Archives for February 2016

Here Is What the Future of HR Looks Like

A wide variety of articles exist about the need for human resources to change. Often those articles talk about the need for HR to be more of a “business partner” or “strategic” or “transformational.” But rarely do we see articles that address what the future jobs in human resources will look like.


Well, a group of human resources professionals has taken on the task. Project CHREATE is the global Consortium to reimagine HR, Employment Alternatives, Talent and the Enterprise. Their initiative is to map the future of the profession. Organizations including the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), PricewaterhouseCoopers, HR People + Strategy, and the National Academy of Human Resources are involved in the effort.

One of their first deliverables was the development of five job descriptions for HR roles in the future. The titles are:

1.  Organizational Engineer

2.  Virtual Culture Architect

3.  Global Talent Scout, Convener and Coach

4.  Data, Talent & Technology Integrator

5.  Social Policy and Community Activist

You can check out the descriptions here. While I don’t know that these will actually be job titles in the future, I did see some trends that I thought were interesting. It could offer some perspective about the future of the profession.

  • Every role seemed to be a “connector.” What I mean by that is the roles connected talent with the organization, or talent with data, or the organization with the community, etc.
  • Human resources will have responsibility for corporate social responsibility (CSR.) The SHRM competency model includes CSR so expect to see more conversation about HR’s role in CSR in the future.
  • Technology, data, and analytics will be essential skills. And not just using social media. Coding, effective adoption, and influence will be front and center in the HR department of the future.
  • Work and life will not be separated. It doesn’t matter if you call it work/life balance or integration. Or if you say wellness or well-being. Bottom line: the whole employee matters. And companies must address it.

It’s very exciting to see groups like Google reWork and Project CHREATE starting to form. They’re sharing their expertise and views about the workplaces of the future. Again the idea isn’t necessarily to take their findings verbatim and implement them in your organization. It’s to think about them and ask yourself, “How would this work in our company?” and “How would we benefit if we did XX in our organization?”

But one thing is certain. Human resources is going to be relied upon heavily in the future. As HR professionals, we need to be prepared for it. Even if we’re on top of our game right now. The game is changing and we need to change with it.


Reprinted from HR BARTENDER

What Should CEOs Expect From HR?

By John Boudreau

The dilemma facing human resources’ constituents is captured in a vignette, a chief human resources officer once told me that described their first meeting with their leadership team chaired by the CEO.

The CEO introduced each member of the leadership team, including top finance, operations, marketing and information officers. For each one, the CEO articulated how that function would contribute to the organization’s success. The CEO then turned to the new CHRO and began to describe their expected contributions and paused, realizing that he had no specific idea about what those contributions were.

Instead, he said, “Why don’t I ask our new CHRO to say a few words about how HR will contribute to our strategic success?”

This CHRO is not alone. Edward Lawler and I have reported the results from our 20-year longitudinal study of HR, where we surveyed HR leaders in hundreds of organizations worldwide. We’ve noted that HR’s relationship to corporate boards of directors is traditional — the function most frequently advises on executive compensation and succession. Such a traditional mindset risks missing important future contributions and roles for HR.

How did a sample of top C-suite leaders and board members articulate their wish list for a future HR profession?

My October Talent Management  column described the work of more than 30 top HR officers engaged with “CHREATE,” the Global Consortium to Reimagine HR, Employment Alternatives, Talent and the Enterprise. This column shares the findings of the CHREATE teams that investigated the expectations of CEOs and board members.

The teams interviewed 22 CEOs, C-suite officers and board members in large U.S. and global companies. Those interviewed worked with some of the most celebrated and successful CHROs in the world and have developed some of the most advanced and emulated HR systems. One might expect their perceptions to be uniformly positive, yet even this elite group described a vital need for HR to evolve.  Here are a few actual quotes:

“HR strategy is one of five strategic pillars of business strategy along with financial, acquisition, geographic and product” innovation.

“CHRO needs to understand the world of work, trends, new approaches beyond the organization and stimulate change internally. Bring strategic insights. Translate what is happening in the world of work to business leaders.”

“Understand the cultural nuances of operating in emerging markets, vs. ‘old economics.’ ”

“A better performance management system — FAST feedback, greater variability on rewards, quicker exit.”

