7 Recruiting Tips to Improve Your Organization

Your company is only as strong as the team that’s operating it. Finding the right talent to staff your operation requires a strong talent management strategy. Here are some recruiting tips that will help your organization improve.

1. Cultivate a reputation as a top-notch employer.

Top talent is looking for a great place to work, so it pays off to spend some time building your company’s reputation through a recruiting website, social media presence, and employer branding best practices.

2. Recruit from within the organization.

Part of your talent management strategy can include career pathing — a planning process that can include moving current employees up into more advanced positions when they become available (and when those employees have the right skills and experience.)

3. Use referrals from employees and others in similar positions.

A robust employee referral program can yield quality talent and fill needs even before you know you have them. It is also beneficial to ask contacts in similar positions for referrals, which can yield top talent you might not find otherwise.

4. Offer competitive pay.

Top talent knows what they’re worth, so you won’t be likely to attract them if you aren’t offering competitive pay, benefits, and opportunities. If your company can’t offer higher pay to a desired candidate, offering benefits like a flexible schedule, telecommuting, or extra time off can be attractive for some candidates that value work-life balance as much as more money.

5. Don’t get too fancy.

Hiring the candidate whose qualifications and experience most closely match the job description, or the top candidate interviewed, will typically yield the best talent. It’s important not to get distracted by impressive-looking qualifications if they aren’t what is needed for the job.

6. Trust, but verify.

Check references and do background checks/research on candidates before making the final decision to hire. Not only does an occasional candidate falsify qualifications and experience, but having a criminal record or other past transgressions might pose a liability risk for your organization.

7. Recruit even when you don’t have open positions.

Building an ongoing talent pool and developing relationships with top talent before a position even exists will make your recruiting easier over time. Having a talent pool you can turn to when a position opens up will increase your chances of a speedy transition with minimal disruption to your organization.

These tips are a starting point for an effective recruiting strategy. Recruiting for your company doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult, but it’s important to have a strategy and engage in best practices when seeking to fill positions. Learn more about recruiting in the upcoming “Recruitment & Staffing” course that is part of the HR Certificate Program offered by Central Connecticut State University’s Office of Continuing Education. Join our mailing list to get updates on upcoming courses being offered.

The Importance of Taking Brain Breaks

Does your brain need a break? The fast-paced modern world seems to demand that your brain constantly respond to stimuli, from working long hours to making yourself available by phone and email 24-7 and even binging Netflix in your spare time.

The average person now takes in about 174 newspapers’ worth of information every single day, about five times more information than we did just 30 years ago. Furthermore, U.S. workers on average work about eight hours more per week than British employees, and only one in four get a paid vacation in a typical year.

It’s no wonder people feel stressed and overloaded, and why your brain may not feel like it’s functioning very well sometimes. It’s important to take brain breaks, to find some downtime for your brain.

What Brain Overload Can Do

The insula is the part of your brain that regulates attention. When you continually switch your attention between different tasks, such as checking your email, making phone calls, and reading documents at work, your insula burns out, and you have trouble focusing on anything.

Furthermore, your brain doesn’t shut off during these breaks, it actually becomes more active in different ways that are important for creativity and decision-making, and that can’t happen if you don’t take breaks. When you don’t get breaks that your brain needs, your body also can’t lower its levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and high cortisol levels over time can damage the brain’s hippocampus, which controls learning and memory.

Simple Brain Breaks to Try

Even if you work long hours or have a job that requires intense focus, you can find ways to give your brain the downtime it needs. Here are some ways to get away from it all, even just for a few minutes.

Get outside. Even a few minutes outdoors can activate different regions of your brain, and sunshine also boosts serotonin and vitamin D levels. You can also look out a window if you just can’t get outside.

Exercise. Even five minutes of stretching or walking up and down the stairs between tasks at work will give your brain a chance to process what you’ve learned and get memories into long term storage.

Take a short nap. If you feel drowsy during the work day and can get a brief nap, it will reset your insula as well decrease feelings of sleepiness and put you in a better mood as well.

Meditation. Spending time each day in meditation (can include prayer) has positive effects on the brain, including reducing activity in the amygdala, or fear center of the brain, and stimulating the part of the brain associated with positive emotions.

Unplug completely. Spending a few minutes several times a day in silence without your phone or other devices nearby helps your brain continue to focus well and to recharge after being used for a long period of time.

Have novel experiences. New and different experiences get the brain working in different ways and serve as mental downtime.

