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    Entries in data (112)

    Friday
    Feb172017

    CHART OF THE DAY: Report from Startup Land

    I don't like to get too caught up in tracking and detailing the latest trends and moves in HR, Talent, or even workplace technology emanating from Silicon Valley. After all, the vast majority of us do not work in go-go startups, can't really empathize with most startups particular challenges, and the rules of engagement for HR and talent leaders at 30 year-old manufacturing companies with 2,600 employees are naturally, (obviously), different than at a new 12-person 'Uber for XYZ' startup in Palo Alto.

    But on the other hand if you generally believe that innovation in technology, service delivery, and even 'HR' things like benefits, workplace design, and employee experience does often start at 12-person 'Uber for XYZ' startups, as they are unencumbered by size, tradition, understanding of the 'rules', and simply often too busy to worry about HR things and just get to work, then keeping an eye on what is happening in the Valley can be a useful exercise for any HR and talent pro - no matter what size and type of organization you are in.

    One recently published set of snapshots on what is happening in Startup Land comes to us from Silicon Valley Bank in the form of their 2017 Startup Outlook Report (US).  It is a really interesting look at some of the trends, challenges, and points of view from their survey of leaders of 941 global startups, 62% from the US. I want to share three charts from the US portion of the report, with a comment or two for each, then send you on your way for the (long) weekend.

    Chart 1 - The 'War' for Talent

    You'd expect that a majority of startups would report difficulty in finding the people they need to grow their businesses since many of these startups are in technology fields where the tech itself may be new, and the competition for people with these often very hard to find skills is fierce. But 90% plus saying it is challenging or extremely challenging to find talent? I must say that even surprised me. Even though the percentage ticked down a bit, 9 of 10 startup leaders showed up to work today probably worried about finding talented people.

    2. Gender diversity is not improving

    While it probably is not surprising that most startups have mostly male leaders and mostly male boards of directors, what is at least a little surprising, given the increased attention on this issue in the last year, is that surveyed startups are getting more male at the leadership and board levels.  Buried behind this chart is the note that about a quarter of surveyed firms have formal programs in place to increase female representation in leadership roles. But a quick look at the above data suggests that these efforts are not moving the needle at all.

    3. Despite it all, almost all of these startups are hiring

    It is the nature of a startup to grow and hire, so you'd expect these numbers of firms looking to increase headcount in 2017 to be high, but it is pretty encouraging to see that this number has remained consistently high over the last few years. And this is really good news for the kinds of people that these startups are likely to be after - highly skilled, proficient in the latest technology, and able to add value right away. There's a reason why 'Data Scientist' is sometimes called the best job in America today. Although I'd argue that 'Stretch Four' would be better. Non basketball fans, Google that one.

    Lots of other interesting data points in the 2017 Startup Outlook Report - I encourage taking a few minutes to read it through. You might not be an HR pro at a Valley startup, but you just might be competing with some of them for your next Data Scientist.

    Have a great weekend!

    Monday
    Jan232017

    On the balance between data and people

    Quick shot for a busy Monday. If your organization is one of the many that has or has implemented or has at least considered implementing a more data intensive and analytical approach to the HR and talent management, then I recommend taking a quick look at the comments from a young leader in another discipline where data and analytics have completely changed talent management - the world of professional soccer.

    Since Moneyball, and maybe even before that, all kinds of sports (baseball, basketball, soccer, and more), have seen a kind revolution and sea change in the approach to player evaluation, team building, and even in-game strategy driven by the increasing availability of advanced data about player performance and better tools to assess and crunch that data. No leader of even a half-decent professional sports team fails to consider metrics, data, analytics, etc. when making decisions about talent.

    And so it has also come to pass that in the 'real' world of work, more and more organizations are or have embraced similar and data driven approaches in their talent management programs. Assessments that validate a candidate's 'fit' for a role, algorithms that assess employee data to flag flight risks, or models that pinpoint expected future leaders are just some of the examples of how data/science/analytics are being used in HR.

    But if you have begun adopting these data-driven approaches to talent management processes and decisions how can you know if you have perhaps gone too far, or have let the 'human' part of human resources fall too far by the wayside? 

    I think the answer is that it is kind of hard to know for sure, but you probably know it when you see it. But i think it stands to reason that today still, in any field that human performance and human capability are what matters, then it can be dangerous to completely trust the data and fail to consider the people.

