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    Tuesday
    Sep022014

    It's a short week, make sure you still put in your 47 hours

    Quick shot for a Tuesday that feels like a Monday and also feels like a Wednesday since it seems like I am already two and half days behind.

    Just before the long Labor Day weekend Gallup released some figures from its 2014 Work and Education poll that showed Americans that are employed full-time are, on average, putting in about 47 hours per week on the job, almost a full working day longer than what has been the 'standard' 40 work week.

    Here's some of the Gallup data in chart form (thanks Forbes), since we know that charts make everything better:

    The trends for both full-time and part-time workers, as you can see in the chart, have held fairly stready over time. But what also has not changed is the notion, at least held nominally, of the standard 40-hour work week.

    According to the Gallup data, only about half of full-time workers report their normal working week as 40 hours, (or fewer), with almost 4 in 10 workers reporting work weeks of 50+ hours on average. And I have a sneaking suspicion that surveys like this are under-reporting time employees spend tethered to their phones and emails that are spent at night or on the weekends.

    There is more data and analysis over at Gallup, but the real point I suppose I wanted to make here is that it probably is time to drop the '40 hours' a week notion if in fact that is not the reality for you or your organization. If you are an 'average' shop, then folks are already working almost 6 days a week now. Just face it if that is what reality suggests and expectations demand.

    And now we all better get back to work, going to be tough to cram in 47 into what is now about 3.85 workdays left in the week.

    Have a great week!

    Friday
    Aug292014

    LABOR DAY: What were the best and worst jobs you've ever had?

    Happy Labor Day Weekend!

    Labor Day is awesome. In fact, I think it might be awesome not just for the BBQ, (a good enough reason to love it, I plan on smoking my first ever pork belly this weekend), but also for the fact that it is one of the few holidays where we don't have to be constantly admonished to 'Remember the true meaning of the day'.

    No one seems to really care anymore about the 'true meaning' of Labor Day. The battle is mostly over. 'Labor' has more or less lost. 

    But so what? Let's have some burgers!

    So maybe we can try and have some fun today and share both our best and worst jobs that we have ever had.

    Just one tip though, if your current job is the worst one you have ever had, you might not necessarily share that one in the comments, just in case you still need that terrible job.

    So here goes, my best and worst jobs:

    Best Job - A tough call, but I am going to go with the gig I had helping to implement accounting and finance software for AT&T Saudi Arabia back in the 90s. The cool parts of the job were getting a chance to learn how business really got done, (we had to rename 'bribes' into 'facilitative payments' for example), living and working in the Middle East (much, much more fun than you would imagine), and having my career trajectory completely changed from that point forward. Lots of great memories from that gig.

    Worst Job - Again a tough call, as I have had a number of terrible jobs. But the worst was probably the summer job I had between Freshman and Sophomore year of college where I picked orders for grocery and convenience stores in a massive, refrigerated warehouse. And on the graveyard shift as well. Heavy lifting, freezing all the time, sitting outside on a stoop at 4AM to eat 'lunch' and to try and warm up does not equal good times. Sure, there was an occasional bit of fun, (once an entire pallet of orange juice cartons crashed from about 50 feet up), but the other 98.5% of the time there was pretty miserable.

    How about you? Feel free to share in the comments your best and worst jobs as well.

    Have a fantastic Labor Day Weekend!

    Thursday
    Aug282014

    SLIDES: Big Trends in HR Technology for 2014 and Beyond

    I wanted to share the presentation slides from a Human Resource Executive Magazine webinar that I co-presented yesterday along with Trish McFarlane, VP of HR Practice, Principal Analyst from Brandon Hall Group.

    The title of the presentation is Big Trends in HR Technology 2014 and Beyond, and while often these kinds of 'trends' talks (including many that I have done the last year or two), tend to focus on 'trends' that are really just far-future kinds of speculation or are simply repeats of ideas that have been talked about for some time, Trish and I tried to keep the talk grounded more in research and the actual experiences of many of the leading organizations that will be part of the upcoming HR Technology Conference in October.

    You can check out the slides below, (here is the direct link in case the embedded slideshow does not render for you), and I will try and sum up at least a few of our key points below the deck.

