The Daily Recruiter

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Category: Business Ethics (Page 1 of 14)


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” By Ben Paynter, of  Fast Company”

Currently, only about 10% of cancer patients in sub-Sahara Africa receive chemotherapy treatment. More than a half million people are diagnosed with cancer in the region annually, while nearly the same number die from it each year, too. Without intervention, that toll is expected to double by 2030, partly because as people are otherwise living longer, thanks to better malaria and HIV treatments and prevention. But chemotherapy and related drugs are both expensive and tricky to use because there are so many types and stages of the disease.

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Why Compassion Is a Better Managerial Tactic Than Toughness

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“by Emma Seppälä,”

Stanford University neurosurgeon Dr. James Doty tells the story of performing surgery on a little boy’s brain tumor. In the middle of the procedure, the resident who is assisting him gets distracted and accidentally pierces a vein. With blood shedding everywhere, Doty is no longer able to see the delicate brain area he is working on. The boy’s life is at stake. Doty is left with no other choice than to blindly reaching into the affected area in the hopes of locating and clamping the vein. Fortunately, he is successful.

Most of us are not brain surgeons, but we certainly are all confronted with situations in which an employee makes a grave mistake, potentially ruining a critical project.

The question is:  How should we react when an employee is not performing well or makes a mistake?

Frustration is of course the natural response — and one we all can identify with. Especially if the mistake hurts an important project or reflects badly upon us.

The traditional approach is to reprimand the employee in some way. The hope is that some form of punishment will be beneficial: it will teach the employee a lesson. Expressing our frustration also may relieve us of the stress and anger caused by the mistake. Finally, it may help the rest of the team stay on their toes to avoid making future errors.

Some managers, however, choose a different response when confronted by an underperforming employee: compassion and curiosity.  Not that a part of them isn’t frustrated or exasperated — maybe they still worry about how their employee’s mistakes will reflect back on them — but they are somehow able to suspend judgment and may even be able to use the moment to do a bit of coaching.

What does research say is best? The more compassionate response will get you more powerful results.

First, compassion and curiosity increase employee loyalty and trust. Research has shown that feelings of warmth and positive relationships at work have a greater say over employee loyalty than the size of their paycheck.  In particular, a study by Jonathan Haidt of New York University shows that the more employees look up to their leaders and are moved by their compassion or kindness (a state he terms elevation), the more loyal they become to him or her. So if you are more compassionate to your employee, not only will he or she be more loyal to you, but anyone else who has witnessed your behavior may also experience elevation and feel more devoted to you.

Conversely, responding with anger or frustration erodes loyalty. As Adam Grant, Professor at the Wharton Business School and best-selling author of Give & Take, points out that, because of the law of reciprocity, if you embarrass or blame an employee too harshly, your reaction may end up coming around to haunt you. “Next time you need to rely on that employee, you may have lost some of the loyalty that was there before,” he told me.

We are especially sensitive to signs of trustworthiness in our leaders, and compassion increases our willingness to trust. Simply put, our brains respond more positively to bosses who have shown us empathy, as neuroimaging research confirms. Employee trust in turn improves performance.

Doty, who is also Director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, recalls his first experience in the OR room. He was so nervous that he perspired profusely. Soon enough, a drop of sweat fell into the operation site and contaminated it. The operation was a simple one and the patients’ life was in no way at stake. As for the operation site, it could have been easily irrigated. However, the operating surgeon — one of the biggest names in surgery at the time — was so angry that he kicked Doty out of the OR room. Doty recalls returning home and crying tears of devastation.

Tellingly, Doty explains in an interview how, if the surgeon had acted differently, he would have gained Doty’s undying loyalty. “If the surgeon, instead of raging, had said something like: Listen young man watch what just happened, you contaminated the field. I know you’re nervous. You can’t be nervous if you want to be a surgeon. Why don’t you go outside and take a few minutes to collect yourself. Readjust your cap in such a way that the sweat doesn’t pour down your face. Then come back and I’ll show you something. Well, then he would have been my hero forever.”

Not only does an angry response erode loyalty and trust, it also inhibits creativity by jacking up the employee’s stress levels. As Doty explains, “Creating an environment where there is fear, anxiety and lack of trust makes people shut down. If people have fear and anxiety, we know from neuroscience that their threat response is engaged, their cognitive control is impacted. As a consequence, their productivity and creativity diminish.” For instance, brain imaging studies show that, when we feel safe, our brain’s stress response is lower.

