The Equifax Data Breach Reinforces an Important Workplace Mindset about Security
According to cybersecurity experts and HR pros across a wide range of industries, the Equifax data breach that occurred early last year contains some critical lessons for employers everywhere. Specifically, one: employee cybersecurity training represents an important aspect of company stability.
The data breach at Equifax could have been prevented by a host of factors, presumably, and the resulting PR fallout could have been mitigated by a stronger and quicker response from the company CEO. But when traced back to its original source, the entire scandal and the exposure of millions of volumes of personal data can be linked to simple human error. And simple human error—while impossible to completely control—can be reduced dramatically with proper training.
Lesson for HR: Train Employees with Cybersecurity in Mind
While IT teams work to keep sensitive data restricted, encrypted, and isolated from other files, company directors should keep their attention focused well beyond the IT landscape. As it happens, data security isn’t just an IT issue. Training and security policies should be a part of daily life for board members, C-suite personnel, and every employee of the company all the way down to the newest entry-level hire. And while every member of the team will play a different role in the organization and will handle data in very different ways, there are three recommendations that should apply across the board:
- Employees should work every day to limit information access only to those who need the information. This simple reminder should be worked into the fabric of the company culture.
- Multifactor authentication should also become part of everyday life in the workplace. When properly maintained, two-factor authentication (like passwords combined with fingerprint or face recognition) can prevent unauthorized data access. Just as important, it can provide a trail that reveals who accessed specific information and when. This can be applied to files as well as restricted areas of the building.
- Administrative passwords should be changed on a regular basis. At first, employees may resent the hassle of needing to change their passwords more often, but in the long run, this simple routine can add an inexpensive and meaningful layer of protection.
Establish training sessions early for new employees so they can quickly become familiar with company policies and processes. And keep in mind that it’s never too late to implement regular security training for existing employees who need a refresher course.
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Meeting 2018 Goals Might Make Business Owners Uncomfortable
2018 is about to begin, and as we approach the starting line, most of us will bring the same optimism, positivity, and clean slates that we always bring…year after year after year. Every time the new year rolls around, business owners and ambitious employees show up with their sleeves rolled, ready to dive in and get things done. We set goals and we embrace fresh starts.
And this approach generally works. Goals are met by the end of the year, more or less, as long as they aren’t too lofty. Companies stay in business, for the most part. Workers stay on track to personal success and the world keeps turning.
But this year, what if you adopt a different strategy? What if you take your established goals and ramp them up by a few notches? Instead of aiming for comfortable levels of modest success and a continuance of the status quo, why not walk right up to the edge of your comfort zone and step over the line? Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re ready to make yourself temporarily–but genuinely—uncomfortable in the interest of reaching beyond your grasp.
Do more for your employees.
Maybe you’ll bring in slightly higher profits this year or greater returns than you have in the past. So why not push all that money (not some, but all) back toward your employees? Why not increase salaries or hiring to a point that could conceivably imperil your profits? If you truly believe that your employees are your greatest asset, back up that that belief with real dollars. Invest in the engine of your company by investing in your teams.
Take meaningful risks.
Meaningful risks are real risks. And when you take a real risk, you don’t hedge or hold back just in case your plans fail. Real risk means banking on success and diving in head first and eyes open. Promise more to your clients. Promise more to your employees. And then deliver on those promises, come what may.
Attempt something you haven’t done before.
When you find a move or a routine that works for you, you stick with it. And that’s fine, at least for a while. But this year, break out of your routines and attempt something that instills you with a sense of real anxiety. Put something on the line, design a new system that may not be perfect, or extend yourself in a way that you never have before. See what happens! Greater risks and greater rewards go hand in hand for a reason, and no matter what, you’ll end the year with a story to tell.
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For guidance as you look toward 2018 and beyond, turn to the team at the ACCENT Hiring Group and work with the top recruiters in Scottsdale!
Managing Contract Workers Requires Specific Feedback
When regular employees are brought on board, the terms of their employment are understood at the outset and the relationship between employer and employee is defined and — unless otherwise stated — permanent. Expectations, job descriptions, and standards for performance are typically part of the equation.
But relationships with contractors and contingent workers aren’t as defined. Contract workers tend to join the company on an independent or project-by-project basis, and they aren’t governed or protected by the rules and guidelines that serve this purpose for regular employees.