    Here's what Julian Nagelsmann, (millennial, for what it's worth), manager of the German Bundesliga side Hoffenheim has to say about blending data, analytics, and the 'human' side of management in forming his approach to leading his team. (Courtesy of The Ringer):

    I studied sports science and have a bachelor of arts. The variety of football data is becoming more and more specific. You shouldn’t make the mistake of looking at football as a science, but there are more diagnostic tools, and the examination of the human body is improving in football: What effect does AstroTurf have on the body? What does lots of shooting do? What does lots of passing do to muscles? There are always new methods and you have to go with the science, but football will never be a science.

    There will be more influence from science to analyze games, and you have to keep educating yourself. But you mustn’t make the mistake of seeing football as something technocratic or based on something that is fed by science. You can develop the person by using scientific aspects in your judgement, but the human is still the focus.

    A really interesting take from a manager of a team of highly accomplished (and highly compensated), professional soccer players. Even in sports, where every move, every decision, every physical reaction to game circumstances can and is analyzed, and the subsequent data parsed and performance conclusions reached - Nagelsmann still cautions us to not forget the humans. 

    In fact, he goes much further than that - he claims the human has to remain the focus.

    Take in the data, be open to the data, don't be a data Luddite - but don't let it become the only tool you use as a manager or a leader.

    Super perspective and advice from a leader who sits completely in the nexus of an industry and discipline that has been historically a 'gut feel' business that is being disrupted by data and analytics. 

    Use the data. But don't forget about the people.

    Great advice for a soccer team or for an organization near you.

    Have a great week!

    Wednesday
    Jan112017

    CHART OF THE DAY: People are quitting faster than you can fire them

    Do you know what the best day of the month is for workforce trends and labor market geeks is?

    Of course you do - when the monthly JOLTS (Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey) report is released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics!

    That great day was yesterday, and in what has become a semi-regular feature on the blog over the years, I want to share just one chart from the latest JOLTS report, and as you DEMAND, offer some free (cheap!) comments on the data.

    First the chart - this one showing the amount of 'Quits', (voluntary separations), vs. the level of  'Layoffs and Discharges' (non-voluntary turnover), for the US labor force.

    Some quick takes from the 'Take this job and you know what with it!' vs. the 'Clean out your locker and scram' trends:

    1. Consistent with the longer term and pre-recession trends, 'Quits' are now exceeding 'Layoffs' by about a 2/1 ratio. Back in 2006, you could expect 2 folks to quit for every 1 who you had to fire (or layoff). Halfway into the last recession, (and for some time after), Layoffs surpassed Quits, as no one in their right mind wanted to quit their job with the chances of finding another one being so dicey.

    2. Obvs, the return to a more 'normal' and historical 2/1 Quits/Layoffs ratio puts much more pressure on HR,  recruiters, business leaders - essentially anyone whose job depends on having the needed people in place, and not looking to leave for the next, better opportunity at the drop of a hat. The same drivers that are making the Quits rate climb, (perceived labor market leverage, lots of openings across the country, rising wages), also tend to depress the 'layoff/discharge' rates. Do you really want to can that marginal performer if you are not at all sure you can find a better replacement in a timely manner?

    3. Finally, what might be the most valuable take away from looking at the overall labor market Quits/Discharges ratio is that it (should) force us to think about this ratio in our own organizations, and what we think might be the optimal or healthy ratio for us. We probably would rather exist in a world where there were not all that many quits and certainly not all that many firings or layoffs. But that ideal world rarely exists, and even if it did, would it be perfect?

    Said differently, there probably should be some tension and some churn in our organizations. The system/culture/workplace should weed out some folks who will self-select out. There should be some really talented folks that end up having/choosing to leave to chase some bigger dreams and goals that you might not be able to offer them the opportunity. And there should be some folks that you force out. The key may not be the absolute numbers of any of these categories, but the way these groups compare. If you are being forced to forcibly remove more folks that leave on their own accord, then you have a problem I would imagine.  And if no one ever decides to leave on their own, you have a problem as well, albeit a different one.

    Ok, that's it from me. Enjoy the JOLTS report like I know you will!

    Monday
    Dec122016

    CHART OF THE DAY: Manufacturing Output and Employment

    I am sure you have seen something in the news about President-Elect Trump's negotiations with the United Technologies owned Carrier Corp to eliminate or at least reduce Carrier's plans to close and/or reduce manufacturing operations in Indiana, and shift production, (and create jobs), in Mexico.  After a bunch of back and forth, (and back and forth), and some finger pointing from both sides, it does appear that Trump's efforts will at least for the time being, keep some of these operations and jobs in the USA.

