Wednesday, December 2, 2015

 “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” 

This holiday season we at NextGen have so much to be thankful for.  It has been a year of growth and change and inspiration.  As we celebrate the season of thanks and giving, there is a tremendous opportunity to use our time, gifts and talents to simply make the workplace, a better place.  

Recently, I had been reading about the importance of compassion in all aspects of one’s life and I was thoughtful about how that may apply in the office.

I discovered that many successful companies strive for a culture of compassion.  The power that emerges from a kinder workplace includes better morale and happier people for a more productive and purposeful environment and therefore a healthier bottom line.  

In review of various articles I uncovered, the same key points seem to emerge.  I would like to share with you one such article which I believe provides a few tips in creating a kinder, more compassionate office environment.  

At NextGen we are always looking for new ways to help make the workforce and the workplace… better.  I hope you too, can find inspiration in doing the same.  

 You can find out more about this article and website at:

Help bring more compassion to your workplace with these 10 tips.

1. Offer guidance to a co-worker
You know how stressful it can feel to hit a roadblock on a particular project. If you see a colleague struggling in an area where you have strength, offer your knowledge or assistance. Share a useful tool or tip from your bag of tricks that may help them along.
2. Get to know your colleagues
People love to feel like they're part of a team and they have a connection with others. Take the time to introduce yourself to someone you may not know well in the workplace. Ask them questions about themselves, their families, and what they enjoy doing in their off time. Greet them regularly and be sure to use their name often when speaking with them. This makes people feel seen and heard.
3. Lend a hand to someone who is under a tight deadline
If you see a fellow co-worker under pressure and carrying a heavy load, offer to lend them a hand. Ask if they could use some help or what you can take off their plate to ease the strain. Showing that you genuinely care and want to help others not only inspires them but makes them feel happy to work for (or with) you.
4. Cultivate a collaborative environment
Encourage brainstorms and mastermind meetings. Invite the whole team to share in the organization's vision and goals, and help create action steps needed to achieve them. An environment where everyone can collaborate by sharing their ideas and offering creative solutions is one that thrives.
5. Acknowledge employees' strengths and positive attributes in front of others
Edifying someone in the presence of others is one of the best ways to boost morale. Think back to a time when someone applauded you in front of a group of your peers and how valued it made you feel. See where you can find opportunities to acknowledge people for their strengths and celebrate their wins with them.
6. Be an example of a compassionate leader
The best leaders are those who lead from the heart, those who have the ability to inspire others through kindness, flexibility, support, and empowerment. When you treat people with compassion they never forget and, as a result, you develop people who want to work for you because you care.
7. Check the motivation behind your decisions, your words, and your behavior
Always check in with your thoughts before they become words or actions to be sure your motivation is pure. If you catch yourself about to say or do something that isn't coming from a place of integrity, or if it's untrue, unkind, or unnecessary, think before you act. Every word and action generates a reaction. Be sure your ripple effect is positive and one that promotes a culture of compassion.
8. Organize team-building activities
Take the lead, or ask for a volunteer, to set up monthly or quarterly team building activities for employees. It can be anything from putting together softball teams to organizing a community clean up or volunteering with an organization to feed the homeless. Ask employees to submit ideas and suggestions for creative and fun team-building exercises to make everyone feel included.
9. Encourage employees to practice conscious communication
Foster an atmosphere of conscious communication among employees and encourage people to engage in an open dialogue with one another. Co-workers who openly talk and share their thoughts and feelings with each other through truthful and heartfelt expression are more likely to work through challenges together. Teach employees how to give feedback in a way that inspires motivation for improvement rather than making someone feel wrong. Guide people to ask sincere questions and listen to one another with interest.
10. Design a compassion challenge to inspire daily acts of kindness
Make kindness fun. Create an in-office compassion challenge (e.g. "30 Days of Kindness") and get your team pumped up to do all of the above (and more) on a daily basis. Have a board or chart where everyone can see and feel the progress being made and consider awarding a grand prize to the person who performed the highest.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Workforce 2020

"To be ready for 2020, brands must commit to global; they must think and act in borderless ways." Jason Hill

In our industry it is important to keep abreast of hiring practices and trends.  Considering today’s talent gap and the quickly changing landscape in technology and demographics, it is quite the challenge to build a thriving and sustainable workforce.   At every conference and meeting I attend, it seems that the conversation regarding workforce and workplace direction continues to surprise me.  So, recently I’ve spent quite a bit of time researching and talking to as many people as I can, in our industry and in business in general, trying to gain an accurate picture of what executives and employees are currently thinking.  This is something I do each year at NextGen, as we begin to prepare and plan for 2016 and beyond.  

