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    PODCAST - #HRHappyHour 218 - HR in an On-demand World

    HR Happy Hour 218 - HR in an On-demand World

    Recorded Wednesday July 29, 2015

    Hosts: Steve BoeseTrish McFarlane

    Listen HERE

    This week on the HR Happy Hour Show, Steve and Trish talked about Steve's trip to China, the myriad of HR issues surrounding Uber and other companies in the 'on-demand' economy, and how the workplace and HR will be changed by these trends. It seems like every day another story drops about the HR implications of these classification issues for companies like Uber. What does HR look like in a world where more and more of the talent the organization relies upon are not actually regular employees of the company?  

    Additionally, Steve wondered if he could identify the state of Arkansas on a map, we talked about how cool St. Louis is, and Trish shared her favorite summer vacation spot, (hint it is in Florida).

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

    Check Out Business Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Steve Boese Trish McFarlane on BlogTalkRadio


    This was a really fun and lively conversation and we hope you enjoy the show!

    Many thanks to our friends at Equifax Workforce Solutions for both their hospitality in hosting Steve out at the ball game in St. Louis and for their support of the HR Happy Hour show.

    Remember to download and subscribe the the HR Happy Hour on iTunes, or using your favorite podcast app for iOS or Android - just search for 'HR Happy Hour' to never miss an episode.


    Communication in a post-email world

    It is no secret to long time readers of the blog, and also to some folks who have tried or are trying to get in touch with me, that I have a long-standing hatred of email. The specific reasons are not really important and the moment, a quick search of this blog archive, or even Google will provide ample ammunition for why email is terrible. But I bring it up again because of a post I came across on the blog of Forrester analyst Julie Ask, titled How Will You Communicate With Your Customers if they Don't Read Email?

    Check out Ms. Ask's rundown of the various messaging apps and platforms she is currently engaging with, and the current state of unread messages in them:

    A summary of my communication (or lack thereof) shows:

    • 24,998 unread personal emails (okay, mostly from marketers)
    • 4,937 unopened work emails
    • 272 unopened SMS messages
    • 45 unopened/read messages on WeChat (these are from marketers)
    • 0 unread notifications from Facebook (and I average 23 per day)
    • 0 unread notifications from Slack (and I average 87 per day)

    The reasons and reasoning that Ms. Ask offers for this current state of (mostly) ignored emails is instructive and probably similar to what many of you, your employees, and your job candidates/prospects are finding. Namely, our email boxes (both personal and professional) are overrun, we have recently adopted more and newer messaging tools (like WhatsApp or Slack), and we elect to migrate only a small subset of our universe of contacts into these new, preferred platforms.

    Check one more excerpt from the Forrester piece, and note, I am going to swap out the work 'marketer' with 'recruiter' and 'customer/consumer' with 'candidate'.

    Marketers Recruiters and really anyone looking to engage with consumers candidates thought they had checked the box with gaining consumers’ candidates' trust when they gained permission to send emails. Think about how many times you’ve made a purchase online and the box to “receive additional promotional materials” is already checked for you. You have to opt out rather than opt in.

    Mobile came along and changed the game. Now digital business professionals and marketers recruiters worked hard to drive app downloads. They wanted to own their mobile moments with their customers candidates on mobile phones. Each download was considered a win.

    But then consumers candidates stopped opening or using the applications. Only a few marketers recruiters have realized that they have to do more. Now if Marketers recruiters want to reach consumers candidates, they have to gain consumer candidate permission to receive push notifications.

    The bar keeps moving for marketers recruiters who want to reach consumers candidates on their mobile devices. Permission lies with each application. At a time of hyper-adoption when consumers candidates can switch apps in less than a minute and migrate their base of friends or colleagues in a matter of days or weeks, marketers recruiters can’t rest.

    This is really good stuff from Ms. Ask, and totally relevant for any of us who are trying to capture attention in a highly-fragmented and rapidly evolving communications technology landscape.

    I guess the bright side could be that no, people are not ignoring your email. They are ignoring all of their email.


    My one piece of advice for anyone trying to demo HR software

    I get to see an almost ridiculous number of demonstrations of HR technologies as a part of the process of selecting the participants for the HR Tech Conference's "Awesome New Technology" sessions in October.

    The specific number of different solutions that I see in the course of a year doesn't really matter, (and I don't try to count), but it is safe to say it falls on the higher end of the scale that starts with 'More than 99% of people I know' and 'All of them'.  And it is particularly busy this time of year as I try to narrow down the field to make the selections/invitations for the show in October.

    So from all of these demos, and the ones that I have seen over the years when I was working in other capacities in the industry, I feel pretty confident as to how to answer a question that I get from time to time. Namely, 'What is the one piece of advice you have for solution providers to help them deliver a more effective demonstration?'

    Here it is, and it is neither profound, complex, or some kind of a secret, but I do get surprised how often I feel the need to offer such advice after a demo that ends up less than satisfactory...

    Tell a story that I can relate to in your demonstration, don't just show me a bunch of software features.

    I know, it seems so obvious, but I can't keep count of how many demos I see that seem to be more or less a rundown of all the different buttons to click, and boxes to check, and menus to navigate, each one promising even more capability. 

    All of that capability is great, don't get me wrong, but none of it means very much without context, particularly context and backstory with which I can easily identify.

    HR pros don't really want to know ALL the things your software can do, they just want to know if it can help them solve their problems, allow them to better compete for talent, and make them look like the rockstars they aspire to be. 

