Today’s post comes to us from Workforce Institute board member and Skeptical Guy, John Hollon. 

When some people talk, others sit up and listen. 

So it is with well-known HR technology analyst Josh Bersin. He recently wrote that he believes that the U.S. economy is getting ready to take off, and that a booming job market will be right behind it. 


Others have been making the same case, but Bersin takes the forecast to another level when he says that, "We are about to enter one of the hottest job markets in a decade." 

That's a bold statement considering how strong the job market was prior to the global pandemic and lockdown, but he points out that we're already operating with 13% more open jobs than we had a year ago, and, that estimates from Goldman Sachs predict that the unemployment rate will drop to 4% by the end of the year. 


That's amazing given what we all experienced in 2020, with a year-long lockdown and some of the worst unemployment numbers since the Great Depression. 

Making the most of an internal talent marketplace 

What's even more surprising is that Bersin not only makes the strong-but-obvious case for better funding and management of your talent acquisition team, but also to "accelerate your internal talent marketplace" as well. And THAT tells you that the concept of an internal talent marketplace has now graduated from niche concept to mainstream business practice. 


Don't know what an internal talent marketplace is exactly? 

Here is some background: It's a more efficient, technology-driven employee management and retention system. Better retention is the one of the big end-goals, and an internal talent marketplace does that by tracking the skill-set of employees and then helping them to develop and build upon their skills. This sometimes means upskilling (building upon and advancing someone's current skills), or reskilling (training in new skills). 


But an internal talent marketplace does something else as well -- it tracks what skills employees have, what jobs they have worked in, and works with them to build a career path within the organization. The larger goal is to better utilize employees when internal openings occur. As a result, filling openings with current staff as part of their career growth experience becomes more important than just recruiting people from the outside whenever a position opens up. 

Some companies have done this for years, but the pandemic and lockdown made the internal talent marketplace a more important concept and built on the notion that current employees were important resources that could be utilized all over an organization. 


As Bersin put it:
"(During a labor shortage) It starts to take months to find people, and employees with in-demand skills start job-hopping. This makes an even bigger case for internal mobility.

One of the most exciting innovations in HR is the creation of internal talent marketplaces. Big companies like Cisco and IBM have had strong internal mobility programs for years. Now, technology can help any company manage and facilitate internal mobility much more efficiently. 


For example, if you have a good talent mobility system, you can identify employees with key skills (such as marketing professionals, software engineers or analysts) and move them from business unit to business unit based on demand. This is a good thing for employees’ careers and greatly increases the dynamism of your company. It’s also much less expensive than hiring externally."

Filling that opening with someone right under your nose 

It sounds obvious -- Why wouldn't companies want to look to current employees first and give them a shot at internal opportunities that open up? 


Well, as people who have worked for a few years know, a great many organizations are pretty terrible about letting employees know about open positions inside the company. And, growing and promoting employees takes a deep commitment from top management and a strong company culture that puts a premium on making it happen today, tomorrow, and in the months and years to come. 

Deloitte probably described the thinking behind internal talent marketplaces best: 
"The business opportunity is clear-cut. First, you can avoid replacement and recruitment costs incurred when people leave. But even greater is the opportunity to reshape your employment brand and workplace culture. Many of today’s youngest workers are eager to build their careers rapidly and want to work for organizations that challenge them and promote them quickly. Internal mobility — how that happens—is not just a way to retain talent. It also helps to create a powerful magnet for people outside your organization who seek professional growth. 

The result? The talent market can see your organization as one that champions ambition and performance in everything it does. Think about what kind of talent you’ll attract and keep — whether inside or outside your organization." 


Yes, maybe the U.S. economy is ready to take off and recruiting and hiring will go gangbusters again. But even if it does, embracing internal talent marketplaces is a good thing for smart companies to do. After all, the person who may be the best fit for that job you're trying to fill might already be working for you ... and right under your nose. 

Today's post comes to us from Workforce Institute board member John Frehse.Here he discusses why a slowing economy doesn't release top talent for you.

Talented employees are a precious resource. The Container Store has a famous mantra: Three good employees are equal to one great employee. I agree with them. Great employees contribute more, promote a positive culture, and drive extreme results. Unfortunately, they are also becoming harder and harder to find.

