Last week Deloitte released the 2019
Human Capital Trends report. It’s always a must read for me and I
strongly encourage other HR leaders and those involved in the talent/people
space to take a look. Last year, Deloitte described the rise of the social enterprise
and this year’s report outlines how the factors and pressures that have driven the
social enterprise not only continue but are growing more acute.
A few tidbits from this year’s report:
86% of respondents believe they must reinvent
their ability to learn
84% of respondents reports they need to rethink
their workforce experience to improve productivity, and
80% believe they must develop leaders in a
Deloitte outlined a set of five principles to frame the “human
focus” for the social enterprise; describing them as benchmarks against one can
measure actions and business decisions that could affect people:
Purpose and meaning
Ethics and Fairness
Growth and passion
Collaboration and personal relationships
Transparency and openness
These five design principles define the “why” of reinvention and the 2019 Human Capital Trends, listed below, are divided into 3 categories:
The other week, without much else going on, Mr. S. and I settled down on the couch and watched a marathon of James Bond movies. (editorial note: I never liked Pierce Brosnan in the role and, IMO, Roger Moore was the absolute worst.)
As always, when watching any movie that features some evil-doer (ED) focused on disaster, mayhem, and taking over the world, I gave lots of attention to the ED’s side-kicks. Inevitably I began to wonder…
How did this guy/gal casually participating in nefarious activities decide this was the career path they wanted to follow?
Does one prepare a resume and create a LinkedIn profile in the hope that recruiters reach out?
Is there a job board for “Evil Underlings?”
Who is the head of TA for the evil organization?
What about recruitment marketing? What sort of messaging is required?
Is the recruiting team working diligently to eliminate bias when creating an applicant pool?
Does Susie Recruiter conduct phone screens? Skype? Scheduled/recorded video interviews?
What are the competencies and behavioral attributes against which she is hiring?
Has Susie Recruiter executed an SLA with the ED? How do those regular check-in meetings go?
Are there any skills tests or assessments utilized during the screening process?
Who extends the job offer?
What does the compensation package look like?
Is there a head of HR? A policy manual? An employee handbook?
Do evil minions get PTO? Full medical/dental/vision? What about Life Insurance and AD&D?
Can you even imagine the premiums for workers comp coverage?
What, exactly, is the projected and actual turnover rate in the organization?
If a henchman resigns, who conducts the exit interview?
CAN a henchman resign?
Does the organization provide letters of reference for an ex-employee’s next gig?
I thought my time in the hospitality/gaming industry presented mad-paced recruiting, sufficiently high turnover and challenging employee relations issues.
Probably a cake-walk compared to that which is faced by the CHRO of Evil Empire, LLC.
I have, over the course of time, participated in and/or facilitated numerous activities designed to create, define and encapsulate company “Mission, Vision & Values.”
Quite often, because some training facilitator settled on a way to approach this exercise in 1987, this process has involved a cross-section of employees and other stakeholders settling themselves into a room armed with flip charts, markers, and cartons of post-it notes. There may have been focus groups, assessments, surveys and iterative discussions prior to this day but THIS one-day event (with catered lunch!) has been the culmination of hours upon hours of work. I’ve seen some raw emotions too; at one organization a senior leader, not accustomed to a collaborative process, stormed out of the room flinging papers and markers in her wake.
Certainly there are some people who think this is a colossal waste of time; fluff dreamed up by management consultants and HR folks. After all, thinks Mr./Ms. MoneyBags CEO, “our missionis to make money, our visionis to make MORE money, and our valuesare to make that money in whatever way we need to make it.”
I, however, have always believed that clarity around M/V/Vs not only aligns people across an organization but provides a guiding point – a lodestar if you will, for everyone to follow.
We recently went through this exercise at my company and, let me say, it was GREAT! No conference rooms with post-it notes for us though; we’re 100% virtual so we worked through the process via Zoom calls and whiteboarding things out on Google Docs. There may or may not have been adult beverages involved.
What I have determined, over the years, is that the mission and vision part is relatively easy; why we’re here and we’re going. Most every company can easily articulate this with just a modicum of prodding.
