The Hidden Job Market in Your Corporate Alumni Program

You can bet that your alumni will be in transition not just once, but over and over and over again – which is good news for you.

It's Not the Ceiling You Should Be Worried About

There are exponentially more opportunities for career movement at the base of the pyramid than toward the top.

The Top 6 Reasons Why You Should Provide Outplacement Services

Obviously, you could simply say goodbye to your former employees, and maybe give them a severance package; but here are the top six reasons why you shouldn’t just leave it at that.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

How Does Mentoring During Onboarding Support the Organization?

Make It Easy for New Hires to Reach Back

I wrote in my last post (read here if you missed it) about how mentoring during onboarding benefits new hires.

On the flip side, the biggest benefit for the organization is that new hires will more naturally engage with their new culture, coworkers, and work when given the right support.

Think of it like going to a party where you don’t know anyone, and having someone take you under their wing, introduce you around, help you understand the social nuances of the group, and get you involved in whatever activities are going on. It takes minimal effort for that person – they’re already intimately acquainted with this group and how it functions. But it’s a huge relief for you, the new person, who would have otherwise had to observe from the sidelines, try to break into established cliques, and awkwardly initiate small talk for the rest of the evening.

How long do you think it will take you to feel welcome, under these circumstances? How long do you think it will take you to catch on to the inside jokes and activities?

And, more pertinently, how long do you think you’re going to stay?

Similarly, because the organization has already reached out to the new hire, it’s much easier for the new hire to reach back and engage with something they’ve already been made familiar with.

Just the Start of the Cycle… if You Do It Right

Just a short list of benefits that mentoring during onboarding can provide the organization includes:

  • Engender staff loyalty
  • Increase new hire engagement
  • Increase retention down the line/reduce turnover
  • Protect organizational investment in both recruiting and onboarding processes
  • Improve time-to-productivity and reduce associated costs
One of the most important points to emphasize is employee retention, which absolutely affects and is affected by engagement. It’s important to focus on the immediate pros and cons of different onboarding processes to be sure – but at a time when employee retention (and particularly new hire retention) is a huge concern for L&D roles, it’s important to engender, foster, and protect your new hires’ desire to remain with your company for years to come.

Stay tuned for our next post about what kind of mentors you need during the onboarding process.

Register now for our September 16 webinar"So You've Got New Hires! Now What?" to learn about how mentoring can facilitate onboarding in a way that increases retention and speed-to-productivity, and encourages integration with company culture. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

How Does Mentoring During Onboarding Support New Hires?

It's the Not Knowing That's Scary

Let’s start out by focusing on how mentoring during onboarding supports the individual. (We’ll get to how it supports and strengthens the organization in the next post.)

The biggest benefit is that it accelerates the learning curve of the new hire. Rather than simply throwing a lot of new information and a new context at a new hire, mentoring helps acclimatize a new hire to their new situation, culture, and job.

That part about lack of context is important. Your new hires don’t know the culture of your organization because they haven’t become a part of it – yet. Because of this, there’s no structure into which they can put the new information they’re being given.

This is a big problem. It’s natural for human beings to see patterns and create structures – and it’s imperative that you give them that structure to prevent a very slow assimilation of that very vital information you need them to understand before they can start being productive in their new jobs.

Get Rid Of Your New Hires’ Fear

Every other benefit of using mentoring to support your onboarding processes follows from this acceleration of the learning curve, including:

  • They'll feel better about their start in the organization
  • Their self-confidence relative to their new job will increase
  • They'll have a higher level of connection to and engagement with the organization 
  • They'll feel that the organization genuinely cares about them and that they get off to a good start
  • They'll engage and settle into the established organizational culture

And as you can see, these too are no small benefits.

Maya Angelou once said that people will forget what you said or did, but they don’t forget how you make them feel. How you make your new hires feel on first impression is perhaps the most important part of setting the stage for their decision to stay with you for a long time to come – so make sure you set the stage correctly.

Stay tuned for How Does Mentoring Support Onboarding (Part II) – which will focus on benefits for the organization.

