The Business Case for Skill Intelligence
Research from the Institute for the Future reveals that a staggering 85 percent of the jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t even been invented yet. Now more than ever, employees need to be adaptable, able to pivot, and ready to take on any challenge. Without deep insights into employee skill sets, where employees’ strengths lie, or how to tap into their hidden talents, however, none of that is possible. Skills have become the universal language for growth and success for every organisation. And skill intelligence allows businesses to better understand, develop, and provision talent to dynamically meet the needs of the organisation. It even allows us to make business-critical decisions more quickly and with greater confidence. But how exactly do you get those insights? Artificial intelligence (AI) for HR is game-changing AI has the power to increase HR scalability, recognise patterns in people’s behavior, and offer personalised support where and when needed. Using AI, HR and business leaders can more effectively upskill and reskill employees to meet shifting business needs and objectives — whatever demands the future may bring. With the right application of machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies, employers can go beyond tracking skills to enable action-oriented talent practices like never before. In this Lighthouse Research & Advisory report — based on a study of more than 1,000 employers and thousands of workers — you’ll learn: the concept of skill intelligence how AI forms the core of these initiatives the use cases and applications of skill intelligence Download the report now to learn how AI and skill intelligence can help your organisation uncover better insights about the business, make predictions, and effectively respond to dynamic market changes.
Reuniting: the science of rebuilding connection + trust
As the world opens up and we come back together, we'll need to navigate new territory in our work relationships. While we have been sustaining our team connections and productivity as we work from home, we have been slowly creating new norms and styles of engagement. In this session, discover what neuroscience tells us about what helps teams thrive and why we need to be particularly mindful as we emerge from isolation. Learn strategies you can implement right away to create more collaboration, inclusion, and peak performing teams in your organization. Join Dr. Britt Andreatta, author of Wired to Connect, shares some groundbreaking new research on the science of connection and trust. As the former Chief Learning Officer for Lynda.com, she consults with organizations around the world on how to maximize their learning solutions to yield phenomenal results. Her research on the brain science of success has transformed the talent industry. In this interactive session, you will: Learn about the science of groups and teams The brain during isolation and loneliness The power of connection and trust Discover new brain-based strategies you can apply to Rev-Up your skills About the speaker: Dr. Britt Andreatta is an internationally recognized thought leader who uses her unique background in leadership, neuroscience, psychology, and education, to create brain-science based solutions for today’s workplace challenges. Britt is the former CLO for Lynda.com (now LinkedIn Learning) and she has over 10 million views worldwide of her online courses. She regularly consults with corporations, universities, and nonprofit organizations on leadership development and learning strategy. Britt is the author of several brain science-based books and trademarked models including Wired to Grow, Wired to Resist, and Wired to Connect. She was named a Top 20 Influencer for 2021.
Payback Time: The Top 10 Most Lucrative College Degrees
It's back to business at colleges across the country — but not for the nation's most recent graduates. More than 40 percent of them are unemployed and many are loaded with student debt. Small wonder, then, that some question whether a college education is really worth the time and money. The answer is: Yes, depending on which major a student chooses. PayScale, an online provider of compensation data, recently tracked the academic disciplines that offer the greatest salary potential both in the short and long term. Here's a closer look at the most lucrative job titles and salaries, based on annual pay of bachelor's degree holders without higher degrees and grads who typically have two years' experience when they start. The Meal Ticket: Engineer Given the planet’s growing need for energy, the expanding population of global travelers and the speed at which information technology is spreading in the industrial and developing worlds, engineers with highly specialized skills are in high demand. Engineering makes up six of the 10 top-earning degrees (and 12 of the top 20). (No. 1) Petroleum engineering: starting salary $98,000, mid-career salary $163,000 (No. 2) Aerospace engineering: starting salary $62,500, mid-career salary $118,000 (No. 4) Chemical engineering: starting salary $67,500, mid-career salary $111,000 (No. 5) Nuclear engineering: starting salary $66,800, mid-career salary $107,000 (No. 6) Electrical engineering: starting salary $63,400, mid-career salary $106,000 (No. 7) Computer engineering: starting salary $62,700, mid-career salary $105,000 All About Numbers The major that edged out chemical engineering to land the No. 3 spot on the list: actuarial mathematics, with a starting salary of $56,100 and a mid-career salary of $112,000. Applied mathematics also scores high, coming in at No. 8 with a starting salary of $50,800 and a mid-career salary of $102,000. No. 10 is statistics, with a starting salary of $49,300 and a mid-career salary $99,500. Actuaries use mathematical, statistical, financial and economic theory to solve real business problems. Many actuaries work for insurance markets and predict, for instance, the frequency and intensity of earthquakes or hurricanes for purposes of setting policy rates. Actuaries also work in the consulting, accounting, government, and financial services areas. Applied mathematics, on the other hand, is more concerned with mathematical methods, which can lead to careers in science, engineering and general business. Statisticians typically work for federal, state or local governments or private companies. Help Wanted: Gadget Hounds Another hot commodity: computer science majors. They've been in demand since the dawn of the personal computer era, but their value has skyrocketed as the number of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices worldwide has exploded. Future advances in industrial, medical and research methods depend on the know-how of computer scientists. Ranked No. 9 on the PayScale list, computer science majors can expect to start at $58,400 and reach a mid-career salary of $100,000. The Missing Ingredient The left-brained crowd clearly has the lead when it comes to earning potential, but that doesn't mean right-brained folks are destined to pinch pennies. International relations, advertising and film production, for example, appear in the top 50 majors on the PayScale list, with international relations leading the group at a starting salary of $40,600 and median salary of $93,000 (although, to be fair, liberal arts and other more creative-oriented majors dominate the list's bottom 50). Two important points about the PayScale ranking: it doesn't distinguish between the salaries a computer scientist can hope to earn in Silicon Valley versus one who lives in Alaska. Nor does it factor in the role of good old-fashioned hard work. Yet what it does well is set expectations for today's youth (and help older generations come to terms with their youthful decisions). Photo credit: Can Stock
Preparing Your Workforce for Digital Transformation
Make talent development a priority in the age of digital disruption Ready or not – digital transformation is here. With technology developing more rapidly than ever, the way we do business is changing and it affects everything from customer acquisition and our product offerings, to our tools and processes, to our workforce and work environments. To succeed in a rapidly changing market, organizations must adapt their talent management practices to reflect new digital innovations and processes. Constellation Research discovered that industry-leading companies' ability to adapt to digital disruption was a key factor in their long-term success. As many organizations begin to radically reimagine how they leverage technology and processes, a need for a new talent development strategy arises. No organization wants to be left behind because they failed to adapt well enough or fast enough to the changing digital landscape. So, how can organizations disrupt their talent development strategies to help succeed in the age of digital transformation? How to futureproof your organization in the age of digital transformation It's a sobering fact: Talent development strategies that worked in the past may no longer work in the near future. Human Resources (HR) and Learning and Development (L&D) teams must become true business partners and create a continuous, hyper-connected development experience for people that aligns to the ever-shifting goals of the business. This eBook offers research-backed strategies that will show you how to create a digitally centered, learning-focused talent development environment that will help your organization keep its competitive edge in the era of digital transformation. You'll gain insights into: Determining your organization’s level of digital transformation preparedness Coaching strategies to prep your workforce for digital transformation How to champion a culture of learning to enable ongoing employee skill development Download our eBook to discover the talent development best practices you – and your people – need in order to futureproof your organization while putting your people in the driver’s seat of their own experience.
A Job Title Just for You: The Rise of the Custom Position
With the unemployment rate hitting the lowest level since 2008, even the happiest employees are deciding to investigate their career options. Three in 10 employees regularly search for new job opportunities even though they are currently employed, according to CareerBuilder.com. Lately, companies have begun luring top talent via a novel incentive: the newly created position. In the last few months, Horizon Media introduced the first Chief Invention Officer; DigitasLBi created a Chief Data Scientist; Ogilvy & Mather unveiled a Worldwide Chief Strategy Officer; Hearst Magazines introduced the first Managing Director of Brands and AOL nabbed an industry veteran with the newly created Head of Independent Agencies. But are these companies really developing innovative new positions — or are they merely making superficial name changes to appeal to egos? After all, Disney is famous for referring to its front desk representatives as "guest relations," yet that title elevation doesn't really fool anyone, particularly employees. Is Horizon Media switching "innovation" to "invention" just to land its intended target? "It's a good first step [to address employees' needs]," says advertising executive Jeff Fromm, Barkley U.S. "But [newly created positions] are easier than really developing meaningful programs that matter in the long run, like a good work-life balance. It's just trying to be cool. It's better than nothing at all, but it still is a short-term fix." Yet, others say these jobs are designed specifically to meet today's executive in today's workplace. In order to land currently employed top talent, employers must offer entirely fresh top-level positions with no pre-existing instruction manuals and the ability for new executives to hire their own teams. Formerly top perks like half-day Fridays and in-house chefs are no longer unique or sufficient. Many of the executives attracted to these new roles say they weren't specifically looking for a new job, but once approached by these companies, they cited the excitement about new opportunities. For instance, advertising veteran Suhaila Suhimi Hobba jumped to the media side of the industry as AOL's Head of Independent Agencies after conversations with key AOL executives made her realize that she could leverage her skills in a new manner at the Internet platform. Likewise, DigitasLBi nabbed Scott Donation from rival Interpublic Group with the hefty job title North America Chief Content Officer (as well as a full fleet of responsibilities). Indeed, these customized positions send a powerful message: We're building this role just for you (even if we are also talking with three other executives). For companies hoping to keep current employees, the key to counteracting this trend is to follow their competitor's lead. Although it is difficult for current employers to counter-offer when a competitor is willing to underwrite an entirely new adventure, companies should suggest a customized new role and work with their employees to set the parameters. Again, it is important not to inflate titles without reworking specific responsibilities. Some 52 percent of workers feel as if they have a job, not a career, according to CareerBuilder, so this trend is an opportunity for employers to help their employees find their passion. While the majority of these new positions are for mid- to high-level roles, the trend is likely to filter down to even entry-level workers. Ultimately, customized positions speak to the desire to be appreciated. And everyone likes to feel wanted by their employer, from C-Suite execs to the people at the front desk. Er, guest relations. Photo: Can Stock
5 Architects’ Wild Designs of the Future Workplace
We talk a lot about the future of work, but what about the future of where we work? New workplace trends are not only changing the way we think about our careers and office cultures, they're also changing the nature of the "office" itself. Long gone are the days of cubicles, corner offices and stuffy conference rooms. Instead, office design is increasingly reflective of modern work values. The increased prioritization of flexibility and collaboration over traditional work hours and hierarchies has translated to open offices, versatile seating arrangements and adjustable work-from-home policies. But some design firms and architects are pushing the envelope even further: considering how office environments reflect new standards like mobility, sustainability, community and more. What will our offices look like in 10, 15 or 20 years? Here are five architectural visions of the future: 1. Standing Room Only Photo credit: Jan Kempenaers The health risks of sitting at work are well-known by now, ushering in an age of standing desks, treadmill desks and even bike desks. Dutch firm Rietveld Architecture-Art-Affordances (RAAAF) offered a different approach: Let's tackle sitting by obliterating the idea of desks entirely. Their experimental office design, The End of Sitting, comprises diverse surfaces in lieu of furniture to support multiple working positions. While guests trying out the sample installation had some feedback on utility, they also reported an up-tick in well-being and physical fatigue, RAAAF partner Ronald Rietveld told WIRED. "There's a thousand things that could be improved, but that's not what this is about," Rietveld said. "The most important thing for us is that it's offering more activity and more well-being." 2. Work on Wheels Photo credit: IDEO Recently, the IDEO team unveiled an internal project on the future of automobility—asking themselves, how will the driverless car impact our lives? One potential concept: a mobile workstation. As autonomous driving becomes more mainstream, IDEO envisions "inverse commutes, where working spaces come closer to where people live instead of commuters heading to pre-determined workplaces." Work on Wheels, as IDEO calls it, would not only dramatically reduce commutes, but could leverage underutilized real estate, optimize energy resources and provide opportunities for ad hoc services, like food trucks and mobile dentistry, to thrive. 3. Truly Local Lunch Photo credit: Organic Grid+ When it's time for lunch, why not source your salad from the office? Interior designers Sean Cassidy and Joe Wilson decided to put employee health and well-being at the forefront of their futuristic office, Organic Grid+, the winner of Metropolis' Workplace of the Future 2.0competition. The design includes both radical customization, giving employees the opportunity to design walls, desks and meeting rooms to best suit their needs, as well as health-conscious attributes, such as wearables to track worker wellness, "sky gardens" and planting stations for employees to harvest their own food. "In our minds, workers are the heart of most businesses and should be treated as such," Cassidy toldMetropolis. "If we spend one-third of our lives at work, then we should create a greater cohesive relationship between the employee and the workspace." 4. Home Sweet Work Photo credit: M Moser Associates With modern technology enabling most people to complete any work from home, some designers propose the new purpose of the office is to foster face-to-face interaction between employees—not simply offer a place to do work. That's the idea behind M Moser Associates' "convivial workplace," an office that encourages workers to socialize. The design resembles a living room or cafÃ©, and aims to be a stimulating environment employees. While most offices already have common spaces, they aren't typically a part of an employee's daily routine. As Steve Gale, London head of workplace strategy at M Moser Associates, told Huffington Post, the idea of the social workplace is a "shift in the center of gravity to a different way of thinking and working." 5. Embodying Transparency Photo credit: Bjarke Ingels Group and Heatherwick Studios Google has long been at the forefront of innovative workplaces, pioneering the versatile office as well as workplace perks like in-house chefs and laundry services. They recently proposed a blueprint for a new Mountain View campus that Silicon Valley Business Journal claims could "explode the concept" of buildings and workspaces. What's so special about the new Google office? For one, the proposal reworks the entire North Bayshore district with community gardens, retail shops and cultural spaces open to the public. In addition, the buildings are built to be transparent and flexible—literally. Cable-net glass roofs invite the public to peek inside Google, and the buildings are made up of pieces that can be inserted, removed, raised and lowered at will. "It really evolved out of stepping back from first principles and saying, 'What's holding us up?'" David Radcliffe, Vice President of Real Estate and Workplace Services at Google told SVBJ. "It comes out of our experiences of trying to support our evolving business."
Is Tinder Tomorrow’s Recruiting Tool?
This spring, an unusual profile went up on the dating app Tinder—instead of looking for love, this new Tinder-er was seeking labor. That's right. Ad agency Havas Worldwide Chicago developed a Tinder profile to recruit candidates for its summer internship program. If users swiped right on Havas' profile, the agency started a conversation with them about their skills and interests, ultimately choosing a match to join its team this summer. While Tinder remains an outlier when it comes to recruiting via social apps, a large majority of companies are using social media to find talent. According to Staff.com, 92 percent of companies actively seek new employees via social media, with 73 percent of recruiters saying they have made successful hires. Social media is popular for job seekers, too: Among workers earning more than $75,000 a year, 24 percent use Facebook to assess a company's culture, 21 percent use Twitter, 13 percent use Pinterest, 12 percent use Snapchat and 10 percent use Instagram, according to a recent Jobvite report. "Social media has dramatically changed the day-to-day activities of talent acquisition (a.k.a. recruiting) at Arcadis," says Cindy Bishop, associate VP and director of talent acquisition at design consultancy Arcadis U.S. "Where only a few years ago, sourcing candidates was accomplished by job board postings, university recruiting, employee referrals and partnering with agencies for hard to fill, niche jobs, now we have the access to that specialized talent using social media technologies. Because information is now public, recruiters can contact potential candidates directly and initiate conversations immediately." Using the Latest Trend to Find the Greatest Talent Still, few companies have embraced social media as a way to find workers as actively as Havas Chicago. The agency has looked beyond the usual suspects—Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn—instead testing their recruiting luck on the hottest platforms of the moment. In addition to their recent Tinder trial, Havas has reached out to candidates via Instagram and Snapchat. "It's based on the simple idea that kids understand these platforms," says Jason Peterson, President, Havas Chicago. "If you want to hire someone to do social media, hire the people who know how to do it best." Recruiters say social media channels enable them to bypass traditional recruiting efforts, such as a blind resume process or hiring friends or acquaintances. The traditional tactics tend to result in average candidates, they say, but social channels enable them to microtarget ideal candidates and discover potential, passionate employees who are often overlooked in more traditional settings. Recruiting Outside the Box Recruiters also like how there's not one right way to seek talent on social media. Havas, for instance, asked people to interpret an emoji story as part of its Instagram application process. This deviation from the traditional application process resulted in the agency receiving more than 300 applicants, and about 10 percent of them applied specifically because of the unique application. Creative agency Mother New York took things a bit further last spring when it created a LinkedIn profile for a faux executive named Donald Buscando—a creepy looking character who would troll the LinkedIn pages of college students looking for interns. Buscando sent silly, odd messages encouraging people to apply for a summer internship position—"Are you a designer? You have beautiful bezier curves. You should apply."—and interested students who visited his profile were then able to see a video of Buscando "at work," with more information about what the agency was looking for in potential hires. And last month, venture capital firm First Round posted a job opportunity, "Looking for a Storyteller," using the platform Medium. As a blog-publishing platform, Medium is rife with writers and deeply integrated with Twitter—allowing them to reach a highly-targeted audience across two different channels. The Future of Recruiting Of course, it's important to note that the vast majority of companies recruiting with extreme or odd social media tactics are looking for entry-level or internship positions. As of yet, there's no emoji application for an open CFO position at a Fortune 500 firm. But it may be just a matter of time. Ultimately, social media is more cost-effective, creative and far-reaching than traditional recruitment. "It's time to get with the program—print, job boards and agencies are costly and outdated," says Bishop. Photo: Shutterstock
Band-Aids Can’t Fix Your Aging Human Resource Information System
By now most organizations know they need a Human Resource Information System (HRIS). But when it becomes clear that an existing solution is soon to be obsolete, the choice to either keep finding workarounds or scrap the solution in favor of a new tool is a tough one. Recognizing that it’s time for a change is key. Outdated HRIS platforms are inefficient, costly and cannot meet the flexibility and functionality needs of the modern workforce. Still, many are in use today. Government agencies, for one, use legacy HRIS systems that are missing modern functionalities such as an intuitive user experience, employee/manager self-service, multiple talent management modules and reporting or analytics tools. Despite the need for the industry to revamp the technology, a recent report from GAO showed a $7.3 billion dollar reduction in federal spending focused in on development, modernization and enhancement of federal IT. With less available funds, agencies are spending the funds they do have on simple operations and maintenance—applying bandages to a broken system. This approach is understandable, since the cost of replacing a system is high, and the process of implementing, customizing and configuring a new on-premise solution can be extremely complex. But SaaS tools are an affordable and easier alternative. Plus, they provide the flexibility that's missing from legacy solutions. The Benefits of SaaS Tools Over Legacy Systems One of the main differences between traditional, on-premise solutions and cloud-based Saas solutions is the cost structure. On-premise solutions almost always require a large initial implementation fee, followed by ongoing payments that depend on how many people an organization employs—the more workers an organization has, the less an on-premise tool costs. Meanwhile, cloud-based solutions are subscription based, don’t involve a massive implementation cost and charge organizations per employee. In this scenario, smaller organizations pay less than larger ones. There are functional differences as well. There’s a misconception that SaaS tools are fairly rudimentary and cannot be configured to fit an organization’s specific needs. On the contrary, because they’re implemented via the cloud rather than a physical installation, they are highly flexible. And, there are also multitudes of configuration capabilities for SaaS solutions that can be tailored to an organization’s specific requirements. Today’s SaaS systems come equipped with powerful reporting capabilities and seamless user experiences. More importantly, they provide another route for organizations that don’t want live with the pain of an old system, but don’t want to upgrade to an expensive on-premise replacement either. Unifying Solutions Spells More Savings Once an organization decides to make the leap to a SaaS solution, the transitional time could provide an opportunity to consider how the organization tackles other business processes. Could it be time to consider replacing standalone processes within a comprehensive approach? A talent management solution, which unifies disparate HR functions and technologies under one umbrella could provide the kind of well-oiled structure that modern-day organizations need. Unified talent management solutions enable organizations to achieve cost savings by removing redundant or overlapping tools and improving the user experience by allowing HR teams to rely on one centralized solution. Moreover, though unified talent management solutions vary, most provide resources and avenues for building a culture of learning, collaboration and development, which enable organizations to quickly implement new initiatives, and onboard employees quickly and effectively. By elevating and broadening the scope of tools available to HR teams, talent management systems can take HR out of its silo and give it a more significant role in the organization. And, with more internal clout, HR teams will have more leeway when it comes to shaping company culture and other corporate decision-making. It all Comes Back to Your HR Strategy Before making any decisions regarding HR technology, it is important to be familiar with your strategic plan, assess the gap between your existing technological capabilities and the requirements of your plan and begin to replace or add the necessary components in a systematic, prioritized, cost-efficient way. Making a switch overnight is unrealistic, especially for organizations with complex structures, such as government agencies. Nevertheless, there are ways to modernize human resources technology at a reasonable cost without having to sacrifice depth of functionality. At the end of the day, you must consider your goals, and choose the right technology that helps you achieve them. Learn more about modernizing your HRIS.
8 College Majors That Didn't Exist 5 Years Ago
English, Biology, History. These college majors of yore are taking a backseat to a new wave of highly specific—and timely—areas of study. As the work landscape changes, the educational landscape has to adapt as well. Just in time for graduation (which will likely bring a flood of resumes to recruiters' inboxes), here are a few majors that probably didn't exist when you were in college—and why they're relevant to the growing workforce: 1. Robotics Engineering What: Bachelor of Science in Robotics Engineering (the first in the country) Where: Worcester Polytechnic Institute — Worcester, MA Why: No longer just the stuff of Hollywood movies, robots are becoming an integral part of the way we work—from hotel bellhops to factory workers—these machines provide a powerful addition to the workforce. But someone has to build them first. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that by 2018, the demand for qualified robotics engineers in the workforce will grow by 13 percent. Some institutions now offer graduate studies in AI (Artificial Intelligence), as well. 2. Online Journalism What: Bachelor of Science in Online Journalism Where: Boston University — Boston, MA Why: Sure, blogs existed five years ago, but major publications were still relying heavily on print magazines and newspapers rather than the world wide web as a main source of revenue. Today, however, online content is king—requiring a whole new set of skills to manage and track articles. Other colleges even offer Social Media as a major, or Master's programs in Data Journalism. 3. Game Design What: Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, Entertainment Arts & Engineering Emphasis Where: The University of Utah — Salt Lake City Why: In 2015, the estimated worth of the global online gaming market is $41.4 billion. Mobile gaming is booming, too, and projected to be worth $100 billion by 2017. Plus, with the rising trend of gamificationin the workplace, it stands to reason companies will need people to build these products—whether it's an actual game or an internal software with a game component. 4. Cyber Security What: Bachelor of Business Administration in Cyber Security Where: University of Texas at San Antonio — San Antonio, TX Why: Cyber warfare is a serious threat to businesses and the country (Sony, anyone?). As more and more sensitive information is exchanged electronically, vulnerabilities in this area abound. The Pentagon is "desperately short of people who have capabilities (defensive and offensive cybersecurity war skills) in all the services and we have to address it," said former Defense Secretary Robert Gates. To understand the politics and strategy behind this subject, some institutions now offer a Master's program in Technology and Policy as well. 5. Human-Computer Interaction What: Bachelor of Science in Human Centered Design and Engineering Where: University of Washington — Seattle, WA Why: Technologies are becoming more interactive and more personal. Understanding how a smart thermostat reacts to human action (i.e. turning down the heat as more people enter the house), for example, is vital to technological progress. Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) students study the user interface, software, design, usability and social and ethical dimensions of technology. From a users' first interaction with a technology to his or her daily use of it, HCI students work to integrate products into our lives in a thoughtful way. 6. E-Business/E-Commerce What: Bachelor of Business Administration in Electronic Business Marketing Where: Western Michigan University — Kalamazoo, MI Why: Amazon's success should be argument enough that online retail isn't a phase—it's an entirely new business model. As more companies opt for an online-only presence over a brick-and-mortar shop, the traditional business strategy needs to change, too. Enter: a new wave of E-Biz pros. 7. Data Science What: Bachelor of Science in Data Science Where: University of San Francisco — San Francisco, CA Why: Big Data was all the tech industry talked about in 2011. We're still feeling the residual effect today—and for good reason. Not surprisingly, a university nestled in the tech hub of San Francisco offers an undergraduate degree in understanding and interpreting Big Data. More numbers are tracked and recorded electronically today than ever, and if this data is understood and communicated properly, it can be a valuable asset to a company's bottomline. If these majors aren't futuristic enough for you, take a look at the growing number of "Interdisciplinary Studies" majors (a rising trend over the last 30 years) where students work with advisors to essentially create their own curriculum and major of study. In our new world of flexible work schedules, job hopping and a growing gig economy, a uniquely personal major like Interdisciplinary Studies may be the most intuitive of all. All photos: Shutterstock
How to Build an HR Analytics Team [Infographic]
In the age of Big Data, business leaders and HR professionals are still learning to combine age-old intuition with analytics when it comes to making workforce decisions. Josh Bersin, principal and founder of research firm Bersin by Deloitte, mentioned in a recent interview that only 4 percent of the market is currently running sophisticated people analytics, while 50 to 60 percent of companies are still trying to make sense of the data they have. So, where should organizations looking to implement an analytics program begin? Start by hiring the right people. People analytics is intrinsically a multidisciplinary endeavor, and you need a team that can evaluate, approve and implement data-driven decisions across your workforce. Check out our infographic below on how to build an effective HR analytics team, and keep reading for more details. (Click to enlarge) The five positions above cover a variety of skills and disciplines, but those who hold them should work together closely as a dedicated, organizational unit. The CHRO: As Bersin highlighted in his interview, executive buy-in is a crucial first step to implementing analytics. The CHRO should work with other executives, most importantly the CEO and CFO, to not only approve budgets, but also establish a company culture that embraces the value of Big Data. The Data Architect: Around half of all companies are in the process of just cleaning their data before they can work with it, according to Bersin. The Data Architect is the person responsible for pulling the data, integrating different datasets and cleaning the data to prepare it for analysis. The Change Agent: In addition to executive support, it's important to find someone who oversees the analytics team. While the CHRO has purview of the analytics department, the Change Agent is in charge of leading the team and working closely with other departments—like marketing and finance—to ensure that insight is turned into action. This person should have a strong understanding of the company's strategy, and how analytics can drive it forward. The Workforce Behavior Expert: A large part of succeeding in analytics is understanding what questions to ask to gather workforce data. The Workforce Behavior Expert, usually an industrial-organizational psychologist, is the one who understands what makes your employees tick—he or she is in charge of developing and evaluating surveys, validating results and making sure you're measuring what you need to measure. The Workforce Scientist: Of course, you need someone who can actually analyze the data to gather the insights. The Workforce Scientist—who can be a traditional data scientist, but should have some HR-related expertise—is in charge of experimenting with the data once it's available. This person should also have strong design or data visualization skills, in order to represent the data in compelling and easy-to-understand ways. Last but not least, don't feel intimated. Building an internal team takes time and very few, if any, companies have truly mastered the art of analytics. If you focus on gathering the right people with the right strategy, you'll be ahead of the curve.
Relocations, New Offices, Work-cations: It’s All About Keeping Top Talent
To retain highly-valued employees, many companies give employees the option to work from home, leave work early to attend their kids’ choir performance or, if they so choose, practically live at the office filled with gourmet meals, a gym and massages. But it doesn’t stop there: when employees want to move to a new city, companies are accommodating employees by providing a slew of relocation options or even the possibility to open a new office. It’s all in the name of avoiding the loss of a top-performing employee to another company. While relocating employees can be expensive for companies, it can be well worth it to retain the best employees. Every year $9.3 billion is spent in the U.S. on corporate relocation, according to Worldwide ERC. Let’s take a look at three ways that companies cater to employees’ desires to work from different geographic locations. Relocating Permanently Whether an employee wants to move to be near his hometown, to be in the same city as his significant other or to explore new territory, companies often are eager to keep top-notch talent, even if that means keeping them in a new city. While 37 percent of relocations are new hires, 64 percent are current employees, according to Worldwide ERC. Tech companies and consulting firms often have the flexibility to let employees switch offices since they have many offices and clients spread across the country. Bain & Company, the global consulting firm with offices in 32 countries, has a global mobility program that allows and even encourages employees to transfer between offices. When employees experience a new city and lifestyle, the exposure to cultural diversity advances them in their career development immensely, Eliza Scherrer, U.S. global mobility strategy leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers, told Forbes. "[Encouraging location transfers] will help a company build loyalty. It will help you retain your people and it will grow them into better leaders tomorrow," she says. "All of that brings value to an organization." Darci Darnell, partner who has worked in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and London Bain offices, has been able to expand her horizons and learn how to deal with multiple cultures. "The opportunity to call up the chief talent officer and say, 'I'm interested in doing something different' and for him to say to you, 'That's amazing. Take out your map,'" Darnell says in a Bain video. "[That's] an extraordinary moment in your career, a moment when the world is your oyster." Opening New Offices Similarly, San Francisco-based PR firm LaunchSquad allows employees to relocate to its New York, Boston and Detroit offices. All four of these offices were in fact started by a go-getter employee who wanted to live in a new city. The clients and additional employees grew from there, according to LaunchSquad. But not just any employee can open a new office. The employee must exhibit independence and leadership and have the skills necessary to be an office leader. For example, one of LaunchSquad’s top employees, who had been with the company for a long time and had become an office leader, decided to move to Detroit, and the company wanted to retain her, according to LaunchSquad. Thus the Detroit office was borne. "If we have loyal employees who are far enough along in their development and can work independently, we let them work from where they need to," says Meghan Cavanaugh, vice president of talent at LaunchSquad. Enabling employees to transfer to other offices or even open new offices with the right expertise and leadership qualities has benefited LaunchSquad in keeping their employees happy and in recruiting high-quality talent. Many new hires in their San Francisco office are transplants and eventually want to go back to the East Coast. During the interview process, candidates are often told that after a couple of years with the company, they could relocate to the New York or Boston office if they want. On the flip side, employees who grew up in the Bay Area have the option to experience life on the East Coast by working from a different office for several years. Taking Work-cations When employees relocate to a different office or open a new office for long-term expansion, they often generate new ideas and innovate because of their change in environment. The same benefit can be generated for employees who aren’t looking to relocate by sending them on a work-cation — that is, a vacation where employees work together from a new locale. Take Dimagi, a mobile app development company with projects in more than 25 countries. To escape the extreme winter in the Boston offices, employees decided the ideal solution was to work from another country for several weeks. And so the Away Month program was born. Fourteen Boston-based employees were invited to the first Away Month in 2012 in Sao Paolo. "The employees were driving this, and I wanted to support them," Jonathan Jackson, Dimagi’s CEO, told Inc. "From a business-development perspective, getting a better understanding of South America and scouting potential partners there made sense. But I wanted people to know that this wasn't just a way to party down in Brazil. They needed to be able to communicate with the team at home, and remote clients as well." Employees who worked from Brazil said that they felt a deeper personal connection with their colleagues after the trip and developed energy and new innovations that wouldn’t have happened in Boston. After the great bonding experience, Dimagi hosted a second Away Month this year in Guatemala. One notable difference was that the company had grown to 80 employees, and the number of employees who traveled to Guatemala was three times the number that traveled to Brazil. The work-cation was just as successful as the first one. Employees generated new ideas and got a better understanding of their international markets. "Away Month is an opportunity to promote a lot of ad hoc work discussions outside of the office and between different groups, more so than we do when we’re at home," Jackson said. Whether employees are relocating permanently or for a month, switching environments causes employees to think outside the box and engage with colleagues in a new context.
Jason Corsello: How Technology Upgrades the Employee ’User Experience’
Companies are fanatical about the customer experience (see Apple). Why aren't companies equally committed to the employee experience?, asks Jason Corsello, vice president of corporate strategy and marketing for Cornerstone OnDemand. Corsello, in his article The Employee 'User Experience' Needs an Upgrade. Corsello isn't talking about office space or company culture here; he's talking about employees' experience with portals, collaborative tools and platforms. "For many successful companies, creating that great bricks-and-mortar 'UX' is a core competency of HR," writes Corsello. "Creating an equally optimal digital user experience for valued employees is a critically important challenge that relatively few businesses have mastered, let alone understood." Let HR Design the Employee UX "[A]s HR tech moves higher and higher into the cloud — and as employees become socialized and accustomed to having Apple-like elegance and simplicity with anything they interact with digitally, at home or at the office — HR departments need to be designing user experience, not the IT managers who ruled the roost for so many years before them." Borrow the Look & Feel of Social Media "Sounds like a no-brainer. But ease of use gets lost quickly in the excitement to offer new features and functions in HR software. Success — and mass adoption — tends to happen when you mirror something cool that people already know. Steal a page from Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn when developing user experience that will click with your employees." Prioritize Engagement — not Record-Keeping "[C}reating or investing in a system of engagement over a system of record is important for the future of HR tech....There's a reason the annual performance review is dying." Make Mobile Useful & Fun "Employees will use HR technology on their phones if they can use it as a helpful tool. Whether that means syncing calendar updates with teammates to submitting peer reviews while waiting to take off for a business trip." Read more at the Human Capitalist
The Business Case for Skill Intelligence
Research from the Institute for the Future reveals that a staggering 85 percent of the jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t even been invented yet. Now more than ever, employees need to be adaptable, able to pivot, and ready to take on any challenge. Without deep insights into employee skill sets, where employees’ strengths lie, or how to tap into their hidden talents, however, none of that is possible. Skills have become the universal language for growth and success for every organization. And skill intelligence allows businesses to better understand, develop, and provision talent to dynamically meet the needs of the organization. It even allows us to make business-critical decisions more quickly and with greater confidence. But how exactly do you get those insights? Artificial intelligence (AI) for HR is game-changing AI has the power to increase HR scalability, recognize patterns in people’s behavior, and offer personalized support where and when needed. Using AI, HR and business leaders can more effectively upskill and reskill employees to meet shifting business needs and objectives — whatever demands the future may bring. With the right application of machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies, employers can go beyond tracking skills to enable action-oriented talent practices like never before. In this Lighthouse Research & Advisory report — based on a study of more than 1,000 employers and thousands of workers — you’ll learn: the concept of skill intelligence how AI forms the core of these initiatives the use cases and applications of skill intelligence Download the report now to learn how AI and skill intelligence can help your organization uncover better insights about the business, make predictions, and effectively respond to dynamic market changes.
Reflection Should Be a Habit — Not Just a Tradition
It's nearing the end of the year, which for many of us marks a time for reflection and resolution. Where did we succeed in the past year? Where did we fail? What can we do better next year? But as steadfast as the tradition of New Years' Resolutions may be — the practice of making changes in the New Year is thought to have started among the ancient Babylonians —the resolutions themselves are often short-lived. We pledge to finally read those books on our bedside table, propose more ideas during team meetings, actually use our gym membership or take a real vacation. Three months later, the books are collecting dust, Phil is still the loudmouth at the table and we convince ourselves we just don't have time to exercise or take a week off. The Impact of Habit Why do we wait until January 1 to reflect on our lives and make these changes, only to fade back into our old routine months, or even weeks, later? In some ways, the popularity of the tradition belittles its impact —we make a resolution simply because that's what we're supposed to do at this time of year. So, last year, I vowed to buck the trend. My resolution? To stop making New Years' Resolutions altogether. It wasn't a statement of pride — I certainly have changes I want to make in my life — but an attempt to move from an annual tradition of reflection and resolution to a habit of such. Instead of thinking up and struggling to achieve a few one-off New Years' Resolutions, I wanted to establish a consistent, ongoing behavior and practice of reflecting and improving. In fact, I think everyone would benefit from creating a habit of reflection — especially during the weeks before the holidays (the busiest weeks of the year for many people). It's time to make a commitment to be our best selves now — not in a few weeks when the clocks strikes midnight, not next year, but now. Think Bigger In the midst of rushing to meet Q4 and end of year goals and deadlines, we tend to put our heads down until we can come up for air. We work to speed through to-do lists, rather than taking a step back and prioritizing our tasks. We put blinders on, but what we really need to do is broaden our perspectives. I found myself in this exact routine the other day. I was simply milling through my list of tasks to complete before the end of the year, instead of looking at my work holistically. It was overwhelming to gaze at the sheer volume of work. To be honest, there are several things I can probably push to next year in order to hone in on the tasks that truly matter to my current goals. By taking time to stop and reflect on my workload — not after it's completed, but while I'm in the thick of it — I can heighten the quality of my work and my level of engagement on the job. My year without a New Years’ Resolution has taught me that we should always be reflecting, we should always have resolutions. But power emerges when reflection becomes a practice. Maybe it is on the treadmill or maybe it is in your car with the radio off on your drive home. When I was a public school teacher, every commute home I would turn the radio off and think about the day; what went well, what didn’t go so well, what I could learn today that would make me better tomorrow. The practice, I believe, made me more in tune with work and my students. It’s the difference between a good leader — someone who gets the work done — and a great leader — someone who goes above and beyond. Instead of pondering your upcoming resolution for 2016, why not try to start something new today: put down the to-do list, reflect and think bigger. Photo: Creative Commons
Don't Fear the Machines—Even Supercomputers Need a Human Touch
Amidst the frantic warnings that automation may take the jobs of human workers, it is vital for talent management leaders to be a voice for a more nuanced approach. The advance of technology is inevitable, but rather than an "either-or" choice between humans and machines, innovative talent leaders are finding creative and optimal combinations of human and machine interaction. Such combinations reveal new sources of value for both people and organizations, and they represent a formidable opportunity for savvy talent leaders to expand the value proposition of learning—as well as ensure the sustainability of their organizations. Working With the Supercomputer Consider the savvy combination of humans and machines that is embodied in IBM's work on "cognitive" computing—best exemplified by IBM's Watson, a combination of algorithms, interfaces, hardware and software that was capable of winning the television game Jeopardy over its human opponents. Now, Watson interacts with physicians researching oncology treatments for cancer, scanning thousands of research studies and conversationally interacting with physicians about the implications and findings. The supercomputer's algorithms can digest thousands of scientific articles much more efficiently than biochemists, producing promising hypotheses for the scientists to study. The advantage of a machine like Watson in medicine is undeniable. The U.S. Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center estimates that only 20% of the knowledge doctors use to diagnose patients is based on published scientific evidence, while IBM's Watson computer can thoroughly scan medical literature on certain cancers, as well as search up to 1.5 million patient records, in order to present doctors with verbal opinions about the best treatment. For humans, it would take at least 160 hours of reading a week just to keep up with new publications. This is not so much machines replacing humans, but architecting work to optimize the combination of automation (in the form of the Watson supercomputer) and human physicians. Fading Boundaries in the Workforce The same principle applies to improving Watson itself. Making Watson "smarter" requires more than simply feeding it more information or making it more conversational. Some of the biggest advances will come with improving Watson's ability to work with humans—and building that capability requires human insight. Not only does improving Watson require thinking beyond the computer, it also requires thinking beyond the traditional IBM workforce of regular full-time employees. Some of the best talent for this work lies beyond IBM's organizational boundary. How do you get a cadre of workers—inside and outside of IBM—motivated and qualified to invent new applications for "cognitive"? Obed Louissaint, the Vice President for HR, IBM Watson, Watson Health, Research, Technical Talent & Corporate Functions described how IBM's answer was to create "IBM Watson Academy," a virtual hub for training on a massive scale, including global challenges and thought-provoking idea exchanges, such as, "What do you think should be the next Grand Challenge in computer science?" The Academy's focus is on cognitive training accessible to employees of IBM itself, but also to employees of IBM's clients, IBM's development partners, and students in schools and universities around the world. Building an Ecosystem of Talent For example, upon its launch, Watson Academy piloted an IBM-made MOOC, adapted from a Columbia University graduate-level course taught by an IBM Watson researcher, which included students and faculty from 19 universities in 10 countries. In addition, the Academy launched an online interface that delivers learning in a broad variety of media, ranging from mastery modeling videos through hands-on guided practice. This creates flexible learning mosaics that appeal to learners and are at the same time easy to maintain and update. The idea is to make IBM's best tools and lessons about cognitive available to the entire ecosystem of workers inside and outside of IBM, to rapidly create a qualified workforce ready and willing to develop the next big thing for Watson. The Academy has also used contests to get attention and motivate these current and future workers to train themselves on cognitive using tools on the website and then compete to showcase their best solutions. Contests expand the rewards for learning beyond money to include reputation and the thrill of winning against the best in the world. The future of learning will rely on a mix of algorithms, cloud-based data and human-machine interfaces. Optimizing that brave new world will require that leaders reframe how they think about the work, the workforce and the fundamental relationship between people and automation. As IBM has found, even the smartest machine can benefit from some help from the human mind. Photo: Creative Commons
Human Capitalist: The Key to Great HR Tech? Not Big Data — Good Data
Like every business department these days, HR is awash in Big Data. But, as Carol Anderson, a leading human resources expert, writes on Human Capitalist, the analytics HR teams are using aren't all that useful. "Time and again," she writes, "I have watched HR professionals spend an inordinate amount of time defending their data to leaders and employees who don't believe that the data is credible." Anderson's advice? Stop obsessing about Big Data, and start focusing on Good Data. Here's how: Ask End-User Questions at the Beginning "An excellent place to start is, as usual, at the end. Key questions to consider: What data do leaders and executives need to understand organizational performance and leadership strength? How useful is the current data being provided? How accurate?" Review Current Data "Now, armed with the knowledge of what is important, it’s time for a candid review of the current state of data. Who inputs the data and how is the integrity of the data ensured? Where are there inconsistencies in the data? Why do they exist (you may need to push beyond the 'because we need it')? Can we provide the data that the leaders need in a timely and accurate manner? If we find gaps, what data is the priority to address?" Employ Teams to Get the Job Done "Pull together small cross-functional teams to complete the analysis and revise the data processes. Break the work into small chunks, and give the teams the challenge to eliminate inconsistencies, and recommend a process to ensure data quality." Read the full article here.
5 Companies Using Gamification to Boost Business Results
In 2011, a group of online gamers collectively solved a problem in three short weeks that had puzzled scientists for decades: They found the structure of an enzyme that helps AIDS-like viruses reproduce. This communal discovery has become a go-to example that illustrates the benefits of gamification, a trend in which game mechanics are applied to non-game situations to encourage users to behave in a certain, desired way. In the HR community, companies are increasingly implementing gamification to drive higher employee engagement, boost productivity and encourage healthy habits, among other outcomes. By tapping into people's innate love of playing games, employees are encouraged to solve problems while generating measurable results for the organization. At Cornerstone, we use a lighthearted people-matching mobile game help increase team camaraderie. Here's a look at five creative ways more companies' have implemented successful gamification programs: Cisco Employees Play Their Way to Becoming Social Media Masters Challenge: Cisco had invested in a global social media training program for its employees and contractors to build and leverage their social media skillset. But with over 46 courses as part of the program, it was overwhelming to figure out where to start. Gamified Solution: Cisco introduced three levels of certification for the social media training program: Specialist, Strategist and Master, as well as four sub-certification levels for HR, external communications, sales and internal partner teams. It also mixed in team challenges to incorporate a healthy dose of competition and collaboration into earning social media certifications. Results: Since gamifying its social media training program, more than 650 Cisco employees have been certified with over 13,000 courses taken. How Deloitte Made Leadership Training for Senior Execs "Addictive" Challenge: Deloitte had built a leadership training curriculum for senior executives, but had trouble encouraging executives to start and complete the program. Gamified Solution: Deloitte turned to Badgeville to introduce gamified elements like badges, leaderboards and status symbols that measured how many executives were participating and completing courses. Results: The average time to complete the training curriculum dropped by 50 percent, and the program has seen a 46.6 percent increase in the number of users that return to the site daily. Engine Yard Sends Employees on Missions to Grow Its Knowledge Base The Challenge: Cloud app management platform Engine Yard had invested in a Zendesk knowledge base to encourage self-service and community troubleshooting, but employees and customers weren't engaging with the knowledge base as fast as hoped. Gamified Solution: Engine Yard implemented Badgeville's game mechanics into its Zendesk platform that rewarded contributors with Achievements and introduced Missions that users could complete for additional recognition after completing customer surveys or reporting bugs. Results: Once Engine Yard gamified its knowledge base, the company saw a 20 percent drop in customer complaint tickets, a 40 percent uptick in forum engagement and knowledge base searches and a 40 percent improvement in customer support response time. 100% of Googlers Submit Travel Expenses Thanks to Gamification The Challenge: Google, like many companies, needed more of its employees to submit travel expense information on a timely and regular schedule. Gamified Solution: When Google employees take a work trip, they receive an allowance for each location. Google gamified the expense process by letting employees who didn't spend their entire allowances choose what happened to the remaining money — getting paid out in their next paycheck, saving funds toward a future trip or donating it to a charity of their choice. Results: Gamifying Google's travel expense system translated into 100 percent compliance within six months of launching the program. Microsoft Staffers Around the World Weigh In On Language Localization The Challenge: Microsoft has myriad language localization needs for its many products, and ensuring that translations were accurate and made sense was a huge challenge for just one team. Gamified Solution: Microsoft built a "Language Quality" game, which involved a very simple Silverlight application that let users view screens to check for language accuracy. Microsoft included intentionally poor translations to make sure its employees were actually paying attention. Results: 4,500 users reviewed 500,000 screens to correct or improve translations based on their native languages. Microsoft Japan actually took a company-wide day off to play the game and ended up winning the leaderboard.
For Generation Z, Passion is the Future of Work
In a recent blog, "Why Passion is the Future of Work: HR Leaders' Best Advice for Grads," I was quoted for noting, "doing what you love is the future of work." While this is true for millennials (and really, for people of any age as they advance in their careers), it's particularly salient for Generation Z. Generation Z typically includes those born after 1995, and like every generation, they're distinct in their motivations and expectations regarding their career paths. They are less focused on money and prestige than previous generations, and their ranks include an impressive number of entrepreneurs. In fact, more than four in ten Gen Zers plan to pursue entrepreneurship (four times higher than the actual percentage of people who work for themselves today at 6.6 percent) and 63 percent think entrepreneurship should be part of the higher education curriculum. The willingness of this cohort to go out on their own is born of a truly independent mindset. Coming of age in a far better economy than millennials did, they're also much less likely to move back home or return to graduate school after college. How does all of the above lends itself to work defined by passion? There are three key trends employers should prepare for when it comes to hiring Generation Z: 1. A Sense of Purpose Gen Zers expect to be told the purpose of every responsibility they assume. They tend to be focused and work hard, but they want to believe that their contributions matter. They seek results and aren't demure about receiving recognition. 2. Flexibility is Not Just a Buzzword Gen Zers don't see the point of being locked into a 9-to-5 office environment. Employers who don't get on board with working remotely will likely fail to attract Gen Zers. Remember, this is the first generation that was born into a technologically connected world, and they find the requirement to be physically present at work rather quaint. 3. Global, Social, Mobile Gen Z is better prepared than any other generation for the global workplace. They will be perfectly poised to work in global organizations and seamlessly able to expatriate when the opportunity presents itself. Social media and mobile are as natural to them as the telephone was to their grandparents. They grew up with technology—digital literacy is just as significant as literacy itself. What Type of Jobs Fit Generation Z? Gen Zers will have less competition from millennials or Gen Xers for many positions in social media and community management, app development, UI / UX design, cloud computing or sustainability or other "green" jobs, and data mining. The jobs of this generation will be roles that didn't even exist 10 years ago. As a baby boomer myself, I see a lot to admire about Gen Z. My cohort, having grown up during the economic dream world of the 50s and 60s, tended to follow the money so that we could replicate or exceed our parents' comfortable lifestyles. Gen X was focused on finding prominence in their work, pursuing investment banking and other prestigious careers. The millennials, graduating into an abysmal economy, often had to defer their dreams of finding passion. But Gen Z seems to have benefited from great economic and cultural timing, affording them the opportunity to truly follow their passions. Older generations have traditionally had to wait until retirement to find work that holds meaning—going back to school for their teaching certification to share their knowledge with students; or opening their own businesses where they can sell their famous secret barbecue sauce or pecan pies—but Gen Z, with its collective drive and ability, doesn't need to wait. For the next generation of workers, following your dreams is no longer just a privilege. It's also a real possibility. Photo: Creative Commons
A Fortune 500 CEO Who Sits (Happily) at the Bottom of the Corporate Ladder
The traditional office hierarchy is looking more and more like a thing of the past. A lot of companies are moving to "flatten" their internal structure by making everyone feel more equal (from doing away with formal offices to eliminating job titles altogether to introducing employee rotation programs). Some are taking the opposite approach, with outsized job titles that can border on ridiculous. What about a third way? Where leaders aren't at the top, or even in the middle. Think of an inverted pyramid, where the CEO is at bottom. What kind of senior leader in his right mind would willingly take on the role of office peon? A Fortune 500 leader, apparently. John Donahoe, the CEO of eBay, to be exact. Put the Customer First In an interview with venture capitalist Peter Levine, Donahoe discussed his "servant leadership" style. He's worth paying attention to: Donahoe is widely credited with turning about eBay in the six years that he's held the job. Traditional hierarchies have never worked, says Donahoe. Instead, he uses an inverted pyramid mindset where the customer is the center of all conversations and decisions. Instead of having the C-suite and top executives at the top of the ladder, Donahoe suggests flipping it, so the customers are on top, followed by the customer-facing employees with the top executives on the bottom. "Everybody inside the company exists to help [employees dealing with customers] serve the customers better," says Donahoe. "And I’m at the bottom of that pyramid, and ultimately my job is to clear channels to serve our customers well." Make Employees Feel Valued Donohoe also talks about "followership," where employees feel that the top executives are working for the employees, rather than the other way around. "If you want to have the absolute most talented people working for you," he says, "they can’t feel like they are working for you." Be an Authentic Leader Just because the inverted pyramid works for him doesn't mean it works for everyone else. Donahoe cautions leaders to choose the management style that feels authentic to them. "I wouldn’t try to copy someone else’s personality. I followed Meg Whitman, I had big shoes to fill," says Donahoe, referring to his predecessor at eBay. "But I couldn’t be Meg Whitman. I had to be me. The leaders that create followership, if there’s one common quality it is that they are authentic. Having good values, and then being authentic and transparent." h/t: Andreezen Horowitz Image via Can Stock Photo
Technology Opens the Door to Business Intelligence, But It’s Not the Key
So your company is investing in a new talent management system and you think you'll get all kinds of great data from it, right? Well...maybe. Just because you buy the latest HR technology product doesn’t mean you’ll get good business intelligence. Technology is not the key here. Solid business processes that result in accurate and timely information are the key. Human resource data is particularly vulnerable to poor maintenance because the people entering the data are managers and employees that tend to approach the task with resentment (i.e. "doing HR’s work for them"). Not only is the data poorly maintained, but also the same data is reinvented many times over by different branches of HR that use the data for different purposes. What's more, most HR teams don't run quality audits on their data to ensure that data entry is accurate or that data is updated as necessary. Here are some steps a company can take to trust their data and utilize technology tools. Step 1: Find the Root Cause of the Inaccuracy We often dump raw data and manipulate it with spreadsheets to make it look pretty. If the data provided to clients is wrong, find the root cause and fix it. It's often a simple fix, but you need to dig for it. Use the five whys to find the root cause. A termination code is wrong on a report. Why? Because the manager entered an incorrect code. Why? Because the manager was using an outdated code listing on the intranet. Why? Because the code listing had not been updated. Why? Because the HR representative who was responsible for updating the code listing on the intranet had been out for an extended leave and no one knew to make the change. Why? Because all the responsibility is on one person to remember to update the codes. If you simply changed the code in the system to the correct code, it would still be wrong the next time a manager refers to the code listing on the intranet. If however, you find the root cause, you not only fix the error, but also the systemic problem that led to the error — the process was too dependent on one person. Step 2: Make Sure Your Hierarchy is Designed to Distribute Employee Data to Managers Correctly Many HR systems are fed from payroll that is organized around the accounting department. In our increasingly complex organizations, however, hierarchies aren’t that simple. Employees may be paid by one department, yet may report to a leader in a different department. The unit leader may be part of a specific department for accounting purposes, but in distribution performance and talent reports and processes, they should actually show under their direct manager, not their leader. This is a great opportunity to think collectively across HR silos, identify different organizational structure needs, and design a structure that works for each need. Step 3: Get Your Job Data Straight An HR system is, at its core, a matching system that contains both employee data and job data to be matched depending upon the purpose. Compensation? The employee is assigned to a job code. Recruiting? The vacancy is assigned a job code. Learning and development? The competencies and learning paths are linked to a job code. Job codes are both the most powerful and most misused elements of HR data. If an employee is assigned to the wrong job code, their salary grade, their EEO code, their bonus structure and possibly their benefits will be wrong. Companies must think collectively across HR silos and create job codes and job data that works across all HR functions. Step 4: Make Sure Your Systems Talk to Each Other One system for recruiting, another for learning, and yet another for the HRIS, may be nicely customized for the HR function using it, but it doesn’t translate across functions. HR needs to talk the same language for the sake of their customers, meaning that a job code to a recruiter should mean the same to a compensation representative. Step 5: Audit Your Data It takes work and it takes time, but your credibility is worth it. Before you open the door to HR technology, be sure you have the key! Photo: Can Stock
Cartoon Coffee Break: Workplace Therapy Session
Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Cartoon Coffee Break" series. While we take talent management seriously, we also know it's important to have a good laugh. Check back every two weeks for a new ReWork cartoon. Mental health at work is a growing concern for organizations around the world. How can HR managers ensure their employees don’t burn out? Check out some suggestions here. Header image: Creative Commons
Q&A with Josh Bersin: The No. 1 Problem Facing HR Departments Today — and How to Fix it
The way many human resources departments are structured and operate needs to change, says Josh Bersin, principal and founder of Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting LLP a human resources research and advisory firm. As the need for talent grows, the traditional approach to "centers of expertise" with HR generalists has to change, argues Bersin, driving more embedded talent expertise within the business. Bersin suggests that companies have to redefine talent management from "integrated" to a configurable "talent system." Why are companies rethinking their approaches to talent management? We are entering a crisis in retention and engagement. Coming out of the recession skills are in short supply and organizations need to reinvigorate the value proposition and work experience for their employees. We like to call it "building passion in the workplace" – it goes far beyond the traditional definition of engagement. Over the last ten years companies have been focused on "integrated talent management" – bringing the various talent teams together to implement coaching, performance management, development planning and other practices. Now, in 2014, we need to take the next step, and build what we call the "corporate talent system" — not software. Rather than think about how to "tweak" or "change" the performance appraisal and compensation process to improve engagement or retention, for example, we now need to shift our thinking to all elements of talent management at the same time. The whole talent "system" works together, so you really can’t change one process without looking at all the others. Suppose you want to improve employee engagement and performance in a given business area. First, of course, you have to look at management skills and behaviors. But beyond this, the likely solution may involve a change in performance management, an increase in diversity and inclusion, changing the work environment and work rules, modifying compensation, tweaking the employee development environment, and just about everything else. Rather than look at one talent practice as a solution to a problem, now we need to look at the "system" as a whole. This takes a consultative approach. In 2014 we have to design HR to think about these problems in a systemic way and then take a systemic approach to solutions. Companies are not only going to need integrated software, but they’re going to need to have teams that work on problems in a consultative way. Describe a company that solved a problem by taking a jigsaw puzzle approach to HR? A Midwest electric utilities company is having a hard time recruiting engineers to work in its two nuclear power plants. The head of the nuclear division told HR that he wanted to raise the compensation by 35 percent to attract engineers. The HR leader said "not so fast" and created a small consulting team of HR experts that’s basically a SWAT team. After several months of study, the team concluded, "Yes, we’re not getting enough candidates, despite there being people in the market for these jobs. The reason we’re not getting them has nothing to do with compensation — it’s our employment brand. We have no brand value proposition, we’re unknown, and no one thinks we’re a cool company. You can raise the comp all you want, but we’re still not going to get them." They implemented these recommendations, and sure enough, within six to nine months they developed a strong pipeline of engineers. How can a company begin to change its approach to HR? We have to redesign HR to think about the entire "talent system" as a whole — and put in place senior specialists in the field who can implement and tweak these processes as needed. Generally there are three things in the way of this. First, many people in HR lack domain expertise. In one of our most recent surveys, nearly 45 percent of respondents ranked "reskilling HR" as a top priority. Second, HR structure is designed well for integrated consulting. Companies have spent a long time setting up HR generalists that serve the needs of line managers — these people have to become embedded specialists, connected to the center of expertise. Third, we have defined the HR roles based on service delivery, and HR people get paid based on the "customer satisfaction" of their line managers. While this is a good thing, it draws them away from becoming consultants and encourages them to spend time on administration. We need to shift HR teams into consulting roles and need to train managers how to implement HR practices through self-service wherever possible. 2014 will be a challenging year to hire and retain people. It’s time to rethink about HR and redesign our teams to build a highly engaging workplace, drive development and performance, and attract the most highly skilled candidates.
