How To Become a Smart Recruitment Specialist in 2022
Post dateJune 30, 2022
In order to become a smart recruitment specialist , it is important to understand the changing landscape of the workforce. The recruitment specialist of the future will need to be adept at using technology to find and attract top talent. They will need to understand the new ways that people are looking for jobs and be able to use social media and other online tools to connect with potential candidates. In addition, the recruitment specialist of the future will need to be able to adapt to the ever-changing needs of the workforce.
The skills you need to be a successful recruitment specialist
To be a successful recruitment specialist, you need to have excellent communication skills, be highly organized, and have a strong ability to build relationships. Additionally, you must be able to use various recruiting tools and resources, as well as have a deep understanding of the latest recruiting trends. In order to be successful in the field of recruitment, it is important to stay up-to-date with the latest trends.
As the world of recruitment evolves, so do the methods and strategies used by recruitment specialists. By keeping up with the latest trends, you will be able to better serve your clients and find the best candidates for their open positions.
As a recruitment specialist, it is important to have a balance of hard and soft skills. Hard skills are the technical skills that you need to be successful in your role, while soft skills are the interpersonal skills that help you build relationships. While both are important, hard skills are often the foundation that you build your career on.
Keep up with the latest technology and trends. The recruitment landscape is constantly changing and evolving, so it is important to stay up-to-date on the latest technology and trends. This will help you be more efficient and effective in your role.
You’ll need to be able to make sense of the ever-growing volume of data that’s available on potential candidates. You’ll need to know how to use data and analytics tools to identify the best candidates for each role, and to spot any potential red flags. Artificial intelligence (AI) is going to increasingly play a role in recruitment, so it’s important that you’re comfortable with using AI-powered tools.
The recruitment specialist will need to be able to build relationships with clients and potential candidates, as well as navigate difficult conversations. They will need to be able to clearly articulate the goals of the company and the role that the candidate is being considered for.
In order to hone their communication skills, the recruitment specialist should consider taking some communication courses or attending workshops. They should also make an effort to practice active listening, which involves really paying attention to what the other person is saying and asking clarifying questions when needed.
As the business world continues to change and evolve, so too must the recruitment specialist. In order to keep up with the times, it is important to be proactive and stay ahead of the curve.
With the vast amount of information available online, it is essential to be able to sift through the noise and find the needle in the haystack. Be sure to use reliable sources. With so much information available, it can be tempting to just go with the first thing you find.
Organizational skills are critical for any recruitment specialist. In order to be successful in this role, you must be able to keep track of a large number of candidates and their qualifications. You must also be able to keep track of the hiring process for each position. There are many different software programs available that can help you keep track of candidates and the hiring process. Find one that works well for you and use it to its full potential.
We have come to the end of this article on how to become a smart recruitment specialist .We hope that it has given you some insights into what you need to do to stay ahead of the curve in this rapidly changing industry. The most important takeaway is that you need to be constantly learning and keeping up to date with the latest changes in recruitment technology and practices.
Recruitment is important in an organization because it helps to ensure that the organization has the necessary talent and resources to achieve its goals and objectives. Through recruitment, organizations can identify and attract individuals with the right skills and qualifications to fill vacant positions. It helps to ensure that the right people are hired for the right positions, and that the company is able to find the best talent. In addition, recruitment can also help to improve employee morale and reduce turnover rates.
What is Recruitment?
Recruitment is the process of sourcing, screening, and selecting candidates for a job opening. The goal of recruitment is to find the best-qualified candidates for the position and to fill the position with the most qualified candidate. The recruitment process typically includes posting job descriptions, reviewing applications, conducting interviews, and offering job offers.
Recruitment is a critical function for organizations as it helps them find the talent they need to grow and thrive. An effective recruitment process can help an organization to find the best possible candidates, while a poorly managed process can result in lost time and money.
Why Recruitment is Important?
There are many reasons why recruitment is important in an organization. The most obvious reason is that recruitment allows organizations to find the best possible candidates for open positions. By conducting a thorough recruitment process, organizations can identify candidates with the skills and qualifications they are looking for, which can lead to a more successful and productive workforce.
