Talking Talent: Celebrating our Differences and Hiring People with Disabilities

In this episode of Talking Talent with PeopleScout, we’re focusing on the importance of hiring people with disabilities and how you can create and execute an effective program that serves candidates of all abilities.

The week of March 13 is Neurodiversity Celebration Week, challenging stereotypes and misconceptions about neurological differences in transforming how neurodivergent individuals are perceived and supported. It’s a week to recognize the many talents and advantages of being neurodivergent while creating more inclusive and equitable cultures, and employers have a role. While not all people with disabilities are neurodivergent and not all neurodivergent people have disabilities, it is essential for employers to understand how to best support these candidates and employees.

Joining to discuss this topic is Tim Powell, PeopleScout managing director of APAC.

Where does your passion for hiring people with disabilities come from?

I’m very invested in the broader issue of equality and diversity, both from a societal perspective and as it specifically relates to the organizational environment. My father worked for the United Nations supporting the disadvantaged, and my interest in this area was a part of my nurturing. I became much more active in the disability sector through the personal experience of raising our daughter who suffers from a rare neurological disorder and is profoundly impacted by it.

The focus on how we can better support people with disabilities entering and embedding themselves in the workforce was a natural development given my professional background. Here in Australia, in our major national disability employment program, 70% of new starters with disabilities do not survive the probation period with their employer.

What do programs for hiring people with disabilities look like at most organizations today?

In my experience, for most organizations, hiring people with disabilities is more of a sporadic initiative rather than a structured program. Therein lies part of the challenge. The issue is not so much what their programs look like, it’s that their programs don’t have structure around it.

Organizations need to first understand why they want to focus on hiring people with disabilities. Is it corporate social responsibility? Is it a way of accessing an available workforce in a tight labor market? Or is it to enhance workforce efficiency and effectiveness? These are all legitimate reasons for employers to build these programs.

How can talent leaders better understand the types of attributes that candidates with disabilities possess and what types of roles would be a good match?

It starts with selecting and shaping the role or the roles that are being targeted for the program. Unfortunately, there’s no one right answer to this question. Having clarity about the goals of the program is important here, as it will influence the types of roles that are considered. Too often, organizations select existing roles in the organization without necessarily thinking through how the person with a disability may or may not be able to carry it out. In many cases, the roles need to be carved up and shaped to the capabilities of the individuals being targeted.

How can employers reach this talent pool?

Finding candidates can be really challenging for talent leaders, particularly if they’re not quite sure what they’re looking for in terms of the skill sets or the roles that they’re looking to include in the program of work. Once you understand what you’re looking for, it becomes more evident where you can find these talent pools. Then, it is best to partner with an external provider. There are organizations, like Jigsaw Australia, that can help organizations find the right people.

What are some best practices for interviewing and assessing candidates with disabilities?

It’s important to assess basic competencies, attributes, capacity, and willingness to learn rather than previous job experiences or how well someone might present. People who are in the early stages of entering the workforce will often have very limited work experience. They may not have participated in the typical structured school/work experience programs that many early careers candidates complete. In many cases, they are challenged by some of the very basics around work experience in terms of things like workplace etiquette and timeliness.

I sit on the board of directors for a progressive service provider that thoroughly prepares people with disabilities to enter the workforce. They work through a series of competency-driven programs to build the individual’s readiness and confidence to join and thrive in the workforce. This is not a short-term program. Participants can be in this stage of development for up to two years or more before being ready to venture out into the open market.

For employers looking to start a program employing people with disabilities, this means that you need to be transparent about the core competencies and take a long-term view of the development of those individuals.

How can talent leaders prepare their internal talent teams and managers so that they’re equipped to make the onboarding process as smooth as possible and ensure success for their new employees?

There’s a line of thinking that says it’s best not to draw attention to a person’s disability, so don’t make too much of a fuss about it with others in a new work environment. While I can appreciate where that thinking comes from, I don’t particularly subscribe to the approach. In my experience, it often leads to misunderstanding and alienation. I think that making sure everyone around the individual is aware of the situation, while of course respecting the sensitivity of this situation, leads to the best outcomes. So, talking to managers and other team members about the characteristics and preferences of a person is entirely appropriate if it’s done in a way that’s sensitive to that individual’s privacy and dignity.

For example, a person with autism may not be comfortable talking about themselves in a group meeting. Team members need to be aware that their colleague may not make eye contact, for instance. That’s because it’s their preference, and team members shouldn’t take that personally or stop interacting with them. This is where education and training in advance of the new colleague are really important.

What can employers do to ensure that their new hire has continued success within their organization?

Ongoing support is obviously the short answer. Make sure that the person has someone that they’re comfortable with outside of their direct manager who can check in on them. Leaders should also engage with the new hire about what support they need and how they’re finding their experience. People with disabilities generally want to be engaged with and are open to talking about what support they require. In fact, in many cases, they’re very used to it just because of the nature of their life experience.

If some elements are not working, there may be additional training or support that is required, and there may need to be additional work in managing or adjusting the expectations of all involved. Employers need to be actively thinking about what could be done differently to produce a better outcome. It’s not just about how the individual is feeling and progressing but how the manager and the team around them are feeling. Lastly, it’s important that if everything is being done to support the employee but the outcome is not meeting expectations, be prepared to act. Don’t linger on it. Sometimes I’ve noticed employers shy away from difficult decisions, but that doesn’t help anyone.

Are there any thoughts you’d like to leave us with?

This isn’t easy. If it was, more organizations would be much further down the path. But it is worthwhile, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because it makes good business sense. Start small, build confidence, think laterally, and then see where it goes to from there. It’s a wonderful journey if you are committed to it.

Research Report


Destination 2030: A Roadmap for Talent Acquisition Leaders

By Robert Peasnell, Deputy Managing Director, PeopleScout EMEA

It’s been a wild ride for talent acquisition leaders these last few years, as hiring slowed for most and then grew to record levels. As global economies still remain tumultuous, the one constant we can expect is change. 

With this in mind, PeopleScout undertook a piece of research, evaluating global workforce trends and looking to the future to see how these trends might impact the way we work. The result is our new white paper, Destination 2030.

Here are our top 10 predictions for what work and recruiting will look like in 2030 and tips that talent acquisition leaders can put into practice now to prepare for the future.

Buckle up and join us as we travel to the world of work in 2030.

1. Our Working Models Will Be as Diverse as We Are

Organizations and their employees will decide between them how, when and where people will work. The ways we define work will grow (think hybrid, part-hybrid or even nomadic…), and there’ll be no such thing as a 9-to-5 job.

How talent acquisition leaders can prepare:

With the growth of remote work, talent pools have become more globally dispersed. TA leaders who embrace global workforce planning in their talent acquisition strategy—taking a location-flexible approach—will give themselves a better chance at winning top talent. So, instead of looking for 20 FTEs in France, you could look for 20 French speakers anywhere in the world—vastly expanding your available talent pool.

TA leaders can augment their recruitment capabilities and reach by investing in recruitment process outsourcing (RPO). RPO partners offer single- and multi-country solutions that can help expand your geographic scope to target remote workers. Plus, RPO offers a consistent yet flexible process that can be nuanced to accommodate various cultures and candidate expectations.   

2. We Won’t Work, We’ll Contribute

Will the term “work” even exist? Perhaps not. We will be measured by our contribution and the value we bring to the organization. By 2030, success will be determined by meaningful output, not hours spent at a desk.

How talent acquisition leaders can prepare:

A recent study revealed that 93% of workers want a flexible schedule. Organizations that rethink working patters and adapt to the desires of their target candidate audience will gain a significant leg up when it comes to competing for talent going forward. This will require significant workforce planning on the part of a TA leader to ensure your organization can maximize productivity while also keeping employees engaged and motivated.

3. Reskilling Will Take on New Importance

The pace of change means reskilling will be the norm. No matter how much expertise you have in one field, you could find yourself changing direction and developing a new skillset in a totally different field.

How talent acquisition leaders can prepare:

Going by the last 20 years, it seems inevitable that many of the jobs we’ll need in 2030 simply don’t exist yet. So, TA leaders can’t put off workforce planning as some far-off solution to future issues. It’s imperative you plan today for the talent you’ll need for the future—either through recruitment or through an internal training and mobility program.

Organizations who invest in reskilling and upskilling as a strategic initiative will boost their resilience for whatever future business environments have in store. Plus, it will have a positive impact on retention as companies that excel at internal mobility can retain employees nearly twice as long as companies that struggle with it.

4. Retirement Age Will Become Just a Number

Some of us will work hard and live frugally, so we can retire in our 40s. Most of us will work beyond the standard retirement age, taking on new roles, developing new skills and easing out of work slowly.

How talent acquisition leaders can prepare:

By 2030, all Baby Boomers will have reached 65, the typical retirement age threshold in many countries. Keeping older workers in the workplace will become a priority for organizations as talent pools shrink and skills gaps widen. This also means addressing any age-based discrimination that may be hidden in your recruitment processes. Amongst job seekers over 45, 53% believe age is one of the biggest barriers to finding a new job. Eliminating bias in the recruitment process will ensure your organization can access this valuable talent pool and the experience they can provide.

