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Hosts Stacey Harris and John Sumser discuss important news and topics in recruiting and HR technology. Listen live every Thursday or catch up on full episodes with transcriptions here.

HR Tech Weekly Episode: 215
Air Date: April 18, 2019
This Week

This Week, John has a quick update from the SAP Innovation Lab in San Francisco, ADP Launches Next-Generation Tax Engine, French HR Tech company HR Path received €100M to fuel rapid expansion into international markets, Learning Technologies Group acquires Breezy HR, O.C. Tanner Announces Acquisition of Employee Recognition Provider Kwench, Learning Engagement Platform Creator 360Learning Secures $41M, and LumApps raises $24M for its Social Intranet. Topics: Innovation, Pay on Demand, and HR Communication Platforms.

  • John has a quick update from the SAP Innovation Lab in San Francisco Link »
  • ADP Launches Next-Generation Tax Engine Link »
  • French HR Tech company HR Path received €100M to fuel rapid expansion into international markets Link »
  • Learning Technologies Group acquires Breezy HR Link »
  • O.C. Tanner Announces Acquisition of Employee Recognition Provider, Kwench Link »
  • Learning Engagement Platform Creator 360Learning Secures $41 Million Link »
  • LumApps raises $24M for its Social Intranet Link »
  • Topics: Innovation, Pay on Demand, and HR Communication Platforms.

  About HR Tech Weekly

Hosts Stacey Harris and John Sumser discuss important news and topics in recruiting and HR technology. Listen live every Thursday at 7AM Pacific – 10AM Eastern, or catch up on full episodes with transcriptions here.

HR Tech Weekly Episodes

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Important: Our transcripts at HRExaminer are AI-powered (and fairly accurate) but there are still instances where the robots get confused and make errors. Please expect some inaccuracies as you read through the text of this conversation. Thank you for your understanding.

John Sumser
Stacey Harris


00:00:14:09 – 00:00:22:06

Note: In the original show a different musical intro played unexpectedly and John and Stacey refer to that in their opening comments. The edited version of the show here has the regular intro music.

Good morning and welcome HR Tech Weekly, one step closer with Stacey Harris and John Sumser. That was the new Jazz band. I miss the old detective guys, I don’t know where the new Jazz band came from but now we’ve got a new Jazz band. How are you Stacey?

00:00:32:29 – 00:00:44:20
I’m doing well. I’m doing well I’m I’m home in North Carolina this week with some sunshine finally and some nice weather. After all the rain and storms that we’ve been having so. I’m doing well. And how about you John are you home this week as well?

00:00:44:23 – 00:00:54:24
I am. Well you know this time of year I spend a lot of time every week getting into San Fransicso to do this and that. So, I’m home this week but I have been downtown a lot. So for me that’s a geat thing because I get into the care a couple hours each where you have the car to listen to one more chunk of whatever it is I’m trying to read these days.
00:01:13:11 – 00:01:25:28

Yeah, the audio books or all things I you know I don’t travel as much as I used to in the car. And then they’re not quite as good I think on airplanes I think listeners sometimes on airplanes but in a car there’s something about an audio book where you have to keep driving. Just it just feels like you’re spending your time wisely doesn’t it get to somebody more votes that way.

00:01:25:29 – 00:01:58:07
So I was reading right now is called organizational culture and leadership. It’s the fifth edition of The only really good textbook on the subject of organizational culture by showing who was slow mighty and is now at Stanford and it’s really good. And surprisingly we know a lot more scientifically about culture. The guy really recalled that we do put the science there and I would have does not I’m not surprised.

00:01:58:07 – 00:02:13:17
I went to school for sexual violence and then it was some organizational design concepts and others whole master’s programs and MBA programs on the organizational design. So I’m surprised it it’s been around for a while.

00:02:13:17 – 00:02:30:15
Well the first time I ran across the river I went to Hopkins in the early 80s for graduate school and applied behavioral science. Must have been the first edition of this was a textbook so physician over 40 years.

00:02:31:02 – 00:02:44:06
Well that sounds like a great way to spend an afternoon. Are you in the past you’re also getting a chance right now to do interviews and briefings on all of the children be presenting this fall spring into your new paper correct.

00:02:44:15 – 00:03:22:02
COBURN It’s a really busy time. I think it will get baby to talk to maybe 120 openings by the time I start writing the next report. And things are things are changing in very very interesting ways. Every time I look forward to talking about simple things are working. I did spend yesterday as a Peace Innovation Lab in downtown San Francisco and met with the seven companies that are in this this quarter’s class Innovation Lab accelerator and also several of the companies are H.R.

00:03:22:03 – 00:03:24:01
related companies.

00:03:24:01 – 00:03:26:06
Interesting interesting.

00:03:26:06 – 00:03:49:05
I didn’t I didn’t run across any new ideas. I did run across some sophisticated players like the one of the groups is the first ever slacker which is about five years old now and it is a teams oriented app that they’re expanding out to cover things like sentiment analysis engagement stuff and so interesting things.

00:03:49:09 – 00:03:57:25
Cool yeah the one thing that’s nice about where you live I say is that there’s always sort of learning and innovation in the DNA of that area right.

00:03:57:25 – 00:04:15:17
It’s a big article came out this week when I said California was the most innovative state and obviously you’re like really surprising by whatever I don’t know about that the news either by Warner speaking to the top of the pile is from Raleigh North Carolina. This is

00:04:16:24 – 00:04:20:12
This is this this is the best thing ever.

00:04:20:12 – 00:04:35:23
There is a company called Get is vaporware you would think of everything that you could possibly name a software company vaporware would be the last thing that you would leave your software company.

00:04:38:02 – 00:04:54:09
But vaporware partnered with the tower acquisition firm to develop Scout are a web app for writing and preserving best virtual wizards. So there is now officially acknowledged vaporware recruiting software.

00:04:54:24 – 00:04:55:00

00:04:57:12 – 00:05:03:01
most of it you have to you have to wait till you buy it to find out nothing there.

00:05:04:18 – 00:05:39:03
Besides it’s not to laugh. It’s just so hard. This is all so those who probably don’t like sit around a analyst table for dinner on a regular basis probably don’t may not understand this quite as much but there’s an often thrown around term saying so is it vaporware is it is it smoke and mirrors like that. We ask each other around the basis if someone has seen something at a deeper level than another. And so to have an app or a company that calls themselves vaporware it just hits I think any anybody in the analyst space or anybody who does a lot of software systems analysis reviews pretty

00:05:39:19 – 00:05:40:04

00:05:41:28 – 00:05:55:19
this is you know you say that if you wanted to get talked about the suicide you get talked about but I think the ones you’d want people to say about your new recruiting app is that it’s.

00:05:57:05 – 00:06:05:13
But one apology that Raleigh North Carolina that’s right. Innovation happens everywhere.

00:06:06:01 – 00:06:15:24
I was going on to say about that was that you get classes and things where people get to go to them on a regular basis. We probably should have some classes maybe on branding and name management but it should be.

00:06:17:15 – 00:06:52:29
Well I just want to push back a little bit because everybody everybody that I know who is really really good at the far reaching of people people quantification measure mood assessment we all live with your neighborhood Oh my area hey well they all live in your neighborhood. That’s the actual you know once you get the administrative crap out of me that’s the actual future retirees to science and that science is not being developed here.

00:06:53:00 – 00:06:55:15
The science is being developed in your brain here.

00:06:55:24 – 00:07:27:05
Yeah it is. I will say there’s there is a huge technology have on a serious note here in this area on the East Coast but particularly in this area and I think a lot of it from the biotech industry that we have here because of the pharmaceutical market. And when you think about where artificial intelligence and technology are going it’s very much tied to I think what we’re learning from the human biology. Right. And so those two things do I think nicely tie together at least those skill sets if people are leveraging appropriately. I’m not surprised that there’s people here in this area that you know that are doing that.

00:07:27:13 – 00:07:29:12
Yeah. And I don’t know.

00:07:29:18 – 00:08:01:26
I don’t know if you followed this enough but almost all of the really big startups in tech who are looking people are Olympics in one way or another are using models that came out of your neighborhood. So so pharma is where the idea that you could prove something that was only moderately true privately with statistics. That’s where that whole science was perfected. And that is at the heart of a lot of people are really big stuff

00:08:02:27 – 00:08:45:15
Then that makes a lot of sense. I tell you that. I mean there’s SAS is headquartered here and there one of the most well-known analytic software platforms in the market right. And used by almost every university in the market every real statistician who’s out there doing big data statistics analysis and yeah it’s amazing here sometimes you stop off to have coffee or you get caught. Like I did the other day in Minneapolis trying to get back through a snowstorm to the Raleigh Durham area and I end up commuting back with someone who is head of of leadership at Cisco because there’s just so many big companies and big names here and organizations who are doing fascinating things that you end up sort of every time you’d bump into someone finding someone who’s doing something interesting.

00:08:45:15 – 00:08:56:23
So yeah I will have to say I enjoy the area great deal. And I’m sure maybe if I got out a little bit more instead of traveling so much around the world. I’d get out a couple more sessions locally.

00:08:57:07 – 00:09:11:04
Yeah that’s the thing that happens is you don’t do sightseeing in your own town. Yeah yeah it’s it’s is a bad habit I think for all of us. But this has been a busy week for I’m home this week particularly made the point of being home this week

00:09:11:12 – 00:09:29:25
Because we are launching the big annual survey for serious cedar so I that is part of why I’m spending so much time at home right now that’s a lot of energy an investment that goes into that. So. So there was there was reasons why I was home this weekend. Made the effort to enjoy my back porch in the sunshine and some flowers as well. Between all that

00:09:31:19 – 00:09:33:04
Cool. So what to remember.

00:09:33:09 – 00:10:05:18
Well it’s a busy busy week. I mean there’s a lot of stuff going on. We have ADP announcing a new tax compliance and next generation tax engine. So we’ll talk a little bit about that we get time. Learning Technologies Group is acquiring breezy are a lot of little H.R. functions that are being bought here and there learn to DLJ groups one that also about people fluent a few years back. We’ll talk a little bit about that. There’s also O.C. Tanner announcing the acquisition of an employee recognition tool called quench focused on the Asia Pacific Indian market

00:10:06:00 – 00:10:54:29
And then lots of financials going into the market. There was one hundred and thirty one million dollar investment in a oh I’m sorry a hundred thirteen million dollar seriously financing for H.R. pass which is a French based organization I’ll take a little bit about that we also had 41 million dollars in funding. For the learning engagement platform 30 creator 360 learning. In North America and the UK triple bite raised 35 million to test engineers with coding quizzes and to match jobs and hydrology raises 27 million for series funding for decentralized franchise businesses and Lum apps and let’s say that greater loo map space for 24 million for social ladder that’s a lots of money being rolled around and that doesn’t even get to some of the smaller guys like spur and late work which got some funding which will be fun to track but if we get time and set apps.

00:10:55:01 – 00:11:25:23
Yeah. So it’s a busy week in the tech space. Do you know much about tax engine jobs that are the first one that we had on the list today. This was an announcement that came out kind of quiet. I hear a lot of people talking about it but ADP announced that they were combining 40 years of tax expertise with enhanced technology to streamline the next generation of tax engine not the sexiest of conversations but tax engines are a fundamental piece of a payroll processing solution and a big part of whether or not you’re following regulations your people are paid appropriately.

00:11:25:24 – 00:11:29:15
Do you think this is big news for ADP or is this just sort of business as usual.