It’s the values part that leaves people flummoxed, confused and exasperated. It can be an arduous task for leaders to allow employees to not partake of some serious self-reflection but also to have the discussions around the “not so good things” about a company’s deeply-held beliefs. (Inverting the question and asking “what is our company NOT” or “what do similar organizations do that we would NEVER do?” can lead to some interesting discussions).
So because it’s hard, and then because it’s safe, these M/V/V teams end up just tossing word-salad up on the wall and calling it a day. This, my friends is why 99.9% of organizations have the same values: teamwork! communication! service! integrity! (blech). Watered down pabulum.
But in our recent foray into encapsulating and defining our company values we didn’t settle for the mundane. I’m telling you, not only was the process great but I so love what we came up with that I feel the need to share. Let me present, the Strio Consultingvalues:
No Doors and Open Windows Lots of companies talk about an “open door” culture but we embrace a culture with nodoors and wide-open windows. We’re transparent and accessible to our clients and to each other. Got a question? Ask it. Need access to someone? You got it. Think something sucks? Bring it up.
Doing Things Right Means Doing the Right Thing We’re honorable and trustworthy in all our interactions; integrity is non-negotiable. We play it straight from the get-go and, if we screw up, we own it. The needs and interests of our clients are top of mind. Always.
Embrace That Which is Unusual We’re OK with being weird. Really. We consider it a badge of honor to be of strange or extraordinary character. Got humor? We like that too.
Unburdened by Tradition We’re not bound by the traditional walls of an office nor are we stuck in the typical nine-to-five grind. With a reverential nod to workplace customs that have served us well, we take great delight in consigning the soul-sucking, outdated ways of doing things to the trash heap of business practices as we focus on the future of work. We pride ourselves in the way we work; we’re creative, adaptable and fast-moving – and we help our clients work this way too.
Bold and Brainy We surround ourselves with people who exhibit insatiable curiosity; people who read, learn, explore and debate. We like people who ask “why?” and we love nothing more than answering that question.
Ubiquitous Uniqueness Our community – our company – is made up of human beings and we celebrate the individual. Be yourself. Be unique. Be special. Live your best life.
What we believe, how we operate and what’s important. These are ours and no one else’s; and most definitely NOT the same as it ever was.
There was an alarming, sickening and, sadly, not surprising story that hit the news last week; a lawsuit has been filed against General Motors (GM) in which 8 workers outline allegations of racist behavior, threats and intimidation in the workplace. This ongoing behavior, over a lengthy span of time, included a workplace where bathrooms were declared for “whites only,” black supervisors were called “boy” and other words, nooses were hung, white employees had conversations about bringing guns to work, and a white subordinate yelled and raised a heavy metal clutch in a threatening manner to his black supervisor. The white employee was suspended for one day. One. Day.
The Ohio Civil Rights Commission completed a nine-month-investigation
last March and the commission’s director of regional operations said that she
would rank this case amongst the worst cases her team has ever seen. The racist
behavior and culture is seemingly so entrenched that incidents even continued while
the commission was conducting its investigation.
The union (UAW) apparently did little to nothing. The UAW
local president discounted that racism exists at the plant and holds the belief
that “people are a little too sensitive
GM apparently did little to nothing. While they didn’t deny
that these things took place, their defense was that they had taken appropriate
action – such as holding mandatory meetings, closing the plant for a day to
hold training for every shift, and placing an article about harassment in the
The human resources team apparently did little to nothing; they
didn’t even get a mention in the article.
This is some messed up shit; and I believe every word.
Not too many years ago (in this century as a matter of fact)
the company I was working for inherited a new work group via assorted business
dealings. There were close to 200 employees who moved over to our organization
and, since they were doing the same work (as third party contractors to our client),
the biggest change for them was getting used to a new company/owner.
The vast majority of these employees had been working at
this particular work site for years; decades even. It was incredibly labor-intensive
work in a challenging environment but they stuck with it while, seemingly, time
stood still in this part of south Louisiana. It took the vast majority of our
employees a bit of time to trust us; both the GM and I were transplanted “yankees”
with our US corporate office based in the Midwest and our global HQ based in
the UK. Our site, for a variety of reasons, was such an outlier within our
organization that whenever we had gatherings of the several hundred HR team members,
I was inevitably called upon to share some strange/weird human resources issue to
both the delight and consternation of my peers.
