A CEO’s Open Letter to Talent

A CEO’s Open Letter to Talent

The war for talent is real, and upon us. Help wanted signs and job postings are seemingly everywhere. Many organizations struggle reaching growth plans because of an inability to attract and retain the right people. Henry G. Jackson, CEO and President of SHRM recently published an article titled The War for Talent is Now a Way of Life for HR. In the article, he says “Hard-to-find talent and hard-to-fill jobs are constants in the new world of work. So, to me, it is no longer a “war” to find and keep the best people; it’s a way of life.”

While much is written on how organizations can address this new talent reality, a great starting point is an understanding of what people look for in an employer. Talented people want to work for organizations with a purpose they can understand and be proud of, where their work contributes to the organization’s success and where their careers will grow. In a previous post, Attracting and Retaining Great People in 2017, I described several steps top employers are taking to attract and retain the best people, with special attention given to shared purpose and values, career development opportunities and cultural fit.

Since most talented people are not actively answering job postings, organizations are exploring new methods to attract talent. In the long run organizations will benefit by improving their reputation as an employer. How should organizations communicate their Employment Brand in a way that appeals to talented people? Perhaps with a message directly from the CEO, like this:


Dear Talented Individual:

We love our people. While most leaders say people are their most important asset, we believe it and show it.

You’ll feel the difference from the first time you visit our website. Our values, which guide our business decisions and relationships with our people, are stated clearly so we all know where we stand with each other.

Our goals are also published. We know where we’re headed and how we’ll get there – through our people. We share our goals so our people will be as excited about our future as we are. We’re also as excited about our people’s future as they are, even if their future is not with us. We help our people grow their careers while they help us reach our goals. We give them important work, provide great work space and technology, help them succeed, listen when they have a better idea and reward them every step of the way.

We also understand our people have lives outside work. We encourage our people to bring their whole selves to work, and spend guilt-free time away from work. We cheer their victories, share their sorrows and take joy in their happiness. We accept them as they are and support their dreams. We trust each other like family.

As with real families, we have our occasional differences. Most differences are easily resolved through open communications that are grounded in our shared values, goals and trust.

If ours sounds like a culture you can thrive and be happy in, please let us know. We would love to get to know you, and promise to treat you like family along the way. Even if we are not right for each other today, we are still interested in getting to know you. Tomorrow will be here before we know it.


Sincerely, Great Company CEO


If you were open to opportunities, would this letter appeal to you? Hopefully you would view this with enough interest to start a career conversation.


While a Talent Philosophy Statement like this can be a great employment branding tool, the culture, plans and programs supporting the philosophy must also be in place.

At Future State Talent, we help our clients create Talent Philosophy Statements, develop Employment Brands and embrace the new workplace reality. Please contact me to discuss the Future State of your Talent.

Randy Samsel

Future State Talent



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Does ‘Talent Acquisition’ Have a Dirty Little Secret?

Does ‘Talent Acquisition’ Have a Dirty Little Secret?

As a member of the HR Leadership Group of Northeast Ohio, I have enjoyed outstanding presentations from qualified, strategic HR leaders. This month’s meeting was no exception. Bob Danna, Managing Director of Deloitte Consulting discussed the Future of HR with an emphasis on digital transformation. Bob covered a wide range of trends stemming from research conducted by Bersin by Deloitte.


Though I read the Bersin by Deloitte 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report in advance, Bob made one comment that surprised me. Bob pointed out that, for the first time five generations are in the workforce. That’s not what surprised me. He also said many baby boomers would work another twenty to thirty years. That surprised me. While I recognize the economic, social and personal reasons boomers may keep working, the statement caught me off guard. Once it sank in, my thoughts went in another direction. How will boomers compete in the job market?


My question is not just about skills, abilities, attitudes or energy levels of boomers. It’s also about age bias.


Diversity and inclusion is a topic near and dear to HR and talent acquisition professionals and provides focus on the benefits and importance of having a diverse workforce. Pay equality for women and breaking-the-glass-ceiling are also at the forefront of discussions among the HR and talent acquisition community. Yet age bias seems to be an (unofficially) accepted practice. Not everywhere, nor for every employer, but common.


