Dressing for Your Job Interview: 4 Tips to Consider

what to wear to interview - ladies jackets

Trying to decide what to wear for a job interview can be one of the most stressful parts of the interview process. You stand in front of your closet wondering whether that neckline is really too low or if those shoes are inappropriate for a work interview. If you've been struggling with the outfit choice for your next interview, you may want to consider these four tips.

 1. Sit down in your outfit. 

Whether you're purchasing a new outfit or selecting one that's already in your closet, make sure that you don't just stand in front of the mirror to stare at it. Take the time to sit down in it!

  • Does that skirt ride up uncomfortably high when you're trying to sit, making it impossible for you to cross your legs in your preferred position?  
  • When you lean forward, do you display more cleavage than you intended?
  • What about the buttons on your shirt: do they gape in just the wrong place once you're no longer standing?
  • Are your pants or skirt too tight and no longer reasonably comfortable?
  • Are the pants too short?
  • Do your socks fit well or fall to your ankles? Do they match?
  • Is the suit jacket too snug, or can you move about easily?
lady sitting in skirt and blouse and looking at cell phone

Since the odds are great that you'll spend the majority of your interview sitting down, make sure that your outfit still fits well in that position. You want to appear neat, professional, and completely at ease in your chosen attire.

2. Wear your outfit for a little while. 

If you have the luxury of a little spare time before your interview, put on your outfit and wear it out. Consider the way it wears when you've had it on for a few hours. A neckline that looked just fine in the dressing room may dip uncomfortably low after a few hours while pants that look great when you first put them on may lose all of the creases and look wrinkled and unkempt by the time you manage the car ride to the interview.

If you know the potential problems with your outfit, you can either avoid them or change the outfit. On the other hand, if you're wearing the outfit for the first time on the day of the interview, you could end up blindsided. 

3. Don't go with the uncomfortable shoes. 

dress code - men's shoes & belt

Yes, you want to wear professional shoes that are appropriate with your outfit. However, you don't want to wear professional-looking shoes which are so uncomfortable that you can barely walk in them. Uncomfortable shoes will increase your discomfort, especially if you need to be escorted through a large office building or if you're invited to meet other members of the team following the interview. Instead, invest in a pair of shoes that are both comfortable and professional. Then, even if you end up on your feet, you'll still be ready to meet any challenge that comes your way. 

4. Choose some color. 

suit for man and colorful striped tie

You don't need to come in dressed in the brightest outfit in your closet, but the color you add to your interview outfit can have a substantial impact on how your future employer views you. Add a pop of color in the form of a tie (for men) or choose a colored dress shirt (either gender). Colorful shoes or a lovely piece of jewelry can add the color a woman needs to increase her confidence and improve the vision employers have of her. Keep in mind, however, that you should keep all of your accessories understated and appropriate to an office environment.

success depends on you quote on computer screen

You want to walk into your job interview confident and ready to nail it. While your list of qualifications, work experience, and an optimistic attitude will go a long way toward determining whether you'll get the job, the outfit you choose for your interview has a huge impact on the first impression you'll make with your future employer. By following these tips, you can dress for success and improve your odds of landing the job of your dreams. Ready to put your name in for more of those jobs?  Contact BRANNON PROFESSIONALS today to learn how we can help.

 

 

Is Employee Retention Really a Thing of the Past?

Target Goals on dart board

You read the title of this article correctly. Employee retention is, the experts say, no longer a priority goal for HR Managers. While no one wants to lose a recently-hired employee to another company after mere months, ensuring the long-term retention of employees isn’t necessarily an imperative anymore.

Why?

It has to do with the still-recent recession and the restructuring of companies. The advancements being made in artificial intelligence (AI) even play a role. It has to do with Gen Y (the Millennials), Gen Z (the Centennials), and their outlook on life. Lastly, to ensure the growth and success of the company, a strategic move for a good employee with potential is sometimes simply necessary.

Allow me to address these four points individually . . . 

What Downsizing Means to the Job Market

competition for jobs - 2 figures pushing each other

Companies are decreasing in size and looking to accomplish their goals with a much smaller staff. When the need arises for a specific skill-set, the company hires the person for a job on a “permanent” or contractual basis. And the competition for these jobs is fierce. However, many of the positions are not truly permanent. They are short-term permanent jobs intended to fulfill an exact set of goals ushered forth by management. Once the goals are met, the position is terminated.