     

    What were the high points, or keys that we shared on the webinar that we hoped would resonate with attendees? I will give you the Top 5.

    1. There are 3 dimensions for potential impact of HR tech - organizational, managerial, and individual - and the most successful HR tech projects resonate and add value at all 3 levels 

    2. The key organizational decision drivers for the replacement of HR technology vary depending on the type of HR tech. For Core HR systems, better integration is the primary driver. For talent management however, User Experience tops the list.

    3. Selecting the 'right' HR technology solution involves an analysis and balance of 5 factors: Cost/ROI, Technological fit, Cultural fit, system capability/roadmap, and complexity/UX.

    4. For both Core HR and for Talent Management tech, an increased demand for better integration across the HR systems footprint, as well as with other corporate systems is driving investment and the attention of corporate leaders. 

    5. We are not really talking as much about 'mobile' or 'social' as discrete concepts, but rather a more comprehensive idea of 'User Experience', at its many levels, will increasingly influence systems development, purchase decisions, and user adoption rates, (and therefore, ROI).

    There was plenty more to talk about, both in the slides and on the webinar, but I hope the 'Top 5' above gave you a little bit of a feel for what we discussed.

    Thanks to Human Resource Executive and to webinar sponsor Castlight Health for having Trish and I on the webinar.

    Happy Thursday!

    Wednesday
    Aug272014

    The Gamers are Taking Over the World

    The Video Gamers that is...

    Five quick links that hopefully will get you thinking just a little bit differently or more broadly about the role and value that video games, particularly multi-player online games are having in society, and ultimately workplaces.

    First the big news from earlier in the week:

    Amazon to buy video game broadcasting site Twitch for $970M (CNNMoney)

    Amazon agreed on Monday to pay $970 million to acquire Twitch, a service that lets users watch and broadcast video game play. Each month millions of people tune into Twitch to watch friends and strangers play video games, including competitive tournaments.

    An acquisition by Amazon and the lofty price tag would seem to validate the rise of gaming as a spectator sport. Advertisers are often willing to spend top dollar to reach audiences lured by live sporting events.

    "Broadcasting and watching gameplay is a global phenomenon and Twitch has built a platform that brings together tens of millions of people who watch billions of minutes of games each month," Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement.

    Just how popular are video game tournaments, not just online but as big-time events?

    League of Legends eSports Finals Watched by 32 Million People (The Verge)

    Riot Games has claimed that its largest eSports event yet, the League of LegendsSeason 3 World Championship broadcast over Twitch livestream on October 4th, was watched by 32 million people, 8.5 million of whom were watching at the same time. The numbers shatter previous records for eSports viewership, and show that video game streams can rival TV in terms of scale and reach.

    But is anyone, besides the big medial companies, actually making eSports an actual, you know, career?

    The Highest-paid Professional Gamers in the World (Business Insider) 

    Playing video games for a living is the dream of pretty much every adolescent male at one point or another. Believe it or not, there are gamers who are doing exactly that. And they're making some serious money. e-Sports Earnings has ranked the 100 players with the highest overall earnings from competitive gaming. Over 60 gamers have earned over $100,000 in prize money. To top it off, that's not even counting the sponsorship deals and income that many of these players receive from streaming their practice games on services like Twitch.

    Well, so what really? And this is a (mostly) HR/Talent/HR Tech blog, so why are we visiting video games again?

    Should You Put World of Warcraft on Your Resume? (HBR)

    The cognitive and social skills demanded in complex multiplayer games can be every bit as subtle, sophisticated and challenging as stud poker or bridge. Indeed, I know Silicon Valley and (admittedly younger) hedge fund quant teams who bond and boost morale through their Minecraft bouts. I may not fully understand the details of what they’re doing but there’s no doubt that these interactions are building relationships as well as protective structures. These teams —and the organizations that employ them—would likely welcome colleagues and candidates with authentic video-game passion and talent. Trust me, these folks will not be golfing at Torrey Pines.

    And one more, just to offer a hint or two at where things might be heading. And note, while typing this post up I had on some sports talk radio on in the background where the hosts just spent 10 minutes talking about the latest NFL suspension levied upon a player for launching his body/helmet missile-like at a defenseless opponent.

