upstartHR - 2/119 - entry level HR, corporate culture, and human resources leadership

Vendors: Why Your Customers Hate You

Last week I was talking with a friend who is the Director of HR for an eleven million dollar company. They are trying to find an applicant tracking system to replace their current solution, and he asked me for some advice on where to start his search. He spent several hours looking around the web, scouring Google, and checking in with friends (hence the call to me). After all of that searching, all he had was a headache from the various frustrations he met during his search. While the experiment is quite informal, I think it’s an interesting peek into the mind of your average customer.

Why he’s changing platforms

He has been really happy with the applicant tracking system his company is using, but they have slowly started “premiumizing” the basic features he has come to rely on to get his daily work done. Bit by bit it was an acceptable nuisance because the basic price fit his budget and it was a tool the company had used for three years successfully.

We all know the truth, though. Businesses change. Products change. That’s part of life.

However, the new pricing model is built not on how much the system is used from a recruiting standpoint (number of applicants, job postings, recruiters, etc.), but on how many employees the company has. My friend is having trouble making sense of why that is the driving factor of the price when it isn’t relevant to the duties of a recruiter.

To be blunt, he feels slighted by the company that he has put his credibility on the line for, because he now has to request additional funds to purchase another system, train hiring managers to use it, and find out how to import legacy data into the platform.

I’m certain the new prices are going to fit some customers well, but it isn’t something that he can fit into his budget, so he’s on the hunt.

Lack of pricing information

Like pretty much every business decision, one of the initial hurdles is budget-based. In other words, can we afford it? However, even a simple question like that is virtually impossible to answer in a cursory review of some of the applicant tracking websites out there. Here are some of the questions that surfaced:

  • So how is this pricing model determined again?
  • How much will it actually cost? Is there a setup fee? What’s the annual cost? Is there a discount?
  • The website says “free trial,” but I have to give them a credit card number to test it out—I don’t know if I trust them enough to give them that information just yet.

Lack of feature description

The next priority is feature set. Will this do what we need it to do?

  • The website doesn’t have any screenshots. I need to see the user interface to see if it’s going to be intuitive for the recruiting team, hiring managers, and candidates.
  • It lists a key feature I need, but it doesn’t tell me what tiers the feature is available for.
  • I’d really like to see a demo or video tutorial, but all of that stuff is locked behind a sales rep. I don’t want to get on someone’s telemarketing list—I just want to look at the application.

Do your potential customers a favor

Have someone who is unfamiliar with your product visit your site and the sites of two or three of your competitors. They need to be looking for standard information: pricing, features, etc.

Without prompting or leading them, allow them to try and see how quickly they can find the information they are seeking and track how long it takes to do that.

If they have trouble finding the information, then a change might be necessary. Don’t do it for me–do it for your customers.

Perspectives on Managing Employees on Social Media #TNSHRM14

This morning the social media team and I went to a presentation on social media “hazards” presented at the TNSHRM conference. I had high hopes for the session covering some of the important concepts to understand. as an HR professional. Unfortunately, the speaker took approximately 99% of the time talking about how social media is a dangerous thing for HR and recruiting professionals.

In the presentation that the social media team and I are doing, we plan to mention that yes, there are potential pitfalls; however, there are also great gains to be had by participating in social media. I think it says a lot about your leadership practices by what you do or don’t allow employees to say.

More importantly, if your company is terrified of what people are going to be saying on social networking sites, then that’s a bigger problem than just social media. Here are two short videos from others on the team discussing their thoughts on this topic and what companies should do instead of following the standard lawyer advice of “stay away at all costs.”

Dave Ryan

@DaveTheHRCzar

Melissa Fairman

@HRRemix

Lyn Hoyt

My good friend Lyn Hoyt talked about this topic a while back in relation to another edition of the TNSHRM state conference.

