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Technology Plays a Part In the Employee Experience

Sun, 07/15/2018 - 02:57

I’ve heard the comment many times that technology is just a tool. By definition, a tool is a device used to carry out a particular function. That totally makes sense. We use our tech to communicate, make purchases, learn new things, etc. So, technology is a tool.

But I also can’t help but wonder if it’s more than that because not having technology can be a disadvantage. For example, I was chatting with some talent acquisition professionals recently and we got on the topic of recruiting technology. One person at the table said that her company didn’t have an applicant tracking system (ATS). She felt that not having this piece of tech was really holding back their effort to attract the best talent.

Does that mean there could be a point where a tool is so important that it becomes more than a tool? And is technology in that place? It might be time for organizations to start asking some questions:

  • Does not having recruiting technology mean we face a disadvantage when it comes to hiring the best talent?
  • Is not having a performance management system mean we’re incapable of being high-performance?
  • How does not having a learning management system impact our ability to develop their future workforce?

You get my point. People have too many excellent tech experiences in their personal lives that they expect technology in their professional lives. Organizations can’t afford not to invest in their technology. It’s a necessary component of the candidate and employee experience.

As someone who remembers working with a typewriter, I can’t imagine doing it today. I mean seriously, could you imagine working for a company without word processing software?! And as more technologies become an essential part of our lives, it will only create more pressure on businesses to add tech. On a personal note, I will freely admit that it took us a long time to get rid of our landline and now that a few months have passed, I wonder what took me so long.

That being said, tech isn’t always cheap – even when it provides a return on investment. Organizations should be thinking now about their technology adoption strategy. Start getting the budget in place and getting employees ready for the transition. Adding technology isn’t about reducing headcount. It’s about building an employee experience that aligns with capabilities that employees can experience outside of work.

Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring the streets of Fort Lauderdale, FL

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Categories: Blogs

Employees Should Establish Their Own Priorities

Fri, 07/13/2018 - 02:57

A couple of months ago, I wrote an article about Kronos’ transition from a traditional time-off policy to an unlimited time-off program (called myTime). On some level, I like to think of the concept of unlimited time off as Paid Time Off 2.0. Decades ago, organizations had vacation, paid sick time, and holidays. Then they decided to merge all these categories together and give employees one balance called Paid Time Off (PTO).

Today, an increasing number of employers are simply saying, “You know your job and what you need to do. Take off when you need to.” IMHO, it sounds very refreshing for employees. They can take off to spend the time with family. Or as this Time Well Spent from our friends at Kronos points out, they can take a couple of days off for some “me” time. Whatever the reason or priorities, the employee gets to decide what’s important to them.

That isn’t to say unlimited time off doesn’t come with some challenges. Chief People Officer David Almeda mentions in a case study on The Workforce Institute blog that managers received training, so they could manage the new program and also rethink their role when it came to employee scheduling. It makes total sense. In a traditional time-off environment, managers had to schedule, monitor, and administer time off. Now, with unlimited time off, they’re more of a facilitator and I’m sure it takes some getting used to.

But it also means that employees have to rethink their requests. In the past, they could ask for time off, and the manager decided whether or not it was approved. Now, employees need to understand what their priorities are. Just because you can take off doesn’t mean you should. As a consultant, this is a lesson I learned very early. For example, when it comes to tasks, there are some things I do during the normal weekday – like grocery shopping – because I can, and it takes a lot less time. But there are things I do on the weekends, like the laundry.

When employees are given the ability to request time off, they have to figure out how to balance their requests with company priorities. Employees still have to get their work done. Kronos has been very open about their program results and that employee requests are not significantly greater under the unlimited time off program. But for companies considering a move to this type of program, it might be worth offering employees some type of training as well, similar to the training that managers received.

Employees want to have the freedom to make their own decisions. But when they’ve never had that ability before, it could take some adjustments.

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Categories: Blogs

Leadership or Culture: Which Comes First

Thu, 07/12/2018 - 02:57

There’s a common saying out there that “culture eats strategy” for breakfast (or lunch). The idea being that company culture drives the way strategies are created. Totally makes sense.

What I struggle with is where leadership fits into this conversation. On one hand, the company’s leadership helps shape organizational culture. On the other hand, culture supports and develops leaders.

If leadership comes first, and leaders create the culture, is it okay when new leaders arrive and change the culture? For example, when Tim Cook became CEO of Apple after Steve Jobs passed away, the culture changed. I’m not here to argue whether the Apple culture was or is good, the point is…the culture changed.

Conversely, company cultures drive things like talent strategy. I’ve worked for organizations where developing and promoting employees from within was a top priority. And I’ve worked in other places, where hiring the best talent from outside was more important. So, culture has a direct impact on where leaders come from and how they connect to the company.

I don’t know that I have answers on this one. But I would love to hear what you think. Tell us in this completely unscientific one-question poll: what comes first – leadership or culture?

What Comes First - Leadership or Culture
  • Culture
  • Leadership
  • It Doesn't Matter
  • I Don't Really Know Either


Thanks for taking the time to do this. I’ll share the results in a couple of weeks.

Organizations that are focused on building engaged workforces are looking at both their culture and their leadership. And it makes sense that these two things are very inter-related. But for those companies that have to choose between the two, which one do you focus on? If we had to choose between culture or strategy, the quote above would say focus on culture.

Many organizations are focused on hiring, engaging, and retaining talent. But they don’t have unlimited budgets and resources. I’m sure there are companies right now trying to figure out where they would get the most bang for the buck – develop leaders or invest in culture. What should we tell them?

Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby on the University of Miami campus in Miami, FL

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Categories: Blogs

Use Strategic Planning Techniques to Build Your Workforce Plan

Tue, 07/10/2018 - 02:57

With unemployment rates at historic lows, organizations have to not only think about filling open requisitions, they also have to develop a long-term approach to staffing. Frankly, if an organization waits until they have an opening before they start strategizing their sources, it will be too late. The recruiting team will always be taking a reactionary approach to staffing.

Workforce planning is about developing a proactive approach to talent acquisition.

I had the opportunity to participate in the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) seminar “Workforce Planning: The Future of Work”. I was really interested in taking this seminar because I think that workforce planning is going to be a key activity for organizations faced with recruiting challenges. I believe it’s also going to be absolutely necessary to shift recruiting efforts from reactive to proactive.

But before I talk a little about the workforce plan seminar content, I want to share with you a little personal takeaway that I learned while participating in this online seminar. I signed up for this seminar and blocked the time off on my calendar. I knew that my schedule was busy, but I figured it wouldn’t be a problem. Well, darn it all if life and work didn’t get in the way. Ha.Ha. Mr. Bartender and I moved from South Florida to North Florida. And then I had to shift a couple of project timelines. I’m sure you guys can relate.

The reason I’m bringing this up is because it would have been so easy to just blow off the whole seminar. You know how it goes. You miss a couple of sessions and you figure that you can’t possibly catch up. So just let it go.

Well, I didn’t just let it go. I listened to the entire workforce plan class after the fact. And while I don’t recommend that approach – there’s an advantage to participation – I don’t feel that I missed out on key content. Seriously! I was able to see the instructor, the chat stream, etc. just like I was there.

So, for those of you who are looking at your calendar and saying, “I can’t possibly sign up for this seminar because I’m going to miss a couple of sessions.” I’m here to tell you…sign up anyway! You will not miss out on major pieces of content. Let’s face it, if you’re looking for a perfect moment to attend training, it just might not happen.

Now, back to the conversation about workforce planning.

It was very interesting how the facilitator, Dr. Ed Sherbert, aligned the process of workforce planning to other processes we’re very familiar with. First, he talked about how the marketing department uses data to create a customer profile. That customer profile includes information like buying habits, disposable income, etc. Then, using the customer profile, the marketing and sales departments create a plan to attract (and retain) customers. The sales and marketing plan is rolled up into the company’s strategic plan.