More and more companies are embracing the gig economy in which employees are hired as needed to fulfill the needs of the business. Therefore, hiring managers are seeing and will continue to see resumes that reveal many short-term jobs, rather than simply a few long-held positions. The reasons for all the jobs may vary, but know this without a doubt -- seasonal layoffs, downsizing and outright termination of positions are all part of the employee experience (and resume) now.

The Future of the Workforce Alongside the Advances in Artificial Intelligence

As we move towards 2020 and the AI possibilities rapidly increase, even more jobs will be eliminated as robots perform jobs which humans once performed. Employees may be hired or kept on the payroll for a transitional period, but after that, the individual will need to find a new job, perhaps even a new occupation in a different industry.

multitasking business man

That’s where the younger generations come in. Millennials and Centennials have been working with technology since they were youngsters. They multi-task better than any generation before them. Because of technology, their world is smaller. They think globally, travel internationally and are passionate about work being done (or not) all over this world. They dream of doing the work and plan for it, with or without a so-called permanent job. Side jobs, volunteer work and the entrepreneurial spirit are alive and well in Generations Y and Z.

What Today’s Workers Want

steps up ladder of success - ambition - skills - knowledge

According to Dave Clark, who is a staff writer for TTI Success Insights, today’s employees are seeking job satisfaction and opportunities to utilize their strengths and capabilities. They want to experience the thrill of success more quickly than our parents and grandparents ever anticipated experiencing it in the workplace. Yes, money matters, but for our newest generations of employees, it is not the primary motivation.

Even if it means working one to three years with a company and moving on, then so be it. Millennials and Z-ers want to seize every good opportunity which will keep them engaged, and they’ve got the skills, energy and passion to make it happen.

Here’s a prime example:

be the change - 3 figures in high five move

We have a young couple with two children living in our small, growing Mississippi town. They moved there driving an old station wagon with plans to renovate a needy downtown store front piece of property. They did it a little at a time. The store they eventually opened was a success. So was the café that was added shortly thereafter. When they hired a top-notch chef, it did even better. They invested in the space next door and expanded the size of the store and café. A few years ago, the wife and chef wrote a wonderful cookbook together which continues to sell well around town and beyond.

In the meantime, more renovations were completed down the street where the husband established a school. He teaches high-school students valuable technical skills and then sees that they find good jobs / internships upon completion of the program.

Our little town was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal - thanks, in part, to the hard work and success of these two millennials. And I believe the old station wagon is still running its course.

Strategic Moves by Your Employees (and YOU)

What does a hiring manager do when an employee wants to grow and develop their skills, but there simply isn't a good opportunity to do that - for whatever reason? Do you make promises to the employee that you know you probably won't be able to follow up on - just to keep them on the payroll? Provide insufficient, small opportunities to grow? Offer an increase in salary?

Do you ever dare to tell them it may be time to leave the company - knowing that you will have to refill the position and retrain someone else? What if leaving is what would benefit the employee and the company the most? Dissatisfied employees, especially those voicing their disappointments to other employees, can affect company culture in negative ways. And how "engaged" do you think a disgruntled employee really is? Their mind may be more "engaged" in finding a better opportunity rather than on the daily tasks presenting themselves.

If the employee is exceptional but your hands are tied, why not encourage a healthy and strategic move wherein they might gain more "managerial" or "technical" expertise? Then let them know that they are more than welcome to reapply at a later time if they would like to do so. Give them your blessing. Don't boot them out the door. Don't burn your bridges. Assure them of your support and future recommendation - if they honestly have it. You are simply widening the company's talent acquisition pipeline. They might even be able to refer strong candidates your way. Ask!

When an employee leaves on good terms and with a good attitude, it may be possible for them to train the person taking their place. Communication is key, but it can save a manager much time and stress - especially if the departing employee sees it as an opportunity to improve their reference from the company and add a new skill to his or her resume - that of training coach or mentor.

How do we as hiring managers process this information? Moreover, how should HR managers, as employees, process and adapt to these new facts of life in 2018 and beyond?

Micro-Careers

resume sample for micro-careers

These relatively short-term “permanent” positions are being termed micro-careers. Rather than working fewer than five jobs during your entire career, you may find yourself working double or triple that. Job hunters who have held multiple short-term positions may begin promoting themselves as experts with a vast array of experience across diverse industries, and it will be both true and impressive.