So, if you’re managing a team of contract workers, your methods for coaching and incentivizing may be limited. You can’t offer the same rewards, punishments, privileges, or warnings that apply to regular team members. How can you motivate them to give their all and correct them when they go astray? Here are a few simple tips that can help.
Don’t be afraid to give feedback.
Feedback — as with regular employees — should be frequent, low-drama, honest, and clear. But too often, employers withhold difficult feedback because they fear they may be misunderstood or they may drive contractors away. But if problems persist, they may eventually reach a breaking point, and at that time it may be too late to salvage the project or the relationship or both. Polite silence helps no one, so if you aren’t getting what you need, speak up.
It goes without saying that compassion and respect should influence all of your interactions with everyone, both inside and outside of the workplace. But contingent workers require extra consideration when it comes to criticism. Help them feel like part of the team, and trust that they understand the nature of their jobs. Before attempting to change an aspect of their personality or their work, make sure you’re asking for something that’s reasonable and necessary.
If something goes wrong and your contingency employee simply isn’t a fit, the arrangement can be severed much more easily than an employment relationship. So there’s no need to panic or become heated; just get to the heart of the matter (or speak with the person’s agency/manager/supervisor), and explain the issue. The next time you engage with a contractor, remember what went wrong and be extra clear about your needs and expectations.
Provide a quick but formal training program.
Before you send your contract off on an independent project, provide them with at least one paid training session so their questions can be identified and addressed.
Pay them fully and promptly.
There’s no faster way to undermine a contingency relationship then by allowing hassles, disputes, and hold-ups regarding payment. Set clear payment terms at the outset when it comes to rates, methods and payment frequency, and stick to these terms.
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An experienced and established staffing agency can help you navigate every one of the items above. To learn more, contact one of the top staffing agencies in Scottsdale and work with the experts at the ACCENT Hiring Group.
Variable Compensation for Employees: What Does the Data Say?
If you’ve ever managed a team — or spent time working as an exempt employee — you know that a salary offer doesn’t always provide a complete picture of an employee’s total annual compensation. In addition to base annual salary for exempt employees and hourly rates for non-exempt workers, by the end of a given year a typical employee may receive compensation in the form of insurance benefits, a hiring bonus, a performance-based bonus, or team incentives that have yet to be determined as the year begins. Variable compensation means two employees who make the same amount on paper can take home wildly different amounts of money by the end of the year.
Is this a good thing for the company? Anecdotal responses are mixed; some say variable pay generates motivation and increases productivity, while others believe the practice inhibits transparency, perpetuates bias, and undermines company culture. If incentives are offered for subjective or undocumented reasons, if they’re offered unfairly, or if they’re offered and then withdrawn, the concept of variable pay can easily become a source of resentment and a driver of turnover.
In an effort to see past opinions and gather clear data on the subject, Payscale conducted research and published its 2017 Compensation and Best Practices Report, and the results were revealing in some areas. Here are a few key takeaways from the report.
Variable pay is a prominent aspect of modern compensation. 74 percent of the companies that participated in the survey report offer some form of variable pay.
Variable pay practices are more likely to take place in larger companies and less likely among small companies and start-ups.
Variable pay trends show increasing frequency during the year. Instead of one end-of-year bonus, companies are more likely than they were a year ago to offer quarterly or monthly bonuses.
Among surveyed companies, 64 percent offer individual bonuses, the most common form of variable pay. 25 percent offer team incentives, and 46 percent offer spot or discretionary bonuses.
A growing number of companies are providing bonuses and performance-based incentives to non-exempt workers. Top-performing companies are more likely to do this.
Individuals and non-exempt workers often don’t recognize their impact on team goals. Variable pay based on team performance can help these individuals align their goals with those of the company.
Contact the team at the ACCENT Hiring Group to learn more about the study and find out if variable pay is the right move for your growing company.
How Does Trust Affect Your Feedback?
As a manager, you’re probably aware that feedback carries weight, it gets things done, and it’s an essential aspect of open communication. If you don’t provide feedback, your employees don’t grow and your company stands still. So you know you need to do it. But you may also view feedback delivery as an awkward and tedious chore, something that your employees enjoy hearing about as much as you enjoy sharing…which is not at all. So how can you find a balance between these two poles? What can you do to make sure your feedback process is helpful, not destructive? And even better, what can you do to make the process as quick, natural, painless, and effective as possible? Here are a few simple tips.
