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    Entries in workplace (113)

    Friday
    Jun152018

    PODCAST: #HRHappyHour 324 - HR and the Internet and Technology Trends for 2018

    HR Happy Hour 324 - HR and the Internet and Technology Trends for 2018

    Hosts: Steve Boese, Trish McFarlane

    Sponsored by Virgin Pulse - www.virginpulse.com

    Listen HERE

    This week on the HR Happy Hour Show, hosts Steve Boese and Trish McFarlane talk about the Kleiner Perkins Internet Trends Report for 2018 and the key tech trends that are impacting work and workplaces.

    The Internet Trends Report is published annually by VC firm Kleiner Perkins, led by Mary Meeker, and provides a massive overview of the most important internet, technology, and software trends, on a global level, and is read and cited by just about everyone in the technology space. The report covers e-commerce, social networks, digital advertising, technology at work, enterprise technology, and much more. It is must-reading for anyone who needs to be current with what is going on in tech.

    On this annual HR Happy Hour Show covering the report, Steve and Trish identify three major themes from the 2018 Internet Trends that we think will impact HR and work - personalization and consumerization, the on-demand workforce, and finally Artificial Intelligence.

    We hit each of the three topics, shared some thoughts on how HR and HR tech are responding to them, and how HR leaders can use knowledge of these trends moving forward.

    We also talked about the weather, (of course), the virtues of the Slip 'n Slide, and why Steve doesn't like to buy green bananas.

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

    Wednesday
    Jun132018

    A reminder to evaluate the work, not just the person doing the work

    Here's a super interesting story from the art world that I spotted in the New York Times and is titled The Artwork Was Rejected. Then Banksy Put His Name To It.

    The basics of the story, and they seem to be undisputed, are these:

    1. The British Royal Academy puts on an annual Summer Exhibition or Art, and anyone is allowed to submit a piece of art for consideration to be included in the exhibition.

    2. The anonymous, but incredibly famous, artist Banksy submitted a painting, but under a (different) pseudonym - 'Bryan S. Gaakman' - which is an anagram for 'Banksy anagram'.

    3. 'Gaakman's' submission was declined inclusion in the exhibit by the event's judges.

    4. One of the event's judges, contacted Banksy (how one contacts Banksy was not fully explained), to inquire if the famous artist had a submission for the exhibit. This judge did not know that 'Gaakman' was actually Banksy.

    5. Banksy submitted a very slightly altered version of the 'Gaakman' piece to the exhibit - and was accepted for the show. Basically, the same art from 'unknown artist' was declined, but for the famous Banksy it was deemed worthy.

    What can we take away from this little social experiment? Three things at least. 

     

    1. We always consider 'who' did the work along with the work itself, when assessing art, music, or even the weekly project status report. We judge, at least a little, on what this person has done, or what we think they have done, in the past.

    2. Past 'top' or high performers always get a little bit of a break and the benefit of the doubt. It happens in sports, when close calls usually go in favor of star players, and it happens at work, where the 'best' performers get a little bit more room when they turn in average, or even below average work. They have 'earned' a little more wiggle room that newer, or unproven folks. This isn't always a bad thing, but it can lead to bad decisions sometimes.

    3. What we want, as managers, is good, maybe even great 'work'. But what the organization needs is great 'performers'. Great performers don't always do great work, but over time their contributions and results add up to incredible value for the organization. So in order to ensure that the organization can turn great 'work' into great (and sustainable) long-term performance, every once in a while less than great work, turned in by a great performer, needs to get a pass. Take the long view if you know what I mean.

    That's it for me - have a great day!

    Friday
    Jun012018

    Five observations from the new Fortune 500

    Dug out from my Feedly 'Read later' list was the announcement a couple of weeks ago of the latest iteration of the venerable Fortune 500 - the annual list of the largest 500 US companies (ranked by annual revenues).

    The Fortune 500 has become a synonym for 'big business' in America, and taking a look through the list, and especially looking at changes and trends in the list, has become an annual exercise for folks like me who like to think about macro trends in the economy, and to think about how these trends suggest what might be coming next.

    Also, it's just fun. If you are a geek like me.

    So for an almost-summer Friday, here's my first five quick observations from looking the new Fortune 500"

    1. For all the talk about technology that dominates most business news cycles and programs, old-fashioned retailer Walmart remains number one on the list - and it isn't really even close. Walmart has double the revenues of the next closest rival for the top spot, ExxonMobil. And while we know all about the massive businesses in retail and in cloud computing, (an odd combination), that Amazon has built over the years, Walmart still has almost 3x the revenue as their competitor from the Northwest. I know I like to think of Amazon as the most interesting and important company in America, but we can't or shouldn't forget the outsize impact of boring old Walmart. And don't forget their 2.3 million (with an 'm', employees).

    2. Lots of 'The future is changing, are you ready' presentations like to talk about how much turnover there is over time in the list of Fortune 500 members. While interesting, I find it even more interesting, given the massive changes in business, technology, society, and more since the list's inception in 1955, that 53 companies (ExxonMobil, GE, Chevron, and GM to name some), have been on the list every year since 1955. That over 10% of the largest companies in American have been there for over 60 years is remarkable to me.

