Tag: employees

Happiness vs. Engagement…What Should We REALLY Care About? #WorkHuman

Posted on April 26th, by Jennifer Payne in Business and Workplace, HR Conferences, Workplace Culture. No Comments

About a year ago, right after I first heard about the concept of #WorkHuman and the inaugural WorkHuman conference was held, I started writing a post on the difference between happiness and engagement.  As it happened, life got in the way and the post was put on the back burner, but as we’re now gearing up for the second annual WorkHuman conference, which this year I have the honor of attending, it seemed like a great time to revisit the topic.

As one of the more recent overused prevalent catch phrases and trends in the Human Resources profession, discussions about “employee engagement” in the workplace have been going on now for quite some time.  Just Google the word and undoubtedly you find thousands of articles, blog posts, and best practices about how to achieve and attempt to measure how engaged your employees are.  Heck, even my own job title has the word in it now.  The discussions and debates have been going on for so long, in fact, that some have said it’s time to move on from that topic, that there’s nothing more to say about it.

I was part of a live, call-in episode of my favorite HR podcast, Steve Boese and Trish McFarlane’s HR Happy Hour a while back, in December 2014, where we addressed just this issue.  Titled “Celebrating the Final Conversation on Employee Engagement?” the 200th episode of the show set out to lay to rest the employee engagement debate once and for all.  But what we discovered through the various callers and discussions on the show is that the topic is far from dead.  One element that did come up was the difference between happiness and engagement.

If you look at the official definitions of “happy” and “engage” on Dictionary.com, you’ll see that there is a difference:

 

Happy: delighted, pleased, or glad as over a particular thing; characterized by or indicative of pleasure, contentment, or joy.

Engage: to occupy the attention or efforts of (a person or persons); to attract and hold fast.

 

From these definitions we can infer that just because someone is engaged, it does not necessarily mean they are happy.  Engagement simply means they are putting forth the effort; happiness on the other hand implies an intrinsic sense of joy or pleasure.

One point that was made on that show is that we don’t need to care about whether or not employees are happy, we just want them to be engaged and productive.  It’s not our jobs as employers and human resource professionals to ensure that our employees are happy; and in fact, there are too many outside factors that play into that anyway.  We just need to ensure we’re providing an environment where they can be connected to their work and achieving what they need to achieve.

But I ask this question: are happiness and engagement REALLY mutually exclusive?

Shortly after last year’s WorkHuman conference, another episode of HR Happy Hour aired, one that was actually recorded live at the event.  Steve and Trish kicked off the show touching on the idea of happiness and happy employees, and referenced something that was said at the conference: “Happier workers work harder.” And I think I tend to agree.

You see, I’m not convinced that happiness and engagement are completely separate issues.  Yes, it’s true that you cannot control all factors that play into someone’s happiness.  You can’t control whether or not they are having marital issues or problems with their children.  You can’t change the fact they may be dealing with aging or ill parents.  You can’t fix depression or mental health issues.

But you know what we can do?  We can help to build and shape cultures where people feel recognized and appreciated.  We can take the time to care about the well-being of the folks who show up and spend a large percentage of their lives with us, helping to achieve the goals we set out for our companies.  We can create departments and teams where people feel included and like they belong, somewhere they can generally enjoy coming to; where they can say they love their job, even if they don’t actually like it every day.  And when we do that, doesn’t that help to create employees who are, in fact, happy….even if it’s only in the workplace?

I offer this example.  One of my own coworkers deals with an exceptional amount of drama and issues in her personal life.  From issues with kids to ongoing problems with family, it seems as if it’s just one thing after another for her.  All of this could easily get her down, distract her, and even create disengagement from her work.  Yet, because of the environment we’ve created, she’ll be the first to say, “I’m thankful for my job; it’s what keeps me sane some days.”

Is it our responsibility to create that type of environment?  No, not necessarily.  We have an obligation to create workplaces where our employees have the resources they need to do their jobs.  But does it behoove us to think about the benefits of a happy work place?  By my own experience, I’d say it does.

Just as happier people outside of work could tend to be more engaged and productive in their jobs, I also believe that a happy work environment can offset a hectic or difficult personal life.  And by extension, also creating a more productive and engaged employee.

We all strive to be good employers.  Is it enough to create an environment of engagement?  Or SHOULD we be thinking of taking that extra step and striving to create an environment of happy workers?  Some may still disagree with me and say happiness is not our business.  From my experience I beg to differ.

 

What do you think?  Are happiness and engagement two separate issues?  Should we be concerned about the happiness of our employees?

 

Interested in joining in the discussion about creating great workplaces and cultures?  Join us at WorkHuman 2106.  Register here, and as a reader of this blog use discount code WH16JP300 for $300 off the regular registration fee.