Additionally, employers will need to adjust contracts as few in this generation will want to continue working in a typical full-time capacity. Making certain concessions and ensuring your DE&I program also supports generational diversity will ensure older workers can continue to contribute and will help soften the effects of impending mass retirement of Boomers. 

5. The Greatest Skill Will Be Learning

As new technologies emerge and old ones become obsolete, our work will demand different approaches and expertise. This constant evolution means we’ll be learning new skills. Things will change so fast that the future discussion will go beyond reskilling and upskilling to “learning to learn.”

How talent acquisition leaders can prepare:

Evaluate your assessment process to ensure it aligns with the outcomes you need from your roles—now and into the future. Judging candidates based on characteristics that help them succeed in your unique environment—rather than just on skills or experience—will help you unlock the potential of your new employees. Putting assessment activities in place that test for soft skills, like adaptability, will help create a culture of learning.

6. AI and Automation Will Create Jobs, Not Eliminate Them

Technology, powered by artificial intelligence (AI), will tackle mundane, highly complex and time-consuming work, freeing humans to focus on emotion-driven innovations. This will create a suite of new roles as well as cross-functional teams and agile working patterns.

How talent acquisition leaders can prepare:

Talent acquisition and HR leaders can experience the benefits of AI too! Talent technology platforms offer multiple opportunities to introduce more automation into your recruitment processes, allowing your recruiters and hiring managers to focus on developing better connections with candidates, bringing your process to life.

With AI sourcing, recruiters can let the tech do the mundane work of searching for qualified talent and focus on engaging candidates, offering guidance and positioning your organization as an attractive place to work. Automation can be leveraged throughout the candidate journey to supplement interactions from your team, including text interviews, interview scheduling, sharing content, handling basic candidate queries and more.

7. Inclusion Will Be Everywhere

The fact that hiring for potential and the need to reskill are the key criteria any organization looks for in 2030 pretty much eradicates unconscious bias. Organizations that to cling to outdated modes of attraction run the risk of missing out on valuable talent.

How talent acquisition leaders can prepare:

Hopefully, by now, everyone understands the importance of diversity and inclusion, if for no other reason than the economic benefits. It’s time for companies to really step up when it comes to diversity, equality and inclusion, especially because underrepresented groups are more likely to say that an employer’s diversity efforts make a difference in whether they decide to apply.  

While responsibility for diversity, equity and inclusion is shared across an organization, talent acquisition leaders have a significant influence. Use that impact to help the business assess the maturity of its DE&I program. By pinpointing your current state and plotting out the roadmap to your desired state, your organization can make strides in building a more diverse workforce.

8. Personalization Will Drive the Need for Connection

Organizations will inspire unity, belonging and a collegiate spirit on one hand, balanced with hyper-personalization on the other. While candidates and employees have a desire to be connected, they still want to be treated as an individual.

How talent acquisition leaders can prepare:

Modern candidates expect digital experiences, but also want the human touch from recruiters. So, how can you achieve personalization at scale?

Leveraging talent technology can be a great way to attain this. This could be through a CRM tool that lets you notify individuals in your talent pools about positions that are a fit for their skills and goals, or an ATS that gives candidates a personlized portal where they can track the status of their application. Technology can help you combine personalization with the power of automation so you can show you recognize each candidate as a person, not just a CV. 

9. Say Goodbye to Work Permits

Workers will become global citizens, working from anywhere for organizations based anywhere. In a single, 10-person start-up, all 10 people could work from completely different places.

How talent acquisition leaders can prepare:

One of the main benefits of RPO is ensuring their clients remain compliant in all the countries in which they’re operating. Most global RPO providers have offshore delivery centers that hold the necessary legal entities and licenses to hire in your chosen countries, so you don’t have to go through the effort or expense.

If you’re looking to expand your recruitment footprint, outsourcing may be an option to explore. Check out our ebook, Building a Business Case for RPO, to learn how to create buy-in and secure budget.

10. The Future is Bright

With Millennials at the helm, we can look forward to ethical and empathetic leadership and a holistic approach to wellbeing. Consumers and shareholders alike will put pressure on businesses to look after the planet as well as society—a welcome shift indeed.

How talent acquisition leaders can prepare:

By 2030, Millennials will make up the biggest generation in the global workforce, representing a massive 40% of all workers. As a whole, they are much more motivated by the difference they can make in the world than they are by how much money they can earn. So, it’s important that employer’s keep in mind that whilst success and status are definitely still in the mix, it’s the cultural fit, values and purpose that matter most for this generation.

Now is the time to assess your employer brand and EVP. Do they reflect your values and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) or Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts? Including these strategies as a visible part of your candidate attraction efforts will ensure you are seen as an employer of choice amongst the generation that will lead your business forward.

I’m sure you’re already thinking about budgets for 2023, and I hope you’ll consider some of these opportunities for investment. To learn more about how we came to the predictions and see our research, check out our Destination 2030 white paper.

Destination 2030: 10 Predictions for What’s NEXT in the World of Work 

Destination 2030:

10 Predictions for What’s NEXT in the World of Work

The last few years have been tumultuous for talent acquisition leaders, and it doesn’t look as if the pace of change is going to let up. Are you looking for ways to future-proof your workforce and create a resilient talent strategy?

Buckle up and join us as we travel to the world of work in 2030! Our ebook, Destination 2030, explores the latest research and global workforce trends and how they might impact the way we work.

In this ebook, we explore:

  • Demographic changes in the workplace and how to engage each generation
  • The changing role of technology in candidate and employee engagement
  • Our top 10 predictions for what’s next in world of work

Global Diversity Awareness Month: Resources to Improve Your DE&I Outcomes

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) is a priority for 75% of global organizations and corporate DE&I programs offer a huge opportunity to win over talent in today’s tight labor market.

In recognition of Global Diversity Awareness Month, we’ve examined the state of diversity recruiting in our recent report, Diversity & the Candidate Experience: Identifying Recruitment Pitfalls to Improve DE&I Outcomes. This deep dive into the candidate journey uncovers common areas where employers are unintentionally sabotaging their DE&I efforts. Plus, we offer actionable takeaways for addressing these issues and improving diversity recruitment outcomes.

In addition to the report, we thought we’d share some of our top articles and podcasts to help you create a diverse, equitable and inclusive candidate and employee experience where everyone feels welcome and respected.

DE&I and Talent Acquisition

Talent acquisition plays a crucial role in bringing to life diversity and inclusion within an organization through sourcing, engaging and hiring talent from underrepresented groups.

Here are our top insights for talent acquisition leaders for improving diversity recruitment outcomes.

  1. DE&I Insights for Talent Acquisition Leaders:
    A PeopleScout survey of job candidates revealed important differences between how diverse groups find, research and apply for jobs.
  2. DE&I Initiatives: Assessing Program Maturity & the Role of Talent Acquisition:
    Anthony Brew, Vice President of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at our parent company TrueBlue, shares how to determine the maturity of your DE&I program and ideas for talent acquisition leaders to increase their influence.
  3. Podcast: Building an Inclusive & Equitable Employer Brand & Recruitment Process:
    In this episode of our Talking Talent podcast, we hear from Paula Simmons, our Director of Employer Brand & Communications Strategy, about building an employer brand and a recruitment process that is equitable and inclusive for candidates from underrepresented backgrounds.
  4. Podcast: Reducing Unconscious Bias for an Inclusive Recruitment Process:
    In another podcast, Simon Wright, Global Head of Talent Advisory, teaches us about unconscious bias and shares tactics to reduce it from various stages of your recruitment process.
  5. Data & Diversity: Using Analytics to Achieve Your DE&I Goals:
    As the saying goes, you can’t improve what you can’t measure. In this article from Liz Karkula, Associate Product Manager of Affinix™, and Jason Kaplan, IT Manager of Business Intelligence, how to leverage technology and analytics to measure and improve DE&I in your recruitment programs.

Research Report

Identifying Recruitment Pitfalls to Improve DE&I Outcomes

DE&I and Employee Experience

The employee experience is just as important to the success of your DE&I program. For employees from underrepresented groups, meaningful engagement and organizational commitment to DE&I can improve retention, productivity and employee referrals that can boost your diversity recruitment efforts.

Below, we’ve outlined our most read resources for creating a more inclusive workplace.