    3. Despite point 1 about Walmart's staggering size, it is true that technology or tech-dominated firms make up large portions of the upper end of the Fortune 500. Household tech names like Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, IBM, Intel, Facebook, Oracle, and Intel all crack the top 100. And further down the list we see Netflix, Qualcom, Nvidia, and Adobe - all companies doing incredible things in their respective markets. And while the Fortune 500 ranks by revenue, if you think about company value as expressed by market cap, (subject to stock prices fluctuations), the most valuable list is also dominated by tech - Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft,  and Alphabet are five of the top six most valuable companies in America.

    4. There are 30 'mega-employers' on the list - companies with over 200,000 employees as of the date the list was compiled. The above mentioned Walmart leads the employment table, but some other notable massive employers are Amazon, (566,000); Home Depot, (413,000); Starbucks, (277,000); UnitedHealth Group (260,000); JP MorganChase, (252,000); and Ford Motor (202,000). And coming in just below the 200k employee threshhold are big names like Disney, Marriott, Boeing, Oracle, Microsoft, and Apple - each having more than 100K employees. 

    5. There are only 17 new companies on the list this year. The most interesting 'newcomers' to the Fortune 500 are, for me, Molson Coors Brewing, (Coors was my preferred beer once upon a time), Wynn Resorts, (I still need to get to Macau), and Conduent, (I just talked with them this week, look for an HR Happy Hour Show coming soon featuring some folks from Conduent). The last new entrant on the list is corporate supply company Cintas checking in at 500. For perspective, the last company on the list is a giant organization of 42,000 employees and 900,000 customers.

    Ok, that's it from my quick walk down the Fortune 500 this year, I find it interesting every year, hope you do too.

    Have a great weekend! 

    Wednesday
    May302018

    Corporate uniforms and what they say about the workplace

    My airline of choice is Delta, the best airline in the world, (or at least that flies out of my home city), and because of my loyalty to Delta I read with interest a recent piece on Business Insider, 'Delta's 64,000 employees now have new designer uniforms', covering the news that soon Delta's uniformed employees would soon be wearing a new set of uniforms designed by Zac Posen. See below for a pic of the new duds:

    They look pretty sharp, right?

    Seeing the pics of the new Delta uniforms got me to thinking about workplace 'uniforms' more broadly - not necessarily for airline staff or retail workers or any kind of business that actually has an official uniform - but rather the kinds of uniforms or perhaps more accurately, how standards of dress come to be adopted in workplaces and industries where people have a wide set of options about how they dress in the workplace.

    And by that, I'm not talking about 'dress codes', that fun HR topic from the 90s, but rather the more subtle, cultural drivers that lead people to dress in certain ways, what 'looks' are accepted and which are not, and how adaptive and flexible workplaces are to fashion trends and evolution. Thinking about this quickly, (and with the caveat that when I'm not on the road, I work from home, so NBA t-shirts are the 'dress code' most days for me, and that I am largely considering this from a male POV), I think what, how, and when people make certain choices about workplace uniforms break down into the following categories:

    We all wear the same five things- Doesn't matter if your workplace is business, business casual, or casual - everyone's work wardrobes revolve around tiny variations of the same five pieces. If it is business, think gray and navy suits, white or blue shirts, brown shoes, etc. If it is business casual, everyone wears the same khakis, gingham or polo shirts, blue blazer if things are a touch more dressy, and brown/tan loafers. Think what an accounting convention looks like - a sea of middle aged dudes in blue jackets and tan or gray pants. Finally, if the office is totally casual - jeans, t-shirts, and hoodies. Stan Smiths or if you are a flush tech company - Yeezys.

    There's a little bit of experimentation, but it helps if the boss signals approval- this kind of workplace is almost the same as the above, but where it differs is how/when new trends are adopted and embraced into the uniforms. A great current example of this is the new'ish trend in men's sneaker fashion - the recent increase in higher-end, expensive, 'dress' sneakers as an alternative to dress shoes in business casual situations and even sometimes worn with a formal suit. The key here is do you as a cog in the machine feel emboldened to be the first person to rock a new trend like this at work, or do you need to spy the CEO wearing a pair of Lanvins before you think it is ok to wear your new pair of Greats to the office?

    Role-based uniforms- pretty straightforward and pretty common. Sales dresses a certain way (what they think will impress prospects), Execs wear nicer, more expensive versions of what Sales wears, back-office staff more or less follows the rules above, and 'technical' folks are left to their own devices - since no one wants to dare offend their delicate sensibilities by trying to place any guidelines or expectations on them. 