 

About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has almost two decades of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, learning & development, and employee communications, and currently works in talent management in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.


Putting the Human Back in HR….and Our Workplaces #WorkHuman

Posted on March 22nd, by Jennifer Payne in Business and Workplace, HR Conferences, Work/Life Balance. No Comments

I’ve noticed for some time now, at least amongst some HR professionals, and in some pockets of conversation within the HR world, that there has been a fair amount of discussion about the need to put the “human” back in human resources.  Not so much implying that we’ve all become robots or total slaves to technology (at least not yet!), but rather that as we get busier, add more to our plates, and expand the scope of HR, or as we get caught in the grind of our day-to-day, that we also need to remember that first and foremost it’s PEOPLE we’re dealing with.

Yes there are policies and guidelines that need to be in place, at least in most workplaces, mostly to ensure that we are legally compliant, that our workplaces are safe and harassment free, and that there are standards in place for fair compensation.  And with more and more technological solutions available to automate HR processes and make the function more efficient and effective, many HR pros are becoming more systems focused in their day-to-day jobs too.

But none of that changes the fact that it’s people that we are supposed to be advocates for. After all, in the end our function is not called “Policy Resources” or “Rules Resources,” or even “Technology Resources”…it’s Human Resources.  Our reason for existence shouldn’t be just to enforce the rules of the company, or put systems and technology in place, but rather to ensure that all of those pieces in place are in the best interests of the people within the company. That they are not just arbitrary rules, systems, or processes, but that they are in existence to help build workplaces and cultures that encourage the best work out of everyone, ultimately in an effort to support company goals.

In fact, this isn’t really a new concept to me.  For my entire career I’ve been trained and coached by my leaders in my HR practice to keep the needs of people front and center in decisions that are made. Even when a decision had to be made that wasn’t necessarily in the favor of the employee, the question that needed to be asked was “have we ensured that we’ve given them every opportunity to fix the issue first?” so that by that point the negative action had to be taken, it was more a function of facilitating what that person had already set in motion by their action, or lack of action.  I’ve been taught over the years that it’s a huge responsibility, facilitating outcomes that can have an enormous impact on someone’s life, so at all times it’s critical to remember that the person you’re dealing with has bills to pay, perhaps a family to help support, and a life outside of your workplace.  And it’s a concept that can extend way beyond just when dealing with issues and negative situations, it’s one that can be used to cultivate and promote positive outcomes as well.

On the surface it seem so simple, but in the midst of our day to day grind can be easily (if not intentionally) forgotten. After all, most of us that are working in the “HR trenches” have more on our plates than ever before. Not only are we dealing with issues, but we’re managing processes, evaluating and implementing technology, and various other responsibilities to help make our organizations successful.

Regardless, it’s a concept that not only can we not afford to forget, but can’t afford to not put front and center in not only our HR practices, but throughout our organizations as a whole.

And that’s where the idea of WorkHuman comes in.

WorkHuman is a concept started by the folks at recognition software company Globoforce, and it’s an idea that they are “all-in” passionate about. To quote the WorkHuman mission, it centers on the idea that “when companies harness the transformative power of human connections, well-being, purpose and communications, we build a work culture that both reminds us of our worth as individuals, and pulls us together in pursuit of shared success.”

In fact, the folks at Globoforce believe so strongly in the idea of WorkHuman and in building a movement around it, that last year they hosted their inaugural WorkHuman conference. I watched that conference from afar with great interest, and this year am jumping in to join the movement.  It’s an entire event focused on building more human workplaces through great cultures, recognition, engagement, communication, and forging connection.

Seems like a worthy focus, doesn’t it? That only good could come out of promoting more human workplaces?

If you’re interested in learning more about building more human workplaces, join us in Orlando in May at WorkHuman 2016. You can register here. Use discount code WH16JP300 for $300 off the cost of registration.  Hope to see you there!

 

About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has almost two decades of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, learning & development, and employee communications, and currently works in talent management in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.


Performance Partnerships with 1on1s: Connect, Calibrate, and Coach

Posted on November 24th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace, Leadership. No Comments

 

When it comes to annual performance reviews, it’s clear we’re at a major crossroads in the workplace. With 95 percent of managers dissatisfied with the process — and 90 percent of HR leaders saying annual reviews don’t yield accurate data — companies are quickly eliminating them (like GE, Accenture, Adobe, The Gap, and Microsoft already have). In a 7×24 world with an increasingly younger workforce, “annual” and “review” need to be replaced with more frequent conversations and performance partnerships.

 

Yet, simply telling managers to have regular 1on1 meetings isn’t a panacea. While HR executives and senior leaders are more expert at constructive coaching, young and middle managers may not be. Fortunately, 57 percent of employees prefer corrective feedback and 72 percent say their performance would improve with feedback. So even the 50% of managers who don’t want to give critique for fear of being the “bad guy” now have official license to put peoples’ success in front of the desire to be liked.

