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    Entries in workplace (108)



    From the Wikipedia page on Finnish composer Jean Sibelius (1865 - 1957)

    Perhaps one reason Sibelius has attracted both the praise and the ire of critics is that in each of hisJean Sibelius is not hearing any of your crap. seven symphonies he approached the basic problems of form, tonality, and architecture in unique, individual ways. On the one hand, his symphonic (and tonal) creativity was novel, but others thought that music should be taking a different route. Sibelius's response to criticism was dismissive: "Pay no attention to what critics say. No statue has ever been put up to a critic."


    You are either a creator or a critic.


    Choose your side wisely my friends.


    Have a great day!


    UPDATE: Amazon just told you the top 20 cities for business investment in North America

    Surely you heard about Amazon's announcement of their intentions to build a second company headquarters, the so-called HQ2, in the coming years, and the widely covered RFP process to help them identify candidates (cities and regions), for this new HQ2. I wrote about the process last October here.

    Over 238 cities submitted bids to become the home of HQ2, and this week, Amazon named a short list of 20 cities that have made it to the second round of consideration, where Amazon will work more closely with these cities to dive deeper into the proposals, to get additional information, and to winnow down the list to the eventual winner - the home of the new HQ2.

    This is a big deal for these 20 contenders - $5B in investments and as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs.

    Here's the list of cities that made the short list, as well as a map showing the 20 - more on that in a bit.

    Atlanta, GA
    Austin, TX 
    Boston, MA 
    Chicago, IL 
    Columbus, OH 
    Dallas, TX 
    Denver, CO 
    Indianapolis, IN 
    Los Angeles, CA 
    Miami, FL 
    Montgomery County, MD 
    Nashville, TN 
    Newark, NJ 
    New York City, NY 
    Northern Virginia, VA
    Philadelphia, PA 
    Pittsburgh, PA 
    Raleigh, NC 
    Toronto, ON 
    Washington DC 



    Kind of the 'usual suspects' list I suppose, but a couple of things stand out for me.

    One, nothing in the NorCal/Silicon Valley area. Probably a couple of reasons for this. Amazon has always seemed to indicate that it wanted more of a geographical balance between its current Seattle HQ and the eventual HQ2, pointing to a midwest or eastern location as a more likely selection. And two, I wonder if Amazon just wants no part of the already overheated market for talent, real estate, and inflated cost of living that comes with the Valley.

    Also, from the long list of 238, which certainly included a lot of places that had no real chance at meeting Amazon's requirements for population, talent availability, access to transportation hubs, etc., the final 20 does not include even one true 'outlier', a real longshot location that would have at least made things interesting, (if you are a betting person, anyway). Pretty much any of the 20 on the short list would seem reasonable should they eventually win the bid and become the home of HQ2.

    Finally, in case you or your leadership were wondering just what were the best locations in North America to consider a similar, major investment, well, Amazon might have done the first wave of analysis and due diligence for you. You can almost look at the Top 20 list from Amazon as a starting point and work from there. And believe me, even the 19 cities that don't win this bid will remind you and everyone that they were a finalist for one of the largest US corporate investment initiatives ever.

    And since everything is more fun when there is something on the line, I present Steve's opening odds for each of the 20 finalists to be named the home of the new HQ2.

    Atlanta, GA - 4/1
    Austin, TX - 5/1
    Boston, MA - 7/1
    Chicago, IL - 8/1
    Columbus, OH - 25/1
    Dallas, TX - 10/1
    Denver, CO - 12/1
    Indianapolis, IN - 20/1
    Los Angeles, CA - 15/1
    Miami, FL - 15/1
    Montgomery County, MD - 20/1
    Nashville, TN - 25/1
    Newark, NJ - 20/1
    New York City, NY - 10/1
    Northern Virginia, VA - 15/1
    Philadelphia, PA - 12/1
    Pittsburgh, PA - 12/1
    Raleigh, NC - 10/1
    Toronto, ON - 20/1
    Washington DC - 15/1


    Reminder: These odds are presented for entertainment purposes only, please, no wagering.

    Have a great day!


    Striking for a 28-hour work week: What happens when workers feel like they have the upper hand

    Over the weekend while taking a break from freezing and shoveling snow, I caught this recent piece from the Guardian - German workers strike for the right to two-year, 28-hour working week'.