Register now for our September 16 webinar"So You've Got New Hires! Now What?" to learn about how mentoring can facilitate onboarding in a way that increases retention and speed-to-productivity, and encourages integration with company culture. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Quick Stats: State of the New Hire

With the economy in an upswing, people are feeling secure enough to actively seek jobs as well as leave the jobs that, for one reason or another, they don’t feel are good fits for them anymore. While this has several different ramifications, from to recruitment to talent retention to knowledge retention, let’s focus for the moment on just one thing: new hires.

Here’s some research on the current state of the new hire:

How Are New Hires Thinking?

  • 86% of new hires make their decision to stay or leave the organization within the first 6 months. (Aberdeen Group)
  • 89% of new hires say they do not have the optimum level of knowledge and tools necessary to do their job. (Aberdeen Group)
  • Half of all hourly workers leave their new jobs within the first 120 days. (SHRM)

What’s the Average Cost of Replacing a New Hire?

  • 16% of annual salary for jobs earning less than $30,000 per year
  • 20% of annual salary for mid-range positions earning between $30,000 and $50,000 per year
  • Up to 213% of annual salary for executive positions (Center for American Progress)

How Can We Get New Hires to Stay?

  • New employees who attend a well-structured onboarding program are 69% more likely to stay with an organization after 3 years. (Korn Ferry)
  • 76% of respondents to a BambooHR survey agreed that on-the-job training is the most important thing a new employee needs to get up to speed and contributing quickly. (BambooHR)
  • A leading 33% of respondents say that their manager had the more influence than anything else on the effectiveness of their onboarding. (BambooHR)

Some quick takeaways:

  1. It’s not a done deal after you hire them. New hires are actively weighing the pros and cons of staying with your organization, and they’ll make the decision in the first six months or fewer.
  2. Replacing a new hire who decides to leave is expensive. Take that into consideration on top of the recruitment, onboarding, and other expenses you’ve already invested in that new hire who has left.
  3. The onboarding experience makes a huge difference in the new hire’s decision to stay, but the vast majority of new hires aren’t receiving the tools and information they need to be effective in their job - both of which are huge contributors to new hires’ ability to engage with their new job, environment, or culture.

Register now for our September 16 webinar, "So You've Got New Hires! Now What?" to learn about how mentoring can facilitate onboarding in a way that increases retention and speed-to-productivity, and encourages integration with company culture. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Organizational Heartbreak: Why Are Employees Leaving You?

When experiencing a breakup, one party is often left full of self-doubt and unanswered questions. Organizations ruminate on these same questions when employees decide to breakup with them too.  Why did the employee leave?  Was it something we did wrong?  Could it have been avoided?  Were they just not satisfied?  Just like a romantic breakup, examining and analyzing the reasons for leaving is critical for growth and development.  However, unlike a romantic breakup, organizations have the luxury of using surveys and exit-interviews to better understand what went wrong along the way.

One of the first steps to better understanding employees’ reasoning behind exiting an organization is identifying what types of quitters you’re dealing with.  Research has shown that five different types of quitters dependent on the presence of other job offers, preplanning, and conditional events exist (impulsive quitters, comparison quitters, preplanned quitters, conditional quitters, and satisficing quitters) along three dimensions of turnover (voluntary vs. involuntary, functional vs. dysfunctional, and avoidable vs. unavoidable.)  So don’t worry, managers, it’s not always your fault.  However, there are areas for improvement that may increase the likelihood of employees remaining committed.

Two of the often-cited reasons for exiting an organization are low employee engagement and low supervisory support.  Employee engagement is exemplified by energized, dedicated, and involved employees.  This may be increased through manager-led group meetings, empowerment, and challenging assignments.

Additionally, supervisors may show support for their workers through valuation.  Simply organizing tasks and lending an ear can increase perceived supervisory support and retention rates.  Implementing mentorship programs in which senior-level organizational members and junior-level organizational members are paired can also decrease turnover intentions.  In addition to developing strong workplace relationships between the participants, the junior-level employees receive frame-of-reference training shown to be more effective and cost efficient than learning within a classroom setting.

