Women in the Workforce

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It’s Women’s History month, and ladies, there is a lot to celebrate! In the 1950’s, women only participated in 30% of the workforce, but now contribute to 47% of total labor. Further, according to the U.S. Department of Labor – over 57% of women are currently working and are predicted to contribute to 51% of the labor force growth between 2008-2018. Compared to the days when opportunities were confined to “The Good Housewife’s Guide”, the future is bright!

Of course, complete equality between the sexes in the work environment is far from realized. The glass ceiling remains impervious – the jarring 78 cents earned for every dollar a man makes is evidence enough. While women are almost equally represented in the labor force, leadership positions held by women are shockingly sparse. Currently, only 21% of senior level positions are occupied by women, and this year there were only 21 women on Fortune 500’s list of top CEO’s.

Why does this gap occur? A study by Leanin.org and McKinsey & Company offers surprising findings. Here is a summary of a few of their key insights, but be sure to check out their full report here.

Bias in the Workplace

Regardless if it is there or not, women see a workplace skewed in favor of men. These perceptions lead women to believe they are 4 times more likely than men to miss out on opportunities because of their gender. This mindset might explain why women appear to advance at lower rates than males. This is especially true for women in more senior positions. These women are half as likely to say they aren’t consulted on important decisions or recognized for their work. Women at this level are less satisfied with their careers which can lead to lower performance. Seems like a vicious cycle to us!

Stress & Family Life

Both men and women list balancing work and family as a top reason they would decline a senior position. However, women also listed stress as a main factor for passing up a job. Several variables could contribute to disproportionate stress, but one reason could be additional work outside of the office. Women are more likely to report completing more chores and child rearing activities than men. Further, women at an executive level are 85% more likely than men at the same level to have a partner who is employed full-time, implying a spouse might not be able to compensate for the long working hours a female executive puts in at the office.

Identifying Inequality

While gender inequality may be self-evident for the experience of many women, men do not always recognize the signs of bias. In fact, only 1 in 9 men stated that they believe women have fewer opportunities than men, and 13% actually feel programs to promote gender equality harm their own advancement. Without recognition of the problem, very little can be done to make it better.

What Can Be Done?

Flexible work hours, paid paternity and maternity leave, and equal pay are a few of the structures that can be implemented to advance the equality of men and women in the workplace. However, tackling bias and perception are much more subtle and trickier to address. Critical paths to combat bias include identifying accurate metrics to measure performance and ensuring men and women are equally represented at all levels of the job recruitment and advancement process.

Though the current status of women in the workplace can be discouraging, progress overseas demonstrates the attainability of equality. For example, in China, 51% of senior leadership positions are held by women. A change in culture will take time and systematic effort on the part of employers and employees alike, but with diligence and a concerted effort, there is every reason to believe women will reach their full capacity as equally contributing members to a global economy.

Here at the Treehouse Partners we are about girl power! Ladies – we would love to hear your inspiring stories of success in the workplace! Hoping you can share with us!

Forbidden Love? Or not….

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Cupid struck you this February? It can be difficult to navigate the workplace when romance is in the air. Typically there is a negative stigma attached to ‘Office Romances”.  But is it really taboo?  In 2013, Careerbuilder cited 38% of employees as having office place romances, and in 2014, Vault.com’s 2014 Office Romance Survey, cited a whopping 56% of professionals engaging in some kind of office affair.

There are clear advantages to getting to know someone at the workplace, proximity and common goals making it easy to get to know someone’s habits and values. But if the relationship goes south, those same advantages can quickly become the elements of a hostile work environment. If you are willing to take the risk, here are a few suggestions to keep your office romance professional.

Check Your Company Handbook

Some companies have strict dating guidelines, while others do not have any policies at all. Your HR department may even require you and your partner to sign a disclosure statement or contract before engaging in a relationship. These contracts ensure the relationship is consensual and inform participants of the sexual harassment policies of the company. The employer is then aware of the relationship, and is able to prepare if things end poorly. Other policies might specify who is an acceptable dating option and who is not. For example, you might be able to date someone from another department, but not someone who is a direct report or member of your team.

