It’s OK. I’m With the Band (recruiting edition)

I live in south Louisiana and let me just say that one perception about our lifestyle here is pretty damn true: we have lots and lots and lots of live music. Most anywhere, and at most any time, one can find a band or a solo artist jamming out or singing on a street corner. There are musicians who cart their instruments around town as they head from gig to gig, while the piano players and vocalists often just “show up” at venues around town and sit in with the band. Everyone, seemingly, seems to know each other because, more than likely, they’ve played together before.

Since it’s so prevalent, I would say that at least 1 or 2 nights per week, Mr. S and I are listening to live music at either a festival, in a bar, or just by happenstance as we meander around town.

I love it.

Now, as it just so happens, this past Saturday evening we were out and about and decided to check out a hidden local venue (aka “a neighborhood bar”) we had never visited. Small’ish with about 12 barstools; crock pot of homemade tortilla soup on a side table (for all to enjoy) ; cheap drinks; 60 or so patrons. We, being strangers, were immediately assessed as we walked through the door but, as we were relatively harmless looking, were allowed to enter.

There was a band playing (blues, classic rock, cajun and zydeco classics) on the small stage and, as we settled in, multiple people came over to say “hi;” the owners (the husband and wife each made individual visits to our table), the bartender, and several bar flys, regulars, patrons all paid us a visit.

Now, as it just so happened, I was wearing a t-shirt from last year’s ERE Conference (2016 – held in New Orleans); logo on the back is a Mardi Gras mask and, emblazoned on the front is “ERE Media” and, more prominently “TALENT ADVISOR.” OK – we who work in HR and Recruiting understand this but, let’s be real, the average Joe has no concept what any of this “Talent Advisor” gibberish means.

At one point, as I was walking across the room, sipping my extraordinarily inexpensive drink (neighborhood bars rule!) and humming along to “My Toot Toot” , one of the gentlemen from the next table stopped me and said “Hey!, Which agency are you with? (my blank stare apparently signaled to him that I had zero idea what he was talking about).  “Your shirt,” he said by way of explanation. “Talent advisor. Are you a scout? Here to see the band?”

First time, I must admit, anyone has ever mistaken me for a music impresario or an A&R rep.

But…for those of us in Recruiting or HR, this experience at this off-the-beaten-track Baton Rouge neighborhood bar should serve as a reminder of how, even today with all the technology and bots and automated processes, finding talent can still be done by getting out of the office and:

  • Scouting for talent (in ways beyond merely digging through our ATS inbox)
  • Going where the talent hangs out (and not simply waiting for them to come to us)
  • Identifying ourselves (‘branding,’ if you will) in a personable and interactive manner

Right?

Anyway, as the night wore on and we chatted with our new friend, I mentioned to him that I was the head of HR for a local casino (“we’re hiring!”) and, I thought, convinced him I wasn’t there to sign the band to a record deal.

But then, at the break, the bass player came over to say “hello” and gave me his card……….

It’s OK. I’m with the band.

 

 

 

 

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The #HROlympics

synchro swimWhile the Olympic athletes are deciding whether or not to stay in the Olympic Village or head on out and book a room at the local Hilton, the rest of us are just sitting here waiting for the opening ceremonies to kick off next week.

Those of us in HR though, in between having super-important-strategic meetings where we literally sit at the table and/or are running around prepping for open enrollment (sweet baby Moses…. already? didn’t we just do this?), still need a bit of fun. I mean, something other than the monthly SHRM chapter luncheon meetings at The Central City Convention Center (oh my god Tara! They’re serving the hot buttered rolls! And the special Green Goddess dressing!!) Am I right? Yeah; you know I am.

So, because I desired a bit of levity, I posed a query on Facebook the other day and asked folks to “name some featured sports in the ‪#‎HROlympics.”

I went first and offered up what I thought was a sure fire winner —- “Forced Hoop Jumping.”

But then we got more ideas; way better than mine. Let me present to you the following #HROlympics sports for your consideration:

  • Passing the buck
  • Running a 401(k)
  • Lying (** ouch**)
  • Discussing Psychometric Assessments
  • 4 judges with numbered cards for annual appraisals
  • The hamster wheel
  • Bending over (** double ouch**) (also – not in that way. Get your minds outta the gutter.) 
  • Lawyer wrangling (this from an employment attorney) 
  • Back peddling
  • Excuse wrestling
  • Synchronized employer branding
  • Extreme cat herding
  • Ass kissing – closest to the center ring wins (wait…isn’t that the #MarketingOlympics?) 
  • Disgruntled employee steeplechase
  • The OFCCP luge
  • OneUpsManship
  • SHRM swag powerlifting (with reference to Coach bags and Michael Kors)
  • The Marathon – (just another day in the life of HR)
  • Biathalon: Failed teambuilding exercise and synchronized bitching
  • The outside counsel waffle
  • Insurance decathlon
  • Picking low hanging fruit
  • Stamina & endurance test: proving you have at least one more f*ck to give

My goodness. We’re a cynical bunch.

Or…perhaps…incredibly self aware.