The problem with talented employees is that they are always in demand. As global markets retract, the need for talent may actually increase as companies require a higher level of performance from fewer employees. This may cause the supply of available great employees to shrink, creating wage pressures and trapped revenue for those that cannot function without them.

Great employees are dedicated and rarely available in the free market for hire. They must be lured away from companies that place a high value on them. When negative market trends appear, they are the last to be considered for layoff. What does happen is medium to low performing employees become greater in supply and this does not improve hiring situations for companies in need of talent.

Challenges upskilling and large skills gaps are already clearly defined in areas such as manufacturing and technology, but this may only get worse.

It would be an incredible advantage if your company was better than the rest of the marketplace at identifying and hiring talent. As technology catches up with the marketplace for great employees, it has become easier to identify talented employees (and to hire them away from companies who do not fully appreciate them). Visibility into individual employee thought leadership, project work, and general accomplishments is on display on LinkedIn and other platforms, and more hourly employees are participating than ever before.

Because of sites like Glassdoor and social media in general, talented employees also have more visibility into the true culture of companies in their field of interest than they ever have before. It is easier to identify the great companies but also the underperformers. This visibility into areas of compensation, culture, and total rewards is allowing employees to find the right employer. Companies talking the talk but not walking the walk are getting punished both on social media and business sites. Transparency is allowing talented workers a job mobility they have not always enjoyed. This will only increase as technology improves this visibility into the truth.

So, what can be done? The first step is to look within your own company and be honest about the culture. Too many organizations suffer from the Pollyanna effect. This is when companies ignore realities and refuse to discuss internal challenges (which all companies have). Instead, they promote a false narrative about how everything is perfect. No company is without challenges, and employees know the truth. Not addressing this truth perpetuates a broken culture and this will inevitably spill out into public view.

Today's post comes to us from Workforce Institute board member and executive director of the International Public Management Association for Human Resources, Neil Reichenberg, who provides a high-level overview of their 2019 Workplace Trends Survey.

The Center for State and Local Government Excellence recently released our 2019 Workforce Trends survey which found that the top workforce challenges facing U.S. state and local governments are (1) recruitment and retention of qualified personnel with the needed skills for public service and (2) providing competitive compensation. The survey results emphasize the importance of state and local governments adopting innovative practices in order to attract and retain needed staff. Other workforce issues important to state and local governments include employee morale, employee engagement, retaining staff needed for core services, and leadership development. The report is based on survey responses from the members of the International Public Management Association for Human Resources and the National Association of State Personnel Executives.

This year’s survey included a focus on the gig economy, with office and administrative support, accounting, and information technology positions being the most common areas filled by those working on a temporary or contingent basis. Some functions such as policing, emergency dispatch, corrections, and firefighting/emergency medical are hard-to-fill positions, which due to the nature of the work are difficult to staff by those working on a temporary or contingent basis. The impact of the gig economy on governmental organizations was measured, with the biggest positive being management flexibility while the greatest drawback is the impact on the morale of full-time employees.

Reflecting a strong economy, hiring has picked up with 80% of respondents reporting that they hired employees. Only 7% say that they undertook layoffs as compared to 42% who implemented layoffs in 2009. This year, almost 60% of respondents indicated higher levels of full-time hiring as compared to last year, and only 10% noted that hiring would be reduced from last year. Interpersonal, technology, and written communications are the skill-sets most needed in new hires. The most successful recruitment practices in reaching qualified candidates include online job advertisement, government websites, employee referrals, and the use of social media.

Workplace flexibility is becoming increasingly important and almost 20% of survey respondents have either increased the number of those eligible for flexible work or the range of flexible work arrangements that are offered. The most common work practices are flexible schedules, flexible work hours, and telework. Employee development both through in-house training as well as funds for training and tuition, wellness programs, leave benefits, recognition programs, and onboarding are the most popular programs designed to encourage employee retention and development.

Survey respondents believe that their benefits packages are more competitive than their pay, with 88% indicating that the benefits they offer are competitive with the labor market while 56% say their wages are competitive with the labor market. Government employers continue to shift more health care costs from the employer to employee (36% of survey respondents) and are implementing wellness programs (28% of survey respondents). Almost 50% of respondents believe their employees are not prepared financially for retirement, indicating an area on which governments should focus.

The following post is courtesy of board member, and Skeptical Guy, John Hollon. In this post, John discusses the importance of soft skills for success in the workplace.