Beginning Your Talent Analytics Journey: Don’t Become a ’Mustang in the Mud’
One of my favorite analogies is ’don’t be a mustang in the mud’. The expression refers to the iconic Ford Mustang – a great car on the street, but definitely not the right vehicle in the mud. More and more I’m seeing organizations work to figure out what problem(s) to attack with predictive talent analytics and I’m reminded of my ’mustang in the mud’ analogy. Talent Analytics is Hot The enthusiasm for talent analytics is very strong, and that momentum is driving companies to either engineer or look to partners to help solve multiple talent challenges – new hire turnover, employee development, talent mobility, etc. That’s fantastic, but there seems to be a trend to attack multiple problems at one time. Deloitte tells us that only 8% of organizations are doing strong predictive analytics. This continues to be a small number and the year-over-year ramp remains low. My hypothesis is that there are a lot of ’mustangs in the mud’ – a lot of horsepower in the wrong environment. Walk Before You Run As the niche of predictive talent analytics continues to grow, I get the sense that many companies will immediately begin trying to solve many problems in parallel. My advice to those companies is to start with one – to walk before you run. Start with one where you know you either have the attention of the business or you feel confident that you can get it. One where the data needed to gain insight into the issue exists, and finally one that is more easily operationalized and/or deployed in the business. Doing so will allow you to: Assess your technology/partners to determine if within your own network you have access to the predictive analytics solution you will need – both people and technology. Trial and error for what will become a repeatable process for diagnosing and executing development of the next problem/need/challenge, because we all know there’s always more than one. At the end of the day, if you’ve never undertaken a formal data and predictive analytics strategy, no matter how great the predictive analytics solution you use, trying to solve for too many things at once will take that Mustang you’re so proud of and put it in the mud where it’s only fractionally as effective. Scale will come in time, but set yourself up for success early versus attempting to tackle so much that you never get off the ground. In other words, don’t allow yourself to become a mustang in the mud...
Ted Talk Tuesday: The Key to a Creative Breakthrough Is Doubt
This post is part of our monthly "TED Talk Tuesday" series, spotlighting can't-miss TED Talks and their key takeaways. You can learn more about our partnership with TED here. Alan Iny works as a senior specialist for creativity and scenarios at Boston Consultant Group, where he trains executives and fellow BCG consultants on how to think creatively. A member of the firm's strategy leadership team and co-author of Thinking in New Boxes: A New Paradigm for Business Creativity with Luc de Brabandere, he has vast experience in advising companies worldwide in innovation, scenarios, transformation, organization design and change management across industries. In his TED Talk, Iny explains that creativity in the workplace today is a paradox. It has never been more essential, and yet the prevailing "think-outside-of-the-box" approach to creativity doesn't offer the structure we need to be creative. The key to a creative breakthrough, he asserts, is doubt. Watch the video below and read on for three key takeaways from his talk: "Embrace doubt. Doubt that doubt is bad." Iny starts off by describing the "typical" brainstorm session, where everyone sits around a conference room table and decries "Think outside the box!" and "Let's have a blue sky unconstrained session!" but that rarely results in the breakthroughs we desire. He asserts this is because "the critical capability for practical creativity in individuals and organizations is very often lacking." What's the critical capability? Doubt. According to Iny, if we really want to have creative breakthroughs, we must stop putting pressure on executives to never show any doubt and encourage people to doubt everything they know to be true. In the workforce, rapidly changing technologies and a new generation of millennial workers offer more reasons to introduce doubt into your workday. Whether it's hiring practices or social media strategy, now is a great time to take a step back and reevaluate whether the processes you believe to be the most effective are still holding up. "All of your boxes are only working hypotheses, they are subject to change." Iny emphasizes that by recognizing your "boxes" or mental models can change, you open yourself up to the possibility of improving or even completely rethinking things you thought were permanent. For example, when starting a new business, executives have for years favored a hierarchical arrangement. But in order to take advantage of unprecedented technological advances and a changing workforce, companies are now rethinking that "box" and as a result morphing into arrangements that allow for greater collaboration. The same holds true for vertical vs. lateral hiring. Our recent Career Trends survey found that 89 percent of employees would consider a lateral career move with no financial incentive, but only 32 percent of organizations encourage cross-departmental movement. This signals it might be time for companies to rethink their career mobility "box" if they want to hold onto their top talent. "Who am I to judge?" Iny references a moment in which Pope Francis responded to a question with "Who am I to judge?" He says, "That is the kind of doubt and humility great leaders demonstrate. Especially when everyone around them is telling them they are infallible." No matter how great of a leader or manager you are, Iny explains, you are still a human being drawn to the status quo. To fight this, we must deliberately and regularly list the assumptions and constraints we use to look at the world, our companies and our customers and decide which ones need to be refreshed. This allows us to not only nurture new ideas, but change existing ones. Photo: TED
The Case for Ethical Hacking
When it comes to addressing the threat of cyber attack, companies are starting to borrow from the playbook of their would-be enemies by hacking their own systems before others get the chance. The practice is called "ethical hacking" and it's an approach that recently gained worldwide attention when it was revealed that Edward Snowden, the American exile who is now hiding out in Russia after disclosing details about U.S. spy operations, received an official certification in ethical hacking while working as a contractor for the National Security Agency. The reason for the interest in ethical hacking is clear: security concerns are on the rise — both in the public and private sector. To lessen the risk, companies are investing heavily in security services. A 2010 Gartner survey predicted that spending on worldwide security services would reach $49.1 billion by 2015, a 40 percent increase from 2011. The Case for Self-Inflicting Wounds While many companies wait until there is a security breach to fix the system, one way to proactively manage a cyber hack is to simply hack your own system before others do. Ethical hackers — the undercover cops of the IT world — are important investments for companies, especially government agencies, financial institutions or others that deal with highly sensitive information. Third-party companies employ these certified hackers to identify holes in a company's IT infrastructure. Here is how Cornerstone uses ethical hackers to stay on top of digital security threats and assure our customers that our system is impenetrable. We pay third-party professional hacking services to hack our system continuously for two weeks. This is called a penetration test and implements a combination of manual and automatic maneuvers. We have conducted these tests four times a year — timed with new product releases — since 2010. We publish results upon client request. This how we can prove the security of our system. We make sure all red flags that are identified are addressed immediately. As the spread of cloud-based and other technologies opens up more opportunities for cyber criminals to strike, it is crucial that IT departments be proactive about plugging any holes before they spring a leak.
3 Ways the "Gig Economy" Can Improve Your Talent Pool
A growing number of Americans are ditching full-time employment in favor of short-term projects and side jobs, where they can pursue their passions, determine their own schedules and essentially be their own bosses. Contingent workers now total 53 million, making up 34 percent of the American workforce. With this so-called "gig economy" showing no signs of slowing, human resource pros are starting to think about how to embrace this burgeoning pool of talent – and how to keep their own full-time employees fulfilled as the appeal of a "long job" fades. "The freelancing trend isn’t going anywhere, so HR departments need to evolve," says Sharon Steiner, vice president of Human Resources at Fiverr, an online marketplace for freelance services. While the idea of finding talent beyond full-time employees certainly goes against the grain of traditional HR, a short-term gig doesn't necessarily translate to a lack of long-term value. By integrating freelancers into your company culture and offering your employees exposure to outside knowledge, you can strengthen your business' bottom line. Below are three key strategies to broadening your talent pool and embracing the "gig economy": 1. Go mobile Instituting a mobile-friendly workplace is increasingly important for full-time employees, but it’s crucial when working with freelancers who are often remote or work odd hours. "You need to be where the talent is," says Steiner. "The gig marketplace is almost all digital and it’s becoming increasingly reliant on mobile. When you work with freelancers, you need to make sure your channels of communication are open." With mobile applications maturing beyond simple administrative tasks, accomplishing real work – and even conducting full projects – is entirely possible from the palm of someone’s hand. IBM recently launched enterprise apps that bring IBM’s big data and analytics capabilities to iPhone and iPad users in the enterprise, so employees can tackle complex projects on their phones/tablets. And last month, the cover of the New Yorker was completed entirely on an iPad. 2. Recruit retirees The gig economy is not just a community of independent Millennials – it includes professionals at every age, and Baby Boomers actually take the lead. Recruiting retirees for short-term projects is the perfect opportunity to assist in their transition while sourcing senior expertise, as recent studies show nearly two-thirds of workers ages 16 to 64 prefer a gradual transition to retirement. "In mature industries, like energy or utility, the senior management and technical engineering folks are often heading toward retirement years, but the pipeline of young talent is not yet available," says Steve Boese, co-chair of the HR Technology Conference and host of the HR Happy Hour Show and Podcast. Employees who had a good relationship with their workplace, he adds, would likely love the opportunity to continue working for the company or industry in some capacity after they leave full-time. 3. Support side gigs While it may seem counter-intuitive, offering your own employees "gigs" or opportunities to work on projects outside of their job (and likewise sourcing short-term talent from other companies) is another way to refresh creativity and expand your company’s skill set. "It’s a huge value proposition to tell current or prospective employees that your ’career concept’ isn’t limited by your industry," says John Boudreau, professor and research director at USC’s Marshall School of Business and Center for Effective Organizations. "There are people who don’t work for you, but may want to work on a specific project for you. On the other hand, there are employees who want to work for you, but you can’t give them everything they need or want to learn." A few years ago, Siemens and Walt Disney formed an alliance aligned with this theory. Expanding beyond their internal team, Siemens borrowed Walt Disney employees to help develop a marketing campaign for their new hearing aid for kids. In the same vein, companies have created programs that allow employees to work on their own side projects, such as Microsoft Garage. No matter how you do it, finding ways to integrate short-term projects into your company can bring in high-quality expertise and offer current employees an expanded work experience. Boudreau finds the prospect of looking for talent beyond employment limitless: "What if we saw career development as boundary-less?" he asks, "And what if we saw the talent we need as existing everywhere?" Photo: Shutterstock
Meet the Future, Ready: A Guide for Talent Leaders Shaping the New World of Work
“Unprecedented times.” “The next world of work.” “The great reset.” You’ve heard these phrases repeatedly. And it’s true: The COVID-19 pandemic and other world events have radically changed how we work, where we work, and what employees expect from work. But in many ways, that’s a good thing — because a shift in the way we work has long been in the cards. Standing at the edge of a 5th industrial revolution, employees are now heading back to work after the most intense period of change the modern world has ever experienced. This also means organizations have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to re-build work in a way that works for everyone. And the future of work now lies squarely in the hands of HR and talent leaders. Like no other business leader, talent leaders hold the golden thread to reimagining the workplace for today — and whatever comes next. As agents of change, you have the opportunity to empower a more connected, collaborative, and future-ready workforce. The future belongs to organizations with the courage and mindset needed to reimagine how they work. To meet the future ready — with agility, resilience, shared purpose, and alignment — you must deliver a connected experience that creates value for people, and an environment that’s designed for collective growth and success. This opportunity to redesign the way we work and pursue what’s possible may never come again — let’s not waste it. To help guide your path forward, we asked talent practitioners around the world – as well as renowned thought leaders from companies like The Josh Bersin Company, The Fosway Group and more – what they have to say about rebuilding a future that works for all. And what they had to say may just give you a new lens through which you view your organization’s approach to work. Filled with proven strategies, revealing statistics, and practical examples, this guide will give you the insights and inspiration you need to meet the future ready. You’ll learn why (and how) you should: Make learning foundational to people and business growth Turn skills into your new growth language Connect skills development to career paths Let artificial intelligence (AI) do some of the heavy lifting Download the guide now to learn how you can rebuild a workplace that empowers everyone to adapt, grow, and succeed!
The impact of digital transformation on HR
HR and IT need to work together to not only overcome their individual challenges, but also drive overall enterprise results. Effective IT and HR collaboration is critical when selecting and deploying a TMS. This paper will explore strategies and tactics to ensure the organization is better positioned to deliver on a talent strategy through a modern, integrated Talent Management System (TMS) that can support and enable candidates, employees, managers, and the business as a whole.
3 Steps to Building Organizational Adaptability and Resilience During the Pandemic
In working with more than 6,300 organizations in a wide variety of industries across 20 years, Cornerstone has partnered with countless clients that are navigating organizational change. Weve found that during troublesome times there are three constants that emerge time and time again: First, while crises are difficult and traumatizing, they can also bring out the best in people. Over the course of the past year, weve all witnessed extraordinary acts of compassion, creativity, and selflessness. Second, and on a practical note, organizations who are (or learn to be!) agile, flexible, and innovative during disruption have a better chance of surviving this and any other crisis. Third, organizations that keep an eye on the future while still effectively managing the crisis at hand come out stronger and more successful than those who only plan for immediate needs. And that, in a nutshell, is the purpose of this eBook: To help you and your organization not only navigate todays challenges but to plan for the future by continuing to motivate, engage, and inspire your employees and stakeholders. Within this eBook, youll find practical actions to take today to navigate the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to provide stability for your employees. Just as importantly, these steps will also ensure youre ready to survive and thrive in whatever may come.
5 ways to deliver sustainable business leadership during a global health crisis (and beyond)
Employee health, business success and public good are more interconnected than ever in the midst of a global pandemic. Because of this, a social responsibility lies with leaders from across industries to ensure the response minimizes negative human impact. Business leaders should spend the immediate future refining, or instituting, inclusive policies that benefit every employee—and persist for years to come.
5 ways COVID-19 will change the future of work
Theres no question that COVID-19 has impacted the world of work in deep, disruptive ways. How much has the world of work changed as we embraced social distancing and found our own version of “shelter at home?” the world of work for white collar professionals IS likely to change based on what weve learned. But offices arent going away. Your companys approach to what work is and how it gets done is simply going to evolve. In many industries, the trend has long been leaning towards more remote work for professional grade team members. While some companies have taken the full plunge, many have barely dipped a toe in the true “remote workforce” organizational design.
Cornerstone SMB Learning Management Survey Results
“Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.” Often attributed to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, this old African proverb helps us realize that some days can be tough on our journey. It is helpful to remember that rough seas help us learn how to manage, how to cope. And it is not just life skills we are talking about; it is an organizational dynamic. Learning has often been billed as a competitive advantage, being able to adapt and adjust faster is how businesses think of employee learning and development (with the notable exception of those who are just focused on maintaining compliance). The thought process goes, “by developing and training our employees, well have the most skilled workers, which will translate into productivity, retention, and ultimately success in our marketspace.” All of which are true, but the year 2020 taught the world of work some additional, hard lessons about the value of investing in learning: the key to adaptability and survival of every business starts and ends with learning. Remote work, virtual collaboration, and new skills training became the lifeboat that saw us to shore. To our surprise, we found that not only could we survive this way, but we could also thrive. We may not be able to predict the next crisis, competitor, or marketplace change, but you can prepare your workforce to be adaptable and your business to be ready to take on any challenge.
The Transformation Toolkit: How to thrive in the face of market disruption
In todays market, it is disrupt or be disrupted. Every industry is exposed to disruption in some way. In the face of these disruptors, organizations have two choices: continuously reinvent themselves or be left behind. The pace of change has not only accelerated but has manifested itself in a reduction in tenure on the S&P 500, with a 77% decrease in average lifespan since 1920. According to some projections, 50% of S&P 500 companies will be replaced in the next decade. In the public sector, we see similar trends, such as the prediction that 50% of higher education institutions will close or go bankrupt in the next decade. Or in healthcare, where we see mergers and acquisitions up 14.4 percent year over year. Even government agencies must stay relevant by transforming into more efficient organizations to stay modern in service delivery and responsive to constituent needs. Recognizing and adapting to the disruption is key to transformation, and HR leaders must play a pivotal role in driving this strategy. Driving transformation will likely necessitate a closer look at processes and technology, but the real key to a successful transformation is your people. By focusing on and investing in your people, your organization will be better set up for sustainable performance improvement and the type of cultural change that's necessary to turn disruptive crises into transformational opportunities. In the following chapters, we will focus on three of the more common disruptors: mergers and acquisitions, emerging technologies and changes in regulatory compliance. It is virtually guaranteed that you and your team will experience one or more of these in 2020. Each chapter will walk through the impact of these disruptors – on your people and on your business - and give you specific actions to help you attract, retain, and develop a team that will thrive in the face of disruption.
Thriving beyond COVID-19 with transformation and adaptability: Financial Services
Your customers need you now, more than ever. In order to help your customers when they need it most, your financial services business must quickly adapt to digital transformation without disrupting the ability to meet their immediate and often urgent needs. Many old processes that involved retail or in-person business must transform to a digital interface while maintaining high levels of customer service. We know this crisis has likely forced you to make some changes, but is your business truly adapting to thrive? Are you able to make change and transform at scale for a future that may never go back to “normal”? This guidebook will do a deep dive on the challenges the financial sector is facing and explore how a focus on employee experience— comprised of engagement, productivity, and compliance efforts– can support your customers, while quickly adapting your culture and operations to a digitally transformed organization.
Empowering the Future Workforce, Part 1: Mapping the Skills Landscape
This post originally appeared on Toolbox HR. We’re in the midst of another Industrial Revolution—and while we can expect great things to come from technological advances (like increased automation), we’re going to need to work collectively to prepare ourselves for the changes that are to come. We can rest assured, however, that newer, more efficient jobs are on the horizon. Soon, we’ll start to liken the workforce transformations of today to those of the 18th century Industrial Revolution, when we witnessed the now obvious transition of certain roles like carriage drivers to taxi drivers (and now, rideshare app drivers). But before we can realize all the good, productive outcomes from a revolution, we must admit that change is not easy. In this next Industrial Revolution, led by the perforation of AI into every industry, how can we actively ease the transition for organizations and their people? Let’s consider this: the automation we are familiar with today often replaces menial tasks, which in turn alters the value that certain roles bring to an organization. In the near future, however, we may start to see AI’s responsibilities shift from objectively placing doors on a car frame to subjectively selecting the best product from a bin with almost infinite combinations of shape, size, texture, color or weight. What this means is that the AI Industrial Revolution will impact every role across every industry, but not necessarily equally. While some roles will only see a shift in certain automatable tasks, others with a higher percentage of repeatable tasks will experience more disruption. In order to fully grasp the extent of the impact on various roles and industries, we first need to understand the skills landscape. Governments, non-profits, educational institutions and businesses alike are all going to have to play a part in global reskilling and upskilling initiatives. As AI continues to mature, the private sector will need to be more deliberate and strategic in building skills within their people if they want to achieve desired business growth. As your organization embarks on a journey to map out your unique skills landscape and drive actionable insights, be sure to consider the following capabilities: a unified view of skills, the measurement of proximity of different skills, and continuous monitoring of new skills. A Single View of Skills and Capabilities Even in mature HR organizations, it’s a heavy lift to implement a skills framework that provides insights into which roles require which skills, who has which skills, and which skills are needed from an organizational standpoint. Many teams are only able to complete this sort of work for a relatively narrow scope. There are natural barriers around hierarchies, languages, and intensive specializations, which make it difficult to capture a cohesive picture of skills within an organization. Many traditional and even new skills technologies struggle to get past these barriers, only providing pieced together fragments of skills mappings. However, there are also next-gen solutions, which sit on massive sets of data gathered from public, private, and academic sources to aggregate a global pool of any term that could be used to represent a skill. From there, Natural Language Processing, analysis, and eventually AI structure these terms into unique "nodes" that can ingest synonyms across global languages to represent skills evenly across the organization. Similar to the world of finance, where we convert the balances of different accounts into a single view to make decisions, this is like creating a single skills balance sheet to understand how to invest for the future. Gaps and Importance of Proximity Most of the ink in the future of skills is spilled on gaps: what skills do people have now and what skills are they lacking for the future. With this narrow view, the work ahead of us looks incredibly daunting. In order to have a better understanding of skills evaluation—and achieve more impactful results—it’s critical that we consider proximity and adjacency. Take, for instance, clinical research and market research. Intuitively, the names tell us there are commonalities and fundamental differences between the skills required to perform in these areas. These two skills have a correlated distance, or a proximity, to one another. They also have skills that cluster or are closely adjacent to them. But how much is the same and what exactly is different? The clusters surrounding those skills and their own distances from similar skills help provide that key insight into creating a pathway from one set of skills to another. Instead of proximity, many solutions focus on hierarchy in organizing sets of skills. Why? Understandably, to help ease human navigation and use. But of course, more advanced solutions also unlock the power of understanding the relationships between skills, as well as the distance, and that is critical to maximizing effectiveness of HR initiatives. Future-Proofing Your Skills Inventory Another important concept when considering the new skills revolution is the context of the roles they impact. There are, what we call, "deep roles," which are very specialized in certain areas that may rapidly change and adjust. These roles will see their skill sets change in concurrence with technology. For instance, highly specialized roles in Natural Language Processing will need to have at least an awareness of new technologies and techniques as they are announced to maintain relevance in the market. Supporting these scenarios and the many in between is very difficult for humans to do. That’s why new generations of intelligent skills engines have emerged to actively crawl the web looking for job postings, resumes, blogs, training videos, and other public and private data. These tools help us understand how the global skills economy is shifting. Eventually when there is enough data to be confident of a new skill, the skill is mapped into individual roles to keep workers in those roles competitive with equally dynamic training recommended to help skill them. Why These Criteria There’s no doubt we will continue to see innovation in the skills department as upskilling remains a top business and talent priority. With that, there will be many criteria to consider when evaluating the tools needed to support the future workforce. The outcome will be a single up-to-date dashboard of skills across the business that sets the organizations up for success as they plan for the future. With these criteria in mind, organizations can have a clearer picture of how to invest in their people development. The driving force that gets us from today to tomorrow is skill-building. This development takes time, and it's successful when it’s pinpointed and personalized. With the sheer volume of employees and their nuanced roles, we have to prepare to fill the 95 million jobs of the future quickly and efficiently. For additional insights about how employees identify and develop their employees’ skills, check out our global skills report.
Cartoon Coffee Break: Support Working Parents During COVID-19
Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Cartoon Coffee Break" series. While we take talent management seriously, we also know it's important to have a good laugh. Check back every two weeks for a new ReWork cartoon. Throughout the pandemic, working parents have been juggling caregiver responsibilities with being productive during work hours. As a result, the stress levels of these employees have been significantly higher than those without children. It’s up to employers and business leaders to help working parents manage their unique work-from-home challenges. One of the many ways we try to do this at Cornerstone is through our partnership with Sylvan Learning and their virtual tutoring services. A few other ways companies can support working parents is by creating more flexible work schedules and adjusting xpectations. These efforts signal to your working parents that they have your support and improve their job satisfaction and retention. Allowing Flexible Work Schedules In addition to their daily job tasks, working parents have to manage their children’s schedules. Parents have to set up online classrooms and help their child with homework. That’s in addition to completing their own work assignments and attending meetings. Employers can help alleviate some of this stress by allowing for flexible work schedules where possible. This way, working parents can design their days so that they prioritize their children’s needs and job tasks at different times of the day. Allow them to take shorter work days or work weeks if necessary—studies show that this can reduce burnout and improve productivity. Help Working Parents Redesign Their Jobs A recent study found that about 60% of working parents haven’t had any outside help with childcare during the pandemic, resulting in more parents leaving their jobs. Working mothers in particular have been dropping out of the workforce at higher rates than working fathers. In order to retain these employees, business leaders may need to temporarily reset job expectations. Start by hosting open conversations with working parents to get a better understanding of the obstacles currently impacting their productivity and overall job satisfaction. Ask them which parts of their job they can and can no longer accomplish, and then allow them to craft a new job description accordingly. Through these methods, working parents will feel supported by their employers during this difficult time and, more importantly, stay in the workforce. Click here to learn about how Cornerstone's partnership with Sylvan Learning is helping companies support and retain their working parents who are balancing work and childcare during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dear ReWorker: What Should My Company's COVID-19 Quarantine Policy Be?
Dear ReWorker, We recently had our first employee test positive for COVID-19. I told her coworkers that they need to quarantine. But our CEO says as long as they are symptom-free, they can still come to work. What should my policy be when an employee tests positive? Sincerely, Confused About COVID Protocols +++++ Dear Confused, I hope your employee recovers rapidly with no side effects—and that no one else at the office tests positive. There are the clear guidelines from the CDC for quarantining in case of COVID-19 exposure. Not only does your CEO need to get familiar with them, but she or he needs to comply. If you suspect there’s intentional non-compliance taking place, you need to have a serious conversation. More on that below. But first, here’s what you need to know about COVID-19 policy. If an Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19 The employee needs to quarantine for 10 days, be fever-free for 24 hours (without fever-reducing medication, like Tylenol or Advil) and have reduced COVID symptoms before returning to work. There’s no need to provide a negative COVID result—in fact, the employee may still test positive at that point, but the CDC says individuals are no longer contagious after 10 days. Of course, if your employee is still feeling terrible, or his doctor says he’s not ready to return to work, then he stays home. Employers don’t override doctors. When Colleagues Need to Quarantine Only employees who have been exposed need to quarantine. But what does exposure mean? Here is the CDC’s definition: An individual was within six feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more. An individual provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19. An individual had direct physical contact with the person (hugged or kissed them). A colleague shared eating or drinking utensils with an infected individual. An infected individual sneezed, coughed or somehow got respiratory droplets on a colleague. Because we’re talking about a professional setting, it’s likely that you only need to be concerned about the first situation—being within six feet of the infected employee. Even though your CEO might not like it, colleagues that had this level of close contact need to quarantine. While the gold standard of quarantining is now 10 days as long as there are no symptoms, there are some other options, too. If an exposed colleague tests negative at least five days after the exposure, the quarantine period can be reduced to seven days. The only other alternative to quarantine is previous illness or vaccination—if someone was exposed, but they’ve already had COVID-19 in the past three months, or if they’ve been fully vaccinated, there’s no need to quarantine. Again, these are official CDC policies—your CEO doesn’t get to choose otherwise. Now, about the CEO... Consequences For Non-Compliance with COVID-19 Regulations The strongest argument for any cause is an evidence-based one. Show your CEO this piece, detailing OSHA regulations that businesses must follow—including quarantine orders. If putting employees’ lives in danger doesn’t resonate with your leader, then perhaps this will: the CDC can issue guidelines, but OSHA can issue fines. That hurts the bottom line, and no company wants to throw money away. Plus, depending on factors like role and industry, healthy quarantined employees can work from home. And, until March 31, 2021, if your company has fewer than 500 employees, you can receive tax credits for paying those who quarantine. And here’s one other incentive to keep in mind: What happens if these exposed employees get sick, expose others and suddenly turn your company into a COVID hotspot? Not only does this become a health disaster, but it also creates a PR nightmare. When you have a leader on your hands that’s not taking the pandemic seriously, sometimes, you need to play hardball. Get your CEO on the same page immediately, and send everyone home who should be home. Sincerely, Your ReWorker Suzanne Lucas, EvilHRLady.org
Cartoon Coffee Break: Defining a Work From Home Policy
Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Cartoon Coffee Break" series. While we take talent management seriously, we also know it's important to have a good laugh. Check back regularly for a new ReWork cartoon. Even before the pandemic upended employees’ daily routines, workers craved flexibility. A 2018 survey found that almost a third of workers valued it more than extra vacation time or higher job titles. And beyond helping companies attract and retain employees, flexible workplace policies make companies more agile and save them money. Nontraditional work setups due to the pandemic have shown that people need flexibility more than ever—and more than just the ability to work from home. Take a closer look at what flexibility really means when crafting work from home policies for your company. Flexibility in the Workplace Means Different Things to Different People Not everyone is looking for the same thing when it comes to having a flexible work arrangement. Some people may want to work from a geographical location not tied to a physical office, while others might work most efficiently outside of the typical 9-to-5, or even with their hours distributed across more or fewer days per week. Others might actually prefer having a dedicated office space outside their home to visit, even if it’s not five days per week. The need for flexibility can come from many different places. For some, it’s about remaining productive or meshing with their best workstyles—perhaps working better at certain hours of the day or in specific environments. Others might need flexibility—whether of location, hours or accomodation—in order to care for dependents or manage a disability. Establish Clear Boundaries Around Flexible Work Having flexible work policies doesn’t—and shouldn’t—mean that you expect your employees to be available around the clock (or while, say, on a hike!). When considering flexible work schedules for your employees, emphasize and establish boundaries to avoid employee burnout and help them maintain a work-life balance. Encourage employees to set away messages, pause chat or email notifications or block time on their calendars when they are not available. After all, trust is key to a strong manager-employee relationship: Focus on measuring the results of your employees’ work rather than micromanaging their daily behaviors. Finding the Best Work from Home Policy For Your Team Crafting work from home policies will not necessarily be one-size-fits-all—you’ll likely have to make some exceptions. Know what factors are likely to impact your employees’ ability to complete work and where logistical challenges might pop up—such as managing time zones with colleagues or clients, or completing collaborative work. Ultimately, flexibility is still one of the most important factors people consider when deciding whether to accept or remain at jobs. As you develop policies moving forward, understand what flexibility really means for your company. Read more about how to measure productivity to find the best flexible work situations for your organization.
The Purpose-Driven Organization: HR’s Opportunity During Crisis & Beyond
Why purpose-driven talent practices matter In times of crisis, 84% of executives believe clear purpose impacts an organization’s ability to transform.* While change is a natural and an unavoidable part of life, no one anticipated the crises we are collectively experiencing in 2020. Now, organizations have an opportunity to re-evaluate and adapt to the new world of work by helping their people find meaning and contribute to a more optimistic future. And talent leaders are being called upon to help lead the change. Intentional decisions and clear priorities align employees to purpose and motivate them to act In this research report published by RedThread Research, explore why organizations need talent leaders to exert an active role in the conversation around purpose at work. Whether your organization is just starting out or you are deep in your purpose journey, you’ll learn why purpose-driven talent practices matter. You’ll gain insight into: What is purpose and how does it differ from other related terms (e.g. mission, vision)? What is HR’s role in creating a purpose-driven organization? What does the employee experience look like at a purpose-driven organization? What are some of the purpose-driven practices we’ve seen in response to significant current events? Learn more about how purpose-driven talent practices help achieve business success * RedThread Research: The Purpose-Driven Organization: HR’s Opportunity during Crisis and Beyond, 2020
You Can Require Employees to Get Vaccinated for COVID-19—But Should You?
The COVID-19 vaccine roll-out is happening throughout the U.S., bringing with it the hope for a return to normalcy and—for many employees—a return to the office. While many of your workers will likely be lining up to get the vaccine as soon as they’re able to, others might be more hesitant. This raises an important question for organizations: can you require your employees to get vaccinated if they plan to return (or continue going) to work in person? And, perhaps even more importantly, should you? You Can Require Employees to Be Vaccinated, But There Are Rules to Follow The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued guidelines for employers on requiring the COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of work. In a nutshell, employers can require the vaccines, but they have to be mindful of employee protection under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The act states that employers can’t discriminate against employees with disabilities or certain medical conditions, and can’t require employees to undergo medical examinations as a condition of their jobs. That is, unless the employer can demonstrate that such testing is necessary to confirm the individual’s ability to perform the essential functions of the position. What does the vaccine have anything to do with the ADA? It turns out that the vaccine itself isn’t so much the issue as the pre-screening questions vaccine recipients need to answer before getting the shot. This can count as a "medical exam" under the Americans with Disabilities Act, because asking those questions may require the employee to disclose a disability—a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. That doesn’t mean you can’t require a vaccine; you simply have to ask employees to obtain the vaccine from their doctor, a pharmacy or another non-work location. The key is keeping private health information out of the hands of an employer. But keep in mind: you still need to allow employees to opt-out for medical or religious reasons and make reasonable accommodations for employees that cannot be vaccinated. Just Because You Can Require Vaccinations Doesn’t Mean You Should The decision on a vaccination requirement is one your organization will have to make based on several factors, such as the industry you serve. If you’re in healthcare or interact with customers across vulnerable populations, you have a business necessity to get people vaccinated. But even so, not all hospitals are requiring their employees to be vaccinated, opting instead to recommend the shot to their employees. And they have a good reason—there aren't enough vaccines to go around. It makes little sense to battle with recalcitrant or ineligible employees when not everyone can get it anyway. Meanwhile, if your business doesn’t deal with vulnerable populations, or your business model doesn’t require much in-person contact, you may decide it’s not worth the administrative hassle associated with requiring the vaccine, especially right now. There are still eligibility restrictions, and some people are hesitant about receiving a brand new vaccine. As of November, the Pew Research Foundation found that almost 40% of Americans said they "probably" or "definitely" would not get the vaccine. As a result, encouraging employees to get it when they’re eligible is a better path to take right now, rather than requiring them to do so. But remember: the vaccine isn’t a silver bullet. Regardless of your policy, your organization will need to continue to follow the CDC’s guidelines on social distancing, masking, and cleaning. For more on how to help your organization and your people adapt during the evolving pandemic, check out these COVID-19 resources for HR leaders.
AI Won't Replace Recruiters, But It Will Make Them Better
Similar to how technology has created efficiencies in operations, marketing and sales departments, human resources is being transformed by emerging AI technology. AI is getting a lot of attention in recruiting specifically due to the huge potential to automate some of the low-value, high-volume recruiting tasks that continue to monopolize time and attention. But the question remains: Will AI actually replace recruiters one day? Industry experts such as Katrina Kibben, managing editor of RecruitingDaily, predict AI will automate any area of recruitment with distinct inputs and outputs like screening, sourcing and assessment. But other experts, such as HR consultant and futurist Michael Haberman, anticipate augmented intelligence in which AI technology will be used to enhance human capabilities rather than replace people completely. While AI for recruiting has the potential to fully automate some functions that are currently done manually, other functions can't yet be replaced by technology. For now and in the near future, I agree with the experts that AI cannot replace people with jobs that require social skills, empathy and negotiating abilities. I believe the question we should be asking isn't "Will AI replace recruiters?" but "How can AI augment recruiters?" Here are three areas where AI is already changing the recruiter role. 1) Automating Resume Screening For high-volume jobs such as retail and customer service, most recruiting teams just don't have the time to manually screen all the resumes they receive per open role. Automated resume screening saves recruiters' hours per hire and promises to improve the quality of hire through its self-learning feedback loop. In this scenario, AI learns the requirements of a job and the qualities of good candidates based on successful and unsuccessful employees previously or currently in the role. Intelligent resume screening can also apply machine learning to enrich resumes by using public data sources (e.g., prior employers, social media profiles) to further analyze candidates' skills and personality. Similar to blind hiring methods, AI has the potential to eliminate unconscious bias during the resume screening process because it can ignore information about candidates' race, gender and age. Automated resume screening is currently being used by companies who conduct high-volume hiring. While this technology promises to have multiple benefits for recruiters, one major limitation is that it requires a lot of data to learn how to screen resumes as accurately as a human recruiter. 2) Enhancing Candidate Engagement The vast majority of job applicants never hear back after sending off their resumes, and in today's candidate-driven market, attracting talent by improving the candidate experience represents low hanging fruit. AI "chatbots" save time and help recruiters compete for talent by providing real-time interaction with candidates. Recruiter chatbots use natural language processing to ask and answer questions about the job, learning from their interactions to improve their answers and better assess candidates' needs and desires. This technology is currently being used by early adopter tech companies, but it could benefit any recruiters who receive too many candidates to interact with everyone themselves. Of course, the technology isn't at a point where it can perfectly mimic human conversation, so for certain industries or roles there's still a need for actual conversation. 3) Augment Online Interviews The convenience and efficiency of online interviews have made them extremely popular. Online interviews are being enhanced by AI through algorithms that analyze candidates' word choices, speech patterns and facial expressions to assess his or her emotions and personality traits. This form of AI for recruiting promises to augment the recruiter role by providing additional data points on how well a candidate may fit the job requirements or company culture. This allows recruiters to have a more objective assessment of candidates before deciding whether to invest in an in-person interview. Similar to automated resume screening, one of the main limitations of this type of technology is that it requires a lot of data—in this case, recorded candidate interviews—to be able to accurately identify and then categorize words, speech patterns and facial expressions. AI is already able to replace low-value, administrative tasks such as resume screening—but the extent to which AI will be able to replace a recruiter's ability to engage and interview candidates remains to be seen. One thing is clear: understanding the potential capabilities and limitations of this new form of technology puts us in the best position to leverage it to become better, faster and smarter at what we do. Photo: Twenty20
What the Talent Lifecycle Looks Like in a World "Beyond Employment"
Have you heard phrases like "non-employment work arrangements," "freelance talent platforms" and "labor market intermediaries"? They reflect an emerging trend in which work and workers exist "beyond employment". Increasingly, these new approaches to work are fundamentally changing how you achieve your organization's mission—and leaders who overlook them risk making the same mistake that taxi services made when they dismissed the emergence of ride-sharing services. "Beyond employment" designates a world where the concept of a job may be irrelevant or inadequate for describing how work can be deconstructed and dispersed. It's a world where reward systems must reflect that rewards are often non-monetary. It's a world where workers can move seamlessly back and forth over an organization's boundary, or never even join an organization, making concepts like "employee turnover" and "employee careers" too confining to capture the reality of the options available to companies and workers. It can be difficult for HR professionals to understand how to approach this undefined, non-traditional new world of work. The best place to start is with the familiar: The standard talent lifecycle of 1) workforce planning, 2) sourcing talent, 3) selecting talent, 4) developing talent, 5) rewarding work and, eventually, 6) ending the company-worker relationship. By exploring the talent lifecycle through the lens of a "beyond employment" world, it's easy to build a bridge from where HR is now to where we could be. Step 1: Workforce Planning In a world beyond employment, planning is transformed from employee supply and demand to worker optimization. The focus becomes the work, not employee head counts or FTEs. Organizations have permeable boundaries where fundamental concepts such as head count, worker availability, movement between jobs, and worker separation must take on very different meanings. The key planning issue may be where to allow your boundary to open and where to keep it closed. Step 2: Attracting and Sourcing Talent Today, HR typically looks for candidates who want to work for the organization as regular, full-time employees. The new world of work requires a process of seamlessly engaging multiple systems (procurement, contracting, partnering, recruiting) to attract workers for engagements that may not be full-time. No company could afford to have a "job" exclusively devoted to developing YouTube advertisements during the Super Bowl, but when you deconstruct that project, you can source it with crowdsourcing or freelance platforms. Step 3: Selecting Talent Today's selection systems focus on assessing skills and cultural fit to make sure the employee has potential for a career beyond his or her first job. But today, companies are selecting talent based on short-term benefits (for both sides). For example, when Siemens created an innovative hearing aid for children, it didn't hire employees to devise its marketing campaign—instead, it borrowed employees from the Walt Disney Company through an alliance, and they came up with packaging that included a comic book and a children's story about coping with hearing loss. Step 4: Developing Talent Today, employee development systems focus on experiences gained by moving through jobs and hierarchical levels. But a "career" today is not necessarily a progression through positions—instead, it's often an accumulation of projects and task credits. What does it mean to get "promoted" in such a fluid system? Should we take mentoring to the cloud? A company called Everwise does just that. The mentorship platform has amassed a data base of 60,000 relationships, pairing experienced professionals with protÃ©gÃ©s across organizations. Step 5: Rewarding Great Work When work and workers can move across organizational boundaries, it's a recipe for extreme employment-at-will with little long-run exchange. But if organizations make permeability a central part of their reward structure, they can actually create rewards that entice workers to move out and in. For example, organizations can offer a big bonus if a worker returns after an outside stint where they acquired valuable skills. There is already talk of "tours of duty" across organizations, more portable rewards and flexible systems that track skills and achievements. Step 6: Separating from Workers Employee "turnover" is the end of the employment relationship and perhaps the most frequently measured HR outcome. In a new world beyond employment, the whole notion of employee "separation" could be obsolete. The end of a project by a contractor or freelancer is hardly a separation, when that worker could easily be available in the future. This makes employee separation less of "the end" of a talent lifecycle, and more of an integral element in an ongoing series of engagements between work and workers. To meet the future demands of leaders and live up to the vast potential contribution of work "beyond employment," HR leaders need to rethink the very foundations that support today's HR systems. However, with a little creativity, it's possible to see a bridge from here to there. Thanks to David Creelman and Ravin Jesuthasan for assistance with this column. Boudreau, Creelman and Jesuthasan are the authors of a forthcoming book, Lead the Work. Photo: Creative Commons
HR, Meet IT — Your Analytics Partner in Crime
Today, it's hard to talk about HR without talking about analytics. From the first recruiting email to the exit interview, big data is changing the way we both approach and practice talent management. While the foundation for success in human resources — great people skills and strong intuition — is certainly still relevant, a modern career in HR increasingly requires a "moneyball" mindset. This shift from a largely right-brain driven career path to a left-brain one has, unsurprisingly, created a skills gap in the industry. There's no lack of big data tools or products available to help HR pros — but actual knowledge of how to navigate the growing workforce analytics landscape is limited. The solution? According to Michael Arena, Chief Talent Officer at General Motors, HR is in need of a partner in crime: the IT department. Arena, who spoke at last year's Wharton People Analytics Conference, has made a name for himself as an early adopter and strong proponent of HR analytics. His analytics-heavy rÃ©sumÃ© is an anomaly among HR executives — trained as an engineer, former visiting scientist at MIT Media Lab, a PhD in Organizational Dynamics — which makes him acutely aware of the need for more big data skills in the industry. We talked with Arena to learn more about his own partnership with GM's IT team, why he thinks it's crucial for HR and IT to join forces and what he's looking forward to in the future of workforce analytics. Why should HR focus on building a relationship with IT to implement workforce analytics? IT is a critical partner because they know how to secure data, mine data sets and integrate solutions across various systems. IT is also really important because [HR] needs them to help simplify systems into web interfaces or dashboards that others can use day-to-day. It's one thing to get a bunch of data scientists together, but then you have to take those findings and make it useful for the business. For example, we have a leadership dashboard to see routine demographics within individual groups. That was an IT design solution that lets us measure a multitude of different things. Describe your collaboration process — how do the two departments work together on analytics? It's dynamic. It's not just us pulling or them pushing. Usually, we partner actively once we have determined a specific need that we want to go after. But there are frequent times when [IT] may have new functionality and we have discussions about how we can apply that to our analytics. What are you looking forward to as workforce analytics matures? Social network analysis—looking at how people are connected to other people, and how [networks] help people be better together. There's a lot of academic research that says up to 40 percent of performance has to do with people's placement in a network. We can use simple surveys to run these studies, and then IT helps us build the models afterwards. The hard part is how to visualize it. We look at things like career advice networks or innovation networks — sometimes just knowing who the brokers are or what the informal networks look like can make a huge difference. What are the biggest challenges you and other HR execs face in workforce analytics? Incomplete data. I know things are missing, but it's hard to say what. We measure people, and that makes this field uniquely challenging because people don't behave predictably. Also, I always want to analyze more things. So that's where pragmatism comes into play. We have to be able to recognize when there's enough good quality data available to make a decision. And sometimes we have to figure out how to make decisions based on what we have. Photo: Shutterstock
Moneyball Management: How Companies Use—and Misuse—Data Science
We used to assume that the best salespeople were extroverted, but research shows the biggest predictor for sales success actually is persistence—the courage to keep going despite initially being told no. The findings, based on millions of worker surveys and tests conducted by I.B.M. and reported in The New York Times, highlight a pivotal point in HR. No longer relying solely on gut instincts, human resource managers are turning to Big Data and analytics to hire, fire and promote employees. Called "workforce science" or "people analytics," the marriage of HR and analytics presents unprecedented opportunities for employers to gain a better understanding of how their staff operates. "It used to be that only really large organizations like Home Depot were good at analyzing their workforces," says Matt Stevenson, workforce analytics and planning practice leader for North America at Mercer Workforce Sciences Institute. "But now the technology has become democratized and it’s a lot cheaper for smaller companies." As more organizations incorporate Big Data and analytics into HR efforts, they'll need to understand the right—and wrong—approaches to workforce science. Starting points for an analytical approach The simplest approach to workforce science is what Stevenson and his colleagues refer to as hiring source analytics. Companies recruit using a variety of different methods: referrals, web ads, career fairs, etc. Using various performance review metrics, they can go back and analyze, for example, whether employees hired from a web ad tend to perform better than peers who came from referrals. Do they get promoted faster? Do they stay longer? It’s important that companies control for certain factors when conducting these analyses. For example, people who apply for jobs through web ads might fill entry level positions, while people who are brought in through recruiters might be more senior. Comparing the job experiences of the two camps would result in a false comparison. Another way companies incorporate workforce science is by testing people before they start a job. Selection tests are nothing new. The U.S. military used selection tests for soldier placement during WWI. "What’s different now is you can go back and see how well this test actually predicts someone’s performance," he says. Companies test their existing employees to understand the skills that contribute to top performers' success, and those results help them set a baseline for testing future hires. For as little as $30 per employee, companies can conduct a very simple online test through various vendors, according to Stevenson. One of the biggest benefits of this type of testing is that managers can look at more than one factor. "It’s no good if you predict who’s going to be the best seller, if you can’t predict whether that person will stay. You can create these selection criteria that ask and test for a bunch of things that you care about," Stevenson says. Beware the caveats Before managers jump on every shiny data science model for hiring, firing and promoting, they should understand that the discipline is not without flaws. Wharton researcher Peter Cappelli told The Economist about a case "where the software rejected every one of many good applicants for a job because the firm in question had specified that they must have held a particular job title—one that existed at no other company." Overreliance on algorithms means that employers risk overlooking some factors in their decisions. "We’re getting to the point where some of our hiring managers don’t even want to interview anymore," Teri Morse, vice president for recruiting at Xerox Services, tells The Atlantic. According to the article, "They just want to hire the people with the highest scores." In the case of selection tests, Stevenson cautions that human resources managers aren’t getting the full picture: they never get to see how people who they didn’t hire perform. "Your selection test may predict how well people will do in your company based upon the people you already have. But what if the people you have aren’t as good as other people?" he says. The future of workforce sciences Workforce sciences are more relevant in some industries than others. A company that designs nuclear power plants, for instance, is looking for incredibly specialized people and will get more value out of testing to find the right match than say, McDonald's, where people join and leave daily, Stevenson says. As the labor market tightens, however, looking at hiring from all angles—including a statistical standpoint—will become more valuable.
The Art and Science of the Virtual Classroom
In a previous webinar, we explored six key principles of successfully designing any virtual classroom platform and shared a blueprint for adapting traditional classroom methodologies for live, online instruction. During this session, we will take a closer look at two of the critical elements of the ILT to virtual conversion process: Logistics and Facilitation. This is often where you will find the biggest differences between traditional classroom and virtual classroom delivery. Well dive into the aspects of virtual event project planning and introduce you to a critical tool (the Event Roadmap) and roles and responsibilities associated with virtual events. Virtual facilitation is more than just delivering a virtual lecture; its as much science as it is art. Learning to read a virtual audience is the art; knowing how to keep them engaged through meaningful interactions is the science. In this practical and tactical session, we will provide tips and tricks to help you master both. Attendees will learn: - How to create a logistics roadmap to plan your sessions; - How to write a facilitator/producer guide that includes visual and verbal cues; - Best practices for keeping an audience engaged; - When to use (and not to use) your web camera; and, - Why to create a Plan B and what to include in your backup plans.
Tips for Converting ILT to Virtual Classroom Delivery
“Deliver that training online!” Its easy for your boss (or their boss) to say that, but successfully converting classroom training to the virtual classroom takes work. Its just similar enough to trick you into thinking its easy. But your traditional learning methodologies need a makeover if theyre going to work in the virtual classroom. Think about the best virtual sessions you have attended – we bet it was more than lecture and uploaded PowerPoints! Join Cornerstone and the Training Officers Consortium for a session that will explore the six key principles of successfully designing for any virtual classroom platform. The principles of feedback, equipment functionality, instructions, scripting, visual and verbal cues, and time management provide a blueprint for adapting traditional classroom methodologies for live, online instruction. Learn best practices gained from over 20 years experience designing, developing, facilitating, and producing online events. These principles will provide the guidance you need to create successful live, online learning experiences. In this session, you will learn: - The six guiding principles of virtual classroom design - The benefits and limitations of common virtual classroom tools, including how to compare functionality, speed of set up, and ease of use - How to design interactions for your chosen virtual classroom platform - The logistics behind the scenes and how that affects delivery - A strategy for implementing design and delivery best practices within your organization
How Cornerstone Can Help Your Organization Thrive in the COVID-Era and Beyond
Our customer success team shares how you can leverage your Cornerstone investment to tackle critical activities in these evolving times.
