The hidden costs of recruitment

Recruiting staff that are the right fit for your company is the most essential process in H.R. Despite its importance, the approach that many companies take to kick-start this process is to keep their recruitment drive internal.

Imagine asking all your friends to help you with your next home renovations. Unless they are all tradespeople, it doesn’t really make sense for most of them to want to do it. The same can be said of an internal recruitment process. The money that you are likely to save using internal recruitment (which has its place of course), or even doing a soft recruitment drive on Seek, Indeed or even LinkedIn may yield insufficient long term results.

The true cost of unfilled roles

Unless you are well informed of the need for new staff ahead of time,  you will likely to lose productivity through the unfilled position. Not only does an unfilled role carry a lead time if you don’t have someone on the horizon, but the work that is left will usually be undertaken by someone else in the organisation. This can lead to stretching people thinly, and a domino effect can cascade down to more sick days, and potentially more roles to fill. There are many cases of one unfulfilled role leading to several more bad cases.

The time of your recruitment manager

It’s a common joke the managers saddled with the task of interviewing new recruits loathe the time taken and the questions they have to ask. Not only does it grate on their nerves, it wastes the time that they could use to further productivity. Hiring an external professional to do the same task would save that time, but it of course adds to the overall recruitment costs.

The true cost of training

After you manage to find a new recruit, and are willing to pay the cost to hire and train them, you’ll then need to put in the time involved to train them. Training is an incredibly time consuming process, as not only do you potentially need to take away from another employee or manager’s time, but training materials can be expensive. Investing in training modules for highly skilled roles, or upskilling current staff to be able to train others can create time inefficiencies across the board.

The most efficient cost reduction strategy is Retention

As alluded to earlier, using a recruitment specialist may be an effective strategy, but not a cost effective one.

The most effective strategy for keeping recruitment costs down is to increase retention. Even small increases in retention can greatly impact the bottom line recruitment costs. If you consider that you’ll have to hire one less person every year, that can have significant effects to overall employee engagement. Increasing retention, combined with a positive company culture will lead to significant cost savings across the board.

A strategy focused on retention helps to reframe recruitment costs not as a matter of bottom line impacts, but more of a question around soft strategies involving company culture, employee engagement and a lot of the other factors that help employees stay in their role.









5 key strategies to keep employees engaged at work through positive psychology

The new era of positive psychology has yielded is an exciting time in H.R.  The new kid on the block in positive psychology has been focusing on positivity in team environments. With this focus on building team psychology has brought employee engagement into the leading edge in terms of ways to build positive psychology. 

Employee engagement is a productivity spark

The difficulty with employee engagement is that disengagement from tasks is somewhat natural. The way the brain works, with its limited attention span, means that distractions are inevitable. The important thing to realise, is that these mental breaks are not harmful to engagement, and factoring in these mental breaks for them can enable greater productivity in other working time. 

Applying the science

Here are 5 key strategies to use positive psychology to maximize employee engagement:

  1. Reflective journals: Encouraging employees to write a reflective journal can help them to better visualise their goals through reflecting upon their achievements in the workplace and deciding how they can better achieve their tasks. This is similar to self actualisation.
  1. Meditation: the latest craze  in mental wellbeing is “mindfulness”. This is one of the cornerstones of positive psychology, but it is actually an age-old practice harking back to Eastern meditation. So set aside a corner of the office, hire a guided mindfulness session to teach employees how to set aside their thoughts and focus on just existing in the moment, and allow employees scheduled time to practice. There are many applications to help with this, such as Headspace or even the Facebook meditation bot. 
  1. Exercise:  the benefits of exercise for mental wellbeing are well established. Increased mental wellbeing amongst employees will drive up productivity and engagement significantly. If there is no company gym, you can think about sponsoring employee gym memberships or hiring a yoga instructor for a lunchtime yoga class. Yoga has the benefits of allowing meditation time as well as exercise.
  1. Create a culture of Gratitude: This can be as simple as thank you notes or encouraging peers to be grateful with each other.
  2. Foster employee relationships:  create a culture of peer mentoring a peer groups within your workplace or encourage your workers to have lunch or take a break together. Social cohesiveness is especially useful for a harmonious working environment with engaged employees.

Positive psychology, really? 