Set Ground Rules With Your Partner

Regardless of your company’s guidelines, it is always good to set your own rules together. Discuss acceptable behaviors in the workplace and behavior if the relationship ends. Limit flirtatious behavior at work, and make sure that all communications pertaining to your relationship are done through private platforms. You should both consider carefully who to tell about the relationship, and be wary about starting gossip. Gossip is detrimental to the workplace, and negative perceptions of office romance differ for men and woman. One study found that women are more often the subject of gossip, and according to Forbes.com, women tend to be perceived as engaging in a workplace romance to get ahead more than men. Lastly, abstain from jealous reactions to your partner’s interactions with other coworkers. Remember that you are both professionals and friendships with other employees are inevitable.

Weigh the Risks

Before you ask that special someone out, here are a few questions to consider:

Are you in the same department together?

Are there power distances between you? (Dating your superior is risky!)

Are there complications with other coworkers? (Were there prior romances?)

Would your coworkers generally support a relationship?

Is there a possibility the two of you would be competing for the same position in the future?

Getting involved with a coworker is risky, and the dangers are evident. But regardless of the possible negative outcome, Vault.com claims that 60-70% of men and women report that they would be willing to engage in a workplace romance again. Careers and relationships are both important elements of a fulfilling life, and if you can navigate both successfully, this Valentine’s day could be the start of a budding romance with your office sweetheart.

Negotiating Wars

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You have a job offer in your hands. Congrats! Now comes the hard part. For many, the idea of negotiating to get what they want seems like an impossible task. However, you can negotiate a job offer and you should! You don’t want to miss out on a higher salary or better benefits because you were too intimidated to ask.

According to The New Yorker, Linda Babcock, of Carnegie Mellon University, did a survey of graduating professional students and found that only seven percent of women attempted to negotiate their initial offers, while fifty-seven percent of the men did so. In this modern age where women are taking on more power in the workplace, this has to change! Negotiating can be easy if you are asking for something reasonable and fair. Check out our tips on how to be a master negotiator:

Justify Your Requests: A company isn’t just going to raise your salary because you say you are worth it…you need to prove it. Always tell the story that goes along with it and prove that it is a justified request. (For example you deserve a 15% increase in your pay because you have more experience than they initially were looking for). If you can’t back it up, then you probably shouldn’t be asking!

Reinforce Your Interest: At this stage in the process, it is very important to show that you appreciate the offer and actually want to work with the company. If it looks like you’re negotiating to get better offers elsewhere or playing different companies against each other, a company is more likely to give up on you since they think they won’t get you in the end anyway. Be genuine about the fact that you really want this particular role.

– Seek Ways to “Increase the Size of the Pie” – Write something here about looking for win/wins – instead of a negotiation always being give and take, find things you can give that are “easy” but provide a high value to the company – e.g. starting a few weeks earlier or leveraging an existing relationship to help them fill another open position they have or something (I don’t know, think of ideas!)  I’m happy to re-read if you’d like!

Don’t Request the Impossible: Even if a company loves you, that doesn’t mean they can give you everything. Try to learn in the beginning where they might have flexibility. If they have a salary cap they can’t budge on, then don’t ask for a higher salary. Maybe ask to work from home certain days or for more vacation time instead.

Consider the Whole Offer: In this day and age, companies are offering much more than just money. Companies offer perks that are on a whole new level than a few years ago – gym memberships, free food, unlimited vacation, flexible hours, etc… For some people, this can make up for a lower base salary. Don’t just look at the salary when you’re negotiating! See if the company is offering anything else of value to you in the offer first.  Assign real value to those perks and fully consider them as part of the overall “package.”

Never Give an Ultimatum: At this point you haven’t proven anything to the company yet…they are hiring you on the belief that you will do well, but with relatively few data points.  Therefore, an ultimatum at this point will not work. You need to be open to what they will offer so give them a chance to come back with something better before demanding anything.

Ask What You Can Do for Them! Remember, negotiating is a “give and take proposition.” If you want something, then you should ask what you can do for them in return. This can go a long way toward a successful negotiation.

Here at the Treehouse, we negotiate for our candidates and clients daily! We know it is a precarious process and we always think full-disclosure is best on both sides. Honesty can go a long way toward everything working out for both parties in the end. Have you ever had to negotiate for a job? We would love to hear what techniques you used to successfully close the deal!