Brain breaks can help improve your learning skills and your memory over time. If you are interested in learning something new, CCSU offers continuing education courses for adult learners of all ages. Join our mailing list for updates on upcoming courses.

The 5 Characteristics of a Successful Organizational Development Program

An organizational development program uses employee training to improve organizational functioning and help employees develop their skills so they can be of greater benefit to the organization. Organizational development is important in meeting established goals, and for growth and gaining market share. Even for organizations not focused on financial goals, like non-profits, organizational development can increase the organization’s reach and help it do more good in the community or help more people.

Here are some characteristics of a successful organizational development program.

1. Training aligned to goals.

The foundation of any successful OD program is to make sure that the training is consistent with the organization’s mission, vision, and goals. Growth and development won’t meet objectives without this alignment — you may reach goals, but they won’t be your goals.

2. Leadership committed to the process.

Organizational development begins at the top. If the leadership isn’t committed to the process, they shouldn’t expect their employees to be committed either. Executive coaching will help leadership get on board so they can support the process as it moves through the rest of the organization.

3. Communication is effective at all levels.

Being able to communicate the principles and skills needed to reach organizational goals is essential, and no one should be left out of the communication process. Written, spoken, and video communication are all important and should be consistent, clear, and targeted to different positions and departments so that everyone knows where they fit and how to do their part to help the organization develop.

4. High quality of training and coaching.

Organizational development will only be as good as the coaching and training employees get, so the highest quality of training and coaching is necessary in order to move an organization forward in significant ways. Not only are many training programs dull, but also many are not even effective at teaching people how to improve and develop their skills. Make sure you have high quality training in place if you want the initiative to succeed.

5. Taking a long term view.

Most organizations have short- and long-term goals. Focusing on only short-term goals doesn’t give organizations the chance they need to develop over time. Meeting short-term goals is one step in the process, but taking a longer view will be more comprehensive and lead to more growth over time.

CCSU is offering a continuing education course through the HR certificate program on training and organizational development that will explain how to institute an organizational development program and make it work. As part of the six-week course, students will design and deliver their own training program, giving them valuable skills to take back to their organizations at the completion of the course.  View open courses to see all the options we offer.

What Happens to Your Brain When You Learn a New Skill?

Learning a new skill at any age has a specific and definite impact on your brain that scientists now know a lot about. After you learn something new, your brain is never the same again. Here are some of the ways it can change.

New Neurons and Connections

Each and every time we learn something new our brain forms new connections and neurons and makes existing neural pathways stronger or weaker. Some experts call these changes “plasticity” in the brain.

Dendrites in your neurons get signals from other dendrites, and the signals travel along the axon, which connects them to other neurons and dendrites. These signals travel fast, often in only fractions of a second, and many of the signals are sent without the brain being aware of the action.

Your brain will continue changing right up until the end of your life, and the more you learn along the way, the more your brain will change and the more “plastic” it will be.

Temporary to Permanent

Everything you learn goes first to your short term memory, and some of it transfers later to long term storage in your brain. Sleep is often important to transferring something from short to long term memory, which is why memory loss can occur with sleep deprivation. Because of how memories have to travel across many synapses and neurons, degradation often occurs that can render memories incomplete once they are transferred.

adult-education

Dopamine Release

Learning something new is often exciting for the learner. According to Oprah.com, novel experiences cause a rush of dopamine, which not only makes learning seem exciting but also makes you want to repeat the experience. Dopamine is also involved in experiences like love, addictive behaviors, and attention deficit disorder, among many other things.

The Growth of Myelin

Myelin makes the signals in our neurons move faster, and when you learn new things, especially at older ages, it helps more myelin get onto our nerve axons so that our brain is more connected and feels like it works faster and better. Myelin works especially well when a new experience is repeated multiple times, like when we practice something or repeat it every day or every few days.

When You Don’t Learn New Things

A British research study showed that being bored (which occurs when you don’t learn new things very often) can be dangerous to your health. People in the study who reported being bored over a long period of time had heart disease rates more than twice as high as those who did not report boredom.

Not having new experiences and learning new things will slow your brain down and make it less responsive. Adult learning is good for your health and has been shown to slow the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s and dementia, as well as just preventing general slowing of your mental faculties.

CCSU offers many opportunities to learn new things at any age through continuing education courses taught by expert faculty with real-world experience in their respective areas. Join our mailing list to stay up to date on what we offer.

