Judging You (on your own recognizance)

As an HR professional, my legal bona fides derive from attendance at numerous employment law seminars coupled with dedicated (some may some obsessive) viewing of Law & Order over the years. And when I say Law & Order I mean the big three of the franchise: the original (Jack McCoy baby!), SVU, and Criminal Intent. I never had much use for “Trial by Jury,” “LA,” or “True Crime.”  (you had to go look those up didn’t you?) 

I can argue with you all day on the merits of the various and assorted ADAs who have strolled down the hallways of the courthouse. I can also dazzle you with my prowess at using legal and legally adjacent terminology like “trial judge,” “motion to suppress,” and “the Tombs.”  Naturally, when referencing “the Tombs,” I do so with a troubled countenance.

One of my favorite (often nail-biting) moments during the “order” part of any L & O episode is when this exchange goes down in the courtroom:

Defense Attorney “We request R.O.R. your honor.”

ADA: “Objection you honor. The defendant brutally committed heinous crime X. They have no ties to the community, possess a personal fortune of a bajillion dollars and will flee the country with nary a look back at the ghastly aftermath of their crimes!” 

Defense Attorney: “The defendant is committed to clearing their name of these false and utterly baseless allegations and is also the primary caregiver for 3 cats and an elderly aunt.”

The Judge: “The defendant is ordered to surrender their passport. Next.”

*****

R.O.R., as you may know, means “released on one’s own recognizance” and recognizance is defined as “an obligation to do something.”  In the courtroom this generally means the defendant signs a written promise to show up at scheduled court appearances, is able to receive bail without paying a bond, and may have to refrain from certain activities or meet with a probation officer while awaiting trial. 

The judge has complete discretion in this matter and their determination is based on factors such as prior criminal history, the severity of the charges, record of good behavior in the community and ties to the area such as a job or family. Interestingly enough the use of bail algorithms (a statistical tool called “risk assessments”) are increasingly being used across the country to aid judges in their decision-making. This is not without controversy however there is a fairly common concern that racial biases are embedded in the calculation (in turn feeding the machine learning going on behind the scenes) and merely serve to exacerbate existing racial disparities within the criminal justice system. Advocates for the use of these risk assessment tools believe that these tools eliminate human bias; Chris Griffin, visiting professor and research scholar at University of Arizona’s law school, has said “Instead of relying on an “amorphous” impression of a defendant, a judge can look at a defendant’s “demonstrated, empirical, objective risk.”

There are, of course, numerous jokes to be made about how one’s job can be like a prison sentence. (In prison you spend the majority of your time in an 8×10 cell; at work you spend the majority of your time in a 6×8 cubicle). 

Yet I also see similarities to the courtroom wherein we (HR professionals and organizational leaders) are in the role of the judge as we:

  • Hire on recognizance (HOR)
  • Recognize and reward on recognizance (RROR)
  • Investigate and impose discipline on recognizance (IIDOR)
  • Promote on recognizance (POR)
  • Terminate on recognizance (when one fails at their ‘obligation to do something’) (TOR)

And, thanks to all the fancy HR tech out there, we’re using algorithms to make our decisions and removing, bit by bit, the human discretion and decision making on which we used to rely. 

What would Jack McCoy do? 

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What’s New? Cool Kick-Ass HR Stuff!

Over the last 10 years I’ve used my blog to philosophically wax and wane about all things HR. I like to think I’ve had some profound things to say when I’ve taken on a particular topic but, of course, also realize there have been many times when I was musing merely for my own enjoyment. I’ve talked, over the years, about Kim Kardashian’s pregnancy (the first one), menstruation, clueless HR and organizational practices and, in one of my most popular recent posts, the disconnect between “conference HR” and “real world HR.”

(Q: how many pundits does it take to discuss culture, engagement or “why recruiting is like marketing”? A: probably none).

Nevertheless, I persisted.

And now, because I can, I’m using my little corner of the internet to talk about something exciting and, quite frankly, a bit promotional.

The company I joined last year (as Head of People) is heading towards a new and exciting future as we recently transitioned to a new moniker (Peridus Group) and unveiled our sexy new web site!

We remain, at our core, a boutique consulting firm fixing problems and doing cool shit. We consult on HR Technology + Systems work (especially Workday integrations, implementations and managed services), Talent + Recruiting (contract recruiting and RPO), and NOW (here’s the new stuff!) we’ve added an HR + People Strategy practice headed by yours truly.