00:11:29:17 – 00:11:43:02
I was your good friend Molly Lombardi is here. And so what Molly says is that BP is leading the charge of moving parts processing from file based transactions to individual transactions in real time

00:11:44:03 – 00:11:56:27
What that says to me is that the tax agent business is a bulk processing business that you get that you get you pay roll and then you ship it to the tax processing thing and then you give it back.

00:11:57:04 – 00:12:09:16
And this new tax on June handles things on a transaction by transaction basis all at once because that would facilitate demand.

00:12:09:17 – 00:12:14:08
I was just going to say that it cuts right into where we think the market is going to be incorrect.

00:12:15:07 – 00:12:28:25
We might have an entire week’s worth of show about how disgusted I am about the idea of real. That’s that’s a separate thing. So if Molly says this is a step forward this is a step forward.

00:12:28:26 – 00:12:59:21
Now I don’t know yet. Molly knows the space very well. And I think it you know it’s it’s interesting to note that you know ADP marks here that they have 740000 clients which is slightly up from the last time I looked at the numbers for them. In 140 different countries suddenly 40000 different clients that they’re assisting with these kind of tax decisions right. That’s a huge number of organizations across the world. And you know a lot of payroll solutions that are on the market today. They actually outsource this tax.

00:12:59:23 – 00:13:31:01
That’s that’s a big part of the business of some of the organizations like you had tax agents they sold. Isn’t it worth the tool that was used by a lot of the other vendors out in the market. So to me this is this is something people need to be paying attention to because it might mean the difference between. A running batch payroll that takes a week versus maybe payroll that takes less than that I don’t know what it would be I can’t obviously say until I get a chance to talk to anybody but my sense is that this would also make payroll not just. More likely to do on demand but also quicker to get accomplished.

00:13:31:01 – 00:13:53:07
I would assume so and a little bit more so. Yeah all good things when it comes to something as important as someone’s paycheck every day. Then you found this French company. I don’t think either of us have ever heard of them before that received one hundred and thirteen million dollars and seriously that’s a lot of money. That’s what the bigger investments that I’ve seen this year. It’s H.R..

00:13:53:15 – 00:14:12:27
Yeah. It’s a French company you know. So there’s some interesting things going on. The ultimate software bought a French firm. What was the people dock. People go people go. And so I’m sure that this this company has

00:14:13:19 – 00:14:49:18
A payroll expertise areas managers IBM Ovitz as this Corti loser. These are really capable people running this business. Their website is not in French so. It looks like this is another French company who’s coming to the United States. Their businesses are sort of like a bionic H.R. so they’ve got areas which are the gracious in terms of nature and lyrics but they also do consulting and outsourcing.

00:14:49:23 – 00:15:14:13
Rachel it’s it’s perfect. We’re going to see more and more of the soon recruiting. I saw somewhere recently that something like 40 percent of all recruiting is done by our FiOS recruitment process outsourcing increases. My guess is that we’re seeing another wave of outsourcing which are starting to emerge. That’s what these guys are.

00:15:14:17 – 00:15:37:24
I know I have to agree with you on this and I’ve been hearing more and more conversation about outsourcing. The question is should we do it. Is it being done anymore. So I think the traditional outsourcing the kind of outsourcing we’re sort of left in shift outsourcing is not what we’re seeing in these new organizations. This is more of a technology. And I think this is what happened in the European space as well as sort of a technology led outsourcing model. Right.

00:15:37:27 – 00:16:12:12
And that’s that the Europeans all sort of look like a white label technology it’s what you get would you do business with peo is you give a full technology stack with with all of the the optional functions inside it and people working those desks put the work in the desks inside of a well honed technology system. And that’s what you buy is a process that’s completely controlled both from your and that is bionic it’s people plus technology as the product.

00:16:13:03 – 00:16:37:20
And I think we’re talking a lot more about that because I think in an example of that that has probably been one of the most I think prominent one source virtual right. And the work that they’ve done with the workday environment. You know their outsourcing model I think everybody said well this isn’t really going to work but they have now grown rapidly over the last several years. And what they’re doing I think it seems like it’s a very similar kind of concept from our understanding here.

00:16:39:09 – 00:16:41:19
Europe. Exactly.

00:16:42:02 – 00:17:15:01
You know some of the other investments that we saw this week is also coming out of the sort of European European U.K area. So one of them is London area learning technology script. I have the opportunity to speak with the Roberto who’s the analyst relations person for the learning technology group just last week. So timely on this. They’re purchasing another application. So you might know them possibly on the learning side learning technology groups had purchased what was known as WRIST ISSUES software which is sort of a learning records organization and a watershed which is another learning records organization.

00:17:15:01 – 00:17:46:15
They’d also purchased people fluent which many of us know in the technology space and at Goma learning which is a sort of a learning development tool. They also picked up a lot of diversity and inclusion technologies. And they’ve they’ve been sort of the..

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“Striving for excellence is difficult. Give you and your organization the edge by taking the time to reexamine the fundamental beliefs that surround you every day.” – Dr. Todd Dewett

Many things we do at work are assumed to be sacrosanct – simple, unquestionable truths. In reality, many best practices (things we should do) are the opposite of the commonly accepted wisdom (things we are actually doing)! Sometimes this is true because established practices have so much inertia. Other times this is true because people are afraid to face the conflict associated with discussing sacred cows. Sometimes we simply fail to consider our changing needs. Here are three great examples of fundamentally flawed – yet very common – organizational practices.

Employee recognition and reward programs. The punch line: we reward too much. In an effort to “be fair” and do nice things for others, we have created work environments where everyone, or nearly everyone, is recognized as Employee of the Month. Cubes are covered by laser printer created certificates. Unfortunately, this merely creates a culture of entitlement – a place where people expect to be rewarded for being average. To become a high performing organization you must rediscover and redefine excellence, and begin rewarding a little less.

The use of teams. Punch line: they are often ineffective and we underestimate the overhead costs. We fell in love with the team decades ago.  We were told that for any task, we could build a team to handle it. We were not, however, told that teams have drawbacks. For example: teams must coordinate and have meetings, teams experience interpersonal conflict, and teams promote laziness from some members. A highly functioning team is a thing of beauty, but most teams are mediocre. It is smart to use fewer teams and smaller teams. For teams that must exist, try using individual work and electronic coordination more than group work in meetings.

Dr. Todd Dewett | Founding member, HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board

The hiring process. Punch line: it is not smart to hire people without trying them out first. Would you marry a person when you first meet them? How about the first week? No! Hiring someone is often just as risky as getting married and sometimes even more difficult to undo! When you first meet your new prospective employee, they are managing impressions and you are managing impressions – just like a marriage! Only after a few months will you have the honest data upon which you can make a lasting decision. Start every employee on probation for at least six months and defer judgment until the end of that period.

Striving for excellence is difficult. Give you and your organization the edge by taking the time to reexamine the fundamental beliefs that surround you every day.

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HRx Radio – Executive Conversations: On Friday mornings, John Sumser interviews key executives from around the industry. The conversation covers what makes the executive tick and what makes their company great.

HRx Radio – Executive Conversations Guest: Jim Stroud, VP, Product Evangelist at ClickIQ
Episode: 322
Air Date: April 12, 2019


Guest Bio

Jim Stroud: Over the past decade, Jim Stroud has built an expertise in sourcing and recruitment strategy, public speaking, lead generation, video production, podcasting, online research, competitive intelligence, online community management and training. He has consulted for such companies as Microsoft, Google, MCI, Siemens, Bernard Hodes Group and a host of startup companies. During his tenure with Randstad Sourceright, he alleviated the recruitment headaches of their clients worldwide as their Global Head of Sourcing and Recruiting Strategy. He now serves ClickIQ as its VP, Product Evangelist. (Best job ever!)

When he is not spreading the gospel of automation as it relates to job advertising, he is producing the online video series – The Jim Stroud Show, producing The Jim Stroud Podcast or speaking about the Future of Work at a HR conference near you.

When not online, Jim Stroud suffers from withdrawal symptoms that can only be soothed by chocolate chip cookies and family time.



Important: Our transcripts at HRExaminer are AI-powered (and fairly accurate) but there are still instances where the robots get confused and make errors. Please expect some inaccuracies as you read through the text of this conversation. Thank you for your understanding.

Full Transcript with timecode

00:00:14:11 – 00:00:32:01
Good morning and welcome to HRExaminer’s Executive Conversations, I’m your host John Sumser and today we’re going to be talking with Jim Stroud, who is the eternal industry veteran. And these days is hanging his hat with a company called ClickIQ, how are you Jim?

00:00:33:00 – 00:00:34:11
I’m doing fine sir. How are you?

00:00:35:01 – 00:00:43:21
I am on top of the world. The sun’s out For a moment. The California rains have stopped and so things couldn’t be better.

00:00:44:12 – 00:00:49:11
I get the image of a Disney movie with birds singing and dancing animals that kind of thing.

00:00:49:24 – 00:00:59:13
Yeah exactly exactly. It is California and Disney is just a reflection of what it’s actually like to live here. And so few people really understand that.

00:01:01:25 – 00:01:04:28
So, introduce yourself, tell people about Jim Stroud.

00:01:04:28 – 00:01:33:05
Sure sure. Well I have been in the sourcing and recruiting world for two decades which is hard for me to believe and I’ve been fortunate enough to work for such companies as Google, Microsoft, SiemensRandstad Sourceright and quite recently now I am the V.P. of product evangelists for North America for ClickIQ which is a automated job advertising platform startup in the UK which is now branching out to the U.S. because we’re taking over.

00:01:33:06 – 00:01:43:17
It’s great. It’s a lot of fun to be on one of these world-bending things. So tell me a little bit more about how you got to work. What do you do, Jim Stroud?

00:01:44:16 – 00:01:49:05
That is a good question. The question I my family asked me all the time is it.

00:01:49:12 – 00:02:20:19
Well they are in my present role. I evangelized click IQ by talking to good people like yourself and also potential clients and you show them the virtues of our product how we can save them time and money on a job advertising but also operate in about leadership capacity where I. Speak at conferences. Teach people at different events about the world of work feature work in particular as well and also produce content that draws people’s attention to click IQ and the things that we have to offer when not doing those things. I

00:02:20:19 – 00:02:32:11
I am speaking at source code so I can see why I’m writing a book. Or on producing a podcast of my own or a video series. All about the future of work or a feature of life and everything in between.

00:02:33:02 – 00:02:45:23
So how does one get on your list. What moves about where are these podcasts and books feature like movies or Netflix series reside.

00:02:46:12 – 00:03:01:02
Yeah. Everything and anything that I’ve made it can see on my website with Jim Strout JM and Ciara. Jim Strout that cop followed me there. Get to connect with me on Lincoln which is also a good place. Or on Twitter at Jim Stroud.

00:03:01:09 – 00:03:08:02
Jim Stroud OK so now we’ve done the June shouting. Tell me. Q What’s the deal with you.

00:03:08:09 – 00:03:12:17
Sure well look I you know I get smart.

00:03:13:15 – 00:03:46:16
Oh well not quite not quite click I as an automated job advertising platform it sits on top of you. ATF takes your job and posts out for you. So it’s sort of like a central hub for all of your media. All of your job advertising distribution is also a central hub for your media spin. So if you have relationships say with Indy you zip recruiter and several others you can sort of manage it all from one place. You also can manage how much money you’re spending on different job boards one place and it also will optimize your spend.

