Category Archives: Connecting Dots

Social Technology vs. Social Media

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In the land of HR,  folks tend to think inside their bubble.   And when it comes to social media, some are early adopters (think using social media for talent acquisition) and many are laggards (think writing policies that keep people from accessing Facebook while at work).

But the truth is that there is so much more to social technology than social media. And HR needs to go to school on this.

I was pleased to attend IBM’s Connect Conference last week.  I was there to get insight into IBM’s acquisition of Kenexa and its commitment to building a Smarter Workforce – the brilliant marketing extension of their Smarter Planet campaign.  Social business is huge.  Social business at IBM is enormous — and growing.

While at the conference, I received a copy of the IBM Institute for Business Value’s report titled, “The Business of Social Business:  What Works and How it’s Done,” that should be required reading for every HR person.   It’s a sort of primer explaining what social technology is and how it is transforming the way businesses are competing in the global marketplace.

Based on survey data from 1,161 respondents and interviews with 21 executives responsible for implementing successful social business practices around the world, this report is easily consumed by non-technical business leaders (that’s you, HR pros) and creates a much larger context for understanding the opportunities that social technology brings to an organization — and that will be coming to your organization soon!

IBM Social Business

Despite Applebee’s and HMV’s unfortunate handling of recent experiences with social media, note that the IBM survey identified three primary areas of social business in which organizations around the world are currently investing:

  • Creating valued customer experiences

  • Driving workforce productivity and effectiveness

  • Accelerating innovation

I found it fascinating that when drilling down into the second bullet point, driving workforce productivity and effectiveness – HR’s domain – the focus was on learning and developing talent, not acquiring it.  There’s a head snap for you.

Take a look at the report and look for more useful information from the IBM Institute for Business Value.  And download the free “IBM IBV” app for iPad and Android from your app store so you don’t miss any new research!

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Filed under China Gorman, Connecting Dots, Early Adoption, IBM, IBM Institute for Business Value, Social Media, Social Technology

Big Trouble in the Talent Pipeline

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I’m not generally big on infographics.  I find them self-serving and hard to read and digest.  Here’s an exception.  It’s called Unprepared for College and was posted on the College@Home.com blog.

I’ve written about the non-performance of the U.S. education system in preparing our future workforce here and here.  This infographic puts the issues front and center.  I don’t see how we can continually turn away from this data.

  • Half of all college students drop out before receiving a degree
  • 1 in 4 college freshman don’t complete their 1st year
  • Over half-a- million college freshman drop out every year

But wait.  It gets worse:

  • 80% of college freshman say high school is too easy but
    • 5 out of 10 college freshman can’t find New York or Ohio on a map of the U.S.
    • 9 out of 10 can’t find Afghanistan on a map of Asia
    • 3 out of 10 can’t find China on a globe
    • 4 out of 10 can’t find Israel, Iraq or Saudi Arabia
    • 7 out of 10 can’t find North Korea

And worse:

College@Home High School Readiness Benchmarks

And then there’s this:

  • 4 out of 5 students currently pursuing a math or science degree feel that their K-12 education did not prepare them for college
  • 2.2 million college freshman are learning high school material in college
  • 80% of students in remedial classes in college had a high school GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • 20% of freshman with a 4.0 high school GPA need remediation in math, English or both
  • And 8 out of 10 freshman believed they were ready for college when they graduated from high school

The bottom line?  Only 56% of students enrolled in a 4-year program receive a degree within 6 years.

So.  What are we doing about this?  Government can’t or won’t act.  We can blame teacher unions, local governments, state governments, the voting public, parents, the students themselves – but none of that helps solve the problem.

Seems to me that business in general – and HR specifically – needs to step up to the plate.  After all, we’re the ones most concerned with the unskilling of our populace.  We’re the ones who know the most about the kinds of skills we need today and the kinds of skills we’ll need tomorrow, and next month and in the years to come.  I think it’s up to us.  What do you think?

