We’re Only Human 48: How to Use Hackathons and Coworking to Engage Employees

Hackathons are often seen as a tool for creating new software products, but did you realize that they could be used to create a more engaged workforce as well? 

In today’s show, Ben interviews Toni Eberhart, Executive Director for Urban Engine. In the show, they talk about how things like coworking nights, hackathons, and other social activities can help to crosspollinate ideas and create more satisfaction for technical talent. 

In a time where it’s harder than ever to attract and retain highly qualified technical workers and engineers, is a hackathon the secret ingredient to employee engagement? 

Toni recommends that employers look for places, platforms, and programs that allow employees to practice creative autonomy. It’s not just about creativity for its own sake, it’s about learning, connecting, and collaborating. 



Connect with Urban Engine: http://urbanengine.com 

Check out the Artificial Intelligence for HR book

Case study of ADTRAN for using hackathons for employee engagement

If you enjoyed this, be sure to check out episode 8 (enterprise HR innovation) and episode 10 (your employees aren’t innovative enough). 

hiring candidate experience trends

3 Candidate Experience Trends You Should Know

Candidate experience is a booming business. Anyone with the ability to create a more positive experience for a company’s job applicants is in a great position right now, and that won’t change any time soon. In the last ten years, interest in the candidate experience has grown exponentially, as evidenced by Google Trends data.

On top of that, we’re seeing more evidence that the candidate experience is more than just a “nice to have” for businesses serious about profitability. One HR Open Source case study of Virgin Media highlighted the company’s transformation, detailing just how the firm was able to attribute more than $7 million in revenue to its improved treatment of candidates during the hiring process. This combination of factors is most likely why “candidate experience” was one of the top three priorities for recruiting leaders in the latest Lighthouse Research Talent Acquisition Sentiment Study.

In 2019 and beyond, we expect to see some specific ways this part of the talent acquisition world continues to evolve.

Video is integral to hiring processes

hiring candidate experience trendsVideo is huge, both for businesses and consumers. YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world (with greater traffic than AOL, Bing, and Yahoo combined!). Netflix and other video streaming services now account for the majority of internet traffic worldwide. We have come to expect and appreciate video on many levels, but it hasn’t yet made its way deep into the hiring process.

In one 2017 study, our team at Lighthouse Research found that candidates most want to see hiring managers in videos, not the stuffy “company overview” content that the majority of companies share. Additionally, with greater competition for talent, some companies are now offering video tours of workspaces to help attract the interest of potential candidates. Video is a powerful substitute for in-person experiences, and it’s infinitely more scalable, as well.

Video is going to be increasingly woven throughout the hiring process, creating a more personalized and seamless experience for all candidates.

Assessments are appreciated, but…

We’ve long been told that candidates hate assessments in the hiring process. They slow things down, they muddy the waters, and they don’t add any perceivable value to the overall experience.

The truth is, though, candidates actually do like assessments, but only if they actually give them a chance to show how qualified they are for the job. In other words, don’t throw them a generic personality test and expect them to be happy. Instead, look for ways to allow them to demonstrate their job-related skills and knowledge.

For instance, don’t ask software engineers to…

Check out the rest of the piece over on Clara Labs.

Does #HR care more about employees or protecting the company? [Reader Question]

I love answering questions from readers, because they encourage me to explore topics I might otherwise not touch on, such as today’s discussion. Have a question of your own? Share it and I’ll try to work it into the schedule!

Does HR care more about the employees or protecting the company?

HR’s Primary Role

When someone is hired into the HR profession, their primary role is to support the “people” functions of the company, such as hiring, training, and retaining employees. It’s funny if you think about that being the primary responsibility set, because we know that managers select candidates, often recommend workers for development, and are the reason that 80-90% of workers leave the organization, Regardless, that’s our job: tie the business objectives with the people process objectives to the degree we can.  Continue reading

We’re Only Human 47: Using Mission-Focused Learning to Improve Learner Engagement

Recent research from CLO Media shows that the number one performance metric reported by Chief Learning Officers for learning initiatives is employee engagement. But is this the right metric? Does engagement truly encapsulate how people learn, the impact on the business, and other critical factors? 