Credit unions meet crisis: How to engage employees and members during crisis
The impact of COVID-19 has meant countless small & medium businesses are turning to their financial services providers for financial support and guidance during this time of crisis. Your members need you now more than ever. How are you ensuring your employees are ready to help with the proper skills and leadership training? Join Mike Bollinger, Cornerstone's VP of strategic initiatives, and an impressive panel of HR leaders to learn how to leverage talent management solutions to develop and engage your employees to better serve your members at this critical time. Join the panel discussion to learn: - Best practices for communicating with and preparing employees for COVID-19 - The role of skills & leadership training in todays landscape - How to manage a remote workforce and safely transition back to work - How to develop, engage, and retain employees in times of crisis and beyond - How learning & development initiatives impact membership growth and success
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Three steps to building organizational resilience and adaptability during the pandemic
Within this eBook, you’ll find practical actions to take today to navigate the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to provide stability for your employees. Just as importantly, these steps will also ensure you’re ready to survive and thrive in whatever may come.
Cartoon Coffee Break: The State of Remote Work
Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Cartoon Coffee Break" series. While we take talent management seriously, we also know it's important to have a good laugh. Check back regularly for a new ReWork cartoon. When the COVID-19 pandemic began back in March, many employers thought that working-from-home measures would impact the productivity and efficiency of their teams. They feared that if employees were out of the office, they would act accordingly and be less invested in their work—or feel like they were on an endless vacation. But over the past nine months, these theories have been debunked. Remote work has had an opposite effect, with most employees working harder than ever before. Productivity levels stayed the same for most companies and industries and, given the severity of the coronavirus spread, life has felt nothing like a vacation for most people. However, the flexibility of remote work has given everyone the opportunity to re-evaluate their current living situations. While some stayed put, others have changed their home address. Since March, the popularity of this trend has grown: As of October, fourteen million Americans are toying with the idea of relocation. Employees and employers alike are realizing the benefits and complications of remote work and relocation—and how both could be here to stay, even when stay-at-home orders are no longer in effect. The Pros and Cons of Remote Work Employees who are enjoying their new remote work lifestyles probably plan or hope to continue doing so even after the pandemic has ended. And for these individuals, relocation is the natural next step. Remote work eliminates the need for a commute and allows employees to move where they please without leaving their company. In fact, in a recent survey of remote workers conducted by The New York Times and Morning Consult, 1 in 3 said they would move to a new city or state if remote work continued. Employers also stand to benefit from this trend. Some companies might find that a majority of their employees prefer remote work, and might switch to a fully remote workforce as a result. In these instances, companies will no longer need to pay the rent for a physical office. What’s more, with remote work capabilities, companies will be able to access and hire global talent without facing immigration hurdles. However, there is an equal number of concerns that arise when a company decides to go fully remote. Without a physical office space, every facet of a company’s operations moves online. This not only creates more data security risks, but it makes communication and collaboration harder. Fully remote companies will have to find new ways to encourage knowledge-sharing, brainstorming, and socializing across their teams. How Employers Can Support With the Transition to Remote Work To support this shift, employers need to prepare for a more permanent remote work policy. Even if most employees remain local, expect that some might not. Create an effective hybrid model that accommodates both remote and in-office employees so that everyone can collaborate and be productive—no matter their location. Above all else, all employees—leadership, news hires, interns and HR teams alike—should be open to experimenting with new, creative approaches and technologies, like a flexible work schedule or a new internal messaging system. Meanwhile, employers should constantly be re-evaluating the tactics being used, asking themselves questions like: "What’s working? What isn’t? How can we adapt?" With remote work, the lines between work and life are more blurred than they’ve ever been, and everyone is trying to navigate a unique situation. But as long as teams are willing to listen to each other and adapt with one another, they can improve their understanding of remote work—and learn how to best support each other. To learn more about how to effectively manage and lead a remote team, check out this recent article from the Head of Cornerstone Studios, Summer Salomonsen, who recently had to adapt her leadership techniques to meet the needs of her newly remote team.
How To Manage And Lead A Remote Team With Innovation
When the world came to a screeching halt back in March because of COVID-19, Cornerstone Studios had to close its physical doors. But for a team that typically creates learning content using video equipment, studio space and actors, remote work seemed untenable. Head of Cornerstone Studios, Summer Salomonsen took a different approach to managing a remote team, viewing this unprecedented situation as an opportunity to innovate and adapt to the new world of work. "It really came down to this mindset shift. Was I willing to see disruption as an opportunity for a catalyst?" Salomonsen said in her webinar, "From Closed Studios to Better Content: Driving Innovation from Constraint," featured in the 2020 Learning Content Summit, a free, virtual event held November 2, that brought together learning content experts to tackle relevant, timely strategies to help companies navigate this new world of work. As it turns out, Salomonsen was willing, and this mindset shift ended up paying off in spades. Not only did Cornerstone Studios successfully transition to remote production, but they also learned a few things along the way. While there are no set guidelines for adapting to this new normal, understanding how Salomonsen led Cornerstone Studios through this tumultuous transition provides a blueprint for how to successfully drive innovation from constraint at any company during a time of deep uncertainty. The Path to Innovation: Top Takeaways from Summer’s HR Summit Webinar Without a physical studio, Cornerstone Studios needed to rapidly reassess both their production methods as well as their work culture to move forward. But a concrete gameplan felt unrealistic amid so much uncertainty. Instead, the path forward involved increased flexibility and constant collaboration among the entire Studios team, grounded in three core goals. 1. Find new strategies for team productivity "When your productivity is centered around a functioning studio that employs a lot of different people for a lot of very specific reasons, things can start to feel impossible," said Salomonsen of determining Cornerstone Studios' roadmap. She had to ask herself a daunting question: Now what? But instead of making the snap decision to immediately produce brand new content, or reinvent the wheel entirely, Salomonsen took a beat and ultimately recognized there was an opportunity to revamp and rework existing content to meet the moment. Resurrecting old content, looking at it through the lens of the current climate, and updating it accordingly reinvigorated the Studios team. The world of work was undergoing dramatic changes in March—but this new normal also benefited from revamped learning content. "The resounding undercurrent of this was: Am I willing to reexamine the old process? And how can I find increased employee productivity there?" said Salomonsen. 2. Demonstrate value to the business by fostering creativity What was once considered valuable—a full-service production studio—was dropped from the equation. There was no longer a need for it, and the Studios team needed to evolve past it and find value elsewhere. Sometimes, this meant producing a program from Salomonsen’s living room or packaging up equipment into a branded production kit. Adapting to these changes involved a great deal of resilience and scrappiness from every team member, so Salomonsen made sure to give them the space to practice creativity. She quotes General George S. Patton: "Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity." 3. Create and maintain relationships for a remote workforce Back in March, Salomonsen felt that maintaining connection among the existing team was important, and even more so as they remotely onboarded new team members. "While I recognize the enormous resource-taker and expensive nature of all-hands meetings, I also realize in those early days, we needed to see each other," said Salomonsen. A weekly all-hands studio sync still remains on everyone’s calendar to this day—eight months later, video chat required. Driving Innovation from Constraint For Salomonsen, the past several months were filled with impossible decisions and overwhelming uncertainty about the future of Cornerstone Studios. But this experience confirmed something that Salomonsen had always believed: Constraint is the true driving force behind innovation. This seismic shift away from normal ultimately propelled Cornerstone Studios—and Salomonsen herself—onto the path toward innovation, and the team is better for it. You can find more information about the 2020 Content Summit here. If you missed it but are still interested in watching, you can access the full archive, including Salomonsen’s full talk, by registering for the event here.
What We Learned From HR Tech 2020
In a year that has completely redefined the HR function and HR technology at a rapid pace, it’s no surprise that change was a theme throughout this year’s HR Technology Conference and Expo. Hosted virtually across four days and 136 sessions, this year’s #HRTechConf had no shortage of valuable insight for attendees on how the pandemic and the social and economic disruption of 2020 have accelerated digital transformation, technology innovations and other changes around the people experience at work. Keynote speakers, analysts and industry experts emphasized how organizations and their use of technology must adapt to support people in the now of work—and beyond. Here’s what we learned at the event this year: We’ve Seen a Shift to Adaptable HR and "Work Tech" In the opening keynote, Josh Bersin acknowledged how 2020 has forced HR into a new operating model, one that is more responsive (efficient) and resilient (adaptive) to the changing needs of business. "HR, itself, has turned into a much more innovative, adaptable part of a company," he said. Josh noted that 40% of workers have changed jobs or roles, or have a new manager. A full 90% of companies have instated a work-at-home policy. The need for HR and HR technology to help people be more productive and focused while working remotely is critical. As a result, HR tech is shifting to "work tech" and Bersin likened it to a Swiss army knife ready to support the new world of work. Making the Right HR Technology Investments are More Important than Ever Despite the promise these shifts in HR technology trends are bringing, the latest Sierra-Cedar/Sapient Insights HR Systems Survey reveals a 27% decrease in expected expenditures for HR technology this year. Sapient Insights Group Chief Research Officer Stacey Harris cautioned attendees, "if your conversation is all about cost cutting or compliance...you're NOT having the right conversation." Instead, Stacey emphasized the value of a continuous change-management approach to HR technology investments because it’s linked to better talent and business outcomes. Building Workforce Resilience is Critical When Disruption is Everywhere From widespread remote work to increasing automation, disruption is driving cultural shifts and a need for leaders to act with empathy and care. In their session, 10 Things Leaders Need to Know in the New Normal, Cornerstone’s own Chief Learning Officer Jeff Miller and Chief Talent Officer Kimberly Cassady shared key strategies leaders can use to help their people thrive. A key takeaway? Leaders don’t have to know everything. Instead, Kim and Jeff advised them to "create space. Space for you and your employees to think. Ask for feedback, and ask often." In his keynote, How HR Can Boost Workforce Resilience, Marcus Buckingham echoed the need for feedback, because it builds trust between leaders and their people. And trust is critical to drive resiliency, which today is at an all time low. For more tips from Buckingham on boosting workforce resilience, read a full summary of his keynote here. Organizational Purpose is Here to Stay In her Day Two keynote, Finding Your North Star: The Importance of Purpose (and Technology) During Disruption, Stacia Garr, Co-Founder and Principal Researcher at RedThread Research, shared how the integration of work and life has many people questioning what makes us human. In short, the pandemic and the social and economic unrest of 2020 is exposing the need for corporations to be citizens—to have an organizational purpose that goes beyond shareholders to encompass all stakeholders important to the business. Stacia shared that there are three reasons why we will see this rise in purpose-driven business persist: A shift in employee sentiment, Purpose is good for business, and A stronger level of commitment from companies than we’ve ever seen before. For more on why organizations need talent leaders to exert an active role in the conversation around purpose at work, check out this Cornerstone-sponsored research paper from RedThread Research: The Purpose-Driven Organization: HR’s Opportunity during Crisis and Beyond, 2020. Create Safe Spaces to Drive Lasting Cultural Change To encourage employee engagement and reduce burnout, leaders need to promote a team mindset. Mental and physical health and safety is the most important moving forward. So too is fostering a sense of belonging and inclusiveness. In her keynote, Culture Matters: How to Interrupt Systemic Discrimination From the Top-Down and Bottom-Up, Dr. Tolonda Tolbert emphasized the diversity, inclusion and equity (DEI) need to be intentionally embedded into organizational culture. "By creating a safe place for employees to self-reflect, learn new behaviors and habits and put those skills into practice you are able to drive a lasting culture change," she said. At the end of the day, employees who feel valued and included at work contribute more, and that supports all business goals. As we face these unprecedented challenges, innovative thinking is the only way to survive and thrive—and creating demographically diverse teams is the shortcut to innovation. Dr. Tolbert emphasized that technology can be a differentiator. In his keynote, Why Ethics Should Be at the Heart of HR Tech Decisions, founder and principal analyst of HRExaminer.com John Sumser cautioned that the loss of proper boundaries between life and work because of COVID-19 is creating serious consequences. "Where we are now is neither new, nor normal, nor sustainable. In order to navigate the future of our workplaces, we’re going to have to learn how to talk about mental illness." Sumser shared that ethics is the foundation of safety and health and that HR needs to lean on technology appropriately in order to truly understand and address issues related to employee well-being and safety. We’re Experiencing the Rise of the Talent Marketplace Talent mobility and the gig economy are now a reality, and the emergence of the "Talent Marketplace" is accelerating how organizations retain talent and support talent mobility. In the session The Role of Technology in the Talent Marketplace, attendees learned that "gig jobs" within organizations are the way forward to not only unlock unknown talent within the organization, but also enable a better understanding of the skills that already exist. Reskilling and strategic skilling along with the use of AI can surface new development and job opportunities. Moreover, understanding the employee journey and using technology to support that journey, through this new work experience will be more critical than ever. As Jason Averbook shared in his keynote Digital HR for Business: PLANNING 2021, employees work in journeys. Software vendors create modules. But organizations deploy journeys and measure the impact of journeys—not modules. Therefore it’s important for HR to partner with their tech vendors to ensure the selection, implementation, and value of the tech investment is driven by the journey they need to deliver. This is HR’s job. While the Future of Work isn’t Clear, Organizations Must Continue to Transform Digital transformation, employee experience, well-being, diversity, gigs, AI... the amount of transformation impacting organizations and their people is astounding. The importance of using technology to support people through the accelerated change to the experience of work matters. As Lisa Buckingham & Ken Solon emphasized during #HRTechConf's closing keynote session - "transformation is all about company culture." Thank you to Steve Boese, Jeanne Achille and the entire team at LRP for putting together a fantastic virtual conference and giving us so much more to think about and practice at our own organizations! See you (hopefully in person) next year! Are your people equipped with the right skills today to adapt to a new world of work? Learn how the Cornerstone Skills Graph can help you implement "strategic skilling"—the practice of matching skills to people, learning content and job roles—to predict, prepare for and quickly respond to dynamic business changes.
Performing the Core Functions of HR Remotely
Your Human Resources department isn’t just a team of experts in managing people—they’re experts in managing your company’s people. And if it’s operating effectively, your HR folks have tried and true tactics for keeping things running smoothly. While every successful HR team is unique, most probably have regular check-ins with employees to discuss their goals and offer them development opportunities; gauge employee sentiment based on how they act at the office; take managers out for coffee to discuss leadership or succession questions. What’s the common denominator? Adequately addressing people problems requires people to interface. But, as we continue to navigate a workforce shaken to its core by the COVID-19 pandemic, HR teams now have to support employees they haven’t seen in person in many months—and, in virtually onboarded cases, at all. While some functions of HR including paperwork and reporting can easily be done remotely (one example: the government has approved an extension allowing remote I-9 verification), problem solving, employee development and succession planning require a little more creativity. Here are four ways to make HR work in a remote setting. 1. Know Your People—in Their New Work Setting When there’s no chance to run into people in the hallway or chat in line at the cafeteria, getting to know colleagues becomes a difficult task. But it’s more important than ever for HR professionals, if you are to support them in the new normal. For example, you may think you know your accounting team and their challenges at the office, but are they facing different obstacles at home? Is your head of accounting dealing with his kids’ remote learning troubles, which is causing him to miss deadlines? Knowing your people means knowing the nature of their work and the culture on their respective team. Speak to individuals to see how you can best support them, not only through official avenues like offering them parental leave, but also through smaller, internal changes. Perhaps, moving that accounting deadline to a different day of the week would make all the difference. 2. Provide Learning Tools Learning and development on the job are always important. But it’s particularly crucial at a time of massive disruption when employees need to sharpen key soft skills like resilience, communication and productivity. Employees need to have tools that enable them to learn and grow in the flow of work without day-to-day coaching from HR or their managers. Implementing a learning management system can help employees set goals, guide their own development and access learning materials as they need, when they need them. HR will still have to dedicate time to developing and deploying the appropriate learning content and resources. But centralizing it and making it widely available can be game changing. Remember, remote HR doesn’t absolve you of the responsibility to facilitate employee growth—and technology can actually make that process easier on you. 3. Schedule Face Time By this point in the year, we’re all exhausted by video conferencing. But it’s a necessary evil. While studies show that too much time on camera can be stressful, you’ll get a clearer understanding of how people are doing if you can see their faces. Face-to-face interactions are critical to us as humans, so to continue evaluating how your employees are feeling (are they down? are they energetic and motivated?), you’ll have to schedule more video calls. But taking a break from a computer screen might help—instead of a typical Zoom session, try FaceTiming in the backyard, or while you take a socially-distanced walk around your respective neighborhoods. 4. Set Solid Boundaries The work of HR is never done. There will never be a time where every employee is happy, every manager is trained, every succession plan is written and every job description is updated. When working remotely, you never have to go home because you’re already there, so it can be hard to turn off your computer and put your phone on do not disturb mode. But you cannot solve every problem. And you need time to relax. Set your boundaries—and encourage your employees to do the same. Set a good example, and teach by doing. For more columns by HR expert Suzanne Lucas, click here.
The Time To Prepare For The Post-Pandemic Workplace Is Now. Here's Where To Start
This article originally appeared on Forbes HR Council. It can be hard to imagine, but there is a light at the end of this COVID-19 tunnel. Businesses will eventually reopen, and employees will return to their workspaces. But we won’t see a complete return to normal. Workplaces will look and feel very different — and in many ways, the experience will be something like a culture shock. But unlike the shock that came with the start of this crisis, companies have time to prepare their businesses and their employees, examining potential futures and creating contingency plans for each. For example, because there may still be a risk related to the virus as more people return to work, companies can develop a strategy for keeping employees safe in the office. For this kind of planning to be effective, it needs to start now. The task might seem daunting in the face of uncertainty — not to mention the host of urgent matters leadership teams are addressing on an almost daily basis as the situation evolves. But considering reentry must be on every leader’s priority list so that the business is able to respond quickly and decisively (and safely) as restrictions ease. Most importantly, these measures will help employees feel at ease. They’re ultimately the ones who will determine how quickly a company can adapt to another new normal. By taking proactive steps — from communicating contingency plans to deciding what the new normal office space will look like to providing ongoing support — companies will better support employees through this next adjustment. Have A Contingency Plan For Every Variable According to Accenture research, one of the top needs of employees in times of crisis is confidence in the company's ability to navigate the future. "You don’t have to know everything.... A leadership team that looks ahead proactively, and responds rather than reacts, goes a long way toward helping people in volatile times," the researchers wrote in the report. This is exactly what contingency plans accomplish: spelling out how your company will react to a number of possible futures. For example, what will be your company’s response if the virus reemerges and sends everyone remote again this fall? What if there’s another economic recession? These are the questions employees are already wondering about. Sharing the company’s strategy ("in person" over video, not in an email), even if it’s not all good news, will demonstrate confident leadership and increase employees’ trust in the business. Redesigning (Or Ditching) The Physical Workplace Most businesses will reopen before the coronavirus is fully contained — in fact, some already have. For some, that persistent threat of the virus and the comfort with remote work might make the office space obsolete. Experts predict that many employees will want to continue working from home after the initial wave has passed. If a company’s business strategy is compatible with remote work, and if teams were productive while working from home, getting rid of an office is something to consider. But for those returning to a physical office, they’ll return with a concern about whether the workplace is safe. The once-popular bullpen desks and open floor plan will likely feel too close for comfort. Instead, offices will need to be updated for better hygiene, from positioning desks farther apart to more regularly (and thoroughly) cleaning conference rooms and shared spaces such as kitchens, bathrooms and elevators. While these changes might make the office feel safer, getting used to this new office space will be an adjustment for employees. Gathering in a smaller conference room might feel uncomfortable. Stopping for small talk in the kitchen might, too. To help navigate this awkwardness, anticipate some of these issues, and set expectations before everyone returns through a video call. This will help prepare employees to adjust and demonstrate that the business values their safety. Be Prepared For Your Employees To Change After The Pandemic Everyone has experienced the pandemic differently. Some people, for example, have had a negative experience with remote work: One study on working from home during this crisis found that over 50% of employees feel lonelier and experience increased anxiety. For others, the transition to remote has been welcome, helping them embrace a better work-life balance and more flexibility. Still, the entire workforce has been affected. The CDC recently issued a warning that the stress caused by this crisis has put people more at risk of developing depression and other mental health issues. Companies should come prepared to offer support, and doing so will require proactive communication. Research shows less than 50% of employees feel that mental health is prioritized at their company. Organizations without mental health benefits should consider adding them; others can boost existing offerings with employee assistance programs that refer workers to therapists and counselors in their communities. Companies should also consider training managers to talk about and normalize mental health at work so that employees feel more comfortable discussing it. We’re about to enter a new normal, and companies must be ready to adapt. Thorough planning will help them prepare and keep employees’ anxieties in check. Those companies that fail to approach reentry with transparency and empathy could lose what is most crucial to the overall health of their business: the support and trust of their employees.
ICYMI: How to Remain Relevant and Career-Driven In The New Decade
It’s official: We’ve entered the 2020s. The turn of the decade marks significant change—from new technology to the where and how we work. It begs the question: What does the future of work look like? We’re only halfway through 2020, and organizations have already experienced incredible amounts of disruption. Moving forward, companies will have to continue adapting to fast-paced change. An organization’s HR department, above all, is tasked with helping employees and managers understand what change means for their jobs. For example, will innovations in AI and machine learning mean robots will replace specific roles? Will remote work become the norm across teams? These types of questions are important—even in a post-COVID world—and still require answers. Here are 6 steps that HR teams, managers or employees can take to help make the new decade their most successful yet: 1. Take Calculated Risks Many employees are afraid of taking risks. It could be that they're unsure of what's permitted at work or the repercussions of failure. But taking calculated risk (under the right circumstances, of course) is healthy for a career. Many successful businesses thrive because they encourage employees to take risks and challenge the status quo. "The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg said. Risk-taking can also support career growth and leverage untapped creativity from employees. To motivate employees to become more comfortable taking risks, consider helping them take advantage of opportunities that will help them learn and grow in their career. Encourage them to regularly take a step back and weigh their options—make a list of potential risks and courses of action aligned to them. This approach will help them be adventurous, but now act on emotion or be held back by fear. Indeed, risk-taking can be scary. But employees who take risks can create something powerful, whether it be a new product or a completely different way of doing things. And if they don’t succeed, they will learn from their mistakes and apply those learnings the next time they take a risk. 2. Deliver Results Many organizations today look at their employees based on how much profit they create for the company. This metric, best known as profit per employee, is a measure of net income over twelve months time divided by the current number of full-time employees. As a result, employees are feeling stressed and pressured to perform. But there are ways to combat this worry. Employees can hone in on three objectives: aligning their goals with organizational targets, delivering quantifiable results and maintaining skills that allow them to be agile and quickly pivot any course of action. To help encourage these behaviors, HR teams can encourage employees to set SMART goals (specific, measurable, assignable, relevant and time-based goals). This approach helps to provide clear direction, quantify areas of opportunity and highlight successes. 3. Always Be Learning Businesses and the positions they hire for evolve—precipitated by technological and economic changes. In order to grow and develop in their career, employees need to actively and continuously develop new skills. Investing in learning and development programs pays dividends for organizations and their employees: One study found that companies with well-financed L&D programs benefited from improved employee performance. HR leaders, in turn, must focus on the organization’s future needs. Search for talent with transferable, applicable skills like communication, change management and leadership—or invest in programs that will teach these skills to your employees. 4. Embrace the Technology Revolution There’s no doubt that technology is rapidly changing the workplace. The majority of business functions are moving toward using more automation, digital solutions and big data—yet there's a shortage of technical talent. That's why employers must invest in growing their own. In a recent survey, 92% of respondents said they will need more employees with technical skills and 57% said they plan to reskill workers. In some cases, training will occur for positions that don’t yet exist. Therefore, professionals who possess the right technological skills—or are willing to gain them—will be in high demand for years to come. 5. Think From an Abundance Mindset When leaders operate using an abundance mindset, they understand there’s room for everyone to succeed, and winning doesn’t require someone else on your team to lose. Encourage employees to adopt this mindset by performing it daily: For example, it’s likely that much of your employees’ work will involve participating as a member of a team. Help team members understand the importance of collaboration and take action if you notice someone isolating themselves from colleagues. Work on improving their mindset, and behaviors will follow 6. Mentorship is So 2000—Get a Personal Board of Directors Instead Every successful employee knows that having a professional mentor is priceless. If done right, the relationship yields many benefits, including management opportunities and salary increases. In the coming decade, it will be vital to level up this relationship: Instead of relying on one mentor for all your professional needs, encourage employees to create a personal board of directors that will provide insight from different points of view. The team might be made up of people with different job titles and experience levels, such as a CFO, CHRO, COO and CMO. Make sure the board can uncover skills gaps,, instill operational knowledge and provide opportunities for growth—both personally and professionally. Above all, to create a career that continues to thrive, workers must define what success looks like to them and then consistently work towards that goal. And by adopting new approaches to reach them, employees will stay relevant and indispensable even in our rapidly changing workplaces. For more ways to make the most of the coming decade, read tips from Cornerstone’s AVP of Learning and Organizational Effectiveness Jeff Miller here.
5 Ways healthcare organizations can lead through change
Most healthcare organizations are managing to address the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s not been easy. Keeping everyone safe while budgets and revenue crater and costs skyrocket is an increasingly precarious balancing act. Although, a few organizations have been able to approach these challenges in a unique way. They know that simply “weathering the storm” is a short-term strategy at best, and they’re doing more than simply reacting to present circumstances. These few organizations aren’t just managing the crisis — they’re leading through it. Are you ready to lead? Download the brief to learn about the 5 requirements to leading through a crisis. Building a more agile workforce Enabling a remote workforce Prioritizing digital transformation Creating a more patient-centric organization Aligning business initiatives and talent initiatives
3 Ways the Pandemic Could Change Our Workplaces For The Better
This article originally appeared on Fast Company.com It’s been a challenging time, but it has shed a clear light on things that need to change. The COVID-19 pandemic forced everyone to reject former routines and adopt new, socially distant ones. Protests that erupted worldwide following the murder of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and other Black Americans inspired calls for reform and brought systemic racism, police brutality, and white privilege to the forefront of the American psyche. Maybe—just maybe—these events could produce lasting, positive change. It’s difficult to predict what will happen at the national level, and unfortunately, there’s historical evidence that the impacts of events like these aren’t lasting. But I see the makings of lasting change in the American workplace. What if companies are as trusting and empathetic with their employees as they were during the pandemic? And what if leaders commit to long-term plans to bring more diversity and racial equity into their workforces? There’s work to be done in the workplace (and as a straight, married white male of privilege, I have to acknowledge the work I have to do, too). Using the learnings revealed from this year’s crises, businesses can affect real change. The question is, will they? More trust Trust between employers and their employees has always been crucial to a team’s morale, productivity, and collaboration. So far, this year has put that trust to the test. For instance, when COVID-induced remote work began, many employers invested in employee tracking software and other monitoring tools—this despite decades of research on employee management showing that close monitoring signals distrust to employees and encourages disloyalty. Instead, the opposite approach is more effective: Trust employees and they will honor that trust—and the fact that employees have been more productive during the pandemic is evidence. Employers will have a hard time denying this flexibility in work hours and location post-pandemic. And many employees will likely demand it. Companies that have confidence in their people will see the benefits, like greater employee engagement, innovation, and productivity. To work, that trust needs to go both ways. Amid the recent protests and calls or reform, many companies have pledged to make permanent changes. Some have promised upgrades to diversity and inclusion programs, others have started working on leadership pipelines and bringing more people of color into their board rooms. But in order for these initiatives to actually bring about lasting change—and encourage a workforce’s trust—companies must follow through on every purported strategy. Employees’ trust is on the line if a company’s efforts stop when the protests do. More empathy This crisis has taken a toll on the minds and emotions of American workers, with an incurable virus in our midst, unemployment at an all-time high, protests occurring daily, and the global economy still wavering. At least one-third of U.S. employees reported experiencing symptoms of depression while living through COVID-19. Thankfully, more than half of employers have recognized these struggles and are refining their mental health benefits in the wake of the pandemic. What’s more, employees themselves have become more connected. They all have similar concerns and are more understanding. I’ve noticed this in my teams. Now that our work and home lives are mixed, we’re learning more about each other and our lives, families, and homes. When a videoconference is interrupted by a coworker’s barking dog or crying baby, we laugh it off as just another side effect to our new normal. Employees are acting with more humanity—but when it comes time for offices to reopen, will this practice remain? There are benefits to maintaining this practice of empathy post-pandemic. Empathy can improve employee retention, advocacy, and even lead to business success, too. But it has to come from the top: In order for empathy to spread throughout an entire organization, managers must take the lead. They must deliberately practice empathetic leadership and take the feelings and opinions of others into account before acting on something. This strengthens manager-employee relationships, fosters loyalty, and can even teach employees how to operate compassionately. Empathetic leadership styles are especially important amid workplace discussions around race and biases. If leaders aren’t invested in these efforts or don’t clearly emote their support, employees may be apathetic as well. Continuous learning Sustained change requires continuous learning and reflection. This is true for individuals, companies, and even countries. Without it, we lose touch with what we’ve learned and why it’s important. Interestingly, learning became a priority during COVID-19. Employees displayed an earnest interest in using this isolated experience as an opportunity for personal growth and development. This habit will be critical to maintain. As skills gaps are widening across industries, reskilling efforts need to happen now. Companies will have to continue providing learning opportunities that are easy, effective, and can be integrated into employees’ everyday workflows. The protests have also encouraged learning. Many white people are pledging to educate themselves on systemic racism and oppression in America. In fact, since the protests began, Black American authors have topped the New York Times’ bestseller list, and the top 10 entries on the nonfiction list have been primarily titles that focus on race issues in the U.S. Business leaders have done the same, promising to learn more about how race relations and inequalities affect their workplace. This is important since, for too many companies, racial biases and microaggressions still go unnoticed. And these conditions not only perpetuate systemic racism, but they can slow the growth of Black employees and affect their job performance. This learning cannot end with the protests. Organizations must continue using learning and development programs, like implicit bias training, to locate and address their racial blind spots. Of course, research shows that learning initiatives alone are not enough—they must be accompanied by structural changes, like the removal of any noninclusive organizational policies. But they are still an integral part of a company’s overall commitment to antiracism that the executive team should be held accountable for. Before society returns to "normal," ask yourself the following questions: What have I learned? What do I want to do differently? How can I make sure that I follow through on these changes? Right now, the American workplace has an opportunity to become more trustworthy, empathetic, and equitable. But it will require effort. Business leaders and employees must commit to change.
Conversations with Gen Z: Old Ways, New Normals, and Shaping the Future of Work
Gen Z’s steady entry into the workforce has come with a wave of preparatory thinkpieces, advice columns and data breakdowns—rivalling even Millennial content. But there’s an important reason: as the first "digital natives," Gen Z brings transformational changes, industry-wide rethinking and reshaping the world of work—again. Born after 1995, Gen Z is the most ethnically-diverse generation in the U.S. to date and among the most educated. They had their first smartphones in elementary school, and see themselves as content creators, not just consumers (56% say they use social media to express themselves creatively). With this comes a penchant for instant gratification—even in their careers. But that doesn’t mean they lack work ethic or discipline. Still, most Gen Zers report feeling unprepared for the workforce. And in many ways, the workforce itself isn’t quite ready for them: companies are increasingly experiencing generational challenges due to mismatched experience and expectations. Even the digitally-inclined Millennials are likely to clash with Gen Z, according to some experts. The best way to overcome this generational challenge is to give both Gen Z and their future managers the tools and training they need to work best together. In fact, 75% of the Gen Z workers in one study said that a boss or manager’s ability to coach and mentor them is of absolute importance. Millennial manager Casey Brecker, a team lead with Cornerstone’s Associate Client Executive (ACE) department, and Gen Z Associate Client Executive (ACE) Tina Phan, can attest to the importance of having these resources. Read on to hear about their experience working together. Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves and your work relationship? Brecker: I've been at Cornerstone for almost four years now. I lead our ACE team, and have been in this role for just about a year now. [Phan] was my backfill for the role, so I hired her in October of 2019. Phan: I've been at Cornerstone for almost two years. I started on the Healthcare Corporate Account Development (CAD) team and then was promoted to the ACE team. Casey is my direct manager. What was the learning curve like for you when it comes to entering the workforce—or, in your case, Casey, managing a Gen Z employee? Phan: The soft skills I’ve developed through various jobs throughout high school and college helped prepare me as I entered the workforce. But I quickly realized how important it is to actively reskill and upskill in all areas as I progress in my career. To learn, I found myself modeling my work based on my peers who I admire. I connected with many of them to get a better sense of what they’ve done to make them successful in their role and that helped me understand what areas I could improve on, what I needed to do to be successful in my own role, and how I can make an overall impact at the organization. Brecker: I've learned a lot in almost a year of management.Gen Z is making a really big shift in the corporate world. Everyone is reframing the way they retain them. A big part of it is managers being supportive, mentoring, letting them make mistakes—and also asking for Gen Z’s opinions to learn from them. Gen Z’s approach is fresh and reminds me to avoid getting caught up in the ways we usually do things. Growing in the Workforce: Different Expectations and New Trajectories The linear "corporate ladder" was already well on its way to being an outdated concept before Gen Z entered the workforce. Do you have a sense of there being a new bar for success or career progress now? Brecker: What I've noticed in interviewing candidates is that Gen Zers are extremely motivated, really eager to advance and already thinking about their next role. In addition to covering Phan’s to-do list during our weekly check-ins, we make it a priority to regularly talk about her development, career growth and what we can do to get her there. Phan: One of the things that attracted me to Cornerstone was seeing people in my department move linearly or laterally within the company, depending on what they want their career trajectory to look like. And that's one thing that Gen Zers really hope to do is drive their own career path. There is a belief that Gen Z—having been so indoctrinated by the instant gratification of social media—expects more rapid and immediate movement in their career. Have either of you felt that? Phan: I would say more importantly Gen Zers want to know that the company we work for is committed to investing in our development. We are eager to work and build on our skills, both technical skills and soft skills, as well as gain valuable career experience for our future. The job market is full of talent so at times we may feel expendable. But we also see companies as expendable if they don’t support our career advancement. We can easily find new opportunities through our social networks if the job we are in now isn’t right for us. That is why it’s so important that companies are in tune with the needs of their Gen Z employees. Brecker:What's going to engage Gen Z coming into the workforce is that motivation to get to that next step and a culture of development and engagement. The freedom to face challenges on their own, but also having a mentor and a coach to help guide them along the way. It certainly was an adjustment for me at first. I had to make more time in our check-ins to discuss development opportunities and slow down to thoughtfully coach. But after a few weeks, we got in a groove, and now Tina is one of our best team members in the department and is incredibly proactive and self-sufficient. Cornerstone has launched several digital learning courses specifically geared toward the Gen Z audience. Have you taken those courses yet, and what did you think? Phan: Yes, the courses were very digestible (5 minutes or less) and got information across effectively and efficiently. They provided great insight on how Gen Zers think, operate, and interact. Brecker: The courses were extremely informative in distinguishing Gen Z myths versus realities. From the training it is clear that this generation is driven, has a hunger for personal development, and craves in-person interaction. As a manager, I learned in order to succeed as a team and retain your people it’s extremely important to set clear expectations, create a space to motivate and form authentic relationships. These are courses everyone should make time to take! To find out more about Cornerstone’s Digital Native Advancement (DNA) Program and the newly-launched "Plan Z" initiative, click here.
A CTO’s Perspective: Rethinking the Office Space Post-COVID
When our company first began to understand that COVID-19 might shut down our offices, we decided to do an all-remote drill. The thinking was: let’s send everybody home and see how it goes now, in preparation for when it’s not an option. That was back in early March. The punchline of that story is probably obvious: the "drill" quickly turned into a reality, end date indefinite. Our transition was assuaged somewhat, since we’d already been increasing remote work as our team was growing globally. We’d already implemented technology infrastructure to make remote work possible and secure. Still, the pandemic was a sudden move to all-remote, making it challenging for workers to adjust—not to mention that many of them are now dealing with a lack of childcare or other stresses associated with the pandemic. Our team has remained incredibly resilient in the face of this change, and we now have the opportunity to continue the transition to a new type of work—one that the pandemic didn’t create, but accelerated. With restrictions letting up, leadership teams are planning what returning to the office looks like—and some are implementing temporary in-person policies already. But if companies are working towards "business as usual," they’re missing an opportunity to pause and think about how we need to change the office for the future of work. We likely won’t return to the office in full force for many months to come—and in my view, perhaps we shouldn’t, ever. Instead, companies should be more focused on creating new types of work and collaboration space and on implementing more flexible work policies. Remote Work Boosts Engagement—and Hiring Opportunities There’s data suggesting that many workers, having experienced working from home during the pandemic, are interested in continuing to do so—whether that’s full-time or part-time. And while companies might be worried about a lack of productivity as a result, research suggests the opposite. A recent study from Accenture found that employees crave the flexibility to "achieve the productivity that helps my mental health." And one study found that, being granted this flexibility, at least 60% of employees feel more productive and engaged at work. Not only are employees better engaged in their jobs, but employers can increase their access to great talent. Employers no longer have to hire around their HQ or local offices, which often limits the talent pool to those employees who can afford to live in high cost of living areas. And by offering remote work to candidates, employers see higher application rates, greater candidate diversity and lower hiring costs (including incentives and/or relocation fees), among other benefits. It’s no wonder, then, that this trend was already taking shape before the pandemic, with remote job postings increasing 270% from 2017. Embrace the Opportunity to Rethink the Office Space If I could point to one positive impact of COVID-19 on the way we work, it’s absolutely that we’ll start to move away from the open office to mitigate personal health risks. It’s the worst-kept secret in the tech business that the open office, despite its revolutionary promises to spark creativity and spontaneous collaboration, failed miserably. One study found companies that switched to an open office format saw in-person interactions actually decline by 70%. That’s because in the absence of physical walls, the office culture often creates them—and instead of interrupting someone in-person, digital communication increases. The open office did save companies money by being able to fit more employees per square foot of office space. But the good news is that, in this new world of work, they likely don’t need more office space to accommodate the workforce with more people working remotely part-time or full-time. As companies reopen, they should consider dividing the office into thirds: Permanent desks: Remember that some employees don’t have home environments that are conducive to working from home regularly—or maybe they are just happier and more productive coming into a physical office everyday. Hoteling: Allow employees to reserve a desk when they need it to come into the office a few times a week or on an as-needed basis to collaborate with colleagues in-person. Collaboration Space: This is meeting room space with white boards and other tools that facilitate in-person collaboration and design sessions. Make the Remote Work Experience Better Before everyone was working from home, remote employees were at a slight disadvantage when the majority of their colleagues were in-person. In-person, it’s easier to be part of every conversation, feel connected to colleagues through casual conversations or office happy hours and even feel a stronger affinity for the company because of that personal connection. Loneliness and low engagement make remote workers more likely to leave a company. But as more people opt for remote work, improving that experience will be critical not only to help employees collaborate more effectively, but also for retention. Organizations, specifically IT teams, should consider remote work best practices, such as allowing for more flexible work schedules, assigning start-to-finish projects with definitive deadlines, and leveraging pulse surveys to regularly check-in with your teams to make sure they have the support, resources and motivation to stay productive. And all of that needs to start now: Many in leadership might think that no one will be leaving in the middle of the pandemic—but that’s simply not true. And in fact, it’s easier than ever before for employees to leave: they don’t have to clean out their desks or even say goodbye to colleagues. Finding ways to help employees feel connected to the company, its goals and its success will be critical post-pandemic now and as unemployment begins to fall and employees are more comfortable job-hunting. Companies have been making space for remote work for the last several years, and the pandemic has only accelerated the need for investing more in making remote work tenable for more employees. It’s critical that companies embrace this opportunity to give their workforce more autonomy and flexibility—rather than revert to former best-practices.
Rebuilding Remote Leadership Starts With Building Trust
Last month, I wrote an obituary for normal: the way things used to be. Many typical practices and ways of working are no longer effective, forcing everyone to utilize the most valuable skill of 2020: adaptability. One area where this is especially prominent is in leadership. The shelter-in-place orders eliminated face-to-face interactions and hands-on supervision has been replaced with digital communication and invisible oversight. The long-held belief that employees couldn’t be trusted to work as hard or as efficiently was put to the test. Likewise, many managers found themselves challenged to manage a remote, distributed workforce. The early weeks of working-from-home were completely chaotic. Uncertainty about our health, safety and future distracted everyone. So did the lack of proper processes, tools and digital know-how on the part of many workers and managers. In a recent Global Mentor Network interview, San Francisco Chronicle editor-in-chief Audrey Cooper stated, "We’re all making it up as we go. Most of us are faking it." But that’s changing. The unplanned working-from-home experiment seems to be working for many people and companies. Twitter, Facebook, Microsoft and Square have all made permanent full-time remote work optional, if not the default. Even the insurer Nationwide has committed to reducing their physical office space from 20 locations to four.It’s the tip of the iceberg, but all signs are pointing to the notion that while this is the new normal as we know it, it will continue to evolve. And when it comes to leadership, it will continue to evolve too. Senior management is learning how to support remote workers. Supervisors are getting comfortable managing their teams through digital and cloud technologies. Still, most would also admit they have a long way to go. As businesses begin to reopen, managers need to adapt to lead their teams virtually. Trust Matters Most Overseeing a distributed workforce without the benefit of informal coffee breaks, lunchroom chats and in-person meetings requires a new approach to leadership and advanced digital skills. Where should you start? Sure, technology tools are required, but those alone won't build engagement and ensure productivity and performance. Effectively leading and managing a team of remote workers begins with trust. Without trust, nothing else really matters. The first and foundational question for leading distributed and remote employees is : "Do you believe these employees can succeed?" For obvious reasons, answering "no" requires deeper inquiry and analysis. But so does answering "yes." For example, if you answer "yes", consider these questions: What are the reasons your employees can succeed while working remotely? Are these reasons based on facts or assumptions? If assumptions, what are the additional things you need to do or need to know? If you answer "no", consider these questions: What are the reasons you believe your employees can succeed while working remotely? What is required for you or your employees to successfully get to "yes"? What tools or resources do you need or do you need to provide to get to "yes"? You can also ask similar conditional questions about: Access and collaboration requirements Team meetings Team morale Gathering feedback Managing remote and distributed workers can be complicated under normal circumstances. But add a pandemic, social unrest and technological disruption, and tensions are heightened. Crisis or not, employees look to their managers for cues. These cues drive the moods and behaviors of everyone else. Do your cues and actions instill trust? To find success in your team and for your company, they must. To learn more about what the future of work looks like, download our new whitepaper, Five Ways COVID-19 Will Change the Future of Work.
ICYMI: June Brings the Heat to Work Life
Editor's Note: In today's fast-paced news cycle, we know it's difficult to keep up with the latest and most impactful trends and stories. Our ICYMI series aims to help you stay informed and in the loop from your workplace or remote work station. There’s no other way to say it: June 2020 has been a month—one defined by social activism and growing demand for lasting change in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion in this country, and in the offices and boardrooms of corporate America. The impact of this moment is history is so profound it’s spread globally. Here are some headlines that promise to set the tone for the future of work for years to come: The United States Supreme Court declared a historic victory for LGBTQ employees now protected by law from workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. Demonstrations broke out nationwide following the deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ahmaud Arbery in Glenn County and Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta. As calls for equality and peace rang out in the streets, renewed commitments to corporate diversity, equity and inclusion reverberated around boardrooms and company all-hands Zoom meetings. And, companies across sectors observed Juneteenth—most for the first time. The Black Lives Matter movement truly became global. Communities around the world are entering reopening phases that include bringing people back to offices—at least, in theory. In the U.S., the government is considering offering "back to work bonuses" to entice workers to return after socially distancing and operating remotely for months. It remains to be seen whether or not this measure will help shift work back to workplaces. As organizations continue to shift their business operations in response to COVID-19, HR and executive leaders are adopting innovative their recruiting strategies —with methods like curbside job fairs and virtual onboarding sessions over Zoom taking the place of in-person campus visits and conference room interview cycles. There’s been a great deal of focus on the public health crisis facing the world, but a second powerful crisis is brewing: the immense strain on people’s mental health as the coronavirus and its impact to our personal and professional lives continues. Business and HR leaders are now faced with a challenge: how can companies provide safe spaces for employees to discuss mental health struggles without stigma? Prepare Your People and Your Organization for the Future These and other articles clearly demonstrate that today looks nothing like yesterday. What we thought of as "the future" has become the now. The world changes fast, and if you're bound by what worked yesterday, you can't move forward and adapt to today. Learning is the key. When you learn to unbound from what change has made obsolete, you can thrive, now and forever. To help prepare for what's to come, we've joined forces with our clients, partners, and industry experts to provide resources to survive these times, rebound from the effects of this change, and thrive in the future. Access them here.
Heidi Spirgi Named to 2021 Constellation Research Business Transformation 150
This week, Constellation Research announced its 2021 Business Transformation 150 (BT150), an elite list of executives leading business transformation efforts around the globe. We are proud to share that Heidi Spirgi, Chief Strategy & Marketing Officer at Cornerstone, has been named to the list among other visionary business leaders. Leaders have been challenged this year by a perfect storm of disruptions: COVID-19, generational shifts in the workforce, transformative action for diversity and inclusion, a hypercompetitive new customer experience landscape, and the relentless march of exponential digital change. Executives named to the 2021 Business Transformation 150 list understand how the business environment is transforming in response to all of these pressures and are proactively preparing their organizations to excel during and after this transformation. Why this BT150 recognition of Heidi’s leadership is meaningful to us Heidi is an adaptable, empathic leader who guides her team to rethink how work can get done, without losing sight of a people-first mindset. She leads by example through her commitment to work-life balance for herself and her team, and she advocates for peers, encouraging them to use their voices to spark change. She has a deep-rooted passion for embracing a "beginner’s mindset" so that businesses can cultivate innovative cultures and teams built on cognitive and demographic diversity. Now, just over one year with Cornerstone, Heidi’s strategic decision-making and innovative approach to how work can get done has helped position Cornerstone to be the market leader. In partnership with the Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation, Heidi also orchestrated the launch of Cornerstone Cares, a publicly available site that provides free online training around unconscious bias, COVID-19, stress management and remote work as well as playlists designed for K-12 educators to transition to online learning. Since its launch in March, over 70,000 people have visited the site, completing more than 42,000 courses, in addition to the millions of users who leverage Cornerstone Learning and Content Anytime through their organizations’ portals. As an agent of change, Heidi has lead the creation of go-to-market campaigns that address the growing concern over the global skills gap, and two recent acquisitions: Saba Software, a cloud-based talent management solution provider, as well as Clustree, one of the world’s most sophisticated skills engines that will be integrated into Cornerstone’s portfolio of products. "This year’s BT150 leaders have watched their futures accelerate in front of them. As positive change agents, their hard work to build new business models, accelerate organizational change, and apply new technologies has paid off in the post-pandemic environment," said R "Ray" Wang, founder and CEO at Constellation Research. "Moreover, their collective drive to improve the world around them and mentor the next generation sets them apart." On behalf of Heidi and the Cornerstone team, congratulations to all of the leaders named to the BT150 list! To learn more about Heidi, you can read about her background and follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn. And for more insight into Heidi’s views about leading through change and how organizations can prepare their people for a new world of work, read her latest posts on the ReWork blog.
The expert’s guide to great virtual learning
Five ways COVID-19 will change the future of work
How much has the world of work changed as we embraced social distancing and found our own version of “shelter at home?” The most popular hot take goes something like this: "It’s all going to change! Once people have worked from home for this long, they’re never coming back to the office!" Of course, great HR pros know the truth always lies somewhere in the middle. If I could short the stock of every expert who has made the above proclamation in the COVID-19 lockdown era, I would. That being said, the world of work for white collar professionals IS likely to change based on what we’ve learned. But offices aren’t going away. Your company’s approach to what work is and how it gets done is simply going to evolve. In many industries, the trend has long been leaning towards more remote work for professional grade team members. While some companies have taken the full plunge, many have barely dipped a toe in the true “remote workforce” organizational design.
Careers Unbound: Career Coaching in Today's World
Following a traditional career path is no longer a road to success. The reality is that navigating today’s ever-changing work landscape requires a far more proactive, choose-your-own-adventure approach. But companies can—and should—do far more to help provide guidance and opportunities to employees who are figuring out their professional lives. While it was once relatively common for an employee to work at a single organization for 40 years, rising slowly up the corporate ladder, it’s now rare for workers to spend their entire professional lives at one company. In fact, according to a 2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics survey, employees hold an average of 12 jobs in their lifetimes. And this trend will only continue. "Estimates today are that a young person could have 16-17 different jobs across five different industries," says author and future of work strategist Heather McGowan. Then there are the ripple effects of COVID-19 to consider. Thirty percent of college grads are now rethinking their industry of choice, including moving away from NGOs and fields like hospitality and tourism, according to a recent study. Meanwhile, another 30% are considering taking a gap year. And anecdotal evidence suggests that a number of current employees are switching gears to tackle entirely new roles and responsibilities as company needs and goals have suddenly shifted as a result of the pandemic. One thing’s for sure: Resumes are going to look a whole lot different moving forward, with skips and hops becoming even more commonplace and widely accepted. Given our volatile working world (further fueled by advances in technology and automation), how can companies help employees create a personalized vision and direction for their future that’s not necessarily tied to a traditional upward trajectory? Transforming Managers Into Coaches While frequent job jumping is becoming more of the norm, it’s not only the result of outside forces. Unfortunately, many individuals simply feel disconnected from their work, with 51% actively looking for a new job or watching job openings, according to Gallup’s State of the American Workforce report. Managers have the power to change this; after all, they account for a whopping 70% of variance in employee engagement scores. But moving the needle will require them to take time to focus on the unique strengths and interests of their reports. As opposed to micromanaging tasks or dwelling on ways to fix individual shortcomings (so that everyone on the team checks the same success boxes), managers should have more regular, in-depth check-ins with employees to discuss their professional goals and challenges as well as projects and positions that might interest them. And instead of formally evaluating, managers must build trust by acting more like coaches: asking open-ended questions, actively listening and guiding individuals toward solutions that play to their strengths. In this way, they’ll encourage individuals to take a more active role in their own development journey while simultaneously honing those workers’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills. The result? Happier, more engaged employees and greater internal mobility. And it’s not just the employees who benefit from this adjusted approach. Research shows that organizations whose leaders successfully empower others through coaching are nearly four times more likely to make fast, good decisions and outperform their industry peers. But it will take more than just desire and a serious time investment to make these meaningful conversations and professional relationships possible—and effective. AI-Powered Digital Coaching Tools To identify an employee’s various capabilities and provide them with the right development opportunities, companies will greatly benefit from the use of AI-powered digital coaching tools. This smart technology can make recommendations for growth (like relevant training sessions, projects or open roles) based on skills courses that an employee has completed or shown interest in. As a result, that individual may stumble across a position or department they had never considered before but would be a great fit for their talents, keeping them engaged and invested in the company. This nonlinear path may seem unusual, but today’s workers are motivated by professional growth opportunities and not necessarily a promotion or a bigger paycheck. According to research from Cornerstone, 89% of workers across generations said they would consider making a lateral career move with no financial incentive. Meanwhile, analyst Josh Bersin found that companies who effectively nurture their workforce’s desire to learn are at least 30% more likely to be market leaders over an extended period of time. By constantly evaluating the skill sets of employees and providing them with continuous opportunities to learn (an approach known as new skilling), companies can not only develop industry-leading talent but also an exceptionally adaptable workforce. But it’s just as important for employees to hone their soft skills as critical as their technical skills. Luckily, XR specialists like Talespin are building immersive learning programs that coach users how to effectively respond in professional scenarios that require empathy, problem-solving and purposeful inquiry, among other leadership skills. "We're seeing retention of core concepts go up by over 200%, and they typically stick for two to three times as long," says Talespin CEO Kyle Jackson. "People start making different connections than they would have if they had been in e-learning or video- or classroom-based learning." Paired with more constructive, open-ended conversations with managers, these trail-blazing, AI-driven technologies will help to upskill employees and propel them into challenging, satisfying careers. No roads required.
Infographic: How the public sector can adapt to COVID-19 and beyond
COVID-19 has impacted how the world works in deep and disruptive ways. Cornerstone surveyed public sector organizations to better understand how they’re responding to this crisis as well as what resources they need to accelerate adaptability.