An NPR.ORG article cites research conducted by a U.C. Irvine professor, David Neumark who sent 40,000 resumes for thousands of real jobs. The resumes were identical except for age. “The call-back rate — the rate by which employers contact us and say we’d like to interview you — drops from young applicants to middle-aged applicants and drops further from middle-aged applicants to older applicants,” Neumark says.


Another article, this one by Liz Ryan, CEO of Human Workplace, discusses The Ugly Truth About Age Discrimination. Liz describes a conversation with a person who experienced age discrimination, and why employers do themselves a disservice by avoiding more experienced workers. She also suggests steps boomers (and others) can take to minimize the impact of age bias.


In my executive search practice, I hear from seasoned professionals who say they experience age bias in their job search, but do not pursue claims for fear of being labeled a troublemaker. They just want to work. For many of these job seekers, frustration and a sense of hopelessness can set in, especially when they are rejected for multiple roles they feel qualified for.


While legitimate reasons exist for targeting and hiring early career candidates, many organizations may miss an opportunity to attract exceptional talent that is readily available. One McKinsey study showed that 40% of companies that plan to hire have had unfilled openings for 6 months or longer because they can’t find qualified applicants. In addition, many surveys of CEO’s point out the need for more and better leadership to reach strategic goals. So, while age bias may be a contentious topic, few would argue the need to attract more talent and leadership.


The challenge is how to attract the best talent while setting aside bias. One approach is to revamp talent acquisition practices, starting with the traditional job description (which frequently include desired years of experience). Lou Adler, author of The Essential Guide for Hiring suggests using a Performance Profile, which describes desired outcomes for a role instead of listing desired experiences for a candidate. For an example of a performance profile, click here.


Job seekers concerned about age bias should be proactive as well, starting by leveraging strengths in their job search-especially those that highlight leadership skills and experience. Instead of trying to fit every possible job opportunity, job seekers should embrace the differences that qualify them for the best roles. Also, when talking with decision makers, job seekers should try to focus on the needs of the hiring manager. Once those needs are understood, job seekers can describe how they are uniquely qualified to help.


While age bias may never disappear, rising demand for talent and leadership will create more opportunity for boomers to continue adding value, even for another twenty to thirty years. Improved processes by hiring managers and job seekers may also help.


To learn more about performance based hiring, please contact rsamsel@futurestatetalent.com


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Attracting and Retaining Great People in 2017

Attracting and Retaining Great People in 2017

By Randy Samsel, Future State Talent

Many organizations are increasingly challenged with attracting and retaining great people. Economic growth, retiring baby boomers, digital disruption and other factors create greater demand for talent.

A Hunt Scanlon article, titled Employees will be Easy to Lose and Hard to Hire in 2017 says “working professionals have become all too aware that the current candidate-driven job market puts them in a ‘power position’ where they can be more selective when making career decisions. They now have a wealth of resources at their disposal to determine whether their current employer is offering them benefits or opportunities that are competitive with current market trends. For them, that knowledge is translating into control.”

The shift in power requires a strategic response by employers. Not all employers are responding strategically though.

A recent Gallup study, The State of the American Workplace describes the extraordinary disruption taking place in American organizations and the need for stronger leadership.

Changes that are affecting organizations are coming fast and furious, they are historic and monumental. Yet, only 22% of employees believe their leaders have a clear direction for the organization. Only 15% feel inspired by their leadership and only 13% feel leadership communicates effectively.

The rulebook is being rewritten. Leaders must decide what role they want to play in their organization — now in the midst of change and in the future. They can be passive bystanders or active participants in creating and guiding an exceptional workplace.   

What is the best strategic approach? Leaders need to enhance their human capital strategies by transforming the workplace culture. Jim Clifton, Gallup’s Chairman and CEO offers these recommendations:

  1. Call an executive committee meeting and commit to transforming your workplace from old command-and-control to one of high development and ongoing coaching conversations. Gallup can hold your hand through this. We will teach you everything we have learned as fast as we can.
  2. Dive in — don’t put your toe in. You can afford a lot of mistakes and even failures because the system you currently use doesn’t work anyway.
  3. Switch from a culture of “employee satisfaction” — which only measures things like how much workers like their perks and benefits — to a “coaching culture.”
  4. Change from a culture of “paycheck” to a culture of “purpose.”