In addition to finding the best possible candidates, recruitment can also help to improve employee morale and motivation. When employees feel like they are part of a process that is fair and transparent, they are more likely to be engaged and motivated in their work. A well-run recruitment process can also help to build a positive reputation for an organization, which can attract more talented candidates in the future.
How can a good recruitment strategy help an organization?
A well-executed recruitment strategy can help a company in a number of ways. A good recruitment strategy can help a company attract top talent. This is because a well-designed recruitment process can help a company identify the skills and qualifications that are most important for the role, and then target candidates who possess those skills.
A good recruitment strategy can also help reduce turnover. This is because a well-executed recruitment process can help ensure that only the most qualified and motivated candidates are hired.
To summarize, the recruitment process is important for a number of reasons. It helps to ensure that the best candidate is hired for the job, and it also allows the company to assess whether or not the candidate is a good fit for the company culture. The recruitment process is also a great way to build relationships with potential candidates, and it can help to create a pool of talented candidates that the company can draw from in the future. Recruitment is important in an organization as it helps in attracting the best talent, reducing the turnover rate, and improving the quality of the workforce.
The pandemic has brought upon the acceleration in becoming a remote workforce. Overnight, we’ve seen businesses adjust to work from home teams, with some businesses choosing this setup as a temporary situation while others are embracing it for the long-term. But what do remote teams look like after the pandemic? On today’s podcast, Andrea Hoffer brings on Sofi Hersher to talk about this topic. Sofi is the Managing Director at ignite: action, a boutique digital marketing and strategic communications firm.
Listen to the podcast here:
The Remote Team Outside Of The Pandemic With Sofi Hersher
One of the things we’ve seen with this pandemic is an acceleration in becoming a remote workforce. We’re seeing businesses that maybe weren’t remote before and then overnight had to adjust to work from home teams. Some businesses chose to set this up as a temporary situation and others we’re seeing are embracing it for the long-term. We’re going to talk about what this looks like after the pandemic. What do these new remote teams show up at? This topic came out of a conversation I had with several different business leaders when I was writing a blog in December 2020 about how the pandemic has changed hiring challenges. If you’re interested in reading the blog, please visit our website at www.AHARecruitingExperts.com. The theme that came up over and over again in these conversations was the shift towards hiring remote teams.
One of the business leaders that I spoke with shared insights around this subject that were unique and interesting and I think that our audience can benefit from them. I asked her to be a guest on this show. I’m honored and excited that she agreed to be a guest with us. Please welcome,Sofi Hersher. Before I introduce her, I want to read the bio of this impressive woman. Sofi Hersher is the Managing Director at ignite: action. It is a boutique digital marketing and strategic communications firm, formerly based in Washington, DC and now based on the internet.
With many years of experience across both the nonprofit and for-profit sectors, Sofi is passionate about building brands and telling stories that demonstrate all the ways we can come together to improve our world. Prior to joining ignite, she oversaw all social justice communications for the Reform Jewish Movement, the largest denomination of Judaism in North America. In this role at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, she managed public relations, mass mobilization, marketing design, and technology infrastructure projects. Before that, she spent four years as a Global Brand Manager at Twitter in San Francisco. Sofi regularly writes and presents on issues related to religion, social justice, technology, and is a regular contributor to POPSUGAR News. Sofi, thank you for being with us.
Thanks for having me. It’s great to be here.
Would you mind starting off by telling us a little bit about what ignite: action does and your role there?
It is a digital marketing and strategic communications agency. We work with clients across the for and nonprofit sectors, building brands, building out digital marketing strategies, helping them figure out how to tell their story and the story of their users or donors or constituents in ways that help mobilize people and move them to action. That’s where the name comes from. We’re there to ignite action on behalf of our clients and the people that they serve. My role changes a little bit every day, but I’m the managing director. I report to the CEO and everybody else reports to me. I oversee all of the internal operations and client execution for the company. I oversee a team of designers, creative strategists of account managers and then all of those who work on the internal operations of the business as well. My job is to make sure that while our sales pipeline is full, we are staffed and ready to help anyone who engages us.