 

To boost your people and their performance, use a framework for 1on1s that connects, calibrates and coaches team members. Before the meetings, do two things:

 

First, make sure you’ve shared goals for the quarter to frame progress and priority discussions. Without clarity on what you define as success, people need to guess what matters and what the purpose of their work is.

 

Second, prepare for the meeting itself. Using in-person meetings to run down a list of what someone’s working on or throw more on their plate before understanding what’s already cooking is a formula for unproductive 1on1s. Instead, use weekly status reports or embrace performance and productivity apps to quickly see priorities, workload, and progress before the meeting.

 

Then use your 1on1 meetings to help you team members achieve their best with this framework:

 

  1. Start with “how are you?” Instead of a token opening, really listen to the response. Connect simply as humans to set the stage for coaching and constructive feedback. People are more receptive and engaged when they know you care about them.
  2. Ask whats in their way and how you can help. Help people resolve priority conflicts so they can increase their impact. Get roadblocks out of their way so they can deliver the results you’re expecting. This doesn’t mean doing their job, but rather removing obstacles outside the sphere of their responsibility.
  3. Sync on performance, alignment, and engagement level. If you’re not talking about alignment, you can’t expect it! Your employees want to perform well and be on the same page with you, so be open and compare your perceptions. Letting people know where you think they are in terms of their performance and contributions to work helps them move up and forward.
  4. Uplevel to longer range goals. Use the time together to help people think above the “action item” level. They’ll find it rejuvenating and be able to make better decisions day to day.
  5. Coach for career growth. Help your employees get to the next level by deepening their skills and competencies. What’s the next step they can take and what will you do to help them get there? Follow through on the help you commit to providing and you’ll foster great loyalty and have a lasting impact on their career.

 

Leading people is more important than ever as business gets faster and more complex, but leadership is far from dictatorship. Leaders at all levels must excel at setting clear goals, coaching people to their highest level, and creating a culture of high recognition and accountability. These are the essential elements of performance partnerships within high achieving teams; 1on1s create the conversation around these ingredients that enable leaders, teams, and each member to contribute their best.

 

 

About the Author: Deidre Paknad is CEO and co-founder of Workboard. She shapes its product strategy, customer engagement model, and thought leadership efforts. With decades of experience leading enterprise and startup teams on strategic pursuits, Dedire is passionate about providing tools and insights that help leaders engage their teams in great achievement. 

Deidre is a serial entrepreneur and has founded and led several companies. As CEO of PSS Systems, she and the team created a new market category and inspired deep customer loyalty from ExxonMobil, Citigroup, Travelers, Novartis, Wells Fargo, and many other large enterprises. The company was acquired by IBM in 2010. At IBM, Deidre was Vice President of a fast-growing global business improving information economics for IBM’s enterprise customers. She has been recognized by the Smithsonian for innovation twice and has more than a dozen patents. You can connect with Deidre on Twitter, LinkedIn, or learn more on the Workboard website or blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The Challenge of the Future Workforce #EWS2015

Posted on August 26th, by Jennifer Payne in Business and Workplace. 4 comments

Editor’s Note: Women of HR has partnered with Spherion on a series of sponsored posts to bring you highlights and commentary from their 2015 Emerging Workforce Study, which contains a great deal of interesting data and statistics about future trends in the workforce and our workplaces.  This is the second in that series.  Watch for more over the coming months.

 

Any HR professional who has been around for any amount of time or has paid any attention at all knows that we are dealing with workforces that now span many generations.  There’s no lack of research, presentations, or opinions on the challenges that multi-generational workforces pose to employers.  I work for a retail organization so I see it firsthand; there’s probably no other industry where it’s more common to have multiple generations working under the same roof, side by side.  I don’t believe that generations alone are to blame or are the reason for the differences in workers; I believe even some of the issues that are attributed to generational differences actually cross over.  But no doubt multi-generational workforces do attribute to varying degrees of technological adaptation, disparate expectations regarding how and where work should and could be done, and different viewpoints on the nature of work and the employee/employer relationship.

 

But beyond those generational differences in the approach to work, one of the biggest issues we need to stay on top of as employers is how the different generations in the workforce, and more importantly the changing makeup of generations in the workforce, is going to impact how we recruit, manage, develop, and retain our workforces going forward.

 

Generally, I think most of us understand that, at least according to these statistics from the 2015 Emerging Workforce Study:

  • 70% of employers say that Baby Boomers exiting the workforce will leave a major skills gap within their organizations
  • One-third of employers are concerned about turnover and retention (up from 23% last year)
  • 63% of employers have increased succession planning and efforts to address impeding Boomer retirement
  • 58% are already preparing to attract and recruit Gen Z to stay ahead of future talent needs.

