HR Challenges vs. Organizational People Priorities

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At Data Point Tuesday we love great graphics. Great graphics can really make a point. They can help people digest complex data points and make sense out of the numbers. Quantum Workplace’s new report, the State of Employee Feedback, does all of these things.

The things I found most interesting about the data, however, were not about the state of employee feedback, but rather about HR’s priorities and their view of organizational people challenges. This report isn’t really about those things, but they’re pretty interesting. Quantum Workplace polled HR professionals in nearly 300 organizations that cover the size spectrum. (No information on industry sectors or geographic location, sadly, but maybe those are being saved for another report.)

The high level, easily consumed findings (and terrific graphics) focus on 5 areas:

  • What are HR teams’ biggest challenges?
  • What will be prioritized in the coming year?
  • What employee feedback strategies and tools have become more or less important?
  • What tactics and strategies are organizations using to measure and improve their employees’ experience?
  • What are the most engaged organizations doing differently?

As a vendor white paper, the report is most focused on discussing findings on issues 3 – 5. While they are all interesting and probably useful as a backdrop, the first two were most interesting to me. They show in great specificity the challenge that is being an HR professional today. This survey’s respondents listed these as their top organizational HR challenges:

Quantum Workplace 1

Interesting that proving the ROI of HR initiatives is in the #3 spot, not the #1 spot. As HR becomes more and more a strategic business function, and less and less an administrative “overhead” function, I would assume that proving the ROI of everything HR does would move to the top of the priority list. That’s how business functions operate

But wait. There’s more. I’m comparing and contrasting that list – of HR challenges – with HR’s self-report of top organizational people strategies:

Quantum Workplace 2

This is as good a list of or organizational people strategies as I’ve seen. No one is probably surprised that Attracting Top Talent is the first organizational priority. And even though there is no common definition of Employee Engagement, no common way to measure it, and no indication that it’s improving anywhere in the world, it’s not surprising that HR folks would put this category in second place for its organization. Talent acquisition and employee engagement are the tip of the spear in all popular business and HR content outlets.

What I’d like to see are the same questions posed to CEOs and CFOs in those same organizations. I’d love to see if those other senior leaders identify the same HR challenges and people priorities in the same order. Call me crazy, but I’ll bet there would be significant differences in both categories and rank order. And that’s my point today. HR talking to itself about HR and people processes is not bad. Better, though, would be HR talking to other business leaders about HR and people processes. I hear anecdotally that this is starting to happen. But the simple fact that Finding an Executive Sponsor is on the list of HR’s top challenges for 2016 tells me it isn’t happening enough.

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The True Cost of On-Demand Talent

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WorkMarket has just published a new survey analysis, the 2016 Corporate On-Demand Talent Report. It’s got some really great information about “On-Demand” talent in our changing economy. And while a definition of “On-Demand” was never given, it’s clear that it means more than the traditional blue collar or retail “temp” definition. It clearly also includes professionals of all stripes who either prefer a more fluid and flexible on-demand employer-employee relationship, or who have been displaced and who can’t seem to find new, satisfying full-time employment.

Some interesting findings:

  • Nearly 17% — or 27 million workers – of the U.S, workforce is now part of the corporate on-demand economy

  • 88% of businesses are currently using an on-demand workforce

  • 46% of businesses are using on-demand labor for more than a year at a time

  • 42% of businesses are using the same professionals more than half the time

At 9 pages, the survey report is a quick and interesting read. The survey results are from an online survey of 1,037 adults that was fielded in November and December last year. The employers represented appear to be an appropriate cross-section in terms of revenue size and numbers of employees.

The results of this survey show an economy and workforce undergoing an even larger transition than we might have realized: more than 40% of businesses indicated their on-demand professionals comprised more than 30% of their overall workforce. WorkMarket suggests that employers are trying to shrink their fulltime workforces, with all the expenses and liabilities they entail, while trying to grow their businesses. This could mean a fundamental reshaping of the employer-employee relationship. Employers are considering how they can we grow their businesses while shrinking their commitment to their people, seems to be the message from this report.

This graphic is challenging for me:

WorkMarket 1

I guess my question is: what does flexibility mean? Does it mean having the ability to move people around when and where we need them? Does it mean being able to staff up and down during peaks and valleys? Or does flexibility mean being able to “rent” skills for as long as possible without calling the skills holders “headcount” and having to provide a full range of benefits? Is headcount a dirty word now?

Does lowering labor costs mean paying on-demand workers less than fulltime workers? Does lowering labor costs also mean not providing the full range of benefits to on-demand workers that similarly skilled and deployed full-time workers receive?

These findings are surprising to me because I’ve actually been noting a growth in the number of employers that are focusing on creating more human workplace cultures. Creating cultures that treat employees as full human beings, not just skills that clock in and clock out. The proliferation of data connecting better corporate performance with positive, employee-focused cultures seem to contradict these findings that suggest employers will go to great lengths to NOT hire full-time employees and be liable for them.