To answer this question, host Ben Eubanks sits down with Sam Herring, VP and General Manager for Intrepid by VitalSource. Sam has a long track record in learning technology and services and a well-rounded outlook on the profession. In the conversation, Ben and Sam talk about the pros and cons of engagement as a learning metric, how mission-focused learning can lead to better results, and the importance of learning journeys. 

If your team is thinking about how learning can partner more closely with the business this year and in the future, Sam’s insightful takeaways at the end of the show offer some spectacular guidance to that end. 

Follow Sam on Twitter: https://twitter.com/samuelherring

Check out Intrepid Learning online: https://www.intrepidlearning.com/learning-library 

Check out Ben’s newly released book, Artificial Intelligence for HR: http://aihrbook.com/buy 

New Year, New Book, and a New You!


This is the first day back at work for many after the winter holidays are coming to a close, and I hope those holidays were rejuvenating for you and those you care about. The family and I enjoyed some much-needed time off, and weather here in Alabama was nice enough to get out in shorts this weekend for time at the park, bike rides, and more. A great way to refresh things for a great start to the year.

The family and I have been celebrating as my new book, Artificial Intelligence for HR, came out just before the new year. I have been humbled to hear some wonderful feedback from the people that have already been reading the book. I am honored! I won’t be pushing the book heavily in the coming months, so if you want to read some fun stories, learn about the trends in HR, and understand what the advent of AI within recruiting, training, and more means for your job, this is your chance to get the book. If you’re reading it and would be willing to add a review on Amazon, I’d be very, very grateful (we could work out a signed copy, if you’re interested).

Finally, this is a new year for YOU as well. Are you certified? Are you thinking about getting certified? Is this the year you pull out your own “state of the union address” for your own company’s leadership? Maybe you have decided that this is the year you step it up on the strategic front, creating more value for your employer and a more meaningful HR practice as a result. Is this the year you toss the “HR” term completely in favor of one of the newer titles, like “employee experience” or something else? I’d love for you to share what your big goal is this year for you and/or your team.

As always, my team and I try to create content, tools, resources, and other helpful information for you on a regular basis. If there’s something you need or want that you haven’t found yet, just throw in a comment below. This is a new year, and we’re in this together, my friends.

-Ben Eubanks, Founder, upstartHR

6 Critical steps to ensuring your new hire is a perfect fit

Hiring a new employee is not as simple as it sounds. It is not only hiring but hiring the right employee with skills, experience, and other core attributes. Hiring the right employee brings a sense of increased productivity and growth of a company. He/she will help achieve the company’s goal and visions. On the other hand, hiring a person that does not fit for your company is very expensive, the company has to either fire him and hire another employee or recruit him if all he lacks is the skills and experience needed. Both are going back to looking for another employee and recruiting increases the company’s expenditure. Unskilled employee lows the production rate of the company. Some employees may have experience but lack interpersonal skills such as good communication and teamwork that doesn’t call for recruitment. Hiring the right employee is not an easy task, there are some things you must put into consideration. Below is a list of steps every employer must follow to be able to hire the right employee.

1. Define the job before hiring an employee

Hiring new employees starts with job analysis. You need to determine the need to hire an employee. Analyze the duties and responsibilities of the employee to know the skills needed for that particular job. Write a job description to explain what the employee will be responsible for and the skills he or she must have. Failure to do job analysis you will end up hiring an employee who doesn’t fit your company as he/she might be skilled in fields that aren’t available. Job description reduces the number of applications since only people with the stated skills will show up for the job. After you have successfully written the job description and specifications, you can now advertise the job.

