Labour Day: 8 Ways to Express Your Appreciation

Contributor: Sher Yen

Thank you noteWhat is Labour Day to You?

Is it another public holiday to relax at home, another day to kick up your feet and watch some television programme? Whether you are an employer or employee, it is definitely a day to celebrate the achievements of all workers.

Labour Day or International Worker’s Day is the best day to show your gratefulness to the people who worked and contributed to the company. A simple gesture or acknowledgement indicates your appreciation to their hard work, and this creates good vibes towards the manager or employer. According to a survey, 78% of people would work harder in their jobs if they were recognized. Why not make some effort in thanking your employees?

8 ways to express your appreciation:

  1. Recognize achievements – Write words of recognition on a sticky note and place it on their desk area. Alternatively, write an email to everyone. It shows you pay attention, it shows you care, it makes people feel valued.
  2. Most people appreciate food. Take them out for lunch!
  3. Surprise staffs by bringing in ice cream, doughnuts, cookies or other treats.
  4. Gift certificates or vouchers – A pair of movie tickets or holiday vouchers that shout, “Thanks for your hard work, you deserve a good rest!”
  5. Genuinely thank your employees or subordinates face to face, see the expression on their face change.
  6. Provide opportunity, give them training. Most employees appreciate when company invest in them. It shows that the company trusted them.
  7. A company sponsored social event, such as a holiday party or happy hour.
  8. Keep the pantry stocked all the time with healthy snacks, fruits, juice, coffee and tea. Brain related work consumes a lot of energy and what better way to keep them awake by keeping their energy level high.

As an employer or an employee, it is best to show your appreciation to each other from time to time.  Not just on Labour Day!


Everyone Comes With an Agenda… Or two

Contributor: Sher Yen

What happens when an executive search firm and an event comes together – employees flocking in to seek for a greener pasture.

It is exceptional for an executive search firm to organize events due to the nature of our business.  But Executive WorkPlace International has been organising talks, workshops and seminars.

The purpose of these events?  In view of business, to generate more leads.  In view of relationship, to foster better relationships with our clients and candidates.  In view of marketing, to establish our name and position as head hunter within the spawning industry.  As consultants in this executive search industry, we are more than willing to share our know hows with the rest.

With no surprise, the first people who eagerly sign themselves up are the “sales” agents.  Second in line, the job seekers.

Our last Chinese New Year Gathering took place on 14th February, in conjunction with both Chinese and Western Valentine’s day.  After the event, we conducted a post mortem.  The first thing we all agreed upon; to be selective when it comes to attendees.  We have gotten complaints of pushy insurance agent asking insurance related questions during the “Interview Your Neighbour” Ice Breaking session when they were supposed to interview each other using the name cards as a mock resumes – A fun way of providing interview tips for hiring managers.

“I am not looking for a job,” Stella* said.  “I just can’t work with local china man bosses!”  She went on sharing her experience and knowledge with me for at least an hour.  We also met a few attendees of such, who were apparent with their intentions.

Everyone comes with an agenda.  We have our agenda, participants have their own agenda.

As candidate, this IS one way of conducting your marketing campaign.  Knowing a few head hunters personally is beneficial because you get an insight to the market (assuming they cover the job function or industry of your interest).  You could actively seek their advice in relation to hiring and onboarding matters, or for their core service – to get the right people you need for your organisation.

It is also a good networking arena to meet managerial level executives.  Occasions like these are usually an informative session where we provide real life examples of recruitment and people management.  After all, information sharing is the new networking.

There is nothing wrong when you come with an agenda or two, but do practise good participant ethics and let’s not become the party pooper of the day, shall we?

*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.

Event photos can be found here.

Top 10 Common Questions posed to a Head Hunter

top 10 common questions for headhunters

Contributor: Sher Yen

As head hunters, we throw a gazillion questions to the candidates in order to understand them better, but we are often placed on the interrogation chair too. Let us solve the mystery that you have been pondering by answering the top 10 common questions posed to a head hunter.

1. How did you get my name/number?
Recruiters often get referrals with the promise of not revealing their sources. Other methods include cold calls, connecting through social media such as LinkedIn and Facebook, sharing opportunity through online forums, and networking at events and exhibitions.

2. What is executive search?
In the Asia region, some employees might not be familiar with the term “executive search”. They call them recruiters regardless retainer or contingency firm. An executive search consultant or a head hunter is a person who identifies and approaches suitable candidates employed elsewhere to fill business positions in their clients’ company. Contingencies are committed to their cases, normally handling up to 4 or 5 cases. They spend time understanding the industry, meeting potential candidates face to face, sourcing for the best fit candidate.

3. What is this regarding?
Usually when a recruiter calls up, he or she is presenting a job opportunity. There are times when some candidates would misunderstood thinking the client has selected them when it is only in the preliminary stage. It is also beneficial to share your resume with recruiters to open up other job opportunities in future.

4. Who is your client?
During the first engagement, recruiters are hesitant to reveal the client’s name. Francesca Cohn from shared, “Usually, it’s because the client doesn’t want irrelevant candidates contacting them. The purpose of engaging a recruiter is to save their time. Once I screen the candidate, then I can assess whether it’s worthwhile providing detailed information about the company and opportunity.”

