Tag Archive for business

Diving Deep on Complacency

scuba diveComplacency: a feeling of being satisfied with how things are and not wanting to try to make them better; a complacent feeling or condition (Merriam-Webster) 

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This week has turned into my week for writing about words/concepts that frequently make their way into the conversations held between HR folks and organizational managers.

One of the go-to-things we often say, particularly when an employee or group of employees, seem to lack zing-spirit-zip is “s/he just got really complacent.”

Yup. I’ve said it too.

And then, more likely than not, we go down one of two paths:

Path 1: We fall into the ‘Engagement’ rabbit hole (Let’s do a survey! Let’s put a ping pong table in the break room! Let’s survey again to see if employees are engaged now that they have a ping pong table!)

Path 2: We label the employee with a moniker which will, sadly, stick to her during the duration of her employment (She’s not a go-getter. He’s content to just do the minimum. They’ve all just retired-in-place.)

Heading down either path is not right. Or fair for that matter.

The step we often fail to take is diving down real deep to ascertain why, exactly, we have an employee or group of employees who have gotten into the mode of clock-in/clock-out and “just let me do my job.”

HR professionals and leaders who sit on high in a tower or segregate themselves behind walled-in offices need to do some pretty serious self reflection about the institutionalized dynamics that have become embedded over time. Employees may have moved into the complacent mode for any number of organizational reasons:

  • Lack of feedback from their supervisor or manager
  • Lack of communication across the entirety of the enterprise
  • Lack of clarity around the meaning and purpose of their actual work/job
  • Lack of recognition and appreciation
  • Lack of mechanisms to raise issues, solve problems, and have input on decisions that affect their job and/or scope of responsibility

I’ve seen all of these. I’m sure you have too.

Next time you’re quick to characterize an employee as non-motivated, lazy, or not-on-the-bus-with-the-rest-of-us…take some time to look beyond the surface.

Dive deep.

I Want it Now: Entitlement in the Workplace

Veruca SaltEntitlement: the condition of having a right to have, do, or get something; the feeling or belief that you deserve to be given something (such as special privileges) Merriam-Webster

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I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the damage that can be done – unintended consequences for the most part – when organizational leaders or well-intentioned HR professionals devise activities, reward programs, benefit packages, or other conditions of employment that create a feeling of entitlement amongst employees.

These sorts of things often start off quite innocently and are usually designed to address a critical business need. Countless HR directors have rolled out Attendance Bonus programs designed to ensure employees get to work on time and them scratched their head in wonderment when the only employees actually receiving any Attendance Bonus payouts are the same employees who have always reported to work on time.

And that’s not the only one that’s a favorite for HR folks to turn into some sort of ‘program’ – they’re also quite fond of over-thinking and over-crafting things like providing free snacks in the break room, running employee referral programs, and providing employer-covered supplemental benefit programs. I’ve seen HR professionals run in circles to provide free monthly car washes in the employee parking lot. I watched an HR manager wear herself out managing the logistical nightmare created when she decided to provide on-site flu shots for, at the end of the day, a meager percentage of her company’s employees.

So why do it? Oh sure, sometimes there’s a strategic reason related to talent attraction/retention. Or so company executives and talent acquisition leaders will say.

But seriously? At what stage did we enter this alternate universe where stuff like ongoing access to sleep-pods and the correct type of kale on the (free) salad bar in the cafeteria is expected in the workplace? Demanded by applicants? A reason whether an employee will prolong the employment relationship with a specific company?

Crazy.

Now I’m certainly not saying we should never strive to do the extras or provide added enticements to either attract candidates or enrich the employment experience for employees. If the pay is where it should be (or better) and the working conditions fit the talent pool and meet the needs of the business, then go  as wild as you want having pizza day, putting bean bag chairs in the conference rooms and providing pet insurance at no cost. Knock yourself out.

These sorts of things are nice and fluffy and let over-worked and under-appreciated HR ladies feel good about themselves. Of course it’s quite likely they’re not much more than window-dressing even though they land you a spot on some local “Best Employer List.” It’s also highly probable these initiatives are doing nothing to ‘impact the bottom line’ (which you like to tell your executive team at the quarterly staff meeting) since I bet you’re not performing any sort of cost-benefit analysis.

And maybe that’s OK; sometimes within a manageable scope and scale we just like to do nice things. Or maybe everyone in HR just wants to be able to bring their dogs to work too.

Just remember …  Yahoo ended work from homeBest Buy cancelled ROWE and that worn-out HR Manager cancelled the annual flu shot extravaganza.

So ask yourself this: “If, one day, we need to eliminate this activity, reward program, benefit package, or other condition of employment, how will that play in Peoria?”

THAT – my friends – is the million dollar question.

Employment Life Cycle: The Retention Factor #EWS2014

Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 5.50.56 PM

I’ve been partnering with my friends at Spherion to share some information from their 2014 Emerging Workforce Study; see below for full disclosure details.

One thing we all strive for is to create a linkage between our talent programs and strategies and key organizational outcomes.

But sometimes, even as we scramble about tracking data and rolling out new initiatives, we don’t pay sufficient attention to the ‘voice’ of our own employees. Crazy isn’t it?