#GoForTheGold

 

*************

thanks to: Matthew Stollack, Christine Assaf, Stephen O’Donnell, Julie Sholar, Heather Kinzie, Kate Bischoff, Franny Oxford, John Jorgenson, Damona Barnes, Mike Haberman, Martin Burns, Mary Faulkner, Lois Melbourne, Tim Baker, Mary McClure Wright, Brad Galin, Kelly Blokdijk, Christy Chess, Paul Miller (and more….) 

p.s. since, as we know, NO idea in HR blogging is original, let me point out that back in 2012 my friend Tim Sackett wrote a post about the “The HR Olympics”. I, however, think our 2016 list is better…..

 

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HR Service Delivery: Signed and Sealed

signed-11_8Looking for a hot conversational topic when you’re stuck chatting with a bunch of HR professionals? Whether you’re sitting with two of them at the train station or stuck in some in-house training session with your company’s entire HR team here’s a surefire discussion starter: ask them who they serve in their organization. In other words whose needs are they there to meet and/or satisfy? The business? Leaders and managers? Employees?

I guarantee this exchange will be both captivating and heated. I’ve participated in informal roundtables with this as the topic du jour and enjoyed cocktail parties (whilst sipping a lovely Kir Royale) where the discussion on this subject was so tempestuous we managed to barely escape just short of actual fisticuffs.

The answer, proffered by your average HR practitioner, to this seemingly basic question will vary based on any number of factors; the type and size of organization she has worked in as well as the sort of organization in which she was trained in the ways of HR. The answer will be formulated depending upon the HR pro’s previous mentors or bosses, and also the type of specific roles he has held in the human resources field. What was measured? What mattered? (note: contrary to popular opinion what matters does not get measured nor does what gets measured….matter.)

 

The answer, as far as I’m concerned, is “HR serves everyone.”

We serve the needs of the business. In accordance with laws, regulations, policies and the dictates and desires of our CEO or business owner, we serve, protect and defend.

We serve the needs of managers and leaders. We don’t cover up their shenanigans of course, but neither do we bring them down and lay blame. Rather, we assist them in everything related to the management of their people/human capital/resources. We coach, guide and support them so they can focus on running the business.

We serve the needs of employees. We hold their hands, we answer their questions, and we help them solve problems. We may, depending upon the need, talk to their mothers, spouses, priests or parole officers.

And when we do all of these things right we are also serving the needs of those who are external to our organization – our candidates, our communities, and our customers.

Here’s the deal…so often in human resources we’ve tended to think of these things as mutually exclusive. “I can’t be an advocate for employees if my role is to protect the needs of the company” is something I’ve heard more than one HR practitioner say. Or “I need to maintain impartiality so I can’t be too friendly with employees.”

Both of which, of course, are utter crap.

You can work in HR and be a competent and caring business professional without being a solemn and dour robot intent on spreading doom and gloom with every policy update. You can serve others without being servile or subservient. It’s not the role of the HR lady to keep a candy dish on her desk, bake muffins for birthdays and holidays, and take minutes at the weekly leadership meeting but you can still be pleasant and kind.

The strategies and goals of the business inform what HR does…but the how is what each of us as HR professionals determine once we realize who we serve.

The how is the magic sauce.

This question – “who does HR serve?” – is perhaps the most elemental aspect of human resources and goes well beyond a practitioner grasping the bodies of knowledge or being fully capable in the HR competencies. The answer to this question lays the foundation for one’s entire career in and around HR.

So I wonder…how many HR professionals are truly delivering … to all?

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No Joke: Your HR Lady is the Funnest Person You (Don’t) Know

mom_jeans-1I’m going to let you in on a secret; those aloof stern-faced bureaucrats who work in your human resources department are, quite possibly, some of the most engaging and enjoyable people at your company.

I’m not kidding. They’re probably a lot of fun.

Naturally you scoff. It’s highly likely you’ve never witnessed your HR leader displaying much wit or wisecracking in the employee cafeteria. Greg in Sales has the reputation as the comic genius in the organization who can always be counted on to liven up any meeting or company party. Linda from the Employee Relations team? Not so much.

It’s a peculiar phenomenon that’s hard to understand unless you’ve toiled in a human resources department. Most every HR practitioner, when embarking upon her career, was indoctrinated trained by an older experienced HR professional. Much like my grandmother taught me to cook and bake (well, attempted to; I failed miserably), there’s usually a nice older HR lady in every HR department who teaches the ways-of-HR to the newbies under her care. She might be the HR leader or just the one who has hung on the longest at the organization but, especially if it’s a small or mid-sized HR shop, her HR practices are plucked from some Hot Tub Time Machine alternate universe.

Due to this unique-to-HR rite of passage we’ve spawned thousands of 32-year- old HR ladies who act like your 55-year-old mother. You know the type. She wears mom jeans on Casual Fridays. Every conversation she has with you, even in the bathroom for Christ’s sake, sounds like a lecture. She hounds you for forms and checklists and does everything short of rifling through your backpack (looking for notes or homework assignments!) when you walk in the door.

It’s really not her fault.