    Pretend Steve Jobs- this is more of an individual choice rather than a workplace norm, but it is worth mentioning because some high-powered types like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Barack Obama became associated with the idea of wearing exactly, or almost the same clothes every single day, as a way to lessen 'decision fatigue.' If you rock the same dad jeans, black turtleneck, and New Balances every day, the thinking goes, you have more mental bandwith for the important things at work. If you have one of these kinds of guys in your workplace, be wary, chances are they are no Steve Jobs, and are just doing the turtleneck thing to make people talk about them.

    No one really cares - probably only really exists in really small organizations, where entire departments consist of one person. If there is only one person in Finance, what he/she wears sets the tone for whoever comes next. And so on across the company. Nothing resembling a uniform code forms in a department until you have at least three people. You need the dynamic of two people being able to sneak off and talk about what the third person is wearing, (behind that person's back) in order for some kind of cultural direction to take form.

    That's it for today, have fun out there in your uniform of choice.

    Note: My pal KD over at the HR Capitalist has promised me an in-depth look at one of the new trends I mentioned above, the 'dress' sneaker, so be on the look out for that.

    Wednesday
    May232018

    One reason there are so many open jobs in the USA right now

    The very best macro-economic report that helps to shine a light on current labor market conditions is the Bureau of Labor Statistics JOLTS (Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary) report.

    The JOLTS report covers job openings, hires, total separations, quits, layoffs, and other discharges, and offers us lots of interesting data points to better understand the US labor market - and by proxy, the health of the US economy.

    Last month's JOLTS release, on May 8, included one pretty remarkable number in its summary - the number of job openings in the US as of the end of April had risen to 6.6 million - an all time high since the data series began to be compiled in 2000. 6.6 million open and unfilled jobs. That is a lot of openings. No wonder every time I go out I see a bunch of 'Help Wanted' signs.

     

    Jobs stay open, or perhaps better said, remain unfilled, for a whole bunch of reasons - most of them pretty good reasons. Taking time to sort, screen, and interview candidates; trouble finding the right skill set for specific roles; companies taking the extra steps to really be sure a candidate is a good fit before making a hire - these and more are all decent reasons why jobs stay open.

    But I have another reason, and some research, I want to point you to that is another reason why some jobs remain open, and open longer than perhaps they should be. It's the concept of 'degree inflation' - the tendency of employers to require that candidates possess more advanced educational degrees than the job function truly requires, and that many candidates simply do not have.

    Over the weekend I read a really interesting report on the subject of degree inflation, what it means, where and how often it is occurring, how it negatively impacts the organization, and finally, offering some suggestions for employers to avoid unnecessary degree inflation when hiring.

    The report, titled 'Dismissed by Degrees: How degree inflation is undermining U.S. competitiveness and hurting America's middle class'by authors Joseph B. Fuller and Manjari Raman, both from the Harvard Business School, is an interesting and deep look at just what happens when companies try to use artificial degree requirements as a screening tool and a proxy for candidate skills and suitability for a given role.

    This is a long report, and I definitely encourage you take some time and read it through, but here are the top three most interesting points or pull quotes from the study that I want to share.

    1. In an analysis of more than 26 million job postings, we found that the degree gap (the discrepancy between the demand for a college degree in job postings and the employees who are currently in that job who have a college degree) is significant. For example, in 2015, 67% of production supervisor job postings asked for a college degree, while only 16% of employed production supervisors had one.

    2. Seeking college graduates makes many middle skills jobs harder to fill, and once hired, college graduates demonstrate higher turnover rates and lower engagement levels. A systemic view of the total economics of hiring college graduates shows that companies should be extraordinarily cautious before raising credential requirements for middle skill positions and should not gravitate toward college graduates based only on a vague notion that it might improve the quality of their workforce.

    3. Degree inflation particularly hurts populations with college graduation rates lower than the national average, such as Blacks and Hispanics, age 25 years and older. In addition, degree inflation raises the barriers to entry for Opportunity Youth, the nearly six million young adults who are currently not in school or in jobs. Companies that insist only on a college degree deny themselves the untapped potential of eager to work young adults as well as experienced, older workers as pools of affordable talent.

    Really interesting and plenty to think about in just those three short pull quotes from the report. Even when current holders of a given role in the organization largely do not hold college or advanced degrees, many companies try to require said degrees for new hires into the same role. Then when companies do manage to hire candidates that are say, 'over-degreed' for a role they have to pay them more, the new hires are less engaged, and are more likely to leave - driving up costs and starting the entire process all over. And finally, imposing artificial degree requirements on roles effectively screens out groups of candidates disproportionately and may make any organizational diversity hiring initiatives even harder to progress.

    The conclusion of the report does offer some solid suggestions to reduce or eliminate the degree inflation tendency, (chiefly having a better understanding of the critical skills and competencies needed to perform in a given role, and a broader understanding of how candidates can demonstrate these skills), I won't run through them all here, but take a few minutes to read through them as I think most organizations can pretty easily take steps to better understand this issue and make adjustments and changes to their hiring practices.

    There are 6.6 million job openings in the US right now. I bet a fair number of them have 'Bachelors Degree' listed as a requirement, when, if we were to be honest, it isn't really required.

    Have a great day!