Trust is essential.
If your feedback comes off as criticism (which it probably does; most employees naturally equate negative feedback with criticism), don’t respond by skipping it altogether. (This is also a natural human reaction to painful encounters and conversations; most of us avoid them.) Instead, keep searching for new ways to reframe your statements, and measure what you say against the level of trust your employee places in you. If your employee doesn’t trust you, don’t lay on the negativity. Nothing good can come of this. On the other hand, if your employee knows that you have their best interests at heart, say what you need to say fearlessly. If all or most of your direct reports fall into the first category, work on trust first. Worry about feedback later.
Talk about effort instead of ability.
Don’t use language that suggests your employee is “good at” some things and “not good at” other things. Every strength can vary from day to day and year to year, and what looks like exceptional or weak talent one year can fade or grow over time. Skills and talents are like muscles: If we exercise them they get stronger. So don’t frame your feedback in terms of inherent ability; instead, concentrate on where your employee is placing their efforts. Encourage them to shift effort away from some areas and increase it in others.
Empathy can save your relationships, and possibly save your company.
Before you deliver negative feedback, ask yourself one critical question: If you were in your employee’s shoes, how would you respond to the words you’re about to say? If these words would feel motivating and inspiring to you, they’ll probably feel the same to your employee. But if you’re delivering these words to make your employee feel small, to make yourself feel important, to scold, to punish, to manipulate, or to check off a box on your to-do list, pause. What outcome do you hope to achieve with these words? Keep your eyes focused on that outcome as you move forward.
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Best City for a Job in 2017: Scottsdale
If you’ve been thinking about launching a job search or making the leap to a new industry altogether, now may be a perfect time to put the wheels in motion and make your move. Hiring trends are up, and a long, steady recovery has been well underway for the last eight years since the job market took a slide in 2009. The best news for both job seekers and recruiters: the unemployment rate, dropping steadily due to stimulus efforts and strengthened protections for the workforce, has now reached a near record low of about 4.6 percent.
Jobs are available, and the labor market is heating up. On the employer’s side of the table, hiring managers who could once sit back and watch excellent resumes roll in are now aggressively competing for talent. And skilled workers now face a host of opportunities for growth, change, and career advancement.
In almost every geographic region of the country, years of labor investments have paid off and hiring rates are on the rise. And according to a new analysis released by WalletHub, Scottsdale Arizona tops the list.
Why are talented employees and job seekers thriving in Scottsdale? The reasons are complex and several factors contribute to this equation, but as Scottsdale climbs the charts in terms of opportunity and quality of life, wise recruiters are acting quickly to leverage this trend. If you’re searching for top talent, here are few considerations to keep in mind.
Go where the candidates are.
Don’t wait for great talent to come to you. Extend your search to cover the Scottsdale area, or even better, create opportunities in this region. Offer remote positions that can be accepted by Scottsdale job seekers or add this area to your list of destinations when you’re ready for a geographic expansion.
If you’re an AZ recruiter, recognize your advantages.
Don’t just pitch the benefits of your open position; pitch the benefits of every aspect of the Arizona lifestyle. It isn’t just about the climate anymore (though our Arizona sun and rugged landscapes are hard to beat). It’s also about the booming economy, the excellent school system, and the thriving housing market.
Make connections and maintain them.
If you aren’t already connected with industry players and Arizona job market experts, now may be the time to pick up the phone and elevate your networking efforts. Great candidates are on their way to Scottsdale and businesses are putting down roots here. So get in on the ground floor! Explore the area to find out what — and who — our growing city has to offer. Start by turning to the ACCENT Hiring Group and work with a leading staffing agency in Scottsdale!
One Thing That Never Changes When You are Leading
As you step into a leadership role at the head of your company or your team, you can expect plenty of things to change over the next few years. You may experience personnel turnover, you may achieve some key goals and put those milestones behind you, and you may shift direction or change your definition of a successful product or service. Even your target audience may shift, which may require changes in your marketing plan or value proposition. But here’s one thing that won’t change: What you stand for as a company.
