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    Monday
    Feb042019

    Dealing with 'Hard to Fill' positions? Don't forget about throwing cash at the problem

    Quick shot for a post Super Bowl Monday - I have posted a few times over the last year or so about the US Trucking industry and the labor market for commercial truck drivers. I am fascinated by this sliver of the labor market as many of the big labor trends like increased automation, shifts in demographics, increased regulation, and employers struggling to hire enough new drivers (and retain existing ones), make this area really ripe for observation and analysis.

    Having said that, I wanted to highlight one of the strategies that one employer, in fact the largest private employer in the US, is rolling out in an attempt to find more candidates and ultimately make more hires. Simply put, it is throwing more cash at the problem. Here's what Walmart is doing in order to hire more truck drivers from a piece on Fortune:

    While some people focus on whether automation will kill long-haul trucking jobs over the long-term, Walmart is currently more concerned with its short-term reality. The company is once again raising truck driver salaries to try to correct for an ongoing shortage of drivers. Walmart needs to hire at least 900 drivers this year, according to the Dallas Morning News.

    One reason: trucking tonnage is way up. The American Trucking Association, the industry’s largest trade association, says that tonnage hauled annually is up 6% is up even while the industry continues to suffer from nearly 50,000 unfilled long-haul jobs. The ATA’s chief economist Bob Costello notes that in 2018, truck tonnage hit its highest peak in 20 years.

    In a separate change, Walmart also recently relaxed somewhat the candidate screening process for prospective drivers. Instead of a 'one and done', fail and you are out screen of driving skills, Walmart is now allowing candidates to attempt the driving capability screen, offer them coaching and suggestions on how to improve their performance on the test, and then the chance to re-take the test. 

    The TL;DR summary of all this? Walmart has a problem filling an important job so they are taking major steps to increase the candidate funnel by changing a key element of the screening process, and are throwing more cash at the problem to try and convince more job seekers (who continue to enjoy a strong labor market), to accept and remain in these truck driver positions.

    Let more people in the door, offer them more money to stay. Pretty simple, let's see how it works.

    Have a great week!

     

     

    Wednesday
    Jan302019

    PODCAST: #HRHappyHour 355 - HR in the Digital Age

    HR Happy Hour 355 - HR in the Digital Age

    Host: Steve Boese

    Guest: Harry Osle, Principal, Global Human Resources Practice Leader, The Hackett Group

    Listen HERE

    This week on the HR Happy Hour Show, Steve is joined by Harry Osle of The Hackett Group - www.thehackettgroup.com, to talk about some of Hackett's recent research on Digital Transformation and its impact on HR. On the show, Harry shared some of the research findings on the impact of technology advancements and digital transformations on the workplace and in the practice of HR. Harry shared some of the key drivers and impetus behind HR and workplace digital transformation and how HR leaders can become more aware of these drivers and incorporate them into their HR and HR tech programs and plans.

    Additionally, Harry shared what their research suggests for how the HR leaders and the HR organization's skills and roles will need to adapt to help their organizations meet these new tech and digital challenges and take advantage of the opportunities. This was an interesting and deep dive into digital transformation and how it will impact HR in 2019 and forward.

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

    Thanks Harry for joining the show.

    Remember to subscribe to the HR Happy Hour Show wherever you get your podcasts - just search for 'HR Happy Hour'. 

    Monday
    Jan282019

    A deep dive into the impact of automation and technology on jobs

    I spent some time over the weekend, (I know, I probably need some other hobbies), reviewing a new report from the Brookings Institute titled 'Automation and Artificial Intelligence: How Machines are Affecting People and Places'. In the report, Brookings sought to examine (like plenty of other organizations in the last few years), what the potential impact of advanced technologies, automation, and AI will be on the labor market. Mainly, which kinds of jobs and in what areas are more or less likely to be affected, changed, and potentially replaced as technology continues to improve and advance.

    There is a ton of interesting information in the 100+ page report, and for those of you who are interested in this sort of thing, I would block some time to go through it all, but for those who may want a shorter, TL;DR version, here are what are to me, the three most interesting findings/conclusions/takeaways from the report.

