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Using Technology in Workplace Mentoring Programs

image_22Companies that develop successful mentoring programs link these programs to specific business goals:

  • Integrating new talent quickly into the organizational and company culture
  • Ensuring high performers adapt quickly to increasingly responsible roles
  • Developing company leaders by honing skills to inspire others
  • Creating a diverse workforce at all levels through the development of interpersonal and networking skills

Each of these areas can increase their effectiveness via technology. Whether a particular mentoring program’s interaction model is one-on-one, self-directed or a combination of these, technology has a role to play.

Role of Technology in Mentoring Programs

There are three areas in which mentoring programs are aided by technology. First, mentoring management software assists in finding matches between mentors and mentorees based on job or organizational knowledge, experience and past performance.

Second, social networking software provides high-touch interaction regardless of location and time, which imparts real-time relevance to questions and answers.

Finally, E-Mentoring programs are effective at building a base of knowledge among a large group of new employees or within specific departments. These tools are used to teach best mentoring practices and clarify the roles and responsibilities of participants.

Technology in Reciprocal Mentoring

Technology has a special role to play for cross-generational mentoring situations where the conversation is a two-way street. Younger employees have a natural affinity for social networking and software tools, which they pass on to older employees. The mature employee benefits in return from acquiring new technology skills. He or she then utilizes these skills when providing the younger employee with organizational knowledge and career guidance.

Balancing Technology and the Personal Touch

The use of technology to create potent mentoring programs must not overshadow the underlying purpose: to build meaningful relationships between experienced and less experienced employees. Always ask if a particular technology or the way in which it is deployed expands or hinders that relationship to be sure it is appropriate.

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Hiring Quality Staff in a Down Economy

image_01A struggling economy may sound like the bane of businesses, but it changes hiring into a buyer’s market. Your hiring pool is swarming with top talent, frustrated by layoffs, looking to be scooped up by big corporations. Take advantage while you can and fill your empty positions with quality hires.

Hire Strategically

An abundance of options gives you the opportunity to be discerning. Take your time screening and interviewing potential hires, and only offer positions to people that are a perfect fit for your company. Down economies are also more forgiving when it comes to hiring mistakes. Dismiss poor fits swiftly to avoid buyer’s remorse when the economy starts up again.

Trade Salary for Perks

If your company is looking to keep salary costs down but your best candidates are expecting premium pay, consider offering them perks to make up the difference. Access to a company car, the ability to telecommute a few days a week or extra vacation days can be an even bigger draw than a high salary for some candidates.

Be Wary of Over-Qualification

Candidates that are too good to be true on paper can be a hiring trap. Over-qualified candidates are desperate for work now, but when bigger and better opportunities open up, they are likely to start looking elsewhere. Unless you are willing to promote these candidates into a higher position to keep them, avoid the temptation of those glowing resumes.

Do Not Neglect Retention

Unhappy employees will start looking for greener pastures the moment the economy turns around. Anticipate the inevitable end of the recession by cultivating a happy, loyal staff when the going is rough. Showing open appreciation for hard work will go a long way with your valuable new hires and established employees.

By stacking your ranks with quality hires, your company will be a step ahead of the rest when the recession comes to an end. Be picky, be strategic and harness your blessings in disguise.

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Hiring Strategies for New Graduates

image_24Smart businesses need new talent to remain competitive. Attracting new college graduates with fresh perspectives, enthusiasm and ambition requires Human Resources to develop effective strategies for tapping this pool of talent. Recruitment should include methods for fine tuning mutual fit between candidates’ skills and company needs as well.

Identifying Student Groups

There are four groups of students that HR should target:

  • Broad student populations when a large number of similar positions are available
  • Specific majors that meet knowledge requirements for particular departments
  • Post-graduates for specialized or upper-level positions
  • International students with unique skills

High-touch tactics to reach these groups include career fairs, on-campus presentations, faculty recommendations and engaging alumni who already work for your company. These methods are more effective when coupled with the use of social media to communicate unique benefits your company offers. Apply your strategies at the sophomore and junior levels for pre-recruitment activities too.

Evaluating the NCG’s Fit for Your Company

As an enticement to NCGs to sign up and to ensure a good fit for their skills and the needs of the company, job internships are an ideal way to accomplish both goals. Unlike candidates who arrive with years of experience, NCGs may have unrealistic expectations regarding job requirements and responsibilities, which can be adjusted as they cycle through temporary positions.

Even if they were introduced to the company through summer internships, placing them in a full-time rotating internship program over six months to a year provides them and the company a mutual evaluation of skills, expectations and motivating factors. When managed correctly, these programs lead to well-integrated, satisfied and efficient employees.

It Is Not All about the Money

Any college graduate is eager to receive his first paycheck, of course. Salary is not the only incentive for fresh graduates, however. They also consider the non-monetary benefits. Top among these are health insurance, vacation and opportunities for professional growth. Popular among new college graduates are companies that offer comprehensive training and both upward and lateral mobility. So, make sure your NCG hiring strategy is tuned to meet these expectations as well.

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Workforce Planning in a Booming Economy

image_23A fast-growing economy puts pressure on any company’s workforce planning. As the unemployment rate in the U.S. dips toward 6 percent and productivity gains taper, there are fewer qualified candidates to fill a swelling number of open positions. Many HR departments must adjust their efforts in order to fill a widening gap between the supply and demand of new talent.

Re-Assessing Your Current Workforce Plan

There are many signs that the U.S. is finally heading out of its long recession. Your workforce planning efforts must identify the areas most affected should the economy take off.

  • Company projections for growth in the workforce may no longer be realistic. Ask what it would take to meet a surge in open positions. Perhaps an increase of contingent staffing for the short-term is in order.
  • Increased demand for employees also increases pressure on your retention policies. Review current retention policies, especially for your most valued employees.
  • Scrutinize how your company’s compensation and benefits packages compare to those of competitors. Look for creative benefits improvements that appeal to a younger generation of workers.
  • Re-evaluate new college graduate acquisition programs. A larger internal talent pool of graduates could be tapped as the economy grows. Perhaps your company can improve its university presence and expand internship and training programs.


Leveraging Information Technology

Automation and increased use of information technology has been unquestionably effective at improving productivity in many industry sectors. The application of IT is not typically a key expertise of an HR department, but associates should collaborate with other company groups to advocate for employing such resources in order to reduce headcount needs.

Maintain High Standards

As the economy grows and qualified candidates become harder to identify, HR must avoid the temptation to lower hiring standards in order to fill seats. Acquiring and retaining talented employees pays huge dividends in the long term where the focus of workforce planning should be. Early adjustments to your company’s workforce planning should take priority over settling for less qualified workers.