 

That’s the good news; as employers generally we do recognize that there’s an impending issue ahead, and many of us are taking steps to address it.  So what’s the bad news?

 

The bad news is in the generations we’re counting on to step up to fill the gap, namely Gen Y and Gen Z.  You see, the study also cites that Gen Y and Gen Z are the least loyal generations, most likely to leave current employers, and that job satisfaction and engagement among these groups is low.  So these groups we’re focusing our recruiting, development, succession planning, and retention efforts on are quite possibly not as happy, engaged, or loyal as we need them to be to ensure our future success.

 

What’s an HR Leader To Do?

Perhaps we’re never again going to see the long term loyalty and blind devotion to one company that existed in years and generations past.  But that doesn’t mean there aren’t thing we can do as employers to prolong the tenures of our younger employees, incentivizing them to stick around maybe a little longer that they otherwise might have, and ensuring that they are engaged and productive members of the team while they are there.  Here’s a few ideas:

  • It’s not enough to have succession plans in place. Ensure that high potentials KNOW they are high potentials and exactly what they need to do to get to the next level.  Provide the development opportunities to help them get there.
  • Be mindful of your online reputation. This is important to Gen Y and Gen Z.  If you don’t have someone not only monitoring what’s being said about you online, but also proactively engaging with the online community and promoting your employment brand and offering, designate someone to start doing so.  Not only does this help with retention and engagement of current employees, it’ll help with your recruiting efforts as well.
  • Ensure that not only are you communicating a solid employment brand, but that your culture matches what you’re preaching. There’s no surer way to lose new hires than to immerse them in a culture that’s not aligned with what you promised.

 

It’s going to continue to be a battle out there, and those employers who are aware, who are proactive, and who execute what they promise will be the ones to rise to the top.

 

Disclosure: Spherion partnered with bloggers such as me for their Emerging Workforce Study program. As part of this program, I received compensation for my time. They did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about any idea mentioned in these posts. Spherion believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Spherion’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.

 

About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent acquisition and development in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.


Are We Ready For the “Future of Work?”  #SHRM15

Posted on July 9th, by Jennifer Payne in Business and Workplace. 1 Comment

It’s been just over a week since the 2015 SHRM Annual Conference wrapped up.  When I attend a conference that’s so large, so overflowing with various ideas, concepts, and best practices, sometimes it takes a few days for me to process what I’ve heard and learned.  One of the sessions I attended that I’ve mulled over for the past week was Lance Richards’ concurrent session on “Work 4.0: The Future of Work.”

There’s no shortage of these types of futurist musings of late, but I always find value in hearing various speakers’ takes on how exactly they see our workplaces changing moving forward.  There were two key concepts that I took away from this particular session.

 

The Untethered Workplace

As technology becomes more prolific in both our work and personal lives, we’re shifting into a world where work doesn’t necessarily need to be tied to a specific location.  The concept of a “sit, stay” culture no longer resonates with workers who are connected via smartphone 24/7.  Lance Richards cites millennials as apt to sleeping with their phones nearby; the first and last thing they do each day being check work email.  I’m not even convinced that’s unique to that generation any longer.  Regardless, in a world where this is the norm, why do we get so caught up in where and when the work gets done, rather than focusing on whether or not it is?  If I’m handing work emails at 6:00AM or 11:00PM, why should I feel bad if I need to leave the office at 4:00PM?  Furthermore, if we find ourselves in a situation in which we simply can’t afford to lose the talent that we have, why not consider moving the work to them rather than forcing them to come to the work?  If we have the technological capabilities to facilitate this, what’s the hold up?

The implications of this for managers is that it’s going to become essential that they, well….manage their teams more effectively.  As HR pros, are we ensuring that our supervisors and managers have the skills they need to more effectively manage remote workforces?  Do they have the necessary planning & organization, shepherding, and communication skills?  Do they have the ability to rally their teams around collective goals when their teams may not be all in the same place?  Do they have the skills to build effective working relationships when they are not face to face?

 

 Talent Supply Chain Management

The “War for Talent” is as ubiquitous of a phrase as any in the world of HR and talent; Lance Richards suggested that in reality there is no shortage of people in the world, however people does not equal talent.  The question is how do we convert people into talent?  In a world where 10,000 Boomers per day are retiring, and 6000 people per day are dropping out of high school, how are where do we find, develop, and retain the talent we need?  Richards suggested that HR pros need to become masters of talent supply chain management.  This could include better workplace planning through analytics; building better working relationships with local schools and colleges to help shape curriculum, ensuring that the future workforce has the skills we as employers need; building alumni networks and doing a better job of tracking what our former employees are up to; and learning to leverage “on-demand talent” – as we shift into a reality where more workers will deliver work on a more compartmentalized basis (i.e. performing various jobs for different companies concurrently), we’ll need to become better talent engagers.  We won’t necessarily need to own the talent, as long as we know where to find and engage it when we need it.

