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Posts from the ‘Lēad Articles’ Category

A CEO is Many Things…

By CEO for One Month, Alana Couvrette

Okay I’ll admit it… Before I started my CEO for One Month journey, when I heard the word “CEO” I thought: fancy cars, private jets, exclusive access to exclusive events and, overall, someone who has the world at their fingertips.

But, in reality, a CEO is so much more than what is portrayed in the movies. I wanted to take a moment and reflect on the role of a CEO, based on my experiences as Adecco Canada’s CEO for One Month. A CEO is:

 

… a mediator
Being a CEO isn’t always glamorous. CEOs are often caught in the middle of the toughest situations and must find a way to reconcile opposing views and help parties come to an agreement. CEOs have a knack for creating the right conditions for an agreement.

… the ultimate problem solver
CEOs face the thorniest of problems. By that I mean the unresolved issues that go through multiple levels of governance before landing on their desk. They not only solve problems, but also strategically create them. Challenges help people and companies grow, and a CEO knows exactly when it’s time to push and when it’s time to heed.

… a jack of all trades and a master of them all
CEOs know their business inside out. They’re expert generalists. They navigate vastly different areas of their business with ease and confidence. They have no problem jumping from one subject area to another and they do so at a pace that is dizzying for most!

… a story teller
A CEO’s got a story for everything. Their stories serve to illustrate, engage, inspire and motivate those around them. They’ve got “past lives” that can’t quite stay in the past and they’ve worn many hats throughout their careers. CEOs entice and engage their peers with their stories, telling them how they started their businesses, what they stand for and where they’re headed.

… the boss, but not necessarily the one you’re thinking of
A CEO doesn’t have to be unapproachable or someone who makes you hold your breath when they walk by. Leadership styles can vary and no one style is better than another. Each CEO-man or woman- brings something unique to the table. This is especially important to remember for anyone thinking of taking up a leadership position: You don’t have to “be like the last CEO” to be a successful CEO.

… a mentor and is mentored
CEOs know that mentoring employees is empowering them to succeed which, in turn, makes the organization succeed. However, just because they are at the “top” doesn’t mean that CEOs do not look up to someone or something. They’re all chasing some type of “hero”.

As I pass the half way mark as Adecco Canada’s CEO for One Month, I’ll make it my goal to bear the above characteristics in mind.
The best CEO is one that carves their own path. The best CEO is your own, authentic, self.

 

 

 

THE INSTANT GENERATION CAN PLAN FOR A LASTING FUTURE

This article originally appeared in Lēad Magazine, Issue 20 – Millennials in the Workplace: Leaders of Today.

By Dr. Peter R. Andersen, Anderson Economic Research Inc. 

 

Millennials face a bright future, even though they may not see it.The malaise facing young people today cannot be attributed to age alone. The decade you are born in matters a great deal; the political climate, economy, societal values and global trends of the time significantly influence your opportunities, schooling, family life and career. Children born in the 1890s or the 1920s were unlucky; they faced the devastation of WW1 and WW2. In contrast, the 1930s and 1940s were opportune times to be born; the low birth rates during those years created little competition for university and jobs when those babies came of age during the economic boom years of the 1950s and 1960s.

The current Millennial generation is facing its own set of historical forces. Income security and careers with longevity seem hard to find in this replaceable and global job market.  The Canadian youth labour market shows elevated rates of unemployment compared to prior to the Great Recession and in relation to older Canadians[1]. Older Millennials who were able to start their careers before the 2008-2009 recession may be less affected by these trends, but the entire cohort has been negatively impacted by its aftermath. Millennials are also frustrated that the skills and knowledge they spent years acquiring (in addition to student debt) are not being utilized: among 16-35 year olds, there is a pronounced mismatch between those with medium to high literacy rates who have jobs that engage only medium-low literacy skills[2]. And traditional work no longer offers the benefits and incentives that it once did in earlier decades. The average annual income is the lowest of the last three generations[3], while the cost of housing—particularly in North American tech-hub cities (San Francisco, Silicon Valley, New York, Seattle, Toronto and Vancouver)—is at an all-time high. Job openings in these prohibitively expensive cities repeatedly go unfilled.

