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    CHART OF THE DAY: The Misery Index

    Spotted on the Pragmatic Capitalism site: The Misery Index Falls to an 8 Year Low.

    First the chart, then a quick explanation of The Misery Index itself, and finally, of course, some FREE 'expert' commentary on what if anything this kind of data means for HR/Talent pros.


    The "Misery" index is the sum of the rate of inflation and the rate of unemployment. It’s name is apropos because a high rate of inflation combined with a high unemployment rate are miserable things to experience. Where is the Misery index currently? It sits at an 8 year low. And perhaps more tellingly, today’s Misery index level of 6.9% is well below the 70 year average of 9.5%

    Indicative of improving economic conditions in the USA overall, we see this reflected in the declining rate of the Misery Index. Times may not be great, and the economic recovery is certainly unequally distributed, but certainly for most the worst years of 2008 and 2009 seem pretty far away at this point.

    What might the 'Misery' index have to tell the HR/Talent pro?

    One thing that comes to mind is that our perception of satisfaction or happiness and even (sorry to use the word again) engagement at work is derived from multiple and complex sources. In HR we talk plenty about engagement rates and trends and voluntary turnover and percentage of job offers accepted, but we usually only talk about these metrics in isolation. 

    We compare this quarter's engagement rate with last quarter's rate. We look at the trend line in voluntary turnover as if this phenomenon exists in a vacuum, and is not impacted or effected by other business conditions.

    We are measuring more things, but probably not getting the deep levels of insight that measurement once promised. 

    The Misery Index is a crude way to acknowledge this truth, that inflation alone or unemployment alone, don't provide all the answers as to the relative health of an economy, and consequently, the 'misery' of its citizens.

    In the workplace, perhaps we should consider our own versions of the Misery Index. Graph disengagement rate AND voluntary turnover rate together and show that to your CEO. Or maybe do a trend line with average annual salary increase against recorded absence rates to see if your 2.3% salary increases are potentially contributing to people checking out.

    Misery, (and I think, happiness too), is a complex thing. Thinking about either of them in one dimension leads to shallow understanding and conclusions of limited value.

    Plus, what is making me miserable today isn't even on any of these charts. Hint: It NEVER stops snowing where I live.

    Happy Tuesday.


    PODCAST - #HRHappyHour 201 - Putting the Fun into Analytics

    HR Happy Hour 201 - Putting the Fun Into Analytics

    Recorded Thursday January 29, 2015

    Hosts: Trish McFarlaneSteve Boese

    Guests: Mike Psenka,  Senior VP of Workforce Analytics,  Equifax Workforce Solutions

    Ed Pertwee, Head of Workforce Planning, BT

    Jennifer Payne, Editor, Women of HR

    Listen to the show HERE

    In the latest HR Happy Hour Show, Trish and Steve recorded a live HR Happy Hour show from the recent Brandon Hall Excellence conference, where Mike, Ed, Steve and Trish conducted a panel discussion on how to leverage data and analytics for HR and organizational success.

    Mike and Ed both shared some excellent examples, (both in the panel and in the HR Happy Hour podcast), of how, where, and to what effect data and analytics are making an impact in workforce planning, compliance, and to improve business results. There are some amazingly powerful applications for using data in a wide variety of contexts - where to locate company facilities, the effect of demographic shifts on performance, and how long commute times impact engagement and satisfaction.

    Additionally, Steve defended Carmelo Anthony of the Knicks, Trish let us know that the number '201' should not be said as 'two hundred and one', and we learned that a husband should never question the strength and intensity of his wife's labor contractions.

    You can listen to the show on the show page here, and using the widget player below, (email and RSS subscribers will need to click through). 

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


    As always, you can listen to the current and all the past shows from the archive on the show page here, on our HR Happy Hour website, and by subscribing to the show in podcast form on iTunes, or for Android devices using Stitcher Radio (or your favorite podcast app). Just search the iTunes store or your podcast app for 'HR Happy Hour' to add the show to your subscriptions.

    This was a really fun show with some fantastic guests and I hope you enjoy listening!


    Notes from the road #14 - Things seen and (over)heard

    The better part of the last two weeks on the road as always provides a rich source of amusement. 

    Herewith, presented in no particular order, are 5 random observations from the road...

    1. Overheard in the Delta Sky Club - 'Tell him to take his head and pull it out of his ass.  If he can't do that, then fire him. I SAID FIRE HIM!'