And that may require a completely different mindset about how we structure jobs, job responsibilities, and teams.

 

Some Final Thoughts

Though I do believe we are and will continue to see these types of shifts, and as HR pros we need to not only be aware, but also able to effectively leverage and adapt to these changes, I also struggle with how this plays out in all industries.  What about retail and healthcare, where it’s absolutely necessary to have certain employees onsite at specific times?  What about manufacturing?  When you have teams who are physically building or assembling something, there’s not as much of an opportunity for flexibility there.  

But yet the world continues to change, and people’s expectations about work/life balance/integration and the nature of work continue to change.  Even in these types of industries I believe we need to figure out exactly how we apply some of these concepts.  Maybe it’s not a remote workforce, per se, but are there other ways we can leverage flexibility?  And how do we leverage on-demand talent in these types of industries…. seems like that could be a natural fit in industries such as retail, where labor needs tend to fluctuate with seasons.

Moving forward, no matter what type of industry we work in, as HR pros we will continue to think bigger…about who constitutes our workforces, what they desire out of an employer/employee relationship, and how we sync that up with what our business needs require.

 

 About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent acquisition and development in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Legacies

Posted on May 19th, by Jennifer Payne in Business and Workplace, Leadership, On My Mind. No Comments

I’ve been thinking a lot about legacies lately.

You see, last week I had the opportunity to participate in a unique and amazing experience.  In preparation for and in honor of the impending retirement of long time music teacher and director of the Quaker Marching Band from Orchard Park High School outside of Buffalo, NY, a group of current members and band alumni gathered for a surprise final performance and tribute to our leader of so many years and so many graduating classes.  The group numbered at 175, encompassed 6 states, and spanned the years 1986 – 2015.  I was there, proudly spinning my flag with the color guard, something I hadn’t done in 21 years.  The feeling of being a part of such a salute was overwhelming, his reaction was heartwarming, the video and verbal tributes were touching, and I’d be surprised if there were many dry eyes in the auditorium by the end.  And that group of 175 people who had never performed together before approximately 7PM that night….pretty darn impressive, from my not at all biased opinion.  It was our own version of “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” if you will.

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But the theme that kept running through my head the entire evening was that of legacies, and I feel as if it manifested in several ways.

There was first and foremost the legacy that Chris, our band director, leaves behind.  When you can get that many people, from all parts of the country, some of whom hadn’t picked up an instrument, flag, or rifle in decades, to drop everything to be a part of a tribute, you know that person has made a lasting impact.  The number quoted was 700 people who have been a part of the band over the years, and there were many who were devastated that logistically they just couldn’t be there for this final tribute.  Talking to some of the alumni from my era afterwards, we all agreed that being a part of the band was something we would never forget, that was such an important part of our high school years, and the lessons learned still remain with us as adults.  I had the privilege of serving as color guard captain my junior and senior years, and those leadership skills learned are certainly still relevant to me as an adult.  Chris was our leader throughout this critical, wonderful time in our lives, and as such he was always be remembered for it.  Being a part of “QMB” taught us the value of hard work and dedication; resilience and how to bounce back from failure and defeat; and confidence, pride, and that success requires practice, some wrong notes, and more than a few dropped flags.  A true legacy that spans decades, crosses state lines, and likely finds its way into the personal and professional lives of hundreds.

The other aspect of legacy that touched me was a little more personal, and that was having had the opportunity to be a part of something much bigger than myself.  There was a good sized contingent of alumni from my era that took part, but as I looked around as we were gathered in the gym beforehand and read the nametags and graduation years of others there, I realized how many eras this band has spanned.  There were those that came before me, and many, many who came after me.  In the four years that I was a member, I helped to set the stage for the success of those who came after, just as those who came before me set the stage for my success.  Pretty inspiring when you think about how many people have worn that uniform, marched those football fields, and accepted those awards at competitions across the years.  And we all played a part in making the band what it has become today.

If you’ve stayed with me and indulged my walk down memory lane to this point, you may be thinking, “What does this have to do with a human resources blog?”

The truth is, we ALL have the opportunity to create a legacy, no matter what we do or where we work.  We often talk about the legacies that teachers or coaches build, but it’s not unique to those professions.  As leaders and as HR professionals, we have the opportunity to touch our employees’ and coworkers lives every day.  So I ask you, as a leader, as an HR professional:

  • Are you helping to create work environments and cultures that encourage failure on the way to success?
  • Are you creating environments where employees feel a part of something bigger than themselves?
  • Are you personally helping to set the stage within your company for the successes that may come after you are gone, either from your position or from the company itself?
  • Is your culture one that instills the values in your employees that you would want them to keep with them and pass on to others?
  • As you make decisions that affect your employees, do you make them within the framework and mindset of how they might impact their lives?

