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    Monday
    Jul202015

    PODCAST - #HRHappyHour 217 - The HR Round Table

    HR Happy Hour 217 - The HR Round Table with Hebert and Brennan, Part 1

    Recorded July 9, 2015

    Hosts: Trish McFarlane, Steve Boese

    Guests: Paul Hebert and Sarah Brennan

    LISTEN HERE

    This week on the show, Trish sat down for a HR RoundTable with Paul Hebert and Sarah Brennan.  With Paul's expertise in reward and recognition and Sarah's expertise in HCM technology and research, we had a lively discussion around emerging research in the Talent Acquisition space, thoughts on the recent LinkedIn hack-a-thon, and where reward and recognition fits into the organization of today.

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

    Check Out Business Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Steve Boese Trish McFarlane on BlogTalkRadio

     

    And of course you can listen to and subscribe to the HR Happy Hour Show on iTunes, or via your favorite podcast app. Just search for 'HR Happy Hour' to download and subscribe to the show and you will never miss a new episode.

    The show was so lively that we had to record two episodes to fit it all in!  Please be sure to listen to both Part 1 and Part 2 of the HR Round Table episode. It was a fun show and great to have two guest hosts while Steve was out-and-about in China preparing for HR Tech China!

    Have a great week!

    Friday
    Jul172015

    Uber drivers: Employees, contractors, or something else?

    A primary issue with the so-called 'sharing economy' (companies like Uber, TaskRabbit, Lyft and a bunch more), is a classic HR issue: whether or not the people delivering these kinds of on-demand services should be classified as independent contractors, or regular full or part-time employees of these companies. 

    Uber has argued, (sometimes unsuccessfully), that it's drivers are actually independent contractors as each driver gets to choose when and where they work, provide their own vehicles, and usually have other sources of work/employment besides working as drivers of the Uber service. The arguments for classifying Uber drivers as regular employees center around the significant rules and conditions Uber sets for the delivery of the service, its driver rating and evaluation system, and the types and conditions of the vehicles that drivers can use.

    This 'contractor vs employee' argument is going to take some time to play out in the courts, in the court of public opinion, and maybe even in the next presidential election. And where your take falls in this debate seems to me is mostly going to be influenced by your own capacity for risk and willingness to take ownership of your own career. But at least in the case of the 'shared ride' services like Uber and Lyft, this debate is probably only a temporary one. Soon, perhaps as soon as within the next 5 years or so in some areas, it won't matter if the Uber driver is an employee of Uber or an independent contractor, because the Uber driver won't be a driver at all.

    Check this quote from 2014 by Uber CEO Travis Kalanick during an interview on the ride-sharing service:

    During the interview, Kalanick was asked what he thinks of self-driving cars.

    "Love it. All day long," said Kalanick.

    "The reason Uber could be expensive is you're paying for the other dude in the car. When there is no other dude in the car, the cost of taking an Uber anywhere is cheaper. Even on a road trip."

    Kalanick said that self-driving cars ordered up through a service like Uber will eventually bring the cost of ridership so far down that car ownership will "go away."

    At least in this exchange, the Uber CEO had clearly envisaged a world where the 'employee vs contractor' discussion has been rendered moot, and the drivers, 'the other dudes in the car', transitioned out of whatever kind of employment relationship they had (or didn't have), and the costs to the customer driven down since the 'other dude' is automated away.

    And I think this, this threat, (and likelihood) of automation of this kind of work, and for 'normal' taxi, truck, and even limo drivers, is the really important discussion that people who care about the future of work and workers should be having. Whether or not some Uber driver is a contractor or an employee in 2015 is mostly an issue of regulations, taxes, and some benefits. It matters, but only in a limited sense if the real future of work is not really about employment status classification but rather about if there will be human employment at all.

    Have a great weekend!

    Wednesday
    Jul152015

    Notes from the Road #18 - Semi-coherent thoughts edition

    Writing this as I work my way back from China and Hong Kong, (and I promise this will be the last blog post about this trip, it has just dominated the last two weeks such that I pretty much have nothing else to write about). I am about 20 hours in to the trip back home, and in what is certainly not the most awesome news of the day, the last leg of the journey is looking to be about 3 hours late, which puts me home at something like 2 in the morning. That is if I even get home, these kinds of late night delays have a funny way of becoming cancellations. So I am pretty much punchy at this point, not completely sure of basic things like, 'Is it day or night?' and 'Where did I pack my souvenir Chairman Mao statue?'

    The trip was a really great experience though, despite the hassles of travel and the distances involved - there is something kind of cool and exhilarating (and sometimes a little dicey), when you are forced out of the comforts and familiarity of home or of the other places you have already seen a few dozen times. I love going to Las Vegas, but it is not exactly a mentally challenging trip if you get my meaning. Navigating Beijing traffic, even from the back seat of a cab, proved to be an exercise that demanded careful planning and attention. And a little bit of luck as well. The most common response from a Beijing cab driver when presented with a request to take us someplace was 'I don't know where that is', followed closely by 'No.' But with the help of the incredibly attentive staffs at a couple of Marriott hotels we were using for the trip, we managed to get everywhere we needed to - eventually.

