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    Have to advise your kid on their college major? Here's some data you may want to review

    Time to dig into some labor market data!

    (Note: all the data referred to in this post can be found courtesy of our pals at the BLS. While their site isn't the easiest to navigate, you can start at the 'Employment, Hours, and Earnings' page to get started with this kind of analyses).

    I had a chat with a friend recently who was sending their child off to his or her, (I can't remember which, does not matter), first year of college this month. In the conversation I faked genuine interest by asking what the child was planning to choose as their major. I think the answer was 'Business' or 'Physics', like I said, I was faking interest at this point, but the entire conversation made me think about just what 'should' the child have chosen, forgetting for now what they are interested in/good at. If the child wanted to make a purely rational, economic decision, what might be the direction to head in terms of college major?

    I confess to not knowing the answer, but a recent piece from the Nieman Lab about trends in employment in selected information industries, (copied below), at least provides one set of data points to (hopefully), better inform these kinds of economic decisions. Take a look at the Nieman Lab chart, (knowing by accessing the BLS data in the link above, you could create similar charts across other or all industry classifications), and then some comments from me after the data.

    The point of the Nieman Lab piece was more or less 'Gee, what a crappy last decade it had been for the newspaper business, and the people working in it', but examining this kind of data a little more broadly can be instructive on a number of levels.  Sometimes this kind of data validates what we think we know or have observed in our own lives - do you know anyone who actually reads a newspaper anymore?

    Other times the data can be a bit surprising too. I personally had no idea that employment in Motion Picture and Video Production had just about doubled since 1990. Are there really that many more films being made? Besides the Sharknado series I mean?

    Back to the original question raised in the post - what should someone making what they hope to be is a rational, economically sound decision choose for their college major? 

    Some topic or subject that maps easily to an industry group we think holds bright employment prospects for the future? 

    I still have no idea I suppose. But at least I would tell them to not plan to work for a newspaper after they graduate. 

    And then I would take a minute to explain what a 'newspaper' is.

    Happy Wednesday. Have fun with the data.


    Wanting to win is a great motivator. So is not wanting to come in last place

    Over the weekend I was coerced had the opportunity to participate in a 2-mile time trial with my son's high school cross-country track team, and the results of which were pretty sad and interesting at the same time.

    Let's step a bit to set some context. I heard about the Saturday morning time trial pretty late on Friday evening and was informed that the cross-country team coach encouraged the student runners to invite their parents and other family members to attend and even compete in the time trial, and in fact, many, many parents would indeed participate in the race. Armed only with that small bit of information, and since I am a very casual two or three times a week jogger, and I knew I could cover the two miles with collapsing, I agreed to show up early on run on Saturday morning.

    Fast forward to the actual morning of the race and it turns out that no, 'many, many' parents were not intending to participate in the race. It was just me, one other older guy, (I say older, I probably had him by 8 or 9 years), and about 30 high school cross-county athletes lined up to race the two miles. 

    My focus immediately shifted from ' I hope I can run a respectable time' to 'I can't let myself come in last place in this race', as a fairly decent-sized crowd of non-running parents, (as well as all the high schoolers), had gathered to watch the race (and eat donuts and bagels). 

    After unsuccessfully feigning a pre-race injury in order to try and back out of the race, I was off and running with the 30-odd kids and the one-odd other old dummy like me tricked into doing this.

    Here's how the rest of the race unfolded: first half mile or so I tried to stay connected to the back of the pack of kids, second half mile I lost contact with all but about five of the slowest kids, last mile or so I ended up passing a few kids, (most of whom I later found out were making their very first training run that morning).

    And oh yeah, the other 'old man' in the race? He stalked me, about 15-20 yards back for most of the race and then tried to outkick me, (term used very, very loosely), in the last 50 yards or so. Once I realized this, I managed to speed up enough to hold him off at the tape. I ended up placing about 25th out of about 31 or 32. My time, while slow, was about one minute per mile faster than I would normally run.

    What's the point of all of this, i.e., why place it on the blog?

    I was thinking about how incented I was to raise my performance level not to win or even try to win the race, because there was no chance of that, but to a level where I simply would not be the worst performer. And it worked, to a degree.

    The fear of being the worst, and having that be a public thing, drove me to perform better than I would had I been squarely in the middle of a typical pack of weekend 5K runners. I knew I had to push myself to beat even just one other person in the race and avoid the indignity of coming in last.

    All performance is relative. It is true in running, and in most every other activity we take on that calls for measurement, (and rewards).  And motivation to perform to be the best, while certainly powerful and meaningful, isn't the only kind of motivation that can drive improved relative performance.

