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Your Best Brand Advocates: Employees With Passion

Olesya Tarasenko

When I think about developing brand advocates, customers are the ones who most often come to mind. However, after reading a recent blog post from one of my millennial peers, I was reminded of how important it is to have your most passionate employees serve as ambassadors of the purpose of your business as well. After all, they are the most organic sources of your brand promotion, both within and outside of your organization—especially if you are a purpose-driven company.

Why passion at work matters

To understand this concept better, let’s look at why passion at work matters and how that ties into purpose. Here are a few reasons why it is important to help your employees to find passion in every aspect of their lives, including their work and career:

  • Passion triggers personal and professional growth. When people follow their passion, I believe they automatically become growth-oriented and naturally tend to take on more challenging tasks. The achievement of tasks leads to greater success, both personally and professionally.
  • Passionate people strive to be their best. When passion inspires people, they work harder because they are more personally involved. This also seems to motivate them to make things happen even when a situation seems impossible.
  • Passion teaches people to tolerate uncertainty and discomfort. When people are inspired, they can tolerate a lot more ambiguity and insecurity.

More and more, passion is a quality that many dynamic companies now want to encourage in their employees. And when the passion is fired up in employees, the logical next step is to encourage them to turn that passion into projects that support a company’s purpose.

Turn passion into value

Back in 2010, Steve Jobs said Apple’s core value was the belief that people with passion can change the world for the better. He essentially was talking about purpose-driven marketing and how employees’ passions can make a difference in a company.

So how can you encourage passion in your company? Here are three simple steps you can take:

  1. Learn about your employees’ passions. Understanding what your employees are passionate about helps managers get to know them better on a more personal level. This in turn can lead to conversations that are more individually tailored and meaningful for employees.
  1. Develop a “driver profile” for each employee. Creating a profile of what drives your employees can help you quickly see where their passions can align with your company’s purpose.
  1. Launch “find your passion” programs within your organization. Once you understand what drives your employees, you can help them create “passion projects” that would interest them and nourish your company’s purpose. 

What are passion projects? They are simply projects that people feel excited about working on because they align with their own passions and purpose. For example, an Autism at Work program within your company would be a great passion project for someone who has an autistic child. Or Back-to-Work initiatives could encourage women who have returned to the workforce after having children help others who are just starting that process.

These are brilliant ways to encourage your employees to build a connection with your company’s purpose. These projects may be outside of the typical scope of a position or job responsibilities, but they are still aligned with the big-picture objectives of your organization.

Passion creates more passion

When employees are connected to a company’s purpose through passion projects at work, the sources that feed your company’s purpose initiatives multiply, creating a long-lasting natural source of nourishment. And when you encourage your employees to link their passions with meaningful projects at work, you start to build stronger connections between them and your company.

In essence, it is pretty simple: Make employees’ passions a priority of your business and you will soon find your business’s purpose among your employees’ priorities.

This blog is part of our Millennials on Purpose series. To learn more about SAP’s higher purpose to help the world run better and improve people’s lives, visit sap.com/purpose.

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Olesya Tarasenko

About Olesya Tarasenko

Olesya Tarasenko is an HR Early Talent at SAP, currently finishing her final rotation in the HR Operations, Cloud Services, team in Prague, Czech Republic. With her multicultural background and diverse HR experiences, including international, Olesya aims to promote personal and professional development and help employees reach their full potential at work. Olesya holds a Master’s degree in Human Resource Development from Villanova University in Pennsylvania and is passionate about continuous learning, innovation, and simplification.

What To Do About The Youth Unemployment And STEM Skills Gap

Marita Mitschein

Today, half the people on the planet are under the age of 30. Millennials are the first “always connected” generation and the best-educated people in history, but are affected by high unemployment rates, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO).

At the same time, organizations around the world are increasingly reliant on advanced technical skills in the emerging digital economy. By 2020, economies will face a shortage of the skilled talent needed to drive prosperity and social security. Forty million high-skilled workers – especially with science, technology, engineering, and math knowledge – are needed globally, according to McKinsey.