So don’t fret.  Partaking in these workplace behaviors and attitudes can increase your likelihood of keeping your valued employees by your side.

This post is one of four contributed by Masters students from the I/O Psychology program at the University of Texas at Arlington. To learn about the partnership between Insala and UTA, please watch this video.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

STARTER GUIDE: Overcoming the Obstacles to Starting Your Mentoring Program

Maybe you're getting a mentoring program started for the first time at your organization; or perhaps you've undertaken the responsibility of restarting one that already existed, but didn't do as well as planned.

No matter what the specifics of your situation, there are a few common obstacles that you'll likely run into.

Here's a step-by-step walk-through to getting your mentoring program up off the ground, and running successfully:

Mentoring Obstacle #1: We Won't Have Enough Resources

It’s never about how big or small your organization is, or even how big your mentoring program is – it’s always about the resources allocated proportionally to planning, implementing, and running it. It’s a big job. I’ve seen programs stymie over fewer than 25 pairs – but not necessarily for the reasons you might think. Read more...

Mentoring Obstacle #2: We Won't Get Buy-In From Leadership

No matter how few resources are allocated to your mentoring program, you’ll still need sign-off and approval for their allocation. Whether that means administrators, training, technology, or something else, you’ll need buy-in – and you’ll need it from more people than you probably expect. Read more...

Mentoring Obstacle #3: Our Participants Won't Know What to Do

It’s not the mentors’ and mentees’ responsibility to figure out where their gaps are in understanding what exactly they need to do for the duration of the program and the mentoring partnership. Mostly because right now it may be just one big gap. Read more...

Mentoring Obstacle #4: Your Participants' Misconceptions About Mentoring

Your mentoring program participants are skeptical of your mentoring program, whether they’re telling you so or not. Here’s what they’re thinking, and how you can assuage their fears. Read more...

Mentoring Obstacle #5: External Pressures Are Threatening Our Program's Funding

There are always reasons for your mentoring program to be cut, or never take off at all. I’m not saying they’re good reasons, because most of the time they’re not. Read more...

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Mentoring Obstacle #5: External Pressures Are Threatening Our Funding

There are always reasons for your mentoring program to be cut, or never take off at all. I’m not saying they’re good reasons, because most of the time they’re not.

For example:
  1. The economy
  2. Budget cuts
  3. Organizational issues (such as layoffs, mergers/acquisitions, or organizational restructuring)
They’re all interrelated, and all come down to one thing – your organization is short on the money it needs to fund all of its activities, including yours. Some things will get cut, and some won’t.

The sad fact is that training and development is often the first thing to go when budget cuts come around, so it’s a very legitimate fear to have.

Don’t Get Body Slammed By a Lowland Gorilla

There’s a pretty funny series of ads by DirectTV that follows a cable subscriber through an unfortunate series of events that end disastrously – all because they made the wrong decision and didn’t know it.

If we’re talking about a (reasonable) series of unfortunate events that could happen to you and your mentoring program, you know that your potential disaster is your funding being cut. Every other possible disaster, including those related to recruiting mentoring participants or educating them as to their roles, is just a prelude to this one.

Maybe you won’t be body slammed by a lowland gorilla – but the end result of failing to plan from the beginning still won’t be pretty:

When you don’t plan, you don’t build measurements into your mentoring program.

When you don’t build measurements into your mentoring program, you can’t prove ROI.

When you can’t prove ROI, you can’t make the case to keep your funding. 

When you can’t make the case to keep your funding, your program gets cut.

Don’t let your mentoring program be cut. Start planning your mentoring program today.

Your Step by Step Plan to Keep Your Mentoring Program from Being Cut

Your step by step guide to keep this series of unfortunate events from ever happening is as follows:

  1. Ensure that all stakeholders take your mentoring program seriously by planning and presenting it as a business strategy from the get-go. 
  2. Build measurements into your mentoring program before implementation.
  3. Record the appropriate data during the program.
  4. Prove your program’s success and ROI.
  5. Make the case to keep your funding.
  6. Don’t get cut.

