Let’s Get #ERE16 Tattoos on Bourbon Street!

bourbon-street-new-orleans-wpthelonggoodbyeNext week (and I’m quite excited!) I’m heading over to from Baton Rouge to New Orleans (a 60 mile drive which, by Louisiana traffic standards, will take 3 hours) in order to get my TA mojo on at The ERE Recruiting Conference (#ERE16). My friend Amber Eastman is coming with me (she’s an awesome recruiter BTW) and we’re going to talk recruiting and tech and employer branding and then probably drink a cocktail or two. OK; maybe three. Probably three.

I’ve not been to ERE before and, let me tell you, I can’t believe I’ve never gone to this conference! How is this possible? I went to the inaugural TLNT conference (they don’t even hold that one anymore!) in Austin (circa 2012 ish?) and then, once upon a time, snuck into SourceCon in Atlanta when I was there for a #tru event. So, in some respect, once I get ERE under my belt I will have completed the Triple Crown of the EREMedia conference circuit. Like getting a stamp on my dance card…am I right?

Look…I float hither and yon with the HR/Talent/Tech/Recruiting crowd. I’ve even been known to cozy up to a payroll lady or two having attended and spoken at a few payroll and accounting conferences. (The swag of choice is also Coach bags and stuffed animals; sensible flats are the footwear of choice). However, there is nothing, seriously, like hanging with recruiters for a couple of days. Nothing. Seriously.

Now I’ve got “HR” in my title but over the course of my career I’ve also worked in a recruiting agency, been an in-house recruiter, and done a few stints as a Corporate Recruiting Manager.  (Perhaps that gives away my age; it was before we re-named ourselves Talent Acquisition. Ahem.). Thinking back on it though every time that I’ve gone back to in-house HR I ended up zigzagging back out and went sideways/upwards back into recruiting. My first love. Truly.

Yup; that’s why I’m ALL about talking talent next week. People – and the acquisition thereof – drive the success of our organizations.

Oh sure, when we work in HR-proper we get all pumped up about our ability to churn out ACA notices or manage Open Enrollment. That magical time of the year, am I right? Kill me now. Employee Relations? Got to master that. Employees peeing in the parking lot? Co-workers can’t get along? A rumble in the lunch room. We are on it!

But… let’s face it. In my heart (thought not in the heart of every HR lady) beats a restless quest to source and recruit and hire and onboard and retain PEOPLE.

That’s what we’re talking about next week and I’m looking forward to hearing from/meeting folks like:

Christine Deputy, CHRO of Nordstrom

Jennifer Shappley, Director, Talent Acquisition, LinkedIn

Tiffany Ligon, Head of Talent Acquisition, Vodafone, Americas

Stephen Leach, Manager, Workforce Diversity and Inclusion, Nestle USA


Follow along at #ERE16 and watch for dispatches from New Orleans. I may take a picture of two of my Sazerac.

Or the tattoos we’re gonna get!


HR and the Digital Bubble

old-typewriterI’m looking forward to attending the HR Technology Conference & Exposition (##HRTechConf) next week where, once again, I’ll be a member of the HR Tech Insiders team. This post, Digital Readiness and Matters of HR, originally appeared on the #HRTechConf site.

I’m an HR practitioner with technology needs (and dreams) for my organization. So next week, as I’m wandering the Expo Hall or chatting it up at an after-hours social event, I’ll be seeking information about innovative technology and finding out what problems the solution providers tell me they can solve.

But, and this is a big piece of what I try to accomplish each year, I’ll also aim to educate the vendors. I’ll make sure to share some real-world day-to-day true stories from the world of human resources with the sales guys, developers, and start up CEOs as we nibble on a canapé and sip a craft cocktail. I’ll explain to them what, precisely, HR professionals struggle with on a regular basis. I’ll show them pictures of the stacks of paper waiting to be filed (I literally have done this; find me and I’ll show you the picture on my phone) by my HR team.  Yup; HR is not all glamorous and sexy despite what many seem to think. (note: I even made myself laugh with that one).

I think these are important conversations to have. I’ve found that over the numerous years I’ve been chatting with tech creators they tend to develop and market their technology solutions from within a bubble; a bubble that encases San Francisco, NYC, London, Austin or whatever other ‘tech’ city in which they launched their startup.

Many of these guys and gals seem to think that every workforce is like theirs: a bunch of people sitting around using updated devices, hanging out on Slack and collaborating, working from home, and completing one-click pulse surveys to track their own engagement. Whenever I tell people that lots of HR teams are (believe it or not!) still sending and receiving faxes and posting paper notices on bulletin boards, they think I’m making it up.

I am not making it up.

There are challenges faced by numerous HR professionals (far more than the purveyors of products realize) who employ blue-collar (ugh how I hate that term), service, and entry-level workers.  Millions of people are employed in these jobs and millions more apply for these jobs; the wheels of commerce pivot on these jobs.  Yet many of these individuals are not, in 2016, in a state of digital readiness.

I interact with these candidates, job seekers, and employees every day.  They don’t have email addresses, they don’t have a computer at home or have broadband access, and, while they may have a smartphone, it’s primarily used for text messaging, taking pictures, chatting on Facebook, and playing Candy Crush.

That is real.

For many years we’ve talked about the “digital divide” which was our way of discussing access to digital technologies. While that is still part of the conversation, there is heightened awareness, as in this excellent article from the Pew Research Center, about the “digital readiness gap” – specifically how it relates to readiness for online learning.

Pew provides this operational definition of digital readiness:

  • Digital skills, that is, the skills necessary to initiate an online session, surf the internet and share content online.
  • Trust, that is, people’s beliefs about their capacity to determine the trustworthiness of information online and safeguard personal information.
  • These two factors express themselves in the third dimension of digital readiness, namely use – the degree to which people use digital tools in the course of carrying out online tasks.

