Tag Archives: Business Success

From the Archives: We can’t succeed without Millennials

This was a very popular post from April, 2012. The data is pretty much the same. And it bears repeating.

Managers and supervisors (especially in the Baby Boomer cohort) in almost every type and size of business have been known to lament the lack of loyalty and so-called business savvy in the Millennial generation.

  • “They want to be promoted too fast!”
  • “They don’t want to pay their dues!”
  • “They don’t understand how things work!”
  • “They want too much flexibility!”
  • “When things don’t go their way they quit!”
  • “Why won’t they stay?”

The bottom line is that organizations are finding it challenging to keep Millennials engaged and on the payroll.  In fact, with the average employment tenure of workers in the 20-24 year -old age group at 1.5 years (per the BLS), it’s challenging to keep all our employees engaged and the on the payroll.  (See my previous post on the Quits vs. Layoffs gap.  It might not be what you think!)

Achievers and Experience Inc. fielded their annual survey of graduating college students in January.  The data are eye opening.

Despite what we think we know about them, the vast majority of these about-to-enter-the-workforce Milllennials would really like to stay with their next (in most cases, first) employer for 5 years or longer!  Wait.  What?  Look at the chart below:

47% of the 8,000 college graduating respondents in the Achievers/Experience Inc. survey indicated that they expected to stay with their next employer five years or longer.  Note the language:  expect to stay not would like to stay!  That means when they join our organizations they have every expectation of making a career with us.  They’re not just accepting a job.  They’ve evaluated our EVP (Employer Value Proposition) as a match for the meaning they want to create in their lives through their work.  (Interesting to note that the biggest percentage of respondents expect to stay with their employer for 10+ years!)

So, OK.  This has got to be their youthful exuberance and relative inexperience speaking, right?  Well, I wonder if that really matters.

Employers need these Millennials.  Employers need these Millennials now.  Employers will need these Millennials more every day.  (See my recent post here.)

And employers need them to stay a whole lot longer than 1.5 years!

So what happens between “I expect to stay with my employer for 10 or more years…” and “…after one year with the organization I’m leaving for a better opportunity”?  I think we all know that answer to that question.

We don’t live up to the EVP we sold them.  We don’t engage Millennials the way they tell us they want to be engaged.  Instead, we…

  • make sure they fit into our existing career paths and job descriptions
  • focus on making sure they “pay their dues” – the way we did
  • keep our processes and rules rigid and unbending – and only pretend to listen when they offer up “different” ways of working
  • resist the notion that work can be done with excellence anywhere but in a cubicle
  • make it difficult for Millennials to interact with senior leaders
  • make it difficult for Millennials to collaborate with colleagues
  • designate social responsibility activities a perk instead of a foundational value
  • try to “lure” them to stay with tenure-based plaques and timepieces

These data are a wake-up call for employers.  It’s a message from our talent pipeline that they really do want to engage with us; they believe our employer brand marketing messages; they want to learn and grow with us.

It’s time to listen harder and make sure our employer brand messages aren’t experienced as bait and switch tactics.

I don’t know about you, but I’d hate for the Millennials to have such negative employment experiences at the beginning of their careers that they opt out of organizational life altogether before they’re 30.  We’d really be in a pickle then!

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Filed under Achievers, Baby Boomers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Business Success, China Gorman, Demographics, Employment Data, Engagement, Millennials, Rewards & Recognition, Student Job Search, Talent pipeline, U.S. Department of Labor

From the Archives: Memo to HR

data point tuesday_500

Until last week’s post about Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer’s decision to end telecommuting, the post below from March 18, 2011 was the most read of all my posts.  Interesting.

TO:                         HR

FROM:                  China Gorman

RE:                         News flash!

Date:                     March 18, 2011

Guess what?  Your CEO probably gets it.

I know HR pros like to kvetch about the C-Suite in their organizations:

  • “My CEO doesn’t get it.”
  • “The CEO and CFO run the business like people are widgets.”
  • “I can’t get the C-Suite interested in cutting edge HR solutions.”

Those days are over, friends.  I’ve met and talked with a number of CEOs lately.  CEOs from Fortune 200 companies, medium-sized companies and start-ups.  I’ve been struck by the conversations we’ve had.  Because in each case, these CEOs exhibit many of the behaviors HR pros are looking for from their CEOs.  Here are some of the signs:

1.       Talent acquisition/development comes up early in a conversation about their top challenges.

2.       They have done reading – or in some cases, writing – about corporate culture and are actively involved in leading a change in their organization’s culture.

3.       They have embraced the research of an OD or culture expert/guru whose work they are integrating into their culture and language.