Your HR Business Case Was Approved—Here’s How to Actualize It
Congratulations—you received approval on your HR business case and budget. Now what? What if I told you that you have less than a 50% chance of achieving what you got approved? Would you feel good about going back to your executive team in one, two or three years and asking for the same budget again? In my humble opinion, I would say "No," but then again, I’m not much of a gambler with delivering on a commitment. According to a recent PwC HR Tech Survey, less than half of all respondents said they achieved 76% or more of what went into their HR Cloud business case. This is not an encouraging result when you are competing for budget or trying to expand it. With our problem in front of us, I offer these ideas as a starting point for overcoming the odds and achieving the goals you set in your business case: 1) Baseline, Baseline, Baseline As anyone who has bought or sold a home knows: "Location, location, location." The same logic applies to baselining—sometimes it matters more than the business case itself. Often, however, we pay so much attention to what goes into a business case, that there’s not enough focus on establishing and documenting a pre-change starting point. Instead, you should leverage the critical thinking you put into your business case and baseline the data that supported your pre-change estimates before any change occurs. I would suggest making whether or not you can baseline a criterion for determining if a calculation goes into your business case at all. If you cannot defend your estimated improvements, savings and revenue, you are setting yourself up for an uphill battle when it comes time to maintain or expand your budget. Further, by baselining and measuring against your baseline, you speed up responsiveness to lagging indicators that are important to your talent processes, and to the business. For those interested in learning more about the role of lagging (and leading) indicators on value measures in HR, there is a great piece written by Dr. Tom Tonkin, principal, thought leadership & advisory services at Cornerstone OnDemand, that goes deeper on that point. Why is speeding up responsiveness important? It is better to know early in the process that you are behind where you thought you would be. It provides you with time to reflect and gauge what may be the cause. Often, for example, the problem is that there hasn’t been enough time allotted for change management or user adoption. 2) Crawl, Walk, Run HR and talent teams struggle to leap immediately to effectiveness measures such as "Productivity or Revenue by Employee" or "CSAT/NPS Improvement." (There is a difference between efficiency and effectiveness measures that I cover in this post for those who are interested in learning more). My quick and simple recommendation is to start small (efficiency) and build to strategic actions (effectiveness). Turnover is an excellent example and a measure that is frequently scrutinized. Turnover, by itself, is something most companies measure, but what about turnover of your highest performing employees? To begin baselining the effectiveness of improving high performer turnover, start by identifying turnover data in critical areas of the business where this might be a problem. Then drill down and ask if you can segment that by low/medium/high performers. (The cost to replace a high performing employee can be 90-200% of their annual salary according to SHRM’s "A Guide to Analyzing and Managing Employee Turnover.") With that information baselined, you can begin working to track and measure uplift in other more strategic measures. 3) Don’t Wait to Align With the Business—Start Early There is plenty of research out there that supports the importance of HR/Talent being aligned to the business, but I point you to this blog post if this is an area of particular interest. But simply put, illustrating the connectedness between Business and HR/Talent Priorities requires a) an understanding of business priorities and b) insight into how HR initiatives support them. When you think about turnover, for example, there’s rarely just one initiative that can improve it. Rather, it is typically a combination of efforts. The point is to work early to think about what measures and data are required to build your HR/Talent value story so that when it comes time to present what you’ve done, you have both a strong qualitative story and a very authoritative quantitative impact story to tell. For a visual on how to consider structuring your HR/Talent Value Story, see the third part of my three-part blog series on the topic. With these points in mind, I offer two closing questions to reflect on: Do you know the impact your HR/Talent practices are delivering for your business? Are you prepared to defend your investment when asked?
Cartoon Coffee Break: Back to a New Normal
Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Cartoon Coffee Break" series. While we take talent management seriously, we also know it's important to have a good laugh. Check back regularly for a new ReWork cartoon. Across the U.S., states are starting to reopen, and soon employees will be going back to work. Some may want to jump right back into old routines and commutes, but they will be greeted by a lot of change: In most public spaces and shared environments like the workplace, there will be an increased awareness around any and all public health risks. Most offices will have to physically restructure to account for social distancing. To prepare for this transition, employers are reviewing guidance from public health officials, considering more remote work-friendly policies and investing in converting traditional workspaces to socially-distant operations. Among employees, some are excited to return to their workplaces while others plan to continue working from home until this public health crisis ends if their job (and employer) allows. Regardless of how the next few months play out, the previously universal phrase "going to work" is sure to take on a new meaning as people adapt to a new normal.
Webinar Recap: How Pima Community College Is Supporting Its Staff During COVID-19—And Preparing Them for Work After It
When college campuses closed earlier this year due to COVID-19, universities hopped into crisis management mode. Colleges had to quickly adopt new, virtual ways of educating their students while ensuring the safety and sanity of remote and on-site staff. Pima Community College (PCC) is one such institution. Located in Tucson, Arizona, PCC is one of the largest multi-campus community colleges in the United States, serving all areas of its Tucson community. The College began preparing for the switch to remote learning in the weeks leading up to campus closures. They held forums, communicated possible changes to the student body and created a crisis management plan: First, they would stabilize its staff, then create normalcy and then focus on their employee’s future growth and development. To help with this effort, PCC created EmployeeConnect, a centralized digital communication and training hub for all staff members. At first, the platform aimed to create organization and connectivity for the College’s temporarily disparate staff. But since its deployment, EmployeeConnect has expanded in scale, reach and impact. It has boosted learning and development among staff members and ensured that PCC will emerge from this crisis armed with the skills necessary to succeed in a post-pandemic reality. Creating Organization and Clear Communication During the COVID-19 Crisis Like so many academic institutions, PCC needed a way to quickly get organized and keep its staff informed amidst all the coronavirus-induced change. With this in mind, Jesse Diaz, an advanced program manager at PCC, and other members of the College’s leadership team got to work creating EmployeeConnect. And by using Cornerstone’s Learning and Connect solutions, Diaz was able to build, design and deploy the platform in less than 48 hours. The team first made sure EmployeeConnect served as an informative resource for every member of PCC’s staff—meaning its remote workers as well as those still on-site like facilities personnel, campus police, payroll teams, and members of the finance department. They then outfitted the platform with context-rich content that’s applicable and relevant to everyone. Administrators shared posts like "Working During COVID-19" to explain what actions PCC was taking to keep its onsite workers safe and "Things Going on Around the District" to give an update on the construction of a new downtown campus. The platform also serves as a repository for all of the College’s communications so that staff members never miss an update. Every new remote work policy or direction from HR is accessible via EmployeeConnect so that staff members can read or submit questions on these changes without sifting through emails. Diaz and his team can also track how employees interact with the platform. By identifying popular posts and frequently asked questions, they determine which pain points are most common and update the site’s content accordingly. For instance, PCC added a section to EmployeeConnect dedicated to payroll because so many employees were submitting questions on the topic. Fostering Connection and Offering Employees’ Support PCC is using EmployeeConnect to do more than organize communications and provide clear updates: Like most companies and institutions, PCC is worried about how COVID-19 is affecting their workforce’s mental health. According to arecent study, nearly 7 in 10 employees believe the COVID-19 pandemic is the most stressful time of their entire professional career. Inanother poll, nearly half of Americans said that the coronavirus pandemic has harmed their mental health. In addition to encouraging the use of their wellness benefits, PCC wanted to create connectivity among its employees and help socially distant personnel feel less alone during this particularly isolating experience. And with the EmployeeConnect platform, this kind of virtual and united community was quickly created. The platform gives PCC’s workforce an opportunity to share and comment on their coronavirus-induced experiences through posts and comments. There’s content on where to shop for groceries, tips on balancing childcare and work, techniques for managing anxiety and indoor exercise routines for everyone to try. Administrators at PCC also share information on the College’s wellness benefits and encourage staff members to use them. "Within the first few weeks of using the platform, people realized that there was value in this private online community," said Diaz. "They could contribute and talk about their worries in a private forum where they could be human, be themselves." Opportunity For Professional Growth and Development PCC also added professional development and skills training to its EmployeeConnect platform. Their goal is to not only help staff members navigate their new remote work environments, but to ensure every employee comes out of this crisis stronger and more prepared for the future. As newly remote employees, PCC’s faculty and staff needed to develop certain hard and soft skills: For example, some had to learn how to use new technologies, like video conferencing and online meeting scheduling, for their now virtual classrooms. They’ve had to strengthen their leadership and emotional intelligence skills, too: In remote work environments, conversations are typed out, and meetings happen through a screen. This lack of in-person interactions makes it harder to pick up on social cues, understand someone’s moods or properly convey needs. PCC’s staff members needed training on how to lead in these scenarios and connect with students or co-workers, even if through a screen. On EmployeeConnect, learning is delivered via playlists from Cornerstone’s Learning Solution—a format that proved highly effective for PCC’s staff. These collections of training and courses are organized by topic and skill-level, so employees can choose from beginner, intermediate or advanced. In practice, employees log onto the platform, find the section dedicated to the skills they need, choose their proficiency and start learning. "With these curated playlists, our employees are learning in a Netflix-style format," explained Diaz. "This has made learning more effective. They can just scroll through collections of video to find the one they need and press play." By creating learning content that’s easy to find and consume, PCC has set its employees up for future success. According to the numbers, staff members are now taking more courses: When the site launched in March, only 720 employees had completed their compliance training, so PCC added marketing to EmployeeConnect that drove users to "College Directed Training," a section of the site dedicated to compliance training. Since then, 468 more employees have finished the courses, pushing the completion number up to 1188 employees as of May 4th. It’s also become clear that staff members will continue using the site to learn, connect and grow because they derive value from it. The platform’s user engagement is far above the industry standard: While average engagement levels for internal community websites like EmployeeConnect usually land around 0.09%, PCC has maintained a solid 13% for two months in a row. Even after this crisis has ended, Diaz and his team expect to use the EmployeeConnect site as a place where PCC’s staff members can share experiences, improve themselves and learn new skills. This virtual internal community has brought more than organization and connection to people facing a difficult time—it has helped PCC build a pathway towards future growth and talent development. The full session is available on-demand and includes many more tips and details on how EmployeeConnect has helped Pima Community College prepare for work during the COVID-19 crisis and for future growth after it. I hope you find it useful in helping make your work easier and more impactful.
Nurturing Workers’ Adaptability Quotient Will Differentiate Businesses Post-COVID
COVID-19 caused a seismic shift in every corner of life, including how employees work. Within days, companies were forced to shift to remote work and many completely shook up their business models to adhere to stay-at-home restrictions and other regulations. The challenge was and remains colossal. But weathering the storm of the pandemic is just one part of ensuring business success. As other forces—including the rise of automation technology and the evolving expectations of the incoming Gen Z workforce—continue to put pressure on how organizations work, businesses will have to become more nimble than ever. In an op-ed for Human Resource Executive, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer at Cornerstone OnDemand Heidi Spirgi discusses how to create a more agile workforce and business by emphasizing and nurturing employees’ adaptability quotient, a measure of resilience and flexibility. Read more here.
Dear ReWorker: Some of My Employees Don’t Want to Return to Work—What Should I Do?
Dear ReWorker, We’ve been given the go-ahead from the government to re-open our business. The only problem is that the employees don’t want to come back. The hourly staff is making more on unemployment than they do working, and the exempt staff has been working from home and aren’t thrilled about returning to the office. Is there anything I can do to get our staff to come back? Sincerely, Flying Solo _______________ Dear Flying Solo, First off, know that many other HR professionals are in a similar situation. A recent poll found that 45% of employers are struggling to accommodate reluctant employees. And while you could just offer everybody a big raise so that they earn more at work than they do on unemployment, I suspect that’s not exactly in your budget. It also probably isn’t the main source of hesitation—which, I imagine, is fear. When you’re tackling this issue, it’s best to go through the most common reasons people don’t want to come back and address them one-by-one. 1) They Get More Money on Unemployment Let’s start with the monetary issue you mentioned. Unemployment payments are generally terrible, but the federal government temporarily allotted each person an additional $600 per week. The key word here is "temporarily." As of right now, this is scheduled to end in July—and then what? It drops to regular state unemployment, which, as I mentioned, isn’t good. Prepare to let your employees know that, unfortunately, you can’t hold their jobs for them. They are welcome not to come back—in truth, everyone is making difficult decisions about what’s best for them and their families—but you’ll need to replace them. Technically, you can notify the unemployment board that you’ve offered them their old job again, and they’ll get zero financial assistance, but certain companies are opting not to do this. 2) They Want to Work From Home Take a step back for a minute. How has remote work been going for your organization? If productivity has remained relatively high, then perhaps you should consider making it a permanent arrangement. Twitter and Square both recently announced that they were giving some employees the option to work at home full-time indefinitely. Obviously, this won’t work for everyone. Some jobs can be done remotely quite easily, while others necessitate being physically present. For instance, a plant supervisor may have been able to do a ton of organizing and planning from home, but when production starts up again, she’ll need to be on-site. Perhaps a different schedule will work in this case—it’s at least worth considering to alleviate the anxiety of many workers. Most employees would be thrilled with the extra flexibility to work from home even a couple of days a week. See if that can work for you. 3) They Have Legitimate Health Concerns This is a virus that no one seems to be able to pin down. There’s the ever-growing list of symptoms, from prolonged cough and fever to loss of smell and taste and "COVID toes." Some people are asymptomatic, while others lose their lives. There’s still so much we don’t know—and likely won’t for some time. In the meantime, it’s critical to make sure your business is carefully following all CDC and state guidelines for re-opening. Reassure employees that you are working to keep them and their families safe. If someone has a health concern, consider a leave of absence. If your business has fewer than 500 people, you’re subject to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which can help pay employees who are sick, have been exposed or need to care for someone else who has been. 4) They Are Struggling With Child Care Many schools don’t appear to be re-opening, and summer camps are a mystery right now. Again, if you have fewer than 500 people, you’re subject to the FFCRA and required to let people who have children at home take protected paid leave to care for them (yes, the act covers both health and child care complications). Let your employees know that you’ll be following the law and help walk them through how it applies to their particular situation. It’s also a good time to revisit the flexible scheduling arrangements I mentioned earlier. If your employee can get their work done, but it tends to be during more "off" hours because they’re watching children, explore this path. Just make sure there’s enough communication and overlapping hours to allow for quality collaboration with coworkers, if needed. If you go through all of these options and they still don’t want to come back, genuinely thank them for their service and let them go. While you’ll have to recruit and train new hires, you’ll likely be able to find individuals who want to be there. Unemployment rates are astronomically high right now (and will likely continue to rise). And if Walmart was able to hire 200,000 people in a little more than a month, you can hopefully find new people as well.
Genuine Ways to Connect With People Remotely
With the stress of being newly remote comes a focus on logistics: How do I get my webcam to work? What does it mean if someone isn’t responding to my email? What if my internet goes out in the middle of a big presentation? But moving past all that, zero in on why you’re trying to connect remotely in the first place—and how you can accomplish that goal. Without the ability to read body language, have discussions without lag time and quickly catch up on the fly, the human element of work can get lost. Remember that a big reason people love (or don’t love) their jobs is their connection to their colleagues. So as we adapt to a remote world, let’s refocus on that. Engaging Informally Telecommuting technology has grown by leaps and bounds over the past several years as more and more people work from home, connect during business trips and set up remote offices. Zoom, WebEx, Google Hangouts—they were all invented so that we could have meetings and collaborate effectively on work projects when we’re not face-to-face. The technology is great for that, but it can—and should—serve another central purpose: building and keeping our human connections with colleagues. Think about everything you’re able to do informally when you’re in an office environment that you’re unable to do now. I’ll start the list for you: Stop by someone’s desk to ask a quick question Catch up on personal lives in the break room or at the elevator Debrief a meeting after it’s officially over on your way out the door Invite nearby colleagues to join you on a trip to find some coffee Hear your coworkers getting excited about something and ask what’s going on Organize a standing happy hour There’s a lot there, right? And we don’t want to lose all those opportunities to connect with people. So, the question becomes: how can we simulate them within the confines of a remote experience? Creating this type of intimate, collegial environment requires two things—culture and planning. Ways to Build Culture Online With quick access communication tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams and Workplace Chat, people can virtually "stop by someone’s desk" to catch up or talk about non-work things, but most need a precedent for it. Oftentimes, we think (consciously or unconsciously) that these workplace communication tools should be used exclusively for work. But building or maintaining relationships with coworkers is an important part of work, so use them for personal connections as well. Send a Slack question whenever it pops into your mind (and try to respond quickly and graciously when someone reaches out to you!) Make it a habit to ask your teammates how their day is going, if they did anything fun over the weekend and whether they caught the latest episode of that TV show you both watch. Reach out to a colleague or two after a meeting to share how you thought it went, anything you’re excited or unsure about or any ideas you didn’t get a chance to share. Post your excitement about topics that colleagues might find relevant or interesting on a Slack channel. Encourage others to do all of the above! Plan With Purpose Accidentally blurring the line between work and socializing isn’t exactly possible when you’re remote—you have to deliberately cross it. Schedule time for all of the things you’d normally do ad hoc, such as: Virtual coffee. It sounds corny, but have you ever done it? It can be really wonderful. Talk about whatever you want—work, life—but if you talk about work, don’t talk about projects or action items. Focus more on feelings, things you’re excited about, frustrated about, etc. to provide a sense of connection. Pad your online interactions with time for informal chat. Start 1:1s with some "how are you/what’s new?" talk and make sure you share and set the tone for real connection. Plan group hangouts. Get the team together and have everyone bring a beverage or snack of choice. Play an online game (my office is exploring the Jackbox suite of games you play through your phone and computer). Remember when you were a teenager and you would sit on the phone with someone for hours and sometimes not even talk? You’d just be doing your homework or something, but they were there? Try this with work. Maybe both you and a colleague have a deep-think project to work on and could use the occasional outside perspective. Schedule time to be online together doing your separate work, with the ability to ask for feedback or suggestions whenever the moment strikes. At the end of the day, logistics are important. If you can’t hear or see someone, it will obviously be hard to communicate with them. But don’t stop at that surface level. Focusing on building human connection with your colleagues through culture and planning will help you develop and maintain the relationships that are the lifeblood of successful work. Rae Feshbach is the Head of Content Engagement at Cornerstone.
Webinar Recap: How Organizations Can Adapt and Thrive in the "Next Normal"
2020 will be remembered as a year of dramatic shifts and unprecedented disruption. For HR leaders, the COVID-19 pandemic put an unexpected spotlight on the digital workplace and remote work, on crisis management and adaptive culture and on redefining the workforce experience. As well-known management consultant Peter Drucker said, "The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence itself, but to act with yesterday’s logic." What, then, does the new logic look like for business? How can organizations find the opportunity amid the crisis? Heidi Spirgi, Cornerstone’s Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer, recently joined Leapgen CEO and co-founder Jason Averbook to discuss these very issues surrounding our "next normal." Several key points are highlighted below, but you can take a deeper dive into the full presentation by accessing the on-demand recording. Adaptability as a Critical Skill for 2020 (and Beyond) Certainly, the COVID-19 pandemic is not the catalyst for change that anyone would have chosen. Many organizations have met the challenges admirably, from manufacturers pivoting to serve the public good to organizations making a concerted effort to protect their people and find innovative ways to keep the lights on. "[It] shows how fast businesses can pivot when they need to," said Spirgi. Now the challenge will be whether we can hang on to this agility and adaptability in the period to come instead of reverting to what we already know and have done in the past. "Adaptability requires unlearning," Averbook said. Yes, everyone will need to develop new skills and adapt to new realities, but there must also be a conscious effort to shed risk-averse processes and outdated mindsets. Spirgi cites the lack of focus on mindset as a key factor that holds organizations back as they create a digital business. HR leaders, for example, have been thrown into the core of the business during the response to COVID-19 to help determine how the business will operate going forward. This requires a significant mindset shift. "HR has to not think of itself as a vehicle of managing talent, but have its mission be to manage change within the business," she said. In studying organizations that are simply surviving versus organizations that are thriving, a few key trends emerge. The former group tends to value expertise among employees—which can be measured by IQ (capacity for knowledge)—and not to place a strong focus on innovation. The thriving group is more likely to measure and value AQ, or adaptability quotient, which is linked to the capacity for change. Its workers are resilient and resourceful, curious and optimistic. If you are interested in measuring AQ across a team, a pulse survey can give you a great start. If your results show that your team doesn’t feel empowered to fail or take risks, it’s unlikely that your AQ is high. At an individual level, it’s up to managers to help cultivate AQ—and to model it themselves. This might include maintaining a beginner’s mindset and stripping away preconceived notions, even though you may be an expert at the subject at hand. Or modeling a willingness to take smart risks and taking the time for genuine human connection with the team. Accommodating Different Learner Styles There are also plenty of other skills beyond adaptability that employees will need to hone to advance their career and help their company succeed. And it’s in large part the employer’s responsibility to provide these skilling opportunities. Unfortunately, there is a gap between learner expectation and learner experience. The demand for frictionless learning, or learning in the flow of work, continues to grow. Learners want personalized, curated and highly contextualized experiences. But most organizations are pretty far from delivering this experience, Spirgi said. Getting there will require another mindset shift. "We think about learning in the context of work as required training," Spirgi said. This is the box-checking type of learning—critical processes, compliance training and so on, all of which is very important and will never go away. "[But] that’s such a small percentage of the learning that needs to be experienced at work." As learning moves from one-to-many to an experience that’s more employee-driven, organizations will need to learn more about their people—not just their job title and hire date, but a view of the whole person, including their experiences, aspirations and skills. Of course, employers successfully gathering data on their employees is dependent on one big thing: trust. People Data and Privacy "One of the big roadblocks to collecting rich and meaningful data... is that people don’t trust HR with their data," Spirgi said. "They are deeply concerned that if they share information about their mood, aspirations, strengths, interests and well-being that it could be used against them if they’re honest and transparent." There must be a line drawn between, for example, data used for performance reviews and compensation consideration versus data used to drive more intelligent coaching and decision-making. HR must be willing to make commitments to its workforce about how its data is being used. What’s Next for HR? As Averbook puts it, we are standing at the intersection of opportunity and confusion. What happens next for HR? What happens next in learning? No one can legitimately know for sure. What we do know is that the pace of change was steadily accelerating even before the pandemic and has been kicked into hyperdrive in recent months. HR leaders have an unprecedented chance to step up and help their organizations adapt and flourish in this "next normal." "This is the biggest opportunity of our careers," said Averbook. To learn more about how you can make the most out of this opportunity, view the full session on demand.
How to Convert Instructor-Led Training to Virtual Classroom
"Just deliver the training online!" That’s easy for your boss (or your boss’s boss) to say. But successfully converting instructor-led training (ILT) to a virtual classroom setting takes real work. Traditional methodologies are going to need a makeover, and developing ways to foster real human connection will be critical. In the midst of an unprecedented period of transformation and disruption, the importance of having truly effective training and development can hardly be overstated. Cornerstone recently partnered with the Training Officers Consortium (TOC) for a wide-ranging and insightful session designed to provide tactical and practical tips for making the conversion from ILT to the virtual classroom. There were many helpful takeaways from my discussion with host Melissa Chambers, director of online instruction at MSC Consulting, and Chris King, Chief Technologist at TOC, and I’ve highlighted some of my favorites below. To take a deeper dive into the full presentation, please access the on-demand recording. ILT-to-Virtual Is Not a One-for-One One of the common pitfalls when translating pre-existing in-person training to synchronous online training is believing that the virtual session should be a near-clone of its predecessor. "Just because it was an eight-hour, full-day course does not mean that it needs to be an eight-hour, full-day course again," Chambers said. And really, who would want to participate in an eight hour—full-day course virtually? Moving online means it's necessary to rethink the best way to format the course from many different angles. Make Sure You Get Regular Feedback When you’re in an instructor-led session, you’re usually paying attention to the body language and eye contact of your learners as indicators of engagement. Since those are less clear online, you need to proactively build opportunities for interaction into your virtual classroom. Set the expectation for participation at the outset of the session and then be sure to check in with participants regularly throughout. "You’re training them to know that you’re going to be asking something of them on a regular basis so they’re less tempted to multitask while they’re in the virtual classroom," King said. While it may seem difficult to know whether your participants are truly engaged, Chambers and King pointed out that you also don’t necessarily know who’s engaged in an in-person classroom, either (despite nonverbal hints). Time Is Different Online Than It Is Face-to-Face Some things are faster online, while others are much slower. While it’s great to have participants get to know each other, a round-the-horn virtual introduction with webcams can easily eat up a significant chunk of your presentation time. Think about tools that will maximize time efficiency; it’s much faster to do introductions via chat, for example. Have a Deliberate Design "You certainly need to bring a little bit of project management discipline to this and have a deliberate design—and focus—on what you’re trying to accomplish," King reminded us. Whether you’re thoroughly grounded in instructional design or just kind of winging it, you need to have a plan in place. What is your technology? How long are your sessions? Exactly who will be involved? Do you need a producer, a moderator and an instructor to deliver the session successfully? These are all important factors to consider ahead of time. Design First... Then Select the Tools Everyone loves a shiny, new toy, and some platforms are packed with tools that make for fun experiments and engaging user experiences. It can be tempting to think, We have these cool widgets, so let’s have a breakout room and some whiteboarding. Instead, let your design light your path. What do you want your learners to be able to do at the end of the session? What do you really need for engagement? You’re looking to reduce the cognitive load of both your students and facilitators. If people are worried about how to use a dozen unfamiliar tools, they aren’t going to be absorbing the content or having an effective learning experience. During our discussion, one of our attendees even chatted us some great advice: "Don’t build your outfit around your socks!" After you select your tools, practice on them! All of your teachers’ and coaches’ advice holds true here: Practice makes perfect! Facilitators: Mitigate Virtual Lurking and Ask Open-Ended Questions While there is no literal back row in a virtual classroom, you may encounter the occasional disengaged learner slouching and tuning out of your training. Maybe they never turn their camera on or they never talk in chat. This doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t engaged, to be sure, but if interactivity is important, facilitators may need to solicit it. As Chambers pointed out, facilitators run into a potential pitfall with questions. Be wary of closed questions that can be easily dispatched with a simple "yes" or "no." Even if you ask an open-ended question, like "Do you have any questions?" you are likely to be met with crickets. (Don’t be afraid of occasional crickets, especially during online training, as it can take participants a few seconds to gather their thoughts and type a response or take themselves off mute.) She suggests providing a succinct option for hand-raising—e.g., "Do you have any questions? If so, please click the green check for ’yes’ or the red x for ’no.’" This allows people to virtually raise their hand without going too far out on a limb. Also, note that extroverts dominate voice-driven Q&A, so try to mix it up between audio and text. Always, Always Have a Plan B! If you watch the recorded presentation, you will see a lengthy list of the ways that a session can get upended for even the best-prepared presenter. Chambers, for example, once had a puppy eat through a computer cable prior to an online session, leaving her without a power cord. Talk about a twisted version of "my dog ate my homework"! But, hey, electricity goes out sometimes. Demo sites refuse to load. Sessions fail to record. Have a Plan B! In addition to thinking through some contingency plans, make peace with the fact that it’ll never go perfectly. If you do, you’ll be in good company, and the chances for a successful virtual session are much greater. The full session is available on-demand and includes many more tips and details about the six guiding principles that Chambers and King see as the key to a successful conversion to the virtual classroom. I hope you find it useful in helping make your work easier and more impactful.
Double Your Investment in Work Relationships During the COVID-19 Pandemic
On March 11, 2020 the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 coronavirus a pandemic, officially elevating the disease to a worldwide issue. All countries, all people. Since then, each of us have faced unprecedented and accelerated changes in our daily lives and work. Analysts and researchers have projected disruption in the workplace due to technology and changing attitudes about remote work, but no one imagined that the future would become the present so soon. Very few organizations are prepared to handle the logistics, let alone the impact this will have on the relationships of employees, managers and organizational leaders. Generosity in a time of crisis is a sign of good character and the COVID-19 pandemic only expands the good we can do for one another. But money or time aren’t the only ways we can serve those in our communities and workplace. There’s another key asset that many of us in the workforce can give, even in these shaky times: social capital. Social capital is broadly defined as the positive outcome of human interaction like the exchange or gifting of ideas, information, and opportunities. We aren’t limited in these exchanges while working from home and social investments may be more valuable than ever. Here’s one thing you can do when you’re ready to give: sponsorship. Sponsorship involves an organizational leader or manager (sponsor) using their influence to advocate for the success of a more junior employee (protÃ©gÃ©). This might sound like mentorship, but there’s a distinct difference between the two. Mentors lend an ear and give tough advice to mentees because they’ve been there and done that. Sponsors use their relationships and reputation to ensure their protÃ©gÃ© is recognized by the right people. Mentors invest their time, sponsors invest their influence. The sponsor’s journey looks like this: Select top-performers from more junior ranks of the organization (or performers from outside your work who you feel comfortable recommending) Plug protÃ©gÃ©s into meaningful projects to build on their skillset Endorse protÃ©gÃ©’s work and make valuable introductions to key power players Advocate for their protÃ©gÃ©’s career success behind closed doors (where the decision makers are) You might not spot your company’s next high-potential at a company happy hour, but taking time to invest in the long-term career of others is always meaningful. Getting involved and sponsoring someone else gives you the chance to flex muscles that could lie dormant during this time of crisis: empathy, embracing positive differences, and prioritizing inclusivity while navigating a change. To learn more about how you can apply sponsorship as a leader, check out our Content Anytime Leadership & Management subscription and maximize your leadership’s potential to spot, cultivate, and surface your best talent.
Operating in Today’s COVID-19 World – A CTO’s Perspective
As a CTO, the integrity and security of corporate networks, hardware, software, technologies and employees are always central to my work—regardless of where they operate. Even before the global pandemic hit, remote work was on pace to increase 30% by 2030 globally, according to Gartner. At Cornerstone, we were already seeing and making changes to accommodate that shift, with 100% of our employees working remotely today. For my team, that means 1200+ currently remote engineers, developers and IT support staff who were used to coming into the office every day to collaborate with their teams. To focus my team’s operations amid this uncertainty, I’ve introduced a three-pronged approach to remote work that’s pivotal to Cornerstone’s immediate-term platform development on the backend and a smooth customer experience on the frontend: 1) Look for Opportunities to Motivate Tech Employees and Boost Engagement All business leaders faced with the current situation need to build a team culture of collaboration. Communication is key. That means delivering up-to-the-minute information related to shifts in corporate operations, specific team updates and COVID-19-related resources. They should also empower remote employees with access to corporate IT networks, technologies and digital tools that help them navigate disruptions to traditional workflows. As CTO, it’s my responsibility to ensure Cornerstone’s developers have what they need to overcome innovation challenges from home. For example, we have many scrum teams at Cornerstone who thrive in—and are used to—in-person environments. They’re all used to the ceremonies associated with development sprints, including: daily standups, retrospectives, collaborative design sessions, that drive innovation at the company. Fortunately, we had already deployed great tools, like Slack and Confluence, that enable our developers to remotely conquer the same projects under similarly tight deadlines with energy and enthusiasm. And, of course, we make extensive use of WebEx, Zoom and Google Hangouts. Friendly competition is another important aspect of in-person dev work. To bring this energy to our remote teams, we’re also planning to host a global virtual Hackathon with the theme: Remote Enablement Tools. This will actually be our seventh Hackathon at Cornerstone with prior events under suggested themes, such as AWS, D&I, etc. Our aim for the event is to serve as a vehicle for increasing connectivity, creativity and camaraderie across teams. Facilitating team-oriented events and activities like these enables us to keep employee engagement levels more normal. They can also inspire out-of-the-box thinking and fresh approaches to hurdles that arise as this situation evolves. 2) Empower IT Teams to Become Data Protection Agents Beyond the typical provisions that come with all-remote work, the pandemic context raises additional challenges like making sure everyone can connect to the corporate and production networks effectively. The social unrest, misinformation and even conspiracy theories can generate an emotional response that makes people easier to exploit—and cyber schemers know it. In fact, a survey of security executives representing industry, government and nonprofit sectors from the CNBC Technology Executive Council found that there’s been a 40% increase in phishing attacks. A third of survey respondents also said they’ve seen an overall increase in cyberthreats. SaaS systems, in particular, are struggling to respond. CTOs, CIOs, CISOs and other technical executives need to prioritize elevating the role of IT teams in educating the non-technical workforce about cyberthreats and providing security training (if they haven’t done so already). Remote workers, for their part, should be extra sensitive to the ever-present phishing schemes at this time. IT teams need to help remote employees keep work data and devices safe, offering guidance, including: locking device screens every time they’re not in use, storing work laptops and other company hardware safely and completely avoiding printing sensitive company or client information. IT teams can also advise employees to take tactical steps like securing home Wi-Fi networks with a strong admin password and limiting corporate platform access to trusted colleagues. During this new reality businesses need to approach IT operations and remote work with extra vigilance focused on protecting corporate information, client data, SaaS platforms and other digital assets as much as possible. As the head of Technology at Cornerstone, it is my job to empower my team with the responsibility to prepare, inform and support every employee with the digital tools and security knowledge to stay safe. Employees logging on from living rooms and couches need to understand IT security best practices like these—and learn to implement them in the course of daily work. 3) Prepare for Tomorrow’s Inevitable Unknown Now more than ever, CTOs and CIOs are in a strong position to drive their organizations toward digital transformation—with 73% of IT leaders expecting to advance efforts throughout the pandemic. To keep developer teams motivated and prepare for whatever crisis comes next, CTOs and CIOs need to consider accelerating digital transformation efforts like migrating databases to the cloud. The digitization of company workflows, implementation of updated BYOD and remote work security protocols and employment of remote work-friendly platforms or tools will be crucial to tackling immediate-term challenges tied to COVID-19 with future-ready innovation. As the pandemic peaks and talk of reopening economies continues, now is the time for companies to develop refreshed crisis plans that account for business model pivots, workforce dispersal and unpredictable disruptions to critical operations. In the process, business leaders need to take stock of the benefits of having a dispersed workforce—withstanding a location-based crisis like an extreme weather event, for instance—and invest in technology, tools and training that allow them to thrive remotely regardless of external circumstances.
This Week on HR Labs: Exploring New Capitalism in the Wake of Covid-19
Cornerstone is proud to bring you Season 2 of HR Labs, a podcast about learning hosted by our very own Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer Heidi Spirgi. This season, we’re exploring the importance of learning and development as businesses shift their priorities from shareholders to stakeholders—particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Find it on Apple Podcasts and everywhere else you listen to podcasts. Back in 2019, a group of nearly 200 CEOs made a promise: Moving forward, they would make business decisions in the best interests of their stakeholders—rather than their shareholders. And they’re far from alone. Many others have made similar statements about a move toward this stakeholder-first approach in a growing trend known as ’new capitalism.’ Then, the pandemic hit. Businesses faced—and are continuing to face—the impact of sweeping shutdowns and a crushing economic downturn. It’s the first pressure test of companies’ ability to prioritize stakeholders—to put people before profits. In episode 1 of this season, we’ll look at the origins of this stakeholder-first approach, and how the pandemic has impacted it so far. Through a conversation with Kelly Monahan of Accenture Research, we’ll hear how companies are showing early signs of sticking to these initial promises, and her research-based advice for leading during times of crisis. We’ll also hear from Cornerstone’s Mike Bollinger about what role learning is playing in the new normal and why it's so important to focus on a forward looking view. Enjoy this episode of HR Labs below. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/promise-pandemic-how-new-capitalism-is-being-put-to/id1482283780?i=1000471667454
Balancing Life With Kids and Work in a COVID-19 World
The world of work changed virtually overnight with the global spread of COVID-19. In this series, we'll share personal stories and perspectives from Cornerstone employees who—like so many of us—are doing their best to balance life, work and learning from their couches, kitchen tables and other makeshift office spaces. +++++ When I received the dreaded notification that schools were officially closed I thought of it as something that would be challenging, but not insurmountable. Being a complete Type-A control freak I had high hopes and even higher expectations for my tiny humans (Oliva, 5 and Jack, 3). I created a reasonable schedule based on a few I’d seen online complete with at-home workouts, academic time, outdoor activities, and what I felt like was a realistic amount of TV time. I dove deep into Pinterest coming up with great art projects and fun things they could do while I was plugging away at work. I was going to tackle this situation head on the best way I knew how: with extreme organization. A few weeks into this quarantine and I can comfortably say I have thrown all my expectations and schedules out the window. Turns out those tiny dictators don’t care about my schedule of activities I confidently posted to the refrigerator a few weeks ago (can you believe it!?). So now we’re on to plan B: survival mode. Here’s a few things I’m doing to stay sane while I balance work and COVID-19 life with kids: 1) Asking for help As I mentioned above I thought I could juggle work and kids just fine on my own but quickly came to the conclusion that I could not and needed to ask for help. I realize I am incredibly fortunate to have family members nearby who are in my "quarantine circle" and are willing to take the kids for a few hours every day. I feel awful burdening them on a daily basis but I know it’s what I need to do to make it through this time. It’s not the 7:30AM-5:30PM help I’m accustomed to having – so the struggle is still there to get everything I need done in a day but definitely takes a huge weight off my shoulders. I also have to remember to ask my husband for help. I’m admittedly awful at this, a self-proclaimed supermom, I try to do it all on my own. But even this is too much for me and we’re in this together. We try to sit down at the beginning of the week and coordinate calendars the best we can, take turns making meals, and entertaining the kids. No one can do this all on their own and it’s important to recognize when you need help (whether physical or virtual) to get you through the day. 2) Managing mom guilt I mentioned a little bit of the guilt I’ve been feeling handing off my kids to family but in addition to this I have been experiencing extreme mom guilt when it comes to my kids. They’re used to having a full day’s worth of activities while at school which have all been replaced with my #1 babysitter, the television. I realize there are tons of great resources for children’s virtual learning, entertainment and even exercise, but they all have one thing in common: a screen. But all I can do is let go of that mom guilt and do what works best for me. If I need to let them sit with iPads for 3 hours straight so I can get through some conference calls and projects without them bothering me, so be it. We’re all doing the best we can right now and need to continue to grant ourselves grace (and maybe just this once ignore the AAP guidelines on screen time!). 3) Giving myself permission to let go This is hard. There’s no rule book for this. Some days my kids will be up, dressed, and playing with toys and projects I cutely set out the night before while I sip my coffee and check my email. Other days it’s 3PM, no one has brushed their teeth, we’ve had cereal for lunch, and the only organized activity has been "movie time". And that’s okay. Let it go. (Have I mentioned my kids have made me watch Frozen 1000x?) 4) Carving out time for me This is probably one of the hardest things for anyone who is dealing with small kids, even when there isn’t a global pandemic going on, but I make it a priority. I can’t be a good mom, employee, wife, or friend, if I’m not able to take a little bit of time during the day to do something for me. Lately that means taking the dog on a walk around the block (by myself), getting in some exercise, or even waking up earlier than anyone and heading downstairs to watch a reality tv show in peace. Whatever that moment looks like for you – make sure you take it. In conclusion – I have no idea what I’m doing. No one does and that’s okay. I take solace in the saying "nothing lasts forever". Try to take everything day by day and we’ll soon be looking back on this crazy time and appreciating the strength we didn’t know we had. Sara Schonfeld is a senior marketing manager at Cornerstone.
Post-Pandemic-Proof Your Business: Prepare for "Reboarding"
There is light at the end of the tunnel. At some point, the pandemic will end. Organizations and people will attempt to thrust themselves back into something approximating normal. However, expecting normalcy to return without issue invites a second crisis—one that also happens to be preventable. From a loss of income to the loss of a loved one, the COVID-19 pandemic is taking a serious toll on everyone—from working-level to the C-suite. Feeling anxious, confused, overwhelmed or powerless iscommon during an infectious disease outbreak. As society attempts to cope with reality, millions of people are experiencing changes in sleep and eating patterns, difficulty concentrating and the exasperation of mental health problems. Expecting the stress to just blow over after the shelter-in-place orders are lifted may place your employees and business in harm’s way again. Now is the time for leaders to act. Getting the response right might define your career—and serve as your organization’s defining moment. Here are a few steps you can take right now to post-pandemic-proof your business. 1. Do not expect getting "back to normal" will be anything close to normal. "Back to normal" implies the possibility of going back to exactly the way things were. In the case of this pandemic, that is not only misleading, but potentially dangerous. The disruption and consequences caused by COVID-19 and the response to it are unprecedented. This novel coronavirus viciously exposed our personal, corporate and governmental vulnerabilities. Every country and human on this planet has been impacted in one way or another. Tip:Adopt a "re-build" rather than "resume" attitude. Life was not just put on hold when the crisis hit. Humans don’t have a pause or rewind button. Regardless of how each of us has beens affected and responded, we are different now. Life is different now. Uncertainty and ambiguity aren’t going away. It’s okay to be uncomfortable as we adapt to an evolving "new normal." 2. Anticipate that the return to normalcy could take 12 to 18 months. Much to the dismay of billions of people, COVID-19 likely isn’t going away. It’s a virus, not a blizzard or earthquake. Unlike natural disasters that have a beginning and an end, this catastrophic event will be mitigated, but it won’t disappear. It’s likely to linger, and even reappear, if we don’t remain vigilant. It took more than three millennia to eradicate smallpox. Thanks to modern medicine and technology, it’s reasonable to expect the "cure" for COVID-19 might only take years. Tip: Physical distancing guidelines will need to be practiced for months ahead—especially in the workplace. Personal protection equipment (masks and gloves) will need to be provided for both physical safety and emotional peace of mind. Anticipate how CDC guidelines might affect production work, customer interaction and travel. Embrace remote work whenever possible. Discuss how and when meetings and gatherings will be conducted, including networking and lunchroom gatherings. 3. "Reboard" your employees. Welcome back each employee like it’s the first time you’ve met them.The novel coronavirus has undone a century’s worth of habits in just a few weeks. There will be personal and economic consequences. A lot of workers will return to their jobs as different and, in many cases, more vulnerable people. Tip: Schedule one-on-ones with each employee. We are all responding to this crisis differently. Some of us are stressed about older parents living alone. Others are concerned about the safety and education of young children. Some are still cashing paychecks, while others are standing in food lines. Conversations should address unique challenges faced by each employee. Many of these meetings can, and should, be done in advance to get a pulse on levels of engagement or challenges that lie ahead. You should be reaching out to workers regularly, anyway—furloughed or not! 4. Train your managers and supervisors to recognize the invisible signs of trauma. I’m not suggesting your non-clinical staff learn to diagnose. But it is important to help them simply become aware of symptoms. Some managers have great relationships with their direct reports. They’ll know in a heartbeat who has weathered the crisis well and who hasn’t. Unfortunately, many don’t. They won’t have a clue (without some training) who is adjusting well and who isn’t. Tip: Make sure every manager and supervisor is able to recognize the signs and symptoms of emotional trauma, post-traumatic stress (PTS), and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). There are a number of organizations in your community ready to help. Many offer on-site training and evaluation. Some offer free online resources and elearning courses. 5. Upskill your leaders. Many leaders entered this moment unprepared; few are ready for what’s next. Many managers were elevated into their roles based on their technical prowess or tenure. This isn’t the time to have them make it up as they go. Further, front-line supervisors, in particular, directly manage 80% of the workforce and, odds are, most lack the soft skills needed to help their teams navigate what lies ahead. You can’t afford to send them into this "battle" without the proper tools. Tip: There is no time like the present to invest in your managers. Enroll your front-line supervisors in online learning courses on coaching, active listening, communication, leadership and stress management. Grow their emotional intelligence and team-building skills. If there ever was a time for empathy, trust and compassionate communication, it’s now. The notion of life as a linear journey ended weeks ago. We’re now living, working and growing on an exponential curve. Hop on board. You’ve got a one-way ticket, and your next stop has yet to be determined. Consequently, there is no getting back to business as usual. The best advice: Prepare for business as unusual.
Learning Corner With Jeffrey Pfeffer: COVID-19 Changes Everything—and Nothing—About Managing Workers
COVID-19 has seemingly changed everything. Many people who are lucky enough to have jobs work from home. Children go to school at home, with parents expected to provide oversight and help with learning. College students and older kids have returned home to shelter in place. One result of all of this being at home:Multitasking is now the new normal. A CEO who has a 3- and 6-year-old told me that she (with help from her husband) was simultaneously running a company, a daycare center and a school. But expecting individuals to do their jobs with the same level of concentration and performance is insane. "People are finding it harder and harder to get things done"—and for good reason. Not only are they tackling tasks in different work environments (likely with fewer interactions with bosses and colleagues), they are trying to do so while being bombarded with dire updates about health outcomes and the state of their retirement accounts. When I went looking for advice about how to manage workers through what is, one hopes, a temporary albeit highly stressful situation, I was struck by how many of the recommendations seemed like general best practices. Here’s what I heard from a handful of companies navigating this new work/life reality. 1) Try to Avoid Layoffs Job loss raises the risk of premature death by 63%,negatively impacts both physical and mental health andabout doubles the suicide rate. But is it possible to retain employees even in difficult economic times? Of course, because layoffs are, in part, a choice. They are also a consequence of how leaders run their business. During the 2008 recession, for instance, Whole Foods laid off fewer people than Stanford University, which has a multibillion-dollar endowment. After 9/11, Southwest laid off no one, unlike its peers in the airline industry. More recently, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, 24 Hour Fitness laid off every one of its 30 director-level people, GMs and area managers, according to a former employee. In most cases, the layoffs were effective immediately—with few people getting even 90 days of severance and most getting nothing. Meanwhile, Lifetime Fitness, a private equity-owned competitor, announced that all of its C-level folks would work for no pay so that layoffs could be avoided, according to that same source. As you can imagine, sidestepping layoffs allows companies to retain talent that can spring into action when things recover. (As that former 24 Hour Fitness employee wondered, "Who is going to run the place when they reopen?") It also generates gratitude and extra effort from the team. Jim Goodnight, co-founder and CEO of software company SAS Institute, which avoided layoffs during the 2008 downturn, noted that employees found ways to save money and enhance productivity once they felt secure. Taking care of your people is always a good idea. 2) Prioritize Wisely, Define Urgency and Provide Back-Up So People Feel Supported Too much of organizational life is filled with busy work, unnecessary meetings and forms and processes that don’t add value. But a crisis is a great time to redesign how we work. One reason for thecrazy hours that have become all too customary (and arementally and physically detrimental to our health) is that we believe "everything is equally urgent"—even though, of course, it is not. Better prioritization helps employees focus on what matters most, both personally and professionally, and clears away distractions, setting them up for greater success. In practice—and in response to COVID-19—that might mean immediately putting all of the long-term, non-critical projects, like completing 360-degree performance reviews, on the back burner so that people can focus on the most mission-critical tasks. In fact, that’s exactly what Sarahjane "SJ" Sacchetti has done as CEO of Cleo, a company that offers virtual support and resources to those "on their journeys through life as parents." But shifting priorities alone isn’t enough. Employees often feel under the gun because some critical task falls squarely on their shoulders. (No wonder people often work while sick.) Under Sacchetti, Cleo changed the system of individual accountability, so that for important projects, there were at least two people—and frequently more—who shared responsibility. That way, if pressing issues came up in their lives, they could easily cover for one another. Not only does this provide a sense of support among workers, but it ensures that important tasks are always completed. 3) Recognize and Embrace the Connection Between Work and Family Pretending children don’t exist during business hours was never a realistic solution. "Every day is ’Bring Your Child to Work Day’ because that’s what’s on employees’ minds," Sacchetti says. "While they’re at work, parents are thinking about daycare pickup, the fact that their child has a behavioral issue, how they’re going to create a nutritious meal." This precarious balancing act has been made more apparent as a result of the pandemic, but it’s long been an issue that companies have failed to adequately address. A report from the Center for American Progress noted that 90% of fathers and 95% of mothers experienced work-family conflict, which studies show leads to greater absenteeism, more turnover, reduced labor force participation (particularly for women) and reduced productivity. The COVID-19 crisis is a perfect time to finally remediate family leave, paid time off, and other policies that could smooth the divide and lead to better outcomes for both individuals and companies. 4) Assess How People Are Doing Without data, it is impossible to manage anything, including employee well-being and engagement. That’s why it’s critical to be smart about gathering feedback. Recently, Galluppublished five "pulse" survey questions that any company can use to make sure they’re meeting the needs of their workers during this crisis. If management is failing to properly communicate or build confidence among employees, they can rethink and test out new strategies and practices before soliciting more feedback down the road. Meanwhile, global design company IDEO instituted a tracker so they could identify the whereabouts of employees—whether they were at home, caught in a remote location or staying with other family members—to better support them in their work. Armed with that knowledge, the company was able to provide equipment (at no cost to the employee) as well as social support and referrals to mental health professionals. In general, assessing people’s well-being and checking in on them is a clear signal that an organization cares. 5) Unleash People’s Creative Energy Now is potentially a great time to challenge employees to reimagine processes that have been done a certain way "just because." (Think of all those wasted hours at unproductive meetings.) IDEO’s Head of HR, Duane Bray, for example, shared that the company crowd-sourced ideas from employees for how it could move its mostly in-person design research methods online. Encouraging workers to think outside the box may well lead to superior business solutions that can simultaneously make everyone’s lives easier. Reducing economic insecurity and stress, eliminating non-value-adding activities, giving people back-up, recognizing employees’ familial responsibilities, assessing how workers are doing (and providing support) and examining the possibility of working in new ways are all sensible suggestions. Not just during the COVID-19 crisis, but all the time. In that sense, the current health crisis changes nothing about what good leaders and good companies should always be doing. It just makes those actions more urgent.
Dear ReWorker: What Rules for Remote Work Apply to This Unprecedented Situation?
Dear ReWorker, Our CEO wants everyone to wash their hands and come into the office, but I'm trying to convince him the best thing is to let as many people as possible work from home. I've tried to tell him it will be fine, but he's old-school. If most of our employees do end up working from home, what company-wide rules can we reasonably enforce? Set hours? A background noise ban? Sincerely, Ready to Be Remote _______________ Dear Ready, You can, within reason, make just about any rule you want. Setting strict work hours and banning background noise during official meetings or calls are both pretty standard. But, at this point in time, even those may be over-the-top requests for your staff. They also might not be attainable for colleagues sharing spaces with children, video-conferencing partners or noise-making roommates. Here are a few more reasonable rules to live by these days: 1. Everyone does their best. 2. Everyone lets babies and pets participate in video conferences. 3. Obligatory snacking. 4. Unlimited screen time for children. OK, back to being serious. I get where your CEO is coming from—this is the worst way to work remotely. You have a bunch of people without experience working from home, kids are out of school and daycare and everyone is stressing out about their livelihood—not to mention loved ones (and the world, in general). It’s understandable that your CEO expects people won’t be as productive (though, to be fair, several of those stressors would still reach employees at the office). That said, he may not have a choice anyway. Multiple states have already made it all but impossible for non-essential workers to be in the office, and others will soon follow. So, home it is, when at all possible. And since your CEO probably isn't going to be on board with the list I laid out above, here are some real rules to consider: 1. Non-exempt employees (paid hourly or otherwise eligible for overtime) need to track their time. Remember that all breaks less than 20 minutes have to be paid. So, if they step away to help a child with a video game (see rule 4 above), it's paid. 2. Try to minimize background noise. It's reasonable to ask people who may need to be on calls—video or audio—to keep the number of distractions down. That being said, certain distractions are unavoidable (turns out, young children didn’t get the memo about respecting boundaries). Luckily, there’s a mute button at your fingertips, which every employee should be using regularly during calls. 3. Be as flexible as possible. This one depends on the type of work you do. If you primarily work with external clients, you may need to keep and enforce strict schedules. If you're mainly writing code, it may not matter if you're working 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. (at least, most of the time). 4. Focus on the end product. Don't waste management time auditing every keystroke to make sure people are sitting in front of their computers. Instead, look at what they produce. This should be the way we manage all of the time—not just when people are at home—but focus specifically on this right now. It will drive your old-school CEO crazy if he's measuring productivity by presence. I guarantee you'll be able to tell if people are slacking by looking at the outcome of their work versus the hours put into doing it. 5. Be understanding. This is a strange and unsettling time for everyone. Even with work at home provisions, people in your company may lose their jobs. Their family members may lose their jobs. People may get sick. The typical problems of life did not stop when COVID-19 burst onto the scene. Be compassionate and empathetic. 6. Have everyone check in, one way or another. This, again, depends a bit on your existing company culture. If your team regularly uses a chat platform like Slack or Microsoft Teams, a sense of departmental unity will probably transfer over to an out-of-office work set-up. If your communication was strictly face-to-face, getting people to collaborate and communicate via technology may be tricky. But keep a parallel conversation about life in general going with your employees. Ask them about their day and set time aside to talk if they’re interested. Give everyone the phone number for the Employee Assistance Program, if you have one, and encourage them to call if they feel too stressed or need help with a personal issue. Keep an open ear for signs of problems. No one can predict when this will end, but hopefully, your CEO will learn that working from home is a feasible way to run his business with a remote workforce. He may even like the freedom that comes with not having to wear shoes. This brings us to Rule 7: Pants are required—no exceptions.
Cartoon Coffee Break: Remote Work Realities
Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Cartoon Coffee Break" series. While we take talent management seriously, we also know it's important to have a good laugh. Check back regularly for a new ReWork cartoon. Loneliness is one of the biggest challenges remote workers face. When working from home, it’s easy to miss—and miss out on—the social interactions a physical office setting provides. This is especially true for extroverts, who feel energized and inspired by exchanges with others. They may suffer the effects of loneliness more than introverts, who are less likely to need to regularly engage with their coworkers. As employees across the world continue to practice social distancing in the effort to combat COVID-19, it’s in every company’s best interest to look for ways to connect with their teams (yes, even with those who are easily annoyed by social interaction). Over longer periods of time, isolation can cause employees to feel less belonging toward their respective organizations and, in some cases, result in an increased desire to leave them. Optional virtual pizza parties and happy hours are two easy and effective ways to promote a sense of belonging. Failing to provide remote outlets for connectivity will be a missed opportunity.
