upstartHR - 3/119 - entry level HR, corporate culture, and human resources leadership

Republic Wireless: I’m a Convert

Today I’m doing the raving fan thing and bragging on my new cell provider. I love these guys and have been recommending them to people around me for weeks!

I just passed one month with Republic Wireless, and I’m definitely a convert. When I left Pinnacle to join the Brandon Hall Group recently I had to transition to a new phone. My wife was with Verizon and I was with T-Mobile for work, and I knew two things:

  1. T-Mobile coverage is awful where I live
  2. Verizon is entirely republic wireless logotoo expensive

So I started looking at other providers and found Republic Wireless.

The company offers an amazing price (my plan is $25/mo), unlimited talk/text/data, and the service is pretty darn good where I live/work. Win-win-win!

How it works

  • Republic uses the Sprint network to provide cell coverage, but you never actually interact with Sprint. It’s seamless.
  • The phones Republic offers are hybrid phones: they can use wifi for texts and calls. That allows them to keep costs down.
  • No contracts or bait and switch pricing. The phone is yours.
  • They have 4 simple to understand plans. No tricky options or other gimmicks.
  • You buy a phone. You pick a plan. You smile as you cut off your gigantic cell phone bill.

My favorite features

  • The Moto X is an excellent phone. Easily the best phone I’ve ever owned.
  • Change plans up to twice a month with no penalties. For instance, while at the SHRM conference in Orlando I was able to upgrade to the 4G plan to ensure I had the best/fastest service possible. Now that I’m home I changed it back to my regular 3G plan. I’ll be charged the 4G rate only for the days I had the service active.
  • Wifi calling! I work a few days a week from a small office near my home. Signal is spotty in the building, but I’ve held calls on wifi up to 30 minutes without issue.
  • My wife has the less expensive Moto G and likes it. She is more of a casual user, so we settled on that one and dropped her old $100 a month plan for the $25 Republic option.

As I said, I’m a convert and would encourage you to check them out if you are paying an arm and a leg for your cell service. Any questions? :-)

Using Culture to Drive Policy Decisions

Decision making isn’t always a process of identifying and communicating facts. There’s often an underlying foundation of history, preferences, and other elements that add a layer to the decision making process. Recently I talked about how even something as seemingly simple as a policy decision can be affected by the organization’s culture.

culture policy decisionThe corporate culture influences the determination from the initial consideration through to the final steps of implementation. Over at the Brandon Hall Group blog, we’ll look at some of those underlying factors and how you can leverage them to make policy decisions stick.

Check out Culture Drives Policy Implementation at Human Resources Today to learn more

HRCI Speaks Out, Certified Professionals Respond

With the back and forth in the HR certification world in the past few weeks, it’s been quite a strain on the certified HR professionals trying to determine what will happen to their hard-earned certifications in the coming months and years. Bottom line: we’re worried about what is going to happen to the credentials that we have built over the course of our HR careers.

Last night I attended the HRCI Connect event where the leadership of the HR Certification Institute stood up and shared their side of the story and their vision for the future. They also had an “open mic” portion to allow participants to ask questions about the path ahead. Below are some of my comments from the event.

What was the theme of the night?

What is HRCI’s angle on this whole SHRM/HRCI battle?

The biggest question on everyone’s lips

Are HRCI exams competency based?

What’s going to happen to my PHR/SPHR?

Will HRCI give credits for SHRM events?

I’ll be in touch with the HRCI folks going forward, so if there are any other questions I can help to answer, please let me know! I’m in this with you guys as well, so I definitely want to know the answers!

How to Get Employees to Believe in Your Mission #SHRM14

Yesterday I had the opportunity to check out a session by Chester Elton on Building a Culture of Belief to Drive Results. It’s a great topic, and it pulled from the concepts in All In, a book I reviewed a while back. Check out the short video below and some of the tweets from the session. Great stuff!

Increasing Benefit Value at No Cost (#SHRM14)

Before I jump in, I realize that there is some cost associated with everything. My love of economics doesn’t allow me to get away with the idea of a “free lunch” without mentioning that; however, I’m talking about increasing the perceived value without increasing the direct cost of the various options offered. Hang with me, there’s good stuff to share. 

My first SHRM 2014 session focused on benefit communication best practices and was presented by Mary Shafer at ADP. Here are nine tips, ideas, and concepts for improving your benefits communication.

