Mental Health at Work Talentoday

Making Mental Health a Priority at Work (For Real)

Mental health is now big business. After all, it is estimated that companies lose up to $500 billion annually as a result of the negative effects of mental health problems on productivity.  In response, each year companies will celebrate occasions like Stress Awareness Month and Mental Health Awareness Month in very public ways. Like clockwork, when the first of the month strikes, splashy videos and powerful statements hit social media. For the most part, the folks saying things like, “We value employee wellness,” and “Mental health is a priority for our team,” mean well. 

Unfortunately, all too often, that's where the commitment ends. 

While big talk about mental health might be enough to drive engagement online and attract new job candidates, it is not a long-term solution for any company that truly values retention, productivity or authenticity. For that, leaders need to move from words to action. 

The Great Resignation: A Wellness Wakeup Call?

Employers expressed plenty of panic in the early days of the Great Resignation. “What could be driving an unprecedented number of employees to quit?” was frantically being asked in boardrooms and newsrooms across the country. The obvious answer to most questions lately can be traced back to the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent research from McKinsey indicates that 50 percent of Americans cite the pandemic as the most traumatic event that they have lived through. 

To their credit, many organizations acted swiftly to roll out new wellness initiatives in response to this overwhelming employee feedback. Yet again, commitment is the key here. 

The Fallout of Not Following Through

It’s incredibly difficult for companies to build back trust when promises are broken. Take these 2021 findings from Talkspace and The Harris Poll, for example. Their polling indicates that two of every three employees who consider leaving their job agree that their employer has not followed through on early pandemic promises to focus on employee mental health. It’s one thing to assume your employer isn’t paying attention to the wellness of their workforce; it’s another thing to see them use the opportunity to seize on a trend and save face while not backing up their public persona with internal action. 

Alas, it should not be a surprise that these heightened levels of stress are not going away any time soon. In fact, that same poll noted that more than 40 percent of employees stated that they are likely to seek a job change due to stress. For example, even if the COVID-19 pandemic subsides completely, stressors around another upheaval in the way we work - the “return to the office” for millions - can trigger a new wave of burnout employees.

Making a Mental Health Commitment (For Real)

To be clear, vocalizing the importance of wellness in the workplace is a critical first step for any organization that wants to get serious about mental health. It can set a marker in the ground, build intention and act as a positive step for breaking the stigma surrounding mental health issues. However, to make a real positive impact, companies need to go further in three critical ways. 

  • Go Beyond Statements. Raising the banner of mental health has meaning, but making it deeply ingrained into company culture is much more difficult. HR managers must share clear communication on any wellness program not only during its launch, but on a regular basis. Do your employees know the services that are available to them? Train those in a position of power in areas such as soft skills that can have an impact on identifying opportunities to put mental health initiatives into practice when needed. 
  • Lead by Example. Making space for employees to take time for self-care matters. Unfortunately, employees will not take advantage of these opportunities unless their managers show that it’s okay to do so first. For example, if your company has begun offering days off for mental health, leaders can begin solidifying them as cultural cornerstones by taking them seriously; this means no offline emails!
  • Embrace Unique. Mental health is not one-size-fits-all. Some individuals may prefer to express concerns about mental health issues anonymously via written survey tools; others may be open to one-on-one discussions with their managers. To know what works best for your organization, take the time to better understand the people behind the job titles. Tools like soft skills assessments can not only provide a window into the personality, motivations and behavioral tendencies of employees, but also their preferences for working as a team. This information should inform the solutions that are built to best serve both the individual and the organization as a whole. 

It Matters.

Every step towards a better workplace matters because mental health matters. However, there is a danger in taking steps without putting thought towards the meaning behind them. Words without intention can wreak havoc on trust and employee retention; a lasting commitment to the mental health of your workforce takes an investment of time and resources.

Are you ready to go beyond a one-size-fits-all approach to your team? Learn how Talentoday’s MyPrint assessment can provide a deeper understanding of your employees personality traits, motivations and behaviors. 


Workplace Learning Reimagined with Soft Skills Talentoday

Workplace Learning Reimagined with Soft Skills

Take a seat. Log in. Dust off those textbooks. Schoolwork has a whole new meaning because workplace learning is now in session! 