Preferred Experience & Skills

customer service cartoon lady

Which customer service agent do you want to hire? The one who has 20 years of experience with a distribution company or the one with 10 years of experience with a distribution company, a service provider and a retail store?  The 20-year employee received training a few times over the course of her career; she perfected her customer service skills over time, and her performance was excellent. The employee with the micro-career types of positions has received training in modern day customer service techniques, has experience adapting those techniques as needed, excelled at all 3 jobs, and has both the certificates and the references to prove it. The latter was never dismissed from a job, simply laid off as the company saw fit.

Job Hopper or Better Candidate?

quality thumbs up

Both of the workers mentioned above would probably make great candidates. But today, in your current way of thinking about candidates, would you ever actually call the 2nd candidate whose resume is a little “messy” and can leave a hiring manager wondering, “Why does she do so much job-hopping?” Based on the micro-career insight, the better response may be, “I bet there’s a good reason why companies keep hiring her!” Then do the footwork to discover why.

Furthermore, let me pose this question, “How many HR managers do you know who have been replaced or terminated – not because of wrongdoing – but because the company downsized? I know a few HR professionals who prefer to work more as HR consultants than as HR managers. Perhaps that has something to do with companies needing HR advice but not wanting to invest in long-term/20-year salary commitments for that advice. Wrap your mind around it. One day, you may be the so-called “job-hopper”.

So, who’s left to retain exactly? Is employee retention really a non-consideration?

Ignore Retention Strategies?

I don’t believe retention can be dismissed entirely, but candidates today are (or should be) interviewing you as much as you are interviewing them. They don’t want a dead-end job. They want to embrace their newly acquired skills, utilize the latest technology, seek out opportunities to learn, grow and succeed, and then move on when they’ve topped out or met the company’s goals and objectives regarding their position. They want to be appreciated and respected for their achievements, regardless of age.

words denoting strategy

The Work of a Hiring Manager

Many of your long-term employees may be content, but some are bound to get caught up in the dreams and aspirations of Generations Y and Z. So know your employees and the level of satisfaction they experience with their jobs. Seek out their input regarding job, salary, benefit and growth priorities. Interview them again. Reevaluate the status quo as you may need to adapt to these new generations of employees. According to the Governance Studies at Brookings report, “How Millennials Could Upend Wall Street and Corporate America,” Millennials will represent 75% of the workforce by 2025. 

3 millennial employees

As a hiring manager, you should be seeking the feedback of both your current staff as well as that of the candidates you are interviewing. You need to know and understand their new priorities and adjust your hiring (and retention) strategies accordingly. You want to be creating opportunities for your employees to explore new skills, excel in leadership roles, and feel excited about contributing to and achieving company goals. Every company and individual will vary in needs, but I believe a new pattern is being established in our workplaces – one that we would be wise to pay attention to.

For additional hiring and management assistance, contact a Brannon Professionals’ recruiter or business consultant today.

Why Emotional Intelligence in a Manager Is So Important

What is your Senior and Mid-Management recruitment strategy?

strategy
  • Does it involve poaching managers from your competition?
  • Do you recruit from within?
  • Perhaps you screen resumes for overall professional success?
  • Do you recruit college graduates with impressive intellects and cutting edge technical skills?
  • Do you go after candidates with the highest IQs or highest Wonderlic scores?
  • Maybe you simply hire by instinct the person you like the most and believe will perform best in the leadership role.
  • Does an individual’s emotional quotient ever influence your hiring decisions?

Emotional Intelligence Defined

In this article, we will explore the important role in which a person's emotional intelligence can and should play in the workplace.

Emotional intelligence basically pertains to one’s personal and social competence – how successfully a person manages themselves and others through self and social awareness. According to Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist, author and science journalist who helped to popularize emotional intelligence, the five key elements to it are self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills.

Robert K. Cooper defines emotional intelligence as “the ability to sense, understand, and effectively apply the power and acumen of emotions as a source of human energy, information, connection, and influence.”
emotional intelligence - image of light bulb & brain in 2 heads

For just a moment, consider your top employees. Who is the best? The most trusted and respected? The one with the most overall success? It will more than likely be the one who has a high emotional quotient, and it may be a woman rather than a man. Ladies tend to be extremely aware of their shortcomings and often try to control and correct them. Many women also convey empathy quite well, and these are just a few reasons why management teams need not only men but also women as leaders inside their companies.