    Gladwell: Why College Football is Like Dog Fighting (CNN)

    In what way is dog fighting any different from football on a certain level, right? I mean you take a young, vulnerable dog who was made vulnerable because of his allegiance to the owner and you ask him to engage in serious sustained physical combat with another dog under the control of another owner, right?

    Well, what's football? We take young boys, essentially, and we have them repeatedly, over the course of the season, smash each other in the head, with known neurological consequences. And why do they do that? Out of an allegiance to their owners and their coaches and a feeling they're participating in some grand American spectacle. They're the same thing. And the idea that as a culture we would be absolutely quick and sure about coming to the moral boiling point over the notion that you would do this to dogs and yet completely blind to the notion you would do this to young men is, to my mind, astonishing. I mean there's a certain point where I just said, you know, we have to say enough is enough.

    Steve here - You were probably surprised a little bit on Monday when you heard about Amazon dropping just shy of $1B on a video game streaming site called Twitch. And if you were surprised that is ok, for now anyway. 

    But I think as a progressive HR and Talent professional you probably need to become more familiar and comfortable with thinking about games and gamers a little bit differently.

    Video games are everywhere. They are mainstream. And more and more people are going to walk into your office and want to talk about the success they have had leading teams in GTAIV or World of Warcraft and hopefully you will get what they are talking about, just like you inherently understand and value 'real' sports backgrounds and success.

    Happy Wednesday.

    Tuesday
    Aug262014

    You should never be surprised by someone that works for you

    Well, probably not 'never', but certainly not very much, and not when the 'surprise' is that the employee is really, really, really talented at something related either to their actual job or more generally to your business.

    The context of the notion that you, ('you' being a manager, leader, business owner, etc.), should have a strong sense of both the capabilities, and more importantly perhaps, the potential of the folks on your team. I know, not exactly some kind of breakthrough idea, right? HR and business leaders have been plotting folks on the 9-box Performance/Potential grid for years and years. In fact, there are at least a dozen really cool software programs that will help you automate and streamline and enhance the entire 9-box exercise.

    But so what, really? None of that matters if there aren't strategies in place to actually action the results of the exercise.

    Here's the specific example that I heard discussed recently on of all things, Bill Simmons' BS Report podcast, which is usually about sports topics. On this particular episode, Simmons and his guest were discussing TV talk shows, specifically the Daily Show on Comedy Central.

    Last Summer, The Daily Show's host John Stewart took an extended sabbatical from the show in order to work on a movie project. In his stead, Comedy Central slotted show contributor John Oliver in Stewart's place to host the show for a few months while Stewart was on leave.

    And long story short, Oliver killed it. He was funny, clever, and once his extended run was complete filling in for Stewart, he has suddenly in demand. He had many more options than perhaps he would have had he not been given this kind of showcase opportunity from Comedy Central. But once the guest run was completed, Comedy Central, perhaps surprised by how well Oliver performed in the 'top' job at the Daily Show, was left kind of stuck - at the they did not have a similar, high-profile kind of role to offer Oliver, and as was brought up by Bill Simmons on the podcast, they did not have Oliver contractually locked up into continuing on with Comedy Central at all.

    Long story short, Oliver moved on to HBO where his new show, 'Last Week Tonight with John Oliver', has launched to critical acclaim and pretty significant buzz (amongst folks who care about these things).

    And Comedy Central is left wondering just how they managed to let Oliver walk, particularly when just a few months later another network star, Stephen Colbert, announced he was leaving to eventually become the replacement for CBS legend David Letterman on his talk show.

    In theory, better planning and understanding of their talent on Comedy Central's part might have led to a much more beneficial outcome for the network all around. Their #1 star Stewart, gets a needed break to re-charge and explore some important personal projects, a highly capable team player, Oliver, gets a chance to prove himself, and eventually slot into the #2 role, Colbert's when he leaves.

    Except that is not, in fact, what is happening, and Comedy Central is left wondering how they let Oliver go to (possibly) become a bigger star somewhere else.

    Hey, it happens. Maybe Comedy Central did know just how talented Oliver was, and just did not care that much. That is pretty bad.

    But maybe they were actually surprised by how good he was, and if so, that is even worse, because if you are really managing and engaging with talent, and not just playing with names on a 9-box, you should never really be surprised by someone that works for you.