Glassdooor’s recent Culture Codes of Best Places to Work provides examples of actions companies have taken to create winning workplace cultures. Common ingredients include defining and highlighting values and missions; identifying great people who fit the culture; establishing rules of conduct that support the values and mission while encouraging great performance; providing perks, benefits and career development opportunities to retain great people; and creating great workplaces/spaces that encourage collaboration and productivity.

The Gallup report says the one thing leaders cannot do is nothing. They cannot wait for trends to pass them by, and they cannot wait for millennials to get older and start behaving like baby boomers.

Does Culture Change through Strategic Talent Management Make Sense for You? Yes, if You:

  • Are Interested in Adding Significant Savings to Your Bottom Line – Every Year
  • Are Passionate about Improving and Growing Your Business
  • Are Strategically Focused (Have a Strategic Plan, Values and Mission)
  • Are Willing to Invest Time and Resources to Improve
  • Believe that Your People are Your Most Valuable Assets

We offer consulting services to help our clients with Strategic Talent Management. See our slideshare presentation to see how we can help you.


Randy Samsel




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CEO’s Prepare for Talent Churn in the Digital Age

CEO’s Prepare for Talent Churn in the Digital Age

Take everything you know about talent management and throw it out the window. How else can you make sense of the mixed messages found in  PWC’s 20th Annual CEO Survey?


For example, 79% of CEO’s said technology will cause job losses, but only 4% plan to cut jobs because of technology. In fact, 77% of CEO’s believe skills shortages could impair their company’s growth.


CEO’s tell us the most important skills needed in an ever-increasing digital age are soft skills. What? Yes, these human skills are important for capitalizing on new opportunities.


15% of CEO’s say human capital is their top priority, second only to innovation. But creative leaders with emotional intelligence are in short supply and are essential for innovation. So, doesn’t that make human capital the top priority?


What is going on here? OK, I’m being melodramatic. The report makes perfect sense. We are in disruptive times and the mixed signals indicate disruption.


People will always be critical to success, but skills required are changing.


Technical skills are critical for digital transformation, but emotional intelligence is required to lead innovation.


The ability to gain new skills, adapt and align will characterize those who deal best with disruption.



The report also points out that CEO’s are taking steps to manage disruption.


75% of CEO’s have changed talent strategies to reflect the skills and employment structures they will need. They are also promoting diversity, looking for talent globally, and moving employees to where needed.


These steps may not be enough though. To find and train the talent required, PWC says, CEO’s will have to appoint executive teams that represent the diversity of the employee pool, create a purpose and culture that inspires people, and help their workforce manage turbulent times.


CEO’s have many challenges, including talent challenges. As we adapt to the digital age, talented people will lead the way. Thanks, PWC for these excellent insights.


Please contact us if we can help with your talent challenges.



Randy Samsel

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Hyland, Creator of OnBase – A #WorkplaceParadiseNEO Company

Hyland, Creator of OnBase – A #WorkplaceParadiseNEO Company


The day I announced the Workplace Paradise NEO series and asked “Where are the best places to work in Northeast Ohio?”, Mary Vales was the first to respond and said, “Hyland, of course”. Mary is the Manager of Learning and Organizational Development at Hyland, and says “Our employees are our family. Best work-place ever.”


Started in 1991, Hyland is the creator of OnBase, a single enterprise information platform for managing content, processes and cases. OnBase has transformed thousands of organizations worldwide by empowering them to become more agile, efficient and effective. Today the company is headquartered in Westlake, Ohio where it has a multi-building campus that includes about 1600 local employees, and roughly 2200 total employees globally.


If you ask anyone who has visited Hyland’s headquarters in Westlake about first impressions, they are likely to mention the playground-like slides in the lobby. Not one slide, but two. They bring a smile to the faces of most who visit. But there is a lot more to working at Hyland than the slides.


Recently I had the opportunity to talk with Kathleen Vegh, Manager of Employee Engagement and Megan Klingshirn, Public Relations Specialist at Hyland. They shared insights into what makes Hyland so special – and it is a special place to work. Here are some of the aspects of working for Hyland we discussed.


