Are company perks going too far?

Before we entered into the third millennium, you could be forgiven for thinking that you were lucky if your job offered a sturdy salary and an attractive pension package.  But oh, how times have changed!  A recent trend has seen large companies push the boat out even further with regard to corporate perks.  From pampering to poodles (read on!), and even naptime, businesses are taking ever greater measures to attract the best candidates.  Yet is the talent deficit really so great that companies need to offer such extreme incentives?

The technology giants have long been ahead of the curve with their fancy employee packages.  Employees at Google travel to and from work on company buses, receive subsidized massages, nap when the stress gets too much and even bring their dogs to work (poodles explained!).  In a similar fashion, Apple recently installed a high-tech wellness centre at its HQ in California where the wait time for appointments is reportedly only five minutes and consultancy rooms boast iPads and Macs in the place of standard paperwork.  Such perks evidently place employee wellbeing at the forefront of the business while also fostering a creative environment, arguably necessary to attract the imaginative calibre of candidates needed within technology.

However, recently this trend has started spreading beyond Silicon Valley to other sectors too: SC Johnson, a family-owned household brands company, offers a personal concierge service to all employees and Richard Branson caused a stir when he announced that all Virgin employees would receive unlimited holiday.  Yet are these the benefits that employees really want?

Interestingly, Mindflash has revealed a large discrepancy between what employees say they want and what their employers think they want.  Employees rated “full appreciation for work done” as their most important concern, whereas employers prioritised “good wages”.  It just shows then, that emotional support is still valued over practical incentives, since “feeling ‘in’ on things” and “sympathetic help on personal problems” came a close second and third on employees’ lists.  Take a look at the full infographic here.

What’s more, there’s a strong case for arguing that these new incentives excessively merge the personal and professional spheres.  Providing a ping pong table at work might foster camaraderie among employees but it can’t replace a social life outside of the office.  Does the creation of such an environment suggest that life starts and ends at work?  Facebook and Apple’s offer to freeze female employees’ eggs takes a literal approach to this.  While it gives women more flexibility regarding when they choose to start a family, buying an employee’s fertility could give off the unnerving message that her career should always come first.  Should your company’s principles override your own?

The question to pose, then, is to what extent should a company be responsible for employee wellbeing?  Does this trend towards a provide-all package foster a more loyal and committed relationship between the company and the employee or could these latest incentives alternatively be interpreted as invasive?  Just some food for thought…

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CV a-non-yme ?

C’est la question pertinente de la rentrée : les entreprises de 50 salariés et plus adopteront le CV anonyme ou non ?  On parle d’une loi votée en 2006 mais qui n’est pas encore entrée en vigueur.  Tout pourrait changer cependant, grâce au délai de six mois prononcé par le Conseil d’État en juillet de cette année qui pousse le gouvernement à agir.  Les opinions y sont divisées : un pas majeur vers l’égalité des chances ou une couche supplémentaire inutile de bureaucratie ?

La discrimination à l’embauche continue à affliger le processus de recrutement…

José Zamora en est victime exemplaire.  Cet article raconte sa lutte pour décrocher un entretien dans laquelle il a dû changer le nom sur son CV afin de recevoir des réponses.  Il reste ainsi certain que la discrimination à l’embauche est vraiment répandue.  L’adoption du CV anonyme éliminerait toute décision fondée sur le patronyme du candidat à la première phase du recrutement, ouvrant des portes à un système d’embauche plus neutre et objectif.  Nom, prénom, âge, photographie, date et lieu de naissance : chaque donnée inconnue.

Mais c’est là que réside le problème…

Sans aucune coordonnée, la prochaine étape de l’entretien relève de la folie.  À qui s’attendre ?  « Enchanté Monsieur/Madame/Mademoiselle Anonyme, comment vous appelez-vous ? »  C’est une scène maladroite qui ne peut ressembler qu’à une rencontre à l’aveugle.  En plus, la personne qui fait passer les entretiens finira par apprendre le nom du candidat et faire sa connaissance.  Si le recruteur est susceptible de prendre une décision basée sur des éléments discriminatoires, l’élaboration du CV anonyme ne fera que différer ce comportement jusqu’à la prochaine phase du recrutement plutôt que l’empêcher.

