he said. “To [retain] a generation that sometimes has a short attention span, it’s important to keep things constantly changing and evolving.”
Foster a strong sense of mission. Richard Stevenson, head of corporate communications for e-commerce software provider ePages.com, noted that many millennials value a shared company mission, and for some, that sense of mission is even more important to work satisfaction than money or material perks.
“It is so important to discuss the mission as work and processes develop and arise, so that younger team members remain motivated and empowered as to how and why their contributions are valuable to the business,” Stevenson said. “It is absolutely worth investing in this process.”
Try to learn from them. Above all else, be open to your millennial workers’ insights and perspectives, said Liu: You just might learn something that can help your business.
“Like every generation, [millennials] bring their own worldview — but the pace of technology advancement is at an unprecedented level, so this is the first generation to also bring such a formative shift in technology usage,” Liu said. “We need to look for how we can learn from the ways millennials naturally relate outside the enterprise, as these are the communication channels and behaviors they will bring with them.”
Being the boss means that, to achieve goals, you not only have to be personally inspired by your job, but you also have to inspire those around you. But what if you’re terrible at it?
Though there are countless good bosses out there, there are an equal number of ineffective leaders. According to the Great Boss Assessment survey by S. Chris Edmonds, founder and CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group, only 45 percent of survey respondents say their boss inspires their best efforts each day. Fifty-eight percent say that their boss treats them with trust and respect daily — which means that 42 percent of bosses treat team members with distrust and disrespect.
“Bosses can be bad by micromanaging and not giving employees the autonomy to do great things,” said Bruce Cardenas, chief communications officer at Quest Nutrition. “These can really derail a boss’s standing in the workplace, because it could hinder someone’s drive to do a good job.”
Furthermore, bosses can be bad if they don’t appreciate their employees, Cardenas added. [See Related Story: Are You a True Leader, or Just a Boss?]
Amy Casciotti, vice president of human resources at TechSmith, a software company that provides practical business and academic software products, said that these traits contribute to poor leadership:
Poor communication. It’s very frustrating for employees to have a boss who doesn’t communicate well to provide his workers with clear direction or expectations.
A micromanager. When bosses micromanage, it shows a complete lack of trust in their employees to do their jobs correctly.
Playing favorites. Bosses who play favorites with employees and give preferential treatment make poor leaders.
Not unlike any other team member, bad behavior from the boss can cost the team potential success.
“Having a bad attitude and treating people in an unkind way has a negative effect on success. I think this is one of the most fundamental, basic things in business,” Cardenas said. “It has a toxic effect on the group when bosses should be positive and inspire people daily.”
If you’re realizing that your leadership skills need improvement, worry not: Your career can still be salvaged. Here’s what you can do to become a better boss.
Communication is key
Whether it’s a personal or professional bond, communication is the root of a healthy relationship. Being proactive about and open to communication will improve not only how you lead, but also how you’re received by your team.
“Listen and observe more, talk and multitask less,” said Matt Eventoff, owner of Princeton Public Speaking. “We all give clues as to what is going on internally on a regular basis. Those clues give great insight into how to communicate with your employees more effectively.”
To identify potential issues before they arise, Eventoff suggests that you focus on employees’ nonverbal communication, tonal and pitch changes, and changes in regular communication patterns.
Recognize your employees’ strengths
No man (or woman) should be an island. That said, no one leader has even been successful without help. Good leaders celebrate the strengths and successes of those around them.
“Get good at spotting the strengths of others, including your direct reports, peers and your boss,” Dr. Karissa Thacker, a management psychologist, said. “Research indicates that paying attention to the strengths of others is a critical element in developing others to be more successful, as well as building effective partnering relationships.”
Understand the demographics in your office
Gaining perspective on your multigenerational office can make you a better boss as well. The way your baby boomer employee communicates may not be the same as that of a Gen Xer or millennial. Having a firm grasp on motivations and communication skills can help you as a leader in the long run.
“If you don’t make the time to get to know your staff, you’ll never understand them and be effective with that cohort of your staff. This helps break down those gaps,” Cardenas said.
“Understanding what people value and what motivates them makes it much easier to communicate job expectations, offer the right type of support, or even make changes that will better suit certain teams’ performance,” Casciotti added. “Regardless who you are speaking with, you need to learn how they prefer to communicate, and implement those preferences into the workflow of the organization.”
Remaining self-aware and learning from others will help you in the long run when it comes to your career.
“You need to lean on your subordinates and people that are in a trusted leadership position to learn from them. Not everyone is a natural-born leader, so there is an opportunity to absorb what other leaders at the company are doing successfully in their roles,” Cardenas said.