It starts with a culture that was formed and nourished in the early years of the company by Hyland family and friends, who were the founders and initial employees. Hyland believes that happy employees make happy customers, and it lives by that mantra. As described on its website, Hyland encourages passion, creativity and individuality which is reflected in a flexible, inclusive environment. Hyland values its people, and provides great careers AND well-being. Hyland recognizes that people are more than employees, and welcomes the whole person to the company.


Since its early days, Hyland has been dedicated to a fundamental purpose. Broad, inspirational and enduring, Hyland’s purpose is to enable organizations to operate more efficiently and effectively. To ensure it stays on point with that purpose, Hyland created a set of five core values:

  1. We conduct ourselves with honesty, integrity and fairness in our relationships with our partners, customers, employees and shareholders.
  2. We deliver configurable business solutions that are intuitive to use. Our customers are confident when navigating our solutions.
  3. Our customers are our partners.
  4. Our employees are our family.
  5. We are motivated people passionately dedicated to the success of the company.

These core values are consistently consulted when making decisions and creating policies, and are not compromised for financial gain or short-term expediency.


Its culture, purpose and values have helped the company become wildly successful, as evidenced by numerous business and workplace awards. For seven consecutive years, Hyland has been recognized as a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Content Management. For three years running, Hyland has been recognized as a Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For, moving up 28 places to number 48 this year. Locally, Hyland has been recognized as a Plain Dealer/Cleveland.com Top Work Place and NorthCoast 99 winner, and has received many other awards and recognitions.


These awards and accolades have helped attract talent as well. Hyland is the first name mentioned by most candidates I talk with when asked where they want to work in Northeast Ohio. However, that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to attract and retain the highly talented professionals Hyland requires. Kathleen Vegh explained that Hyland looks for motivated, positive and hard-working people, mostly in the IT field. Those are the same people MANY companies seek. And the roles at Hyland come with high expectations, tight deadlines, and some with high travel and long hours. Even so, Hyland continues to attract the best and brightest by working at it.


For example, Hyland has an entire team dedicated to engaging employees, using a process of interviewing employees, actively listening to their concerns and advocating on their behalf. The process has resulted in many of the perks and benefits employees enjoy today. One example is the addition of bicycles used by employees to go between buildings at the Westlake Campus (OK, for the record, the original request was for Segway’s). The engagement process provides an opportunity for employees to share concerns and improve their workplace.


Hyland also trains its people to look for ways to contribute to its customer’s success, which is directly tied to the Hyland corporate purpose. As Cam Bowers, Technical Consultant states, “What is most enjoyable about working as a Technical Consultant in Implementation Services is helping our customers achieve the goals they have set out for their companies. When I can help someone make their life easier, I feel rewarded.”


Looking forward, Hyland projects to have over 3000 employees by 2020. Even though Hyland enjoys a very positive, high profile as an employer, the company continually looks for new ways to keep the talent pipeline full. Three approaches stand out to me. The first is an ongoing commitment to hiring interns. The Hyland Career Site focuses on People, Place and Purpose. Within the people section, internships are addressed separately. Hyland believes that internships should be about gaining valuable work experience, not fetching coffee. Providing meaningful work experiences to interns helps with a steady flow of early career candidates, and with building an employment brand that appeals to all professionals.


The second approach to keeping the talent pipeline full is the CHAMP program. Kathleen Vegh said that Hyland tried something new in 2016 and hired 25 entry level professionals into this program, which provides intensive training designed to prepare them for future roles as business and technical consultants. The program serves as a feeder system to the market-focused service and consulting delivery teams. The CHAMP program provides tremendous flexibility in filling internal roles as needed, especially compared to sourcing experienced professionals with specific IT skills.


A third approach to keeping the talent pipeline full is to hire remote workers and expand in other locations. Given the global footprint of the customer base it makes sense to have employees elsewhere. That approach provides an opportunity for Hyland to attract talent from outside Northeast Ohio, without requiring relocation.


Though Hyland will continue to expand outside Northeast Ohio, the company is committed to Greater Cleveland. As its career site proclaims, “We’re born and bred in Northeast Ohio and we couldn’t be more proud of our hometown.” The headquarters and majority of employees will be in Westlake for the foreseeable future. That commitment provides benefits beyond business and tax revenues. Hyland and its employees are big on giving back. Hyland’s Community Engagement Program focuses on employee involvement in the organizations that mean the most to its employees. To that end Hyland provides matching gifts, Dollars-for-Doers and paid service days. Hyland also hosts charitable events and conducts corporate-wide volunteer initiatives.


