Tag Archives: Random

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Rising Up to Embrace Our Humanity

“Come on. You can do it. I know you can. I believe in you.”

I’m watching my baby make the transition to “toddler,” and it’s a bittersweet moment. No longer will she stay where she’s put. She’s going to start exploring the world, and that exploration will only speed up as time goes on.

This moment, this incredibly precious moment, is forever burned into my memory. We learn very early in life that when we fall, we try again. When we struggle, we try again. When we fail, we try again.

We rise up again.

In the grand scheme of things, simply standing up, or doing anything, would be so much easier than hunkering down, cutting most of our ties to human contact, and sitting around waiting for this crisis to be over.

Throughout this challenge we are all going through as individuals, as communities, and as a global population, we have seen the worst that humanity has to offer. We’ve seen the hoarding and the selfishness. We’ve seen anger and hatred.

But we have also seen glimpses of the amazing kindness, grace, and love that we all have to offer.

In an eye-opening interview with a former astronaut and flight leader for several key space missions, the interviewer asked how it was possible to survive in close quarters with other humans for weeks and months on end.

The answer was fairly simple, even if it wasn’t always easy in the moment. The astronaut said that the recipe for success was doing one random act of kindness for someone else every day. This practice formed deeper bonds, created more goodwill, and smoothed over any potential slights or issues that might appear in the day to day.

Was it perfect? No.

But it did create an experience that allowed each person to try and bring out their best and most human qualities of charity and goodness that make us who we are.

If “rise up” is too vague of an instruction, then resolve yourself to doing at least one random act of kindness daily for others. Better yet, why not journal that list of deeds so that you can look back on it one day far into the future and remember how you embraced your humanity in a time that tried to wrest it from you.

If you’re a rational thinker, Thomas Paine once said, “These are the times that try men’s souls… [Y]et we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.

If you’re more spiritual, James said in the New Testament, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial.

Either way, the concept of struggle isn’t new or novel, but an essential component of the human experience. Let’s not just survive this thing. Let’s rise up and share kindness, charity, compassion, and love for our neighbors and communities.

I leave you with this: “Come on. You can do it. I know you can. I believe in you.”

Family, Parents, Mother, Father, Toddler, Life, Evening

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4 Ways to Support Employees During a Crisis

Over the last few weeks the environment has changed dramatically when it comes to work and life. As an HR leader, I can remember other times of crisis in the past, such as when our employees had their homes destroyed by tornadoes. We have to deal with the logistics of this from a work perspective, because HR is often the hub of policies around working remotely or being flexible for those that have personal needs that limit their availability for work during emergencies.

However, I can’t stress enough the need to embrace compassion for our people.

Think of it this way: when our local schools asked a few days ago if families had wifi at home, I know there are some families that do not have it because they can’t afford something that most of us consider a basic fact of life. Some of those children were getting free breakfast and/or lunch at school to help fill gaps in their nutrition that they weren’t getting at home.

When you think about taking care of your people, that care for the basic components of life should be part of the equation.

The Science of Doing Great Work: Tips for Working Remotely 

Before I jump into some of the tactical ideas to help support your employees during this time, I want to point out something for those (you or your employees) that might not be accustomed to working from home.

When you’re in an office, you have a fairly rigid schedule and setup. At home, that’s not the case. One of the biggest challenges for many, even though it technically shouldn’t be different than working in an office, is prioritizing what to do. The science we know on how the brain functions shows us that we have a limited amount of capacity to focus.

Focus for an hour? Sure. You can do that. Focus for six hours? Not likely.

For that reason, it’s important to approach your to do list strategically. For those things that you find hardest to do because of their greater demand on mental capacity (creative work, strategy meetings, etc.), do those earlier in the day or when you have uninterrupted time (which will be a challenge for those with kids at home during crisis times). For those things that require less mental energy (responding to emails, for instance), save those for later in the day when you are naturally in a lower state of focus.

If you make this change, you will probably be surprised to see the difference in what you can get done, how creative you are, and how you feel. For more on this you can read some of my takeaways from Two Awesome Hours, where a doctor explains this in much more detail than I could.

home-office-336377_1280Oh, and skip answering emails right before that big meeting (even if it’s virtual). You will use your much-needed focus and acuity on routine messages and fail to have that focus when you need it during the meeting. Trust me on this one. If you DO have a big meeting you need to be “on” for, then take a walk outdoors without your phone for 5-10 minutes in the last half hour before the meeting begins. That can help to refresh your energy and focus.

