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Keynote Takeaways from BambooHR Elevate

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It’s not every day one gets to watch world-class speakers and industry leaders speak while earning SHRM credits—all from the comfort of one’s desk. That was the experience of BambooHR Elevate, an all-day virtual conference featuring more than 60 sessions on employee engagement, recruiting, leadership, and other HR topics. If you missed this special day or would like a refresher, read on for our coverage of the four keynote sessions.

Ryan Sanders: Choose Focus Finish Repeat

As the COO and co-founder of BambooHR, Ryan Sanders has a lot on his plate. His leadership has led the company to numerous product awards and the #17 spot on the Glassdoor 2017 Best Places to Work list, proving that creating a great product and a great culture go hand in hand. In his keynote to kick-off the conference, Sanders shared the secrets that he’s used to lead the BambooHR team to success.

CFFR (Choose, Focus, Finish, Repeat) is Sanders’ framework for getting things done. Choosing is all about prioritizing an overall objective and the most important supporting tasks, while focusing is about deliberately focusing on one task at a time. He suggested time blocking and turning off email, and encouraged viewers to say “no” to requests that don’t support your overall priority. After supporting his point with quotes from Steve Jobs, Tim Ferris and Warren Buffet, Sanders added his own spin: “If you say ‘Yes,’ when it’s impossible for you to deliver, you’re deteriorating trust.”

When it comes to finishing, separating tasks into manageable chunks helps one build momentum from the compounding effect of completed work. And repeating this process is all about building healthy habits that help you continually choose the right tasks, and then focus on finishing them. He suggested that companies can cement these principles by teaching the value of executing during company meetings, highlighting small and big wins across the company, and setting CFFR goals in 1:1 meetings. In addition, visual reminders such as posters and desktop backgrounds can help cement these principles for effective work.

bamboohr elevate takeaways

Nyle DiMarco: Living Out Loud

BambooHR Elevate attendees had the unique experience of seeing a keynote presentation given in American Sign Language accompanied by an interpreter’s voiceover. As an ambassador for the deaf community, Nyle DiMarco shared his story of growing up deaf in a deaf family, and overcoming challenges as he entered the world of higher education and then employment in adulthood. After teaching math at a deaf school, he was about to land a dream job at a university for deaf students when he was simultaneously offered a spot on “America’s Next Top Model” and a role on the TV series “Switched at Birth.”

Facing real discrimination in his first working experiences outside the deaf community led him to the decision to not hide or compensate for his deafness in order to please people. He chose to “live life out loud as a deaf man”—and went on to win the season of  “America’s Next Top Model.” Later on he was recruited for “Dancing with The Stars,” which he also won with his hearing-abled partner Peta Murgatroyd. DiMarco’s inspiring message for the audience was that “you can use your difference as an advantage to help you succeed in life.” He said that “you just might surprise yourself” when you embrace your own differences and not apologize for them.

The inspiration to embrace your differences applies to individuals and companies alike as they seek to set themselves apart. If the way you do things is a little wacky or non-standard, don’t be afraid show your stuff—and most importantly, don’t apologize for it. Upload photos and videos demonstrating the uniqueness of your culture to your Glassdoor profile—candidates will appreciate you for it!

J.T. O’Donnell & Martin Pisciotti: The VIP Treatment: Elevate your Candidate Experience

As a presenting duo, J.T. O’Donnell and Martin Pisciotti offered the perfect blend of candidate advocacy and big company expertise. O’Donnell, Founder & CEO of Work It Daily opened the session by defining the candidate experience as the first moment someone knows your company exists. Keeping in mind that your candidate could be a customer now or in the future should set the tone for your interactions. Once finding out about your open roles, they’re coming to you armed with information from the research they’ve done about your company. When the best talent sees themselves as equals, as partners, it’s important to treat candidates as you would your business partners.

defining candidate experience bamboohr elevate

O’Donnell shared the results of a Glassdoor study showing that when informed candidates get hired, they are more likely to reduce turnover, increase productivity, improve business and increase engagement. She called this “the ROI of investing in a VIP candidate experience.”