00:03:46:21 – 00:04:17:13
So essentially you valuable to us if you wanted to distribute your jobs to 100 different job boards and you are getting the clicks and applications you need. There is no need to spend extra money because you’re already getting what you need from the organic placement of the jobs. But if the jobs are not performing you’re not getting clicks an application then those trials will move to the next level where it goes in the premium spots on different job boards. After that. It would go to social. So your job adverts would appear on Facebook and Instagram where people can engage with a chat bot

00:04:17:24 – 00:04:41:26
And if for some reason you still are going to cuts in applications then it would go out to Google where people can see it through different Google at so your job advertising will be seen and it will save you money because it is working on one job board and it’s cheaper than the other. Well we’ll keep showing it on a cheap spot save you money while getting the clicks and applications that you so desire so you get clicks repetitions.

00:04:41:27 – 00:04:47:08
How do we know if the application is really good. Does that matter. Or is it just volume that you’re after.

00:04:47:23 – 00:04:58:19
While the quality of the applicants. I can’t judge you per say because once they’re in your TSB they’re sort of out of our. Reach to monitor. So I can’t really speak to that.

00:04:59:01 – 00:05:03:28
But I can’t speak to getting you to clicks and applications from your other clients. Certainly.

00:05:04:12 – 00:05:20:03
That’s interesting so it takes an administrative work away from somebody who would buy jailbirds but it’s sort of more work to do evaluating transaction. So yeah I guess you could say that I can see that

00:05:20:14 – 00:05:34:01
But you can also we also have different rules you can put in place as well. So let’s say that you only want 20 applicants this week so you can say OK once you hit a number of 20 applicants take the drop out. You certainly have that control as well.

00:05:35:16 – 00:05:41:04
We should have a long conversation you probably have a pretty interesting idea about

00:05:41:24 – 00:05:57:06
Whether the cards discrimination in hiring is legal today. You can measure quantity but could you account for the varying levels of access you know women tend to not apply as quickly as men for example

00:05:59:24 – 00:06:06:09
If you have a hard time line then it might be that you get more men than women. I don’t know.

00:06:06:17 – 00:06:39:23
Yeah definitely I don’t know. But then decide what kind of time limits you put on a job that I mean or how many applications because you could say leave a job up for 100 years and in the hundred and first year. Three women would have applied. So that means it’s discriminatory because you cut her off at one hundred a year but you know you got a hundred applications. So to speak rather I’ve said I’ll have to use applications rather and then once you cut it off at a hundred applications then you know the one first person may have been a blind and deaf minority woman.

00:06:39:23 – 00:06:46:05
I don’t know if that’s really hard to sort of. Qualify but it’s an interesting question altogether though I don’t know.

00:06:46:22 – 00:06:48:25
Well a great offering. Are

00:06:48:25 – 00:07:00:27
Are you following the evolution of intelligent tools elsewhere in recruiting besides you. Yeah yeah yeah I see I see a lot of activity in this space and

00:07:01:23 – 00:07:20:18
They sort of all fall in two different categories. And without mentioning any names for some that I’ve seen and some that I can’t say that I’ve seen. Different categories we sort of put these A.I. tools in would be a I for silver medalist. So I call it. So I can be modeling yes for people who interviewed well but didn’t get hired. To do some other

00:07:20:26 – 00:07:28:13
Well qualified candidate. This trend would. Find people in ATX who were. Super medalists in one realm

00:07:29:00 – 00:08:03:06
Didn’t get the job or perhaps their ideal for another role. And I’m seeing a lot of tools around that finding. The gold in rather the silver. In the ATF. Then I’m also seeing a I for had bias so I don’t see a lot of that. All this developed to fight unconscious bias which of course a huge topic last year still sort of a huge topic issue. Because of all the diversity inclusion. Conversation going on. Seeing a lot of a eye for candidate engagement. Because nobody likes the black hole resonates that it has become

00:08:03:23 – 00:08:36:18
So you’ll see a lot of chat bots was going to create a divide between candidate screening and application status. And also well I don’t see a I’ll call it because in marketing. To a lot of that as well. Application of marketing best practices analytics multi-channel use targeted messaging that kind of thing. That. A lot of the A.I. tools that are out there even the ones that are not A.I. but kind of playing the way. They can be one of those kind of categories and that’s what I see a lot. It’s sort of. As. I see it all if that is the wax poetic for a minute

00:08:37:00 – 00:09:07:22
I see it all very interesting from the standpoint of I like seeing a lot of new technology out there doing a lot of different things especially if it takes away repetitive path. But I think there is a danger. Well thank you. A word of caution from promote a tool. Because I think there is a chance of people becoming overly reliant on those tools rather than human judgment. So I think no matter what A.I. to use or any kind of super tech to you

00:09:08:08 – 00:09:38:21
You have to have a human in the loop. Otherwise you opening yourself up for Terminators to come. Case in point I was reading actually podcasting about this. Recently. About. The predictive algorithm that IBM has. Where they have. Said that they can be with 90 percent accuracy he going to leave the organization. So once the magic algorithm says that John is going to leave the organization for whatever reason. Let’s go ahead and reach out to John now offer him a promotion make a little extra money

00:09:39:07 – 00:10:09:13
Maybe give him some sweet assignments to work on. So we can keep him. In the on the payroll. A little bit longer and sell. That’s fairly cool. If it can indeed predict a 95 percent accuracy. But on the flip side of that it makes me concerned because I’m wondering. If the machine says John is going to leave. Let’s go ahead promote him. Or maybe if the seen said John is going to leave. Let’s not. Worry about advancing his career because the machine says he’s gonna be leaving us soon anyway. Instead let’s

00:10:09:23 – 00:10:21:00
Let’s focus on John because the algorithm says he’s going to be here for a long time. And let’s go ahead and give him better opportunity. Yeah. So yeah that’s a little bit of a rant there. What do you think of that.

00:10:21:00 – 00:11:08:26
Well you know there is one of the interesting things about the technology is that there’s no consolidation of resolve. So this is the evolution of and recruiting into a science but we don’t have peer review of this stuff. It’s relatively clear that in some of the more advanced technical environments flight risk forecasting is prohibitive and flight risk forecast to use prohibited because the only result you can correlate with having for it forecast is increasing attrition because you do exactly that kind of thing that you’re talking about you get a report about somebody you see they’re going to leave and then you start treating them differently whether you work to keep them or work to let them go.

00:11:08:26 – 00:11:40:15
You treat them differently once you get the report and because you treat them differently it’s not more. This is your relationship with that employee. That’s the only thing that happens. The whole organization understands you know when somebody stops giving assignments that something’s wrong and people don’t make long term commitments to project with people they view as short time timer’s the consequence of having a flight risk forecast can be devastating.

00:11:40:18 – 00:12:06:16
And because there’s no sharing of how these things work in the various environments there turns to them then we don’t get a coherent learning about it. So my guess is that the flight risk forecasting stuff that IBM is peddling right now won’t last very long. As soon as people start catching on and practitioner organizations start sharing information about what works and what doesn’t work.

00:12:07:08 – 00:12:26:11
Yeah. Two points on them to do a protocol there. So on a pro side of the algorithm. Another thing that IBM does in concert with that thing called my T.A. stance remarks something I forget I say advancement I’ll go I don’t know that it’s called my fiancé. Not to be confused with wait and see. What it does is it looks back

00:12:26:28 – 00:12:29:18
It will be forever confused with body OCA for

00:12:31:12 – 00:12:32:13

00:12:32:26 – 00:13:03:03
Yeah. So what it does is it looks at the trajectory of the company and the different projects the company will be implementing to get to where they want to go and then they will look at a skill set of the workers at the company and then they’ll send out an email or notification of some sort that says hey John our company is moving towards the north and you’re here in the south. What’s your take on some projects like one two and three that’ll give you the skills you need.

00:13:03:09 – 00:13:42:07
So that by the time we’re ready to move more towards the north you’ll have the skills to go to North West. I’m oversimplifying it but that’s essentially what it is. And I have read recently I think of CNBC which is why I got this information that some big percentage of the promotions were as a result of that algorithm things like 12 percent or 18 percent or something like that or something like that. So I can see how the algorithm in that case benefits in sort of a win win. But on the flip side of that I have to wonder to your point what if I am a IBM worker and I don’t get the plum assignments and I’d say IBM anywhere who’s using an algorithm like this.

00:13:42:09 – 00:14:16:09
I’m not getting the plum assignments. And so I decide to leave and Agrium does pick me up and then I’m going to leave. So you don’t pitch to me and offered anything like that. Right. So then I go I leave the company you are about to leave the company. Did I find out the reason why my career had stymied the organization is because some machine said that I wasn’t going to stay. And so I could get mad and say well what did the machine say about me. Can I see the data you’ve collected about me because maybe I can explain this in a way that a machine didn’t pick up but a human being would say so do I.

00:14:16:10 – 00:14:48:27
And do I have control of the data you’re collecting on me or that confidential to the company and only H.R. people can see it and I can’t see our permanent record so that’s why to what if I get really indignant and I decide to sue the company and say you know what this company has discriminated against me I’ve been discriminated by algorithm would you probably be a future legal term or something. The machine said I was going to leave so the company did not give me a fair chance. So I’m going to sue the company because the machine discriminated against me.

00:14:48:27 – 00:14:55:29
This is you own the machine and I’m suing you. So that’s something else I think could possibly happen in the future. What do you think about that.

00:14:56:00 – 00:15:01:03
That too far. Let me take the last call you just figured out I have a visual.

00:15:02:03 – 00:15:45:16
Yeah I really can see in the future a future job or rather a future business. So is this thing looking for a hot startup to fund b become an algorithm auditor you know go to these companies that say we use a machine to make sure we’re not bias. And then you go and you audit the machine. And test to see if it truly is unbiased. Or maybe go to. Law enforcement offices and say Let me check your magic algorithm machine that matches people’s faces with felons in your database because quite recently I thought his team quite recently the ACLU did this study where they tested some machine to see how well it identified it identified felons

00:15:46:01 – 00:15:51:29
And a ACLU gave them several politicians pictures from Congress

00:15:52:06 – 00:15:55:29
Right. And so the machine said about twelve of them are crooks.

00:15:56:01 – 00:16:13:24
Now these are politicians that have the machine was correct. I know of a search that it took 12 or so people that did not have criminal records but the machines that these are in fact stolen. So someone who is an algorithm auditor could do stuff like that. It’s hard to make a bazillion dollars overnight.

00:16:14:03 – 00:16:39:00
Oh there’s already we’re I’m already getting sort of requests for that kind of work. That’s coming for a record a week. Yeah. Well part of the problem is biases or bias is an interesting thing. There are kinds of voters are illegal and those things we need not do those things because they’re illegal. There are kinds of voters that ought to be illegal

00:16:40:05 – 00:16:52:12
And they are women still or are entitled to equal rights or constitution. And so. There is a level of bias there that is legal still and shouldn’t be.

00:16:52:16 – 00:17:13:03
But then there are other kinds of barriers that are necessary and important and absolutely necessary and important that we understand that we’re an electronics company not a retail store. And so the people that we hire are good and the electronics they’re not behind the cash register customer service.

00:17:13:16 – 00:17:56:24
And that is our bias of hiring. And we wish to get better at that. All right. Every culture is an expression of bias and there is a challenging thing that I’m sure you know more about than I do in diversity remove collusion that is diversity is the opposite of cultural diversity is the celebration of difference in culture is the celebration of sameness. So the idea that you don’t want the celebration of sameness is all about bias the celebration of differences about the opposite of bias and the right answer for every individual company is some blend of those two things not the elimination of bias.