When your employees, coworkers, executives, and others you work with on a daily basis reflect on your time with the company and your contributions, what kind legacy will they say you left?  I know that I hope mine is even a small fraction of what I felt around me on May 11, 2015.

Band ten HUT!

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About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent acquisition and development in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.


Not Haunted

Posted on April 21st, by Jennifer Payne in Business and Workplace. No Comments

Last week I had the opportunity to visit New Orleans with a few friends.  New Orleans is one of my favorite cities in which to spend a few days, and I’d been there many times previously.  I love to wander the French Quarter, immersing myself in the sights, sounds, and of course the food of the Crescent City.  And for all of the times I’ve been there, it seems there’s always something new to discover, something unique that catches my interest.

On this particular trip, my friends and I found ourselves wandering down one of the cross streets a little bit away from the main hustle and bustle of the Quarter, and we stumbled across the sign pictured above, advertising an apartment for rent.  Of course we all had a chuckle and each of us stopped to snap a picture of it.  I posted my picture to Facebook with the caption, “Apparently here you have to specify.”

Needless to say, we (and many others, judging by the number of passersby who also stopped to snap a photo) were amused by this bit of information shared.  Was it a clever marketing ploy?  Perhaps.  A quirky tactic designed to draw the attention of tourists like ourselves?  Maybe so.

But here’s the thing.  Tourists like us probably aren’t particularly interested in renting an apartment in the French Quarter, so a fun bit of marketing to draw us in probably wasn’t the intent.  This sign was directed at folks with a real interest in finding a dwelling in which to reside.  And perhaps for those folks, the fact that this apartment is “not haunted” may very well be valuable information to consider in choosing where to live.

We all found it amusing because generally speaking, most of us don’t need to think twice about whether or not the places we live are haunted or not.  We were processing this information from our own individual perspectives, our own realities, through our own assumptions.  But in a city as rich in history at New Orleans, and with many well-documented accounts of hauntings (whether you believe in that sort of stuff or not), this information may not only be valuable, but also very necessary in making housing decisions.  And in fact, upon further research, one of our friends discovered that this is actually a pretty common piece of information to be included on real estate signs throughout the city.

So what does this have to do with human resources, business, or leadership?

How often in the workplace do we fall into the trap of making assumptions based on our own realities, without really digging into the real facts?

  • Do we tend to assume a particular employee or teammate is thinking a certain way….because that’s how we would think?
  • Do we assume everyone is motivated in a particular way or by factors x,y, and z….because that’s what motivates us?
  • In communicating with employees, do we tend to neglect certain details that might be important to others, because they don’t cross our minds as being important?
  • Do we assume that particular female employee wouldn’t want that promotion into that demanding role because she has a young family at home….and surely she wouldn’t want to try to juggle all of those responsibilities?

Instead of striving to understand differences and thinking from a more global perspective, do we tend to fall into the trap of viewing the world through our own lenses?

As fun as it was to stumble across this “Not Haunted” sign, it also provides a valuable lesson in leadership, engagement, diversity, or employee communications.  By making assumptions based on our own reality, we could tend to run the risk of alienating, de-motivating, or misleading our employees, our team members, our coworkers.  Before we jump to conclusions, it’s critical to take a step back, lose our blinders, and think beyond our own realities, lest we find our actions and decisions haunting us!

 

This post was one of several posts written using the same title and inspiration, but examining various topics.  You can read the other Not Haunted posts here and here.

 

About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent acquisition and development in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.


Appreciation Shouldn’t Need a Day…But Sometimes It Does

Posted on March 17th, by Jennifer Payne in Business and Workplace, On My Mind. 3 comments

Over the past few weeks, there have been a number of days dedicated to recognition and appreciation of various sorts.  Employee Appreciation Day was observed on Friday, March 6th – a chance to “support, thank and reward workers” for their hard work and dedication throughout the year.  Sunday, March 8th was International Women’s Day, a “global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women.”  And most recently, Wednesday, March 11th was Randon Tweets of Kindness day, an online event created in 2014 by Lars Schmidt, the founder of Amplify Talent, as a way to call out and recognize and thank publically individuals who have impacted or influenced you in some way using the hashtag #RTOK.  This year’s iteration was nothing short of amazing, reaching the point of trending worldwide on Twitter as countless folks shared the love for people who have supported them, helped them grow and succeed, or have just simply been there as good friends.

