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Charles Coy's picture

Your Most Pressing Questions About Recruiting in the Digital Age, Answered

There's a storm brewing in the realm of recruiting. Today's employees have to grapple with an always-on, mobile-enabled environment, filled with new technology. But with up to five generations represented in the workforce at the same time, not every employee is armed with the skills needed to keep up with the fast pace of today's work. The skills gap is palpable, and while L&D teams focus on helping close it internally, the pressure is on recruiters to attract outside candidates that can hit the ground running, says Thomas Boyle, principal consultant at Cornerstone OnDemand.

According to a report by PWC, 72 percent of CEOs are concerned about the availability of employees skills. In an environment where organizations are competing for limited top talent, there is no room for subpar candidate experiences. Boyle and Josh Zyien, VP of marketing at SmashFly, discussed this challenge in their most recent webinar—but when time ran out, some questions remained.

Here, Boyle and Zyien answer some additional questions to help organizations create a framework for recruiting that helps close the skills gap.

What are some examples of transparency during the hiring process?

Boyle: Candidates are looking for transparency throughout the entire hiring process. Here are some simple ways to boost transparency:

  • Clearly define job descriptions.
  • Share your hiring process and timelines.
  • Provide self-service tools so that candidates can check the status of their application.
  • Share your interview process and selection timelines.

What is a 'talent community' and how can it help build a recruiting pipeline?

Zyien: Think about the last time you stumbled on a new retailer or e-commerce brand. Maybe you checked out their products and liked their brand, but you weren't ready to buy. If that company didn't offer you any other way to engage other than to buy, you'd walk away and you'd be a lost lead for that company.

Recruiting isn't much different. The reality is that most candidates are passive and unready (or unwilling) to apply. If the only call-to-action you give them is to apply (e.g. buy your product), then those passive candidates will walk away—and you'll have to pay to attract them again later. An online talent community (built through social media, an e-newsletter or recruiting software) is a marketing tool—a simpler, less committal way for candidates to stay engaged with a company they're interested until they're ready to apply to a job. This way, when they are ready to change jobs, they think of your company first.

When a job-seeker applies multiple times at the same company, but gets rejected every time, how can you ensure that this person still has a great experience?

Boyle: The best way to ensure a positive experience is to provide candidates with as much detail as possible. Start by clearly defining the basic minimum qualifications on job descriptions, measuring candidates against these requirements them during pre-screening and providing meaningful feedback.

Zyien: One of the benefits of a CRM system is that it can trigger emails to candidates based on specific behavior — and to change up the message in those emails over time so that no candidate is getting the same, repetitive message over and over again.

For a serial applicant, rather than triggering the same old rejection email from the applicant tracking system, why not set your CRM to follow-up with an invitation to join your talent network. Change it up. Just try something that'll make someone walk away not feeling flat-out rejected and ignored.

Do you recommend notifying candidates that they have not been selected?

Boyle: Chances are your candidates aren't waiting three to five months to hear back from you—at least not the good ones. I would recommend shortlisting your top candidates down to the top five and notifying everyone else of their rejection immediately. For the remaining five, I would be extremely transparent in terms of the process and length.

What are some industry benchmarks to follow with regard to how long it takes or how much it costs to hire for different roles?

Zyien: Gartner's TalentNeuron (formerly CEB Talent Neuron and Wanted Analytics) is an excellent tool for analyzing talent supply and demand for a particular job. It provides a hyper-local look at how long it typically takes to hire for a role in your region, and offers average cost-per-hire benchmarks.

For a free resource, SHRM also publishes annual benchmarks for talent acquisition, which include broader time-to-fill and cost-per-hire metrics.

Do you find many companies are not prepared to offer a well-planned on-boarding experience for new employees?

Boyle: Absolutely. In fact, if you asked your candidates, most would agree that the on-boarding experience is indicative of the broader employee experience. All too often, on-boarding is seen as a one-time tactical process meant to manage forms and compliance during a new hire's first few days or weeks at work. But this is the wrong approach—organizations should start on-boarding before day one, and continue throughout the first year of employment, creating a more continuous on-boarding process that lends itself well to mobility and growth through the organization.

Do you see HR teams becoming key content producers?

Zyien: I see HR becoming more of a publisher and internal communicator. Increasingly, HR teams are sending monthly internal newsletters to keep employees up-to-date on what's happening in the business, telling stories about employee growth and wins or maintaining an internal blog to showcase the company's culture. There's so much goodness in most companies. HR seems like the natural conduit for telling those stories.

These questions were submitted during our recent webinar, “Next Generation Framework for Recruiting in the Digital Age.”  View the webinar here.

Photo: Creative Commons

Whitney Johnson's picture

Inspiring Teamwork: Lessons From a Serial Collaborator

One of my favorite Disrupt Yourself podcast guests in 2018 was Peter Sims—serial entrepreneur, author of Little Bets and founder of ParliamentBLK SHP and Silicon Guild. He began his career in venture capital, but with time and maturity, he recognized that the long work weeks and bizarre hours weren't for him. He left that world to enroll in business school at Stanford, where he realized that what he loved most was collaborating with fellow entrepreneurs as they worked to realize their dreams.

Throughout his career, Sims has had a string of successful collaborations. At Stanford, for example, he met Bill George, former CEO of Medtronic, who was, at the time, a professor at Harvard Business School. They discovered a shared interest in effective, authentic leadership and George invited Sims to collaborate with him on a book titled True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership, which quickly became a bestseller.

With several similar success stories under his belt, Sims is now teaching others why being an effective collaborator is critical for employees across organizations, from entry level roles all the way up to the C-suite. After all, ideas developed by teams of three or more people have 156 percent greater appeal than those developed by teams where just one or two people have played a hands-on role. And while it may seem that creating a synergistic team often comes down to luck, there's also quite a bit of strategy involved. I asked Sims to dish on what makes someone an effective collaborator and how to create a collaborative workplace.

Three Attributes of Effective Collaborators

  • Curiosity is integral to discovery, innovation and, not coincidentally, to successful collaboration. “People who are curious and are lifelong learners are going to be drawn to other curious people who they think they can learn from through an interaction," says Sims.
  • Generosity has to be "at the core" of collaboration, says Sims, because collaboration is inherently a two-way street. Part of it is giving something—be it skills, advice or support—and part of it is receiving that back. After leaving the VC world, Sims became "very focused on people who had a certain value-set and were motivated more by creation than transaction." People who are only interested in gaining from collaborations aren't good partners, he explains.
  • Productivity is critical for an effective collaboration, because "good collaborators want to get stuff done. They don't want to talk—they want to do," Sims says.

Creating a Collaborative Workplace

Though the three attributes of effective collaboration that Sims outlines are often innate to certain employees, you can also cultivate these traits through the right training and corporate environment. Here's how:

1) Inspire Learning

Don't make the mistake of only offering new opportunities to employees as an incentive to stay when they are already halfway out the door. Learning initiatives and ongoing training both reward and cultivate curiosity, as does mixing up team composition and assignments on a regular basis. Challenge employees that have maxed out their potential in one role and are ready to disrupt themselves. Encouraging them to commit to a new project contributes to both employee retention and company innovation.

