Category Archives: General

We’re Only Human 38: How to Take Advantage of the Human Qualities of Work

What does it mean to be human?

With all the discussion of robots, AI, and machines at work, is there a clear delineation between what humans can do that software can’t? In today’s discussion with the inimitable Dani Johnson of Red Thread Research, Ben and Dani discuss some practical ways employers can look at weaving more human components into the work they’re doing.

Dani’s research shows that things like collaboration, storytelling, and creating a vision for the future all tie in with this innate human quality of work, but how do we take advantage of those tools to create better workplaces and performance? This meshes well with Ben’s approach in his new book, “Artificial Intelligence for HR,” and the conversation takes a fun turn as they both explore examples and ideas for how to make this practically appealing for employers. 

To learn more about Dani and Red Thread be sure to visit redthreadresearch.com

 

press compensation transparency framework

How Pay Transparency Affects Equality, Engagement, and More

Next week I’m heading up to Massachusetts to talk about pay transparency to a group of HR and business leaders. Of all the topics I could have spoken about, why pay transparency?

First of all, it’s becoming more and more of an issue because of legislation that prevents employers from asking about salary history. Research shows that women are less likely to ask for higher salaries and these laws are about trying to reduce negotiations so that women and men have more equal pay for equal work.

Secondly, in a workplace where trust is at a premium, all the research points to considerable links between trust, transparency, and employee/business performance. We can’t have engaged employees without trust and transparency, and employers can’t succeed without engaged, energetic employees. It’s all connected!

The Options for Transparency

Employers have a range of options when it comes to transparency. They can be transparent about:

  1. Business decisions–why certain decisions are made and how they affect the workforce
  2. Job opportunities–are you sharing open jobs with internal staff or hoping they don’t find out about them and try to make internal moves?
  3. Compensation decisions–do workers know how decisions are made around compensation or is it a “black box” where decisions are made without any clarity or insight?

Deloitte’s research says that high-performing companies are 4.5x more likely to have a well-defined communications strategy, sharing information on pay determinants, budgets, and distribution.

The Spectrum of Transparency

The first thing that appears in your head when I say transparency around compensation might be a company like Buffer. Buffer posts its salaries on the website for the public to see. Yes, really. The company also shares radically about its business plans and other information openly. While this has worked out for the firm, it’s not something I’d recommend for everyone.

There are clear pros and cons for a fully open and transparent approach. The benefits include clear expectations, consistent compensation schedules, and difficulty to discriminate. However, the issues can include a lack of connection to performance, lack of organizational agility, and a significant difficulty to motivate/retain top performers.

Without some measure of transparency, bad things happen. For example, Lawler’s research shows that workers routinely OVERestimate the pay of their peers and subordinates and UNDERestimate the pay of their superiors. That means they are less happy with what you’re paying them!

Additionally, Helliwell and Huang’s research points out that a 10% increase in organizational trust is equal to a 36% increase in pay for workers. They want, need, and crave trust (and transparency), and it’s as important as a pay bump to get it!

Making it Stick

I have developed a five-part process called the PRESS framework that guides employers through the decisions that improve transparency.

press compensation transparency framework

What are your thoughts on compensation transparency? Is your organization doing a good job of this, or would you like to be doing better? 

*If you’re interested in having me speak at your conference or company on this topic please feel free to reach out to me!

The Calm Before the Storm…

It’s been quiet this week, because I’ve been finishing up the final round of edits on my book that comes out later this year. Yesterday I turned in what I think is the 99.99% version to the editor (you never quite get that 0.01% from what I can tell).

I’ve learned a lot in this process, and obviously there’s still some ways to go with the publishing and marketing process. What I am very surprised by is how many people are signing up to learn about the book when it comes out. Whenever someone hears there’s a book coming out I always laugh and tell them I went for the broadly appealing topic that everyone can get behind: the impact of AI technology on the HR profession. :-)

Seriously, though, for you as an HR leader, this will be a great resource. And if you like my style of writing and the stories I tell, then you’ll love the book because it’s 64,000ish words of stories, examples, and case studies about how technology is changing HR (and how it’s not).

In the next year or two, if they haven’t already, the leaders of your business will be asking you about how artificial intelligence will impact the workforce, the industry, and the business itself. I wrote this book to help you answer that question. You’ll get real insight, cut through the hype, and be able to give credible guidance to your leadership.

I’m actively booking speaking events and keynotes on the topic, in case you might be interested in hearing me tell some of the stories and give some insight into how HR can be more human, not less, through the advent of new technologies.

Above all else, I am thankful for the 10,000+ of you that follow the blog, read here on a regular basis, and support me and my family. I’ve wanted to be an author for a very long time, and I have to be honest when I say this topic isn’t the one I imagined for my first book.

My local friends and colleagues know that on top of working on this book for the last 8 months (and researching it for another year before that) I am also the President of North Alabama SHRM this year. I volunteer because I like staying plugged in and because I love the opportunity to influence and support today’s HR leaders.

However, it’s been tough trying to balance both of those activities with the needs of four kids, the day job at Lighthouse, work travel, the additional projects I’ve been leading on the development of our new certification materials, the creation of our new training courses, and more. Put simply, this has been a tough year. Now I’m planning DisruptHR in Huntsville with my good friend Kristina Minyard and we’re even trying to revive HRevolution for the first time in years.