These CEOs and board members saw great future potential in the HR profession. They foresaw future roles for the HR profession:

  • A chief operating officer of organizational culture.
  • A leader of a board-level committee on culture and innovation.
  • Mastery of the principles that drive a new workforce that delivers business strategy, considers emerging employment and work styles, drives purpose and engagement, reflects changing organizational boundaries and is much more diverse.
  • The ability to unearth the value that lies “in between” organizations where partnerships are formed, and bring science to cross barriers between companies, with suppliers and customers.
  • Use of the cloud to bring Amazon- and Google-like insight and responsiveness to the domain of work.

CEOs, boards and other constituents often grasp at the latest “shiny object” that gains press coverage or popularity, such as big data, holocracy and neuroscience. Each can create very real and tangible value, but also carries the danger of needless disruption. The difference lies with an HR profession that brings evidence-based principles and discipline to the evaluation and adoption of such ideas.

HR’s constituents seem ready to articulate and build such a profession. Can HR leaders join them?

John Boudreau is professor and research director at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business and Center for Effective Organizations, and author of “Transformative HR: How Great Companies Use Evidence-Based Change for Sustainable Advantage.” He can be reached at


3 Things Shaping the Future of HR

By Elyse Samuels

Ken Nowack often reminisces about his father’s story of attaining the American dream.

After surviving the Holocaust, being smuggled out of Nazi Germany and hiding in France for three years, Nowack’s father eventually made it to the United States. He was then raised in an orphanage until his adolescence before he took a job with clothing company Levi Strauss & Co. at 17 years old — an offer that, at the time, came with the expectation of a career-long commitment.

“They said, ‘We promise you you’ll have this job until you don’t want it anymore,’ so my father signed a psychological contract,” said Nowack, president, chief research officer and co-founder of human resources consultancy Envisia Learning. “He stayed with the company for 39 years, never looked for another job, never had a résumé. In those days, you would give them your soul, in a way, in return for benefits and lifelong employment.”

In Nowack’s father’s era, organization loyalty held steadfast, both from employees and employers. But now the idea of a 30-year career with a single company is uncommon.

Employees, especially younger ones, appear more turned off by the idea of staying with a single employer for more than a few years. Employers are also constantly evolving as they look for new talent and skills to add to their workforces. The result is a steady flow of job churn unrecognizable to the human resources managers of past eras.

“There’s a shift from organizational loyalty to job-task loyalty,” Nowack said. “We prioritize growth and learning and development. Jobs should be like milk cartons with expiration dates.”

The evolution of the changing employee-employer social contract is one example of the many ways experts say old HR habits, practices and processes are fading.

“Traditionally, people joined an organization and they looked to build a career — it was a traditional upward trajectory,” said Lesley Hoare, vice president of global talent development at technology firm VMware Inc. “I think the way organizations are evolving, that’s not possible anymore and people don’t want it.”

Far from the days of a one-track career with the same company, organizations are now required to expand their talent management and HR programs to provide skills training, learning and development opportunities, and growth within the company and beyond.

Here are some areas where new HR mindsets should aim to have the biggest effect, along with areas industry practitioners and observers say more change is imminent.

1. The Importance of Culture

The employer-employee social contract shift highlights a larger trend in the world of HR toward a focus on culture. As individuals ask for more growth, HR faces some growing pains of its own.

Talent management practitioners are becoming increasingly important in a company’s development and strategy. And this more prominent role introduces a new focus on company culture.

So what’s the best way to build a solid culture?

Ann Rhoades, president and founder of consultancy People Ink, helps companies create what she terms value-centric cultures. The company’s clients include Doubletree Hotel, Homewood Suites and JetBlue Airways Corp. Rhoades said value-based cultures allow for long-term pay off and higher levels of employee performance.

“You have to create the opportunities for people to observe and then to learn and practice,” Rhoades said. “They [employees] have to be given the opportunity to make mistakes.”

Envisia’s Nowack agreed, saying this type of encouragement to learning is vital and must come from the top of the organization. Without visionary leaders who are open, culture will never change. “The single most salient driver for culture at an organizational team level is really what leaders do or don’t do,” Nowack said.

Many HR practitioners and industry observers are preaching a more powerful position for HR leaders, as culture and other people-oriented initiatives continue to take center stage as drivers of growth and success.

