Wednesday, February 19, 2020

It's not a War on Talent, it's a Competition.

Last week I had the privilege of attending the Northeast HR Association (NEHRA) Talent Acquisition conference in Boston.

While my specialty isn't recruitment I found it great to be in the room with passionate recruiters who truly want to merge candidate experience with new technology to forge ahead in this new competition for talent.

the day started off with a wonderful panel discussion with Aaron Green, Founder/President of PSG moderating a panel that included Lori Cunningham, Director of Talent Acquisition at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Maria Harris, CHRO at Rockland Trust, Celeste Narganes, Head of Executive, Marketing, People Operations & G&A Recruiting at Hubpost, and Andy Porter, Executive VP & Chief People Experience Office at Relay Therapeutic. The over all theme of this panel? You have to create the environment you need to attract the people you want.

At one point Celeste Narganes of Hubspot said regarding the frequently asked recruiter question about their candidate experience "How do the employees that work here feel?" Celeste discussed culture as an internal project that then leads to external outcomes for attracting talent. And I'm sure she's right considering Hubspot has been named one of the top places to work in Boston.

After that I attended the first breakout session of the evening "Using Analytics to Hit Your Mark" presented by Linda Catalado, VP of HR at Vertex, Cheryl Jacobs, Executive Coach, Facilitator and Leadership Developer at MCG Partners, and Jessica Pilat, VPO or Marketing at BAO. This session was all about data and how to leverage it to enhance your recruitment.
I appreciated the practical application discussion as well as the approach that we're not using data to make hiring decisions, but rather to confirm them.  All the panelists seemed to invest and embrace data in their organizations as a way to enhance their recruitment efforts.
Overall, they recognized that part of using data analytics in recruitment is making sure it's not just a recruitment function but a organization wide strategy.

In the next session I went to "creating a Proactive Recruiting Strategy" hosted by Jayne Mattson, President/Career Management Consultant at CareerEdge. Jayne's big message: It's all about building your network. She discussed the "Hidden Job Network" and went through strategies on how recruiters can expand their efforts to make finding talent easier.
Ultimately Jayne ended the session encouraging TA specialists to think beyond just filling a role but instead creating connections and networking in a more proactive approach.

After lunch and some networking it was time for the last breakout session and I attended the "Building Strong Relationships with Hiring Mangers" session presented by Susan Ricardi, Sr. Talent Acquisition Partner, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.

This presentation was chock full of practical ways to bridge the gap between what the hiring manager thinks they want and what they really need. Susan gave insights into her processes at HPHC and really helped the recruiters in the room understand how important it is to collaborate with the hiring manager in a way that serves everyone in the organization.

Lastly, after a quick visit with some Workforce Readiness partners, it was time to hear from Tracie Sponenberg, Chief People Officer for The Granite Group. Her talk on The Evolution of Employer Branding: Beyond Buzzwords was entertaining and delivered a clear message - you are what you brand. With some funny quotables and meme-y slides Tracie was dynamic and a great way to end the day.


 After that there were afternoon cocktails with schmoozing and the day was done. I didn't get a chance to see some of the other breakout session so here's a few other tweets from the day:

Overall, it was interesting and enlightening to be a "people strategy" person in a room full of recruiters. Understanding their struggles, strengths, and upcoming challenges helps to give a frame of reference in my own people processes and strategies. Part of having good business acumen is knowing what each "silo" faces each day and where they long to be. Truly enjoyed being a guest at the NEHRA Talent Acquisition summit.

And I'm marking my calendar for the Learning & Organizational Development Exchange that's happening on August 19th in Boston. But you can see all the NEHRA events here. Come geek out about all things OD with me.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Imagine HR Unleashed

Dear HR speakers, presenters, "gurus," "thought-leaders,"

Look, I get it. We're the worst. We focus too much on transactional HR. We have difficulty thinking "outside the box." We don't push the envelope. We aren't creative. We have trouble being the HR you want to see. But "Sally HR" has become a trope that's overused regardless of the truth.