Sure, some of the aspects of positive psychology in the workplace can seem a little fluffy. But the science is solid (1), after all, why would monks have meditated for thousands of years if it wasn’t effective?

It might not be all smooth sailing. Your employees may find it very difficult to engage with mindfulness, for example. If the implementation receives a lot of backlash or doubt, gently provide the science and encourage employees to keep practicing. Eventually the organisation will realise the benefits.  

1. Hamilton NA, Kitzman H, Guyotte S. Enhancing health and emotion: mindfulness as a missing link between cognitive therapy and positive psychology. J Cogn Psychol. 2006;20(2):123-34.

The quiet revolution: the prominence of workplace apps over talking

Workplace apps are all the rage at the moment. It would be hard to imagine what the business world would look like without Slack, Facebook Workplace, Microsoft Teams or Atlassian’s Hipchat to name a few. Even WhatsApp and Telegram have found their way into workplace communication, albeit not at the organisational level.

Workplace communication apps have many advantages over traditional email channels, streamlining effective communication and allowing for the co-location of discussions to a single source. 

Not only is Slack more popular than ever in terms of industry-wide adoption, many employees seem to be turning to these workplace-based apps for the sole medium of communication with their co-workers. Rather than simply getting up and walking down the aisle to engage in verbal face-to-face dialogue, most employees seem to find a better sense of engagement in using these apps, leaving some workplaces almost completely silent, save for the faint sound of keyboard tapping. So how did this quiet revolution occur?

The use case for communication apps in the workplace over face-to-face

Technology in the workplace is not a new phenomenon. Now that smartphones are ubiquitous, combined with the ease of communication facilitated by non-workplace apps such as social media, it’s not hard to see where the habits came from for organisations to adopt workplace communication apps. Communicating in short messages is likely to lead to more direct tasks being generated, creating the sense of productivity that these apps can give. 

Face-to-face communication has its own benefits

Technology can do a lot of things for us, but it might not be able to replace the good old face-to-face chat. It’s difficult to imagine a world where we had no verbal interaction.In an academic study, Melnik and Maurer actually found that direct verbal communication can enhance workplace productivity by reducing communication errors (1).

Therefore, it may be advisable to encourage face-to-face dialogue in the workplace. It is likely to increase the social interactions of employees, which in turn can lead to greater employee engagement due to a harmonious working environment. Offline communication can be a good way to build up company culture and express company values, as it is often difficult to express those values in an online environment. Even engaging in a social outing every now and again can build camaraderie and encourage cross-collaboration. 


Workplace applications are here to stay. Just as emails were seen as its own revolutionary piece of technology, apps have in turn put themselves at the forefront of how we communicate at work. As time has gone on, online communication has fundamentally changed how we work, but offline communication still has its place. Even as our workplace moves to remote working and flexible work hours, even just seeing a friendly face through Skype or FaceTime can be enough to promote collaboration, while also driving engagement.

  1. Melnik G, Maurer F. Direct verbal communication as a catalyst of agile knowledge sharing. Agile Development Conference. 2004:21-31.

How Elementary School teachers keep children engaged in school

One of the most difficult groups of people to engage are our youngest; Elementary School-aged children. Somehow,  millions of teachers around the world manage to engage these mini-people every single day. 

This begs the question: If they are able to do it, surely engaging mature professionals is a simple task. And yet, we find time and time again that employee disengagement remains an difficult problem in many businesses. What are we doing wrong? Perhaps there is something we can learn from our teacher colleagues…


How Do They Do It?!

Though teachers have a bunch of ways to keep a classroom engaged, we’re just going to touch on a few below.

One of the most basic techniques involves giving a child choice in how they want to be engaged in how they perform a task. E.g. They may be given a choice as to whether they want to prepare a poster about a particular learning topic or whether they would like to create a song about it,  these techniques appealing to different styles of learning i.e. visual versus auditory. 

Lesson: Giving choice in how to perform a task drives engagement

Another way in which teachers drive classroom engagement is to keep concise. Most children have very short attention spans. To keep students on task and able to concentrate over the course of a full school day,  many teachers will “ride the waves”, incorporating short breaks into their lesson plans e.g. allowing students to stand up and jog on the spot for 30 seconds before returning to their work. The physical aspect helps to keep children’s attention flowing  and is quite an effective technique. 