Grant also agrees that “when you respond in a frustrated, furious manner, the employee becomes less likely to take risks in the future because s/he worries about the negative consequences of making mistakes. In other words, you kill the culture of experimentation that is critical to learning and innovation.” Grant refers to research by Fiona Lee at the University of Michigan that shows that promoting a culture of safety — rather than fear of negative consequences – helps encourage the spirit of experimentation so critical for creativity.

There is, of course, a reason we feel anger. Research shows that feelings of anger can have beneficial results – for example, they can give us the energy to stand up against injustice. Moreover, they make us appear more powerful. However, when as a leader you express negative emotions like anger, your employees actually view you as less effective. Conversely, being likable and projecting warmth — not toughness — gives leaders a distinct advantage, as Amy Cuddy of Harvard Business School has shown.

So how can you respond with more compassion the next time an employee makes a serious mistake?

1. Take a moment. Doty explains that the first thing is to get a handle on your own emotions — anger, frustration, or whatever the case may be. “You have to take a step back and control your own emotional response because if you act out of emotional engagement, you are not thoughtful about your approach to the problem. By stepping back and taking a period of time to reflect, you enter a mental state that allows for a more thoughtful, reasonable and discerned response.” Practicing meditation can help improve your self-awareness and emotional control.

You don’t want to operate from a place where you are just pretending not to be angry. Research shows that this kind of pretense actually ends up raising both your and your employee’s heart rates. Instead, take some time to cool off so you can see the situation with more detachment.

2. Put yourself in your employees’ shoes.  Taking a step back will help give you the ability to empathize with your employee. Why was Dr. Doty, in the near-tragic OR moment, able to respond compassionately to his resident? As a consequence of recalling his own first experience in the OR room, he could identify and empathize with the resident. This allowed him to curb his frustration, avoid degrading the already horrified resident, and maintain the presence of mind to save a little boy’s life.

The ability to perspective-take is a valuable one. Studies have shown that it helps you see aspects of the situation you may not have noticed and leads to better results in interactions and negotiations. And because positions of power tend to lower our natural inclination for empathy, it is particularly important that managers have the self-awareness to make sure they practice seeing situations form their employee’s perspective.

3. Forgive. Empathy, of course, helps you forgive.

Forgiveness not only strengthens your relationship with your employee by promoting loyalty, it turns out that it is also good for you. Whereas carrying a grudge is bad for your heart (blood pressure and heart rate both go up), forgiveness lowers both your blood pressure and that of the person you’re forgiving. Other studies show that forgiveness makes you happier and more satisfied with life, significantly reducing stress and negative emotions.

When trust, loyalty, and creativity are high, and stress is low, employees are happier and more productive and turnover is lower. Positive interactions even make employees healthier and require fewer sick days. Other studies have shown how compassionate management leads to improvements in customer service and client outcomes and satisfaction.

Doty told me he’s never thrown anyone out of his OR. “Its not that I let them off the hook, but by choosing a compassionate response when they know they have made a mistake, they are not destroyed, they have learned a lesson, and they want to improve for you because you’ve been kind to them.”

Employee’s Hard Lesson: Social Media and Customer Relations

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“by, Eric B. Meyer,”

Raise your hand if you don’t own a smartphone.

According to this Pew survey, 64% of American adults own smartphones. And that’s just the adults.

So, it should come as no surprise that, in the brief amount of time it takes someone to pull a phone of a pocket, bring it to life, pull up a camera app, and hit record — five seconds maybe — anything you (or your employees) do in public can be stored and shared.

Trouble brewing at a national coffee chain.

That’s exactly what happened last week at a Starbucks in New York last week. NBC4 New York reports here that a national coffee chain store employee was recorded going off…on a customer. Here’s more about the incident from the NBC4 New York report:

Customer Ruby Chen, the main target of the employee’s tirade, complained about the interaction on Starbucks’ Facebook page and posted the video, provided to her by another customer in the store who filmed the entire incident on Tuesday. 

UK’s Daily Mail reports here that, once the store learned about the video, it suspended (and later fired) the employee.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the coffee store remarked that “This customer’s experience is not reflective of the service our partners provide to customers every day. Our leadership team is reaching out to the customer to apologize and make this right.”  The NBC4 New York report indicates that the store’s district manager reached out to the customer to further apologize.

Training tip for your workplace.

Many of your employees interact directly with customers. Logically, they should grasp the ease with which their actions may be recorded and shared. But, be sure to remind them of that, whether as part of your training on social media, respect in the workplace, and cultural sensitivity — or just plain old customer relations.