Do you measure your candidates’ emotional intelligence? If you are not currently in the habit of doing this, you may be out of the loop regarding what experts have to say about the potential regarding individuals with a high emotional quotient.

What are the potential advantages of hiring managers with a high emotional quotient?

happy and engaged employees
  • Leaders will have greater control over their emotions.
  • Employer/Employee relations will improve as managerial skills such as effective communication and empathy work their magic.
  • Leadership will see positive changes in both engagement and production among staff.
  • Employees will experience an emotionally healthier and more satisfying work experience.
  • The work culture will become more inspirational as employees work together successfully towards common goals.

According to Laura Wilcox, the director of management programs at Harvard, emotional intelligence is much more than a “soft” skill. Having a high emotional quotient is kind of like a booster shot for an individual who already possesses the strong intellectual and impressive technical skills for which hiring managers are competing. 

High EI enables men and women to become better managers. Daniel Goleman believes that 90% of the differences which exist between star and average candidates are related to the emotional quotient of the person.

respect between employees - a handshake

Emotionally intelligent leaders practice self-awareness and self-management. Furthermore, they practice social awareness and excel in relationship management. While emotional intelligence may be somewhat of a natural skill, it is also a skill which can be learned, honed and perfected.

Managers such as these can help build the important foundation of trust, respect and positive attitudes among their staff. Employees want to be valued and respected, yet research conducted by TalentSmart revealed that 85% of business people do not “feel” that they are valued and respected by management. And according to an article from Harvard Business Review, this could be because most senior executives lack empathy.

However, because of their social awareness, emotionally intelligent managers can pave the way for smoother, more comfortable and friendlier conversation with their team members. They will be successful in helping those employees “feel” that they are valued and respected. When an employee feels valued, they automatically become more engaged with the company’s goals and objectives.

When true concern and respect are involved, the work employees do for the company and its managers becomes more personal. Both the relationships and the work matter – a lot – because the way in which the manager engaged with the worker was genuine.

authenticity
“Authenticity requires a certain measure of vulnerability, transparency, and integrity.”              – Janet Louise Stephenson

According to Aubrey Daniels International, discretionary effort is the level of effort people could give if they wanted to, but above and beyond the minimum required. Do your current executives and managers inspire “discretionary effort”? If they do not, your business may possess as-yet untapped potential increases in engagement, production and company morale.

As stated above, emotional intelligence is not a mere soft skill, it’s a game-changing skill for which you should be screening both your employees and best job candidates.

Consider these quotes and statistics from Inc.com regarding emotional intelligence:

emotional and irritated coworkers
  • 75% of careers are derailed for reasons related to emotional competencies, including inability to handle interpersonal problems; unsatisfactory team leadership during times of difficulty or conflict; or inability to adapt to change or elicit trust. - Center for Creative Leadership
  • If your emotional abilities aren't in hand, if you don't have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can't have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far. - Daniel Goleman
  • In my 35 years in business, I have always trusted my emotions. I have always believed that by touching emotion you get the best people to work with you, the best clients to inspire you, the best partners and most devoted customers. - Kevin Roberts
  • Emotional intelligence is a way of recognizing, understanding, and choosing how we think, feel, and act. It shapes our interactions with others and our understanding of ourselves. It defines how and what we learn; it allows us to set priorities; it determines the majority of our daily actions. Research suggests it is responsible for as much as 80 percent of the "success" in our lives. - J. Freedman

What steps should a hiring manager take next?

ladder of success - learning, training, instruction, practice
  • Find a way to assess your employees’ and your job candidates’ emotional quotient. We use TTI Success Insights for all our behavioral assessments. Brannon Professionals also has its own Value-Added Associate on staff who is available to consult with hiring managers on the EQ assessments and follow-up reports.
  • Once you have a solid understanding of emotional intelligence and its effects in the workplace, begin training with your managers. Our consultant, Mark Brannon, may be available to provide this training.
  • Employees would also benefit from different aspects of EI training.
  • Incorporate EI practices into the company’s routines and strategies.
  • Measure increases and changes in engagement, productivity and morale.
  • Enjoy the success that EI will begin to usher into your business.

If you have additional questions about emotional intelligence or TTI Success Insights’ EQ assessment, please contact Brannon Professionals at your convenience.