00:17:56:25 – 00:18:11:11
And so you know it’s like it’s like we got the discovery of the hair cutting razor and we’re going to give everybody a number to buzz now because of the razor. The truth is some people need long hair

00:18:13:21 – 00:18:29:19
you know. So this is a tricky area business. The commercial tendency to jump to conclusions is starting to interfere with our ability to get things done. I think so. Do you see recruiters are going to be replaced by machines now.

00:18:29:24 – 00:18:39:19
No that I’m a big proponent of the Tony Stark model where she’s going to augment our abilities that they won’t take away our ability...

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Some image recognition programs would not recognize this image as a bride. But not all brides wear white.
(Photo by Julie Johnson, Unsplash)

Bias and discrimination are often used interchangeably. But they are not the same. Bias is a point of view or a preference for one thing over another. I like chocolate chip cookies, but not the ones with nuts. I’m biased against nuts in chocolate chip cookies.

Not all bias is bad. Sometimes you want to exclude something because the question you are asking or the outcome you are seeking requires it. For example, if I want to understand wages and tenure for mid-level women HR professionals, I would exclude men and temps, then figure out how many years’ experience or job level I wanted to see and eliminate the data on everyone outside that range. In order to get the information I want, I have to ask a narrow question that necessarily excludes people by gender and probably age. But this example is a research question, not discrimination.

Discrimination is a legal term that means making an employment decision that adversely affects an individual or group in a protected class. Discrimination is illegal bias that manifests in employment decisions. (Also, housing and in some states business relationships, but let’s stick to employment decisions here.)

Discrimination is not always obvious. It can hide in the way that programs are designed or the rules that are part of how the program works. When I was hiring for a law firm (a long time ago and definitely past the statute of limitations), I would immediately throw away all resumes where the name had a number attached, like Edwin Paul Baker, III. I perceived this type of naming convention as pompous and thought that people who represented themselves that way would be arrogant jerks. Since I already worked with plenty, I didn’t want more.

My rule was technically neutral. I sorted resumes based on whether they had a number in the name – not discriminatory on its face. But it definitely had an adverse impact on men because women do not generally include numbers with their name even if they are named after their mother and grandmother. The naming tradition also probably correlates to mostly white men because it was a common practice in the British Isles between 1700 and 1875 that continues today. (If you are interested in naming traditions around the world, here is a great guide.)

It’s important not to treat bias and discrimination as the same thing. Bias is often useful and necessary. Discrimination is illegal and should be remedied and eliminated in employment decisions.

Heather Bussing, HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board

Bias is always an issue with Intelligent Tools because the machine learning systems only know what they are taught. And what machine learning systems ‘learn’ is sometimes surprising or just wrong. For example, when I search my images stored in google photos for “baby,” the search results give me a lot of bald men and men with short light colored hair. I seem to have a lot of photos of Josh Bersin. The system appears to correlate light or no hair with age. But it also gives me all the actual baby photos so I can find the one I’m looking for. There’s significant error but it works well enough for my purpose.

Part of the problem is that the people who teach intelligent systems (coders, designers, data scientists, and folks on your team) are not always aware of what they are teaching. Like parenting, training a machine is a case of modeling behavior (using data). The machine will learn what is delivered, not what is intended. Children learn from the behavior of parents, not from parental intent.

Sometimes the bias comes from the point of view of the people creating the system because they programmed it based on their experience and reality. We make decisions based on what we think we know. This is often the hiding place for confirmation bias (our tendency to believe things in spite of the facts). One example of this is a photo recognition program that was based on a bank of photos from the United States did not recognize a bride from India because she was dressed in reds and golds instead of white.

Other times, the systems may have biases that the creators don’t know about or can’t see until the system starts running and producing results. Amazon tried to develop a machine learning system to sort resumes for hiring. They were trying to design a system that would figure out the best qualified candidates for a position by matching resumes to jobs. They developed 500 different data models and trained the system on 50K key terms. But the system continually discriminated against women. Part of the problem was that Amazon used the data it had, its own bank of resumes, jobs, and hiring decisions for the past 10 years. Because the past data and hiring decisions favored men, the machine learned to prefer men over women because that was the pattern it saw in the data.

Those whose data is based on past discrimination are bound to repeat it.

The trouble is that all our data is based on the past. We still have a long way to go before the data will be based on equality for everyone.

In the meantime, there are things we can do to develop and use intelligent tools so that they don’t result in discriminatory employment decisions.

We need to start with data and models that reflect the conditions we want rather than the conditions we have. This means getting lots of people with diverse perspectives involved in creating these tools. It also means constantly asking, what is missing? What is not included that should be here?

In developing and using intelligent tools, we have to carefully test and monitor the outputs for adverse impact and discrimination. Amazon made a hard but correct decision to scrap the system even though they had invested a great deal of time and resources in it.

Then before relying on recommendations from intelligent tools, do a reality check. Does this make sense? Is the suggestion based on limited criteria and are there other things that are more important or that also matter?

It’s impossible to overstate this last bit. The output of a machine, much like its human counterpart, will always be wrong to some extent. When we ask the machine to make intelligent forecasts based on desired end-states, we need to be prepared for unintended consequences.

Just like you don’t drive off the cliff just because your map program tells you to go that way, don’t make hiring decisions solely based on machine analysis.

Read the Series
  1. Legal Issues in AI: Data Matters
  2. Legal Issues in AI: Bias and Discrimination
  3. Stay tuned, Heather will have another post in this series soon!
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I recently spotted a tweet from my friend Trish McFarlane, which read:

Just thinking out loud~ increased #productivity is good, but does it kill time for #creativity? What is the inflection point? The spot where you get both in an ideal amount? My creative time isn’t always immediately productive.

I responded, ‘Hi Trish – I’m not sure there is a sweet spot, and I’m not sure there should be… creative practice is by nature, hit and miss.’ The exchange continued:

Trish: ‘I agree. I think that is why I wonder if we’re spending too much time on making employees more and more productive. Who is going to build the #HRtech that increases creativity? I want in on that action.’

Me: ‘We’re busier than ever, yet certainly here in the UK productivity is seen as an issue. I expect that poor job design, poor org design, and crappy cultures have a lot to do with that. Sigh…’

Karina Schultheis contributed: ‘Completely agree — I think by alleviating time-consuming processes & optimizing productivity thru effective tech, more “reading/thinking/creative” time naturally results that hopefully moves the needle on both innovation & employee wellbeing’.

Ben Eubanks added to the conversation by recommending a book titled Two Awesome Hours. I’ve not read it but wanted to include the reference for completeness.


I’m no HR Tech expert so I’ll leave how technology is going to save us all to someone else, but I do know a bit about creative practice, so I’m going to approach this productivity/creativity conundrum from there. Here are a few things I am noticing after several years of blending creative practice with personal, team, and organizational development.

Be Curious.

How does that work? Why does that matter? What happens if…? Questions like these don’t instinctively feel like they fit in the productivity space, but they’re essential food for the curious mind. Questions like these were what enabled me to take my interest in art as an organizational and team development tool and apply that interest to art for its own sake.

Doug Shaw, HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board Contributor

Start Something.

Back in 2011, I offered to paint holiday postcards for people in my social network. A few kind people accepted the offer, so on arrival in the South of France, I bought brushes, paper, and some paints, and I got started. I had no previous experience as an artist so these pieces took time to make, and eventually, I sent six handmade postcards to friends. As pieces of art, they were naïve, lacking depth, perspective, in fact, they lacked anything but for the most basic ability to transfer artistic mediums from their box onto small sheets of paper. Nevertheless, I sent the cards, and they were gratefully received.

Keep Going.

After we returned from France, the painting continued, somewhat sporadically. My Dad died unexpectedly in January 2012 and that threw everything out of balance for a while, and when I returned to painting, I decided to offer another round of Summer postcards. After I had completed and sent the second series, I compared them to the previous year’s efforts, and I could see changes. I was beginning to understand more about color, shape, and basic techniques were emerging.


Good work often reveals itself slowly. I persisted with my art and in 2014 I began to develop a series of arts-based tools and methods anyone can use to help them do things differently. This work grew into something called Art for Work’s Sake, which I continue to use in my consulting practice to this day. Alongside this, I continued to paint, but still only occasionally. Then, in April 2016 I took a decision to begin making and hiding art in my neighborhood, for people to find.

Two things motivated me to start this latest experiment. I decided I wanted to commit to my art more regularly, and I saw this experiment as a way to increase production – after all – if I’m going to hide the art, I need to make it first. I also wanted to get better at letting go, physically and mentally. The grief I experienced after Dad died was still very much with me, and while I believe it always will be, I felt I needed to do something different, and learn how to work better with it.

The free art project is now three years old, and during that three-year period, it’s enabled me to change many things. I now find myself developing much more coherent bodies of work. I have three main art projects on the go right now, one based on physical location, one on mental health, and a third which involves stencils and spray paint onto old LP records. I find myself live painting at conferences and other events, I’ve exhibited locally and abroad, and my art hangs in people’s houses across the UK and worldwide. I run workshops to help others use art for its own sake, and as a way to do things differently. I’m still figuring this stuff out – and for sure it’s a bumpy ride at times, but it is me, for now at least.

So what?

Creativity is messy at times, it is unpredictable and relies on curiosity, patience, persistence and more. If you want to deploy it in your work – start with the curiosity. How does it work? Why does it matter? What happens if…? Answers to these questions need to be explored, and if you find a need, then, by all means, use creative practice to follow that need. If you can’t answer them now – then it’s important to accept the creative pursuit may well not lead to a productive output, at least not initially. A bit like the paint I use – I think we need to see the creativity productivity challenge as something fluid, something to be played with.

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Can We Bring Back the Experts Now, Please? HRExaminer Weekly Edition
v10.15 April 12, 2019

Jason Seiden is exhausted, stressed, and the next time he has to make a big decision, he could really use someone who knows what the hell they’re talking about. Can We Bring Back the Experts Now, Please?

“Most of the time, the contract is forgotten as soon as it’s signed. So, where does revenge come into it? Heather Bussing talks Revenge and Contracts.

Would you please complete our short HRExaminer survey? You’ll receive a free copy of our 2018 report (a $299 value) as a thank you for your time. Start the survey here.

In this week’s video, John Sumser talks about AI and its role in the Recruiting Process at Elmhurst College.

John Sumser speaks with Lorna Borenstein, Founder, and CEO of Grokker. Lorna is a seasoned leader with executive experience at Move, Inc, Yahoo!, and eBay. Listen to Lorna Borenstein on HRExaminer Radio.

On HR Tech Weekly: Stacey reports on The 11th Annual HR Technology Expo, Hibob Receives $20M, Make School Looks to Add NYC Campus After $15M Funding, iCIMS Integration with Candidate Assessment Providers to Slash Costs and Time to Implement, Data breach legislation proposes jail time for CIO and HR execs, and Google Cloud outlines plans to take firm deeper into the enterprise.

