Category Archives: Millennials

Are You Putting All Your Eggs Into The Engagement Basket?

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George LaRocque, Founder and Principal Analyst at #HRWINS, has published a new report that caught my eye. Where Purpose Meets Performance:  Can HR Tech Solve Culture, is an interesting look at the culture challenges of the U.S. middle market (5,000 and fewer employees) which employs roughly 90% of the U.S. workforce.

Here’s where he grabbed me:

“Studies show that companies with performance enhancing cultures far out-perform those without it in terms of revenue growth, stock price growth, and net income growth. Yet, it remains nearly impossible to tie HR and people programs to business results. Business leaders and HR practitioners have looked to employee engagement as a measure of successful corporate culture but first even defining employee engagement presents a challenge. There have long been efforts to standardize its definition and measurement, and the result has been just the opposite. We’ve seen a proliferation of science and methods narrowly looking at everything from happiness to community embeddedness, social network analysis, motivation and incentives, collaboration, personality and culture assessments, and more.”

What follows is an interesting discussion, with 3 strong case studies, that shows how the acquisition and deployment of core HR technology is supporting the increase in HR credibility and impact on corporate performance, as well as greater employee satisfaction. It’s interesting stuff and incudes results from several surveys that George put out in the field.

At 20 pages, it isn’t a long read and is well organized. The main points cover the following:

  • What employees rate as the leading drivers of their feeling of engagement.
  • What employers feel are the HR and people programs delivering the best ROI.
  • How employee engagement fits in the new world of work.
  • What role core HR technology plays in building culture and aligning with business performance.

The survey work underpinning this analysis lead George to believe as I do:

“…perhaps the strongest component of culture that resonates with employees, of ALL generations, is having purpose and meaning in their work.”

The survey results, as shown below, show that, at least in the vast middle market, Baby Boomers and GenX are the most interested demographic as it relates to meaning and purpose. That’s not what you expected, is it? But it tracks with my research and observations.


This report includes several such graphs and data points that provide solid context for whatever thinking and planning you’re doing regarding culture, engagement and your employee experience. Putting all your eggs in the “engagement” basket will most likely not produce the returns you expect. There are stronger fundamentals that may well have a stronger positive impact on your employees’ experience. Especially if you’re in the middle market.


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Filed under #HRTechTrends, #HRWINS, Baby Boomers, China Gorman, Culture, Data Point Tuesday, Employee Engagement, GenX, George LaRocque, HR Technology, Millennials

Your People and Global Internet Trends

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Data Point Tuesday’s mission is to find reports and impactful data sources that most HR professionals would never find and serve up some of their more interesting data points for consideration. Usually the reports come out of the Human Capital Management arena:  academic papers, vendor survey analyses, white papers, etc. There’s a ton of data flowing in our space that the average HR person would never have the time to find. It’s what I do here. But sometimes the best data and analytics sources don’t come out of the HCM arena. And the annual Internet Trends reports is one of those sources.

I have been waiting with bated breath for Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends 2016 report – and it’s here! Last year, I suggested that the report really should have been titled The Internet in 2015 Is All About HR. I wrote about it here. This year, I think the report should be titled How the Internet is Just Beginning to Change Everything at Work. Again, it should be required reading for HR professionals everywhere.

The annual Internet Trends report that Meeker publishes is certainly not an HR report. But it contains critical information and data that HR people need to know. It’s all big picture stuff that relates to the Internet, but it also all has impact on people – and most of it has impact on people at work. In the U.S., in Asia, in Europe – all over the world. I encourage you to flip through the report – it’s in PowerPoint – even though it’s really long. This is the outline – and I defy you to not find the majority of it interesting and relevant to your HR work, your workforce planning and your role in setting business strategy.