I recently tweeted that to be in HR is to be always told that you can't do anything without your leadership on board. And a conversation with the fantastic Katrina Kibben reinforced the idea (as well as how awesome it is to write "dear" letters) that too many of us in HR feel beaten down, repressed, and adjacent to our leadership.




It's interesting that for a field that attempts focuses on how to engage humans in a way that is authentic, real, and gives a sense of belonging, HR itself feels removed. As if it always has to prove it's worth.

I'll save my opinions on why I think HR is treated in the way they are. (My theory is that some of it stems from being a female-dominated field with a secretary-like historical background giving a perception of docile-like qualities and thus mirrors how we treat females in the workplace - that's a blog for another day).

Instead, I'd like to challenge "visionaries" and "futurists" who earn their nickles on advising the HR field to rethink their tactics and strategy here. As HR progresses into a new iteration (automation, the aging workforce, modern workforce, continued globalization, and market demands), we see a shift in how HR functions and what it means to be "Sally HR." My theory is that HR will look more like Organizational Development and less like personnel. As self-service and tech progress, there's less need for the trenchy-HR-gal and more demand for understanding human behavior, communication, and strategic thinking. 

Sure, the bottom line and business acumen in HR has been and will be an essential competency for HR. But correct me if I'm wrong, doesn't everyone need to have that? It's not mind-blowing to point out that HR needs to know how to sell their ideas and propositions to senior leaders. We been knowing that. We hear it at every. Single. Conference.

I don't have answers to this, just pointing out observations and inquiring if there's a better way to engage HR in being innovative without also making them feel like complete shit. Is it possible to give constructive criticism without leaving HR leaders feeling like they're idiots? After, aren't we the communication experts? Shouldn't we be counseling each other in the way we would want to see our environments? 

I'd like to see the "trend hunters" of the HR world really rethink the way we want to create community and challenge each other. I believe we can approach our field in a way that calls us to action but calls us inward (not called out). Let's practice the skills of empathy, encouragement, and self-criticism that we want to see in our field. 

But maybe that's just me being "Sally HR." 😉

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Looking Back: 10 Things That Have Changed the Workplace

We've wrapped up the 20teens, and now that January is over we're in full-blown 20adulting let's take a look, shall we, at a few things that have changed the workplace (and HR) world in the past ten years.

1. Recovering from recession.
In 2010 we were all faced with picking up the pieces of massive reductions in workforce, hiring overqualified employees because they needed any job they could get, and an overworked environment where employees were forced to do more with less. Employees became much more suspicious of organizations, their trust and commitment tested, and now organizations had to evolve. In many situations, employees lost pensions, retirement, their homes - the idea that your employer will "take care of you" became a fallacy. Many HR departments were not prepared for the downturn. The aftereffect is now a generation that witnessed themselves or their parents dedicating years to organizations only to be canned. We know that this economic issue that affected employee's personal lives has contributed to a generational philosophy of "I'll work where I'm getting what I want/need." Faced with this scenario, HR has had to adjust its recruitment and retention strategies, knowing that employees may not commit to their employer.

2. ACA (Obamacare)
By far, one of the most significant structural changes in HR was the adoption of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or "Obamacare." HR Departments across the country had to invest time and energy on learning the new rules, working with their vendors, and ensuring they were compliant. And compliance changed depending on the administration. From an individual mandate to employer mandate, an more - the benefits department had to stay up-to-date on the ever-changing insurance market. Employees children up to age 26 and those with pre-existing conditions were included in new policies. Not to mention before the ACA 40 hours was considered full-time based on long-standing wage and hour federal labor laws - but the ACA established a 30-hour rule - this changed the game. Additionally, internal communication was necessary to inform employees of changes. We had businesses scrambling to shift employees to contractors, or reducing full-time down to part-time due to the financial burden this placed on them. And to this day we're still dealing with

3. Same-Sex Marriage
In 2015, same-sex marriage was declared legal after a contentious battle from state to state. Finally, after years of debate, the federal law was changed. For many HR folks, there was already some groundwork laid around LGBTQ issues (allowing domestic partners on insurance, for example), but now things took a considerable shove forward. This legislation changed the landscape of how we talk about spouses in the workplace. Besides, with the fight for equal marriage rights settled, it now broadened the discussion to other important LGBTQ issues (transgender rights, bathroom laws, name changes, etc.) Today the modern HR person has seen a more progressive and inclusive environment towards LGBTQ issues. For example, gendered dress codes are a thing of the past (or they should be). And it will continue to grow and grow as the next generation continues to embrace gender fluidity and break with gender norms.