Why Some Employee Turnover May Actually Be a Good Thing

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“by, John Sullivan,”

 First of two parts

As turnover rates for employees continue to increase, there seems to be an almost universal agreement among HR and managers that “we must do something” to retain our employees.

But take a step back and think about it: Should all employees be kept or just the ones who currently and in the future produce high value?

In particular, should the employees with the most tenure be automatically kept, even though they may be expensive, and in some cases, they may be one of the primary roadblocks to corporate change?

In fact the goal is to identify the top potential issues that can be attributed to long-tenured employees. 

Some of the weakest-performing companies including Xerox, General Motors, Pitney Bowes, and Kodak all have a high number of years of average employee tenure and extremely low employee turnover rates. Wal-Mart revealed the performance plateauing and the diminishing ROI of longer-tenure employees in this quote:

The cost of an associate with seven years of tenure is almost 55 percent more than the cost of an associate with one year of tenure, yet there is no difference in his or her productivity. Moreover, because we pay an associate more in salary and benefits as his or her tenure increases, we are pricing that associate out of the labor market, increasing the likelihood that he or she will stay with Wal-Mart.”

My overall message regarding long-tenure employees is simple: Don’t be naïve and assume that long tenure and seniority is always a positive thing.

In fact, it might be a good rule of thumb assumption to start with the premise that initially, a lack of tenure can certainly hurt a new hire’s productivity and then tenure may pay off between five and 10 years, but after that, performance and an employee’s ROI have a significant probability of declining.

The negative impact of long tenure

Although there isn’t much publicly available corporate research on the negative impacts of long tenure, internal research by Google found that even with all its great perks, it identified the very real “sinking effects of tenure on satisfaction.” Fortunately, it also learned “that employees who self-identify as more grateful are largely immune” to this negative effect that tenure has on employee satisfaction.

The problems associated with long tenure also occur outside of individual employee performance.

For example, one study of scientific teams by Katz and Allen showed that team performance increased after 1.5 years of average team tenure but by five years it “declined noticeably.” A study of CEOs by Luo, Kanuri, and Andrews demonstrated that after five years of CEO tenure, a “company’s performance diminishes, no matter how united and committed the workforce is.”

Avoid stereotyping and don’t put every long-tenure employee into the same category. Look at individual cases in order to find out which if any of the many negative factors listed here may apply to an individual long-tenure employee and if they do, whether they can be turned around.

And to those who worry about age discrimination, note that by “long-tenure or long-term,” I’m not in any way referring to an employee’s age (a 28-year-old employee can have 10 years of tenure), but instead, I’m focusing on their years of tenure at a single company.

