Employee Appreciation Week

Send recognitions for Employee Appreciation Week!

Happy Employee Appreciation Week! At Achievers, this is one of our favorite times of year. While we believe strongly in appreciating our employees all year long, there is something special about a week when companies across North America realize that it’s time to do something extra special.

For those of you who aren’t using the Achievers platform, we wanted to give you an easy way to send recognition cards to your hard-working colleagues. That’s why we’ve created an Employee Appreciation Week tool where you can pick from a variety of different digital cards and email them to anyone who deserves to be appreciated.

So what are you waiting for? Start recognizing!

 

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Employee Turnover

How to weatherproof your company against job-hopping employees

Every business experiences turnover. Even engaged employees will move on from jobs they’ve loved for new opportunities, personal or professional. Millennials are some of the biggest culprits when it comes to rapid turnover. Forbes reports that most employees stay in their jobs about 4.4 years, but millennials expect to change jobs in fewer than three years.

Much of the reason for this is economics; millennials graduated in a tough economy and many take short-term internships and jobs that don’t use all their skills in order to earn an income. They hop to new jobs in an effort to move up the career ladder and in search of career fulfillment.

Companies need to protect themselves from the inevitability of employee turnover. Without a strategy in place, keeping operations running smoothly can be a struggle. There may be gaps in the knowledge needed to complete a project, and remaining employees often have to pick up extra work to cover for the departed employee, which can lead to lower morale. Make sure your plan covers knowledge transfer, staffing issues, and administrative tasks.

Knowledge transfer

Don’t allow one employee to be the only person who knows how to perform a crucial business function. Instead, make cross-training a part of your normal business process. The plan and associated documentation for every project should be online in a shared folder so others can access it.

No matter how much you’ve documented during normal operations, make sure knowledge transfer is a major part of departing employees’ final weeks on the job. Review the projects they’re currently working on, and schedule sessions to train other employees to pick up those responsibilities.

Staffing issues

Begin thinking about how to replace departing employees as soon as possible. Prepare standard job descriptions in advance, but remember that it’s sometimes quickest and cheapest to replace an employee with an internal transfer, so spread the word about any openings among colleagues in other departments.

Administrative tasks

Don’t forget to perform administrative tasks that are important for security. Make sure the employee returns all company-issued devices, such as laptops and cell phones. If you allow access to corporate systems from personal devices, you should be able to remotely wipe company files. Have a process for disabling the employee’s access to email and other business applications.

Exit interviews

Human resources should conduct an exit interview with employees before their last day. Departing employees can offer valuable insight that helps you improve the environment for employees who remain. If you handle this well, a departing employee can actually benefit your business.

Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards

Applications now open for the 2016 Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces™ Awards!

The Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards™ recognize top employers that display leadership and innovation in engaging their workforce. Apply today to be recognized as the top employer you know you are!

Accelerate your ability to recruit, retain, and inspire brilliant employees by being named one of the Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces™.

Top 4 Reasons to Apply: 

  1. Elevate your employer brand: Companies that appreciate employees and drive them to achieve their best are more likely to attract top talent
  2. Increase engagement and retention: Proud employees believe in their company and are more likely to give discretionary effort
  3. Celebrate your employees: Validate your company’s hard work and recognize how having an engaged workplace positively impacts your bottom line
  4. Positively Impact Client and Vendor Relations: Companies like to do business with organizations that put an emphasis on engaged and happy employees

We’ve had some very impressive past winners, including Zappos, 3M, Yammer, Siemens, and more.
Applications are now open—and it’s free to apply! We look forward to receiving your submission.

Employee Appreciation Day

30 fun, fresh ideas for Employee Appreciation Day – or week!

by Rebecca Wetherbee

Can I just start by saying, blog reader… you rock! Everyone here on the Achievers team really appreciates YOU for sifting through the vast interweb and landing on the [engage] blog, for spending time reading and sharing the articles we work so hard to create.

We are all caught up in the spirit of Employee Appreciation Day, which is right around the corner on March 4th. In fact, we love Employee Appreciation Day so much that we celebrate it all week! There is so much you can do to express appreciation for the people who work at your organization, and we thought it would be a good idea to share some of our ideas… including things we’ve done in the past that our employees have loved.

It’s essential to make employee recognition, including rewards, part of your everyday company culture. But that doesn’t mean Employee Appreciation Week should go unnoticed. These extra-special perks will remind all of your employees how much the company cares.