What role can the private sector play in solving these issues?

The situation presents organizations of all kinds with a major challenge, but also with a huge opportunity. Although there are many public and private sector initiatives supporting employment-related education, companies also must take seriously their social responsibility here. By supporting students and recent graduates on their way into employment and bridging the gap from academic into professional life, companies can impact the lives of 1 million people each year.

A best-in-class practice is the creation of a training and development institute (TDI) that puts the upskilling of local talent at the core of the growth strategy. The concept supports local unemployed youth by offering a host of programs tailored to bring business skills to those who already understand a region’s culture and society.

A unique approach to inspire youth and jointly tackle today’s challenges

TDI’s approach not only trains and enables the most talented local millennials, but also supports them in entering a corporate workforce or establishing their own businesses. For example, our program, designed for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, has already helped more than 1,070 talented university graduates across 12 countries shape their careers, with 98% of participants placed into employment, largely in our ecosystem, after completion of the training program. Technology has the power to transform the lives of many people worldwide, and building strong public-private partnerships is key to ultimately shaping a better future for individuals, companies, and economies at scale.

True to a corporate vision of higher purpose, TDIs can help the world run better and improve people’s lives and expand that mission into additional fast-growth markets with significant skills shortages such as Brazil and Mexico. Moreover, its best practices have been adopted to support skills for Africa and a U.S. nonprofit organization that supports veterans.

As efficient solutions to the youth unemployment challenge are needed globally, this knowledge transfer inspires organizations across the globe to start looking into ideas and solving one of the most pressing issues of our time.

The urgency of the youth unemployment is a challenge, as indicated by the World Economic Forum. But a TDI centered on public-private partnerships canempower youth, create jobs, and, ultimately, drive economic growth in regions that need it.

By hosting these programs, the SAP Training and Development Institute has built skills and knowledge reflecting an in-country value of over US$110m to date. Read more about the SAP Training and Development Institute.

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Marita Mitschein

About Marita Mitschein

Marita Mitschein is Senior Vice President Strategic Investments (MENA) and Managing Director of the SAP Training and Development Institute and Member of the SAP Global Executive Leadership Team. Marita is responsible for leading the SAP investment strategy across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and the operations of the SAP Training and Development Institute.

Be The Change: Promoting Corporate Social Responsibility

Meghan M. Biro

I’m sure you’ve heard all about the millennial generation. Those 20- to 36-year-olds, pampered throughout their lives by their baby-boomer parents, have grown up to be self-absorbed, entitled narcissists, right?

Actually, this isn’t an accurate picture of millennials—and since they now represent the largest share of the American workforce, that’s good to know. Despite widely held perceptions about their supposedly “me-first” ways, these younger workers rank social responsibility as an important tenet of life and are looking to work for companies that share their sense of social responsibility.

In case you doubt the desire of millennials to align themselves with socially responsible companies, look no further than the Horizon Media’s Finger on the Pulse study, which found that 81 percent of this younger generation expect companies to make a public commitment to good corporate citizenship. Millennials also put their money where their mouth is: According to the 2015 Cone Communications Millennial CSR Study, 62 percent are willing to take a pay cut to work for a socially responsible company—a full six percentage points higher than the average response of all age groups surveyed.

The need for a CSR plan

Obviously, then, companies need to do more than just offer perks like free snacks to recruit and retain this valuable workforce segment. Having a formal corporate social responsibility (CSR) program is the key way for companies to demonstrate their commitment to the positive ideals their employees espouse. And here’s a PR bonus for you: By promoting corporate social responsibility, you’re also conveying to your customers that you care about the world outside your company’s walls.

At most companies, the HR department falls into the organizational sweet spot for managing the CSR program. As Angela Schettino of Think People Consulting observes, a company’s HR strategy links to the four components of any successful CSR initiative. First, of course, are employees, in keeping with HR’s focus on their rights and well-being, but the three other components—environment, community, and marketplace—also fall under HR’s domain.