D’ailleurs, la discrimination positive ne sera plus possible avec le CV anonyme… 

Alors que la plupart des grandes organisations se sont engagées dans la lutte contre la discrimination en entreprise – ayant lancé des campagnes de diversité ou ayant signé la Charte de la Diversité – certaines mesures, telles que promouvoir le nombre de salariés issus de l’immigration ou féminiser une entreprise, deviendraient impossibles à l’heure de l’application du CV anonyme.  Comme l’indique une étude réalisée par le Centre de recherche en économie et statistiques (Crest), ceux qui sont issus de l’immigration, et qui manquent ainsi d’expérience professionnelle, seraient dans une position désavantageuse puisque le CV anonyme supprime toute possibilité de prendre en compte cette diversité.

Toutes choses considérées, bien que le CV anonyme paraisse ne pas être la voie à suivre, la décision de se battre contre ce type de discrimination répandue est fort louable.  Une piste d’amélioration serait peut-être de former davantage les équipes de recrutement sur les points sensibles afin de mettre fin aux préjugés à l’embauche.

À méditer et à suivre.  Qu’en pensez-vous ?  Laissez vos commentaires sous cet article !

How to stay healthy in an office environment

It’s a well-known fact that working in an office environment can affect your everyday health and well-being. Here you will find some of the health problems associated with a “nine-to-five” and advice as to how to combat these risks.

 

  1. Gaining Weight

 

Too many croissants and sitting at your desk all day can only equal one thing – weight gain. This seems like an inevitable part of being an office-worker with a sedentary job, where walking 20 metres to the printer to pick up your documents is your only exercise. However, this needn’t be the case. After a long day at work, the last thing a lot of people want to do is go on a run or to the gym. However, there are simple things you can work into your day to keep off those extra pounds.

  • Take the stairs instead of the lift – get that heart rate up!
  • Try not to eat at your computer – if you’re not focusing on what you’re eating and instead on what’s on the screen, you are more likely to over-fill yourself or rush what you’re eating.
  • Take your time away from your desk and enjoy your lunch hour!
  • Try standing up and moving around at regular intervals during the day. Recent studies show that a sedentary life-style has a direct impact on your health.[1]
  • Pack your own lunch – eating out or at the company canteen can not only be expensive, but also detrimental to your diet. If you bring your own lunch, you know exactly what has gone into it, and you can make it as healthy as you like!

 

 

  1. Stress

 

Most office jobs involve some degree of stress, whether it is due to the pressure of completing a task on-time, or having a “to-do” list as long as your arm. To help reduce the stress in your day:

  • Organise your work space – having a “busy” desk can make you feel more stressed. Organise your desk and you will feel much better.
  • Make a “to-do” list (even if it is long!) – This will help you put into perspective which tasks need completing and when by.
  • Take regular breaks – sitting at a computer all day is not good for you and can only make you feel more stressed if you don’t seem to be able to make as much progress as you would like. Take some time away from your desk. When you come back, you will see things with fresh eyes.

 

 

  1. Health and well-being

 

There are other health issues associated with working in an office which don’t just relate to weight-gain or mentality.

  • Dehydration – make sure you keep yourself hydrated over the course of a day. It’s easy to forget to drink the recommended 8 glasses of water each day. [2]
  • Poor hygiene – the things we come into contact with on a daily basis can harbour germs which in turn can make us ill. Make sure to wash your hands regularly or keep a bottle of hand sanitizer by your desk.
  • Poor posture – most employers will supply you with a decent office chair, but it is down to you to make sure it is adjusted correctly.

 

If you follow these tips on a daily basis it could help you to stay healthier and happy J

 

 

 

[1] http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-26937454

[2] http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/water-drinks.aspx

Social media mistakes to avoid in your business

 

Some of my previous posts have been filled with positivity about using social media to benefit your business. This is quite simply because it can be a great marketing tool. BUT (and this is a big but) it is not a foolproof solution to improve your company’s marketing strategy. Often startups and existing companies make mistakes that can prove costly and in fact reduce the chances of success.

So, what should you avoid when setting up a social media strategy?