The incoming class of new hires is sending a clear message that learning and development at work must be a priority for employers. Recent polling from LinkedIn indicates that 76 percent of Gen Z job seekers are looking for more opportunities to learn or practice new skills.

They may be leading the pack in this regard, but Gen Z is not alone. The desire to develop skills is growing across the working world, spurred on by a variety of factors. For workplace learning to work, leaders need to embrace soft skills research in order to build the right programs for their workforce. 

New Learning for a New Kind of Workplace

First, there are two major factors driving this shift towards increased workplace learning opportunities. For one, COVID-19 completely upended the traditional working environment for countless companies. With the expansion of remote and hybrid work, training professionals adapted many in-person training exercises for virtual settings. While this may have been a barrier for some employees based on their preferred learning styles (more on that later), it also expanded access to on-demand training for many. 

Second, with expanded remote opportunities came an expanded hiring pool.Employees were no longer limited to geographic requirements for consideration. This, coupled with talent shortages stemming from the Great Resignation, also caused hiring managers to rethink their processes with diversity in mind. Instead of limiting a team’s growth potential by focusing on a narrow set of required qualifications, employers began opening their minds to different kinds of candidates. Now, there’s more space for individuals who may not have a lengthy resume, but who show potential and a willingness to learn. 

After all, the hardest part of hiring is getting the right people on board!

Learning Your Team's Learning Styles

However, now organizations face a new challenge: Building workplace learning programs that help employees develop the skills they need to succeed in a way that’s personalized to their unique learning styles. As Kate Tornone notes in HR Dive, “It’s not enough to hire a diverse workforce; to be an inclusive workforce, everyone must have an opportunity to learn in whatever style works best for them.”

One shorthand for learning styles is known as VARK, which is an acronym referring to four distance preferences when it comes to learning:

  • Visual: Using images to understand new information. 
  • Auditory: Using listening and speaking in settings like group discussions to understand new information.
  • Reading/Writing: Understanding through the power of written words, such as note taking while reading.
  • Kinesthetic: Learning by doing in hands-on, situational training sessions. 

While it’s true that individuals most often learn through a combination of these styles, identifying employee preferences can have a big impact on the efficacy of L&D efforts. To get there, employers need to dig into the science of soft skills in order to gain a deeper understanding of who is on their team. 

Starting Your School of Skills

Before diving headfirst into a new education plan of action, stop and take stock of what’s needed for your workforce. In addition to identifying skills gaps to close that would boost productivity, the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) recommends surveying employees about their training interests. “A successful learning and development program shouldn't be solely about the company's needs…Adding opportunities for personal development…will communicate to employees that their personal growth is just as important to the company as their productivity.”

Taking this a step further, consider having your workforce complete a soft skills assessment to gather a more holistic understanding of their approach to learning. In addition to their preferred learning style, the right assessment can provide eye-opening insights, such as the best way to provide feedback. This level of detailed people analytics can go a long way towards building a workplace learning environment tailored to the needs and preferences of your unique workforce. 

Class Dismissed?

Hiring and retaining top talent is increasingly difficult in a tightening labor market. LinkedIn has uncovered that 51 percent of L&D professionals note internal mobility as more of a priority in the COVID-conscious workplace. This stands to reason, seeing how employees at companies with internal mobility stay in their jobs, on average, about twice as long. When it comes to onboarding, upskilling and reskilling programs, it’s no longer enough to simply offer these opportunities; it’s time to build personalized solutions driven by the data of people analytics.

Are you looking to go beyond surface-level training programs to connect workplace education with soft skills data? Learn how Talentoday's MyPrint assessment can provide a deeper understanding of your employees personality traits, motivations and behaviors. 


4 Steps for Overcoming Unconscious Bias in Hiring Talentoday

4 Steps for Overcoming Unconscious Bias in Hiring

Are you recruiting in a biased and unfair way? Would you even know it? 

Recent events have spurred big changes in the world of work, with employers and employees alike rethinking the way teams are built and managed with diversity, equity and inclusion top of mind. Yet, hiring processes have been slow to catch up to these shifting mindsets. Traditional recruiting methods, including job descriptions, applications, resumes and interviews, don’t look much different than those employed a decade ago. 

