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    Entries in HR (453)

    Thursday
    Oct292015

    Notes from the road #19 - Red eye diaries edition

    Submitted, or at least started to try and submit, from the new and improved Delta Sky Club in SFO while awaiting a redeye flight from SFO - JFK.  

    Here are, for your consideration, a series of slightly disjointed and possible incoherent observations of the red eye flight and the kinds of travelers that find themselves on an 11:45PM - 6:32 AM trip across this great land.

    1. Taking a red eye flight is 100% a terrible, horrible, no good, stupid idea. Whatever rationalizations you have worked through that led you to this grim place will all prove to be entirely empty. You will not 'get a lot done the next day' because you will be too tired. You will not score any points with the people back at the office, because they don't give a hoot about you. And you will only tick off your family that you were rushing home to see due to the fact that by about 7:15PM the next night you will be asleep in your Barcalounger.  The red eye flight is an abomination. And yes I am about to board one within the hour.

    2. No one, I mean no one on the red eye wants to be there, including the pilots and crew. It is the air travel equivalent of a visit to the DMV at 12:15PM on a Monday. Everyone is angry, tired, hates everyone else for the same reasons they hate themselves for choosing the red eye, and will kill you dead if you so much as make eye contact. It is air travel, which is usually pretty horrific, at its absolute bottom. Thank my lucky stars at least I am in the nice Delta Sky Club and not out in the terminal right about now.

    3. You are not going to sleep on the red eye, drop that fantasy right now. It is too crowded, hot, noisy, and altogether unpleasant for most people to get more than 39 minutes of decent sleep on a six hour flight. The one exception? The guy who drops like a rock in the aisle seat of your row, so out of it (and possibly snoring), that you can't get past him to get up and stretch your legs or get to the restroom. I guess you will have to hold it until New York. Awesome.

    4. The guy right next to you, inexplicably, will still be working at 11:30PM PT. He will be on the phone as you board. He will not stop texting even after 17 requests to turn off mobile devices. And the second the little chime goes off that indicates you have crossed 10,000 feet he will fire up that ThinkPad and get back online. And he will complain to high heaven if the in-flight Wifi gets a little wonky. He will order black coffee at 2AM. This person is a terrible person. I hope this person is not you.

    5. When you finally arrive the next morning you will make a solemn, sober, and serious vow: You will NEVER take another red eye flight again. But of course you know, deep down, that is an empty, empty threat. After a few weeks or months pass by you will be beguiled by the notion of getting home at 9AM instead of 'wasting' an entire day traveling and you will, on your own accord, book another red eye flight sometime soon. You know how I know this is true? I am on another red eye flight next week. We are all silly, silly, stupid people.

    Safe travels to anyone out there reading this in an airport, or worse yet, on a plane at 2AM.

    Wednesday
    Oct282015

    Technology, process, or message - which one should come first? #OOW15

    I am out at Oracle Open World for a couple of days this week and have been reminded (in a good way) of just how massive both this event is and the breadth and depth of the technologies and applications that fall under the Oracle banner. This event is really more like 10 events in one, with all the various technologies and application domains, (sales, marketing, finance, HCM, etc.), all having their own segments, content, and dedicated demonstration areas. It is just a huge event.

    One interesting nugget from my first day out at Open World was an observation that was made in a session I attended called 'Connect Sourcing, Recruiting, and Onboarding for Better Not Just More Candidates', that was given by Ann Blakely and Jim Fox from the consulting/advisory firm BakerTilly. It was a solid session with many smart and practical steps that organizations can take to better design, optimize and rationalize the steps in a classic talent acquisition process flow.

    But to me the most interesting aspect of the talk was the way that the typical 'People/Process/Technology' relationship was described. Typically, and in most of the 3,490 times I have seen someone discuss the concept, the importance of aligning each element (people, process, and technology), and making sure that each one individually is given adequate attention and resources, each one is treated more or less equally. In a nutshell, people, process, and technology are all kind of viewed as the same, or equal elements or sides in some kind of HR tech equilateral triangle. 

    Which is cool, or at least better than the classic mistake of leading with technology or becoming a slave to pre-existing (and often inefficient) processes at the expense of the other elements. Usually no one seems to make the 'mistake' of placing too much value or emphasis on the people side of the triangle, which is both odd and illustrative I guess.

    But to get back to the presentation yesterday which was fully in the context of improving the overall talent acqusition function, the speakers looked at the 'people' side of the classic 'People/Process/Technology' triangle and instead referred to it as 'Message.' But more importantly than just the semantic change, the speakers emphasized that in talent acquisition the 'message' itself - the Employer Value Proposition, the brand values, the ways in which the company wants to portray and position itself in the talent market, all of these things, that the message should more of less define the processes and then lead you to finding and deploying the right technology.

    It was more or less, a call to lead with 'people' as opposed to lead with one of other sides of the triangle, (which we know never really works out), or even to treat them all at least conceptually equally. Figure out the message, essentially who you are, what you stand for, what you truly believe are the core values that will make you an attractive employer, and build everything else out and up from there.