In a July Harvard Business Review article, Dennis Carey, vice chairman at global advisory firm Korn Ferry, wrote that with the enhanced focus on talent, the top organizational HR officer is poised to join the ranks of other top C-suite leaders in guiding higher-level corporate strategy.

“Fifteen to 20 years ago, HR was a personnel office. It wasn’t positioned strategically to have much impact,” Carey said. “Over time what has happened is that some really good HR leaders emerged and became direct reports to the CEO.”

Carey said he thinks chief human resources officers could find a more realistic pathway to becoming CEO in the future. CHROs are not only gaining clout in organizations but also being trained differently, with an emphasis on business acumen and strategy.

2. Nontraditional HR

John Boudreau, a professor of management and organization at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business and Talent Management columnist, said in many ways traditional notions of HR will be upended.

“Leaders will face the challenge of fundamentally rethinking the meaning of ‘HR’ and its role in their organizations,” Boudreau said. “They must prepare themselves and their HR organizations to have HR leading change not reacting to it; to have HR educating leaders not just responding to what leaders want; and to consider that in the future world, expertise when it comes to talent and organizations may be more pivotal to success than traditional areas of expertise such as finance, operations, engineering and marketing.”

Rhoades cited examples like strict working hours, seniority models, non-competes, full-time-only positions and annual 360-degree reviews as structures and practices likely to experience the most change. Replacing them will be policies that are more flexible and efficient for managers and employees in today’s world of work.

One policy change already experiencing this sort of change is the annual performance review. Companies like Adobe Systems Inc. and Microsoft Corp. have made headlines by ditching the once-a-year performance appraisal approach in favor of more frequent, qualitative performance conversations. Other companies have since followed.

Aubrey Daniels, founder of behavioral advisory firm Aubrey Daniels International and who is a blogger, said companies that haven’t already made a change in this area should reconsider the validity of the workforce evaluation model known as stack ranking, where managers rank employees along a curve.

He said companies should move to a more coaching-oriented environment, where managers aren’t entrenched in annual ratings paperwork but are working with their employees on a daily and weekly basis to help them change their behavior and improve their performance.

“My recommendation is you scrap the whole thing,” Daniels said. “It’s a total waste of time that serves no useful purpose. HR should do this from top to bottom. We need to ask the question, ‘How does this help the performer?’ ”

Amy Wilson, vice president of human capital management products at technology firm Workday Inc., said helping people improve in their jobs is increasingly going to come from how talent managers use the troves of employee data now at their disposal.

“There are more real ways to determine how employees are doing rather than a potentially subjective performance rating,” Wilson said. “We should be looking at the real things that happen — how many job changes have they had, how many promotions have they had, and so on. We can get this real data analysis and don’t subject our employees and managers to archaic appraisals. The new process is about the conversations employees and managers are having.”

3. Even Greater Focus on People

A common thread in the changes to come in HR is the focus on people from the organization’s top strategy-setters.

“I think talent is always a hot topic and should be” said Keagan Kerr, vice president of corporate affairs and human resources for Coeur Mining Inc. “You’ll see more HR practitioners learning more about organizational effectiveness and culture and people because that’s what makes a difference in the organization.”

Michael Beer, a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, said talent managers should focus on people in a way that’s meaningful and personal.

“The biggest problem in HR is the truth cannot speak to power,” Beer said. “You really want managers to have a direct conversation with their people. They need to create the mechanisms to allow conversations to be open and productive. They should be directly in touch with those issues instead of using HR as a canary in the mines to tell them something is wrong.”

Workday’s Wilson said she often sees a higher need for inclusion of all people in an organization. “What we’re seeing with our customers is this need to engage every single person within the organization,” she said.

“Businesses do not compete — people do,” Korn Ferry’s Carey said. “It’s people who drive value. It’s people who decide on strategy. It’s people who have to organize to get things done. It all relates to people. The people need to have the right attitudes, right skills, right passion. It’s the difference between winning and losing or winning and being mediocre. This is the linchpin for value and success in companies.”

Elyse Samuels is an editorial intern for Talent Management.


Marketing Benefits to Millennials

By Joel Kranc

Insurance and benefit providers attempting to appeal to millennials have to use a new play book in terms of appealing to a generation reared on smart phones, screens and easy to digest information. A survey from San Mateo, Calif.-based Collective Health shows that 72% of 18-34 year olds are often confused about all the benefit options available to them. Also, 71% of 18-34 year olds say they are not prepared to handle out-of-pocket medical expenses of $5,000.

