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Thank God It's Monday!

Posted By Next Concept HR Magazine Editor, Thursday, November 1, 2018
Updated: Thursday, November 1, 2018

Contributed by Judy Dang, HR West 2019 Speaker

How many of us can't wait for the weekend?  When we can finally be freed from the shackles so we can do what we really want! Relax, go out, enjoy hobbies. Work is something unpleasant we have to do before we have fun, right?

Maybe not.

Finding Flow by renowned psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi questions that paradigm and offers strategies for turning that around. This book is a guide to finding joy through complete engagement with whatever we're doing.

What is Flow?

Csikszentmihalyi coined the term "flow" as a result of his research on optimal experience.

It describes the feeling of being fully alive, completely immersed in what we're doing. Athletes call it "being in the zone."

The Paradox of Work

Work is something most of us are glad to avoid if we can. We've been taught that work is something (usually unpleasant) we all have to do.

Yet Csikszentmihalyi's research found that: "the moments when a person is in a high-challenge, high-skill situation, accompanied by feelings of concentration, creativity, and satisfaction, were reported more often at work..." Work is where flow is likeliest to occur.

He cites a study that found 77% of American women and 84% of men say they would continue to work even if they inherited enough money to make work unnecessary.

At work we have clear aims and rules. It gives us immediate feedback through a job well done. Yet we've been trained to not enjoy it.

Strategies for More Flow at Work

You have more potential for feeling fully alive at work. How can you increase that potential?

Based on Csikszentmihalyi's concepts, here are three ways to increase flow at work:

  1. Get clear on what success means to you.
    For me, this means setting lots of small and big goals.
    For example, I set goals before going to networking events: Have 2-3 meaningful conversations. If I make those connections, the event was a success.
    The bonus is that having meaningful conversations is also a flow experience for me.

  2. Get relevant feedback.
    If you work for yourself, this can be especially challenging.
    Without coworkers, how do you process ideas with someone who can give you constructive feedback?
    We are social animals; we need and thrive on interactions with others.

    I've been fortunate to have an accountability buddy for the past 7 months.
    We talk by phone each Thursday for 30 minutes about anything and everything.
    We offer each other support, tough love, and a nonjudgmental place to test out wild ideas.
    Each Thursday is TGIT because I get to give and receive with someone who understands me and inspires me to do my best.

  3. Take on challenges that stretch your skills just a tad.
    "Flow tends to occur when a person's skills are fully involved in overcoming a challenge that is just about manageable."
    This means picking a challenge that is doable but not so easy that you get bored. Or too hard that you give up.

    A few years ago I took a graphic design class. I already knew a few concepts, so had enough basics to not feel totally lost.
    But the class was interesting enough that I found it fresh and exciting.
    We might not achieve flow experiences 100% of the time, but if there are more of them than not, we have a better chance of enjoying work every day.

    Check out Finding Flow for ways to change your relationship to work.

About Judy Dang
Based in San Francisco, Judy T. Dang is a productivity expert who works with clients to tackle physical and mental clutter so they can achieve their most meaningful goals.

Clients go from feeling stuck to moving forward. Find out why she enjoys being an introvert here!

Judy will present at HR West 2019.  March 11-13, 2019 in Oakland California.
To find out more and register for this important annual HR Industry Conference go to:
Please stay tuned for further details about Judy's session and HR West! 


HR West 2019

Tags:  HR leadership  HR Management Skills  HR West 2019  HR West Speaker  Judy Dang  Workplace  Workplace Flow 

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Fitting Data into Your Hiring Process

Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh, Wednesday, October 17, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Traditionally, data and analytics have been the domain of departments like accounting, marketing and sales, but this is changing. Increasingly, data drives all aspects of a business, including HR. Executives know this; a Gallup survey found 86% of corporate leaders said data science and analytics skills will be required of “some” or “all” HR managers in the next three years.

Despite a widespread understanding of the importance of data for HR, one study found that only 10% of large companies performed any significant analysis of employee data. This means that if your company is part of that 10% you won’t only make hiring easier and more efficient — you’ll also have a competitive advantage over your competitors.

Data collection and storage can shape your recruitment strategies, help you find the right candidates, and automate workflows for the recruitment, hiring, and onboarding processes. Here’s everything you need to know about what data to collect, how to evaluate the data's value, and how to gain actionable insights from this data that can be used to improve processes.