Companies are finding it challenging to find young candidates willing to do the work and to retain them long enough to become leaders, while Millennials are out there—desperate for career development and salaries they can use to pay off debts and raise their own budding families on. Millennials living in urban areas—as most do[4]—simply cannot afford to accept entry-level or low paying positions, and they know they are qualified for more.

Fortunately, Millennials have an expertise that will be the key to their long-term career success. They were born into the digital era and at the cusp of a new technology cycle—starting with the information and telecommunications revolution in the early 1980s when IBM introduced its first PC. And much like the Commodore 64, the Macintosh and Dell’s Turbo PC that followed suit, Millennials grew up capitalizing on technological advancements as they approached adulthood by Y2K. The productivity tools (Microsoft), access to information (Google), social networking (Facebook) and mobile computing (smartphones) that came out of the subsequent years fundamentally changed the Millennial relationship with technology like no other peer group in history. Their digital skills give them a clear advantage over the previous analog generations.

The current technology driven economic cycle is still young. Cloud computing was not introduced until 2006 and it took several years for other providers to realize the power of what Amazon Web Services (AWS) had developed. The cloud is now making a huge contribution, enabling and accelerating the start-up of new companies. While the IT application and infrastructure cycle was interrupted by the financial crisis, it is now speeding up. It will be recharged in 2017 by a rebound in the U.S. economy that should last through the rest of this decade.

The well-paying jobs that require technical expertise will be found in this sector, perfectly suited for Millennials’ skillsets and aspirations. The reduced quality of traditional full-time work opportunities is pressuring Millennials to be entrepreneurial and their efforts will fit well with nascent tech companies who require a business culture with an innovative spirit and freedom from conventional thinking and administrative bureaucracy. Millennials are ready to answer the call. They are frustrated by an analog business culture and decision making process that moves slowly; they have grown up used to quick answers and quick results. As long as they can develop their soft skills to be persuasive in the business environment—and are able to influence colleagues and sell their ideas—their efficient digital approach, creativity, passion and communal influence should lead to business success.

Their high student debt will also pay off in time. The 2013 National Graduates Survey demonstrated that median estimated earnings increase with each level of post-secondary educational completed.[5] Most graduates of post-secondary institutions are having success finding employment in both good economic climates and bad, with almost 80% of employed graduates reporting a ‘close’ or ‘somewhat’ close relationship between their education and job 3 years after graduation.[6] Education is still a worthwhile investment for this generation.

Fortunately, the next recession is nowhere in sight. The business cycle is not yet in its late stages. Fears of an extended period of secular stagnation in the U.S. are unfounded. In fact, the underlying economic fundamentals—strong household balance sheets, manageable business sector leverage, highly capitalized and liquid banks, backlogs of consumer and housing demand—all point to the onset of an extended period of solid economic growth in the United States. In time, this will inevitably spill over into Canada. Millennials already have the skills and education for success. The positive economic climate on the horizon will give them the opportunities they need to fully realize their dreams.

Source:
[1] https://www.td.com/document/PDF/economics/special/YoungAndRestless.pdf
[2] https://www.td.com/document/PDF/economics/special/YoungAndRestless.pdf
[3] http://www.environicsanalytics.ca/docs/default-source/eauc2015-presentations/dougnorris-afternoonplenary.pdf?sfvrsn=6
[4] http://www.environicsanalytics.ca/docs/default-source/eauc2015-presentations/dougnorris-afternoonplenary.pdf?sfvrsn=6
[5] https://www.td.com/document/PDF/economics/special/YoungAndRestless.pdf
[6] https://www.td.com/document/PDF/economics/special/YoungAndRestless.pdf

Consumer Expectations and Technology: The Driving Changes of Disruption in Workplace Benefits and Pensions

This article originally appeared in 
Lēad Magazine, Issue 19–Industry Disruption: You can’t afford to tune out.