The most common (and probably worst) mistake you can make is failing to outline a plan for your social media strategy. So many startups just breeze past the planning stage without outlining any goals. You need to ascertain what you want to do, how you want to do it and what resources you will use. Without a detailed plan with clear business objectives you are setting yourself up to fail before you’ve even begun.

Within your plan you should be identifying when you are going to carry out the social media tasks that you’ve set. The second mistake a lot of companies make is going into social media overdrive straight away. This “too much, too soon” approach is likely to prove counter-productive. People don’t want to be overloaded with information every second of every day. It’s also important to recognize that you don’t have to be on every single social media site. Identifying which ones are relevant to your business (perhaps taking into account where your competitors are) will save you time and ultimately money.

I’m sure you are all aware of the phrase time is money, and it is important to spend time with social media to achieve worthwhile ROI. A lot of companies implement a social media strategy which can best be described as “if you build it people will come.” I’m afraid this is not the case. In the same way that building a shop and not putting a sign outside is unlikely to attract people, failure to promote yourself consistently online will not benefit you. Therefore the “set it and forget it” method should be avoided. Social media is all about relationships. It’s about networking and it is going to take time. However, if you are prepared to make the appropriate time investment to social media each day it will be worth it, if you spend your time correctly.

How you spend your time is key to your company’s success with social media. It must be understood that social media is not a one-way communication channel. You’re setting yourself up to fail if you think that you can just promote your company non-stop and not interact with customers and still succeed. We’ve come back to the importance of relationships and honestly it cannot be stressed enough. After all it is called social media. Failing to recognize this can result in complete failure; so don’t go out there and ignore your customers! Listening and responding can be the best way to lead your business to success.

It’s not only you’re customers you shouldn’t ignore though, it’s your competitors too. Keeping track of what your competitors are doing on social media and how they are doing it can be key to your survival in today’s market. Social media provides you with the gift of easily connecting with everyone around the world. This means it’s very easy to check up on your competitors. Visit their website, their Facebook and LinkedIn pages and most importantly check out their customer feedback. Knowing where your competitors are going wrong can prevent you making the same mistakes and help you achieve a competitive advantage.

Finally, it is essential that you are passionate in your social media marketing. Without passion you won’t succeed. If you feel that social media isn’t for you and you have the resources then hire someone who knows about social media so that they can help your company succeed. If you have someone running your social media operation that has genuine interest and passion for it then it will be well worth the money it takes to employ them.

The benefits of social media for business really can be incredible, but only if it is utilized in the proper way. If you implement a solid social media strategy and avoid the mistakes I’ve been talking about then I can promise that you won’t regret it.

Social media could revolutionize your company.

How to use social media to benefit your business

Social Media is going to become the key for business survival. It is not unlikely that, in the future, social media may even become more important than a company’s website. Refusal to accept this threatens to result in failure. No matter what your company does, or what sector of business you are in, if you do not have a social media presence then you are simply ignoring an opportunity and risking your future.

Now, it’s all very well saying that social media is important for business and it is undeniable that there have been many thousands of articles published regarding it, but there are still a huge number of executives or heads of companies that just don’t get it.

Of course I understand that people need convincing, so I will give you my personal experience and highlight the way in which social media has benefitted my company. After all, if social media hadn’t been beneficial I probably wouldn’t still have the job!

I am Community Manager for a recruitment agency based in Paris, a company that had absolutely no social media presence until January this year and just a website online. This surprised me, and when I started I asked why they had not thought to implement a social media strategy sooner. The reasons are probably the same reasons as any other company: It’s too time-consuming, people want to speak to people not their computer, social media is just that, “social”, and there’s no place for it in business and don’t get me wrong there are elements of truth in each of these points. However, if you put the benefits against the negatives on a see-saw, it is only going to tip one way.

So let me tell you what I did, and how it benefitted (and continues to benefit) the company. Firstly, I set up a LinkedIn profile. Very simple to do and doesn’t take very long. After growing the connections and developing the profile etc I am now able to connect with our candidates easily and find new top quality candidates for our clients. The “Groups” section allows me to connect with people in the same field (recruitment) as well as job seekers. We are quite a specialized company, recruiting bilingual assistants and secretaries in Paris, and therefore the ability to find specific people in one place has not only made it easier to find the best people, but greatly enlarged our talent pool and therefore benefits our clients, which ultimately benefits us.