It's surprising that soft skills get so little respect in today's workplace.

Look at any job description posted for just about any job. What you'll find is a long list of very specific technical skills that are required, as well as specific job experience the hiring manager wants. Rarely, if ever, will you find anything directly addressing any soft skills that the job candidate needs to possess.

This is baffling, because ongoing evidence continues to confirm that soft skills are really the key to great employees.

Back in August 2016, The Wall Street Journal reported that companies all over the U.S. were finding it increasingly difficult to find applicants who could communicate clearly, take initiative, problem-solve and get along with co-workers. These traits, often called soft skills, “can make the difference between a standout employee and one who just gets by.”

Nearly three years later, the hunt for workers with strong soft skills has grown even more urgent.

Just last month, a CareerBuilder hiring survey found that the top employment and hiring trend this year was that "candidates' soft skills are increasingly important when applying to jobs."

And just how important are those soft skills? The survey said that a whopping 92 percent of employers "say soft skills, including interpersonal skills, communication abilities, and critical thinking, (are) important in determining whether they hire candidates.”

It's hard to get much more important than that.

In addition, 80 percent of employers in the CareerBuilder survey said "that soft skills would be equally or more important than hard skills when hiring candidates, since specific technical skills are necessary for some jobs."

This points out something that many recruiters and hiring managers seem to forget: While an employee's technical skills may get their foot in the door, it's their people skills -- aka, soft skills -- that will open most of the doors to come. It's a person's work ethic, attitude, communication skills, emotional intelligence, and other soft skills that are critical for career success.

Whether you hire high-level executives, minimum wage workers, or anybody in between, their social skills and ability to communicate well with those they work with -- yes, their "soft" skills -- are critical to their success.

Chief Executive magazine made this very same point when they noted that, â€œAccording to PricewaterhouseCoopers’ ‘CEO Survey,’ 77 percent of respondents believe that the biggest threat to their businesses stems from underdeveloped soft skills. After all, not striking a balance between soft and hard skills can limit businesses from maintaining a competitive advantage.”

During my management career, I've seen the importance of soft skills downplayed at just about every level -- from recruiter to hiring manager to line manager to top-level executive. And, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen high-level managers pooh-pooh the need for soft skills despite all the research to the contrary.

This new CareerBuilder survey is just the latest to make the case that soft skills are incredibly important, despite the postings you see on job boards and company career pages that make no mention of them at all.

If there’s one thing Millennials have made clear, it’s that the ability to connect with people personally will never go out of style. If you aren’t focusing on soft skills in your recruiting and hiring, you better get going because you’ll need them more and more as Millennials and Gen Z become a larger and ever more important part of America’s workforce.

Today’s post, the second in a 3-part series, comes to us from Workforce Institute board member and HR Bartender Sharlyn Lauby. Be sure to check out part one “5 Currencies Essential to Your Company’s Employee Value Proposition”. In today's post, she talks about the importance of creating employee trust in your organization.

With unemployment rates at historic lows, companies are very focused on recruiting. Not just finding and hiring the best talent (which is important) but having a recruiting process that’s going to pave the way for new hires to do their best work and stay with the organization.

The key to hiring and retaining the best talent is trust. If we want people to apply for jobs, they need to trust the company. Candidates will accept the company’s offer, if they trust the recruiter and hiring manager. And ultimately, new employees will stay only as long as they feel they can trust the work environment.

During last year’s KronosWorks conference, Malysa O’Connor, senior director of marketing at Kronos, talked about some of the research they’re seeing regarding today’s recruiting environment and how companies use that research to tweak their existing recruiting process for better results. Here are some highlights:

Start a conversation with prospective candidates before they apply. O’Connor shared that 76 percent of candidates research organizations online before applying. Obviously, organizations want candidates to find out the “good stuff” about the company. One way for them to hear about the good things the company is doing is to hear it directly from the company. Create a talent network that allows prospective applicants to stay in touch and hear what’s happening inside the organization.

Leverage technology to the company’s advantage. One-third of candidates say an organization needs at least a three-star rating on sites like Glassdoor and Indeed for them to apply. There are a couple of ways for companies to address recruiting rating sites. First of all, create a fantastic candidate experience and you won’t have to worry. But that’s easier said than done. The second strategy is to encourage (not force) candidates and employees to rate the experience.