There are employees and candidates who are unable to navigate using a keyboard and a mouse. There are candidates who don’t want to enter their social security number into your online reference checking system because they don’t trust your ability to safeguard their data (heck – they don’t even know you yet!). There are individuals who are unable to navigate to a website unless you specifically tell them “OK; now that I’ve gotten you to the internet you can type h-t-t-p…..”.  And this is not an age/generational thing in my experience; so don’t even go there.

The Pew study classified 5 distinct groups of users:

  • Digitally Ready (17% of adults) – confident in their online skill and have technology assets
  • Cautious Clickers (31%) – confident in their digital skills, nearly 90% have home broadband or a smartphone
  • The Reluctant (33%) – below average confidence with computers and electronic devices, relatively low levels of internet use for learning purposes
  • Traditional Learners (5%) – active learners but don’t use technology to do so, 74% of them need help getting new devices to work, and 90% say they worry about trust factors with online information
  • The Unprepared (14% of adults) – not confident in their digital skills, low level of tech assets.(this group is considered the most digitally wary as they rank low in all measures of skills, trust, and use).

I found this data fascinating – and realistic.

I dare say that many of the people I will speak to next week at the #HRTechConf will have the belief that all end-users are Digitally Ready and/or Cautious Clickers. Many of us out in the world of day-to-day human resources however have workforces and candidate pools made up of The Reluctant, Traditional Learners and The Unprepared.

It’s a conversation we need to have moving forward yet I also think there are two immediate action items:

  • It’s the responsibility of HR professionals to assist in moving people to digital readiness
  • It’s the responsibility of solution providers to seek a clear understanding of the entire labor market/workforce and, let me be frank, to minimize their condescension when talking about those who are not digitally ready.

It matters for HR.


Make sure to follow the hashtag #HRTechConf for all the news and announcements from Chicago. Still haven’t registered? Use Promo Code SCHOOL16 for a $200.00 discount off the current HR Tech rate.  Or, if you just want to spend some time in the Expo Hall, use the Promo Code EXPO75 to get a “One Day Expo Pass” for only $75 (this offer expires 10/1/16!)

Time for an Upgrade – the HR Technology Experience

coin-laundry-coin-slot-1-1I’m always somewhat amused when a new iPhone (or pick your device) comes out. As soon as the iPhone7 went on sale on September 16th my Facebook timeline was filled with status updates of “I’ve ordered mine!” and “my phone should be shipped by xx date!” The memes quickly followed. Headphone jacks? Anyone?

Pundits and bloggers in the tech world weighed in on the standard upgraded features any new release is expected to give us…thinner, faster, more battery life….you know the drill. (note: while the Schooling household phones are eligible for upgrade, we have, thus far, postponed any activity).

The fanfare. The lines at the stores. The delayed shipment dates. I have yet to speak with anyone in person about their new gadget; therefore I have zero insight on individual satisfaction levels.

It did get me thinking though, as I get ready to head off to the HR Technology Conference & Exposition (#HRTechConf) next week, about the ‘upgrade’ experience for the users of HR technology. And I mean all the users; HR staff and administrators, employees, managers, and candidates. What do they expect from a new system launch or upgrade? When we, as HR practitioners, select a new solution and subsequently go through the planning and implementation phase (whether that be a few months or a few years) are we really looking at the end result through the eyes of our users? The final, full-on, ‘let’s make this go-live” end result?

Quite often I think the answer is no.

When we’re working through the project, as we’re building codes and tables, and when we find ourselves knuckle-deep in migrating data from potentially disparate systems, we tend to focus on our back-end/HR-back-of-house improvements. It’s top of mind, naturally, for us to get excited about how the solution is improving our HR day-to-day; ease of use, reporting, and data integrity come to mind. Move me from four systems (with dozens hundreds of spreadsheet thrown in) that can’t talk-to-each-other to a platform with full connectivity and integration and I’m a happy HR gal. Right?

Oh sure, we may give cursory thought to our end-users, especially as we begin the communication phase and gear up for user adoption. “How we will get our team members to not only use this platform but also love this platform?” we ask ourselves. Well…hopefully we’re asking that question.

But I think the work around user adoption requires a couple key elements we, in HR, often neglect to think about:

  • Our users (employees, applicants, managers) want to replicate the type of experience they have with technology outside-of-work, and
  • Our users want access to all the features

At the end of the day our users aren’t comparing this “new” solution we roll out from the human resources department to the previous solution we’ve provided for them. “Hey wow! We now have electronic workflow approval to sign off on training requests!” (said no manager ever). Rather they’re comparing what we’re giving them to their personal experience and the expectations they have for interacting with technology outside-of-work.

Our average candidate, meanwhile, wonders “If I can apply for a mortgage with one click why in the hell can’t I apply for this damn job with one click?”

What do our system users want?

They want simple sign on, ease of use, instant upgrades and the ability to self-solve. They want to reset their own password and recover their own user ID and sign-in. They want, when they click on an embedded “how to video” link, to be able to watch the training video apparently embedded within.

Our fellow HR users (you know – the people on your HR team?) want access to report writing capabilities, our managers want access to the full manager self-service functionality, and our applicants want to be able to change or update their log-in information without having to track down a phone number in order to place a call (a phone call!) to the HR Department. (note: you may scoff; you mean to tell me HR teams buy these solutions and then keep these basic features turned-off? Yes; that’s exactly what I’m telling you).

Think about it…if you bought a new iPhone7 would you be satisfied with something sort-of easy to use? Somewhat useful? With partial functionality?

I didn’t think so. That’s the headphone jack of HR.