4. Increased Diversity
Along those same lines, we saw a considerable boost in diversity and inclusion departments and a significant focus on hiring a more diverse workforce. The #BlackLivesMatter movement had its beginnings in 2013, and the conversation in the US was all about equity. While this movement highlighted police brutality, it brought an in-depth discussion on race issues - and for HR people, that meant tackling hard topics in the workplace. Challenges to recruitment efforts were highlighted - are we hiring to create diversity, or are we creating a space for diverse people?

5. Increased Technology
Arguably the most substantial and most discussed change in the past ten years it the increase in technology, which has brought about its own set of solutions and problems. Most notably, the speed at which information can be transferred has created a workforce that is fast-paced and always connected. Today's employee doesn't want remote work; they require it. Additionally, employees aren't required to work on-site anymore. With globalization, employees can work from anywhere in the world as long as they have a laptop. Have our old school "butts in the seat" leadership methods caught up? And for HR, this increased technology allows us to have more data, more analytics, more information at our fingertips. Long gone are the days of filling out benefits forms, termination carbon-copies - say hello to big data. This new wave means HR practitioners need to up their game from day-to-day clerical to tech-savvy data scientists.

6. The "Millennial" Discussion
The generational gap is waning, and the emerging workforce is predominantly younger and much more spirited. In the past ten years, we saw tenured, experienced Boomers retire, and a new workforce enter the market. Millennials demanded more hands-on management from their leaders, better work-life balance, and career development from their companies. Now Millennials are approaching middle age, and a younger Gen Z is emerging. Will Millennials mentor them? Invite them into their circles of trust? Or will they chastise them as their Boomer elders have done?

7. Active Shooter Training
While active shooters are a small percentage of workplace violence, the general increase of active shooters still poses a threat. With the rise and the public's ongoing concern, HR departments were having to create training programs and procedures to address the worry. Also, the physical space where the employees reside, as well as security protocols, all needed to be reviewed and revamped. Lastly, HR has to think about mental health and the way our employees feel when they exit. Cause the last thing anyone wants is an armed disgruntled ex-employees on the premises. 

8. Expanded Benefits
The past decade has seen an expansion in benefits to employees. Employers have to remain competitive for talent. As well as seeing a necessity for things like on-site child care to develop an inclusive and diverse workplace. From unlimited PTO to paid paternity/maternity leave, to flexible work schedules, employers are ponying-up and even getting creative. And while some areas are adding chef-made lunches, we saw a further decrease in more expensive necessities like tuition reimbursement or traditional retirement plans. 

9. #MeToo
After multiple companies, celebrities, politicians, and business owners faced serious accusations and legal battles with sexual assault or sexual harassment, employers perked up. Massive amounts of women began telling their stories - and it was way more than anyone predicted. HR was once again challenged to review processes and training to ensure the workforce was prepared for when a #metoo moment can happen to them. Culture became a considerable discussion in the workplace, and breaking the silence of workplace harassment was at the forefront of leaders. 

10. Gig Economy
Calling employees independent contractors to get out of paying taxes, benefits, and overtime is not something new to employers, but it seems we've created a new phrase for it. The "gig economy" is an ideal business model for organizations. It lowers labor costs, establishes flexible staffing that can surge up when needed, and a flexible workforce. But employers need to beware that public demand, legal challenges, and new legislation cane come down the pipeline to ruin it all.

Are there any other things from the past decade that have changed your workplace? What would you say has been the most significant change in your work from the past 10 years?