Provide applicants with a realistic job preview. Forty-six percent of candidates will evaluate a company’s reputation before accepting a job offer. Part of that evaluation is going to be looking at whether the offered position is being presented in an accurate light. Today’s candidates aren’t looking for surprises. They are fine with accepting less than perfect opportunities provided the company is being transparent and honest about the requirements of the position.

Use onboarding to bridge the candidate and employee experience. O’Connor mentioned that 83 percent of candidates base their decision to apply on an organization’s values. This means that during interviews, candidates will be looking to see if a credibility gap exists in the company’s employment brand. Not only will organizations want to include a values conversation in interviews, but during orientation and onboarding as well.

Good processes will yield good outcomes. Organizations that want to hire the best talent need to have an excellent recruiting process because candidates have choices. And if the organization wants candidates to choose them, then understanding how to build trust in the recruiting process is essential.

Today's post comes to us from Neil Reichenberg, Americas board member and Executive Director of the International Public Management Association for Human Resources (IPMA-HR).

The 2018 State and Local Government Workforce Trends report recently issued by the Center for State and Local Government Excellence found that the recruitment and retention of qualified personnel with the needed skills for public service was the top priority workforce issue. Other top priority workforce issues are employee morale, providing a competitive compensation package, and employee engagement.

The report is based on survey responses by members of the International Public Management Association for Human Resources (IPMA-HR) and the National Association of State Personnel Executives (NASPE).

This is the 10th year that the survey has been conducted and the report includes some very interesting trends data. For example, state and local governments report low incidence of negative employment actions as compared to 2009 at the height of the recession. Only 8% reported imposing either hiring freezes or layoffs in 2018 as compared to 68% reporting hiring freezes and 42% conducting layoffs in 2009. Similarly, only 16% as compared to 41% in 2009 reported making retirement plan changes.

Another positive trend is that almost 80% of the respondents indicated that they are hiring more employees this year. Policing is the top position that organizations report having a hard time filling. Due to the nature of the work, none of the respondents said they can fill positions through temporary or contractual arrangements. Engineering, information technology, emergency dispatchers, skilled trades, and accounting are other positions that governments are struggling to fill. Office and administrative staff positions are the ones most likely to be filled by temporary or contractual arrangements.

In terms of what employers are looking for, interpersonal, technology, and written communications are the skills most needed in new hires. Online job advertisements are the best recruitment source followed by employee referrals, government websites, and social media. To make themselves more competitive employers, almost half are offering flexible schedules, such as compressed workweeks and flexible hours. However, a third stated they do not offer any flexible work arrangements.

By a large margin, the respondents believe their benefits packages are more competitive than their pay. There were 90% who said that the benefits that they offered were competitive with the labor market as compared to 56% who reported that their wages were competitive. State and local governments continue to shift more health care costs to their employees, with almost 1/3 reporting they have taken this action during the past year. Close to 20% noted they have implemented wellness programs.

It's great to see state and local governments hiring and expanding, but the low rate of unemployment coupled with the increasing number of retirements (44% reported higher number of retirements than the year before) will make it a challenging environment for state and local governments to compete for top talent.

What challenges are you seeing in this space? What do you think state and local governments could do to better compete for top talent? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Today’s post comes to us from board member Sharlyn Lauby. a.k.a., The HR Bartender and president of ITM Group, Inc., a training company focused on developing programs to retain and engage talent in the workplace. 

It shouldn’t be a surprise that there’s been a shift to a candidate-driven job market. And organizations are feeling the impact. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) report titled “The New Talent Landscape”, 68 percent of HR professionals are experiencing difficulty recruiting candidates. This isn’t expected to go away anytime soon. The Washington Post reports that “2018’s Challenge: Too Many Jobs, Not Enough Workers”.
This scenario is exactly why employers need to focus on the candidate and employee experience. Because employees have choices. And similar to the customer experience, if a candidate or employee doesn’t like their experience with the organization, they will go elsewhere.
At this year’s KronosWorks conference, I had the chance to hear Stacey Kervin, SHRM-CP, HR Practice Lead, speak about how to design a winning employee experience. She spoke about how our expectations as consumers are influencing our expectations of employers.   So, it makes sense to use the principles behind a winning customer experience to drive the design of a winning employee experience.
Let me add that, when organizations are talking about defining their employee experience, it’s important not lose sight of candidates. There are opportunities in the hiring process to show candidates what the employee experience will be like. And one of the first impressions people receive of the employee experience is during onboarding. Think of onboarding as the process that connects the candidate and employee experience.