2) Provide Meaning

Many workers today are motivated not only by raises and promotions, but also by meaningful work and contributing to important social causes. Make sure company values are clearly defined and articulated. Be warned: businesses that focus solely on transactional relationships and the bottom line will be less attractive to generous collaborators.

3) Empower Problem-Solvers

Fill your workplace with people who relish challenge and find fulfillment in developing solutions to big problems. A team with only a few “can-do" personalities will be hamstrung by the less enthusiastic members. If an employee is disengaged, she may need a new challenge or, sometimes, a new workplace. Be strategic about meetings, avoid busy-work, unnecessary window dressing and other time wasters. These are irritants to effective collaborators who want to get stuff done.

In 2019, make fostering collaboration in the workplace a priority. Your employees may be craving collaboration more than you realize, and activating it can unleash innovation in a powerful way. “A lot of people are in jobs where they feel alone," Sims says. While isolated geniuses can have breakthrough ideas, most of us benefit from working in situations that favor positive collaboration. Even the least creative among us may have a flash of inspiration when in the company of stimulating friends.

Photo: Creative Commons

Charles Coy's picture

2019 CES Recap: The Future of Work is More Than the Latest Gadgets

Though it's known for its litany of cool gadgets (such as flying cars) and brazen software launches (like real-time language translation), CES, at its core, is a place for groundbreaking, technology-driven ideas to take hold—and the future of work is no exception.

In fact, this year the annual event featured a breakout series on the topic, including three panels devoted to exploring advancements in technology at work, recruiting trends, how companies are addressing the skills gap and more.

Here are four trends from the series set to influence the future of work in 2019 (and beyond):

Trend 1: Technology Is Entering the Workforce in a Big Way

As new innovations like blockchain, AI, AR and VR reshape the way we work, a growing demand for workers to build and support these technologies has emerged. Man and machine working alongside one another is no longer a sci-fi storyline, it's a reality.

CES speakers like Bonnie Lee, VP of Property Claims Line Management at Allstate Insurance, described how the use of technology has evolved what workers can do and how that work gets done. She shared an example of how Allstate utilized drone imaging to improve and streamline catastrophe property claims last year.

This move automated some of the most time-consuming work for the insurance company's field reps, helping them to move quickly and alleviating some of the stress involved with catastrophe claims for both Allstate workers and customers alike.

Trend 2: Educational Programs Will Close the Emerging Skills Gap

The current skills gap is prompting companies from every industry to seek talent in new ways. According to a report from recruiting software company iCIMS last fall, 46 percent of employers say that alternative experience (such as a coding boot camp) will be as meaningful a qualification for skilled tech jobs as a college degree within the next two years.

Forward-thinking companies aren't just sitting in wait for workers to get the skills they need on their own time, though. Panelists described several new initiatives they're offering designed to educate (or even re-educate) workers—including apprenticeships, internships, train-to-hire programs, coding boot camps, and vocational academies.

And these companies aren't just looking to build their own educational programs, they are also taking aim at redesigning traditional educational channels through calls for government involvement.

Trend 3: Companies Today “Compete on Culture More Than Compensation"

With unemployment rates at record lows and the economy booming, panelests urged employers to get much more creative when it comes to attracting talent. Simply scaling pay isn't going to cut it for a workforce rich with other options.

“When hiring, you have to compete more on culture than compensation," said David Lewis, CEO of HR consulting firm Operations Inc.

A casual dress code, work from home and other flexible remote options, or dogs in the office are just some buzzy tactics companies are using to market their culture to candidates. However, when it comes to what candidates want, many are missing the mark on one of the most important factors: career growth.

Candidates are eager to see testimonials around how employees have evolved roles over the years, websites that showcase meaningful work, or videos that demonstrate what it's like to work there.

While we've covered many of these ideas in the past, panelists were enthusiastic that 2019 was the year when many of them would come to fruition. 2019 is the future of work. According to CES panelists, we've arrived.

Photo: Creative Commons

Charles Coy's picture

Pre-Employment Onboarding Gives Employees a Headstart On Day One

It's rare for new employees to dive in and begin doing work on day one. Rather than getting started on the tasks they were hired to perform, they'll likely spend days—if not weeks—going through onboarding, which involves filling out paperwork, setting up software and hardware, signing up for online accounts, getting acclimated to new systems, learning the ins and outs of their roles or sitting through introductory presentations.

But this approach is problematic. It already takes an average of 55 days for employers to fill full-time positions, and another 50 days is usually required for that new hire to become productive post-onboarding.

While it is critical that new workers are thoroughly trained, it shouldn't take weeks for them to truly get started. Plus, rather than spending their first few days on the job buried in paperwork, they should be spending that time getting to know their coworkers, getting immersed in company culture and embracing their new roles. So how can companies still deliver a thorough onboarding process, without wasting employees' precious first days on the job? Enter pre-employment onboarding.

Jumpstart Onboarding Before Day One

Often, after an employment offer is extended and accepted, the HR team and the new hire have little contact until the new hire's start date, but pre-employment onboarding involves integrating new employees into the company before their first day. In the weeks leading up to them joining the team, it's critical to get the new hire up to speed and start having her complete some basic paperwork and training.

At Amazon, for example, onboarding begins almost as soon as new workers are hired. Even before they receive their Amazon email addresses and credentials, key onboarding documents are shared with them via their personal email addresses. "We believe it's critical to give new hires access to learning and orientation assets via our learning portal even before they walk through the door on day one, so that when their start date comes, they can actually get to work right away," said Amazon's Learning Platform Specialist Matt Sawicki.

Through Amazon's learning portal, newly hired employees can start filling out their onboarding forms, taking required training courses and completing other requirements using a personal email address and account. Once they actually begin working, all their progress and training is ported and connected to their Amazon email addresses so that no data is lost.

For Amazon, the approach has proven effective. "We're seeing employees get into the flow of work much faster, and become a part of the culture faster as well," said Sawicki.

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Pre-Employment Onboarding

One of the dangers of pre-employment onboarding is overloading a new hire that has just given two weeks notice elsewhere and is scrambling to tie up loose ends at their previous place of employment. While she will likely appreciate the opportunity to get ahead of your onboarding process, she might simply not have enough time to devote to it. What's more, if your onboarding or training is taking a substantial amount of time, you may have to pay employees for it—consult your legal department on whether or not this is something you need to consider.

If a new hire expresses concern about being able to complete the onboarding process before the start date, or you want to avoid paying for training, offer a lighter pre-employment alternative. Sign the new employees up for your company mailing list so you can send them your news, encourage them to like or follow your social media pages and invite them to upcoming company events. You can also order your new employees' business cards, ask how they would like their desk to be set up, give them access to the employee handbook and ask her for a photo for the company ID. Crossing even these small tasks off the onboarding list can speed the process up tremendously down the road.

Another potential pitfall to consider is security. While there may be no harm in giving an employee's personal email address access to your company's learning portal, there may be more risks involved in giving them access to other resources that may contain sensitive company data. Be selective about what you open up and what you keep off limits until the employee officially starts work.

