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    Monday
    Mar122018

    PODCAST: #HRHappyHour 314 - The Employer Health Care Benefits Update for 2018

    HR Happy Hour 314 - The Employer Health Care Benefits Update for 2018

    Host: Steve Boese

    Guest: Shandon Fowler

    Listen HERE

    This week on the HR Happy Hour Show, Steve is joined by Shandon Fowler, Founder and Principal of Four8 Insights, a benefits technology and communication consultancy based in Charleston, South Carolina to talk about important employer health care benefits issues, trends, and what HR and Benefits pros need to know in 2018.

    On the show, Steve and Shan reviewed what the changes in the ACA and other regulations have meant for employers in 2017 and so far in 2018, how employers might be shifting (at least some) of the traditional employer-based health care benefits back to employees themselves, and what the recent Amazon, JP Morgan Chase, and Berkshire Hathaway announcement about their intentions to form a 'new' kind of company to help provide health care and benefits to their 1.1M combined employees might mean for the future of employer-based health benefits.

    Shan also shared he is the best selling author of an advice book for Grooms, (and is very popular in Slovenia), Malcolm Gladwell and the concept of the 'Risk Pool', and (shameless plug), why the HR Technology Conference is so awesome, (use my code STEVE300 for $300 off your registration).This was a fun show - thanks so much to Shan for coming on.

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

    Thanks to HR Happy Hour Show sponsor Virgin Pulse - www.virginpulse.com

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

    Friday
    Mar092018

    n = 1

    1. Tariffs: I am not an economist, and I don't even play one on TV. But these blanket tariffs, (code for taxes), sort of feel wrong to me. It is super complicated for sure, but the idea that in 2018 we (America), wants to value one kind of industry over another, mostly based on some romanticized recollection of the past, is misguided. We will see how this pans out of course, and like lots of these kinds of things the impacts will likely be less dramatic in the real world than the current headlines suggest.

    2. TECH: Yesterday I shared some data about the growth and marker share of the 'smart speaker' market - Echo, Google Home, etc. I am incredibly bullish on how these devices and voice assistants in general are going to impact workplace tech. In my down time I have been working on a little project for the Amazon Alexa platform that I hope to get launched in the next week or two. Stay tuned for that.

    3. Winter: it is still snowing here in Western NY. That is not surprising so it can't really be described as disappointing. It is sad though. A few items below there's another observation about Rochester, NY that will make more sense when considering how long and cold and miserable the winters can be here.

    4. HR Happy Hour: Lots of great stuff on the HR Happy Hour Show and the HHH family of shows. Go to the HR Happy Hour Show Page to get caught up, and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. We started the HR Happy Hour way back in 2009. Amazing it is still going strong after all this time.

    5. Sports: I have never been less interested in my New York Knicks. Once franchise player (and hopefully savior), Kristaps Porzingis went down injured the team has become simply unwatchable. I think I can name more players on the US Olympic Curling Team than I can on the current Knicks. Dreadful.

    6. JOBS: Writing this over a coffee as the monthly US Employment report hit the news. Wow - 313,000 jobs added in February 2018. That's a huge number. Unemployment rate held at 4.1% due to lots more people re-entering the labor force - makes sense since the economy is adding so many jobs. Have fun recruiting for those 'hard to fill' positions. Maybe, just maybe it's time to raise wages?

    7. Location: On the same CNBC show that I caught the Jobs report update, one of the 'expert' analysts was discussing job and skills training, and the role of the private sector vs. the public sector with respect to re-skilling workers who are impacted by automation and shifting labor market needs. My ears perked up when explaining why companies need to 'own' training current and future workers he remarked, 'Let's say you own a company in Rochester, NY, (NOTE: Where I live). No one is relocating to Rochester, NY to take your open jobs. You have to re-train the people who are already there if you want to fill those jobs." Ouch. Probably more or less true. I am about 15 months from getting out of here myself.