4.       Succession planning is among the top issues on which their leadership team is working.

5.       Employee engagement is critical to them.  They know the scores of their organization’s most recent employee attitude survey and are peering over the shoulders of their operations leaders to ensure the opportunities for improvement are moving forward — in line with the culture change work they’re leading.

6.       Supervisors/managers are measured by how well they manage the performance and development of their people.

7.        Diversity/inclusion enters the conversation early when talking about culture.

But here’s the thing, HR.  This is a trend.  We’re going to see more and more of these behaviors from CEOs as we experience the pending generational shift in the ultimate C-Suite in organizations large and small.

So here’s the big question:  Are you ready? Are you ready to be evidence-based in your leadership?  Are you ready to base organization and business solutions on current research and analytics?  I hope so.  Because the next generation of CEOs – as well as some in the current generation as my experience indicates – while  they’re beginning to focus on what HR would say are the right issues, they’re still the CEO.  They’re still all about the numbers.  Outcomes.  Growth.  Quality.  They still need fact and data to support their decision making.  That’s not going to change.   And if they don’t get that fact and data from HR where are they going to get it?

CEOs don’t really make critical decisions much by “gut feel” and that probably won’t change.  Ever.   Sure, some may be more spontaneous than others.  Some may be more extroverted than others.  And some may actually sound like HR professionals.  But they’re still CEOs.  They still have to deliver top and bottom line performance this quarter and next.  And they have to have a plan for the longer horizon – a plan that is based on real data and supported by the current set of facts.

Where would the average HR professional begin to source useful research data and analytics?  SHRM, CIPD, ASTD, WorldatWork – all the large HR-related professional associations are investing more and more into their research capabilities.  They all conduct and publish top notch research in every aspect of the people domain in organizations. They want their members to embrace more rigorous and sound methodologies.  Heck.  They’re pleading with their members to be consumers of relevant research because they know the day of reckoning is approaching.

Other organizations like The Conference Board, the Corporate Executive Board and Bersin & Associates all publish extraordinary research that enable HR to make fact-based decisions and to get HR metrics aligned with financial metrics.  Free sources of actionable research-based data include the SHRM Foundation, the U.S. Department of Labor,  the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and innumerable non-profit organizations that cover the waterfront of issues and functions.

Since more and more CEOs are “getting” the fact that people and culture are critical to business success, is HR “getting” that in order to respond to this CEO movement in their direction, they need to be making movement into the fact and data-based world of the CEO?  I surely hope so.

It’s past time to get comfortable with research and analytics — and making them actionable.

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Filed under Data Point Tuesday, Uncategorized

From the Archives: Job security is the #1 talent attraction magnet. Wait. What?

This was originally published on April 17, 2012.  It’s worth repeating…

In doing some research for a speech I’m giving, I came across The Talent Management and Rewards Imperative for 2012 from Towers Watson and WorldatWork.  It’s chock full of interesting data based on the 2011/2012 Towers Watson North American Talent Management and Rewards Survey and an unpublished Towers Watson 2011 survey of over 10,000 full-time employees in North America on topics such as total rewards, communication and other work-related issues.  Because I’ve been looking at data about the state of the talent pipeline (see Data Points #3, #5, #6), I thought this would be interesting reading.  Little did I know!

A couple of the data points that stood out to me challenge the “conventional wisdom.”  See what you think:

  • Only 11% of organizations have trouble retaining employees generally
  • Fully 68% of organizations identify high potentials, but only 28% inform those employees who have been identified.
  • Organizations underestimate the effect work-related stress and work/life balance have on employee retention, and do not recognized the significance of job security in attracting top talent.

Wait.  What?

It’s the last point that brought me up short.  Look at the chart below.

There are important disconnects between what employees report will attract them into a new job and what employers believe will be important in attracting talent into their organizations.  And if you look at the differing views between employers and high potential performers you’ll be even more surprised.

In all of the writing on this topic that I have seen in the last 18 months, no one else reports the significant importance of job security as part of an organization’s EVP (employee value proposition).  And look how it ranks as #1 for all employees as well as high-potential employees.  #1.

Not meaningful work.  Not alignment with the organization’s mission.  Job security.  Am I the only one surprised by this finding?

Look at the disconnect between the top 5 factors for all employees and employers’ top 5 factors.  Outside of base pay it’s a total mismatch!

On the high-potential performers side, outside of base pay and career development opportunity it’s a total mismatch!

It looks like we’re totally out to lunch when it comes to knowing what’s motivating in terms of EVP and the talent pipeline.  Out. To. Lunch.