Job-Analysis2. Review credentials and applications

After advertising your job, you will receive many applications. You need to review all of them before making your decisions. Screen all applicants against your list of requirements, skills, and experience as per the job description. Even if the first candidate meets your requirements, go ahead and review the others as they may have more than stated in your job description. Application letters, cover letters, resumes, and CV will tell more about the candidate’s skills, experience, and other important aspects. Some people often make search requests like “can I pay someone to write a research paper, CV or recommendation” and therefore may submit fake or altered documents, you need to be able to verify whether the information in these documents is correct before hiring. To know the candidate’s experience and abilities contact their referees if the candidate claims to have working experience of certain period contact his employer or supervisor to hear his/her views about the candidate. Candidates fresh from college have no working experience, and therefore you need to contact their teachers to know their abilities. Also at this stage make sure to check with the relevant authorities about the candidate’s criminal record and credit history. Some candidates may have all you require but still have a negative criminal record which means employing the given candidate is risking the company. After screening all applications made select the qualified candidates and ask them to come for an interview.

blog3. Interviews

This is the stage where you get to know the real candidates. All invited candidates may have the same competent skills, but you have to choose the best among them. Prepare for an interview to evaluate their skills. During the interview get to know whether the candidates have got all the skills indicated in their application letters. Some may have written skills which they can’t be able to implement. Both the employer and the employee are not pleased with firing, and you should not wait to fire when you can be able to evaluate a candidate’s skills. During the interview ask the candidate questions related to the available job to know how much he or she is experienced. It is also during interviews you should be able to tell whether the candidate has skills like good communication, teamwork, hard work, creativity and others that will help grow the company. Failure to conduct an interview you will end up hiring on the basis of papers which may be biased to fool you and therefore having the wrong employee who can’t be able to work with other employees to achieve the set goals and objectives.

interview4. Send an employment letter to the successful candidate(s)

After interviews, you can now be able to rate the candidates based on their performance on the interview. Write an employment letter to the successive candidates telling them when to report to the company for further directions. It is also wise to write a letter to the unsuccessful candidate(s) informing them that they didn’t qualify.

5. Orientation and recruitment

After reporting to the company, the candidate should be introduced to the company and its team. Starting a new job is not always easy and fast to cope with. Many companies fail to introduce their new employees to the other team which later results in a lack of teamwork. The existing employees view the new member as a stranger. The new employee is also not able to interact with others as he/she does not know who is who in the company. Lack of orientation lowers teamwork which as a result lowers the general productivity rate of the company. Apart from orientation, new employees should also be recruited. He or she might have the experience but remember different companies do things in different ways. In some organizations such as banks, no matter the skills and experience an employee has he/she must be recruited to avoid simple mess which can result in big problems. If you didn’t make to get a person with all the stated skills you may end up hiring the one who is ready to learn new skills. After hiring such a person, before assigning tasks and duties to him make sure he has been trained.

Recruitment6. Fire quickly

Sometimes you may mistakenly employ an employee who has no skills and other important attributes. Having such a person in your company he/she will pull down the production rate. Sometimes you can decide to recruit him but when recruitment can’t help don’t keep him in your company for long. You not only have to fire employees but also other senior employees who fail in their duty. After you have employed a person, he/she is willing to work in the first few months after which he will start losing morale and start reporting to work late, not completing all assigned tasks and poor customer services if he/she gets into contact with your customers. You should let your employees know that whenever they aren’t able to work, they will be fired immediately.


Jeff Blaylock

Jeff is the owner and publisher at Texas Election Source LLC. Jeff publishes and writes subscription-based services providing in-depth analysis and news about Texas elections and voter trends. Jeff has been able to accurately predict several election results using his research and analysis skills. He got his journalism degree from the Texas Christian University. He has also helped several clients on issues relating to taxes, business regulations and licensing.

We’re Only Human 46: New Methods for Educating the Future Leaders of HR

Today, everyone is fascinated with talking about the “future of work.” But who is the future of work? That’s right–students. The kids (we’re old enough to call them kids, right?) that are coming up behind us are going to truly BE the future of the workplace.

In today’s episode of We’re Only Human, Ben takes the opportunity to sit down with a long-time friend, Matt Stollak, to talk about these ideas. Matt teaches HR courses at St. Norbert College, and he takes a very different approach to the classroom than most professors.

If you are hiring new HR professionals or if you’re looking for ways to train some that you’ve recently brought on staff, Matt has some great ideas for how to go beyond the academic approach and make it very practical and real. This is *real* learning. Get ready to take notes, because class is in session. 

Connect with Matt on Twitter: http://twitter.com/akabruno