10 reasons you shouldn’t keep long tenured employees

  1. Performance may decline – There is ample data showing that CEO performance can decline with tenure, and the same is probably true in many of your jobs. Whether it be obsolescence, boredom, extensive self-confidence, slowed learning, or burnout, there are many proven examples where employee performance flatlines or even declines after a certain number of years. Find out when and in which jobs where performance reaches a peak at your firm. You also have to be careful about rewarding and celebrating these individuals because of their tenure, because “years of service” and seniority systems might run counter to the “performance is everything” message that executives are trying to send.
  2. Innovation may decline – In a world where innovation may have a higher ROI than employee productivity, see if innovation declines with tenure. Seek out data to see if within your firm the rate of innovation declines as tenure increases and even if there is a point where it completely ceases. Employees may have an “innovation span,” which declines with tenure or with an increase in frustration resulting from not being able to implement new ideas.
  3. An entitlement mentality may develop – Long-tenure employees may develop a sense of entitlement and an attitude that they “have put in their time” and thus have “earned” job security and special treatment. This occurs even though they have been rewarded over time for their historical contributions. This entitlement mentality may cause them to develop a negative attitude, which may impact other employees.
  4. They may become resistors to change, defenders of the status quo – Long-tenure employees may be the strongest and most powerful resistors to major change because they are comfortable with the past. Some call them “defenders of the past.” Because they have built up power, relationships, and internal political connections, they may be the most effective blockers of change in the organization. Because they have a long history with the organization, they are often the first to bring up the excuse that “we tried that once, and it didn’t work” as a reason not to try new things again. In addition, long-tenure employees may have built up cliques and “good old boys’ networks” which may act in unison to resist change.
  5. They may be resistant to technology – In a world where technology solutions have a high impact, they may use their power and relationships to avoid or slow the uses of new technology. Even when new technologies are adopted, these individuals might not use it.
  6. They are likely to be risk adverse – They may have more interest in job security, retirement, and incremental changes, so that their decisions may be overly slanted towards low risk options. It is highly unlikely that as leaders that they will “bet the firm,” even though that may be the best option in a highly competitive world. Their unwillingness to take risks and invest in “big bets” when radical change is necessary may unfortunately cause others (especially innovators) to reduce their risk profile also.
  7. A potential decline in skills – Long-tenure means long-term employment but it doesn’t guarantee that the employee has sharp or up-to-date skills. The “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” rule simply isn’t true, but overconfidence may lead them to fail to devote the necessary time in updating their skills and capabilities. Having long tenure but limited or no recent upward movement may mean that this individual has plateaued and that they do not have the “future skills” that are necessary for continued upward mobility. Whether the job requires physical or mental skills, it is wise for executives to assess the “career trajectory” of both long- and short-tenure employees. Employees in customer service may be the most likely to plateau in their performance and skills.
  8. They are likely to have a NIH attitude – Because they have been at one firm for so long, they may discount things that have occurred in other firms. This “but we are different” mantra may cause them to reject proven best practices because they were “not invented here” (NIH). This attitude may lead to excessive “trial-and-error learning” and the avoiding of external practices that can be adapted quickly and effectively.
  9. Group think and an internal focus may occur – Long-tenured employees may be way too satisfied with the status quo to the point where they develop groupthink. This may cause them to be inward focused and be less aware of and fearful of external competition. They may even reduce their anticipation of and planning for the many changes that are occurring in external environmental factors and the competition. If the organization itself has been around for many years and it has successfully overcome numerous obstacles, the overconfidence of long-tenure employees may cause them to influence executives and employees to the point where together they do not sufficiently fear external threats.
  10. A possible negative impact on recruiting and retention – Candidates may witness a “you are new so you don’t know anything attitude” because many long-tenure employees invariably introduce themselves with “the number of years they’ve been with the firm.” Candidates may be more reluctant to accept jobs when they encounter this rookies-don’t-know-anything attitude, and they may post their negative experiences with it on social media sites, driving others away. Recent hires will also experience this “we know better” attitude and that may force them to quit prematurely or reduce their performance and frustration. To make matters worse, when given the opportunity to hire new people, they may subconsciously hire “B players” because these lower potential individuals will be less threatening to them.

Is Competition Hurting Innovation?

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“By Michelle M. Smith,”

 Widely regarded as a universal leadership and business asset, competitiveness is being reevaluated in light of new research that may prove it does organizations and individuals more harm than good.

 I recently attended the C-Suite Network Conference and was completely intrigued by Margaret Heffernan’s presentation on the topic of competition, which was based on her book, A Bigger Prize: How We Can Do Better than the Competition.

The downside of competiveness

Heffernan presented a myriad of research and has drawn some surprising conclusions. Most notably, that competitiveness often backfires, producing extremely harmful side effects including: increased stress, rising levels of corporate fraud and breeches in ethics, lack of teamwork, and elevated business risk.

It seems that the competitive landscape of modern business has damaged our ability to work together.

With workforces comprised of employees and former students who’ve been trained to ‘succeed at all costs,’ collaboration and helping our colleagues are becoming remnants of a bygone era. Hyper-competitiveness and stacked ranking have caused us to see business as a zero-sum game and view colleagues as rivals in our career path.

With so many leaders focused on innovation and growth, these findings could have very damaging consequences for businesses worldwide. After all, innovation requires risk-taking and sharing half-formed creative new ideas.

If employees are reluctant to offer ideas until they’re fully formed for fear that it will be damaging to their reputation, or resist offering suggestions to improve a rival’s project, problem solving is stifled and innovation is doomed.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Inclusion, social connection, & helpfulness is key

Heffernan shared that ‘helpfulness’ was the one characteristic that made teams uniquely successful. Empathy, social connection, and everyone being expected to contribute to a result were repeatedly found to be significant factors when researchers studied teams who achieved maximum capacity.

Problem solving and innovation occurred (and happened much faster) when team members shared information, helped each other work through challenges, gave credit where it was due, and involved teammates across departments in discovering solutions.

Characteristics of collaborative cultures

So how do we create the conditions for employees to collaborate and grow?  Heffernan shared the following characteristics of organizations that are pioneering better ways to create great products, build enduring businesses, and grow relationships.