A strategic plan involves four steps. Let’s do a quick recap:

  1. Formulation. During this step, the organization establishes its goals and objectives. They do this through the process of gathering data, often referred to as an environmental scan. Remember, the outcome of a strategic planning exercise is to answer the following questions:
  • How does the organization compete?
  • How does the organization create value?
  • How does the organization allocate resources?
  • How does the organization make decisions?
  1. Development. Once the strategy has been established, now the actual steps and activities are planned out. These steps are established based on the data from the environmental scan.

This is also where the workforce planning activity takes place. So, in addition to the discussion about the organization and operations, this step includes developing the talent strategy part of the strategic plan. And it answers the questions above as it relates to talent. How will the organization compete for talent? How will the organization add customer value with their talent? How will the organization allocate resources to get the best talent? And finally, how will the organization make decisions regarding talent?

  1. Implementation. Of course, this is the step when organizations turn planning into action. I don’t want to minimize this. The implementation phase is very, very difficult. It’s hard work.
  1. Evaluation. When it comes to strategic planning, I like to think of evaluation as a 2-step process. Evaluate the plan itself to make sure the assumptions and data used in the formulation step are still valid and relevant. Then evaluate that everyone who should weigh-in and buy-into the plan are given the ability to confirm their support. This is true for the workforce plan as well.

One of the reasons I like this approach to workforce planning is because it uses a process that we’re already familiar with. Of course, the seminar goes into a lot more detail, but you can see how workforce planning aligns with business strategy.

HR has the opportunity to help the organization achieve its business goals by developing and executing a relevant workforce plan. If you want to learn more about how to build a workforce plan for your organization, check out the SHRM seminar schedule for this program and others about talent acquisition.

Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring the streets of Boston, MA

The post Use Strategic Planning Techniques to Build Your Workforce Plan appeared first on hr bartender.

Categories: Blogs

Bookmark This! #SHRM18 Conference Edition

Sun, 07/08/2018 - 02:57

A couple of weeks ago, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) held its annual conference in Chicago. Over 22,000 human resources professionals were in attendance. It was an exciting and extremely educational event.

It was also impossible to take in everything that the event has to offer. It’s just huge! So, I wanted to share just a few of the things I found along the way.

I’ve mentioned before that certified professionals can earn recertification credits by reading books. Well, SHRM announced during the conference a new list of books that are eligible for recertification credit. And I’m excited to share that both of my recent titles, “Manager Onboarding: 5 Steps for Setting New Leaders Up for Success” and “The Recruiter’s Handbook: A Complete Guide for Sourcing, Selecting, and Engaging the Best Talent”, are now eligible for recertification credits.

Speaking of things certification-related, SHRM also recently announced a new specialty credential for talent acquisition professionals. Look for more information about this new offering in future articles.

Another topic of conversation was government. Compliance has always been a big part of our HR roles, but the legislative landscape is changing rapidly. I know that there are moments we simply want to tune out all of the politics, but HR professionals need to find reliable sources to stay on top of what’s happening at a federal, state, and local level. And with legislation like GDPR, we even need to think on a global scale. If you’re not a member of the SHRM A-Team, consider checking it out. SHRM Government Affairs keeps us current and shares some ideas for pending legislation – like this bill on Workflex – that can be a win for employers and employees.

I’m not sure if this has always been a feature at SHRM conferences, but SHRM had an area dedicated to their Knowledge Center. As a SHRM member, you can contact the Knowledge Center for information at no additional charge. Ask them a question, they will research an answer, and send it to you via email. In the past, I’ve used the Knowledge Center for topics like inclement weather policies and meal/rest breaks.

Finally, one of the biggest reasons that I love attending the SHRM annual conference is networking. I can catch up with old friends like John Jorgensen and Steve Browne. And I can spend time getting to know new bloggers. If you don’t subscribe to The SHRM Blog, check it out. It’s a great place to find new voices in the human resources space. For example, I particularly liked this post from Mary Faulkner on “Style or Substance”.

As HR pros, our professional development is important. We spend a lot of time justifying resources for employees to get the training and development they need. Don’t forget about yourself. Mark your calendars now for #SHRM19 in Las Vegas on June 23-26, 2019. Look forward to seeing you there!

Oh, and P.S. I hope you don’t mind a little humblebrag, but the SHRM Store recently announced their top-selling books from the conference and “The Recruiter’s Handbook” was on the list! Thank you to everyone who has purchased a copy. I very much appreciate it. Also a big congrats to friends Steve Browne and Tim Sackett for making the list as well.

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Categories: Blogs

Improve Performance by Expanding Solutions

Thu, 07/05/2018 - 02:57

After an employee is coached about their performance, a follow-up meeting should always be scheduled. Always. Even if the employee turns their performance around a full 180 degrees. Actually, let me rephrase that. Especially if an employee turns their performance around.

Why? Because having a follow-up meeting allows you to find out what they did to correct the situation. That generates a proven strategy for success that could be used in the future. Correcting a performance issue is tough. IMHO, the key to improving performance is having an awareness of proven solutions. Think of them like a treasure map. When faced with a challenge, we can pull out the right map and use it to help us get to the right place.

The question becomes, what are those right solutions (i.e. maps) that can help us. In many cases, they’re right in front of us. Here are eight that came to mind:

  1. Blogs. I certainly hope that readers find HR Bartender a source of ideas and practical solutions. That being said, there are lots of other blogs that can be useful and very helpful. Harvard Business Review has an outstanding blog. I also love their Management Tip of the Day email. The blogs “Ask a Manager” and “Evil HR Lady” focus on answering reader questions, which can provide some terrific insights.
  1. Books. If you enjoy reading, look to books for models, theories, and stories about how to solve problems. One of the great things about books is they’re often the source of case studies. Right there, you get proven solutions about how an organization was faced with a problem, developed a program, and measured results. Friend and fellow blogger Laurie Ruettimann hosts an HR Book Club that can provide some creative inspiration in terms of takeaways.
  1. Podcasts. I understand books aren’t for everyone. If books aren’t your thing, consider podcasts. Speaker and business advisor Jennifer McClure has launched a podcast series called “Impact Makers”, where she interviews people who are making a positive difference in the world. Looking for new ideas and solutions? I guarantee that you’ll get more than enough while listening to these people’s stories.
  1. Conferences. I honestly believe there’s a conference for every person and budget these days. From the very large Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Annual Conferenceand Association for Talent Development (ATD) International Conference to the HR Technology Conference and Expo and the WorkHuman Conference Pioneered by Globoforce. These events give participants an immersive experience focused on education and information.
  1. Expositions. Speaking of conferences, I cannot say enough about the professionals who work the expo hall at conferences. They are some of the smartest people around when it comes to designing solutions for individuals and organizations. Next time you’re at a conference, take a moment to chat with them. It’s okay to grab the swag too…but have a conversation as well.
  1. Seminars. A common complaint that I hear about conferences is that the information doesn’t go deep enough. In those situations, opt for a workshop or seminar instead of a conference. Many are available in both an in-person and virtual format to fit with your schedule. SHRM and ATD both offer programs on a variety of topics. Also, don’t forget to check out the programs that your local HR associations provide.
  1. Meetings. Speaking of local chapter meetings, building networks with fellow professionals can help tremendously when it comes time to problem solve. I’ve always felt in HR that we can’t always talk to anyone about our challenges. Either the person wouldn’t understand, or they would be a bit judgy. Having an HR network allows us to discuss matters with colleagues in a safe environment. And hopefully get some really good suggestions!
  1. Social Media. Last but certainly not least, remember that social media can be a conduit to learning solutions. Whether it happens through an article posted on Facebook, a video on YouTube, or participating in a LinkedIn group (LinkedIn HR is the largest and most active one around). And there’s also Twitter chats like the one hosted by SHRM every Wednesday at 3p Eastern.

It doesn’t matter if you use books, conferences, meetings, or social media. What matters is that we’re constantly looking for solutions. So, when we need them, we have them handy. Because that’s how we solve problems and improve performance.

Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring the Wynwood District in Miami, FL

The post Improve Performance by Expanding Solutions appeared first on hr bartender.

