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    Monday
    Jun192017

    Diversity and Inclusivity Starting with the Job Application

    I'm not a user of Snapchat. Mainly because I am an adult, I was never able to figure it out the two or three times my HR Happy Hour partner Trish McFarlane tried to explain it to me, and also because I am an adult.

    While 'maturing' as a platform, (I bet following the same pattern as Facebook, as the parents of the pre-teens, teens, and young adults who were the primary users of the network are 'forced' to sign up in order to keep and eye on what their kids are up to online), Snapchat is still by and large an app/social network predominantly used by people under 34. And this totally fine. I personally don't get it, and I look a little side-eyed when a 46 year old man asks if I 'Snap', but at the same time I totally understand why a 17 year-old would be on Snap all day long. That same 17 year-old would laugh at LinkedIn the same way I scoff at Snapchat.

    I thought about this after reading a piece on Business Insider about McDonald's plans to use Snapchat, in the form of something they call a 'Snaplication' as a launch point in the recruiting process that has a goal of hiring about 250,000 new employees this summer.

    The basic idea is that an interested candidate would log in to Snapchat, find the McDonald's careers 'page' or account or whatever it is you call such a thing on Snapchat, and view a 10-second video from McDonald's employees. The version of the process in Australia also allows candidates to record their own 10 second 'Snaplication' to send to McDonald's. From there, the app allows the candidates (via a swipe) to launch an actual job application process in the app.

    Sounds really cool and innovative, if a little cheeky. But I do applaud McDonald's for pushing the technology and candidate engagement envelope with this initiative. They (probably rightly), see that users of smart phones, (just about everyone), and who also use Snapchat, (probably lots and lots of people from 16 - 30), line up pretty well with their typical or targeted employee profile.

    But what I worried about when I read the story, (and after I stopped rolling my eyes at the concept of a 'Snaplication'), is that this kind of a 'front door' to the recruiting process would almost certainly screen out a pretty significant cohort of potential applicants who don't use Snapchat, would have no clue how to figure out how to send a 'Snaplication', and rather than try and figure it out, would just walk next door to Chick fil-A to apply there. That cohort would be made up of mostly older people, folks like me for example. 

    And if you were surprised to learn that a 'Snaplication' is a thing, you might also be surprised to learn that on average, fast-food workers are getting older too. There are a few different sources of this kind of data, and the numbers are not all consistent, but this example from the BLS suggests that median age of all food service workers is about 30. And I bet if you hit up a McDonald's for your McMuffin and coffee fix this morning you are likely to finds as many 30+ folks working the counter and grill as you are the more typical Snapchatter.

    Now I know that you don't 'have' to use Snapchat to apply for a job at McDonald's, and the traditional methods that older candidates would be more familiar with are still available, but that is not really the point.

    The point is that every decision an organization makes about how it will find, attract, and engage candidates has an impact on the organization in the long run, particularly its diversity and inclusiveness.

    Pushing 'Snaplications' will drive more applicants from a certain, younger demographic, just like working an on-campus recruiting event at the University of Pick Your State will drive more applicants from that particular school's demographic. Running targeted job ads on any website or social network also (by design), shapes, influences, and limits the candidates you are likely to attract.

    None of this is new thinking, smart HR and recruiting folks know this for sure. But I am not sure candidates do. 

    Or said differently, when I read about the 'Snaplication' program, the first thing I thought of was that there's no way I would ever do that. And that is ok I suppose, as I probably would not be applying to McDonald's anyway.

    But I bet there are at least some, maybe quite a few actually, interested and desirable candidates that McDonald's might be turning off with a program like this. And the real lesson is that we all need to be really careful and considerate about how the places, methods, requirements, and technologies that we use in the candidate attraction and application process can have downstream impacts on the organization overall.

    'Snaplications' sound dumb. But they matter. All the choices we make that impact who we bring in to the organization matter.

    Have a great week!

    Friday
    Jun162017

    n = 1

    1. Three trips to China in the last three years and I am pretty sure it is the most fascinating place I've ever been and may ever get to. HR Tech China was amazing. Shanghai is probably the best city I've visited. I didn't get to see this when we were there, but check out this self-driving convenience store (yes, you read that correctly), coming soon to Shanghai.

    2. One of the harder things for independent consultants, contract workers, or other 'gig' economy types to manage is time out of the (home or otherwise) office. Unlike our corporate colleagues, there is often no one to delegate responsibility for work or even just responses to inquiries to when a gig workers is on vacation or traveling. Consequently, stuff piles up even more than usual. Once I dig out and some of the dust settles, I am going to figure out once and for all an email management system that can work for me. Until then, you can re-send if you are waiting for something from me.

    3. Due to above-mentioned travel, I missed 85% of the recently concluded NBA Finals series between the Warriors and Cavs. What a letdown. I probably watch (at least parts of), 400 NBA games each season. To miss the conclusion was kind of a drag. Thanks to the Delta Sky Club in MSP for having the game on this past Monday night while I was waiting out a 3.5 hour flight delay. 