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Filed under China Gorman, College Graduation Rates, Connecting Dots, Education Deficit, High School Graduation Rates, Jobs for America's Graduates, Post-secondary education, STEM, Talent pipeline

Connecting Dots: Employee-style

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Back in July, I referenced data from the Glassdoor Q2 2012 Employment Confidence Survey.  If you’ll recall, this quarterly survey monitors four key indicators of employee confidence:  job security, company outlook, salary expectations and re-hire probability.  The Q4 2012 Survey from Glassdoor is out and the results are interesting.

It’s probably not shocking to anyone who reads this blog that half (51%) of employees (including self-employed people) will consider looking for a new Glassdoor logojob if the state of the economy stays the same or improves, with 33% looking for a new job in less than a year and nearly one in five (18%) planning to look for a new job in the next three months.  We’re hearing that our employee base is not engaged and other sources have said that as much as 90% of the employed population will look for a new job in 2013.

Glassdoor ECS Q412 - consider looking for a new job

What’s interesting to me is that, if you look at other data points in this survey, it makes perfect sense that a high percentage of employees think they’ll look for work this year. Why?  Well, according to the survey, 39% of employees don’t expect a pay or cost-of-living increase in 2013 and 21% aren’t sure if they’ll get an increase this year.

Glassdoor ECS Q412 - salary-expectations (2)

So.  60% of employees don’t think – or aren’t sure – they’ll get an increase this year.  I’m thinking that has something to do with the percentage of employees who will be looking for a new job this year.  And guess what?  The most important factor these employees say that will influence their decision on whether or not to accept a job offer is…wait for it…salary and compensation!

Employees are pretty good at connecting dots:

I don’t think I’m going to get a raise this year   +

I’ll be looking for a new job this year  =

The most important factor in my decision to accept a new job will be the salary and compensation

Makes perfect sense to me.

But I also think that a majority of employees will receive raises of some sort this year.  Even small ones.  So why do so many think that there is no soup for them?

Perhaps we’re causing this supposed exodus ourselves by not communicating clearly – at the employee level – what our compensations plans for this year are.  Or, maybe we’re being extremely clear and they don’t believe us.

Either way, it’s a problem.  Either way, we should never forget that our employees are smart and know how to connect the dots.

Maybe it’s time we do the same.

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Filed under China Gorman, Compensation, Connecting Dots, Employee Loyalty, Engagement, Glassdoor, HR Data

HR’s 2013 “To Do” List

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I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions.  Everyone else, though, has their top ten lists of resolutions for 2013.  And for HR, everyone wants you to go socially mobile into the Cloud.

Me?  Not so much.

I am big on “to do” lists, though.  And, while there’s lots for HR to do in 2013, here are my top 4:

to-do-list iPad1.)  Have a tactical plan to stay on top of regulatory (pay particular attention to NLRB rulings and timetables for implementation of the Affordable Healthcare Act) and legislative changes coming from your city, your state house and Washington D.C.

2.)  Review your HRIS providers and products:

  • Can you move to the Cloud in 2013 to reduce software and hardware expenses?
  • If any of your providers have been acquired or are likely acquisition targets do you know what your options are?

3.)  Schedule a review of employee programs that are 5 years or older. There are more effective, next-generation solutions that are generally cheaper to deploy and more employee friendly. Likely candidates include:

  • Performance management systems
  • Rewards and recognition programs
  • Learning management systems

4.)  Get a handle on your Big HR Data. Explore some of the new products that gather all the employee data from your disparate HR systems and help you and your organization’s managers make more intelligent, fact-based people decisions.

That’s not a long list.  But it is a powerful list.

Just think how you’d feel at the end of 2013 if you implemented a new rewards and recognition program that actually incented engagement and productivity.

Just think how you’d feel if you installed a system that made getting accurate, timely employee data into the hands of front line managers easy.

Just think how you’d feel if you saved your organization thousands of dollars by moving essential HRIS programs to the Cloud.

It’s good to feel powerful and effective.  It’s even better to BE powerful and effective.