Your core values should be built on a foundation of bedrock that stays in place, even if your entire business model changes around you. For example, if your company believes in treating customers fairly, putting employee safety ahead of profits, or treating the local community with respect, these values won’t change — Even if you start out selling one type of product and transition fully to another. So how can you keep your actions in line with your core values when the winds of change begin to blow? Here are a few things to think about.
The pressure may be strong.
Maintaining your core values (and those of your company) won’t always be easy—but nobody promised it would be. Doing what comes naturally doesn’t always align with doing what’s right. For example, shareholders may pressure you– either directly or by issuing mandates to C-level executives—to increase profits by compromising employee safety. It’s easy to comply with such pressure, but compliance isn’t the answer. When you take a stand, expect strong headwinds. You can also expect thorny puzzles if, for example, your core values also include protecting shareholder profits at all costs.
Choosing your battles may become part of the equation.
If your core values include fairness to employees, and you’re considering dismissing an employee for possibly unfair reasons, it’s time to take a stand. But how far should you go? Push back when it’s right to do so, but recognize that fairness to one employee may mean injustice to another. Likewise, taking an employee’s side during a client dispute may mean a lost contract—but how damaging is the loss? Everything has limits, and some battles bring victory that may not be worth the cost. As you wrestle with these puzzles, keep your core values in sight at all times. Define them in simple terms and refer to them often. This is why successful managers often keep the company’s core values framed and hung in a visible location.
Don’t be caught off guard when your business model evolves or your values are challenged. This isn’t a rare occurrence; in fact, it’s an unavoidable aspect of maintaining a successful business. Nothing stays the same, nor should it. Growth means constant changes and constant challenges. If you’re standing still, something’s wrong.
If you are looking for the right employees to bring to your team to represent your company values, reach out to the ACCENT Hiring Group to work with a top staffing agency in Scottsdale.
Don’t Overlook Your Female Leaders
No responsible manager overlooks a female candidate for overtly sexist reasons. In a well-run company, you’re unlikely to find a manager who confesses to passing over a qualified candidate for a promotion simply because the candidate identifies as female. These kinds of unabashed sexist decisions and actions are holdovers from another era, and even if motivations are rooted in subtle sexist assumptions, most managerial training programs, and HR directives are designed to root out ingrained forms of bias that can undermine the workforce and harm the company. But despite surface-level societal changes, these forms of bias can be stubborn, and women are still not promoted at a rate that reflects their contributions to the workforce.
So in order to advance your own success and that of your organization, shine a light into your own deeply held, unexamined beliefs the next time you’re called upon to make a promotion decision. Keep these thoughts in mind.
If not, why not?
If you’re not inclined to promote a female candidate, ask yourself hard questions, and don’t seek escape in easy answers. Your first thought may be something like “Well, she just doesn’t have the numbers,” or “She doesn’t strike me as a leader.” Double check these numbers, and if you’re wrong, have the courage to admit it and change course. If she doesn’t strike you as a leader, ask yourself why not. Maybe you aren’t actually watching her or taking her actions and decisions at face value. Assume your decisions are motivated by ingrained bias and see if your perspective shifts.
“Her voice is too high.”
Write down your criticisms. Generate a list of statements that you assume preclude your candidate from a leadership role. Then go down the list and cross off every metric or assessment that you wouldn’t or haven’t applied to your male candidates. Chances are, her mistakes are similar to — not greater than — those of her male counterparts. And her voice, mannerisms, clothing, gestures, or shoe style are holding far more influence over your decision than they should.
Factor in every detail.
Recognize that fairness doesn’t come naturally to most of us; our fairest assessments of others are still influenced by unrecognized racial, gender, and other biases that we can’t root out of ourselves via a simple act of will. If you recognize a natural deficit within yourself (we all have them), and recalibrate to compensate for it, where does that leave you? And where does it leave your female candidate? You aren’t doing her a favor by making this internal adjustment; she’s earned the right to a fair and honest evaluation. And you owe it to your company to appropriately leverage her talents and leadership skills. If you overlook or disregard them, she’s likely to redirect her energies and search for opportunity elsewhere.
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Are you looking for the best employees to bring to your team, contact the ACCENT Hiring Group and work with a top management recruiter in Scottsdale.