Workplace Cheer! (the appropriate way)

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Hard to believe it, but the holidays are here yet again! We know you’re in a whirlwind of shopping and decorating so why not take a breather and enjoy the holidays in the workplace? We spend so much of our time there that a little holiday cheer can go a long way! This can also be a great way to bring co-workers together and give people a break from the daily grind.

However, it is important to always keep it appropriate and professional. We have some tips on how to be festive at work without taking it too far!

– Holiday Cookie Tasting: Ask all employees to bring a batch of their favorite cookies to share with the office. The cookies can be either homemade or store bought (no judgment!). Make it even more fun by giving people a break from work to enjoy and playing some holiday tunes.

– Ugly Holiday Sweater Contest: This has become a well-known holiday party theme that is always fun! Why not give it a try at work? Choose a slower day and have all the employees come in wearing their ugliest holiday sweater. It will give employees the chance to express themselves and bring some laughter into the office.

– Trim the Office:  Even something as small as a few twinkling lights in the restroom or at the reception desk can lift employees’ spirits! Employers should encourage employees to decorate their doors and windows too. This gives everybody a chance to celebrate the holidays in their own way. You can even promote some friendly competition and give out awards to whoever decorates the best!

– Exchange Gifts (the easy way): Avoid the stress of buying co-workers individual gifts and hold a White Elephant Gift Exchange. Employees don’t have to worry about buying a gift for somebody they don’t know well and can bring something more general. Also, set a price limit so employees don’t have to worry about spending too much or too little. Employees can have fun with this and of course, everyone gets something!

With very little planning, the holiday season can be successfully celebrated in at work. Here at the Treehouse. we love to play (and, admittedly, sing) holiday music, decorate and have a fun holiday party with a surprise destination! It is important to take “work” out of the equation sometimes in order to have a more productive office the rest of the time!

How does your office celebrate this great time of year? We would love to hear some great new ideas!

Corporate Wellness is a No-Brainer

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Spending eight hours a day at a desk isn’t the most effective route to wellness. Plus, who really wants to hit the gym after a stressful day at work? In our busy “chained to our desk” lives, sometimes wellness just isn’t our priority…even though it might be the most important thing we can do.

Luckily, some smart minds have come together and created the institution of “corporate wellness.” These are programs implemented in the workplace designed to nurture wellness in employees during the workday. According to the Harvard Business Review, employees who participate in corporate wellness programs have a higher rate of productivity, sharper focus and are more likely to stay with the company.

The benefits for employers are huge: healthy employees cost the company less. It has been proven that typically every dollar invested in a wellness program yields about $6 in healthcare savings. Add this to the increased productivity and lower turnover rates – corporate wellness initiatives are a no-brainer.

Even small companies without the budget to invest in a widespread corporate wellness program have the option to implement small things to promote wellness at work. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

– Promote Preventative Care: Think about flu season. Why risk employees being out for a week after coming down with the flu? Instead, encourage and maybe even fund vaccinations for employees. You could even bring an onsite vaccination clinic to the workplace!

– Walking Meetings: Encourage managers to schedule meetings with a little movement. Employees can take a stroll around the block while discussing important business topics. This is still productive but will also get employees outside for at least some of their day.

– Participate in Community Events: You can encourage employees to team up and participate in charity walks or runs in the community together. You can even give them time during the workday to meet and plan their efforts as an incentive.

– Healthy Luncheon: Have a nutritionist come in and provide a healthy lunch for employees. The employees get a free lunch and can learn great trips on how to stick to healthy lunches going forward.

Be MindfulCorporate wellness includes mental wellness. Give employees breaks during the workday to recharge. You could even bring in a yoga instructor to teach a lunchtime session and give tips on how to “breathe through stress” in the workplace.

– Doctor Visits: Have a doctor come in one day and give employees the chance to schedule a routine check-up without having to take off of work. This is a growing trend that has typically been very successful and could reduce medical costs in the long run.

Here at Treehouse Partners, we always try to make wellness a priority. We often ride bikes or walk to lunch and we always let employees take an hour here or there to attend a fitness class or run to the gym. We also try to keep the windows opened and the sun streaming into the Treehouse – because we all know sunshine always makes you feel better!