Getting Started With HR Data

If you’re concerned that your HR department doesn’t have the time or resources to dig into data and analytics, you may be surprised. Most companies don’t have hundreds or thousands of employees, which means that in relative terms, the amount of HR data is manageable. Likely, the hardest step will be the first one — identifying which data to collect, cleaning up your data, and establishing a process to collect it going forward.

When the data’s been cleaned up, it’s easy to use software to track and analyze it. As you start to use data in your hiring process, note that:

  • It’s important to keep the end in mind. You’ll get bogged down if you try to track and analyze every piece of data in your hiring process.
    Prioritize the areas of the hiring process you most want to strengthen, and align your data analysis with broader organizational strategy.
  • Legislation concerning employee data varies by jurisdiction. Not all states have the same legislation surrounding employee data, For example,
    Massachusetts requires most companies to write and adopt a security policy to protect customer and employee data.
  • Analyzing HR data can reveal information that will require legal and/or management responses. For instance, if female employees in a department are paid less than male employees performing the same job function, your legal team may need to get involved.

With these three things in mind, you’re ready to begin collecting data, analyzing it, and using that data to improve every aspect of your hiring process from posting your job ad to welcoming new employees on their first day.

Using Data for Recruiting and Hiring

Recruiting and hiring are serious challenges for many employers. With low unemployment rates, it can be difficult to find skilled candidates, and a whopping 93% of employers say the availability of candidates in the labor market makes it difficult to fill an open job. Further, 91% say it’s challenging to maintain a pool of candidates.

Data can help you meet these challenges. As we’ve previously explained, examining metrics can help you improve your hiring process. Data and the use of talent management systems can also make it simple to:

  • Filter resumes by keywords. No more spending hours sifting through hundreds of resumes. If you’re looking for certain skills, it takes only an instant to call up resumes  featuring those skills. If you prefer to interview candidates with a specific qualification, pull up resumes of those with that qualification. It’s so simple.
  •  Score and rank candidates. If going through hundreds of resumes once wasn’t bad enough, deciding who to interview often requires going through them multiple times to compare candidates to each other. Data can automate this process, providing you a ranked list of applicants.
  • Make recruiting decisions. After onboarding new employees, evaluate how well your recruiting efforts were: assign a “Quality of Hire” score to each candidate and look for trends in the data. Who are your highest-quality hires? What do they have in common?
  • Ensure workplace diversity. When people are responsible for determining who gets an interview, unconscious bias will slip in. Examining the characteristics of who gets interviewed and ultimately hired will show if your company has a bias towards a certain type of person. Stripping demographic information from resumes and filtering them by skills and qualifications will help reduce the bias in your hiring process. In these ways, data can make your workplace more diverse.
  • Build a talent bench. You can go back to previous applicants’ resumes to search for keywords relevant to new open positions. Ideally, this will reduce the number of open hiring processes your company goes through, as you are able to go directly back to previous candidates and find other positions for which they may be the right fit.

Using Data for Onboarding

Data is useful beyond the hiring process. Consider these ways it can make onboarding better for new employees by making it easier to:

  • Respond to new employee questions. Salesforce examined the service tickets of new hires to determine what kind of information they were looking for soon after starting their new jobs. With this information, the company developed an email journey for new hires, delivering the information they needed at the right time. The result? A 30% drop in help tickets from new employees, who had more of the information they needed.
  •  Identify mentors for new employees. Mentoring can improve staff retention, and data can help you identify the best mentors for new employees. Salesforce gleans data from its collaboration tools that reflect individual employees’ skills and interests. From this data, they are able to suggest people who may be good mentors to younger and newer employees.

When it comes to your company’s hiring process, data is your friend. Use it to make your hiring, recruiting and onboarding more efficient, more inclusive, and more tailored to your the needs of your company and your employees.


About the Author

 Chris Lennon is Vice President of Product Management at BirdDogHR. Chris is an active participant in the talent management community bringing over 18 years of experience to BirdDogHR. He has presented at numerous industry events and has been quoted as an industry expert in leading publications like Talent Management magazine, CLO magazine, New Talent Times, TLNT and HR Bartender.

Tags:  hiring  hiring costs  hr data  onboarding  recruiting 

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Member Spotlight: Srinidhi Varadhan, aPHR

Posted By Editor, Monday, October 15, 2018
Updated: Monday, October 15, 2018


Srinidhi Varadhan, aPHR
NCHRA Volutneer

  1. What led you to Human Resources as a profession/How did you get into your current role?

    My passion for HR began when I was doing pro bono work for my law school. It was an employment law telephone advice line, we provided advice to employees who had employment problems. Being the first point of contact for employees and acting as a liaison between employees and volunteer employment lawyers intrigued me to pursue HR.

