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    Wednesday
    Jan162019

    CHART OF THE DAY: Four out of five say that company culture needs to change

    Quick take for a waiting for the snow to come Wednesday. I wanted to share one data point from the Katzenbach Center Global Culture Survey 2018, a broad look at organizational culture and leadership.

    Here is the survey's lead chart and the one that shows that despite us telling each other that 'Culture eats strategy for breakfast' for literally 30 years, there apparently is still much that organizations and leaders need to do in the culture wars. Data first, then some FREE commentary from me after the chart:

    Some quick thoughts...

    1. The 'Culture eats' brigade would have us all think that well, culture does actually influence and drive business success to a larger degree than corporate strategy or even organizational talent. If so, then why do four our of five respondents claim that their culture needs to evolve and change in the next three to five years? While most of us probably agree that business strategy has to change, often fairly frequently, to respond to changing market conditions, it does seem kind of startling to see that 80% of people surveyed feel the same about culture. Is culture as malleable as strategy? Does it need to change as frequently as every 3 - 5 years, about the average tenure of talent at many organizations?

    2. I still maintain that the 'Culture eats' folks ignore the importance of strategy and the need for culture and strategy to be more connected and aligned. The culture survey states this plainly - "But for the influence of culture to translate into real business results, culture, strategy and operations must be aligned." And again, I'd add to this the importance to have people, the right people with both the right skills and attitudes to be aligned with both culture and strategy.

    3. Like many other workplace challenges, there is a difference of opinion and viewpoints about organizations culture between leadership and the rank and file employees. According to the Katzenbach survey, 63% of leaders feel their company culture is consistent with how people actually act in the organization, while only 41% of employees agree to that statement. Leaders at all levels need to really dig in to better understand how the organization's culture really manifests, shapes, and influences how work gets done in the organization. Culture is not what leaders talk about, it's what they do, what they reward, what they punish, and if/how the employees in the organization follow or don't follow these cues.

    I feel like we have been talking about organizational culture for ages, and I suspect the conversation will not end any time soon. Good for the workplace blogger types I guess!

    Have a great day!

    Wednesday
    Jan022019

    CHART OF THE DAY: How should we evaluate companies?

    Happy New Year!

    To start 2019, I wanted to share a chart from and the link to the fascinating report titled 'From Insight to Action: JUST Capital's 2018 Survey Results & Roadmap for Corporate America'.

    For those not familiar, Just Capital, is a nonprofit founded in 2013 by a group that includes billionaire investor Paul Tudor Jones, and who has conducted an annual survey since then to determine which corporate-behavior-issues the American public cares about the most. Just Capital then ranks 1,000 large companies based on their performance on those issues which the survey has shown the public is most concerned with. The rankings are also the basis for the Just U.S. Large Cap Equity ETF, which launched in June 2018.

    Of interest to HR folks, in these surveys, worker pay and benefits consistently rank at the top of respondents' priorities. Here's the chart, which shows which general category or issues, (workers, customers, environment, etc.), that survey respondents indicated where more or less important to them when assessing a company (and compared to the 2017 survey). Here's the chart, then some comments from me after the data.

     

    Some quick observations from this data, which shows that the broad range of 'employee' issues are what the American public cares about the most when evaluating companies.

    1. Concern for workers issues is trending up. In both the chart above, and in some underlying data from the report, Americans are increasingly concerned about worker's conditions, pay and benefits, and work/life balance issues. Perhaps this is the outcome of a 10-year run of an improving and tightening labor market that is leading individuals to be more open and assertive of what they look for in an employer and what they see as just treatment of workers by a company.

    2. Shareholders may not be 'first' forever. Despite 'shareholders' seeming to be the ones to benefit the most in the last decade, the public cares about how companies treat shareholder and leadership issues the least. While millions of American workers are also shareholders of companies through retirement and other investments, most average employees see themselves in a different category than the large, institutional investor class. By this logic, if employee issues and concerns are going to be more important, shareholder concerns are seen as less important.

    3. Creating a 'just' company for employees is not that complicated. The Top 3 underlying components that influence how the workplace treats employees are providing good benefits, paying a living wage, and providing a safe workplace. There were the elements ranked as most important to survey respondents, and quite honestly, seem to represent the lowest common denominator for employers to strive for. Said differently, it probably is not as hard as the experts make it out to be, to create a workplace that is just and fair for employees.

    This is really interesting data, I encourage you to check out both the report and the Top 100 rankings according to Just Capital's survey of American workers. While there are quite a few companies on the list we frequently see on other 'Great' workplace type lists, there are also many other names you might not be as familiar with.

    Have a great day and a happy, and successful 2019!

    Monday
    Oct152018

    CHART OF THE DAY: How much are you using your smart speaker?

    Have you finally jumped in to the 'smart speaker' game? Whether it's an Amazon Echo device, something from Google, or one of the emerging third party manufacturers who are shipping devices that run voice operating systems from Amazon or Google, there seems to be no doubt that this technology is still growing, and maybe faster than you think.

    Some data from the recent Adobe 'State of Voice Assistants' research suggests that after the holiday shopping season concludes, almost 50% of US households will own a smart speaker of some kind. According to the Adobe data, about a third of US households already own a smart speaker, with another 16% reporting the intention to acquire one this holiday season. And here's another chart from the Adobe research, one that shows that the vast majority of smart speaker owners are increasing their use of the technology. Have a look, then some pithy, insightful, and still FREE comments from me.