As part of this preparation I stumbled across the Workforce 2020 quiz based upon an Oxford Economics survey.  Oxford Economics surveyed and interviewed more than 5,000 HR executives and employees in 27 countries. Take the quiz and check out the findings.  I did and was surprised…it may surprise you how you do too. 
Workforce 2020 Quiz 

My Results: You answered 3 out of 9 correctly.

Don't be discouraged! Findings from a just-released, extensive report reveal new, somewhat unexpected results that challenge widespread assumptions.—a low score is more commonplace than you might expect. Scroll down to review all of the correct answers and be sure to download our Workforce 2020 report to get an accurate picture of what employees and executive are thinking.

Who cares more about competitive pay? Millenials or non-millenials?
Millennials say, "Show me the money!" 68% say competitive compensation is an important benefit, compared with 64% of non-Millennials. And money can buy love: 41% of Millennials say higher compensation would increase their loyalty and engagement with the company, compared with 38% of non-Millennials.
Most executives believe their company offers competitive salaries. True or false?
Just 39% of executives say their company offers competitive compensation. That could be a problem for attracting Millennials, who view competitive pay as important.
Most organizations have the right leadership to manage an increasingly global & diverse workforce.  True or False?
Just 35% of executives say they have sufficient talent in leadership positions to drive global growth. Employees are just slightly more confident: 44% believe their company's leadership is capable of driving success. Gaps in leadership capabilities could spell trouble for future growth.
Which employee attribute do executives consider more important?  Job performance or loyalty?
At 20%, performance and results don't even make it into the top-3 list of what executives value in employees: level of education and/or institutional training (33%), loyalty and long-term commitment (32%), and the ability to learn and be trained quickly (31%).
Employees have a different view: They think performance and results are second on the list of what their leaders value: ability to learn and be trained quickly (34%), perform well in their jobs (31%), and show loyalty and long-term commitment (31%).
Businesses are making special accommodations for Millennials entering the workforce.  True or False?
Although 51% of executives say Millennials are having a major impact on their workforce strategy, just 30% say they are catering to the specific wants and needs of the under-35 crowd. Culture clash ahead?
Who cares more about finding meaning in their work?  Millenials or Non-millenials?
A higher percentage of non-Millennials (18%) care more about personal job satisfaction than Millennials (14%). And despite the general belief that Millennials are more civic-minded than Gen-Xers, making a positive difference in the world through their work is no more important to Millennials' job satisfaction than it is for previous generations.
Most employees are happy at work.  True or False?
Sad but true: Just 39% of survey respondents are satisfied with their job overall. It's clear that many companies are not meeting their employees' expectations for compensation, skills development, and leadership.
Companies are grooming future leaders from within.  True or False?
Nearly two-thirds (63%) of executives do not plan for succession and continuity in key roles. Employees are picking up on the vibe: Just 19% believe management values leadership ability among employees.
Employees' top concern regarding their job is: Obsolescence or Economic Uncertainty?

4 in 10 employees worry about their position changing or becoming obsolete, compared with just 19% who say economic uncertainty is a concern. Unfortunately, employees may not be getting the training they need to keep their skills up to date. Just 41% say their company offers opportunities to expand their skill sets. It may be time for employers to step up their training and development programs. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A Different 4th of July Recipe...

"May the sun in his course visit no land more free, more happy, more lovely, than this our own country! "  ~Daniel Webster

Recently in St. Louis we celebrated our 4th of July festivities; VP Parade and Fair and PrideFest in record numbers.    What a wonderful tribute to diversity in our city.  I began thinking about how “inclusive” versus “exclusive” we’ve become in our town.  Parade watchers and walkers of every ethnicity, race, color, age and gender… working together to make things successful, enjoying the day’s events together, literally, side by side.   So too, we have this same opportunity to make this happen in the workplace.  But do we?

In preparation for a conference, I read an article by Dr. Helen Turnbull, the CEO of Human Facets LLC and a world recognized thought leader on global inclusion and diversity. In May 2013, she spoke at TEDx on “The Illusion of Inclusion.”  An expert on the complexities of an inclusive workplace culture, Turnbull states, “The words “Diversity” and “Inclusion” are often used in the same sentence as if they are inextricably linked, but, in fact, diversity is the mix and inclusion is the effort that it takes to make the mix work. You may have the right ingredients to bake a cake, but that does not guarantee the cake will be edible. Likewise, having a diverse workforce does not guarantee that you understand how to make that mix work or how to unlock its full potential. Creating an inclusive environment is complex. It requires effort and that we first unpack the complexity before we can begin.”    