  1. The Importance of Inclusion in Your Diversity Program:
    Make your diversity recruitment efforts count by following these ideas to cultivate a culture of inclusion.
  2. Diversity Training: Getting It Right, Right Away:
    Diversity training is one way organizations are fostering inclusion within company culture. This article explores different kinds of diversity training and how to leverage them to improve your DE&I efforts.
  3. Diversity and Inclusion: Building Employee Resource Groups and Driving Change:
    Employee Resource Groups, or ERGs, have multifaceted benefits that impact an organization’s strategic diversity and inclusion efforts in recruitment, retention, mentoring, leadership development, customer relations and more. Check out this article for practical tips on supporting ERGs in your organizations.
  4. How to Support BIPOC Colleagues Through Meaningful Conversations:
    Race can be a sensitive topic in the workplace. This article is a guide for how to make your workplace a safe environment where everyone feels respected, heard and understood while participating in this important dialogue.
  5. Podcast: Women in Leadership:
    In this episode of our Talking Talent podcast, PeopleScout’s diverse group of female leaders from all around the world share what it means to be a woman in leadership. Women at all levels of the company—from executive leaders to team leaders and managers—talk about how they got to where they are and how to create work environments where women can succeed.
  6. Proud At Work: LGBTQ+ Diversity & Inclusion in the Workplace:
    This article provides a historical look at LGBTQ+ activism and its victories in the fight for workplace equity. Plus, you’ll learn strategies to promote LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace.

No matter how you’re celebrating Global Diversity Awareness Month at your organization, we hope these resources give you practical steps you can take to improve your diversity recruitment outcomes and create a more equitable and inclusive culture at your organization.

Want to learn more about diversity and talent acquisition? Download our report, Diversity & the Candidate Experience: Identifying Recruitment Pitfalls to Improve DE&I Outcomes, for the latest research on how to improve the candidate experience for underrepresented groups.

Soft Skills Training for Employees: Improving Internal Mobility with Soft Skills Training

Soft skills training can help both employers and employees alike. Soft skills are increasingly important as organizations across all industries look to fill roles, and talent leaders are increasingly investing in internal mobility programs to harness the skills of internal talent. While employers can assess candidates and employees alike for competencies like communication, conflict resolution and problem solving, some internal candidates may need additional training or education when moving into a new role or area of business operations. What’s more, soft skills training can help improve client relationships and foster a stronger team dynamic. In this article, we list the benefits of including soft skills into your employee training and professional development program.

Benefits of Soft Skills Training

Improved Customer Service

When an employer invests in soft skills training for employees, they are preparing their workforce to better engage customers. For example, training employees on active listening means they will more effectively establish customer needs, identify issues and help resolve them. Moreover, empathy can have a positive impact on company culture as a whole in addition to customer service.

Soft Skills Training Can Increase Sales

Improving soft skills can benefit your sales team during the sales negotiation process. Employees can use their competencies to engage with the client on a more personal level, without breaching the all-important professional boundaries, and your customers will appreciate this. When employees take additional time to discuss the pain points that your clients experience and match them with the right solution, the sale will happen by itself.

Better Employee Retention

Investing in the professional growth of your employees will pay off with increased employee retention. You will reduce the need to hire and train replacement staff, thus reducing organizational costs. Additionally, soft skills improve knowledge retention and equip employees to take ownership of their personal development.

Top Soft Skills in the Workplace

Now that we have outlined some of the benefits of soft skills training, here we provide the top soft skill competencies you should concentrate your employee soft skills training on. LinkedIn published a list of the most in-demand soft skills with leadership, communication, collaboration and time management coming out as the soft skills employers were actively seeking. In this section, we take a take closer look at the specific skills you should consider training your employees on and the best ways to train your employees.

There are a number of options for delivering soft skills training to your workforce. You can dedicate entire courses solely to soft skills, or you can add relevant soft skill sections to your existing employee education content. In terms of delivery methods, consider using some of the options outlined below.

Coaching and Mentoring

If you identify an employee who has a development need for a specific soft skill like leadership, you can consider bringing in a mentor or coach and tailor a learning approach that’s specific and targeted. The coaching process in the workplace typically implies collaboration with the employee to identify, target, and plan for better performance.

A coach can help the employee define their goals, existing skill sets, strengths, and, of course, weaknesses. For example: the employee finds out that he/she is not good enough at communicating with the staff supervised, so a coach creates a development strategy and provides him/her with a clear pathway to improve their communication skills. When an employee is on their way to implement this strategy, a trainer supports them and provides them with actionable feedback.

Coaching and mentoring is especially effective in imparting soft skills, such as communication and leadership which are key in improving customer service.

Interactive Workshops

If you want to train an entire group of employees in a specific soft skill, you can organize live workshops to reach as many employees as possible while also helping to foster team building skills. The best workshops have a concrete, action-oriented purpose and aim to find answers to current problems in the field.

Let’s say you want to teach your customer service staff how to resolve conflicts with clients. You can develop role-play scenarios and play them out right in the workshop. Let the supervisor or learning and development representative be a disgruntled customer and your employees will have to try to settle the conflict. Based on their responses, the trainer will be able to bridge skill gaps and point them in the right direction.

Peer Learning

Another effective yet simple way of developing soft skills is to learn with other people. Research has shown there is a significant link between having fun in the workplace and informal learning. You can take advantage of this by creating streams of work or small-scale projects that require collaboration between colleagues at work. Or you can undertake social learning online via the use of social apps and other tools.

Try launching a peer forum where employees will discuss soft skills in the workplace and how to achieve their full potential. They will have a place to ask questions and share stories to get peer-based feedback. For instance, an employee encountered a particularly difficult customer who got on his/her nerves. He/she can share his/her experience on the forum, discuss it with colleagues, and get useful advice for the future.

What Is Emotional Intelligence? Is it a Soft Skill That Can Be Learned?

Emotional Intelligence or (EI) is the ability of a person to manage both their own emotions and understand the emotions of people around them. There are five key elements to EI: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. Employees with high EI are better at identifying how they are feeling, what those feelings mean, and how those emotions impact their behavior and in turn, other people such as customers and coworkers.

It can be a little difficult to “manage” the emotions of others as one cannot control how someone else feels or behaves. If employees can identify the emotions behind their behavior, they have a better understanding of where they are coming from and how to best interact with them.

High EI overlaps with strong interpersonal skills, especially in the areas of conflict management and communication—crucial skills in the workplace. Employees who can self-regulate their emotions are often able to avoid making impulsive decisions since they think objectively before they act. Operating with empathy and understanding is a critical part of teamwork; being able to attribute someone’s behavior to an underlying emotion will help you manage relationships and make others feel heard. On an individual level, being aware of your feelings is the first step in not letting those feelings control you. Recognizing how you feel, and why, will help you to sit with those feelings and then move forward in a productive way. 

Effective leaders are often very emotionally intelligent. In the workplace, it’s important for leaders to be self-aware and able to view things objectively. This translates into understanding your strengths and weaknesses and acting with humility. This must be balanced with empathy—employees who feel appreciated and valued at work aren’t only happier, but more productive.

Fortunately, you can help employees improve EI skills with some thoughtfulness and practice:

  • Ask employees to try to slow down their reactions to emotions. Try phrases like: “Next time you feel angry, try to sit with it before lashing out.” “Did someone upset you?” “What do you think was the emotion underneath their behavior?”
  • Ask employees to think about their strengths and weaknesses. No one is good at everything, and that’s okay! Make sure employees understand that it’s okay to ask for—or offer—help.


At the end of the day, putting in the effort to better train and understand your employees’ soft skills can greatly improve communication between customers, employees and coworkers. The modern workplace can sometimes make employees feel confused and overwhelmed which can have and adverse effect on employee mental health. Soft skills training can equip your workforce with great compassion and competencies that will make an impact on a human level.

Diversity Training: Getting it Right, Right Away

Diversity training is important. Creating a more diverse and equitable workplace culture encourages a true sense of belonging among coworkers. So, how can employers create a more diverse and equitable workforce? Not only does diversity improve coworker relationships, it also helps the bottom-line. In fact, the numbers on DE&I in the workplace speaks for itself. According to McKinsey’s Diversity Wins study, diverse organizations are more likely to be more profitable than their less diverse counterparts.

What’s more, in PwC’s Global Diversity & Inclusion Survey, 75% of respondents cite diversity, equity, and inclusion or (DE&I programs) as a priority. However, only 4% say their organization succeeds in DEI initiatives.

The data is clear—it is not enough for employers to merely create a diverse employee population. Employees inside the organization need to feel that they are truly included and that their experiences matter. However, fostering a true sense of inclusion and belonging seems elude many employers. Organizations still struggle with implementing diversity programs that truly improve individual employees’ sense of inclusion.

Some employers may not know where to start. In this article, we provide guidance on building a thoughtful diversity training program to help increase employee awareness, empathy, understanding and inclusion.  

What is Diversity Training?

diversity and inclusion training

Diversity training is a type of professional development training that increases employees’ cultural awareness, knowledge and communication skills. There is no one size fits all approach to diversity training, as it can look different in every organization. However, diversity training should help educate employees on the following topics:

  • Awareness around workplace diversity issues. Examples include issues underrepresented minority groups face, gender gaps, microaggressions, and other forms of discrimination that may not be apparent to employees
  • Beliefs and challenges surrounding unconscious bias and discrimination in the workplace
  • Connecting employees through gaining a deeper understanding of what motivates colleagues of other cultures to get a sense of how others feel
  • How to effectively collaborate and communication with employees from different backgrounds.
  • How to spot and report discrimination, racial bias, microaggressions, or other misconduct  
  • How employees can contribute to an inclusive workplace culture and environment through employee resource groups

In its diversity training, an organization may also want to educate employees about the organization’s commitment to diversity and history of progress on social issues effecting a variety of demographics. Use your diversity training as an opportunity to communicate the company’s diversity, equity, and inclusion goals and aspirations.