Hyland truly is a shining star as a business, civic and employment contributor in our area, and a great place to work.

Thank you, Mary, Kathleen and Megan for providing tremendous insight into #Hylandlife, and thank you Hyland for providing a Workplace Paradise in NEO!




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Mar-Bal, Inc. – A #WorkplaceParadiseNEO Company

Mar-Bal, Inc. – A #WorkplaceParadiseNEO Company

What a fabulous time to be living in Greater Cleveland and Northeast Ohio! In a few days the Cleveland Cavaliers will be raising their 2016 NBA Championship banner at their season opener, and across the street the Cleveland Indians will be hosting a World Series game for the first time since 1997. Go Tribe! One of the Tribe’s biggest fans is Maria Gaeta, Director of Human Resources for Mar-Bal, Inc. I’m excited to feature Maria and Mar-Bal in our first Workplace Paradise article.

Maria and I have known each other for years. We served together on the board of the Cleveland SHRM chapter, and Maria has had a highly successful career in human resources and HR consulting. Maria has won numerous awards for her work and contributions, including a 2015 Women Who Excel award and a 2016 Award for Organizational and Employee Development from The HR Awards of Northeast Ohio. Maria has been with Mar-Bal for four years and has made quite an impact.

Mar-Bal, Inc., headquartered in Chagrin Falls, OH, is the leading integrated compounder and molder of BMC Thermoset composite products and value added finishing services.  Mar-Bal has been recognized as one of America’s fastest growing companies for 2 consecutive years (2013, 2014).

Since 1970, Mar-Bal has engineered and manufactured quality, customized materials and parts while delivering unmatched client cost-effectiveness through superior customer service and commitment to the total value.

Here are some additional insights about Mar- Bal and their strategic direction:

Mission Statement

To develop and manufacture Engineered Composites that will create value for our customers and all stakeholders (employees and communities).


To be the premier thermoset composite solutions provider in the industrial and appliance markets and growing in new markets with great people and efficient operations.

Mar-Bal created a Values Tree based on feedback received from an employee survey, with the most cited values in bigger, bolder letters:


Mar-Bal provides truly innovative engineering solutions to solve customers’ technical challenges. The company culture strives to move quickly and be agile. They hire the best and work to develop great talent that wants to grow, contribute and make a difference, in a fun, award winning and challenging environment.

While the company is doing extremely well, Maria says it is challenging finding the best people – especially for the shop floor. “Working on the shop floor can be very challenging. It’s dirty, hot and itchy. We really have to provide value to our employees in order to compete with larger, publicly-held companies in the area” Maria tells us. As part of the effort to step up their game in the talent attraction area, Maria helped create a link on the Careers section of their website called the Realistic Job Preview. The Job Preview provides a step-by-step guide about working for Mar-Bal, the hiring process and employee testimonials. There is information about safety guidelines and an employee handbook. Great transparency for interested candidates.

But that’s not all. In order to compete for talent in today’s tight job market, Maria has included information about possible career paths, compensation and benefits. “We provide many opportunities for our people to earn bonuses and additional time off based on reaching goals, and for contributing ideas to improve quality and lower costs.” How has this extra effort paid off? Watch and listen to those who work for Mar-Bal to get a first-hand perspective.

While much of this article describes Maria’s background and contributions, she is the first to point out that the company’s success is a team success. “As a family owned business, we have an open door policy. Our executive owners, Scott and Steven Balogh, are often on the shop floor talking with supervisors and workers. Everyone has a voice at Mar-Bal, and everyone contributes to our success.”

For Northeast Ohio, there is another benefit of the family ownership. Scott and Steven Balogh are from this area, are active in area associations and are committed to Northeast Ohio. Part of that commitment includes adding a new plant here in Northeast Ohio. That means more jobs, which will contribute to our Northeast Ohio economy and success.

For all these reasons, we are proud to have Mar-Bal, Inc. as a Workplace Paradise in NEO!



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