  • They’re flat organizations who get and give respect and power because it’s earned–leaders are leaders because others choose to follow them
  • They are noisy with debate
  • Mistakes are seen as learnings, rather than shameful errors
  • Intense listening and questioning occurs that opens up discussions and idea generation
  • Every decision is seen as a ‘hypothesis’ that will evolve without judgment as new information is learned
  • They are fluid and loose organizations that liberate talent across the company
  • Leaders get employees to work together across silos to build social capital
  • There’s a profound understanding that everyone needs each other and no one’s talent is to be wasted
  • They believe no one wins unless everybody wins

We can create amazing new products and solve difficult business problems if we create collaborative cultures and celebrate those who give generously of their wisdom and talents to the organization as a whole.

Categories: Culture, Leadership, Talent Management, Teams

Why We Need to Start Thinking of “People” and Not Just “Users”

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By Ron Thomas, TLNT contributor

“As somebody once said: It’s kind of arrogant to think the only reason people exist is to use what you built. They actually have lives … outside the experience they have using your product, and so the first step of designing in a human-centered way is to recognize that they’re humans.

That statement was from Facebook’s director of product design Margaret Gould Stewart, speaking at The Atlantics Navigate tech conference. Basically what she was saying is that Facebook is not calling its users “users” any more — it now refers to them as “people.”

Some companies now refer to their employee group as partners or associates. I love this new nomenclature, but I know that to some it may seem as not really having any meaning. 

As I read the Business Insider article about the tech conference, I thought about a meeting that I had with my trainers when I managed the training process at IBM.

Put yourself in their shoes

We had a client that had an older demographic and it was difficult since this was back when a lot of the employees were new to computers and our role was to get them acquainted with MS Office. I posed the question to one of our team members who was complaining about how “difficult” some of these people were: “What if that person were your mother? How would you want her treated?

The question stopped her in her tracks and I could see the lights go on. Case closed. In other words, if think of our clients as someone special, or equate them to someone we know, the dynamic changes

When we create a divide within our organization by looking at them as “others,” we have created an inherent invisible divide: us vs. them. When an organization is trying to create a competitive advantage, it has to use every resource available. That being said, it is important that we are all seen as one — whether it be customers or that most valuable asset.

Us vs. Them

I recalled another situation where we had a mid-level executive who has signed up for an executive MBA program and wanted to work out some arrangement so that he could take a few Fridays off to attend the on-site portion of the program. We came up with an arrangement that would allow him to make this happen, but for the most part, he would use vacation days and we would throw a few days in to help out.

What I found out later was that one of the senior executives was facing the same dilemma and his arrangement was that he would classify those days he was out for his program as “work from home” days.

When I found this out, I was beyond upset. We do not create one set of rules for one group and another for the “elite.” Eventually, Mr. Big Shot had to claim vacation days for his pursuit.

Treating your employees as customers

Facebook now has an “empathy team” which is charged with helping its engineers and designers understand what it’s actually like to be a user, or a business paying for advertising.

In other words, those users and customers are real people like all the rest of us. They buy our products, they work for us. This is why I have always bought into the push to treat your employees as customers

One of my mentees told me an interesting story. If she goes to a website and they use a certain ATS system, she immediately clicks away and will not apply. When I inquired further, she said “I have often wondered whether they have tried to use this system to apply for a job. Every time I use it, when I get to submit, it gets hung up and freezes. When it unfreezes, the screen is blank and I have to start all over again. I can’t.”

Have you tried your product?

So my question is this: Have you tried your own product? If someone calls your department for assistance, how are they treated? If they are perceived as someone “other” than someone who should be calling, that condescending tone comes across.

As leaders of departments, we have to be hyper aware of the message that we send. If we refer to people as “other,” we have just given our people license to adopt that other model.

I notice how people come to training sessions and the intensity that is put forth on the case studies that are part of the course. They become so engrossed in that portion that I sometimes look on in amazement.

However, do we always provide that same intensity in the workplace?  Remember, every time your phone rings, that is a potential case study on the other line.

“I am not just a user”

In order to think less about “users” and more about “people” or “customers,” walk in their shoes to get the 360-degree view. We sometimes become detached in what and how we interact, forgetting that every interaction sends a message. That message should always be about building a relationship and forging the ties that strengthen the bond.

So my hat is off to the folks over at Facebook for recognizing, in the end, that I am just not a user.

No, in reality I am actually a person that uses your product.

Heading for zero

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By Peter Bradley, DC Velocity author

Ace Hardware worked with its waste and recycling contractor to get one DC to the point where it ships nothing to a landfill. A second DC is close behind. And that’s only a part of the hardware cooperative’s sustainability efforts.

Ace Hardware, the big nationwide hardware cooperative, introduced sustainable practices to its distribution centers long before the term took on its current cachet. “We’ve always been doing recycling,” says Dirk DeYoung, the company’s facilities engineering manager.