In a world that observes the incredible talent acquisition strategies and investments at organizations like Zappos, PepsiCo, Rackspace and AT&T, we’re encouraged to believe that creating cultures of happiness and engagement are what it takes to delight customers and retain employees – high potential or otherwise.  And I chose those organizations because I know the ground-breaking work each is doing in terms of building their talent communities and the engagement of their workforce.  They truly are ground breaking.

It turns out talent attraction may be a bit more mundane than “creating a little weirdness.”

It turns out that some of the basics like job security and base pay still hold huge sway in our workforce.  And I think this is good news.  It gives” regular” employers doing good work and being good to their employees a fighting chance to keep their employees and attract the talent they’ll need going forward.

Basic blocking and tackling.  Basic management competence.  Basic HR.  Can’t get away from them if you want your organization to succeed.

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Filed under AT&T, Business Success, Career Planning, China Gorman, Culture, Engagement, HR, Talent Management, Talent pipeline

From the Archives: Stick a Fork in Annual Performance Review Systems

While I’m traveling, I thought I’d re-post one of the most popular Data Point Tuesday posts from 2012.  Enjoy.

Today’s data points come from two recent surveys:  one from Achievers and one from Cornerstone OnDemand.  Both surveys show clearly that annual performance review systems’ time has come.  It’s over.  Time to stick a fork in them.

Well, it’s time to stick a fork in them if you’re interested in providing the kind of feedback to your employees that is focused on growing their skills, binding them closer to the organization and engaging their full and discretionary energy.

Let’s look first at the Achievers data.  As part of a survey fielded in April of this year, employees were asked how frequently they would like to receive feedback from their managers.  HR professionals and CEOs were asked how frequently they thought employees in their organizations would like to receive feedback from their managers.  Do the answers surprise you?

No surprise that employees would like to receive feedback immediately or on the spot – or at least weekly.  Maybe a bit of a surprise that both HR professionals and CEOs know this.  Here’s the question, though:  if employees, HR professionals and CEOs all know that employees don’t want feedback in an annual context, then why are the majority of performance feedback systems in use today based on an annual model?

Making matters worse, Cornerstone OnDemand published survey results from late 2011 with related findings:

  • only 37% of employees report that they’ve been given useful feedback from their manager/employer in the performance review process
  • Only 32% said that their performance goals are aligned with their company’s business objectives
  • Only 20% have established career goals with their manager/employer

So.  Annual feedback systems satisfy no one from a frequency perspective.  And feedback systems in general are not providing useful feedback for employee skill growth or engagement – or in line with business objectives.

At this point you could say, “Yikes!” and start moaning.

Or, you could say, “This looks like an opportunity for HR to make a significant contribution to the success of the business!” and start collecting similar data from your organization to identify whether this opportunity is real.  If it is real, I see the building of a compelling business case in your future – just in time for the FY2013 budget planning process.

And a new more powerful way to engage employees and manage performance in your organization could be right around the corner.

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Filed under Achievers, Annual Performance Reviews, Business Case, Business Success, China Gorman, Cornerstone OnDemand, Engagement, HR Data, Performance Feedback

The Language of Business

Visier, named one of the “2012 Awesome New Technologies for HR” by Bill Kutik, the founding conference co-chair of the upcoming HR Technology Conference in Chicago, is changing the face of HR analytics.  And by changing the face, I mean, putting a beautiful, incredibly interactive and astonishingly useful face on the workforce data collected by the many and disparate systems inside organizations.

All vendors in the HCM space commission research and surveys by credible third party organizations and write what they hope are useful white papers to ensure an educated prospect and customer base.  These white papers, while clearly biased, have some powerful data and insights that any HR practitioner – generalist, specialist or leader – can use to educate themselves.  Trolling through the Resources tabs of HCM solutions providers when you have some downtime can be worthwhile.

As I was browsing through the white papers at the Visier site, I came upon some great stuff.  Since Visier is in the workforce analytics business the subject matter is all tied to workforce analytics.  And they’ve got some great survey and research data for you.  But in this survey report, 2012 Survey of Employers:  Workforce Analytics Practices, Preferences & Plans, tucked in at the very end, was a chart showing what more than 150 U.S.-based employers (presumably through the voice of HR professionals taking the survey) thought their top workforce concerns were for 2012:

This is the first survey that I’ve read in which performance was ranked as the top workforce concern of HR professionals.  These top concerns lists are everywhere and none of them rank performance at the top.