Before the pandemic, how many team members did you have? How many of those team members were remote or in the office and has that changed?
Before the pandemic, we had five full-time staff members and they were all based in the DC area. We had an office in Bethesda and we now have 12 full-time staff members and 5 of them are still in and around the DC, Maryland, Virginia area and the rest are distributed throughout the country.
Did you have any concerns about this shift of adding all these remote employees?
I had a tremendous amount of concerns. Like many people, I started a job towards the end of 2019 and the rules changed overnight at the beginning of 2020. I felt confident in my ability to manage an onsite team of 5, and a remote team of 12 is a different conversation altogether. We are also largely a creative services outfit. Part of our work is about talking to other creative people, generating ideas, synthesizing information and figuring out the best way to solve complex problems. It’s a lot harder when you can’t be in the same room. It’s not impossible but it’s harder. I had a lot of questions about how to be a creative agency in distributed space. In 2021, this year has been quite a crash course in how to facilitate that type of collaborative culture amongst people who have never met in 3D.
What are some of the ways that you start to address that?
Like many, overnight, everything changed. On Friday, everybody went home and we were regular in-person office culture. On Monday, we had a Slack workspace and the center of our world was entirely online. What we’ve tried to do is strategically build out our software ecosystem so that we’re not using a million different tools for a million different tasks. Part of that means, if you think of a software ecosystem as a hub and spoke model, then our hub is Slack. Everything has to come into and out of Slack. We’ve been very thoughtful about which systems we use to solve which problems to make sure that everything can integrate back into our home base. It’s not perfect. It hasn’t been perfect.
If had known at the beginning that we were going to be permanently remote, I would have done it differently, but that’s one of the things that we’ve done. We’ve also implemented a bunch of different small workplace policies to try and make sure that people can stay productive. That they can stay on the top of their game because we’re not just fighting a productivity battle, we’re fighting an emotional battle on all fronts as the pandemic continues to disrupt people’s lives. We’ve implemented policies. For example, every 30-minute meeting is now 25 minutes to make sure that everybody has time between each meeting to prepare in some way for the next one because we had people in wall to wall meetings all day, feeling increasingly compounding stress over the course of the day.
Similarly, 60-minute meetings are now 50-minute meetings. We don’t take client meetings on Fridays. Everyone is encouraged to have big blocks of work where they don’t allow meetings, 3 or 4-hour blocks where they’re working. There are a lot of these different policies. We also went on unlimited vacation, unlimited paid time off, which I know you can argue for or against it. We’ve mandated that everybody take a minimum of two weeks of vacation each year to make sure that people are taking advantage of that policy and that we’re avoiding burnout where we can.
That’s one of the things a lot of us don’t think about. When we moved to work from home, we almost think, “It’s going to be easier on people,” but it brings in a whole set of new emotional challenges. What about bonding? The last time we spoke, you said that in the initial time during the pandemic, you saw your team bonding through the chaos. I loved how you put that. Is that still the case or have you found other ways to keep that bond strong?
There are two types of bonding or attachments that are important here. There are attachments to one another, the relationships between colleagues and then there’s the relationship between the employee and the company or the organization itself. In terms of the relationships between people, what I’ve begun to notice is that you don’t have the common denominator of a break room or a place where everyone eats their lunch, or two people who happen to be having a bad day on the same day and they’re in the same space. You see a little bit of fracturing in terms of people who form the most natural to them groups. Those people are talking throughout the day on Slack and they’re getting to know each other, but you’re not cross-pollinating with people who might have different perspectives or different backgrounds who would likely benefit the most from getting to know their colleagues, who may be different from them.
That’s been a challenge because I’m a leader, but I can’t force people to form relationships or to behave in a way that feels completely unnatural to them, especially in a remote environment. What we have done is we’ve tried to use our staff meetings as efficiently as possible to make sure that people understand why they’re there, that everyone gets a chance to hear their own voice and understand how they’re related to what’s being discussed. We try and make sure that the people who organize and speak to what’s going on in staff meetings change. Every other week we have an hour-long staff meeting and it’s not just me talking and giving updates, but it’s different people presenting on what is a design process look like or how do account managers structure their time to be the most efficient or what does it mean to build a brand story?