And sometimes those HR tales were from the dark underbelly
of the racist south:
The time an employee came to me, with a timid
knock on my door, asking “Miss Robin can
I talk to you about something? They’ve started to hang the nooses again in my
work area and I don’t know what to do.”
The meeting when a manager told his staff (predominantly
black team members) – “If you all don’t get
this situation fixed I’m going to have to fix it for you. And remember I had a
great-uncle who was a Nazi in the SS so we know how to get stuff done in my
The situation we tried to navigate that
relegated our employees (3rd party contractors) to dingy dirty
bathrooms in “their sections” of the plant floor while the client’s employees
(predominantly white) used a clean well-lit bathroom that was, actually,
centrally located and easily accessible to everyone in the unit no matter the “section”
in which they worked.
The moment when, sitting at our monthly meeting
with the client to review operating costs and billing, their #2 guy said “I like to take a look at these financials
to make sure you’re not going to try to Jew me.”
So reading the story about the goings-on at the GM
Powertrain Plant? You bet I believe every word of it.
But what do we do? Can one person, one manager, or one HR
professional change this sort of entrenched and institutionalized racism?
“I don’t have the
positional power to make changes,” I’ve heard HR professionals lament. “I can’t speak up and afford to lose my
job,” I’ve heard from mid-level supervisors and managers.
I’ve also heard the following from HR “professionals:”
to hire those people; we have an
agreement with the local city council member,”
“I don’t really
want to recruit from that school; you know who goes there”
black girl but she’s really good”
Today. Still. IN THIS
What do we do? What
can YOU do? Here’s a few thoughts:
examine your own biases and prejudices – unpack the suitcase, review your history,
and seek to understand why you believe-what-you-believe
My mother, who has dementia, has been living with us now for a week.
A really really REALLYlong week.
Getting her to Louisiana was neither an easy task not did it occur in a particularly seamless fashion. Over the last month I made two emergency (last-minute) cross-country trips. While some of these travels took place in the friendly skies, there was also a 1,100 mile one-way road trip (with a dog). Fortunately, this afforded the opportunity for a stop at a Waffle House in Mississippi; mom’s very first Waffle House visit and she ordered, of course, a waffle. Next visit, if she doesn’t order it herself, I’m force-feeding her some smothered and covered hash browns. Get with the program mom!
This is but step one of dealing with my aging parents though; plans are also in motion to relocate my dad.
And I, already, am utterly exhausted.
I am also incredibly thankful, every single waking moment of every single day, that I work for an organization (Strio Consulting | Rocket Power) where (a) I am 100% remote and thus can work anywhere/anytime, and (b) we don’t put “rules” around our time off policies. As I recently wrote in the first edition of the employee handbook:“Time off is about the time you need and not about a quota.”
We believe in letting youtake care of you. We want you to take care of yours.
Which, despite what every article in Fast Company would have you believe, is still pretty unusual.
Of course, for years. it has been trendy, fashionable, and #FutureofWork’y for every workplace pundit, thought-leader and speaker-on-the-HR-circuit to lecture everyone else about the needs, wants and desires of employees for a flexible workplace. More often than not these pontifications center around “millennials want this” which, for some inexplicable reason, continues to be spewed forth and gobbled up by eager masses of HR ladies. (I guess anything with “Gen Y” still gets a whole bunch of clicks on the interwebs. Note to self: add #millenial to the SEO tags on this blog post).
News flash: it’s never been a generational thing.
Listen…I just switched companies/jobs 3 months ago and, were I still working for my former employer, this would not be working out as smoothly as it is. Well, smoothly other than the fact that we had to discuss the year’s snowfall (remember: no snow: Louisiana) 12 times over the course of an hour yesterday.
But, at my previous employer, I would have:
had to get pre-approval for the TIME-OFF before scheduling a last-minute (“I need to book this flight NOW”) trip as opposed to booking it at 10 PM at night and then letting folks/TPTB know
used up 1/3 of my allotted PTO time for the entire calendar year (holidays included in that PTO balance) by the 2ndweek of January
not been able to do this at all because I cannot leave my mother alone in the house …… and I had no opportunity to work from home. We didn’t do it. We didn’t believe in it. What would I have done? I think about this every single day.
gone unpaid (after quickly blowing through that PTO balance) had I applied for leave under the FMLA to take care of my mother
The pooch would have been screwed.