In recent years, Ace has sharpened its focus on sustainable practices, formally adopting a sustainability program about five years ago. The company has achieved marked success in several areas—reducing waste from its distribution centers, cutting its overall energy use in those buildings, shifting to cleaner fuels for its lift truck fleet, and reducing the carbon footprint of both its private fleet and its for-hire truckers.

Earlier this year, Ace announced that one of its major import DCs had achieved “zero landfill status,” and another is at 95 percent zero landfill. That means that materials flowing through the facilities are reused or recycled, and that little or no trash is sent to landfills or incinerators. Tim Duvall, Ace’s supply chain director, says he first learned about the concept at a Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) seminar. “I presented it as a goal [to senior management],” he says. “I felt like it was the right thing to do.”

The first Ace Hardware facility to earn zero landfill status was the company’s 336,000-square-foot import redistribution center in Suffolk, Va. An analysis performed with Waste Management, Ace’s waste and recycling contractor, determined that up to 90 percent of the facility’s waste could be recycled. The process they implemented allows the facility to mix recyclables into a single stream, which is later sorted by Waste Management for sale and reuse. As a result of that effort, the facility was able to switch from a 30-cubic-yard waste container to two eight-yard containers. “We’ve now reduced that even further,” Duvall reports.

The remaining solid waste is sent to a Wheelabrator waste-to-energy incinerator in Portsmouth, Va. That plant produces steam for the Norfolk Naval Shipyard as well as electricity that it sells to the local utility.

Ace operates another import redistribution center in Kent, Wash., that has reached the 95 percent reuse or recycle mark. That effort began subsequent to the effort in Suffolk. “Once we formulated the process, we rolled it out [in Kent],” Duvall says. It has proved a bit more difficult, he says—a surprise to Ace given the Seattle area’s reputation for environmental awareness. But he says that the project “has been no less embraced by the people there.”

The next step will be to roll out the zero landfill effort at Ace’s 14 retail support centers (RSCs)—a step that Duvall predicts will be “a much more involved process.” But even without the support centers’ participation in that effort, the company’s success at recycling has been notable, Duvall says. “In 2013 alone, across our entire retail support network, Ace recycled more than 38 million pounds or 19,000 tons of pallets, plastic, and corrugate,” he says.

What the company’s managers understand—as do other managers throughout industry who have adopted sustainable practices—is that it not only makes the business a good neighbor, but it also makes good business sense. “At the end of the day, costs are in play,” says Duvall. “We are saving thousands of dollars a year in waste disposal costs.”

Ace has also worked to reduce energy use in its DCs. For example, the company has swapped out its existing lighting for high-efficiency light-emitting diode (LED) lighting in two of its RSCs. Ace projects that in its Sacramento, Calif., operation, it will cut consumption by 1.2 million kilowatt hours and save $200,000 in electricity costs per year. The Sacramento facility has reduced its demands for power by more than a third in less than three years, the company says.

Ace has enjoyed even greater success at its RSC in Princeton, Ill., a 1.1 million-square-foot facility. That building switched from 400-watt metal halide lighting to LEDs, resulting in $300,000 in annual cost savings at current electrical rates.

Furthermore, the company says, the LED lights, which emit little heat, will mean lower temperatures in the DC during the summer, further reducing energy costs. Lighting accounts for about 60 percent of a typical DC’s electrical costs, DeYoung says.

For all its efficiencies, LED lighting has one significant drawback: Its high installation costs make it unlikely that Ace, or other companies, will adopt it universally. DeYoung says the conversion only makes sense in places where electrical utilities or governments offer subsidies or incentives for the installation. Installation costs for a large DC can run $800,000 or more, but incentives can offset up to half of that, making the investment more attractive. With incentives, DeYoung expects about a 2.5-year return on investment (ROI) for the installations in Illinois and California. If the company had to foot the bill on its own, the return could take five years or more.

Ace is incorporating most of its sustainability practices at its new facilities. The company this year has opened RSCs in Wilmer, Texas, and West Jefferson, Ohio. Both have energy-efficient motion detection lighting. Their lift and reach trucks operate on GenDrive hydrogen fuel cell units from provider PlugPower. The facilities create the hydrogen, leaving only super-pure deionized water as a byproduct. The technology also saves energy by eliminating the need for a battery charging operation. Ace management is crunching the numbers to see if it can roll out the technology to other DCs.