Learning Corner With Jeffrey Pfeffer: Why—and How—HR Should Get Into the Workplace Design Business
Two types of topics grab my attention. First, there are the instances when companies think they are saving money by cutting costs, but do so in ways that actually increase turnover and decrease engagement and productivity (thus, pursuing false economies that backfire). Second, there are the pathways to improve human performance that receive too little attention from management and human resources professionals. Workplace design—the physical space where people work—fits both criteria. Today, companies relentlessly try to lower their occupancy/real estate costs, which are oftenthe second- or third-largest operating expense. They do so mostly by using open office plans that decrease the amount of space allocated to each employee. Architecture and design firm Gensler’s 2013 workplace survey reported that between 2010 and 2012, the average square feet per person dropped from 225 to 176, a decrease of more than 20% in just two years. However,studies going back decades show that open office designs negatively impact employeesatisfaction levels andperceived productivity. After all, it’s tough to focus on the task at hand—not to mention, quite stressful—when you’re constantly being disrupted. In the Gensler survey, more than half of employees reported being disturbed by others, and more than 40% resorted to makeshift solutions to try and block out distractions. (Unsurprisingly, substantial research also documents a connection between noise and stress.) Perhaps you’d assume that, at least, there’d be better dialogue between colleagues as a result. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. A recentSwedish study found that communication among employees was actually worse in open-plan arrangements. Instead of obsessing over square footage, organizations should optimize spending on those things that affect employee well-being and productivity—and, consequently, their bottom line. The Incredible Impact of Workplace Design So what elements of a workspace will make the biggest difference? Turns out, employees want basic amenities over flashy perks. In a 2019 survey of more than 1,500 employees, air quality and light were the biggest influencers of employee performance, happiness, and well-being. (The ability to personalize one’s space was also high on the list.) Those that were satisfied with their environments were found not only to be 16% more productive, but also 18% more likely to remain at their job and 30% more attracted to their company over competitors. Moreover, areport from the National Research Council of Canada highlighted the many ways that workplace design can influence mental health. Among them: how light affects circadian regulation; light and color affect mood; design impacts social interactions; and of course, design influences privacy and people’s ability to control the stimuli to which they are exposed. Knowing that the health and happiness of employees are top of mind for HR teams, workplace design should be much more of a priority. HR Next Steps There are several things human resource professionals can and should do to ensure that their workplaces are helping—not hindering—their company’s objectives. First, educate the management team about the effects of workplace design on physical andmental health, turnover and job performance. Many senior managers, maybe even many HR professionals, remain too uninformed about theextensive research linking aspects of physical workplace design to numerous business and employee well-being outcomes. Second, to the extent possible, provide employees with choice and flexibility around where they work and what those environments are like. A 2019 International Workplace Groupreport found that flexible work was on the rise, with 50% of employees globally working outside of their main office headquarters for at least 2.5 days per week. In fact, some countries now mandate flexibility. For instance, in the Netherlands, employees who have been with an employer (with at least 10 employees) for one year are entitled to ask for the ability to work from another location. It’s in a company’s best interest to move in this direction, offering alternative arrangements that best suit individuals’ needs. If remote work isn’t an option, aim to give workers more control over their surroundings. A recent Harvard study revealed that "employees, by a margin of 42% to 28%, would rather be able to personalize their work environment than opt for unlimited vacation." The things they’d most like to be able to adjust? Temperature, overhead and desk lighting and noise levels. Third, and most fundamentally, HR should incorporate aspects of physical workplace design into their organizational effectiveness toolkits. That means: 1) doing evaluations of people’s reactions to a physical space, including post-occupancy studies so companies can learn from their experience; 2) using architects and design firms that are aware of and sensitive to the aspects of physical design that affect employee outcomes; and 3) ensuring that companies do not suboptimize in their decisions about workplaces—saving on real estate costs while harming employee engagement, satisfaction and job performance. The major points I’m making here aren’t new; in fact, studies of the effects of the physical environment on behavior represent some of the earliest research in industrial and organizational psychology. But they continue to be overlooked. Workplace well-being and individual performance and productivity depend on the design of the spaces where work gets done. HR practitioners must get more involved in physical design discussions and decisions to ensure better results.
Practical HR Resources for COVID-19 Pandemic Planning
To say HR leaders are taxed right now is an understatement. Organizations are depending on their HR teams to help plan for business continuity, communicate policy and calm anxiety for their people during a very stressful time without a clear end in sight. While continuity planning is not new, this particular environment and the considerations needed for this specific pandemic are fluid. With COVID-19, even the most seasoned of HR leaders find themselves in uncharted territory. As our own company has been working through ongoing changes to mitigate risk and ensure the safety and wellbeing of our people, their families, the communities in which we work, and the customers that we serve, we've been sharing a lot of resources with each other. We thought it would be helpful for our readers to compile some of the best resources we've found. 1. Coronavirus Checklist for Employers Heather Bussing, an employment lawyer and contributor at HR Examiner created a practical checklist for HR and employersthat will help in planning for employee exposure and illness from the COVID-19 virus 2. Employee Communications Plans Our friend Laurie Ruettimann shares four pieces of advice for HR to remember when communicating about the Coronavirus.Check it out to learn why: transparency matters, you should let the experts step in when you need to, humanity trumps policy, and you should go slow in order to go fast. Here are a few extra tips from our communications team: If you don't have an internal communications team, partner with your marketing communications team. They'll help you be clear about the objective for each update, policy and guideline that you're communicating. They'll help you answer the right questions: are you trying to inform, reassure, and what action do you want your people to take, if any? Communicate with clarity and transparency (as much as possible) and give your people a destination to have their questions answered. Consider all of the appropriate channels you want to use to communicate with your stakeholders. Beyond company-wide emails, what other tools are your people expecting to get news from: your intranet, your Slack channel, your employee community hubs, text alert systems, employee social channels? Arm your frontline leaders with communications tools (and in advance if possible) to ensure they're well understood by the people your employees often go to first for information – their managers. Provide ongoing updates about what your organization is doing to address the situation, even if the update is to say there is no change. Your people expect and need current information. You're responsible for communicating with your internal stakeholders, but don't forget it's critical that there's consistency with what you communicate externally too – to candidates, the community and your customers. Work with your external communications team to ensure that alignment. 3. Continuity Planning Resources The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) in the UK posted some great (free!) downloads and templates for you to customize, including: An emergency protocol/business continuity plan A pandemic contingency continuity plan A policy on controlling the risk of infectious diseases in the workplace Other checklists and resources you'll find useful All of these downloads and more are available on the Coronavirus Support Materials page. SHRM has also shared some helpful FAQsand other resourcesfrom their online news site that you can access whether or not you're a member. 4. Remote Work During a Pandemic These are not normal times. Yes, you likely have a remote work or work from home policy, but there are many additional things to consider when the requirement becomes mandatory, or when you have an entire company doing it concurrently for the first time. From Constellation Research, here's a great on-demand webinar recordingand slidesthat are a guide to remote work during COVID-19. 5. Helping Employees Manage Their Fears and Anxiety I can't think of a more widespread stressful time for employees worried about their families, their travel plans, the economy, or how they're going to afford to miss time off work if they aren't covered. They're inundated with news, mixed messages, and a social stream that won't stop. Managing this type of stress on top of their day-to-day responsibilities can be overwhelming. And while there's no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to fear and anxiety, this is an excellent webinar recording from our partner and friends at Whil: How Mindfulness Helps Employees Build Stress Resilience and another from the Australia Human Resource Institute's website: How to Help an Employee or Colleague Panicked by Coronavirus . 6. A Candid Conversation: Coronavirus, Face-Touching and HR The HR Famous Podcast hosts – Kris Dunn, Tim Sackett, and Jessica Lee – have a frank conversationabout the realities of being in HR and calmly managing and responding to an increasingly complex and changing dynamic at work when the answers aren't easy. 7. More Tips, Resources and Guides for Employers and Employees Last week, trusted HR advisor Sharlyn Lauby ran a post on the topic . In it are some of her personal reflections, articles and resources to help employers and their people navigate the workplace challenges we're all facing as a result of COVID-19. Time to Pay it Forward Lars Schmidt has started an important thread on this topic to bring the HR community together to share new and current resources like those above. Follow Lars' post for more of these and take a minute to give back to your peers by sharing your ideas, resources and tools there as well.
Disrupt from Within: 3 Ways HR Can Spur Employee Innovation
Stories of disruption typically fall somewhere in the tradition of David vs. Goliath. That is: A small, nimble and clever startup unseats an unsuspecting industry giant. Look no further than Netflix vs. Blockbuster, Airbnb vs. traditional hotel chains, or even Wikipedia vs. Encyclopedia Britannica. But rather than wait for a disruptor to emerge, many large companies are looking for ways to disrupt from within—changing the status quo internally to stay competitive in the marketplace. Amazon and Adobe are just a few examples from Harvard Business review’s Innovation 20 list of companies that have developed new products, services and business models to improve financial performance. But how exactly does HR help spur this kind of disruption from within? I recently interviewed Dave Ulrich on the topic. Ulrich describes himself as compulsive about organizational improvement and recently co-authored a book with Arthur Yeung called "Reinventing the Organization." He’s also a professor at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan and a partner at the consulting firm RBL Group. His answer is centered around people: their competence, their commitment and their contribution. By focusing on these keywords, HR can help ignite an organization-wide transformation. 1. Competence Ulrich’s first rule of disrupting from within is to put the right people, with the right skills, in the right jobs, at the right time. "If you hire the right people, a lot of the business challenges are [taken care of]," he says. HR needs to focus on matching people to available jobs and setting criteria for their success—that is, establishing objectives, expectations and accountability. "My caveat," he adds, "Is always that people should not be overly competent for their position, a recipe for boredom and disengagement." Instead, there should be follow-up training, ongoing coaching and, unfashionable though they’ve become, regular performance reviews to ensure accountability. HR can play a role to make sure these conversations are happening. 2. Commitment A committed employee shows up to work and does what they’re asked to do. That’s important, of course, but to support an innovative organization, it’s not enough to simply be physically present—employees should also be energized and creative. HR can help facilitate these qualities by providing learning and growth experiences and offering clear pathways for employees to move in the organization. This does not always mean employees must advance. But are there opportunities for lateral movement to a new and challenging role? Is there sufficient autonomy for employees to own their work and feel motivated to perform it at a high level? Employees with persistently low performance despite interventions, or who simply lack the necessary skills to thrive, need to be moved to a more appropriate role, or removed from the organization before they undermine the morale of their peers. Ulrich recommends grounding conversations in data: "Can you help me understand why you’ve been late with your work or why you’ve missed the last 5 meetings?" If firing is required, be proactive. "It’s important for the sake of your employees that you take action," Ulrich adds. "If you don't do it, you not only hurt that employee, you're also hurting all the other employees who need to respect your ability to make hard decisions." 3. Contribution To maximize the contribution of each employee at the organization toward innovating, HR needs to help convey meaning. "Sometimes people are 'committed' behaviorally: They show up, but they're not showing up emotionally," Ulrich says. Addressing that gap starts by communicating why the company does what it does. That is, answering questions like: What is the value of our work? Ulcrich says employees who understand and embrace the why, and who believe that there is value to others—customers, investors and stakeholders—are more likely to be high contributors. "They commit not just with their feet and hands but with their hearts and minds," Ulrich says. They’re more likely to think creatively about how the organization can do better, and how it can reinvent itself to be of higher value. 4. People and Purpose Create Profits Ulrich says the emphases are not profits and people, nor profits and purpose. "It’s profits through people. Profits through purpose," he says. The goal of reinvention isn’t simply to reinvent. Instead, it’s to ensure the company’s ability to continue to thrive in its market rather than be unseated by a disruptor—whether that’s another company or even a new regulation or technology. But successful reinvention cannot be mandated. Instead, it has to come from the company’s people.
The 4 Most Important Mindset Shifts to Make in 2020
My head is spinning. As someone consumed with workforce trends, January is my jackpot. Each day I probably receive 100 or more emails, newsletters and Google alerts about what thought leaders and experts suggest will be dominant 2020 workplace trends. Fortunately, there are some themes running through all the prognostications: Competition for skilled workers will intensify. Labor shortages for most workers will continue. Artificial intelligence will not displace masses of workers (this year) but will amplify disruption. None of these forecasts are "breaking news." But it’s not that past year forecasts were wrong— these trends simply continue unabated, and our challenges grow exponentially. To see how right or wrong these predictions are, we’ll need to wait another 12 months. But suffice it say, you shouldn’t—no, you can’t—wait one minute longer to start implementing solutions. The luxury of waiting and reacting to past events is long gone. Solutions don’t lie in simply purchasing more technology, training based on corporate buzzwords or using more hashtags like #employeeexperience, #culturaltransformation, #wellbeing, or #diversityandinclusion, either. Rather, change that works requires a series of mindset shifts. Here are what I feel are the four most important shifts needed to succeed and grow in 2020 and beyond. I came up with an acronym DICE to remember them: Disruptive, Infinite, Curious, and Empathetic. You might wonder which one is most important or which should come first. It doesn’t matter. You can’t disrupt and transform the status quo effectively without shifting all four. So let’s roll the DICE! Disruptive Mindset Many companies make the mistake of making disruption their goal. But that’s not what a disruptive mindset is all about. According to Charlene Li, author of The Disruption Mindset, "disruption doesn’t create growth, but growth creates disruption." The disruptive mindset is more than a certain self-perception or an inclination. It’s consistent and persistent behavior that challenges the status quo. In her book, Li details four disruptive leadership mindsets: the Agent Provocateur, Realist Optimist, Worried Skeptic and Steadfast Manager. Which one best describes you—and is it allowing you to grow your organization or sustain the status quo? Infinite Mindset While we’re on the subject of disruption and challenging the status quo, the infinite mindset is a natural fit. Simon Sinek, the author of The Infinite Game, believes that the pursuit of being number one may be a losing strategy. Instead of taking on an attitude of winning, a person with an infinite mindset takes on an attitude of improvement. Sinek writes,"It takes unbelievable courage to completelychange the way we see the world... If we can learn to embrace infinite mindsets, not only have we increased and enhanced innovation, seen trust and cooperation thrive, but we’ll actually love our jobs..." Curious Mindset If there is one mindset that underpins the others, it’s curiosity. Disruption requires openness. The infinite mindset seeks continuous improvement. Empathy, which we’ll get into in a moment, requires stepping into the shoes of others. You can’t do any of these without a curious mind. Dr. Todd Kashdan suggests that unleashing curiosity requires being comfortable enough to make mistakes, share your anxiety and embrace your vulnerability. It’s time to restore the "mad-scientist" mindset of a 5-year-old. Is your company providing a safe haven for curiosity, an environment where people feel comfortable deviating from the norm and evolving? Empathetic Mindset The importance of empathy continues to grow: It now rests high atop the list of desirable characteristics ofexceptional leadersandskills for top talenteven in highly technical fields like theUX industry. According to the Wall Street Journal, about 20% of U.S. employers now offerempathy training, up significantly from just a few years ago. (Whether you can actually train someone to be empathetic versus act like they are is a story for another day!) Empathy has been used to describe a variety of experiences, so a definition may be particularly helpful: Empathy is the ability toimagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling. In other words, seeing the world through their eyes and experiencing their feelings. In building up this necessary soft skill, individuals will be better positioned to inspire other employees, build more communicative teams, and earn loyalty. Not to mention, since empathy is an exclusively human skill, anyone worried about saving their jobs from an automated future would be wise to develop it.
CIOs, It's Time to Join Forces With HR
As a CIO, focusing your attention on human resources may not be the first thing on your list of priorities. But as the war for talent rages on, the role of talent management in an organization's IT strategy is increasingly important. In the past, IT and HR departments have shared a rocky relationship. HR professionals often lacked technical understanding or awareness of the work performed in IT, which made it difficult to recruit the right candidates. On the other end, the process-oriented thinkers of IT viewed HR as a reactive — rather than a proactive and strategic — department, which diminished the business value of HR in their eyes. Both departments held preconceived notions and misunderstandings about the other. Thanks to the growing attention to HR technology and people analytics, the divide between the two departments has been narrowing. But it's time for CIOs to help close the divide for good. As a CIO, you have the unique opportunity to empower businesses with software and data-driven talent insights that not only help employees, but also impact the bottom line. Close the Skills Gap At the end of the day, HR and IT share the same goal: move the business forward. And no matter the industry, the amount of progress an organization makes ultimately comes down to its people. But as HR knows, finding and attracting top talent isn't easy. The demand for the best people is increasing and the bar for "best" is also being raised. According to PricewaterhouseCooper's 18th Annual Global CEO Survey, 50 percent of organizations in the survey anticipate increasing headcount this year — and 80 percent of CEOs say they're "looking for a much broader range of skills than in the past." Investing in talent management software that encompasses everything from recruiting to exit interviews will transform HR's knowledge into hard data that IT can analyze to help make smarter business decisions. By aligning IT's technical prowess with HR's data on the employee life cycle, your organization will have insight into what skills and experiences actually predict success, so you can close the skills gap both more efficiently and effectively. Deliver Higher Value at a Lower Cost In addition to closing the skills gap, working with the HR department to find the right talent management product for your company can help deliver more value while lowering costs. The upfront cost of HR software can be returned tenfold in terms of the time and money saved on recruiting, training, turnover prevention and workforce planning. For example, the average cost of replacing a lost employee — including interviewing, hiring, training, reduced productivity, etc. — is up to 50 percent of an annual salary for entry-level workers and up to 400 percent of an annual salary for high-level employees. However, these high costs of turnover can be avoided with intelligent tracking and analytics. HR software solutions can warn managers of at-risk employees, as well as solve a suite of talent management issues: predicting performance, identifying and solving low productivity areas, measuring retention in L&D and more. Lead the Way in Analytics A strong working relationship between your IT team and your CHRO's team can also help you advance your people analytics program — an area in need of more industry movers and shakers. You've heard the statistics before: three in four companies believe using people analytics is important, but a mere 8 percent report that their organization is "strong" in the area. How can you lead the way? A unified, cloud-based talent management system allows your organization to consider workforce data across the organization, instead of occasionally answering a data request from HR and performing people analytics in a piecemeal fashion. As Chief Talent Officer Michael Arena emphasized in a recent interview, people analytics is inherently a difficult subject: "We measure people, and that makes this field uniquely challenging because people don't behave predictably." Instead of making it harder on your organization to integrate workforce analytics, work with your HR team to find the right solution and process for success. The old adage "if you can't measure it, you can't manage it" applies to talent management as it does to any other department. Your HR team understands your organization's most critical talent challenges better than anyone else — but they need your team's IT expertise to solve them. By joining forces, you can impact the future of your organization, your people and the work landscape as a whole. Visit this page for more on this topic and how CIOs can play a part. Photo: Shutterstock
Sitting on the bench: strengths, talents, soft and hard skills
Before knowing what individual skills we have to sacrifice for the good of the company, we have to understand what skills we have in our organisation. In HR circles we talk a lot about skills. Most of us have experienced university students entering work life with fresh knowledge that seemed obsolete before the internship ended. For this reason, companies that are committed to innovation understand the importance of an always learning approach to growth. If we create a learning culture, we can adapt to a changing world and win the battle to volatility. Ok – great! Understood – we need new skills all the time. But which skills do we have to teach and how can HR departments identify them? This is one of the biggest difficulties that learning departments face today. But, fear not! Technology can come to the rescue. Just like Netflix knows what I'm interested in watching, thanks to AI, a complex algorithm and a huge database, skills can be identified and developed through the same processes. However, building what's called a skills taxonomy, like the one Cornerstone offers, from scratch would be just as insane as pretending to build my mobile phone myself from my desk at home. Let's leave that specialised work to those who have the time, the resources, and use their knowledge to our advantage. Hard skills, soft skills or strengths. We know that technical knowledge or hard skills can be acquired easily thanks to technology. This interconnected world with millions of online tutorials offers us a never-ending portfolio of knowledge and explanations that we can access anytime and anywhere. Soft skills, on the other hand, are not so easy to acquire and develop, yet are of greatest importance. How can this be possible? Do you remember the intern that started in your company and didn't understand the dynamics of the office, but could create some bad-ass Excel tables? When talent is brought in that has never been in work environments before, we realise that they may lack skills such as active listening, a feeling of responsibility or even motivation. These are skills that allow our graduates and new talents to solve problems, collaborate, and have critical and constructive thinking. This means that the skills taxonomy will not only help us understand what hard skills we will have to develop in individuals, but also which soft skills we must encourage in teams. But rather than focusing on the skills that we lack, what if we could focus on our strengths? What skill do I have, what am I particularly good at that is very necessary for my job? How can I improve on that skill and optimise it so that the whole team benefits from it? Let's think positively. Let's not focus only on everything we don't know and what we still have to learn, but on what we know we are good at and how we can elevate and multiply it. Therefore, a successful strategy understands that as an employee I need to grow and learn new things - be it soft or hard skills - that take me out of my comfort zone, but at the same time also have access and be able to understand what my strengths are and how to improve them. Individualism. Happiness. Sacrifice for the team. The Playbook is a documentary on Netflix that interviews some of the best sports coaches in the world and you can see a trend in team sports: the role of the coach is to help the team work together, even if the individual player has to make a sacrifice. Change the word coach for manager, team for department and player for employee. The role of a manager is to help the department work together, even if the employee has to make a sacrifice. This concept confronts us with a dilemma: we live in an individualistic society. We all believe in the right to be in a search for happiness and purpose at work. We feel we have the right to be promoted and, at times, in this myopia we lose sight of the department or, even worse, the company needs. Without a company you don't need employees. If we want to build an innovative and resilient organisation, we have to hire talent that complements and makes the community stronger. A community that works as a whole and that has team members that can develop their skills – and their strengths too. For this reason, skill taxonomies have to focus not only on a micro level, but also on a macro level. Trade failure for learning. In this video by Paolo Gallo, asks the audience what the opposite of achievement is. People shout failure in unison to which Paolo responds "no, the opposite of achievement is learning." This concept is perhaps a bit utopian, but very necessary if we really want to generate a culture of learning in our companies or work groups. We all have to build a space in which to innovate and take risks as part of our day to day. Sharing the learning processes - failures - with the group provides us with transparency, empathy, creates understanding between people and provides us with a macro vision of the team we are part of. Thus, synergies and opportunities for collaboration will emerge and collaborative learning will naturally evolve. To accelerate these values, we can look for examples within our companies where learning or “failures” have led to great achievements. Also offering post-mortem meetings for large projects involving the entire department or even rewarding those who take the risk, even if they haven’t quite got it right. In conclusion, it is our duty as an employer to educate and provide the transparency that our employees need to understand the needs of the whole team. This concept is closely linked to the idea of social responsibility, with initiatives that are committed to values such as diversity or the environment. As an employee, my responsibility is to be in a constant learning process, not to lose curiosity and to understand that my skills must be complemented with those of the rest of the team. Consequently, we will have an understanding of the macro and the micro that will help us understand and know when we have to wait and sit on the bench.
The Good & Bad News About Women's Rise in the Workplace
Women who work have come a long way since the macho, cigar-puffing, strip club-filled ways of "Mad Men." But they still have a lot farther to go. Women are equally represented in the workforce in terms of their numbers — and, yes, are paid more than they ever have been when compared to men — but young workers still think gender inequality is a major issue in the workplace, according to a Pew Research Social & Demographic Trends survey. Seventy-five percent of Millennial women think more changes are necessary to achieve gender equality in the office, compared to 50 percent of young males. What changes do Millennial females want to see? More career advancement and more money. Cracking the Glass Ceiling Females still struggle to climb the corporate ladder. Just look at Fortune 500 companies: only 4.2 percent of CEOs are female, a figure that hasn't really changed in recent memory. The culprit, according to the study's authors: women are still opting out of their careers in droves to raise children. According to the survey, 51 percent of women said being a working mother made it harder to advance in their careers, whereas only 16 percent of men said the same. What's more, more fathers found that parenthood made career advancement easier (10 percent) compared to mothers (2 percent). As for compensation, female workers, not surprisingly, want to earn the same wage as their male peers (50 years ago women earned 57 cents for every dollar men pocketed; today it's 77 cents). But one reason for the narrowing disparity: male wages have dropped 4 percent on average for men over the last 30 years while female wages have risen 25 percent. Why can't women get equal pay for equal work? Education isn't the answer; more Millennial women are enrolled in college and graduating with Bachelor's degrees today than men are. Other unquantifiable factors, according to the survey, include gender stereotypes, discrimination, lack of professional networks and women's resistance to negotiate for promotions. Experts agree these factors likely account for 20 to 40 percent of the earnings gap, according to the survey. Perception vs. Reality The study highlights some interesting disconnects. While many women say that men have an unfair advantage when it comes to wages and treatment at the office, only 15 percent say they have been discriminated against based on gender. Also, most men and women say the genders are paid equally for performing the same job — and only one in 10 women say they are paid less than their male peers. What gives? Why do you think there's such a difference between perception and reality? And what do you think needs to happen before women are truly equal — both in pay and status — in the workplace? Image via Can Stock Photo
5 Reasons Tech Will Help — Not Replace — Recruiters
Today’s recruitment efforts can have quite a bit in common with an advanced science experiment. Algorithms match talent to an organization’s needs or pinpoint stellar employee performance. Machine learning from Big Data can even predict which employees are most likely to quit. But just because technology improves certain recruiting functions doesn’t mean hiring managers will be out of work anytime soon. "In embracing the science, never forget the art. Technology is not infallible. Remember the human dimension," Meghan Biro writes on Forbes. "The best HR practitioners and leaders know their organizations and culture brand on a visceral level." Researchers at the University of Oxford studied 500 different jobs to predict the likelihood that each would be replaced by technology within the next 15 years. Human resources management positions rank among the least likely to be automated. Technology simplifies the more mundane tasks of recruiting, such as combing through thousands of resumes to find qualified candidates, but there are many areas where it simply cannot (or at the very least shouldn’t) replace the human aspect. 1. Candidates don’t want to be hired by a machine. Personal relationships are key to filling positions. In many cases, recruiters are the ones who make a first impression on applicants. Just as potential hires need to sell themselves to the company, recruiters are tasked with selling their employer brand to candidates. New hires will have a hard time getting a feel for company culture or negotiating a contract with avatars. 2. Hiring decisions require intuition. "An organization can have the best ATS [applicant tracking system] on the market, but attracting candidates and filling positions comes down to personal interactions between applicants, recruiters and interviewers," Patrick Clark writes in Business 2 Community. Through face-to-face interactions and situational conversations, recruiters glean important — but not always immediately apparent — information about candidates. They catch subtle, nonverbal cues and personality indicators to understand whether individuals will mesh with company culture. 3. Internal hires and employee referrals still rule the roost. Companies trust their employees. That’s why internal hiring and referrals from current employees account for the majority of hires, according to the CareerXroads 2013 Source of Hire Report. While software certainly can make the employee referral process easier, recruiters can understand the internal and external relationships that play a significant part in recommending and evaluating talent. 4. Technology enhances the work that recruiters already do. Rather than displace workers, technology helps them do their jobs better. It helps them post to job boards and schedule interviews efficiently. Technology also broadens the talent pool to global and social audiences. It makes it easier for recruiters to identify talent that they might not otherwise have found. 5. Technology makes a recruiter’s job more strategic. "When you automate the right tasks, then it frees up time to do the in-person ones better," Sharlyn Lauby, the president of HR consultancy ITM Group tells Inc. With administrative burdens off their plates, recruiters have more opportunity for face-to-face communication and personalized attention. When used correctly, technology makes HR even more human, Clark writes. "Automating the administrative aspects of hiring enables you to focus on strategy, build relationships with candidates and find new hires who will be the best fit for your business needs." Photo: Creative Commons
How to Advance Your Career in a Workplace That Has No Boss
The modern workplace is all about being "flat" -- that is, eliminating the hierarchies, job titles, and traditional corner offices more associated with the Industrial Age than the Digital Age. But while many employees thrive in the egalitarian culture of a flat organization, others who are more familiar with the promotions, titles and other perquisites of a vertical workplace worry about a potential drawback: their own career advancement. It doesn't have to be that way. True, flat organizations have far fewer leaders at the top, but that doesn't mean employees can't expand their skills and position themselves for a better job down the road. The key is to look beyond the classic rewards for a job well done and to pursue other ways of learning new skills, fulfilling your ambition, and boosting your worth. Here are four ways to do just that: Become a Master of Your Trade Jason Fried, the CEO of Chicago-based software company 37signals, doesn't often promote employees to managerial roles. He doesn't have a chief technology officer, a creative director or customer support manager. Instead he divides his 40 or so workers into teams and gives them the freedom to manage themselves. The programmers program. The designers design. The customer support staff, well, supports customers. Instead of one designated team leader, the company rotates each team member into the role each week. "Instead of rewarding high performers with managerial responsibilities -- which often drives people further away from the job they are actually good at -- we reward with responsibilities closer to the work," Fried writes in a regular Inc. Magazine column. Promoting a great designer to creative director would only take her away from the day-to-day work she's so good at, he explains. Instead, the company lets her lead more projects and truly own her work. The moral of the story: master, don't manage. Expand your depth and breadth of knowledge to truly master your craft. You may not technically be "climbing the ladder," but you're certainly adding skills and grooming yourself for a better position down the road. Be Your Own Boss Valve, a Washington-based developer of video games with some 300 employees, has never had a boss in its entire 17-year history -- nor does it have traditional pay scales, hierarchies or office hours. Yet, Valve's per-employee profits reportedly top those of Google and Microsoft. The egalitarian structure allows all employees to participate in major company decisions, including individual compensation. Leadership and product design are handled by whomever steps up and makes something happen. By giving everyone a vote and the opportunity to participate, the company places the onus on employees to manage projects, develop and execute on strategy, and lead. "You don't necessarily need leaders or people in positions of authority, but you need people and systems to empower everyone else," said Nick Stein, senior director of marketing and communications at Salesforce.com. The company has developed software that helps companies identify their goals, motivate employees to achieve them and reward top performers in both flat and hierarchical organizations. "It's about empowering people to take more control of their destiny," Stein said. Be a Mentor There may not be an established hierarchy, but junior employees will still need role models and mentors. Think of it more like the relationship between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker and less like the relationship between the tyrannical Bill Lumbergh and rebellious Peter Gibbons. Just because you're not officially in charge of a team doesn't mean you can't share your know-how. By mentoring new employees, you not only reinforce your skills but also show initiative. Plus, making a difference in the lives of others is one of the best forms of fulfillment, writes Susan Krauss Whitbourne, an acclaimed psychologist and expert on fulfillment. Learn What You Can, Strike Out on Your Own A great way to advance in a flat organization is to focus on mastering skills and, together with your passion, starting your own company. Fried recounts how an employee who wasn't perfectly suited for 37Signals' more freewheeling structure wanted a new job title with managerial duties attached. Eventually she left -- amicably -- to launch her own business. She now runs her own team and also turns to her former boss for advice. Whether it's taking charge of an internal team at your company or branching off on your own, opportunities abound for career growth beyond traditional hierarchies.
Q&A with John Sumser: How DNA Sequencing, Big Data Will Change Who We Hire — and How We Think About HR
Technology can be overwhelming. It can also be enlightening. Take the fact that women earn less than men. That's true, but the glass ceiling isn't to blame, says John Sumser, editor-in-chief of HRExaminer Online Magazine and a principal of Two Color Hat, an HR advisory firm. Here, Sumser describes how technology is challenging HR to think differently about common assumptions — and how it will inevitably impact who gets hired and why. Why do we feel so overwhelmed by technology? Eric Schmidt [Google's executive chairman] once said, "Every two days we create as much data as we did from the dawn of civilization to 2003." People want to make the most of the technology, but can’t make sense of it all. For example, most people download 40 apps for their smartphones, but only use five of them. Plus most people have smartphones that are more powerful than the technology that put the man on the moon. Technology is becoming more powerful than the human brain. What does this mean for recruiting? HR has to be able to tell the difference between a person and a machine. If I come to work for you with my iPhone and all the latest business analysis tools, I can use that data at my fingertips. But what about the guy from Harvard with a 4.0 who doesn’t have all those tools? How can you tell in a world where the real advantage is access to information, not educational credentials, who is the more valuable hire? You can’t tell the difference between me and my phone or me and the data that my computer provides me. What skills will HR employees need to learn to be able to adapt to the data overload? People in HR should take four or five advanced statistics classes at MIT, which are online for free. With all of the data comes the requirement that you’re able to understand what it means from a statistical perspective. I’m sure you’ve heard of the idea that the amount of time people spend at the same job is declining, and we’re moving toward a freelance economy. If you don’t have a college education, statistics show that you’re going to hold your job for about 18 months. That's 73 percent of the population. The other 25 percent, the college educated, have been staying at their jobs longer and longer for the last 25 years. That’s not a freelance economy — that’s an economy where the middle class has been gutted, where the people who don’t have the ability to process information are being penalized, and where the economy is moving from hard goods production to service production. Here’s one that hits closer to home. The average woman’s salary is 87 cents for every dollar a man makes. What that doesn’t tell you is that the vast majority of that difference is composed of the jobs that are almost exclusively female professions like teaching and social work, where the wage is lower than the median wage for a man in all jobs that men hold. If you go into any workplace in America, there’s not a statistical difference between what men make and women make. The difference is in in the distribution of jobs that women take and men take. You can’t solve that as a workplace issue, even though it sounds like you can if you say, "Women make 87 cents on a man’s dollar." What’s the most radical change you think HR will experience in the near future? DNA is going to find its way into the workplace. There’s a genetic snippet of how well you process oxygen, and if you don’t have it, it’s impossible to be a sprinter. Then there’s a gene that the military looks at to select front-line soldiers, called the warrior gene, which controls how long you stay mad about something. The army tries to get people who stay mad for about 12 hours, but if you have someone who stays mad for 12 hours running a candy store, that’s a bad decision. It’s probably against the law to make that decision right now. There’s not a talent management system that I know of that can import and understand genetic data. It’s going to be very interesting, and nothing like people think it’s going to be.
Architecting Digital Learning: What Hasn’t Worked
"A smart man makes a mistake, learns from it, and never makes that mistake again. But a wise man finds a smart man and learns from him how to avoid the mistake altogether." - Roy H. Williams The question remains—how do you identify the "mistake"? Sometimes, the mistake is not so obvious. Organizations dedicate significant resources to providing employees with opportunities to learn and develop to ensure they are fostering and retaining talent. In today’s environment, the digital learning options are exploding with more vendors and modalities entering the marketplace. Given all these new choices, how do you architect your program? Below are some of the mistakes for the wise man to avoid altogether. Lack of Context This is perhaps the most common and the most impactful mistake programs have. Why are we learning? Self-motivation is a difficult struggle for all humans—hence the diet and exercise business is booming. The same goes for learning. We rarely do it because it’s good for us—it’s usually because we need it to achieve something. However, many organizations fail to inform employees as to what that something is: career, culture, promotion, merit increase? As humans it’s important for us to know why we are engaging in an activity, and companies need to provide some context for employees surrounding their learning programs. Context can come in the form of competencies, helping employees use a common language for measuring skills and progress. It’s the Same Old Thing When entering a meeting or overhearing office discussions, people discuss the latest phone upgrade, the new shoes they just purchased, the latest movie they saw—and then those same individuals talk about the online programs, proud of the same thing they’ve been offering employees for 10, but wondering about adoption strategies. In this culture, we consume information at rapid rates and our attention span is shorter by the decade. According to a Microsoft study, the new human attention span of 8 seconds, down from 12, is even lower than that of a goldfish: 9 seconds. If you manage to engage past that threshold, an Indiana University study revealed that the average adult listens effectively for only about 15 to 20 minutes before their mind begins to wander. Given these natural challenges in keeping focused, what benefit do we derive from the same resource each year? One Size Fits All Given all of the attention over the last few years to driving diverse cultures, many organizations still struggle with diverse learning programs. To encourage a diversity of ideas, we need to engage a diversity of people across a variety of learning methods. The broader and more diverse your stakeholders are, the more likely you’ll have a well-rounded perspective for your company. Those include everything from traditional, technical and compliance content, to the more modern micro-learning, social learning, blended learning and more. No matter what you are doing now, diversify your portfolio for other areas and learning styles. The more options you have for learning, the more likely you’ll engage more people and that variety helps build a culture of learning. Everything and the Kitchen Sink We all like to be prepared and a "buffet" style menu ensures you don’t leave hungry—but that’s not the same as satisfied. Too often companies offer extensive libraries in the hopes that there is something for everyone. However managing and sorting through extensive libraries is onerous for everyone and rarely achieves the desired impact. When determining the size of the library you need, you should consider the type of continuous learning you want employees to engage in and how many hours they spend. It’s important to have all your topics covered, but you probably don’t need more courses than people in your organization. As the media world around us changes, it influences the expectations employees have at work. Now, the marketplace in digital learning is expanding to enable professionals to deliver on a different experience. The current state is not the only option, and experimenting with your program will enable you to determine what works best for your company. I hope these are helpful and look forward to hearing your ideas.
How Decisions Get Made in Organizations Without Hierarchies
Imagine working at a company where there is no CEO. You don't have a job title or description, or a manager to whom you report. Instead, you occupy "roles" which require executing specific tasks. Multiple people can fill one role, and individuals can occupy many different roles, and every role is part of a larger group with a unique purpose within the organization. Huh? You're not alone if that's your response to Holacracy, a system of organizational government developed in 2007 that departs from traditional top-down corporate leadership structures. While it may sound fringe-y, it's been adopted by several companies touted for their forward-thinking policies — such as Zappos, GitHub and Medium, the publishing platform started by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams. Its proponents say it's a nimble, adaptable system that makes for happier employees and is ideally suited to today's rapid pace of change. But it can be difficult to wrap one's head around the system's tenets — which rely on a fluid, democratic org chart that prioritizes the completion of tasks rather than a reporting structure. How do you delegate responsibilities when no one has formal titles? And more importantly, how do you make decisions in an organization without managers? We spoke to one of the movement's champions to find out. Who's the Boss? In a traditional organization, a manager delegates responsibility to his/her subordinates but is generally charged with making decisions him or herself. The CEO's opinion usually matters most, and employees' "say" in a matter tends to diminish down the chain of command. By contrast, in a holacratic organization, decision-making and authority are distributed across the entire team. Everyone is the architect of his/her own role, and everyone plays by the same rules, no matter if you're in a junior sales role or a senior financial role. Furthermore, each individual (not their manager) is responsible for breaking down his or her roles into smaller projects and action-items, and has complete authority over how to execute these tasks. "The whole idea is to move fast by creating roles and making individuals accountable for different responsibilities," says Ann McGrath, founder and president of WonderWorks, a professional services firm that helps organizations implement holacracy. How Does Anything Get Done? Let's take the launch of a new ad campaign for example. In a traditional organization, a manager would convene his/her team, describe the assignment, delegate tasks and explain how he or she wants the project to be completed. In a holacracy, however, a "circle" (or task-oriented group) would assemble when any team member comes to the table with a proposal for a new campaign. The rest of the circle would then be given the opportunity to ask questions about the proposal, and if there are no objections, the project would get the green light — and the group would divide necessary tasks among itself. Each individual is then empowered to break up his/her assignment into smaller action items and complete his/her task autonomously. If you're thinking this would be a recipe for disaster in your office, you could be right: The system hinges on hiring a certain type of employee. Productivity, McGrath says, requires workers to be highly organized and quickly convert everything that passes their desk into a checklist, reminder or other actionable item to prevent backlog. Who Gives Approval? In a traditional company structure, the manager might reconvene the team to provide feedback and approval. Subordinates present their work and, usually, it's the manager's job to weigh in and give direction. The manager will let the team know if there's still work left to be done, and the process will continue. In a holacracy, however, team members check in with one another about checklist items at routinely scheduled operational meetings. In the event more work is needed, they must provide clear action items for those next steps. The process repeats until consensus says the campaign is ready. But while it's democratic, it's not a free-for-all, cautions McGrath: "Everybody’s perspective is considered, but the decision definitely doesn’t hinge on everybody agreeing. An idea gets the go ahead as long as it won’t cause harm or move the company backward. So if it’s safe enough to try now, [you] go for it, even if that’s not how [you] would personally do it." Drinking the Kool-Aid Implementing such a radically different paradigm isn't for everyone, especially leaders who have worked their way up the career ladder to achieve a certain position. "It's definitely a self-selecting thing," McGrath says. "There are going to be people who don't want to give up control over their team. But if you're open to it, many former managers say [it] has allowed them to focus on the aspects of their job they actually enjoy." And at its core, the philosophy does offer useful takeaways for businesses thinking about how to adapt for the future (Whirlpool, for example, while not a holacracy, recently chose to get rid of all titles). Simplifying management structures, eliminating bureaucracies and prioritizing productivity over internal politics are all smart ways to keep employees engaged — and keep your company on its toes. Photo: Shutterstock
What Would You Pay $1 Per Month For?
I follow analysts in the industry regularly, both topical to our domain and those that have a financial focus in the applications markets. One of my favorites is Scott Berg of Needham & Company out of New York. His latest on 11/30/15 was titled "Industry Checks Indicate 3Q Strength More about Replacement Cycle than ACA". Now I was pleased to hear that Scott sees strong market results as a fundamental pillar in our industry (I do make my living here), but buried in that note was a very interesting tidbit. Namely that the new reporting requirements that the ACA is generating around compliance such as forms 1094-C, 1095-C and maybe even the additional 1095-B are driving companies to purchase these from their providers for a fee. If they are required to do so, this could be as much as $1 per employee per month according to Scott’s research. Scott sees this representing a 3% - 5% revenue growth driver for our market in 2015. Optional Subscriptions? All well and good, and I am glad to hear that the market is rapidly adapting to this new requirement, but this really got my mind churning. What else might be an "optional subscription" in the future? After all, there is tremendous innovation going on in the Platform as a Service (PaaS) market, Cornerstone Edge is a great example. According to GigaOM Research, the PaaS market is predicted to reach more than 20 billion dollars in 2015. Manufacturers have rapidly been adopting this mindset as well, according to Michael E. Porter of the Harvard Business Review in "How Smart, Connected Products Are Transforming Competition". Extended capabilities and the ability to provide this wrapper of services is not just a market opportunity, it is how you develop that deep relationship with your customer that keeps them with you. Just like our industry, the "hardware" may be commoditized, it is the software and services that will be their differentiator offered through this concept of a system of systems. Cornerstone has long understood this approach, software which uses a common baseline – always has and always will, but can be considered purpose-built at the same time. Cornerstone has always coupled this with a set of human services which don’t just complement but literally extend the value our customer receives. Software AND people, a "system of systems" who help you #realizeyourpotential A La Carte Services for HR So, I started to do a thought experiment (just my thoughts) about where an a la carte approach may make sense to an HR customer in our industry. Not just additional software but expertise that I might want to purchase from my supplier. These aren’t premium services in the classic sense but embedded services which I might "subscribe to". This would presuppose things that I might not have even contemplated a few years ago. Thoughts that spring to mind include: Value Realization (baseline and point in time measuring of improvements) Benchmarking myself deeply against my industry peers in specific process (step by step) Internal net promoter scoring through point in time asks as my employees use the software Coaching requests embedded mid-learning where one could get advice real time Access to a library of libraries of user contributed content Review of the output that my predictive analytics is providing to ascertain what is "next" Cornerstone developed Edge to open our platform to innovative ideas which we may never have thought of, those ideas can take a myriad of approaches; products, wrappers of services or just plain human contact. Pricing models for this, "buckets" versus "by the drink", remain to be sorted out, we’ll leave that to the market to determine – but I would leave you with this question ... "What would you pay $1 per month per user for?"
These Tech Trends Will Transform Work by 2020
This year will go down in history — but it may be nothing compared to the next four. Before the next race for the White House, we're poised to witness a big jump in technological advancement: the widespread rise of social media, artificial intelligence, an extreme increase in devices and sensors, advanced digital avatars and more. While this election felt personal to almost everyone, Peter Diamandis, founder of the X Prize and Singularity University, thinks the next election will be literally personal thanks to technology. But I'm not talking about politics or public policy here, and these trends won't only impact the election. They will also impact our workplaces, and how companies engage with their employees. Here's how. 1) Social Media Will Continue to Explode In 2016, 78 percent of Americans had a social media profile. The number of worldwide social media users reached 1.96 billion and is expected to grow to some 2.5 billion by 2018. What does this mean for talent acquisition and job seeking? Artificial intelligence is learning to mine every tweet, post, reply and like. It will scrape our social profiles and track what articles we read and videos we watch. It will analyze our interests, attitudes, favorite subjects and behavior. This will enable targeting, attracting and engaging candidates to become exponentially more sophisticated and accurate. 2) Artificial Intelligence Will Grow by 10X According to Diamandis, Facebook Messenger now has more than 11,000 "chatbots," where an algorithm communicates with end users over Messenger as if it were a person. Voice interfaces like Siri, Cortana, Google and Alexa are getting closer to carrying out in-depth conversations. Thanks to machine learning and the exponentially increasing amount of data about yourself that you're generating each year, these AI's will learn how to optimally communicate with you in such a personalized fashion that you'd swear it's your closest friend. They'll incorporate your ideologies, preferences, linguistic styles and slang, favorite topics and content and even inside jokes into the conversation. Screening candidates will be conducted by the likes of Viv, a next generation AI assistant, which flawlessly handles a number of complex requests, well beyond just simple comprehension. In one specialized form, Viv can actually schedule meetings. So an applicant applies by interacting with Viv who assesses a candidate's fit and then schedules a follow-up interview with a hiring manager. Based on Viv's interview, "she" provides you with interview questions and suggestions on what you should listen to and observe. (Note: I use Viv as one example. Viv is not the end-all-and-be-all AI assistant. Microsoft, Google, Facebook and many others are building new platforms and devices as well.) 3) Digital Avatars Will Become Photorealistic If you think detecting lying on a resume or during the interview is tough to detect, watch out for this trend. Recruiters and hiring managers will need to become exponentially better at interviewing. According to Diamandis, "researchers out of Stanford were able to take videos of humans and, in real-time, manipulate their faces to match expressions of another person in the lab. We'll be able to render any face to do and say anything, and you won't be able to tell it's fake." The good news is that avatar technology will be matched by facial recognition software and biometric sensors that will help detect and interpret inconsistencies. Of course, these two technologies combined will likely blur and disrupt the protections and limitations of current employment law: The best outcome will walk a fine line between invasion of a candidate's privacy and the much improved ability to hire the right fit by eliminating present-day unconscious bias. To learn more about the massive transformations that will take place over the next few years, download my free white paper When the Shift Hits Your Plan. Photo: Twenty20
Lessons from the Best and Worst Moments in Video Resumes
Resumes and cover letters may be classic tools that job candidates and hiring managers are comfortable with, but comfort doesn’t always lead to a job or a talented candidate. From creating infographics to putting a resumÃ© on a chocolate-bar wrapper, job seekers are getting creative with how they apply. These personal introductions are the stuff of viral dreams and share information far beyond what’s traditionally conveyed on a piece of paper. "These online video introductions are a great way for corporate recruiters to get to know the job seekers beyond the traditional resume and online social networking profile," says Richard Linden, founder and CEO of MyNextGig.com. "Many companies don’t like to be contacted face-to-face until the interview. Video introductions allow job seekers an opportunity to build a relationship with the recruiter and on the recruiter’s terms." While most candidates create videos to get hired, resignation videos serve just as well as a job lead to something bigger and better. Take Gwen Dean, who quit her job as a machine engineer in a Super Bowl commercial and now runs her own company. But not all videos are instant one-hit wonders. What can job candidates learn from the best video resumes and those gone wrong? Here are some buzzy examples: The Notables I Quit Marina Shifrin, formerly a video producer at Next Media Animation and currently a contributing writer to Conde Nast, chose to quit her job using interpretive dance to Kanye West’s "Gone." She took the opportunity to film herself and featured her complaints as captions. Her quit video, which had more than 15 million views, landed her a job offer as a digital content producer on the "Queen Latifah Show". Google Please Hire Me In this tongue-in-cheek video, Matthew Epstein shows he has confidence, creativity and a sense of humor. He didn't end up working at Google, but startup SigFig took notice and hired him as a product marketing manager. Learn How to Win and Lose George Turnbull puts a humorous spin on his video resume while highlighting his above-average vocabulary, personality and ability to adapt to different situations. A Dream Job Would be Nice Mark Leruste gives an overview of his work history and experience but also shows his true personality and a glimpse of his life outside the office. The Unmentionables The Hire-me-Not Humor is a great way to win over a potential employer, but when used ineffectively it can do more harm than good. Harris Alterman pushes sarcasm too far in his video resume, a turnoff for most employers. Hire Me or I’ll Stab You Andrew Hunt’s video, in addition to being unnecessarily long, talks about aspects of his life and personality that aren’t applicable to the workplace, such as his dating and future family life, and mentions nothing relevant to a potential job. In light of these examples — the good and the bad — here are a few tips for creating a stellar video resume: Create a Resume Because It’s Relevant Video resumÃ©s are ideal for candidates applying for media, creative and social jobs, since the multimedia skill set is applicable to what the job demands. Don’t create a video just because it seems like a neat thing to do — always have a purpose and value in mind. Let Your Personality Shine Through Employers can read a candidate’s qualifications and past experience on a piece of paper. Use the video format to show your personality, motivation and creativity. Adds Chris Morrow, director of business development for Boston Medical Group: "It’s not one thing in particular I look for. It’s not so much the content, but their personality and how they carry themselves...And what works well in the office environment." Keep it Concise Recruiters don’t have all day to watch your video, so keep it short. Mario Gedicke, account manager at video employment platform Mayomann.com, recommends capping it at one minute. Aim for Informal Resumes and cover letters may be about formality, but the video format should be casual in tone. Tell a story that reflects your skills and the way you approach different situations, suggest professionals at ACareerJob.net. Video resumes and resignations show creativity and the ability to think outside the box, but creating a video doesn't necessarily win you a seat in your dream job. Follow the recommended tips, and learn from those around you by watching amazing videos that grab your attention as well as those that you have to turn off after 10 seconds.
Why I’m Awesome, In 140 Characters or Less
If you’re like most people, you’re not that keen on telling other people how awesome you are. (And you ARE awesome.) But here’s the thing – you need to do it, because if you wait for someone else it may never happen. You don’t necessarily have to write a novel on your awesomeness. Just fire off a quick note; take a picture even. Because we live in the future, we’ve all become accustomed to giving short, pithy updates on our progress. Whether it’s a Facebook status update, a text message, a comment on a blog post or a twittered tweet, we’re getting better at communicating in fewer words. So here’s a challenge. What have you achieved recently? What’s the newest most fantastic accomplishment you’re sharing with your colleagues over your morning coffee? (We’re assuming you’ll be recording this for review time, because you’re AWESOME. And smart). Take that accomplishment and make it zippy. Published something that’s getting an unprecedented response? Write a note: "Got some more great feedback on my AWESOME article: ’Most useful advice ever, shared with my staff.’ I feel so validated." There. That’s enough. You don’t actually have to tweet it or post it on Facebook (although you could! People do!); but now your accomplishment is recorded for prosperity. What’s more, if you keep it short it’s more likely to actually get read at review time. Bonus extra step: if you’re feeling fancy, go ahead and attach a screenshot, printout, photo copy, fax or recording of the feedback. Now save it in your filing cabinet of choice – it’ll make recalling it when you need to prove your AWESOMENESS so much easier. We know we’ve said it before, but you really do need to blow your own trumpet. Your point of view on what you do is really very important from a performance perspective, and when it comes to you, you are your own best advocate. So get advocating – record your latest AWESOME achievement and like the proverbial crocodile handbag, make it snappy.