 

Wellness

  1. On-site massage therapists or chiropractors

Your employees are on their feet, hunched over computers, and sitting for long commutes… help them relax.

  1. Guided meditation

Meditation is a great way to reduce stress. Bring in an expert to guide your employees, or host a recorded meditation for anyone who wants to participate in a quiet, dim room.

  1. Free yoga or other exercise classes

Hire an on-site yoga or exercise teacher to come in for the day and host a series of classes for employees.

  1. Catered lunch and/or breakfast

Bring your employees together and give them fuel for their busy day, by supplying healthy lunches or dinners for the whole company.

  1. Fitness trackers

Encourage employees to keep better track of their steps, heart rate, and sleep by supplying fitness trackers. Bonus: the data from fitness trackers can be used for employee step competitions throughout the year!

  1. Bring in standing desks

Not every employee will want to stand all the time, but you can provide supplies to temporarily convert desks into a standing format, or create permanent standing stations with monitors and power cords throughout the office.

Work

  1. Educational speakers

Give employees access to thought leaders in your industry. It’s educational, and entertaining!

  1. Budget for employee-selected training/development

Give team leaders a set budget for each employee they manage, then give employees the freedom to select the training they want – whether it’s a conference, class, or online course.

  1. Hold executive office hours

Typically, your executive team is only accessible to your high-level managers. Give employees at all levels the opportunity to connect, share ideas, and ask questions of the leaders at your organization.

  1. Personal project time

Set aside time for your employees to drop their regular projects and work on something they’re passionate about.

  1. Complete an initiative you’ve been promising

Have you been telling employees forever that you’re going to overhaul performance reviews, bring in better snacks, or renovate the office bathrooms? Nothing will show your employees you appreciate them more than by fulfilling those promises.

  1. Office revamp

Speaking of renovations, does your office need a facelift? Major construction isn’t in the cards for everyone, but there are a number of things that can improve employee experience, including: better chairs, better lighting, more plants, a fresh coat of paint, or whatever your employees say they need!

  1. Updated electronics

Time to do upgrades of laptops, monitors, smartphones, and software. Your employees will be thrilled, and probably more productive.

  1. A half day off work

Your employees will really feel appreciated if you let them leave early on March 4th!

  1. Flex vacation day

If it’s not feasible for all employees to take an afternoon off at the same time, grant everyone one extra vacation day to use as they please; or put basic parameters on when they can redeem. If you’re going to give this gift though, don’t make it too restrictive.

  1. Extended break times

Whether your employees typically get 15-minute breaks or 30-minute lunches, double their break times this week.

  1. Bring your dog to work

Dogs can be great for reducing stress at the office. Not to mention, the owners can save a little money on dog-walker fees.

  1. Give volunteering hours

Corporate social responsibility is an important way to keep your employees engaged. By giving your employees time off to volunteer, you reinforce your company’s dedication to CSR, and you give your team a great opportunity to get out of the office.

Recognition

  1. Public employee recognition

If you use a social recognition platform, this is something that happens every day. But you can make your recognitions extra special by blasting a few out to the company email list, praising someone during a team meeting, or posting recognitions up on public bulletin boards.

  1. Social media employee recognition

If you want to praise your great employees for the whole world to see, post individual recognitions on your company’s social media channels. Just be sure to get the employees’ permission before you share their names or photos.

  1. Rewards & recognition suggestion box

Of course, it doesn’t have to be a physical box – but it is a great idea to reach out to your employees and ask them what forms of recognition and rewards are the most meaningful to them. Is there something that your recognition or total rewards program is missing? This is a great time to find out.

  1. Office awards ceremony

Host a company-wide awards ceremony to celebrate some of the biggest successes over the past year, whether they were accomplished by individuals or whole departments. Make the ceremony a fun, creative, event – not just another company meeting.

  1. Personalized thank you notes

Recognition technology is a powerful thing, but we still love the idea of hand-written notes every now and then. It gives a certain touch!

Gifts & Treats

  1. Pick-a-subscription gift

Gifts like monthly cheese samplers, doggie gift boxes, or snack subscriptions are a great way to show your employees you care on an ongoing basis. Send out a list of options that fit your budget, and let your employees pick what works for them.

  1. High-quality sweet treats

Even if you keep the kitchen stocked with mini candy bars, your employees will be happier if you pick up a box of treats from the local bakery, the popular cupcake place around the corner, or the trendy donut shop.

