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    Entries in HR (502)

    Thursday
    Jan102019

    Stack Ranking is somehow still a thing in Corporate America

    This week over on CNBC.com a pretty major piece dropped on the workplace culture at Facebook, for years one of America's Top/Best/Greatest places to work, but after a really tough 2018 on a number of fronts, has seen both its market value and its employee morale decline.

    There is a ton of detail in the report, but one of the primary contributing factors that led CNBC to describe the workplace culture as 'cult-like', was the company's approach to managing employee performance. Two specific performance management practices were called out for having potentially negative or detrimental impacts on culture and engagement.

    The first practice is Facebook's requirement that employees solicit 5 peers at the company to provide feedback on their performance two times a year. This feedback can be given to the employee or to the employee's manager and is kept confidential and importantly, cannot be questioned or challenged. Critics of the process claimed it leads to employees having to make sure they buddy up to a number of colleagues in order to ensure positive feedback only is given, and serves to hide or ignore negative feedback or even just honest and open dialogue.

    But the second, and probably more important performance management practice in place at the company is a familiar one - the now infamous 'Stack Ranking' of GE and Microsoft fame. Under Facebook's Stack Ranking process, employees are placed (after a lengthy talent calibration exercise), into one of 7 performance categories, with semi-strict percentage quotas and limits for each category being enforced by management.

    For example, the top category or highest grade is given to fewer than 5% of employees, while a grade of 'Exceeds' is said to not to exceed about 35% of staff. The CNBC piece cites several anonymous former Facebook employees who indicated that they felt like they had to invent or stress overly negative feedback and comments for employees in order to avoid having too many of their teams in a given performance category - a common problem with just about all Stack Ranking systems.

    While in some circumstances and companies (heavy, sales driven ones for example), Stack Ranking can and does work fairly well in setting expectations and managing employee performance. But in complex, creative, technical companies like Facebook, the practice almost always leads to infighting, politics, favor trading, and ultimately, unhappy teams. GE and Microsoft both eventually shifted away from Stack Ranking, it will be interesting to see if this piece and other problems at Facebook will lead them to do the same.

    Really interesting stuff and a fascinating look at how a fundamental HR/Talent Management practice is impacting a major organization. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

    Have a great day!

    Monday
    Jan072019

    World Bank Report: How work and workers are changing

    I know you have better things to do so you, unlike me, probably did not devote a sizable chunk of your down time this past weekend reading the recently released World Bank's 150 or so page report titled 'The Changing Nature of Work', a look at the future of work, and how work is expected to change as a result of technological, societal, and demographic changes.

    The report is really interesting, pretty comprehensive, and probably contains enough information and ideas for a dozen or so deeper dives. But for today, beyond just calling your attention to the report, I wanted to highlight one important set of findings from the World Bank - ideas on how employee skills are changing and more specifically the kinds of skills that will become more in demand moving forward, as technology continues to shape and re-shape work. 

    Here's what the folks at the World Bank think about what kind of employee skills are going to have to change in the future:

    It is easier to assess how technology shapes the demand for skills and changes production processes than it is to estimate its effect on job losses. Technology is changing the skills being rewarded in the labor market. The premium is rising for skills that cannot be replaced by robots—general cognitive skills such as critical thinking and sociobehavioral skills such as managing and recognizing emotions that enhance teamwork. Workers with these skills are more adaptable in labor markets.

    Technology is disrupting the demand for three types of skills in the workplace. First, the demand for nonroutine cognitive and sociobehavioral skills appears to be rising in both advanced and emerging economies. Second, the demand for routine job-specific skills is declining. And, third, payoffs to combinations of different skill types appear to be increasing. These changes show up not just through new jobs replacing old jobs, but also through the changing skills profile of existing jobs.

    The World Bank offers up as an example of this changing nature of what kinds of skills the new and future economy will need and reward the below chart of how the general job requirements for a hotel management trainee have changed in the last 30 or so years (see below)

    The point being that while the job, in general, is more or less the same in 2018 as it was in 1986, the skills and characteristics of the kind of person who is likely to be successful in the job has shifted. In 2018, there is more emphasis on attitude, communication skills, ability to effectively team with others - the kinds of skills that are essential to business today, and that are still incredibly difficult to automate or replace with technology. Recent data from other sources such as LinkedIn' hiring trends report suggest much the same - "soft" skills, the ones we can't replace with an algorithm or a chatbot are in increasing demand. Said differently, that philosophy or psychology degree your kid wants to take at University may not be such a bad idea after all.

    I plan on exploring the World Bank report further in the coming weeks, and encourage anyone interested in the Future of Work to give it a look.