I think I’ve learned a few things. First of all, I’m bad at balancing everything. I have recently pulled back on some activities at church in an effort to reclaim some of my time. I’m about finished with the book, which has been a MAJOR chunk of my time. I am working with my board to plan our last few NASHRM events of 2018, which is one of the most time-consuming parts of being President (it shouldn’t be one of my tasks but I love programming too much to let it go!).

The other thing I’ve learned? I always have to have a few things cooking. Another publisher has already reached out asking if I’d be open to writing a book for them. I DO need a little break in between but I’ve already committed in my head to writing another book in the next year or two. I just love sharing at a deeper level and the idea of having a physical product in hand at the end of the process is exciting for some reason.

What were you supposed to get from today’s conversation? Not sure… But hopefully you are enjoying your holiday week as well. And next time we have a Wednesday holiday, can we all agree to take off the last half of the week to celebrate? :-) Enjoy your weekend!

We’re Only Human 37: Taking a Different Approach to Safety Training

Safety training is boring. It’s blah. It’s a waste of time and resources. Right? Or is it the foundation for creating a workplace where employees can thrive? As you’ll hear during the show, the cost of safety training can top $200,000 per year for many firms when you factor in all of the associated costs. Yet we don’t do a good job of making sure that investment pays off. 

In today’s discussion, Ben talks with Rick Tobin, CEO of SafetyNow, about various aspects of learning and development. The discussion covers topics like retention of critical knowledge, how to use a learning management system to simplify training delivery, and why safety training is more than just a passive session in front of a DVD player. 

Want to connect with Rick? Check out SafetyNow.com

To see all our show archives and learn more, be sure to check out http://lhra.io/podcast

paid time off

4 Ways to Get Employees to Use More Vacation Time

Did you know that you can now hear the HR Happy Hour show on your Alexa? Simply enable the HR Happy Hour skill and you can hear flash briefings a few times a week. These 3-5 minute episodes cover all kinds of topics that will help you keep your HR skills sharp and stay on top of the latest news. I am recording shows every week or so in addition to the other hosts, and I also am still running We’re Only Human for full episodes.

In a recent episode of the HR Happy Hour Alexa show, I talked about unlimited paid leave plans (episode embedded below; subscribers click through to listen to the 4-minute discussion).


Then last week I spoke with a firm that mentioned the accrued vacation leave liability on their books (millions of dollars!) If you work in HR, you are trying to give your workforce the best benefits you can afford, and that includes paid leave. We want to give them something that shows them we appreciate their efforts, but what happens when employees don’t use that leave? That’s right–it starts to build up a huge liability on the books.

Additionally, it can impact your firm in other ways as well. Taking vacation time has been associated with reduced stress, improved mental/physical health, and more.

Ready for a strategic moment? Sit down with your CFO to talk about how you can reduce that aggregated vacation leave balance (and the associated liability on the balance sheet). Below are four ideas for how to approach it from the HR side.  Continue reading

Ways Businesses Enforce Wage Equality and Why You Should Work for Them

Wage equality matters – period. There is no argument to justify unequal pay in the workforce. If two people hold the same education, experience, job title, responsibilities, and tenure, they should make the same salary, regardless of their ethnicity, gender, race, or any disabilities. The fact that Americans still fight to burst through the glass ceiling 18 years into the 21st century is inexcusable. Whether male or female, you should care about equal pay.

Businesses Can Enact Policies

Any business that says it cannot enact an equal pay policy is not a business for which you should want to work. The bottom line is this: Even if you do end up on the high side of the pay spectrum, do you believe your colleagues should receive less money for the same job? If you do, please become a CEO for a Fortune 500 company that has a vested interest in the current president-elect. Continue reading

shrm18 logo

#SHRM18: Lessons from The Biggest HR Event in History

This year’s SHRM Annual Conference is a milestone. The team is estimating about 20,000 HR professionals, vendors, and miscellaneous other attendees have converged on Chicago for this year’s event. Attendees are here from around the world–I’ve already met delightful individuals from both Italy and India.

One of the interesting things I sometimes hear from people in my industry is that SHRM isn’t the conference where the “decision makers” are. I’d argue with that. See, everyone’s a decision maker, even if you’re not one today. I have been there as an HR practitioner in the trenches and understand the journey from “I’m trying to keep my head above water” to “I’m running this thing and calling the shots.” It’s sometimes a shorter path than you might expect!

The takeaway for me as a person that analyzes and researches the industry is that there is more need than ever for a focus on the SMB space. Small employers are big, as I pointed out in my recent podcast episode on running an HR department of one.

What’s my big takeaway?

First of all, there’s a renewed focus on the HR department of one. These small HR teams are doing mighty work to advance the culture and partner with the business to create value for employees. For example, this fall I’m going to be working with our local HR group to host an HR department of one panel for a workshop because of the need for this content. SHRM is also trying to make sure it meets this audience with content and education. I don’t know the numbers but I would guess it’s a significant portion of the membership base for SHRM as a national organization.

Additionally, I expect to see more and more vendors focusing on the small and mid-size businesses. The expo hall at SHRM this year is full of more than 700 vendors, a wide variety both familiar and unfamiliar. Insurance, consulting, and HR technology providers span the room. However, more unique offerings that cover everything from flower delivery for bereavement leave to podcasting as an enterprise learning strategy are also present. So many vendors in the HR technology space focus on large employers, but there’s an incredible opportunity to support and serve smaller employers as well.

Bottom line: this is a massive event. I’m honored to be a part of the official team covering the goings on at the conference this year. If you’ve never been, it’s an amazing experience and I’d encourage you to attend in the future!