That’s why I found the data released in the study to be interesting in what was uncovered regarding the advocacy, retention and leadership phases of the employment life cycle. (Check out the full infographic for some very interesting information.)

The thing is that even as we dash about talking about our employees as ‘brand advocates’ and ‘ambassadors for organizational culture’ we are often lacking a true connection of understanding between employers and employees.

Sometimes, or so it appears, we just drop the ball!

When reading through the study some of the findings around the issue of retention were particularly interesting to me:

  • Employers believe the most important aspects for worker retention include the management climate (89%), an employee’s relationship with his or her supervisor (85%) and the culture and work environment (81%).
  • However, workers feel financial compensation (78%), benefits (76%) and growth and earnings potential (71%) will influence whether they continue to work at a company.

There’s kind of a glaring disconnect there! The question needs to be asked “are you – HR leader/practitioner/C-suite executive – focusing on the right things in your particular organization?” It seems that we discuss retention and turnover and the need to ‘hire the right talent’ all the time – yet – according to study results only 23% of employers say turnover/retention is their top HR concern.

Are we tossing out our hard-earned and tenured employees by failing to just talk to them? Listen to them? Do we then throw our hands up in the air and move onto the topic of “oh well, I guess we need to open some reqs and recruit the right people!”

Maybe…just maybe…the right people are directly under your our noses, all along… Hmmm…?

The question to ask – and this is how it all wraps together – is “are we treating our current staff members in the right way?”  Here’s a telling piece of information from the study:

“workers rate the level of customer service their employer provides to external customers higher than the way the company treats them.”  (the employees!)

Somewhat sobering.

It’s wooing and chasing the popular girl/guy. it’s landing the first date. It’s entering a relationship. And then neglecting the fact that romance needs to continue; even for the couples that hit their Silver Anniversary.

Time to take a look at the entire Employee Life Cycle. Am I right HR?

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Disclosure Language:

Spherion partnered with bloggers such as me for their Emerging Workforce Study program. As part of this program, I received compensation for my time. They did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about any idea mentioned in these posts. Spherion believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Spherion’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.

When is an HR Job…NOT an HR Job?

groucho marx glassesThere’s always a lot of chatter about the upcoming demise of HR; will the profession adapt and change in order to remain viable, effective and relevant in the future world of work?

Ah yes…but the future is here:

  • Technology has reshaped how people connect and it has driven new and different ways for people to share and collaborate.
  • The traditional view of ‘the job’ is being blown up.
  • Employees are consumers of work and they expect immediate and transparent access to information and to each other.
  • Leaders have quickly learned that the old models of managing people (command-and-control anyone?) are withering on the vine; dead and dying.

In the midst of all this change sits the HR professional. She’s often hesitant to use technology and reluctant to realize that candidates are increasingly unwilling to purchase the work experience she’s selling. She’s sometimes unable or unwilling to understand that her role is not about promoting the HR agenda (compliance! structure! benefit administration! policies!!!!) but is, rather, about impacting the business agenda by strengthening capacities and capabilities for success.

Yet even if she is planning for the future of work that doesn’t mean those around her are doing the same.

I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately because of two distinct situations that came to my attention over the last year.

Company A has several thousand employees and, in a volatile industry sector, experienced the need to shore up some financial and operational items. A new leadership team, consultants and other interested parties moved into slash-and-burn mode with RIFs, re-organizations and changes/cuts in product offerings and business lines. Working for a labor intensive organization with high turnover (common for the industry) the human resources team always had a lot of fish in the fryer…but no more. HR was gutted. Eviscerated. The new model included the elimination of the CHRO position (“I don’t believe in HR” was uttered by a senior executive) and the removal of various HR generalists and specialists while the lone (as in 1) HR employee was moved under the Risk and Compliance Department. While he still holds an HR title it’s not – really – an HR job. Or is it?

Company B has several hundred employees and, in a hot and competitive industry sector, is in hyper growth mode. The leadership team identified talent, people development, and sustaining of organizational culture as necessary ingredients in the organizational gumbo and looked to grow out the HR/talent function by adding an HR leader to unite the talent acquisition staff (long nestled within business units) with the foundational HR staff (reporting to the COO). They had an idea to implement a fairly traditional model that was later upended for, one can assume, various reasons. Rather than create a human resources department with a defined leader, the HR/talent function (and along with it some plans for revising and revamping that which exists) was assigned to an executive who also oversees a key business division. It was akin to informing the VP of Sales that she’s also now the head of HR. She doesn’t have an HR title and it’s not – really – an HR job. Or is it?

 

So who, at these two very different organizations, has the HR job? If we take the traditional view we would say it’s the practitioner at Company A; he has an HR title and a smorgasbord of tasks associated with human resources are in his domain including policies, compliance, and the vetting of employee relations incidents and calls.

In my estimation though we’ll come to see in the very near future that it’s the multi-tasking executive in Company B who truly holds the HR job; she’s leading the business agenda while maintaining oversight of the talent strategies that lead to the attainment of growth and revenue goals.

Kind of an exciting time to be in HR. Or not.

Depends on what you consider an HR job.