Tag Archives: SHRM

Flexible Work Arrangements Fever

Data Point TuesdayHow would you describe flexible scheduling? Does a standard definition come to mind? In a new SHRM survey on FWAs (flexible work arrangements), which surveyed 525 HR professionals from a randomly selected sample of SHRM’s membership, “FWAs,” “flextime,” “workplace flexibility,” “flexible scheduling,” etc. are defined under the following definition: “… a dynamic partnership between employers and employees that defines how, when and where work gets done in ways that work for everyone involved (including families, clients and other stakeholders).” This seems a definition with an interesting amount of ambiguity to describe a practice that ultimately, is extremely different from company to company.

For organizations that responded as offering FWAs, 54% offered sabbaticals, 51% offered paid time-off for volunteer work, and 46% offered part-time/reduced hour schedules on a formal basis. Other FWAs were more likely to be offered informally.

FWA Options Graph

Additionally, among organizations that reported offering FWA’s, more than 50% responded that the following FWAs were available to “all or most employees”: paid time-off for volunteer work (82%), unpaid time off for volunteer work (72%), break arrangements (61%) a part-time transition after a major life event (58%) and flex time with “core hours” (54%). Fourth-fifths of responding organizations reported that 13 out of 17 FWAs were somewhat or very successful (80%-90%). The four FWAs that responding organizations reported finding less successful were unpaid time off for volunteer work (78%), phased retirement (74%), shift arrangements (73%), and sabbaticals (66%). Despite the availability of FWAs at responding organizations (both successful and less successful FWAs), the majority of organizations were likely to report that only 1%-25% of their eligible workforce used each of the FWAs offered.Success of FWAs

If an organization does offer flexible work arrangements, how are their employees finding out about these programs? According to SHRM’s survey, responding organizations that offered at least one type of FWA indicated employees most often learned about their organization’s FWA options from:

  • HR staff (15%)
  • Employee handbook or policy and procedures manuals (18%),
  • During orientation/onboarding (19%)
  • Line manager/supervisors (27%)
  • During the recruitment or interview process (30%)
  • While on the job (50%)

SHRM’s data highlights not only the rise of FWAs within organizations but that they are an increasingly desired organizational practice amongst employees. 32% of responding organizations indicated that requests for FWAs at their organization had increased in the past 12 months, while only 3% indicated those requests had decreased.

SHRM’s data also indicates that telecommuting as an FWA option offers potential increases in employee productivity. Of the 39% of responding organizations that indicated they offered employees the option to telecommute, one-quarter indicated the productivity of employees who were previously 100% onsite increased, and one-third indicated absenteeism rates had decreased. When SHRM asked organizations about changes in FWAs and telecommuting over the next five years, the overwhelming majority of organizations stated it was somewhat or very likely that FWAs (89%) and telecommuting (83%) would be more commonplace in five years. Nearly half (48%) of these organizations stated it was somewhat or very likely that FWAs would be available to a larger proportion of their organization’s workforce in five years, while 39% indicated it was somewhat or very likely that a larger proportion of their organization’s workforce would be telecommuting.

SHRM’s FWA survey points to a number of important take-aways for organizations’ flexible scheduling policies, such as the reported positive impact of FWAs on productivity, job satisfaction, retention and employee health. This indicates that more organizations could benefit from offering FWAs, and those that already offer these options may find themselves with a competitive advantage. Despite the positive outcomes of flexible work arrangements, SHRM’s survey also highlights the low level of utilization by many employees. Organizations should make sure the decision to not partake in FWAs does not stem from job security fears, or culture perceptions that may make using FWAs seem like career limiting moves. Managers must remember that as employees are most likely to learn about FWAs on the job, their role is vital to the success of FWA programs. HR needs to ensure that managers are aware of all available FWA options, have proper training on how to inform employees about FWAs, and that they “practice what they preach” by utilizing such programs themselves.Next 5 Years Graph

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Filed under China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Flexible Work Arrangements, Flextime, FWAs, SHRM, Workflex, Workplace Flexibility, Workplace Studies

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.

millenial-misconception

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

what-employees-say
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?

labor-market-shifts

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

Good Ethics = Good Business

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We’ve officially kicked off the New Year –happy 2014! With the New Year comes the tradition of resolutions, which we hear a lot about in these first few weeks of the year. I’ll be honest, I’m not so big on New Year’s Resolutions, but I do think there’s value in paying close attention to the questions that resolutions stem from, like “what can I do to better my business/life/relationships?” I prefer to call it continuous self-improvement because it’s likely that many of these resolutions are things we should always be aiming to improve, and not just in the space of one defined year. In the spirit of the tradition though, I’ll pose this to you: if you were to make one resolution this year that would impact the lives of your employees and the financial performance of your organization, what would it be? My answer: be an ethical business. This is the most fundamental attribute of a great workplace, the foundation that must exist to build all other important parts of a great workplace. And while it might seem obvious thing to aim for, nearly HALF of all U.S. employees report witnessing unethical or illegal conduct in their workplace each year (according to a 2013 Effective Practice Guideline’s report from the SHRM Foundation) with the majority of these events going unreported and unaddressed!

