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    It's never taken longer to fill the average job in the US

    Job openings as tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the JOLTS report hit an all-time record high of 5.8 million in April 2016

    And what I suppose could be considered a kind of perfect storm for recruiting, at the same time as job openings are at a record level, the average time it takes to fill an opening has also never been higher.

    Check the chart below from the latest DHI Group report, the DHI-DFH National Mean Vacancy Duration, which has been tracking average time to fill for about 15 years:

    The average job now takes 29.3 working days to fill, up from 27.7 in March, and represents an all-time high time to fill for the data series.

    Should you or we or anyone care about this? After all, time-to-fill as a singular recruiting metric is kind of flawed, and some would argue that it is not important at all at an individual job level. 

    But others (and I think I am one of them), that increasing time-to-fill duration means something, and in the aggregate, (across the entire organization or in a major job function or industry group), that it can tell you quite a bit about the effectiveness of recruiting strategies and technologies.

    Because for me, when thinking about the massive amounts of investments made in technologies that are designed (at least on paper), to make recruiting, (again, in the aggregate), more efficient and effective, this all-time high level for time to fill suggests that we are all contributing in some degree to a pretty massive fail. What other industry or major business process can you think of that has actually gotten less efficient, despite hundreds of millions of dollars of investment over more than two decades?

    Again, I know time-to-fill taken by itself and out of context might not be the best way to judge the health and success of technological investments for recruiting, but I think even the most cynical would have to at least admit that at a macro level that time-to-fill should not be increasing to all-time highs if organizations and their technology partners were actually functioning as designed or promised.

    Shouldn't recruiting be getting easier? Even just a little easier?

    I'd love to know what you think. 

    Am I off-base to even be thinking that time-to-fill really matters? Most organizations would happily trade a few days to fill in order to make the 'right' hire. But shouldn't technology and process have evolved to the point where making that tradeoff should happen less and less?

    This issue was on my mind way before this latest set of statistics has come out, and I am even putting together a general session at the upcoming HR Technology Conference in October to talk about it.

    Two decades, millions and millions of dollars spent, and yet at least by this measure, we are not getting any better at putting people in the right jobs.

    It's baffling to me.


    The user interface is your voice

    Earlier this week Trish McFarlane and I did an HR Happy Hour Show and podcast based on the always interesting and influential Internet Trends Report from KPCB. On that show, we talked about some of the trends and ideas identified in the report (demographics, generational changes, and more), but one of the report's major themes that we did not discuss was the increase in capability and use of voice as a primary technology interface. Think Siri, Amazon's Echo and the like.

    The report spends a lot of time on this trend, (about 16 slides, almost 10% of the entire report), but I wanted to highlight just one of the slides, and then opine a bit about what this trend could imply for HR and workplace technologies going forward.

    Here's the money slide from the KPCB deck on the growth and potential of voice interfaces, then some FREE comments from me:

    Three quick takes on this chart and the voice interface trend overall...

    1. As the chart above shows, accuracy of these systems in terms of their ability to correctly recognize and interpret speech commands and instructions has been growing rapidly. And as these tools get better and better, users will take advantage of them more and more. Why? Talking is easier (and much faster), than typing or clicking. And convenience - think about when you are in your car, or making dinner in your kitchen, or eating a salami sandwich, (ok, maybe that is just my use case). Either way, as capability improves so will usage rates.

    2. While the primary use cases for voice interfaces and commands are largely personal, (these interfaces are primarily used for things like getting directions, making calls, sending texts, and the like), it is not a far stretch of the imagination to think that such a potentially widespread personal and consumer trend will work its way into workplace and organizational activities as well. Once your employees get used to using their voices to issue commands and requests for personal uses, it won't be long until they want to know why they can't navigate the online employee directory using voice, or ask the HRIS system to email them a PDF copy of their current benefits enrollments. Technology that takes hold of consumer consciousness almost always wants to enter the workplace as well. 

