Finding the right location for your office is exceptionally important for any business. Location should always be at the forefront of any decision when it comes to knowing where you want your business to operate, and this is true for both start-ups and large businesses. Not only do you need to find an office space that meets your needs, you also need to find one that meets your budget and because of this, finding the perfect office space isn’t always easy. If you’re a retail store, then you’re going to generally be located in an area with a lot of footfall. If you’re a large office however, then you’re going to probably need a lot of transport links so your employees can get to work every day without too much of an issue. There are few pointers that you need to think about when it comes to finding the perfect office space for your business. Continue reading

Thousands of people travel all over for the world, for business purposes, every single day. While many may find it a pleasure there is bound to be some people who hate it. If you are one of the many travelling across Europe this year on business, here are some top tips to make your travels as smooth and stress-free as possible.

Passport & Tickets

Book your travel tickets well in advance, especially during busy seasons and make sure your passport is valid for at least six months. Also remember to apply for your EHIC renewal ahead of time, once you have it you will be entitled to free or reduced cost healthcare should you fall ill during your stay in the continent. Continue reading

If you check out a company’s profile on Glassdoor, one of the first things you see is the CEO approval rating. As an HR leader, this is a number that I was always concerned with as a signal for overall employee satisfaction. It’s common to hear stories about CEO approval in the news, and all of us have an opinion about our current and past leaders at the top of the organizational hierarchy.

But what goes into that measurement and how do company decisions affect the ratings?

ceo-approval-ratings

Until now, most of the information in this area has been ad hoc or anecdotal. We’ve all seen the dozens of business books that tell us the secrets to success at a wide variety of companies. But Glassdoor has been able to gather enough data to show true, causal links between CEO approval and areas like culture, benefits, and work/life balance.

In this episode of We’re Only Human, I interview Dr. Andrew Chamberlain, Chief Economist at Glassdoor. Andrew and I discuss the links between CEO approval and executive compensation, what it means to be a founder versus an externally hired CEO, and what really matters to employees when it comes to rating the performance of their leaders. I hope you enjoy the conversation!

If you like audio content focused on HR, talent, and the workplace, be sure to subscribe to the HR Happy Hour podcast network on iTunes, Stitcher, or your favorite podcasting app to catch new episodes of my show and all of the other exciting shows on the HR Happy Hour channel.

I had been on the job search for a little while, and I was very thrilled when I received a request to come in and interview for a manufacturing operation that produced rubber molds and other rubber pieces.

This was going to be my first big HR role, and I was really nervous. Fast forward to the interview session, and I was feeling a little more confident. Everything was going well, but then the president of the company threw me a curve ball.

He asked, “Why do you think our capital costs have risen so much in the last few years?”

So I thought about it for a minute. Then I responded, “Well, it’s not like rubber grows on trees.”

He gave me a strange look and proceeded to tell me that yes, indeed, rubber does grow on trees.

—–

When I heard that story from a reader a while back, I had to laugh. And in case you’re wondering, yes, she still got the job. The point here is that the core piece of understanding how to create HR strategy is by understanding the business and how it operates. (And it also shows just how much of a role we can play as the CEO’s most trusted advisor.)

The lady who sent me the story realized that she had a gap in the basic understanding of the business, its resources, and how it operated. To remedy that, she proceeded to learn what she could about strategy and business in general, but also about the organization itself. That blend of learning put her in the driver’s seat when it came to creating a forward-looking HR strategy.

I find it very interesting that strategic HR is one of those things that seems to be well known for some and a mystery to others. It’s probably why more than 6 in 10 companies have no HR strategy in place. I did some research last year and found that there were dozens of sessions at the Annual SHRM Conference that mentioned “strategy” in their name or the content description, far and away the most common word that was present in the session listings. So unless they are way off the mark (and SHRM knows its audience), there are a lot of people looking for information on the topic. I hope this funny story helps to illustrate for you just what you need to know in order to support your own organization.

Do you have a story about how your lack of understanding of the business created an opportunity to learn more and build a stronger partnership between the business and its HR resources?

Recently I was interviewed by a good friend from SHRM’s Public Affairs team, Mary Kaylor. She asked me a few questions about the HR Technology Conference, and you can read it all here. What I want to expound upon here is the final question in the interview. I had to be succinct in my response to her but I think it’s worth a discussion. The question that spurred today’s discussion:

As technology evolves, what do you think the future of HR will look like?

My dream is for HR to be as savvy with its technological approach and focus on data as someone within the sales and marketing organization. Ask a marketer how a campaign went, and she can tell you stats about landing page visits, conversion rates, and more.

Ask an HR leader today how a particular program is running, and they will probably give you a blank look. Okay, they might be able to give you anecdotal information or even a basic piece of information, but they can’t drill down to the level of these other functions. I see this as a chicken-or-the-egg type discussion. Instead of waiting for solutions and support from the vendor community, HR leaders need to be demanding the tools and services to enable this change.