SHRM-Foundation-EthicsBe an ethical workplace because this statistic is alarmingly high; be an ethical workplace because good ethics = good business. The SHRM Foundation’s report explains that an organization’s culture is the strongest predictor of how much market value that firm will create for every dollar invested by shareholders. In fact, the stock price growth of the 100 most ethical firms (based on the most widely used measure of ethical workplace culture) outperformed stock market and peer indices by nearly 300%. Looking from 1998-2011 the annualized returns of FORTUNE’S “100 Best Companies to Work For” in the United States were 11.06% versus 4.36% for the Russell 3000 and 3.38% for the S&P 500. There’s a flip side to this too though. If good ethics = good business, then bad ethics = bad business, and in a BIG way. More than 50% of the largest corporate bankruptcies have happened due to unethical business practices. And what was the cost of these bankruptcies to owners and the economy? $1.228 trillion, or, as the EPG reveals, nearly 10% of the U.S gross domestic product in 2011!

Now, I don’t disregard that many of the statistics we see on a daily basis fall into a kind of grey area. It’s likely we’re aware of the many variables that affect their legitimacy, like intent of the company producing the report or maybe the lack of a wide enough demographic representation, and so we use them more as guiding than supporting evidence. The statistics on ethical business though, seem pretty black and white to me.

I’ll say it one more time. Be an ethical workplace. Be an ethical workplace because the statistic that almost 50% of employees witness unethical behavior each year is alarmingly high. Be an ethical workplace because good ethics = good business. Be an ethical workplace because it’s a New Year and it’s a resolution to always have; but most importantly, be an ethical business because it’s the right thing to do.

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Filed under China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Ethics, Great Place to Work, Great Place to Work Institute, SHRM, SHRM Foundation

Laws Require WorkFlex – Really?

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There’s been a lot of talk recently regarding flexible scheduling policies in organizations. All kinds of people have been writing about whether such policies are actually beneficial or harmful for businesses, as well as questioning if flexible scheduling polices are really essential or non-essential to things like employee engagement, well-being, and productivity.  Actually, I think these discussions miss the point and I don’t think any of these questions can be answered on such a broad scale. The potential for flexible scheduling policies to help or hinder an organization is dependent on a whole series of variables, making such questions decidedly organization specific and not answerable as a larger theme that applies to all organizations. What we can confirm about flexible scheduling policies however, is that they are a highly regarded benefit and broadly implemented by some organizations.  The graph below from Statista, detailing data from a 2013 Employee Benefits Report by SHRM, found that  in the U.S in 2013, 58% of employers offered the option of telecommuting to some of their employees and 4% planned on starting to offer telecommuting within the next year. This data gives us a rough idea of the implementation of flexible scheduling policies within the U.S, and with more than half of employers offering telecommuting options it’s obvious that this is an approach worth discussing.

Statista SHRM Telecommuting 2013

We can clearly point to Marissa Mayer’s decision to ban telecommuting at Yahoo! (see my post here) as one of the major sparks in the recent discussions around flexible scheduling. Adding to the controversy is legislation that has passed in Vermont and now San Francisco, requiring certain organizations to seriously consider employee’s requests for a flexible work schedule. The most recent legislation around flexible scheduling passed just last month on October 8th 2013 in San Francisco. The Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance (FFWO) will become operative on January 1st 2014, and mandates that employers with twenty or more staff give employees in caregiver roles the right to request a predictable or flexible work schedule. To qualify an employee must have worked for the organization for more than six months, work at least eight hours a week on a regular basis, and be a caregiver for a child or children under the age of 18, a parent(s) over the age of 65, or a person(s) with a serious health condition in a family relationship with the employee. If an employee meets these standards they have the right to submit a request for a flexible schedule and their employer is required to meet with them within 21 days. The employer is required to respond to the request within 21 days of their meeting and if the employer denies a request they must explain the denial in a written response that sets out a bona fide business reason for the denial and provides the employee with notice of the right to request reconsideration.

Legislation like this raises a whole new set of questions around flexible scheduling policies. The San Francisco ordinance is positive in that it helps to protect employees against discrimination based on their caregiver status, however, at the same time, could you argue that legislation like this goes too far? Does it restrict an organization’s right to organize their business in the way they see fit, and most conducive to achieving goals? The FFWO could be positive in prompting employees that desire flexible scheduling policies to speak out – employees that may have previously felt afraid to voice such requests do to the bureaucracy of their organizations. But what will the effects be on organizations that have never implemented flexible scheduling policies? Will the ordinance cause a roadblock and additional internal conflict? These are some of the top questions that come to mind as I consider the implications of flexible scheduling legislation. What do you think?