Personally, I’m a little torn on the idea of these “official” recognition-type days.  I mean, in theory, we shouldn’t need a specific day to appreciate those around us who make our lives better in some way, right?  Employee recognition should be on ongoing process, not a one-time event that happens because a designated day tells you that you should do so.  We should appreciate the achievements of great people (not just women) on a regular basis, not once a year.  And hopefully we’re thanking the people that help us, impact us, teach and mentor us, and support us as they do it, not just on a day designated for that.  Right?

In theory, yes.  In theory.  But then reality steps in and rears its ugly and hectic face.                      

I don’t know about you, but my days, weeks, and even years fly by quickly.  In the day to day hustle and bustle of life, as the frenetic pace of life is filled with personal and professional obligations, as days and weeks are filled with both the necessary and the fun, sometimes before I know it weeks have passed.  And sometimes I realize I haven’t been in touch with this person, or that message I meant to send hasn’t yet gotten sent, or a connection I planned to make hasn’t yet been made.  It’s not intentional, but it has happened nonetheless.

In the workplace, sometimes we are so consumed by all of the “stuff” that needs to get done that we forget to take a step back and appreciate those around us that are helping to get that stuff done, helping make projects happen, helping goals to be achieved.  We don’t mean to do it, but we plug along and neglect to stop and say thanks in the moment.

So SOULD we need to have days set aside to appreciate those around us?  No.  DO we need them?  I don’t think they’re such a bad idea.  But the true key to success is to take the momentum generated by these days and try our best to keep it going…to ensure appreciation doesn’t fade as the sun sets on that day.

What do you think?  Are appreciation days a good thing or bad thing?  A necessary evil, something that shouldn’t exist in the first place, or an opportunity? 

 

Photo Credit

 

About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent acquisition and development in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.


2015….Welcome to the Future

Posted on January 13th, by Jennifer Payne in Business and Workplace, HR Technology. 1 Comment

By now inevitably you’ve seen some sort of media coverage detailing how the “Back to the Future” franchise got it both wrong and right.

 

That’s right, the future is here. In the second installation of the 80’s trilogy, Marty McFly travels to the far-distant future of 2015.  Or at least the 1985 version of what 2015 would look like.  Though some of that 1985 speculation wasn’t that far off (video calls, biometric payment options, huge flat screen televisions), much of it was certainly ambitious thinking (home fusion energy reactors, flying cars, self-sizing clothing).

 

For all of the fun that it is to compare what the movie got right and wrong, there’s also another side to the discussion that hasn’t been explored.  For each of those speculations that have not come to fruition, there are just as many every day components of our reality that could probably never have been imagined in 1985.

 

In 1985, could we have imagined that through the power of smart phones, most people would hold in the palm of their hand more computing power and access to information than was available to entire governments then?  In 1985, clouds were strictly a weather phenomenon; today “the cloud” holds a whole different meaning.  Tablets were pads of paper, a very different definition than what you think when you hear that word today.  There was no concept of or hint to what social networking would become through the vast digital networks and tools we now have available, and how they are being applied not to just our personal lives, but to business effectiveness and productivity as well.

 

For everything that did not happen as predicted in the movie, other technologies have been developed and subsequently improved at rates we could never have anticipated in the mid-80s, or even more recently for that matter.  In many ways, our lives are completely interconnected through technology.  Technology enables the average person today to receive more information in one day than someone would receive in their entire lifetime in 1900; that’s not going to slow down any time soon.  And over the holidays, I had a moment that was a powerful reminded me of that.

 

My 2 year old nephew received a tablet for Christmas.

 

Now you could argue that the “tablet” he received was a simplified version of a fully-functional “adult” tablet.  But that’s not the point.  The point is that my two-year old nephew instinctively knew how to use that tablet.  That he knows how to access Siri on an iPhone – he can’t talk to her yet, but he knows how to find her and what to do with her.  He has seen his siblings doing these things from the time he could comprehend, and is now using these technologies before he can even put a full, intelligible sentence together.

 

We are living in a “future” where kids are using technologies in some cases before they can even talk.  These technologies are ingrained into their lives right from the beginning.  This is certainly not a new phenomenon this year, it’s a shift that’s been occurring for a little while now, as evidenced by the term “digital native” that’s been in use for several years is discussions of generations.  But it’s becoming something that as business professionals we can no longer afford to ignore.

 

As employers, we are soon going to be hiring these same kids who have used technology since before they could talk.  Even sooner for those of us who work in industries that tend to employ teenagers and young adults (retail, food service, hospitality).  Yet as businesses, many still lag pitifully behind when it comes to technology.  Maybe not in the technologies we use to connect with the outside world and our customers, but with how we connect with our employees and future or prospective employees.
We insist on subjecting employees and candidates to mind-numbingly long manual processes, or if we do have digital ones in place, they are exceedingly complex, contrary to the digital simplicity present in our app-laden world.