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Can We Bring Back the Experts Now, Please?
“It’s not only been an awful decade for experts, it’s also been an awful decade for the people who need them.” - Jason Seiden
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Revenge and Contracts
“I’ve been thinking a lot about contracts. Most of the time, it doesn’t matter what’s in them, because people do what they say they are going to do. The important thing is what’s happening in the world, not the paper the lawyers are playing with.” - Heather Bussing
Read Now »

HR Tech: Intelligent Tools and AI Usage in HR
Would you please complete our short HRExaminer survey? You’ll receive a free copy of our 2018 report (a $299 value) as a thank you for your time.
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AI and its role in the Recruiting Process – John Sumser at Elmhurst College (Video)
In this twenty-minute presentation, John Sumser covers AI and its role in the Recruiting Process at Elmhurst College.
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HRExaminer Radio - Executive Conversations: Episode #321: Lorna Borenstein, Founder and CEO, Grokker John Sumser speaks with Lorna Borenstein, Founder, and CEO of Grokker. Prior to founding Grokker, Lorna was President of Move Inc. and also worked at Yahoo! as their Chief of Global Personals and Head of Marketing. Lorna entered the Internet world back in 2000, when she launched eBay Canada out of her guest room in Toronto, Canada and went on to serve as eBay’s Vice President & General Manager. Listen Now »

HR Tech Weekly: Episode #214: Stacey Harris and John Sumser This Week, Stacey reports on The 11th Annual HR Technology Expo, Hibob Receives $20M, Make School Looks to Add NYC Campus After $15M Funding, iCIMS Integration with Candidate Assessment Providers to Slash Costs and Time to Implement, Data breach legislation proposes jail time for CIO and HR execs, and Google Cloud outlines plans to take firm deeper into the enterprise. Listen Now »

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Hosts Stacey Harris and John Sumser discuss important news and topics in recruiting and HR technology. Listen live every Thursday or catch up on full episodes with transcriptions here.

HR Tech Weekly Episode: 214
Air Date: April 11, 2019
This Week

This Week, Stacey has a report from The 11th Annual HR Technology Expo, Hibob Receives $20M, Make School Looks to Add NYC Campus After $15M Funding, iCIMS Integration with Candidate Assessment Providers to Slash Costs and Time to Implement, Data breach legislation proposes jail time for CIO and HR execs, and Google Cloud outlines plans to take firm deeper into the enterprise.

  • Stacey has a report from The 11th Annual HR Technology Expo Link »
  • Hibob Receives $20M in Funding Link »
  • Make School Looks to Add NYC Campus After $15M Funding Link »
  • iCIMS Integration with Candidate Assessment Providers to Slash Costs and Time to Implement Link »
  • Data breach legislation proposes jail time for CIO, HR execs Link »
  • Google Cloud CEO outlines plans to take firm even deeper into the enterprise Link »

  About HR Tech Weekly

Hosts Stacey Harris and John Sumser discuss important news and topics in recruiting and HR technology. Listen live every Thursday at 7AM Pacific – 10AM Eastern, or catch up on full episodes with transcriptions here.

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Important: Our transcripts at HRExaminer are AI-powered (and fairly accurate) but there are still instances where the robots get confused and make errors. Please expect some inaccuracies as you read through the text of this conversation. Thank you for your understanding.

John Sumser
Stacey Harris


Good morning and welcome to HR Tech Weekly, one step closer with Stacey Harris and John Sumser. Good morning Stacey, how are you?

00:00:24:11 – 00:00:40:26
Morning John I’m doing well. I am sitting in Charlotte not where I planned to be today but it’s a nice day and I am at least on the eastern coast away from the snow. I was in Minneapolis yesterday and trying to get out of Minneapolis with the snow. So I’m doing good today.

00:00:40:26 – 00:00:42:03
You know I really like living in California because it doesn’t snow here.

00:00:45:15 – 00:00:47:08

00:00:47:23 – 00:00:49:00
That’s like the primary thing to me.

00:00:49:18 – 00:01:22:07
Yeah. I love to say, you know I’m from Ohio. I get snow but I was at a conference yesterday. I saw the snow start to come down about midway through the day and I’m just thinking April, soon to be May and the snow is coming down. So yeah, I was I was a little bit disheartening and then when the flights started canceling and they were talking about being stuck in Minneapolis for three days as much as I love Minneapolis. I took the first flight I could get getting out to the east coast and just that I will figure out a way to get home from there and that’s what I’m doing today.

00:01:23:16 – 00:01:31:26
Well so lucky you, Charlotte is an interesting place, are you actually going to see Charlotte or are you just shuttling between the hotels

00:01:31:27 – 00:01:37:09
Yeah, just shuttling between hotel until I find another flight. Iwill be or I train one of the other and I’ll be home hopefully this evening though.

00:01:37:10 – 00:01:54:00
But it’s not a bad you know it got me here. The weather is warm. This is very nice and I do hope everybody in Minneapolis stay safe and warm. People were making bets on whether or not they’d have school today. So our friends from the Minneapolis St. Paul area will probably let us know after the show if they had school today.

00:01:59:22 – 00:02:11:12
Well it’s been an interesting week so far. The reason I was in Minneapolis is that I was at the HR Tech Expo for what used to be the Learned Group which was the small little regional group focused on HR technology in the area

00:02:11:28 – 00:02:28:25
Which is now called Fuel Works, so the Fuel Works organization had bought them but still basically four hundred five hundred organizations that sort of all come together and the Minneapolis St. Paul area. So there’s some fun stuff there that I can definitely talk about is what we’re learning and what we’re seeing there.

00:02:28:26 – 00:03:16:18
There’s a lot of other stuff in the mailbag though I mean we definitely saw a interesting week. I wouldn’t say an overly busy week there is the depending on how you say it. Hi Bob. Hey Bob. The H.R. Technologies software which I’m kind of hearing a little bit about everywhere someone is talking about it. No I’m not sure if this receiving of 20 million in funding was the most recent. Unlike another version that we just talked about him a few weeks ago. So this may have been the same version of the 20 million but there was some updates about them receiving 20 more 20 million dollars more investments. But what caught my eye was the same time I also saw another conversation going on about an ex ADP executive Karen Hieran Hillman who joined Hi Bob as Vice President Sales and Operations. So I think again we’re just starting to see an organization that’s branding and building and probably should be paying attention to.

00:03:16:21 – 00:03:23:06
It’s gotta be Hi Bob. Okay. Hi Bob!

00:03:23:06 – 00:03:25:23
There you go.

00:03:25:29 – 00:03:39:23
It’s a much more fun name I will say better than the other ones we’ve been hearing lately. Makes School which is a interesting organization is looking to add New York City campus after 15 million dollars in Series B fundraising.

00:03:39:24 – 00:03:44:09
This is an organization that is partnering with businesses.

00:03:44:12 – 00:04:27:07
And basically we’ve talked a little bit about organization sort of out of India that was doing this which is allowing students to sign up take their courseware and their university classes and their education class sorry and then not have to pay for them until they get certain levels of jobs. And talk a little bit about that this idea of paying after you get out of school which we have heard about in other situations. But it seems to be getting more and more interesting they’ve put rates on how much you know we’ll have to get a job for it before you have to pay. Items have some updates this week on launching their pre-built integration with a candidate assessment providers. We can talk a little bit about isomers update. They also had some announcements about their candidate portals as well that they were launching this week. So

00:04:27:07 – 00:04:32:25
So they’ve done a couple of things that I am a P E backed prison MHR buys Agilent turn now.

00:04:32:25 – 00:04:43:29
These are for very very small organizations. The software itself from the H.R. perspective mostly for P E O’s but probably worth talking about covers eighty eight thousand companies even though they’re small.

00:04:44:02 – 00:05:11:14
Two point two million employees. So we’re starting to see some consolidation in their air and then some fun stuff for you to talk about John. We’ve got data breach legislation proposing jail time for not just the ISOs but H.R. executives being proposed here in the United States. We have a Google Cloud CEO outlining his plans to take the firm even deeper into the enterprise which originally it feels like it’s just an infrastructure conversation. But if you read it you hear that it also is talking about the Google applications.

00:05:11:14 – 00:05:18:24
I know you’ve been getting some insight into those with the Google which is or.

00:05:19:26 – 00:05:42:14
Yeah that’s good. Could you maybe give us some insight is what that looks like. And then finally the European Commission announces a pilot program for A.I. ethics guidelines. I thought that was an interesting one knowing the stuff that we’ve been talking about. So a diverse and interesting week but maybe starting popping up at the top though just what we saw going on at the eleventh annual H.R. technology expo in St. Paul Minnesota.

00:05:42:20 – 00:05:50:02
I spoke there giving a presentation on the H.R. technology basically the future of the H.R. technologist role.

00:05:50:03 – 00:06:48:19
What is it. Are people going to be doing it. Are we going to see more of it had a packed room. Love the conversation. This is always a great audience. When I go to this event. But you and I were just talking a little bit about the fact that underlining theme of the entire event to me. That was great presentations by Southwest Airlines and Cargill and Oshkosh and General Mills and a lot of other groups in the area. The underlying theme that everybody kept coming up and talked to me about was where do I get the skills I need for this next generation of H.R. technologists. Where do I get the education I need for being an H.R. analytics person. Where do I get the background I need. And it seemed like every vendor I was talking to every session I went to they were talking about what someone needed to do. To work in the next generation of the workforce. So I thought that was kind of interesting and you were saying that that’s a theme you’re hearing as well and in a different way that right shoulder to shoulder first thing is not what we were talking about earlier.

00:06:48:22 – 00:07:25:07
I’m in the process of giving started a really big project to define the skills associated with what I am calling talent science and that is what I think H.R. is headed towards right. So it’s the combination of data science and privacy. Technical immigration and API management that are necessary to operate a major department that is rooted in qualitative information rather than focus. And I think that’s what you’re talking about too right. And so

00:07:25:20 – 00:07:28:05
Are we. Yeah.

00:07:28:15 – 00:08:54:05
Yeah. So I think I might actually be working at developing the curriculum. So that piece 1. Piece 2 is inside that hearing a lot of talk about the skills people need to go forward in H.R.. And a lot of it sounds like shaming and finger wagging to me. So I seen very consistently lists of the things that you have to be good at to move forward in H.R. in the future under this of what I think of as untraceable things right. So the lesson always includes compassion it always includes critical thinking and I don’t know how in the world you tell if you did the right amount of critical thinking yesterday and I don’t know who could give you feedback on that. And so. So instead you end up with this you didn’t do your job very well because you don’t have critical thinking or we can’t promote you because you have a good critical thinker either understand how that works and you were helping me get a little bit clearer on that because you’ve got such a deep background in curriculum design Yeah you know my background instructional design back in the day and we think about competencies and the skills that go on competencies the conversation that we were getting into and I think is is really relevant right now in this day and age is that

00:08:54:17 – 00:10:02:27
You’re generally a curriculum designer thinks about their world in the sense of repeatable behaviors that can be seen and basically evaluated that you have to have an objective basically that can be evaluated to build a course around it but all those goals that you’re sort of building courses around generally roll up into a curriculum topic right. So to me a lot of what you’re talking about are partially a mixture of soft skills which are very hard to evaluate and oftentimes instructional designers will even note that the evaluation for those soft skills aren’t as strong as they should be or they’re what you would consider curriculum categories which is basically a roll up of observable skill sets and things you’re training that when you can do all of these skill sets they’ll roll into something like critical thinking or team management you know those type of things right but they’re not in and of themselves a individual skill. That’s how I was thinking about it when you were talking about it. But I think it’s an open question and I think it’s part of the reason why we don’t have really good career modeling career passing tools. We have a constant battle with what is competency management in our world. Ryan.