    3. Like wearable technologies like Google Glass and similar the initial workplace applications for voice interface technology might not be in so-called 'knowledge workers', but rather with front line and customer-facing workers like service techs, retail workers, or even in manufacturing and distribution. These are most likely the people that would benefit from increased computing capability that does not require them stopping what they are doing to manipulate a PC, table, or even a smart phone with their hands. We like to think that most tech advances benefit tech workers, but this might be a case where the best ROI comes from enabling field workers with the latest advances in tech.

    I think it is very interesting times in the voice interface space, and I wonder how long it will be until we see the first important breakthroughs in this area in the HR and workplace tech space.

    What say you?


    PODCAST - #HRHappyHour 248 - Generational Influence vs. Life Stages: The Battle!

    HR Happy Hour 248 - Generational Influence vs. Life Stages: The Battle!

    Hosts: Steve BoeseTrish McFarlane

    Listen to the show HERE

    This week on the HR Happy Hour Show, Steve and Trish talk about one of their favorite reports.  The KPCB Internet Trends Report by analyst Mary Meeker came out last week. In the report, Ms. Meeker examines macro trends in technology, economics, demographics and more.  Trish and Steve talk about a few of the major items, one being the impact of generations on the workplace and behavior.  There is a heated debate regarding what impacts behavior most.

    FYI - Steve felt he was right of course.

    We also talked about some of the major shifts in world and workplace demographics and how some of the major tech trends might impact work, workplaces and Human Resources.

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

    This was a fun and interesting converstaion for sure. And many thanks to our HR Happy Hour Show sponsor Virgin Pulse, www.virginpulse.com.

    Finally, remember to subscribe to the show on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and all the major podcast apps - just search for 'HR Happy Hour' to add the show to your subscriptions and you will never miss a show.


    Notes from the road #20 - Spring event roundup edition

    A big part of how I spend my Spring each year is making the rounds of as many HR technology solution provider events (customer conferences and.or analyst meetings), as I can, all while planning for and developing the program for the 19th Annual HR Technology Conference and Expo to be held October 4 - 7, 2016 in Chicago, IL.

    These customer events are a great way for me to stay in touch with the industry - the technology trends, the challenges that customers are talking about and seeking solutions for, and the big workplace issues that are top of mind. Additionally, these events help me to take the pulse and temperature of the market - information I need as I work on HR Tech.  

    Since the Spring event season is just about over, (I think I have one more to attend, the always interesting HireVue event in a couple of weeks), I wanted to share at least a small part of what I saw, heard, and learned at a few of these events from early 2016. Hopefully, there is something in what I saw that might help you as you think about your HR technology plans for the remainder of the year.

    Greenhouse - This was the most recent event I have attended, so it is very fresh in my mind. Greenhouse is a newer provider of recruitment technology solutions primarily serving the SMB market, (don’t call it an ATS), that has grown rapidly in the last few years, primarily in the Bay Area technology ecosystem. Greenhouse takes a fresh approach to HR tech, at least a different one I think, in that they really think about solving the challenge of recruiting for organizations who wish to become “great” at recruiting first, rather than simply chasing down specific features and functions. It is an approach that is hard to describe in a few words, but if you want to learn more about Greenhouse and what they are about, check an interview I was able to do with CEO Dan Chait on the HR Happy Hour podcast here.

    Globoforce - The recent Globoforce customer conference, called WorkHuman, stands out from the group in that it is a very different kind of user event in that it does not (primarily) focus on the the actual products that Globoforce develops. Rather, WorkHuman focuses on making work and workplaces “better’, and showcases content and activities designed to help HR leaders better engage their workforces and that ultimately will elevate the nature of work. The solution set that Globoforce provides is positioned more as a complementary collection of tools that HR and organizational leaders can leverage in their efforts to simply make work “better” and more human. For more on this event, and how working more “human” translates to organizations, see this excellent piece from Trish McFarlane on the HR Ringleader blog.