WorkMarket may have uncovered unintended consequences of the On-Demand economy. At least I hope they’re unintended. These survey results could turn our conversations away from the ever elusive quest for employee engagement to a more useful discussion about the changing nature of the employer-employee relationship in the U.S. If employers really do want skills flexibility more than they want a stable, reliable workforce to whom they are committed, we have only begun to experience the On-Demand economy.

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Does Your CEO Have a Higher Purpose?

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Each year I look forward to the pwc CEO survey findings. And they’re just out. You can see their top ten findings here.

If you’re in HR you need to know what your CEO is thinking about. What she’s worried about. What keeps him up at night. What she’s planning to tackle in the next several years. And if you don’t have access to your CEO, this survey can help you make sure you’re preparing for what may be coming down the pike. These survey results could help you be brilliant for your organization – and for your CEO.

The top ten issues for 2016 identified by U.S. CEOs in the survey are fascinating. They cover regulation, cyber security, tax reform, doing deals, paying attention to customers, investors, employees – and understanding the organization’s higher purpose. A virtual smorgasbord for HR!

Top issues CEOs are expecting to confront in 2016 include:

  1. U.S. market prospects will outshine the low-growth world

  2. Over-regulation will continue to pose a threat to business growth

  3. Regionalization in trade and divergence in economic models and regulatory frameworks, with threats to open Internet

  4. Customers and other stakeholders will expect business to demonstrate a higher purpose over the coming years

  5. Prospects will improve for laying the groundwork for U.S. tax reform

And, in 2016, U.S. CEOs will plan to:

  1. Strengthen the technology foundation to set their business apart

  2. Do more deals, especially domestically

  3. Hold fast in China, while recognizing the bumps along the way

  4. Anticipate the needs of future customers and other stakeholders

  5. Prepare the Millennials for leadership roles

I’m fascinated that 3 of the top ten land squarely in HR’s court: demonstrating a higher purpose (that’s culture), anticipating the needs of…stakeholders (that’s talent), and preparing Millennials for leadership roles (that’s talent development). If you ever wondered whether or not your CEO thinks about HR, the answer is a resounding YES in 2016.

I’m particularly intrigued with the higher purpose issue. It’s no secret that bringing humanity into the workplace is a topic on the minds of many business leaders. Having CEOs concerned that customers, investors, employees, strategic partners all want in on the higher purpose is pretty darned interesting. What are you doing to help the organization understand and communicate its higher purpose this year?

pwc CEO survey 2016 1

Anticipating the needs of customers and employees is another thought provoking issue. Addressing employee needs like wellness – physical and financial, parental leave, career development, and providing opportunities to contribute to society are clearly articulated needs of today’s U.S. employees. Are you helping your CEO provide options to meet these needs?

And preparing Millennials for leadership roles is front and center, isn’t it? Investing in their development brings a number of benefits to the organization in addition to deepening your leadership bench. Millennials frequently report that learning and skills development are as – or more – important than compensation growth. Many report that they leave their employers in search of learning and growth opportunities. Investment in their leadership development undoubtedly impacts retention in a positive way. Are you beefing up your succession plan and its supporting programs?

pwc CEO survey 2016 2

My guess is that most HR practitioners and leaders are currently thinking about these 3 priorities, among a long list of others. Isn’t it nice to know that your CEO may just be ready to help you tackle these issues?

The bigger question may be, are you ready for your CEO to start asking “what’s the plan?”

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Employee Referrals Are Gold

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And this is why culture matters…

CareerXroads 2015 SOH

In Gerry Crispin and Chris Hoyt’s final Source of Hire lab report, the big headline is that culture matters. They don’t say it, but what they say leaves no doubt. And it’s really no big surprise, really, but CareerXRoads reports that almost 30% of their Colloquium members hire between 26-50% of their candidates from employee referrals.

It’s not hard, folks. As the talent supply continues to tighten up, your own employees are the go-to (and most cost effective source for candidates. And if your employees are looking for a job somewhere else (anywhere but here!), what is the likelihood they’ll refer the best of their connections to your company? You know the answer.

CareerXRoads has been a lone voice in the wilderness touting the value (and high incidence) of employee referrals. This report lays it out clearly, although I’m not sure the word culture is ever mentioned: employees who feel strongly positive about the culture of their organization will invite their friends, family and acquaintances to join them. It’s about the work, the boss, the innovation and collaboration, the communication, the appreciation, the respect. It’s about the culture.

No way around it:  culture matters.

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Quality of Hire: A Vaguely Valid Metric?

