Carnival of HR – Happy 13th Anniversary Edition!

Thirteen years ago today (2/21/2007) the first Carnival of HR blog post was published. A blogging carnival (which in the pre-Instagram stories and TikTok days was quite the thing!) is a social media ‘gathering’ when a blog owner hosts and invites other bloggers to participate and contribute posts around a common theme – i.e., in this case, human resources. 

The Carnival of HR was started in those nascent days by Suzanne Lucas (@RealEvilHRLady), who then handed over the reins to Alison Green (@AskAManager) in 2008. Beginning in 2009, Shauna Griffis (@HR_Minion) took over coordinating the bi-weekly Carnival which she did until 2016 when she passed on the Ringleader duties to me. 

Sometimes, as I sit here in 2020, I wonder if blogging is gasping for the last bit of oxygen. Even as the voracious demand for ‘content’ continues, is old-school blogging still relevant? Are people reading online content or is it all about videos and Facebook Live and podcasts? Then I see Feedspot’s Top 100 HR Blogs, Websites and Influencers in 2020 (published 2 days ago) and realize there’s still a massive audience for well-written HR related content. (I’m also pleased to report that Carnival Ringleaders past-and-present – Suzanne, Allison and myself – are all on the list). 

In 2017, to commemorate the 10 year anniversary of the carnival, I wrote The Unofficial (and totally non-scientific) History of HR Blogging to document, as best we could, the evolution of HR blogging. When preparing for this 2020 anniversary I got to thinking about how the story telling and writing of people in our HR/Recruiting community broke ground, provided inspiration and busted through barriers.  

Therefore, before we launch into the submissions from our community bloggers, I’m indulging myself by sharing posts that, in my estimation, were important milestones:  

  • Everything from her first super-secret BlogSpot site/Punk Rock HR/The Cynical Girl (may they all RIP) – Laurie Ruettimann (since 2004).  Laurie paved the way for so many HR professionals by letting them know it’s OK to have a voice, speak their mind and move towards a future where not only can HR be better…but so can work. 
  • No Need to Show Up in the Office – Just Perform – Kris Dunn (12/10/2006). One of the OGs, this was Kris’ first post at the HR Capitalist before he even thought about launching Fistful of Talent; both remain 2 of the top blogs centered on talent management and HR.
  • My Learning from #truLondon – Bill Boorman (11/22/2009). Bill used to write a lot and I miss his musings on various sites. This post, in particular, highlights how gathering a community together can have a far-reaching impact. (He recently shared this post on the 10 year anniversary of #truLondon).  
  • Domestic Abuse. He Abused Me Emotionally & Physically – Jessica Miller-Merrell (4/11/2012) – I remember when Jessica shared this very personal story and how it opened conversations about some very important issues. It was quite a shock at the time for a “professional” blog to delve into such personal matters….but important.
  • The Rules About Hugging at Work – Tim Sackett (5/20/2013). Tim, of course, is the most prolific writer in the HR space and never disappoints. This blog post is HR Famous (see what I did there?) with millions (millions!) of views over the years.
  • #BlackBlogsMatter Challenge – Day 1 – Blogging While Black – Sarah Morgan (2/0/2017). When Sarah kicked off the #BlackBlogsMatter challenge 3 years ago she launched a safe space for meaningful dialogue with all who participated, with conversations that were simultaneously painful, empowering, raw and celebratory. We need this.

BONUS SHOUT OUT

NOW ONWARD! 

For the 2020 anniversary celebration I asked the Carnival of HR Community to submit a post from the past 13 years; not just from within the last few weeks.  So let’s travel through time – shall we? – and read a LOT of stuff that is STILL highly pertinent! 

2020

Why Language Representation Matters in Employee-Employer Relationships – Sabrina Baker |Acacia HR Solutions 

10 Tricky Questions About Ethics and Leadership Answered – Linda Fisher Thornton | Leading in Context 

Fire Away, Stuart: Online vs. Off the Hook (Workplace Consequences of Social Media Activity) – Stuart Rudner | Rudner Law (*** video!**) 

2019

One Sunny Morning – Mark Stelzner | Voice of HR 

Schitt$ Creek = Love and Acceptance – Anthony Paradiso

A Weird Thing That I Love – Wendy Dailey  

Makin’ It – John Baldino | Humareso 

The Most Inclusive HR Influencer List – Micole Garatti 

25 New Ideas to Celebrate Employee Appreciation Week – Achievers

Five Essential Facilitation Tips to Elevate Your Gatherings – Rachel Ben Hamou | PeopleStorming 