    2. Also overheard in the Delta Sky Club - 'The last four guys who quit have told HR in their exit interviews that the demands of the job are unreasonable. That it total BS. No, I can't meet with you tomorrow. I have a meeting with HR.'

    3. Also overheard in the Delta Sky Club - 'No I have not hired anyone for Japan yet. They keep sending me crap candidates. The last one didn't know that Osaka is not the same as Okinawa.'

    4. If there is a major spill of liquids or such in an airport corridor, the sheer number of folks that get involved is staggering. Retail workers, airport staff, private security, Metro Police, cleaners, other kinds of maintenance people, etc. I saw a pretty large spill of water in the Cleveland airport, (one of those 5-gallon water jugs blew out), and no less than 9 different people had some involvement in the reporting, cleanup, and assigning blame processes. 

    5. If I ever do another 'Ignite' style presentation (20 slides, 15 seconds per slide), I will absolutely not try to tackle as big a subject as Humanity's relationship with technology. I did think the 5 minute talk went well, but as is my typical fashion, I could have gone on for another 45.  But DisruptHR Cleveland was a blast.

    Have a great weekend!


    ADVICE: Read more, write less

    Super interesting piece on the Savage Minds anthropology blog the other day titled Read More, Write Less, an essay by Ruth Behar about her conversations with the Cuban author and poet Dulce Maria Loynaz.

    I must confess to having no familiarity with Ms. Loynaz, but in the piece she offers some really excellent advice for writers, bloggers, really communicators of any kind.

    From the Savage Minds piece:

    Inspired by her meditative Poemas sin nombre (Poems With No Name), I had written a few poems of my own, and Dulce María had the largeness of heart to ask me to read them aloud to her in the grand salon of her dilapidated mansion. She nodded kindly after each poem and when I finished I thought to ask her, “What advice would you give a writer?”

    I will always remember her answer. It came without a moment’s hesitation and could not have been more succinct: Lee más, escribe menos, “Read more, write less.”

    That might seem like old-fashioned advice in our world today, where so many of us aspire to write more. But having pondered Dulce María’s words, I think I now understand the significance of what she was saying.

    It comes down to this: you can only write as well as what you read.

    Awesome advice, and so good that I don't really need to add anything more to it. I try and read as much as I can in order to have new ideas, fresh perspectives, and just interesting things to share. But there is so much more out there.  I know I probably should read more, and different things instead of trying to push out posts all the time.

    Read more, write less. Great advice. 

    Have a great Thursday.


    The Human Score

    I caught this interesting piece on the PSFK site over the weekend, Reebok Platform Lets You Reclaim Your Humanity with Human Score, about a current Reebok marketing campaign and associated 'humanness' quiz. And since I have heard quizzes on the internet might be a thing, I clicked over and spent 5 minutes taking the test to find out my 'human' score, (pic of my result embedded on the right, click to see a giant version if you are so inclined).

    According to Reebok, The Human Score is the world’s first test to put a numeric value on one’s ‘humanness,’ and is strategically designed by scientist David McRaney.

    McRaney enlisted average people to help define what it means to be human and gathered different responses about generosity, humor, resilience, discipline and other characteristics. The test asks questions in a five-part series of questions aggregated from the collective data, from the type of guest you might mingle with at a party, to your attitudes towards fitness, and even what kind of news headlines  might catch your attention.

    My 'human' score labels me as a 'Brain Buff', and Reebok says that Brain Buffs "make for a pretty great human specimen. Brain Buffs do more than keep their bodies fit – they actively work to keep their minds sharp. With their curious nature and insatiable hunger for knowledge, they’re always on the go. For Brain Buffs, there is pretty much no end to self-improvement. There is always room upstairs to add more theories, ideas and wisdom. They make it a point to regularly challenge themselves to think big thoughts way outside the box. And they are rigorous thinkers inclined to do their own research and ask questions rather than take information at face value. Smarty-pants Brain Buffs use all their intellectual gifts to help reach their fullest human potential."

    I guess some of that is true, I don't know about the 'fullest human potential' part - I probably watch too much basketball for that to be totally true.

    Anyway, it is a fun little exercise, as these things go, and good for a 10 minute diversion as you hit the middle of the work week.

    If you take the 'human' test, let me know how it goes.

    Happy Wednesday.