Why is Diversity and Inclusion Training Important?

The differences between people are what make us unique and offer a richer tapestry of experiences and perspectives to draw upon in the workplace. However, at times, employees experience difficulties communicating and celebrating differences.

As organizations grow their DE&I efforts, it’s important to offer employees the right type of diversity training and support to ensure that DEI programs and learnings translate into a more inclusive environment in practice.

Below, we have compiled three reasons why diversity training programs in the workplace have a positive impact.

Increased Employee Engagement

diversity equity and inclusion training

When employees feel excluded, engagement suffers, which in turn can hurt production and profits. In fact, according to Gallup, a highly engaged workforce can outperform peers by 147% in earnings per share. By implementing a diversity training program, your organization will foster greater inclusivity and increase overall employee engagement which can boost revenue.  

Improved Employee Retention

The Great Resignation is causing organizations to focus on employee retention more than ever. Employees who do not feel included in an organization’s structure and mission may be less likely to invest their time and energy in the organization’s future success.

On the other hand, employees who feel a sense of belonging are more likely to stay with an organization. Diversity training programs help to increase that sense of belonging amongst employees—and overall, can help improve your retention rates.

Positive Systemic Change

Often times, our systems and existing power structures have been built for some—but they certainly may not “work” for all. Put into practice, diversity training can help change systematic diversity hurdles—things like your organization’s hiring practices, how diverse talent is sourced, actions to increase board or leadership diversity and more. These steps may make positive systematic change for all employees, not just some.

The Four Types of Diversity Training

diversity training program

Just like our diverse workplaces, there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to diversity training programs. Diversity training programs come in all different types and can be catered to help achieve your organization’s goals.

Awareness Training

Oftentimes, awareness training is the type of early adopter diversity training that’s highly effective for most (if not all) workforces. Awareness training is essentially the first step in creating change in your organization. It gives employees an overview of:

  • Workplace and/or organization demographics
  • Education around sexual orientation, gender, race and racial minorities, ethnicity, and more
  • Education and awareness around workplace equity

Many diversity trainings stop there, making people aware of their actions and how that is experienced by others. But this is a valuable opportunity to drive awareness of the benefits to everyone in the company of having a truly diverse workforce where people can contribute at their best.

By implementing awareness training, team members will increase their problem-solving and decision-making skills. Through awareness training sessions, you can help shift to a belonging mindset—and promote respect, inclusivity, and value among your employees.

You’ll also lay the groundwork for the need for change and additional actions to come because your workforce is now educated and aware of the diversity issues at hand.

Skills-Based Diversity Training

diversity training in the workplace

Skills-based diversity training focuses on specific actions people at different levels across your workforce can take to practice the skills of inclusion to ensure all employees are equipped to foster belonging. This type of training helps employees at the “awareness” stage move into a “proficiency” stage when handling diversity in the workplace. For example, skills-based training could include a session solely focused on communication and best practices. At the end of the session, employees will walk away with the communication skills needed to foster a culture of inclusivity in their work environment.

Basic Diversity Training

We know sometimes, it’s best to start with the basics. Basic diversity training has a simple goal: create respect and empathy within your workforce.

In a basic diversity training program, it’s common to find the below topics:

  • Identifying company values—and how DEI embodies those values
  • Anti-racism training
  • Anti-sexism training
  • Educating about sexual orientation and gender identities
  • Cultural sensitivity training
  • Human resource compliance training
  • How to create effective diversity training

Regardless of what type of training(s) you choose to implement at your company, it has to be effective to truly make an impact. But how do you create effective diversity training?

First, it’s important to understand where your organization falls in your DE&I journey. Once you’ve figured out what work needs to be done and identified your top priorities, use some of these tips to ensure you’re delivering an effective diversity training programs to your employees.

Be realistic about what you can accomplish. Being aware of where you’re starting as an organization is crucial. If you’re setting out to change your company’s culture with a diversity training program, you might want to think again.

Set goals and communicate them to your employees. Once you’ve established where your organization is on its DEI journey, set realistic goals. It could be as simple as setting a goal that 100% of employees take at least one diversity training course. Once you’ve determined your goals, communicate them. Studies show that accountability translates to better outcomes.

Equip your employees with resources to reach your DE&I goals. It’s not enough to set goals and ask your employees to reach them. Organization leaders need to equip their teams with the resources to reach those goals. Having a portfolio of diversity training programs or encouraging employees to start employee resource groups (ERGs) are just some examples of how leaders can get started.

Measure your progress — and report out how you’re doing. Similar to setting goals and communicating them out, it’s important to measure your progress. Employees aren’t going to be able to impact change if they don’t know how they’re doing. Share feedback with your teams on the company’s progress and ask for their support. 

Fostering a culture of belonging is not an easy journey. Uncomfortable, hard conversations will inevitably be had between peers and leaders. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. It’s in these tough (yet respectful) conversations where real growth happens.

Creating a diverse and inclusive workplace culture is everyone’s responsibility. That means everyone in the organization needs to be a part of the training, regardless of where they fall in your organization’s hierarchical structure.

Commit to the work. Implementing a diversity training program is not going to fix your DEI issues. It’s a great start, but to truly impact change, your organization will need to commit to the ongoing work. You might uncover more work as your organization moves through its diversity training programs—and that’s okay. Stay committed to the big picture.


diversity training programs

Training has so many benefits for any organization. Not only will you see better overall performance that impacts your bottom line, but employees will be more engaged, happier and more productive.

Remember, diversity training is more than an item on your HR to-do list. It is a vital and important component of organizational growth. Companies who are going above and beyond the standard one-and-done diversity training make inclusive leadership a core competency.

Interviewer Skills Training: How to Conduct Interviewing Skills Training for Hiring Managers

Interviewing skills training is crucial, as many hiring managers feel that the success of a well-conducted job interview hinges on the interviewers ability to build a connection with the interviewee. What’s more, for many candidates, the interview is a critical factor when deciding whether to accept a job offer, with 50% of candidates declining job offers after feeling disrespected during the interview process.  

When interviews do not go well, they not only lead to candidates declining offers, but they can also lead to poor hiring decisions, possible compliance issues, and hiring manager burnout. Interviewing candidates is arguably the most important part of the hiring process, so interview training for hiring managers is essential. Hiring managers touch many parts of the recruitment process—often opening new roles, writing job descriptions, posting on job boards, interviewing, and in some cases, making that final call on which candidates get hired. 

With all that’s riding on the hiring manager, they must know how to interview effectively. Interviewing tips for managers can come in handy because the interview process can be stress-inducing regardless of which side of the table you happen to be on. In this article, we provide insights into training hiring managers to be effective, impartial and empathic interviewers. 


Securing Hiring Manager Buy-In for Interview Skills Training

recruiter training

Both new and experienced hiring managers can benefit from interview skills training. A veteran hiring manager typically has years of hands-on experience engaging, interviewing, and hiring candidates for a variety of roles. However, even the most seasoned hiring manager may need to brush up on their skills through learning emerging interviewing skills and techniques, like combating bias and improving diversity, how to use structured interviews, and avoiding cliché or out-of-date questions that conflict with the modern hiring experience.

For newer hiring managers, interview training can serve as an on-the-job education and can help accelerate their career through learning the latest and most effective interviewing techniques.

Before introducing a new interviewing skills training program, schedule a meeting with hiring managers to discuss the status of your current interviewing process as well as their thoughts and concerns when it comes to engaging with candidates. You can ask them if they use interview techniques such as structured interviews, panel interviews, and blind interviews to gauge areas of interest and potential training topics.

It may be a good idea to create a list of questions for hiring managers to think about leading up to their training. Questions for your hiring managers may include:

  • Can I talk about the company’s strategy, mission and structure confidently?
  • Can I answer questions about perks and benefits accurately?
  • Do I know what the job description involves before going into an interview?
  • Have I coordinated with my team on the candidate and job details?
  • Have I read candidates’ resumes?
  • Do I know what interview questions I’ll ask?
  • Are my interview questions reviewed by HR for legality?


Interviewing Skills Training: Help Hiring Managers to Combat Bias

job interview skills training

Meeting a candidate for the first time may prompt a series of unconscious judgments that cause a hiring manager to make unfounded assumptions based on attributes that are not job-related, such as race, gender, religion, or socioeconomic status. These unconscious biases can result in unequal treatment of candidates. Yale University released a study revealing that hiring managers judge candidates’ socioeconomic status based purely on the first few seconds of their speech. Furthermore, the candidates perceived to be from a higher social class received more lucrative salaries and signing bonuses.

Everything that makes a hiring manager a better interviewer in turn makes them less biased. The best way to combat biases during interviews is to be aware of them. This can’t be achieved overnight—it takes time and effort. A good start would be to help the interviewer standardize their interviews.