In fact, research has confirmed that the hiring processes used by most organizations are actually incomplete, leading employers to make team building decisions based on antiquated notions like “gut feeling.” Far too often, these snap judgements are steeped in what is known as unconscious bias.

What is unconscious bias, and how can individuals and organizations reshape their hiring practices to combat this pervasive prejudice that’s undercutting DEI efforts? Here are four steps to take in order to start moving in the right direction. 

Step One: Identifying Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias is defined as the, “social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness.” These mental shortcuts can cause people to make prejudiced decisions based on race, gender or age without even knowing it. For example, a white recruiter may review two similar resumes and choose to only contact the applicant with a more familiar sounding name, passing on a Black applicant based on name alone. 

If it’s just a matter of recognizing the problem, then making hiring managers aware of these subconscious impulses should be enough to solve the problem, right?

Unfortunately, no. Research has shown that education on unconscious bias can actually backfire. “Sending the message that biases are involuntary and widespread—beyond our control, in other words—can make people feel they’re unavoidable and lead to more discrimination,” notes Harvard Business Review. According to their research, making a change must go well beyond calling out these tendencies, committing to, “a longer journey and structural changes to policies and operations.”

Step Two: Standardize the Interview Process

One recommendation to go beyond education alone is to standardize the interview process. Unstructured interviews are notoriously unreliable in predicting job successes. However, the Society for Human Resources Management notes that a structured interview process in which candidates are all asked the same set of defined questions can scale back the impact of biases. Pairing this change with tools like an interview score card and grading scale helps to transform the interview from an haphazard conversation to a truly independent data point. 

Step Three: Go Beyond Traditional Hiring Methods

Next, it’s time to go beyond traditional hiring methods to stamp out unconscious bias with the power of technology. For example, companies can employ software systems designed to blind those reviewing applications and resumes from reading certain demographic information, such as names and home addresses. Reporting from MIT Sloan Management Review indicates that while these types of  blinding practices have shown promising results for DEI efforts, only 19 percent of HR professionals they surveyed were currently working at an organization that used blinding policies in hiring.

Another option is to utilize soft skills assessments built on the science of people analytics. These tools can offer hiring managers data that goes deeper than traditional application materials to uncover the personality traits, motivations and behaviors that make an individual unique. Prior to soliciting applications, employers can use these same assessments with their current workforce to see where they may be falling short in terms of diversity of thought. Then, tailor the job search to attract more than hard skills alone with the goal of closing gaps in diversity. 

Step Four: Culture Change 

This final step is the most difficult. Culture in any organization is slow moving. Major change takes time and commitment from employees at all levels to take hold. However, by rethinking the education and hiring processes that exist today, organizations can move away from the “culture fit” model that perpetuates sameness through unconscious bias. By shifting their mindset towards the concept of culture add, employers can expand their company culture by embracing what makes each employee unique. As with any process that takes time, setting clearly defined goals around DEI and tying them to business goals can help to keep all stakeholders accountable. 

When it comes to unconscious bias, simply recognizing the problem isn’t enough. Are you ready to go beyond the resume with a soft skills assessment built on the science of people analytics? Click here to learn more about MyPrint!


3 HR Trends That Will Define 2022 Talentoday

3 HR Trends That Will Define 2022 and Shape the Future of Work

Employers entered 2021 with cautious optimism. After a year of pandemic-induced uncertainty, there was hope that improved safety measures, including the widespread availability of life-saving vaccines, would bring back a sense of stability to the working world. 

Unfortunately, as our plans for the workplace evolved, so did COVID-19.

And so, 2022 begins with familiar themes for employers and employees alike. COVID variants are forcing many to maintain or step back into hybrid and fully remote settings. Organizers of team building events, training and onboarding sessions, industry conferences and other in-person plans must once again adapt, reschedule or prepare to shut it all down entirely. 

Will the year ahead be a repeat of the last one? Not quite. Three HR trends are poised to define 2022 by building upon concepts that have had a positive impact on working teams struggling to find their footing in a pandemic world: Skills-based hiring and retention efforts, workplace wellness programs and DEI initiatives. 