How to Find a Quality and Trustworthy Staffing Partner

business management rainbow colored sign

Operating your own business is exhilarating; yet, it can be a demanding job as well. One of the more challenging tasks is finding suitable employees. Hiring the wrong person can devastate the company culture. Besides, it is never fun to fire someone. All the many hours that go into preparing the job listing, reviewing resumes, and conducting interviews seem wasted when you make the wrong choice.

How can employers ensure they get the right employee the first time and avoid wasting time? Some business owners have discovered the value of a staffing partner in meeting their hiring needs. However, how can you be sure you partner with the right agency?

Here are 7 things to look for in your search for a quality and trustworthy staffing partner:

how to find quality - figure with magnifying glass

1. Open communication

One necessary criterion for beginning any relationship is having good communication. You want the agency to be interested in your business and your needs and not just be looking for another client. They should be asking you questions that delve deep into your business.

3 question marks

Potential questions may include:

  • What is the nature of your business?
  • What organizational values are most important to the company and its associates?
  • What quality do you value the most among your current employees?
  • What is the primary thing we can do to help alleviate the stress you are currently experiencing as hiring manager?

You want to be open and willing to share what your priorities are whether it be customer service experience, strong problem-solving aptitude, excellent computer skills, quick turnaround, or simply overall quality employees with integrity and a solid work ethic. Any insight you are willing to share will be vitally important to the potential success of the partnership. 

   If you are looking for a strong staffing partner, consider  Brannon Professionals .

If you are looking for a strong staffing partner, consider Brannon Professionals.

2. Will be a partner to your business

You do not just want to hire a business - you want a partner in business. There is a difference between the two. A partner will be looking out for the long-term relationship and therefore will encourage your trust. You will likely get to meet the owner of the business. The partner will be interested in your financial situation and willing to negotiate as needed.

3. Works with a broad scope of job fields

Some staffing agencies work with a limited number of industries and fields. This may work if you happen to be looking for someone in that field, but what if you need additional help in the future. You want a staffing agency that can fulfill a broad variety of job positions. 

   You can learn more about Brannon Professionals' value-added services by contacting us at 662-349-9194 or by visiting our  website .

You can learn more about Brannon Professionals' value-added services by contacting us at 662-349-9194 or by visiting our website.

4. Offers value-added services

Find out whether the agency you are considering offers extra services. Finding you the best candidate may require more than simply looking in a database. For example, some staffing agencies provide background checks, behavioral assessments, skills testing, training, and more. These added services are like bonus extras without the price tag.

5. Includes an Acceptable “Return Policy”

100 percent satisfaction guaranteed

It is important to know upfront what the agency’s policy is regarding employees who don’t work out. Does the agency offer any compensation or provide a satisfaction guarantee? Is the direct hire fee reimbursable under certain circumstances? What if the employee you hire through the agency moves after only being on the job a month? These are important questions to have answered before moving forward. 

6. Has an impeccable reputation

You want a company that has a superior reputation built on years of experience and good past relationships. Obviously, an agency without a good reputation is risky. As stated earlier, you are building a relationship with this new partner. You want a trustworthy agency, so here are a few ways to check out staffing companies and their reputations.

social media on cell phone and laptop
  • Learn more about the owner/manager. Visit their social media accounts such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. 
  • Check out posts, blogs, comments and company reviews for further insights about the company.
  • Look at their website for awards and testimonials or ask for a business reference.
  • Ask around the community. Contact the local Chamber of Commerce or Economic Council.

7. Locally owned

   Brannon Professionals has served North Mississippi, Memphis, Tennessee, and the surrounding areas for over 20 years.

Brannon Professionals has served North Mississippi, Memphis, Tennessee, and the surrounding areas for over 20 years.

While some companies may opt for more nationally-known agencies, there are advantages to conducting business with a locally owned and operated company. For one, community residents will likely know them. Also, sometimes privately owned agencies have more flexibility when negotiating fees. Next, you can visit the location if you ever have a problem, question or just want to stop by. Finally, investing in a locally-owned business is investing in your own community.

At BRANNON PROFESSIONALS, we strive to develop partnerships with our clients that will last for decades, not mere months. If you are considering partnering with a staffing agency, please allow us the opportunity to serve you and your business.