But How Do I Measure Mentoring?

If you’ve been following this blog series, you know that we’ve had four blogs just dedicated to Step #1, when this blog is the last of the series. (You can find links to the others at the bottom of this post.)

“Why the disproportionate emphasis on presenting mentoring as a business strategy?” you may be wondering. “And what does any of this have to do with how I can measure mentoring when that’s all I really want to know?”

The answer to both: It’s not disproportionate at all, since Step #1 is the foundation of Steps #2-6.

Most organizations that don’t measure mentoring quantitatively decide to measure it qualitatively at the end instead – mostly because it’s very easy to get qualitative data from program participants. Did they like it? Did they get along with their mentor? Do they feel like they learned what they set out and agreed to learn?

And with this method, sure, you can learn what they believe and feel about how they came out of the mentoring program - but that has absolutely no bearing on the strategy or success of your organization. There’s no way of knowing if these participants have made any developmental progress from an L&D standpoint, and there’s no way to show senior management or leadership what the objective organizational impact is, let alone why the organization should continue to invest in your mentoring program.

Good Reasons for Your Mentoring Program to Be Cut Do Not Include…

The national and/or world economy is not a good enough reason for your program to be cut. Budget cuts are not a good enough reason for your program to be cut. Organizational issues certainly aren’t a good enough reason for your program to be cut.


Because when money is tighter, and the organization has restructured, downsized, or merged, talent needs to stretch as far as it can. That takes development and investment, yes – but if you do it the right way, it will absolutely pay off.

But I don’t have to tell you this, because you already know it. Just make sure that you have the right tools to help you convince the right people when push comes to shove.

 Previous posts in this series by mentoring training expert Judy Corner:

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Social Selling and Brand Ambassadors

Social selling is a new term for me; in fact, I just downloaded my first song last week! I am a millennial that feels behind the technological times at least twice a week, but if I can understand the importance of social selling, so can you! For a great source on how this has changed in the last decade, go to this helpful fact sheet from Pew Research Center.

The customer/salesperson relationship is much different from when I was younger. Mom would take my younger sister and me to shop for school clothes. It would end up being an all-day affair with my sister throwing fits and me hating to try on pants with mom; who would insist on checking for fit by tugging on back to see how much space she could find between my pants and my back…so embarrassing. As you can see from the picture, we didn’t even have enough focus to last through one photo, let alone a day of shopping! (I’m pretty sure that my shirt is tucked into my pants because I was doing gymnastics in the front yard - it’s hard to say.)

Shopping is a little different now; you can shop for pants online in a matter of minutes from where ever you happen to be. If you need help with something, no need to call the store to talk with someone, there are online salespeople to help you right then!

Social selling integrates social media into the selling conversation. That’s it. It has become a business must have because it allows customers access to product content and be a part of the conversation. It empowers customers to drive the products that companies produce, by giving feedback and shaping product development. It won’t cost hardly anything to implement! For more specifics on Return On Investment (ROI) see Debra Ekerling’s article on the subject.

Some new areas where social selling is getting involved are in alumni programs and with brand ambassadors. Alumni programs are using social selling to increase donation and connections, for more on this see Dayna Catropa's advice. Brand ambassadors are employees or customers that advocate for the brand. This can include being a sound board for ideas or catastrophes, for more on this topic see Holly Pavlika's thoughts.

There are four easy steps according to Andzulis et al. (2012), he suggests first to create a social media presence, and then get customers involved in the conversation through blogs and forums. The final two steps involve integrating the sales strategy into social media. The degree to which it is integrated depends on the business needs. One area that is lacking is training for using this new way of selling. I encourage you to incorporate that into the implementation steps. There is one thing that is for sure though, I will be using social selling in the future for my children’s shopping!

This post is one of four contributed by Masters students from the I/O Psychology program at the University of Texas at Arlington. To learn about the partnership between Insala and UTA, please watch this video.