Lesson: Engagement can be built through timed “peak hours” of work time, where employees all stay silent for a few hours to maximise concentration

Finally, the most common way in which teachers keep children engaged is to maintain an effective rapport. To do this, a student must trust in the teacher that they have their best interests at heart, whilst being able to relate to their teacher. This can be achieved when a teacher shows genuine caring and empathy for the child.

Lesson: Engagement is maintained through “effective rapport”.


Does this translate to the workplace?

On a long enough timeline, these children will eventually become adults. As adults, we are only a few steps away from the children we once were. We have only slightly longer attention spans. We still require the nurturing relationships and desire to be valued. 

Though there are some key differences between the workplace and the classroom, they are fundamentally similar. People are people, and the principles of engagement are the same. There isn’t much of a difference between a classroom and a workplace environment when you think about the challenges surrounding keeping people motivated either.

Of the three key lessons here, it’s important to note that their execution in the workplace translates differently when considering the relationship of managers and team members compared to teachers to students. The principles translate to the workplace, but the practice is very different.

Social media at work: a psychologist’s view on employee disengagement

The explosion of social media in recent years represents a technological shift that seems to be moving at a rate faster than society’s capacity to deal with it. Social media usage can have vast implications in the workplace, for both personal and company brands. 

Similarly, the number of hours spent on social media can have an impact on productivity. Therefore the introduction of robust company policy regarding social media use by employees is paramount for a good workplace environment.

A total ban of social media in the workplace does not necessarily represent an effective strategy nor is it entirely positive. So how do we curb our enthusiasm?


Why doesn’t a total ban work?

As many of our readers who have children (or anyone who has walked into a supermarket) will know, a child denied a toy usually produce a reactionary tantrum. Similarly, when denied social media, employees may crave being connected and updated through their social media profiles. Amongst other reasons, the most simple explanation is that the brain is hardwired to desire the unattainable. 


Information Gap Theory

George Loewenstein explains the behaviour as part of the phenomenon known as “Information-Gap” Theory. The “gap” in information generated from a given information source builds curiosity, which may only be satisfied by attaining that information. Once the information is attained, the associated dopamine rush reinforces the behaviour, creating a cycle of information gaps to make us constantly crave information. 

Social media is very addictive precisely due to this information gap. 

Completely banning social media generally leads to employees using their devices to fill that information gap. Not only is this just as unproductive, but it can lead to employees using social media as a reward mechanism while at work.


Is social media always a negative contributor to the workplace?

Absolutely not! 

Social media can have many advantages in the workplace. When done correctly, social media can form a strong part of an organisations’ communication strategy. In fact, internal applications such as Slack and Yammer help employees communicate with one another as well as the organisation as a whole. 

In a way, this is a form of social media. Sure, it doesn’t come with the targeted advertisements, gif messages or cat videos, but it still retains the core function of bringing an organisation closer together. 


A symptom, not the cause of the problem

Social media use is only one potential workplace distraction. Employees may engage in many other tactics to avoid doing work. Everything from coffee breaks to idle water cooler chatter can be used to avoid doing work. If this is the case, what is the real problem?

The real problem is avoidance.

Avoidance happens when employees are disengaged, not seeing the benefit their work is doing or the impact they may have in the workplace. Productivity historically doesn’t improve a great deal through social media bans, and if it does improve it generally creates a downstream problem somewhere else, such as employee retention.

As long as you can keep employees engaged, you can build a workplace environment that is less likely to avoid the work. Engagement combats avoidance, and in doing so creates a healthy workplace where you can go on social media if you want to, but the work is a better option. 

That’s how winning teams are built.

  1. Kidd C, Hayden BY. The psychology and neuroscience of curiosity. Neuron. 2015;88(3):449-60.

Employee Recognition for Millennials

Millennials get a bad rap. They’re the generation that popularised selfies, avocado toast, and food blogging (which is ultimately a combination of both). On the other hand, however, they’re brimming with unique experiences and skills that are invaluable in the workplace. They’re also getting older and more ambitious, with 50% of the global workforce looking to be Millennials by 2020. With this in mind, recognition practices should be shifting in preparation for the Millennial inundation, and away from the standardised forms of the past. Failing to do so means you’re potentially missing out on the best of your employees, and losing them quicker than you’d expect.