Emphasis on Skills-Based Hiring and Retention Efforts

The only phrase that may have appeared in more headlines than “COVID-19” in the last year was “The Great Resignation.” Eye-popping numbers, such as a record 4.3 million workers quitting their jobs last August alone, confirm that this reshuffling of the workforce is more than just a passing phase. Now, employers are embracing the fact that the old ways of hiring and retaining talent are not cutting it anymore. 

  • Hiring: For one, skills-based hiring has gained new attention as the talent pool tightens. Recent reporting from AARP indicates that most employers (76 percent) say they prioritize skills over other factors, such as education, when hiring. 66 percent say their organization needs to go even further in emphasizing the importance of skills above everything else. However, the skills needed for work in an increasingly hybrid and remote world are different from those needed in previous settings. In fact, an evaluation of thousands of Talentoday MyPrint assessments - our proprietary questionnaire scientifically designed to explore individual personality traits and motivations - taken prior to the onset of the pandemic compared against data collected in the months that followed revealed a rise in the prominence of certain soft skills (autonomy, recognition and responsibility) and the decline of other soft skills (structure, empathy and grit.) In short, the way we work is changing, but organizations have been slow to match their hiring practices to this shift. For employers, it’s time to catch up or risk missing out on top talent. 
  • Retention: While getting new talent in the door poses a challenge for employers, keeping them in the room is even more difficult. To cut down on climbing turnover rates, employers are going beyond increased compensation and unique benefit packages to entice employees to stay put. The new word in retention is growth. HR teams are redesigning their training programs to make upskilling a priority. First, organizations are evaluating their current workforce to identify where skills gaps exist. Then, managers must implement flexible action plans tailored to individual and team availability. An investment in people today can pay dividends in the months and (hopefully) years ahead. 

Wellness Programs are Here to Stay

Of course, 2020 was a wake up call for many companies. Employees were faced with a global crisis and made it clear that they were not okay. In response, a reported 94 percent of companies made investments in well-being programs, including support for mental, physical and financial health. Unfortunately, that same reporting reveals that less than 40 percent of employees have taken advantage of these programs being offered by employers. Does this mean that these programs where just another addition to the list of failed HR trends or is there something else going on here? 

Moving forward, HR professionals will need to find ways to better engrain these offerings into company culture. For example, coupling formal benefit offerings with practices such as mental health time off and personalized recognition offerings can transform these initiatives from window dressing into core practices tied to everyday work activities. 

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in a Hybrid World

Finally, there’s a new digital divide emerging between the in-person workforce and those working in remote settings. According to Harvard Business Review, managers are more likely to promote employees who come into the office compared to those who don’t, regardless of performance. The same data shows that women and people of color are preferring to work from home at greater rates compared to white men. This could mean that marginalized groups will once again be excluded from key opportunities. 

The irony is that the very same hybrid and remote work opportunities that have expanded talent pools for many organizations may now be contributing to gender wage gaps and a lack of diversity in leadership positions. After a period that has brought so much attention to diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace, employers must find a way to double down on these efforts in an increasingly hybrid world. 

The Future of Work and These HR Trends

It’s impossible to predict what the future holds when it comes to factors outside of our control, including the changing nature of COVID-19. Yet, organizations can take control of the ways they attract, retain and empower the talent they employ. These HR trends are more than just the hot topics of the moment; they represent a significant shift towards valuing what matters most in any workplace settings - the health, wellbeing and growth of people. 

Meet the moment by addressing these HR trends for the year ahead with the power of people analytics. Experience how MyPrint can uncover a better way to hire and retain a top team by clicking here


Why Upskilling is Crucial for Hybrid Teams Talentoday

Why Upskilling is Crucial for Hybrid Teams

Why Upskilling is Crucial for Hybrid Teams Talentoday

There were a lot of things I didn’t know I could do before COVID-19 upended the way we live and work. For example, I already knew my way around the kitchen, but I had no idea I could make tasty banana bread! I also learned how to cook a spicy jambalaya, brew my own beer and, when I wasn’t eating or drinking, I figured out how to use a 35mm film camera to expand upon my interest in photography. In my home life, I would call these achievements “little victories.” Little did I know that, were I to do the same sort of expanding of my talents in the workplace, it would be known as “upskilling.” 