How’s that for a New Year’s Resolution?

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Filed under Annual Performance Reviews, China Gorman, Connecting Dots, New Year's Resolutions, Performance Management, Rewards & Recognition, To Do Lists

ROI of People Focused Organizations

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The holy grail in HR is providing hard, compelling data-based evidence for the ROI of investing in people.  With this data, HR is in the strategic driver’s seat of the budgeting process.  Without this data, HR is resigned to the furniture conversation.

Want some new people investment ROI data from a source that even your CEO would pay attention to?  How about The Boston Consulting Group (BCG)?  They’re a big time global business strategy consulting firm that your CEO respects.

For the third time since 2008, BCG has partnered with the World Federation of People Management Associations (WFPMA) to publish its Creating People Advantage report.  The most current, published in October, is Creating People Advantage 2012: Mastering HR Challenges in a Two-Speed World.

The findings are the result of BCG’s analysis of responses to an online survey that polled 4,288 executives from companies throughout  a number of industries, 102 countries, and six major global regions.  Additionally, 63 HR and other executives from high profile companies all around the world were interviewed.  The survey and interviews covered 22 HR topics and the report includes interesting case studies from companies like L’Oreal, Samsung, and Daimler Trucks.

It’s a fascinating – and very readable – report and the findings won’t surprise you.  In fact, the top three critical topics for HR leaders around the world remained the same as in BCG’s 2010 global survey:

  • Managing talent
  • Improving leadership development
  • Strategic workforce planning

The data are compelling and the comparisons between countries and regions of the world really are interesting.

The big bonus, though, is the report that is appended at the conclusion, From Capability to Profitability: Realizing the Value of People Management. It’s loaded with economic data that compares the HR practices of high-performing companies against those of lower-performing ones in critical areas, including talent management, leadership development, and performance management and rewards.

The bottom line is that companies that demonstrated proficiency in the 22 key HR areas experienced revenue growth that was up to 3.5 times higher and profit margins that were 2.1 times higher than those of less capable companies.  And guess what those increases did to their share prices?

BCG 2012 People Companies Outperform the Market Average

Think your CEO and CFO are interested in higher revenue and profit growth rates?  Think the board might be interested in higher share price growth rates?  Think they might be willing to invest in practices that would accomplish those outcomes?  Yep, me too.

The budget season has long passed, and you’re locked in to the 2013 operating plan.  But take a look at the 22 key HR practices in your organization that this report covers and start a file that will hold the data to build the people investment plan for 2014. It takes some time to gather the foundational data to build your investment business cases.

Start now.  Start tracking the data.  Start setting the benchmarks. Start thinking in business cases.

And quit talking about furniture.

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Filed under Boston Consulting Group, Business Case, CEOs, China Gorman, Connecting Dots, HR, HR Data, Human Capital ROI, ROI, WFPMA

Fighting for a Pessimistic Workforce

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OK.  So there’s an awful lot to be pessimistic about these days.  That goes for Baby Boomers, Millennials and Xers.  That goes for your workforce.

There’s the economy, the unemployment rate, cost of benefits, the fiscal cliff, taxes, the soaring price of college educations, the high school dropout rate…  There’s a lot. And Mercer has captured some critical information about how this pessimism – that isn’t going away – is coloring the views of the future held by many of your employees.

The questions we need to ask ourselves are:  how do I engage and motivate a workforce mired in pessimism, and, how do I (we) counteract a perceived environment of scarcity?

The recently published 12th annual 2012 Mercer Workplace Survey provides results that should give any HR professional more than a momentary woah! as we think about these questions. The survey has a cross-section of active 401(k) participants who were also enrolled in their employer’s health plan.  1,656 participants were interviewed online in June of this year.

The high points include:

  • US employees are still concerned about saving enough for retirement
  • Workers over 50 are more concerned than their younger counterparts about their job security and have much lower retirement expectations
  • Workers perceive that the value of their benefits has dropped

If you haven’t surveyed your workforce lately, this report’s results might just motivate you to start asking some questions.  Questions beyond, would you recommend our organization as a good place to work?