There’s something fundamentally wrong with how we, as a society, allow our fellow human beings to handle life, family and health.
Spending all these years in human resources I have, naturally, helped employees navigate child care, elder care and self-care issues. Sometimes the company I worked for cared and worked diligently to assist everyone no matter the circumstances or their position/level/job. Sometimes, and this was much more common, the company I worked for didn’t give a shit …. unless the employee happened to be the most senior-of-senior-executives.
I vividly recall an employee, we’ll call her Kathy, who had no choice but to take unpaid FMLA to care for an ailing parent who had been sent home from the hospital. While out on her leave Kathy stayed in touch and one day, when she popped in for a visit to HR, she sat in a chair and sobbed. No income. No money to pay her medical/dental/vision plan contributions. No money to pay her utility bills or buy gas for her car. My heart hurt.
It’s for reasons like this that we need programs like those put forthby California Governor Gavin Newsom; his proposal expands California’s PFL so that it becomes the longest paidparental and family leave in the U.S.
Let’s get our stuff together people of the U.S; this is a travesty.
Chances are pretty good that the city in which you live has some sort of “Best Places to Work” Award. Mine does.
Perhaps your company ponied up the $$ and applied for one of these awards; if you work in HR chances are you managed the entry including gathering reams of data and forcing (disguised as encouragement) your employees to complete surveys.
Maybe you work for a company that has received this designation. In that case the following happened:
Your PR team wrote press releases. Lots of press releases.
Your senior executives bought a table (or two) at the awards luncheon.
Your CEO was interviewed by a local business publication and spouted clichés such as “our employees are our most important asset,”and “we’re a very transparent organization with a high-level of trust.”
You held a company all-hands meeting, party or pub crawl (if you’re ‘fun’) to “celebrate.”
Your Marketing and HR teams plastered the logo on every available page of the company website and incorporated “BPTW!” verbiage in every single piece of candidate collateral and messaging. (“This will ensure we win the war on talent!”exclaimed more than one hapless and/or clueless recruiter, hiring manager or senior leader.)
As did the other 50 recipients in your city who also won the award.
And pretty much everyone involved, let’s be frank, realizes this is a ginormous crock of crap. Winning an award as a “Great Place to Work” or “Top City Employer” or whatever other moniker is being used by the money-making entity that bestows these awards has zero validity as PROOF of a great employment experience.
What I would like to do is invert the whole thing and present “Worst Places to Work” awards. Imagine this: instead of the same-old-companies-you-can-name in your city there was a fresh new list – every year – telling you the places NO ONE would conceivably want to work? Companies with harsh working conditions, below-market pay, oppressive rules, shitty work/life balance, and HR policies seemingly held over from 1955? In addition to gathering current (and former!) employee feedback, the survey organizers could comb through court filings and EEOC or state civil rights complaints for data points.
Naturally, companies won’t shell out bucks to pay for something that puts them on the naughty list; we’ll have to find a means to get this monetized but I think it’s a winning proposition.
Publish THIS list in the local newspaper and, if nothing else, we might finally get some companies and leaders to change their ways.
Once upon a time, on the heels of the Industrial Revolution, we heralded the birth of the Personnel HR profession. Industrial Relations begat Labor Relations with its accompanying cliché: a smoke-filled room laden with labor bosses and cigar-chomping industrialists hammering out a collective bargaining agreement.
As our profession matured we began to use the phrase Employee Relations in order to provide differentiation from the Labor Relations connotation (unionized workforce) and provide us with a term to use when referring to the management of the employment relationship in a non-unionized workforce.
Yet, even as Employee Relations matured into young adulthood and then into a comfortable middle-age, a number of organizations continued to “relate” to their employees as if they were still huddled around that bargaining table with overflowing ashtrays at the ready. The mindset that people are resources widgets – product in/product out – and can be expected to work according to bullet points, mandates and according to a rigid set of parameters just never left the room.
And therein lies the tension; it’s this area of human resources that puts the thought, in the minds of many, that HR is nothing more than the enforcer of draconian policies and creator of byzantine processes.