These are all different tasks that different colleagues take on and hearing their processes and what’s challenging to them builds empathy across our staff. That’s been important. The other thing that we’ve taken great pains to do is to try and help people understand how they relate to and bond with the company itself as something larger. I employ mostly Millennials and I will proudly say that I have built a culture that makes sense for who I employ. It’s not entirely Millennial. We have some people who are technically qualified as Gen Z and Gen X but what we know about Millennials is that they feel a strong need for a sense of belonging and purpose in their work. There’s some interesting research that’s going on across a lot of these work management companies about this, about a sense of belonging.
I was reading a study that came out. It was a collaboration between Asana, which is a project management software and some researchers at UC Berkeley. It showed that 39% of employees that they surveyed wanted to know that their work will add value to the business and 34% wanted to know that their work contributed to the overall vision. We’re a marketing agency. We’re not a nonprofit, we’re not an advocacy organization. When I thought about what the implications were for that, I realized that we needed a better reason for people to work for us than we generate revenue and pay your salary. For some that might work, but that wasn’t going to work for the Millennials that I employ. That wasn’t the type of culture that I wanted to build because I’m also a Millennial.
What we did is we created what’s called a BHAG. It’s a Big Hairy Audacious Goal. We came up with a BHAG that worked for us. Our company has as its goal that we are going to mobilize ten million people and raise one million people towards impact-driven causes and clients over the next many years. Now each employee can understand how they contribute to and relate to the larger purpose that our company exists to fulfill. We can count. Each person can say, “My client project raised $600,000 for this nonprofit. I get to see that thermometer go up. I understand that I’m working towards something larger and that my colleagues and I are doing this together.” It’s a shared sense of purpose and it bonds horizontally and vertically.
We’ll make these big goals, whether we call them BHAGs or not, but we don’t always show how each person in the organization contributes to that. That’s the most important thing to say, even before you start recruiting to hire for a position. It’s not just Millennials, everybody wants to know how they contribute to the overall goal, to the overall purpose. We want to be needed. What about onboarding? How have you approached onboarding in this remote world?
We haven’t done it perfectly. As you can tell, we’ve grown almost 400%. That’s been a lot of onboarding and there were a couple of months where I felt like that was all I was doing. The first thing that we did as it relates specifically to remote work is rather than what we used to do, which was you would show up on your first day and I would hand you a laptop and it would say, “This is your company-issued laptop. Let me help you set it up and get everything working.” The reality is now that we are remote, if someone’s computer breaks, what are they going to do? Are they going to mail it to me and I’m going to go to the Apple store? It doesn’t make any sense anymore.
Instead, what we’ve done is we’ve created a hiring IT stipend. We call it a remote work stipend. What we’ve said is everyone who comes on board as a full-time staff member gets up to $1,500 of reimbursable stipend to go out and figure out what they need for their remote work environment. We chose $1,500 because that could cover the cost of a high-end laptop or if you have a laptop that works and you’re able to keep it secure, then that can cover a new standing desk, a ring light, a new printer, whatever it is that you think is going to improve your quality of work. We’ve had people use it to redo the Wi-Fi in their homes.
We’ve had people use it to buy high-end headphones. We’ve had people do it to get standing desks, new laptops, new complete setup. We’ve done this for two reasons. One, because technologically, it makes more sense. We’re a small agency. We don’t have an IT department and no one should be mailing me their technology. Second, it shows even before the first day that we are valuing and putting trust in our employees. We’re saying to them, “We trust you to know best what you need. Let us know what that is.” A week before their first day, I set up all of their accounts. I go through, they get an email address and I invite them to everything.