Upskilling is the process of using training and education to deepen an employees’ abilities within their area of expertise. This is slightly different from reskilling, which is when an employee is trained on an entirely new skill set in order to move into a different role. Instead, upskilling is all about building upon an employee’s existing skills in hopes of enhancing their impact on an organization.

While my personal upskilling may not have major implications for the workplace (even if some morning meetings are greatly improved by the addition of banana bread), upskilling has the potential to reshape the way organizations recruit and develop talent – especially as teams embrace hybrid work models. 

The Skills Gap Continues to Expand

As the modern workplace undergoes unprecedented changes, existing skills gaps across all industries are widening. While employees may have entered into the workforce with skills that were in high demand at the time, the rate of digital transformation has increased sharply in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving many of these employees behind. According to McKinsey & Company, 87 percent of companies say they have skills gaps or expect to within a few years. Jobs are changing fast, and employers and employees are struggling to keep up. 

There are a few options at organizations’ disposal for dealing with these gaps in needed competencies. In less competitive hiring markets, one appealing course of action would be to bring in new talent to fit the needs. However, today’s recruiting landscape is characterized by a dwindling supply of talent and an aggressive influx of demand from employers. These conditions have forced many employers to look inwards when determining how to address their skills gaps in the years ahead. 

Employees are Looking for a Change

To exacerbate the problem even further, this expanding skills gap comes at a time when workers are beginning to quit jobs at extraordinary levels. In April 2021, the number of employees leaving their companies spiked to approximately 4 million according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), leading many to refer to the phenomenon as, “The Great Resignation.”

In truth, does anyone ever really want to be forced to find a new job? In the same way that employers would rather retain talent than search for replacements, employees are hoping for reasons to stay at their current organizations before making a drastic move. Take the results of a recent PwC survey into consideration. Their findings show that the majority of workers are open to change, citing that 40 percent of respondents successfully improved their digital skills during the pandemic and over 90 percent of those who adapted to remote work would prefer to continue working in this style of environment. On top of that, 77 percent of workers are ready to learn new skills. 

The issue is not a lack of willingness to learn on the side of employees but, rather, the lack of opportunities for upskilling offered by employers. However, if organizations are serious about closing their skills gap and retaining employees in the face of an explosion of resignations, it’s time to make learning and development programs a real priority. 

Make Upskilling a Priority 

While employers seem to recognize the problem they face, there remains a gap between this recognition and an understanding of how to address the underlying causes. According to a 2021 survey conducted by Gartner, 68 percent of HR leaders cited building critical skills as a top priority. However, more than 30 percent of the same leaders say that they don’t know what skills gap their employees have, how to effectively integrate learning into employee workflows or can’t create skill development solutions fast enough to meet evolving skill needs. In short, employers know there are skills gaps to address, but are uncertain where they lie or how to fix them.

The way forward is two-pronged, based first on assessment then solidified with commitment: 

  • Assessment: First and foremost, organizations need to utilize tools to empower them to better evaluate their candidates and employees. Knowing the current capabilities of a team is important, but identifying the potential for growth can be critical. While necessary technical skills can be assessed through traditional means, such as verifying education and certification backgrounds, this must be coupled with a deeper understanding of soft skills. Scientifically-based soft skills assessments can provide insight into an individual’s capacity to upskill into a role over time. 
  • Commitment: Once the workforce has been properly assessed, organizations must then approach upskilling differently than standard onboarding and other job-specific training opportunities. Instead, upskilling opportunities must be treated like the valuable benefits they are. As noted in Fast Company, “For the top tier of talent, upskilling is emerging as a must-have employee benefit, like a retirement saving plan, employer subsidized health care, or paid time off.” In other words, these education programs cannot be haphazardly inserted into existing workflows. Rather, time and space must be set aside for employees to truly feel as though upskilling is a top priority. 

As the way we work continues to change, teams are struggling to keep up. However, by devoting time and effort to upskilling programs, there are win-win solutions available for employers and employees alike. 

Are you ready to evaluate your team’s soft skills to determine upskilling opportunities? Discover the powerful science of people analytics that drives MyPrint by clicking here.