    Turns out in Germany the combination of the traditionally strong position of workers and worker's groups, historically low unemployment, and a robust and growing German economy have conspired to put industrial workers, in this case the Metal Workers Union, in a place where they can hold 'warning' strikes against employers as they advocate for a new benefit - the ability to reduce their hours to 28 per week for a period of up to two years. More details from the piece in the Guardian:

    Workers have downed tools at more than 80 companies across Germany as the country’s biggest union stepped up its campaign for a 28-hour working week to allow employees to improve their work-life balance.

    In what is shaping up to be the biggest industrial dispute in the metalwork sector in three decades, more than 15,000 employees took part in warning strikes at factories including those of the carmaker Porsche.

    The IG Metall union, which represents around 3.9 million workers, wants every employee in the metal and electrical sector to have the option to reduce their working hours for a total period of two years, with the automatic right to return to full-time employment afterwards.

    Later in the piece we learn that this reduced working week proposal is centered around the need for improved work-life balance for workers, particularly in times when they have more elder or child care responsibilities. Certainly anyone who has dealt with or is currently dealing with the constant struggle to balance family and personal care needs with work would appreciate the benefit for which the German workers are advocating.

    Before you pass off this as another 'Coddled European workplace' story and dismiss its importance or relevance for most of the rest of us, think about this.

    The conditions here in the US are not all that different than what is happening in Germany, and in many other developed countries right now. Unemployment is at or near decades-long lows. Skilled workers are incredibly hard to find (and to retain). In manufacturing and other heavy industries, long tenured and older workers are retiring much faster than they can be replaced with new talent. And finally, more and more American workers are also struggling with elder and child care needs, and making the balance with work and these personal obligations work. In fact, we did an entire recent HR Happy Hour Show on this topic.

    The main difference, you would rightly point out, in the story in Germany and the labor relations environment here in the US is the US worker generally does not have strong union/labor council representation that can advocate for these kinds of benefits and policies. And that is a big caveat, I admit.

    But all the other conditions are present, if not more acute here in the US. In fact, the US unemployment rate is about 4.1%, much lower than in Germany right now.

    So the thing to think about might not be 'What will I do when the workers agitate for 28-hour weeks?', but rather, 'Am I / we prepared for a labor environment where we (the employer), have even less power and influence than we have today?'

    And, 'Are we prepared for a world where we don't choose employees, but rather one where employees choose us?'

    Have a great week!


    Learn a new word: Nomophobia

    My son hassles me from time to time because I have, (again, from time to time), became irrationally worried when we are out and about and I notice the battery life on my mobile phone has dipped below, say 80% or so.

    It could be because I travel a fair bit and rely on my mobile more than most people for essential functions, or that for that last 7 or 8 years I no longer have a working 'home phone' so my mobile is the only way to contact me. Or it could be that I need UP TO DATE scores on Knicks, Liverpool, and South Carolina Gamecock games.

    Actually, that is probably it.

    But all of us probably at one time or another felt the creeping anxiety or frustration or maybe ever fear that comes from being without our mobile phones - either from a dead battery, being in a place with no mobile/data service, or even one of the rare (and disappearing fast) places where mobile phone use is not permitted.

    How long could you go, in a non-emergency, 'normal' life situation, without having access to a working, functional mobile phone? An hour? Maybe two? Maybe much less than that, if you are the kind of person who more or less runs your life and business and family stuff from your mobile phone.

    Turns out this anxiety/fear of being out of mobile contact has a name, or at least a proposed name - Nomophobia.

    From our pals at Wikipedia:

    Nomophobia is a proposed name for the phobia of being out of cellular phone contact. The term, an abbreviation for "no-mobile-phone phobia", was coined during a 2008 study by the UK Post Office who commissioned YouGov, a UK-based research organization evaluating anxieties suffered by mobile phone users. The study found that nearly 53% of mobile phone users in Britain tend to be anxious when they "lose their mobile phone, run out of battery or credit, or have no network coverage".

    I'd say since 2008, the year of the referenced study above, that the percentage of folks who would admit to being 'anxious' if they were without their working mobile phone would be much, much higher. Like everyone, I am thinking.

    Why bring this up, this pretty obvious, 'We all are reliant on our mobile phones and we get really squirrely when we don't have them or they don't work' take?

    Because there is at least some responsibility from workplace rules and norms, and associated workplace technologies that are contributing to this phenomenon.

    The original research into the causes of nomophobia most often cited respondent's need to keep in touch wth and be available to friends and family as the prime driver of their anxiety during times when they had no mobile access. Today, for many if not most employees and even contingent workers, I would probably add "the need to be able to see, respond, and otherwise be accessible to 'work'" as another significant driver of nomophobia-type anxiety.