Transportation is another area where Ace has focused substantial attention on sustainable practices. The company participates in the Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay program, which encourages shippers and carriers to operate in an environmentally responsible manner. Ace became certified as a SmartWay shipper in 2009. The company’s private fleet, about 400 tractors and 1,200 trailers, earned SmartWay certification in 2013.

To reduce the fleet’s carbon footprint, Ace made a number of adjustments to its operating practices, according to Scott McLean, director of transportation. For instance, its onboard systems track a driver’s hours of service and monitor driver behavior like hard braking and excess speed. The trucks’ governors limit vehicle speed to 65 miles per hour. Technology installed in tractors limits idling to five minutes. Side skirts on a large portion of the trailers improve operating efficiency. The company has installed auxiliary power units in its sleeper tractors so drivers can sleep comfortably without running the engines. At each RSC, tractor-trailer drivers get a weekly scorecard showing miles per gallon driven and fuel consumption.

The company has deployed route optimization software to manage delivery routes to retail stores, a step that McLean said has cut overall miles driven by 7 percent. The company re-optimizes its routes once a year, except in the Northern states, where it’s done twice annually, he says. The company, like many shippers, is making an ongoing effort to consolidate less-than-truckload (LTL) shipments into more efficient truckload and intermodal consignments.

As for how it’s all working out, Duvall reiterates his point that these efforts make sense from a pure business perspective. “It is good for the company and it is good for the environment,” he says.

When Are We Ever Going to Get That Kinder, Gentler Workplace?

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I have this recurring fantasy that corporations of the future will be kinder and gentler.

I know there’s danger in judging the world according to my personal experiences only, but nevertheless, experience tells me it’s not too nice out there.

I wish it were nicer. For example …

Earlier this week, TLNT published an article about screening applicants using social media. I’m not a huge fan of the practice, but so what? 

Opinionated people are a problem?

That said, this line really jumped out at me:

Hiring opinionated … employees runs the risk of offending others, tarnishing your brand, and poisoning the workplace environment.”

Being a loud mouth myself, my stomach did a flip-flop when I read that.

Seriously? Now having an opinion is a problem for some organizations?

News flash to employers: People who work for you have opinions. And we should be able to have opposing opinions, even strong opposing opinions, and still work peaceably and productively together. It’s called respecting others’ differences. It’s called tolerance. It’s called maturity.

Frankly, I don’t think it’s any of your business whether I believe men should only marry women, or whether I believe that such thinking is gender bias. Not everyone who believes differently than you is a liability.

From the knowledge economy to the human economy

So while I get the gist of the article, honestly, this is too damn much.

It’s as though humanity and the workplace are oil and water, when they should go together like peanut butter and jelly.

So imagine my delight when I ran across an article from the Harvard Business Review titled From the Knowledge Economy to the Human Economy.

The author, Dov Seidman, says we’re now seeing a shift from the knowledge economy, which values brain over brawn, to the human economy, which values humanity over traits that “can’t be programmed into software.” He writes,

In the human economy, the most valuable workers will be hired hearts … [they’ll] bring to their work essential traits … like creativity, passion, character, and collaborative spirit—their humanity, in other words.”

From your lips to God’s ears, Mr. Seidman.

Hold your horses, sister!

So you say, “Geez, Crystal, I think you’re missing the boat on this one. Nobody’s suggesting all opinions are bad. The author of the TLNT article was simply saying it’s a good idea to protect your business from people with the poor judgment to post their distasteful opinions on social media for everyone and their Grandma’s third cousin twice removed to see.”


Yeah, well, all I know is for every thought I could ever have, there’s someone in the world ready to take offense at it.

Enough already. At some point we must learn to separate people from their ideas (even ideas with which we strongly disagree) and move on. There’s no evidence, for example, that someone who thinks abortion is murder can’t respectfully serve a manager who’s pro-choice, or vice versa.

Shoot, if I’d decided I couldn’t work with anyone whose world view differs from mine, I wouldn’t have a single day of gainful employment to my name.

No (fill-in-the-blank) need apply

And that’s the most disturbing thought of all — that I, as a mere worker, can’t afford the luxury of avoiding every manager in the universe with beliefs I dispute, but a manager should feel comfortable excluding from the workforce anyone who doesn’t quite see things the way he (or she) does.

I’m sorry, that’s wrong, and it’s flippin’ lazy too. Stop looking for shortcuts, dude.

Listen, I’m not naïve. The hiring process is subjective, and it always will be.

But come on. We’re taking things too far. Job seekers shouldn’t have to present on social media as neutral drones — devoid of any potentially “offensive” opinion — to be deemed job worthy.