00:10:03:26 – 00:12:03:20
So here’s the kind of thing. The one thing about the way I think is probably trainable. And might be what is bent by critical thinking. So imagine it next year in your new matching tool in your recruiting department is up and running and I am the recruiter you’re the hiring manager. So I come to you and I say well. I’ve got this list of 10 candidates that the machine prepare and we’ve got 80 percent confidence that according to the machine we have 80 percent confidence that these are the right turn out of all that was raised that we receive. And I think we should interview them. But I do want you to know that the machine thing sits at 80 percent and we’ve been noticing it the failure start the performance is starting to degrade and so we’re not quite at the 80 percent that the machine says but we still have some confidence that these are the results. What I’m interested in as we go through the process is your feedback on where the machines right and the machines wrong and here are the areas that you might check as we go through these years. Right. That’s how you handle the new layers of complexity and data analysis is. In a conversation where you explain with the information that you have intent attempt to quantify your concerns about the machine’s assessment of the reality. Right. And that I think you can teach and I don’t know that critical thinking or not but it certainly involves some level of numeracy and some willingness to think beyond the output of the machine and that to me that still sounds very much I think there’s a series of different skill sets in there right. That would roll up into a topic or a skill area of critical thinking but.

00:12:04:02 – 00:12:51:05
I think that might be part of the challenge is that organizations assume critical thinking is a single thing when in reality what you just talked about are probably six different skill sets in that one scenario. Right. You have to understand the machines understand how their algorithms work. You have to know enough about the business to be able to make some decisions about the level of accuracy. There there’s probably some knowledge that is necessary about sort of the group of people that the machine is making the decisions about to understand that as well as your companies requirements for diversity and inclusion or growth. All of those things would go into making that critical decision making process right.

00:12:52:12 – 00:13:31:12
So I wish there was more clarity about what this office cost. Lots of people have to do the move I just described in lots of different settings you know. So the system shows from all of that the chemical feedback we can get that Stacey is three stars out of five performer. But what we’ve noticed is that when stress is on the team the job generally every time. That doesn’t seem to be her machine generated performance evaluation. But it’s the most important thing about Stacy is that when she’s on the team things happen better.

00:13:31:16 – 00:13:38:06
Matt Stacy I would like to have on my team as well if possible examine examiner.

00:13:39:03 – 00:13:44:08
If that doesn’t come across. Machine generated performance measurements.

00:13:44:17 – 00:14:21:02
Yeah exactly. Yeah. Well and this is I think the challenge of where we’re heading is that machines feel like they should have the answer and we’ve talked about this many times right. And the skill sets that that we’re gonna have to develop as a workforce dealing with machines as part of our full sets that are giving us information and insight and answers and not just regurgitating information we put back into them is going to be all about our own knowledge to some extent it’s not going to be as much about our ability to understand that machine it’s gonna be about how much do we know so we can judge that machine right.

00:14:22:08 – 00:14:33:01
That’s right. We’re going to have to supervise machines. And so I either never see that skill for instance are the skills you need in the future supervising machine should probably be on the list.

00:14:34:16 – 00:14:43:03
So let’s talk about Hi Bob. Hi Bob. Hi Bob. Yeah. So this keeps coming up I’ve had it multiple times and someone asked me about it the other day.

00:14:43:15 – 00:15:30:11
I haven’t had a chance to review them so they are on my list. Reach out to maybe get some time from briefing perspective. This 20 million dollars in funding is from investors Bessemer Venture Partners they’re located at a Televisa and tech platform it looks like they’ve got a whole list of all their query terms and plus applications. But what really sort of caught my eye is that you know they’ve been this high bar platform as talked about a rearranging and shifting the way people think about it your applications like every application does. But we are starting to see that some people who have worked in some of the other large organizations are moving to that organization. That’s usually a pretty good sign when someone jumps to that organization that it’s something that’s worth paying attention to. Right. So just one of the reasons why I sort of added it to our conversation list today.

00:15:30:11 – 00:15:49:24
That’s interesting. So as I see the world GDP which is where people jump from services is the it’s like the two ball that makes all of the of the two bombs explode in the hard data payroll end of the business.

00:15:49:24 – 00:16:15:13
So the thing that you’ve noticed here was the chair of Norman Jones here Bob as vice president of sales and operations. You don’t feel EVP to go to a startup unless there is a lot of weight there. But that’s how Ultimate Software drugstore is sales people running to a new exciting venture.

00:16:15:14 – 00:16:51:08
So well we will probably hear more about Hey Bob I think giving Karen was at ATP for over five years and their innovation lab and client success area so I’m assuming that like you said if I don’t know Karen very well myself personally but I think it’s just an interesting note that we’re starting to see people sort of move in that direction and we’re probably paying attention to the next quarter’s big schools make school this is an area that I think you really like this area the idea of the school’s students you don’t have to pay for your education and to get a job.

00:16:52:00 – 00:17:54:18
Yes I will have to say I think it when I see these stories I generally say Oh I think to me and maybe it’s because I did have a background in sort of recruiting in their early days with the third party recruiters and I thought it always felt to me like there was just so much value instead of having someone identify your worth in the market right. Helping sort of position you in a way that was beneficial for you. To me that’s what I see all these schools doing is that they’re basically taking a bet on you and then on their education right. And that’s an interesting perspective when you think about the students with two hundred three hundred thousand dollars in student loans right now we’re basically taking a bet on every university hoping they will get them the right position which just isn’t happening in the markets particularly here in the States but really around the world as well I’m hearing it that challenge or that this is another organization now they are partnering it seems with the businesses so there’s a relationship here with LinkedIn there’s a relationship with a couple other large organizations that have been mentioned and they have actual brick and mortar locations for these schools.

00:17:54:18 – 00:18:06:07
So I like this I think there should be more of these going on in the markets challenge that traditional sort of university model of possible this is exciting. So we will see we’ll see how that goes

00:18:07:10 – 00:18:14:17
Networks are assumes pre-built integrations with candid..

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In this twenty-minute presentation, John Sumser covers AI and its role in the Recruiting Process at Elmhurst College.

We’d love to hear your thoughts about this video. Post your comments on HRExaminer.com or John’s YouTube Channel »

AI and its role in the Recruiting Process John Sumser at Elmhurst College - YouTube



Important: Our transcripts at HRExaminer are AI-powered but there are still instances where the robots get confused and make errors. Please expect some inaccuracies as you read through the text of this conversation. Thank you for your understanding.



JS – John Sumser, Principal Analyst, HRExaminer

00:00:00:27 – 00:00:19:24
Good morning everybody. That’s good. That’s loud enough. I’m John Sumser and I’m the principal analyst at HRExaminer. And I am going to try to crunch a lot of stuff into a little time. I hope that you can follow along.

00:00:20:09 – 00:01:04:16
At the HRExaminer. I run a small industry analyst firm that’s right now almost exclusively focused on intelligent tools emerging in HR technology. Recruiting is by far the largest subset of that. You might take a look at the HRExaminer site sometime, we have a wee newsletter and a bunch of industry analysis so if you want to go deeper on these topics we’ve got reports. There are a couple of podcasts a week and we’ve got 4 to 25 editorial advisors who produce cutting edge content about the state of H.R. and H.R. technology every weeek.

00:01:06:12 – 00:07:22:05
So I wanted to start by giving you a sense of the overall landscape. It’s been the case for either I’ve been lucky I’ve been looking at recruiting and recruiting technology for maybe 25 years now and that’s been the case almost all of that time that you could imagine recruiting as a stand alone function that’s not related to the rest of the H.R. department and what’s happening is the result of the price drops in processing and storage is at all of H.R. technology is sort of becoming one thing because for the company the data set is becoming the most important asset. So I just want to give you the big picture of each party as we get started talking about the little piece of talent acquisition and then we’ll get down to the implications for recruiting for college so the picture is that talent acquisition feeds the organization data that goes into talent management scheme which is how people work develop and all of the related hygiene factors in what’s happening in this entire arena is that employees and people who come in touch with the organization are being measured more and more and more and more. And one of the things that it’s really important to be aware of is the fact that measurement is the name of the game. The term so recruiting has exploded over the last decade from sadness and resonate well. When I started just before the job war really took off recruiting was the college recruiting department which was sort of in the loosest terms. It was it was a way to go out and networked in a very select small group of schools. The regular recruiting department which was sort of a reservoir a processing operation that led to interviews and hires and today there’s technology in all of these different facets of the recruiting process. You’ve probably seen some or maybe even most of these things on this spiral but it has become a complicated technical discipline that run by specialists whose expertise may not overlap. So one of the things that you’ll encounter is for every one of these boxes it’s just like a department in a university right. The one thing that’s right next to the department is the wall between nuts and everything else. And the the integration of these tools is coming along. It’ll be great in four or five years. But right now it’s sort of chunky and you get different experiences for everybody who comes along not because it’s personalized which is something that people can’t do but because the integrations are we’re learning how to do the integration devolved into pieces I guess is what I’d say. What’s notable here and I’ll talk about this more over the course of the conversation what’s notable here is that the requirements for a job are getting increasingly precise. Maybe the single biggest consequence of the introduction of I don’t like the term artificial intelligence but that’s what people are following. If I say intelligence tools because it’s not much more than math. The consequence of what’s going on is that requirements are getting more rigid but really great. Machine learning learns from lots of examples what the precise requirement. Machines are not flexible machines are really really good at providing precise rules and constraints. So so what you have to watch is that that the the lines that mark whether or not you’re in and out for consideration when you go through the chain are very stringent and increasingly so. That’s the downside of the new technology. The other thing that’s worth noticing about all of these boxes is that you can understand almost all of them as a messaging device right. So assessments meaning sourcing for sure but social recruiting and then social media becomes a measurement device it’s part of the data accurate Facebook account with job distribution tools to help the employer understand what works and what doesn’t work for or job ads employment branding. If you were to look at the at the outside control rooms it’s probably more descriptive than the reality. But but but where employment branding which is all that other jump about why you should come to work for the company in operations would be when you get there is measure and monitor and then look at to see if it results in people doing things. And so so I will go one step through all of the boxes on the chart. But every one of these things is measured and monitored and control trying to tweak the result out of the entire telegraphed system system.

00:07:22:06 – 00:07:31:00
This is my favorite slide. Beautiful.

00:07:31:06 – 00:08:20:21
I don’t know about you but I love it. So that’s part of why this is my favorite slide. A good bowl of fruit salad is an amazing thing my family my dad’s family was from Ohio and there was there was like a family competition to see with. So and So. So I have a fondness in my heart for fruit salads that thing that’s great about the fruit salad is isn’t part the way that begins to see as you get closer to the Bible the ball. This is what the computer sees and you should notice several things about this computer sees no Jews in the Bible. It just can’t stop. It doesn’t have pleasure pain in comparison. Anything like that. It’s just God.