    It was a cool idea, and one that for me, I know I have not heard advocated much in the past, maybe not at all.

    Let the 'people' and the message drive how you design the processes and how/where/what technology will be leveraged to support it all. I am coming to think more and more that HR tech and tools that put 'people' first will be the ones that win in the long run....

    Like I said, a really cool idea shared in one small room of a massive event.

    Have a great Wednesday!

    Monday
    Oct262015

    Wearable tech at work: Three lessons from the NBA

    The NBA season starts tomorrow!  

    It could not have come soon enough for this NBA junkie. While my beloved Mets have made things interesting with a surprising run to baseball's World Series, I live and breathe for NBA basketball. This is for two reasons primarily. One, the NBA is simply the best, most exciting, most watchable sport there is. And two, basketball provides a tremendous source of insights for all things HR and the workplace - leadership, recruiting, talent management, assessment, compensation, and increasingly - the use of advanced performance analytics for evaluation, talent management, and strategy development.

    Case in point, the increased use of player movement and performance tracking technology to better understand patterns, tendencies, and importantly, fatigue and diminished output/effort in a player. Check this excerpt from a recent piece on the topic from Grantland, From BMI to TMI: The NBA Is Leaning Toward Wearable Tech, then some comments from me after the quote:

    The NBA is putting its own money into the study of wearable GPS devices, with the likely end goal of outfitting players during games, according to several league sources. The league is funding a study, at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, of products from two leading device-makers: Catapult and STATSports.

    The league declined comment on the study. Most teams already use the gadgets during practices, and Catapult alone expects to have about 20 NBA team clients by the start of the 2015-16 season. The Fort Wayne Mad Ants wore Catapult monitors during D-League games last season in an obvious trial run for potential use at the parent league.

    Weighing less than an ounce, these devices are worn underneath a player’s jersey. They track basic movement data, including distance traveled and running speed, but the real value comes from the health- and fatigue-related information they spit out. The monitors track the power behind a player’s accelerations and decelerations (i.e., cuts), the force-based impact of jumping and landing, and other data points. Team sports science experts scour the data for any indication a player might be on the verge of injury — or already suffering from one that hasn’t manifested itself in any obvious way.

    The piece goes on to make some interesting points about how teams can use the devices in a practice setting in order to make decisions about player rest and practice strategy. But since the NBA player's are represented by a union, in-game use of these devices will have to be collectively bargained according to the piece. What can we extrapolate to 'normal' workplaces from the NBA's experiments and experiences with these kinds of wearables?

    I can think of three main things:

    1. Union shop or not, organizations are going to have to take data privacy, usage, and access issues very seriously and head-on. Players that are angling to secure their next contract might not want widespread access to their performance data if it begins to show some performance degradation that might not be apparent to the naked eye. If you want any employee to wear a tracking tool like this, you have got to ensure the 'right' level of privacy and control for your situation.

    2. Your primary use case for wearable tech should be a positive one. And probably your secondary use case as well. If wearables are going to be used to prevent injuries, help workers find efficiencies, or better align tasks to workers, (and even to a specific day or time), then it is likely you will have a better chance at employee adoption of this kind of tech. If employees think your primary goal of these devices is to identify the 'weak links' in the organization in order to apply discipline, (or to weed them out), then the reaction is going to be less-than-enthusiastic. There is already a pretty large 'Big Brother is watching' inherent bias you need to overcome, don't make it worse by treating wearable tech at work like some kind of house arrest ankle bracelet.

    3. Wearable data has to be interpreted in context. Every basketball game is unique. The opponent, the combinations of players on the court, the external conditions, (travel, amount of sleep, diet, etc,), all vary from day-to-day and game-to-game no matter how hard coaches try to have things consistent. Careful analysis of player tracking data and performance has to include and attempt to understand how external factors impact performance. Player tracking data is going to create tremendous amounts of data for team management to analyze - on top of the pretty large data sets they already have been crunching. And when this kind of data is available to every team, the competitive advantage ceases to be simply having the data - the advantage shifts to the organization that is the best and extracting insight from the data.

    I am sure there will be more to unpack as player movement and tracking data becomes more of a mainstream form of analysis, but for now, these are the big takeaways for me.

    I love the NBA. You should too. Everything you need to know about HR an Talent can be learned in 48 minutes a night.

    Trust me... it will be a great season!

    Wednesday
    Oct142015

    #Nextchat with me today: The next 5 years in HR Tech - #HRTechConf

    Remember just a few years ago when we started to see a flurry of articles, presentations, and even books about the topic of “Workforce 2020” that offered predictions about what work and workplaces would be like at the then far-off-into-the-future year of 2020?

    I am not sure why authors and consultancies fixated so much on the year 2020. Maybe it just sounds fun to say out loud and it also had the benefit of seeming so distant that you could plausibly predict just about anything short of we’d all be commuting to work in flying cars and you’d probably get away with it.