2018 

Did HR Blogging “Jump the Shark?” – Mark Fogel 

The Way We Win Matters – Mary Faulkner 

Treating the Multiple Personality Disorder of HR Professionals! – Kurian Prasad 

2017

All I Really Need to Know I Learned from my Visit to the Seniors’ Residence – Melanie Peacock 

You’re Never Too Big to Care About People – Mary Faulkner 

2016

Choosing the Team Size in Scrum – Mark Levison | Agile Pain Relief Consulting

Kids These Days – Lance Haun

2015

Pretty Little Liars: What Transparency Really Means To SHRM. – Robin Schooling |Recruiting Daily (*** personal note: this post, as one might guess, had my phone ringing with calls from SHRM HQ on Duke Street ***)

2014

4 Companies That Rock at Content Marketing and University Recruiting – Melissa Suzuno

Make it Like It Was – John Baldino | Humareso

2013

Unemployed – from Europe to the Arab world, a personal story – Sandrine Bardot 

2012 

Developing Globally Responsible Leaders – Linda Fisher Thornton | Leading in Context 

2011

Finding, and Keeping, Good IT People – John Hunter

2010

Being Honest – Christine Assaf 

Benchmarking in the Trenches – Robin Schooling (*** 10 years later  and I still stand by every sentiment in this post ***)

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Are you an HR blogger? Interested in participating in the Carnival of HR? Hit me up at robin.schooling@gmail.com.

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The Brave New World of ‘Open Hiring’

Greyston Bakery was founded 38 years ago in Yonkers, NY and per Mike Brady, CEO, the company “was founded on the idea that a profitable business could be the backbone of ethical practice.” 

Greyston Bakery pioneered the practice of Open Hiring ™ with a very simple premise: anyone who wants a job at Greyston’s can get one. People who are interested in working for the bakery sign up on a list and, when there’s an opening, they’re contacted in the order in which they’ve placed their name on the list. There are no interviews, background checks or drug tests. The company’s hiring philosophy is that if an individual is given a job they will do it and both skills and compensation will grow as they continue to work. 

Turnover in similar industries ranges from 30% – 70% while Greyston Bakery reports a turnover rate of just 12%. 

I call that success.

The company has now launched the Greyston Center for Open Hiring providing immersive learning experiences so that other companies can begin to think about their hiring and talent management practices in a new and inclusive way. And some companies are doing so.

After the entire U.S. HR team of the Body Shop visited Greyston’s manufacturing plant last summer they began to move quickly to implement an Open Hiring model. They launched Open Hiring for their seasonal hiring needs (200 seasonal hires) at a Distribution Center and saw dramatic results

“Monthly turnover in the distribution center dropped by 60%. In 2018, the Body Shop’s distribution center saw turnover rates of 38% in November and 43% in December. In 2019, after they began using open hiring, that decreased to 14% in November and 16% in December. The company only had to work with one temp agency instead of three.”

Impact to the business (ka-ching!) but also a profound impact on people’s lives; job seekers who were being left out of the hiring process with other organizations were now securing and maintaining employment.

I like it a lot. The whole thing.

Yet…there are many who don’t.

The topic was being discussed in an HR-themed Facebook Group the other day and there were minds being blown left-and-right. To paraphrase the gist of some of the comments:

  • “hiring without interviews? How can this possibly work?” <because, apparently, interviews have proven to be somarvelously effective>
  • “I would NEVER hire *certain* felons”
  • “no references? Getting references is critical!” <because talking to Joe’s pastor really gives you a lot of insight into how he’ll perform as an employee>
  • “I don’t want someone in a retail store touching me if they haven’t had a background check” (OK Karen) 
  • “negligent hiring!!” <what HR pros like to say when they have no other substantive argument>

What this online discussion demonstrated to me, sadly, was the utter inability of numerous HR professionals to move towards innovation. “Why can’t we find people?” they ask. “How come our turnover is so high? Maybe I should I do some more employee appreciation events” they ponder.

Rather, the tendency is to move into self-preservation mode. Preserve the interviews. Protect the 10-step selection decision process. Defend the decades-long ways of doing things.  

Very rarely though, even when supplied with data, do they seem willing to consider “maybe our process is shit and we should up-end it completely.”

That would be brave.

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Realism vs. Idealism: Why HR Should Tilt at Windmills

I’ve worked in HR for decades and I want to tell you a secret.