It’s all sitting there so that they are aware before their first day. If they want to, there’s certainly no expectation that they can set these things up, or on the first day we’ll go through and help them understand, “These are all the systems that you’ll need. This is what you’ll need to download. This is what you can access from your browser.” The whole first week is based around a slow introduction to how the technology ecosystem works both hardware and software and who are the owners internally of each system and who to go to for help.
All of that happens alongside meeting each member of the team and deep dives into the clients that they may be onboarding onto, getting a sense for the culture, and also spending some time getting to know their manager. Making sure that their manager understands how they communicate, how they see the world, how to motivate them, how to resolve disputes with them. Ultimately, what their goals are for the year ahead so that they can understand how to position their goals alongside the goals the company has set for their role as well.
They get a full 360 of not only how to work in your company, but also how they fit in and how they fit into the culture.
That’s the goal. It’s not perfect in execution, but there’s a strong intentionality behind helping people understand that they are a puzzle piece and a larger puzzle and this specific shape of their puzzle piece is important. It’s not just anyone can fit into this hole, “This hole is U shaped and let me tell you why and let me show you how you fit into this,” and figuring out how to have real conversations from the very beginning and set up the potential for an honest dialogue moving forward.
Have there been any other challenges that you either anticipated or didn’t anticipate by bringing on a remote workforce? What are some of the steps that you’ve taken to overcome those challenges?
For us specifically, we had two dovetailing challenges, which is we were a small company scaling rapidly and we were fighting the pandemic and a transition to a remote workplace. I think that it happens for a lot of people. You hit plateaus as you build a business. Sometimes, you climb that first summit and suddenly, it’s a direct climb and then you’re up against something else as well. For us, my biggest concern over the course of the last year in terms of how to build a scalable model in terms of HR, compensation, the culture, had to do with the cost of living versus the cost of labor and how to set up fair and transparent compensation. I’ll be the first to say that while there’s been a tremendous amount of thought put into this, the way we’re doing this is not transparent yet across the company because there are many implications for building salary bands and job ladders.
You have to make sure that it’s pressure tested before you put it out into the world because you can’t control information once you’ve released it into the world and you can do your best to control perception, but it’s not entirely under your control. When I talk about the cost of living versus the cost of labor is how you build your compensation framework. Is it based on the cost of the basic living requirements in the place that you live? The cost of living is tied to geography. If I live in Washington, DC, my cost of living is going to be significantly higher than in Jacksonville, Florida. There’s a great tool from NerdWallet. It’s a Cost of Living Calculator, and you can see, for example, if your cost of living in Jacksonville, Florida, if you make a $50,000 salary would require a $90,000 salary in Washington, DC to maintain the same cost of living, the same quality of living.
That’s a huge challenge for remote employers, especially if unlike in tech, you don’t have a baseline set by one geographic area that is the center or the hub of everything. A lot of tech companies are at the front of this cost of living versus the cost of labor conversation. Most of the time, the cost of labor, which is not tied to geography, but is tied to the generally accepted baseline cost of employing that role or that skillset. If you have something like the technology industry, your baseline is still going to be San Francisco or Silicon Valley, not necessarily because it’s a geographic area, but because there’s a standard set by the companies that have conglomerated there rather than the people who live there or the cost that it costs them to rent an apartment or buy groceries.
We don’t have a baseline. We’re a marketing company. We’re an agency, but we’re not the big flashy, New York City agencies. We’re not competing with agencies in Berlin and Paris. We’re a smaller shop by design. We have niche clients. Our compensation structure is built to be fair, but what is fair? It’s built to give people a meaningful living, but a meaningful living means something different in Louisville, Kentucky than it does in Sacramento, California, or it does in Washington, DC. I have staff in all three of those places. When I looked at that and I said, “I’m going to tear all my hair out and stay up all night screaming because I have no idea what to do.” We were a small company. I am HR.
I’m the managing director. I manage almost everyone and my job is to make sure that people feel like this is a company they want to work for. The first thing that I started digging into was building out job ladders and salary bands. In order to be transparent, there has to be a system. You can’t transparently be arbitrary because that’s not going to build any trust between you and your employees. What I did is I went out into the world and I found examples of strong job ladders and salary bands. I left a previous job because they didn’t have these things. I knew other people in my roughly same level were making wildly different amounts of money.