Do Manners Still Matter If You’re the Leader?

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Article by Dianna Booher, courtesty of

We are at our best with those random acts of kindness to strangers.  Coworkers and family members don’t fare so well. The reasons vary: We take them for granted and think they’ll love us anyway. Or maybe familiarity breeds irritability.

Whatever the cause, rudeness has ruined family relationships. And otherwise competent business leaders are disliked and dissed by their staff and peers because they fail to understand that manners matter.

The revival of respect and kindness could revolutionize employee engagement.

Rude? Who Me?

Leaders communicate a lack of respect and discourtesy by:

  • arriving late to meetings and wasting others’ time by keeping them waiting
  • fidgeting with electronic gadgets while others are trying to carry on a conversation with them
  • texting and emailing during a meeting
  • paying no attention during phone conferences so that things have to be repeated
  • not offering to lower the volume if a loud noise is disturbing others
  • not speaking to others when entering a room
  • failing to return a greeting when someone speaks to them
  • borrowing others’ things without asking
  • returning borrowed items in an altered condition after using them (dirty, broken, empty)
  • sulking and withdrawing when in a bad mood
  • speaking in a harsh tone when upset
  • slamming a door in someone’s face—whether intentional or in haste
  • using sarcasm or put-down humor meant to embarrass others on sensitive issues
  • “dressing someone down” in front of others so as to embarrass and humiliate that person
  •  speaking to some people but not others in a group
  • excluding others from a group during breaks or lunch simply because of the feeling that they are socially or intellectually inferior
  • not writing down messages—and then forgetting to pass the information on
  • dressing inappropriately when others have VIP customers in the office for a visit
  • leaving food and beverages sitting around in common areas
  • not offering to help others carry a heavy load
  • failing to say please and thank you or express appreciation for work done
  • failing to exchange pleasantries such as asking how others are feeling when they’ve been out sick

Great Communicators Master Manners

The opposite of these actions, of course, are the small kindnesses that communicate respect for others, engage their hearts, and ultimately increase your influence when you have an important belief or value to share.  Manners matter a great deal to leaders who last.


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By Tim Sackett, Contributor for

It is a fact that the most wanted candidates are 29-32 years old.

Okay, this isn’t a fact you will be able to track down anywhere, but it is basically true. I know this from the past 20 years of recruiting and having hiring managers hand me well-meaning job descriptions. I have attended intake meetings where I hear the best of intentions. I’ve gone back for more data after my first batch of candidates failed to connect. Then I finally learned to say, “Just tell me what you really want!”

To which they always reply:

“I just want someone who is young and aggressive!”

That’s how it happens.

Never once have I had a meeting with a hiring manager who has said, “You know what, Tim? I need a 55 to 60-year-old who gets what we are doing and can knock it out of the park!”

Never. Ever. Ever.

So why does it matter if we ignore older workers? Well, if you are happy being a frustrated talent advisor who sources candidates from an ever-shrinking pool of kids, it doesn’t matter. This strategy will work for you.

But when you have a “non-official” policy of hiring young and aggressive — and you think you are getting the best talent — you are getting the watered-down talent that has been picked through by everyone else.

Smart talent advisors should consider older workers for all jobs, but it doesn’t occur enough in the corporate world.


  1. Your hiring managers are intimidated by older, more seasoned workers who probably have more experience than they do.
  2. We have a giant misconception that anyone with “more” experience wouldn’t want to work for someone with less experience and that he or she only wants to be a leader.
  3. We have a bias toward youth and believe that young employees produce more than “old” employees. Again, not true, but it’s a hard prejudice to conquer.



Talent advisors must educate hiring managers on the issue of age bias as it relates to hiring decisions. It’s your job to challenge the status quo and consider all qualified workers for your open requisitions — not just the young ones. You should help leaders understand that their current definition of the “best talent available” is not serving the organization very well. When a requisition sits open waiting for a younger candidate, nobody succeeds.

There is also a need for talent advisors to educate our organization’s leadership on diversity metrics. Traditional thinking tells us to hire young employees because they want stay late and work more hours, while older workers wouldn’t do this. Research tells us that the opposite is happening: Millennials and Linksters are skewing the definition of work-life balance to the extreme edge of “life” instead of “work.” Baby boomers and Generation X do the opposite.

The gray wave is hitting many companies hard as retirements pick up, but not all older workers want to retire and live out their remaining days on the dock of the bay wasting time. Generational diversity is important to your organization, and the bias against older workers is something talent advisors need to stop ignoring.

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