We would love to hear how you are promoting wellness in the workplace! Let us know programs your company has implemented or if you have an idea for a great program.

Source: https://hbr.org/2010/12/whats-the-hard-return-on-employee-wellness-programs


Resilience: An Essential Element of Success

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What makes an individual successful? Intelligence? Networking skills? Since the 2000’s, multiple articles have published studies based upon this timeless question.  Many articles, such as this one by Forbes and this one from Harvard Business Review, identify one leading factor: resilience.

What is resilience?

Unfortunate surprises and the resulting hardships are inevitable in both your personal and professional lives. One aspect of resilience is the ability to remain calm in the face of trouble and being able to overcome difficulties and keep going. Resilience is the virtue that enables you to move past hardship and become better for it.

Resilient people are able to incorporate the lessons learned during these difficult experiences into their livesin a way that enables them to grow and become more successful.

What are the components of resilience?

According to multiple studies, linked here, there are three parts of resilience.

–        Hardiness:  This trait is described as being able to work under duress.  This involves staying calm and having the ability to remain focused and think clearly.

–        Resourcefulness:  There are endless ways to get help and advice; this is the ability to utilize these sources to get help when needed.

–        Optimism:  Psychologically, an individual who is optimistic is able to remain positive and deal with negative feelings.

How do you develop resilience when facing adversity?

Handling calamity in the moment is also a method of growth, and there are 8 steps this TIME article suggests you can take to better handle these events:

  1. Perceive and Believe: Recognizing and acknowledging the situation right away is important in order to deal with it more swiftly.
  2. Manage Your Emotions: This aligns with the hardiness component; try to remain level-headed.
  3. Recognize the Time to Quit: For example, if a company announces a round of lay-offs and you were not in an area of your expertise or passion, you should start searching for another job aligned with your strengths.
  4. Believe in Yourself: This is related to optimism and the belief that you can overcome any challenge.
  5. Prepare: This is related to the resourcefulness aspect of resilience where you are constantly making sure that you think creatively when facing challenges and problems, leveraging all of the resources you have at your disposal.
  6. Stay Busy: Constantly preparing and moving towards your goals is also another way to stay calm.
  7. Make it Fun: Making the situation a game with smaller challenges/milestones can improve chances of staying optimistic.
  8. Get Help and Give Help:  Resilient individuals never shy away from asking for assistance when facing adversity and do not hesitate from helping others, giving them a sense of purpose.

Do you consider yourself resilient?  Have you observed others in your life who are?  What do they have in common?

To read more on these topics, there are additional articles listed below:





Intern Search Success

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Here at Treehouse Partners we have always had a great internship program. If leveraged correctly, such a program can be highly beneficial for both an organization and the students. Our philosophy has been to take on college students looking for experience, teach them real-world skills, and then let them go on to pursue their future aspirations with a little more knowledge under their belt… in the process, we get some great administrative support and a unique perspective for the semester.

Hiring an intern can be a challenging process. Since many applicants have never worked in an office before, they have no idea what type of environment they will thrive the best in. However, there are factors you can consider when interviewing to increase your chances of finding the perfect match.

Focus on skills, not experience: Let’s face it, your pool of candidates may not have much experience relevant to your company. Luckily, that does not mean a great intern is out of reach. Often it is easier to mold a hard-working, self-starter into the perfect intern than to just hire someone who seems to have relevant experience.

For our Treehouse Partners internship, we take a little more time to evaluate the skills the candidate has acquired from their leadership positions or club involvements instead of fixating on recruiting experience. If they have recruiting experience, great! If not, we don’t see it as a deal breaker.

Consider the timing: We cycle through interns 3 times a year –Fall, Spring, and Summer – to be in line with the colleges’ academic calendar. If you are hiring for the Spring semester – typically a January start – start your hiring process at least three months beforehand. If you wait too late to start your search, all the best candidates will already have found an internship.

Don’t be set on one candidate: As with any other position, intern candidates are always actively recruiting, so don’t be surprised if top tier students drop out of your intern search. If you think you have found your perfect candidate, make sure to ask if they are talking to other companies. If they are uncomfortable answering, they can say so. If they answer, you’ll be able to gauge how likely a candidate is to accepting a position with your company.