I like the analogy she provides and believe it applies to business and to our offices as we each strive to find a successful diversity recipe.  Achieving a good mix requires communication, listening, understanding, team building and above all, leadership.   

In a recently published book, titled, Who’s Who Diversity in Color, the edition profiles St. Louisans who have taken a leadership role in cultivating diversity in our city. According to publisher, Ericca Willis, it will be an annual publication with the mission of documenting and celebrating the achievements of all people of color.  The goal is to highlight the best and brightest in all ethnic communities.

Included in this book is an introduction written by our own Carmen Jacob and NextGen’s CEO. Included is a link to the Who’s Who Diversity in Color website.   I think it is a fitting tribute to all those who work for diversity in our city, and captures what we strive to do at NextGen as we work for a better workforce…a better workplace.

Who’s Who Diversity in Color
Introduction by Carmen Jacob

Never has there been a more important time for a book such as this to be released…to celebrate our progress in diversity, and in so doing, promote our efforts, as we strive for unity, equality, peace and harmony throughout our country and our city.  Who’s Who Diversity in Color showcases a spirited mix of those who are dedicated to fostering a new St. Louis…a better place for all to live, work, learn and invest in.  

This beautiful book provides a platform for discussion, for as we recognize individual achievement, we can emerge as a more powerful collective.  Simply, we can learn from each other and support each other to help pave the way for new opportunities for all.    

My company is in the business of technology, but it is the people behind the technology who make innovation happen and positive change.  In our industry, we are all about making connections, these connections are happening across the globe and at sometimes fractions of a second.  More connections create more communication.  More communication requires sensitivity and greater understanding.  It is in all of our best interest to encourage diversity at every level, as we continue to connect globally, and as the world’s challenges and opportunities remain only a computer click away.   
Most recently, at my company, we have expanded our own definition of diversity. Our definition includes that every individual is unique, and while we not only recognize our differences we embrace them and it involves not only tolerance of these differences, but acceptance and respect.  In addition, we not only include race and gender when we talk about diversity, but also ethnicity and, age, physical abilities/ disabilities, religious and political beliefs, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status.

 It is the charge for all of us to help create an environment to support our dynamic differences and the many powerful dimensions that diversity affords. 

 In my work, I have the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life who are dedicated to education, civic progress, volunteerism, charitable giving, workplace equality and new business development; working to achieve a better quality of life for all.  I believe that it is diversity, which literally colors our world, changes the day-to-day ordinary happenings into something extraordinary for the future.  Who’s Who Diversity in Color is emblematic of all those who have taken a leadership position, championing diversity, working for unity and equal opportunity…helping to create the extraordinary.  

As some of you know, I am a native of Guatemala, a Hispanic woman who has found tremendous opportunity in this country.  The support and encouragement I have experienced throughout these years in business has had a tremendous positive effect on my professional life.  It is in this spirit that I work to pass on that legacy of giving all people a chance…a chance to grow both personally and professionally in order to pursue their dreams in such a country as ours.  For this experience and for the many people just like those profiled in this creative and important publication, I am truly grateful.  

I am very excited and proud to be a part of these efforts and applaud all those who support diversity in our workplace, in our neighborhoods, in business and our community.  

Carmen Jacob

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Intercultural Business Relationships

Strength lies in differences, not in similarities" Stephen R. Covey

During these last few weeks, I have had the wonderful opportunity to meet some very extraordinary people at various business events.  With hundreds of people in attendance, my first thought was what a diverse and interesting group that the business world looks like today in 2015.  It’s not the same as when I began my career 20 years ago, and we’re all so much better for it, I believe.  

To me, this is an important time in our city and our country to continue to celebrate the importance of diversity in the workforce as we continue to strive for equality in the office and beyond.  Workplace diversity however is only the first step.  As our offices and meetings become more populated with a blend of people of all colors and from all walks of life; the same goes for our business neighbors, colleagues and contacts.  Diversity spawns intercultural communications and partnerships.   As businesses and people merge--- there are more connections to be made.  With more connections, more frequent communications are required.  More communication requires better understanding.  Greater understanding requires sensitivity.  To navigate these waters successfully, a thoughtful approach is required.