Next, I set up a Facebook page. It is fair to say that pretty much everyone is on Facebook nowadays and therefore if you want to connect with people on a large scale that’s where you need to be. Now, I personally use the Facebook page to interact with our candidates on a social level, in terms of giving them advice, starting discussions and most importantly getting feedback. I do believe that Facebook is more important for sales-oriented companies, to widen the customer base and therefore increase potential sales but even for us in the recruiting field it has been beneficial in terms of developing relationships, and social media is above all about relationships.

Our Twitter page was next on my list. I have found Twitter to be particularly useful to connect with people on global scale, people that would be very difficult to find by other means. By posting articles that interest me (and more importantly interest others) as well as promoting the company I have grown the relevant followers by using the “#”. I have also found Twitter to be useful with regard to developing partnerships with people. For example, by re-tweeting and mentioning others you can encourage a situation where they re-tweet you and therefore greatly increase the potential of people seeing what you have said. Twitter is a fantastic promotion tool for your company.

For me, these are the 3 main social media sites to get started with for a social media novice. Of course, after time, you can extend your presence to blogs, YouTube and a number of other social sites which are perhaps more specific to your company. Social media enables you to be seen. It’s free, it’s easy to use and most importantly it is where people are.

So, back to the original reasons why my company didn’t get involved with social media. Yes, at first setting up all your social sites will take a certain time investment and managing it and interacting with customers is an on-going process. However, the returns on your time should be enough to make social media interaction worthwhile.

I agree, people do want to interact with people. But if that person is 3000 miles away, isn’t it much more sensible to speak to them via your computer?

It is now recognized that customer relations are pretty much the most important thing for business, something that social media makes easily manageable.             The barriers between “social” media and business are disappearing and “social business” is upon us.

There are some things to remember though. Social media will benefit your company if:

  • You implement a strategy before acting
  • You recognize that it is not a one-way communication outlet – it is about relationships
  • You regularly use it – just because it’s there doesn’t mean people will come. You have to maintain it and update it

Remember this and you will not regret using social media for your company.

Social Media is the key for survival. Don’t get left behind.

MAKE YOUR LANGUAGES WORK FOR YOU: How being bilingual can help you get ahead!

It is well-acknowledged that one of the best ways to get ahead in your career and broaden your horizons is to learn a foreign language. Whether companies are conducting business overseas or fighting for a larger market share at home, employers are increasingly seeking out bilingual workers. A recent “CareerBuilder.com” keyword search turned up more than 1,000 job postings seeking bilingual applicants in the United States alone.

The more professional contacts you can communicate with, the more versatile and thus more valuable you become. Broadly speaking, Mandarin, English, Spanish and Arabic are some of the most widely spoken tongues in the world. Though it is impossible to ascertain exact figures, estimates for English vary between 250 and 450 million. In terms of languages used most widely in an official capacity, the list is topped by English (57 countries), followed by French at 28, then Arabic, Spanish, Russian and Portuguese.

The lure of living the expat life can also provide strong motivation to acquire a second language, with the United Arab Emirates topping the tables with an expat population of more than 70%. Within Europe, over 30% of Luxembourg’s population is expats, though in terms of quantity, Germany leads the way with over 10 million non-native inhabitants, followed swiftly by France. To stand a chance in the increasingly competitive expat job market amongst the 3 million Britons currently working abroad, developing your language competencies is vital.

The key to making a language work for you is taking a thorough approach. Once you have attained a high enough standard, you must work hard to maintain it. Remember, if you don’t use it, you lose it! This necessitates extra effort outside of the work environment, to avoid it becoming a dormant and unused skill on your CV. Preferred methods vary from person to person and can be tailored to your interests. Enrolling on a conversation exchange programme, for example on http://www.linguapassion.com/?lang=en, can be an enjoyable way to practise and meet like-minded people, whilst other options include watching films and reading novels in the original language.

Although at the outset it may seem like an uphill struggle to attain operational fluency in a foreign language, if you are willing to put in the time now, the long-term value of your linguistic skills cannot be overestimated!