People Analytics 101 with Josh Bersin
Analytics is the new buzzword in talent management, but that doesn't mean it's the new reality. For all of the business insights HR data promises to provide—predicting performance, boosting engagement, improving succession—there are as many questions about how to implement a data program in the first place. While three in four companies believe using people analytics is important, only 8 percent think their organization is "strong" in the area—with no improvement since 2014. Analytics programs require a significant investment of time, money and resources, presenting a challenge for busy and budget-strapped HR departments. But for those who invest, the payoff promises to be great: A Bersin by Deloitte study found that companies using sophisticated data analytics see 30 percent higher stock market returns than the S&P 500, and that HR teams are four times more likely to be respected by their counterparts for data-driven decision-making. We sat down with Josh Bersin, principal and founder of leading HR research firm Bersin by Deloitte, for some Analytics 101. Here, Bersin discusses why HR is late to the big data party, how analytics can provide companies with a huge competitive advantage and where data fits into the future of talent management. Big data has been central to company departments like sales and marketing for years. Why is the topic of analytics just now taking off for HR departments? Over the last five years, there's been an explosion of interest in data decision-making. If you look at most big companies, there's a lot of data analytics being used in financial departments; companies know where they are losing and making money. That kind of discipline has been applied to marketing as well. Companies have a pretty good sense that if they spend money on a certain ad campaign, they can expect a certain return. The unsolved area is how to apply analytics in terms of people. What makes top salespeople effective, and how do we hire more of them? Why is a company's turnover rate higher this year than last? These are all HR — or "people" — problems that we are now looking to predict, understand and analyze with data. With the use of cloud-based HR systems ... companies now have a large percentage of HR and business data. They can build models and analyze that data in order to understand why certain parts of their business aren't optimized to the best they can be. How prevalent is the use of people analytics in HR today? People analytics is starting in a small way. [Only] 4 percent of the market is doing sophisticated predictive analytics, and 50 to 60 percent are still cleaning up the data they have and trying to make sense of it. Many companies are in the process of replacing old HR systems with new platforms, which will give them access to analytics tools. Historically, the HR function is not a very sophisticated group of data people. Now, however, we have HR executives hiring people with PhDs to run teams in HR to look at data. I think data analysis is going to become an established discipline within HR in the next 10 years. Every single department I've talked to wants to implement this. What are some common applications of people analytics, and how do they help HR leaders achieve their organizational goals? One of the most common uses of analytics right now is predicting retention. Retention risk calculations can help companies figure out why people are leaving. A second application of people analytics is recruiting. If a big company receives 500,000 resumes per year, whom do they hire? It's not as simple as scanning through and seeing who went to Harvard and got straight A's. Those may not be the best people to succeed at that company; it may be people who went to community college. Third is revenue generation. How does a company hire more effective salespeople, get rid of people who aren't performing well and copy things that high performers are doing well? You have to look at business data as well as HR data. Once you do that, you have possibly unleashed the largest source of competitive advantage ever. Where should HR professionals that want to implement an analytics program start? First, a company needs executive commitment. Both the CHRO and CEO need to be comfortable making that financial investment. Second, the company needs to find someone to run that group. Despite a lot of press out there, it's easier to find those people than you may think. A lot of statisticians and mathematicians are interested in doing this kind of work, you just have to look for them in disciplines outside of HR. Third, you have to invest in good, integrated systems, and IT needs to ensure the data is clean and ready to work with. Understand you're not going to get a great result in three months; you have to commit to the time it's going to take. How will people analytics impact the future of talent management? You're going to see better-run companies that are able to make better decisions. Organizations will have better people, reduced risk and lower error rates. You name any problem that any company has ever had, and you can trace it back to people. Depending on the priorities of the CEO and business, you can apply people analytics to just about any problem you have. Photo: Shutterstock
Rethinking the Benefits Package for Today’s Workforce
A paycheck, an insurance policy, two weeks’ vacation and a pension just don’t cut it anymore. To attract and retain talent, companies are putting an unorthodox spin on the traditional benefits package, including concierge medical memberships, competitive retirement programs and extended parental leave for both moms and dads. A "benefits 2.0" package can include the following: Concierge Health Coverage The U.S. healthcare system’s employer-provided model is rooted partly in companies needing to one-up each other during the recruitment process. The model took off during World War II, according to NPR, when factories used generous health plans as a recruitment tool to meet product demand. But today, health insurance doesn't translate to a great patient experience, as employees struggle with crowded waiting rooms, endless paperwork, rushed appointments and a wasted work day. A growing number of companies are buying into a new vision for primary care offered by concierge services such as One Medical Group. The San Francisco-based organization accepts most forms of insurance and charges a yearly fee. Members get benefits such as same-day appointments that start on time and direct communication with their physicians. More than 80 companies now cover the membership fee as an employee perk, according to Paul Jorgensen, vice president of enterprise sales at One Medical Group. "We’ve seen the most penetration in tech, as well as finance and legal," Jorgensen says. "All employers view One Medical a little differently. Some view it as a cost-savings tool because we have the ability to lower healthcare costs. We’ve seen some clients post One Medical on their job application as a perk to attract talent. We’ve seen others do it as a way to make their employees more efficient." But don’t forget about Fido. Many companies now extend health benefits to employees’ pets, as well. Chipotle Mexican Grill, MGM Resorts International, Ford Motor Company and thousands of other companies offer company-subsidized pet insurance as a perk, according to the Associated Press. "Like any kind of health care offering, (pet insurance) is viewed as an employee enticement and retention tool," says Charles J. Sebaski, insurance analyst for BMO Capital Markets. Smarter Ways to Save for Retirement Competitive salaries are an obvious financial draw, but companies are getting creative about their portfolio of financial perks too. Even the 401(k), popular since the early 1980s, is getting a makeover. USAA, for example, matches employees’ contributions dollar for dollar to eight percent, according to Entrepreneur. The Roth 401(k) is another common retirement benefit that companies offer in addition to the traditional 401(k). The Roth 401(k) is funded by after-tax dollars, allowing employees to avoid unpredictable taxes on those contributions when they retire. Companies looking to get in on the next trend might consider offering managed 401(k) plans to help employees make good decisions. These plans put the investing decisions in financial professionals’ hands. Saving for retirement is an important, complex decision — and most people just aren’t very good at it. "I joke that most people spend more time each year figuring out who they are going to start on their fantasy football team than how their 401(k) account is allocated," Joshua Itzoe, a partner at wealth management firm Greenspring, tells Bankrate. Time Out of the Office As employee benefits such as unlimited vacation, catered meals, gym subsidies and on-site childcare become more mainstream, companies are looking for other ways to differentiate their culture. This is especially important as a new generation of job seekers redefine the notion of work/life balance. One strategy is paid maternity and paternity leave that extends beyond the timeframe required by federal and state laws, says Kathryn Ross, vice president of marketing at Sequoia Benefits. Last year, Yahoo extended its parental leave benefits in an effort to attract employees. New moms now get 16 weeks of paid leave, while new adoptive or foster parents (moms and dads) get eight weeks of paid leave, according to Bloomberg.
How to Prepare Your Organization for Robot Workers
Do you hear that sound? It's the collective gasp of the millions of workers threatened by the likes of artificial intelligence, machine learning, drones and even autonomous vehicles. Recent headlines like "Robots Are Coming for Jobs of as Many as 800 Million World Wide" and "Workers at Risk as Robots Set to Replace 66M Jobs" deliver a dire forecast of imminent job loss—a robot apocalypse where human workers become redundant. While it's true that as each advanced technology gains traction some jobs will become extinct, exactly how many jobs will be affected is not an easy number to peg down. No matter the number, it's unlikely humans will become obsolete in the advent of these robot workers. The more likely scenario is that most of our jobs will be reinvented rather than replaced. This reinvention creates an opportunity to adopt new skills. To do this, both employees and organizations should embrace a culture of learning and accept the reality that they must work with emerging technology, not against it. The 21st Century of Work Even though many job titles will remain intact in the future, at least 60 percent of all jobs can be 30 percent automated. That means the skills needed to do almost any job will be different and more complex. Unfortunately, a large segment of our current workforce is ill-prepared. One in four adults report a mismatch between the skills they have and the skills they need for their current job. And according to Edward Gordon, less than 50 million American workers will eventually qualify to supply a demand of 123 million higher skilled jobs. Here's the problem in a nutshell: the job opportunities that are available today are 21st-century jobs, but the way most people perform these jobs is still stuck in the previous century. The half-life of a job skill is about five years, meaning every five years, that skill is about half as valuable as it was before. And skills shortages are already affecting business—92 percent of employers surveyed saying the shortage has a negative impact on areas such as productivity, staff turnover and employee satisfaction. Embracing a No-Collar Workforce So what are companies and workers to do as new technologies and robots proliferate in the workforce and employees start to lack the necessary skills to adopt? In order to adopt a cultural shift around how your organization and its employees view the "rise of the machines" and learn the necessary skills to work with them, HR and management should start by asking the following questions: What human skills will be required to manage emerging technologies? What jobs in our organization should we be planning to fully automate in the next 5 years? What tasks will automation not be able to perform better than humans? Which workers will be most severely affected? How many current employees have the ability to step-up and fill the growing skills gap quickly? What new skills will human workers need to acquire to remain valuable members of the changing workforce? Organizations stand at the intersection of man and machine. What was fiction in the 50s and 60s is reality today. At the heart of this phenomena emerges what Deloitte calls the no-collar workforce. Instead of robots versus humans, think "co-bots" or collaborative robots. Picture hybrid teams of machines or "augmented humans." This shift presents the formidable task of redesigning jobs and reimagining how work gets done. Instead of technology helping humans become more productive, future work will be completed through the synergy and symbiosis of humans and robots working collaboratively. Each will contribute specialized skills and abilities. Yes, robot workers will help humans become more productive, but humans will also help robots function at peak performance. Unlike past technology that didn't get smarter or learn on its own, new technology will improve spontaneously and instantly. As technology gets smarter "on the fly," its human partner will need to get smarter, too. Photo: Creative Commons
Work/Life Balance: Is Technology the Villain or Hero?
I recently came across a survey by LinkedIn which polled over 18,000 employees in 26 countries to understand what factors influence career satisfaction around the world. A key finding was that work/life balance was the second most important reason for changing job. A further piece of research concluded that mobile technology plays a role in achieving work-life balance, although "respondents express mixed feelings about its impact on their personal lives" - 77% acknowledge they gained in flexibility, which 80 % assume was essential to work/life balance; however, 70% admit that technology brings work into their personal lives. We all strive to achieve the ideal balance between our work and personal lives but we also appreciate the flexibility that mobile technology gives us to communicate whenever we want. Therefore, the question isn’t really if technology is a villain or a hero, but if we use technology as a new powerful tool to work and communicate or if we let it decide in how we organise our lives. A Faustian Bargain? When thinking about mobile technology in our lives, it’s difficult to imagine not using it. As Media theorist Neil Postman said, "any technology is a Faustian bargain: it gives us something important but it takes something that is important in return." In the case of mobile technology, we’ve gained a huge amount of flexibility, networking capability, instant access to knowledge at the tips of our fingers (depending on the network speed...). The price to pay would be our own instant availability, the same way we’d expect other people and resources to be. But we also need to remember how a century ago some people said that the telephone would never be successful because masters would always expect their servants to pick up the phone! Any disruptive technology affects our behaviour in a way it is difficult to foresee. Flexible working is a good example of how technology indeed helps us to be more productive, without damaging the work/life balance. This is something everyone has already experienced: if there is a specific task to do that requires full concentration without being disturbed by colleagues, phone calls or any other interruption, it is great to have the ability to do it from home or outside of the office. Defining Your Own Work/Life Boundaries I think we should see mobile technology as a great tool that we can use to help us work smarter, and enjoy all its advantages, but we should not become overly dependent on our own inventions. Therefore, the challenge is to integrate both our working and private lives. This is actually what we do with our mobile devices: few people have separate phones for work and for their private contacts. Even though Facebook and LinkedIn serve different purposes, we do have friends on LinkedIn and colleagues on Facebook. This is the same sort of attitude we must take with technology. We have to define what’s important for us at which time of the day, the week and the year, and act consistently. If you’re having a family dinner, you certainly don’t need to have your smartphone at hand. Nonetheless, you should not feel guilty to check your emails in the evening if you feel like it. It may help you arrive with a purposeful mind in the morning, without any backlog. As Fiona O'Hara, managing director of human capital and diversity at Accenture, puts it: "although technology has to be managed carefully, there are so many ways in which it can enhance our working lives if we set appropriate boundaries. And companies that can provide the tools and the culture to help us find that right work-life balance will reap the rewards when it comes to attracting and retaining the best employees".
ICYMI: Four HR Trends to Look for in 2020
Editor's Note: In today's fast-paced news cycle, we know it's difficult to keep up with the latest and greatest HR trends and stories. To make sure you're updated, we're recapping the most popular trends, events and conversations every month in our "In Case You Missed It" series. There’s been plenty of innovation in the HR space this past year: Artificial intelligence provided new, more effective ways to conduct candidate searches and selections, there was an industry-wide push to improve employee engagement and invest in programs that do so and companies found better ways to manage remote workers. But as 2019 comes to an end, it’s time to look ahead to the HR trends that will take shape over the next 365 days. With the help of some of our expert contributors, we’ve come up with four predictions that HR professionals and departments should pay close attention to in the coming year: 1) AI-Driven HR Processes Will Be Scrutinized Under the Microscope For many companies, AI has become a crucial aspect of their HR department’s talent acquisition initiatives. It reduces time to hire, increases productivity for recruiters and delivers an enhanced candidate experience. In one study, 40% of companies reported using AI to screen and assess candidates during recruitment. For example, HireVue, a recruiting-technology firm, offers an AI system that uses candidates’ computer or cellphone cameras to analyze their facial movements, word choice and speaking voice. These factors are then combined to produce an "employability" score that ranks candidates. While this tactic might streamline the recruitment process and help companies find the right hires, it’s a use case that faces some hesitation and disapproval. While some believe in the efficiency and effectiveness of this kind of system—especially for personality-driven industries like hospitality—others see it as a dangerous addition that could reiterate biases or create an unlevel playing field for many candidates. Skeptics argue that using AI to study a candidate’s speaking patterns and facial expressions could end up penalizing nonnative speakers, nervous candidates or anyone else who doesn’t fit the standard mold in terms of speech and appearance. In the face of these complicated and somewhat concerning AI developments, experts look to 2020 as a year that might hold these systems to a higher standard. "I don’t think AI will get through the new year unscathed," says Suzanne Lucas, a regular ReWork contributor and author of the Evil HR Lady blog. "Already, companies are facing scrutiny for bias in their systems. In 2020, many will find that these flawed systems hurt far more than they help, and companies will have to react accordingly." 2) Skills Gaps Will Continue to Expand Many experts forecast an economic slowdown in the coming year. Though a full-blown recession isn’t likely, many predict job growth will slow, the unemployment rate will grow and as a result, skills gaps will continue to expand. In fact, a study by Wiley Education Services and Future Workplace found that 64% of human resources leaders already see a growing skills gap in their companies. This widening gap is a worrisome sign, according to the president of Success Performance Solutions Ira Wolfe: "Like the wealth gap, where the top 1% own more than half of the world’s wealth, the top 1% of companies will start to own more than half the world’s talent. My projection is that talent poverty will grow exponentially in 2020 and, as a result, hiring top talent will be more challenging than ever." In this competitive talent environment, companies will have to work harder to retain top performers and upskill their talents. Right now, less than half of companies (48%) spend more than $500 every year on continuing the education of each employee, but that won’t cut it moving forward. Companies will need to invest more in modern learning and development programs. These courses should speak to AI, machine learning and automation and teach employees how to best leverage these technologies. Effective programs will also speak to new and old workforces—from Gen Z to Baby Boomers. Programs like Cornerstone’s DNA program, which is designed to engage Generation Z, will become more effective in the coming year as new talent enters the workplace. But as the skills gap grows, employees may have to take training into their own hands. Workers would be wise to take note of which departments are getting the most management attention and resources. In doing so, they can strategize how they might be able to work in those areas (if they’re interested) or try to become involved in a cross-functional project, where they can pick up new practices and then design a training program for themselves based on what they learned. For instance, if the ability to code in HTML is a desirable skill that will add more mobility and job security for an employee, they can request the opportunity to further develop this skill. If the company is unable to help with this request, the employee may need to learn it on their own time. 3) Employee Wellness Will Be Redefined Research has shown that healthier employees are more effective at their jobs. And when companies have healthier workers, they experience higher retention rates, too. It’s no surprise, then, that, over the past five years, HR departments have focused more on employee wellness. Today’s HR professionals are constantly searching for new ways to help workers avoid burnout and take better care of themselves. But there’s a disparity here in how employers and workers view existing programs. According to one recent study by Aetna, 70% of employers believe they provide reasonable access to health and wellness benefits, but only 23% of employees agree. Similarly, the study found that 82% of workers across the globe are concerned that mental health issues could impact their ability to work, but only 25% of employees feel as though their organizations provide enough support for mental health conditions. In the coming year, HR professionals should be prepared to evolve wellness programs to focus more on employees’ mental health and more holistic benefit options that service employees’ behavioral health issues like addiction or mental health ailments like anxiety or depression. 4) Better Candidate Experiences Are Coming, Thanks to Voice Technology Research suggests that, more often than not, communication between candidates and employers is poor. One study from the Talent Board found that 47% of applicants were still waiting on a response from employers two months after applying. This reality has a direct, negative effect on how a candidate perceives the company and the likelihood that they apply for another position at the organization. In the coming year, HR departments and professionals should expect a push to improve the candidate experience with technology like natural language processing, a new kind of voice and language recognition system. "Whether most companies will engage with this new recruiting trend is yet to be seen," Wolfe says. "But in the coming year, more companies will find that new HR [voice] technology can streamline their recruitment applications and improve engagement." Companies like McDonald’s have already jumped on this trend. Earlier this year, it announced its plan to use voice assistant technologies like Alexa and Google to implement the world’s first voice-initiated application process. Called "Apply Thru," the program asks applicants for basic information like their name, job area of interest and location. From there, the system lists what McDonald’s positions are available and sends a link to the official application online. Others are providing a better candidate experience through voice-activated rejection and offer letters. This technology uses personalization to make candidates feel valued by the companies they apply to—even if they don’t get the job—and more likely to apply again in the future once their skills have advanced. Are you prepared for these 2020 trends? If not, don’t stress: The first step is being aware of what’s coming next. And now that you have an idea of what lies ahead, start taking the steps to get your organization on track. Image via Creative Commons
How To Include Your Remote Workers In Holiday Festivities
Remote work is becoming increasingly popular, offering employees a flexible schedule and saving them time and money that is usually spent on commuting. Studies show that telecommuters are more productive than their office counterparts. According to a FlexJobs report, 65% of workers believe they’re more productive at home than in a traditional office. However, there’s also a downside of remote work: Many remote workers suffer from FOMO, or fear of missing out. While their in-office colleagues are spending time together, remote workers are often removed from the social aspect of their jobs. These feelings of isolation are especially apparent during the holiday season, with events like holiday parties and secret santa exchanges. If your remote workers are local, then you can surely invite them into the office for an annual party and exchange some home-baked cookies. But when you have employees that work from locations all across the country (or around the world), it is unlikely that you’ll be able to fly all of them in for these festivities. So how can you include remote workers in holiday traditions? Here are some ideas for getting get them involved. 1) Virtual Secret Santa Instead of exchanging gifts with fellow coworkers during Secret Santa, make the activity about donating presents to those in need. Set a budget and assign every employee a theme (i.e. "math game" or "princess item") and set a time for everyone to gather around—via video call and in-person—and share the presents purchased. Then, donate the gifts to a children’s charity of your choice. This activity is budget-friendly, makes for great conversation and benefits children in low-income communities during the season of giving. And, of course, it’s a great way for employees to build relationships virtually. 2) Give Your Remote Workers Time Off If your office staff party is during working hours, give your remote staff an extra half-day of vacation time to use in December. They may not get to sample Suzanne from HR’s famous vanilla fudge, but at least they will get some time back to spend with family or buy holiday gifts. 3) Offer Dinner on the Company Dime On the flipside, if you’re having a party in the evening and you’re serving food, consider sending your remote workers a gift certificate for a local restaurant. Make sure the amount on the card is enough for two people to get a nice meal. This thoughtful gesture will send your remote employees the message that you appreciate them just as much as their in-office colleagues. 4) Throw a Virtual Party Set up a time, send everyone party hats and a box of treats and host a virtual holiday party on either a video conference call or a Slack channel. Let people chat, hang out and eat their snacks. Make sure to include your remote employees in on conversation—kick things off by going around the room and having everyone share their holiday traditions or moderate another inclusive conversation. This event gives virtual employees the opportunity to get to know their colleagues in a social setting. 5) PowerPoint Karaoke Scour the web for PowerPoint presentations that are completely unrelated to your area of business. For example, if you work for a financial services firm, you might choose slides on classic 18th century novelists or Physics. Then, ask employees to give a presentation based on these slides. You’ll be laughing as your employees try to talk through slides on topics they are completely unfamiliar with. Of course, the most crucial aspect of a holiday party is letting your employees know that you care about them. They may not be present for an in-person celebration, but it’s important to show your appreciation for them—regardless of where they work. Header image: Creative Commons
Demystifying Transformation: How to Foster Cultural Transformation Across Your Organization
In HR, we talk about workplace transformation pretty regularly. But what does it actually mean? In this mini-series, we’ll give you some tips and tricks to help you understand each type of transformation—and how you can foster it across your organization. Social media has given employees a voice to take their companies to task over flawed corporate culture. The #MeToo Movement, for example, began on Twitter in 2017 and empowereed women to share their experiences with sexual harassment and violence in an open forum. It quickly went viral, starting a conversation that would spark positive (and necessary) changes within several organizations, from The Weinstein Company to DC Comics—and many more. But you don’t need to wait for a crisis—or a big social media movement—to transform your company culture. Cultural transformation, the act of reframing what your organization values and the type of behavior it tolerates, can make or break an employee’s experience. Done right, cultural transformation can create an office environment where employees feel excited to go to work every day instead of dreading it. And when you foster a culture that respects workers and gives them a sense of belonging, they will feel more invested in the company. The data agrees: Employees who feel valued at their jobs are 50% more productive than those who don’t. Why You Need Cultural Transformation The case for cultural transformation may seem obvious—improving your company’s culture will help you attract and retain employees who are enthusiastic and engaged. And while it’s important for workers to be happy, a positive company culture can also improve your business. In 1992, Harvard Business School professors James Heskett and John Kotter published a study called Corporate Culture and Performance, which made those benefits clear. Heskett and Kotter found that successful companies have two characteristics in common: They highly value their people and customers, and they encourage leadership from everyone at their organizations. What’s more, these firms experienced a 975% increase in equity compared to other organizations. They also grew more, retained more employees and showed significant increases in their revenue, stock prices and average incomes. But for most organizations, a successful cultural transformation costs money—and HR often must get buy-in from internal stakeholders, like the CFO and other members of the C-suite who allocate budget toward transformation initiatives. And it can be difficult to convince these executives to put money toward a program that doesn’t directly impact revenue. Sure, a cultural transformation drives employee engagement and improves retention, but it won’t directly make the company more money—at least not right away. That’s why you need to position your ask strategically. Think about how a cultural transformation can help you achieve corporate objectives. From a business perspective, positioning a cultural transformation as a program that will align with the organization’s larger initiatives is probably a more enticing selling point than just telling leadership that it will improve employee morale. For example, you might communicate how positive changes in company culture will boost productivity, lead to more revenue or tie into existing organizational initiatives, like improving customer service. How Do You Change a Culture? It’s tempting to put up signs around your office that preach positivity and accountability, and call it a day. But to effectively change your company culture, you’ll need more than just a mission statement or writing on a wall. Instead, successful cultural transformation has to start at the top. Show your executives and managers how they can lead by example and you will start to see those behaviors trickle down. To start fostering a successful cultural transformation, follow these steps: 1. Organize Your Top Team A top team is a group of people who have been designated to help enact change within your organization. The best top teams are made up of employees from each part of the company. Together, they will help drive the vision of your cultural transformation by representing other employees and acting as their voice throughout the transformation process. Some of the most successful and high profile companies have benefited from a top team. Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE, credits he company’s success to his top teams and the culture of "collegiality, mutual trust and respect for performance" they brought to GE. 2. Measure Your Progress Create a system that allows you to quantify how the cultural changes you’ve implemented are progressing. Short surveys and other forms of easily gathered feedback are effective for engaging employee reactions. Other concrete forms of measurement might include differences in output or revenue since the start of the program. Review all of the metrics at your disposal to find which cultural changes work best for your organization. 3. Create a Culture Plan Map out the goals you want to achieve. Focus on a limited number of areas that need improvement, making sure each goal is clear, measurable and actionable. Seek feedback from your teams and polish your plan before you roll it out to the entire company. 4. Engage Employees The most effective company cultures give even the most junior employees the sense that their feedback matters. Create channels that allow employees to voice their opinions through every step of the transformation process, and communicate their feedback to your team and company leadership. The more open the channels of communication are, the better. Give workers choices and opportunities to discuss ideas with change-makers, either as a large group, a round-table or during a one-on-one. Whatever method you choose, be transparent with employees. Make it clear that decisions are not being made behind closed doors and that leaders are available to listen to concerns from anyone in the company, whether they’re an intern or a senior manager. Cultural transformation doesn’t come from just wishful thinking. Truly changing your company’s culture for the better will take time, organization and lots of planning. Be on the lookout for how you can better serve your employees. Once your company leadership takes these various needs into account, you’ll be on your way to transforming your workplace into an environment where workers can thrive. Header image: Creative Commons
Cartoon Coffee Break: Robot In Training
Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Cartoon Coffee Break" series. While we take talent management seriously, we also know it's important to have a good laugh. Check back every two weeks for a new ReWork cartoon. We can’t predict exactly what the future of work will look like, but if there’s one thing we’re pretty sure about, it’s that automation will play an increasingly important role in how we do our jobs. The World Economic Forum predicts that robots will take over 75 million jobs, but simultaneously create 133 million new jobs. While it can be tempting to worry about these statistics, HR must instead work with their employees to actively prepare for a more automated future. By investing in reskilling programs and taking responsibility for technological changes that could impact your workforce, you will be well-equipped for a world that puts both technology and people to work. Header image: Creative Commons
Take It From a Futurist: Break Down HR’s Biggest Misconceptions to Keep Your Business Thriving
Charlene Li helps organizations and their leaders understand how to make sense of business complexity, leverage emerging technologies and prepare for potential challenges. Then, she helps them to figure out which first step to take toward success. Li, based in San Francisco, is the founder and a senior analyst at the disruptive industry analyst firm Altimeter, a Prophet company. She is also a bestselling author whose latest book, The Disruption Mindset: Why Some Businesses Transform While Others Fail, was released in September. Through her work with clients to help them tackle their various organizational obstacles and grow, Li has noticed that there are some common misconceptions that hold companies back from reaching their goals, be it digital transformation, growth or better employee engagement. Here, we explore the primary HR misconceptions that Li has observed: There is a misunderstanding about who the "customer" is for an HR department, HR teams are preparing for digital transformation in a backwards way and organizations underestimate the role that marketing teams can play in engaging employees. To Keep Customers Happy, Keep Employees Engaged When Li talks to employees working in HR departments, she hears echoes of a common error: HR’s "customers" are internal, as in employees and hiring managers. "No, no, no, no," she says. "Your ultimate customer is the actual customer." And that means you need to look at the ripple effects hiring decisions can have on a company’s bottom line. Keeping the customer in mind, Li says the functions traditionally filed under HR—"Hire, train and retain"—are not enough. "It’s not just about finding people to fill the spots; it’s finding the great people, the right people," she says, and building relationships with them to influence retention and engagement rates as well as overall company potential. "If those people have a great relationship with their employer, they will be able to create that relationship with the customers," she explains. "But if they’re unhappy at work, disengaged, they won’t do that." For this reason, Li says, the culture, purpose and mission of a company are extremely important, "especially if you want to create an organization that is truly customer-centric." Part of relationship-building involves taking advantage of company data, Li says. How is the company gauging the health and psyche of individuals and teams? Is data collected by an annual employee survey, or is a system in place that helps take "multiple mini-pulses" on how employees are feeling? "The reality is, most work doesn’t happen anymore inside of silos," Li says. "So the only way for people to be engaged and work together effectively within teams, outside of teams, across the organization is through effective analysis and fostering by the HR department." If employees are happy and are collaborating effectively, their satisfaction will eventually trickle down, all the way to the company’s customers. Transform, Then Reorganize Li identifies digital transformation as one of the biggest initiatives in present-day companies. But as companies attempt to digitally transform, Li finds they’re asking the wrong questions. Companies will ask her how to organize employees and processes for digital transformation—a question that she says is "almost like putting the cart before the horse." Rather than asking, "I need to digitally transform, so how do I organize for that?" Li suggests starting by identifying the digital transformation you’re trying to create in order to work in a different way. Then, determine how the company needs to reorganize its people and processes in order to ensure that work can happen properly in the new digital environment. Too often, Li says, companies struggling to change their culture throw up their hands and accept the status quo. She asks those she works with to identify the beliefs that are holding them back. "Culture is fundamentally made up of two things: beliefs and behaviors," she says. If beliefs change, behaviors can change, and vice versa. Marketing Can Handle More Than External Communications Companies are using modern marketing tools for external communications, but what about internally? "We’ve gotten so much more rich in the way we communicate with our customers," Li says. "And yet, how do we communicate with employees? If they have an email, we use email, maybe. That’s about it." However, Li has seen some companies moving internal communications out of HR and into marketing. In this way, she says, employees are treated as well as—or even better than—customers. Li proposes a partnership between HR and marketing departments in which HR will give marketers messaging and content for employees, and marketing will manage it in creative and engaging ways. Li also stresses the importance of leadership developing relationships with employees, and marketing can help with that, too. Employees want to know what company leaders think and what they’re doing. And leaders want to know what customers are saying, by way of employees. "A leader came to me and said, ’Why would anybody be interested in what I had for lunch?" Li says. "I’m like, ’you’re absolutely right, no one cares what you had for lunch. What they care about is what you talked about over lunch.’" Social media is also a tool that leaders can use to share what’s on their minds, and to learn and share customer feedback. Similarly, this sort of communication can be achieved using frequent emails or internal messaging tools like Slack. "If you don’t [communicate with employees], it’s as if somebody was knocking at your door, or calling you on your phone, and you saying, ’I can’t be bothered to answer you; I can’t be bothered to respond,’" she says. Image: Creative Commons
Cartoon Coffee Break: Remote Office
Once upon a time, an office was made up of enclosed spaces and cubicles. These design elements made it easy to focus. But the way we work is changing, and so are the offices we occupy. With the rise of open floor plans, which are designed to encourage collaboration but often lack space to take meetings or private phone calls, the modern workplace can be rather disruptive. As a result, many employees are turning to remote work to avoid distractions. It’s up to HR to design spaces that cater to different types of work styles and to promote flexible policies that empower employees to do their best work, no matter where they are. Header photo: Creative Commons
The First Step to Digital Transformation Is Cleaning Up Your Tech
A chat bot here, a learning management system there. For many companies, engaging in digital transformation means adding a few new technologies to their existing systems. But these new tools aren’t enough to truly transform a company, says business technologist Brian Sommer. Worse, according to the president and founder of TechVentive, companies, including HR officers, too often merely pile new solutions on top of already broken infrastructures. The results are piecemeal systems with technologies that don’t work together seamlessly, much less lead to a real transformation. Sommer’s message: While exploring the latest technology is an important part of any digital transformation effort, it’s futile unless the starting point is a functioning baseline technology ecosystem. In our Q&A below, Sommer explains why creating an operational tech foundation—in other words, cleaning up how your existing technology functions—is the first step to any transformation process and the important issues to consider. ReWork: Can you tell us about the stages of digital transformation and where most companies are in this process? Brian Sommer: There are four stages: dysfunctional, functional, excellent and disruptive. I was astonished when conducting research just how many companies were borderline dysfunctional. They’ve got old tech that no one knows how to patch anymore, or they’ve got one guy left who knows that obscure programming language. But companies can’t transform until they deal with the mess, allowing them to become highly process efficient and ready to lead the charge. This requires addressing the technology already in place? Sommer: To transform, a lot of companies first need to get their house in order. Companies are some homeowners: they’re hoarders. Over time, they accumulate lots of spreadsheets, systems, technical debt, processes, conflicting policies and much more. Often, companies must declutter before they can transform. You have to think of it as though you’re preparing a site for constructing a building. You wouldn’t start putting new building materials on top of a a pre-existing structure or inadequate foundation. Companies need to have a solid base of people, technology, business practices, etc. before they start experimenting with new areas. Recently, I chatted with a Chief HR Officer, who, because her company had gone through a number of acquisitions, found herself to be the proud owner of dozens of different HR systems around the world. None of them talked to one another. It was actually hurting her career because she could never answer the executive committee’s questions without spending two weeks to get the information. The first thing they had to do, then, was to standardize their HR technology around the world. Now that that’s done, they’re looking to add all kinds of advanced technology, allowing them to do a much better job of recruiting and engagement. Is it advisable to take baby steps when it comes to transformation? Sommer: If you add technology in an incremental fashion, I can guarantee you it’s not going to be transformative. That’s like adding curb feelers to the outside of your car. It may give you a tiny boost, but it’s not transformative. Given how fast innovation happens and how quickly your competition moves, if you’re still doing things in tiny, super-cautious steps, you’re going to get burned. To tackle the big stuff that really makes a difference in your world competitively, you have to come at it faster and in a more nimble way. As companies make these transformative moves, what happens to the human side of work? Sommer: The best-run company I ever came across followed an approach called sunset planning. They knew that every skill set, program, initiative and IT system had a best-used-by date. They knew how long everything would last and when it would have to be replaced. And it’s part of everyone’s job to take care of "sunsetting" a project while being trained to roll onto another project that’s going to be the future for the next 10 or 15 years. When people know what they’re going to be doing, the comfort level goes through the roof. They know what the master plan is. Otherwise, people start assuming the worst. What other technology pressures does HR face? Sommer: I’ve been seeing some Chief HR Officers taken to the woodshed lately by the board because they haven’t figured out how to help the organization grow. But if HR is struggling just to fill open slots today, it cannot help companies grow 10 to 20% a year. They need a different approach to recruiting—one that involves different technology. Recently, I helped a client acquire systems to get better at finding and developing talent. They wanted big data from places like LinkedIn to populate their databases. They wanted to use candidate relationship management technology from firms like SmashFly. They wanted tools to help them broaden the pool of candidates. It’s all aimed at helping them attract—and almost seduce—people into becoming job seekers at their company. Header photo: Creative Commons
How Today’s Seven Top Tech Trends Are Transforming Work
When asked to consider how technology is transforming the world of work, an HR executive may point to advancements in applicant tracking systems, the growth of on-demand learning platforms and better employee analytics. These are just a few of the exciting new tools having a profound impact on HR, but what about the many broader technologies that are shaking up the status quo across industries? From 5G and blockchain, to deep learning and augmented reality, these technologies are more than buzzwords. In fact, there are already proven use cases demonstrating these technologies’ promise in industries like retail, finance and healthcare. And there’s plenty of potential for them to transform HR as well. With that in mind, here’s a look at the seven tech trends making work more connected and efficient. 1) Deep Learning A form of artificial intelligence, deep learning uses algorithms that can learn without direct input from humans. If you want a computer to differentiate between pictures of toddlers and puppies, a person wouldn’t need to label specific attributes of both categories. Instead, artificial neural networks could send data through various layers, with each one defining key features of various pictures and, finally, pinpointing the right identifiers for classifying the images. The technology is powerful when it comes to interpreting large amounts of disparate data and coming up with highly nuanced inferences about customer behavior. Case in point: Recruiters will be able to pinpoint promising candidates more efficiently, since they won’t be limited by the data in their company’s traditional applicant tracking systems. Instead, their deep learning-enabled technology will be able to aggregate and analyze data from social media sites like LinkedIn and other sources like personal websites or portfolios to gain a better understanding of applicants as individuals. "The deep learning can layer in additional data sets to provide insights into the next best steps," says Daniel Newman, principal analyst of Futurum Research. 2) Augmented Reality With augmented reality, digitally generated images, sound and graphics enhance objects in the real world. While it has led to popular entertainment like Snapchat’s gender-swap lens and Pokemon Go, AR also is having an effect on how we work. For example, AR now makes it easier for teams to work remotely. At Braustin Homes, a San Antonio-based company that sells factory-built houses, customers can shop for one of the firm’s 24 home models entirely online or over the phone. Customers can take materials home with them, download an AR app and view floor plans of each model. For the staff, it means employees don’t need to meet customers in-person or at construction sites, saving them travel time and money and giving them the flexibility to work from wherever they want. Workers can also use AR-enabled glasses to, say, perform a task that requires many steps without first having to memorize all those instructions. Instead, workers can use an AR-enabled headset to view instructions or tutorials through a display overlay— all while they work. Or an expert located at another location can offer guidance. The result for workers: More time to work on other, more challenging projects. 3) Bots Bots can run automated tasks, enabling them to perform repetitive tasks such as sending emails or scheduling appointments at a higher rate than a human. While companies are already increasingly using these bots for internal processes, the next step iteration will be what Christopher Creel, author of Adaptive: Scaling Empathy and Trust to Create Workplace Nirvana, calls "intelligent chatbots." These bots use deep learning algorithms operating inside of collaborative applications like Slack. As a result, they can perform such tasks as collecting regular feedback from colleagues, doing away with the need for annual reviews. In addition, using natural language analysis, bots can coach managers on how to phrase feedback to be most effective. The upshot: a dramatic improvement in our performance as managers—and a more pleasant employee experience. 4) Conversational AI Over the next few years, virtual assistants operated through voice commands like Siri and Alexa will become a lot more sophisticated. That’s because, with the next phase of artificial intelligence, the software’s algorithms will be able to consider context and make inferences. Thus, your digital assistant will not only be able to let you know when you have two conflicting meetings, but also help you prioritize your schedule based on, say, which person is higher up in the company hierarchy or other important factors. "You’ll have a continuous stream of conversation that’s more like talking to another person," says Newman. So how will that impact the way we work? For one thing, the technology should significantly boost our day-to-day efficiency by taking menial tasks off the plates of workers. An AI-powered assistant can schedule interviews between candidates and hiring managers, for example, giving human HR executives more time to better prepare for innately human tasks, such as phone screen interviews. Plus, by sussing out potential political conflicts or other inter-personal considerations, it’s likely to improve our relationships within our organization and maybe even lead to quicker promotions, Newman suggests. 5) Municipal Broadband A growing number of towns and cities are building and managing their own broadband infrastructure systems, offering the service to residents in a certain area. They’re particularly important for rural regions that commercial providers find too expensive to enter. For gig workers and freelancers in these areas, the systems can make it easier to work from even the most remote rural areas. 6) 5G This next-generation cellular wireless technology promises faster speed, lower latencies (the time it takes for data to travel from a device to the cloud and back) and the ability to connect massive numbers of sensors and smart devices within a network. The impact on work will be substantial. For example, faster, more reliable Internet connections will improve remote communication and collaboration tools like video calls. In addition, there will be advances like enhanced virtual conference rooms, combining AI, connected objects and virtual reality. For instance, a speaker’s name and title might appear on the screen, a helpful piece of information for big meetings with many strangers. It all will make virtual meetings more like real life and further boost the ability to work remotely. 7) Distributed Ledger Technologies Blockchain, often called a digitized ledger, contains batches of transactions linked to other blocks that are time-stamped and tamper-proof. While it’s widely known as the underpinning for cryptocurrency, the technology is also used for a wide variety of other applications, such as tracking the progress of a product through a particular supply chain. And that’s likely to have a larger impact on the workplace by making it easier to collaborate with everyone from vendors to banks. "You’re going to have a greater amount of trust in whomever you’re working with if you can track everything that’s happening without wondering about the integrity of the system," says Michael Biltz, managing director of Accenture Technology Vision. Plus, blockchain has the potential to add more transparency to recruiting and hiring, serving as a virtual resume that’s unchangeable and offers verified credentials. As these technologies continue to evolve, it’s critical for HR to consider how they might transform and improve their organizations. After all, we spend too much time at work to miss out on opportunities to work better. Image: Creative Commons
Take It From a Futurist: Competitive Hiring Doesn’t Rest on Technology Alone
Editor's Note: We would never dream of trying to predict the future—that's why we left it up to the futurists. In this series, we interview experts in HR, recruiting and the future of work to get their take on what's next. Brands are not built in boardrooms, nor vacuums, says Susan LaMotte, the founder and CEO of the employer brand and talent consultancy exaqueo. And companies don’t become a candidate’s "dream place to work" overnight. Rather, it takes deep introspection and often, bold transformative efforts. Before a company can start building (or rebuilding) an employer brand that appeals to top talent, it must first collect—and understand—raw data about existing processes, she says. At exaqueo, the "rigorous" data collection process is based on an academic research model. A PhD psychologist is on staff and has vetted the organization’s approach to different areas of its business, including recruiting, interviewing and hiring, LaMotte says. The Charleston, South Carolina-based company takes clients from all over the world—its client list includes Fortune 500, entertainment, telecommunications, pharmaceutical and hospitality companies. Here, LaMotte shares several trends she has noticed while helping companies build their brands with the goal of attracting top job candidates. 1) The Candidate Should Be at the Center Historically, HR departments have taken action in response to their own needs, says LaMotte, with the hiring process typically catered to the organization. An applicant tracking system, for example, may make things easier for the company because it provides better insight into the hiring process internally, but it doesn’t necessarily help the candidate since it’s not a transparent system, she explains. "Now, what we're seeing is an opportunity to put the candidate at the center, truly understand how they feel, and how they think, and start making our decisions on how we elevate HR's function, based on how to better the experience of the employee or the candidate." Through exaqueo, LaMotte has helped launch a candidate experience tracking model that shifts the view of the journey to employment. Rather than telling the story from the perspective of an HR representative (think: put out a job application, review interested applicants, call candidates in for interviews), the model takes the candidate's point of view: candidate finds out a company exists, candidate is interested in that company as an employer, etc. HR teams that adopt this model become more empathetic as they gain a better understanding of the candidate’s mindset. 2) Preferences Matter "In HR, we traditionally think in terms of process," LaMotte says, rather than in terms of "'how somebody feels." But the latter is a factor that exaqueo does not ignore, she says. If a client comes to exaqueo for help attracting female job candidates to a technology company, for instance, the solution is not to advertise on female-oriented job boards, or to feature more women in advertisements. Instead, exaqueo works with its clients to understand which steps in their companies’ hiring journeys are most impactful to a group of applicants and strengthen the process based on their findings. For example, to a certain kind of candidate, the application step may not feel as important as the interview process. With that information in mind, exaqueo urges companies to place more weight on the areas that applicants excel at or prefer. 3) Research and Strategy Should Come Before Technology LaMotte has noticed that companies are beginning to invest heavily in data to better understand whether certain technology investments are worthwhile for their business, or whether they should focus on other aspects, such as strategy, instead. The example she gives is using video and virtual reality as tools to show job candidates what a workplace looks like on the inside. An effort like this is only effective and productive if one of the following statements are true: 1) The kind of candidate you want to attract cares what the inside your organization looks like and feels that seeing the workplace is a must; 2) It is a part of company strategy to show the varied workplaces within the organization. "We're so focused in HR right now on technology, and on technology tools, that we've lost interest in research and strategy," she says. "And to me, technology should not be a means to an end, it should be the tool that helps you articulate or activate your strategy. Technology has absolutely changed the way that people job search, but technology is a reinforcer. It's not a driver." When a candidate takes to the Internet to search for a job, that individual has already been influenced by something else, LaMotte says. 4) Stereotyping Is (Still) Dangerous According to LaMotte, companies that rely on generational stereotypes when it comes time to make a hiring decision are doing themselves a disservice. "Too often, we're stuck in this sort of rut of generalizing and stereotyping: 'All millennials want this,' 'All Gen Z want that,'" she says. "Some might, but that might not be the case for your organization—or the kind of millennials or young people that are going to perform in your organization." Instead, LaMotte suggests looking at the age group and phase of life potential candidates are in. What is your organizational makeup? Where do those people perform in the organization? What are their preferences and interests? 5) Relationships Are Influencers—and Shouldn’t Be Ignored Overwhelming emphasis on technology has meant less emphasis on relationships as job search influencers. "Relationships are the most important influence to a job seeker, and we ignore them, to our detriment, when it comes to employer brand and marketing," LaMotte says. "No one takes a job offer without talking to someone first, even if it's casual conversation." In an article for Harvard Business Review, LaMotte writes of the "Whole Self Model," developed by exaqueo to incorporate the many outside-of-work factors that influence a candidate's decision to take and keep a job. This means looking at factors like personal relationships, home habits, significant others and information consumption habits, and how each of these factors impacts work. To leverage relationships to help build your employer brand, identify internal brand ambassadors that can speak to the culture of your organization and explain what makes it a great place to work. Be sure to connect any candidates you consider with these ambassadors to help them understand your company. Image: Creative Commons
Mercer's 2019 Global Trends Report: Top 5 Takeaways for CHROs
From technological advances to changes in the global economy, there are plenty of external forces transforming today’s world of work. Though many of the world’s leading economies now boast pro-business policies, and the rise of artificial intelligence, connectivity and other tools make it easier than ever to be productive, problems—from geopolitical conflicts to talent migration—remain. According to new research from Mercer, 73% of executives predict significant industry disruption in the next three years, up from just 26% in 2018. Yet, four out of five executives believe their company can lead the disruption in their industry. The key to staying ahead of the changes that loom? Preparation. In its annual report, Mercer evaluated some of the biggest shifts and trends that are top of mind for CHROs today. Here’s what to be ready for: 1) Talent Migration Is Happening The competition for talent is more fierce than ever, with talent leaving organizations to work for companies that offer better pay, use newer technology and promise improved work experiences. Yet only one in three HR managers rate their company’s ability to mitigate this talent migration risk as "very effective." According to the report, this may be because HR teams don’t feel supported in their efforts to retain employees. Only 29% of them strongly agree that C-suite executives prioritize human capital risks and give them the resources needed—i.e., funds for raises, approval of rewards initiatives, etc—to retain them. 2) Workers Need—and Want—to Keep Learning Upskilling and reskilling are becoming increasingly important to CHROs, rising from ninth to third position on their agendas this year. To help close the skills gap created by the emergence of new technology, 51% work with their HR teams to develop a future-focused people strategy, 48% adapt job requirements based on new technologies and business objectives and 45% revise the workforce plan to close skills gaps via a combination of employee-directed learning, formal reskilling programs and informal hands-on learning. Employees play a role in their own skill-boosting as well: 83% of workers see it as primarily their responsibility (rather than their company’s) to keep their skills up to date. Workers agreed that creative thinking and learning about technology are the two top skills that would help them stay competitive. 3) Your Workers Crave Flexibility—So They’re Going Freelance In Mercer’s report, 54% of employees said managing their work-life balance is one of the top five things their company can do to help them thrive at work. What’s more, 82% of them say that they would be willing to consider working on a freelance basis. In general, the popularity of freelance work is rising—79% of executives expect that contingent and freelance workers will substantially replace full-time employees in the coming years. If you don’t want to lose your workers to the freelance economy, it’s time to give them the flexibility they desire. That means negotiable hours and the option to work remotely. 4) Diversity Is Important, but Still Lagging This year, Mercer found that delivering on diversity promises was a top workforce concern for organizations, but not enough action has been taken. Only 22% of employees give their company an "A" grade for ensuring equity in pay and promotion decisions, for example. And while new technology such as AI may be promising, as companies turn to these tools to institute and automate hiring practices, it’s up to HR to ensure that AI-driven decisions are fair and do not institutionalize biases. Technology is only as unbiased and effective as the person who programmed it, the report explains. 5) In the Years to Come, HR Will Need to Transform Talent Experience As the team that interacts with and reaches every individual in an organization, HR has the opportunity to shape organizational transformation efforts, especially when it comes to prioritizing talent experience and making their companies a better place to work. Yet, today, only two in five HR leaders participate in the idea generation stage of major change projects. One reason for this? Both the C-suite and HR are experiencing "change fatigue," Mercer found. This is a missed opportunity, given that three-quarters of organizations say they are still on the journey to providing a fully engaging, digital experience for employees. As of right now, only one in three HR leaders have "redesigning the employee experience through technology," such as chatbots and other AI-powered tools that make work easier, on their to-do list for 2019. For CHROs, the key is to help their teams brush off any fatigue that may exist and generate excitement about improving the talent experience. After all, as experience improves, so will recruiting and retention efforts. Photo: Creative Commons
A Quick Guide to Cultural Transformation
When employees are asked to describe why they love their job, many cite a positive company culture. And that makes sense: Whether it be a general feeling of acceptance and comradery or a series of toxic interactions, culture can make or break the employee experience. According to a Deloitte report, there’s a strong correlation between employees who say they are "happy at work" and feel "valued by [their] company," and those who say their organization has a clearly articulated culture. What’s more, a positive company culture can make an organization more profitable. In that same report, 94% of executives and 88% of employees said they believe a distinct workplace culture is important to business success. So how do you create a positive company culture or improve the one you have? Cultural change isn’t always easy, and sometimes it can feel downright impossible. After all, 70% of culture change initiatives fail. But with the right tools, it doesn’t have to be quite so hard. What Culture Really Means Before you can change your culture, you need to understand what it is—and what it isn’t. According to Cornerstone’s AVP of learning and organizational effectiveness, Jeff Miller, many people define company culture as perks or "fun" elements of a job (think an unlimited vacation policy or catered lunch once a week). And while these perks are nice to have, it’s the ability to communicate—and stick to—your organization’s goals and beliefs that makes people want to work for you. Culture manifests itself in a series of written rules and unwritten expectations that dictate how employees should treat one another and, in turn, do their job effectively. Even small changes, like giving employees the opportunity to work remotely or design their hours around a specific childcare schedule, can help build a strong company culture. Accountability Is Key In my 40 years of working with evolving organizations, as an employee, as a leader and later, as a change consultant, I have seen good and bad examples of organizational change. I have learned that successful cultural transformation depends wholly on the organizational leaders: how they embrace it, communicate it and live it. One common practice among organizations is to introduce a series of core values to help employees understand how they are expected to behave on the job. The problem however, is that these values often work in theory but not in practice. I once worked at an organization that espoused "accountability" as a core value. It was written on the walls, repeated in meetings and printed on t-shirts. Yet a department head performed poorly over a long period of time, and nobody held him accountable. In the end, trust across the organization dissolved because leadership was unwilling to communicate their concerns to him or provide feedback. A company can create as many cultural doctrines and mission statements as it wants, but unless those ideas are carried out in practice, they are unlikely to make an impact. Embrace Behavioral Change The most effective way to help your culture evolve is to lead by example. If managers’ behavior does not line up with the behavior they expect from others, employees will likely be confused about how they should act. Instead, communicate to employees what is expected of them and provide continuous feedback until the new behavior becomes habitual. For instance, if you want to build a culture of accountability, begin by holding an information session on the topic with your managerial staff. Use this time to define accountability and explain why it’s important. Ensure managers understand how they can lead by example and show employees how to hold each other accountable in a fair and productive way. Organizational Change Is Possible, but It Isn’t Always Easy Since culture starts from the top, changing your company’s culture will require a shift in attitudes and behavior—which can be a daunting task. Not only must you teach your employees to embrace new types of behavior, you also need to unteach behaviors that are detrimental to your company’s culture. After all, these behaviors are habits, and habits take concentration and hard work to break. New behaviors must be reinforced and demonstrated consistently. Cultural transformation requires a candid assessment of what needs to change and leadership who have the courage to demonstrate the behavior and hold their teams accountable. Consider carefully what it will take not just to make the change, but to maintain it. Photo: Creative Commons
Take It From a Futurist: Forget Career "Paths." Portfolios Are the Future
The language we use to talk about careers usually includes the word "path." Defined as "a way or track laid down for walking or made by continual treading," the word carries with it a connotation of linearity. A path, though it may be winding, is continuous and easy to follow. But what if the career path concept is outdated? Futurist April Rinne, who describes herself as "equal parts global authority, advocate, ally and adventurer," observes trends in the working world and advises companies and individuals. Based on her research, today, there’s almost nothing "path-like" about a career. It's a Portfolio, Not a Path The language Rinne uses to talk about career trajectories is nuanced. She has seen the traditional career "path" become more of a career "portfolio," she says. "The shift has been gradual but clear, and due to many factors—both push and pull—everything from people feeling unfulfilled at their jobs to technology making it far, far easier for people to work in many different, often remote, ways," she says. She uses the term "portfolioist" to describe people who create their own platforms and find ways to use their varied skills to maximize potential. Someone who fits into this category decides what they feel the world needs and figures out how to use their unique skill set to create a business that provides it, she explains. "The portfolioist's career is a bento box, with each skill in its place," she writes for Quartz. Freelancers Will Remain in High Demand Though a portfolioist is not necessarily someone who is freelance or self-employed, Rinne says, freelance workers do represent a significant chunk of portfolioists. The freelance sector is growing quickly, according to Rinne, and a recent analysis published by Upwork confirms her assessment. "Freelance workforce growth is accelerating and has outpaced overall U.S. Workforce growth by 3x since 2014," Upwork reports. Rinne says sights should be focused on bringing in freelancers and portfolioists. Attracting freelancers means becoming a destination for workers, she explains, because freelancers signal flexibility. How can businesses appeal to this specific class of workers? Don’t get caught up in job titles when seeking a new hire. Focus on the skills you’re truly looking for and be clear about them in the job description. Then, when you review applications, focus on skills once more—don’t worry about the actual positions an applicant has held, but rather what they claim to have experience doing. Though a jack-of-all-trades candidate may seem like a wild card, it could be the sign of a portfolioist that’s well-versed in many fields. Bottom line: don't underestimate freelancers or portfolioists in general, Rinne adds; they come in many varieties. "Independent workers don't only exist locally; they're also a key part of global talent mobility," she writes. And they’re not all creatives. "It's not only your freelance photographer neighbor who is part of the freelance workforce; it's also the engineer, marketing maven or C-suite executive who has opted for a change of pace, wants to see the world, or simply wants better work-life balance," she explains. "Colleague" Has a Broader Definition According to Rinne, with the shift toward career portfolios, the definition of "colleagues" expands. "For portfolioists, colleagues take on new meaning," she writes. "You have the ability to be part of far more communities of practice than the average employee, and to work with people whom you really like." This translates to co-created work, the opportunity to work with people in different places geographically and more control over who else is in the 'office,' so to speak. While the traditional worker becomes a part of their community, the portfolioist gets to create that community. Just as a freelancer has control over workload (how many projects are on their plate at once), that individual can often decide with whom to work. If you’re lucky enough to hire a portfolioist even part-time, chances are they’ll bring with them a diversity of experience and thought unlike anything you could have expected from a traditional candidate. And, there's no reason for a portfolioist to choose just one community. Often, as Rinne notes, an independent worker becomes a part of multiple communities that may or may not be related to each other. A freelancer with a diverse portfolio—the product of a diverse skill set—might cultivate a network that involves several different communities. That network is unique to the individual, and the people within that network become colleagues. Still unconvinced that a portfolioist should be your next hire? Take a chance—you’re unlikely to be disappointed. Photo: Creative Commons
Keep the Human in HR