 
Article By Sun Life Financial

Our expectations as a society are changing. With the growing influence of millennials – and the speed of technological innovation – the bar keeps getting higher for meeting our evolving needs faster and more effectively. While technology will undoubtedly continue to transform the modes of healthcare and financial planning, the need for benefits and pensions will remain. People will still have to save for retirement, still want their dental and drug expenses reimbursed, and still require protection in the event of a catastrophic event such as a disability, major illness, or loss of life.

Nonetheless, technologies such as tele-healthcare, wearable devices and the Internet of Things (IoT) – along with the “big data” that they bring – are expected to create powerful changes for traditional insurance models. Our elementary needs may not be changing, but we’ve come to expect much more than just getting needs met – and millennials are among those pushing these demands.

Millennial employees have grown up with the internet; they have expectations of instant access to information and gratification. It is these expectations that are inspiring Sun Life to use innovative technologies to implement preventative healthcare programs and retirement savings for both Gen X and Gen Y workers alike.

From Convenience to Prevention: Changing Expectations in Group Benefits

As a society, we’ve become increasingly impatient with repetitive administrative tasks that eat our time. This was apparent even 10 or 15 years ago. At that time, preparing and mailing benefit claims was an example of what people were trying to avoid.

That is why, in 2001, our organization launched e-claims, where routine health and dental expenses could be claimed for reimbursement online. Ten-years later – with the explosion of mobile technology – we introduced an app that lets plan members submit claims from their smartphones, get instant adjudication of their claims and check on their pension plan balances.

Once revolutionary, those innovations became adopted virtually industry-wide and spread to other verticals such as banking. Years later, simple convenience is not enough for consumers and employees.  Modern consumers are looking for more.

At Sun Life, we believe employees are looking for empowerment. They want benefits that help to prevent illness rather than just treat it. In the group benefits area, this has led to 2 trends:

  • A focus on preventive benefits, known generally as wellness programs. These include elements such as fitness, nutrition, massage, mindfulness and yoga.
  • The capability to integrate an employee’s digital health information with platforms that track, incent and reward action steps toward better health and well-being.

In 2016, we’re seeing a perfect storm of disruption: an explosion in the technologies that enable a customized health and wellness experience coupled with rapidly changing consumer expectations towards prevention and personalization, led in part – in our view – by the increasing millennial presence in the workplace.

Mobile applications and websites are being used to support employer-sponsored wellness programs, from recording health statistics, to tracking fitness goals and monitoring an individual’s weight loss progress. And wearable technologies – such as Apple Watch and Fitbit – are being adopted in greater numbers, allowing the digital transfer of activity metrics instantaneously.

As our expectations for choice and flexibility intensifies, a strong push continues for flexible health spending accounts that allow the employee to either buy the coverage they need or spend on medical and wellness-related expenses at their own discretion. It is changing the way many employers are designing and funding their benefits plans.

Gamification in Retirement Saving: a Way to Combat Instant Gratification

It is no surprise that in this age of iTunes, Netflix, and Amazon, people expect everything to be “instant” – especially millennials who have known no other way. They want simplicity and they want choice, and they want whatever they choose to be delivered as close to immediately as possible.

Plan sponsors often find themselves at a disadvantage with pensions, as they can only offer the promise of savings or retirement income to be enjoyed decades later. It’s a tough fit in an instant gratification world. But plan sponsors and providers are using technology to break through.

At Sun Life, we implemented the principles of gamification into our retirement saving program and we’ve seen it work first hand: it’s helping to popularize the benefits of saving and motivating employees to take action. Gamification uses the same elements that make games innately fun and engaging, and applies them to tools and processes that typically aren’t considered a game. In 2013, Sun Life launched a gamified online program – money UP – to increase the financial literacy of employees who have a Sun Life workplace retirement plan through their employer. Money UP challenges plan members to learn more about their retirement plan by completing a series of missions and games. It’s a fun, innovative program that can increase financial knowledge and help plan members complete important retirement and investment planning steps along the way.