  1. Better coffee

Get rid of the rocket fuel. Treat your employees to a selection of gourmet beans and blends. Or if budget allows, bring in a pop-up barista for the week who can whip up lattes and cappuccinos.

  1. Live entertainment

Concerts, comedy shows, and sporting events are all great bonding opportunities for your employees, whether you bring the performers on campus, or take your employees on a field trip.

  1. Spot bonuses

You can’t go wrong with bonuses. But if you’re going to go this route, be generous. Sums too small might insult your teams.

  1. Extra budget for team outings

Give team leaders budget for fun activities. They can plan outings that their team is likely to enjoy, and they can bond more easily in a small group setting.

  1. Fun desk drops

Give your employees something fun to look forward to all week by leaving quirky, fun, or useful gifts on their desks before they arrive.

 

Rebecca WetherbeeRebecca Wetherbee is Achievers’ social media manager, responsible for creating and promoting content across all of our branded social networks as well as this very blog.

The 11 habits of highly effective Agile delivery teams

The 11 habits of highly effective Agile delivery teams

What makes an Agile delivery team effective and successful?

We are living in an era of group accountability and collective ownership. Cowboys have traditionally been very effective and organizations have loved them for far too long but have started realizing the latent cost of encouraging that kind of rogue behaviour. Instead, what we need are teams that work together well and bring out the best in each other. That brings us to today’s topic. What are the 11 fundamental habits or characteristics of highly effective agile delivery teams?

1. Great teams pursue excellence

Great teams pursue excellence

Whether it is using development and deployment checklists, automated testing, test or behaviour driven development, pair programming, extreme programming or continuous integration; teams that succeed are on the constant pursuit of excellence. Being “Good Enough” does not cut it for them.

 

2. Effective teams have W.I.P limits

Effective teams have W.I.P limits

The teams that are successful have a habit of keeping the focus on a limited number of tasks like a hawk. Their Work-In-Progress limit is extremely low. Like bees, they practice swarming. They finish what they start before picking up new tasks by having many people work on single tasks at the same time rather than going through a series of hand-offs.

 

 

3. Constant backlog refinement

Constant backlog refinement

Backlog refinement and grooming is second nature to effective teams. They focus on this task as a group rather than letting the Product Owner/BA and Scrum Master do it in isolation. They set aside a number of hours every iteration to refine their backlog just enough to be able to effectively pull in work for the next couple of Sprints. They understand that business priorities may change and are ready to adjust to that but always have ready user stories in their backlog to pull in. More mature teams do not need story points. They’ve refined the product backlog in such a manner that the size for the top items doesn’t vary much. They know how many items they can realize each sprint. Counting the number of stories is enough for them.

4. They follow the Scout rule

They follow the Scout rule

This is self-explanatory. Always check-in code cleaner than you checkout. Successful and respected teams follow this rule and live by it.

 

 

 

5. Criticize ideas, not people

Criticize ideas, not people

Great teams have fun during retrospectives. They understand that all team members want to do what is best for the team and the organization. They brainstorm ideas and criticize the ones that either don’t make sense or have run out their usefulness. They know that most people are inherently good but most ideas may not be.

 

 

 

6. Fix dependencies with other teams

Fix dependencies with other teams

Great teams proactively and aggressively seek out external dependencies both incoming and outgoing and fix them before they cause heartache. Dependency management, be it technical or functional, is the biggest challenge to scaling. Organizations who are able to scale have their teams actively manage dependencies and counterbalance them with just enough planning.

 

 

7. Understand the business value of technical tasks

Understand the business value of technical tasks

Highly effective teams understand the business value that their technical tasks are bringing. They understand the value stream and can visualize the concept to cash model. The product owner makes sure that user stories outline the business benefit of the work being done which then puts the team in an advantageous position. They can now think of themselves as users and build it with a functional mindset as opposed to just completing a technical task.

 

8. Successful teams know their customer

Successful teams know their customer

Customers can be both external and internal. Effective teams know who they are and know what each of them expects. Knowing the customer allows them to make good decisions. Over time the customer trusts the team and gives them more autonomy. It is a win-win.

 

 

9. Effective teams are truly cross-functional

Effective teams are truly cross-functional

Great teams are truly cross-functional and understand that it is nearly impossible to always have the exact right balance of skill-sets iteration after iteration without tampering with the core team every time. Manual testing, if at all required, is not beneath the developers and a test engineer can help write unit tests if required. They understand that it is more important to complete fewer user stories as opposed to finishing isolated tasks on user stories that have no chance of getting completed.