Categories: Blogs

Use a Growth Mindset to Reduce Bias

Sun, 07/01/2018 - 02:57

I ran across a very interesting article from Harvard Business Review titled,” Neurodiversity as a Competitive Advantage”. It talked about a growing number of organizations such as SAP, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Towers Watson, and EY who are reforming their HR practices to capitalize on the talents of people with neurological conditions such as autism and dyslexia. According to the article, unemployment for individuals in this group can run as high as 80 percent.

It reminded me of a presentation at BetterWorks Goals Summit. Joelle Emerson from Paradigm discussed fostering a growth mindset culture to reduce bias. Her point was, organizations need to focus on helping employees understand the advantages of diversity rather than guilting people into adopting a diversity strategy. And the way to do it is with a growth mindset.

Emerson recommended the book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Carol Dweck as a resource for learning more about the concept. Dweck writes that we can have a fixed or growth mindset. A fixed mindset is one where individuals believe that “you are who you are” and you can’t really develop in a particular area. Conversely, a growth mindset is when you can be anything you want because you feel that you can develop yourself. Think of it as nature versus nurture.

When it comes to organizations, a growth mindset is one where the organization is willing to take on more risk, set more goals, and be willing to accept failure. Organizations can foster a growth mindset to reduce bias and stereotypes. A few weeks ago, I ran a post from David Rock’s sessionat last year’s Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Annual Conference about bias. He mentioned that teams can deal with bias by focusing on processes. Emerson said the same and offered a few specifics on how to do it.

  • Avoid fixed mindset language. For example, using phrases like a candidate needs to have “selling in their DNA” promotes a fixed mindset because it implies that people can’t learn or develop sales ability.
  • Focus feedback on the process not the person. This means defining the process criteria in advance. Don’t reverse engineer into it. This will allow teams to apply criteria consistently, using the same criteria each time. Create a process checklist if necessary.
  • Gather and use good data. Compare performance to the standard, not to other biases.
  • Raise awareness. When organizations talk about mindset, diversity, and inclusion, they’re not talking about THE strategy. They’re talking about a part of the overall business strategy.

My takeaway from these pieces was that organizations need to view talent from a unique perspective instead of trying to implement a one-size-fits-all approach. This places a huge responsibility on HR to design work that can be completed by a diverse group of individuals, each with diverse talents.

It also means that managers need to be trained to manage and coach a diverse group of people. Managers cannot expect employees to conform to their leadership style. Sure, that’s the easy way. But easy doesn’t get the organization the best talent.

The post Use a Growth Mindset to Reduce Bias appeared first on hr bartender.

Categories: Blogs

Build a Social Recruiting Army to Amplify Your Employment Brand

Thu, 06/28/2018 - 02:57

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the PESO Model and how it can help frame your recruitment marketing strategy. Today, I wanted to add something to that conversation because there’s one aspect of the model that I can see being underutilized and it’s shared media.

Shared media takes place when others share the messaging that you’re sending out. And obviously, we want people to do that. To be specific, we want our employees to do that. Hopefully, our workforces are engaged and want to see us hire great talent to work alongside them. And hopefully, our workforces have diverse networks with followers who will complement our company culture (and ultimately apply for jobs!)

Joey V. Price spoke about building a social army at this year’s Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Talent Conference. That’s exactly what I think of when I refer to shared media. It’s about having the company’s branding messaging amplified and distributed far beyond our initial reach.

When social media was a relatively new concept, many organizations talked about building brand ambassadors – both internal and external – to amplify their messaging. Most of the conversation was on the consumer brand side of the business. But why not for recruiting talent? We need to take advantage of every marketing opportunity.

How to Build a Social Army for Recruiting

Building a social army does mean putting a plan together and not simply hoping that people will just share stuff. Back in the old days, we called that kind of strategy “post and pray”. Post a job opening and pray people find it. Today we can do a lot better. Here are a few things to consider:

Think about your social media goals. I’ve heard quite a few recruiting pros lately talk about social media as just another posting platform. And I’m not sure that’s true. Social media has the ability to regularly touch people about the organization’s brand. It deserves some serious thought.

Provide employees with social media training. It’s unfortunate to say that data breaches are a fact of life. We need to be well-educated on terms of service, privacy settings, and permissions when it comes to social media. These are perfect lunch and learn topics. It’s a win for everyone.

Set expectations. By now, your organization probably has a social media policy that’s been approved by the legal department. Make sure employees understand expectations and, if the company is going to encourage social sharing, that it’s a part of your policy.

Recognize employees who share. Whether it’s Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn, we have the ability to thank people who share our status updates. If you want employees to share, thank them for doing so! That will encourage them to do it again.

Speaking of employee communications, I know some of you might be saying to yourself, “I would love to do this, but it sounds like a huge time commitment. I just don’t have the time. Too many open requisitions!” Well, what if I told you there’s a technology solution out there that could help?

Advocacy Software Helps Manage Social Groups

In my last article, I told you about HRmarketer’s marketing software. They have a new offering that really plays into the social army strategy. It’s called Advocacy.

I had a chance to use the Advocacy software as part of the blogger team for SHRM’s Annual Conference and Expo in Chicago. SHRM used the software to keep bloggers informed of press releases around the conference and blog posts related to speakers, events, etc.

One of the great things about using the software was that this information wasn’t junking up my email inbox. Everything was in one place and I could go in once or twice a day to make sure I had the most current information.

Apply this to your recruiting efforts. The company’s social recruiting army – recruiters, hiring managers, and employees – can have regular access to information that they can share with their connections, friends, and followers. As talent acquisition pros, you only have to send the information out once to them and they can receive and share it at their convenience.

I’m not going to tell you everything that the Advocacy software is capable of doing, you can check it out for yourself by requesting a demo. But if the reason keeping you from building a social recruiting army is the time it would take to communicate with others, this is an option.

What Got You Here Won’t Take You to the Next Level

Companies looking to find the best talent can’t do it alone. They need the efforts and networks of hiring managers, and employees. Developing a plan to increase the amount of shared media makes huge sense in today’s digital world. And the best part is that shared media is a very cost-effective way to get your messaging out.

Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring the Wynwood Art District in Miami, FL

The post Build a Social Recruiting Army to Amplify Your Employment Brand appeared first on hr bartender.

Categories: Blogs

Recruiters: 8 Things Job Seekers Want from You [poll results]

Sun, 06/24/2018 - 02:57

Just in case you missed it, a few months ago, I wrote an article about the things that recruiters want from job seekers. I received a comment saying that it would be interesting to look at the flip side: What do job seekers want from recruiters?

Great question! So, a few weeks ago, I set up a survey for you to tell me your thoughts. I received almost 100 responses. While we can’t declare it statistically scientific, I’m saying it’s significant. (It’s my blog so I can do that kind of stuff. ha.ha.) But your comments were no joking matter.

It took me some time to read through the responses and categorize them. I put them into eight categories from least mentioned to most mentioned:

  1. Technology: This wasn’t as much about organizations having expensive technology solutions as it was about getting the basics right. Like “if a recruiter is making their first contact via phone, they should make sure their phone number displays a business name versus ‘No Caller ID’ or ‘Unknown Caller’.” Many people just don’t answer those calls.
  1. Professionalism: I’m putting in this category the references to bias, ageism, and disrespect. One respondent said, “If I took a day off (which may have been a complicated maneuver) and a bunch of travel time to come and speak with you, do me the courtesy of feeding me a decent meal, thanking me for my time, and filling me in on the results.”
  1. Empathy: We spend a lot of time talking about the importance of the candidate experience because a poor one can impact the bottom-line. Recruiters need to remember what it was like to be a candidate. One respondent said, “Treat the job seeker as you would like to be treated.” ‘nuf said.
  1. Interviews: A few people mentioned the lack of dialogue during interviews (question → answer, question → answer) as well as the quality of questions (“Tell me about yourself.” is getting a little old.) They also mentioned recruiters and hiring managers being prepared by reviewing the resume or application prior to meeting with the candidate.
  1. Responsiveness: This ties into other areas like empathy and feedback. One person said, “If the job seeker is supposed to follow up in 24-48 hours, how about the recruiter does the same?” I continuously hear from recruiters that the best candidates are off the market in ten days. If that’s true, then responsiveness matters. 
  1. Feedback: This is consistently one of candidates’ top peeves. If the position gets filled, let candidates know. One respondent said, “When I get a phone screen or interview, prompt notification that I’m not in the running is nice.” Today’s recruiting technology solutions allow you to do this so take advantage of it. 
  1. Communication: This is probably no surprise. But job seekers said they expected recruiters to have clear verbal and written communication skills. They also said that they expected recruiters to be able to “translate experience into their open roles.”
  1. Honesty: Respondents mentioned honesty both in terms of the company and the job. One person said that they wanted to know “the good, the bad, and the ugly. I’m a professional and know there’s both good and bad about any job and any organization.”

