Dressing for work
What’s this? People are wearing a suit to work, by their own choice? There is a change in the air, and it is happening primarily within the ranks of the 20 something’s. I know this sounds very atypical since so many companies have either adopted a business casual dress policy or abandoned a dress code all together. Business casual started in Silicon Valley and spread across corporate America, east to west. However, the tide may be turning after years of khakis, golf shirts, stretchy pants and oversized sweaters. A few West coast companies have informally started “Formal Fridays” and encouraging people to dress up. On the streets of Chicago, I see more and more people stepping up their wardrobe reflecting a higher prioritization of individual personal appearance. Surprisingly, people realize they are more productive, achieve better results and feel better about themselves when they suit up. While it is unlikely that business will ever swing back to suit and tie as the wardrobe paradigm, there is an effort being made to find a new formal normal.
Informal job network
The way to a new job is no longer just through traditional hiring practices. More and more jobs are being filled using informal recruiting practices. Increasingly, companies are first asking their own employees if they know any potential candidates to fill openings. Companies are more apt to hire someone that has an internal connection. Not only do such individuals come with a credible recommendation, but there is a pretty good chance they will be a good cultural fit. Therefore, employees are using their social media networks to spread the word and serve as the front line screeners of candidates. Peers to peer recommendations are carrying significant weight. Therefore, it is Important to network with peers, not just with those who are hiring managers.
Mobility has allowed us to be connected to anyone, anywhere using one of a myriad of possible devices. The upside is convenience, and also flexibility of not being tied to one location in order to get work down. The downside is there is no escape from the sights and sounds emanating from our electronic devices. They monopolize our attention day and night, no matter our location, or the company we keep. The unfortunate by-product of mobility and constant access is not only the paralyzing thought that we might miss something of personal relevance, but also the belief that we might miss an opportunity to comment on the prevailing internet conversation. Therefore, we never turn off. After years of being tethered to their device of choice, people are realizing that constant access is negatively impacting their ability to be present both in life and in personal relationships. With great success, more and more people are putting limitations on their use of electronic devices, such as blocking use after 7pm and not accessing before 8am.
On an ever-increasing scale, people are working remotely, with individuals working fluidly across geographies and time zones. It is not unusual for team members working on a project for months or years to never meet in person, but to limit their contact to virtual interactions. The cost advantages of bringing together geographically dispersed people in an economical way are obvious. Unfortunately, the human connections produced by travel-less interactions are relationships inherently lacking in strength and depth. People are beginning to tire of being isolated and working in their own confined space. There is a movement of people voicing the importance of personal connections and face-to-face meetings as a salient part of successful business relationships. Meaningful human interaction not only enhances each participant’s sense of personal satisfaction, but it also produces better, more productive results overall.
It would appear that people are taking an honest look at themselves and critically assessing their health issues. And they don’t like what they see. I recently read about one executive who was shocked into action when he saw a photo of himself at a work function. “Is this what I look like and how people see me?” There are a number of positive health trends worth noting. Portion control. Food companies are moving away from super sizing by actively reducing the package and portion size. Calorie count. Restaurant menus are now listing calories for each menu item as well as offering healthier alternates. Fitness competition. The business of becoming healthy has become a competitive sport. Companies are running internal employee weight loss challenges. Fitness activities are in vogue anywhere, anytime. Public places such as airports are creating spaces for light exercising such as yoga. The ongoing discourse of employees, the companies they work for and the media is being translated into meaningful action. Health is finally being viewed as a serious topic that needs to be addressed.
What do you see trending in 2013?
I saw a comment that was posted on http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/28/business/employers-increasingly-rely-on-internal-referrals-in-hiring.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 referring to this website. I do agree with the trend that employers are hiring from recommendations. As a manager, I was receiving a few hundred applications a week and didn’t have an HR department. I usually hired off of personal recommendations and paid a bonus when the new employee stayed on for a year.
I agree with circumventing the formal hiring process because I think it’s flawed. The formal hiring process seems to hire the best salesman. When it comes to actually doing the job, you don’t want a great salesman (unless the job is sales), you want great job performance. Sometimes a great applicant translates in a great performer, but that usually occurs when the applicant was recommended by a current employee.
The flip-side to this is that when people figure out that they can get jobs based on the strength of their social network, then the system of hiring based on personal recommendations will become flawed as well.
Paul, thanks for you insights especially from someone managing the hiring process from the inside. The job market can be tough to navigate especially for people who are used to a more traditional approach. Best. Peter