Here are the topics covered in this year’s report:

  1. Global Internet Trends
  2. Global Macro Trends
  3. Advertising/Commerce + Brand Trends
  4. Re-Imagining Communication – Video/Image/Messaging
  5. Re-Imagining Human-Computer Interfaces – Voice/Transportation
  6. China = Internet Leader on Many Metrics
  7. Public/Private Company Data
  8. Data as a Platform/Data Privacy

Every single one of these topics has an impact on how you interact with your people, your people strategy or your people policies. Seriously.

For example, as you think through your internal communication strategy, this graph might be helpful:

Internet Trends 2016 1

Think it’s useful to know that 64% of Baby Boomers cite the telephone as their most preferred contact channel vs. 12% of Millennials? (It won’t be shocking, I hope, to note that Millennials prefer – by 48% — social media and internet/web chat channels.) While you might instinctively know this, seeing the hard data puts the need to rethink employee communication into a different perspective, doesn’t it.?

The advent of using microphones instead of keyboards to interface with computing is in very early days, according to Meeker. However, in 2013 35% of smartphone owners used voice assistants (think Siri) and 65% used the voice interface in 2015. Adoption is rising fast among smartphone owners of all ages. Even if the majority of voice commands are about calling and navigating home, the use is skyrocketing. And as the Boomers age, think of the impact – at home and at work – of not needing to use a keyboard to utilize technology. Is your organization prepared for this radical shift?

In the US, the reasons for using voice interface and the locations we are using it are not so focused on the job. But the trends are pretty clear. What can you do to anticipate and leverage this and enhance productivity, knowledge transfer and the employee experience?

Internet Trends 2016 2

So if calling mom and dad, and navigating (literally) home are the current most often uses of using voice for computer activation, then the charts above make an inordinate amount of sense. But if you keep the oldest demographic of the workforce in mind when reading these charts, you can see that a sea change could be on the very near horizon. What if the oldest demographic of the workforce isn’t going away in the next 10 years? Even more, what if enabling/convincing the oldest demographic of the workforce to stay in the workforce was the key to your workforce plans over the next 10 years? And what if the newest/youngest demographic of the workforce was already using voice for computer interaction nearly 100% of the time as they enter the economy?

Interesting data. Interesting questions. See what I mean about non-HR sources of data?

And just to leave you wishing for the good old days, there’s this graph comparing the attributes of technology use among the emerging Gen Z cohort to the Millennials:

Internet Trends 2016 3

As my dad used to say, “If that doesn’t make your hair curl, I don’t know what will!”

The workplace and workforce planning implications of this report put the future in new light. A good light, I think. A challenging, but good light. And a light you need to focus. What do you think?


Filed under Analytics, Big Data and HR, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Employee Demographics, GenX, GenY, GenZ, Internet Trends, KPCB, Mary Meeker, Millennials

Lights Out Productivity

data point tuesday_500One of the benefits of writing a blog that is focused on bringing interesting research analysis to the HR community is that people (vendors, academics, researchers, associations…) send me all kinds of research reports. I receive cool data analyses every day. And I learn a lot reading through them. Here’s a funky little survey analysis that won’t surprise anyone. But it brings up a good point.

The research goal of Generational Trends in Employee Desktop Expectations and Behaviors sponsored by AppSense, was “to capture hard data on experiences and attitudes towards desktop experience among business users.” The methodology included a series of online surveys that were fielded to independent sources of business professionals, all of whom worked at companies with more than 500 employees (1,000 employees in the U.S.) and lived in the U.S., the U.K., Germany, France, The Netherlands or Australia. All in, a total of 258 full-time business professionals who use a desktop computer for than 10% of their work participated in the survey.

If we needed to see more data that would drive a wedge between the Millennials and the Boomers, this would qualify. Except that the data aren’t surprising. Millennials grew up with technology in their hands, pockets and backpacks. Boomers grew up with almost no technology and when it did appear it wasn’t personal, mobile or transportable.

Generational Trends 2 October 2015So, while we all get distracted when our desktops are slow to load, how we spend our time while waiting is different. Evidently Millennials only know how to be productive on a computer.