00:08:23:14 – 00:08:31:07
Numbers see the ball do the numbers see the ball see the numbers. Now

00:08:31:07 – 00:16:11:07
Now what’s really interesting here is this is the kind of floor that you’ll find in almost every model and almost everything that you interact with these days is going to be a model you see that PowerPoint that’s at you end with some fruit. That’s the polka dots off the ball. And so you get this sort of it’s almost right. You can get a pretty good fruit salad by having a machine so you that all of these things by two thirds to get the warmer servings except the machine would tell you that you only need a third of the poker darts at the end of this evening. So there’s but the point of this image is that when you deal with artificial intelligence you’re dealing with mathematical models. And the mountain level mathematical models would say things are probably more precise that they need to be and they are probably less useful than they purport to be. So one of the things that people on the other end of this the recruiters at a certain point are having to learn about is how to argue with the machine because it’s the machine we’re evaluating this fruit salad and it had some fruit salad camera that’s coming along. And this was the set of requirements for the fruit so it might disqualify somebody who only had half the number of poker dots or who had a yellow ball or who had it for it or didn’t use whipped cream. The the the requirements become quite precise and the machines are scoring great big piles of recipes. And so when something is left out you fall down into the right things and it may be that what’s being asked for a measure is why took out of a bowl where there’s the problem of it’s already happened. Part of why I’m not at all clear and maybe we get a little bit of this at the person questions but I bet you don’t know that recruiting has already transformed that every aspect of recruiting is already different. And these 30 categories base of tool there are software vendors in the market many six hundred and fifty eight who are selling these sort of tools with intelligence and better intelligence terms to mean it’s a cheaper machine learning which is prediction based on the accumulation of cases or natural language processing saying which is churning Tech student bath and with those two tools. All of these things get done. There are some amazing things you might because it’s interesting take a look at text video text field that come it’s a tool that audits your job description for it’s implicit it’s not really bias but it’s implicit capacity to attract a general level girls or females. And so it’ll score the job description in a way that allows you to improve the mix. And so at that very fundamental level what is the job description we’d like perfect job. We’d like intelligent tools are making it so that the test itself has measured and monitored the production capabilities so so the game is changed then and here’s here’s what you need to know about the fact that the tables. If it isn’t in every employer that you interact with today it’ll be an every employer that you interact with tomorrow. That’s that’s bias mitigation as a technical challenge is front and center. And that means all of the ways that people have been evaluated in the past are now being shifted to account for desired levels of diversity. It isn’t as overt as calculations for quotas but but there is a distinct and strong technical emphasis to take the bias out of decision making and give you something that resembles an objective standard. And one of the things that gets talked about every single time is the fact that the name of the college is a biased marker. So so you should understand that that in the world of recruiting technology the college that you come from is some kind of bias its most acute in the Ivies. But this thinking is being applied to colleges in general and it’s part of a larger trend to look at skills rather than degrees we can debate really hard. Whether or not that’s a good idea. But then what’s happening is not what this means is that the rules for competition who’s going to be the person to get the job who’s going to make it so that the public while they’re changing and they’re changing rapidly what a resume a means is changing very very rapidly and for the time being maybe the next five 7 years exactly how your resumé will be treated with it fits the system is going to be in flux and they’re going to be grand experiments with automated recruiting that result in train wrecks. And so so we’re going to learn in a kind of a lumpy process as a culture how the social contract for work we’re doing to Burt’s part of what’s really important here is that data come from many many places. It’s not just your credentials as you submit them but social media and all sorts of other components does it. There’s a tool out there called the gates tower and that’s that’s amazing. And it will measure the likelihood that you are willing to take an offer and it makes the likelihood that you are willing to take an offer by taking hungry variables and assembling them into a prediction about your relationship to this particular offer.

00:16:11:26 – 00:16:30:18
And so when people look to make the decision not start with lists that are that are determined by who is most likely to accept the offer and I can’t tell you today how you would hold the machine’s perception of the likelihood that you will offer.

00:16:31:04 – 00:17:19:05
I don’t know if you’ve been teaching your students to use search engine optimization in their resume ways. But that’s a fail going forward that kind of thinking with results and being motivated being tough with keywords doesn’t make any sense any longer because that’s not how the machine processes things anymore that work in an era where search was operated with keywords but searches and operated with keywords in each new tool search it’s operated with machines assessment of those so that means that as you teach people how to assemble their resumé over time you’re going to have to change that it can be a fixed component of a curriculum.

00:17:19:05 – 00:17:57:22
It has to be market sensitive and about what’s in the market today. All of the places that are real you Christine are going to have rapidly evolving with moving technology. And I’m sure your you’re already doing this but the new kinds of work that are reporting which have to do with the management and utilization of the output of these Intel systems is going to it’s going to be it’s going to be an interesting time. We’re going to have the job for we know what they are.

00:17:57:22 – 00:19:51:01
I was just talking with somebody the other day who’s who’s hiring for an H.R. storyteller at the age of storyteller looks at all of the aggregated people where of Olympics data and uses it to tell stories to employees about how they’re doing and uses it to imagine new ways of employee experience and then leads a technical team to execute that experience so that so the job is imagining and experience from data talking to people about it and then putting that experience in place with the technical team. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard of a job like that before. But I think there are going to be a lot of so. So what you have to do if you’re going to have a career career is probably a bad word. But if you’re going to have a career meaning the aggregate of your life experiences that work it’s going to be pretty bouncy and pretty have to change that. So the most important thing that you know there is I would navigate sort of territory the cleanest thing that you can have when you’re navigating uncharted territory. There’s some idea of what you work in some method for getting to figure out what you work when you’ve forgotten what you when you move forward here. You’re not talking to recruiters anymore you’re talking to machines and the machines get your material in advance and you bring it into the machine. Those are likely to go through this means starting earlier in the development of rentals and manicure and social media. It probably means having separate professional and personal facilities. I’m not sure that’s that your clients.

00:19:51:08 – 00:20:25:21
It means that people who have ruled themselves by the rules you know the classic high achiever over 4.0 high school grade point average really do well in college with all the boxes. Some of those people are going to fail in ways that are surprising. And we need to be perfect for that because the anti bias mechanisms are going to start to watch for things like that and then matching is going to be harder.

00:20:25:23 – 00:20:32:28
So that’s the 20 minute version of A.I. in recruiting I can give you a five hour one some day if you like (audience laughing).

Watch more of John’s talks on his YouTube Channel »
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HRx Radio – Executive Conversations: On Friday mornings, John Sumser interviews key executives from around the industry. The conversation covers what makes the executive tick and what makes their company great.

HRx Radio – Executive Conversations Guest: Lorna Borenstein, Founder & CEO, Grokker
Episode: 321
Air Date: April 5, 2019


Guest Bio

Lorna Borenstein: Prior to founding Grokker, Lorna was President of the publicly traded company, Move Inc. (NASDAQ: MOVE). She also held a number of executive positions at Yahoo! including Chief of Global Personals online dating service and Head of Marketing for their multi-billion dollar worldwide Search and Marketplace businesses (Shopping, Travel, Autos, etc.).

Lorna entered the Internet world back in 2000, when she launched eBay Canada out of her guest room in Toronto, Canada and went on to serve as eBay Inc.’s Vice President & General Manager. Lorna started her tech career at Hewlett-Packard.



Important: Our transcripts at HRExaminer are AI-powered (and fairly accurate) but there are still instances where the robots get confused and make errors. Please expect some inaccuracies as you read through the text of this conversation. Thank you for your understanding.

Host: John Sumser, HRExaminer
Guest: Lorna Borenstein, Founder and CEO, Grokker

Full Transcript with timecode

00:00:14:04 – 00:00:15:07
Good morning and welcome HRExaminer’s Executive Conversations, I’m your host John Sumser and today we’re going to be talking with Lorna Borenstein, the Founder, and CEO of Grokker.

00:00:27:04 – 00:00:27:28
How are you this morning?

00:00:28:13 – 00:00:32:16
I am well happy to be on the show with you John.

00:00:32:16 – 00:00:34:16
Tell me a little bit about who you are?

00:00:35:26 – 00:01:00:12
I’m just, you know, a daughter of immigrants from Montreal who made her way to Silicon Valley during the boom and have three kids and by some miracle the same husband had them living through the third act of my career doing something I’m very passionate about as opposed to just figuring out how to pay the mortgage.

00:01:00:24 – 00:01:02:12
That’s interesting. So what are you doing?

00:01:03:00 – 00:01:35:07
You know I have this company called Grokker which is an on demand well-being. We like to call it the on-demand well-being solution employees love it. Simply put you think of it as Netflix for well-being. I mean so we combine beautiful expert led video. Covering everything from exercise and mental health and sleep nutrition financial well-being you name it. With a very supportive community. And personalization to make it fun and just a little bit easier to achieve healthier habits.

00:01:35:26 – 00:01:42:28
So how do you end up doing this? It does not sound like the dreams of a young girl in a sandbox somewhere?

00:01:45:14 – 00:01:52:09
Well I like to say that all of my career moves have been because I’m not afraid to disappoint my mother.

00:01:54:09 – 00:03:09:12
My mom my mother you know an immigrant who made it to the new world and became a lawyer and a judge and really likes the safe route. And so every time I make a career move into the new into something new and different. It’s like No way am I to explain that to my mother. This latest adventure which actually began seven years ago was because I was personally struggling. With how can I fit Well being into my life that I don’t have time to go to the gym the yoga student. He was really. I felt nobody was helping me John. And everyone had these unrealistic expectations of what I needed to do. And I thought Gee. If we can just help people who have no time like me busier than ever I think we can do something great. And the reason why I chose to do it in this way is because I could see. With the proliferation of smartphones tablets connected TV. That new video was going to be consumed more than ever and people were loving this video. I had to figure out how can I make this on demand very video very. Accessible to you. In a way that was not going to feel like a chore but to feel like something fun and easy.

00:03:09:26 – 00:03:21:17
So let’s give a little bit basic. What do you mean by will be. What is that. So. It’s been such a good question because it’s going to mean something a little different to me than it is to you

00:03:22:02 – 00:04:01:18
To think about overall well-being. What are the different dimension. Of your physical and emotional life. That lead to you feeling well. So there is you know emotional well-being there’s physical. Well-being there’s social connectedness. There. You know I talk a lot about I think people today more than ever. It’s not just employees. Everyone is demanding three things a life a sense of purpose a sense of belonging and a sense of balance. I mean you can have those three elusive things all at once and I feel you’ve got total well-being. So that’s sort of how I like.

00:04:02:19 – 00:04:13:23
To talk about it. The idea is that somehow watching you video can produce that. Well it’s not like one isolated video is going to

00:04:14:07 – 00:05:12:28
Magically change your life. It’s because we’re busier now than ever. We don’t have the time to like you know I don’t know about you but can you see how fitness has moved out of the gym right. So. Instead of expecting you to go do something like that. What if we can just you know. In your pocket. The power of a wonderful expert know personal trainer on the man. Who can help you with. A 15 minute stretch. Video that you can do when you have the time. Or a meditation practice that you can do while you’re waiting to carpool. So it’s really the video are a ways little incremental way. All. Deaths. That help you find the time for well-being. But when you stick them all together and you’re able to fit them into your lifestyle it actually makes you seriously feel different. But it’s a small steps at a time.

00:05:13:00 – 00:05:35:01
Small steps at a time. So I take it that means that you have a bigger picture of where we’re going. You take small steps in any given direction and you can get nowhere. So this going to be some sort of trajectory. How do you put that out. How do you help somebody point out that landed trajectory. So I think the first thing that you need to do is don’t

00:05:35:12 – 00:07:50:27
Think that everybody is the same. That’s just a fatal flaw. So we really sort of have to understand. Who you’re dealing with. If I’m talking to someone who. Does not work out at all is pre diabetic is suffering from lack of proper sleep hygiene and you know is 35 year old mother of two. Well I understand what she’s struggling with right now. I mean give her a very personalized plan. Going to how much time she has when she can do it what she has access to. So the first piece in the you know what are the steps. Number one understand what are they struggling with. And how much time do they have. To. Devote to doing things that might make them feel better. Then the second thing you do once you understand. Where they’re at is you have to be able to provide quite a compelling. Entertaining and easy experience. And so the videos can’t feel. Like I’m looking going to give that woman that we’re talking about. Some type of mega celebrity personal trainer to follow. I mean it’ll kill her. Turn her off. Someone approachable someone who’s been intimidating. And takes this thinking out of it for her structure it for her schedule it for her. Tend. To her reminders. Provide her encouragement. And then the videos will progress. They start off really easy very simple. It’s like honey you know the basics of habit formation right. You have to have a small win from the beginning and then you have to repeat them at the right intervals to reinforce that eventually. It becomes a habit. So we think at this moment gets. Drawn as. What do you mean. Who are you. What do you need. We have a massive amount of video because we have a patent on how we film video that lets us have all of it. And we’ve had you know starting off as a consumer company first. We’ve had so many years of trial and error with consumers to understand. What works and what doesn’t. And so we’ve home still a little bit more. Like a Netflix then like an enterprise software company. As I understand what you just said.