Other nuggets from the survey:

  • 36% of the respondents over 50 are still concerned about losing their jobs, its highest level since 2007 (25%)
  • a survey record 44% of all respondents have considered delaying their retirement – with 59% of those aged 50+ considering delaying their retirement, up four points from last year
  • 62% of those over 50 believe they will have to work at least part time when they do retire vs. 48% of younger workers

Mercer Putting Off Retirement

Data like this can be helpful in knowing what questions to ask yourselves and your workforce as you deal with the talent challenges that face most organizations.

  1. If Baby Boomers are putting off retirement indefinitely, how do we keep the Millennials who want those jobs engaged and continuing to develop their skills?
  2. If all workers – and Baby Boomers in particular – are concerned about job security how do collaboration and innovation fare in a culture of perceived scarcity?
  3. If Baby Boomers believe that they’ll have to work part time once they do retire, how can we harness that experience in a win-win solution?

Pessimism is insidious.  It worms its way into your workforce and destroys your employees’ visions (and expectations) of a bright future for your organization and for them.  While it’s true that many of the concerns that are driving employee pessimism are out of your control (the fiscal cliff, taxes, politics, healthcare costs, etc.), you need to find powerful, positive evidence in the organization that will counteract the pessimism attacking from the outside:  a strong, ethical culture; authentic and transparent leadership; a focus on employee and customer engagement; commitment to learning and development – all of these can convince a workforce that, although the outside world may not be as friendly as it could be or once was, the inside world of your organization is a place worthy of the investment of time, commitment and heart.

Of course, you have to believe that first.

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Filed under Baby Boomers, China Gorman, Connecting Dots, Engagement, GenX, HR Data, Mercer, Millennials, Retirement Planning, Talent Management

If They Want Cake…

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I was reading the results of the recent Making Smart Benefit Choices survey of workers by Mercer and was struck by the confluence of societal issues that are impacting the choices workers are making today.  The key insights from the survey results are these:

  • Workers desire benefits with a decidedly short-term benefit over those with longer-term value
  • Employers need to ramp up their workforce education efforts regarding balancing short- and long-term benefit choices

Employers are not Marie Antoinette.  “Let them eat cake” cannot be an appropriate response when surveys show that cake would be a more popular benefit than, say, fruit or broccoli.  (Mayor  Bloomberg’s foray into the regulation of food options notwithstanding.)

So in the age of disappearing and underfunded defined pension plans and the very real specter of a bankrupt Social Security system in the US (and similar situations in most developed nations), what are the responsibilities of employers to their employees when considering changes in benefit plans?  How much should employers take into account their employees’ preferences for short-term gain over long-term value?

It’s interesting to note this survey’s results.  In part, respondents were asked about their preferences in a trade-off (conjoint) analysis that allowed Mercer to rank 13 core benefits.  A salary increase of $500 was used as the benchmark variable against which to measure how benefits are valued by workers.  Here is the chart with the results:

Mercer Making Smart Benefit Choices 2

I’m fascinated that after a $500 salary increase, the next choice is one week of paid time off.  This certainly synchs with the data that SHRM and the Families and Work Institute are publishing that more flexibility over time is becoming a cultural imperative – and the financial value of a week off is greater than $500 if you’re making more than $26,000 per year.

But given the state of retirement benefits, Social Security, and the general lack of preparedness of the workforce for retirement, the short term focus of the respondents is arresting.

But then again, we live in a business world that measures organization success quarter by quarter, rather than year by year or through business cycles.  We live in a political world that brings the economy to “fiscal cliffs” with some regularity.  We live in a society that appears to value now in ways that leave us unprepared for tomorrow.

So I guess it really shouldn’t surprise us that workers focus on now rather than tomorrow even though an additional $500 402(k) increase would have much greater value over time.  What’s an employer to do in all good conscience?  Give more paid time off or ensure a little more retirement stability?  Give more paid time off or reduce employees’ share of health care costs?