Unstructured interviews lacking defined questions where a candidate’s experience and expertise are meant to translate naturally through conversation can be unreliable and produce bias. Structured interviews, where each candidate is asked the same set of defined questions, thereby standardizing the interview process, help minimize bias.

This outcome (allowing hiring managers to focus on skills and experience that directly impact the role)  comes from having an interview based on job analysis and a structured, evidence-based assessment framework. Standardizing the interview process reduces bias by creating a level playing field for all candidates and ensuring that everyone is asked the same questions in the same way.

Combating bias is not easy, however, by addressing bias you will empower your team to tackle bigger challenges and to make a real commitment to building an inclusive culture.


What is a Structured Interview? Teaching Hiring Managers to Understand Structured Interviews

Structured Interview

Conducting structured interviews is an exceptional strategy for screening job candidates and finding the best possible person for a role. So, what is a structured interview? Structured interviews ask a set of questions in a structured format intended to help hiring managers to collect valuable data from each interviewee that can then be compared to the response of other candidates. Your should also include a clearly defined rating process for hiring managers and interviewers to follow when evaluating and scoring candidate answers to questions- asked during an interview.

Structured interviews are more objective and legally defensible than unstructured interviews. Interviewers who use this interview format should learn how to prepare behavioral questions, understand rating scales, and score candidates consistently.

In this section, we provide examples of structured interview questions as well as how to conduct and rate interviews.


Role-Related Structured Interview Questions

Role-related questions ask candidates directly about the duties and responsibilities of the role. Including role-specific questions in a structured interview can assist a hiring manager in determining whether or not a candidate possesses the skills and experience necessary to succeed in the role.

Examples of role-related structured interview questions include:

  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of the CRM software you used in your last role?
  • What in your career or educational experience do you believe connects you with this role ?
  • What do you like and dislike about working in nursing?


Behavioral Questions and Structured Interviews

Behavior-related questions in structural interviews ask candidates to provide examples of their professional experiences. Including behavior-related questions in structured interviews can help hiring managers to find out which experiences the candidate may have excelled in and struggled with in the past. Ask a mix of questions to gain information about each candidate’s professional successes and challenges and the way they interacted with their clients, coworkers, and superiors.

Examples of behavior-related structured interview questions include in interview skills training:

  • ‘Describe a time when you have had to deal with a difficult colleague?
  • ‘How do you ensure that you know what kind of experience your customers are having in your stores?
  • Can you tell me what you look for in a manager or which management style fits you best?


Situational Questions for Structured Interviews

Situation-related questions in a structural interviewing skills training ask candidates to think on their feet and imagine how they would handle varying scenarios working for your organization. Situation-related questions can determine a candidate’s critical thinking and problem-solving skills. There are a variety of questions that assess how candidates would interact with your clients and employees, how they work with a team, and how they would react to common workplace challenges.

Examples of situation-related structured interview questions include:

  • How would you handle an unhappy customer?
  • How would you pitch our new product line to customers?
  • How would you prioritize multiple deadlines from different stakeholders?


What is a Mock Interview? Teaching Interview Skills Training Best Practices Through Role Playing

mock interviews

Mock interviews are simulated or role-playing interview exercises designed to give hiring managers the opportunity to sharpen their interviewing skills through formulating responses in real-time. Mock interviews can help inexperienced hiring managers familiarize themselves with an interview setting and give veterans a chance to practice the latest techniques. For example, hiring managers can practice brief notetaking techniques to avoid being distracted by their notes during actual interviews.

Here are the goals of mock interview training for hiring managers:

  • Identifying the common steps of the interviewing process and how to respond
  • Learning how to thoroughly review a candidate’s resume and prepare for a productive conversation
  • Developing technical, cultural, and behavioral questions to successfully evaluate a candidate’s fit in the role and organization
  • Determining what they need to do before, during, and after an interview
  • Evaluate information gathered during the interview more successfully
  • Understanding how to interview within the law using acceptable and appropriate questions
  • Reading body language

Much of communication is nonverbal. In an interview setting, hiring managers unable to understand body language may misinterpret what is being communicated during an interview. Mock interviews can help interviewers become more aware of candidates’ nonverbal cues, thus improving their overall interviewing skill set. For example, if a candidate’s body language suggests they are anxious, interviewers may make a more conscious effort to relax the candidate. You can train interviewers to control their body language as well. Even if hiring managers think a candidate is unqualified, they should not let their body language negatively affect the candidate’s experience.

Job Interviewing Skills Training: Compliance Training is Key

One of the best ways to avoid potential legal compliance issues is to ensure that all interview questions are related solely to the role the candidate is interviewing for and are in compliance with the employers hiring laws and practices. To determine if a question is truly role-related, have your hiring managers ask themselves the following questions:

  • What type of information is the candidate likely to provide in response to the question or the comment?
  • Is that information related to the job?
  • Is the question that I am about to ask, or the comment that I am about to make, necessary to make a legitimate assessment of the candidate’s qualifications?
  • Could it appear to the candidate that I was trying to encourage them to reveal information related to the candidate’s inclusion in a legally protected class (based on age, race, disability, national origin, marital status, etc.)?
  • Do I need to know the information that I am about to (or likely to) gather?

What’s more, many countries have laws protecting job candidates from discrimination during the hiring process, so it’s important for hiring managers to understand how discrimination can occur in recruiting, interviewing, and hiring and how to remain complaint with local laws. You can provide guidelines for handling your interview-related responsibilities fairly and legally. Guidelines may include:

  • Guidance on identifying candidate categories protected from employment discrimination
  • Follow a standardized interview process to help ensure a fair and consistent hiring process
  • A list of questions to avoid during interviews that can lead to discrimination claims
  • How to differentiate between appropriate and inappropriate interview behavior from candidates


Skills Training for Interviewers Begins and Ends with Relationship Building

As a talent acquisition leader, investing in interviewing skills training can mean the difference for your organization’s ability to hire quality staff in today’s candidate-driven market. With a well-run interviewer training program, you can increase the chances of securing the talent your organization needs for a competitive edge.

It is no longer only about candidate experience, it is about building candidate relationships. Candidates expect their job search and hiring experience to be positive, and the interview is a key component of fulfilling their expectations.

Prioritizing Mental Health for Employees: Creating a Culture That Promotes Employee Mental Health and Wellbeing

Mental health for employees is top of mind after more than two years of living with COVID-19, the mental effects have become as clear as the physical ones: Social isolation; health and safety concerns; childcare and other caretaking responsibilities; bereavement; financial difficulties; and unemployment are all factors contributing to our deteriorating employee mental health. Globally, the overall number of mental disorder cases rose dramatically in 2020, with an additional 53.2 million cases of anxiety and 76.2 million cases of major depressive disorders, as reported by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).  

“These are stressful times. Half of Americans say their mental health has been affected by the pandemic. When you add racial injustices and a recession into the equation, a mental health crisis is imminent.”

Stephen Etkind, telemedicine provider with First Stop Health

In fact, the American Psychological Association suggests that we are in “survival mode”—and the ongoing stress of the pandemic is only partially to blame. With the ongoing crisis in Ukraine and some economic experts predicting an imminent recession, it’s no wonder that stress levels are skyrocketing; this overwhelming feeling of global uncertainty can lead to even faster burnout when coupled with the stress of day-to-day tasks in the workplace. 

To that end, Forbes noted that nearly six times as many employers have reported increased mental health issues among employees since the pandemic began. Clearly, this growing problem is one that employers can’t afford to ignore.

Staggering Statistics

Recently, mind/body health company All Points North conducted a survey of 1,000 individuals. They found that, since the onset of the pandemic, 36% of respondents reported experiencing more anxiety, 32% were suffering more panic attacks and 27% reported greater depression—with more than 30% saying that they regularly battled stress and anxiety. Similarly, a recent report from Indeed found that 52% of all workers were feeling burned out, up more than 9% from a pre-COVID survey.   

Mental Health for Employees

And, it’s easy to see why: Forbes reported that the pandemic has been the most traumatic event that 50% of all Americans have experienced in their lifetime. And, a study by McKinsey found that one out of every three employees said their return to the workplace has had a negative influence on their mental health.  

According to the 2022 State of Workplace Mental Health report by Lyra Health, working parents and other caregivers are more likely to face mental health challenges; nearly 90% of caregivers surveyed said they had experienced at least one mental health challenge in the last year and were more likely to experience worsening mental health. Moreover, Mental Health America estimates that depression costs the U.S. $51 billion in absenteeism and lost productivity alone, and Gallup data backs up this theory: Gallup found that burned-out employees were 63% more likely to take a sick day and more than twice as likely to be actively looking for a different job.  

However, just as employee mental health is not a new concern, it’s also not one that will vanish anytime soon. As such, it’s essential for employers to recognize and prioritize the psychological safety of their employees, just as they protect employees’ physical safety. But, how do employers prioritize mental health in order to retain employees and give themselves a competitive advantage? Let’s start by taking a closer look at worker expectations.