But, the lawyer’s presentation did not start out as well as it ended. The round table began with the pitch. It was a power point talking about the ‘why you should have a social media policy.’ It was based in fear as the motivator to take action and illustrated with a sewer pipe. Yep. You heard right. A sewer pipe photo illustrating that the information flowing through social media is nothing more than $%*#. And then a picture of a manure spreader popped up illustrating how this sewer of information spreads. To me it illustrated the uphill perception battle that there is nothing of value being published through social media. They see it as a pure social, entertainment and marketing tool. It is a waist of time, not a business tool. Big mistake.

After the lawyer finished, many of the questions revolved around Labor Board and protected conversation. Then I introduced myself as the Social Media Outreach VP at Middle Tennessee SHRM. I immediately told him I did not share his view that all social media was a sewer pipe. He was a bit embarrassed. I asked if he tweeted or was on Facebook. He did not. So I respectfully asked that I hoped he or someone in his office would be involved in social media as a way to best advise their clients. Because policy should not only address negative outcomes but educate on positive practices. I specifically addresses a point in their policy that tells management not to friend employees on Facebook. I asked why? And told him managers should be trained to engage employees at all levels in order to foster communication. source

And finally, one of the things I have said for five years is this: if you are afraid to use social media, don’t do it. But just know that if I’m in the same industry, my company will eat your lunch, because we are not afraid to find the good candidates, engage our employees, and build our brand using social tools.

Look for more great content coming from the TNSHRM state conference this week!

The Newest HR Ninja and What it’s Like Working from Home

Most of you probably are not yet aware, but we have some pretty exciting stuff going on over here at the Eubanks house.

The best thing? Little HR Ninja #3, Briggs Eubanks, is on his way.

My wonderful wife is due late in November, and we are thrilled about his impending arrival. I’ll be spending HRevolution in a mild state of panic worrying about everything back home, but I know it’ll all work out fine. :-)

With my move to Brandon Hall Group earlier this year, I started working from my home office. That has been an interesting change (and sometimes a challenge of sorts), but we’re about to make a little extra room for an actual office for me to work in. The nursery is taking over my work space, so for now I’m a laptop nomad within my own home, but soon enough I’ll have a dedicated space to take care of the various work I have to do.

One of the most common questions I get is “What’s it like working from home?”

Well, maybe the most commonly asked work question, since the other one is “When is the baby due again?”

Anyway, exactly what is it like working from home? I miss interacting with people, sometimes. Previously I worked for a company that offered a lot of flexibility in terms of my work schedule and setting priorities, but even that pales in comparison to my current level of work flexibility and autonomy.

I still have meetings (plenty), phone calls (plenty) and deliverables (more than plenty). But I get to work at 5am, then get the kids off to school, and still have time to spend with them in the evenings because I’m not spending 90+ minutes on the road every day. On occasion, I have some work to complete after the family is in bed, but it’s not an everyday occurrence.

As far as the whole “managing your own schedule” and “motivating yourself” part of the experience, I will say it’s not for everyone. It’s not a perfect, mystical world with no requirements. But it fits me and my work style.

This summer was pretty tough with the family at home, but the way we’re planning to redo things around here, I’ll be a little farther from the daily “flow” where my office will be positioned, so that will definitely help.

The only other thing, inconsequential as it may be, is the high speed internet access here in our neighborhood. AT&T is the only service here, and every time I try to find out if faster service is available, they tell me it isn’t. However, I just found out that my two neighbors both have the uverse service that’s three times faster than the DSL I have. I have spent hours going in circles with the customer “service” (yeah, right) folks and could write a dozen blog posts on how to NOT treat loyal customers.

Again, minor and inconsequential, but I’m hoping to get that resolved at some point. Maybe in those sleepless nights when Briggs arrives I can hassle every shift of AT&T employees until we get some action. Yeah, that sounds like fun… :-)

Startup HR: Planning vs Doing

Startup HR is something that I have talked about a bit before. Today I will answer a question from a reader who works for HR in a startup company.

The question

Good Morning,

I have been reading your blogs and your Slideshares and it has been easy reading for me and is helping me along my way. I just started working for a start up tech company in Portland Oregon in May. The CFO was basically doing all HR work until now. I am now THE HR department. I am new and I have never had a role in HR before. I was wondering if there was a way to guide me in implementing HR stuff over the next year. What I should be doing in this next month, three months, six months, and so forth.