Though pre-employment onboarding won't eliminate the need for some on-the-job onboarding, it can significantly reduce the time it'll take new hires to become productive. For workers, that means more time to spend getting adjusted to their new job, and for companies, that spells lower hiring costs. According to TEK Systems, companies that utilize pre-employment onboarding are 1.6 times more likely to have a lower cost-per-hire than those that do not.

Photo: Creative Commons

Shawn Flynn's picture

Don't Just Write a Business Case, Tell A Story: Part 2 of 3 - Defining Business Impact

In the first piece of this series, we focused on being reflective, or more specifically, reflecting on the priorities of your company’s business and how your people-focused priorities support the needs of the business.  In part two of this series, we focus on getting to the ‘So What, which involves building a case for certain software investments.’

STEP 2: Get to the ‘So What’

Companies are like personalities; each one is unique.  Getting to the ‘So What' comes in three forms:

a)     Understanding the personalities and priorities of the people involved in the decision-making process so they hear you;

b)     Understanding that just switching software won’t magically get you to your ROI target;

c)      Understanding what will deliver impact to the business.

Let’s break these down.

a)  Understanding the Personalities and Priorities Involved

If it’s the CEO, s/he is going to want to understand how an investment in certain software supports the vision and advancement of the business.

If it’s the COO, s/he is going to want to understand how the investment will deliver improvement in critical business measures/ impact KPIs.

If it’s the CFO, s/he is going to need to see the impact of the investment over a three-to-five year period; understand how it's congruent with an appropriate discount rate and calculate it against the operating margin for benefits. which are revenue-centric.  In other words, appreciate the mathematical detail in your business case.

If it's the CHRO, s/he is going to need to have confidence that alignment to the business is achievable.  Achievable is the keyword here, and a perfect transition point to b) below.

b)  Just Switching Software Won’t Magically Get You to Your ROI Target

Change can be expensive and is always disruptive.  If you're comparing business cases from vendors you're considering and pick the one with the higher "ROI," it may not be a mistake, but I would argue that it does come with a degree of risk.  For example, if you’re making a straight TCO (total cost of ownership) decision, and pick the lowest-cost option, then you're deciding on a single, although certainly important, data point. 

It is at this point where people typically bucket benefits into two categories: Hard costs (TCO), and soft-costs (the fluffy stuff).  For the term “soft-costs,” I pull from my colleague Dr. Tom Tonkin who has a great quote on this point: "I like to call soft-costs the ‘harder costs.'"   I could not agree more.  Soft costs are not fluffy at all.  They are truly the hardest costs to achieve and are typically the ones that move the business.  Soft-costs don't just happen; they require user adoption: use of the system, and adoption of the processes.  If you fail to address this as a part of your business case you should expect it to be raised as an objection when you present.  I've seen it before, "…and how do you expect to do this exactly?”  A C-level executive who is not close to your day-to-day will ask that question.  My point: Don’t just focus on the numbers Give attention and detail to explain how the investment will affect change in the organization, i.e., the “so what.”

c)  Understanding What Will Genuinely Deliver Impact to the Business

I think it’s natural for HR & talent specialists to focus on efficiency measures instead of effectiveness measures.  Although efficiency measures are good, effectiveness improvements are better:

  • Instead of talking about efficiency, which accounts for .5-2x ROI)[1]:
    • % of performance reviews completed
    • # of employees with goal plans
    • Time spent by managers and HR
  • Focus on effectiveness, which is 8-10x ROI)[2]:
    • Productivity and engagement
    • Business results
    • Improvement trends
    • Revenue per employee

When it comes to calculating any benefit, I offer these points to consider:

  1. Calculate your impact over a five-year investment horizon versus a three-year.  Why?  It may take your organization three years to fully implement and for all employees to adopt the use of the new system.  You do not want to leave yourself with little-to-no runway to recoup the investment.
  2. If you’re calculating revenue (top-line) impacts, net those impacts against your operating margin.  You still have to account for business costs.
  3. Be comfortable with the assumptive improvements you use, such as the following.  If you have that funny feeling in your gut, adjust:
  • The percent of turnover reduced.
  • The percent decrease in time to productivity.
  • Customer conversion improvement percentages (ex. retail spending).
  • Don't forget to address the elimination of legacy costs, areas such as previous licensing / subscription / maintenance / support costs.  This would also include reducing any previously required integrations, physical space, etc.
  • You will find overlap when thinking about benefits that align with the priorities you set, and that’s okay.  That said, be sure to prioritize based on what will move your business, and that only comes from truly being reflective, which will, in turn, help you get to the “so what.”

    With parts one and two now behind us, be on the lookout for the final installment focusing on delivering the story you are now in the final stages of completing.


    [1] Source: Bersin & Associates,  CedarCrestone

    [2] Bersin & Associates,  CedarCrestone


    Header photo: Creative Commons

    Terry LaBan's picture

    Cartoon Coffee Break | Agile HR

    Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Cartoon Coffee Break" seriesWhile 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.

    Beyond being agile, HR must also prepare leaders, workers and HR systems for a new world of perpetually upgraded work. Find out how.

    Header photo: Creative Commons

    Ira S. Wolfe's picture

    3 Ways to Ensure Your Recruiting Practices Are 2019-Worthy

    A growing number of companies face a harsh reality as they head into 2019: talent acquisition is under siege. Record low unemployment rates are enough to intimidate even the best HR leaders, but beyond that, movements like #MeToo have brought companies' hiring practices and cultures into the spotlight, while job automation has transformed the skills employees need to thrive in the workplace.

    Long gone are the days when post-and-pray job postings were enough to attract top talent. Today, candidates increasingly expect carefully-crafted, detailed job descriptions that not only describe the critical skills workers will need for a role, but also provide a glimpse into company culture. More than anything, candidates want rewarding applicant experiences (even if they don't always get the job) and recruiters that care about more than just filling a seat.

    If that doesn't sound like the experience you're providing candidates, it's time to reshape the future of your recruiting, or risk losing out on great talent. Given my solid track record of predicting future trends dating back to 1999 (not bad, if I do say so myself), I ask you to indulge me and allow me to offer three practical steps you can take right now to bolster your recruiting efforts in 2019 and beyond.

    1) Build Bridges With Marketing and IT

    To this day, many recruiters don't understand that recruiting is marketing, and it's a big reason why they struggle to hire enough qualified workers. HR, marketing and IT have traditionally operated in silos. The separations run so deep that I can't tell you how often I hear “we [in HR] try to get both marketing and IT to collaborate, but they never return our call."

    This approach won't cut it in 2019. In the new year, marketing must help HR optimize each job description to ensure that it clearly describes the required skills (so there are no surprise skills gaps later) and makes a compelling case for why a candidate should want to work there—that means highlighting everything from the great benefits, to the inclusive corporate culture. IT, meanwhile, must then help build a frictionless candidate experience on the backend.

    Pro Tip: Recruiters have to start acquiring marketing skills like SEO, video, blogging and building email campaigns. Until they become proficient, however, HR must figure out how to engage marketing and work closely with IT to maximize all the resources they can muster to compete for talent in 2019.