So those are the things that job seekers want to see from recruiters and here’s how the comments were distributed:

As you can see, the top four areas were honesty, communication, feedback, and responsiveness. If organizations are trying to improve their candidate experience, those areas might offer a starting point. Conduct a little self-audit. How would you rate yourself in these areas? Are there actions you can put in place to improve? It’s possible that the company could positively impact their candidate experience without spending any money – through transparent and authentic communication, feedback, and responsiveness.

Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while attending the WorkHuman Conference in Austin, TX

The post Recruiters: 8 Things Job Seekers Want from You [poll results] appeared first on hr bartender.

Categories: Blogs

Managing Your Schedule Is a Skill – Friday Distraction

Fri, 06/22/2018 - 02:57

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is brought to you by our friends at Kronos, a leading provider of workforce management and human capital management cloud solutions. For a third year, Kronos CEO Aron Ain has been recognized as one of the Top CEOs in information technology by Many congrats to him! Enjoy the article.) 

Regular readers of this blog know that I’m a planner. That also means I’m a scheduler. I find that the way I get things done is by blocking off time on my calendar. I do understand this might not be for everyone. But it works for me.

Which is why I couldn’t help but laugh at this Time Well Spent from our friends at Kronos. It reminded me that my way of getting things done is something I’ve learned over time. Maybe I didn’t learn it in elementary school, but you get the point. It takes time to figure out the best way to manage all of the meetings, appointments, etc.

Here are a few things to consider when it comes to managing time:

Use a system that works for you. The goal of scheduling is to provide reminders – either about places you need to be (like a work meeting) or stuff you need to do (like an expense report). As long as your system works – meaning you show up where you need to be and get things done on time – then it’s a good system. The problem occurs when people adopt scheduling systems and don’t use them.

Understand priorities. There are things on my calendar that are moveable and others that aren’t. I also try when I’m project planning to give myself plenty of wiggle room in case I have to make schedule adjustments. It doesn’t always work, but I really work hard to schedule my priorities. Of course, this also means that I need to have a clear understanding of what my priorities are.

Schedule “me” time. This is easier said than done. For example, one of my personal goals is to schedule a block of time to catch up after business trips. And the good news is I’m getting much better at it. But as part of our personal well-being, we need to carve out time on our calendars just to do something we want to do. It could be a MOOC, a massage, or the movies. And we have to learn how to not feel guilty about it.

Whether your scheduling system is a paper journal or a technology system, it needs to do the job it was intended to do. While I’ve been talking about scheduling on an individual level, the same applies to workplace scheduling.

Organizations need to use scheduling systems that work for them. The systems need to support the company’s priorities. And they need to be flexible enough to create a win for everyone.

The post Managing Your Schedule Is a Skill – Friday Distraction appeared first on hr bartender.

Categories: Blogs

3 Strategies for Achieving Your Career Goals

Tue, 06/19/2018 - 02:57

(Editor’s Note: Today’s post is brought to you by our friends at Capella University. Capella is an accredited online university dedicated to providing an exceptional, professionally-aligned education that puts you in a position to succeed in your field. They offer bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees as well as certificate programs for human resources and business professionals. Enjoy the post!)

I hope that everyone saw the May jobs report issued by the U.S. Department of Labor. Specifically, the part that talked about unemployment being at 3.8 percent. We haven’t seen these numbers for close to two decades.

While it’s great to have people employed, it can be tempting to think that, if we’re looking for a new opportunity right now, we don’t need to work very hard. It’s true – organizations are challenged to find the best talent. But individuals still need to have focused career strategies.

Strategy #1: Work / Life Balance Includes Career Goals

To me, work/life balance is the concept of having both a personal and a professional life that I have control over. I don’t know that it means an equal 50/50 split of time. But it means I can have both.

The second part of the definition is equally important – control. This doesn’t mean that we will never stay late or work on a weekend. Maybe that’s exactly what we want to do in order to get that project done in peace and quiet. Again, it’s about having control. If I work on Saturday to clear a few projects off my desk, then I can go see Deadpool 2 on Thursday afternoon.

If you share this definition of work/life balance, then you also realize that it’s not a Millennial thing. Or a Gen X thing. Or a Boomer thing. Every employee wants it. Because every employee wants control over their personal and professional lives. Granted, the reasons might be different, but I’m not sure the reasons matter. Because whatever those reasons are . . . they’re personally important to the employee.

But work/life balance doesn’t just extend to personal stuff like going to your kid’s soccer games or taking care of sick family members. It also has to do with career development. Having work/life balance can mean being able to attend conferences, classes, or obtain a certification that will improve our knowledge and skills. And spending time on learning and education doesn’t have an age limit.

Strategy #2: Invest in Your Own Career

Taking the time and dedicating the resources for career development can be hard. We might not always have the time or the money to make things happen the way we would like. Remember that quote from best-selling author Nora Roberts, “If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.”? Well, there are some things we can ask for.

  • Books. There are books on the market for just about everything. Books are especially good if you’re trying to learn a process. For example, let’s say you want to learn more about human resources metrics. Ask your boss for a copy of “How to Measure Human Resource Management” by Jac Fitz-enz. The book is reasonably priced, allows you to learn at your own pace, and you can keep it on your bookshelf for future reference.
  • Experiences. In many organizations, work experiences allow employees to learn new skills, grow professionally, and get exposure to individuals they wouldn’t typically meet. It could be a task force, implementation team, or a committee. Sometimes these opportunities are disguised as boring assignments that no one wants. Don’t be afraid to volunteer and give it your all to gain valuable experience.
  • Stretch Goals. Speaking of work experiences, sometimes stepping outside our comfort zone can be great for our career. It could involve a new work experience, like I mentioned above. Or it could be taking a class online in a subject that’s always fascinated you. Or maybe speaking at a conference about a program you’ve implemented. Whatever it is, don’t let the task intimidate you. The return on your time investment could be very valuable.
Strategy #3: Develop a Board of Career Advisors

Many of us have mentors who can offer advice and counsel. They can provide tips to be productive and encouragement to stay focused. But not all mentors are the same. And, in some situations, it makes sense to choose your mentors for the task at hand.

For example, let’s say you’re thinking about going back to school to get your master’s degree. Maybe your goal is to apply for a scholarship first. Think about the mentors who will help you get there. And remember, there’s no rule that says you have to limit yourself to one mentor. So, find multiple mentors (aka your own board of career advisors) who can provide value toward all of the goals you’re trying to accomplish.

At this point, don’t think about long-term formal mentoring programs. Instead, see if you can identify individuals who have attended graduate school. Maybe look for people who have worked and earned their degree at the same time.

I’d like to think that everyone knows how important it is to be a lifelong learner and to continuously make investments in their career development. But all learning opportunities don’t look the same. By regularly carving out time for development, asking for stretch opportunities, and building mentoring relationships, you can build the career success you hope to achieve.

P.S. Every dollar helps when it comes to getting an education. I know several people who want to pursue graduate degrees, but the cost is prohibitive. Scholarships allow individuals access to learning they might not otherwise have. If you’re at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Annual Conference and Expo in Chicago this week, our friends at Capella University have a special opportunity that will help with your work/life balance goals. It’s a $2,000 scholarship toward a Master of Science in Human Resource Management program. Stop by their booth for more information.