    Sure, we need to be able to text our kids to find out where they are, when they need to be picked up, or when they are coming home. Not being able to perform that function is a real hassle, and can be anxiety-filled.

    But I bet if you were honest with yourself, you would rank 'Missing an important email from the CEO/Boss/Client' almost as high on your list of nomophobia triggers.

    Once any tool becomes a workplace tool, the folks who architect and design work and our relationships to the tools we use for work have at least some responsibility to ensure that these tools are used, well, responsibly.

    It is probably worth a minute or two, before 2018 really gets going and you won't have time for this nonsense, to think a little bit more about what we expect, demand, and require from our teams and ourselves, when it comes to being 'always' accessible.

    We have a lot to get nervous and anxious about without worrying about missing an email at 11PM on a Saturday.

    Postscript- The Wikipedia piece on Nomophobia links to a 2012 research paper titled 'Mobile phone addiction in adolescence: The Test of Mobile Phone Dependence (TMD)', that includes a 12-question survey (way at the end of the paper), to test your own addiction to mobile technology. Worth a look if you suspect you might have a nomophobia problem. 


    Five things I think I think, year-begin 2018 edition

    Kicking off 2018 with five quick observations, (not predictions), about HR, work, tech, basketball, or whatever comes to mind in the 27 minutes I have allotted to complete this more or less first post of 2018.

    1. Workplace- In the 'year-end 5 things post' last week, I mentioned the situations involving Matt Lauer and Harvey Weinstein (among others). Over the New Year's break I saw that a high-profile college football coach, (Rich Rodriguez from University of Arizona), was fired due at least in part to allegations of inappropriate behavior. To me, now the question isn't 'If' these kinds of situations are going to show up in your industry or your organization, but 'when' will they emerge. Besides the obvious succession planning angle that I mentioned last week, there probably needs to be a serious review of how the organization can emerge, change, and grow from these situations in order to have a reasonable shot at retaining the kinds of good people that don't want to be associated with a tarnished brand, and to attract the ones you need to keep the machines running in 2018. This issue could get bad enough in some organization that it becomes a tangible risk to recruiting, branding, and retention.

    2. HR and HR Tech- I am going let go, (for the time being), of my recent 'Voice interfaces are the next disruption' take, although I really believe it to be the case, to mention the other 2018 buzzword - Artificial Intelligence. Just this morning I caught this piece - China is reportedly building a $2 Billion AI park as it looks to become a world leader in the field. The race for AI technologies, talent, and investments are not just going to occur on a company-to-company level, they are going to become national-level initiatives. China and Russia both think the key to future global power, influence, and wealth lay in 'winning' the AI contest. How these macro/global projects will eventually impact and filter down to 'normal' workplaces is still a little unclear, but I think it is safe to say these impacts are probably being underestimated. Five years ago every HR Tech company tossed the word 'social' into its product pitch. In 2018 AI is the new social.

    3. Email- In 2018, I vow not to read email on my phone, before I get out of bed. I am pretty sure email is the absolute worst way to begin a day. But I also vow to get better at keeping up with my email in 2018. I did do the 'email bankruptcy' thing on January 1 though, by marking everything as read. If you send me an email in 2017 and did not hear back, you probably should re-send if you need a reply.

    4. HR Happy Hour- I don't have too much to add to the what I posted last week about the HR Happy Hour Show but I will mention two things. One, the first show of 2018 posted yesterday - great conversation with Derek Belch from STRIVRabout how companies as diverse as Walmart and Stanford University's football team are incorporating VR technology for training and development. You can listen to that show hereor on your favorite podcast app. And two, we are open to working with new podcast sponsors in 2018, if you or your organization is interested in becoming an HR Happy Hour Podcast sponsor, please contact me at steve@h3hr.com.

    5. SMB - Not sure if anyone cares, but since I am more or less off of Facebook and Instagram, (no one cares about that I am sure), but I did have a great holiday break highlighted by a trip to the Tampa, Florida area where I watched my South Carolina Gamecocks defeat the University of Michigan 26-19 in the Outback Bowl. Great trip, great time, awesome experience. I had not been to a college football game in a long time, and the game brought back all that I used to enjoy about attending games at Williams-Brice Stadium in Carolina. Here's a health, Carolina, forever to thee.

    That's it, I am out - I hope you have a fantastic 2018!