Whether it was because I was a woman or because I had less years of experience, I don’t know, I filled in the gaps myself because there was no transparency. The more I filled it, the more frustrated I got. What we have is a job ladder which says, completely separate from who we have on staff. This is completely agnostic to the people we have on staff. These are the roles we have within the company. According to our baseline we have set for ourselves, which we have loosely tied to a Washington, DC cost of living because that’s where the founder and myself, so our entire executive team lives. We have created salary bands per each of those rungs on the ladder so that anyone, regardless of their experience or their background is put into a band.
Once they’re in a band, based on the role that we have created, then their experience, background, a specific set of skills, all of that is what determines where they fall within the band. It’s allowed us to be so much more intentional when someone asks us for a raise or we have a promising new hire or someone even comes to us and says, “Why is this my salary?” I can answer that question now. It’s not just, “Because we started out in DC, this is how much people were making, but you live somewhere else. You make less because that’s the competitive rate for your city.” All of that feels challenging when what you’re trying to do with new employees and remote employees, in general, is build a sense of trust and expectation so that they can expect as much from you as you are asking them to live up to the company’s expectations.
The cost of living versus the cost of labor has been a real challenge for us. We’ve taken a mid-range approach. We’ve tried to make sure that everyone is paid appropriately for their geographic area, but that it also fits into what is an acceptable cost of labor for their role because, at the end of the day, we’re a company. Our job is to continue to exist and continue to employ people, but you have to employ people at a living wage. You have to respect them for their talents. In order for them to flourish and grow, you have to help them understand how appreciated they are for their individual choices and the background. That’s the first one.
The second one is about the productivity gap. I mentioned a little bit about technology and software. One of the first roadblocks I’ve hit over and over again as I think about how to make the company more efficient is this question of, “Do I use blunt tools that are part of a singular system to solve problems or do I find the sharpest possible tools that are all completely discreet to tackle individual problems?” It’s not clear which one you use. For example, if you wanted a CRM that also sent an email, did your audience segmentation, created flowcharts, that you can design in it, this, that, and the other. What you’re going to get is a simple system that people can go to for almost everything, but it’s not going to be able to do all the various things that you might want it to do if you could find the one specific tool or the one specific key to those particular problems locked.
What we have, which we’re starting to sort through intentionally is passwords to like 25 or 30 different softwares. Each one of them does something super specific and it’s great at what it does, but at some point, the usefulness and the effectiveness starts to plateau because people are shifting mentally 25 or 30 times a day between different tools. There’s a loss of productivity and a loss of focus every single time you ask someone to shift between the logic of one system to the logic of another. That’s a big challenge in terms of remote work because when I ask my team, “What do you wish we had?” I asked them this a lot. If there was one document or one process that existed, that doesn’t now, what would it be?
I hear things as simple as, “Could we create a Dropbox map? We have many different things stored in Dropbox. That’s where all of our files are, but our work management system is in Asana, but we communicate in Slack and we track our hours in Harvest. There is no one tool that does all of those things. I have to spend many minutes a day trying to think where something is and how to communicate on that platform. Someone sent me a document to review. Do I send my feedback in Slack or do I put it in a Google Doc which lives in Dropbox and then I email it?”
It’s maddening. There are real implications for this that are not just employee frustration. If you think about it from the business side, it’s like 27% of workers that say that they’re missing messages, they’re missing conversations because they’re switching between apps and that app overload. It makes everyone less efficient and it’s hard to prioritize because you don’t know where to be at any given time. That’s the second thing that I didn’t quite expect because my first thought was, “Let me give everyone the best tools I can find to solve their problems.” That created a secondary problem, which is a disorganized toolbox, essentially.
I’m laughing inside as you’re sharing this because this is our biggest problem at AHA because we intentionally researched and looked for the best technology out there. There’s always something new coming out that’s related to recruiting and onboarding. We make sure we always have the best tools in our toolbox, but sometimes I don’t even know how many programs we’re using at any given moment. It’s easy to let something fall through the cracks and even budget-wise. My CFO is always like, “We need to get the spending down and the place we have to start is the software.” If you have an answer, I’m like waiting with bated breath, but I don’t know if you do or not.