    1. Contrary to a lot of hype and hysteria around automation and AI, most jobs are not highly susceptible to automation. Take a look at the key finding from Brookings in the chart below:

    While almost no single occupation will be completely unaffected by the adoption of new technology, the impact on jobs will be of varying intensity and significant for only about 25% of jobs. Another 52 million or so jobs, about 36% of the labor force will see some or medium impact from new tech. And another 39% of jobs will only see a low impact from new technology. This disparate impact on jobs reminds me of the old saying, 'The future has already arrived, it's just not evenly distributed'.

    2. Lower wage jobs are, on average, more exposed to potential automation. Within the variability expressed in the first chart, Brookings tries to break down what kinds of jobs, at what kind of wages, and in which geographic areas are most prone to be impacted by technology. Here's a look at the data around wage level and potential impact from automation:

    The main driver behind lower wage jobs being more susceptible to automation is the tendency for jobs made up largely of routine, predictable physical and cognitive tasks are the ones most vulnerable to automation in the short and medium term. Think jobs like office administration, simple production, and food preparation. So according to Brookings the roles that now tend to pay the lowest wages are at the most risk. The danger of this of course is that the people holding these jobs also tend to be the least prepared to make a job shift into roles that are more complex, higher up the wage scale, and less likely to be impacted by technology.

    3. In addition to varying widely across types of jobs and wage level, automation of jobs is likely to vary widely by location as well. The larger relative impact will be felt, according to Brookings, in smaller, and more rural areas. See the data below:

    There's a lot of detailed data to parse through there, but basically workers in smaller and more rural communities are about 10 percentage points more likely to have their jobs adversely impacted by technology than workers in urban areas. This could be a by-product of the continuing challenge that smaller communities have in keeping their skilled and younger workers from leaving to seek better opportunities in larger towns and cities.

    Since this is a long post already, I will leave covering what the folks at Brookings suggest can be done by localities, companies, education, and people in order to be better prepared for the ongoing waves of automation. Suffice to say though that understanding the problem and challenge is the important first step to solving it.

    Take some time to look at the whole report if you can.

    Have a great week!

    Friday
    Jan252019

    Cool Job Alert: The Weinermobile Needs Drivers

    Looking to make a career change?

    Or maybe you are a college student scheduled to graduate this spring and wondering what your next move will be?

    Do you like (in no particular order), driving, public relations, marketing, and hot dogs?

    Well if so you are in luck - the iconic Oscar Meyer Wienermobile is looking for a new batch of drivers. Here are the details as reported on Mental Floss:

    Applications are being accepted for the one-year position now through January 31. Hotdoggers tasked with commandeering the Wienermobile will be responsible for doing media interviews and appearing at grocery store, military, and charity events across the country. The position is primarily a PR job, and candidates with a BA or BS in public relations, journalism, communications, advertising, or marketing are preferred.

    Carl Mayer, the nephew of Oscar Mayer, introduced the first Wienermobile in 1936, and today there are six vehicles on the road making 1400 stops a year. After disappearing for a couple decades, the Wienermobile was revived in 1986 for its 50th anniversary. Oscar Mayer hires 12 new hotdoggers each year and usually receives more than 1000 applications.

    The job comes with benefits and a competitive salary in addition to the impressive title. The new hires must be ready to hit the road in June of this year. for a shot at becoming Oscar Mayer's next Wienermobile driver, email your resume by the end of the month.

    Steve here, I don't have much else to add to this, other than to say if I didn't have a ton of other commitments this year I would absolutely toss my name in the ring for a spot as a Weinermobile driver. It just looks like an awesome job - traveling all over the country, passing out free hot dogs, getting to ride in one of the most unique vehicles ever created - what's not to love? Even the name of the job, 'Hotdogger' is super cool.

    I am going to follow the story this year and try to get an interview for the HR Happy Hour Show with one of the new lucky drivers this summer - if any readers have an 'in' with the Kraft/Heinz/Oscar Meyer people, let me know.