4 Employee-Centric Concepts to Consider

Kervin outlined four concepts that organizations can use as the foundation for designing their employee experience: transparency, personalization, real-time, and tech-enabled. Here’s how each one plays a part in the candidate and employee experience.

  1. Transparency is centered on giving candidates a real look into the organization and the job. During the hiring process, companies can use realistic job previews to give candidates a glimpse into the organizational culture. Managers can also discuss with candidates (and then employees) what’s expected from them. HR contributes by making sure employee handbooks, training programs, performance reviews, etc. all contain company standards and performance expectations.
  2. Personalization includes giving new hires a roadmap so they know what their first day, week, month, and year will look like. Of course, we’re not talking about down-to-the-minute detail. But even providing a checklist of activities helps employees to know that the company has a plan and wants them to succeed. Speaking of success, personalization also includes rewarding and recognizing employees in ways that are meaningful to them.
  3. Real-time focuses on being in the moment. Hiring managers and HR should put themselves in the candidate and new hire’s shoes. Consider adding a preboarding process for activities like new hire paperwork, benefits enrollment, etc. to get them out of the way early. Not only does it fulfill the company’s compliance requirements, but it satisfies the employee’s needs. While it’s true that managers and HR have a full plate of responsibilities, taking care of employees is one of those roles. Make them a priority.
  4. Tech-Enabled means two things. First, be where your future workforce is. From a recruiting perspective, that includes social media, mobile, etc. On some level, today’s candidates expect companies to be tech savvy. Organizations don’t have to be early adopters but they do need to use technology to maximize productivity. There is still value in human interaction, but that doesn’t mean companies can’t use tools like Slack or apps (such as Done or Habit List) to make employees work lives easier.

Align Your Employee Experience with Culture

Doug Conant, former CEO of Campbell’s Soup once said, “To win in the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace.” Organizations with best-in-class experiences will have candidates, employees, and customers choose them. But remember, perks aren’t the same as experiences. Foosball tables and free food are nice. We’re not saying don’t offer perks. However, a true employee experience is based on trust, relationships, moments of truth, and technology.

P.S. Be sure to register for Stacey Kervin’s upcoming webinar on “New Hire Momentum: The 3 P’s of Onboarding You Can’t Miss”. It’s scheduled for Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 1:00p Eastern. And if you’ve already got something planned, sign up anyway so you can get the recording afterward. The program is eligible for SHRM and HRCI recertification credit. Before the webinar, take an advance peek at the research study that will be discussed.

Today's post is courtesy of Joyce Maroney, Executive Director of the Workforce Institute @Kronos.  

Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing Derek Baltuskonis, Director of Talent Acquisition at Intuit.  You probably know that Intuit is a giant in the information technology space, well known for its flagship products QuickBooks, TurboTax and Mint. Along with being known for its popular products, Intuit is also widely recognized as a great place to work with a unique corporate culture that contributes to the company’s long-term success. Intuit was ranked #13 on this year’s Fortune 100 Best Places to Work list up from #34 last year. The company is headquartered in Mountain View California and has just under 8,000 employees.

During our conversation, Derek and I discussed the following topics among others:

  1. Derek began his career in Finance.  How and why did he make the move to HR?
  2. How do Intuit's company values shape their recruiting and retention strategies?
  3. Derek discusses Intuit's strategies for ensuring that the diversity of their workforce is robust.
  4. As a company, Intuit has really embraced social media – with almost 150,000 followers on LinkedIn, 224,000+ likes on Facebook, and one of the highest rated CEOs on Glassdoor. Learn about Intuit leverages their social presence in their recruiting efforts.

You can listen to our conversation below.  And please comment and let us know how your organization is attracting and retaining your best talent.

Podcast with Derek Baltuskonis of Intuit:

 

 

 

 

The following post comes to us courtesy of board member Neil Reichenberg. Neil is the Executive Director of the International Public Management Association for Human Resources (IPMA-HR) , a nonprofit membership organization representing public sector human resource managers and professionals.