     

     

    Three takes on the data:

    1. Really significant numbers of both current smart speaker owners, (76%) and non-owners (38%), report increased usage of the technology in the past year. The number to me that is really shocking is that 38% of non-owners are using these technologies more. I confess to not really knowing where or how these folks are using these tools more, but the fact that almost 40% of them are, leads me to believe that a decent number of them will become owners very soon. Said differently, over three quarters or current owners are using their devices more, as are a really healthy percentage of non-owners. You'd love to report at the end of the year that 76% of your employees engaged with any of your workplace technologies more this year.  

     

    2. One reason for the growth in usage? The sheer number of use cases keeps increasing. While the Adobe data also reports the most common uses of smart speakers are for streaming music, getting news and weather updates, and setting alarms and timers, a growing ecosystem of applications and skills are making these devices more useful, fun, and engaging. A full 32% of respondents reported using calendar and scheduling capabilities on their smart speakers for example. And 13% have used them to help with managing finances. Bottom line, the sky seems to be the limit for more and more innovative applications and users seem eager to expand their use of these tools.

    3. If you are in an HR or HR tech role, and have not started to think about how to incorporate these technologies into your delivery of HR information and services, in 2019 you really should plan some time to do so. Your employees are more and more likely to be using these tools and are becoming more comfortable with engaging with them. And pretty soon (if it has not happened yet), these speakers will be in offices, meeting rooms, common areas, cars, and possibly everywhere else. They offer a way for you to engage your employees with access to information, help, support, and more advanced activities in an interface format that everyone already understands - 'Alexa, set up a meeting in Friday with the Marketing Team'. What could be simpler?

    Finally, since I think you know by now I am all in on smart speaker, I wanted to remind readers that we have a special version of the HR Happy Hour Podcast on Alexa for Amazon Echo devices. If you are an Echo user, just add the 'HR Happy Hour'Skill to your device's Daily Flash Briefing to get a short HR Happy Hour Podcast a few times a week.

    Have a great day!

    Tuesday
    Aug142018

    CHART OF THE DAY: ETFs, Active Managers, and Human Specialization

    Today's Chart of the Day comes to us from the world of Finance and our pals at Bloomberg and shows just how once type of job, the "active", (and human) mutual fund manager is being disrupted by another kind of manager - a 'passive' one, modeled against the market more broadly, and dominated by algorithms and sophisticated computers.

    Long story short - investors have been migrating their money away from the active, people-driven funds and strategies and towards the passive, ETF-type funds. Here's the chart from Bloomberg, then some comments below from your favorite active blog manager (me).

    Some really interesting things to note from this chart. And recall, just like when we blog about basketball here, this blog about finance and investing isn't really just about finance and investing.

    1. Highlighted on the chart is the worst of the financial crisis, September 2008. This appears to be the inflection point where investors bailed on active investment management in favor of passive investing. In other words, when times were tough, investors didn't seek 'expert' human management for their diminishing funds. In fact, they sought out the opposite.

    2. As the chart above demonstrates, the current active management model for investments simply can't compete any longer with the cheaper passive/ETF model in either total asset gathering (trying to simply grow the way to prosperity), or in terms of returns. Whatever the current strategy is for the active managers, it is definitely not working and has not been for a decade.

    3. So what can these highly-paid, expensive, and under threat active fund managers do to at least try and maintain some relevance and hold on to their country club memberships and beach houses? Bloomberg suggests one approach - hyper specialization.

    From the piece:

    What does the future of active management look like? We believe it should only seek a portion of an investor's assets. To do this, they will have to create highly idiosyncratic and concentrated portfolios. They will have to find the one thing they do well and do it in a concentrated, risk-seeking way, whether it be health-care, emerging markets, macro themes, algorithms, technology or trading. The manager will need to be known as the "go to" person in that space to emerge as the next star, allocating capital as efficiently as possible.

    Again, the specific example/industry/job role doesn't matter here. What matters is the method and approach for people to remain valuable and competitive in a situation where machines and algorithms have plenty of advantages. The advice is not to try and out-compete the robots where you simply can't defeat them, but rather to seek out those areas, pockets, and opportunities where you can leverage uniquely human skills and experience to stay one step ahead of the machines.

    Super interesing article and one that I think no matter what industry or job you are in, has something we can learn from as well.

    Have a great day!

    Wednesday
    Jun062018

    CHART OF THE DAY: Job Openings Continue to Increase to New Record Highs

    I know I've covered this territory a hundred times, it seems like every month lately, but I feel compelled once again to share the headline number from the monthly Bureau of Labor Statistics  JOLTS (Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey) Report released earlier today.

    Here's the headline (and an accompanying chart from our pals at the St. Louis FED) - Total Job Openings have climbed to 6.7 Million - reaching another new record high in the history of the data series.

    The steady increase in record high job openings has been one of the truly amazing developments in the aftermath of the financial crisis and recession, which saw openings bottom out at about 2.2M in July 2009.

    The questions are now twofold I think. One, just how high is the ceiling for US job openings to climb towards? I mean these records continue to be set even while trade wars are constantly in the news and many financial and labor markets observers have no idea what strange 'news' emanating from Washington might do to the market and the economy?

    And two, when and by how much do we begin to see a much more pronounced increase in wage growth, as companies are finally forced to increase wages in order to try and fill these millions of openings? The sluggish nature of wage growth in the face of seemingly and endless supply of open jobs has been one of the must puzzling aspects of the labor market in the last several years. Something has to give soon, right?

    It's a good time to be looking for work, I would say.

    Have a great day!