00:07:51:13 – 00:08:31:15
You’re able to develop a personalized wellness development plans and curricula for people inside of some sort of enterprise. How often does it work. Does everybody who touches this get well or is it more to school. I wish it was not everyone who was with us immediately made well. We get you know roughly if you want to talk about real numbers and you’re talking about a large employer in the first year you can expect about 50 percent of your employees to become engaged with Crocker

00:08:31:23 – 00:10:37:25
And somewhere in the 35 percent range to be engaged on a quarterly basis. And what’s interesting about that John is we take your question one layer deeper. When you think about which again people are not all the same. The same person isn’t even the same sitting here on April 5th they’re going to be on September 5th. They are shifting their different stressors there different movements happening in their personal lives in their work lives. And so if you really need to think about this journey with the employee where naturally. They’re going to be more prone to listen and be open to receiving help. Depending on what was happening for them at work and at home. And so you better have different things to try to catch. So with all the time. So again not the same stuff every single month different messaging. Different opportunities whether it’s. You know a new program that you’re launching that they might be interested in. You know we recently for example had launched a sugar reset. Which was well timed in the first quarter and we’re all thinking about nutrition. That’s a good time to try to catch them and then that. Would not be a good time in the holiday season to try to hit someone with a sugar reset. They’re not going to try to do that. I want all of the eggnog I feel at home. But that might be a good time of the year to try to help people. With some. Coping mechanisms of getting through the holidays. So when we talk about. That success it’s not just oh we’ve got great stuff. Come any time that’s what what’s happening with you right now. And we’ll check in with you will have you the opportunity right to take our wellness quiz throughout the year. That measures along for matters of well-being. How are you doing right now. And oh my gosh we see that right now you’re struggling with sleep. Why don’t we give you some sleep hygiene videos some sleep stories and some easy ways to lessen. Your issues around that. I think it ebbs and flows but as always you have to be releasing new content all the time. You have to have exciting new opportunities and you have to make it easy for people to participate.

00:10:38:01 – 00:11:30:20
So you have kind of a hypothetical show for me about 90 do should do or quit eating gluten and dairy and as a result of quitting eating even gluten and dairy I feel better and feeling better means I used to think it was normal to her when I was done with a meal and I didn’t even think about it being something unusual. It was something I wanted to fix. It just was. And so when I talk about wellness I think that there must be a ton of things that I think are just normal and that I’m not struggling with their view of my world. How do you trust that sort of thing where you may know that something is unhealthy or is a path to feeling better. And it’s completely opaque to me the user of your system pro-life community and such.

00:11:30:21 – 00:13:37:27
It’s such a beautiful question. And by the way I also took out it will vary from my diet because I. Love story about why a friend of mine has said hey you do this and you’ll feel better. And it was life changing. So I think. Part of what you were. Implicitly. Explaining is that. You need. Other people. To bring ideas to you that you’re not necessarily going to identify. As a problem on your own. And so influencers in your life whether it’s at work or at home. People who are more of the connectors. That are. You know trusted who will come and suggest something. To you that you wouldn’t otherwise connect is what is needed. And to a certain extent I think that the the employer has a really interesting role. That they can play. In helping to bring together. Existing. Colleagues here. To help with a type of the community. And I’m not talking about Facebook community not like I’m trying to impress you. This is what we’re seeing in a lot of our work where you have these. Ambassadors these people that you work with who they are the ones who first tried to absolutely endearing. And they’ll say oh my gosh this is amazing or they’re the one to do. The whole 30 every January and encourage everyone to do it with them. So I think a you need to have connections and ability for people to. Talk openly about these things. Number one you have an environment. Where it’s okay to talk about do you think it’s okay to be real. To your police have permission to even think and talk about it. If your. Executives. Are all. You know. Eat lunch at their desks and never move and really care about whether you’re there at 6 p.m. or when it’s hard to create that culture. But if you are like I was you know my first corporate job with two Packard. And my boss the first day of work and came to my cube and said at lunch time Hey you come into the gym.

00:13:38:20 – 00:13:55:05
Well. That’s giving me permission. And so you know when you have an environment that gives employees. Permission and they can create that. Community. And then specifically for how you. Share

00:13:55:19 – 00:15:04:00
The opportunities to make yourself feel better. You’ve got to have. A calendar for the year. Different topics that might appeal to different people. We know cracker has we have a 12 month calendar every month is a different scene. And we provide. A webinar materials in which each team e-mails and new videos get released. But it’s just a way of disseminating information we work and ambassadors at the company. How do you create something exciting and new around ideas that you might not. Have heard of before. And make it approachable. I don’t know for you John when you decided to try this if it felt daunting or you thought oh I’m just going to give it a little try I’m just going to try it for maybe a month. It’s so much easier. When you don’t feel like you’re making a life commitment you’re just trying something small. To see how you feel. A week. Two weeks and then can lead to something else. So I think that you have to feel permission. You have to have exciting entertaining ways of exploring. And hopefully have a community that is going to support you and give you the ideas that I wouldn’t have figured out to cut out the gluten in the dairy myself

00:15:05:04 – 00:15:09:20
So what makes you different from other wellness.

00:15:10:12 – 00:17:41:17
No one I think honestly the first thing that makes us different is we didn’t start out in the direct to consumer company. Right. So we’ve been. Perfecting the art of engaging consumers. You know I like Netflix or Amazon. Not approaching it like an enterprise H.R. software company. I think that. The first thing that’s different. The second thing that’s different is let’s face it employees are struggling. Right they’re struggling with obesity and high blood pressure and pain and depression and lack of sleep and. All of these things preventing them from. Bringing a hundred percent to work. And while the first generation of these wellness programs pushed for. The measurement of BMI or the measurement of blood pressure. And through a bunch of paid incentives at you just to take that test. You know that a stat that benefits professional and clung to like a coat of armor to protect them from the pop shocked about not having. A. Eye they can prove. That. You know. We’re very different we don’t take that approach. Actually the approach that we take is that. If. You. Are. Your. Individual. You are not a dad and that we know that a stat isn’t going to make you well. So our perspective is that. These are lifestyle risks. Are what matter because if you’re struggling with depression it’s going to affect you at home. It’s going to affect you at work. So let’s focus on addressing that. But we also believe that because everyone’s different. You need to be engaged and supported in ways that fit you. So as a result we believe that to help people you have to incorporate very modern consumer technologies like video. Blog 24/7 on demand access personalization. Assessment. Creating small incremental steps with encouragement and community in order to help you. So we don’t assume we’re not arrogant. We don’t assume that we know what you need. There is no one size fits all. So first we added. Then. We personalize a program. That provides these small steps that can hopefully make it easier for you to create. The change in your life that you want. And I think a laugh that’s different about us is we’ve got such a wide range. Of well-being programs because of our history. And that means that you know you can learn about reducing sugar. In your cooking one day and how to get a better night’s sleep the next. So there’s more opportunities. To get you engaged and keep you engaged because it’s not some boring you know. Oh we’re all walking to roam again. Some challenge

00:17:42:14 – 00:18:22:17
A lot of the things that are the targets of wellness programs are taboo subjects. So the fact that I suffer from depression or any of that suffer from diabetes. Generally. But you couldn’t tell me that this is a generational thing which is generally not something that I am all that interested in sharing with my employer. And so that brings me to the question of how you handle privacy and the experience of privacy. A tool that’s provided by an employer. How do you stop it from feeling intrusive in areas that I don’t really want people to know about.

00:18:23:22 – 00:20:51:08
This is critical to success. You have to make sure. The a minute feel fully comes into your environment whether they’re whether it’s Brockett or anything else. We’re helping employers with. The employee has to understand. That their information. Is private. Like we because we support global employers we are completely GDP are compliant. So we would also point to that right. Blame that their privacy is being protected. But moreover. For employees to understand and be open with them about what is and isn’t shared with the employer. So. We have actually been very fortunate. Because again I think coming from the consumer realm it’s very clear from the minute. That you come on your property that. There are ways to keep your staff to yourself. And there are things if you want to share you can. But there’s no requirement for you to share anything. I think transparency in how you talk about it. But also what’s really interesting Daryn and it is somewhat generational. People. Want to be more real. At work and get home. We actually find that employees really want to connect over whether in. That. They’re. Suffering my anxiety or suffering from depression for really struggling with weight. People want to reach out to one another especially colleague. In a work environment. For that feeling of I’m not so alone. So I think the balance of making clear what shared you what isn’t. And then to how can you give people great opportunities. To feel that they’re not alone and have very respected expert to help them is one thing. But having an opportunity for other people to lead by example. Often we see executives lead by example. And they’ll. Join the mindfulness if we have a mindfulness program that a company is launching. The executives will say I really need this in my life right now under stress. And what’s wonderful is again giving employees permission. To talk about it. And again you don’t have to like no one can make you force you to tell everyone anything. I want to keep this private and keep it private. I want to talk about it. I can participate and talk about it. But just the act of. Watching videos that’s not visible to other people in the group is there. So. You’re not at risk unless you choose to share that information.

00:20:52:14 – 00:21:16:27
That’s interesting. So I think I have a different view of how people see. Internet based tools. It spans years of being lied to about what’s private and what’s not private that most people have experience. All right and so the question is what makes you so different that people are going to believe that their interactions with you are private I can only tell you..

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“I’ve been thinking a lot about contracts. Most of the time, it doesn’t matter what’s in them, because people do what they say they are going to do. The important thing is what’s happening in the world, not the paper the lawyers are playing with.” – Heather Bussing

I’ve been thinking a lot about contracts. Most of the time, it doesn’t matter what’s in them, because people do what they say they are going to do. So the contract could call for one party to eat bananas in a purple, sequined tutu and hiking boots, and no one would care.

The important thing is what’s happening in the world, not the paper the lawyers are playing with.

That’s why people sign things without reading them, check the “I agree” box on the screen, and even sign things they read and don’t agree with. Most of the time, the contract is forgotten as soon as it’s signed. Like policy manuals.

So why do we continue to use contracts? Why do we issue policy manuals? Why do we put things in writing?

For the times that it goes sideways, I guess.

Heather Bussing, HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board

But then what happens? You hire lawyers who fight about the words of the contract that have nothing to do with what was actually going on. And there’s always some clause that says everything is in the contract and nothing else counts– that’s always a complete lie. You spend months, years, and way too much money staying stuck in being mad and wanting to win a fight for the sake of winning.

Most of the lawsuits I see are stupid. They are never about what they say they are about. They are about wounded pride and egos, and economic leverage. Sometimes they are a tool to stop bad behavior. Even then, they don’t really work. If the weasels ignored the contract, what makes you think they will pay attention to court orders?  Mostly, lawsuits are about revenge.

Revenge is not a remedy. Revenge is destructive. Revenge is like drinking poison and waiting for the other guy to die.

Get over it. Cut your losses and move on. Lawsuits won’t help. (I’m pretty sure I have to turn my bar card in now.)

And next time you are faced with a contract, the first question to ask is whether you trust the person on the other side.  If not, you better read it and agree to everything in it. Really, don’t sign unless you know what’s there and really do agree.

Better yet, don’t work with people you don’t trust. Do you need the money that badly?

Most of all, be trustworthy.

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