By revamping and innovating your recognition practices, not only do you capitalise on your employees’ talents, but you help them to flourish in your company. Read on to discover the best ways to recognise your Millennial employees.

Career Progression and Culture

Millennials grew up in a different world. When they work at a company, they’re not solely motivated by the money. Instead, they want more- more opportunities, more progression, and more chances for development. A study revealed that it’s 50% of managers who believe high pay is important, compared to only 28% of Millennials. Instead, it’s career progression which ranks more highly for Millennials, with 91% of them interested in progression opportunities when they apply for job roles. They also want to successfully balance their social and work lives, so offering flexibility, holidays and work from home opportunities is key to recognising employees.

Real-time Recognition

Millennials experience a culture of instant gratification that is vastly dissimilar from what other generations have experienced. Fuelled by familiarity with digital media, Millennials are most accustomed than instantaneous reactions and they expect this in their workplace. This is why standardised recognition methods, such as annual engagement surveys, are failing to resonate with Millennials; they’re clunky, long and can’t resolve issues in relevant time. Instead, try investing in pulse surveys. They’re short, powerful and are issued frequently enough so that you can resolve issues closer to their emergence. This is an easy way to recognise Millennial employees, as it specifically addresses their individual needs and gives them a clear channel for communication in the company. Digital media is also extremely useful in providing a platform for real-time recognition. As Millennials are more accustomed to a work life which bleeds into their home, companies are no longer restricted to communication within a strict 9-5 time frame to provide their feedback.


One thing Millennials are used to is individuality. They’ve grown up in a culture which prizes nonconformity, and they’ve carried this belief over to their working lives. As employees that value themselves as individual talents, they expect an equally personalised form of feedback that addresses their strengths and weaknesses. They also expect this from the people they know, with 80% of Millennials saying they wanted to receive regular feedback from their managers. This personal and individual type of recognition is designed to simultaneously deliver feedback and coaching to Millennial employees; in fact, 95% of Millennial employees said they worked harder if they had learnt how their task contributed to the company’s larger strategy. So by providing personal feedback to Millennials, you stand to simultaneously raise productivity and engagement in the company.

Company Input

These days, Millennials don’t just have to agree to their job role- they also have to agree to the company. Millennials are a deeply socially aware generation, and will often prioritise a company whose social innovations they agree with over one which they don’t. Combined with the fact that they’re some of the most educated employees in the workforce, companies should strive to let Millennials in on company decisions as a means of recognition. This doesn’t have to be anything too major- simply things like your company’s charitable decisions, and allowing them to choose their own rewards allows Millennial employees to productively exercise their opinion. Providing this avenue for recognition helps Millennials better understand their place in the company and encourages employee retention; in fact, 71% of Millennials who agree that they know what their company stands for say that they plan to remain there for a year at the least.

Millennials can no longer be underestimated or ignored by the workforce. In the same way, employee recognition should be utilised as a tool to bring out the best in them. By shaping your employee recognition to these employees, you stand to raise productivity, engagement and employee retention all in one go.

Chicago city skyline

5 Great Locations for Annual Conventions and Corporate Team Building

Teamwork and camaraderie are extremely important components for a successful and productive business. A recent study uncovered that the primary reason an employee leaves an organization is the lack of engagement and that the cost of filling the position can be up to twice the employee’s annual salary. The study also found that a shocking 70 percent of today’s workforce reports being disengaged at work. 

In today’s competitive market, companies can’t afford to risk the high costs associated with a disengaged workforce. Employee engagement is therefore crucial to the success of every company.

One way to increase the focus and motivation of your staff is to offer rewards and recognition. Many companies are recognizing the importance of engagement and choosing to plan fun retreats for their teams. This tactic is highly effective as it shows appreciation and is an opportunity to get everyone together to discuss goals and strategies. 

If you’re considering a corporate team-building conference, try one of these exotic locations.


Miami, Florida

Miami is a city that takes pride in its diversity. This is especially true when it comes to hosting corporate and conventional events. As a city that constantly grows and reinvents itself, Miami offers plenty of opportunities for business travelers. Whether you’re looking for a convention center or a special event venue, the possibilities are endless.