The HR + People Strategy group aligns with our firm’s raison d’etre: providing talent strategy and solutions for independent thinkers.  On the HR + People Strategy side that translates to mean “this ain’t your mama’s HR” since:

  • We believe the future of HR includes tossing aside non-functioning legacy practices in order to create people strategies that are vibrant, pro-active and nimble. 
  • We share research and insight that can inform decisions and drive innovation in all areas of an organization’s people operations and the experience of its employees. 
  • We don’t take what many think of as the typical (and stereotyped) human resources approach. While we’re mindful of underlying compliance and legislative issues (hey; we’re the SMEs after all) we like to focus on the “possibilities” … not the policies. We push our clients to contemplate “what CAN we do rather than what CAN’T we do.” 
  • And I, as the architect of this group, am most assuredly not your mama’s HR ……..

So yeah; pretty exciting. In addition to providing general consulting, project work and training/workshop facilitations, we also offer an HR managed service option which is ideal when the company doesn’t have a dedicated and experienced human resources leader or the Leadership team/HR Leader could benefit from additional support on planning, strategy and implementation of forward-thinking people strategies that can boost the attraction, recruitment, retention and development of talent.

Wanna chat about what I’m doing now? Hit me up at robin@peridusgroup.com.

Let’s work together!

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How a TYPO Reinforced Company Culture

Working in human resources means that one spends an inordinate amount of time writing and sending out “official” missives and documents to employees. Very important things like policies, handbooks, sternly worded admonishments, and memos about cleaning out the refrigerator.  And while an e-mail informing employees they are not to feed donuts to the alligator (yes; I’ve sent that one) can be cranked out in a minute, some of our HR tomes take considerably longer to complete.

Recently, our HR team has been working on a revision of the Employee Handbook; some additions, a few deletions, and a bit of clarification. You know the drill.

We finished writing and let it marinate for a few days. We did a spell check, several read-throughs and a bit of formatting in order to finally release this magnum opus to the in-boxes of our expectant and eager workforce.  Then, task completed, we settled in to await the satisfying “pings” signifying that acknowledging e-signatures were flooding in from our enthusiastic team members.

Hold the accolades though because (ruh-roh!) we got notification there was a typo. A decent typo too; not something that HR people spell wrong every day like FSLA (fat fingered typing), HIPPA (laziness) or Workman’s Comp (stuck in the 1970’s).

It wasn’t the f-word or anything (which would have really been epic!!) and the employee was not upset or offended by any stretch of one’s imagination. But, had this scenario played out at some of my previous organizations, it would have led to oodles of hyper-ventilating HR ladies running around clutching their pearls while TPTB screamed through the phone lines.

However, as none of our HR team members are particularly fond of pearls and we possess an actual sense of humor we had a better idea. Let’s run a contest!!

So below is what we immediately (well, after 30 minutes of non-stop laughter) sent to all employees: 

**********

Attention all employees!  

As you know, one of our company values is Embrace That Which is Unusual (meaning we like stuff that’s quirky, offbeat and, well, funny). Another value is Ubiquitous Uniqueness (in other words, the company is made up of HUMAN BEINGS).  

Because we’re human beings (and spell check doesn’t catch EVERYTHING) there’s a little typo in the just released Employee Handbook. And, because we found it hilarious (!), we’ve decided to run a contest:

THE GREAT WORD SEARCH CONTEST RULES

STEP 1: Search the document for the word that, according to the Urban Dictionary, is described thusly:

Synonyms:

1. Most swear words and obscenities.

2. Thrush, herpes, the clap, syphilis, and venereal diseases in general.

3. Anything worthy of the following descriptions: shit, minging, crap, etc.

Usages: 

1. OH xxxxxxx!

2. Oh dear, I think I caught the xxxxxx off old Bertha.

3. This is a pile of rotten xxxxxxx!

STEP 2: Send an email to HRLady1or HRLady2 (by Wednesday 9/25 at 8 AM CST) telling us:

  • The offending word
  • Page number

All entrants will go into a drawing and the winner will receive an Amazon gift card!

**********

To quote a member of our sales team: “[this is] the first time ever I’m excited to read an employee handbook. You have accomplished the impossible.”