    2) Make Google Your Friend

    Over the past two years, Google has introduced new tools like Google for JobsGoogle My Business and Google Posts and has unveiled algorithm updates that boost page load speed and optimize job posting results for a mobile-first environment. It's no secret that Google's mission is to deliver information quickly and accurately to users—that now also includes delivering accurate, relevant job information to job seekers. It's time for recruiters to become well-versed in the recruitment capabilities that Google offers, and start leveraging them.

    Pro Tip: Because three out of four job seekers start their job search using Google, understanding how Google for Jobs and Google My Business can facilitate recruiting is critical. You don't need to become an expert, but you must know how to monitor Google Analytics and draw insights from it.

    For example, you should know your average new hire retention rate and average time-to-fill for open roles. Your job listings rank in Google's results depends on quite a few factors. Ignore them and job seekers simply won't see your job listing—out of sight, out of mind.

    3) Embrace the Candidate Experience

    A candidate experience built for the 1970 labor market is causing high application abandonment and low candidate flow. This is bewildering given that Gallup reports that 51 percent of employees are actively looking for a new job or watching for openings. That number is even higher among employees under 34 years. As long as employee disengagement remains high, talent pools should be overflowing, but a poor candidate experience is hindering applicants from entering the funnel.

    Pro Tip: Simplify your application. I'm not suggesting anyone compromise their selection criteria—on the contrary, employers should be honest about their expectations for candidates' skills, given how quickly automation is changing job requirements. But candidates shouldn't have to fill out dozens of fields of meaningless information and flip through dozens of screens before they hit submit.

    Most jobs have less than a handful of critical requirements. Request only that information first, and then if the candidate is qualified, request whatever else you need to make a successful hire. And for goodness sake, don't ghost your candidates—qualified or not! Every candidate deserves regular updates until a decision is made.

    These tips form a rudimentary foundation for dealing with a very ominous labor market forecast. The time is now to incorporate marketing into your recruiting practices, get up to speed on Google SEO and invest in candidate experience if you want to attract top candidates in 2019.

    Photo: Creative Commons

    William Tincup's picture

    Bookmarked: Get to Know William Tincup, president of RecruitingDaily

    Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Bookmarked" series, where we ask some of our favorite HR experts, analysts and business professionals to answer questions about their career, life and aspirations for the future. Be sure to bookmark it for next month!

    William Tincup, president of RecruitingDaily, is a celebrity in the HR space, known for his no-nonsense approach to human resources. A writer, speaker, consultant and advisor, Tincup is straightforward and brutally honest when it comes to his views on recruiting, leadership, talent management and the future of work. He's not one to, for example, sugarcoat how challenging it is to find a true work-life balance—in fact, he doesn't believe it can exist at all.

    Read on to get to know Tincup, and learn about the famous founder who inspired him early in his career!

    Charles Coy's picture

    ReWork's 10 Can't-Miss Stories From 2018

    At the end of every year, it's tempting to look back and reflect on how much an industry has changed over the past twelve months. And while it's true that technological innovations and new work trends may have bettered the world of human resources throughout 2018 in many ways, what has been most compelling about this year is that it has lifted the veil on some of the challenges that continue to plague our industry.

    From the rise of the #metoo movement and its role in helping to close the gender pay gap, to the controversy Starbucks faced when its corporate policies failed to prevent racial discrimination against some customers, 2018 has revealed the areas we need to work on in 2019 and beyond.

    As the new year begins, let's look back at some of ReWork's biggest stories of 2018 and resolve to all be better leaders and learners in the year to come.

    1) To Minimize Sexism at Work, AI Must Learn to Stop It

    Sexism in the workplace has been an important topic this past year. Headlines about the lack of female representation at tech companiesand the gender wage gap have dominated the national news. Nevertheless, companies are working to address these pervasive issues with a little help from technology, wrote Kristina Finseth, director of marketing at WonderBotz. As artificial intelligence continues to play a larger role in talent acquisition, it has the potential to minimize gender bias in recruiting.

    2) Making the Unconscious Conscious: How Education Can Help Close the Gender Pay Gap For Good

    "When we talk about the gender pay gap, we tend to focus on why this is a company's issue or a man's issue, but as females we need to feel empowered to take the issue into our own hands," wrote Kimberly Cassady, VP of Talent at Cornerstone.

    "Empowerment comes in the form of education and self-awareness. Learning and development are tantamount to career growth and employee retention, but they are important parts of the solution in lessening the gender pay gap and getting us closer to sustainable equality," she explained.

    3) 3 Ways to Avoid the Pitfalls of AI Recruitment Tools

    Artificial intelligence (AI) has taken employers' ability to identify potential hires to a more robust level than traditional applicant tracking software (ATS) that simply parses candidates' resumes for keywords. But despite its potential, there are pitfalls that come with using AI for recruiting. Did you know, for example, that AI can become biased, just like a human, if it isn't properly trained?

    4) Why Starbucks' Unconscious Bias Training Probably Won't Change Much

    Starbucks made a splash earlier this year by closing 8,000 stores to provide unconscious bias training for over 100,000 employees. The company decided on this widespread training after an employee stopped two black men from using their onsite restroom in a Philadelphia store.

    "As a former Chief Learning Officer at multiple organizations, I don't think this training will change much," wrote Carol Anderson, founder of Anderson Performance Partners. To drive real change, organizations need leaders who understand their role in shaping behaviors, and it's up to these leaders to teach employees how to best represent the image of the organization in their work.

    5) The New Skills Economy Needs a New, Skills-Based Resume

    An emerging set of digital tools are entering the workforce today—replacing jobs, but also creating them. This workforce shift poses a challenge to talent acquisition professionals who need to hire newly-skilled employees (and, in some cases, hire for entirely new positions).

    Fortunately, the same digital tools about to change jobs also promise to make filling them easier by transforming a traditional hiring vehicle: the resume. The resume of the future will be truly digital—leveraging everything from artificial intelligence to machine learning—so hiring managers can identify, vet and hire top candidates easily and effectively.

    6) 5 Ways to Empower Employees With Future Skills

    With the onset of artificial intelligence and automation, the demand for a highly-skilled workforce dedicated to continuous learning is growing. Though these tech tools have vast capabilities, employees need specific skills in order to engage with this emerging technology effectively.

    That's why earlier this year, in partnership with Cornerstone OnDemand, the Institute for the Future unveiled a Future Skills Map highlighting the capabilities that modern workers will need to thrive in an ever-changing, fast-paced, tech-focused work environment.

    7) Why Millennials Quit (And How to Keep Them Around)

    Here's a surprising statistic: almost half of millennials (44 percent) believe that working for a single company is a better way to advance their career than jumping from firm to firm. So how did the stereotype of millennials as entitled job-hoppers come to be? Whitney Johnson, author and host of the Disrupt Yourself podcast, explains, and shares tips for retaining them.

    8) Why You Shouldn't Overlook Candidates With an Alternative Education

    More students are pursuing higher education than ever before—but at a higher cost. The result? The national student debt burden is approaching $1.5 trillion, and in 2016 the average college student graduated with over $37,000 in student loans.