Gamification can be effective among all generations, but millennials may gravitate towards it even more than others do. Gamified environments give them goals to accomplish, let them track progress towards those goals and provide a community to compete, collaborate and share with. While these elements are essential to any motivation program, they are particularly critical to millennials, who are accustomed to fast feedback and online learning.

In our world, it has been a game-changer. Millennials have not only been the most active users of money UP at 39% of players in the game, they are also most likely to take action: 39% opened a new product or increased their savings contributions in real life because of it. [1] The successes of gamification are expected to be applied to a wide range of industries and solutions looking to increase human motivation and compliance – from customer engagement, training and education, to sustainability, human resources, and health and wellness.

The Next Wave

The explosion in technology – especially mobile technology – is perhaps at its most disruptive in mature industries that haven’t traditionally relied on technology to build their businesses. Industries like print, taxis, and bricks and mortar video stores have all experienced massive change and decline.

But all industries – group benefits and retirement included – are vulnerable to disruptive change. We’re seeing it firsthand. The world is moving forward on the technology front with or without us. And expectations for simplicity, choice and personalization have long passed the tipping point. So we at Sun Life are all in – and will continue to work with the aim of meeting the changing needs and expectations of this new and growing generation of employees.


Sun Life Financial: 
The featured article is a collaboration piece between Sun Life’s Group Benefits and Group Retirement Services. Sun Life Financial is a leading international financial services organization with deep roots in Canada dating back over 150 years. They provide a diverse range of protection and wealth accumulation products and services to individuals and corporate customers, with the goal on helping Canadians achieve lifetime financial security.

[1] Results are from December 2013 through March 2016

Staying Ahead of the Competition

This article originally appeared in Lēad Magazine, Issue 17 – Competition: a driving force.

By Shalini Mitchell, Regional Director, Eastern US at Marketplace Events

Don’t rest on your laurels – staying ahead of the competition doesn’t happen by sitting back and letting things happen. Being active and responsive allows for growth, which is a vital part of any business. Just as the times change, so should your methods if you’re not getting the results you’d like to see. It was Albert Einstein who said that the definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result. Well, he does have a valid point. Keeping an open mind and adapting to change as it comes is a great start to building a business and culture that paves the way instead of trailing behind others. At the same time, embracing an innovative spirit will allow you to see new ways to improve your business. Wondering how this is all accomplished?

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Non-Competition and Non-Solicitation: Protecting Your Business from Departing Employees

This article originally appeared in Lēad Magazine, Issue 17 – Competition: a driving force.

By Jennifer Heath, B.SC., LL.B. Associate at Rubin Thomlinson LLP

Contingency planning is an essential aspect of long-term business growth. An often overlooked part of contingency planning is the impact of employee departures on a business’ long-term success. Specifically, employers should consider the following: would there be any harm to the business if a key employee resigns and then sets up a competing business or solicits major customers? If the answer is yes, then the employer must determine whether it can restrict the employee from engaging in competitive post-termination activity and, if so, how to restrict such activity.

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Disruptive Technologies and Future Staffing Needs

This article originally appeared in Lēad Magazine, Issue 15: The Value of Brand Attraction.

By Peter Andersen, PhD, Economic Forecaster Andersen Economic Research Inc.

New employees bring skills, aptitude and experience to companies, and in exchange, they are offered incentives to come on board. A company’s culture is likely to be a key attraction for new hires. If applicants find that the company’s approach to doing business suits their personal profile, a strong attraction can be created at the outset. This can be reinforced by an outline of potential career growth within the organization. Such incentives are more effective than entry-level salary and benefits.

However, there needs to be a close alignment of expectations and reality for job applicants and employers. For example, not all new employees with high-level technical skills will be a perfect fit for all technology companies. Corporate cultures can be vastly different with different histories, core values, and management styles. The same applies for companies in any industry. Read more