Reflecting an increasingly tight labor market in the United States, recruitment and retention of qualified personnel with the needed skills for public service topped the list of workforce challenges, according to the State and Local Government Workforce: 2017 Trends report from the Center for State and Local Government Excellence. The report is based on responses to a survey by members of the International Public Management Association for Human Resources (IPMA-HR) and the National Association of State Personnel Executives (NASPE).

A total of 91% of survey respondents cited recruitment and retention as being important to their organizations. Staff development, leadership development, and workforce and succession planning also were cited as important challenges facing the public sector.

Hiring has picked up significantly, with 74% of respondents indicating that their governments hired employees during the last year, and 47% reporting that they retained contract or temporary employees. This finding is consistent with the annual IPMA-HR employment outlook survey, in which 66% of survey respondents reported that their governments planned to hire for new positions. However, for those who are creating new positions, half say that the increase will be less than 1% of the current workforce and 40% of the new positions will be in public safety. Despite the increase in hiring, there are fewer government workers today as compared to the start of the recession.

The report noted that interpersonal, written communications, and technology skills are the ones most needed by new hires. Police officer, information technology, engineer, and health care are the positions that governments have the hardest time filling. Online job advertising, government websites, employee referrals, and social media are the most successful recruitment practices for reaching qualified candidates.

Reflecting the increasing cost of health insurance, half of the survey respondents indicated that their governments had made changes to the health benefits they offered to their employees. The most common changes included: shifting more costs to employees, implementing wellness programs, and shifting employees to high deductible plans with a health savings account.

Overall, the survey respondents believe that their pay and benefits are competitive with the labor market. However, while 93% believe that their benefits are competitive with the labor market, only 64% indicated that their pay is competitive with the labor market. This finding is supported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which reported in June 2017 that for private sector workers, benefits comprises 30% of compensation as compared to 37% for state and local government employees.

Many of the findings contained in the report are likely to be similar for the private and non-profit sectors in the United States as well.

What about you? What are the major challenges your organization faces in 2017 and beyond? Do any of the findings of this survey surprise you? Tell me about it in the comments section!

IMG_1519In August, Kronites packed 890 backpacks for Citizen Schools - a non-profit organization that partners with middle schools across the United States to expand the learning opportunities for children in low-income communities. Over the next few weeks, these backpacks will be delivered to students at Browne and Wright middle schools in Chelsea, Massachusetts. Several Kronos customers and partners donated items for the bags, including Justice, Cognizant, Workforce Insight, and The WFC Group.

Here at Kronos, we are passionate about our Give Inspired initiatives. As a company, we believe it's important to give back to our communities. For our employees, it gives them an opportunity to work together on an objective that has deep personal purpose for many.

It's no surprise that Kronos' Give Inspired program has our employees engaged. Last year, WeSpire conducted a survey on "The Evolution of Employee Engagement." The survey found that 50% of respondents were interested in becoming more involved in their organization’s volunteer, sustainability, well-being, or social responsibility programs. 71% of employees under the age of 30 expressed a desire to be more involved.

While corporate social responsibility helps to engage (and retain) your current employees, a solid program can also help attract top talent. According to a 2014 Nielsen survey, 67% of employees prefer to work for a socially responsible company.

Ping pong tables and free snacks are nice, but many employees are looking for a way to give back. Whether your organization strives to support its local community or a more national (or even global!) cause, giving your employees the opportunity to get involved is quite the workplace perk.

Tell us: Does your company focus on social responsibility? Share your feedback in the comments section below.

KronosTwitterChatWe had a very engaging tweet chat today regarding what workplace topics and issues will be the most prevalent in 2016. Based off of The Workforce Institute predictions for 2016, we had quite a few thought leaders weigh in on what they think will be most critical in the coming year - especially when it comes to subjects such as millennials, benefits, recruiting best practices, and employee engagement, to name a few.

You can view the entire tweet chat below (as well as here), or search via #KronosChat on Twitter. We’d love to know what you think, and what your predictions are for 2016. Tweet us using #KronosChat, or comment below to share your thoughts.

//storify.com/KronosInc/workplace-trends-for-2016-tweet-chat/embed?border=false//storify.com/KronosInc/workplace-trends-for-2016-tweet-chat.js?border=false[<a href="//storify.com/KronosInc/workplace-trends-for-2016-tweet-chat" target="_blank">View the story "Workplace Trends for 2016 Tweet Chat" on Storify</a>]

Today’s guest blog is courtesy of Kelly Dynan, a Kronos intern from Marist College who worked with the Corporate Communications team this summer.