 

Why do we do this?  Because we can?  Because THEY want to join OUR organization so we call the shots?

 

That mentality can be our downfall.  As we continue into the future, if we as HR pros allow our businesses to remain out of touch and outdated, we risk losing talent to those who keep pace.  It’s our job to be aware, to understand the pulse of those we want to employ, and translate that back to our businesses.

 

The future is here.  It may not look like what we thought it would in the 80s, but in many ways, it’s more than we imagined.  And we need to keep up.

 

About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent acquisition and development in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.

 

 

 

 


Teamwork as a Customer Experience

Posted on January 8th, by Bonni Titgemeyer in Business and Workplace, On My Mind. 1 Comment

Crayons of popcorn

For the right consumer experience these days, teamwork is necessary.

 

On New Year’s Day, hubby and I went to the movies.  For certain reasons I won’t mention the name of the Cineplex theatre on Winston Churchill at the QEW in Oakville, Ontario.

 

We arrived 40 minutes early for a movie that is newly-released but not a box office smash, and planned on using a gift certificate.  

 

This means that we had to stand in line at the box office.  A hopelessly long line.  The line was long because their new ticket distribution kiosks don’t allow for gift certificates and it seemed everyone had a gift certificate.

 

If we had planned this differently we could’ve avoided that line and purchased our tickets on line instead of redeeming the certificate, but it was expiring that day and we wanted to use it.  Besides, there were long lines at the kiosks too.  It doesn’t seem like anything was gained by reconstructing the entire front entrance of the theatre to remove the ticket agents and allow for these kiosks, especially since while you can order online, they don’t yet have tickets via smartphone available yet.

 

Why they might choose to expire a gift certificate on the busiest day of the year is beyond me.  Why we chose to wait until the last day to redeem it is also somewhat of a mystery but it has something to do with cleaning the basement and finding the certificate just before Christmas.

 

Once we got in the theatre we went our separate ways. . .hubby to the concession stand and I to the theatre to stake out seats.  

 

It takes teamwork to get the right seats and the concessions before the movie starts, especially if you are using a gift certificate on a holiday.

 

Why do companies put us through these things just to get what we want?  Even though I earned an A in microeconomics in university and am the life of the party during any discussion of guns and butter, in this case I still don’t get this intersection of supply and demand.

 

Why are all the new releases during the holidays?  Why couldn’t I redeem my gift certificate online?  Why do they have to so understaff the theatre that it takes 20 minutes to get through a relatively simple concession line?  As I was sitting in the theatre by myself waiting for hubby to get through that line, these questions were burning for me.

 

Recently, my good friend Michael VanDervort directed me to an article on Salon.com,  are Killing Us.  In it there are some scathing truths and conspiracy theories about why it is so important to keep the wages of restaurant workers so low.  While I could write many blog posts responding to the suggestions of the article, there was a key point of relevance to the HR professionals who read blogs on this site.  That is this, we are increasingly mechanizing the most entry-level jobs, making them quickly-trained and easily-replaceable.  There is no need to pay them more.  If the apocalypse they propose in the article is real, very shortly there’ll be no true entry-level jobs left, not just in restaurants but in everything that is in the service industry.

 

This is a big deal to those who view customer experience as important.

 

A few years ago I worked on a project to set up a manufacturing plant in Mexico.  As part of the project, I immersed myself in Mexican employment practices, to understand how everything there works. I wanted to avoid an implementation failure by mis-anticipating culture and customs.  One of my take-aways from the experience is that in Mexico there is a focus on jobs. From an HR planning perspective, the advisors tell you to increase the staffing numbers from what it takes to produce your product in America.  Their unions, tax incentives and way of thinking make that a winning formula.  There’s another discussion here about underutilization of talent there, but let’s leave that for a different blog post. 

 

Stop right now and ask yourself about customer service at your company.  Are you over-mechanizing the process?  In the name of efficiency have you taken out too many people?  By doing so, do you make it difficult for your customer to have a good experience?  Do people really have to plan how they are going to access your service by going to extremes to make the stars line up?  Like in the case of hubby and me, do they have to employ teamwork just to make things work out?

 

If yes, unless you’re Costco, you need to rethink this.  After all, if I want to make my own popcorn and pour my own cola, I might as well stay home and slouch on the couch.

 

About the Author: Bonni Titgemeyer is the Managing Director of The Employers’ Choice Inc. She has been in human resources for 20+ years and works in the international HR arena. She is the recipient of the 2012 Toronto Star HR Professional of the Year Award.  You can connect with Bonni on Twitter as @BonniToronto, often at the hashtag #TEPHR.