    And for me, selfishly, I want to see the most amazing, innovative, modern, and relevant technologies to showcase for my audience - those same HR pros who want to be able to envision how these technologies can fit and thrive in their organizations.

    Features and functions remain important, no doubt. But they rarely excite anyone at least on their own.  

    What is exciting is the ability to clearly see how a new technology will make my life better, and that is all about the story and has not much at all to do with how many buttons there are to click, or menus to navigate.


    Uber drivers: Employees, contractors, or something else?

    A primary issue with the so-called 'sharing economy' (companies like Uber, TaskRabbit, Lyft and a bunch more), is a classic HR issue: whether or not the people delivering these kinds of on-demand services should be classified as independent contractors, or regular full or part-time employees of these companies. 

    Uber has argued, (sometimes unsuccessfully), that it's drivers are actually independent contractors as each driver gets to choose when and where they work, provide their own vehicles, and usually have other sources of work/employment besides working as drivers of the Uber service. The arguments for classifying Uber drivers as regular employees center around the significant rules and conditions Uber sets for the delivery of the service, its driver rating and evaluation system, and the types and conditions of the vehicles that drivers can use.

    This 'contractor vs employee' argument is going to take some time to play out in the courts, in the court of public opinion, and maybe even in the next presidential election. And where your take falls in this debate seems to me is mostly going to be influenced by your own capacity for risk and willingness to take ownership of your own career. But at least in the case of the 'shared ride' services like Uber and Lyft, this debate is probably only a temporary one. Soon, perhaps as soon as within the next 5 years or so in some areas, it won't matter if the Uber driver is an employee of Uber or an independent contractor, because the Uber driver won't be a driver at all.

    Check this quote from 2014 by Uber CEO Travis Kalanick during an interview on the ride-sharing service:

    During the interview, Kalanick was asked what he thinks of self-driving cars.

    "Love it. All day long," said Kalanick.

    "The reason Uber could be expensive is you're paying for the other dude in the car. When there is no other dude in the car, the cost of taking an Uber anywhere is cheaper. Even on a road trip."

    Kalanick said that self-driving cars ordered up through a service like Uber will eventually bring the cost of ridership so far down that car ownership will "go away."

    At least in this exchange, the Uber CEO had clearly envisaged a world where the 'employee vs contractor' discussion has been rendered moot, and the drivers, 'the other dudes in the car', transitioned out of whatever kind of employment relationship they had (or didn't have), and the costs to the customer driven down since the 'other dude' is automated away.

    And I think this, this threat, (and likelihood) of automation of this kind of work, and for 'normal' taxi, truck, and even limo drivers, is the really important discussion that people who care about the future of work and workers should be having. Whether or not some Uber driver is a contractor or an employee in 2015 is mostly an issue of regulations, taxes, and some benefits. It matters, but only in a limited sense if the real future of work is not really about employment status classification but rather about if there will be human employment at all.

    Have a great weekend!


    HRE Column: Some common questions (and even a few answers) about HR Tech

    Here is my semi-frequent reminder and pointer for blog readers that I also write a monthly column at Human Resource Executive Online called Inside HR Tech that can be found here.

    As usual, the Inside HR Tech column is about, well, HR Tech, (sort of like I used to write about all the time on this blog), and it was inspired by the recent presentation that Trish McFarlane and I gave at the SHRM Annual Conference, (note, you can find those slides here).

    I once again kind of liked this month's column, (I suppose I like all of them, after all I wrote them), but felt like sharing this one on the blog because it touches upon what has been in the past a pretty popular topic with HR leaders today - how to make the most of their HR technology investments.

    Here is an excerpt from the column, Common Questions About HR Tech:

    At the recently concluded Society for Human Resource Management Annual Conference in Las Vegas, I had the opportunity to co-present to a very large audience along with my HR Happy Hour Podcast co-host Trish McFarlane on the topic of HR technology implementations, and more specifically, on some of the most common myths surrounding the subject of HR technology more generally.

    But rather than use this column to run through these myths and our ideas of how to “bust” them, I wanted to take some time to share and try and dig into some of the common questions I get when presenting on HR technology to HR audiences, in hopes that the questions that Trish and I received during and after the session are indicative of the broad questions and concerns that most HR professionals have about HR technology. And, by the way, if you are interested in the HR tech “myths” themselves, you can check out the slide deck that we used here.

    Question No. 1: Is it better to have a single unified system for all of my HR processes, or should we look for the “best” solutions for each area and then integrate them later?

    Our take: This question, whether a single system is preferable to several so-called “best-of-breed” solutions that support different process areas has been asked for about a decade now, perhaps longer. And the “answer” is still—unsatisfyingly—the same: “It depends.”

    There are numerous and company-specific factors that influence whether the increased capability that many “best-of-breed” solutions say for process areas such as recruiting or learning are offset by the ease with which data is shared, if the user experience is common to all and the vendor-management process is simplified when using a single, unified system.

    Each company has to think about how their workforces create value, their business strategy and then how these influence what kinds of technologies can support them. So there is no single “right” answer, but only a “right” answer for each organization, and this can only be found by prioritizing systems needs in light of where, how and through whom the organization drives value and results.

    Read the rest over at HRE Online 

    Good stuff, right? Humor me...

    If you liked the piece you can sign up over at HRE to get the Inside HR Tech Column emailed to you each month. There is no cost to subscribe, in fact, I may even come over and wash your car or cut the grass for you if you do sign up for the monthly email.

    Have a great Wednesday!