Category Archives: General

strategic hr

HR Strategy: How to Work ON Your Department, Not Just IN Your Department

One of the challenges with HR strategy and strategic HR is that it’s often talked about in vague terms, which means it isn’t always easy to understand for some individuals. There’s a great metaphor for this concept in the world of entrepreneurship put forth decades ago in The E-Myth by Michael Gerber. Here’s the core of it:

When someone starts a small business (even if it’s a sideline HR consulting business), they do so because they want to do a certain task: writing, painting, consulting, and so on. The problem comes when that person realizes they are actually doing two jobs: the product/service they are selling AND running a business. Many small businesses fail because they are great at working IN the business but not working ON the business.

Hopefully you can see the application of this in the world of HR as well. Many of us are really great at doing the core components of HR:

  • Recruiting great candidates
  • Delivering high quality training
  • Supporting leaders with coaching and development

But we often struggle when it comes to this strategic stuff. It’s not because it’s hard. Most of us are smart enough to lay out a game plan for the year with objectives and then work towards it. No, the problem is that we’re so darn busy doing the day to day work of HR that we can’t find ways to get to the strategy. We never really arrive.

If you’re not sure if this applies to you, here’s a simple test:

If you’re spending your days, weeks, and months churning through tasks and never really working on improving your function, team, or department, then you’re probably missing out. 

This actually played out last week in a conversation during the Alabama SHRM state conference. The audience was talking at their tables about obstacles for HR, and the group at my table talked about HR’s bad reputation for being the “no” police, for caring only about compliance, and for never leaving the office to do anything more meaningful.

I know, I know. A lot of this connects to the HR to Employee ratio at your company, as I’ve written about before. If you have a thousand people for every HR professional, it’s going to be very transactional. There’s no way around it other than picking up technology to help automate what you can and personalize to the highest degree possible.

I actually spoke with an HR executive recently that offers some incredible insights into this problem. If you don’t listen to the podcast regularly, you are missing out. In the upcoming episode I speak with Michael Stambaugh, Chief Human Resources Officer for HJF, about how to seize the opportunity for strategic leadership in HR. He tells a compelling story and it’s one I highly encourage you to listen to.

What are your thoughts? Does this problem of overwhelming tasks IN your HR role prevent you from working ON your HR function? How have you tried to overcome it?

An Open Letter to HR on Policies, Regulating, and Training (10 years later)

Ten years ago I started this blog. One of my earliest posts was about the critical importance of treating people like adults and training for the attitudes and behaviors we want, not just those we don’t want. Is it still true today? You decide. 

AKA An open letter to HR professionals who think it’s a good idea to regulate the snot out of everything

Dear fellow HR professionals,

Hey! So, I’m not sure if you know much about me, but I’m a different kind of HR guy. I like being open and honest and treating people like… Well, people. Our employees aren’t children (and if they are, that’s a whole other issue!), so why do we treat them that way?

This ain’t my first rodeo

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first hr hire

How to Hire Your First HR Staff Member (and who NOT to hire)

first hr hireLast week I had a great conversation with a $10M startup company about how to make their first HR hire, and I thought those ideas would be worth sharing here. Many of you are already HR leaders at your own firms, but you probably haven’t given much thought to this idea of starting up an HR function from scratch, and it’s a good discussion to have. Plus, I’d love to hear from you!

  • What skills are most important?
  • What would you look for if you were hiring your first HR person?
  • If you’ve started up an HR function, what are your best tips?

Where to Look for your First HR Hire

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We’re Only Human 54: Forecasting The Future Jobs of HR and Recruiting

If you could look out into the future and predict how HR and talent acquisition jobs might change in the next few years, what would you expect? Robots? AI? Something else? 

In today’s short monologue, Ben talks about some of the jobs he expects to see as more automation hits the HR function, from candidate experience designers to human-machine integrators. It’s about finding the best that humans AND machines have to offer to create the best results for our candidates, employees, and businesses. 