    Have a great week!

    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!

    Thursday
    Dec202018

    PODCAST: #HRHappyHour 351 - Creating a Culture of Ownership at Anheuser-Busch

    HR Happy Hour 351 - Creating a Culture of Ownership at Anheuser-Busch

    Hosts: Steve Boese, Trish McFarlane

    Guest: Ago De Gasperis, VP, People, North America, Anheuser-Busch

    Sponsored by Virgin Pulse - www.virginpulse.com

    Listen HERE

    This week on the HR Happy Hour Show, Steve and Trish were joined by guest Ago De Gasperis, VP, People North America for Anheuser-Busch who shared how the legendary brewer continues to innovate and develop its culture of "ownership" - where employees are supported and empowered to feel like true owners of the company, and not just dispensable resources whose opinions and ideas don't matter. Ago shared how Anheuser-Busch tries to bring this idea of ownership to life by instilling the idea in leaders and employees and how ownership is embedded in everytihng they do. From creating and shaping a Diversity and Inclusion agenda, to supporting a wide range of employee resource groups, to fostering a culture of innovation - the idea of employee led programs and employee ownership informs just about everything they do. 

    Additionally, Ago shared some of the details and thinking that goes into A-B's efforts to recruit, develop, and support the next generation of company leaders and how in particular the People function looks to recruit from a wide range of backgrounds and disciplines.

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

    This was a really fun show, thanks to Ago for joining us and a big 'Cheers!' to the team at Anheuser-Busch.

    Remember to subscribe to the HR Happy Hour Show on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, Google Podcasts or your favorite podcast app - just search for 'HR Happy Hour'.

    Monday
    Dec172018

    Three Observations from the LinkedIn 2018 Emerging Jobs Report

    Recently, our pals at LinkedIn released their 2018 Emerging Jobs Report, a look at the jobs and skills that have been most in demand from employers on the LinkedIn platform, both in 2018 and over the last few years. it is a really excellent look at activity on the LinkedIn platform, which I am pretty confident in stating is the world's largest professional networking site, and which remains for many organizations one of the most important sourcing and recruiting tools.

    I have been a little skeptical or perhaps cynical over the years at these kinds of reports, mainly because they always seemed to skew way towards the jobs and skills that Silicon Valley Tech companies were seeking, and was not terribly illustrative or indicative of the overall US labor market. Said differently, the kinds of jobs that LinkedIn usually reports are 'hot' are the kinds of jobs very few people actually have. Office and administrative support or retail salesperson (two of the most common job categories in the US), never make these lists. And while there remains a little of that kind of 'not the real world' feel to the Emerging Jobs Report, (you will see in a moment what I mean), there are also some pretty interesting and important insights in the report I wanted to highlight. So here goes..

    1. As I alluded to above, the top 'emerging job' is one almost no one has

    Number one on the LinkedIn list for emerging jobs in 2018 is called 'Blockchain Developer' with 33x growth in activity and interested in 2018. If you are a blockchain developer or are an HR or talent person who is recruiting blockchain developers, well, I probably have nothing else to offer you on this post. Suffice it to say, for 99% of us the next blockchain developer we run into will be the first. But let's keep looking through the report.

    2. Number three on the emerging jobs list is actually a job lots of people have, most of us have someone in our lives who has this job, and lots of the HR and talent pros reading this are probably recruiting for - Application Sales Executive

    According to LinkedIn, there has been a 8x increase in activity for these roles. This is pretty amazing to me, as there have been Application Sales Executives in just about every tech company for ages. For a mature kind of job type to see that much growth year over year is remarkable and also, hopefully a signal that the pace of innovation, development, and new technology hitting the market will continue in 2019. Sales is no doubt not for everyone, but this data suggests plenty of opportunity for those willing to put in the time and effort.

    3. The number one skill that LinkedIn claims employers are having trouble finding has nothing to do with Blockchain, or AI, or software development of any kind.

    LinkedIn says that 'Oral Communication' is the skill group with the highest shortage in nearly every major city in the country. Think skills like public speaking, effective communication, presentation skills and the like Maybe it's because we (the societal we) have spent a decade or more trying to convince every kid that he/she needs to learn how to code, that many of us, (especially anyone under 30), has essentially replaced phone calls with text messages, or that the classical liberal arts kind of education and background has over time been diminished in value. Whatever the reason, employers are having trouble finding candidates with quality skills in oral communication. That to me is more interesting than however many more people go chasing blockchain development skills in 2019.

    Go check the entire report over on the LinkedIn blog. It is a fascinating look at one (admittedly big) slice of the job market.

    Have a great week!