The Legal Benefits of HR Training for Your Business

Human resources professionals now face an increasingly complicated body of regulations and laws that govern hiring and firing employees as well as everything in between. Gone are the days when hiring and firing people were simple. It takes a good deal of knowledge and training to ensure that a company is in compliance with all of these legal requirements.

Why Comply?

Companies who don’t comply with HR regulations and laws may find themselves being sued by employees or fined by government agencies for their lack of cooperation. Avoiding lawsuits and fines is a top motivator for companies to get HR training for their employees and get themselves into compliance with HR laws and regulations.

Another benefit to compliance is the ability to (potentially) qualify for government subsidies or grants. The paperwork for these programs usually includes some kind of proof that the company is in compliance with HR laws and regulations before they will give a subsidy or grant.

Finally, many of the laws and regulations in place today were enacted to make treatment of employees and job candidates fairer and ensure that they are treated well, so compliance will help your company gain or continue to have a reputation in the community for treating its employees well.

Knowledge Precedes Compliance

You can’t comply with regulations and laws you don’t know about, so knowledge is the first step to compliance. Even small businesses are governed by many regulations about which they may not even know. Taking a course like the CCSU Office of Continuing Education’s Employment and the Law, which is part of its HR Certificate Program, will give HR professionals knowledge about discrimination laws, health care regulations, Family and Medical Leave Acts, and labor relations laws.

In-depth knowledge about these things will help HR professionals handle situations in the workplace properly to avoid negative consequences like lawsuits, fines, and penalties that can result from mistakes or a lack of knowledge about what companies need to do to be compliant.

Hands-On Experience Will Build Confidence

Trying to comply with numerous laws and regulations can be nervewracking, especially when faced with an accusation that the company has violated one of them. The CCSU Office of Continuing Education’s Employment and the Law course provides hands-on opportunities to experience situations like an unemployment compensation case, a wage audit, and responding to an attorney’s information request properly.

HR professionals who take this course and others in the HR certificate program will not only have the knowledge they need to ensure that their companies comply with regulations and laws, they will also gain hands-on experience that will help them know what to do when they are faced with an accusation of non-compliance.

CCSU offers many continuing education courses for professionals looking to keep up with changes and new developments in their fields. Join our mailing list for information on all the latest courses.

Going Beyond the Classroom to Encourage Student Success

Student success in the classroom may have more to do with non-academic factors than with the academic skills students have, according to recent research. Factors like having a sense of purpose and belonging toward learning, having a growth mindset about intelligence, and developing certain character traits conducive to learning will greatly increase student success if educators focus on them in the classroom.

Purpose and Belonging

Many students struggle in school because they don’t see how the effort they put into their schoolwork today will benefit them in other parts of their lives and in the future. Connecting schoolwork with a greater purpose and fostering students’ sense of belonging to the school and its academic community will help motivate them to commit themselves to their academic pursuits.

There are things teachers can do in the classroom to foster a sense of purpose and belonging for struggling students, removing that obstacle to developing their full academic potential.

Growth Mindset

When students believe their academic ability and intelligence are fixed, they are less likely to make as much of an effort in the classroom. One example of this type of thinking is that “math is hard, and it’s never going to get any easier, because I am just dumb at math.”

When students can be made to understand that their intelligence can be changed through effort and that it is not fixed (a viewpoint that is supported by brain research), it opens up a new way of thinking that educators are beginning to call the growth mindset.

Students with a growth mindset try harder in the classroom than others, are less likely to give up when something is hard for them, and think better of their own academic potential and abilities than students with a “fixed” mindset.

There are many techniques educators can use to promote a growth mindset among their students. Praising students’ effort rather than telling them they are “smart” is one way to reinforce the point that effort is important to academic success. Even the students who find academics easy will struggle eventually and will need to have a growth mindset to persevere.

Cultivating Character Strengths

When educators talk about character, they don’t mean moral or religious character. Instead, they mean the traits that encourage student success. Some of these are grit or perseverance, self-control, optimism, gratitude, enthusiasm, and curiosity. Students with these characteristics have the building blocks that lead to success both in school and in life, without labeling behaviors “good” or “bad” morally.

CCSU’s Educational Certificate in Student Success focuses on these non-academic factors and how educators can develop them in their classrooms. The courses are a series of live webinars taught by Marianne Fallon, a seasoned doctoral level instructor who has authored and presented research nationally in several venues as well as won awards for her teaching.

Join our mailing list to be kept in the loop about upcoming CCSU courses.