I have a couple of methods for how to tackle it. The answer is going to be different for each person. We’ve moved into space where we have an operations team. We have people who can think about these things. They’re not just focused on client work. That’s been a big shift for our company, is having the time and space to look internally. One of the things that we’ve done is we’ve implemented an annual review where we gather all of our expenses and we isolate those that are software and we figured out, “Interestingly enough, we had two different softwares that were both specifically about creating visual charts of different kinds. We don’t need to spend $8.99 and $15.99 a month for that.”
We often use Canva to create social media graphics. We had been using a package where we had each employee listed separately, even though most of those employees weren’t using Canva. When we added it to our system, we said, “Everyone should have access to it,” not realizing that not everybody’s work touches Canva. Once we looked at that, we said, “We can decrease this by a couple of hundred dollars a month because not everybody’s using it, even though we have everybody registered.” The process of review is important. We also have something called a systems map which is a visual representation of all of our softwares and how they fit together.
Anything that is a single-use software, you start to ask, “Is there a better way to tackle this?” If you have something like Slack and you know that’s the center of your communication strategy, then you can start to say, “I see all these other single-use tools, are there any of these that don’t integrate with Slack? Let’s see if there’s a better way to do that so that we can decrease the amount of switching that we need to do. Can we do this all through Slack? It may be a single-use tool, but if we can use it through Slack, it won’t feel quite distinct out in space. If it can’t be integrated with Slack, maybe there’s a different program that does the same thing that’s going to help us be more efficient in the way that we work.” That’s one way to do it.
The other is it has a lot to do with internal resources. Having some internal Wiki or document where you write out, “This is how we expect you to use these systems.” If management can’t articulate how the systems fit together, then they are not serving the needs of their employees the best that they can. They’re leaving them to do the intellectual labor of putting all these pieces together without holding themselves accountable to the intellectual labor of why those pieces are there in the first place. Writing all of that down and making that accessible is something that we’ve found helpful.
I’m learning so much from you. This is very good information. Some of these things you don’t think about on a day to day and you need to spend time focusing on them so that your day to day is more productive. This is a little bit off-topic, but I’m curious, when the pandemic first hit, a lot of businesses, in general, ended up closing down or shrinking or having a lot of problems as far as keeping their doors open, and yet your company grew tremendously. What do you attribute that to?
Equal parts luck, being well-positioned in a market and being a digital-first organization. We were lucky enough that our business was helping nonprofits figure out how to utilize digital space in the best possible way. Some of the people that we’ve been talking to for years, in some cases about how to help or the improvements that we thought they could make to their systems, they’d always say, “It’s not a priority.” In 2021, it became a big priority. We’d been out there all along saying, “Here are some things you need to learn how to do.” That was helpful.
The second thing is that while the entire world exploded, some of our largest costs went down, which allowed us to make some big bets. We no longer pay rent, which other than payroll, was our largest expense monthly. We were able to ask ourselves, “What would we do with this money if it was a fun windfall?” We were able to reinvest that into increasing our number of staff and increased our capacity to take on new projects, bigger projects and it spiraled from there. In our industry, we worked primarily, though not solely, with nonprofits. We see ourselves as working with impact-driven organizations. For example, while most of our clients are nonprofits, we do work with sustainable meat distributors where we can understand the impact that they’re trying to make, which is systemic and long-term to society and the world.
Because we have worked with many nonprofits that exist in the legacy space, they are already up against a number of challenges. One of which is that their system is not built for digital transformation. They’ve spent years avoiding a digital transformation and they need thought partners and not just boots on the ground to figure out what questions they should be asking over the next couple of years and we’ve been positioned to do that. In addition to that, these are organizations often that rely on donor funding and we’re up against the largest wealth transfer in human history in the next many years.