    But overall, it was a fantastic learning experience, and one that I would recommend anyone should attempt at least once. Walking along (and up) the Great Wall of China was something I am sure I will never forget, and something I probably never thought I would ever do.

    Some other random updates as I am really fading in and out of coherent thought at the moment - I am still behind catching up on messages and emails from the trip. Having most of my productivity type apps unavailable in mainland China was kind of a drag. So if you are waiting to hear back from me on something, I should be caught up by Friday or so. That is assuming I can figure out what day that is.

    Also, really bummed that due to various travel obligations that this year The 8 Man Rotation crew were not able to attend the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. We have, have, have to make sure we get back there in 2016.

    And last, look for some new HR Happy Hour Shows very soon, both Trish McFarlane and I have been on the road so much lately, but we plan on getting back in the podcast groove soon.

    Ok, that is it, I am out. (Hopefully getting out of Minneapolis soon).

    Sunday
    Jul122015

    At ESPN Product beats Talent

    Recently cable sports behemoth ESPN, which likes to bill itself as 'The Worldwide Leader in Sports', announced on its website that it was not renewing the contract of well-known personality Keith Olbermann, who has had a long and checkered relationship with the network.  This announcement follows fairly closely on the heels of ESPN deciding to not renew the contract of perhaps the network's most high-profile individual talent, Bill Simmons, editor of the sports and culture website Grantland, and host of the most popular sports podcast, The BS Report. In both cases, the network executives elected to move on without these high visibility, high maintenance, and high compensation performers for a couple of reasons, one more interesting than the other.Simmons, enjoying his time off

    At first glance these moves are straight up cost-cutting measures. It has been widely reported that ESPN's parent, Disney Corp, is looking for significant cost cuts at ESPN, as the sports division has seen a pretty dramatic increase in costs, primarily the rights fees it has to pay to sports leagues like the NFL and NBA for the rights to broadcast games. Increasingly in the heavily fragmented and competitive world of entertainment, particularly TV, live sports games, (along with awards shows), remain one of the very few types of TV shows that require and generate 'live' viewing. Therefore the value of these games has skyrocketed, the leagues recognize this, and are justifiably getting literally billions of dollars of fee increased from cable and broadcast networks for the rights. So, ESPN costs are going up, people like Olbemann and Simmons represent lots of salary costs, so simple math makes (and made), them both vulnerable.

    But the other reason the two personalities were jettisoned is perhaps more interesting and instructive to the rest of us. ESPN, as we can see from the sports rights fees issues above, is essentially in the business of broadcasting live sports events - NFL game, NBA games, MLB games, etc. That is the 'product' they provide to their audience and sell to their advertisers, and as we see above, pay tremendous and increasing fees to acquire. Everything has to be about generating an adequate return on those investments. People like Simmons and Olbermann, (and hundreds of others at ESPN), exist mainly to enhance the product - talk about the games, analyze the strategies, provide insight to the outcomes, and be entertaining while doing all of these things. But none of those things are the actual product - they only support the product. Simmons and Olbermann are more or less the back office, while the folks that acquire and produce the games, (and sell the ads), are the revenue generators. 

    Simmons and Olbermann are (mostly) Genral and Administrative costs to be trimmed, not significant Top Line drivers, (it has been reported that Grantland has never been profitable and podcasts, even Simmons' are notoriously difficult to monetize, and Olbermann's show was not a big revenue producer).

    And when you are G&A, no matter how funny and glib and well-known, your heads are always going to be first up on the chopping block when budget cuts are looming. You have to understand where you fit in the organization, not just on the org chart, but on the Income Statement.

    At ESPN, and I suppose where you work too, Product drives the Top Line. Not all talent does however. And good luck to folks who can't tell the difference.

    Saturday
    Jul112015

    No access

    I am in Beijing, China for the next few days and as is my tendency to be mostly unprepared as to the details of the places to which I travel, I was surprised to learn upon arriving that access to many of the apps and services I have come to rely upon, (Gmail, Google Drive, Hangouts, Twitter, Hootsuite, Instagram, and a few others), are essentially blocked here.

    So if you are trying to get a hold of me by any of the above means, well, I pretty much won't be reachable until Tuesday or Wednesday.

    If you really, really, need to reach me for some reason you can try to email at steveboese at hotmail, that service for whatever reason is accessible here.

    This is a really interesting place, and I kind of like the fact that I have been able to enjoy it a little more closely and attentively, not being constantly distracted by emails, tweets and the like.

    Have a great weekend!