What Workers Want: How to Better Support Mental Health at Work

Mental Health at Work

In what some may consider a silver lining, the pandemic shined a light on previously unexamined areas of peoples’ lives—causing many to shift their priorities, rethink their work/life balance and reevaluate what really matters. And, these moments of clarity are unlikely to be forgotten anytime soon. As evidenced by the Great Resignation, workers want a change in their working lives and are prepared to leave their jobs in overwhelming numbers if they don’t feel support for their mental health at work.  
For instance, according to a FlexJobs survey, 56% of workers listed flexibility in their workday as the top way that their employer could better support them. In fact, remote work is considered the most important element to compensation and benefit packages, ranked only behind salary. Encouraging time off and offering mental health days were tied for second at 43%, and 28% said increased PTO and better health insurance were needed. Evidently, adopting a remote or hybrid work model could go far in many organizations, although that may not always be realistic depending on the role or industry. Fortunately, there are other ways that employers can ensure employee wellbeing. 

Actionable Ways to Prioritize Mental Health for Employees

employee mental health

The problem is clear: Employees are suffering mentally, emotionally, psychologically and even physically. So, to effectively prioritize the mental health of employees, it must be woven into the fabric of a company’s culture. The following are a few actionable ways you can do so. 

Effective Leadership and Mental Health at Work

As with any meaningful cultural change, leader buy-in is essential—and mental health prioritization in the workplace starts at the top. By demonstrating awareness, compassion and openness toward mental health, leaders can reduce employee concerns of being perceived as weak or vulnerable if they come forward with an issue. And, the most successful leaders know that leading by what they do is far more effective than what they say.

In an article on post-pandemic mental health predictions from Forbes, Adam Weber, SVP of community at 15Five, said,

“If executives want their employees to prioritize their mental health, they need to be doing the same in a very visible way. It’s one thing to encourage people to take time off for therapy or a mental health day, but most leaders have yet to take the next step of doing that themselves in a transparent way.”

Adam Weber, SVP of community at 15Five

Leaders should also regularly and actively listen to their employees; having open and honest conversations with employees about what matters to them and how they’re feeling mentally and emotionally is critically important. For example, in a study with Qualtrics and SAP, Harvard Business Review found that nearly 40% of global employees said no one at their company had asked them how they were doing. Conversely, ensure that your leaders are creating a safe space during one-on-one meetings with their staff to bring forward any worries, anxieties, struggles and concerns.  

In the People Managers’ Guide to Mental Health, UK-based mental health charity Mind and international champion for better work CIPD offer the following suggestions for a management style that promotes employee mental health:  

  • Create realistic deadlines. 
  • Communicate job objectives clearly. 
  • Deal with problems as soon as they arise. 
  • Give employees the right level of responsibility. 
  • Encourage participation from the whole team. 
  • Act as a mediator in conflict situations. 

When managers and executives are on board with prioritizing mental health, the groundwork is laid for a culture that acknowledges and protects all aspects of employee wellbeing.   

Recognize the Signs of Mental Illness in the Workplace

Once top-down buy-in is achieved regarding the importance of employee mental wellbeing, it’s important for employers to understand and be able to spot the early signs of mental health issues in the workplace—and know how to respond. While employers should not give advice about a mental health problem (as they’re rarely qualified to do so), identifying warning signs and responding appropriately can help prevent issues from escalating. This awareness is also a critical component of a culture that prioritizes the mental wellbeing of its employees.  

Early indicators of a potential mental health struggle may include:  

  • A sudden change in the employee’s work habits 
  • A dramatic difference in an employee’s personality 
  • An increase in absences or arriving late to work 
  • A sudden inability to control extreme emotions 
  • Social withdrawal 

If you notice any of these red flags, or if an employee approaches you with concerns regarding their mental health, be sure to approach the topic carefully and with respect. Make them comfortable by showing empathy and compassion, and reassure them that there is no judgment or risk to their professional reputation.  

Organization-Wide Training

Beyond identifying the warning signs of mental health concerns, employers must also equip employees at all levels of the organization to manage issues as they arise. In a recent global managers’ survey from Yahoo, less than one-third of managers said they felt equipped to handle the mental health needs of their team and 80% of managers worried about using the wrong language when addressing sensitive topics like mental health.

Additionally, some individuals may feel more comfortable bringing forward a concern to a peer, as opposed to their leader. For this reason, it’s critical to educate all employees on the best way to manage these situations. Plus, the right training can help bridge the gap between mental health awareness and effectively meeting the mental health needs of the workforce. Investing in mental health training for all levels of the organization will pay dividends in employee wellbeing and retention. Formal learning programs can also help substantially move the needle by debunking myths, reducing stigma, and building skills to appropriately and effectively manage concerns.

Employee Resource Groups 

If you don’t have the budget to invest in training, mental health employee resource groups (MHERGs) are a low-cost way to build a culture that prioritizes employee wellbeing. Regardless of the segment of your employee population that they represent, ERGs provide employees with the unique support that only those with shared experiences can provide.  

According to Bernie Wong, manager of research and design at Mind Share Partners, MHERGs are “an effective resource that reduces mental health-related stigma through an evidence-based model of social contact, peer support and education.” Further, Wong believes that MHERGs should be open to the general employee population and that participation should be encouraged for all employees—regardless of their mental health needs—so that belonging to the group doesn’t “out” someone as having a mental health issue. This also ensures that membership doesn’t violate employee privacy rights.  

At PeopleScout, our Healthy Minds Collective is an ERG that “inspires individuals to enrich their mental health and wellbeing by enhancing the mind, body and spirit connection.” Additionally, our team in the Europe/Middle East/Asia region (EMEA) also created a group called “Here For You.” This team of volunteers received the training and certification* required to serve as “Mental Health Responders” to provide employees with a confidential channel for reporting mental health concerns and share valuable resources with employees. 

Even if employees choose not to participate, simply making employees aware of ERGs such as these and openly communicating about group activities and discussions can go a long way in normalizing mental health in the workplace, which helps foster a culture of inclusivity and emotional wellbeing. 

* Level 2 Award in Mental Health: Workplace Responder qualification from St. John Ambulance service 

Employee Assistance Programs 

In addition to employee resources and training, comprehensive health benefits that include mental health services are quickly becoming a requirement, not a perk, according to Corporate Wellness Magazine. These benefits (or lack thereof) are influencing employees’ decisions about staying in their current job versus looking for a new one. For instance, in Lyra Health’s 2022 State of the Workforce Mental Health, it was reported that 84% of employees surveyed indicated that it was important that a prospective employer offer “robust and comprehensive mental health benefits,” with 29% saying it was “very important” and 55% saying it was “somewhat important.” 

During COVID-19, many companies added or expanded their Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) to help employees cope with the added stress, uncertainty, personal loss and safety concerns associated with the pandemic. However, as we’ve learned, heightened mental health issues aren’t dissipating anytime soon. Therefore, providing employees with access to quality, convenient and affordable mental health care is more important than ever.  

Encouragingly, many employers are catching on to the need for comprehensive health benefits to attract and retain employees, as well as improve employee satisfaction and experience. As an example, Kara Hoogensen, senior vice president of specialty benefits at Principal Financial Group, said EAPs, telehealth and mental health programs were among the top benefits that employers planned to increase in 2022.  

Employers across the globe are recognizing the importance of supporting and protecting the mental health of their employees as a vital component to the future success of their business. However, although we saw a rise in conversations around mental health during COVID-19, the stigma still remains. Therefore, above all else, practice normalizing conversations about mental health and creating a safe space to raise and address issues. Additionally, encourage employees and managers to openly use the term “mental health” and integrate associated language into corporate training, company newsletters, meeting agendas, and more to make it clear that your workplace acknowledges and prioritizes mental wellbeing. Finally, practice self-care at all levels of the organization—in a visible way—to assure employees that they can and should do the same. 

Asian American & Pacific Islander Diversity & Inclusion in the Workplace

At PeopleScout, we are committed to providing you with information to help guide you on your DE&I journey. We aim to cover a wide range of DE&I topics, including issues regarding BIPOC, the LGBTQ+ community, gender gaps, people with disabilities and more. In this article, we cover the history and importance of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month and offer advice and recommendations for employers looking to build more inclusive workplaces for AAPI workers. 

Each year in the U.S., Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is observed during the month of May to recognize the many contributions and influence of the AAPI community to the history, culture and achievements of the U.S.  

Starting in 1979, this recognition was initially observed from May 4 – May 10 as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week. In 1992, U.S. Congress officially annually designated May as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month. In 2009, Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month was renamed to AAPI Heritage Month, as we know it today.  

AAPI Heritage Month is celebrated in May for two main reasons. The first is to commemorate the first known Japanese immigration to the U.S. on May 7, 1843. The second is to honor the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869—a construction that was largely aided by the labor of over 20,000 Chinese workers. 

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made a lasting impact on the history of the U.S. and will no doubt be just as instrumental in its future accomplishments and successes. But are these Americans receiving the recognition, respect and inclusion they deserve?  