Bottom of form

HR’s most appropriate role in managing a CSR plan would be to monitor its adoption and then document its successes throughout the company. In the area of energy conservation, for instance, the HR department could start by implementing a company-wide recycling program and promote earth-friendly practices like subsidizing public transit costs or encouraging employees to shut off the lights, computers, printers, and copiers during non-work hours.

Try these CSR initiatives

Here are some other ideas for HR departments and companies to consider as they implement and manage their CSR program.

  • Create a company culture compatible with CSR. As Strategic HR Inc. describes, this can start with your job advertisements and interview process. Use corporate social responsibility as a recruitment tactic, which will attract the socially responsible employees who will support and sustain your program. Perhaps even consider adding a position—chief sustainability officer—whose role would be consistent with your company’s focus on CSR.
  • Pick a cause. Look at what other successful companies are doing and see if your organization can model a similar CSR program. Starbucks, for instance, has several programs in place to promote environmental sustainability. Toms has a program called “Giving Shoes,” in which the company donates a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair of shoes purchased. To date, the company has given away more than 70 million new pairs of shoes.
  • Allow time off for volunteering. As part of your employee engagement program, give employees a few days of volunteer time off (VTO) per fiscal year to do something meaningful in their communities.
  • Donate to a good cause.Take a cue from companies like Jersey Mike’s Subs, which has raised more than $20 million since 2010 by donating 100 percent of its sales nationwide on its annual Day of Giving. Or consider the corporate goodwill generated by Patagonia, a sustainable clothing brand that gave all $10 million from its Black Friday 2016 sales to hundreds of grassroots environmental organizations.
  • Match employee contributions. Convey to employees that “we’re all in this together” by matching their contributions to a charity of their choice. It’s a way for them to stretch their giving dollars—and for you to demonstrate firsthand that the causes they value are causes that you value as well.

Demonstrating your company’s commitment to the communities and environment in which you work isn’t just the right ethical decision, it’s good business. As Patti Dunham, MA, MBA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, states, “…becoming socially aware and responsible helps the company’s bottom line. The impact on the organization’s public image and becoming an “employer of choice” because of these initiatives is immeasurable.”

If you haven’t already done so, consider empowering your HR department to implement and manage a corporate social responsibility program this year.

For more on the importance of bringing purpose into the workplace, see Why Companies Of The Future Need Purpose.

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Meghan M. Biro

About Meghan M. Biro

Meghan Biro is talent management and HR tech brand strategist, analyst, digital catalyst, author and speaker. I am the founder and CEO of TalentCulture and host of the #WorkTrends live podcast and Twitter Chat. Over my career, I have worked with early-stage ventures and global brands like Microsoft, IBM and Google, helping them recruit and empower stellar talent. I have been a guest on numerous radio shows and online forums, and has been a featured speaker at global conferences. I am the co-author of The Character-Based Leader: Instigating a Revolution of Leadership One Person at a Time, and a regular contributor at Forbes, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur and several other media outlets. I also serve on advisory boards for leading HR and technology brands.

Teaching Machines Right from Wrong

Dan Wellers

 

By 2018, smart machines will supervise over 3 million workers worldwide.
21% of consumers in an FTC study had confirmed errors on their credit reports.
2014: the first annual Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency in Machine Learning conference.
A private university encouraged 20-25 students to drop out based on AI predictions of
poor grades.

Real-world examples of misused AI algorithms abound. These are just a few:

  • Women who weren’t pregnant — or weren’t ready to reveal it — received special offers of baby products and “congratulatory” messages.
  • People with minority ethnic names received a disproportionate number of ads implying they had criminal records.
  • Guests at a party learned a ride-hailing company kept track of customers who stayed out all night and went home in the wee hours.