P.P.S. Capella also offers additional business scholarships for their bachelor’s, MBA, and doctoral programs. You may be eligible to receive:

  • Up to $8,000 for BS in Business
  • Up to $2,500 for MBA
  • Up to $7,000 for DBA and $8,000 for PhD in Business Management

Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby on the streets of Long Beach, CA

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Categories: Blogs

Asking Employees for Reimbursement After They’ve Departed – Ask #HR Bartender

Mon, 06/18/2018 - 02:57

Today’s reader note is about a company that’s doing something really nice for employees and ends up with a huge dilemma on their hands.

Our company takes all employees (along with their family, significant other, friend, etc.) to Disney for the weekend. We cover hotel, park tickets, meals, a company meeting, and airfare. While this is not a mandatory event, we hope all employees will attend. (Last year almost 80 percent of all employees joined us). The employee buys their own airfare and we reimburse them. All other expenses are paid directly by the company.

Situation: An employee has resigned right before the trip and therefore, will not be going. But they’ve already been reimbursed for airfare purchased.

Since the tickets cannot be transferred to the company, still have value to the employee (less any change fee), we feel it is appropriate to recapture the reimbursed airfare from the employee. They voluntarily decided to leave the company and have an asset.Are we within our rights? Thanks.

Unfortunately, we don’t know from the reader note if there are any policies or procedures in place that might address this issue. But I do think this raises some questions about offboarding. To help us understand the nuances of this situation, I reached out to our friend Andrea W.S. Paris, a California-based attorney focused on resolving business disputes. She’s helped us previously on a post about the differences between where employees live and work.

I’m delighted that Andrea has agreed to share her knowledge with us. Please remember that her comments should not be construed as legal advice or as pertaining to any specific factual situations. If you have detailed questions, they should be addressed directly with your friendly neighborhood labor attorney.

On the surface, what the company does for employees is pretty awesome. There is one aspect that I wanted to address – the company meeting. If employees are asked to participate in a company meeting during this trip, do they need to be paid for their time? Why or why not?

[Paris] The rule of thumb is whenever employees’ time is used for the company’s benefit, it is considered work, even when it’s not mandatory. The answer to the question as to whether they need to be paid for the meeting time depends on whether we’re talking about exempt or non-exempt employees.

Exempt employees are paid their salary regardless of the number of hours worked. Therefore, it is not necessary to pay wages in addition to their regular salary for the time spent in the company meeting.

However, non-exemptemployees should be paid for the time spent in the meeting. This issue should be addressed in the company’s employee handbook. 

In this scenario, the employee resigned before the company outing. Does it matter if the employee voluntarily resigned or if they had been terminated for cause? 

[Paris] The situation is analogous to the requirement to return company property. Employees are expected to return, and the company has a right to seek the return of company property regardless of who ends the employment relationship.

In this case, the company is asking about the plane ticket reimbursement. But if an employee has been reimbursed for anything (i.e. conference registration, tuition, etc.) wouldn’t it be the same situation?

[Paris] Yes.

If the company decides to ask the employee for a reimbursement, is there a time limit on when they should take action?

[Paris] I suggest requesting the reimbursement (minus estimated fees to employees) immediately upon receipt of the employee’s notice of termination. The longer the company waits, the less likely it is to recover the funds. 

And if the company decides to contact the former employee for reimbursement, is there a best way to do it? Meaning, should you just pick up the phone and ask them OR have the company’s legal counsel draft a letter?

[Paris] If the employee left on cordial terms, a phone call could be effective because this kind of request is more difficult to ignore in-person or on the phone. However, the company would still want to follow up with a letter in order to have a paper trail in the event that further follow-up is necessary. If the relationship is strained, a letter from counsel may be more effective. 

Last question: Is there something that the company can do to not end up in the same situation again?

[Paris] Since the company appears to have the infrastructure to book and pay for all other aspects of the trip, having control of the flight arrangements could prevent this issue in the future. Perhaps establish a relationship with a corporate travel agent who could coordinate employee’s flights so that any credit resulting from flight cancellations would be credited directly to the company.

A huge thanks to Andrea for sharing her experience with us. Be sure to follow her on Twitter at @AndreaParisLaw and check out her blog.

Rules, policies, and procedures can be a real bummer at times. Especially when the rule is completely unnecessary. But there are times when rules serve a valuable purpose. They allow us to handle situations consistently.

Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby after speaking at the Learning and Development League Annual Conference in Delhi, India

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Categories: Blogs

Organizations: It’s Time for Family Friendly Leave Programs

Sun, 06/17/2018 - 02:57

Happy Father’s Day to everyone celebrating!

While Mr. Bartender and I don’t have children, we respect parents and the responsibility they have to raise their children into adults. It’s tough and rewarding. But from my vantage point, parenting has evolved over the years. And organizations need to bring their leave policies into modern times. One company that’s doing just that is Cisco.

If you’re not familiar with Cisco, they are a worldwide technology leader focused on making the internet work. They’ve been in business since 1984 and most of us know them for their routers. But you might immediately recognize another of their product brands, Webex.

Cisco noticed that fathers were reluctant to use paternity leave benefits due to lingering stereotypes or unspoken pressure they may feel they face in the workforce. So last fall, Cisco implemented a gender-neutral benefits program for new parents to give both fathers – and mothers – adequate time to care for a new baby. Program highlights include:

  • Redefining family: Cisco eliminated the terms “maternity” and “paternity” from their policies and programs, replacing this language with “main caregiver” and “supporting caregiver” in the spirit of inclusivity.
  • Increasing support for new parents to 13 weeks: For employees who are welcoming a new child into their family, including parenthood via surrogacy, adoption, fertility treatments, etc., Cisco increased their time off from 4 weeks to 13 consecutive weeks of leave. This allows more time to bond and care for children, in addition to unlimited time off for all appointments.
  • Expanding emergency time off: Cisco is supporting people in the face of an emergency, such as a death in the family, a loved one’s illness, or a natural disaster, by expanding available time off in addition to their existing paid time off (PTO).

To find out more about Cisco’s new benefits, I spoke with Ted Kezios, senior director of global benefits at Cisco. He is responsible for the global benefits strategy and design of Cisco’s health, welfare, and retirement plans covering over 70,000 employees in 100 countries.

Ted, how did Cisco realize that they needed to address their leave policies?

[Kezios] Our senior leadership launched a bold initiative two years ago to make a meaningful difference in the moments that matter most to employees. We know that the best talent comes from an inclusive environment and culture where we celebrate diverse backgrounds and families.

Launching a new parental leave policy, globally, to establish minimum time away regardless of caregiver role, was one way we chose to celebrate and support our families.  That’s why Cisco offers employees welcoming a new child into their family the opportunity to take time away, based on their caregiver role rather than their biological relationship. Enhancing the moments that matter is all part of “Our People Deal” — the culture we create together, every day.

(Editor’s Note: To learn more about Cisco’s People Deal, visit their careers site:

What process did the company use to develop new programs?

[Kezios] As part of our company-wide “Moments that Matter” initiative, cross-functional, global teams were created to accelerate the pace of change.  All changes took into consideration “Our People Deal” — the culture we create together, every day.  We listened to our employees through surveys and focus groups, and we got feedback from managers.  We also did benchmarking, not merely to match what others are doing, but to be a leader in this space.

How did HR sell the change to senior management? And to your employees? 

[Kezios] We didn’t have to sell this change to senior management because we already had their commitment through the support of “Moments that Matter”.  These changes were very much driven from the top down.

During the implementation phase, did anything surprise you?

[Kezios] We knew from the start that implementing a change of this magnitude would be complex, and it has been.  Within each country there is a significant amount of coordination to ensure integration with statutory leave requirements. Communicating the changes to employees has been the fun part and has been well received.

How is HR measuring the impact of this change?

[Kezios] We will measure the participation and employee sentiment of the new leaves.  We look forward to seeing an uptick on employees taking advantage of the new flexibility these leaves afford. Success of these new leaves will not be exclusively tied to participation, because doing the right thing is part of who we are as a company.