In this article, we’ll provide an overview of which ethnic groups are included in AAPI, discuss barriers this group may face in the workforce and share actionable steps your organization can take to foster inclusivity among AAPI employees. 

Who are Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders? 

According to the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence, AAPI can be defined as “all people of Asian, Asian American or Pacific Islander ancestry who trace their origins to the countries, states, jurisdictions and/or the diasporic communities of these geographic regions.” 

Let’s break this down further. While keeping in mind that personal identifications can be complex and often overlapping, with not all Asian people identifying as American, and depending on one’s background and upbringing, consider this list of terms to help keep track of who might fall into the larger AAPI community: 

  • AAPI: Asian American and Pacific Islander. This term generally includes all people of Asian, Asian American or Pacific Islander descent. 
  • Asian: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia or the Indian subcontinent. 
  • East Asian: A person of Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese, Korean or Mongolian descent. 
  • South Asian: A person of Indian, Bangladesh, Sri Lankan, Nepali or Pakistani backgrounds. 
  • Southeast Asian: A person of Filipino, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Lao, Indonesian, Thai or Singaporean descent. 
  • Central Asian: A person with origins in the original peoples of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. 
  • Pacific Islander: A person with origins in the original peoples of Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia. 
  • West Asian: A person with origins in the original peoples of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cyprus, Georgia, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates or Yemen. 

There is immense diversity among members of AAPI heritage, and their ancestry and origins vary across the U.S. Here are visuals of the top ancestry groups and top countries of birth for AAPI immigrants based on research from the New American Economy

AAPI meaning
asian american diversity

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the Workforce 

While the Asian American population is growing faster than any other group in the U.S., the same cannot be said for the rate at which this group is promoted into positions of leadership in organizations across the country. 

  • According to data from the EEOC, white-collar Asian American workers are the least likely group to be promoted into management roles—less likely than any other race. 
  • According to Bain & Company, while 9% of the professional workforce in the U.S. identifies as Asian, only 2% of CEOs do. 
  • The AAPI community suffers from high levels of income inequality, with AAPI workers in the top 10% of the income distribution earning nearly 10 times what AAPIs in the bottom 10% do.  
  • Insider shares a 2020 analysis of the C-suites at Fortune 500 and S&P 500 companies, finding that just 5.6% of the total executives in the study identified as Asian or Indian. 
asian demographics

So, what’s the reason behind these massive gaps? In a nutshell: stereotypes.  

AAPIs have often been mislabeled the “model minority,” a term that stems from a New York Times article published in 1966 which praised Japanese Americans for overcoming prejudice, respecting authority, achieving academic excellence and “subordination of the individual to the group.” And according to CNBC, the model minority myth “also paints Asians as a monolith, when in fact some 23 million Asian Americans trace their roots to more than 20 countries in East and Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent.” 

Over the years, this description has come to stereotype all AAPI people as hardworking, smart, well-educated and faithful to their superiors. However, there are pitfalls to this idea—by placing Asian Americans on a pedestal for minority success in America, we have inadvertently made circumstances far worse for this community.  

By characterizing this group as having a higher level of “success” than the typical immigrant or other racial/ethnic group, it glosses over and seeks to erase the struggles, barriers and different challenges and experiences AAPIs face. Moreover, the same descriptors that have come to define “model minority” have also deemed this group unfit for leadership roles and promotions, due to a perceived lack of creativity, ambition and confidence—painting AAPIs as submissive and not “leadership material.” 

What’s more, new research finds that Asian employees report feeling the least included of all demographic groups in the workplace, including Black and LGBTQ+ workers. This research from Bain found that only 25% to 30% of employees across all geographies, industries, and demographic groups say that they feel fully included at work, with only 16% of Asian men and 20% of Asian women feeling the same. 

aapi meaning

Strategies to Foster AAPI Diversity, Equity & Inclusion 

Spread Awareness  
Because AAPIs have for so long been characterized as the “model minority,” non-AAPIs may not realize the extent of the barriers to which this group faces daily in the workforce. Employers should spread awareness of the leadership gap AAPI workers face and fold AAPI-related topics into organizational diversity and inclusion efforts. This can include bias training and learning programs to help make stakeholders and employees aware of the distinct obstacles facing AAPI workers. 

Target Recruitment 
The first step in building a diverse workforce is ensuring your organization is inclusive of all types of people—including AAPIs. According to the EEOC, one of the most common barriers for AAPI employees and applicants is a lack of targeted recruitment. Employers can combat this by establishing targeted recruitment plans that include goals and deadlines for attracting AAPI candidates, and by partnering with universities and organizations with a high percentage of AAPI students or professionals looking to advance in their careers. Organizations should also be sure to monitor and modify the plan as needed. Talent technologies like PeopleScout’s Affinix can help make this process simple with diversity dashboards that track progress toward specific goals. 

For more on diversity recruiting strategies, check out this PeopleScout article: The Future of Diversity Recruiting: Reevaluating Traditional Methods & Questioning Accepted Wisdom

Invest in AAPI Growth and Development 
For employers looking to diversify their leadership, developing a program that specifically invests in AAPI employees is a great way to start. Consider identifying top-performing individuals and providing them with opportunities to demonstrate their leadership abilities (i.e., more responsibility, a big project, presentation, etc.). Organizations can also provide these employees with mentorship and designated training paths to encourage promotion and growth. 

Create Employee Resource Groups 
Employee resource groups, or ERGs, are a great way to help employees within an organization build community and share a common cause—such as interests, backgrounds and identities. An ERG focused around AAPIs can help these employees feel at home within an organization and can also serve as a community for non-AAPIs who want to learn more about the experiences of this diverse group. ERGs are also a great way to improve retention rates, because when employees truly feel included, they are more likely to stay at an organization.  

At PeopleScout and the broader TrueBlue organization, we are proud to have the Asian Collective of Employees (ACE) ERG, a trustworthy forum where AAPIs and allies can share ideas, perspectives and professional experiences, to accelerate business and career growth, and increase cultural awareness. 

Elevate AAPI Voices 
With a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes following the COVID-19 pandemic, AAPIs were abruptly reminded that their sense of belonging in a predominately white society is often conditional. And with the Stop AAPI Hate National Report finding that businesses are the primary site of discrimination at 35%, organizations can make a powerful impact by addressing and acknowledging incidents and offering open forums for discussion among employees. By amplifying AAPI voices and perspectives, AAPI employees will feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, feelings and experiences in a safe space while knowing their employer cares. In addition, organizations can host speaker events featuring AAPI leaders and top performers within the company to highlight contributions and allow other AAPIs to see examples of success within the workplace. 

Celebrate AAPI Month 
AAPI month is a great opportunity for organizations to celebrate AAPI heritage and contributions and show employees that their unique cultural differences are valued. Consider these ideas for celebrating AAPI Month within your organization: 

  • Host an AAPI author book club 
  • Order lunch from a local AAPI restaurant 
  • Raise funds for an AAPI nonprofit 
  • Host an AAPI history and trivia night 
  • Spotlight AAPI employees on internal channels 

Asian American DE&I as a Continuous Journey 

The U.S. continually becomes more diverse, and so do organizations and the people in them. For organizations to stay competitive, diversity, equity and inclusion are non-negotiable. A truly diverse company will include people from all backgrounds at all levels of the organization—including in leadership roles. And when candidates and customers see that level of diversity, they’ll be more likely to invest their time and resources with those businesses. 

However, diversity without inclusion does nothing for people nor businesses. In order to retain your diverse employees, you’ll need to understand who they are, celebrate their heritage and invest in their growth. It is our responsibility as employers to identify groups who need amplification in the workforce—like AAPIs—and to foster long-term inclusion, representation and respect.

Boomerang Employees: How Looking Back Can Help Propel Your Organization Forward

As employees around the world quit their jobs in droves, the Great Resignation quickly became a global phenomenon and job openings across industries hit all-time highs. In order to keep up with this increasing demand for workers, employers are expanding their talent pools in a variety of ways, including searching across new geographies, considering workers who are changing careers, implementing innovative recruitment marketing techniques and more.  

However, as a result of the Great Resignation, we’re beginning to see an alternative talent pool emerge: Boomerang employees—workers who voluntarily resign from your company and later rejoin. In this article, we’ll explain who boomerang employees are; the benefits and considerations of hiring them; and how to attract this unique group of talent. 

Who Are Boomerang Employees?

Before you consider rehiring an employee who previously left your organization, it’s important to understand the key differentiators that separate potential boomerang employees from permanent alumni.  

As the term suggests, permanent alumni will remain just that—permanently separated from an organization. These individuals likely stayed at the company for many years and had a good grasp of the organization’s overall culture and values. However, at a certain point, these individuals decided that the company was not the right fit for them; this could be due to dissatisfaction with company culture, the need for a career change or any number of other work-related issues. Note here that a key factor in any of these reasons for leaving is an internal desire to resign. 