#WinningHR

p.s. we sound fun don’t we? You want to hang out with us, don’t you? If you’re heading to the #HRTechConf in a few weeks, come meet us in person and enjoy a little “Afternoon Delight”

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A Changing Workplace: Exploring the Intersection of AI and HR

(this post originally ran at the Oracle HCM blog)

Artificial intelligence (AI) is quickly becoming a workplace mainstay. A growing number of organizations are embracing these new technologies and it is predicted that one in five workers will have AI as an integrated assistant at work by 2022. One aspect of this is the implementation of AI-based tools to reshape the way companies worldwide manage the hiring process and monitor employee well-being.

This shift presents new opportunities, along with new challenges, for HR professionals looking to orchestrate an optimal balance between technology and the workforce. To make the most of this intersection, it’s essential to carefully consider the impact AI can have on HR processes. Allaying concerns that frequently accompany the introduction of advanced technology and understanding how AI actually helps humanize the employee experience will make it more manageable to map out smart strategies for the evolving workplace.

The Potential to Increase Efficiency  

Numerous HR functions can be improved with technology, especially tasks related to recruitment and talent acquisition. For example, organizations might opt to use AI for top-of-funnel vetting processes, such as screening candidates. A digital assistant can gather information and ask potential employees a series of questions related to the job requirements. If the candidate’s responses fit the position, a digital assistant can extend an invitation to apply for the job. This screening process frees up time for HR professionals by automatically handling information and volume in a safe and secure environment.

If the company wants to pursue a candidate, using technology to schedule interviews is not only more efficient, but also provides a simple and satisfying experience for the candidate—much easier and more streamlined than sending 15 emails back and forth with a recruiter.

New hires can also benefit from AI tools that provide information about the company’s history, operations, and culture. Technology can also help new-hires socialize by lining up a lunch meeting or coffee chat with coworkers.

The Need for Ongoing Vigilance   

Over time, HR systems collect a large quantity of personal information about employees, creating risks and concerns around the disclosure and/or improper use of private information.

Several types of tech-related tools may cause particular concern among the workforce:

  • Tracking devices that are worn and constantly monitor an employee’s movement
  • Technology that gathers and analyzes data to identify employees who may be considering leaving the organization
  • Machine-learning technology with biases that build over time, such as a selection tool that aims to replicate successful hires by using data points but may eventually constrict the selecting criteria to a specific, narrow demographic

When implementing new technology, HR professionals can address potential fears by being upfront and attentive. A strategy that includes vigilance, protective measures, algorithms designed to be unbiased, secure cloud-based solutions, and ongoing evaluation may help alleviate concerns and ensure safety at all levels. 

A Chance to Make Work Human

More than one-third of consumers who use social media to voice an opinion about a brand expect a response in fewer than 30 minutes. Employees today tend to seek a similar consumer-driven atmosphere within the workplace. Making use of the available technology for HR functions can enhance and personalize their experience.

For instance, a digital assistant with natural language processing (NLP) could be used to answer common employee questions. Workers could turn to it to answer questions around holiday time-off or to discover specific benefits.  

By automating processes, AI can free HR professionals to focus on higher-level activities. With more accurate data and information available, it may become easier to spot opportunities for improvement, growth, and employee well-being. By applying capabilities, such as looking at how employees spend time on a company website, insights could be gathered related to how workers want to be treated or potential issues that can be addressed early on.

AI has the potential to bring more individuals into the workplace: It’s estimated that machines will create 58 million net new jobs by 2022. While this may ease fears of staff reduction, it may also create a shift in the working environment, with some workers needing to be reskilled or repositioned in a company.

HR professionals that embrace technology and acknowledge the benefits it brings can more fully become, as Kurt Vonnegut stated, “a human being, not a human doing.” 

…… click HERE to read more at the Oracle HCM blog……

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Workplace Realities: Recruiting When Your Staff Turnover Exceeds 100%

I’ve lived, worked and managed HR in industries where turnover for certain positions and/or departments exceeded 100%. It’s not fun.

I recently read this article (“Panera losing nearly all workers in fast-food turnover crisis”) about the increasing challenges in the restaurant industry related to turnover and, I must admit, it induced numerous stress-inducing flashbacks.