This is a tough one with which HR and Benefits leaders in organizations of all sizes are wrestling.  Employers surely want benefits packages that attract and retain their best and brightest talent.  Employers surely want their employees to be better prepared for an uncertain financial future.  It seems as if these may be in conflict, based on this survey’s results.  So how to decide?

“Let them eat cake” is one way to go:  continue the focus on now and leave the future to the business and policy and political leaders of the future.

I think I’d rather use some of today’s resources to educate my workforce so that they’re making truly educated choices.  I think I’d rather use some of today’s influence to begin to leave behind the now focus for a future focus that might ensure a little more sustainability all around.

While I love cake – especially the chocolate kind – I think that employers have a responsibility to the economy and to the future as well as to the workforce.  What about you?  Are you a cake or a broccoli professional?

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Filed under China Gorman, Connecting Dots, Employee Benefits, Families and Work Institute, HR, Mercer, PTO, SHRM, Sustainability, Workflex

Wake Up and Smell the Quality of Hire!

All eyes are focused on talent acquisition these days because:

  • The talent pipeline is dwindling
  • Our education system doesn’t prepare young people for actual work
  • Baby Boomers are about to take a hike and never look back
  • Millennials’ tenure averages  18 months
  • Facebook is the new Monster (not)
  • LinkedIn is the new Career Builder (not)
  • Job seekers won’t fill out application forms any more
  • Passive candidates are where the action is
  • Unless you have an online talent community your organization won’t be able to compete successfully for talent
  • Students graduating from college only want to work for Google

These are just a few of the things we “know” about talent acquisition these days.  Some might even be true – or close to true.  But what most definitely is true is that the pressure for talent acquisition performance is building.

Analyst Madeline Laurano’s recent report Stratgic Talent Acquisition:  Are You Prepared to Hire the Best? from the Aberdeen Group is a great place to start if you’re starting to feel the pressure.  The data is current, the analysis is fascinating and the conclusions will get you started in the right direction with a clear picture of the end state.

I especially like the Aberdeen Group’s research model that identifies Best-in-Class Performance, Competitive Maturity Assessment and Required Actions.  It’s a great approach for any research as it provides the high points with guideposts for action and recognizable benchmarks to measure progress.

Because so much attention and discussion is currently focused on talent acquisition, I think the three key performance criteria that Laurano shows distinguish Best-in-Class performance will make any HR professional wake up and smell the coffee:

  • 91% of first year employees were retained
  • 86% of key positions were filled internally
  • 23% year-over-year improvement in hiring management satisfaction

Really.  86% of key positions filled internally?  On what planet?  That’s effective talent management right there.

As you read the report, it comes as no surprise, then, that the big new bottom line is this:  Quality of Hire – not time-to-fill or cost-per-hire – is the game changer.  Focus on that, and you’ll have a direct line to profitability.  And retention.  And performance.  And the ability to develop talent internally.

So, for the 97% (!) of organizations that have no long-term approach to talent acquisition, taking an hour to read this report could give you what you need to move your talent acquisition results to a new level of effectiveness and business impact.  So plug in the coffee maker.  It’s time to wake up and smell the Quality of Hire!

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Filed under Aberdeen Group, China Gorman, Connecting Dots, Quality of Hire, Talent Acquisition, Talent Management

Competence: Enemy of Change?

When organizations are planning to introduce some kind of change into their system – structural change, new technology, new leadership, the merging in of an acquisition – planning for the implementation is key, right?

Usually a change management model is chosen on which to build the process, and there are lots of them:

  • Bridges
  • Kotter
  • McKinsey Seven S
  • Lewin
  • Nadler Tushman

Each of these models places an extreme value on communication.  And rightfully so.  Most experts advise that when you think you have communicated enough about change…communicate some more.  Not bad advice.

But the advice that almost every model neglects is this:  spend more time training than communicating; spend more money on training than on communication; spend more leadership time and energy in training than in being visible; spend more innovation on training than on well, innovation.