5. How long has the job been open?
Clients would engage with recruiters when they are unable to fill up the critical positions. Thus, it is normal if a job has been vacant for 4, 5 months. Though the longer a position is vacant, the more likely it is less important.

6. What is the reason for the open position?
There are mainly two possibilities: a new position or replacement. A new position often signifies an expansion of a company, or the need to delegate responsibilities because the existing employee is overwhelmed with work. A replacement is not necessary a bad sign as there are a few likelihoods: existing employee got promoted, there are no capable successor within the company, or an existing employee left for a better opportunity.

7. What is the compensation package?
Dollars and cents are important because we are living in a capitalist society. But other key factors to consider include career growth, exposure and the prospect company’s portfolio and culture. Recruiters are reluctant to share the compensation package for two reasons: one, salary differs with each company, even if they are from the same industry. Two, we advise clients to look into skill sets rather than remuneration, a good candidate always comes with a price.

Common questions by clients
8. Why should a candidate work with a recruiter than to apply directly?
Cohn commented, “It is all about relationships, and often times, the candidates that are referred to me are passively looking. I read a survey once that said more than 50% of the workforce at that time would consider a new position if someone contacted them directly, but would not look for a job online or apply to a job posting. This is what motivates me when I’m direct sourcing.” An executive recruiter is motivated and has the time to cultivate relationships with folks that might not be looking today or would be open for the right opportunity but aren’t actively looking for a new job. And an executive recruiter has no ethical issue with direct sourcing from a competitor.

9. Why would your candidates be of better quality than those that apply directly to us?
Posting job vacancies on job portals would attract more irrelevant applications because it is as simple as a click away. Head hunters are like snipers, we have higher pertinence in getting the right candidate than shuffling through hundreds of resumes. We find out what are the Must Have Nice to Have for the position, source for talents from relevant industries and these are usually passive candidates who are less likely to job hop.

10. What makes you think a headhunted candidate would not join another competitor if he or she is being headhunted again?
Firstly, it creates a bad reputation for the candidate. Secondly, it does not look good in their resume. Thirdly, as executive search firm we emphasize on onboarding program for new hires. This is an essential effort from both employer and employee to increase the retention rate while reducing onboarding failures.

Are you READY to declare workplace independence?

Contributor: Tan Aik Seng

It is amazing what one can learn while enjoying a cup of coffee at a ‘Kopi Tiam’.  Just the other day, I overheard a group of young urban professionals expressing their frustrations about their bosses and their workplace; “my boss micromanages way too often,” “she wants to know every single bit of what I am doing,” and “he is way too controlling!”

Perhaps you can empathize with them.  Most of you have probably uttered similar frustrations, especially when you were all zest up to bring your wonderful ideas to the attention of your bosses.  Your misguided managers can kill your enthusiasm by criticising your work prematurely, vacillate on a decision that you so vitally needed to achieve your KPIs, or giving irrelevant inputs just to put their marks on your work.  Everyone wants to be recognized and appreciated for his or her work.  It is not a wonder that 2 out of 3 people are not happy at their workplace.

An atmosphere of trust and independence is crucial to run a company efficiently.  When there is a lack of trust, work gets delayed, employees feel disengaged, and output lacks creativity.

On the other hand, many of our Malaysian clients have also expressed their frustrations with today’s employees.  When I mentioned about writing an article on “Declaring WorkPlace Independence,” I got many flaks from them.  One of them almost screamed at me, “Do you know that today’s graduate cannot even write a proper sentence in English?”  Another frustrated employer shared that the quality of their subordinates’ work is less than satisfactory, “they have the guts to submit ‘half-baked’ work!”  “Why do I need to pay them, when I have to do the work all over again?” another frustrated employer lamented.

As much as today’s employees want their employers to trust and empower them, they have to understand that the quality of their work matters a lot.  Poor quality work can affect the reputation and survival of their employers.

Employees have to assess their capability and capacity for empowerment and trust.  Are they ready for it?  In Ken Blanchard’s latest book entitled, Trust Works, he explained that managers and subordinates need to be aware of the four elements of trust – Able, Believable, Connected and Dependable.

Both the manager and the subordinate need to assess their level of readiness before declaring workplace independence.

1.  Is the subordinate Able to do the job well?
Do they know how to get the job done?  Are they able to produce results?  Do they have the skills to make things happen?

2.  Does the manager Believe that his or her subordinate will act with integrity?
Believability is also about acting in a consistent, values-driven manner that reassures managers that they can rely on their subordinates. This applies the other way round too.

3. Connected is about demonstrating care and concern for other people.
It means focusing on people and identifying their needs. It is supported by good communication skills. Managers need to openly share information about the organization and about themselves.  Subordinates must also have the humility and willingness to learn from their mistakes.  This symbiotic relationship between the manager and the subordinate creates a sense of connection and humanness.

4. Dependable is about reliably following through on what the manager or the subordinate say they are going to do.
It means being accountable for their actions and being responsive to the needs of others. Promises must be kept.  It also requires being organized and predictable so that people are able to follow through on their promises.

Perhaps it is time to stop griping and complaining.   Both the manager and subordinate must work together to establish trust that works. Your declaration of workplace independence will then be received with respect.