A huge thanks to Ted for sharing some insights about Cisco and their new benefits program. Like Ted mentioned, it’s always good to hear what others are doing and then decide how to create a program that aligns with your culture.

The way we live and work is changing all the time. If organizations want to remain competitive – both in terms of the products and services they provide and the talent they hire – they will have to change with the times.

Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring the streets of Austin, TX

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Categories: Blogs

How to Find Mentors Who Will Support Your Goals

Fri, 06/15/2018 - 02:57

(Editor’s Note: Today’s post is brought to you by our friends at Capella University. Capella is an accredited online university dedicated to providing an exceptional, professionally-aligned education that puts you a position to succeed in your field. They offer bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees as well as certificate programs for human resources and business professionals. Enjoy the post!)

Over the past couple of weeks, our Friday posts have been focused on career development. First, we talked about finding time and having a busy professional life. Then, we talked about being ready to ask for opportunities. In this article, I want to talk about having a base of support.

Even when we can get the time and money to pursue learning and education, we can’t do it alone. We need people around us to support our efforts. Whether that’s making dinner while we’re studying for a certification exam or cutting us some slack when we’re tired after a long week of school and work. Support could also come in the form of gently nudging us when we don’t feel like studying (but we know we really need to).

That’s where mentors can come in. Mentors are people who can offer advice and counsel. They can give you tips to be productive and encouragement to stay focused. But not all mentors are the same. And in some situations, it makes sense to choose your mentors for the task at hand.

For example, let’s say you’re attending the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Annual Conference and Expo in Chicago next week. You might want to stop by the Capella University booth (#3750) at the conference and talk with them about the scholarship opportunities they’re offering. There’s a $2,000 scholarship for new students who enroll in their Master of Science in Human Resource Management program.

If you’re goal is to pursue a degree, then think about the mentors who will help you get there. At this point, don’t think about long-term formal mentoring programs. Instead, see if you can identify individuals who have:

1)    Attended Capella and can offer some insights.

2)    Received a graduate degree.

3)    Worked and attended school at the same time.

4)    Recently transitioned into a business or HR role.

You see where I’m going with this. There’s no rule that says you have to limit yourself to one mentor. So, find mentors that can provide value toward all of the goals you’re trying to accomplish. SHRM Annual and Capella University are a great place to start.

P.S. If you’re not attending the conference, check out the other business scholarships opportunities that Capella has to offer for their bachelor’s, MBA, and doctoral programs:

  • Up to $8,000 for BS in Business
  • Up to $2,500 for MBA
  • Up to $7,000 for DBA and $8,000 for PhD in Business Management

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Categories: Blogs

Organizational Talent Pools: 4 Steps to Developing Employees

Thu, 06/14/2018 - 02:57

(Editor’s Note: Today’s article is an excerpt from my new book, “The Recruiter’s Handbook: A Complete Guide for Sourcing, Selecting, and Engaging the Best Talent“ (SHRM, 2018) SHRM members can order a discounted copy at the SHRMStore. Or I’ll be signing books next week at the SHRM Annual Conference in Chicago. Stop by and say hello!)

With unemployment rates hitting record lows, there’s lots of talk about developing internal talent. One way to do that is with talent pools, which are groups of employees who are being trained and developed to assume greater responsibilities within the organization. Often, but not always, they have been identified as high-performing and high-potential individuals.

Talent pools allow organizations to develop employees in areas that align with company competencies and values instead of focusing on developing specific position skills. This allows a talent pool to address the biggest challenge with succession planning, which is telling individuals they’re part of the plan. Organizations can communicate to a group, “You’re the future of the company,” instead of telling an individual, “You are our next chief marketing officer.”

In addition, talent pools provide the flexibility needed in emerging or developing industries. Some industries are moving so quickly that they don’t know what next year looks like, much less what their five-year recruiting strategy should include. That unpredictability can make traditional succession planning efforts difficult and talent pools an ideal tool.

However, creating a talent pool takes some planning. Here are four proven steps to developing an organizational talent pool for your organization:

  1. Review the organizational strategies.Much of the information regarding the strategies has already been gathered as part of the workforce planning activity. So, the goal here is to identify the competencies needed to make those strategies happen. In the future, the strategies will change, but the competencies may remain the same. An example is critical thinking skills. Regardless of the strategy, critical thinking is a necessary competency.
  2. Assess the company’s current talent to identify any skills gaps.Again, this information was gathered during the staffing analysis and workforce planning activity. Organizations can accomplish this step using a variety of techniques, including performance reviews, assessments, multi-rater feedback, and interviews. A combination of techniques could prove to be exceptionally valuable. The key consideration is consistency.
  3. Create modules or groups of activities that will help employees learn the skills they need.Once the organization identifies the skills it will help employees develop, recruiting can work with learning and development to figure out the process. A combination of internal and external training and project-based learning may be useful. Three activities proven to be very effective include:
  • Management coaching. Good managers have valued relationships with their employees. They are positioned to deliver open, honest feedback that can help employees change behaviors and improve performance.
  • Peer-to-peer feedback. Organizations spend an incredible amount of time collaborating. Peer-to-peer interaction is how most employees spend their time. Training employees to deliver timely, specific feedback can make an impact.
  • Mentoring. Organizations can encourage mentoring relationships to cover topics that don’t necessarily warrant a training program—like office politics and negotiation skills. Employees can benefit from the wisdom of experience. 
  1. Monitor progress and make regular adjustments. Like succession planning and recruiting strategies, talent pools need to be monitored. The organization should conduct regular talent assessments and observe market conditions. Both internal and external factors can prompt a change in talent development strategy. The talent wars aren’t going away anytime soon. Organizations must think about the future. They are not going to be able to find all the talent they need via external recruiting. Talent pools allow companies to develop future talent from within. They also give businesses the flexibility to meet their fluid operational needs.

Talent pools offer flexibility to business needs while at the same time preparing high-performing employees for the future. They do require organizations to conduct a gap analysis, identify skills that need development, and implement a career development program to address the gap. However, the result is an internal talent pipeline that the organization needs to be successful.

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Categories: Blogs

Employee Retention is Everyone’s Responsibility

Tue, 06/12/2018 - 02:57

I came across this article recently on Undercover Recruiter titled, “Why Employee Retention Should Be a Talent Acquisition Responsibility”. It’s a good read worth checking out. My takeaway was that talent acquisition professionals play a role in employee retention. They do this by designing a good hiring process. One that accurately reflects the culture of the organization. And selecting candidates that will fit with the company culture. Lastly, they make sure the transition from candidate to employee is a smooth one.

But let’s be clear. Talent acquisition professionals aren’t the only ones responsible for employee retention. Everyone in the organization plays a role in employee retention. Let me repeat that. Everyone has responsibility for employee retention. From the manager who coaches the employee to the co-workers who work with employee to the customers that the employee interacts with. They all play a part in whether the employee stays with the company or goes.

Organizations are very focused on employee retention right now. As they should be. Turnover is expensive both in terms of hard costs as well as the drain on morale and productivity. There are some things that organizations can do to help everyone understand their role in employee retention.

Let managers know that employee retention is a priority. I’m not suggesting that there won’t be times when an employee leaving isn’t a good thing. Sometimes employees should leave the organization because they aren’t the right fit. Or they want experiences that the company can’t provide. But there are times when employees leave, and it could have been avoided.

Use stay interviews to find out what employees are thinking. Stay interviews are designed to help organizations identify what makes employees stay with the company. This information can be useful in recruitment marketing. It can also keep organizations from making changes that employees may leave the company over (like a major overhaul of a popular employee benefit).

Create buddy and mentor programs to encourage peer-to-peer relationships. Many organizations focus on managers building relationships with their teams – which is essential. But how much time is spent on developing team relationships. There are times when employees want someone to talk to, but not a member of management or human resources. Give them a way to form internal networks that will help them through tough times.