Generational Trends October 2015On the face of it, it looks like Boomers try to be more work-productive while waiting for their slow desktops to catch up with them, and Millennials tend to be more personal-productive. What we don’t know is how much time these activities take – seconds, minutes, or more.

As I said, this is a funky little survey analysis. You certainly wouldn’t create any policy changes based on these findings. But you might ask questions about how much time is actually spent waiting for slow computers at your organization. If it’s minutes a week versus hours a week, you’re probably fine. If the available time due to slow computers is hours a week, the investment in alleviating the down time might be well-spent.

But the more interesting question this brings up for me is whether or not our workforce, now dominated by digital natives, can be productive when the lights go out. Are we’re teaching them how to be productive off the digital reservation? For sure the Boomers can go Old School and use paper, spreadsheets, telephones and other relics of bygone business eras to get work done if the systems go down. Is it possible that our younger colleagues don’t know non-digital ways of being productive? Is this funky survey and analysis an inadvertent call to ensure that productivity isn’t bound by turning on a computer and being connected to the internet?

Can your workforce continue to serve your customers and be productive if the systems go down for an hour? For a day? For several days?

I’m just sayin’.


Filed under AppSense, Baby Boomers, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Desktop Computers, Millennials, Time Management

Millennials To Business: You’re Doing It Wrong!

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Deloitte’s 4th annual Millennial Survey sends a message from more than 7,800 degreed and employed Millennials from 29 countries around the world to employers: “Business should focus on people and purpose, not just products and profits.” It’s easy for the Gen Xer and Baby Boomer business leaders to respond to this message with the corporate equivalent of “Get off my lawn!” But that would be short sighted, since the Millennials are now officially the largest age group in the economy and we need them. And we need them pretty desperately.

In this world of Big Data one can find a survey analysis to prove any position. Pretty much. And I am generally wary of survey analyses that play up differences between the generations in the workplace because my go-to research from the Great Place to Work® Institute shows that – in the workplace, at least – every person, regardless of generation, wants 3 things:

  • Resepct – including appreciation and fairness
  • Work that gives meaning to their lives and makes them proud
  • Camaraderie with their workmates

These three dynamics in a culture power all kinds of good outcomes and they show little differentiation between age cohorts regardless of industry, geographic location or size of business.

So I take with a grain of salt the results of surveys like this and still recommend that you read them. They provide interesting insights that can add color to your own questions and planning. And the graphs show some interesting gaps in the perception of what Millennials believe “should be” in contrast to “what is.” These are useful insights.

“Today’s Millennials place less value on visible (19%), well-networked (17%), and technically-skilled (17%) leaders. Instead, they define true leaders as strategic thinkers (39%), inspirational (37%), personable (34%) and visionary (31%).”

Deloitte Millennial survey 1

That’s troublesome for celebrity CEOs but good news for the rest of us.

The last 15 pages of the report show graphs that depict Millennials’ takes on the purpose of business, business performance and employee satisfaction, leadership attributes, their skills, and the gender gap regarding leadership readiness and leadership aspirations. Interesting stuff.

But these data points also underscore the growing global focus on creating more human workplaces. The resounding success of the recent WorkHuman Conference produced by Globoforce, is another piece of this trend. My belief is that while all of us want a more human workplace: Millennials are just demanding it more than those of us who were socialized in a less human era. And they are voting with their careers.

The results of surveys like this one from Deloitte give us directional information to use when considering the challenges of growing our businesses, attracting the right talent, and developing and retaining the talent we need to succeed in our competitive marketplaces. And to make our workplace cultures more human.


Filed under China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Deloitte, Globoforce, HR Data, Leadership, Millennials, WorkHuman

What War for Talent?