The breathtaking culture of Miami, combined with beautiful nature and exuberant nightlife, means that everyone will find something that suits their individual taste. Provide your staff with a memorable bonding experience by visiting sporting events, such as the Miami Open, or taking a sunset cruise along the Intracoastal Waterway.

Although a very attractive choice for conventions and team building, Miami has one significant disadvantage. With the average rate for a hotel room being over $200, Miami is relatively expensive. The good news is that you can find cheaper hotels and also get additional discounts depending on the number of people on your team.


Honolulu, Hawaii

Treat your staff to a luxurious outing in sunny Honolulu, Hawaii. It’s obvious that this Pacific state offers the best weather and outdoor adventures imaginable, but it also serves as the state capital and is home to the Hawaii Convention Center. The center hosts thousands of group retreats each year and boasts a knowledgeable staff prepared to help with all your planning needs. Hawaii’s hospitality and tourist industry is booming and the state’s gorgeous weather makes it a desirable location year-round.

Outside of the convention, your staff can enjoy the scenic natural beauty of Hawaii or visit one of the city’s many popular tourist destinations. Plan a tour of the Dole pineapple plant, hike the famous Diamond Head crater or schedule a traditional Hawaiian luau event.

Hawaii may be more expensive than other destinations but the natural beauty, adventures and memories of the event will be remembered for years to come.


Las Vegas, Nevada

The so-called “City of Sin” is an extremely fun and cost-effective location for a large team building event or conference. Vegas has many large meeting venues that can easily accommodate large groups. Most locations have experienced event planners that can assist with all the details and reduce the amount of planning required ahead of time. The airport is just three short miles away from the main strip and there are plenty of inexpensive transportation options to and from the airport. 

A trip to Vegas offers plenty of employee engagement opportunities in addition to being extremely affordable. The average cost of a hotel in Vegas can range anywhere from $60-$80 which is one-third the cost of many other high-end locations. In addition, most venues will offer catering, lodging, and entertainment packages dramatically reducing your cost per employee. 


Chicago, Illinois

Chicago is yet another great convention destination. Its central location and Midwestern culture provide everything you need for a solid team-building experience. Chicago is one of only a handful of cities that offers two convenient airport locations. In addition, Chicago’s extensive public transit system ensures that guests are able to quickly and affordably reach their final destinations.

The city of Chicago is home to the nation’s largest convention center. The center is located downtown in close proximity to some of the city’s finest dining and entertainment options. Patrons can get almost anywhere by foot and should be encouraged to explore some of the city’s top attractions including Navy Pier, the Lincoln Park Zoo, and the Chicago Art Museum. Encourage your staff to take a quick break to grab a Chicago-style pizza or pop in to one of the city’s many ethnic restaurants for lunch. After hours, organize an outing at one of the city’s many sports arenas. Chicago is home to professional soccer, basketball, baseball, and football. Overall, the nation’s third largest city offers everything you’ll need for a successful convention.


New York, NY

New York is the business capital of the world and serves as the nation’s leader in finance, retail and media. The aura of the nation’s largest city attracts thousands of professional conventions each year. Your staff can fly into one of two conveniently located airports (JFK or LaGuardia). From here, your team can quickly and easily grab a cab into the heart of the city, taking in the sites and the city skyline along the way.

New York City offers endless entertainment, dining, and cultural experiences. Plan a trip to the historic Ellis Island and Statue of Liberty or catch a game at one of the city’s two major ball fields. Additional entertainment options include Times Square, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park and the iconic Empire State Building. For lunch, visit Grand Central Station food court or grab a hot dog from one of the city’s infamous street vendors. No matter which attractions you choose to visit, the Big Apple will be a major hit with your crew.

These are just a few of the many popular convention destinations in the United States. Whatever destination you choose for your business travel, make sure to bond with your team. Also, planning a retreat should not be seen as a cost, but rather as a major investment in the future of your company. Remember that employees are your company’s most valuable asset and employee engagement should therefore be one of your main business goals.


Author Bio: Jill Phillips is a freelance writer from Buffalo, NY. She is an aspiring entrepreneur and tech enthusiast, who loves to share her insight on various topics. When she is not writing, Jill enjoys taking photos and hiking with her dog. Connect with Jill via Twitter @jillphlps