10. Great teams update their work tracking system daily

Great teams update their work tracking system daily

Whether it is Rally or Jira or just a scrum board, effective teams know that keeping it up to date is in their best interest. It makes the daily scrum focused, provides transparency and most importantly it keeps the suits away.

 

11. Spend time on innovation

Great teams build in some slack into their iteration plan. They understand the importance of innovation and make sure they set aside some time for that. Building some slack allows them to do that if nothing unexpected turns up during the iteration. They know it’s necessary to keep up with the rapidly changing environment and technology. They ensure they have time for innovation during regular working hours, and that it’s fun and exciting!

That is it. These are the 11 things effective teams do really well. There are definitely more things that teams can do to become effective. But, if you want your team to succeed, introduce and encourage these things to be adopted and you will experience magic.


Originally published at www.linkedin.com.

Accessibility Evaluation Checklist

Accessibility Evaluation Checklist

At Achievers, we started the journey of making our platform accessible about a year ago. It involved making existing and any new features accessible. I have created a handy checklist of the tools and techniques used in this process. This checklist can be used by developers and testers to test features and identify areas of improvement.

Before going through the checklist let’s have a look at what accessibility is and why you should even care about making your web content accessible.

What is Web Accessibility?

Web accessibility means that everyone can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the Web.

Why is Web Accessibility important?

It is the right thing to do

We all have the right to equal access and equal opportunity. More and more our day to day life activities rely on the web, including education, employment, government, commerce, health care and recreation.

It leads to good practices

Building accessible websites have tendencies to lead towards HTML markup that is semantic and easy for everyone, even computers, to understand and interpret.

It helps to avoid legal concerns

You can get into trouble legally if you’re not careful. There are accessibility guidelines and regulations issued by many countries for the purpose of improving web accessibility. You can be penalized if your web content is not compliant as per the regulations issued by your country.

As an example, in Canada, the Government of Ontario enacted the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act in 2005. This act lays the framework for the development of province-wide mandatory standards on accessibility in five key areas of daily life: Customer Service, Employment, Information & Communication, Transportation and Design of Public Spaces.

Accessibility is a layer that should be applied to any content under development. It should be part of the “definition of done” of any web content before it goes to production.

It is as important to know how to check web content for accessibility as it is important to know how to develop web content that is accessible. It should be the responsibility of both developers and testers to verify that any feature being developed is accessible.


The Checklist

Here is a quick checklist that if followed can go a long way to ensure your web content is accessible:

Test with Accessibility Evaluators

  • Several free online WCAG accessibility evaluators are available that will scan your web pages for accessibility. WAVE and A-Checker are few of the many options available

Test with the Keyboard

  • It is crucial to check that the entirety of your content is navigable by keyboard only
  • You should be able to navigate each component through tab keys
  • You should be able to access all the interactive features such as menus, links, etc. and should be able to operate them by using intuitive keystrokes such as Enter, space, arrow keys, etc.
  • Popups and modals should be able to be cancelled with the keyboard and the Esc key

Test with Screen Readers

Verify Color and Contrast

  • As per WCAG Level AA 1.4.3 contrast regulation: Contrast ratio between text and background should be at least 4.5:1
  • Fortunately, you can check the contrast for your web content within seconds using multiple colour contrast checkers available for free. These not only tell you the contrast of your present content but also suggest other colour combinations that you can use which would be compliant with this regulation. Some of them are WCAG Contrast CheckerCheck My Colours, and WebAIM Color Contrast Checker

Test Content Scaling

  • WCAG Level AA 1.4.4 requires text to be zoomable to 200%. ‘accel’ means the ‘Ctrl’ key on Windows and, usually on Unix, and the ‘Cmd’ key on Mac
  • Test after the text is enlarged: Is the page readable and usable? Is horizontal scrolling minimized? Is text and images readable?

Validate your HTML

  • Using HTML incorrectly can cause assistive technologies problems in interpreting the page content
  • Valid HTML allows screen readers to navigate headers, lists, etc. with proper screen reader shortcuts. The example following shortcuts are provided by JAWS: H: Headings Quick Key; 1–6: Headings level 1–6; L: List Quick Key. Not using semantic markup hinders proper usage of these shortcuts
  • Use an HTML validator to evaluate your code

Test with users

  • If possible, get your web content tested by users in order to get user acceptance
  • Real screen reader user testing aids in getting an entirely different perspective on how your web content will be navigated and will help you make appropriate design and development decisions in the future

“Like usability, accessibility is a quality — in this case, it means how easily and effectively a product or service can be accessed and used.”