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In November I wrote about Linkedin’s 2016 Global Recruiting Trends Report (you can re-read it here) and took them to task about their methodology. Turns out they did a bit of a miscalculation and corrected data that looked askew. Good on them. As I looked at a relatively new infographic about their survey data, I was again intrigued by some of their findings. In a good way.

The infographic, found in Linkedin’s Talent Blog, 4 Recruiting Trends to Watch in 2016, boils the report down to 4 key points – and they are good ones:

  • Quality of Hire is the magic metric
  • Employers are finding quality hires faster through professional networks
  • Employer branding is bouncing back as a top priority
  • Employee retention is growing as a top employer priority

The big question raised in my mind by this infographic is: how should we define quality of hire. Linkedin helps us understand that perhaps we should be talking about this a little more than we are.

Linkedin 2016 Quality of Hire

Linkedin’s data show that around the world, the KPIs that define quality of hire shift between three primary metrics:

  1. New Hire Performance Evaluation
  2. Turnover/Retention
  3. Hiring Manager Satisfaction

These are interesting and good metrics. But are they the correct metrics to use in judging wether a hire was a quality hire?

As more employers shun “labeling” performance and leave traditional performance management systems and their inherent biases in the dust, having fair, accurate and reliable performance evaluation metrics may be harder and harder to obtain – especially for employees new to their jobs.

Turnover and retention data are somewhat valuable in that they measure whether the new employee actually commits to their job and the organization and decide to stay. The challenge with this particular measure is that it is two-sided. Employees can quit their jobs if they don’t like their employee experience more easily than employers can fire new employees who don’t perform. It’s hard to make a case that turnover or retention are valid measures of quality of hire.

And hiring manager satisfaction, while maybe the most influential measure, is the least scientifically valid assessment of the three: every manager has their own performance benchmarks that are shaped by their experience, education and time in the job. Certainly a new employee’s ability to create a positive relationship with their boss is significantly influential in creating a positive impression from a performance evaluation perspective. And that makes it only vaguely valid.

It’s interesting that employers in different parts of the world have developed different steps to develop Linkedin’s “magic metric.” That there is not the emergence of a common standard (SHRM or CIPD anyone? Bueller?) creates opportunities for stakeholders to get confused about what is trying to be accomplished. And that just makes it harder to make a business case for a critical aspect of talent management.

I think Linkedin has pointed out an opportunity for significant value in the talent management game:  unless and until we can develop a relatively standard, valid set of KPIs for Quality of Hire, we can’t really make sense of whether or not we’re hiring the great talent we all need. And since having the right talent available to us when and where we need it will make the difference in whether our businesses survive or not, getting a handle on the magic metric just might be helpful.

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Filed under Analytics, Annual Performance Reviews, Big Data and HR, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Global HR, HR Analytics, Linkedin, Performance Management, Quality of Hire

What Do You Know About the Hourly Workforce?

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Here’s an eye opener:

“As of 2014, hourly workers make up 56.7 percent of the United States workforce. Think about that for a moment. More than half of all people working the U.S. make an hourly wage. That’s 77.2 million workers aged 16 and up. Yet there is little data to be found about the hourly worker. The U.S. Census publishes a total number of hourly workers and breaks that number down by very broad age characteristics, full-time vs. private sector and race. But that’s all. The segment is so ignored that even the monthly unemployment report doesn’t categorize the workforce by salary vs hourly. The U.S. Department of Labor recognizes them only in an annual report on minimum wage workers. To understand the majority of laborers in the United States, we are left to guess.”

redeapp is changing this through the commission of a series surveys and reports from Edison Research. The first, Profile of The Hourly Worker: Demographics, Devices and Disconnection, crossed my desk right before the end of 2015. And it’s pretty interesting.

Redeapp provides private and secure communications platforms that connect companies with their hourly, front-line employees and those without company email access. So they have a vested interest in having a deep understanding of this segment of the workforce. What they’ve found, in some cases, seems counter-intuitive. Like this, for example:

Profile of Hourly Worker 1.png

If the data are to be believed, more than 30% of the U.S.’s hourly workforce has 1-3 years of college or more – with fully 24% having some graduate credits or an advanced degree! I would not have expected that 49% of our hourly worker population would have a 4-year college degree – or a high school degree and some college credits.

Another surprise: email is used by this segment of the workforce multiple times each day in their general work responsibilities. But here’s the rub: only 50% of this segment have an email address provided by their employer. And 42% report that they use their personal email account for work communication either sometimes or often. How many liabilities and risks can we count here?

Given that scenario, this chart becomes very interesting:

Profile of Hourly Worker 2

The risk and control issues that exist in an un-secured corporate communication environment are quite large. Clearly, understanding hourly workers and how to communicate with them is a priority for organizations that employ this segment of the workforce. And perhaps, this segment of the workforce isn’t quite what you pictured.

Take a look at this survey report. It’ll make you think about your communication strategies. In a good way.