Train and empower employees to solve customer problems. I mentioned earlier in this article that customers play a role in employee retention. Educating customers and setting expectations is important. And sometimes companies create policies and procedures that infuriate customers. Employees get the brunt of that anger. At some point, an employee might say, “Hey – I’m not putting up with this anymore. The company doesn’t care about its customers. I’ll go someplace that does.”

Realize resignations aren’t the end of working relationships. I know this article is all about retaining employees but keep in mind that, when employees leave…they can return. Provided the company has a defined offboarding process that allows individuals to exit with respect. With unemployment numbers at historic lows, reengaging with former employees is a definite possibility, even if its’ just for freelancing or contract assignments.

The conversation about how to improve employee retention continues to happen. We spend a lot of time focused on engagement and the employee value proposition. It takes everyone working together to create a workplace that employees want to be a part of – and stay a part of. Ask yourself, “What can I do to help employee retention in the organization?”

Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby outside of Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, NV

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Categories: Blogs

Everything #HR Needs to Know About Artificial Intelligence

Sun, 06/10/2018 - 02:57

Over the past few months, we’ve talked about chatbots and machine learning. It only seems logical that we should have a discussion about artificial intelligence (also known as AI). While these terms are often used in the same sentence, the more I learn, the more I realize that there are subtle nuances in each.

Many human resources departments are looking at these approaches to scale their efforts and bring consistency to their activity. While HR isn’t going to have to do the programming, they do need to know enough to guide the conversation and make decisions about what’s best for the company.

To help us understand more about artificial intelligence, I reached out to Armen Berjikly, senior director of strategy at Ultimate Software, where his expertise in human-computer interaction drives Ultimate’s transformative artificial intelligence platform and direction. I’m thrilled that Armen agreed to share his knowledge with us.

Let’s start with a definition. What is artificial intelligence (AI)? And how does it differ from concepts like emotional intelligence (EI)?

[Berjikly] First, AI is an approach, not a specific skill. There’s a professor at Georgia Tech named Charles Isbell who has a fun way of defining AI: ‘making computers act like they do in movies.’ Another way to look at it: AI is ‘what’s next.’ It’s a constantly moving target focused on providing the answer to the biggest technology challenges.

My worldview is that AI is the ability for a machine to learn new things from its environment that it wasn’t initially programmed to do. I also think what AI learns should be interesting, and not obvious to people.

Emotional intelligence, on the other hand, is probably best defined by having and displaying empathy. For example, to know what someone is feeling, even when their words tell you something different. You can, of course, have AI with characteristics of emotional intelligence (back to making computers act like they do in movies!)

Can you point us to an example of AI that we may already be using or familiar with?

[Berjikly] AI is all around us, and due to its loose definition (a machine that mimics human behavior and makes ‘smart’ decisions), you don’t have to look very far to find it. Siri, Alexa, Google Home, Cortana—these are all examples of machines we talk to, that try to figure out from our speech what we’re saying, and then do what we ask of them.

Navigation apps like Google Maps is another example. We’re in the driver’s seat, looking for a way home. Behind the scenes, an AI toolkit is crunching live and historical data to actively predict the best route and determine how long it’ll take to get there.

Yet another: SPAM filters. Every time you receive a new email, the machine determines whether it’s something you’ll want to read, even though it’s likely never seen that particular combination of words and email addresses before.

How should we view Artificial Intelligence – User interface? Chatbot? A little of both? Or possibly neither?

[Berjikly] AI can be viewed as an enabling platform. I think AI, as a concept, can be quite meaningless by itself. But it provides a meaningful foundation—and you can build some interesting things on top of an AI view of the world. So, in this instance, AI can power a user interface or a chatbot to understand, reply to, and act on inputs.

There’s lots of talk about AI replacing jobs, which can be perceived as a bit scary. But I have to think AI can also make work better. Can you share an example where AI makes jobs easier?

[Berjikly] The application of computers automating people’s tasks is not AI—that’s simple automation, because there is no active learning involved. The systems are taught a specific thing to do, and they mindlessly do it repeatedly.

By contrast, I believe AI’s place in the world should be to relentlessly help us do the high-value things we want to do, but often cannot because we get bogged down by everyday challenges. By offloading the things that we as people struggle with, such as making sense of lots of high-volume, complicated data while countering fatigue and helping us discover meaningful insights we wouldn’t have been able to on our own.

Radiology is great example, where the machine will augment a radiologist without a hope of replacing them. With AI being able to sift through massive amounts of information with perfect memory and tireless resolve, radiologists can be sure they’re getting a deeper look. The question of what to do with those results isn’t something the machine’s aiming to answer. That’s ultimately up to the radiologist, who has a vast amount of qualitative experience and can use that information to make a more informed decision.

You’ve shared how AI can make work better. Let’s talk about the other side. Name one thing that companies need to be watchful (or cautious) about when it comes to AI.

[Berjikly] A potential concern with AI is the fear and uncertainty it can introduce into an organization if it’s brought into a company without a clear purpose. Technology for technology’s sake—or an implicit embrace of technology to cut costs and increase efficiency—can have a vastly counterproductive effect on the people who have to use it and ensure its success. Instead, companies should have realistic goals, a path in mind, and a vision of how AI can help employees unlock their full potential.

If HR pros can only focus on 1-2 aspects of Artificial Intelligence, where should they spend their time?

[Berjikly] Companies should fear being absorbed into the hype of new technology that’s applied without a purpose. With AI, we should focus on helping people fulfill their career ambitions and limit the thought of complete automation or employee replacement—both because it’s often entirely unrealistic and it’s not healthy to look at your organization and only see opportunities for cutting costs. Employees create the value of an organization and equipping them with exciting technology can help further drive value to the business.

Put another way, we shouldn’t be aiming for the goal of running HR with a joystick. HR is populated with people who care deeply about the creation, growth, and success of their teammates and, by extension, their organization. Until now, they’ve been hamstrung by a lack of products and tools that truly help them solve the big problems, and they’ve been derailed by workflows and workarounds.

The new world of AI gives us a chance—one that we’ll have to carefully nurture—to solve problems the ‘right’ way, with people top of mind. Technology should meet us as we are, and not the other way around.

Many thanks to Armen and the Ultimate Software team for sharing their knowledge with us. Obviously, we’ve only just scratched the surface of what chatbots, artificial intelligence, and machine learning can do for our organizations. But I’m convinced that, as we read more and ask more questions, HR professionals will be well positioned to make the right decisions for their organizations, which in the end means a great candidate and employee experience.

Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby on the streets of Fort Lauderdale, FL

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Categories: Blogs

3 Strategies for Investing in Yourself

Fri, 06/08/2018 - 02:57

(Editor’s Note: Today’s post is brought to you by our friends at Capella University. Capella is an accredited online university dedicated to providing an exceptional, professionally-aligned education that puts you a position to succeed in your field. They offer bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees as well as certificate programs for human resources and business professionals. Enjoy the post!)

Last week, I mentioned how work/life balance extends to our own career development. But I’m not naïve. I do realize that, for some, taking the time and dedicating the resources for career development strategies can be hard. We might not always have the time or the money to make things happen the way we would like.

But there are some things we can do. I’ve always loved the quote from best-selling author Nora Roberts, “If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.” So, if you’re looking for ways to keep your career development efforts moving forward, here are three things you can consider asking for:

  1. Books. Personally, I enjoy learning through reading. And there are books on the market for just about everything. Books are especially good if you’re trying to learn a process. For example, let’s say one of your strategies is to learn more about human resources metrics. I’d recommend asking your boss for a copy of “How to Measure Human Resource Management” by Jac Fitz-enz. A book is reasonably priced, allows you to learn at your own pace, and you can keep it on your bookshelf for future reference.
  2. Education. Capella University is offering a scholarship opportunity to attendees at this month’s Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Annual Conference and Expo in Chicago. The $2,000 scholarship is for individuals interested in theirMaster of Science in Human Resource Management program. One additional “ask” to consider is going to your company and asking them to match the dollars if you’re awarded the Capella scholarship.
  3. Experiences. In many organizations, work experiences allow employees to learn, grow, and get exposure to individuals they wouldn’t typically meet. It could be a task force, implementation team, or a committee. Sometimes these opportunities are disguised as boring assignments that no one wants. Don’t be afraid to volunteer and give it your all. In these strategies, the return on your time investment could be very valuable.