Data Point TuesdayAccenture’s 2014 College Graduate Employment Survey compares the expectations and perceptions of 2014’s university graduates with the realities of the working world according to both 2012 and 2013 graduates. This comparison casts a focused and specific lens on the issue of entry-level talent development, and gives us some insightful data. Accenture’s survey underlines that at the end of the day, many organizations are not effectively developing their entry-level talent. When we consider that 69% of 2014 graduates state that more training or post-graduate education will be necessary for them to get their desired job, we see that organizations are likely facing a major talent supply problem. New graduates and entry level talent’s perceive that their organizations will provide them with career development training: 80% of 2014 graduates expect that their employer will provide the kind of formal training programs necessary for them to advance their careers. Despite this, the percentage of graduates that actually receive such training is low, creating a significant discrepancy between expectation and reality.Expectation vs Reality

Another concern when it comes to recent college graduates is that 46% (nearly half) of 2012/2013 graduates working today report that they are significantly underemployed (i.e. their jobs do not really depend on their college degrees). This statistic was at only 41% a year ago.Entry Level UnderemployedAccenture’s survey found that 84% of 2014 graduates believe they will find employment in their chosen field post graduation, and 61% expect that job to be full time. Again, we find a stark contrast between expectation and reality, with just 46% of 2012/2013 grads reporting holding a full-time job – 13% percent have been unemployed since graduation. How long do recent graduates stay at the jobs they do have? More than half (56%) of 2012/2013/2014 graduates have already left their first job or expect to be gone within one or two years. Is this be a reflection on the lack of development for entry-level talent? It seems more than plausible…

Recent graduates are also finding discrepancies between expectations and realities when it comes to income and job prospects. Of the 13% of 2012/2013 grads who have been unemployed since graduation, 41% believe their job prospects would have been enhanced had they chosen a different major (72% expect to go back to school within the next five years). Among Accenture’s 2014 survey respondents, 43% expect to earn more than $40,000 at their first job, however, just a minimal 21% of the 2012/2013 graduates that are in the workforce are actually earning at that level. 26% of these graduates report making less that $19,000, a concerning figure when roughly 28% of 2014’s graduates will finish school with debt of more than $30,000.

Accenture’s study does point to some silver linings, however. Increasingly, college students are turning an eye towards what they can do to be more market relevant. 75% of those who graduated this year took into account the availability of jobs in their field before selecting their major, compared to 70% of 2013 graduates and 65% of those in the class of 2012. Another positive is that 72% of 2014 graduates agree or strongly agree that their education prepared them for a career (compared to 66% of 2012/2013 grads) and 78% feel passionately about their area of study. 63% of 2014 graduates stated that their university was effective in helping them find employment opportunities, an increase from 51% among their recently graduated peers. Recent graduates are also increasing their chances of employment by being geographically flexible. 74% of 2014 graduates said they would be willing to relocate to another state to find work and 40% of those would be willing to move 1,000 miles or more to land a job.

Accenture’s study does, however, put into question many of the highly publicized reports that point to human capital/talent acquisition issues as a #1 concern in the C-Suite. If talent is the #1 issues, where is the attention to entry-level talent? Is the attention being placed exclusively on development for upper-level positions? It’s clear that there are multiple factors influencing graduates’ struggles for acceptable employment, including the rise of part-time and contingent work, but training and development is an important part of any entry-level position. The survey points to six areas in which organizations can focus on to help meet talent supply challenges:

  1. Reassess hiring and retention strategies
  2. Hire based on potential, not just immediate qualifications
  3. Use talent development as a hiring differentiator
  4. Remember that tangibles matter, even to Millennials
  5. Cast the net more widely
  6. Use talent development and other benefits as part of a total rewards and attraction approach

These are logical conclusions. But perhaps the biggest logical conclusion is that organizations are just paying lip service to the so-called war for talent and aren’t convinced that the there is, in fact, a shortage of talent. Am I wrong?