The more HR executives make data and analytics capabilities a requirement for their vendor partners, the more robust and mature those functionalities will become. HR in the future will be a technology-enabled, company-leading function that drives immense value through the people resources.

The Great Divide

One of the most striking things that hit me when I became a full-time analyst a few years ago was the divide between large and small organizations when it comes to technology. Small companies have limited solutions and budgets, often cobbling together free tools or going with the old standard for an HR system: Microsoft Excel.

There are companies that will budget something to get beyond 100% manual processes in areas like learning (training delivery/tracking) or recruiting (applicant tracking). But it’s still an ad hoc approach and is hard to prove value.

Other companies at the larger end have already reaped the rewards of that initial technology implementation (time savings, reduced admin burden, etc.) This often comes in the form of a patchwork of systems and solutions that don’t integrate well, if at all. For instance, I spoke with a friend at a large (20k+ employee) firm and the company is using five different systems just to manage end-to-end recruiting. In the words of my friend, it’s a “Frankenstein” approach to getting the job done, and it’s not even all that effective at anything other than creating frustration for users.

Smaller companies are getting into the tech game thanks to solutions like Zenefits, but it’s still just a piece of the overall HR puzzle and doesn’t solve some of the challenges around integration, data, and decision-making.

One of the areas I’ve been keenly interested in over the recent months has been the slew of small to mid-market solutions that are serving the HR community with a variety of technologies and services. I’m going to be meeting with several of these firms this week at the HR Tech conference and hope to get some good insights about how they are helping to bring these smaller firms along.

The big suites are too complex for small companies. Just like paper and manual work don’t scale up beyond a hundred or two hundred employees, the massively complex systems offered by the large providers can’t scale down to fit the process needs of a small firm (assuming we ignore the price).

My Vision for HR

I want to see HR leaders being as intentional about technology as their counterparts in other areas of the business. Marketers are smarter and faster because of their technology. Why can’t HR see these tools as enablers of performance as well? As I said before, the HR function of the future will be a technology-enabled, company-leading function that drives immense value through its people resources. I don’t think tech is going to replace people any more than processes will replace people. I think it’s going to help us to deliver greater value to the workforce and to our employers over the long haul.

What are your thoughts? How has your firm used technology to support HR? If you haven’t, why not?

This week I’m in Atlanta for the Microsoft Ignite event. Yes, I see the puzzled expressions. Microsoft? IT? What am I thinking?

conferenceNo, I’m not making a career change. I’m perfectly happy where I am.

Here’s the deal. I have been to tons of events over the years, and what always surprises me is the fact that I get something out of the most unlikely places. A stray comment from a 7:00am 401k administration session at SHRM 2013 still rings in my ears when I talk about workplace retirement plans. Yes, there is something of value in pretty much every interaction, and getting outside of the normal routine is a valuable practice in general.

This week I’m going to be talking with some of the team at Microsoft, but I’m also going to be seeing sessions and exploring concepts that relate to the HR world. I’m looking for the perspective from IT leaders and one of the world’s biggest technology firms around concepts such as collaboration, productivity, and delivering business results. Hopefully all three of those ring a bell for you, since they are key pieces of creating a valuable HR function.

Now, I’m not saying you need to pack up and join me, but this ties in with a valuable concept that I’ve been advocating for quite some time. HR needs allies in the workplace. Here’s a tip for you if you’re new:

If it’s only an HR initiative, it will die.

It might seem a bit cynical, but it’s true. People have had enough of the HR programs and fads. The needs of the business rule. And HR is often seen as a blockade. A problem without a solution. A challenge or hurdle to progress.

What to Do

So you need to find some allies. Create some influence. Network a little within your organization’s walls.

One great way to get started is to find some time together with other key people in the company, and that includes people leading your technology team, your accounting/finance team, etc. Those individuals can be your most vocal detractors or your most staunch allies, depending on the time and effort you have taken to understand their needs, support their goals, and deliver high value service.

Take these people to lunch. Find out what their challenges are. Learn about their best plans and their worst fears.

This is an investment in your own influence within the organization as well. Just to clarify, this isn’t sleazy-car-salesman influence. It’s the ability to speak in a language that matters to the audience you’re with. It’s the knowledge of key issues going on that currently or will eventually have an impact on the people side of the business. It’s in your best interests to be on top of these relationships and to make them a priority.

Now, as I said, I don’t expect you to head to an IT conference or jump on a plane for the next whatever-the-heck-it-is that accounting folks go to. But you can walk down the hall and start a conversation today. Here are a few quick and easy ones:

  • I’m facing some challenges with xyz. What sort of things are keeping you up at night?
  • How are you handling xyz? It seems like it would be challenging and I want to understand your strategy.
  • What is the biggest people-related challenge you see in the next 12 months? Hiring? Development? Retention?