Other best practices:

–       We have had much better luck with paid interns vs. those who are receiving academic credit

–       Develop a list of tasks and projects your interns can work on well in advance of their first day (this will minimize the amount of time you need to spend micromanaging once they are on board)

–       Assign a talented employee who would like to gain management experience to manage each intern… this allows for them to gain some additional skills while freeing up more senior-level employees from the day-to-day management.

–       Give the interns exposure to as many aspects of the company/job as possible (have them sit in on meetings and take notes, allow them to participate in brainstorming and collaboration sessions, give them access to as many other employees as possible) – remember, an internship program is as much about you giving back as it is you getting a great part-time employee

–       Stay in touch with former interns… who knows?  Maybe they will be your next great permanent hire!

These are our tried-and-true methods of looking for an intern. We hope they work as well for you as they do for us. If you have done something different, we’d love to hear about it.

We also found a Forbes article that offers three great questions you should consider before starting your intern search. Good luck finding the perfect candidate for your company!

Read the article here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/sage/2014/06/18/how-to-hire-rockstar-interns-for-your-small-business/

– Written by guest blogger, Brittney Lo

8 Danger Signs When Interviewing New Employees

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As recruiters, we have seen all of the faux pas a candidate could possibly make when interviewing for a new role. It is always disappointing when a perfect candidate makes just a few small mistakes that ultimately lead to them being passed over for the role. We have put together a list of the biggest red flags a hiring manager should look for before hiring a new employee. Remember these aren’t always cut and dry but we’ve found all of these mistakes to be a warning sign for bigger issues:

Typos: Even the smallest typo can take a candidate out of consideration for a role. Be sure to look out for errors on their resume – but also at their LinkedIn profile and any other professional documents they share with you. Typos and grammatical errors show a lack of attention to detail. A resume is where somebody is representing themselves in the very best light – and if it isn’t perfect, it might represent how they approach all of their work.

– Short Work Tenures: If a candidate’s last few roles have all been less than a year without a very clear story, that can be a big red flag. It is important for the candidate to show a commitment to their career and “job-hopping” can show a tendency to jump ship when the going gets tough. You don’t want to put all of the work that goes into hiring somebody just to have them leave before they can really make an impact.

Interview Etiquette: Here at Treehouse Partners, we use Skype in order to meet candidates and conduct interviews in a more time-efficient manner. No matter what type of interview format your company uses, make sure the candidate always conducts it at the highest level of professionalism. A video interview might seem less formal than in-person but it shouldn’t be treated that way. If it is a phone interview, check to see if they are in a quiet place and that they took the time to give you the highest level of attention. If it is a video interview, check for professional dress and an appropriate background.

Flexibility on Interview Method: A request for a video conversation will take more effort than a simple phone call. We consistently have candidates ask right away if we can “just have a phone call instead.” For us, this represents a low level of commitment to the role. Push the candidate in the beginning to see how dedicated they are to the interview process. If they aren’t willing to bend to your requests than they probably aren’t too serious about the opportunity.

Not Having a Real Weakness: The dreaded “what is your biggest weakness” question is a standard in most interviews. Candidates might think they are cheating the system by claiming they are a perfectionist or they just work too hard – but that isn’t what you should want to hear. Everybody has a weakness of some sort and you should never turn down somebody for a role because they are honest about what they need to work on. Instead, this is a great sign that the candidate cares about their performance and wants to be better!

Being “too” persistent: If a candidate is persistent about a role that isn’t always bad. However, there is a fine line! The appropriate follow-up is a thank you e-mail after your interview and perhaps a follow-up message 3-5 days later to check on the status of the role. If a candidate is calling the company right from the beginning and checking on the status of their resume, this is typically a sign that the candidate doesn’t have patience or enough respect for your time (or they are desperate for a job, which can be a flag unto itself!)

Asking about Salary: Salary is, of course, an important consideration for any candidate when discussing a new role…but there is a time and a place to ask. When salary is one of the first questions a candidate asks, that is an instant red flag that the candidate isn’t so much interested in the opportunity as they are the salary that comes with it. Look for a candidate that doesn’t mention salary until you ask about it; that is a great sign that they are more excited about your company and the role than the potential “package”.