Jump into the conversation and share your own thoughts on Twitter: @beneubanks or LinkedIn.

Office Workplace Health Risks: Computers, Screens, Sitting, and More

 

In the digital world we live in, we spend a TON of time work on computers and mobile devices. Screens aren’t just part of our work life–they are how we interact with most people during the course of the workday. This isn’t a natural experience for us and it’s now how we were designed to operate, which means we must take care or we’ll inevitably run into issues with our health.

computer useI can tell those days that have been more “screen heavy” because my head is a little fuzzy and my eyes are sore. At times, my back and shoulders are even tensed up. I’ve been experimenting with other desk setups to minimize some of these issues, but I’ll have to wait until travel/conference season is over before I get any meaningful results.

Research shows that computers and how we use them pose a variety of risks to our health, especially around posture and vision. The University of Pittsburgh says that sitting in awkward positions, staying in one position for too long and performing repetitive motions can lead to unnatural stress on the wrists, shoulders and back. Over time, fatigue and overuse can strain muscles and joints and lead to more costly health issues.

I can still remember an employee I had years ago that ended up with a nasty looking “hump” on his wrist because of his desk setup. He ended up straining the actual bone in his arm because of repetitive, incorrect posture and needed surgery to “reset” himself. It was very intense and surprising, because you wouldn’t think that simply sitting the wrong away would lead to that kind of problem.

From a visual perspective, we can see light on a variety of wavelengths, including blue light, which is similar to the light we get from the sun. If you’ve ever used a computer for a long period of time and had tired eyes afterward, blue light is most likely to blame, according to the American Academy of Opthalmology. And if you spend too much time looking at a screen that emits blue light just before you go to bed, it can interfere with your rest by tricking your brain into staying awake.

5 Suggestions for Solving the Computer Ergonomics Problem

Sitting at a computer for extended periods of time is incredibly taxing on the body and can lead to obesity and even heart issues. Solutions for computer ergonomics problems range from very simple to complex, but the bottom line is that they must be counteracted. The solutions below can help solve for various factors in the equation, such as vision strain or more physical components, but the best computer ergonomics strategy involves a variety of approaches.

  1. Set alarms: Instead of staring at a screen without breaks for long periods of time, set alarms every 20 or 30 minutes to remind you to look away, blink and rest your eyes briefly before returning to work.

To read the last four recommendations, check out this post on the Flexispot website.

Have you ever had eye, back, or neck issues because of computer use? What was the experience like? 

How to Invest in ALL Employees, Not Just #Millennials

While there may be some minor generational differences in workplace preferences, the truth is ALL your people want to learn, grow, use their strengths and be recognized and appreciated for their efforts. I’ve written extensively about the myth that Millennials are fundamentally different than other generations. The real point is that someone at that life stage has different needs. This article is all about how to meet the varying needs of a diverse workforce. 

Money, Coin, Investment, Business, Finance, BankIn the book “Born for This,” author Chris Guillebeau tells the story of a supervisor that approached his organization’s management team in order to secure a small budget for pizza to celebrate his team’s wins and hard work. However, the management team denied the request, prompting the supervisor to leave his job and start his own firm. Today, he sees these opportunities for investing in employees as a key differentiator between his organization and the competition.

This story exemplifies the value of focusing on employees. It’s not just about dollars spent — it’s about loyalty, satisfaction and engagement that result when individuals feel like their employer truly cares about them. The value of creating the kind of environment where employees feel appreciated is a trade off in increased performance, effort and quality. This understanding is a key reason, according to CFO Magazine, why 80 percent of U.S. financial leaders are taking the appropriate measures to improve employee retention.

Current Generations and Their Values

Business leaders are not strangers to the conversation about generations in the workplace. The shifting baby boomer population is creating a domino effect in many organizations, but for the foreseeable future organizations will still have four generations in the workforce: baby boomers, Gen Xers, millennials and Gen Zers.