Filed under Accenture, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Human Capital, Millennials, Professional Development, Talent development

The 2020 Workforce: Misconceptions Between Management and Employees

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Oxford Economics and SAP recently released the report “Workforce 2020: The Looming Talent Crisis” aimed at understanding the opportunities and challenges of the evolving workforce. The research is based on survey responses from over 2,700 executives and more than 2,700 employees in 27 countries. Understanding the core characteristics of “the new face of work,” as SAP puts it, is an important step in recognizing the opportunities and challenges that will come with it. SAP and Oxford Economics’ research identifies several key characteristics of the 2020 workforce, including that it will be an increasingly flexible one. Of executives surveyed, 83% cited that they plan to increase use of contingent, intermittent, or consultant employees in the next three years and 58% say that this requires changing HR policy. In addition to being flexible, the 2020 workforce will be increasingly diverse, and SAP advises that because of this HR leaders will need to become more evidence-based to deal with these realities. As of now, only 50% of HR departments state that they use quantifiable metrics and benchmarking in workforce development and only 47% say they know how to extract meaningful insights from the data available to them. This is likely part of what influences the reported lack of progress towards meeting workforce goals that many executives cite. Just 33% stated that they have made “good” or “significant” progress towards workforce goals.

SAP identifies technology as a key need for the evolving workforce that organizations are unprepared for. While this may seem obvious, in the U.S. just 39% of employees report getting ample training on workplace technology and only 27% report access to the latest technology. While it’s understandable that not all organizations can offer the most cutting edge technologies, a lack of sufficient training for the technologies that are in place could be seriously affecting employee productivity. Aside from technology, misconceptions about Millennials are another trend of the evolving workforce that SAP points out (and with the expectation that this generation will make up more than 50% of the workforce by 2020, any misconceptions are noteworthy). The research points out that while Millennials are different than other generations, they may not be as different as they are typically portrayed. According to executives surveyed, 60% believe Millennials are frustrated with manager quality but only 18% of Millennials say that they actually are. Additionally, 62% of executives report that Millennials will consider leaving their job due to a lack of learning and development, but just 31% of Millennials say they have considered this.


In terms of the emerging workforce, there may also be gaps between what companies believe employees want from them and what employees actually want.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the most important incentive to U.S employees is competitive compensation (84%) followed by retirement plans (75%), and vacation time (62%). 39% of employees say higher compensation would increase loyalty and engagement with their current job. When it comes to attributes that employees think are most important to their employer, job performance and results is number one (46%), followed by the ability to learn and be trained quickly (29%), and loyalty and long-term commitment to the company (28%). This differs however, from what employers deem most important. The top three attributes executives want in employees are a high level of education and/or institutional training (33%), loyalty and long-term commitment 32%), and the ability to learn and be trained quickly (31%).

What executives and employees do agree on is that organizations are not focused enough on developing future leaders. Only 51% of U.S. executives say their company plans for succession and continuity in key roles and 47% say their plans for growth are being hampered by lack of access to the right leaders. Employees agree that leadership is a problem area, with just 51% of employees stating that leadership at their company is equipped to lead the company to success. Better learning and education opportunities will be key to bridging this talent gap. The need for technology skills in particular will increase in demand (e.g. cloud and analytics), although SAP’s data states that just 33% of employees expect to be proficient in cloud in three years. This statistic is slightly better when it comes to analytics, with 43% expecting proficiency in three years and almost 50% expecting proficiency in mobile, social media, and social collaboration. In terms of training programs, only about half (51%) of American executives say their company widely offers supplemental training programs to develop new skills. This aligns with employees’ perceptions toward training, with 51% reporting that their company provides the right tools to help them grow and improve job performance. Additionally, about half (52%) of employees say their company encourages continuing education and training to further career development.

Take a look at the graphic below that highlights the five major labor market shifts discussed. Are you beginning to think about shifting workforce development strategies for the future? Are you really sure what your employees think? Or are you making assumptions based on popular press reports that may not be founded on fact?