– Form Cover Letters: A cover letter is a great way to demonstrate interest in your specific role. If a candidate sends a “form cover letter” that they have obviously sent to multiple hiring managers and just changed the title, this is a sign they are just applying to whatever role comes across their computer screen without much thought for what they are applying for. A well-written and job-specific cover letter is a promising sign that the candidate has done their research and is actually interested in your opportunity.

Anybody who has interviewed candidates for a role has had to pass on certain candidates for one reason or another. We would love to hear which signs are a no-go for you when hiring employees! In the meantime, we hope these danger signs can give some insight and help you to find your perfect candidate!

The Likeability Factor

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The Likeability Factor

Being a likeable person isn’t just beneficial in your personal life; it will also help you to succeed in business. In Napoleon Hill’s book “Think and Grow Rich,” he explains how to have a “million dollar personality” by telling the story of steel magnate Charles Schwab and how his great personality took him for a day laborer to an executive with a $75,000 salary and frequent million-dollar bonuses (unheard of at that time)!

Many people think that being likeable is something that just comes naturally to some. However, being likeable is under your control and is a matter of emotional intelligence (EQ). In a study conducted at UCLA the top-rated adjectives leading to likeability were sincerity, transparency, and a capacity for understanding. These describe people who are skilled in the social side of emotional intelligence.

Likeability in the recruiting industry is key on both sides. As a recruiter we must be likeable in order to establish trust with a candidate. It is very important to come off as a genuine person since you are essentially guiding somebody in their career! Of course, on the candidate side likeability is a must as well. The candidate must be friendly and easy to talk to in order to move on in the interview process.

Luckily, we can all learn how to embrace our emotional intelligence and be more likeable. A new article from Forbes identifies and explores 13 key behaviors that likeable people engage in that makes them so likeable. You’d be surprised how easy it is!

Read the article here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/travisbradberry/2015/01/27/13-habits-of-exceptionally-likeable-people/

We would love to hear your thoughts! How do you think you can apply these behaviors into your own life – either personally or professionally?


Communication for the Modern Business

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It has been proven time and again that communication is key to a successful business and culture.  According to Six Sigma Online, “good communication skills enhance the business process as a whole.” When a company has various departments that need to come together with a common goal, communication is the only way to bring the process together… especially when your team may be working virtually or from different offices! Luckily, technology is making this easier than ever. With the new year comes more communication tools than ever to allow everybody to stay on the same page! We’ve listed some of the best here… let us know if you know of others that should be on our radar!:

–          Yammer: Used by over 200,000 companies worldwide Yammer is a private social network that helps companies to share information across teams and organize projects. It has a variety of features including allowing employees to upload their pictures and areas of expertise. Employees can share documents, create notes and make social content.

Find out more: https://about.yammer.com/product/features/

–          HipChat: This is a great team chatting tool that allows employees to chat with groups or privately while also sharing documents and photos. It even has video calling and screen sharing. It can be used on any device as well. It allows employees to essentially work next to each other, no matter where they are located.

Find out more: https://www.hipchat.com/

–          Asana: Asana is a project management tool that allows communication and collaboration without email. It puts conversations and tasks in one place and it is all actionable and tied to the next task. It has roadmap planning to categorize goals, sprint planning to keep everybody on the same page and then detailed project planning.

Find out more: https://asana.com/

–          Trello: Similar to Asana, this is a great project management tool allowing employees to see every aspect of a project all in one place at one time. Best part – it’s free! It uses virtual cards that you can drag and drop to show progress. You can also drag the cards to employee’s profiles to assign them the task. Trello will adapt to your project, team, and workflow.

Find out more: https://trello.com/

–          Spark: A simple tool that allows employees to communicate each other via instant message. It is faster and more secure than big IM programs like Yahoo! Messenger. It has a great interface which emoticons and color coding to distinguish between statuses. Plus, it encourages comradery among employees allowing them to be connected and converse no matter where they are in the office.

Find out more: http://www.igniterealtime.org/projects/spark/

What program does your company use and do you think it contributes to your success? Here at Treehouse, we keep it old school with good old Google Chat. However, as we grow we look forward to incorporating one of these great programs into our daily routine!