  1. What’s the key to crafting a communication plan? Understand your objective and your audience and communicate with multiple media.
  2. If you want to increase the perceived value of an item (your benefits package), you need to help the customer (your employees) better understand the offerings and how they can help them to achieve their life goals.
  3. Think about targeted, timely messages. As an example, “Hey, it’s two months until the end of the plan year. You still have some of your FSA funds remaining. Here are a few ideas for how you could utilize those funds before they expire…”
  4. Talk in laymen’s terms, not HR-speak. Think about someone in your life that might have trouble understanding the message, and make sure you could explain it to them (a teen, parent, grandparent, etc.).
  5. Mix up the media you use–email and/or brochures are not the only options! Consider postcards, posters (bonus tip: include QR codes for smartphone scanning), mailings, video, podcasts, text, external websites, or even social media.
  6. Use employee stories (with permission) to make the options personal and help others relate. Maybe a new parent talking about how the maternity benefits helped them, an employee who utilized the short term disability coverage, or someone who transitioned to a high deductible plan and realized cost savings.
  7. This topic was recently covered in part in “Are your employees clueless about their benefits?”
  8. Be sure to measure, refine, and follow up. Results are the key here, not just activity.
  9. Pro tip: use short one minute videos to answer questions in an FAQ format and post them internally for employees to access. Not sure how to start? Imagine an employee calls you with a question about their benefits. Now, consider your response to that question. Take a few moments to write down some key thoughts, then shoot a video of your response (or just record the audio as a podcast, if you’re video shy!). That is all it takes! Do five to ten of those, then post them. As you get other frequent/recurring requests, create more of those short snippets to help answer questions.

So, what has worked for your organization? How do you communicate benefits to your staff? Are any of the suggestions above of particular interest to you? 

How to Recruit with LinkedIn (for Free)

Recently I was talking with a friend about recruiting, and LinkedIn came up. I mentioned my success with the tool, and that led to some discussions around how to use it, what to do, how to connect, etc. In the video below I go over my tips for how to use a free LinkedIn account to recruit like a rockstar.

Video notes

In the video I cover three key areas for the newbie or the advanced HR pro to take advantage of LinkedIn for recruiting.

  1. Searching LinkedIn with Google using the site:linkedin.com operator
  2. Crafting a connection message that people want to respond to
  3. Leveraging new contacts’ connections for referral purposes

Have you used LinkedIn for recruiting? What has been your experience? Any other questions I could answer?

Intuition is a Critical Skill for Great HR Pros

Intuition, awareness, or whatever you want to call it–it’s a critical skill if you want to be a successful HR pro. I’m a fan of examples to prove my point, so let’s dive in!

Seeing the needs of new employees

Recently I was helping to onboard a new group of employees. We had won a new contract and needed to pull the new folks into the fold ASAP with no downtime or issues.

The “standard” HR practice would be to gather all of the employees in a single place, give them a speech, hand out paperwork, and wait for it to roll in. However, that’s not how I handled it.

Instead, we sat down with each individual employee. That meant the entire exercise took approximately 10 times as long; however, there were some conditions that I had examined that told me the one-on-one would be more beneficial across the board. Here’s where that intuition/awareness/whatever comes into play.

  • They were coming from a “big company” employer that didn’t treat them as individuals or as highly valuable.
  • In my one previous meeting with the group, there were a few people who felt their concerns were not addressed for one reason or another.
  • Our history had always been that of a high-touch HR function, and this was the first chance to prove it.
  • I knew that with contracts like these, the people were going to speak freely more often if it was a private conversation than if it was in a group.

In the end, that was definitely the right answer. Each person got to spend some individual quality time talking about their hopes, concerns, and other thoughts.

Developing your intuition muscle

This is one of those skills that is more difficult to develop. Some of us are just more aware of our surroundings, the considerations of others, etc. However, I believe it’s possible to learn to be more intuitive and aware of the things going on around you. Here are a few tips for making that a new focus:

  • Especially in situations like the one depicted above where there will be many “first impressions” all at once, take some time to consider what impression you’re giving. How you interact is how they will expect the rest of the company to interact as well.
  • In your day to day, think about how others will perceive and process what you have to say. Even if it doesn’t change what you say or how you say it, understanding how to predict the responses of others is critical for someone in this role.
  • Once you have started honing your intuition skills, start sharing the insights with other managers and staff. For example, when I learn about a new policy rolling out affecting specific employees, I let the manager know generally what to expect from some of the people who might not respond well to the changes. That helps them to prepare for the response as well as making them more likely to rely on that advice again in the future, especially if it prevents an employee relations headache!

What are your thoughts on this? I think intuition is a highly valued, yet relatively unknown, skill for HR pros to develop and maintain. Have you seen others value you for your intuition and insights? How did that play out? I’d love to hear your story. 

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