In case you missed it, there was a SHRM Conference Daily post this week with a very interesting headline. In short, the EEOC said that training doesn’t reduce discrimination. The logic behind the commentary had a few holes that I want to point out really quick, but I want to spend the majority of the time today helping you to understand what actually works for eliminating harassment. Here’s the synopsis:

The biggest finding of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC’s) Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace may be what it failed to find—namely, any evidence that the past 30 years of corporate training has had any effect on preventing workplace harassment. “That was a jaw-dropping moment for us,” said EEOC Commissioner Victoria A. Lipnic in a Sunday Session at the Society for Human Resource Management 2016 Annual Conference & Exposition.

Two quick notes that need clarification:

  • There are 90,000 harassment claims, so training doesn’t work. What kind of training was used? How many of those complaints actually were legitimate harassment issues?
  • 90% of harassment is never reported. That means that hundreds of thousands of workers in the US are harassed every year. I don’t buy it. Working with a jerk or someone that is not always pleasant doesn’t equal harassment, but many people miscategorize it that way all the time.

How to Completely Eliminate Harassment

Want to absolutely crush harassment at your organization? It requires a culture that encourages ethical treatment of others. It requires a company that values not only individuality, but the fundamentals of respect and appreciation for others.

Think about it. We’ve all worked with people that simply didn’t respect others around them. Those people are the ones that often bring about harassment, because they do not have the respect for their peers and coworkers that is necessary for good working relationships.

So, we need to create organizations that are uncomfortable for those kinds of people. We need to make it unpleasant to be disrespectful by addressing it as a performance issue. We need to create an environment where those kinds of behaviors demand a swift and unpleasant response instead of sweeping them under the rug, brushing them off, etc. Harassment is serious, and not just in a “oh boy, we’re going to get sued for that one” kind of way. It can cost you great, productive employees and drive away the talent that your organization needs.

So, it may be no small feat, but crushing harassment is a worthy goal. Start today. Build a culture of respect and appreciation. Take issues seriously and address them promptly. Then you can reap the benefits of a collaborative, harassment-free workplace.

I had the distinct pleasure of seeing my friend Steve Browne speak this morning at SHRM. His session was intended to fire up the audience, and I’d say it was a smashing success. One of his comments was powerful, and I thought it deserved to be repeated here because I talk about certification quite a bit.

If your certification is purely about getting recertification hours, having letters after your name, and trying to use that as a way to get credits, then you’re wasting your time and your organization’s time. Go ahead and leave. Or let it lapse. There’s no real value in that sort of attitude.

However, if you pursued certification as a way to make yourself better at delivering HR services for your employees, then you’re on the right track.

If you prepared for months, studied endless hours to pass an incredibly difficult exam, and sat there with sweaty palms as you waited for the pass/fail notification at the end just so you could use something you learned to make your workplace better, you did it for the right reasons.

If your certification is less about making yourself look good and more about how you can make your organization look good for candidates and employees, then you understand the true value of the certification process.

Whether you’re carrying around a PHR, SPHR, SHRM-CP, SHRM-SCP, HRBP, or some other type of credential, remember the end goal. The test is not the goal. Studying is not the objective. Using what you learn to make your organization better is.

How has your certification helped you? What additional impact did you have on your organization once you picked up those almighty letters behind your name? 

A few weeks from now I’ll be joining thousands of my closest HR friends in Las Vegas for the 2015 SHRM Conference. This year is a bit different than the years I visited only as an attendee, because I will be speaking on behalf of Brandon Hall Group about strategic HR at the SHRM SmartStage, which should be a blast. Here are the details:

Strategic HR (It’s Easier Than You Think)

Monday, June 29, 2015 – 3:20pm

Session description: One of the most common suggestions a lot of HR practitioners hear is “You need to be more strategic.” The challenge for many HR pros is that the actual implementation of strategic HR practices is not always clear cut. This presentation will review several mini case studies to teach the audience how to break down problems and present strategic solutions in a simple, yet meaningful way.

Are you going?

If you are going to be in Las Vegas later this month, I would love to meet you at the event. I’m always amazed when I get to meet the great people that follow this blog. One of the fun things I get to do as an HR analyst is talk with HR pros about what’s going on in their businesses, what challenges they are facing, etc. It’s always a great conversation.

If you plan to be there, please shoot me an email and we’ll plan to connect. And if you’re not, we can still connect! Email me and we can chat on the phone or via email. I thoroughly enjoy connecting with every person I can within the HR community.

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? 

So the SHRM 2013 Conference is in Chicago. I’ll be there, will you?

shrm 2013 conference chicagoThis will be my third SHRM conference to attend, and my hope is that it will be the best one yet. 60+ other HR and recruiting bloggers will be there.

Who else is going? What sessions are you looking forward to?

I know it’s a few months away, but is anyone interested in a quick, informal meetup? Maybe for breakfast or something? I’d love to have the opportunity to chat with some of the smart people that follow the blog.