Use this checklist to ensure your web content can be used by everyone!

Salary History

Stop asking for candidates’ salary history

There’s a common question during recruitment conversations that all job candidates dread: “What is your current salary?” So many recruiters ask this question that job candidates have grown accustomed to blithely supplying their salary history, believing that it’s a requirement to move forward in the interview process. The issue is that salary history is a very personal, and often misleading, data point for recruiters to gather. Your team shouldn’t be using a candidate’s past pay to assess their qualifications or value.

 
Job recruiters often ask for salary information under the pretext that the company doesn’t want to insult job candidates with a low offer, or that it needs to verify that compensation requirements fit within the organization’s ability to pay. However in many cases, recruiters don’t want to make an offer first in case the applicant would be okay with less. For example, if a candidate is earning $50,000 in their current role, and the department’s budget for the opening is $70,000, the recruiter can attract the candidate with a $60,000 offer and save the company $10,000. Hiring managers may be happy, but the first step to employee engagement does not begin with underpaying your employees.

 
Compensation for new roles should be determined according to what the person’s knowledge, skills, and years of experience are worth in relationship to the job requirements. Salary bands need to be based on what the job and the candidate’s skills are worth in context to the internal compensation policy and the desired level of market competitiveness based on a benchmark, often determined through administration of a salary survey. Does your company want to pay below market, at market, or over market based on a valid job evaluation methodology?

 
The right methodology for salary offers considers factors like job requirements, candidate experience, education requirements, size of the talent pool, competition with other companies, and other elements. The job market has undergone significant shifts in the last decade, and many of today’s jobs defy historical practices. Some people, like talented software developers without formal training and little job experience, are offered remarkably high starting salaries. The business recognizes the actual value of the role and the value of the person’s skills and competencies, and both values have little to do with a person’s prior salary history.

 
The relative worth of a position should be based on its value to the organization and the value in the labor market where recruiting is taking place. A job candidate may currently be underpaid or overpaid, and numerous factors unrelated to their true value may have influenced the current salary rate. If you don’t have an internal employee who can determine proper salary levels for each new role, consider hiring outside consultants that specialize in the science of compensation. If employee engagement and retention are your goals, a candidate’s recruitment experience and compensation package are some of the first touch points that will influence their experience of your organization.

Promotion Criteria

7 signals that your employee is ready for a promotion

Filling an open position with an outside hire takes time. According to Indeed, if a position isn’t filled within one month, there’s a 57 percent chance it will take three months or longer to find the right hire. Promoting an inside candidate is a great solution, as long as the employee is up to the new job. Here are seven promotion criteria to use when deciding whether your employees are ready to move to the next level:

  1. They’ve asked for one

Asking for a promotion doesn’t guarantee ability or employee success, but it’s a sign that they want the new position. They’ll be motivated and eager to take on the new challenges.

  1. They exceed their responsibilities

Promotion candidates should excel in their current responsibilities, but they should also stretch beyond the tasks assigned to them — without being asked. They view the success of the project as their responsibility and step up to make sure that happens.

  1. They’re recognized as leaders

Just because employees don’t have direct reports doesn’t mean they can’t act like leaders. If others on the team turn to a particular employee for insight and guidance, he or she has already taken on a leadership role.

  1. They’re curious

Employees who demonstrate interest in the big picture beyond their projects and task assignments are ready to start thinking about the bigger questions involved in running a project or business.

  1. They create solutions

Some employees report problems up the management chain. Employees with leadership ability report the problem as well as the solution they created to address it.

  1. They ask for feedback

Most people dread performance reviews, and many take offense at even constructive criticism. If an employee asks for feedback and applies it to improving his or her performance, that person has the motivation to develop new skills.

  1. They manage themselves

If your employee understands the purpose of the business and project so well that he or she doesn’t need to wait for instructions on what to do next, that person can take more responsibility and use that insight to manage and guide others.

Promoting from within can boost employee morale, not only for the promoted employees but also for peers who know that career advancement is real. They’ll be motivated to strive for promotions of their own. That’s good for your business as well as for your employee engagement levels.