How Culture Add Goes Beyond Culture Fit to Support Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace Talentoday

How Culture Add Goes Beyond Culture Fit to Support Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace

For years now, organizations have been stressing the importance of using company culture to drive recruitment and team management efforts. The theory being that hiring individuals that align with the elements that make up a company’s culture - like preferred work environment, company mission, leadership style, values, ethics, expectations and goals - will lead to a happier, more productive workforce.

It’s why most HR professionals have seen (or have had a hand in crafting) recruiting pitches like these:

“Be a part of a fast-paced team!”

“Join our values-driven organization!”

“Are you looking to work in a collaborative and creative environment? Apply now!”

While these culture-driven hiring efforts may be well meaning, there’s growing research indicating that making decisions based on “culture fit” alone may be missing a bigger point. Instead, the real key to unlocking a productive and diverse workforce may be what’s known as “culture add.” 

What is Culture Fit? 

To begin, hiring professionals need to assess how the industry has been operating in order to determine the best path forward. When culture fit first gained momentum in offices, the idea seemed both groundbreaking and simple. Instead of only relying on hard skills and job description qualifications when determining the best possible fit for a role, HR teams decided to go further. Now, how people go about their work was just as important as what they were doing. Since the style and approach required for being successful at one organization may not transfer to another, culture fit aims to assess whether a candidate’s attitude, motivation and values are aligned with the culture.

Where Does Culture Fit Fall Short?

Unfortunately, hiring for culture fit does not always add up to the ideal workforce its proponents claim to deliver. While the attention this methodology brought to historically under-evaluated areas of candidate profiles, such as personality, motivations and behaviors, was an improvement, it also led many hiring managers into a dangerous trap known as affinity bias. According to LinkedIn, “Affinity bias is the tendency to have a preference to people like ourselves. In hiring, affinity bias can mean leaning toward one candidate over another because they have a relatable background, belief, or appearance.” In other words, while organizations may have thought they were hiring the best candidates for the job thanks to how well they “fit” into a culture, they may have unknowingly been building a homogenous workforce lacking in true diversity. This same research goes on to note that inclusive companies are nearly two times more likely to be innovation leaders in their market, and these same companies outperform industry norms by an average of 35 percent.

Clearly, while hiring for culture fit can have its benefits, companies that do so may be leaving countless amazing hires behind due to rigid match criteria. 

How is Culture Add Different? 

Today, the practice of hiring for culture add aims to improve where culture fit strategies fall short. As a recent article in Fast Company puts it,” Assessing for culture fit can unintentionally encourage managers to pick candidates that look like everyone else. But looking for culture add helps managers to determine how a candidate’s individuality and differences can make a company better and stronger.” Rather than stifling the things that make a candidate unique, culture add aims to find ways to embrace that individuality within the existing framework of a company’s culture. 

In truth, getting to this point can be challenging - especially for larger organizations with deeply ingrained cultures and hiring processes. Culture change takes time, and there needs to be top-to-bottom buy-in to ensure everyone moves in the right direction to embrace diversity, equity and inclusion at scale. LaFawn Davis, Vice President of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging at Indeed.com, offers these best practices for companies looking to move towards culture add-based hiring:

  • Empower recruiters to push back. When culture fit is given as the reason to decline an offer, recruiters should be able to ask follow-up questions to ensure this reasoning is not being used as an excuse to make decisions based on bias or emotion.
  • Ask for more details. Sparking a deeper conversation about a hiring manager’s desired attributes and skills, and how the candidate may meet or miss these marks, could be another way to get beyond a cultural fit impasse.
  • Use rubric-based scoring. Go beyond gut-feeling! Having a reliable scoring system can point to where candidates may have fallen short or, if the hiring manager can’t point to something specific, give the recruiter a reason for challenging biased thinking. 

As organizations continue to recognize the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion in all industries and workplace settings, the concept of culture fit may be coming to an end. Instead of only hiring those who can fit themselves into a tidy box of strictly defined cultural norms, it’s time for human resource professionals to tap into the power of embracing what makes each of us truly unique. 

After all, where’s the fun in just fitting in anyway? 

Are you ready to build a diverse workforce through the power of science-driven people analytics? Discover the science behind MyPrint by clicking here.