    And now I want to have a hot dog.

    Have a great weekend!

    Wednesday
    Jan232019

    In a hot labor market, even the best employers can get ghosted

    By now you have likely become familiar with the term 'ghosting' - the phenomenon whereby a friend, a romantic partner, and as we shall see in a moment, a job candidate or employee seems to disappear - and ceases to respond to any and all forms of outreach and communication. Phone calls are not answered, texts are not responded to, and pretty much no matter how you try to get in touch with the ghost, your efforts are unsuccessful.

    With a 10 year or so expansion of the labor force and a reduction in the unemployment rate, the ghosting phenomenon seems to be happening more and more in our little part of the world, the HR and Talent Management arena. Good, qualified candidates seem to disappear with more frequency, scheduled interviews are simply skipped (with no contact or explanation), and just about anyone who can pass a background check probably has more than just your job to consider. Even longer term and at least on the surface reliable and trustworthy employees are more likely, in this hot labor market, to just move on to another, hopefully better opportunity without so much as a 'Hey boss, I am thinking about making a move' or even a 'Hey boss, I would like to formally submit my two weeks notice.' And all of a sudden, they're gone. Leaving HR and hiring managers to have to wade back into the candidate pool, hopefully not to be ghosted by the next candidate of choice.

    And it is not just the corner store or local manufacturer that can be impacted by candidates or employees simply disappearing. It can happen in any of the most prominent and successful workplaces as well. Case in point, (Warning: a sports reference is coming) what has happened, according to a report in Deadspin, with the University of Alabama Assistant Football Coach Dan Enos and the circumstances behind Coach Enos' departure for new opportunities.

    Per the Deadspin piece:

    According to a report from The Athletic, the fear that (Head Coach Nick) Saban uses to manipulate the sport to his whims has also permeated throughout his current staff, which is why none of his coaches were brave enough to tell him that one of his assistants had left the program to take a similar job in Miami:

    “Where the F#$% is Dan?!?”

    Several of the staffers knew the answer to their boss’ question. Word had already spread that 50-year-old Enos was headed to Miami to become offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach under Manny Diaz. No one in the room wanted to be the one to break that news to Saban, even though Miami was primed to announce it in a couple hours.

    “Dan” is Dan Enos, Alabama’s quarterbacks coach this past season and reportedly the man who was set to take over as the program’s offensive coordinator, following Mike Locksley’s departure to be the head coach at Maryland. Enos decided instead that the Hurricanes were a better fit for his talents. Maybe it was this kind of treatment that convinced him to go to Miami.

    The details of how Saban found out do paint a great picture:

    One staffer scrambled to check if Enos was in his office. It was empty, save for a pencil on the desk. Maybe he’d already moved into Locksley’s old office, but that one was empty, too.

    “He moved out like the Colts,” said one person with knowledge of the matter, equating Enos’ departure to the middle-of-the-night exit by the old Baltimore NFL franchise to Indianapolis.

    They had no clue he had peaced out.

    Steve here - really entertaining and illustrative look at a reasonably prominent employee move from what has arguably been the most successful and famous "company" in its industry. Over the tenure of Head Coach Saban, Alabama football has been consistently among the best performing teams in the country, regularly competing and sometimes winning, National Championships. That one of Saban's assistants felt confident enough to leave for another opportunity at another university without, apparently, letting his boss Saban even know speaks volumes about the labor market today.

    Most of us would probably like to leave a job under positive circumstances. We might need a referral someday, we may even want to keep the door open to a return to the company we are leaving some time down the line. But to essentially pack up the office in the middle of the night and disappear? Well that takes more guts and confidence than we've all become accustomed to from employees. 

    I am 99% pro-employee in just about all workplace situations. So I kind of don't have too much of a problem with what Coach Enos apparently did to Saban and Alabama. But that 1% of doubt is saved for the realization that the job market can't possibly always be so good, and ghosting employers either as a candidate or a departing employee might not be the best strategy for the long term.

    That's it, I am out - have a great week!