Here’s the deal:  adults like to be competent.  It’s important to them.  It’s motivating because it generates feelings of mastery and gives the sense of control.  When you introduce change that suddenly makes them incompetent, productivity plummets.  When you make them incompetent, morale decreases. When you make them incompetent, turnover increases.  When you make them incompetent and don’t give them a fast path to competence, your change management process is sunk.

Burch’s work for GTI that identifies the pathway from unconscious or conscious incompetence to unconscious or conscious competence ought to be at the heart of any change management process.  You want your employees to adopt your new technology solution?  Be sure your change management process focuses primarily on moving your employees out of conscious incompetence to conscious competence ASAP.

Because guess what?  Communication doesn’t cure incompetence.  Telling doesn’t change behavior, training changes behavior.  So change management plans that focus more on communication than training don’t achieve the desired adoption outcomes.

All but the most change hardy in your workforce – that small percentage of Early Adopters – will resist changing because being competent is everything.  And that old technology solution you decided to replace?  Well, everyone was competent on it.  And now, with the decision to move to a Cloud-based, mobile-enabled, SaaS solution, you’ve made them all incompetent.

So help them out.  Communicate like crazy.  And get the C-Suite involved.

But spend every waking minute ensuring that that training on the new solution is available 24/7.  That it’s available in classrooms and webinars.  In every language your workforce speaks.  In every location your workforce reports to duty. During every shift your workforce works.  Multiple times.  Let your employees participate in the training more than once.  Make it easy and convenient to get competent.

And when the project goes long and over budget, don’t you dare touch the training budget.  In fact, if it goes long and over budget, increase the training budget.

Because competence is the enemy of change.

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Filed under Change, Change Management, China Gorman, Concious Competence, Concious Incompetence, Connecting Dots

What Gets Your Employees Out of Bed in the Morning?

SHL Talent Analytics™ has published a white paper that you need to read if you are involved with acquiring, developing or managing talent.  And that would be everyone in HR.  The SHL Talent Report: Big Data Insight and Analysis of the Global Workforce is a thorough review of the state of talent – especially leadership talent – around the world.  Using their vast global supply of data from organizational surveys, almost 4 million assessments from almost 200 countries, and the work of 300+ occupational psychologists, authors Eugene Burke and Ray Glennon provide compelling insights into the state of today’s talent as well as opportunities to prepare tomorrow’s talent for success.

The white paper covers the following talent issues with data that is deep and makes it easily understandable:

  • Leadership
  • Innovation
  • Organizational Risk
  • Diversity
  • Global Distribution of Critical Skills

Each section is compelling and could stand alone in its organizational usefulness.  At 72 pages long, though, it’s a not a tough read.

I was particularly taken with the section on Diversity.  Its discussion of gender and leadership should be required reading for all those involved in the acquisition and development of talent headed to the C-Suite.  (I wrote about that here recently.)

But even more interesting was the discussion of generational differences.  This is a topic that won’t go away for those in the talent management business –for good reason!  Burke and Glennon believe “it’s not really about gender and generations…it’s about the best person for the job and having managers who know how to leverage differences effectively.”

Right.  How many times have we heard this?  But the data they share are compelling.

I’ve seen a great deal of analysis that show that, while the values differences between generations are more a difference in  order of importance than a complete difference in values, these data show the impact of the difference in order of importance in a pretty dramatic visual:

Think about the beleaguered manager in your organization who has all three generations represented on their team.  Do you think they understand these motivational and values differences?  Do you think they interact and communicate differently with their team members in order to engage their team?  Do you think they have the skills to leverage these generational differences in ways that motivate their team to greater productivity and efficiency?  Do you think they could use these insights to become a more effective leader?

What would be the impact on turnover, engagement and performance if all the managers in your organization had these insights and knew how to leverage them?

And, oh by the way, what gets you up in the morning?

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Filed under Baby Boomers, China Gorman, Connecting Dots, GenX, HR Analytics, HR Data, Millennials, SHL, Talent development