While the article discusses automation – kiosks for customers and robots back-of-house – the highlights for me were related to the human impact:

  • “The job no one really wants– Experts who have studied the restaurant business for decades and work with national chains are divided over the extent to which fast-food jobs can be made better. Some do not believe there is no formula combining pay, benefits, training and culture that can save the human worker in this sector.”
  • “There are no other job segments in the U.S. that have higher turnover than the fast-food and fast-casual segments of the restaurant industry, according to DiPietro at the University of South Carolina’s School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management. “Not even retail.””
  • “…the fast-food industry, which faces steep price competition, is handicapped by the inability to raise wages much, as well as its limited career advancement opportunities. It also has little history of offering competitive benefits. Only 14% of all fast-food restaurants offer sick leave, and only 16% offer paid time off.”
  • “She (Rosemary Battchair of HR Studies and International & Comparative Labor at the Cornell School of Industrial Labor Relations) said the labor problems can be solved by methods other than robots, such as chains putting more effort into hiring better managers and treating workers with more respect. That requires companies being willing to give workers more hours and more predictable scheduling. “That is not very costly for HR to invest in. It just takes managers to be frankly more competent and pay more attention to the issue. … Maybe they won’t optimize labor costs to the extent they want to, but it will pay off in lower turnover and more satisfies workers and better operations. That should not be hard problem to fix.””

And, as Batt also pointed out, “Because turnover is getting so serious and because chains have the ability to do the HR analytics, they can begin to cost out turnover and say, ‘This is not a cost we have taken seriously, because historically we were counting on high turnover model as acceptable.'”

All of it. Just all of it. 

A few of the realities I experienced:

  • A mindset that employees are as replaceable as the other supplies and materials used to run the restaurants.
  • The cost of high turnover is anticipated, expected and budgeted for much as the company budgets the cost of replacing xx.x% of the kitchen equipment each fiscal year.
  • Jobs are ALWAYS open and hiring is ONGOING. Of course, when squiring candidates through the recruiting process it’s impossible to discuss specific schedules because the shift, days and availability of hours will change, undoubtedly, before the person even reports for Day 1. This is based, of course, on how many people will either quit or start between now and, oh, two days from now.  
  • Benefits will be offered and touted (tuition reimbursement! flexible schedules!) because there are sufficient qualifiers in place to ensure a minimal number of employees will even get to take advantage of them. (i.e. “tuition reimbursement is available for full-time employees with at least 12 months of continuous service who are enrolled in a curriculum related to their job.”)
  • Annual wage increases of 1.5% – 3% (and on $9 per hour, a 3% increase equals 27 cents) ensure that the INSTANT a competitor starts paying an additional .50 per hour, the staff will practically leave mid-shift and sprint down the street to start a new job.

But…yet…sitting up in the corporate HQs somewhere far, far away from the day-to-day realities of life in the kitchen, HR teams devise catchy tag line and launch compelling CAREER sites even though, let’s face it, most job seekers are not viewing these gigs as ‘careers.’ While some folks may, in fact, start in a restaurant and ‘move up the ladder’ (and there are, certainly, people who work at corporate offices in ‘careers,’) these sites are promoting employment to candidates who are applying for jobs paying anywhere from $7.25 to (maybe, if they’re a ‘manager’ with 10 years experience) $12 per hour. 

So I decided to take a look at what the talent acquisition teams (and the multitudinous employer branding consultants) at limited service restaurants have put together on their various career sites. 

Here’s what I found: 

Panera“Fresh, food, fun work”

Taco Bell Careers“Start with us…stay with us”

McDonald’s Careers“Where you want to be” 

Subway“Careers on the rise” 

Chipotle“The difference is real. Work with the food you love.” 

Burger King“Bring it @ BKC” 

Dunkin’ Donuts“Here today – here to stay” 

Chick-fil-a“Growing together, prospering together” 

Wendy’s“Are you a Wendy’s kind of person?” (“we love to have fun, and hopefully you do too”)

Whataburger“Do work that makes you proud” 

Raising Cane’s“We make fun of work” 

Sonic“This is how we Sonic” (“we encourage and attract wildly creative people”) 

KFC“Join our KFC Family” 

Dairy Queen“Create unbelievable moments in everyday lives” 

Popeyes“You belong at Popeyes” 

Qdoba – “Craveable food. Raveable careers.”

Well…if nothing else, I’ve now got a hankering for some good old-fashioned carbs and sodium delivered in a paper bag. 

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