    I don't really want to get into the politics part of this story, but rather want to present some data (from the fantastic St. Louis Fed FRED site), that reminds us that companies packing up and moving manufacturing operations from the US to other, less-expensive places is only part of the reason why US manufacturing jobs continue to be pressured. 

    Here's the data showing US manufacturing output, (left axis, and indexed to 2009) and US manufacturing employment (right axis) - then some FREE comments from me after the data.

    Apologies if some of the fine details of the chart are a little hard to read, but the key things I think to take away from this data are these:

    1. Manufacturing employment has been on a steady downward trend since 1980s, with the steepest declines starting in around 2001 (which coincides with an increase in offshoring activity to China and other places); and then again during the financial crisis and recession of 2008. But with the exception of recession-driven dips, manufacturing output has been increasing since the 1980s and is now near its pre-financial crisis level.

    In other words, US manufacturers have continued to increase output, and pretty dramatically post-recession, while employing fewer workers.

    2. So while outsourcing and offshoring are at least partially to 'blame' for the loss of US manufacturing jobs, those causes can't be the only or even probably the primary driver of manufacturing job loss. Increasing output, with fewer workers means one thing - improvements in manufacturing productivity that have to be attributed to technology, automation, robots, etc. US (and global) manufacturers are simply getting better and more efficient at producing goods, particularly electronics, cars, even steel. Technology gains will continue pressure organizations to 'keep up' with competitors and seek to reduce labor costs via automation.

    3. While Mr. Trump's efforts with Carrier probably should be commended, we also should not be beguiled that these kinds of one-off decisions are likely to cause any kind of meaningful or lasting turnaround in the long-term trend of manufacturing job declines. As fast as a thousand ot two jobs might be saved by the application of political pressure, it is also extremely probable that technology/automation will jump in to ratchet up the continued pressure on manufacturers to get even more productive.

    Finally, maybe it is time that we start to look a little differently about manufacturing jobs as somehow 'better' or more desirable than other types of jobs. There will always be manufacturing in the US, but as these trends show, it will almost certainly continue to decline as a percentage of the labor force.

    Technology-driven shifts in aggregate employment just happen. How many farmers do you know, if you get my meaning. We have to learn as a country and as individuals, to adapt.

    Have a great week!

    Tuesday
    Nov292016

    CHART OF THE DAY: Managing the algorithms

    It must be 'Algorithm Week' on the blog, given that yesterday I posted a piece about how HR folks need to consider carefully how algorithms and other intelligent technologies are introduced into HR and talent management practices. 

    Keeping with that theme, today's Chart of the Day is also about algorithms, more specifically about how the overall role and responsibility of HR and HR leaders might shift as more intelligent technologies are introduced into workplaces. The chart comes to us from an MIT Technology Review briefing paper titled 'Asia's AI Agenda: How Asia is speeding up global artificial intelligence adoption', a look at how the increased adoption of automation and other 'smart' technologies are going to impact work, workplaces, and too, the practice of HR.

    The entire paper is interesting, but for today's chart I wanted to share what MIT's survey of Asia HR leaders revealed about how these HR leaders see their roles changing along with the changing workplace (and workforce).

    Here's the chart, then some FREE comments from me after the data:

    Three quick takes...

    1. First off, it is really interesting, (and I think really encouraging), that more than 87% of HR leaders in the survey realize that these new technologies are going to have a 'major impact' on the role of the HR leader moving forward. The first step in the grieving process is acceptance, (actually, I am not sure if that is true, but don't have the time to look it up, so just pretend it is true anyway), so it is a good sign that the vast majority of these HR leaders are at least cognizant if not accepting that advances in automation and smart tech are going to change the HR role. 

    2. Next, it is also interesting, (if possibly a little naive), in that fully two-thirds of these surveyed HR leaders see that their roles will expand to encompass the 'overall productivity' of both people and the machines and other intelligent technologies that are increasingly being introduced into their workplaces and processes. I have to admit to being a little surprised that so many HR respondents seem ready or at least willing to get into the 'machine management' business.

    3. What that does imply however, is that these HR leaders wanting to expand the traditional talent management role to include machine management as well are going to have to develop an entire new set of expertise and skills, (not to mention some baseline understanding of this technologies), that have as far as I can tell never been a part of HR or talent management in the past.  I am not sure if 'managing' the machines and algorithms is going to be easier or harder than managing people, (if I had to bet, I am going with 'easier'), but either way it will require an expansion of the traditional HR role beyond what most if not all HR leaders are prepared for.

    Check out the paper from MIT if you want to learn more. Really interesting stuff on how business and HR are thinking about the increasing incorporation of automation and algorithms in the workplace.