    8. Oscars: Trish and I did pretty well on our Academy Awards Predictions on the Happy Hour. Sufjan Stevens was robbed in the Best Song category though. (Embed below, email and RSS subscribers click through)

    9. Social Media note of note: I have pared down my social media use to (mostly automated/scheduled) Twitter updates and (oddly enough) posting travel pics on the Chinese social media app WeChat. Over a decade on various social apps has me burned out from them. I have not logged in to Facebook in probably a year, (although links to the blog still post there) and stopped posting (and checking) Instagram last summer. Not that anyone cares. But once in a while someone tries to get in touch with me on one of those apps and I just wanted to let anyone who does care know that I don't see any those messages. I kind of feel like I'm not alone in drifting off in terms of social media use/addiction. Who knows, maybe blogs will stage a comeback!

    10. FOOD: Shamrock Shakes are back. Enough said.

    Have a great weekend!

    Thursday
    Mar082018

    CHART OF THE DAY: The Rise of the Smart Speaker

    There is pretty good evidence that the rate of mainstream adoption of new technologies is significantly more rapid than it has been in the past. It took something like 60 or 70 years for the home-based, land line telephone to achieve over 90% penetration in US homes once the technology became generally available.

    Fast forward to more recent technology innovations like the personal computer or the mobile phone and time for widespread adoption has diminished to just a couple of decades (if not less for modern tools and solutions like social media/networking apps).

    New tech, when it 'hits', hits much faster than ever before and its adoption accelerates across mainstream users much faster as well. Today's Chart(s) of the Day, courtesy of some research done by Voicebot.ai show just how prevalent the smart speaker, a technology almost no one had in their homes even two years ago, have become.

    Chart 1 - Smart Speaker Market Penetration - US

     

    About 20% of US adults are in homes that have one of these smart speakers enabled. It may not sound like much, but think about it - how many times had you seen one of these say as recently as 2016?

    Chart 2 - Smart Speaker Market Share - US

    No surprise, to me at least, that Amazon has the dominant position in the US in terms of smart speakers. They beat their competitors to this market, and their platform, Alexa, has become pretty synonymous with the entire voice assistant technology. If I were a company looking to develop solutions for voice, I would start with Alexa for sure.

    Once people, in their 'real lives' begin to adopt a technology solution in large numbers, they begin to seek, demand, and expect these same kinds of technologies will be available and tailored to their workplace needs as well. The data shows that smart speakers like the Echo and the Google Home device are gaining mainstream adoption really, really quickly.

    If your organization has not yet started to think about how to deploy services, information, and access to organizational information via these smart speakers and their platforms like Alexa I wouldn't say you are late, but you are getting close to being late.

    Better to be in front of a freight train rolling down the line than it is to get run over by it.

    Last note - stay tuned for an exciting announcement in this space from your pals at the HR Happy Hour Show.

    Tuesday
    Mar062018

    REVISITED: Podcast - The Benefits of Hiring Disabled Candidates

    Quick reminder and a re-visiting of an HR Happy Hour Show that we did towards the end of 2017 on an issue that continues to be in the news and is more and more important in a tight labor market - programs and processes that make employment opportunities more accessible to disabled candidates.

    Here's just a bit from a long piece that ran the other day on USA Today - Willing and able: Disabled workers prove their value in a tight labor market

    With the low 4.1% unemployment rate making it tougher for employers to hire and retain workers, more are bringing on Americans with disabilities who had long struggled to find jobs. Many firms are modifying traditional interviews that filter out candidates with less-refined social skills and transferring some job duties to other staffers to accommodate the strengths of people with disabilities.

    "There’s a growing cadre of companies that look at people with disabilities as an untapped talent pool,” says Carol Glazer, CEO of the National Organization on Disability. “When people spend their entire lives solving problems in a world that wasn’t built for them, that’s an attribute that can be translated into high productivity in the workforce.”

    The piece, (and you should really read the entire thing), highlights some examples from employers such as CVS, Microsoft, and PwC and how they have adapted job roles and functions, recruiting and screening processes, and manager education in order to make more employment opportunities available to disabled workers.