I’d like to think that everyone knows how important it is to be a lifelong learner and to continuously make investments in their career development. But all learning opportunities don’t look the same. And sometimes we have to ask for them. Because, if we don’t, the answer is always no!

P.S.  Capella also offers additional business scholarshipsfor their bachelor’s, MBA, and doctoral programs. You may be eligible to receive:

  • Up to $8,000 for BS in Business
  • Up to $2,500 for MBA
  • Up to $7,000 for DBA and $8,000 for PhD in Business Management

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Categories: Blogs

Management Is Not Helping Me – Ask #HR Bartender

Thu, 06/07/2018 - 02:57

Today’s reader note is a toughie. What do you do when it doesn’t look like anyone is supporting you?

I have been a nurse for 32 years. I’m being harassed by a new manager reporting false allegations against me. I think he has an instant dislike for me. I have been intimidated by HR, harassed previously by my director, and now given a formal final disciplinary warning. This is my first warning in 32 years. Management is not helping me.

Like I said, this is a tough situation. We don’t know what allegations the manager has made. We don’t know if HR conducted an investigation and what they found (or didn’t find). So, it’s hard to give this reader any kind of specific suggestions. There are a couple of things we can do.

First, we’ve published in the past a couple of articles about HR and investigations.

What to do when HR doesn’t listen

HR failed to investigate an incident

We’ve also talked about management regarding progressive discipline and suspensions.

How to handle a work suspension

What to do if you’re placed on suspension

But the post I want to direct you to is this one:

Should I quit or wait to get fired?

I don’t know who is right or wrong in this situation. We just don’t have enough information. What I do know is that this reader feels they’re doing all the right things, but they’re getting disciplined, and they’re not happy about it. At some point, you have to ask yourself, “Is this the kind of organization I want to work for?”

If the answer is “yes”, then figure out how to keep your job. Go to your manager and tell them, “Hey – I really enjoy working here. What do I need to do to improve my performance?” Be prepared to listen. Your manager should be able to tell you where they feel your performance isn’t meeting the standard. If they can’t, then ask yourself the question again, “Is this the type of manager I want to work for?”

And if the answer is “no”, then figure out how you can go someplace where your skills will be appreciated. I get it. Looking for a new opportunity is time-consuming, a little scary, and it can be more than a little frustrating. But the reward is going to a work environment without “managers making false accusations”, “intimidation by HR”, and “harassment”. The reward is being able to focus on your work, not management, and building positive relationships with others.

I wish I had a neat and tidy response to issues like these. But sometimes they just don’t exist. Employees have to decide, based on the situation and their career goals, what option works best for them. I can say it’s important that employees really think through what they want because that often sheds light on the answer they’re looking for.

Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby after attending the WorkHuman Conference in Austin, TX

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Categories: Blogs

New Hires Not Engaged? How to Design an Onboarding Intervention

Tue, 06/05/2018 - 02:57

(Editor’s Note: Today’s post is brought to you by our friends at Readex Research, which provides expert survey services to help businesses understand their internal and external customers. Their services include employee experience surveys. Enjoy the post!)

According to the most recent data from Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the average time to fill is 36 days. For many organizations, this is a long time. So, when new hires arrive, the goal is to get them productive as soon as possible. And unfortunately, in this effort to do so, they might not take as much time as they should to ensure that new hires get all the attention they need.

That’s why many organizations use an onboarding pulse or check-in. They can reach out to a new hire and take a quick pulse on how things are going. The question becomes, once the employee has responded, what happens with the information?

Stay Focused on New Hires with Action-Alert Notifications

The downside of surveys is that companies often send out too many and don’t have the time or bandwidth to analyze the data and act. Then by the time they do follow-up with a new hire, it’s too late. For surveys to be effective, there needs to be a way to get an immediate notification or alert when something appears to be amiss.

Recently, we talked about Readex’s pulse/check-in product. The product has a terrific feature called Action-Alert notifications that provides the warning we’re looking for. Here’s how it works:

When organizations conduct pulse/check surveys, they also decide what “thresholds” in the survey questionnaire will prompt an Action-Alert notification. For example, here are two common pulse/check-in survey questions.

Q1: The nature of my job is about what I thought it would be. A: Yes/No/Unsure

Q2: If a friend or acquaintance were looking for a job, how likely would you be to recommend they apply for a position with us? (Scale with 0=definitely will not, 10=definitely will.)

Organizations might decide that for Q1 the threshold may be at answers no or unsure and for Q2 ratings of 7 or below. Managers can view all results in real-time (i.e. phone, tablet, or PC) and get “pinged with an email” when a survey(s) indicate a problem (based on the pre-determined thresholds/answers/rating scores are set in the platform.)

Once a manager receives the notification, they can review the actual surveys and decide the most appropriate way to follow up or create an intervention. Just to make sure we’re on the same page, I’m defining intervention here as a process companies use to reconnect with employees and address concerns. Think of it as getting the employee-employer relationship back on track.

Of course, you might be thinking, how do I follow-up with employees when surveys are anonymous? Readex CEO Jack Semler offered three suggestions for addressing the issue:

  1. DON’T say the survey is confidential. In any employee survey where you’d like to be able to follow up to issues that are identified from a survey respondent, indicate in the invitation (or somewhere) that the survey is not confidential. And if the survey is confidential, it’s best to make a notation indicating that and that results will be in aggregate.
  2. DO ask for contact information. Ask employees to provide their contact information (phone or email) and if they want to receive follow-up. Organizations could include some verbiage like, “We really want to do the best we can at attracting and keeping employees. Please share with us any thoughts you have on what we can do better. If you wish to be contacted to discuss this or any other matters, please provide your phone number or email so we may connect with you.”
  3. DO make a commitment to responding in a timely fashion. From the employee’s perspective, there’s nothing worse than completing a survey where you ask for help, then no one responds.
CASE STUDY: How Action-Alert Notifications Led to Greater Engagement

Semler also shared with me the story of a non-profit trade association with roughly 1,500+ members that were using the Readex Onboarding Check platform to recruit and retain members.

The association had a small staff and were looking for ways to improve member communications, with a special emphasis on a new member’s first 90 days. Doesn’t this sound so familiar to the new hire experience? First impressions, whether they’re from customers or employees, are important and remembered whether they are good or bad.

The association sends a five-question survey that provides new members the opportunity to share their initial thoughts, impressions, and opinions about their member experience right from the start. The survey questions cover the recruiting experience, their overall membership experience, whether they’ll return when renewal time arrives, and the Net Promoter Score (NPS) question indicating if they’d refer and recommend others to join. The survey ends with an opportunity for members to “write-in” any positive or negative experiences they would like to share.

The use of the Onboarding Check platform was a win for everyone involved. New members learned from the beginning of their membership experience that the association staff are listening and care about the investment they have made. Members are pleasantly surprised when they receive a follow-up phone call to address any concerns or problems.

Communications have improved inside the association because of the shared knowledge that new members have provided about the recruiting experience. And, based on membership feedback, the association was able to revamp their membership recruiting protocols which improved the new member experience.

Use Surveys to Create Conversations

The key to getting new hires engaged is giving them the tools and being there to support them. One of those tools is a survey. Onboarding Check-ins are meant to solicit feedback and open the door to a conversation.

While it would be great to prevent incidents from occurring, the reality is that sometimes stuff happens. The goal is to take care of challenges before they become unmanageable. That shows employees that the company cares.

P.S. If your organization is looking into onboarding surveys as a way to get employee feedback, Readex has created a series of white papers to help with your employee engagement survey design and implementation. You might want to bookmark these links for future reference:

5 Questions to Ask Yourself about Employee Engagement Surveys

6 Guidelines for Employee Engagement Survey Design

3 Tips for Presenting Employee Engagement Survey Results

Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby after speaking at the ATD International Conference in San Diego, CA

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Categories: Blogs