  2. In your opinion, what is the future of HR? How do you see it changing over the next few years, especially in terms of HR innovation?

    Technology, especially Artificial Intelligence, is the future of HR. From enhancing and automating business processes to reducing bias through algorithm assessment program. AI can really revolutionize human resources.

  3. What do you find is the greatest reward working in HR? 

    Culture and people. Working with diversified people and learning their culture has always been my passion.
    In developing the people around us, the work done in HR goes a long way in the professional development of other employees.
    With performance reviews and interviews, HR professionals can collect valuable information that guides employee development plans.

  4.  What role has NCHRA played in your career? 

    NCHRA and certification that I prepare for with NCHRA is a playing key factor in my job search. Companies recognize that I am a member of a reputable HR association.
    Volunteering with NCHRA has improved my network and helped me attend conferences and networking events to keep me up-to-date with HR and HR technology.

  5. What is something people might not know about you?

    The National Park service in the U.S. is a fantastic idea. I am a big fan of this concept. I would like to complete visits to 60 national parks in U.S.
    So far I have visited 9 national parks in California and 5 in Utah. 


If you’re interested in talking to Sri or have an HR job opening
, please send us an email at

Tags:  candidate  HR professional  nchra member spotlight 

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Six Reasons to Consider Upon Adding a College Savings Option To Your Benefits Suite

Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh, Wednesday, October 3, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, October 3, 2018

** Contributed by Julio Martinez, Executive Director, ScholarShare Investment Board **

As an HR professional, you are probably always on the lookout for new, competitive benefits to help retain your employees and attract the best talent. With college costs exponentially rising, today’s parents are looking for the best ways to save for future higher education expenses. There’s a growing trend in HR that addresses both of these important goals...

Read this article on Next Concept HR Magazine.

 ScolarShare529 is a NCHRA Platinum Sponsor


Tags:  529plans  benefits  employee benefits  scholarshare 

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Creating a Coaching Mindset in Organizations

Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh, Thursday, September 27, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, September 26, 2018

*** By Allison Holzer, InspireCorps ***

Leaders today invest in coaching more than ever before. In fact, between 25 to 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies hire executive coaches. According to a recent Harvard Business Review (HBR) article on the subject, leaders “see personal involvement in the development of talent as an essential activity for business success.”

Research supports the investment in coaching in organizations, with meta-analytic reviews showing that coaching significantly increases “performance and skills, well-being, coping, work attitudes, and goal-directed self-regulation” (Theeboom, Beersma & Van Vianen, 2013).

In today’s highly competitive and turbulent market, organizations cannot afford high turnover or the loss of their greatest talent, so there has been an increasing priority on attracting, retaining, and cultivating top talent.

Coaching is seen as a key strategy in doing this. Managers who are either trained to coach internally or hire external coaches do so to invest in and accelerate the performance of their top talent and steady performers.

In our experience collectively, leaders don’t just hire coaches to retain and accelerate the performance of their top talent. Leaders hire coaches because they want their teams to think and act like coaches.

Coaching Mindset Contagion

On a personal note, I first fell in love with coaching in 2006. Participating in a coaching certification course changed my orientation to the world, my mindset, and what I saw as possible for both myself and others.

Prior to that time, I had more rigid views of myself and the world, often judging myself harshly for setbacks or making fear-based decisions. The process of both coaching and being coached shifted my mindset to allow more flexible and growth-oriented views of myself and the world, being more empathetic and emotionally agile, learning from setbacks, and making decisions based on resonance.

After speaking with hundreds of coaches over the years, I have found that this experience is not uncommon. There is power in the process of being coached — it can fundamentally shift how one views oneself and others in a way that has positive ripple effects going forward.

I believe that this coaching mindset and the opportunity for positive change is what leaders seek when they hire external coaches. They do so with the hope that the process will fundamentally shift those who go through it in a transformational way that leads to more effective decision-making, better problem-solving, greater well-being, and more flexible approaches. These shifts benefit not only the client, but also the team and organization at large.

Companies that want to cultivate a coaching mindset culture do not have to send all of their employees to coach training programs, though. These mindset shift and skills can be learned through the process of being coached or even through an internal company training or peer-coaching program that focuses on key characteristics.