    Additionally, I want to re-share and point you to a HR Happy Hour Show we did on this topicin December 2017. Our guest was Dan Peltz, Founder and Director of Shift NJ - an organization that helps candidates of all ability levels to connect with employers and find meaningful work. 

    Shift New Jersey was created to empower individuals. Dan and the team individuals of all ability levels maximize their potential through employment, skills training, counseling, and case management. They assist adults in preparing for college, employment, and independent living by helping them develop the vision, mindset, action steps, skills, and experience necessary to become successful.

    On the show, Dan described how Shift NJ works with candidates and employers to find employment opportunities, help build skills and capabilities of candidates that may have some challenges in finding positions, and how they support both the individuals and the organizations to make these programs and placements work for everyone.

    Additionally, Dan shared examples of how large employers like Amazon are working with agencies like Shift NJ to place more candidates into open roles, and how they are proactively seeking to expand their candidate pools.

    Finally, Dan shared how HR leaders in any location can get started with these programs and how they benefit the organization and community overall.

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

    This was an interesting and important show - hope you can take some time to listen if you missed it the first time. Learn more at the Shift NJ site .

    Have a great day!

    Monday
    Mar052018

    How your company plans to use its tax cut windfall could be a great recruiting tool - or maybe not

    A couple of weeks ago I reviewed some recent research that analyzed how American companies plan to put to use their increasingly sizable cash hoards, (much of parked overseas but expected to start being repatriated), and which are expected to also be boosted by the recent reduction in corporate income tax rates.

    The TL;DRversion of that prior piece: Most of the cash is heading back to investors, either directly in the form of increased dividends, and indirectly as a benefit from increased share repurchases.

    Over the weekend I reviewed an even more comprehensive examination of what many of America's largest organizations have stated how they plan on putting this new cash to work, courtesy of Just Capital. There analysis of almost 100 large company announcements in the last few months shows a consistent picture - the data shows that so far, US companies plan to reward or grant new benefits or opportunities to employees comparatively poorly when compared to how these companies are treating shareholders.

    Here's a quick look at the summary of the analysis from Just Capital (and they have lots of detail at their site, I recommend spending some time digging through the figures)

    Since the chart at Just Capital is interactive in nature, it was hard to get a screen cap that showed the percentage breakdown across the uses of cash categories, so I will just list them out below:

    Shareholders - 58%

    Future job creation investment - 22%

    Products - 7%

    Employees - 6%

    Customers - 4%

    Communities - 3%

    Once again, according to the data compiled by Just Capital from hundreds of corporate announcements related to worker raises and bonuses, stock buybacks, capital expenditures, executive compensation, and other measures related to corporate tax reform, only about 6% of this windfall is directly benefiting current employees.

    There are some standout companies, from an employee welfare perspective, with respect to how they are allocating these cash flows.

    Boeing for example, is allocation over $200M to programs directly benefiting workers, and another $100M towards community programs. FedEx is allocating all of their increased funds to direct employee compensation increased and investments in future job creation. Finally, Apple plans to direct 100% of their tax cut savings into the creation of 20,000 new jobs.

    On the flip side, some companies, even ones who have allocated some of the tax reform savings to employee bonuses, (and have had these, usually $1,000 bonuses reported widely), are in Just Capital's analysis granting shareholders the vast majority of the benefits from corporate tax reform.

    You can dig into the data in more detail for sure, but the takeaway I think of corporate HR/Talent leaders moving forward is understanding where (and more importantly, why?) your organization shows up on this kind of list.

    While it is awesome to be known as company that is great for the shareholders, your job in HR/Talent is to keep creating, positioning, and communicating your organization as a great place for employees.

    It might be an awkward conversation down the line if some highly sought after candidate asks you why it is that your company decided only to give employees 1 or 2% of these tax cut savings and give the rest to the shareholders.

    There may be a great answer to that question, but you will only have it if you are prepared to be asked.

    Have a great week!