Those big meetings include creative ways you might support or cover your employees during this time. Or maybe one of these options that you never quite seem to have time to get to: Continue reading

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End of Year Rituals, Personal and Professional

This week I’m taking off work to be with family. Christmas is a special time of giving and we love the spirit that is wrapped around this holiday. As I think about the next two weeks heading into the new year, I think about how much my priorities and my rituals have changed for this time of year (and how they haven’t, in some ways).

I’d love for this to be an encouragement for you to think about how you spend your time during this part of the year as well as how you plan for the year ahead.

Before Kids

A ritual, by definition, is a series of actions or type of behavior regularly followed by someone. However, rituals can change over time.

For instance, before my kids were born, I actually worked every day over the holiday weeks except for Christmas Eve and Christmas day. I loved the time when nobody was in the office so I could catch up on tasks before the new year. To be honest, I loved working when there were no emails coming in, because that meant I could focus on what needed to get done, not on what someone else needed me to get done!

I also used the time to do strategic planning, looking at what big things my team and I would try to accomplish in the coming year. I learned that practice from the best manager I ever had. She would create a theme for the year for our HR team and find a way to weave it into the big projects we were planning to work on, such as “service” or “fun.” They usually aligned with our core values which made it even more valuable for us to be sharing that from an HR perspective.

She taught me so much at a critical time in my career. I learned from her that little mistakes are, in the long run, little mistakes. She loved to say, “We can only do what we can do.” With a small team and a rapidly growing employee base, it was comforting to know that while we were working as hard as we could on a day to day basis, we were also human as well and she didn’t have unrealistic expectations of us. She also emphasized family first, which is uncommon in many high-growth organizations.

After Two Kids

Back to the rituals, my approach has changed over the years. Once our first two were born, I started taking off an extra day or two around Christmas and New Year’s to be home with the family a bit more. I shifted my planning back into late November and early December for the most part. And if I did any work during the holidays it was cleaning out the inbox, organizing the office/desk, and clearing off my electronic calendar from all those things I need to do, will never do, or still need to think about.

The rest of my time at this point was spent with family. Both my wife’s family and mine live within 30 minutes of us, so the holidays involve a lot of driving but in short, concentrated bursts all around where we live. Add to that the fact that our families have about 7 birthdays between November and December and there’s not much time left for other things. :-)

After Four Kids

In the last two years or so, I’ve worked mornings but taken off the rest of the day after lunch to be with the family. However, this year I’m taking off pretty much the entire time both the week of Christmas and the week of New Year’s. I get up a few of those mornings and work for about an hour before the sun comes up and the kids wake up, but otherwise I put everything away for a few days as best I can. Now that the older kids are in school, I appreciate those times with them even more when they are out of school. On top of that, I travel a good bit for work during busy seasons, and I treasure these times I’m at home where I can build deeper relationships with each of my kids.

On a nerdy level, one of the most fun conversations I have with the older kids are about what jobs are, how you get them, and what it’s like to “be your own boss.” They ask such intuitive and interesting questions and it’s so fun to see them growing into sharp young women already.

Add to that the fact that our little ones seem to be growing by leaps and bounds and I quickly realize that life is fleeting, and I won’t have an unlimited number of holidays to spend with them while they are small.

Also, on an even more personal note, my faith is a big part of who I am, and my wife and I have had to work harder and harder over the years to intentionally insert these beliefs in for the kids over the holidays but also into the turn of the new year. The holidays are about giving, about joy, and about kindness and goodwill towards all those around us. We see giving as a key part not just of our faith but of who we are as a family. The older kids are now big enough to experience this with us and we had them personally shop for kids on the angel tree this year to have an opportunity to bless someone else.

Paradoxically, the stress of the holidays makes this sentiment hard to come by sometimes, but we have some family rituals designed to bring us back to that center on a regular basis. In terms of the new year, I’m an optimist by nature, but we’ve also been promised that good things are in store for those who keep the faith, and that’s a belief we are trying to pass down to the next generation.

The Next Phase

I imagine that this will become the standard approach while we have young children for the next 10 or so years, but after that it’s hard to say what might change with the ritual. I don’t ever see myself working full time again during the holidays, so maybe we will plan something else around this time of the year, like a race or a trip. I had hoped to run a race this New Year’s Eve but unfortunately strained something and am trying to recover for a bigger running goal that will happen in March.