Conversely, boomerang employees are more likely to have left a company quickly due to external factors, such as a sudden family emergency or an unexpected competing job offer that was too good to decline. So, while permanent alumni chose to leave because they were unsatisfied with the company in some way, boomerang employees are more likely to consider rejoining because they left for other reasons—none of which implied that they had an issue with the company in the first place. 

“Five years ago, I chose to take a career break to raise my family. When the boys started school, I was ready to pick up my career again. As chance would have it, PeopleScout had identified a role working on a project supporting two big clients, and I was excited about the prospect of this new challenge. The company had changed a lot in the time I was away, so I was grateful for the in-depth introduction process and support from management and colleagues upon my return. The flexible working arrangement that PeopleScout offers means that I’m able to achieve the balance between working and looking after my family, which is fantastic. I’m happy to be back and am looking forward to developing my career over the coming years.”  

Shelley Romero, Media Solutions Manager 
PeopleScout UK 

Meanwhile, some people may leave to pursue new opportunities because they’re unsatisfied in some way and are hopeful that the “grass will be greener” elsewhere. Then, if they find that isn’t the case, they may also be inclined to return to a previous company with a newfound appreciation. 

“Due to business changes during the pandemic, I was assigned to a new client account and, after much time and consideration, I knew it just wasn’t the right fit for me. Though I did not want to leave, it was in my best interest to resign at that time. However, I stayed in contact with my previous manager and colleagues, and when an opening arose, they asked me, ‘Are you ready to come back home?’ It was never a matter of if, but when I was coming back. Everything needed to align—the right position, team and leadership. I was hesitant to return after my last experience that caused me to resign, but I knew what ‘home’ felt like, and I couldn’t be happier in my current position at PeopleScout!”

Alison Thompson, Senior Recruiter 

During the pandemic, the world was reminded how quickly life can change. Whether employees left your organization to pursue other opportunities or to prioritize caring for their family, these types of employees create a whole new pool of talent that could be the perfect fit for your organization. After some time has passed, many of these people could be on the job hunt again—and your organization could serve as the right choice at the right time.  

Benefits of Hiring Boomerang Employees 

Rehiring former employees can present a variety of benefits for employers. Here are some of the biggest reasons to consider looking back at your previous hires: 

Save Time & Money 

Hiring a former employee reduces the hiring timeline and cuts down on overall recruiting costs. And, because these employees have previous experience working at your company, they will require less time and fewer resources to onboard and get up to speed to hit the ground running. 

Eliminate Second-Guessing 

Additionally, when you hire a former employee, you won’t have to wonder whether they’ll be a cultural fit; you already know how they fit in with the company and how they work with various people in the organization—something that always remains a slight unknown when hiring someone completely new. 

Gain Fresh Perspective 

Former employees are unique in the fact that they have had some time to step away and see the organization from the outside. Often, employees may have left to advance their career at another company and gain valuable skills. Then, when they return, they’ll be equipped with increased knowledge and experience to bring new ideas and insight into your organization. 

Boost Employer Brand 

Rehiring employees also sends a positive message to existing employees and can improve an organization’s employer brand overall. Specifically, by giving employees a second chance, it shows that the company is willing to bring people back and help them reach their potential—even if they previously left on their own accord. Furthermore, to existing employees (perhaps some of whom were considering leaving themselves), it shows that the company is worth coming back to, thereby leading to improved retention and employee satisfaction. Moreover, it demonstrates that leaving doesn’t have to burn bridges—especially when the company sees the value of the whole person. 

Make Employees Happy 

Plus, employees who left a job during the pandemic may now realize that they miss some aspects of their old company. Returning to a previous employer with new skills and a fresh perspective can mean higher pay, more growth opportunities and, in some cases, the ability to work from anywhere, which may not have been an option pre-pandemic. Consequently, these employees will likely be happy with their decision to return—leading to improved productivity for your organization. 

Questions to Ask Before Hiring Boomerang Employees 

rehire employees

While there are many reasons to hire previous employees, that doesn’t always mean you should. So, before you decide whether turning back to a former employee is the right move for your organization, keep these considerations in mind: 

How Much Time Has Passed? 

Account for how much time has passed since the employee initially left the company. For instance, an employee who left less than a year ago due to a personal emergency is more likely to be able to jump back in and get started than someone who left several years ago and has to learn new processes and technology. 

Are They Adaptable? 

Nowadays, change within an organization can happen fast, and if the employee has been away from the company for a while, it can be helpful to consider their level of adaptability: Are they willing to learn new systems and procedures? Or, will they be stuck in old habits from their first tenure? 

Are They the Best? 

Amid a labor shortage, it can be tempting to settle for the easiest, quickest option to fill an open role. However, it’s important to think long-term: While this employee will cost less to hire and is a good cultural fit, are they truly the best person for the job? Consider whether this employee performed well in their previous tenure with the company, which is a good indicator of how they will fare the second time around. 

Were They Missed? 

While an employee’s individual performance may have been stellar, it’s important to understand their influence on the team. In particular, did they get along well with colleagues, or was it a relief for people when they left? When bringing back an employee, ensure that their return will have a positive effect on the productivity of the team as a whole. 

Why Do They Want to Return? 

Find out what made the employee choose to leave in the first place. Is that reason still going to be an obstacle moving forward? It’s important to ask what has changed since the time when they initially left. While familial or personal reasons would likely be resolved, you might have a bigger issue on your hands if they left because the company was not a good fit the first time. So, ask the former employee why they want to return. Then, if you’re looking for long-term talent, try to get a grasp of whether they’re ready to commit to your company for the foreseeable future. If they aren’t, you may have a permanent alumnus on your hands. 

How to Keep the Door Open to Boomerang Employees 

As the past two years have shown us, things happen—often unexpectedly. For one reason or another, people might be pulled in another direction and have no choice but to leave your company a little too soon. When this happens, it’s important to understand why they’re leaving and if there’s anything the organization could have done to encourage them to stay. If not, perform exit interviews and get an idea of what is working and what can be improved upon in your organization. 

While some employees may choose to reapply to your company in the future, many former employees may never consider rejoining or even know it’s an option without first hearing from a former colleague or manager. In this situation, what’s the best way to reach out to these former employees? 

To start, be sure to part on good terms. If the employee is one whom you would be eager to welcome back to your team again, make sure they know that when they leave. In today’s world that’s driven by social media, it’s easier than ever to stay connected across job changes. So, keep in touch with high-performing employees after they leave and proactively check-in with them when you’re ready to bring them back. 

“Having former employees return to my team has been a true privilege. There is something about a second chance to help someone grow and develop and to be entrusted to help them achieve their career goals that is very special. I have the honor of having three boomerang employees on my current team. I am grateful that they rejoined and for the incredible know-how, passion and commitment that they bring to our team. I will continue to do all I can to support their success so that they can see their future here.”

Caroline Sabetti, Chief Marketing Officer, PeopleReady & PeopleScout 
Senior Vice President, TrueBlue Communications 

In addition, consider these three strategies for re-recruiting former employees: 

1. Existing Employees

If you have an opening on your team and some of your existing employees still maintain relationships with former staff, your current team can be helpful in re-recruiting this talent. Let your current employees know you’d like to consider a former employee for the role and, if they’re willing, they can bring the idea up with the former colleague and encourage them to apply. 

2. Direct Manager Outreach 

For a former employee, it can be extremely powerful to hear directly from a former leader that the company and team wants them back. And, by hearing directly from a manager, the former employee is likely to take the offer seriously and understand that they are specifically who the team and leader want. 

“I had the opportunity to work for our sister company Staff Management | SMX before leaving for another position outside of TrueBlue that allowed me to get specific experience in a different facet of marketing. After gaining valuable experience for a period of time with a different organization, my former leader at Staff Management | SMX reached out to me to discuss an opportunity to join PeopleScout in a new role. I was thrilled to be able to rejoin TrueBlue and put to use the experience I gained outside of the company. Rejoining TrueBlue and joining PeopleScout was an easy decision due to the positive experience that I had during my original time with the organization, as well as due to the ability to work directly for my former leader once again.”  

Sarah Katz Candelario, Vice President of Marketing and Communications 

3. Email Campaign 

If your company is looking to fill multiple roles at once, a larger campaign might make the most sense. This can include a list of all high-performing employees who left in the last year and serve as a check-in to see where they are in their career now and whether they’d be interested in taking on a new role in the company. 

Beyond the Boomerang Employee 

While looking to former employees serves as a strong new talent pool, it’s just one part of an organization’s larger rehiring and retention strategy.  

For example, in addition to traditional boomerang employees, the pandemic has also introduced an alternative group of potential employees—those who were furloughed. While these employees didn’t leave voluntarily, they can still be considered for boomerang status and serve as yet another talent pool to reach out to when needs arise. 

But, in order for people to be willing to come back, organizations must ensure that their company is one that people want to return to (or, ideally, one they won’t want to leave at all). This means fostering a welcoming and empowering culture, as well as placing strong emphasis on growth and development of all employees. 

In summary, when people feel valued, included and invested in, they’re less likely to leave your company for another. Then, even when human factors cause them to be pulled away, they’ll be willing and ready to return when the time is right.