    For many potential college students who are now the future of our workforce, this process has become untenable. To find jobs, they need skills, but at what cost? It's time for organizations to recruit talent with non-traditional educational backgrounds.

    9)Why Employment Probation Periods Are Ineffective

    "The concept of the employment probation period is a corporate carry-over from days long gone, but it's time to shut it down," wrote Ira Wolfe, president of Success Performance Solutions. If you're using a probation period as a crutch that supports poor hiring decisions, fix your screening process and help managers boost their candidate vetting skills, he recommended.

    10) 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, Grant said.

    Header Photo: Creative Commons

    Shawn Flynn's picture

    Don't Just Write a Business Case, Tell A Story: Part 1 of 3 - Reflecting on the Needs of the Business

    Have you ever been in a position where you had to write a business case for a technology investment, or were a part of a team working on one?  I have the privilege of running a Global Value Practice, and our team receives this question at least once a week: “Can you help me and/or my client write a business case?”  Out of sheer curiosity, I recently Googled “How to Write a Business Case?”  I was not surprised by the result: 1 billion+ returns.  One might say there’s noise out there when it comes to ‘how to write a business case.’  I felt compelled to add to the racket, but hopefully, offering a more approach-oriented lean on the topic in this three-part series.

    First, what is a business case?  It’s a story.  As any good story, it requires thought, preparation and execution.  For this paper, let's frame our Power of Three:

    I will caveat that I work for Cornerstone, a Global HCM SaaS Software company, so my insight in this paper is HR- and Talent-centric.  That said, the overall approach is applicable regardless of industry or software considerations.  Now with the disclaimer out of the way, let's dig in:

    STEP 1:  Be Reflective

    Be reflective concerning where your company is focused and where it’s going.  Identify what you see as threats, obstacles, inefficiencies and goals of the organization.  In other words, what are your company’s top business strategies?  As Human Capability Management professionals (yes, that's my lean on ‘HCM'), it’s imperative that we know where the business is going. 

    According to PWC’s 21th Annual CEO Survey, ‘Availability of Key Skills’ was a top 5 concern for global CEOs.  My point?  Talent and capability concerns are top of mind, even outside of HR.  Further, recent research from Brandon Hall shines a light on this point by highlighting a company's ‘people strategy' as being the primary strategy for meeting business goals.[1]As a result, it’s critical that HR and talent executives know the vision of the CEO, the vital areas of measurement for the COO and what moves the business through the eyes of the CFO. 

    For a percentage of HR & talent professionals, the exercise of reflecting on where the business is focused does not come naturally.  Even a greater number of professionals find it challenging to align their priorities with the business.  When you take a step back, that increase is not surprising when you consider that more than 70 percent of HR professionals' time is administrative[2].  Now that I've laid out the challenge, let me highlight the opportunities to align the business and HR:

    1. 67 percent of businesses see above-average financial performance when business and HR goals are aligned.[3]
    2. 60 percent of businesses see above-average revenue growth when business and HR goals are aligned.[4]

    To indeed be reflective, you have to do just that— reflect.  A colleague of mine refers to it as ‘mirroring up.'  Have you ever put a mirror on the ground and looked up?  You might not like what you see.  Have you ever seen someone take a selfie from the ground up?  Never.  Always at a downward angle. Why? We're prettier, thinner and look better, right?  No!  We're the same regardless, but in many instances, we choose to take the path with the least amount of friction.  To quote my colleague Dr. Tom Tonkin, “Different isn’t always better, but better is always different.”

    Take an honest look at where you see a real opportunity to help the business.  Start digging into what your executives are saying.  Quarterly earnings call transcripts are an excellent source for this material.  For a private company, dig through the ‘About Us' page.  For an SMB company, many times we find executives’ quotes in local newspapers.  You may not always find something, but it never hurts to do a little up-front research to see if there’s an executive message to evangelize.

    Once you feel you have a substantiated hypothesis of your company’s business priorities, outline your view of the strategies and begin to tell your story.  When we work with a client, we prefer to do this on one slide: Business priorities on the left, and Talent priorities that support the needs of the business on the right.  Whether you choose to line them up item by item is a style choice.  I prefer not to, because here can be overlap.  Many times it will take more than one talent/people strategy to support one business strategy.  The point here is not to create a linear connection, but instead to demonstrate an understanding of the business and offer an opinion on how you can support those needs.

    If you find it helpful, below is a copy of a template we put into every business case:

    With the strategic business and talent alignment identified, you are now ready to move on to part two.  Be on the lookout for the next installment.


    [1] Brandon Hall Group

    [3] PwC, Project Management Institute.  Talent Management  - State of the Market

    [4] PwC, Project Management Institute.  Talent Management  - State of the Market


    Header photo: Creative Commons

    Charles Coy's picture

    Office Hours: The Best Advice I've Ever Received For Growing My Career

    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.

    There's a clear case to be made that companies should invest in professional development opportunities for their employees. According to Gallup, 87 percent of millennials consider these opportunities important in a job.

    But even at a company that lays professional development opportunities right in front of its workers, the employee with dreams of the corner office needs to show some initiative.

    In this video, ControlTouch Systems' Director of Organizational Development Carla Terwilleger explains why the best advice she has ever gotten is to “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have."

    By modeling the attributes and assuming the responsibilities of the position you aim for, managers and mentors will notice your ambition. Soon, those responsibilities will be part of your formal job description, and you'll be eyeing the next rung in the ladder.

    Photo: Twenty20

    Charles Coy's picture

    ICYMI: 3 Ways For Companies to Thrive in the Era of Continuous Learning

    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 our most popular articles every month in our "In Case You Missed It" series. Keep reading for December's top stories.

    With the Rise of Unemployment, Make Sure Employees Feel Valued

    To help workers cope with changes driven by emerging technology—be it increasingly automated tasks or new tools—leaders have to be inclusive and transparent to ensure that their workforce feels valued, rather than replaced.

    Dear ReWorker: How Should I Handle Political Chatter in the Office?

    Political chatter is everywhere—even in the office. But is there ever a time when HR needs to interfere and put an end to it? Our ReWorker explains.

    4 Ways to Tackle Low Unemployment Challenges

    Finding better hires despite the low unemployment challenge starts with a change in the hiring approach. The first step involves giving hiring managers a more active role in the recruiting process.

    Take It From a Futurist: How Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Blockchain Will Change HR Practices

    Machine learning, artificial intelligence, blockchain—these emerging technologies are shaking up industries across the board, but many HR professionals are still wary about applying them to the work they do, says HR digital transformation strategist Sherryanne Meyer.

    Office Hours: 3 Ways For Organizations to Thrive in the Era of Continuous Learning

    According to research from Josh Bersin, principal and founder of Bersin by Deloitte, the average employee has only 24 minutes a week for learning. This time-strapped reality is creating a new norm in the $200 billion corporate training market—one that emphasizes a continuous, rather than siloed and highly-structured, style of learning.