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Filed under Big Data and HR, Bureau of Labor Statistics, China Gorman, Corporate Risk Management, Data Point Tuesday, Employee Demographics, Employee Loyalty, Hourly Workers, HR Analytics, HR Data, redeapp, Strategic Workforce Planning, Uncategorized, Workforce Management

Deloitte’s HR Wake Up Call

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This is a re-post of one of the most popular Data Point Tuesdays in 2015. Enjoy!

Deloitte recently released its 2015 Global Human Capital Trends report, their annual comprehensive study of HR, leadership, and talent challenges compiled using data from surveys and interviews taken by 3,300+ HR and business leaders in 106 countries around the world. The report identifies 10 major trends that emerged from the most current research, and cites the capability gap (measuring the distance between the importance of an issue and organizations’ readiness to address it) associated with each, as well as practical ideas for how to help organizations combat theses challenges. Ranked by importance, the top ten talent challenges reported for 2015 are: culture and engagement, leadership, learning and development, reinventing HR, workforce on demand, performance management, HR and people analytics, simplification of work, machines as talent, and people data everywhere.

Deloitte’s data highlight considerable gaps in capability among all 10 trends, with the majority of capability gaps getting larger compared to last year. Global Importance vs. ReadinessLet’s take a look at the top five talent issues for 2015: Culture and Engagement ranked as the #1 issue overall for 2015 (not a surprise to us at Great Place to Work®), barely edging out leadership, which ranked as the #1 issue in 2014. This highlights organizations’ recognition that understanding their culture and focusing on building great cultures is a critical need in the face of a potential retention and engagement crisis. Building Leadership ranks as the #2 talent issue for 2015, with close to 9 out of 10 respondents citing the issue as “important” or “very important.” Despite this, Deloitte’s data show that organizations have made very little progress towards meeting this challenge since last year. Learning and Development jumped to the #3 talent challenge in 2015, up from the #8 spot last year. And while the number of companies rating learning and development as important has tripled since 2014, the readiness to address it has actually gone down (!?). Reskilling HR came in as the 4th most important talent issue for the year, with business leaders rating HR’s performance 20% lower than HR leaders’ ranking (and that is with both HR and business leaders ranking HR performance as low on average). Workforce on Demand was the #5 talent challenge for 2015, with 8 out of 10 respondents citing workforce capability as “important” or “very important” in the year ahead.

Through data analysis and extensive conversations with organizations around the world about these challenges, Deloitte arrived at six key findings that give us a bird’s eye view of how organizations are approaching talent and work:

  1. “ ‘Softer’ areas such as culture and engagement, leadership, and development have become urgent priorities.”
  1. “Leadership and learning have dramatically increased in importance, but the capability gap is widening.”
  1. “HR organizations and HR skills are not keeping up with business needs.”
  1. “HR technology systems are a growing market, but their promise may be largely unfulfilled.”
  1. “Talent and people analytics are a high priority and a tremendous opportunity, but progress is slow.”
  1. “Simplification is an emerging theme; HR is part of the problem.”

Each chapter in Deloitte’s report takes a deep dive view into the 10 talent trends they uncovered through their research with some interested findings. For example (in looking at the #4 trend, reskilling HR) Deloitte notes that nearly 40% of new CHRO’s now come from business, not from HR. Why are CEOs bringing in non-HR professionals to fill the role of CHRO? The answer may lie in their sinking belief in HR’s capabilities and abilities to provide solutions to people-related business problems.HR Performance

Deloitte puts it bluntly: right now HR is just not keeping up with the pace of business, and a reskilling of HR professionals while reinventing the role of HR is becoming critical. This need however, also creates an unprecedented opportunity for HR to play a big role at the highest levels of business strategy. But where do organizations start? Deloitte offers the following advice:

  • “Redesign HR with a focus on consulting and service delivery, not just efficiency of administration. HR business partners must become trusted business advisors with the requisite skills to analyze, consult, and resolve critical business issues.”
  • “Rather than locating HR specialists in central teams, embed them into the business—but coordinate them by building a strong network of expertise. Recruitment, development, employee relations, and coaching are all strategic programs that should be centrally coordinated but locally implemented.”
  • “Make HR a talent and leadership magnet… Create rigorous assessments for top HR staff and rotate high performers from the business into HR to create a magnet for strong leaders.”
  • “Invest in HR development and skills as if the business depended on it… Focus on capabilities such as business acumen, consulting and project management skills, organizational design and change, and HR analytical skills.”

There are very useful insights in this report – as there are every year. But this year the insights also serve as a warning to HR. A warning that it’s losing the confidence of CEOs and other C-Suite executives. That 40% of all CHROs are coming from functions other than HR should be sobering. That the top capability gaps are growing larger, not smaller, should be cause for concern. Without bringing furniture into the conversation, this report is a credible and important HR wake up call!

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