Another idea might be a family (or partial family) mission trip. One of the best experiences I had back when the kids were very small was taking a mission trip to Guatemala during the week after Christmas. Spending that week in another country and loving on those people as they celebrated the New Year was quite humbling, and when the oldest girls are a few years older, I plan on taking them to participate in an even deeper experience of giving and service.

What’s Yours?

What is your ritual around family and/or work during the holidays? Do you take time off? Work extra? Take a trip? Has it changed over the years?

New Year, New Book, and a New You!

Wow.

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

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!

HR Gives Back: Help Me Raise Money for Parkinson’s Research

Be sure to read all the way to the end. I’m giving away free stuff to those that help!

The first person I ever met with Parkinson’s disease was Mollie. She is an incredibly sharp analyst and friend, and she taught me some great lessons in my days transitioning from practitioner to analyst. She is a proud supporter of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s research and this year has asked me to help as a supporter of her campaign.

At this point my team is behind and we need to surge and pull ahead. I know many of you are runners, walkers, just parents that cover a lot of ground chasing your kids, etc. :-) I think we can still win this but I need your help!

How to sign up

  • Head over to the website to register
  • When given the option, whether on the website or the app, be sure to choose Team East, since I’m the captain
  • After you register and download the app for your phone, it will take you back to the website to donate the required $15 minimum to participate
  • The steps challenge will take place Sept 25-Oct 6 (just a few days left, this isn’t a big commitment!)
  • Help my team win the step challenge by walking at least 5k steps and checking in on the app (every 5k steps you log, ADP will donate additional money to the cause)
  • If you have issues with the app, step tracking, etc. the app support team is very quick to respond

A special “thank you”

If you sign up to help within the next 24 hours, just forward me the signup confirmation email as proof and at the end of the challenge I will send you a copy of the HR Recertification Guide or the Rock Your Corporate Culture Guide, whichever you prefer, as a special “thank you” for supporting this challenge.

Thanks in advance for helping!

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How to Comfort Employees in Times of Need

I know I need to focus on engagement and our HR strategy. But how can I do that when some of our employees don’t even have homes to go home to?

When I had this conversation with an HR leader based in Houston just after the hurricane had unleashed flooding on the state, I had to think carefully about what I was going to recommend. In the end, what I told this woman was the same thing I will recommend today in more detail.

how to comfort employeesWhen employees are going through a tough time, we need to recognize the fact that they are humans.

People.

Individuals.

That man? He’s someone’s father, brother, or son. That woman? She’s someone’s mother, grandmother, or daughter. Just like the story I told in my initial episode of We’re Only Human when the podcast launched last year, it’s important to see people as people.

I haven’t lost sight of the fact that business often goes on as usual in many circumstances. Things need to get done. But by focusing on the person and their fundamental needs first, you can earn amazing loyalty that is difficult to quantify.

One really easy way to show that you care for someone in more mundane circumstances, such as when a child is sick, an employee is dealing with an aging parent, or even a more positive situation like the birth of a child, is to send something unexpected. Research shows that we don’t just like general surprises, we actually like to be delighted.

Spoonful of Comfort is a great example of how to do this with a relatively low investment. Recently my wife and I were struggling to handle several travel activities for my job while juggling the needs of our kids. Plus our youngest was facing a few doctor’s visits for some issue. Basically we were stretched to the max. Thankfully, the team at Spoonful of Comfort sent a care package over for me to test out and it happened to come at the exact perfect time for us. I was so appreciative!

  • We didn’t have to worry about pulling together a family-friendly meal
  • We were able to focus our time on our family needs and taking care of other priorities
  • One word: cookies.

If you’re looking for a simple, practical way to help your workers through a tough time, send them something that feeds their body while also meeting their need for appreciation and attention at the same time.

On a broader scale, people want to know that their employers care about them. They want to know that their managers and others are thinking of them, especially when things are difficult in their personal lives. In the instance of this horrific damage done in Texas, Florida, and elsewhere, it’s important for us as business leaders to stay in tune with what our employees need and make sure we’re offering a helping hand to the extent possible.

I can vividly remember when tornadoes ripped through north Alabama six years ago and one of our employees that had been with us for two days lost his home. Everyone gathered around him in spirit by donating leave so he could take the time with his family to recover and begin the project of replacing what they had lost.

Like many things in HR, this is simple, even if it’s not always easy in the moment. Pay attention to your people. Treat them like people. Meet their basic, fundamental need for attention and support. And in the long term, it will be worth the investment in the lives of the people that enable your business to function.