Since 2013, Kronos has hosted its own an internal Intern Kronolympics event at the conclusion of the summer internship program. This year, we took the event to new heights by inviting five other leading Greater Boston technology companies to compete in the inaugural Summer Games: Battle of the Interns. We also teamed up with the Mass Technology Leadership Council (MassTLC), who provided referees, scorekeepers, and a master of ceremonies for the day’s events, which featured challenges designed to test the brains and brawn of 90-plus interns over a series of team competitions.

Despite Boston pulling out of the 2024 Olympics bid, you’ll see from Kelly’s post that the spirit of competition is alive and well with the next generation workforce…

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=waigITGHv3g]

July 22, 2015. 12pm. Tryouts. All of the Kronos summer interns gathered around the green space outside of the cafeteria. Kerri and Nicole, the heads of the intern program, explained the rules of the obstacle course that stood between us and becoming a member the elite Kronos Summer Games team.  

With almost half of Kronos' 80-plus summer interns vying for the 15 available roster spots, the competition was fierce. We were forced to race down a stretch of grass via crab walk, answer a trivia question about the company, and then move on to a water balloon toss in rapid succession. The whole event was timed, with seconds added on if you missed a water balloon bucket or incorrectly answered the trivia question. Although I was horrid at the water balloon toss, my main time was enough to grant me the 15th spot on the team.

Talking to my friends outside of this internship, they were shocked that Kronos was taking this so seriously. (READ: "You actually had tryouts?!?!") However, it wasn’t surprising to me. In fact, I was expecting it. Kronos as a company is high-performing, innovative, and ambitious, and the interns are no different.

August 6, 2015. 1pm. The day of the competition was here. The Kronos team was decked out in our orange shirts, orange bandanas, and eye black. We sized up our competition from the other competing companies: Acquia, Constant Contact, Epsilon, HubSpot, and MathWorks.

Six Greater Boston tech companies matched the talents of their interns against each other in a competitive day of brains and brawn.

Six Greater Boston tech companies matched the talents of their interns against each other in a competitive day of brains and brawn.

The first event was an obstacle course; consisting of a hula hoop pass, pony hop, and hot lava. The hula hoop pass went easily, and the pony hop was hilarious to watch - see for yourself in the highlight video. The trickiest challenge, however, was the hot lava game – where each team of 15 was given nine 10-inch ‘stones’ to get their entire team across the 25-yard long ‘hot lava’ without touching the turf. Our team went with a unique strategy, having everyone pair up in piggyback formation to move across the dots (And although we weren’t the fastest team, we definitely looked the coolest). All in all, we finished fourth after the first round.

Knowing that we needed to step up our game up, we regrouped and headed into the water balloon and corn hole tosses with fresh mindsets.  96 completed tosses later, we stormed into the lead and were one of four squads to make it to the semi-final round.

For the semi-finals, we had to do a unique word unscramble . In front of each team was a ball pit of approximately 300 balls, with some of the balls containing letters. The MC provided a clue over the PA system for the word (or words) we were supposed to spell. The horn blew and the competition began as the four remaining teams sprinted to their ball pits. While searching for all the balls with letters on them, we also had to figure out the answer to the question as the MC provided increasingly easier clues.  What seemed like a pretty easy task turned out to be quite complicated for Team Kronos. Due to a simple lack of communication, we did not finish in time to advance to the finals (we couldn’t find one of the Ls needed to spell the answer: Kendall Square).

For the finals, Acquia and Epsilon battled it out in a tug-of-war competition, with Acquia taking home the gold in a best-of-three challenge. The event organizers tried to make it interesting after the first pull by asking the anchor on the Acquia team a trivia question that would have eliminated him from the competition – but he answered the question correctly and was allowed to compete in the second tug-of-war game, which Acquia swept 2-0.

As much as I hate losing, I can only have a sense of accomplishment after surviving the first Battle of the Interns. And of course our team learned a valuable lesson about just how important proper communications is at a successful company like Kronos.

In the end it was a great day filled with competition, fun, and networking. This event was the perfect way to end my time here at Kronos.

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