    Header photo: Creative Commons

    Suzanne Lucas's picture

    The Hidden Costs of Employee Relocation (and Why Employers Should Care)

    Stress at work isn't limited to aggressive deadlines or closing important deals. In fact, work stress can start even before employees show up on the first day, during the relocation process.

    According to one report, two of the most stress-inducing life events are moving and starting a new job. When you hire someone who needs to relocate, their stress levels are already high—and if you don't ameliorate that with a good relocation package, you'll add financial stress to the overflowing pot. With so much for a relocating hire to consider, it's almost a guarantee that your employee won't begin their new job on the right foot if you don't offer to help.

    It's possible you already offer a standard financial package to your relocating hires, but there's more than money at stake (the emotional cost of moving is a very real concern) and many more expenses than your team has considered. Rather than offer a standard lump-sum, embrace the reality of the myriad expenses and offer a more personalized package that will garner the best performance from your new employee—getting him or her invested in the culture of your company from the start.

    Here are some relocation costs to consider and some suggestions for how to address them without breaking the bank:

    Housing Costs

    If your new employee is selling or buying a house (or both!), closing costs can add up to five figures. If the person is moving from one rental to another, they may incur fees for breaking a lease and they may have to leave a deposit on the new apartment—it's expensive! And while it may not make sense for your company to cover the deposit, it may be helpful to front a deposit and have the employee pay it back over a long period via paycheck deductions.

    Settling-in Costs

    There are many small moving-related costs that you don't think about until you have to pay them—and they add up! Take car inspections, registrations and new driver's licenses.  Naturally, a new house means there are probably new expenses for things that weren't needed in the old house, too: like rugs for the home's hardwood floors that were unnecessary in the wall-to-wall carpeted condo.

    Provide some moral support to employees for these small costs: direct them to the local DMV or grant them early-access to the company forum where employees sell personal items like rugs or winter coats. This will not only show your investment in your new hire's wellbeing, but also give them a chance to get to know their colleagues on a more personal level.

    Spouse Salary

    If your new hire has a spouse, it's probable that they have to quit their job to accompany your new employee. While everyone expects they'll find a job soon, for the time being, your employee has just experienced a huge income cut. Consider offering spousal assistance to find a job. It cuts the stress and is more likely to lead to a successful move. Remember, a happy spouse means a happy employee.

    Emotional Costs

    These aren't financial, but they will be if you don't address them. Remember the trailing spouse? Yeah, the new employee just runs off to work every day leaving this person to either look for a job, or to handle home and family on his own, with no friends or social support.

    Moving is hard for everyone, and if you don't consider that people will need time to adjust, you'll have an employee who is more likely to quit. Consider the new grad who just moved across the country by herself to start a job in September. She wants to go home for Christmas and you say, "Well, you haven't accrued enough vacation so maybe next year." This may be fair and logical, but it's likely to make your new employee unhappier.

    Relocation can be a great solution to finding new employees and creating a great workforce, but make sure you think about the true costs your new hire will incur when you make your offer of employment. Considering each relocation on a case-by-case basis and offering to help can insure a smooth transition and a much less stressed, more highly productive, employee.

    Photo: Creative Commons

    Terry LaBan's picture

    Cartoon Coffee Break | Merit Badges

    Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Cartoon Coffee Break" seriesWhile 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.

    The skills gap isn't going anywhere. Find out how to help your employees build the skills they need for the future.

    Header photo: Creative Commons

    Charles Coy's picture

    3 Professional Development Strategies for Leaders

    Three quarters of today's workforce wants career growth opportunities. In fact, 68 percent of workers believe that policies around training and development are the most vital ones at their companies. And millennials are particularly passionate about growth—87 percent of them report that professional development opportunities are very important to them.

    But it's virtually impossible for HR teams or L&D professionals to offer the meaningful professional development opportunities that workers crave without buy-in from the C-suite. It's up to organizational leaders to establish professional development strategies and career growth opportunities as fundamental to their organizations, particularly in today's competitive atmosphere, where unemployment is at a two-decade record low and two-thirds of workers have changed jobs in the last year because of lacking development and learning opportunities.

    What can leaders do to grasp the significance of growth opportunities and make them a priority at their company? The following are three professional development strategies that every leader should know.

    1) Gain an Awareness of Employee Ambitions

    Disconnected leaders won't be in tune with their employees' appetite for growth, or with the areas of business that can benefit from these ambitious workers. To get in the loop, leaders should develop an understanding of what workers want to gain out of their time with the company, and how leadership can help them get there. They'll also want to maintain an open conversation with managers about any professional development opportunities on their teams that growth-hungry workers may want to explore.

    "Employers must shift their mindset from helping employees succeed within their company, to helping employees succeed, period. If employers approach employees from the perspective of 'Your work here will make you more successful at this company, and elsewhere,' employees will recognize the commitment to development, feel more appreciated and understand that their employer invested in them," Rick Devine, CEO of TalentSky, says in Forbes.

    2) Assess the Skills Required For Growth

    Before organizational leaders can make growth and professional development a company-wide priority, they need to get a grasp on any skill gaps that exist across the board, and work with HR or L&D teams to help workers overcome these gaps.

    Sixty-two percent of executives believe they will need to retrain or replace more than a quarter of their workforce between now and 2023, and this skills gap can't be resolved by  simply sending everyone back to school, says Darren Shimkus, president of Udemy for Business. "Even if you hire for today's must-have skills, that's no guarantee you'll have the right talent for tomorrow's," he explains in TLNT.

    Once organizational leaders become aware of the gaps that exist at their organization (a Learning Management System can help track and identify any gaps that exist based on employee feedback and engagement with learning materials), they'll be more willing to invest in learning platforms and learning content development, which will, in the long run, help with employee growth.

    3) Engage in Tough Conversations About Growth

    Armed with an understanding of employees' goals and the skills workers will need to attain them, leaders need to start participating in regular meetings with employees about their growth and development. Depending on the roles of individual executives, they may not have a lot of time to spare, so these meetings can be held in groups, if needed.

    Leaders need to prepare for these to be tough conversations—after all, employees may feel stifled or bored in their current positions or might even be planning to quit. That's why leaders should come into the meetings ready to turn the conversation around and offer growth options.

    "For employees to sense opportunities for growth and development, keep talking about development plans and succession planning. Maintain communication about advancement opportunities on an organization-wide level, and also through personal development meetings where the question is asked, 'Where do you see yourself in this company five years from now?' and 'How can we help you get there?'" says Charles Rogel, VP of product development at DecisionWise.

    By investing in career growth and implementing smart professional development strategies, organizational leaders will be contributing to their employees' success, and ensuring that their talent is satisfied with their roles within the company. With the support of their HR team or L&D department, leaders can truly make growth and development an organizational priority and demonstrate to workers that they are invested in their future.

    Photo: Creative Commons

    Charles Coy's picture

    4 Ways to Apply AI at Work Today

    For many HR professionals, AI can seem like a far-off reality and something they don't need to worry about...yet.

    But HR analyst, podcaster and influencer Ben Eubanks says this assessment is entirely inaccurate. From artificial intelligence-powered office assistants that help schedule meetings to HR bots that vet candidates, AI isn't the future of work—it's the present.