For all our chatter about the transformation of HR, the new and elevated role of the HR leader, and the name change from CHRO to Chief People Officer, we are still, by and large, doing the same shit, in much the same way, that we did it (back at the dawn of time) when I took my first gig on an HR team. 

That’s a broad sweeping statement of course. Many of you will ridicule this sentiment and cry that it’s a bit of a generalization. “Take a look at the innovation happening amongst contemporary HR professionals!” you may say.  I don’t completely disagree with that viewpoint; there certainly ARE people and organizations moving HR forward as captured in this excellent Fast Company article by my friend Lars Schmidt – “7 Ways HR Looks Different in 2020.”  As he points out “HR is a spectrum. While the majority of the field is somewhere in the middle, the leading edge of HR is having a transformational impact on business.” He also acknowledges that modern people teams/practices are a “subset” of that spectrum.

It may appear as if the visionaries are tilting at windmills. Yet some of the enemies of progressive HR are all-too-real and not imaginary at all. I love it when HR professionals take a quixotic approach even though it’s usually not easy. Yet why do those who push for HR change struggle? What holds more from pushing conventional and outdated practices and thinking to the side? In my estimation there are 4 types of people who keep our shoes nailed to the floor:

Those who decide they “don’t need” HR  

You know these people and these organizations. It makes sense when a small business with less than 10 employees realizes they don’t require a full-time HR leader (the wise ones of course engage a consultant or tap into resources as needed). What’s a bit more mystifying though is when larger organizations opt out and decide that the people-driven side of the business is not worth any attention. Just the other week I had a conversation about a multi-state employer with 150+ employees and zero HR resources. They do not have one single dedicated HR staffer and the Controller “handles” HR.  So while I’m fairly certain (hopeful?) employees are getting their paychecks, with no proactive people strategies it’s probably not the greatest place to work. 

Those who “hire” HR

These are the folks who get the HR they desire – and deserve. They’re also the group that keeps the practice of HR about as relevant as it was circa 1985. You can usually tell when a job posting for an HR Leader has been devised by the CFO/COO/CEO; there’s a laundry list of “tasks” related to compliance, benefits and maybe even payroll – usually capped off with “responsible for employee engagement.” These are the business owners/C-Suite folks who believe the role of HR is to navigate the complexities of employees’ medical bills, host pizza parties and run an “employee of the month” program.  

Those who “direct” HR

There is no one who holds her team and organization back from modern workplace realities than the #LegacyHRLady. While she’s often a lovely person, Linda the HR Lady was trained how to practice HR 30 years ago and sees no reason to change. She’s fearful of technology, sees no need to automate or streamline outdated busy-work processes, and  firmly believes that “HR’s role is to protect the company.” She has long been convinced that every applicant, employee and manager is forever looking to “get away with” something nefarious so she adds policy after policy to her already voluminous Employee Handbook while simultaneously devising ways to “catch” employees breaking the rules.

Those who “do” HR 

Linda the HR Lady has, of course, trained others who have come behind her and so now Chad, Heather, Jason and Julie are “doing” HR in much the same way. Oh sure, they may be using a new-school ATS with automation, and they’re accustomed to being in touch via Slack throughout their workday (unlike Linda) but they still maintain a distorted view of the role (and value) of HR. Rather than viewing the possibilities the future brings, they quickly became entrenched into legacy HR work by inserting themselves into every EE performance discussion and monitoring the breakroom refrigerator. These are the folks who develop a great sense of self-importance when they assume the power of rejecting job applicants or insist on personally delivering an “employee write up” to Shanna in A/P because she came to work with purple hair.  

It’s like quicksand; continuing to suck us down. 

So for those of you mired in the cautious and sober world of hum-drum HR I encourage you to ponder:

  • “What would the ideal practice of HR look like?”
  • “If I strive to make things better (for HR) how can that also make my workplace, and the world, a better place?”
  • “Is this change I envision really impossible…or is it, in fact, possible?” 
  • “What’s holding me back from acting for change?”

The phrase “tilting at windmills” often infers that one is pursuing something foolishly impractical; on a quest for something unreachable.

But, my friends, isn’t a bit of tilting worth the effort? 

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‘Tis the Season – Company Holiday Party Memories

I love a good company party. And, at the risk of having my “strategic HR” card permanently revoked, I admit I even enjoy planning them. Over the years I’ve organized everything from sit down service awards galas to parties with DJs, bands and (one time) an improv troupe. I’ve planned picnics for the kids at parks and zoos with the requisite “Executive Dunk Tank” and I’ve coordinated my fair share of potlucks, catered lunches and boozy happy hours.