The future simply came too fast for HR. As new technology is increasingly introduced in the workplace, HR faces an existential moment—it’s time for HR departments to stand up and fight to keep the Human in HR. But that doesn't mean HR should resist technology adoption. HR won’t win the race for talent fighting against the accelerating pace of technological disruption. On the contrary, HR needs to embrace technology. It needs to step up its game and assume its role as human advocate in this digital world, and stop hiding behind the masks of administrative and compliance cops. If HR doesn't respond and do it fast, Human Resources will quickly become the High-performance Robot department. Before we can talk about how to keep the H in HR, we need to think about ways that technology impacts HR. Let's start with a few. New Definition of Work Technology is disrupting how work gets done. It changes workflows and redefines jobs. It automates some of what we used to do and opens up new opportunities. It affects how we find jobs and when we work. Technology enables us to be not only always-on, but also highly productive thanks to our increasingly powerful mobile devices. In my book, I wrote about the rework of work: "We’re all novices when it comes to navigating the new labor markets and workplaces. We would have to go back to the invention of the wheel, the printing press, steam engine, and electricity to find comparable disruption in how work gets done." New Organization of Work Thanks to the rise of the gig economy and remote work, the freelance workforce is growing three times faster than the overall U.S. workforce, and the majority of workers will be working independently by 2027. Physical offices and headquarters are still the norm but a growing number of companies are going fully virtual. No longer must work be organized by location because it can be completed anytime, by people located almost anywhere in the world. Workers are getting hired by skill sets, not job titles. Project teams are dynamic and fluid. Managing people and teams requires leaders who can master both face-to-face and remote communication using an ever-changing menu of apps and services. Personalization and Microlearning Amazon recently announced it was investing $700 million dollars to "reskill" one-third of its workforce.That's a drop in the bucket of the time and money that must be invested to ensure companies have employees skilled enough to work and workers have the right skills to get jobs. Even if machines don't replace humans, automation impacts almost all of us. It is estimated that nearly two-thirds of all jobs will be one-third automated by 2030. That means humans who still need and want jobs will need different and better skills. Unfortunately companies are still stuck using weapons of mass instruction. Employees are herded into a classroom or forced to sit in front of a computer screen for hours, days and even weeks to learn new skills. Thankfully, microlearning technology is blowing up that approach. Employees need new skills and answers to how-to questions. Platforms like YouTube and TED are massively popular not because people are bored with nothing to do, but because they deliver answers and engaging learning experiences with a few clicks in short increments. Technology allows companies and schools to deliver what people need, when they need it, in a way that both engages and fits the way we learn. Technology helps make learning fun, more personal, and maybe most important of all, more effective. Data Explosion A list like this couldn’t possibly ignore the impact of data on the future of HR. HR collects massive amounts of data beginning with the job application and screening, then continuing with onboarding, performance management and even termination. But as of now, HR just hasn’t used this data effectively to help the business predict more accurate outcomes, be more responsive, and engage both candidates and employees in a more meaningful and productive way. People analytics is no longer taboo. It fact, it’s one of the most sought after webinar and conference educational programs. Of course, the collection, analysis and application raises all sorts of red flags regarding privacy and ethics. To date, legal and ethical concerns have become HR’s battle cry against the use of technology—and yet we continue to collect more and more of it with few safeguards. H Is For Human What do these technology-driven trends mean for HR moving forward? In my 2019 SHRM Annual Conference presentation, I recommended two fundamental principles for Keeping the Human in HR. 1. Act Responsibly Yes, technology poses enormous risks to jobs, privacy and even humanity. But it also presents enormous opportunity to improve everything from productivity to better quality of life. Slow adaptation to accelerating change only means HR will act less responsibly more often. Likewise, purchasing and using HR technology requires intense scrutiny. You may not understand people analytics. You might not even like math. You might not understand how data is collected, stored and shared. But if you’re in HR or the business of hiring and retaining people, you must understand that we are at a crossroads. 2. Consider These Unintended Consequences What happens to all this data collected? Is anyone in your organization asking, "what data should we be collecting?" and "which data should be off limits?" While great debate is focused on advanced technology like wearables and surveillance technology, there has been less consideration given to something as basic as the job application. When should you be requesting personal information from a candidate that you might never engage with? Where is this data stored? How should it be used? What happens when unnecessary data unintentionally introduces unconscious bias into a screening algorithm? It’s your responsibility to understand the issues (even if you don’t understand the technology) and get involved in the conversation. Make sure your voice is heard. Today, it's not technology that humans should worry about. It's how HR responds to that technology in an effort to keep the human in HR. Photo: Creative Commons
ICYMI: Protecting Gig Worker’s in Today’s Workforce
The phrase "gig economy" isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a reality that’s changing the very nature of work. It broadly refers to an array of short-term work arrangements held by independent contractors and contract firm workers, as well as temp and on-call workers, among others. The recent uptick in "gig" opportunities is due, in part, to how relatively easy the internet makes it to find remote opportunities. Online platforms like Uber, Postmates and Airbnb are fueled by gig workers, and in other corporate or creative industries, this trend is becoming more popular, too. Today, up to one-third of the U.S. workforce participates in the gig economy. To better understand this growing cohort of employees, freelance marketplace Fiverr commissioned market research firm Rockbridge Associates to analyze more than 20 million tax returns for non-employer entities. The results revealed that in the top 25 markets for gig work, the population grew by 14% over a period of five years, their earnings grew by 19% and as a group, they’ve contributed more than $135 billion to their local economies—that’s between 1 and 2% of GDP, depending on the market. There’s no denying that gig workers are playing a significant role in our economy today, but what’s being done to empower and protect them? According to Rockbridge’s research, not enough. The study revealed key areas where freelancers need the government to step in and support them—and some states are already taking measures to offer the protection they need. Better Internet Access Geographic flexibility is one of the main factors that makes gig work so appealing, since it makes maintaining work-life balance more attainable. With a gig-based position, employees can find ways to fit work into their schedule in a way that makes them happier and more efficient. They can drop off their kids at soccer practice or check in on their elderly parents during the day before returning home to finish up some work. But the key to this flexibility is often affordable and reliable internet access. Though it may seem like connectivity is a given, the U.S. actually ranks tenth in average connection speed, behind countries like South Korea, Norway and Japan, according to Akamai’s State of the Internet report. Though local initiatives, such as the New NY Broadband Program, the FCC’s Lifeline program and other municipal wireless movements, have made strides to introduce faster and easily accessible internet in certain areas, there’s more work to do on a national level to ensure that the growing class of freelance workers can continue to thrive from wherever they choose to work. On Time Payment Protection While full-time employees typically enjoy the benefit of regular, predictable salaries, freelancers’ paychecks are often less stable. And, according to Rockbridge’s research, it’s a big hurdle preventing the gig economy from exploding further. Today, legal protection for skilled gig workers varies widely and depends on different factors, including whether they are freelance contractors or run their own corporations. But some states are working to give freelancers more control and legal protection when it comes to getting paid. For example, New York City’s "Freelance Isn’t Free" Act of 2017 gave the self-employed important legal protections that make it easier for them to earn a sustainable living. The law established the right of freelance workers to secure a written contract with their employers, ensuring timely and full payment and protection from retaliation if any issues arise. And, just recently, AB5, a proposition to prevent companies from abusing how they pay independent contractors, moved closer to being passed, despite pushback from Uber, Lyft and other gig economy companies. Though the proposed law is designed to protect low-income workers (not necessarily just gig employees), it may provide payment protection for the self-employed as well. For example, if approved, companies like Uber would have to classify drivers as employees and compensate them accordingly. As the gig economy continues to expand across industries and age groups, it will become increasingly important to protect this growing class of workers. Identifying the challenges they face and working to eliminate them when possible will not only improve their employees experiences, but likely boost local economies as well. Photo: Creative Commons
Take It From a Futurist: There’s No Need to Fear These Four Transformational Trends in HR
Change has a bad reputation. The mere prospect of it is known to be scary, unsettling and intimidating. But as a comfort, we must remind ourselves that change is also exciting, exhilarating and the only way to make progress—in life, and at work. In the corporate realm, change—at the hands of technology or otherwise—often seems to threaten long-standing companies and the jobs they provide. But what if we looked at change differently? Kevin Mulcahy, futurist and author of The Future Workplace Experience, says that there are two types of change: transformation and disruption. "Transformation is when you're leading change, and disruption is when change is being done unto you," says Mulcahy, who works to help organizations "future proof" their HR strategies. You want your business to fall under the "transformation" category, not under the "disruption" umbrella, Mulcahy says. Now, if the word "transformation" makes you cringe, you’re not alone. To make transformation concrete and actionable, rather than a vague buzzword, businesses must become aware of key trends and do their part to participate in the trends when appropriate. This is where Mulcahy’s work as a futurist comes in: when it comes to transformation of the HR space specifically, it’s his job to identify key trends and make recommendations for businesses to make the most of what’s happening around them. Here, we explore four of the many developments he has noticed. 1) Work Has Become Experiential Experiential work is the notion that, for employees, the last best customer experience they had becomes the minimum expectation for the quality of experience they have in the workplace, according to Mulcahy. "Basically, I want my IT help desk to be the same experience as when I go to the Apple Genius Bar. I want my cafeteria to be the same experience as when I go to my hip, cool cafe." Workers are comparing the outside world to workplaces, Mulcahy explains. HR departments are not competing against other HR departments; they are competing against other consumer practices. This sets a high bar for on-the-job experience, but don’t fret—embrace the challenge and aim to provide the level of enjoyment that employees expect. Conduct surveys to determine what kinds of perks or benefits they prefer and deliver them, when possible. 2) Technology Is a Productivity Enhancer No surprise here—technology is reshaping workplace experience, Mulcahy says. Some companies are using Slack to improve communication, while others are preparing to use implantable or wearable technology to enable their employees to work better while on the road. And Mulcahy is not just talking wrist wearables—he's talking exoskeletons that help employees to lift very large boxes and augmented reality glasses that help workers to visualize data more effectively. And of course, let’s not forget artificial intelligence, which promises to automate repetitive tasks, and on-demand learning technology, which provides employees access to skill-building resources whenever they want them. Sound futuristic and scary? It shouldn’t be. Most of this technology is designed to enhance workers’ productivity, not steal their jobs. You certainly don’t need all of these new tools, though. Experiment with different gadgets and software to determine what works for your business. Software trials often provide an opportunity to test run new technology without a monetary commitment. And, if you’re more interested in testing out some promising hardware like a wearable, invest in one and see how it performs before rolling it out to your entire team. 3) Home-ing From Work Is on the Rise Mulcahy says he has seen a shift from working-from-home to "home-ing" from work. Companies are allowing employees to complete personal to-do's from the office to make it easier for workers to spend more time in the building, Mulcahy says. "If I want you to stay later, well, I need to enable you to have your laundry delivered to our office building," he says. The office concierge will collect the laundry and have it waiting downstairs. Employers can make ordering food easier and getting packages delivered to work simpler. This way, employees do not need to run home because the laundry place is closing at 5 p.m., or because they have to meet the UPS delivery person, Mulcahy explains. Employers are recognizing that they are chasing people out of the office, he says, and this is a good thing. As our work lives and home lives increasingly intertwine, it’s okay for businesses to get a bit more flexible on defining work hours. You’ll want to ensure that productivity doesn’t suffer, but if your employees are still performing at 100%, there’s no reason to loosen the reigns. 4) You’ll Have to Choose Between a Mission Statement and a Purpose Statement "Employers are talking less about their mission statements, and talking a lot more about their purpose statements," Mulcahy says. A purpose statement, he says, tells people what a business exists to do and why. Younger generations are demonstrating higher levels of attraction to companies that have a sense of who they are and what they want to contribute to the world, he says. And those are concepts discussed in a purpose statement rather than a mission statement, according to Mulcahy. "It's a 'what' versus a 'why,'" he says. "I think generations and candidates now need to feel a sense of connection to your 'why.'" A purpose statement produces a more emotional connection to the business than a mission statement does, Mulcahy adds, so participating in this trend is a no-brainer. Define what your business stands for, and make it clear to your existing employees and applicants. Photo: Creative Commons
A Word of Advice from a Learning Strategist: "Regularly Assess Your Technology"
At a recent Cornerstone Converge event, I had the pleasure of meeting many different types of clients; some who are new to Cornerstone, and many who have been live with the system for several years. To prepare for the event, I thought back to what I heard from folks at other events over the past several years. Not surprisingly, I found that while each client brings a unique perspective and experience with Cornerstone, virtually all of them face the same types of challenges. These key challenges include: Leadership changes and/or new administrators Evolving business needs Keeping up with technology Often I hear about new leaders in the organization who bring new perspectives to learning and talent management, and with those, new ideas for using Cornerstone technology. These new leaders, I'm often told, do not know the history of how and why Cornerstone is being used in its current form and they are asking for more. Quick to add this is not negative thing, just that it can be a challenge. Even seasoned administrators express that they are not as confident as they would like to be when executing system requests in new or different ways simply because they have never done it before. New administrators, administrators who were not involved in deployment, or administrators with a more limited role in the system (managing a specific annual compliance program, for example) are looking for even more direction. Like new leaders, new administrators lack the background knowledge as to why decisions were made, and they communicate their desire to be certain they are performing tasks the right way—or best way—in Cornerstone. In addition to people changes influencing the system, many clients I speak with talk about how many aspects of their business have changed since deploying Cornerstone. The changes usually fall into one of three buckets as it relates to the system: functionality that was configured but not used until now, business needs that require new workflows or changes to existing workflows or the need for additional functional scope due to changing end user or manager expectations. Regardless of which bucket certain business changes fall, system administrators and business owners alike want to know if they are effectively using the system to avoid manual or duplicative work while also ensuring a positive user experience. Not only do client's business needs change and evolve, Cornerstone's technology changes as well. With major new functionality and enhancements released four times a year, administrators candidly admit that it can be a struggle to keep up. The two questions I most often hear from system administrators on this subject are: whether they have missed anything important in a release, or how they can best take advantage of new, recently released functionalities. Cornerstone's Learner Experience Platform (LXP) is often the star of this conversation. As I reflected on these past conversations while I prepared for this event, I decided to select one question to ask everyone I met. I knew that by doing so, I was guaranteed to learn something that, ideally, could be used to offer greater value to clients. What I didn't expect, however, was the consistency in which folks responded when asked the question. By "consistency" in their responses, I mean consistency down to the spectrum of looks that flashed across their faces. In the blink of an eye it seemed, the look started with surprise ("Whoa, I hadn't even thought of that..."), moved on to intrigue ("Hmmm, that might be valuable..."), and settled on thoughtful ("Yes, tell me more.") The question is simply this: When was the last time you had someone assess how well your system is currently working for you? If you have been live with Cornerstone for a year or more, you have, from time to time, undoubtedly questioned if you are doing something in the most efficient manner, if a manual process could be automated, if there are ways to provide a better user experience, or if you have missed anything in a release. The only way to know for sure? Conduct an assessment. Photo: Creative Commons
Cartoon Coffee Break: Unconventional Recruiting
Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Cartoon Coffee Break" series. While we take talent management seriously, we also know it's important to have a good laugh. Check back every two weeks for a new ReWork cartoon. Missed the Recruiting Trends conference? From the state of recruiting automation adoption, to the role that the human element still plays in recruiting, our recap covers everything you need to know. Header photo: Creative Commons
Why Public Sector Compliance Management Needs an Upgrade
The public sector is facing a crisis. Despite being tasked with overseeing and ensuring compliance across industries, government agencies and organizations often don't have a handle on their own internal compliance practices. In fact, less than half of public sector HR teams have implemented an automated solution to help them manage their compliance efforts, relying instead on siloed, outdated management tools like spreadsheets. Progress is being made as the public sector starts to adopt automation, but the process is gradual. According to "State of Human Capital in Management and Government," a report by HCMG, WBR Insights and Cornerstone OnDemand, 62 percent of government employees said their organization is currently investing in technology to support digital transformations, or will be in the next 12 months. Still, even as AI and data-enabled software starts to simplify processes and procedures throughout certain departments, HR teams are often last on the list for upgraded technology, including compliance tools. Confronted with tight budgets that can change at any given moment and initiatives that are often delayed due to new leadership, it can be difficult for HR professionals in the public sector to get approval to implement new solutions, but with compliance management on the line, they simply can't afford to wait any longer. To change the status quo, it will be up to HR leaders to prioritize these innovations by demonstrating the difference that automation can make. After all, effectively implementing modern, automated compliance tools can improve efficiency and help HR teams keep up with changing laws, while giving workers an opportunity to apply the human touch where it counts. Doing More in Less Time According to the report, the majority of HR teams are spending 36 to 60 percent of their time on managing compliance requirements, but a new age compliance tool can take many tasks off their plates. For example, automated compliance systems track internal policy and security documents documents and enable HR departments to create controls within the software that are specific to their organization. If an employee or manager forgets to take very sensitive and critical compliance training, an AI powered compliance tool can not only flag this issue, but also remind that employee directly with an automated email. The tool also is capable of escalating any notices should the employee not complete the compliance activity as needed. With these systems and processes in place, employees would get back time to focus on more strategic tasks, such as hiring and people management. Change won't come overnight—the public sector has historically been slower to innovate than its industry peers, and much of that is the result of a reluctance of people in power to embrace change. Yet, millennials are now the largest generation in the U.S. workforce, and they're bringing with them a technology-first mindset—after all, many of them don't remember a world without computers. As more millennials obtain positions of power in the public sector, the industry will start to see the use of automation increase. Keeping Up With Changing Regulations Government agencies and organizations face specific challenges when it comes to compliance, as processes can change based on budget cuts or administration priorities. Even for organizations that have been proactive in implementing these tools, the nature of how the government operates can complicate things. Jessica Lynch, Director of Human Capital Strategy and Management for Logistics & Industrial Operations at Naval Air Systems Command has experienced these challenges firsthand. "What's frustrating is when the regulations are just changed," Lynch said in the HCMG report. "Some of them change so frequently. You have to go back and reprogram your system." Lynch has found that deploying automated systems into her organization's compliance strategy has been integral in helping mitigate many of these challenges. "Once you have a process set up, and that is the nice part of automation, you don't need to keep doing it," she said. "The system will enforce that for you." With the right solutions, employees can take control of the work that matters—and handover the manual processes to automation. Aligning Humanity and Technology Many long-time employees remain concerned about the rise of automation because they fear their jobs may be at stake, but on the contrary, automation can help employees and leaders do their job better. "The reality is that we've got a lot of tenured leaders and supervisors in the federal government who still think in terms of people management and knowledge management from the human perspective and less on how technology enables those processes," says Dr. Rebecca Ayers, Manager of Performance Management Solutions at the Office of Personnel Management." These concerns are valid—a report from McKinsey global institute predicts that automation could take over 800 million jobs globally by 2030. But despite these frightening statistics, new technology will still require a human element. Lynch says automated systems will evolve the role of compliance subject matter experts. These tools will continue to rely on humans to implement, analyze and communicate across systems. With the right solutions, employees at these organizations can take control of the work that matters — and hand over the manual processes to automation. Photo: Creative Commons
Cartoon Coffee Break | Artificial Intelligence Recruiting
Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Cartoon Coffee Break" series. While we take talent management seriously, we also know it's important to have a good laugh. Check back every two weeks for a new ReWork cartoon. Didn't make it to the Recruiting Trends & Talent Tech Live! hosted by Human Resource Executive (HRE)? Check out our two biggest takeaways from last week's event and find out how recruiting automation will shape the future of work. Header photo: Creative Commons
Take It From a Futurist: Don't Be Afraid to Bring Your Emotions to Work
Editor's Note: We would never dream of trying to predict the future—that's why we left it up to the futurists. In this series, we interview experts in HR, recruiting and the future of work to get their take on what's next. As the mindfulness movement infiltrates every aspect of modern-day life, there is now a growing interest and need for emotional intelligence (EQ) in the workplace. While the thought of conducting business with emotions may still cause some to cringe, it has become "essential learning" for leaders and executives as they harness their insight and turn it into inspired action, says Harvard psychologist and business consultant Susan David. David has built a compelling case for managing our inner world in order to be better employees, managers and leaders at the office. Her bestselling book, Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life, grabbed accolades from The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Harvard Business Review, among others, when it published in 2016. "Emotional agility is a process that enables us to navigate life's twists and turns with self- acceptance, clear-sightedness and an open mind," says David, whose 20 years of research on emotionally-agile people has led her to her conclusions. "The process isn't about ignoring difficult emotions and thoughts. It's about holding those emotions and thoughts loosely, facing them courageously and compassionately, and then moving past them to ignite change in your life." So what does it mean to be emotionally intelligent and how does it translate into a more productive and perhaps even more pleasant work environment? We asked David to explain and offer some recommendations. Being Vulnerable The old adage "stay positive" and what it implies—hide your emotional truth no matter what—is finally losing its grip on society, and for good reason. David says being unhappy is an authentic human experience: "A sense of disaffection or dissatisfaction or concern is your inner self telling you that you are moving away from something of value to you. To deny this type of emotion in the service of positivity means you're choosing not to learn something important." In other words, it's like you're cutting off a key piece of data. David's work provides readers with a roadmap for overcoming the obstacles and stressors that hold them back. If leaders are able to achieve self-awareness, organizations will experience greater success. Ultimately, this requires leaders to establish and maintain a company culture that empowers every member of the team to feel safe in times of uncertainty and vulnerability. We've all been there, clouded by our difficult emotions during a critical juncture, which David refers to as "oceanic feelings of distress." In this moment, she says it's important to acknowledge and address the feelings by labeling them, which creates a finite experience with boundaries. Doing this puts space between you and the feelings so you can figure out an appropriate action based on your values. According to her research, how we handle these scenarios is the biggest predictor of our success and effectiveness in every aspect of our lives. How to Thrive Thanks to technology and globalization, organizations are coping with unprecedented complexity. To adapt and flourish in changing circumstances, she says, is to be agile and resilient. And unless the people at the helm are emotionally agile, the business will be left behind. To help others thrive while living their truth, David designed an action-oriented roadmap featuring four key concepts: Showing Up: Instead of ignoring difficult thoughts and emotions or overemphasizing "positive thinking," face your thoughts, emotions and behaviors willingly, with curiosity and kindness. Stepping Out: Detach from and observe your thoughts and emotions to see them for what they are—just thoughts, just emotions. Essentially, learning to see yourself as the chessboard, filled with possibilities, rather than as any one piece on the board that's confined to preordained moves. Walking Your Why: Your core values provide the compass that keeps you moving in the right direction. Rather than being abstract ideas, these values are the true path to willpower, resilience and effectiveness. Moving On: Small deliberate tweaks to your mindset, motivation, and habits – in ways that are infused with your values, can make a powerful difference in your life. The idea is to find the balance between challenge and competence, so that you're neither complacent nor overwhelmed. You're excited, enthusiastic, invigorated. Are you ready to transform your most difficult feelings into energy and creativity? David's free quiz might help you assess your emotional agility and start transforming how you deal with your emotions in the workplace. Photo: Creative Commons
Amazon's AI Recruiting Troubles Aren't Unique—And They're Not All Bad, Either
Technological innovation rarely follows a straight line; there are often a few curves along the way. Such is the case with Amazon's artificial intelligence (AI) recruiting tool which, according to a 2018 report, by Reuters was scrapped after a discovery that the software favored male applicants. According to the report, Amazon's computer models were trained to vet applicants based on patterns found in resumes submitted to the company over the previous decade, a majority of which were submitted by men. As a result, the automated program penalized female-specific terms and downgraded applicants from two all-women's colleges. This isn't the first time we've been warned that AI recruiting tools are subject to bias. In 2017 technology writer Sara Wachter-Boettcher explored the ways bias persisted in modern technology in her book Technically Wrong: Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithms, and Other Threats of Toxic Tech. That same year former White House technology and economic adviser for President Obama, Dipayan Ghosh, wrote an op-ed titled "AI is the future of hiring, but it's far from immune to bias." In my view, this penchant for bias is a pitfall companies need to continue to work at avoiding—not a reason to stop using AI in hiring altogether. Instead, HR teams should implement AI with the understanding that bias could (and likely will) emerge, make adjustments as needed, and continue innovating the recruiting process in order to make it equitable for all candidates. Amazon's AI Experience is a Model—not a Misstep Despite the Amazon incident, AI as an effective workplace tool is spreading across industries. At the beginning of 2018, 38 percent of companies reported implementing AI to not only support HR departments but also to assist with everything from marketing decisions to employee training. In the coming years, adoption is expected to continue growing. And overall, that's a good thing: one study suggests the technology could increase workplace productivity up to 40 percent by 2035. But in addition to the promise of productivity, many implementations of AI (recruiting included) may be subject to unintended bias—not because the AI is biased itself, but because the data input expresses a bias. If historical hiring data suggests a preference for Ivy League degrees, for example, the AI may "learn" to select for Ivy League candidates over other qualifying factors. And Amazon is far from the only company to discover that the data it fed the AI system produced undesirable results. Companies planning to implement AI, therefore, should be aware that bias might present itself, share those findings, and end use of the tool until that bias can be eliminated. Moreover, companies using AI are responsible for bias monitoring whether the AI is a proprietary tool, or whether the AI services are from an outside provider. A provider might promise their tool has no bias, but companies using the tool have an obligation to ensure their applicants are being treated fairly by the technology. To help in bias detection, companies can leverage a growing set of AI-based tools designed to flag bias and discrimination in the hiring process when they might not be plainly visible. The better companies can address and eliminate bias, the more quickly they'll be able to take advantage of AI's ability to reduce time-to-hire and save costs. As Adoption Grows, Practice Transparency Despite concerns about bias, more than half of HR managers believe AI will play a significant role in their industry in the next five years, according to a recent survey conducted by CareerBuilder, and we believe that impact will be overwhelmingly positive. Already, AI tools are showing early success in helping streamline the recruiting process, initiate and onboard successful candidates, and even enable those candidates to reach their full potential as employees. Photo: Creative Commons In the short term, I hope to see more transparency in the recruiting process, especially when automation is involved, so that candidates know who, or what, is vetting their application. Companies need to be transparent about when the AI does or doesn't work rather than trying to hide it—and highlight the work being done to systematically eliminate biases. By demonstrating this working to eliminate biases in its system, it can build a trustworthy connection with candidates. In the long term, I believe the good in this technology will far outweigh setbacks like the bias at Amazon. The AI itself is not inherently biased, and many experts agree once we can clean up our biased data, the machines of the future will be able to make more equitable hiring decisions than a human would. The more we are able to identify and eliminate biases in our hiring and recruiting, the closer we come to a day when candidates are vetted on merit alone. The path to this future won't necessarily follow a straight line, but will ultimately empower HR teams, candidates and employees to reach their full potential in the workplace.
Office Hours: In 2030, Expect to See AR, VR and 3D Data
This post is part of our biweekly "Office Hours" video series, featuring quick career, workplace and leadership tips from talent management experts and business leaders across the globe. Software, and its influence over our lives, is growing at a rapid clip. As both tech evangelists and doomsday prophets are quick to point out, the small devices that surround us (USB sticks, electronic car keys, wifi routers—not to mention our smartphones) are millions of times more powerful than, say, the NASA computers of the 60s. Data storage technology is shaking off its former limitations, and businesses are investing heavily in software that leverages the expansion. As just one example, the big data marketplace, sitting now $42 billion, is projected to grow to $103 billion by 2027, and will change how candidate and employee data is gathered, stored and analyzed. Holger Mueller, VP and principal analyst at Constellation Research, is strapping in for that rapidly changing, well-funded future. In this video, he lays down his predictions for 2030, which include the introduction of virtual reality, augmented reality and data visualization to the world of work. By 2030, he says, the software will be totally different, almost unimaginably so. "We will barely remember how we worked today, in 2018," he says. Photo: Creative Commons
Regulation Changes Checklist
Regulatory changes affect how a business operates, interacts with customers and clients, the organizations financial wellbeing, and corporate values and culture. These changes, in turn, have a direct impact on the nature of work, the organizational structure, and the ability to sustain and grow a productive, engaged workforce. The checklist below includes specific actions that address the most critical human capital areas affected by regulatory changes, including attracting and retaining talent, managing learning and performance, and embracing modern compliance.
The Gig Economy is Coming: Here Are 3 Strategies for Managers
This article was originally published on Forbes.com, under Jeff Miller's Forbes Human Resources Council column. We've entered a new wave of work that has nothing to do with robots. The gig economy is here. In recent years, "gigging" has moved beyond the realm of Uber, TaskRabbit and their ilk, quickly permeating every industry. And, by some reports, more than 50% of the workforce will be freelance within the next decade. I'm not sure the number will be so drastic, but I am certain that the gig economy will change how work gets done. In particular, it will change the manager's role: Rather than consistent teams of full-time employees, the gig economy will require managers to oversee a much more diverse and shifting talent pool. But according to a survey from Deloitte, only 16% of respondents say they are ready to manage a wider variety of worker types. To lead successful teams of gig and full-time employees, managers will need to hone their skills in both task management and people management. The People Management Balancing Act One of my first brushes with gig economy-style management was about 10 years ago when I was in a management role at a previous company. I'd hired a technical writer to help get an important project over the finish line. The writer came very highly recommended — and her work was wonderful. But she struggled to communicate, she wasn't very cooperative and my team didn't enjoy working with her. As a manager, I had a decision to make: Was it more important for my team to feel heard and valued, or was it more important for me to get the project done well? In that situation, it made sense to finish the project (this gig worker had an expertise that my team lacked). I made sure to let my team know I was aware of the challenges they were experiencing. And at the end of the project, my team was understanding. They acknowledged the work was great and understood why we invested in her — but they said they'd rather not work with her again. I look back on this experience a lot when thinking about how management will look in the gig economy. While it might not seem like it, the presence of one person, gig worker or not, is going to impact the environment at work. And even if the person is only contracted for a few months, they are still going to have to become part of the organization. For managers, that means rethinking how you approach management in two important ways. Invest In Onboarding, Offboarding And Reboarding I think one of the biggest mistakes I made with the gig worker years ago is I didn't spend enough time onboarding and offboarding her. I didn't dedicate time to set expectations about how she should communicate and collaborate with my existing team, and we didn't debrief before she left. It may seem counterintuitive to implement these processes for someone joining the company temporarily, but remember, gig workers will likely join team meetings and assimilate into the organization (even if for a limited time). By some estimates, it can take new employees eight months to a year to be fully productive after they're hired. In that time, many gig workers will have moved onto their next project, so implementing onboarding and offboarding programs that introduce new employees to the company culture, the project and the team they'll be working with will go a long way in smoothing out the work that's being done. And remember that gig workers could work for you again in the future. Managers can work with existing or future contract workers to set up a useful reboarding process, helping the returning contractor get caught up on important developments in the team and the company so that they can reassimilate quickly. Combine People And Project Management Gig workers and full-timers are two very different types of employees, so the management of each group is sure to be different as well. For the most part, managing these groups and the differences between them is about setting realistic expectations with everyone — and sticking to them. Personally, I make it a rule to treat everyone I manage fairly: I define fair as giving everyone what they need to be successful. Another major component of management in the gig economy is keeping everyone honest about deadlines. A 2013 Harvard Business Review piece said the dirty little secret (registration required) of project management is that "everyone knows the schedule is a joke." In the gig economy, the schedule is a joke no more: Project deadlines must be firm because gig workers' availability is firm. Many managers today are accustomed to setting annual goals, but in the gig economy, you'll be responsible for establishing more specific, incremental goals to keep the projects within scope and on schedule. And in the event a project does have to go over? Come to an agreement with your gig workers and full-time employees ahead of time about how to execute beyond a deadline. That way, everyone on the team will know how to move forward. For managers, implementing onboarding, offboarding and reboarding processes, as well as balancing people and project management is crucial — it will not only help you and your team stay productive, but also ensure you remain competitive for top gig talent. A recent Deloitte study reported most companies plan to "dramatically increase their dependence on contract, freelance and gig workers" in the coming years. So, whether or not the gig economy hits with the full force that experts predict, preparing to manage a new type of team will make sure you and your company are ready for whatever comes next. Photo: Creative Commons
Recruiters Need to Drive Talent Acquisition Into the Future—Here's How Data Can Help
Recruiters: When was the last time you stopped and thought about why you do something the way you do? Often, you don't usually pause to think about the "why" because talent acquisition is often viewed as an administrative function. The status quo is to keep the gears turning—candidates come in and you make hires. But this static approach isn't doing you any favors, says Kyle Lagunas, research manager for the emerging trends and technologies in the talent acquisition and staffing practice at IDC. To keep bringing in the best candidates—which is getting harder by the minute in a candidates' job market—and have a larger impact on business goals, Lagunas says recruiters must do more. We sat down with Lagunas to find out how recruiters can drive talent acquisition into the 21st century. He explained the importance of data in streamlining the hiring process and empowering recruiters to have a more strategic role at their organization. What's the biggest problem in recruitment today? Kyle Lagunas: Talent acquisition is in a period of transformation. Historically, it's a largely administrative function, and it's resourced like an administrative function. Unfortunately, the capacity for evolution and transformation is undermined by the way we measure success. We limit it to efficiency and productivity, but these aren't words that get people energized or empowered to innovate. In this highly competitive environment, being efficient does not equate to being effective. What's the key to solving this problem? Lagunas: Data is a huge part of it—recruiters just haven't risen to the challenge yet. Recruiters know they need to be more data savvy, or have a stronger data culture. But adopting that culture is a big challenge. Data has to be core to how they do their jobs, instead of the annoying box to check off at the end of the quarter when their director wants a report. How can recruiters drive change with data that's already at their fingertips? Lagunas: This question is important. Suddenly, recruiters are being asked to do much more. They're expected to be experts in candidate experience, employer branding, recruitment marketing, etc. But while the scope of the work has expanded rapidly, again, the way we measure success has not. Most of what they do is a shot in the dark. There's a lot to do to scale up data analytics. I tell recruiters to start by measuring what you can with the tools at your disposal and at your current bandwidth. Once you get a sense of what you can consistently measure and report on, then move on to measuring what matters. What matters to you is a good start, but you can also talk to business colleagues, hiring managers and marketing teams. Find out what data matters most to them and how you can iterate it within your own function. How will data evolve specific areas of talent acquisition? Lagunas: Look at candidate experience. I see this as the foundation of modern talent acquisition, and it's something recruiters should've been held accountable for a long time ago. When data informs your strategy, it helps execute on a vision. You see what triggers drive desired outcomes instead of anecdotally saying, "Our candidate experience is pretty good." Data also helps the hiring manager experience, which is important. Producing better reports and more consistent reports is one part of it. But then there's the ability to say to your hiring manager, "We're working on it. We have a few candidates so far, but my analytics predict we can get some stronger candidates." That communication builds credibility. Suddenly you're speaking like a business colleague instead of an administrator. Data does more than transform the way we recruit—it transforms the way recruiters are viewed within the organization. What are the long-term benefits of doing data-driven recruitment? Lagunas: Data helps you understand what's working and what's not. It helps build a strong business case for investing in the things that work and helps move away from the things that don't. Moving into the future and navigating this new world of recruiting shouldn't be guesswork. You can do it with confidence and with expertise, because you know what moves the needle. Without data, there can't be any meaningful conversations about what you're doing and why, and how it's changing. You can say, "We have a growth plan for 2019, but looking at our pipeline now, we can tell we're going to miss our target for this new position. " When you can speak the language of business, you can get access to the resources you need. It helps make a case for investing in the right tools. Photo: Creative Commons
Cartoon Coffee Break | Increasing Automation
Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Cartoon Coffee Break" series. While we take talent management seriously, we also know it's important to have a good laugh. Check back every two weeks for a new ReWork cartoon. Have concerns about artificial intelligence? It has a great deal of potential for HR, particularly when it comes to talent acquisition. Find out why. Photo: Creative Commons
Talent Acquisition Professionals: Technology Is Changing Your Job—And That's a Good Thing
According to research from McKinsey, 50 percent of work activities are automatable using currently available technology—including a lot of tasks we talent acquisition professionals perform. On first read, this might sound a lot like the "robots are coming for your job" rhetoric that is all too common today, but the reality is more aspirational. We can finally say goodbye to the countless hours we spend scheduling interviews, sorting resumes and working on many of the other rote mundane tasks that have monopolized our time for too long. The rise of automation in our role has come at a critical moment. The unemployment rate is one pf the lowest it has been in the last decade (4.0 percent), meaning as talent acquisition professionals, we have to be more strategic in our approach to sourcing, recruiting and enticing talent if we want to stand a chance of filling one of the nearly 6.6 million open positions in the U.S. alone (that doesn't even include the rest of the globe!). With some extra time in our days...hopefully, we have the rare opportunity to rethink and rewrite what we do, how we do it and focus on the most critical aspects of our work that fills positions with top tier talent. Looking in my talent acquisition crystal ball I see three ways our roles will evolve to not only increase our impact across the entire organization (by filling roles faster, retaining talent longer, matching candidates to open positions and enhancing candidate experiences), but also ensuring we fulfill our role as strategic leaders. 1) Get to Know Your Data Our jobs are changing thanks to technology, and so is the traditional resume—all for the better. The resume of the future will make all kinds of candidate data available to recruiters. Instead of a one-page resume filled with past job titles, recruiters will have a whole aggregated Dropbox-like digital portfolio of each candidate's technical abilities, certifications, accomplishments, skills, social profiles and personality assessments. But what good will that do if we don't know how to draw insights from the data about whether or not a candidate is a good fit for our organizations? Or what role they will be most successful in? It will be our job, to utilize A.I. to look at historical hires and use algorithms to figure out which qualities (soft skills, hard skills, credentials, certifications, performance) determine success in a role and which candidates have matching skills and experiences. This will be even more important in the future because candidates won't apply for a specific job. Rather, recruiters will be responsible for matching candidates of the gig economy to roles, projects, internships and apprenticeships they are the best fit for within the organization. As effective recruiters and strategists this includes forecasting which jobs are likely to open, based on historical data, growth and company goals, throughout the year at your organization and proactively building relationships and pipelining talent for those future roles. 2) Create Your Own Talent Pipeline Candidates today don't have the skills they need for the future. A recent McKinsey report found that around 14 percent of the global workforce will have to reskill as digitization, automation and advances in artificial intelligence (AI) disrupt the world of work. Not to mention, according to Manpower Group's 2016-2017 U.S. Talent Shortage Survey, 46 percent of employers have difficulty filling jobs. How are we supposed to find qualified talent if they don't exist? Enter: collaboration with training and development. We will have to work strategically with our organization's training and development team to create our own talent pipeline rather than waiting for the right talent to find us. Candidates might not come equipped with all the skills they need to be successful at a job, but it doesn't mean they won't have the potential to learn them. Talent acquisition will be responsible for identifying which critical skills promising candidates are missing using data from their resume. We will then work with the learning and development team to create customized training plans that ensure candidates get up to speed either before they are hired or right after they start. Developing a sophisticated upskilling training program and funneling the right candidates into it in a timely fashion will help ease talent shortages due to the skills gap. 3) Create Online Communities to Build a Talent Reserve Recruiters are so busy right now they typically only have time to pursue candidates that fit roles they are actively working to fill. On average, each open corporate position receives 250 job applicants. But as technology and automation become more sophisticated we will be able to move from reactive to proactive recruiting. This means instead of starting outreach when it's mission critical, we will be able to expand our ability to build relationships with candidates for predicted future open positions. With our focus over the past years on recruitment marketing we have become experts at connecting with people on Facebook, LinkedIn,Twitter and Instagram who display shared interests or relevant experiences. Instead of immediately marketing job opportunities, the focus will shift to building up relationships over time. By maintaining a community of engaged potential candidates on social media and within our community network, you will have a talent pool to tap into when the need arises and be able to fill positions faster. As automation and new technology take over many of the tasks that used to be considered a necessary part of the talent acquisition role, we have the rare opportunity to decide for ourselves how we want to evolve and revolutionize our roles. By finding new and meaningful ways to use data, upskill talent and build communities we set ourselves and our organizations up for success in a challenging talent market. This is by no means an exhaustive list. What aspects of talent acquisition would you would change if automation saved you a few hours each day? Together we can figure out how to make our work more thoughtful, strategic and impactful. Photo: Twenty20
Machine Learning Depends on Good Data—Here's How to Clean It Up
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) no longer just the stuff of science fiction—the technologies are here to stay. But after forty years of seeing the next best thing in HR technology, I have learned that implementing it is never as easy as it looks. In the 1980s we "went paperless." In reality, we simply automated paper-based processes. We justified the expense by saying it would cut down personnel costs—it didn't. We pushed data entry out to the end user and did away with the human positions that audited our data for logic and accuracy. But then we realized we couldn't trust the technology, so we duplicated processes. Today, the promise of paperless remains somewhat unfulfilled. A recent article in HBR online caught my eye. It discusses the dangers that may come with machine learning if we don't do a better job of making sure the data we input—be it candidate data for recruiting purposes or employee data used to determine appropriate learning and development opportunities—is accurate and timely. Putting in bad data means you'll ultimately be making bad decisions. As we think about how machine learning will shape the future of hiring, talent management and learning and development, we simply cannot afford to have algorithms use bad data—the future is too exciting. Here are three ways to prepare your data for the future. 1) Practice Intentional Data Entry HR data is entered by employees, managers and HR teams. What do they all have in common? They're prone to human error, especially when it comes to inputting data such as hours, dates and termination codes. Combat potential errors with a data integrity campaign. Let employees and managers know the importance of data accuracy. Help managers understand that the termination code that they use informs metrics that dictate employment and business decisions. Help employees recognize that their time contributes to the accuracy of their paycheck. 2) Set up a Data Quality Process Managers and employees may initially be skeptical about your data integrity campaign, so take it one step further and establish a quality control process within the HR department. Those HR specialists that are most invested in the data accuracy can serve as quality control. HR professionals who partner with line managers can keep data front and center through reports and, more importantly, through personal interaction and coaching. Reports are so prolific these days that just presenting data is not nearly enough. HR can build a partnership with line managers by working through the implications of the data and then drawing and testing conclusions. 3) Edit Inaccurate Data at the Source I once watched an HR professional make a data change on a spreadsheet after a manager had called attention to the inaccuracy. After we left the meeting, I asked if she was going to change the inaccurate data in the Human Resources Information System (HRIS). She replied, "Oh, I guess that's a good idea." Forgive me, but duh. Not only must HR make changes in their systems of record, but they must also figure out why the data was wrong in the first place. Use these "Five Whys" to get to the root cause: 1) The termination code for a former employee is wrong. Why? 2) Because the manager used the wrong code list. Why? 3)Because an old code list is still on the intranet. Why? 4) Because it has not been audited and updated for a year. Why? 5) Because Susie, who was tasked with managing it, retired last year, and no one else knew to fix it. Ah! Now you have a root cause that can be fixed and future data errors can be avoided. Data and technology often get relegated to an administrative role in HR, but that is a grievous error. Any people decisions that are made based on bad data present significant risks to the organization. The future of HR technology is exciting. Let's get ready for it with better data now. Photo: Creative Commons
The Future of Work and How to Improve Job Satisfaction
We spend an average of 90,000 hours of our lives at work. But according to psychologist, bestselling author and host of the WorkLife podcast Adam Grant, too many of those hours are unhappy ones. From managers who don't provide feedback in a productive way to the growing fears around robots taking our jobs, there are many reasons why we find ourselves feeling frustrated at work. But it doesn't have to be this way. On his hit podcast WorkLife, Grant shares how we can take the reigns of our lives at work and improve our experiences during the 9-5 (or some version of that), offering advice on everything from accepting harsh criticism to working for an organization with no boss. We caught up with Grant to get his take on the trends shaping the future of work, including the growing need for continuous learning and the evolution of the traditional career ladder. You began the first season of your podcast with an episode on the importance of honest, critical feedback. Why start there? Why is critical feedback such a vital component of work and development? There's a paradox that we all face in our work lives, which is we want to get better and we know we need constructive criticism in order to do that, yet criticism makes us feel worse about ourselves. To me, it's problematic that the very thing that we need to become more effective, more productive, more creative, is also what sometimes stands in the way of those goals. If I think about all the experiences people have at work that just ruin the quality of work life, getting criticized is definitely one of those crushing experiences, and yet if it's done in a way that inspires improvement rather than just critiques, then it becomes a developmental experience and it's valuable. You highlight the importance of career development in that type of feedback, but there's speculation (and some reality) to the idea that a career ladder is a thing of the past. In fact some people suggest a career lattice is more accurate. How do we continue to grow if we're not moving "up"? Sheryl Sandberg often points out that she felt a lot of pressure to have a career plan. But realistically, when she graduated from college, Mark Zuckerberg was in diapers, meaning that a career plan would not have led her where she landed. There are lot of people in the world of talent management who would argue that the career as we know it is dead. I don't know what the right metaphor is yet—maybe it's a jungle gym—but careers are less linear than they used to be. For employees trying to manage their own careers, it's up to them to figure out how they can invest in learning. That means if they're in a job where they're not growing significantly day by day, it's time to think about how to either reconfigure who they're interacting with or maybe moving on. How can organizations meet employees expectations for continuous learning and growth? Learning is probably the most underutilized reward across organizations. If I were running a company, the first thing I would do is instead of giving people gift certificates as a bonus, is give them the opportunity to learn from anyone in the organization or take a class. Then, over time, I would look at what people are signing up for and what skills they want to gain in an effort to build some internal capabilities around where those interests lie. With the onset of AI technology many tasks and jobs will be increasingly automated. Can learning help workers keep up and compete? We should be careful not to overreact. Bill Gates put it well when he said 'We tend to overestimate the amount of change that will be in the next year or two, but underestimate the amount that will be in the next decade or two.' I don't think we're going to see a major change in what jobs exist in the next year or two, but in the next decade or two, yes, there are some pretty substantial changes coming. Data suggests that the jobs that are hardest to automate are the ones that involve care and compassion as well as communication skills, critical thinking and creativity. This set of skills is worth investing in— we need to spend a lot more time thinking about how to develop those skills for ourselves, and how to help people develop those skills. Ok, so now that we're clear the robots aren't coming for our jobs, is work-life balance something we can achieve as we continue to add new technologies to our working toolbox? Balance is a relative term. I don't know a lot of accomplished people who feel like they're in perfect balance. The successful people that I know mostly tend to be strategically imbalanced, meaning they have work days that are super productive where they don't necessarily do a lot else, and then they have days that are set aside for family, or leisure. Their lives are segmented. That's a more realistic goal. You're probably not going to get balance in a typical day, but over the course of a week, and certainly over the course of a month, you can spread out your schedule such that you end up feeling like you get to pursue all of your priorities. There's no such thing as a perfect work-life balance, but there are ways to be happy both at work, and at home. Photo: TED
Take It From a Futurist: The Automated Future Is Coming—It's Time to Adapt or Risk Falling Behind
Editor's Note: We ain't even trying to predict the future—that's why we left it up to the futurists. In this series, we interview experts in HR, recruiting and the future of work to get their take on what's next. Employees might brush off the "robot revolution" as the tired theme of the latest action blockbuster—not a movement that's changing work as they know it. But the latter could happen within the next decade, whether or not we're ready for it, according to futurist, author and software entrepreneur Martin Ford. "AI, machine learning and similar technologies will be like utilities for businesses, almost like electricity," Ford says. "Imagine a business today that failed to use electricity—it would be disastrous. Ultimately, the same will be true for AI and machine learning." Ford, author of Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future and The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future, deduces that these technologies will be affordable and accessible to businesses of all sizes, and those that don't adopt them will end up at a competitive disadvantage. Below, Ford walks us through the future workplace driven by automation and shares how HR teams can set employees up for success. Plus, he offers a glimpse at the HR department in the not-so-distant future. The New Normal in the Workplace When certain tasks become automated, consolidation of the workplace is inevitable, Ford says. The roles that remain will now require talents that are hardest to automate—thinking outside the box, generating new ideas and having personal interactions, for example. Jobs will be lost among the people who are not equipped to do those more creative or human interaction-oriented tasks. New research from the McKinsey Global Institute confirms that more work activities will require "higher cognitive skills"—like creativity and critical thinking—than "basic cognitive skills" by 2030, and while the demand for "higher cognitive skills" is steady today, it will increase by 19 percent in the US in the same time span. More algorithms and big-data approaches at play could also eliminate middle-manager roles. Algorithmic decision-making can replace the judgement calls a human worker once made for a company. Technologies like Google Duplex—an AI system that sounds just like a human being—could even replace roles like phone-based customer service. But on the bright side, there will still be roles for people who can work with this technology and the data it generates to do something the algorithms can't. The McKinsey Global Institute also found that there will be a 50 percent increase in the time spent using "advanced technological skills" at work. Still, this signals that organizations will have fewer employees, Ford says, which means organizations will also need fewer managers. In fact, Ford sees a future where "office environments look entirely different." He adds, "Top managers don't need so many layers between them and the bottom rungs of the organization if algorithms can directly execute tasks. It has the potential to have quite a big impact." This shrinking of the workforce means two key things for HR departments: It's up to them to give employees a path to transition away from mundane tasks and tap into their creative skill set so that companies can retain talent, and to humanely lay off workers when needed, providing them with helpful job search resources, if possible. "If businesses adjust to the future and these technologies on behalf of everyone in their organization and don't create too much inequality, it can be a great future and people will be better off," Ford says. "But if they pretend it's not happening, a lot of people could be left behind, and that will be a big problem." The HR Department Isn't Exempt from Change In addition to managing the impact that technology advances will have on departments across the organization, HR teams have to embrace automation within their own ranks. No one will be immune to change, and HR professionals will too have to transition to tasks that technology can't do (yet). For example, artificial intelligence is already used to review resumes and identify the most promising job candidates, and there are tools capable of evaluating employees, tracking performance and suggesting promotions. The next wave of technology to be used by HR departments—detectable badges and sensors that track employees' movements throughout the workday—is, Ford admits, a bit dystopian and controversial. Still, the monitoring technology actually generates practical data for HR pros on individuals' performance, productivity and how they spend their time. According to Ford, technologies like these are inevitable as HR tasks become more algorithmic. But,"it's important for HR departments to [implement them] in a humane, humanistic way, as opposed to an oppressive way," he says. When automation is done at this deep of a level, the HR jobs left for humans to do will focus on building relationships with employees. And though that means fewer roles, it might not be such a bad thing for the industry. Like many other fields, "the opportunities will be for the very best people who have highest skill sets," Ford says." There will be an advantage for people who are in the job because they truly enjoy it and are passionate about it." HR pros will need that passion as they ask themselves the tough questions about moving their organization forward: What roles will still be there in the future, and how can we transition people into those roles? Can we retrain everyone? Who will be left behind? "That's the point at which it becomes a broader question for society, not just for businesses," Ford says. Photo: Creative Commons
Personality: A New Kind of Test Score for Your Resume
The Skills Economy is changing the way organizations identify and evaluate job candidates. One thing is clear: The traditional resume is no longer adequate. In our five-part mini-series, we explore how the resume of the future will help companies win the war for talent. Check out part one, two and three. Initially, I was dismissive of personality assessments as a hiring tool. They seem oversimplifying and specious, like a horoscope. But I recently took a test designed for recruiting and professional development and found myself spooked by its accuracy. The 10-minute "Temperament Inventory" I took comes from NeuroColor, a workplace assessment company co-founded by neurochemistry expert Dr. Helen Fisher. Fisher designed this and other NeuroColor tests based on learnings from her years at Match.com, where she developed biological theories of personality and tested them on a sample of 40 million people. After answering agree-or-disagree questions like, "I socialize a lot" and "I think consistent routines keep life orderly and relaxing," the test told me an eerily true story about myself in a 23-page report—including insights like this: "It bothers her when others seem to say whatever they think and don't consider how their comments affect others." I felt exposed. NeuroColor is just one of a rising class of companies in the testing space designed to help companies hire quality candidates more efficiently and effectively. The more accurate the tests become, the more likely that in the future, personality test scores might be as integral to the resume as job history. A Growing Field Meets a Growing Need Personality tests and soft-skills assessments are far from a new hiring tool—but the weight of their results is on the rise, and many major companies are integrating these tests into the hiring process. Banking giant Goldman Sachs, for example, announced it would pilot its first personality test on interns in 2018. "We're shifting from a world where you just used to look at a GPA and resume and walk out with a feeling about an individual that you might want to hire," Matt Jahansouz, Goldman's global head of recruiting said in an interview. "We can now capture characteristics and data that might not be as obvious to make smarter hiring decisions." What's more, personality tests help employers assess soft or "human" skills—a growing need as the working world changes. Employers need to know how well a candidate will collaborate in anticipation of the gig economy. They also need to understand whether a candidate can adapt to the dynamic technological landscape. Responding to this demand are a range of assessment businesses, including job-matching company SquarePeg, which tests candidates' attributes such as ability to see the big picture or attention to detail. Traitify uses artificial intelligence to prioritize candidates with traits that match those of a company's top performers. NeuroColor offers a questionnaire to assess personality on a spectrum based on four brain systems (estrogen, serotonin, dopamine, testosterone). But so far, many of the tests in their current form aren't up to meeting the demand they're designed to fill. A Growing Field and its Growing Pains David Labno, co-founder and CEO of NeuroColor, says he would never advise using his company's tests as a make-or-break factor in hiring a candidate. Rather, he suggests results be viewed as one factor of many. "We don't think a single aspect of personality should predict how successful someone will be in a role—there's no proof that that works," Labno says. "I've seen companies who've said, 'I need someone who's high ENFP,' (an MBTI personality type). That is really quite scary to me. There's a real concern: Are you hiring only the types of people that have worked in the past? That doesn't mean it'll work in a changing marketplace." What's more, Labno says there are many dubious tests on the market—and the MBTI is one of them. Research shows the same person taking the MBTI twice within five weeks will get completely different results 50 percent of the time. Many tests can also be easy to game, with candidates giving answers based on what they think employers want to hear, rather than based on their personal inclinations. Finally, employers should not only select personality tests with care, but also be sensitive about how to apply any findings. All tests run the risk of introducing bias into the hiring process. For example, NeuroColor has found that medical professionals tend to be high in estrogen (a trait in NeuroColor's test that signals someone who is prosocial and empathetic), but that doesn't mean those should be the only candidates accepted into the field. "It makes sense: Healthcare industries have deep concern about the care of others," he says. "If you're low in these areas, does it mean you won't be effective? Not necessarily." Neel Doshi, co-author of Primed to Perform: How to Build the Highest Performing Cultures Through the Science of Total Motivation, adds that personality tests run the risk of teaching both a company and its employees that character is fixed. This attitude can discourage a "growth mindset" and place blame on workers' inherent qualities. "I would much rather an organization signal there's nothing you can't learn," Doshi says. A Growing Field, Expected to Keep Growing For all of their current flaws, personality tests will likely play a growing role in the resume of the future, Labno says. He expects them to improve by becoming more scientific and rigorous, and evolve into the powerful tools employers are impatient for them to become. "Ten years from now, you'll see a lot more biological, data-driven, AI analysis and additional use of these tools saying yay or nay on a job candidate using algorithms," Labno says. In the interim, he advises employers seek evidence-based personality tests (tests that have scientific backing), which can offer some important perspective on soft skills. Labno also encourages candidates to use these tests to help them have a sharper sense of themselves and what they're looking for—and sell themselves with more confidence. "The science will lead to a better quality of interaction and more motivation with people in the workplace and job seekers understanding what they're looking for," he says. " The downside is that [data] could be manipulated against you. We have to be careful—that's a double-edged sword." After taking NeuroColor's personality test, I understand the double-edged sword of assessments. It shared insights that could help me grow as an employee—but I'd feel out of control of my own personal brand if a hiring manager saw it first. Take a closer look at the resume of the future, here. Photo: Creative Commons
The CHRO's Guide to Success in the Digital Age
The digital transformation has had a massive impact on the role of nearly every employee, and even the CHRO is not immune. A CHRO at the top of his or her game is a close confidante of the CEO and therefore has to think about many of the same things that a CEO does. To empower her team to make personnel decisions that are in line with the CEO's business strategy, the CHRO must be knowledgeable, confident and well-versed in the technological changes that are driving today's workforce. Here are the key tech trends that are reshaping the role of a successful HR leader. The Workforce Is Now Global—Is Your CHRO? To be successful, CHROs must be fully entrenched in what drives their organization internally, and have an understanding of the company's commercial and competitive pressures. But work today is fast-paced and, thanks to greater digital connectivity, integrated across departments. That's why by the time that CHROs accept their positions, it's important for them to have clocked up experience across all other areas of the business. Some 63 percent of executives in a Visier study said that the best CHROs come from finance, legal or other non-HR backgrounds. Today's workforce is also dispersed and global, due to the possibility of remote work and collaboration. As a result, international experience is also increasingly important for CHROs, because it gives them a more well-rounded perspective. SpencerStuart research found that 36 percent of today's CHROs have direct international experience, up from 23 percent just three years earlier. Data Is the Language of the Digital Age It's hard to over-estimate the importance of being data-savvy. Today's CHRO must not only to be competent at analyzing data, but also a master at knowing what to do with it. They must bring to bear their experience and judgement to interpret the data, and have the confidence to apply that knowledge in a way that can influence future behaviors in their company. Too often, HR leaders use data to look at past behaviors—that's no longer good enough. What's key now is to develop the technological prowess and the soft skills necessary to use predictive data to hire the best talent and manage existing workers. Even artificial intelligence technology is only as objective and effective as the people that deploy it—CHROs must know how to interpret and apply the insight in front of them, and anticipate pitfalls. For example, they must be aware of bias in their hiring data to prevent biased practices from influencing their hiring practices. Digital Disruption Is Creating a Cultural Shift There are only two speeds in business today: fast and faster. That's why rather than constantly trying to keep up with the fast pace, CHROs need to shift from "managing change to leading it," according to a Gartner article. Digital transformation is disruptive, and CHROs need to embrace that mindset as well. That means not being afraid to experiment with new tools and technologies, and finding ways to embrace changes to the traditional view of work life, such as more flexibility for remote work. "Culture eats strategy for breakfast," world renowned consultant Peter Drucker once said. While CHROs alone cannot alone change company culture, they do play a central role in creating and molding a culture in which people perform to the best of their ability, while maintaining a keen eye on strategic objectives. Getting to a point where HR is positioned to drive change and disruption isn't easy, HR needs to first gain the trust of the rest of the business. But, by making a tangible business impact with the right experience and mindset, they will gradually gain the respect and confidence of other business areas. Photo: Creative Commons
Would You Ask Your Employees To Get Microchipped?