Five Characteristics of a Coaching Mindset

Although a coaching mindset includes many different qualities, the following five characteristics align tightly with organizational success. The majority of our clients over the past five years have identified these characteristics as top priorities for their talent to ensure business success:

1. Deep, Full-Body Listening

Coaches are trained to listen deeply with their bodies, eyes, and ears. They listen to what clients are saying verbally and look for what’s being communicated non-verbally. They listen for “resonance” — the emotion behind the words.

And they listen to their own bodies as clues for what is happening for clients. Leaders who more deeply tune in to their team, their customers, and their stakeholders have a better understanding of their needs. This leads to stronger interpersonal connections and better decision-making.

2. Radical Curiosity  

Coaches learn how to ask powerful questions. These are questions that have no clear answer and cannot be answered with a “yes” or a “no.” Instead, powerful questions open up clients to think about a problem differently.

The most powerful questions are those that make clients stop in their tracks, get quiet, and go deep to answer them. Radical curiosity and deep, full-body listening are essential elements of empathy, which has been shown in recent research to be directly linked to commercial success in business.

3. Practical Empathy

Coaches are trained to be empathetic, but in a practical way — with some emotional distance from their client. This allows them to get into their clients’ heads and hearts to understand what they are experiencing without getting pulled in too far. They learn how to be empathetic without experiencing “compassion fatigue.”

Empathy is a critical skill in coaching and in business. As I wrote in a recent InspireCorps blog post and according to a recent HBR article and the 2015 Global Empathy Index ratings: “there is a direct link between empathy and commercial success.”

4. Possibility Focused  

Coaches learn to be possibility focused, rather than problem-focused. They look for emotional “resonance” — what is leading to excitement, joy, optimism.

Leading coaching researcher Anthony Grant has studied the impact of solution-focused versus problem-focused orientation in coaching. He has found that when people focus on possibility and future solutions, they create more concrete and actionable plans towards achieving their goals. A possibility focus can benefit everyone, from managers working with their team in performance reviews to employees generating new ideas for a product launch.

5. Relationship First

Coaching is often referred to as a way to accelerate performance. However, at its core, coaching is about the person first and foremost and the coaching relationship — a relationship that focuses on strengths and possibilities. When the person feels supported, inspired, and motivated through the coaching relationship, the growth in performance happens as a result.

Leaders at all levels struggle with many personal challenges that can affect their business. And it can be lonely at the top, especially for women. The process of coaching often reminds people of their own humanity, the importance of seeking support from others, and cultivating key relationships.

How a Coaching Mindset Leads to Business Results

My appreciation for the impact and power of coaching is rooted in both personal and professional experiences. The positive paradigm shifts I’ve seen my executive clients and their teams go through as a result of developing a coaching mindset includes greater emotional agility and empathy, more flexibility and openness, stronger resilience, and better decision-making.

In a business environment characterized by a fast-paced culture and rapid change, hiring an executive coach and developing a coaching mindset is one of the most sustainable, cost-effective, and agile interventions a leader can make today. It is not only an investment in the performance of that leader, it is an investment in a mindset shift that can lead to cascading positive impact across the organization.



Braunstein, K., & Grant, A. M. (2016). Approaching solutions or avoiding problems? The differential effects of approach and avoidance goals with solution-focused and problem-focused coaching questions. Coaching: An International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice, 9(2), 93-109.

David, S. (2016). Emotional agility: Get unstuck, embrace change, and thrive in work and life. Penguin.

Holzer, A.A. (2017). Empathy Works and You Can Work It. Inspired Insights:

Parmer, B. (2015). The Most (and Least) Empathetic Companies. Harvard Business Review:

Pudrovska, T., & Karraker, A. (2014). Gender, job authority, and depression. Journal of health and social behavior, 55(4), 424-441.

Pritchard, M. (2016). Executive Coaching: The FORTUNE 500's Best Kept Secret. LinkedIn:

Theeboom, T., Beersma, B., & Van Vianen, A. E. (2013). Coaching in Organizations–A Meta-Analytic Review of Individual Level Effects. In Academy of Management Proceedings (Vol. 2013, No. 1, p. 11881). Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510: Academy of Management.

Waytz, A. (2016). The Limits of Empathy. Harvard Business Review:

Weintraub, J. & Hunt, J. (2015). 4 Reasons Managers Should Spend More Time on Coaching, Harvard Business Review:

Tags:  coaching  effective leadership  HR coaching  hr leadership 

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