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Filed under China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Employment Data, Great Place to Work, Great Place to Work Institute, HR, SHRM, Statista, Workflex

From the Archives: In support of Marissa Mayer and Jackie Reses

This was the most popular of my blog posts so far in 2013. I was one of few bloggers in the HR space supporting Marissa Mayer and Jackie Reses when they eliminated telecommuting at Yahoo! Well, it’s 7 months later and guess what? Yahoo! is performing better on a whole host of KPIs. The Workflex movement is still alive and Mayer was just named #1 on FORTUNE’s 40 Under 40 list. Hmmm…

 

Freud with cigarSometimes a cigar is just a cigar and sometimes a policy change is just a policy change.  And to attribute larger societal meaning is misguided and, well, you know, not smart.

Ending telecommuting at Yahoo! isn’t a new skirmish in the “mommy war” as USA Today proclaims.

Ending telecommuting at Yahoo! isn’t a frontal attack on GenX and GenY as countless bloggers are screaming.

Ending telecommuting at Yahoo! isn’t a stake in the heart of workplace flexibility as SHRM believes.

Ending telecommuting at Yahoo! is a bold decision by a bold CEO trying to turn her business around.

I’m a business leader.  I get it.

I get it that when you’re turning around a business you frequently have to make decisions that are unpopular.

I get it that when you make decisions to support your strategic plan others will assign meaning that was never intended.

I get it that you may have to make decisions that will change the culture in big ways.Yahoo!

I get the panic stress you feel when you decide to that cultural change is required and that decision will potentially put good people at risk.

I’m a business leader. I get it.

Turning around a business isn’t for sissies of either sex.  Ask Carly Fiorina and Mark Hurd and Meg Whitman.

The current brouhaha over Yahoo!’s decision to bring the field back home and end telecommuting is out of control.  The HR community, in particular, is totally wound around the crankshaft over this decision.  The cries of “foul!” are everywhere in the Twitterverse, the Blogosphere, old media and new media, radio and television.

And I understand the concern, although some of the hysteria is a little hard to take.  Workflex, as SHRM and the Families and Work Institute call it, is a boon for working mothers and fathers, a requirement – we’re told – for hiring and retaining GenX and GenY, and a central plank in improving engagement.  Their data is solid.  I get it.

Except when it isn’t working.  Except when management has lost line of sight into employee productivity.  Except when the culture of work and communication has gotten inefficient and lost its discipline and rigor. Except when out of sight truly is out of mind.

Marissa MayerI give Mayer and Reses big time credit for stepping up to the plate and swinging for the fences.  I saw the memo.  It said that the time for focusing on speed, communication, collaboration and quality is at hand. And in the CEO’s judgment, that means being physically together in hallways, work spaces and cafeterias.

They’re turning a business around, people!  And that’s intense work.  It requires all hands on deck.  I think Mayer and Reses Jackie Reseswant – and need – to harness the talent in Yahoo! in ways that keep the focus and intensity high.  In an environment where leaders can be hands-on and where communication isn’t delayed one second by distance and physical separation.

Say what you will about the value of engaging your workforce by allowing flexible work arrangements:  doing things the way you’ve always done them and expecting a different outcome is, well, you know, not smart.  And no one ever called Mayer that.

Saving a business isn’t about comfort and preferences. It’s about rolling up sleeves and doing whatever it takes to emerge triumphant.  And if that means some long-term, previously engaged colleagues decide that the new requirements don’t fit their lifestyle, then they’ll make other plans.  That’s tough, for sure.  But it’s how things work sometimes.  Everyone has choices to make and consequences to manage. I think Mayer is making tough choices and I think she’s prepared for the consequences.

Is this a referendum on workflex? No

Is this an assault on working parents? No

Is Mayer betraying her gender and her generation? No

Will this change the talent management landscape overnight and around the world? No

Is this one CEO and CHRO working together to change a culture’s priorities and save a business?  Yes

I get it.  So should you.

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Filed under China Gorman, Connecting Dots, Families and Work Institute, FORTUNE Magazine, Jackie Reses, Marissa Mayer, SHRM, Telecommuting, Yahoo!

Forget the Skills Deficit: How About Filling Open Jobs?

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So the unemployment rate went up a little in May, from 7.5% to 7.6%. The Bureau of Labor Statistics deems this increase as “essentially unchanged.” Despite 175,000 more people working. How does this math work?

I’ve written about the how the unemployment rate in the U.S. is determined here and here. But here’s another slice of data to consider. It’s the number of job openings. The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) published each month alongside the unemployment numbers, shares really interesting data each month. Along with the data about quits and hires, are data about job openings. Fascinating. Really.