Could you ever imagine microchipping your employees? It might sound unreasonable at first, but that's exactly what a Wisconsin-based technology company, Three Square Market, has asked of its fifty plus employees. Though it's a new and somewhat controversial tactic, getting microchipped has its advantages. It's completely voluntary, and it gives employees the ability to enter the building, use office equipment, log into their computer, exchange business cards and even access their medical information by scanning their microchips. In many ways, it's the password of the future. Whether you're shaking your head in disbelief or envisioning a future where microchips have replaced passwords, here are some things to consider about the nascent technology: It's FDA Approved for Humans Even though Three Square Market will be the first U.S. firm to microchip its employees, the FDA approved the technique for use in humans back in 2004. The VeriChip, which is the name of the approved model, was originally designed for patients to store pertinent medical information that healthcare providers could easily access— it's the same type of microchip that veterinarians implant in pets and can be used to locate them in case they go missing. The Installation Is Non-Invasive The microchip is the size and shape of a grain of rice, so installing it in a human is a non-invasive procedure. For Three Square Market employees, the chip is inserted between an individual's thumb and forefinger, and the process doesn't really hurt that much. Typically, organizations can have someone come into the office to implant the microchips into employees. It's not something that has to be carried out in a medical facility, and it takes a needle to insert. The entire procedures takes less than twenty minutes, requires zero stitches and leaves the microchip virtually invisible. It Can Increase Employee Productivity While Three Square Market states only to use microchips to replace passcodes and badges rather than track employee productivity, there is something to be said about the ability to do so. According to a recent MacLean's piece, "implanted chips give employers, or anyone with a properly calibrated reading device, a way to track certain activities—such as when a person arrives and leaves work, how many photocopies they make, or what they order at the company cafeteria." Although it may cost an organization its employees' trust, those employees who have elected to use microchips may increase their productivity if they know their work is being monitored and tracked. If you think about it, this isn't any different from some of the other tactics that organizations already use to monitor employees today (i.e. video surveillance, reading emails, etc.). Your Privacy Could Be in Question Three Square Market states that their microchip is not GPS tracking-enabled, but employees have every right to be concerned about their individual privacy. Insight into the extent of information that can be gathered and stored using a microchip is still lacking. At this point in time, there's not a lot of information out there on what exactly can be tracked through microchipping, but apparently a cell phone or internet browsing history should be a bigger concern to employees than the microchip. There Are Health Risks Depending on who installs the microchip, there could be a risk of infection. Plus, with companies like Dangerous Things selling a microchip device and an injection kit to anyone who wants to purchase one, there's a risk of infection that comes with the do-it-yourself approach. The FDA reports that in rare cases, the implantation site can get infected after implantation or removal. The FDA also notes that the device can migrate to other parts of the body as well, which could be dangerous. Infection could be the least of your worries if you decide to get microchipped. Experiments have shown that there are many other major health concerns. For example, a foreign-body could cause cellular changes that may eventually lead to cancer. Although widespread adoption is far off, organizations may want to start thinking about microchipping now. If you do decide to jump on the innovation bandwagon and microchip your employees, here's what to do: Make it voluntary and provide alternatives to those electing to not participate. Thoroughly explain the benefits and risks associated with the microchip to your employees, keeping them well informed. Spell out the specifics in a contract that employees must sign in order to participate. The contract should lay out the intended purpose of the microchip, if data is collected, what data is collected if any, and how that data will be used. As with anything in human resources, documentation is key. Photo: Creative Commons
What Happens to the "Average" Worker When Average Work is Obsolete?
The concept of work is getting re-worked. As automated technology continues to replace human labor, the traditional definition of "average" work is becoming outdated. The skills required to get and keep a job are changing dynamically and continuously. With technological progress occurring at record rates, success at any level of work is increasingly defined by how well you work with machines. Marc Pensky, who coined the term "digital immigrant" in 2006, described our current work environment quite eloquently when he told CNN, "People will always be behind now, and that will be a stress they have to cope with." That stress is prominent for Baby Boomers and Generation X who experienced changing technology only as professional adults. For at least the last decade, their perception has been that the pace of technology was too fast. For younger generations, exposure to technology began at birth and the relationship is intimately personal. While increasing automation evokes a sense of dependability and anxiety in the 40+ age group, it empowers and instills freedom in Millennials and Generation Z. But here's the thing. While Millennials and Gen Z may be more comfortable with technology, the pace of change is disrupting everyone's world. Exponential change doesn't play favorites. It's blind to age, gender, and the color of your skin. Consequently, the bar for even low jobs is being raised and "average" skills qualify workers for a small and shrinking subset of jobs, along with smaller paychecks. Compounded by the slowing growth of semi-skilled work, the once average worker is quickly facing the dubious options of becoming a low-skill, low-pay worker or unemployed. Keeping Up with the Rate of Change Many workers not only lack the right set of skills, but the ones they currently have are becoming less relevant over time. Almost half of all tasks people are paid to do every day are at risk of being automated. In our current economy, change is happening so fast that the half-life of a learned skill is a mere five years, compared to a worker's lifetime just a few decades ago. While estimates about how many jobs will be replaced by robots range from 5 percent to 50 percent, there is near unanimous agreement that more than 60 percentof all jobs will be at least one-third automated. That's good news for those that can hold onto their jobs for now. The bad news is that the skills required to do those jobs will be more advanced and forever evolving. The pathway to a good paying, skilled job is also up for grabs. A college education is no longer the gateway to a good-paying career. Individuals need to develop and maintain transferrable skill sets throughout their lives for multiple and possibly simultaneous careers, even if the job titles don't change. Collaborating Between Man and Machine The Institute for the Future (IFTF) released research that suggests that a qualitative shift, perhaps an order of magnitude greater than the outsourcing revolution, could now be taking shape in the workforce. The IFTF's project describes some of the new work skills required to leverage emerging automation technologies—AI IQ, futures thinking, digital fluency, pop-up communities and multi-cultural smarts to name a few. Collaboration will also be a must-have skill going forward. But the scope of collaboration is something that most people don't yet grasp. Today, collaboration not only concerns relationships between humans, but between humans and machines. Unlike the John Henry legend in which man's skills challenge the productivity of a steam-hammer or the time that chess champion Garry Kasparov triumphed against Big Blue, future innovation will depend upon people racing with machines, not against them. Automation Is Real, Folks Much of the rhetoric on the 2016 Presidential campaign promised to "bring jobs back." Here's a real-life example why labor-intensive, task-heavy jobs are going, going, almost-gone. When the price of oil fell in 2014, so did the number of oil industry workers. But when the oil rigs started up again, a lot of workers didn't. Thanks to automated drilling, a dangerous, laborious task now required fewer people to accomplish. In fact, it's expected that what once took a crew of 20 will soon take a crew of 5. The application of new technologies to oil drilling means that of the 440,000 jobs lost in the global downturn, as many as 220,000 of those jobs may never come back. This scenario is taking place in nearly every industry–from robots on the manufacturing floor and in the surgical suite to autonomous vehicles driving down the interstates. I repeat—exponential change does not play favorites. Crossing the Data Divide Data mining is another example of how work is changing. In the past, millions of jobs were created for people to input data. Today, computers input much of that basic data themselves and software creates more of it. Data jobs now require workers to have the ability to analyze and use the data—skill sets that few people have. Finding a solution requires not only exceptional "sense-making" skills, but the ability to collaborate with machines. By 2018, the United States alone is predicted to face a skills gap of up to190,000 people with analytical skills needed to use big data to make effective decisions. But predictions like this about employment and unemployment are nearly meaningless without management and government alike focusing on the fundamentally changing nature of work. Exponential change that disrupts work is not a passing fad. As the concept of work and the skills required to perform it get re-worked, jobs are being transformed. It goes without saying that an epic shift is underway. Maybe Issac Asimov had it right when he said, "It is change, continuing change, inevitable change that is the dominant factor in society today." From the way we educate our youth to a transformative shift in mindset about careers and jobs, we all need to re-imagine the average worker alongside the evolution of average work. Photo: Creative Commons
3 Benefits of Using HR and Recruiting Chatbots
With artificial intelligence buzz circling the HR space and tight talent markets making candidate experience top of mind, this might just be the year of the chatbot. According to Juniper Research, HR and recruiting chatbots have the potential to reduce business costs by more than $8 billion by 2022. The other appeal of chatbots is their flexibility: they can be deployed via SMS, messaging apps, email and through your company's website. While companies are already using chatbots in creative ways, there's more potential to unlock. Find out how HR teams can use chatbots to re-brand their candidate experience, connect with their employees and reduce their recruiters' workload. 1) Engaging with Candidates Some organizations are already using recruiting chatbots to communicate with candidates preliminarily, asking them qualifying questions, answering any questions they may have and even scheduling interviews with human recruiters. As organizations adopt the "candidate as consumer" mentality, chatbots enable organizations to engage with an unlimited number of candidates simultaneously in real time—without sacrificing candidate experience. According to staffing and recruitment firm Allegis, 66 percent of candidates are comfortable interacting with a chatbot, so the market seems poised for mainstream adoption. As chatbots prove their value in the early part of the recruiting funnel, their use will logically move downstream to processes such as onboarding and new employee training for the same advantages: on-demand, real-time feedback. 2) Marketing Your Employer Brand Organizations are increasingly realizing the value of a strong employer brand. By using a recruiting chatbot to communicate with candidates, companies can differentiate themselves as a more innovative and responsive brand when it comes to recruiting. Some companies are taking this branding even further by programming their recruiting chatbot to have a personality that aligns with their values and company mission. An interesting example of a branded recruiting chatbot is the U.S. army's SGT STAR. Designed to answer FAQs about topics such as basic training, types of jobs available and salary, candidates can message SGT STAR through the army's website. SGT STAR has fielded 16 million questions to date. One way that the bot displays its organizational values is by reprimanding profanity. If there are any bad words in a conversation, the bot will say: "Please watch your language. One of the Army's Core Values is respect, which includes being respectful in the way you speak to others, both virtual and human alike." One of the biggest benefits of using a chatbot to promote your employer brand is that it ensures not only objectivity in how candidates are treated, but also consistency of messaging. 3) Assisting with Scheduling One of the big areas of HR where chatbots are showing their value is employee scheduling. At Overstock.com, employees who are too sick to come into work can let the HR chatbot, Mila, know. Mila then relays that information to their managers, closing the loop. Employees also appreciate the option to schedule vacation time using a chatbot instead of having to log into their HR software, or sending multiple emails to managers and HR departments. For HR teams, the benefit is clear—automating administrative tasks saves time, and allows them to focus on other areas, such as professional development. With the current push towards AI and automation in recruiting, chatbots have obvious applications for significantly reducing recruiters' workload. Whether engaging hundreds of candidates at once, contributing to a strong and consistent employer brand or keeping current employees happy, the chatbot might just become HR's best friend. Photo: Twenty20
Mergers and Acquisitions Checklist
Three human resource issues that organizations face when engaging in merger and acquisition (M&A) activity are: Common negative psychological and emotional responses of employees. High levels of turnover partially due to the organizations failure to manage these emotional and psychological responses. Growing talent and skills gaps that impact leaderships ability to execute their business strategy fully. The following checklist includes five recommendations for managing the human factor of an M&A more effectively and steps to take under each. This plan will help manage the emotional and psychological responses that employees typically feel, reduce unwanted turnover, and mitigate the risks from the current and future skills and talent gaps.
Talent Management Vendor Evaluation Checklist
Whether youre choosing a talent management solution for the first time or making the switch from a vendor that just didnt work, investigating various vendors and evaluating which one is right for your business is a daunting task. And its important to find a partner thats not just right for you today, but also in the future as your business grows and changes. To help make your decision, weve broken out the four most important areas to investigate.
5 Tips for Crisis Management in the Digital Age
Crisis management is a tool many leaders keep in their toolkit, but secretly hope they never need to use on a grand scale. While minor situations arise regularly in the course of business, larger scale issues can end careers and destroy entire corporate profiles if handled incorrectly. We need only look to Equifax and their epic data breach, which called for the release of their CEO and launched a Department of Justice investigation, to see the sweeping impact of poorly handled crises. Many of us might say what we "would" do if we were in such a situation, but until it happens, we really have no idea. This is where crisis communications becomes incredibly important, and HR plays a pivotal role. It's been said failure to plan is planning to fail, and never is this old adage more true than ensuring a strategy to handle a large-scale public relations disaster. As we now live in a time now where cloud-based technology is more prevalent, the digital realm is the new marketplace, and crises of this magnitude and type will happen more frequently, leadership must be prepared in advance to manage crisis in the digital age. Establish Personalities in Advance of the Crisis One of the benefits of social media and the 24/7 news cycle is that it provides opportunity to raise the public profile of anyone and everyone. While it's not necessary that all corporate leadership be incredibly active on social media from a personal perspective, it is extremely important that the company be proactive in building trust from the beginning. Get your leadership in front of your customers and communicate frequently across traditional and social media. It creates a personal connection with your company and shows there are people behind the issues. Gather Around the Message Immediately When the world of communication works on a 24/7 cycle, so must your leadership team. Have emergency communication protocols in place and ensure that they're followed. Your team must get on board with a strategic, unified message immediately and follow your crisis communication plan, which should be in place and reviewed every 3-6 months. Communicate with Employees Your best course of action is to communicate immediately and to arm all those involved with everything they need to communicate that not only are you on top of the matter, but that it won't happen again. This not only encompasses conversations with external media, but also includes conversations with your employees to ensure they can pivot with the leadership team and remain connected to your overall vision. Deploy Your Leadership Brand An established leadership brand is one of the greatest corporate assets during times of corporate strife. Your leadership brand usually emanates from your CEO, but it's more about what your leaders are known for in your organization, and it informs how your employees should act at all times. It also means that individuals at all levels instinctively know how to conduct themselves in a crisis because it's ingrained in the corporate culture and everything they do. They put the customer first, they protect the corporate identity and they remain focused on the cause. Practice Humility Finally, one of the greatest assets in our leadership arsenal is also the oldest in the book: be humble. In this fast-paced world, mistakes are bound to happen. Admitting fault and owning up to one's mistakes quickly is something that separates great leaders from those who inevitably fail. Photo: Creative Commons
3 Ways to Spur Innovation at Your Company
Innovation isn't easy—it requires dedicated time, support from company leaders and often a cost investment—but it can lead to big payoffs. In fact, companies that use collaborative innovation models like design thinking are twice as likely as their peers to see a growth rate of 15 percent or more over the next five years, according to a recent PwC study. Innovation not only creates value for future customers, but can also help organizations retain top talent, reduce costs over time and stay competitive. The key to great innovation? Your own employees. "The people within your business know its operations inside out, know the objectives that need to be hit and understand where improvements can be made," says Fred Schebesta, founder and CEO of finder.com, a personal finance comparison website. "This makes those inside a business perfectly placed to drive innovation." We spoke with Schebesta and other executives about how to encourage innovation at your organization. 1) Create an Innovative Climate "It is very difficult to generate high-quality innovation and see it through to implementation," acknowledges Daniel Russell, partner at management consulting company RHR International. Because of this, Russell encourages organizations to first focus on creating a climate that supports innovation—the right climate will help to create a culture of innovation over time. "Leaders can be a little more optimistic that they can influence how people perceive and interpret the experience they have at work (climate) versus the more amorphous basic assumptions team members have about the world and the values that guide life in organizations (culture)," he explains. To create a climate of innovation, there are a number of things leaders can do. One tactic Russell advises is providing employees with interesting, stimulating and challenging work, such as giving team members the opportunity to do side projects that may be outside of their daily routine. He suggests setting up a an innovation "garage"—a unique physical or virtual space and a specific time where employees can collaborate on innovative ideas. 2) Assemble Diverse, Inclusive Teams One of the keys to constructing an innovative climate is encouraging diversity in all forms. That means recruiting teams of people from a variety of business units, educational backgrounds and geographical settings. "You need to have a diversity of experience at the table," says Joan Michelson, executive producer and host of Green Connections Radio, a podcast that features energy and sustainability innovators. "People who think differently create the kind of friction that generates new ideas." As employees work together on new ideas, inclusion becomes a crucial piece of the puzzle as well. "Often, people will go into a meeting and think that everyone is in agreement, but really they aren't; they just don't feel safe standing up and saying something," Michelson explains. For employees to generate and share new ideas, it is important to create an environment where they feel comfortable voicing their opinions, openly commenting on other's viewpoints or disagreeing with ideas. 3) Encourage Creative Thinking Studies have shown that routines kill creativity. And unfortunately, it's common for people to get stuck in their daily routine at work and put aside creative thinking for another day. To get people out of this habit, Mark Goldin, chief technology officer at Cornerstone OnDemand, encourages people to get away from their everyday jobs by hosting an annual "Hackathon" for employees. "The Hackathon is a company wide initiative that takes place over a 24-hour period. People from all departments, not just technology and development, work alone or in teams to develop and pitch ideas they think will move the company forward," says Goldin. The 4th annual Hackathon took place at Cornerstone last month and had only one rule: "You cannot work on activities related to your day job—only new thinking and new ideas allowed," says Goldin. In years past, the Hackathon has even led to the genesis of new products such as Cornerstone View—an interactive data visualization tool that gives unique insights into your talent data. While not every Hackathon will lead to a brand new product, the initiative promises to excite employees about solving complex problems, embracing new ideas and thinking outside of the box. Photo: Twenty20
HR Leaders, It's Time to Shape the Future of CSR
Like so many buzzwords, corporate social responsibility—or helping the environment and society beyond what regulators require—has come of age. A study from Harvard Law found that Fortune 500 organizations now spend an average of $15 billion a year on corporate philanthropy. In fact, being a socially-conscious organization has become so popular companies are willing to spend more money advertising their practices than doing the practices themselves—a term called greenwashing. But when done right, CSR isn't just advertising. It's a compelling business strategy. CECP, a coalition of CEOs for good, found that companies with robust environmental, social and governance (ESG) efforts financially outperformed other companies in 2015. And a 2014 study found that a company's corporate volunteerism program ranked third in importance to millennials. What does this mean for HR professionals? CSR is not only a differentiator for top talent, but it also has an impact on your company's bottom line. While the profession of human resources may seems at first glance to be removed from CSR, it's a role that undoubtedly impacts society—and should be equally involved in determining how the company approaches their social giving strategy. HR Should Have a Hand In CSR A 2007 article in a business ethics journal studied the impact of employee actions on the effectiveness of CSR, concluding that "companies will fail to convince stakeholders that they are serious about CSR unless they can demonstrate that their policies consistently achieve the desired social, environmental and ethical outcomes." The report concludes that since it is the employees—not the board or consulting ï¬rms—who are in charge of implementing ethical corporate behavior, the achievement of those outcomes depends on your employees' willingness to collaborate. It's no surprise then that experts advise the "HR profession to move out of the shadows" and take a lead role in CSR. In a 2014 Forbes article, author and HR expert Karen Higginbottom argues that HR is uniquely positioned to influence all aspects of the ethical and responsible behavior of employees. How? Here are some ways that HR can influence and even nurture CSR. Define Values, Competencies, and Behaviors Bringing an initiative like CSR to life requires employee and leader behaviors that "walk the talk." If CSR is important, and not just greenwash, then incorporate the appropriate behaviors into your values. Introduce the expectations for CSR in employee orientations, and provide employees with a "why." They need context to understand how they can impact CSR and help bring those corporate values to life. If CSR is important to the organization, invite an executive champion to share their stories, making the issue real. You should also integrate competencies and behaviors into job descriptions, performance standards and employee surveys. You can share stories about successful CSR activities, particularly on the part of leaders, to demonstrate impact and dedication. Improve Employer Brand We have heard far too many stories about the ethical violations of corporations—so it makes sense that employees are wary. By being an outstanding corporate citizen as a company, you'll attract employees who share similar values. A 2010 research study concluded that CSR could be helpful in attracting employees because of the perceived prestige of the organization when the CSR activities are, in fact, socially responsible. But if the commitment to CSR is not evident in the actions of the employees, leaders and organization, beware. The same employees attracted to your conscious values may just turn around and walk out. Improve leaderships skills and growth opportunities CSR offers a terrific opportunity to enhance your organization's talent development program. You can help place future leaders on local Boards or in community project groups to broaden their perspective and skillset. By joining a Board of a local not-for-profit or professional organization, top talent will gain experience they might not get at your company: they'll see an organization as a whole. As a board member, they'll get a taste for how operations, finance, marketing, legal and HR have to work together for the benefit of the whole organization. If HR is involved in CSR, the process of finding opportunities that complement your future leaders' learning needs will be much easier. For HR, CSR offers a chance to influence the organization's success by drawing a line between the stated values and behavior. From hiring and selection to performance management to talent development, carrying the message of CSR to the leaders and employees increases the chance that your values are, in fact, part of your culture. Photo: Twenty20
3 Ways Man and Machines Can Work in Harmony
Artificial Intelligence, machine learning and cognitive computing are slinking into every nook, cranny and call center of the workplace. But this is not a dystopian future where man is pitted against the evil machine. Instead, the future is much more likely to look like man and machine working in harmony—combining complementary strengths to transform business for the better. Yes, it would make a lousy sci-fi movie. But if done right, it will make for a great work environment. In some ways, the future is already here. From Siri and Alexa to self-driving cars, there is technology already capable of mimicking human behavior. Businesses have received the message loud and clear that it's time to integrate with technology: The Deloitte Human Capital Trends 2017 report revealed that 38 percent of companies will fully implement robotics and automation in the next five years. What can HR do to prepare their workforce for the imminent arrival of tomorrow's technology? Create a Liquid Workforce There are no jobs for life in the digital age, so workers constantly need to reinvent their skills to keep up with business needs. With the pace of change ever quickening, companies need what Accenture calls a "liquid workforce" of employees—agile enough to perform a range of tasks, who can grow and adapt with the company rather than perform one fixed task. Josh Bersin, principal and founder of Bersin by Deloitte, talks about the rise of the Hollywood model or a network of teams approach, where people band together for a specific project and then move on when it's complete (similar to a film crew and actors work on a movie and then move to a new production). This should be a good thing for employees, offering them the chance to grow and learn and ultimately do more interesting and varied jobs. It should also keep boredom at bay, which is great for engagement. If that's the future, the role of HR and the rest of the senior team is to identify key areas where AI will have the biggest impact and start putting programs in place to help people learn new skills or widen their learning. It also means HR must hit home the importance of life-long learning, and provide opportunities for employees to constantly upgrade their skills and experiences. Foster Soft Skills The ironic consequence of more automation is that our unique human qualities are becoming more important. Soft skills are more in demand than ever: A 2015 LinkedIn survey found that 59 percent of hiring managers found it difficult to hire staff with the soft skills they required. While machines are better than humans at repetitive tasks, people are good with uncertainty. For the most part, we excel at empathy and dealing productively with other people. HR needs to both recognize and nurture talented employees in these areas, while helping others improve the soft skills they lack. These people skills will be particularly important in the Bersin work model, where people are continually being asked to join new teams and work with different people across departments. Prioritize Right-Brain Thinking HR needs to hire and inspire their workers to do more strategic thinking, aided by technology. Alongside soft skills, creativity is becoming a prized quality in the age of AI and automation. Lateral thinking and the ability to analyze and interpret the cold, hard data that machines provide and turn that into useful insight is a key skill. It's the perfect melding of machine and human intelligence. That means that HR needs to think about hiring people who have creative flair, rather than just a checklist of qualifications. There are many ways HR can identify these people, but a simple way at interview stage is to ask them competency-based questions about how they used creative thinking in previous roles. The robots are coming, but it isn't a threat. It's an opportunity for humans to be more creative and productive at work. Photo: Creative Commons
Beyond Agile HR: Your Company Must Embrace Agile Work
In The Inevitable, author and co-founder of Wired magazine Kevin Kelly describes twelve disruptive technological forces. One is "becoming," in which products, services and relationships are perpetually both obsolete and upgraded. Take, for example, the 10-year anniversary of the iPhone—as soon as a new one emerges, it's the hottest thing on the market, and the old version dramatically decreases in value. This trend of "becoming" means organizations—and their talent departments—must be more agile. An Accenture report found that CEOs list becoming agile as their number three business priority. And to compete in this fast-changing world, says the report, "HR will fundamentally reshape itself so that the function becomes a critical driver of agility. In this role, HR will enable a new type of organization—one designed around highly nimble and responsive talent." Beyond being agile, HR must prepare leaders, workers and HR systems for this new world of perpetually upgraded work. Perpetual Upgrades: Simultaneously Obsolete and New The iPhone's ten-year anniversary is a great example of exponential change that has become so common. Who could have imagined today's "phones" a decade ago? The change wasn't noticeable, because it occurred through small and incremental "upgrades" to things like cloud storage, application developer communities, integrated search, speed, artificial intelligence and hardware quality and reliability. This pattern of incremental change leading to exponential differences is everywhere. Virtually all of your technology quietly upgrades in the background. And if you opt out of the upgrades for too long, your technology no longer works. Once you upgrade one thing (your phone operating system) you must upgrade others (your apps). Eventually, you replace your technology just keep up. For example, the iPhone 7 has no headphone jack, so wireless headphones must replace wired ones. In The Inevitable, Kelly observes that this is often heartbreaking and annoying: Some of us really liked those wired headphones. Yet as consumers, we don't notice how much we've already adjusted to perpetual upgrades. The Perpetually Upgraded Work and Worker Agile products and services drive agile organizations and agile work. Here are some commonly-described differences between traditional and agile HR: What is often overlooked is that the right-hand column means ways of working will require constant "upgrades," too. Workers and leaders must perpetually replace old work routines and habits and, over time, the incremental change will produce exponential differences. Technology users learn to embrace perpetual upgrades that are both exhilarating and annoying, so leaders and workers must learn to embrace perpetual "upgrades" in work and work arrangements. In the 1990's, land-line handsets were reliable and they worked the same way for decades. This sounds a lot like "good jobs" that lasted decades and offered reliable rewards. Many in the 1990's rejected the iPhone, noting that it would require a vast community of application developers, and massively improved computing power and storage. Today, some reject the idea of perpetually upgraded work because it will require a vast community of connected work providers, workers and powerful cloud-based computing power, storage and AI. But think about it this way: Do you want to go back to using a land line? Upgrades are never perfect, but the ecosystem has evolved with optimization frameworks, and human and AIassistance. The parallels with work seem unavoidable, suggesting we will see the same evolution. In fact, change has already begun. Beyond Agile HR ... Leading Agile Work and Workers In your organization, there are likely already signs of upgraded work that is "becoming" something new. Perpetually upgraded work means that each day, the work becomes a little more automated, the source of workers becomes a little more boundless, the rewards become a little more immediate and non-monetary, and learning becomes a little more virtual and community-led. Even after a decade, not everyone uses all the features of their iPhone; in the same way, not every aspect of work will be upgraded in the future. However, as systems increasingly support perpetually upgraded work, we can see now solutions to thorny dilemmas, such as engaging talent when you can't predict the future, displaced worker adjustment and work delivered "as a service." Agile Work is understandably daunting, and the path will not be perfect, but it's a bit easier to imagine when we look back 10 years at the "exponential" way we have adapted to perpetually upgraded phone technology. Incremental upgrades made us today's iPhone users, and incremental upgrades will create the future of work. Prepare to be perpetually annoyed and exhilarated. Photo: Creative Commons
Ted Talk Tuesday| The Power of Big Data
This post is part of our monthly TED Talk Tuesday series, spotlighting can't-miss TED Talks and their key takeaways. You can learn more about our partnership with TED here. The more data, the better. That's according to Kenneth Cukier, data analyst for The Economist and co-author of the award-winning book, Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform how We Live, Work and Think. In his TED Talk, "Big Data Is Better Data," Cukier explains that more data doesn't simply allow us to see more of what's in front of us, it also allows us to observe our environment in new ways. He argues that big data is our hope for the future—the tool we'll use to solve some of the world's biggest challenges, because we're fundamentally able to do things we simply couldn't with smaller data sets, such as machine learning. Watch the video below and read on for three key takeaways from his talk. "Data has gone from a stock to a flow, from something that is stationary and static to something that is fluid and dynamic." The term "big data" is now ubiquitous, almost to the point where you're probably tired of hearing about it. But Cukier emphasizes that it's important to understand why we call it big data, and why the "big" part is important. A lot of it comes down to how we store and access data in general. In the past, data lived in clunky physical objects like a stone tablet, or file boxes in the basement of a government building. Today, pages and pages of data can be condensed and transported using a single thumb drive. Cukier refers to this ease of storing more data as its "liquidity." We literally have access to bigger amounts of data in smaller forms, which means it's easier for people like human resources professionals to analyze trends, identify inefficiencies and correct them. "You have more information. You can do things that you couldn't do before. " Now that we have access to all this data, what can we do with it? The answer is just about anything. For HR teams, the way we can apply big data to artificial intelligence and machine learning is especially relevant. The more data computers collect, the smarter and smarter they get. As computers learn more, they'll become more efficient at accomplishing redundant tasks, like payroll. Automating time-consuming processes, like payroll, not only eliminates human error, but also allows HR pros to focus their time on more strategic tasks. "Big data and algorithms are going to challenge white-collar, professional knowledge work in the 21st century in the same way that factory automation and the assembly line challenged blue-collar labor in the 20th century." Cukier is no doubt an advocate for big data, but he also understands the downside. In theory, a computer that collects data and learns to do simple tasks better than humans makes life and work easier. However, it's also true that automation will make some roles obsolete—which is something the field of HR needs to prepare for in particular. How can HR professionals shape the future of their respective companies' industries to account for automation? Cukier emphasizes that we need to remember big data is a tool. "We're going to need to be careful and take big data and adjust it for our needs, our very human needs," he says. "We have to be the master of this technology, not its servant." Header photo: TED
The Work Platform Is the New "Job" for Displaced Workers
Government leaders often frame labor policies or future of work solutions in terms of preserving, repatriating or creating the "good jobs" of the past. But this fixation on "jobs" actually limits the potential of their solutions. The new world of work is one "beyond employment." As my colleagues Ravin Jesuthasan, David Creelman and I explore in my recent book, Lead the Work, traditional long-term employment is increasingly giving way to medium- or short-term employment. If leaders want to help our economy adapt to a shifting work landscape, they should be focused on new work arrangements, such as platforms. Displaced Worker Or Global Freelance Expert? The Wall Street Journal recently reported that a 12-year veteran machinist at Rexnord, a manufacturing company, was asked to train replacement Mexican workers when the company decided to move its factories. The Indianapolis-based machinist told the Journal, "That's a real kick in the ass to be asked to train your replacement, to train the man that's going to eat your bread." So what's the solution? The promise to bring back factory jobs is a sticky issue—and a temporary solution even at best. A recent article in The Economist noted that "semi-skilled manufacturing jobs are not going to return to America, or anywhere else, because they were not simply shipped abroad. They were destroyed by new ways of boosting productivity and reducing costs which heightened the distinction between routine labor and the rest of manufacturing." But employers shouldn't disregard the skills of American laborers just because they're relocating. The machinist at Rexnord is now a trainer. If we "deconstruct the job" to separate training (which may require long experience) from machine operation (which can be done with less experience after training), couldn't the machinist living in Indianapolis still earn an income and add value by training new machinists remotely? On freelance platform Upwork, there's a job listing for a "freelance network trainer" who will deliver training through online video conferencing or Web-ex meetings. Why couldn't similar platforms match experienced operators in one region to train inexperienced operators in another, producing economic value for the workers and the manufacturing company? Ask "Where's My Platform?" Not "Where's My Old Job?" Freelance platforms and the "gig economy" usually bring to mind examples like Uber, Lyft and TaskRabbit, but other platforms have already evolved to locate, match, engage and pay workers in other occupations such as computer coders, patent lawyers and media producers. Such platforms are poised to respond to worker displacement, too. With all the focus on gig workers, the potential for platforms to assist more traditional workers is often overlooked. Yet, a recent McKinsey Global Institute report estimated that online talent platforms could increase global employment by 2.4 percent by 2025. What's more, the report shows that platforms could help more than 230 million workers globally reduce their job search time, both decreasing unemployment periods and introducing opportunities they otherwise would have missed. Expanding platforms to offer assistance to displaced workers will require deconstructing current jobs, expanding the language of worker capabilities and opportunities and building a new ecosystem supported by companies, governments, stakeholders and the HR profession. A formidable investment, but with huge social and economic returns. Citizens often demand that corporations, governments and society address the hardship of work displacement, but promises to preserve or repatriate the "good jobs" of the past are increasingly unrealistic. Such important issues demand solutions beyond jobs, including better platforms and better systems to support the discovery, usability and awareness of these platforms. Photo: Creative Commons
TED Talk Tuesday: Why We Will Rely on Robots
This post is part of our monthly TED Talk Tuesday series, spotlighting can't-miss TED Talks and their key takeaways. You can learn more about our partnership with TED here. Rodney Brooks is a former MIT professor who studies robots with the goal of one day helping them achieve artificial general intelligence (AGI)—or the ability to learn and think on their own. He founded leading global consumer robot company iRobot and is CTO of Rethink Robotics, which applies advanced robotic intelligence to manufacturing and physical labor. In his TED talk, Brooks explains that robots have the potential to become our "essential collaborators" as more people age out of the workforce than join it. Watch the video below and read on for three key takeaways from his talk: "We overestimate technology in the short term, and we underestimate it in the long term." Brooks uses the above quote from British science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke to emphasize that most people highly overestimate how much technology can do now—but underestimate the need for it in the future. As baby boomers exit the workforce, there will be an increasing reliance on robotics and technology to automate jobs that companies can't fill, says Brooks. "We have to look at technologies that ordinary workers can interact with." In Brooks' mind, technology should aid people in doing their job better, not replace them completely. Brooks uses factory robotics as the perfect "bad example." These robots are often dangerous and far too complex for the average worker. He emphasizes that user experience should be front and center when you think about introducing new technology to your employees. If your employees struggle to understand the software, it will end up taking up a lot time and resources to train them—potentially more than the investment is worth. "There [are] two great forces that are both volitional but inevitable. That's climate change and demographics." In the next 40 years, the number of people aging out of the workforce is going to increase dramatically due to shifting demographics. While this isn't something that companies can change, they can start preparing for it. Labor shortages will require HR to get creative with recruitment and retention strategies. According to Brooks, this is where the robots come in. Photo: TED
Cartoon Coffee Break: Virtual Meetings
Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Cartoon Coffee Break" series. While we take talent management seriously, we also know it's important to have a good laugh. Check back every two weeks for a new ReWork cartoon. Header Photo: Creative Commons
How HR Can Help Employees Navigate Change
Massive organizational shifts can be bittersweet for businesses. Employees and managers are often excited about the shift, but also nervous about the uncertainty that lies ahead. Remember the fall of Borders, Kodak film or most recently Radio Shack? All of these businesses failed to migrate through a change in business and instead were forced to close their doors. The most common factor in the closing of these, and other businesses like them, lies in a lack of employee engagement and motivation. When it comes to change within a business, it's up to HR managers and executives to help employees handle the pressure and keep employees engaged in their work. There are plenty of ways for HR departments to ensure that change happens smoothly; here's some foolproof advice for when your company prepares for a shift in business. Put the Employee First No matter what a business specializes in, it would not exist without the dedicated work of its employees. From the part-time worker, all the way to the CEO or owner; businesses need dedicated people to keep them running strong. Change in the workplace can be high stress for everyone involved, but it is important that employees stay engaged in their work. If not, it can end up costing the company thousands of dollars in lost time, poor work, increased sick days and eventually turnover. A Gallup poll revealed that disengaged employees can cost businesses anywhere between $450 to $550 billion dollars in lost productivity every year. Thus, when it comes to navigating through change, identifying the key drivers of motivation for your employees is vital a successful shift. A 2013, CAHRS survey found that employees identify with their organization at four levels—company, job, supervisor and coworkers—and depending on how your business is shifting, you should focus your communication efforts on one or two of these components. Be a Resource When an employee is stressed about upcoming change, let them address their concerns, and offer them a chance to provide suggestions. Giving employees space to be heard can be powerful and validating to their role in the business. "We maintain an open-door policy in the HR department and encourage employees to talk with us one-on-one about their questions and concerns regarding the company changes," says Hailey Wood, an HR manager with a small business marketing firm. Of course, HR managers have to be sure that those employees are not only heard, but sought out. One of the biggest, and most damaging, misconceptions is that employees will actively address concerns with managers or the HR department. In reality, talk amongst themselves, which can spread incorrect information or don't say anything at all. Take a proactive approach and address each employee directly—whether face to face, or through email—and allow them to provide any feedback they have, without repercussions. If their concerns are too large to address via email, then set up a meeting with them and their direct manager. Be Transparent Keeping employees trust, and preventing false rumors from spreading, requires open and honest communication. Make sure your business is practicing honesty and transparency in all of its major announcements. Employees are less likely to be scared of change if they can see for themselves how it will help the business and affect their work. If the changes in a company are drastic or involve new technology, work with the managers to create "up-training" seminars and be sure to provide ample opportunity to educate the staff, and work with them at their own pace. In the end, the whole business will feel more positive and motivated to continue providing excellent work. Sudden change in a business environment can be stressful for everyone involved. As an HR professional it is your job to make the transition as easy as possible. If you prepare well, your team and company will come out stronger when all is said and done. Photo: Creative Commons
The Best Strategy to Achieve True Innovation
In your organization, does innovation mean finding new ways to exploit what you already do well, or exploring arenas where you're unfamiliar and will make mistakes? Or both? If you simply tell your employees and leaders that you want them to "innovate," then even the most motivated and intelligent employees might steer their efforts in the wrong direction. For example, consider the difference between two pivotal innovative contributions employees could pursue in the car industry: making existing cars safer and more attractive for human drivers (exploiting the present), versus making cars that don't need drivers at all (exploring the new). "Exploiting" offers immediate and familiar payoffs, but can trap an organization in improving what will one day be obsolete. "Exploring" offers potentially disruptive high payoffs, but can produce chaos and gut-wrenching short-term losses. HR leaders have the opportunity to help companies get beyond the generic idea of "innovation," and be clearer about how innovation is pivotal to strategic success, and how different innovator behaviors support different innovation types. The "Ambidextrous" Organization In a Harvard Business Review article in the early 2000s, Charles O'Reilly and Michael Tushman described the conundrum of an organization that tries to be both exploitative and explorative: "ambidextrous" organizations. An ambidextrous organization is one that "requires executives to explore new opportunities even as they work diligently to exploit existing capabilities"—not an easy feat, as the authors highlight. The authors review showed that ambidexterity can improve organizational performance, but only if exploratory and exploitative innovation are well balanced. How can you balance these two efforts? The authors suggested separating exploratory innovation departments from those doing exploitative innovation, but making sure that senior executives in all departments communicate about their efforts. For HR leaders, this is an important lesson not only when it comes to organizational design, but also when it comes to talking about employee purpose. You must help employees clearly understand whether their job is explorative or exploitative, and help senior executives in their pivotal role of communicating between team units. Taking a Cue from Biology The Santa Fe Institute suggests parallels between innovation and biology: Darwin's Theory of Evolution describes how biological systems evolve, and offers insights about how organizational innovations emerge and survive, too. Consider how a natural ecosystem must evolve differently between the two contrasting strategies shown below, where the vertical axis is the payoff, and the horizontal axis is evolutionary innovations. The left-hand diagram has one peak, so organisms can evolve to the highest level by incrementally improving their current state (exploitation). The right-hand diagram is a balance of both: It has a high peak, but with many lower peaks and valleys between. Reaching the highest peak requires exploration — innovations that reduce the payoff from the current state, but place them on the path to the highest peak — balanced with exploitation to improve along that path. Applied to organizational innovations, this suggests that exploiting only works if there is one best solution related to existing best practices (the left-hand diagram). However, balanced exploration and exploitation are needed when the highest-payoff solution requires progress through lower-payoff innovations in the valleys. Why a Balance Is Best A 2016 paper in Nature by Daniel Barkoczi and Mirta Galesic tried to simulate how innovators can balance "exploration" and "exploitation" in innovation. They found that it was both less productive to over-emphasize exploration (i.e., tap lots of ideas and pursue the most popular) or to over-emphasize exploitation (i.e., tap a few ideas and pursue only a clear incremental payoff), compared to balancing both. HR leaders, this suggests how you can better support your innovators. You can clarify the vital difference between exploratory and exploitative innovation, but you can also help innovators navigate paradoxes. Like an evolving ecosystem, reaching the highest peak of innovation may require counter-intuitive practices like seeking out fewer ideas and pursuing the lower payoff (but popular) ones. Photo: Twenty20
Why Small Businesses Are Outsourcing HR
For eight years, Mickey Swortzel, founder of vehicle control systems start-up New Eagle, watched her employees' health-plan costs steadily increase. Then, in 2016, she made the decision to outsource her one-person HR department to ADP, one of the largest companies in the quickly growing market of Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs). This is not an uncommon story among businesses today. In the last few years, the outsourced HR industry has taken off, bringing in an estimated $165 billion annually and nearly 85 percent of all firms—not just small businesses—now turn to an outside organization for at least some of their HR functions. What's the motivation behind this growing trend? More Affordable Benefits For Mickey, like many others, the primary reason behind making the switch to a PEO was to lower healthcare plan costs and the ability to offer employees benefits that were previously unaffordable. "My number-one reason for outsourcing was to reduce the cost of our health plans, and joining with a PEO allowed better group rates," Swortzel says. And the switch paid off: The prices of family plans were cut in half at her company and her employees now save an average of $5,000 annually. "Outsourcing gave us benefits that I couldn't afford—or even obtain at any cost—on my own," she says. By giving her small businesses the opportunity to access ADP's Fortune 500-level benefits, she also made the company more competitive when trying to recruit top talent amid a field of much larger competitors. Sharing Legal Liability for Compliance The increasingly complex regulatory environment that small businesses have to navigate makes it nearly impossible for a small HR team to stay up to date with compliance issues like the Affordable Care Act, worker's compensation, workplace discrimination and much more. HR outsourcing firms often shoulder some or all of the legal liability for maintaining that compliance. "There are things companies have to do because it's the law," says Deanna Arnold, president of Employers Advantage HR Company in North Carolina. "And small business owners have so many things they need to focus on that when issues come up, they can find themselves unintentionally in trouble. By establishing compliance we protect these companies." "Between the complexities of payroll, hiring, administration and organizing huge companies, it's often better to shift some of the responsibilities to others who are more focused and more qualified," explains Pierre Tremblay, HR director for Dupray, a Montreal-based company that sells steam cleaners and irons internationally. Changing Perceptions and Evolving Services Of course, outsourcing isn't right for all companies. Arnold recommends that once companies have 50 or more employees, they should start bringing some HR functions in-house. The downsides of HR outsourcing are most evident in areas like employee engagement or recruiting, where in-house HR people are in a better position to develop the culture, and reflect the values, of the company. For Swortzel, the decision to outsource one of her core business functions was a tough one to make. "I'm in peer groups of other executives, and they were shocked that I was thinking of using a PEO," she says. "It scared me too. I thought they would tell me how to run my business, who I could hire and fire." Arnold says this is a common misconception about modern HR outsourcing. While outsourcing won't necessarily provide the same amount of culture or engagement support as in-house HR, most firms try to embed themselves with the clients as much as possible: "We actually partner with the employer and employees to create work environments where they thrive." Continuing to foster the human side of HR is vital to the success of both the business and HR as a whole. An important part of the service Arnold's company provides is offering her clients' employees a friendly face to speak with when they have questions or concerns. "I have a team of five HR business partners who actually work on-site in some clients' offices for a set number of days or hours per week," she explains. "We fully integrate into that organization, and even when we're not there, we're always reachable if they get injured or have an issue." Swortzel says her experience was the opposite of what she had feared. "It has been a true partnership. They're not interested in running my business, they want us to be successful," she says. Photo: Twenty20
The Why and How of a Mobile-First Workforce
In nearly every industry, the gray cubicle is a thing of the past as people are now able to connect at any time, from anywhere. As the world becomes increasingly mobile, so does the future of work—we can check email and host meetings on a phone, tablet or laptop, and this can happen at a desk, in a coffee shop or even mid-air on a plane. The sheer number of mobile devices and the frequency of mobile device use speaks to the importance of having a mobile strategy for sourcing, hiring, on-boarding and retaining talent. Statista states that by the end of this year, the number of smartphone users in the United States is estimated to reach 207.2 million—worldwide, the number is expected to exceed 2 billion users. According to Deloitte's Global Mobile Consumer Survey, 97 percent of adults aged 18 to 24 check their mobile phones within three hours of waking up and view them overall an average of 74 times per day—74! The same research reveals that 50 percent of users of all ages check their phones about 15 minutes before going to sleep. Still doubtful of going mobile—or trying to quell doubts from your executive team? Read on for why and how to embrace the mobile workforce of the future. The Why: Engage Employees at Every Point Before you invest in mobile, it's important to grasp the purpose and vision of your mobile program. At the end of the day, workplace mobility empowers your employees to work smarter, better and faster, and thus be more productive. A new global study from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has established a measurable link between more mobile-first working environments and an increase in employee engagement, proving that CIOs can drive increased business performance through a well-developed and executed mobile strategy. The study showed that companies rated by employees as "pioneers" in how they support mobile technology saw a rise in productivity (16 percent), creativity (18 percent), satisfaction (23 percent) and loyalty (21 percent) when compared to organizations that we