Everyone’s situation, company, and relationships are different, but these are just as blunt as I would put them in a forthright conversation with a peer. In fact, I’ve used several of these to create those conversational opportunities to understand the other functions within the business, what their priorities were, and how I could align the HR practices to support them.

Funny enough, that’s what we call strategic HR. I wrote a while back about one of the best leaders I ever worked for and how that relationship helped to truly clarify what the HR strategy had to look like in that organization. Remember, if it’s an HR initiative, it will die.

What relationships are valuable to you in the workplace? What do you do to offer value in return? 

 

employee innovation retention

I will be presenting more on this topic at the HR Innovators Virtual Conference – 2 Days, 6 Education-packed sessions from top-rated speakers covering topics critical to success today, including, millennials and culture, creating meaningful workplaces, using social media to attract talent, and how talent loss affects innovation. Register Today! Space is limited.

Years ago, I worked for an organization with a turnover problem. And this wasn’t just an isolated issue—it affected a significant amount of the 700-strong workforce and created an incredible burden on the HR staff to manage the issue. Despite small efforts here and there, little was done to change the direction of the firm and it ultimately went under, unable to keep afloat amidst the constant turmoil.

Everyone knows that employee turnover is a problem, but just how much of an issue is it, really? Today we’re going to explore the far-reaching nature of turnover and what it means for your organization. Anecdotally, I know that undesirable turnover can harm team morale, reduce revenue, and hamper innovation. But the data supports this as well. According to an article on ERE, the impact of turnover depends on the career level of the employee.

  • For entry-level employees, it costs between 30-50 percent of their annual salary to replace them.
  • For mid-level employees, it costs upwards of 150 percent of their annual salary to replace them.
  • For high-level or highly specialized employees, you’re looking at 400 percent of their annual salary.

We know that this is a challenge, but I believe there’s an even more costly aspect of turnover that most organizations don’t examine: the impact on innovation.

Innovation Impacts

In 2014 Carnegie Mellon had some of the world’s brightest robotics minds working on its campus. These people were focused on the bleeding edge of robotics technology and their research could have created new breakthroughs and advancements in the use of robotic technology for the betterment of mankind.

But then they left. 

In a surprise move, Uber lured the scientists away and brought them into the fold. This not only caused a blow to the university—it also affected each of us. The research that was performed at Carnegie Mellon would have certainly been published in academic journals and shared with the world, forming the basis for new breakthroughs in robotics and other fields. The research they complete at Uber? It’s going to be tucked away in a proprietary database for the benefit of the company’s pursuit of a robotic car fleet.

So, what does this have to do with you and your organization?

While you might not have a team of PhD-level robotics experts on staff, you do have a set of smart, intuitive professionals within your organization that are constantly creating, innovating, and experimenting. They don’t have to be on a formal team or even in the same hierarchy, but they are still pursuing new ideas and opportunities just the same. If an opportunity arises to serve customers in a new way or develop a new product/service, the people with that mindset are often the originators.  

In fact, I’ve met quite a few HR leaders that fit this description. This comes from the fact that we as HR staff have the opportunity to see across functional and organizational lines, often discovering new methods and options for performance improvement.

Wherever this talent resides, the question remains: what do we do if one of these people leaves?

We know that it’s painful to have people depart. The statistics linked above point to some of the challenges this creates, and yet the research looks mainly at the impact today, not for the future.

I’m arguing that we should see employees as appreciating assets, with a higher future value.

While it’s challenging to quantify the value of innovation and to be able to predict what people are going to create, it’s fairly easy to see that the future value of one of these individuals is clearly higher than the cost of their wages and benefits today. And that’s my position on this topic: the long-term impacts to innovation will harm the organization much more than the loss of the person performing the job function today.

Consider this example. In the past I served as the HR Director for a global government services firm. One of our employees, a software engineer, earned approximately $70,000 per year. If that person left, we would have lost that “position,” which would have required time, effort, and resources to backfill for the unique skill set. Let’s estimate that total cost to be $100,000. What’s interesting is the $100,000 figure is actually a relatively minor amount when compared to the overall value of the employee and her innovative ideas.  

One day on a whim that employee developed a new method for licensing hardware and software to the government. That bloomed into a multimillion dollar product line and became a steady source of organizational revenue. However, if we only looked at the “normal” cost of turnover, we would have seen only an impact of $100,000, not several million dollars.

Want to Know the Secrets to Employee Retention?

We have defined the problem, but what about the solution? In the upcoming session I’ll explore more than 20 ways to impact retention ranging from the simple steps to take today to the radical changes that separate good organizations from great ones. The ideas include:

  •         Gamifying retention
  •         Changing the ownership mentality
  •         Using an executive “save” strategy
  •         And more!

I hope you’ll join me for this session so we can make employee retention a positive differentiator for your business. Click this link to register and join me at the upcoming session: How Losing Your Best Employees is Killing Innovation.