    Oracle - Oracle’s HCM World event has rapidly grown to become one of the largest HR technology user events of its type. The most recent HCM World held in early April, was a reflection of the growth of Oracle’s HCM Cloud solutions, and the success they are having in the market. There was tons to see and hear at the event, but if I could pick out just one thing that stood out for me was the continued development and refreshing approach Oracle is taking with its new Learning technology in the cloud. The new learning tools are meant to be mobile-first, collaborative, personalized, and video heavy - a key to me as the trends in video consumption are only on the increase across all kinds of platforms. It is  great example of how an enterprise technology provider is adapting to trends in the consumer space to develop and deliver technologies with which users will want to engage. For more on what Oracle is working in HCM, listen to this recent HR Happy Hour podcast featuring Oracle’s Bertrand Dussert.

    Ultimate - Just like the other events listed above, Ultimate Software’s annual user conference is a reflection of the company itself - its culture, values, and philosophy. Ultimate's tagline has been “People First” for some time, but unlike most empty corporate slogans, Ultimate really does believe in putting its employees, customers, and community “first”. They are committed to their own employees and their family’s welfare and well-being, as evidenced by the generous and progressive approaches they take to engagement and development. But from a product capability standpoint, probably the most interesting area in which Ultimate is innovating is in the field of predictive analytics. These are modern approaches to give insight to leaders to be able to anticipate voluntary (and often undesirable) turnover, and to predict the likelihood of a candidate succeeding in a new role. But Ultimate is moving beyond just “predicting” events, it is trying to provide more meaningful and actionable recommendations and interventions to help leaders and managers better deal with these events. You can learn more about this approach on this by checking out another recent HR Happy Hour podcast with Cecile Alper-Leroux from Ultimate.

    That’s a quick look at four of the events I was able to attend in the last few months. And while each one was different of course, when I think back upon them, and the others that I was not able to list here, I am reminded that the challenges and opportunities facing HR leaders and their organizations remain pretty common and consistent. Finding the best talent, engaging the workforce, developing and retaining the best people, while all the time ensuring compliance and accuracy in all HR administrative processes. Thankfully, modern and innovative technologies like the ones being developed by the five providers above continue to rise to these challenges, and are able to help HR leaders reach their goals. And of course, you can see these providers, and hundreds more, at the upcoming HR Technology Conference in October.


    Just the ball is moving

    I was tempted to drop this post into the 'Wisdom of Jeff Van Gundy' series, but since JVG didn't actually relate the following observation I am going to drop, let's just call this the (unofficial) start of a new series titled 'The Wisdom of Martina Navratilova'.

    Tennis legend Martina was doing the TV commentary of a recent French Open match I was half-watching when one of the players missed an easy volley at the net. The slow-motion replay showed he had (slightly) looked up from the ball coming to his racket, and seemed to look over the net to the spot where he was aiming the shot.

    Here's what Martina said (more or less), after the missed shot and replay:

    He looked where he was going to hit the ball, and that is such a common mistake for regular players, club players, and even the professionals. Of course you want to see where you are going to hit the ball, but the problem is you stop seeing the ball. The court is not moving, just the ball is moving. You have to watch the ball, and that is such an easy mistake to make.

    Fantastic observation from Martina, (who was always my choice before Evert by the way), about not only the importance of concentration, but the need to focus on what really matters, and to let go of the things that are not fundamental or important to what you are trying to accomplish.

    It's kind of a different spin on the old classic advice to focus on the things you can control and not on the ones you can't. In tennis, you need to focus on the very thing you can't control, i.e. the ball, and not spend time on the other thing you also can't control, the court, but the one you can't impact.

    You may not always get the outcome you like, but you can at least try and influence the ball, so you'd better concentrate on that.

    The same idea is likely applicable in many other contexts as well. It makes no sense to fixate on the things that we not only can't control, but we have no ability to change.