Ethical-Edge Cases

Credit scoring algorithms designed to evaluate lending risk are now commonly used to gauge reliability and trustworthiness, determining whether someone should get a job or apartment.

Insurance underwriting algorithms determine the extent, price, and type of coverage someone can get, with little room for disagreement.

Healthcare algorithms could be used to penalize the currently healthy for their probability of future illness.

Algorithms often use zip codes as proxy for (illegal) racial profiling in major decisions, such as employment and law enforcement.

Self-driving cars will have to learn how to react in an accident situation when every possible outcome is bad.


What Should We Do About It?

All machine learning contains assumptions and biases of the humans who create it — unconscious or otherwise. To ensure fairness, business leaders must insist that AI be built on a strong ethical foundation.

We can:

  • Monitor algorithms for neutrality and positive outcomes.
  • Support academic research into making AI-driven decisions more fair, accountable, and transparent.
  • Create human-driven overrides, grievance procedures, and anti-bias laws.
  • Include ethics education in all employee training and development.

Above all, we must consider this a human issue, not a technological one. AI is only as unbiased a tool as we make it. It’s our responsibility to keep it on the ethical straight and narrow.


Download the executive brief Teaching Machines Right from Wrong.


Read the full article AI and Ethics: We Will Live What Machines Learn

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Dan Wellers

About Dan Wellers

Dan Wellers is the Global Lead of Digital Futures at SAP, which explores how organizations can anticipate the future impact of exponential technologies. Dan has extensive experience in technology marketing and business strategy, plus management, consulting, and sales.

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Why Millennials Quit: Understanding A New Workforce

Shelly Kramer

Millennials are like mobile devices: they’re everywhere. You can’t visit a coffee shop without encountering both in large numbers. But after all, who doesn’t like a little caffeine with their connectivity? The point is that you should be paying attention to millennials now more than ever because they have surpassed Boomers and Gen-Xers as the largest generation.

Unfortunately for the workforce, they’re also the generation most likely to quit. Let’s examine a new report that sheds some light on exactly why that is—and what you can do to keep millennial employees working for you longer.

New workforce, new values

Deloitte found that two out of three millennials are expected to leave their current jobs by 2020. The survey also found that a staggering one in four would probably move on in the next year alone.

If you’re a business owner, consider putting four of your millennial employees in a room. Take a look around—one of them will be gone next year. Besides their skills and contributions, you’ve also lost time and resources spent by onboarding and training those employees—a very costly process. According to a new report from XYZ University, turnover costs U.S. companies a whopping $30.5 billion annually.

Let’s take a step back and look at this new workforce with new priorities and values.

Everything about millennials is different, from how to market to them as consumers to how you treat them as employees. The catalyst for this shift is the difference in what they value most. Millennials grew up with technology at their fingertips and are the most highly educated generation to date. Many have delayed marriage and/or parenthood in favor of pursuing their careers, which aren’t always about having a great paycheck (although that helps). Instead, it may be more that the core values of your business (like sustainability, for example) or its mission are the reasons that millennials stick around at the same job or look for opportunities elsewhere. Consider this: How invested are they in their work? Are they bored? What does their work/life balance look like? Do they have advancement opportunities?

Ping-pong tables and bringing your dog to work might be trendy, but they aren’t the solution to retaining a millennial workforce. So why exactly are they quitting? Let’s take a look at the data.

Millennials’ common reasons for quitting

In order to gain more insight into the problem of millennial turnover, XYZ University surveyed more than 500 respondents between the ages of 21 and 34 years old. There was a good mix of men and women, college grads versus high school grads, and entry-level employees versus managers. We’re all dying to know: Why did they quit? Here are the most popular reasons, some in their own words:

  • Millennials are risk-takers. XYZ University attributes this affection for risk taking with the fact that millennials essentially came of age during the recession. Surveyed millennials reported this experience made them wary of spending decades working at one company only to be potentially laid off.
  • They are focused on education. More than one-third of millennials hold college degrees. Those seeking advanced degrees can find themselves struggling to finish school while holding down a job, necessitating odd hours or more than one part-time gig. As a whole, this generation is entering the job market later, with higher degrees and higher debt.
  • They don’t want just any job—they want one that fits. In an age where both startups and seasoned companies are enjoying success, there is no shortage of job opportunities. As such, they’re often looking for one that suits their identity and their goals, not just the one that comes up first in an online search. Interestingly, job fit is often prioritized over job pay for millennials. Don’t forget, if they have to start their own company, they will—the average age for millennial entrepreneurs is 27.
  • They want skills that make them competitive. Many millennials enjoy the challenge that accompanies competition, so wearing many hats at a position is actually a good thing. One millennial journalist who used to work at Forbes reported that millennials want to learn by “being in the trenches, and doing it alongside the people who do it best.”
  • They want to do something that matters. Millennials have grown up with change, both good and bad, so they’re unafraid of making changes in their own lives to pursue careers that align with their desire to make a difference.
  • They prefer flexibility. Technology today means it’s possible to work from essentially anywhere that has an Internet connection, so many millennials expect at least some level of flexibility when it comes to their employer. Working remotely all of the time isn’t feasible for every situation, of course, but millennials expect companies to be flexible enough to allow them to occasionally dictate their own schedules. If they have no say in their workday, that’s a red flag.
  • They’ve got skills—and they want to use them. In the words of a 24-year-old designer, millennials “don’t need to print copies all day.” Many have paid (or are in the midst of paying) for their own education, and they’re ready and willing to put it to work. Most would prefer you leave the smaller tasks to the interns.
  • They got a better offer. Thirty-five percent of respondents to XYZ’s survey said they quit a previous job because they received a better opportunity. That makes sense, especially as recruiting is made simpler by technology. (Hello, LinkedIn.)
  • They seek mentors. Millennials are used to being supervised, as many were raised by what have been dubbed as “helicopter parents.” Receiving support from those in charge is the norm, not the anomaly, for this generation, and they expect that in the workplace, too.

Note that it’s not just XYZ University making this final point about the importance of mentoring. Consider Figures 1 and 2 from Deloitte, proving that millennials with worthwhile mentors report high satisfaction rates in other areas, such as personal development. As you can see, this can trickle down into employee satisfaction and ultimately result in higher retention numbers.

Millennials and Mentors
Figure 1. Source: Deloitte


Figure 2. Source: Deloitte

Failure to . . .

No, not communicate—I would say “engage.” On second thought, communication plays a role in that, too. (Who would have thought “Cool Hand Luke” would be applicable to this conversation?)

Data from a recent Gallup poll reiterates that millennials are “job-hoppers,” also pointing out that most of them—71 percent, to be exact—are either not engaged in or are actively disengaged from the workplace. That’s a striking number, but businesses aren’t without hope. That same Gallup poll found that millennials who reported they are engaged at work were 26 percent less likely than their disengaged counterparts to consider switching jobs, even with a raise of up to 20 percent. That’s huge. Furthermore, if the market improves in the next year, those engaged millennial employees are 64 percent less likely to job-hop than those who report feeling actively disengaged.

What’s next?

I’ve covered a lot in this discussion, but here’s what I hope you will take away: Millennials comprise a majority of the workforce, but they’re changing how you should look at hiring, recruiting, and retention as a whole. What matters to millennials matters to your other generations of employees, too. Mentoring, compensation, flexibility, and engagement have always been important, but thanks to the vocal millennial generation, we’re just now learning exactly how much.

What has been your experience with millennials and turnover? Are you a millennial who has recently left a job or are currently looking for a new position? If so, what are you missing from your current employer, and what are you looking for in a prospective one? Alternatively, if you’re reading this from a company perspective, how do you think your organization stacks up in the hearts and minds of your millennial employees? Do you have plans to do anything differently? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

For more insight on millennials and the workforce, see Multigenerational Workforce? Collaboration Tech Is The Key To Success.

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