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Filed under #HRTechTrends, 100 Best Companies to Work For, Leadership Aspiration, Leadership Challenges, Learning/Development, Millennials, Recruiting, Recruiting Technology, SAP

Millennial Employees: Defying Assumptions

Data Point TuesdayApproximately 80 million Millennials live in the U.S today. In my last post on Talent Acquisition Trends I touched on the fact that this group is the largest generation in history and, while the exact percentages vary depending on the research, is expected to make up more than 50% of the workforce by 2020. We may still think of Millennials as “the next generation” but the fact is that this group will make up the majority of the workforce in the not too distant future, so research on the values and expectations of this generation is valuable – and actionable. A great example of this kind of research is the “2014 Millennial Impact Report: Inspiring the Next Generation Workforce” by Achieve, whose purpose for the research is to “Understand Millennials’ preferences for cause work and to share those findings with organizations that are looking to better engage this influential group.” Surveys were distributed to Millennial employees of corporate research partners from various industries, as well as a generic survey with respondents representing more than 300 companies and organizations across the United States. For the study, Millennials were defined as individuals born after 1979.

As I’ve discussed in previous posts, Millennials place a high value on corporate social responsibility. Achieve’s research looks specifically at the role “cause work” plays in motivating Millennials overall – from job search, application, through to employment. Consider that of the Millennial employees surveyed, 92% felt they were actively contributing to a company having a positive effect on the world. Where cause work starts motivating Millennials though, may differ a bit from our assumptions. Of those surveyed, 63% of Millennials said that a company’s involvement with cause work and community initiatives did not factor into the search that resulted in their current job! This contradicts the common assumption that cause work matters from the beginning of a Millennial’s job search. Achieve discovered that, in fact, most Millennials first looked at what a company does, as well as pay and benefits, when deciding whether or not to apply. Cause work was not a significant factor. While only 39% of Millennials reported their company discussed cause work during the interview process, the companies that did do this, influenced interviewee’s decisions. Of the Millennials who heard about cause work in the interview, 55% of them said the company’s involvement with causes helped persuade them to take the job. Bottom line: mention cause work in interviews – especially with Millennial candidates!

Job Search Process

Another trend that I have previously discussed is Millennials’ relationships in the workplace, specifically that Millennials have a tendency to build close friendships and desire to work with those they know and would be friends with outside of work. This desire also presents itself in Millennials’ preferences for company-sponsored volunteer projects/programs. Of the Millennials surveyed, 77% preferred to perform cause work with groups of fellow employees as opposed to doing independent service projects. More specifically, 62% of Millennial employees preferred volunteering and doing cause work with employees in their same department rather than employees in the company they didn’t directly work with.

What Inspires Millenials

For Millennials, relationships also play an important part in informing candidates about a company’s causes. Information from past and current employees was the third most common source for Millennial employees who researched their company’s cause work (36%). The most common source of information was the company’s website (93%), followed by Google Search (61%). These top three sources, including word-of-mouth, beat social media outlets Facebook (22%), LinkedIn (12%) and Twitter (11%).

One last interesting area of commentary from Achieve’s report is how Millennials view the assets they can potentially donate. As it’s put in the study: Millennials differ from previous generations in that they “may still give money, time and skills, but they also view their network and voice as two very beneficial assets they can offer a cause. For Millennials, all of these resources are equal in how they may help a cause. A Millennial may see Tweeting about a cause as a way of giving resources, because they are donating their network.” When it comes to giving, Millennial employees donate money to nonprofits both on their own and through their company’s promoted giving campaigns, and they donate generously! Only 13% of the Millennials surveyed did not donate money to nonprofit organizations in 2013.


This report tells us that Millennials consistently defy employers’ expectations along a broad continuum. We need to pay attention, continue to ask questions, and learn to meet them on their own ground. Who would have thought that company websites and Google searches would be far more powerful (and motivating) than social media in this aspect of job search behavior in the Millennial cohort? And it’s interesting to note that camaraderie in their workgroup – not in their employer in general – is motivating for them. That’s one piece of data that is consistent with what we know about all cohorts in the workplace: we all want to trust our leaders, have pride in our work, and camaraderie within our workgroups. Great Place to Work has been validating these data points for more than 20 years.


Filed under Achievers, China Gorman, Corporate Social Responsibility, Data Point Tuesday, Great Place to Work, Millennials, Workplace Studies