    That's is from me. Happy Monday. Have a great week. 


    PODCAST - #HRHappyHour 255 - Modernizing Performance Management

    HR Happy Hour 255 - Modernizing Performance Management

    Hosts: Steve BoeseTrish McFarlane

    Guest: Rajeev Behera, CEO, Reflektive

    Listen to the show HERE

    This week on the show, Steve and Trish were joined by Rajeev Behera, CEO of HR technology solution provider Reflektive, who are helping over 175 organizations modernize their approach to performance management by making the process faster, centered around coaching, and enabling managers to become true 'people' managers and not 'task' managers. We talked about the challenges that traditional performance management processes present to organizations, like ones that focus primarily on a rating or a score above all else.

    Many large organizations have moved away from traditional performance management processes, and on the show Rajeev shared some insights and ideas on how the organizations Reflektive works with are successfully combining modern technology solutions with fresh approaches to coaching and mentoring to improve individual and organizational performance, and better engage employees in their own personal and career development.

    We also talked about the launch of the HR Happy Hour Podcast Network, summer vacation, and how much we all love Disneyworld.

    You can listen to the show on the show page HERE, or by using the widget player below:

    Performance management is undergoing significant and important change in many organizations. Reflektive is at the forefront of many of these changes, and this was an interesting and informative discussion.

    And be sure to subscribe to the HR Happy Hour Show on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, or your favorite podcast app.


    VIDEO: "Alexa, I hate my boss"

    Earlier this year I blogged about and Trish McFarlane and I did an Episode of the HR Happy Hour Show loosely based on the annual Internet Trends Report by famous analyst Mary Meeker. In the most recent report, a fair bit of time was given towards the increase in capability and use of 'voice interfaces', e.g. tools like Siri, Cortana, and Amazon's Echo device.

    Check out the video below from HR Tech provider ZipRecruiter on what an HR/Recruiting use case of the voice interface might look like incorporating Amazon Echo, (and it's 'Alexa' persona), and ZipRecruiter's database of open jobs. The video is really short, take one minute to check it out, then some closing thoughts from me after the clip. (Email and RSS subscribers click through).

    Pretty cool, right? I admit it is kind of a simple, almost too simple example of the voice interface, (and I grant that this may even be 'real' functionality, just kind of an example), but I still was intrigued by the possibilities and potential of voice interaction with smart applications like Alexa to facilitate finding information and effecting interactions.

    You could pretty easily imagine this video continuing with Alexa alerting the job applicant that her application is being considered, and suggesting a few times for an interview with the recruiter or hiring manager. Or maybe even the pre-screening type questions could just be 'asked' by Alexa right after the application is received, and the applicant can just have the conversation with Alexa rather than a HR phone screener.

    At any rate, I thought the video and the application was very cool, I am not aware of any other HR tech provider working on something like this, so cheers to ZipRecruiter for thinking about the future and how technology will change the way we interact with talent and talent technologies.

    Happy Wednesday.


    PODCAST - #HRHappyHour 254 - Introducing We're Only Human

    Two weeks back I shared the HR Happy Hour Podcast Network launch announcement, and last week we had the debut of the first new show on the network - the debut episode of Research on the Rocks, with hosts Madeline Laurano and Mollie Lombardi of Aptitude Research Partners.

    And this week I have a great thrill to share the details of the next new title on the network - the first episode of We're Only Human, featuring host Ben Eubanks of Lighthouse Research & Advisory

    Here are the details for the first episode of We're Only Human:

    HR Happy Hour 254 - Introducing We're Only Human

    Hosts: Ben Eubanks

    Listen HERE

    Host: Ben Eubanks

    The HR Happy Hour Podcast Network is happy to welcome our newest show, We're Only Human, with Ben Eubanks.  As Ben will share, new technologies and ways of working are driving change in the workplace.  Is your company ready? Employees are demanding a more mobile, social, and engaging technology experience, whether it's around scheduling a shift or tracking performance. 

    A key part of this new reality is analytics and data-driven decision making. Ben Eubanks, the show host, offers up a funny, yet helpful, story to illustrate the intersection between data and humanity in the workplace.

    In addition, the first episode of We're Only Human provides an introduction to the host as well as a roadmap for the topics that will be covered by the podcast, including the changing nature of work and how it gets done, the technologies that enable this shift, and ever-increasing innovation in the HR industry.

    You can listen to the show on the show page HERE, or by using the widget player below:

    We hope you'll listen in and look for Ben's future episodes!

    Remember to download and subscribe the the HR Happy Hour on iTunes, or using your favorite podcast app for iOS or Android - just search for 'HR Happy Hour' to never miss an episode.