JOLTS June 2013

So, although there were 3,757,000 job openings in April (down 118,000 from March, or “little changed” as the BLS describes it) the difference between hires and total separations was just 146,000 month over month. So on the surface, a net of 175,000 new jobs is curious.

More curious is matching the number of job openings to the number of unemployed people by industry. Economist Heidi Shierholz published a piece for the Economic Policy Institute last week that shows in stark relief that unemployed workers still significantly outnumber job openings in every major sector.  Based on analysis of the JOLTS and other data, the following chart is a snapshot of current job openings numbers by industry and the numbers of unemployed workers in those industries. It’s rather eye popping and raises lots of questions.

Unemployed far outstrips available jobs June 2013

Ouch! So think about this data when you read about employers not being able to find the right skills for their openings. Is it really skills they can’t find? Or something else? How hard are they looking? What BFOQs are they using that overlook millions of job seekers?

Curious, yes?

There are so many data points around employment, job openings, quits, hires, workers, unemployed workers, discouraged job seekers, skills, education levels, education spending… The data points come from bonafide sources (like the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and  the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce), quasi bonafide sources with bias (like the Economic Policy Institute, SHRM, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and AARP), vendor sponsored research and white papers, and millions of blogs and other media sources.

Lots of sources. Lots of data points. Lots of analysis. Lots of conflicting findings and conclusions.

The best we can do is be pro-active in finding sources that are transparent about their data and analysts who seem unbiased. And then be persistent in looking at all sides of an issue and smart in believing what you read.

On the issues of skills, jobs and unemployment, though, it seems that we don’t know what we’re doing. We may not even really know what the truth is. Except this:  we’ve got to do better at matching job openings with available talent. It’s clear that we haven’t figured this out. Not government, not business/employers, not education providers, not workers, not vendors, not recruiters.

Forget the skills deficit. What about filling the open the jobs?

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Filed under Bureau of Labor Statistics, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Economic Policy Institute, Employment Data, HR Data, Job Creation, SHRM, Skills Shortage, Structural Unemployment, U.S. Department of Labor, Unemployment

Recruiting and Social Networking

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SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) debuted some new survey data at their recent Talent Management Conference in Las Vegas. Published on April 11th, Social Networking Websites and Recruiting/Selection is interesting. And some of the data may not be what you think.

Employers use social networking sites during the recruitment process as tools to recruit candidates who might not normally apply. Expanding their reach to passive candidates, candidates with specific skill sets and candidates in specific geographies, recruiters seem to be very strategic in their use of social networking tactics and sites. I’m not surprised by these data.

Here are some of the findings I found a little surprising:

  • More than half (57%) of employers do not have a formal or informal policy on screening candidates via social networking sites.  

Really? In this age of increasing regulation and compliance, the majority of employers don’t have a policy about using social media to screen candidates? No guidance for recruiters? No guidance for hiring managers? I wonder if this is an “ignorance is bliss” approach or a calculated “we already have policies covering the use of social media at work” approach.

  • Employers that have policies on screening candidates are evenly split (21% each) in allowing or prohibiting the use of social networking sites for screening purposes.

This fascinates me. And it bears watching. There are legal dangers in the offing. Court cases are starting to decide the legal issues involved in using social media sites for applicant screening. And recruiters and HR pros don’t want to end up on the wrong side of this one.

  • About two-thirds of employers never have used or no longer plan to use social networking sites (69%) or online search engines (65%) to screen applicants.

This makes sense given the regulatory environment HR deals with today. And the fact that the courts are just starting to address these issues. However, it’s entirely unrealistic to believe that hiring managers aren’t using social networking sites to screen applicants. I believe that HR isn’t. I don’t believe that hiring managers aren’t.

  • 41% of employers target executive/upper management (e.g. CEO, CFO) when searching for candidates on social media.

This is really surprising and could spell doom for the executive recruiting industry. I would have expected a much smaller percentage of employers would use social networking sites for the recruitment of executives since it’s assumed that most employers turn to executive recruiters to find executive talent like CEOs and CFOs. If the use of social networking/media sites for executive hiring gives employers confidence to recruit executives on their own, a major shift in the executive hiring dynamic could be underway.

I was also interested in the differences in the survey question answers between 2008, 2011 and 2013.  Not only are the percentages changing, the number of respondents is growing, which I believe means that social media is being integrated into more nooks and crannies of HR. Take a look:

Social Networking Websites and Recruiting Selection SHRM 2013

This is interesting on lots of levels. And I look forward to continued growth at the intersection of HR and social technologies.

Hopefully SHRM will field this survey again in 2 or 3 years.

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Filed under Candidate Screening, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, HR Data, Recruiting, SHRM, SHRM Survey Results, Social Media, Social Networking, Social Technology