This whole situation is outlined very accurately, in my estimation, by Peter Cappelli over at HR Executive as he points out that (1) HR is charged with making people behave, and (2) HR often finds itself in a position of responsibility for an issue or task while often not possessing the authority to do anything about it. Some heavy burdens to bear.

This, gentle readers, is why HR ladies drink.

So here’s the deal; we often remind HR practitioners to be more approachable and get out in their organizations to connect with employees on a human and personal level. But it’s a two-way road; not a one-way thoroughfare.

If you work in any other part of the company, I encourage YOU to get to know your HR team. I’m serious here; no snark or smart-ass commentary intended. Pop in to the HR Department for a visit – not just to pick something up or because you “have to.” Linger at the communal coffee pot when Barb and Mark from HR are there chatting about their weekends. Invite them to join a group of co-workers at Happy Hour. (Note; they may not come because, well, HR bullshit. But trust me – they’ll appreciate the invitation and be incredibly flattered).

Yeah, I get it; your HR lady may seem detached and standoffish, but I promise you; she’s a lot of fun.

I am!

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Making Employee Benefits Sexy! #SHRM15

2015-Employee-Benefits-CoverIn the king-sized bed of core human resources accountabilities employee benefits nestles up alongside compensation and compliance in a ménage a trois of least sexy HR responsibilities. Snuggled together under a cozy fleece blanket these three are necessary to the effectiveness of a solid foundational HR program in every organization. But let’s face it; they’re not nearly as glamorous or exciting as talent acquisition, employee engagement, or learning & development. Even the battle-weary Labor Relations folks have a rough-and-tumble image that puts them higher on the hot-meter than the majority of Benefits Managers.

Yet every single HR professional must constantly be tuned in to the trends, costs, and shifting landscape that is employee benefits. So in the spirit of ensuring I stay up to date on the basics I recently read through SHRM’s 2015 Employee Benefit research report. I picked up a copy at last week’s SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition but you can also download the report here.

The report provides information about the types of benefits US employers offer and, as part of the research, the team explored over 300 types of benefits including health care and welfare benefits, preventive health and wellness benefits, retirement savings and planning benefits, leave benefits, flexible working benefits, professional and career development benefits, housing and relocation benefits, and even business travel benefits.

As pointed out in the Executive Summary: “Research has shown that many job seekers frequently place greater importance on health care coverage, flexible work schedules and other benefits rather than on their base salaries. Benefits plans should be viewed by HR professionals as a vital tool in their retention and recruitment strategies.”

But, as I have frequently wondered for many years, do HR professionals truly dive deep and understand the right benefit levers to attract the right talent? Are benefits managers nimble enough to put together the right package – and adjust it as needed – when faced with attraction or retention issues? Does anyone ever, really, ask the employees what benefits they want?

One of the most interesting charts in the report indicates the prevalence of different types of benefits. The majority of surveyed companies continue to offer, as would be expected, paid holidays (98%), AD&D coverage (85%), a 401(k) or similar DC plan (90%), and break-rooms/kitchenettes (90%). (note: only in the world of HR would someone actually consider a break-room a benefit. Then again, a high number of benefit marketing/collateral statements given to applicants/employees touts “direct deposit of paychecks” as a benefit, so…..)

On the low end of the spectrum, however, we see the availability of the following benefits:

  • On-ramping programs for parents re-entering the workforce (2%)
  • Access to backup to child care services (4%)
  • Babies at work (1% of employers offer/allow) (Bringing them to work, one would assume. Not birthing them).
  • Access to backup elder care services (1%)
  • Elder Care assisted living assessments (<1%)
  • Elder care in-home assessments (<1%)
  • Geriatric counseling (<1%)
  • On-ramping programs for family members dealing with elder care responsibilities (<1%)

There’s a higher prevalence of companies offering self defense training (4%) and pet health insurance (9%) than there are those assisting with elder care needs.

Are sexy and family friendly mutually exclusive?

As noted in the report There was a five-year decline in the percentage of organizations permitting employees to bring their child to work in an emergency and offering child care referral services and on-site parenting seminars. There were no statistically significant increases in the percentage of organizations offering family-friendly benefits over the last year.”

That’s a decline. With no significant increase. Huh.

So what types of benefits have been increased? According to the report the number of organizations offering general wellness programs has regularly increased over the last five years. Out go the Snickers bars in the vending machines to be replaced by high fiber low sugar bars and BAM – Janet the HR Director can say she’s implemented a wellness initiative! We all know that wellness sells to frazzled HR ladies as evidenced by the preponderance of “wellness” booths in the #SHRM15 Expo Hall last week as well as the long lines at Dr. Oz’s book signing.

You know what struck me though after reading through the report and glancing at the Executive Summary? It appears that not much has evolved in employee benefits since I started in my first HR Department 25 years ago. Oh sure, fewer organizations now offer defined benefit plans while they do get to offer Target Date funds (exciting!) in their defined contribution plans. But good grief… I think we offered more child care assistance and other family friendly options in the 90’s.

But never fear!!! 60% of surveyed companies still offer a service anniversary award.

And if service awards can still be considered a ‘benefit’ then by golly – I guess we have brought the sexy back.

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