1. Baby Boomers

Baby boomers are delaying retirement, which may put pressure on subsequent generations for senior level positions and key leadership roles. In reality, members of this group have an immense amount of knowledge and skills and are looking for a way to share them before they ultimately retire. Instead of coasting into retirement, they are looking for ways to stay actively involved and engaged, even if only on a part-time basis.

2. Generation X

Generation X workers are sandwiched between a large population of baby boomers and an even larger population of millennials. This group is starting to focus on future-oriented areas like retirement but at the same time many are climbing the career ladder and looking for ways to continue advancing as baby boomers make their exit from the workforce. Coaching and leadership development are critical for these individuals.

3. Millennials

According to the ADP Research Institute® report, Strategic Drift: How HR Plans for Change, millennials are looking for opportunities to learn, grow and advance their careers. One organization cited in the report says that millennials’ reputation for changing jobs often reflects the failure of organizations to train them — not the picture of disloyalty often painted in the media. This group is ready to advance, which presents a winning combination for baby boomers looking to share their years of wisdom with an eager audience.

4. Generation Z

Gen Zers are just entering the workplace. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) notes, “With Gen Z coming of age during the recession, they are putting money and job security at the top of the list. Sure, they want to make a difference, but surviving and thriving are more important. The cultures that can foster that are the ones that will win the war for talent with Gen Z.” It’s important to see this in the context of the other demographic groups to understand how best to motivate these workers.

Meeting the Needs of a Diverse Workforce

The lesson for finance leaders is to keep these varying interests in mind when considering areas of investment on the employee side of the equation. For instance, mentorship and career development programs could be a pro for millennials, but it takes the involvement of baby boomers and other experienced workers to make the relationships work. Benefits also run the gamut, depending on the demographic in question:

  • Gen Xers may be looking for leave options to care not only for children, but for aging parents
  • Many millennials are looking for help with repaying crushing student loan debts
  • Baby boomers may have an interest in near-term retirement planning
  • Gen Zers are focused on collecting experiences, which means volunteerism may be more important than just another vacation day

Clearly, a one-size-fits-all approach to benefits will not cut it for this diverse group.

The ROI of Employee Engagement

While it’s nice to consider the prospect of increasing employee engagement just for the sake of it, the truth is there needs to be business value tied to the practice. I talked about this extensively in my interview with Ohio Living CHRO Dana Ullom-Vucelich and how her firm has seen incredible value from more engaged staff.

Additionally, Forbes reports that in hospitals, teams with more engaged employees lead to fewer readmissions, increasing patient satisfaction scores. Improvements in employee engagement can lead to higher retention. It’s important to note that while each organization may be different, there is always value in creating a positive, engaging workplace for employees.

While there may be some generational differences in workplace preferences, most people want to learn, grow, use their strengths and be recognized and appreciated for their efforts. Finance leaders that can invest in programs that support that will likely see the value that an engaged workforce can deliver to the bottom line.

I originally published this piece on the ADP blog: https://www.adp.com/spark/articles/2018/12/what-does-it-look-like-to-invest-in-all-4-generations-of-employees.aspx

We’re Only Human 53: How to Partner with Your Talent Analytics Team

Organizations that have analytics talent, whether it’s a dedicated team or just a single data-loving person within the HR function, often struggle with how to leverage the expertise they bring to the table. In today’s discussion, Ben interviews the team at Cox Enterprises: Debbie Morris, Sr. Talent Management Consultant, and Hal Halbert, Reporting Manager, to talk about how the HR/talent function can align and work with the analytics team. 

The conversation is a short one, but it is full of insightful comments and ideas on how to pair the best insights and efforts that each brings to the table. It’s not just about doing your job–it’s about supporting each other and the needs of the business. 

If you enjoy the conversation, please share the episode with a friend that might find it valuable. Also, if you’re interested, you can connect with Debbie and Hal on LinkedIn: 

Download the new research Ben mentioned on reskilling and upskilling employees: http://lhra.io/reskill