Martin Pisciotti, VP Employee Careers at T-Mobile, a company with more than 51,000 employees and 800,000 applicants in 2016, took the helm. As a 5-time North American Candidate Experience Award winner, T-Mobile’s recruiting team has mastered how to attract and recruit top talent for its 5,000+ stores, 17 call centers, IT and engineering team, and even a 1,000-person finance team. A great candidate experience is essential when a company has to reject more than three quarters of a million candidates per year, especially since these candidates could be customers or future customers.

Candidates today, Pisciotti shared, want to align their personal “why” with their employer’s “why.” By weaving their corporate values through the candidate experience, candidates will be naturally drawn your company if it’s a right fit. T-Mobile’s brand shines through on its Glassdoor page and careers site, where it publishes common career paths with salary expectations. T-Mobile also has a strong careers presence on social media: the #bemagenta hashtag lets employees tell the story of working at T-Mobile with pictures of their own.

Creating a great candidate experience is an evolving process for T-Mobile—the company had to redesign the way it did talent acquisition. By moving from a centralized recruiting function to embedding recruiters (“talent scouts”) into individual business units, they were better able to meet the specific recruiting needs of hiring managers.

Both O’Donnell and Pisciotti spoke about the importance of data in optimizing your recruiting practices. To improve candidate experience, T-Mobile uses data from Glassdoor interview reviews, internal data for time to hire, experience surveys for applicants and hiring managers, and quality of hire key indicators. Pisciotti admitted that it can be tough to get feedback, but they use it make the process better.

O’Donnell shared that the analysis of one company’s hiring data revealed that there was a higher turnover rate among employee referrals. Further investigation revealed that referrals weren’t being screened as carefully as other applicants, underscoring the results of a Glassdoor study on interview difficulty. Candidates who rate their interview as a 4 on a 1-5 interview difficulty scale tend to result more satisfied employees later on. By creating a consistent, standardized interview process, and keeping candidates in the loop, companies are more likely to create a great candidate experience.

With so many action steps, this information-packed session brought our mind back to Sanders’ opening keynote and “CFFR.” Companies can

  • Choose to create a great candidate experience
  • Focus on tasks such as revamping your Glassdoor profile, reading reviews to find suggestions for improvement, researching to benchmark against competitors, and communicating results to management.
  • Finish each task to build momentum with the satisfaction of completed tasks.
  • Repeat this cycle to improve your ratings and quality of hire over time.

Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D: The Upside of Stress

Health psychologist Kelly McGonigal’s keynote shared some surprising research about stress. While stress has long been held up to be the cause of disease and death, it turns out that one’s mindset about stress that dictates health and longevity more than the amount of stress one experiences. Simply put, when you change your mind about stress, you can change your body’s response to stress.

McGonigal’s presentation shared three scientifically-backed ways that thinking about stress can help you thrive from her book.

  1. The biology of courage. If you view the stress that you feel when you are presented with a challenge (such as a pounding heart and faster breathing) as helpful, you activate biology of courage.
  2. The biology of resilience. When you know that stress can help bring out the best in you and surrender to the reality of the situation, you become more resilient, able to face repeated challenges over time.
  3. The biology of hope. Oxytocin, a stress-relieving hormone, is activated when you help others. Knowing that stress is bigger than yourself helps you tap into and inspire hope.

For those who missed this enlightening session, McGonigal explains the stress mindset effect in her book The Upside of Stress and a popular TED talk, How To Make Stress Your Friend.

Longtime Glassdoor users might remember the stress they experienced the first time they read a bad review of their company. As Pisciotti mentioned in the previous session, receiving negative feedback is tough. But you can change your mindset by understanding just how helpful it can be down the line—giving you more informed candidates and a praise-worthy hiring process. Reading tips from companies that have gone before you, such as in our Glassdoor Recruit Playbook, just might help you activate the biology of hope, courage, and resilience all at once.

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