At NextGen, we are constantly working with people from all over the world.  It is important in the technology business that things happen quickly, however some things require careful time and attention.  Those things are not really things at all, it’s people who require time and attention, and its people who really make our business happen. As part of our mission and values at our firm, we embrace a corporate culture guided by honesty and integrity. As a company, we have found our "True North,” our own corporate compass that helps us stay on track, maintain ethical business practices and promote integrity in the workplace.  This has never been more important than it is today, as we expand our global network with personal communications that happen each day.  

Multicultural business relationships are something we already excel at, at NextGen, but there is always room to grow, change and do better in our everyday business activity. At NextGen we are always looking to the future and innovative ways to grow our company and better our firm, for our staff, our clients and our consultants.

At NextGen we know that diversity works and in a recent Forbes study it was stated that 85% of companies with more than $500 Million in annual revenue strongly agree that Diversity is crucial to fostering innovation in the workplace and that 78% of companies plan to incorporate Diversity initiatives in their overall innovative business goals in the next three years.

According to Qualigence International, one of the largest recruitment research and professional search firms in the country, reports that the global ethnic makeup of the workforce is changing at a rate faster than anyone has anticipated, and that by 2050, there will be no racial or ethnic majority in the United States.  They also report that North America and Europe are only expected to produce 3% of the world’s new labor force over the next 10 years and that minorities are the fastest growing part of the labor force.   

Last month, I introduced you to our Chamba USA initiative.  By 2050, Latinos will account for up to 30% of the US population. This new service offering which includes bringing on board the best and brightest IT talent from Mexico, is an example of how we at NextGen are preparing for future climate changes in the workforce and maintaining a competitive edge.  This program supports our own diversity goals at our firm and is part of our strategy in maintaining a sustainable future.

At NextGen, we believe that business success is evidenced not only by a strong bottom line but by sound and ethical business practices which put people first…people from all cultures in this new world of intercultural business. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

"An Octopus on roller skates..."


“Talent without discipline is like an octopus on roller skates.  There’s plenty of movement, but you never know if it’s going to be forward, backwards or sideways.”  (H. Jackson Brown Jr.)

I love this quote from H. Jackson Brown Jr. who you may remember as the American author, best known for his inspirational book, Life’s Little Instruction Book, which was a New York Times bestseller.  I can relate, because we at NextGen are in the talent business.  Finding great talent is always a challenge, but attracting great talent is the first step…then courting, directing, supporting, mentoring and retaining great talent is even more difficult, and so it goes …that discipline is required in our business, at every twist and turn. So, with that being said, I would like to share with you our new venture at NextGen that is enabling us to expand our talent business. 

 We are introducing…Chamba USA! 

Scarcity of talent is one of the most critical business risks today…and when it comes to talent acquisition, efficient processes are simply not enough. Today’s tightening talent market is creating a need for us to expand our service offerings and talent community.  As NextGen looks to become a global leader in the industry we are strengthening our ability to optimize our workforce and offer an ideal blend of resources.   The Hispanic/Latino group is expected to experience the largest population growth during the coming decades and therefore, we are developing new strategies such as the Chamba project to help  satisfy our current business demands while strategically preparing  for future climate changes. This initiative is intended to bring the best and the brightest talent from Mexico.    

For NextGen, looking into the future means acting now. The scarcity of IT talent is a reality that our clients are faced with, every day.   For the last 30 years Mexico has been acting as the near-shore option for American projects, thus creating resources ready to hit the ground running with American companies on this side of the border. At NextGen we have added a nationwide pipeline of IT resources specializing in high demand skills such as Java, C# and testing methodologies.

With this response to our clients’ needs and the changing landscape of business, we are excited to bring on these bi-lingual consultants who excel in their field and who bring experience, expertise and enthusiasm to every business endeavor.  Our founder, Carmen Jacob is a native of Guatemala and as one of the leading Hispanic-owned businesses in the country; it’s a natural fit for us to recruit from the Hispanic market. 

Our new talent acquisition is part of the changing world of business and technology, especially.  We have brought on board Hispanic consultants who understand what candidates are looking for in acquiring job opportunities in America.  We have developed processes that are designed to ease every transition area from Visas to our clients’ and consultants’ vested interests.  We understand that this Hispanic infusion is only the beginning for expanding our worldwide talent community and our ongoing commitment to diversity at NextGen.  It makes good business sense and a part of our sustainable future.
Intercultural business relationships is something we already excel in at 
NextGen…this is only the beginning.  Call me personally to find out more and how Chamba USA can work for you, your company, your family, your friends.  Lori Eaton:  314-249-5451 or 888-266-6601 ext. 5223.