Leading with Compassion in the Workplace

The Need for Compassion

Is compassion needed in the world? In the workplace? In your home? In your relationships? 

anxiety

Yes, yes, yes, and yes! Financial worries, relationship issues, loss of any kind, stress – all these can lead to serious and detrimental results on the job, not to mention one's health. You know and understand that compassion is always needed. But one must ask, “What forms of compassion - in the workplace, specifically - are acceptable?”

The question has been posed, so let’s attempt an answer to it - starting with a definition of compassion and why simple awareness of others' needs or struggles is so important.

What Is Compassion?

   According to Jean Piaget (1896-1980), ‘Intelligence is not what one knows, but what one does when one does not know’.

According to Jean Piaget (1896-1980), ‘Intelligence is not what one knows, but what one does when one does not know’.

Merriam-Webster defines compassion as sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it. Google’s dictionary offers the following as synonyms for compassion: pity, sympathy, empathy, care, concern, sensitivity, warmth, love, tenderness, mercy, leniency, tolerance, and kindness.

Awareness of Others

When we are aware of others' distress, it reveals our emotional intelligence (EI), and a person with high EI should be able to work successfully with people facing stressful and difficult situations. Why? Because they tend to be somewhat intuitive about others' feelings or moods as well as both focused and effective in their responses. Not surprisingly, they are also known for tackling problems and pondering solutions rather than merely offering sympathy and concentrating only on the problem itself.

Yet sometimes, it is in the mere acknowledgment of another person's feelings or obvious emotional turmoil whereby compassion is best expressed. In the workplace, we shouldn't cross the acceptable personal line of voiced concern for our coworkers to the private line of questioning unless there is a mutual trust and willingness to open up.

The Practice of Compassion

However, the question remains, "How should compassion play out in the workplace?" The simple answer is this: kindness and compassion toward others is a great thing. The complexity of the answer lies in this statement: kindness is always a great thing - yet the way it can play out is not always necessarily the desired outcome. Maybe the timing is wrong, maybe emotions are off the charts, maybe . . . any number of reasons.

the beauty of kindness

Need an example or two? While a listening ear and a compassionate word are usually well-received, that is not always the case.

If I am on the verge of tears at work or in any public place, although it may be the thing I need, a kind word or hug could usher in a flood of tears and loud sobbing.

My own daughter does not wish for blatant sympathy when she is dealing with certain unfortunate circumstances, no matter how honorable my intentions are in regard to empathizing with her. She simply prefers to move on with life, even if the sadness creeps in and takes over periodically. She sees no need to rehash the sadness aloud. If I insist on talking about "it", even as a mom, I've crossed a line in my expression of compassion (with her).

We would also do well to remember that anger is one of the stages of grief. If a coworker is going through a great loss, we may be exposed not only to their sadness but also to their hostility and irritability. There is no easy cure for grief, and if it spirals out of control during office hours, it may be time to recommend a grief counselor. However, you never know how an employee will respond to that recommendation either, especially if they are already upset or angry at the world.

As much as possible, be intuitive and sensitive rather than careless with your words and actions in the workplace. Asking if a person in crisis wants to talk about "it" is always a direct way of conveying your concern to a coworker. Letting them know your availability to talk when they are ready is another option. Whatever you say, keep it simple. Limit your words but not necessarily your sympathy. Allow the person to focus on work rather than on the crisis if it's not an appropriate time to talk. 

The Extent of Compassion in the Office

How far should you take compassion in the workplace? Honestly, my best answer is to take it as far as you must in order to meet the need. You’ve heard the stories of business owners who have gone to extreme lengths by providing cars or even homes for their employees who found themselves in dire situations.

Perhaps you’re also acquainted with employees who have willingly shared some of their paid time off with fellow employees who were struggling with cancer or some other diagnosis requiring them to be out of the office for long periods of time.

On the other hand, maybe you’ve been micromanaged by bosses who go strictly by the book and fail to show compassion no matter how difficult a situation an employee finds him/herself in.

challenging & stressful work - lady feels pressure from every direction

It’s true. Working in a corporate environment generally requires a strict accounting of hours worked, lunch hours and paid time off, but does that mean compassion cannot abound? Absolutely not, especially when employees find themselves in extraordinary circumstances.

While disproportionate amounts of flexibility directed toward a few individual employees would most likely be called into question, typical acts of sincere kindness, generosity and flexibility should not be. Direct managers should be provided with company guidelines on how to handle such situations. 