 

HR skills

3 HR skills you need to be successful

The business landscape is evolving rapidly, and HR skills that were once highly prized are becoming obsolete. HR professionals no longer spend their time keeping records, and new technology has transformed how employees engage with their work. The best HR leaders have traded in paper pushing and business-as-usual management methods and have instead become strategic business partners, actively contributing to company growth. In order to keep their seat at the table, HR professionals have had to take advantage of the rich employee data that’s at their disposal. They’re having to become experts in data analysis and a wide variety of HR information systems so that they can improve employee success, forecast changes in human capital, and make informed recommendations for policy and process changes. If you want to be an incredible HR leader, these are the skills you’ll need to adopt moving forward:

Tech-savvy vs. traditional methods

The days of an exclusively on-site workforce are a thing of the past. Mobile technology and changing workforce demographics have transformed where and how employees work. Some research predicts that 70% of mobile professionals will conduct their work on personal smart devices by 2018, and HR leaders are embracing this change. Instead of insisting on traditional methods for getting the job done – eight hours in the office in front of a computer – forward-thinking HR professionals are getting comfortable with new technology and incorporating it into business processes.

Strategic partner vs. record keeper

In the early days of the HR function, primary responsibilities included processing basic transactions. Changes in employee status, modifications to benefits, and corrections to personal information were all handled by hand. New technology has made it possible for staff members and their managers to handle these adjustments independently, which mean HR professionals can explore new ways to add value.

The best HR leaders concentrate their efforts on strategic partnership, using evidence gathered through data analysis to provide strategic recommendations to the business. Incredible HR leaders design proactive initiatives to make the workforce stronger, rather than simply reacting to events that have already occurred in the workplace. These efforts are being recognized by executive leadership. In fact, a KPMG study found that 85 percent of business leaders agree: HR plays a strong role in meeting strategic goals.

Analytical vs. business as usual

Of course, adding value through strategic partnership only works when HR leaders develop their skills in data analysis. As new technology permits the gathering of detailed business and employee performance, smart HR professionals are spending their time looking for connections that will strengthen the business. Research has determined that 62 percent of organizations are already using advanced analytics to find people/profit connections, and 70 percent of survey participants plan to expand their use of data analysis tools over the next three years.

Today’s truly exceptional HR leaders are prepared to act as tech-savvy strategic partners, with a focus on developing outstanding data analysis skills. The transformation of HR promises opportunities for employee success in every HR specialty.

Topgrading Intervew

What is Topgrade interviewing?

Employers today are more focused than ever on hiring for “fit.” They’re trying to find and vet employees that will jive with the culture, pace, and expectations that are unique to their workplace. With this evolution in priorities, there has also been an evolution in interviewing approaches. There are a wide variety of interview styles and question techniques out there, and Topgrading is one approach that claims to help you find better-quality candidates and reduce your number of mis-hires. In fact, it’s the approach that the recruiting team here at Achievers uses to make A-Player hires.

Topgrading seeks to mitigate two issues that can plague interviewing and job placement: candidate dishonesty and the inability of a hiring manager to imagine a candidate in action in the position. Even slight dishonesty or exaggeration can lead to a hire that is less than successful. Combine that with weaknesses on the part of the interviewer: a hiring manager who does not ask the right questions — or the right chronology of questions, which Topgrading relies on — can fail to identify the best candidates.

An important first step to successfully employing Topgrading in your organization is to fully build the profile of the ideal person. Look beyond day-to-day duties and minimum standards and truly flesh out a description of a candidate who could best fit that role. This ensures accurate comparison when it’s time to move to the next step, which is recruiting to fit.

Once the profile is built, you should lean on it to create your job description and advertisements. Compare all of your applications against this ideal profile. The need for organizational fit is becoming increasingly important in recruiting. Early meet-and-greet sessions with several suitable candidates can determine both initial fit and whether it would benefit both your organization and the candidate to continue on the interview process.

And that’s where Topgrading takes a hard right turn from many other recruiting and interviewing paradigms. Contemporary interview techniques often rely heavily on candidate-led meetings, where resumes are used to develop questions and interviewers ask job- and background-specific questions packaged for efficient-but-short interviews. In contrast, Topgrading relies on extremely comprehensive interviews that build chronologically from a candidate’s earliest relevant background up to their current competencies. Often, those in-depth interviews rely on equally depth-exploring written packets that walk candidates through step-by-step inquiries.