    Below, Eubanks shares four ways HR teams can apply AI at work today to perform tasks faster and smarter.

    1) Narrow Down the Candidate Pool

    In 2017 a Walmart employee named Randy Bailey went up against AI technology to correctly identify candidates that were hired for a job out of a pool of 5,000 candidates. Bailey ultimately bested the AI, guessing the three candidates correctly (the AI only guessed two), but he spent between about 30 hours hours manually reviewing applications. The AI on the other hand came up with its responses in seconds.

    This is a valuable lesson, Eubanks says. Though AI is not yet in a place where it can make a hire with as much precision as a human HR rep, it is more than capable of executing the first round of recruiting to eliminate candidates who are categorically not a fit for a given role. Had the AI in the Walmart experiment been tasked with narrowing down the initial pool of 5,000 to 10, leaving Bailey to make the final decision, he would have arrived at the same three candidates in far less time.

    “Let the algorithm do that first cut, and then let a human figure out the right cultural fit," he says. "That's an effective way to narrow candidates down, before applying instincts that the computer doesn't have to hire the right person."

    2) Serve as a Mentoring Tool For Managers

    AI can also serve as a great management tool by analyzing data from things like employee sentiments surveys. By scanning for sentiment keywords to identify trends, the technology can help managers and executives address workers' concerns.

    One CEO Eubanks worked with was able to gain an understanding of his employees' biggest worries in just a week's time by using AI to analyze sentiment surveys. “[After AI helped identify the problem] the company was able to solve some major communication issues, address workers' concerns about company direction and really meet them where they were."

    Similarly, when AI is at the core of an employee feedback management platform, it can analyze employees' feedback to come up with recommendations for managers, serve up tips and ideas, offer courses to boost leadership skills and determine what will best motivate workers.

    3) Support the Application Process

    Sometimes, when candidates submit their resumes to companies they feel as if the resumes end up in a black hole, never to be seen again. An AI-powered chatbot can walk candidates through an application process, answer any questions that arise and confirm resume receipt. The chatbot can also schedule interviews or follow up with candidates to let them know they won't be hired.

    Chatting with real HR reps would be ideal, but given the volume of applicants for some positions, it's simply not sustainable, Eubanks explains. Chatbots reduce “the amount of time recruiters would have to spend interacting on the front of the funnel, which leaves them with more time to get into deeper discussions with the real hot-item candidates," says Eubanks.

    4) Close Employee Skills Gaps

    The skills gap costs individual companies an average of $800,000 annually in lost business and productivity. But instead of hiring new workers to fill the gaps, companies can simply educate existing employees and close their specific skills gaps with smart learning platforms, powered by artificial intelligence.

    For example, learning management systems (LMS) use machine learning (a subset of AI) to leverage existing employee data on work performance or past learning engagements and create personalized learning paths for them. These suggested paths are individually designed to help employees gain critical skills they need to thrive in their current roles and grow professionally.

    Though HR teams may still be hesitant to dabble in AI technology, there's nothing to fear, Eubanks says. In most cases, the technology is designed to support them, not replace them, so experimenting with the emerging technology may make their jobs easier and more rewarding: "There's no escaping AI, so it's time to learn to work with it."

    Photo: Unsplash

    Charles Coy's picture

    Office Hours: 3 Skills to Master Before Entering the Workforce

    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.

    A recent report from the World Economic Forum argues that as more of our work becomes automated, organizations, governments and educational institutions will have to develop a new surge of “agile learners and skilled talent" capable of weathering those changes to the workplace.

    But the burden isn't entirely on the institutions. Future generations of workers can start developing the in-demand skills of the future right now. According to Janet Clarey, lead advisor of tech and learning at Bersin by Deloitte, there are three skills they should prioritize.

    First, she says, as more gig and contract workers are assigned to projects, the ability to collaborate virtually with a rotating cast of characters will be essential. Second, future workers ought to develop their critical thinking skills—by minimizing redundant work, automation will free workers to focus on thornier problems that require a whole lot of brain power. And third, as artificially intelligent systems get smarter, the humans in the room will have to become skilled in the areas that a computer hasn't mastered yet, such as emotional intelligence.

    Header photo: Creative Commons

    Jeff Miller's picture

    TED Talk Tuesday: 5 Ways to Kill Your Dreams

    This 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.

    Brazilian entrepreneur Bel Pesce knows first-hand that there's no such thing as overnight success. Though she has often heard her story of applying to MIT and leaving Sao Paolo to study and pursue a technology career in the U.S. portrayed that way, she knows it wasn't just one night and one application that brought her to where she is today. Rather, it was a lifetime of studying and challenging herself.

    Now, after reaching her dream of working at some of Silicon Valley's biggest companies like Microsoft and Google, and helping launch smaller firms like Ooyala and Lemon Wallet, Pesce is paying it forward as a mentor for young professionals. As a mentor, she has learned the nuances of offering just enough support without overstepping her role as merely a guiding figure. In the video below, she shares some advice mentors can offer their proteges.

    Read on for three takeaways from her TED Talk, 5 Ways to Kill Your Dreams, below.

    "No one has the perfect answers for your life."

    For mentors and L&D professionals, offering advice and guidance is second nature. But for individuals to truly reach their dreams, professional or personal, they must make their own decisions and, often, their own mistakes.

    While helping set someone on a path towards their goal can be incredibly valuable, Pesce says, there are still endless choices that must be made along the way, and hard work that has to be applied. An effective mentor knows how to do her part to, say, make an introduction to a relevant connection, and then step away. Otherwise, if growth comes too easily, no learning and development takes place.

    "It's your responsibility to make your dreams happen."

    The same way that mentors can't dictate the perfect path to success, they also can't be blamed for mishaps. The journey to a dream is a challenging one, and there will undoubtedly be disappointing moments when it'll be easy to blame someone else, but this is a big no-no, Pesce says. To take credit for victories, it's vital to learn how to take responsibility for losses as well, because losses are almost always learning opportunities.

    If individuals aren't able to see where they went wrong, they won't learn from their mistakes, and run the risk of repeating them. As a mentor, never accept blame for someone else's error—instead, help that person analyze, understand and internalize the situation before moving forward.

    "When you're growing towards a peak, work harder than ever to find yourself a new peak."

    "Okay" is never good enough, Pesce says, because continuing to challenge oneself is a critical component of growth. Though it's tempting to celebrate small successes and take it as an opportunity to slow down, the key is to simply set the bar higher next time. Overcoming increasingly difficult challenges brings individuals closer to becoming masters of their craft, even if they fail sometimes, Pesce says.

    This is an area where mentors can really make a difference. Don't let someone deliver the same caliber of work time after time. Instead, encourage them to produce a better report, presentation or product every time they come up to bat. And here's a bonus tip: success isn't everything; sometimes, the journey there is what's most rewarding.

    Header photo: TED

    Suzanne Lucas's picture

    Dear ReWorker: How Should I Handle Political Chatter in the Office?