Please help!

The answer

First of all, have you seen the guide to building an HR department?

I think that will be incredibly valuable for you. It’s really tough to say what you should be doing at specific date-based milestones, because there’s no telling what the business will look like at each of those 6, 12, 18 month marks.

The big picture is understanding what sort of HR needs the business and staff have at each stage of the game and planning ahead to make sure you can hit those targets when the appropriate time comes. For instance, at some point you’ll need to start thinking about performance reviews for staff or maybe you’ll have to find a good applicant tracking system if you guys are hiring. Knowing some of those items on the horizon is how you show the best value for the business. Especially when you’re doing startup HR for a technology company, it’s important to keep those overall business needs in mind, because they can change rapidly.

Thanks for reaching out!

Ben

Do you have a suggestion for the reader? Feel free to share! Also, if you have questions, shoot them over to ben AT upstarthr.com and I’d be happy to try to fit them into the schedule. Thanks!

Trust in the Workplace-Does It Really Matter?

Approximately half of your employees think you’re not being open and upfront with them, according to a recent study conducted by the American Psychological Association. In an environment where mistrust abounds, how can we operate our businesses in a way that rises above these troubling issues?

What you can do

One activity that human resources has always been fond of is policy creation. There is a time when policy formulation needs to occur, but it also needs to take into account common sense and organizational culture. It all comes back to trust — do you trust your people to do great work, treat customers well, and support their team?

Too often we build policies with the minority in mind.

Instead of creating rules around the 5% of people who will abuse our trust, we need to start looking at the 95% of people who will be inspired by our trust.

Give your people trust and autonomy and they will reward you with engagement. Withhold trust from your people and they will withhold trust from others, creating a downward spiral of negative, toxic behaviors.

Check out this post on trust at work from the Brandon Hall Group blog to learn how to build a trust-based culture that is self-sustaining.

HRevolution–Gearing Up for November

The team and I are feverishly working on HRevolution planning, and we’re excited about bringing yet another fantastic event to life this November. Check out some of the details below, and if you still haven’t purchased your ticket, we have a few left. This is a unique event that you won’t soon forget (there’s a good reason we have a significant percent of the population return every year).

Sponsors

We have three phenomenal sponsors helping to deliver this year’s event. We appreciate the support of each and hope you’ll check them out if you are looking for support.

mercer logo

symbolist logo hi res color

 

Small Improvements

Sessions

We are slowly releasing sessions leaders as they are confirmed. This agenda promises to be one of the best yet with session leaders like Franny Oxford and Bill Boorman sharing their insights and facilitating conversations around HR, recruiting, and talent management.

  • Franny Oxford – Reality-Based HR: How to make something from nothing in the face of continued budget constraints.
  • Bill Boorman – Blueprint for Modern Talent Acquisition

Sound like something you might be interested in checking out? Feel free to comment or shoot me an email. I know the event isn’t for everyone, but as I said, there’s a reason we have people who are wild fans. We’d love to see you there and make you a first time HRevolutionary!

Your Employees are Struggling with this Personally

If I told you that 76% of your employees were stressed about something, wouldn’t you want to know what was going on? I mean, after all, when I’m stressed about something, I am usually not very “together” when it comes to critical thinking and other complex tasks.

employee financial stressYou know where I’m going with this, right?

Research says that 76% of your employees are dealing with varying degrees of financial stress. That can be as simple as “we need to eat out less so we can save for our child’s college fund” to something serious like “I’m not sure how I’m going to pay the light bill this week.”

According to the Washington Post, approximately one-third of your employees are living paycheck-to-paycheck. The first response for many leaders is, “Yeah, so what?” However, this can be an opportunity to impact the productivity and engagement of your staff, so there’s value in learning more about this issue.

Whatever the case, the problem is real, and there’s something you can do about it. Click through to read my post on the Brandon Hall Group blog and learn what to do when your employees need financial help.

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