Sound time-intensive? Topgrading definitely is and often relies on having many people involved in the recruiting, interviewing, and hiring process. However, the benefits — especially when filling hard-to-fill or organizationally key roles — can be enormous. When you get to know candidates at that level of detail, you can better assess their true fit within your organization. Chronologically documenting a candidate’s education and experience can ferret out dishonesties large and small that they may have relied on previously to gain new roles.

Executive Onboarding

3 high-powered onboarding tips for new executives

The cost of losing an employee at any level is significant. Losing an entry-level employee can cost you up to half their salary, but losing a senior level executive can cost more than 400 percent of their salary.

Those are just the direct turnover costs. When you lose executives, there are other costs to the company, including loss of momentum and sometimes damage to the company’s reputation. That’s why companies invest so much time in the executive search process. Despite all that effort, 40 percent of executives who take a new position fail during their first 18 months in the job.

A strong executive onboarding program can help reduce that risk of failure. Many companies have a standard onboarding program for employees that focuses on administrative matters, such as providing information about healthcare, 401K programs, and computer passwords. While those tasks need to be handled, they don’t meet the special needs of executives, whose work relies on relationships moreso than software.

An effective executive onboarding program needs to establish the new executive’s authority, provide an understanding of the organization’s culture, establish key stakeholder relationships, and clarify expectations and priorities. This requires an onboarding process that extends over weeks or months and provides the executive with the following:

  1. A customized overview of the organization

Onboarding should provide the executive a customized, in-depth review of the teams they’ll need to work with and the challenges they’ll need to address. This should be tailored to the department the executive will be responsible for and the issues they will be tackling.

  1. A detailed review of stakeholders

Stakeholders aren’t always obvious from an official organization chart. New executives need to understand exactly who has input into decision-making and the informal processes through which policies are discussed and consensus reached. Because management’s decisions succeed or fail based on how well lower-level employees carry them out, the new executive also needs insight into how those workers feel about the organization, their work, and the current processes.

  1. A statement of expectations

No executives can succeed when it isn’t clear what they are expected to do. Organizations should provide new executives with clear priorities, along with the metrics that will be used to measure success. Those guidelines let the new executive know where to focus his or her efforts and how to track progress.

Along with that information, new executives need a defined process that provides ongoing support for success. There should be a partnership between the new executive, management, and HR to make sure he or she gets the information needed to succeed, whether it’s day one or day 100 on the job.

How to Survive Deployments and Not Disrupt Your Users

How to Survive Deployments and Not Disrupt Your Users

Our panel of experts share their experiences in delivering high performing, scalable, and reliable software to the web.

In this Achievers Tech Talk, we answer your questions on code reviews, profiling, versioning, automation testing, rollout strategy, disaster recovery, and zero-downtime deployments.

We answered your questions on code reviews, profiling, versioning, automation testing, rollout strategy, disaster recovery, and zero-downtime deployments.


Kaelen Proctor — Software Architect

Kaelen has been a part of the evolution of the Achievers platform over the past five years. He’s tackled challenges in resolving performance through profiling tools, scaling the system across multiple shards and data centers, and most recently how to write maintainable and testable code.

Ross Murphy — Engineering Team Lead

Ross joined Achievers over three years ago spending the better part of two years working as a part of the release team where he implemented and improved deployment processes, led the charge on code deploys and reverted bad commits. He now works as an engineering team lead and gets to build awesome new features.

Carrie Tanguay — Release Manager

Carrie Tanguay has been the Release Manager with Achievers for the last three years and has been with the company for over five years. As the first Release Manager at Achievers, Carrie has developed and implemented several key release and change management processes, based on ITIL best practices. This release framework has allowed Achievers to continually scale, improve and execute our releases with a focus on “zero-downtime deployments” and seamless updates for our end-users.

Stephen Griffin — Principal IT Engineer

Stephen has been working in the SaaS space for over 12 years. For the last decade, he’s been building and scaling out infrastructure for cloud environments. Most recently at Achievers, he’s lead a team to add a new data center from conception to implementation in only four months.

Michelle Chen — Senior Software Developer & Panel Moderator

Michelle has been a developer at Achievers for over three years. She is an active member of the Achievers UI team, who often gets sidetracked and giggles at the thought of yellow minions. JavaScript and CSS are her choices of poison and she utilizes her exceptional organizational skills and great passion in everything she does, including administrating Achievers Tech Talks.