Younger generations require being communicated with online and in digital spaces. Because we were there all along, we were able to take advantage of this opportunity to say to people, “We’re here. We’re ready to help you. We can talk to you on Zoom.” Zoom wasn’t new for us. We were already using it. We were well-positioned to take advantage of what could have been catastrophic for our business. I know it was for many others and there’s some guilt that I carry with that. I’ve tried to channel that guilt into employing as many people as I can from all over the country so that their talents are being utilized in there and they landed in a place that they’re respected for the full range of contributions that they can make.
What is the most important piece of advice that you would give an employer who found themselves and now is having a remote team when before they had an in-office team?
The most important piece of advice I would give is to find a network of people in similar situations. I’ve been quite diligent in building a network of people who also run early-stage or small companies and agencies that I can turn to for help and say, “Have you encountered this issue? How have you handled it?” That sharing of ideas has saved me hundreds of hours of research and agonizing over the right way to go because I have trusted sources that have already learned some of this and I’ve been able to share my own learnings with. The first thing is don’t think you have to do it alone. The other piece and this is going to sound Millennial, but it’s also to be transparent with your staff about the challenge of building a remote company quickly, listening, asking questions and being able to acknowledge when something isn’t perfect rather than defensively saying, “This is better than it is somewhere else.”
Being able to say, “We’re building and I appreciate your input. I’m going to take that into consideration. I probably can’t fix it tomorrow, but I’m doing my best to build a sustainable solution for a year from now.” That also builds trust, which is overall the entire exercise here. Our key takeaway from our conversation from my perspective is everything you do as a business leader should be in service of building trust with your employees and whoever it is you’re serving out in the world. You can’t do that without a little bit of humility. That’s something I’ve learned. I worked at Twitter in the early days. I said, “I know consumer technology. This is going to be fine for me.”
I used to work from home sometimes and it’s not a breeze for anyone. The last thing would be to focus heavily on helping your team prioritize and figure out what problem are you solving right then, what is the problem you’re going to solve next? Try not to solve them all at one time, but to look at your team, ask them what they need and then create an order of operation so that you can systematically improve the efficiency and productivity in your company. Otherwise, you’re going to drive yourself crazy, looking for the one perfect solution. It doesn’t exist. It’s not out there.
You’ve brought so much value in many different areas that our readers are going to gain a lot. If somebody wanted to reach out to you or use your services, what’s the best way to contact you?
You can email me. You can go to our website and use the contact function. Our website is IgniteAction.co. My email address is Sofi@IgniteAction.co. I would love to talk to anyone else struggling with these same issues and trying to build a sustainable, ethical and empathetic company that can thrive far beyond the pandemic. We’re all experiencing a state of emergency now, but God willing, the vaccine rollout continues to go smoothly and that we can return to some form of new normal. At that point, some of the grace will go away and we’re going to need to tackle these problems in earnest.
Thank you so much for joining us and thank you to all of you for reading. Choose to stay safe and happy. Have a great day.
Blog – What Challenges Has the Pandemic Caused And What Is the Impact On Hiring in 2021?
Sofi Hersher is the managing director of igniting: action, a boutique digital marketing and strategic communications firm formerly based in Washington, DC and now based on the internet. With 10+ years of experience across both the non-profit and for-profit sector, Sofi is passionate about building brands and telling stories that demonstrate all the ways we can come together to improve our world.
Prior to joining ignite, Sofi oversaw all social justice communications for the Reform Jewish Movement, the largest denomination of Judaism in North America. In this role at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, she managed public relations, mass mobilization, marketing, design, and technology infrastructure projects. Before that, she spent four years as Global Brand Manager at Twitter in San Francisco.
Sofi regularly writes and presents on issues related to religion, social justice, and technology, most recently at SXSW in Austin, Texas and the BYU Religious Freedom Annual Review in Provo, Utah, and is a regular contributor to PopSugar News. In addition to these pursuits, she sits on the board of trustees of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.
Sofi holds a master’s degree in Religion in Contemporary Society from King’s College London and a bachelor’s degree in Comparative Religion from the University of Washington.
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