    Dear ReWorker,

    There are some employees who are uncomfortable with the political chatter in the office. It seems to pop up everywhere—in Slack conversations, jokes at meetings and even people asking direct questions about how the company will react to whatever political event is occurring. How should HR handle this?


    Tired of the Chatter


    Dear Tired,

    You would think once the November elections ended, we would get a break from politics until the 2020 presidential election starts heating up again, but that is never the case. So, how do you handle political chatter creeping into office conversations?

    Well, first of all, unless you work for the government, your employees don't have free speech rights at the office—so, you can technically make certain topics off limits. However, before you run to do that, be aware that some states protect political beliefs—California most notably. If you reside in a state that protects politics beliefs it would be fine to say, "We are not going to discuss politics at work," but it's not fine to say, "We will only allow discussions in favor of the Republican party." Once you cross that line you violate free speech.

    Before you create a blanket ban on political chatter, here are a few ideas on how to set boundaries to create an office environment that allows for healthy discussion without distracting from work.

    1) Focus on the Work

    The easiest way to diffuse political conversations is to remind employees that at the office, the main focus should be work. Diversions like, "Hey, let's get back to this slide deck," and, "Right now we need to be concentrating on the work not politics," can often diffuse a tense conversation.

    But, that doesn't fix all the problems. You can speak directly to people who are focusing more on politics than their jobs and be quite direct: "Jane, your focus on politician X is starting to impact your work. When you're at the office, I need you to focus on your work."

    If Jane is the only person talking about politics she may feel singled out, but the point is that no one would blather about a movie so much it interfered with their work. Guaranteed, people who are spending an inordinate amount of time focusing on politics aren't performing at their highest levels. If she doesn't pull it together, you can put her on a performance improvement plan.

    2) Empower Managers to Talk With Their Teams

    Managers should be empowered to find a solution that works best for their teams. If that means they need to shut down off-topic conversations while people should be working, let them know you will back them up. If someone complains that "Kate won't let me talk about politics because she disagrees with me," investigate. If you find out that Kate won't let anyone talk about politics, explain to the employee why that is the office policy and not related to a manger's political leaning.

    3) Create a Designated Space

    As for communications via Slack and email, they are generally for work purposes. But, if you want to, you can create a politics channel in Slack or a group email that people can opt into. Emphasize that disagreement is okay, but attacks are not. Managers, especially, should be aware that retaliation against employees who express different views should not be tolerated.

    Now, a caution: It's super easy to think "boy this sure is an interesting discussion!" when people agree with you and at the same time think, "these people should shut up and get to work!" when you don't agree with them. So, make sure you approach the crack down on politics from a neutral standpoint. If you don't, you may find yourself criticizing people in one group more than another and that can open you up to discrimination lawsuits.


    Your ReWorker

    Suzanne Lucas, Evil HR Lady

    Photo: Creative Commons

    Charles Coy's picture

    Take it From a Futurist: How Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain Will Change HR

    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.

    Machine learning, artificial intelligence, blockchain—these emerging technologies are shaking up industries across the board, but many HR professionals are still wary about applying them to the work they do, says HR digital transformation strategist Sherryanne Meyer.

    All-too-common roadblocks like a shortage of resources, unchanging attitudes among leaders and a lack of understanding keep organizations from exploring the full potential of these technologies. However, machine learning, artificial intelligence and even blockchain will only rise in prominence over time, and HR professionals can't put them off any longer.

    Leaders who think they can eventually just push a button and these emerging technologies will start to work their magic have the wrong mindset. The key to success is realizing your technology is only as strong as the data that powers it. Meyer believes that “data is king," and managing and protecting it has to become a core function of HR.

    “Data management has to be taken seriously not only in terms of ensuring consistent data definitions and data entry culture, but also when protecting the data," she says. “The better you have those practices in place, the more your data can be used to make decisions and automate with improved productivity."

    To help HR professionals get started, we talked with Meyer about applications of machine learning, AI and blockchain that organizations can start to test today, and the data best practices for effective execution.

    Artificial Intelligence in HR Can Drive Employee Growth

    AI is a complex technology, but the simplest definition is a machine that can not only learn, but also reason and act independently. And the first rule of AI is you can't set it and forget it: It's needs people to submit more data so it performs tasks better.

    “Artificial intelligence will only get smarter as we learn more from our machines and we put more data into it—if the data is accurate," Meyer says.

    One area where AI can benefit HR departments today is in employee learning. There's a lot to be desired in the employee learning experience. Many learning systems were built to administer required training, but they're not designed for self-service. If an employee needs development in an area that doesn't explicitly require training, or someone shows potential in an area not currently related to his or her job, it's cumbersome to find the right training.

    A learning platform with AI at its core can take in employee data from performance reviews, see the areas where someone needs development, and produce a list of generate a list of suggested courses for that employee available in the organization's learning system.

    Machine Learning in HR Connects the (Data) Dots

    According to a recent survey from IT service management company Sierra-Cedar, 8 percent of organizations adopted machine learning in 2018 and 21 percent said they're evaluating the technology for future use. The report also notes that early forms of machine learning may be mistaken for AI in HR organizations, and that machine learning may already be embedded in existing technology without HR teams fully realizing it.

    In layman's terms, machine learning allows computers to complete tasks independently of humans, and they get better at doing those tasks over time . Essentially, the technology helps HR organizations learn more about their workforce, Meyer says.

    So how can companies put machine learning to work when they're ready? Industries like retail can use machine learning to get more insights into their staffing needs, which helps them improve their scheduling processes and prevents staff shortages. Today, managers at retail stores develop staff schedules based on the shopping season and sales generated in previous years—"But machine learning can bring other data points into staffing decisions, and connect data across sources," Meyer explains.

    Is there an event in the area that will drive more foot traffic? Is there a road closure that might bring more people past your store? For a gas station in particular, are your prices lower than your competitors that day? Drawing conclusions from a myriad of data points and trends gives machine learning an edge over traditional approaches, according to Meyer.

    HR Blockchain Could Reshape Recruiting

    The Sierra-Cedar 2018-2019 HR Systems Survey found that just 3 percent of organizations use blockchain in human resources and a vast majority—85 percent—have no plans for blockchain. But Meyer sees an opportunity for HR to start using the technology in recruiting.

    Blockchain first came into the mainstream during the bitcoin craze, but its application extends far beyond finance. Blockchain is a universal ledger, which provides companies and individuals that use it a secure way to store and share digital records, or "blocks." The ledger is unchangeable, thereby potentially reducing fraudulent activity.

    One of the earliest experimental applications of blockchain in HR is resume verification. Through connected blocks of confidential data that candidates can't alter, Meyer says, HR can instantly verify candidate resumes.

    "Because of time constraints, it's not often verified that an applicant actually got their diploma from where they say they did," she says. "If those blocks of data existed confidentially in an environment where recruiting system could access and confirm them, we could go forward with confidence."

    Beyond some of these earliest applications, there are many other ways that AI, machine learning and blockchain may soon shake up the world of HR, and it'll be up to organizations to identify the most effective methods of implementation. Regardless of the specific route they take, “HR leaders have to make technology a priority," Meyer says, and not be afraid to take risks.

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