    4. But now that NBA season is over, I am officially going to join the ranks of 'cord cutters'. Spectrum, look out for a call from me this weekend. In a related note, in the US, Netflix now has more subscribers than 'normal' Cable TV providers have.

    5. If you haven't yet, have a look at the latest shows on the HR Happy Hour Podcast Network. We've been producing some great content lately on HR Tech, Employee Wellbeing, Employee Engagement and more. 

    6. I am a huge fan (as a consumer/user) of Uber. But with each passing week we hear more and more of what a disaster of a company culture that has been allowed to develop over there. But yet, I still am compelled to call an Uber when I need a ride to the airport in Phoenix. I am not sure how to feel about all that. Have you dropped Uber the more you have learned about their culture?

    7. Speaking of Uber, in one of their 'healing' meetings recently, their new HR head asked employees to stand up and hug each other. This is a terrible idea on every level. Mark me down on the side of 'no hugging at work ever' policy. In fact, I am not that big a fan of hugging in real life outside of work as well. I think Jerry has it right in this clip (email and RSS subscribers click through)

     

     

    8. This is a really interesting longer read on corporate branding and logos from Fortune. I didn't know that the Bass Ale 'red triangle' logo is generally considered the first corporate logo, dating back to 1870. 

    9. Which companies generate the most revenue per employee? If your guesses start with Apple or Amazon, keep guessing. Some fascinating data from Visual Capitalist. If you could pick just one metric for the condition of your business, revenue per employee would probably be the smartest choice.

    10. I gave myself exactly 23 minutes to write this post, and I am at minute 22. So it ends here. Have a great weekend all!

    Thursday
    Jun152017

    Learn a new word: Positive Predictive Value

    Predictive analytics and the application of algorithms to help make 'people' decisions in organizations has been a subject of development and discussion for several years now. The most common applications of predictive tech in HR have been to assess and rank candidates for a given job opening, to estimate an individual employee's flight risk, and to attempt to identify those employees with high potential or are likely to become high performers.

    These kinds of use cases and others and the technologies that enable them present HR and business leaders with new and really powerful tools and capabilities that can, if applied intelligently, provide a competitive edge realized from the better matching, hiring, and deploying of talent.

    But you probably know all this, if you are reading an HR Tech blog anyway, and perhaps you are already applying predictive HR tech in your organization today. But there is another side or aspect of prediction algorithms that perhaps you have not considered, and I admit I have not really either - namely how often these predictive tools are wrong, and somewhat related, how we want to guide these tools to better understand how they can be wrong.

    All that takes us to today's Learn a new word - 'Positive Predictive Value (PPV)'

    From our pals at Wikipedie:

    The positive and negative predictive values (PPV and NPV respectively) are the proportions of positive and negative results in statistics and diagnostic tests that are true positive and true negative results, respectively. The PPV and NPV describe the performance of a diagnostic test or other statistical measure. A high result can be interpreted as indicating the accuracy of such a statistic.

    A good way to think about PPV and NPV is using the example of an algorithm called COMPAS which attempts to predict the likelihood that a convicted criminal is likely to become a repeat offender, and has been used in some instances by sentencing judges when considering how harshly or leniently to sentence a given criminal.

    The strength of a tool like COMPAS is that when accurate, it can indicate to the judge to give a longer sentence to a convict that is highly likely to be a repeat offender, and perhaps be more lenient on an offender that the algorithm assesses to be less likely to repeat their crimes once released.

    But the opposite, of course is also true. If COMPAS 'misses', and it sometimes does, then it can lead judges to give longer sentences to the wrong offenders, and shorter sentences to offenders who end up repeating their bad behaviors. And here is where PPV really comes into play.

    Because algorithms like the ones used to create COMPAS, and perhaps the ones that your new HR technology uses to 'predict' the best candidates for a job opening, tend to be more or less wrong, (when they are wrong), in one direction. Either they generate too many 'matches', i.e., recommend too many candidates as likely 'good hires' for a role, including some who really are not good matches at all. Or they produce too many false negatives, i.e. they screen out too many candidates, including some that would indeed be good fits for the role and good hires.

    Back to our Learn a new word - Positive Predictive Value. A high PPV result for the candidate matching algorithm indicates that a high number of the positives, or matches, are indeed matches. In other words, there are not many 'bad matches' and you can in theory trust the algorithm to help guide your hiring decisions. But, and this can be a big but, a high PPV can often produce a high negative predictive value, or NPV.

    The logic is fairly straightforward. If the algorithm is tuned to ensure that any positives are highly likely to truly be positives, then fewer positives will be generated, and more of the negatives, (the candidates you never call or interview), may have indeed been actual positives, or good candidates after all.

    Whether it is a predictive tool that the judge may use when sentencing, or one your hiring managers may use when deciding who to interview, it is important to keep this balance between false positives and incorrect negatives in mind.