Hashtag #shrm13 for those following on Twitter.

Tips for SHRM 2013 conference first timers

Here’s a short video where I talk about my tips for the first-time attendees for the SHRM 2013 conference. Subscribers click here to view. The video notes are below if you don’t have time or can’t watch it now.

Video notes

Here’s what I wish I had known ahead of time for my first SHRM conference events.

  • Plan to talk with 2-3 vendors who might be valuable partners for your company. Maybe not today, but six months or a year from now you might be looking for an applicant tracking system, a rewards supplier, etc. Take this time to talk with them face to face in the expo.
  • Look for the “parties” or after-hours events. I’m not a party kind of guy, but those events are great in that you can develop friendships and lasting connections. Bottom line: leave some space open for unscheduled networking and learning. Some of the best experiences you’ll ever have!
  • Start connecting with people before the event. That way you’ll have connections there on site that you can meet with and those connections can greatly enhance your enjoyment of the event.
  • Definitely plan to learn, take notes, and take things back with you. But those three areas are some that I wish I’d known about when I attended my first SHRM conference.

So, anyone else planning to attend? Do you have any tips for the first-timers out there? 

I’ve been looking at the long list of concurrent sessions at SHRM12, and it’s a little bit frustrating. If it was possible, I’d attend more than 75% of the sessions on the list. However, I only have time for 6-8 in the two and a half days I’m there. I’ve narrowed the list down significantly from my initial sweep, and I’m now working to filter further by which ones will have the greatest likely impact on my work once I head back to the office next Thursday morning.

Monday

  • Unique Obligations of Federal Contractors-I work for a government contractor, but I’ve only been here for a few years. I sometimes still get taken by surprise when something new pops up, so I’m hoping this session will help me shore up any missing pieces in our HR strategy.
  • 7 Steps to Bulletproof Documentation-Of all the areas of HR I get to “play” in, employee relations and performance management are by far the toughest. Knowing how to protect myself and my employer is something I can’t pass up. I call these kinds of sessions “litigation insurance for HR pros.” :-)
  • 5 Keys to Corporate Recruiting Leadership-I already handle the recruiting from opening the req to inprocessing the new hire, but I’m always looking for ways to do this better. Also, as we grow we’ll eventually need someone to do more recruiting, and I’m hoping this session will help me to learn how to manage that person well.
  • Real World of FMLA-We’re almost big enough to have to comply with FMLA, and I’m starting to gather information and tips on how not only “do” it, but to do it well.

Tuesday

  • My Company Went Global. What Now?-We’re always growing, and we have recently been looking at some international opportunities. I always thought the global tracks were going to be for someone else, but now I’m starting to realize how important they’ll be if we do expand internationally.
  • Performance Reviews-Not Just for Lawyers-Just one more opportunity to find out how others handle their performance management process and how I can help our managers and employees to use ours to the fullest extent without feeling like it’s a burden on them.
  • Innovate or Perish: Improving HR Processes-Just like the global track above, as we grow it’s becoming more and more critical that our processes allow us to grow without the bumps and bruises that normally go along with a growth spurt. My (amazing) manager talks often about HR being the leader in the organization, not just trying to keep up. This is one more opportunity to lead the way.

Wednesday

  • Successfully Rolling Out Performance Management Software-We’re looking at a performance management solution and our budget is ready for it. Heck, I’m ready for it. So this session is all about tips and ideas for making that transition from paper (blech) to software (yippee!) with the least amount of problems possible.

Anything on my list that you’ll be attending? What’s your “must see” session? 

So, are you thinking about going to the 2012 SHRM Annual Conference in Atlanta, Georgia? Yeah, me, too.

I was able to attend back in 2010 due to the boundless generosity of my friend Eric Winegardner. However, at that time I was working in a 6-person HR department as the low man on the totem pole. Nobody cared what I thought. Nobody wanted to hear my ideas. So when I returned from the event, my enthusiasm and fervor was quickly extinguished.

While I enjoyed the experience, I didn’t get a lot out of the event in the form of takeaways.

If I can attend this year, that’s going to change drastically.

My hopes for the 2012 SHRM Annual Conference

First of all, it’s right next door in Atlanta, Georgia. That alone makes it more appealing! :-)

Seriously, though. I work in a small company. I have some support from the Operations Team, but the main body of HR duties is mine. And while I love it, sometimes it gets a little overwhelming. I realize that I can’t be great at everything. I can’t have all the answers to every benefits, employment law, and recruiting question someone throws at me. And I certainly don’t have time to look into the “nice to haves” like online performance review software, leadership development strategies, and internal culture training. However, learning opportunities like the SHRM conference affords don’t come along every day.

I’m working to see if there’s money in the budget to attend the 2012 SHRM Annual Conference. Even if there isn’t, I’m going to try to make it happen one way or another.

Is anyone else already planning to attend? I’d love to meet you if so!