  • Llloyd’s annual Risk Index (most recent 2011) lists Talent and Skills Shortages as Risk #2 (Loss of Customers is Risk #1)
  • Deloitte’s 2012 Human Capital Trends lists Growth as #1
  • The HR Policy Association (most recent list is 2011) lists Executive Development and Succession at the top of CHRO concerns
  • The WFPMA &  Boston Consulting Group survey (most recent is 2010) of global HR leaders lists Managing Talent as the most critical global HR issue
  • Human Resource Executive’s annual “What’s Keeping You Up Now” survey (most recent is September 2011) lists “Ensuring employees remain engaged and productive” as #1 (note that the 4th concern in the Visier survey was engagement.  Performance and engagement are not the same thing.)

I’m happy to see a survey of HR professionals identifying workforce performance as their top concern because performance is about business.  Performance is quantifiable.  Performance isn’t touchy feely.  Performance is not the language of professionals who chose HR because they “like to work with people.”  Performance is the language of professionals who are comfortable with measurements, analytics, data, accountability, business success.  In short, performance is the language of business people.  And I cheer when HR people speak the language of business rather than the language of HR.

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Filed under Analytics, Business Language, Business Success, China Gorman, HR Analytics, HR Conferences, HR Technology, Performance, Visier

Best-in-Class Engagement Metrics

The Aberdeen Group just published a fascinating report, The Rules of Employee Engagement:  Communicating, Collaborating and Aligning with the Business, that looks at what best-in-class organizations are doing about engagement and why they’re doing it.  Author Madeline Laurano takes a pretty deep dive into the subject and her analysis reveals some pretty intriguing conclusions.  What hooked me from the start were the three metrics for performance criteria to distinguish best-in-class companies for employee engagement:

  • 71% of employees exceeded performance expectations, compared to 14% of Laggard organizations
  • 85% of 1st choice candidates accepted an offer, compared to 8% of Laggards
  • 72% of employees rated themselves highly engaged, compared to 9% of employees of Laggard organizations

Most of the statistics we see about the value of engagement focus on tying engagement scores to financial outcomes.  No question:  we need that.  Data about the outcomes of engagement are helpful in building business cases for investing in the employee experience.

But tying other types of outcomes to higher engagement scores can also be helpful – like the number of 1st choice candidates accepting employment offers.  If a talent shortage truly is the number 1 concern of CEOs and their boards around the world, as the latest Lloyd’s Risk Survey suggests, then strategies that effectively raise the likelihood of securing the top talent you go after should be of interest. And it makes sense that A+ talent likes to affiliate with other A+ talent.

And connecting the dots between engagement outcomes and high levels of individual employee performance also makes sense.  I’ve long wondered at the value of trumpeting the engagement scores of every employee — when we all know that it’s the most effective employees’ opinions we care most about.  Linking employee performance and engagement scores makes a great deal of sense to me.

Take a look at the report.  I think you’ll find the data extremely useful.

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Filed under Business Case, Business Success, China Gorman, Connecting Dots, Economist Intelligence Unit, Engagement, HR, HR Data, Lloyd's, Performance Feedback

Workforce Reporting and Analytics

A great deal is written for and about HR’s agenda in the “post recession” economy and world.  Everyone has an opinion.  To be honest, sometimes it’s a little tiring.

Because I try to stay on top of the key issues facing organizations and the management of their talent to achieve business success, I read all the reports.  So when I ran across yet another report titled Human Capital Trends 2012, I steeled myself for another rote discussion of becoming strategic, immersing the function in social media, yada, yada, yada.

Imagine my delight, when I started reading and found an actually interesting and useful report from Deloitte.  Really.  Download it here and read it.

Deloitte identifies key business trends facing organizations in 2012.  Key trends include:

  • Growth is the top priority for many CEOs this year.
  • Developing the next generation of leaders to drive future growth is a nearly universal need.
  • People risk is a risky business so HR’s role in managing enterprise risk is expanding.
  • Advanced tools are turning workforce data into powerful insights that help businesses navigate uncertainty.

There are several additional trends called out and discussed, but I found the treatment of these particularly useful.

The discussion of the ability of workforce reporting and analytics to help make better, more informed decisions about people was easily understandable — for once.  For instance, I think the chart below is one of the most easily understood diagrams of how tactical reporting can lead into predictive analytics.  By breaking it down into three categories even emerging HR professionals can grasp the concept and context of predictive analytics:

  • What is happening?
  • Why is it happening?
  • What might be happening?

As far as maturity models go, this one is a winner!

I think you’ll enjoy the entire report.  It’s full of high level trends that all HR professionals will recognize as well as practical approaches to combat, overcome or exploit them.  Get a cup of coffee, your highlighter, and check out this report.

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Filed under Analytics, Business Success, Deloitte, HR Data, Predictive Analytics, Workforce Reporting