    Think of it this way - would you rather have a few more candidates than you may need get screened 'in' to the process, or have a few that should be 'in' get screened 'out', because you want the PPV to be as high as possible?

    There are good arguments for both sides I think, but the more important point is that we think about the problem in the first place. And that we push back on any provider of predictive HR technology to talk about their approach to PPV and NPV when they design their systems.

    Wednesday
    Jun142017

    CHART OF THE DAY: The Aging Global Population

    I am just back from an extended trip that included stops in China for HR Tech China as well as Japan - two places, Japan in particular, who are dealing with the economic and social challenges of an aging population.

    Usually the 'aging' statistics of a country's people is represented by two statistics. One, the percentage of the population age 65 or older. And two, the ratio of people aged 18-64, (and expected, mostly, to be in the workforce), to people 65 and up, (who, mostly, are no longer in the workforce). This ratio is called the 'dependency ratio' and reflects about how many workers and contributors to a country's social insurance schemes are there for each possibly retired person, many of who need income support from these social programs. 

    Said differently, the higher the ratio, the more workers for each older person, the easier it is for a country to keep their social insurance programs funded and solvent.

    With all that said, I was thinking about this more lately after spending time in Japan, where this challenge is especially acute. But as the data below shows, this challenge of an aging population is more widespread than you might think - and, in time, will surface here in the US as well.

    Take a look at the data below on the dependency ratio worldwide, courtesy of Visual Capitalist, then some FREE comments from me after the chart:

    While many countries face obstacles with aging populations, for some the problem is becoming severe.

    A dependency ratio below 5.0 is generally considered to be the mark by which a country has an 'aging' challenge. Countries like Japan, Italy, Germany, Canada, France, and the United Kingdom all fall below this level.  The United States sits in a slightly better situation with about 27.9% of its population expected to hit 65 or higher by the 2050 – and a dependency ratio of about 9, but in time the US (and the 2nd largest global economy, China), will both face looming demographic issues.

    What does this mean or suggest for organizations and for HR pros?

    Well, depending on the location, industry, and global nature of your business, chances are pretty good that the average age of the workforce is trending up. And it is also likely that since your competitors will be facing these same kinds of challenges that the competition for newer/younger workers to replace retirees or folks transitioningto fewer working hours will become more intense. Lastly, you may sooner than later be forced into thinking about and implementing changes to work practices, structures, and technologies that can better support an older workforce.

    It is an interesting time for sure. I am feeling a little older each day. Good to know it is not just me.

    Have a great day!

    Monday
    Jun122017

    Notes from the road #22 - A long, strange trip it's been edition

    Writing this (brief) dispatch from the Delta Sky Club (again), as I wait for the final leg on the trip back from what has been a long, interesting, challenging, and incredibly rewarding two-week trip Phoenix - Shanghai - Tokyo - (back to) Phoenix - and then finally home.

    In Phoenix, I attended the Virgin Pulse Thrive Summit, which was a really fantastic event. In case you have missed them, you can listen to two HR Happy Hour Shows that Trish McFarlane and I recorded from the event here and here. Virgin Pulse is the leader in employee wellbeing, and unlike some other solution providers in the space, Virgin Pulse is making real strides on showing (with data), the connection between wellbeing and improved business results. Thanks as always to them for having myself and Trish out at the event, and for supporting the HR Happy Hour Show.

     

    Looking forward to a great #thrivesummit with my friends from Virgin Pulse #HRHappyHour

    A post shared by Steve Boese (@steveboese) on May 30, 2017 at 3:09pm PDT

     

    From there, we headed to Shanghai for the 2nd Annual HR Tech China Conference. The 2nd event was even bigger and better than the first. And I am convinced Shanghai is my new favorite city. You can read some of my thoughts about the event here, and later this week Trish and I will share even more from and about the event on an HR Happy Hour Show we will record later this week. All I can say to my Chinese friends, old and new, is "xiexie" - Thank You!

     

    @trish_mcfarlane and I Heading in to present at #HRTechChina

    A post shared by Steve Boese (@steveboese) on Jun 5, 2017 at 5:42pm PDT

     

    From there, I headed to Tokyo for some business as well as some time to do some touring and sightseeing. Another amazingly interesting and fun place, great and welcoming people, and lots of opportunity to do more in the future. I liked it so much I may have to go back again soon!

     

    #tokyo

    A post shared by Steve Boese (@steveboese) on Jun 9, 2017 at 8:06pm PDT

     

    It has been the longest business trip I have been on in ages, and while I sit here in the MSP Sky Club anxious to get home, I also anticipate the next trip back to Asia - it truly has been, professionally and personally, the most incredibly rewarding trip I have taken in years.

    And to everyone who is waiting to hear back from me about something or other - I promise to dig in to the backlog of emails and texts and get back to you soon.

    That is if I actually get home tonight. If I get stuck here in MSP, then all bets are off.

    NOTE: In the time it has taken me to post this, I am delayed another hour...