But nothing beats the company holiday party for, hands-down, the optimal environment for things to go slightly off-the-rails. Maybe it’s the fact that baby Jesus is omnipresent. Perhaps it’s the inevitability of numerous socially awkward staffers making “Santa only comes once a year” jokes. I dunno what it is but there’s something in the air.

So, in honor of the season, here are a few of the more memorable happenings from my company holiday parties over the years. Ho ho ho!

******

Boss: “What are we going to do if someone has too much to drink? We can’t afford to pay for taxis for people.”

Me: “We can have one of the nuns drive them home. Probably Sister Agnes though: Sister Mary Coletta likes her wine.”

******

By 11 pm the booze had been liberally flowing for several hours and people were sufficiently lubricated. Social norms of the office had been discarded and left on the burning trash heap of company protocol.

Jenny, a buxom young lass with a strapless cocktail dress, convinced the usually reserved male CEO to join a frolicking group on the dance floor.

She shimmied and slithered to the club remix of some Top of the Charts song as she repeatedly tossed her arms akimbo and positioned her posterior inches from the CEO for some good old fashioned twerking. With a flourishing twirl she turned to face him, arms over her head….and her dress down around her waist.

Dancing until the song ended some 60 seconds later (“this is my song !!!”) Jenny finally pulled up her dress, tucked in her ample assets, and headed for the bar.

The CEO remained in place on the dance floor in a state of abject confusion for a few moments. As he later confided to me … “I didn’t know where it was safe to look anymore.” 

******

… Overheard at the Employee Xmas Pot Luck …

Joe: “Who made this potato salad?”

Jane: “Karen from Accounting.”

Joe: “Oh hell no. I’m gonna pass. You’ve seen how disgusting and dirty her desk is; can you imagine her kitchen? We’ll all die of botulism.”

******

Setting: upscale venue, seated multi-course dinner, open bar, live band with dancing, suits and cocktail dresses. 6 PM cocktail hour/7 PM dinner/8 PM dancing and frivolity.

Time: approximately 10 PM

Employee: “Miss Robin – I think you need to know that Sally and Betty’s husbands are in the men’s room doing lines of coke” 

(Miss Robin, in full on HR lady mode after 4 hours of cocktailing, takes a quick and purposeful march into the men’s room interrupting not only the snorting party but also random-employee-Joe who is mid-stream at the urinal).

Me: “Guys; I’m glad you’re having fun and I could care less how you celebrate the holiday season but please knock that shit off and clean up this countertop before the big boss comes in here to take a pee.”

The Husbands: “Oops. Sorry. (finish it off). Merry Christmas.”

#LetItSnow

******

Employee (knocking on my office door with a folded slip of paper in her hand): 

“Um….. do you think you can go talk to my manager and tell him we need to redraw names for our department’s Secret Santa? I pulled Sharon’s name (shows me slip of paper) and there’s no way I’m buying her a gift. I hate that bitch.”

******

Employee: “Hey Robin; this is my daughter Trixie who I brought as my guest since my husband had to work”

Robin: “Nice to meet you Trixie; glad you could join us. Having a good time?” 

Trixie: “Yeah this is nice. But I’m in a little pain since I just had my clitoris pierced today.”

Robin: (guzzles martini)

****** 

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Employee Experience: More than a Buzzword

Employee Experience (EX) is one of those phrases that, if one were so inclined, could fill a “Buzzword Bingo” card at most any HR conference/event over the last few years. We’ve been talking about it for a while now so, inevitably, there are folks already casting about looking for the next shiny-object-du-jour.

I say hold up; our understanding of the importance of the employee experience, and our ability to make improvements, is nowhere near the “check it off the list’ phase.

So what is it… exactly? One easy definition is “employee experience is the “user experience” of your company — it’s the intersection of employees’ expectations, their environment and the events that shape their journey within an organization.”

It includes understanding the moments that matter – for all employees. It requires HR professionals to step outside of their interaction with the experience (a process and interaction THEY created!) and put themselves in the shoes of the end-users (employees). It’s about nurturing a workplace environment where every individual can feel a sense of belonging and be successful.

It’s something we should continuously discuss – and we’re going to do just that next week!

Join me on next week’s #MercerChats (on the twitterz!) on Tuesday, 11/26 at 10 AM ET when we discuss “Who’s Driving the Modern Employee Experience?”

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