The What-Ifs That Stir Our Compassion

disaster spelled with Scrabble tiles

Literally, what if there is a natural disaster such as a hurricane, earthquake, tornado or fire that impacts your staff and they need an advance on their next paycheck? What if your employee has no means of transportation to a parent’s funeral? What if a close family member or a beloved pet dies, and the employee has no more PTO remaining? What if a judge requires one of your staff members to appear in court daily throughout an entire month?

As a business owner or HR Manager, it is wise to have a contingency plan for responding to these what-if scenarios.

The Look of Workplace Compassion

Unfortunately, it is true that employees can push the envelope of expectation and entitlement, so we have these questions to consider: 

  • How much flexibility should you allow a struggling employee?
  • How much compassion in the form of "tangible help" should an employer offer, if any?
  • Is your Human Resource department one which promotes kindness, giving, flexibility, and loyalty toward its people, especially during stressful situations or natural disasters that company employees may find themselves a part of?

Some may say that this is why their company provides vacation time and personal days for employees. Nevertheless, sometimes more is needed.

help (in ALL CAPS)

Below are a few ideas regarding compassion directed toward employees:

  • You can always express a word of sympathy and sincere concern for others’ losses and difficulties in life – and probably should in most cases.
  • If you have been through a similar situation, remember the reality of your struggle, and show empathy.
  • Sometimes employers don’t fully realize it, but showing compassion is not against the law -- favoritism is what you should be careful of. Showing sensitivity and a little flexibility is displaying kindness. However, all managers should respond similarly to any known struggle of their employees and understand both how and when it is appropriate (or not) to intervene.
  • Managers and co-workers must remember that outright pity is something which many people do not desire. It is also difficult for many people to accept "charity", so be mindful of others' feelings.
  • Should you ever sponsor a GoFundMe page for an employee or one of their family members? Maybe so.
  • Should you ever advance a paycheck or extra cash to your employees? Maybe so.
  • Should you ever grant an unpaid leave of absence? Perhaps. Maybe your company needs to develop a sabbatical type of program detailing the situations in which an employee might be granted unpaid leave.
  • In all expressions of compassion, exercise wisdom and caution in regard to both your words and actions.
   Here’s a good - though sometimes costly - rule of thumb: If it is in your power to do good, then you should.

Here’s a good - though sometimes costly - rule of thumb: If it is in your power to do good, then you should.

The good you do may take the form of a sympathy card, a plant, paid time off, a flexible schedule, and maybe even time off without pay. It may also be providing counseling, support in conquering a bad habit, accountability, the opportunity to make up for a mistake, or forgiveness. Kindness may involve a few employees showing up after hours to assist a struggling employee with some challenging task, simply taking the time to listen, or even donating to a worthy cause. Perhaps the employee just needs you to bear with them for a time, then re-evaluate the situation.

A Story of Workplace Compassion

I love this story from a now-retired HR Manager: There was a long-time employee causing his boss and coworkers lots of grief with his moody disposition, rude behavior, and negative attitude during the work day. In previous years, this man had been a great employee, but that was no longer the case. The HR manager had a heart-to-heart talk with the employee about his behavior. In turn, he chose to share some of his situation with her. However, the situation he was facing did not change the fact that he had to find a way to improve his attitude and behavior toward others. She was sympathetic (and wise), so instead of firing him, the HR manager told the man to take a few weeks off (paid!) so he could try to remember why he took the job to begin with and to reconsider all its benefits. He did take some time off, and when he returned, all was well once again and (to my knowledge) stayed that way.

conversation between two professional figures

What I appreciate most about this case scenario is that the HR Manager addressed the problem directly with the employee and didn’t skirt around the issue. He was going to lose his job if his attitude didn’t improve in a big way. She remembered that the costs associated with losing and hiring a new employee are just that . . . costly! Was her gamble with the employee (a.k.a. compassion) worth an extra $1,000 or $2,000? Absolutely! The company held on to a great employee who was simply going through a crisis and needed some time to refocus. She was happy with the outcome, and so was the employee. I can assure you that the “compassionate accountability” she required of him will never be forgotten.

Leading With Compassion

the trust factor in the workplace

Walking with employees through the ups and downs of life can be costly, but worth every penny when you see them come through those valleys successfully. As far as building loyalty and trust among your employees - wow! There may not even be a need for fancy employee engagement or retention strategies when you practice kindness and moral support. So, invest in your people today and see what leading with a little compassion can do for employee engagement and retention at your place of business.

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