It’s quite sad actually; ER is one of the foundational – and necessary – building blocks of what we do. From within this area flow organizational expectations, support for employee rights (and responsibilities), and safeguarding the workplace for those who may be vulnerable if working for unscrupulous or downright evil people.
On the surface, however, Employee Relations is nowhere near as sexy and glamorous as some other functional HR disciplines; Recruiters get all the flash and sizzle, Compensation pros get to deal with incentive program design, and even the Risk Management/Safety folks get to oversee cool stuff like immunization programs.
Take a glance at most any Employee Relations Specialist job description and you’ll find words and phrases like “enforce,” “work-related problems,” “investigate,” “inspect,” “administer and interpret” and “grievance.” Ugh. Certainly no one wants to go into HR and be faced with those sorts of responsibilities; do they? After all, there’s not one single mention of “candidate experience” or “employer branding” anywhere………
But it’s important. Just not snazzy sounding.
Employee Relations merely needs to be – and can be – glammed up a bit. Much as Madonna continues (still!) to reinvent herself after decades in the industry, so too can this important cornerstone of the HR profession.
Does it need a name change? Not really; it didn’t really ‘take’ when Madonna tried to get everyone to call her Madge. Rather – we need to adopt a new mind-set, adjust our attitude and get a new PR strategy. The role of the ER professional should be one that’s proactive not reactive. It’s a job that requires one to realize that what one can do does not necessarily mean it’s what one should do. And it’s critical that the focus be on providing information – not punishment.
So I want every HR practitioner to let the vast amounts of knowledge around related laws, regulations and directives filter through two parts of their own cognitive realization before the words – when rendering a decision – come dripping out of their mouth;
PART 1: keep in mind the unique values, mission and culture of their particular organization
PART 2: keep in mind their own status as a human being
Plus it’s 2018. Y’all haven’t been allowed to smoke cigars in the Board Room for decades.
this post is a blast from the past: it originally ran over at the HR Schoolhouse
And, of course, there’s the original daily HR radio show Drive thru HR.
Now Drive thru HR never went away; over the last decade it has gone thru several permutations. Launched by founder/original host Bryan Wempen, it ran for a few years (every.day)with Bryan at the helm until William Tincup joined Bryan as co-host circa 2011 or so. The listenership continued to grow and several additional hosts took a spin behind the console include Crystal Miller Lay, Nisha Raghavan and Mike VanDervort.
Most recently though it’s been Mike managing the show as a solo host…until now.
Tune in today when we announce some changes to Drive thru HR, Mike gets a new co-host, and we throw in some “HR Horror Stories” for a bit of fun.
I dare say that most humans are creatures of habit and routine. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; in our hurly-burly lives it’s nice to rely on muscle-memory so we can drive the same daily route to the office or know that Friday evening will inevitably be comprised of pizza, pajamas and movies. The usual and ordinary tasks we have are pretty straightforward when we do them the way we’ve always done them.
Naturally this tendency to adhere to the tried-and-true carries over into our work life. Whether we’re cranking out TPS reports or processing journal entries we get into the flow and rhythm. This is also a good thing. People who take comfort in the unremarkable may find a sense of peace cranking through mundane tasks. And for those folks who chafe at “sameness” day-after-day, entering automatron mode allows them to churn through the repetitious soul-crushing chores that exist in every job.
Now envision a department filled with people simultaneously jogging on the procedural treadmill as they push out the same reports, take the same phone calls, and sit in the same meetings week after week. Picture rows upon rows of cubicles. Department after department. Floor upon floor. A humungous organization located in either a suburban office park or on a busy street in a bustling urban city center.
Certainly all those workers are providing some sort of value as they strive to meet organizational goals while, undoubtedly, participating in the latest Corporate (HR) program-of-the-month designed to simultaneously boost engagement, track OKRs, and determine annual compensation increases?
There may be a fancy new name to this program-of-the-month but, let’s be real – it’s the same old state of affairs.
And when you’re part of an existing entity, whether that be your job/company or your personal life/family, there’s an incentive to maintain the status quo.
And while human resources professionals are particularly adept at (and quite fond of!) maintaining the status quo, we are not alone amongst our corporate brothers and sisters. In the corporate setting we’re often more keenly focused on reducing risk rather than setting our sights on maximizing potential.