    Let me see if that still holds today -- here is a 2020 prediction for you:

    “In 2020, organizations will have access to powerful technologies that automate every HR and talent management process, can apply sophisticated machine learning capability to predict workforce events like attrition and job-fit, and since these technologies are all delivered via THE CLOUD, they will be accessible and affordable for every organization, regardless of their size.”

    Wow, amazing!  And what is more amazing is that all of those things exist TODAY, and we don’t have to wait until 2020 for them. Which is a really good thing because I am not sure if you have noticed, but 2020 is really not that far off anyway. We have spent so much time thinking and talking about 2020 as some vague signpost in the far distance that it has just about snuck up on us.

    But the good thing is that since 2020 really isn’t all that far off, we can offer better, more reasoned, and more valuable predictions about what it truly will be like, and we can start making more concrete and specific plans for how in the next five or so years, leading up to 2020, our HR teams and our organizations can best utilize technology to improve work, workplaces, and drive organizational success.

    Please join  @shrmnextchat at 3 p.m. ET on October 14 (TODAY) for #Nextchat with special guest, ME, the HR Technology Conference Co-Chariman and Co-Host of the HR Happy Hour Show, Steve Boese (@steveboese).  We’ll take a look at the next five years of HR technology  and chat about what HR leaders should be thinking about -- and preparing for -- with respect to workplace technology in 2020.

    Here are the questions we will hit on the chat today:

    Q1. What are the key considerations for HR leaders as they begin to plan their HR tech strategies for the next 5 years?

    Q2. What are some ways to tie the HR technology strategy to the organization’s long term business and talent strategies?

    Q3. How will changing employee demographics and their expectations for technology change how HR leaders deploy technology in the next 5 years?

    Q4. What area of Human Resources (Recruiting, Performance, HR Admin, etc.) will technology have the largest impact upon in the next 5 years?

    Q5. How does the increased reliance on technology to enable HR service delivery change the role and competencies required of the modern HR leader?

    Q6. What should HR leaders look for when evaluating HR technology solution providers over the next 5 years?

    Q7.    What is your one wish for your ideal HR technology solution that you’d love to see created by 2020? #nextchat

    #Nextchat is the only Twitter chat I regularly participate in, and I encourage all of you to jump in to the conversation today from 3PM - 4PM EDT.

    Thanks to my friends at SHRM for having me back to chat about HR Tech!

    Monday
    Oct122015

    It's going to keep getting harder for traditional workplaces and policies

    Last week I wrote about the six-hour workday, and experiment that some companies and public sector organizations have been running in Sweden (and some other places), that is designed to reduce employee stress, improve work/life balance, and improve employee engagement and retention. And the six-hour workday comes with the side benefit of helping employees stay more focused on their work while reducing unnecessary distractions.

    So far, in limited experiments, the six-hour workday is proving to be pretty effective at moving the needle in a positive direction on some of HR and talent pros most intractable challenges - engagement, retention, and employer brand. Despite all this, will the six-hour workday catch in here in the USA in any noticeable way?

    Maybe not. 

    Or perhaps the answer is maybe not yet.

    'Radical' new ideas are only radical until they hit a tipping point when they have reached just enough adoption, and from a few influential organizations, and suddenly candidates are asking your recruiters about whether or not you have six-hour days or have eliminated annual performance reviews or have implemented an unlimited vacation policy.

    I just caught this piece about LinkedIn, and their recent decision to adopt an unlimited vacation policy for their employees. While LinkedIn is certainly not the first organization to trash the traditional PTO process in favor of one where employees and managers figure it out for themselves, they might be one of the largest, with about 9,000 employees worldwide. LinkedIn has likely many motivations that drove the decision to scrap the 'three weeks vacation after 5 years of service' nonsense that probably 97% of organizations use to award and track time off for their employees, but my guess would be the primary ones would be for recruiting and retention.

    Likely there are dozens of Silicon Valley startups that have not bothered to worry about setting up traditional PTO plans at all that are competing with LinkedIn for talent. Just think about the difference in these two sentences in the point of view of a talented tech candidate:

    1 You will accrue 4.25 hours of paid vacation every bi-weekly pay period, maxing at 80 hours until you reach 5 years of service, when the accrual maximum increases to 120 hours'

    2. 'You take as much vacation as you want. Work it out with your manager and team.'

    Don't bother telling me in the comments that people don't actually take as much vacation when it is 'unlimited' as they do when their is a set PTO policy and schedule. That doesn't matter one bit to the candidate, or anyone else really.

    What matters is that when you can't match (and sometimes you do have great reasons why you can't), more innovative, modern, and employee-friendly policies and perks you are going to be always at a competitive disadvantage.

    Once these innovations and perks make that important shift to become 'expectations' you had better have a decent rebuttal to candidates and employees who won't understand why they suddenly have to start worrying about having enough accrued hours of PTO in order to take that long weekend they deserve after pulling 70 hour weeks for two months to meet the last big ship date. 

    It is only a matter of time, if it has not happened yet, when one of your hiring managers comes back to you in HR and asks 'Why can't we have unlimited PTO?, the talent we need expects it.'

    Have a great week!