So we make the “safe” hire. We stick to the same procedures whilst also building additional steps and creating complexity for the most insignificant processes (“let’s have the SENIOR Director sign off for all office supply purchases too!”). We rely on last year’s numbers (and the year before and the year before that). We look backward (only) instead of looking forward. We research other companies’ ‘best practices’ instead of designing our own ‘NEXT practices.’
We stay on the hamster wheel.
I get it. I totally get it.
But as for me? I want to try new things. I don’t want to settle for merely doing what’s easy, comfortable and that-which-has-come-before.
Is work something we need to fix? Is work broken? Does work suck? Unfortunately, for far too many people, the answer is an overwhelming “yes.”
Earlier this year my friend Laurie Ruettimann launched the “Let’s Fix Work” podcast where she talks with guests about all things careers, leadership and the future of work.
A few months ago Laurie and I had a chat on “Let’s Fix Work” which you can listen to here. Or, if you’re sitting in your cubicle (at your sucky job!!!!!) and can’t jam out to a podcast because the boss and/or HR lady is cramping your style, here’s how Laurie recapped the conversation:
What does it take to get the title, ‘America’s HR Lady,’ from Laurie? Robin has been in the HR profession for a long time. During her two decades of HR experience, she worked across many fields: healthcare, academia, banking, gaming, and that’s just to name a few. In other words, she’s pretty much done it all. And when asked how to fix work, Robin’s first question was how we would fix HR.
Robin has a fantastic analogy on the state of work – it’s a hemophiliac who has fallen down too often and gotten too many bruises. Work might be broken, but it’s in the ER and needs urgent care if it’s going to be saved. Robin shares how she thinks we got there, based on her wide breadth of experience. She also dives into the power shift happening between job seekers, employees, and employers. The day of reckoning is at hand.
Robin admits that HR is certainly part of the problem of work being broken, and the reason she gives is that HR as a department isn’t really sure where to place itself in the conversation. It started out as being very insular, and over the years, things have improved. But not enough. While HR departments have come to understand business, the next step is for them to understand the world. And what does that mean exactly? Robin explains.
There’s also a fine line that many HR people must straddle: the needs of the employees and the needs of the business. Sound familiar? Robin says it’s a ‘cop out’ in many ways. Sure, there might be a bit of truth in it, but ultimately, being an advocate for both the business and the employees isn’t mutually exclusive. It’s not one or the other, and that’s where many HR people struggle.
You’ve heard it many times – employees are fighting HR to get something they need. So why should anyone care about HR? Robin reminds us all that HR isn’t a faceless mass out to get you. They are your co-workers and they are people, too. In fact, Robin’s experience with other HR people is that they got into it for the right reasons and with a good heart.
Recruiting is a huge part of human resources; it’s one of the happiest times for both HR and employee. But according to Robin, those good feelings don’t carry over. She offers the great idea of doing the same with employees as they navigate within the company, whether it’s handling health care, mediating disagreements, or even changing positions within the company. Ultimately, this little-by-little change is fueled by people caring for one another. And equally as important, HR people need to bring the stories of employee realities to leaders.
Laurie asks if she’s naïve for believing that if we fix ourselves, we wouldn’t need HR, and Robin’s reply is priceless. In truth, HR as we know it will always be there. It has to be to ensure things are done according to legal requirements. Even with the automation that is becoming far more common, and Robin talks about why humans will always be needed in human resources.
What is the future of HR? Robin sees it splitting into two separate departments or having two divisions within the same department: administration and people. The administration side deals with compliance, payroll, PTO, and the other dry things, while the people department works with employees to help them understand what’s happening, as well as growth and development.
Are businesses and their HR departments ready for the reckoning that is coming? In fact, Robin believes that HR, at least, is poised for the shift. So what positions are in danger? Is the generalist here to stay? What about the firefighter? Robin shares her thoughts on who had better be ready to adapt to new roles and dive into specialties in the near future.
So what does the future of HR look like? Robin has settled on a phrase: she is an advocate of the workplace revolution. It’s time to change – not only should you be an advocate and ally of the people who hired you, you should also be an advocate and ally to those who come to you with their work-related issues. It sounds simple, right? Robin reveals what it actually entails.