“What you see is that when people are interacting with the [benefits] system they have the least amount of understanding,” notes Kristin Baker-Spohn, chief commercial officer with Collective Health. “It’s at that point of need when we, as an industry, are really falling short of helping them navigate and helping them understand.”

Many in the industry believe the delivery of information is the key strategy in getting through to this area of the workforce. Jessica Hinkle is chief operating officer with Benefits Done Right. She says that not only is there a young workforce to contend with, but also there are many young business owners who need education on implementation of benefits as well. “Not just millennials, but people [of all ages] are demanding technology and online enrollment systems. We need to ensure that if people are doing more enrollment on a self-service basis that they’re still getting the educational component and really still understand our benefits,” she stresses.

What that means in practice is providing enrollment “packets” that are similar or identical to the traditional paper packets provided at open enrollment meetings. “The online tools have become an important part of the process to not only streamline the process but also provide a wealth of information,” she says.

Beyond technology, however, is there a secret sauce to getting people, of any age or demographic, to be involved with their benefits programs? Says Baker-Spohn: “I don’t think there is a program that can get people engaged with their healthcare benefits. We as leaders in the industry need to be ready to help people when they are ready to be engaged.”

Do demographics matter?

Travis Riker, Senior Benefits Consultant with Arista Consulting Group, says, “benefits are benefits” and are for everyone. “Often the industry will segregate things but from our perspective we think of retirement plans, health insurance, income protection and life insurance as the core four,” he adds. “If we can do a good job making sure people are spending their money wisely on those four things everything else falls into place when money is there.”

While those points are universal, Riker admits that millennials are technology-driven and so the right tools and information based on age, how much they use them and risks, can help them best choose the right health provider or program. That ends up being a do-it-for-yourself approach based on how they answer questions. “What we’ve found,” adds Riker, “is that millennials are more likely to use the technology and go through those types of models and customize their situations. Older populations are not prone to use those types of tools.”

Despite all the online customization abilities being offered, in general, providers are not necessarily thinking of demographic-specific products for the millennials. Hinkle says that add-on products like pet insurance or identity theft prevention may be part of newer offerings as a matter of convenience.

Riker says that no one group can be painted with the same brush. Not all millennials are the same and so it makes more sense to address people’s needs based on where they are in life rather than their age.

In many respects it is the engagement at the time of employment that will determine how and if employers can successfully get millennials to think about benefits. The right tools (and some convenience products) will be the best kick-start for that journey. Listening and adapting must come first.

Joel Kranc is Director of KRANC COMMUNICATIONS in Toronto, focusing on business communications, content delivery and marketing strategies.


Millennial Motivation

By Rick Dandes

The growing workplace influence of millennials—that generation generally defined as those individuals born between 1980 and the mid-2000s (exact definitions vary)—has sparked an urgency within organizations to understand their world and their motivations. After all, millennials now represent the largest generation in the U.S. workforce, at 33 percent, said Michelle Smith, vice president, business development, O.C. Tanner, of Salt Lake City, Utah.

“That number surpasses the baby boomer workforce population, which has declined to 31 percent,” said Smith, who has written extensively on the subject for the Performance Improvement Council. By 2020, she noted in one of her white papers, the U.S. workforce will flip from 50 percent baby boomers to 25 percent baby boomers and 50 percent millennials.

Millennials rank as the largest generation ever, and they’re the incontestable driving force in both the workforce and the marketplace, so the question for executive leadership becomes: How different are they from previous generations? And how can we best manage their performance?

Already the majority population at many organizations, millennials stand to become a tremendous influence on the future of work and the most important consumer generation in history, with an estimated $170 billion in spending power.

There are differences between millennials and baby boomers in the way they respond to programs and rewards of interest. “From a structural perspective,” explained Ira Ozer, founder and president, Engagement Partners, Chappaqua, N.Y., “millennials are ‘digital natives’ and prefer faster, soundbite-sized communications and quick engagement actions.”

Boomers are more patient and comfortable with longer-form information and engagement steps. For example, running an all-digital incentive program focused on mobile devices, with quick, gamified quizzes and actions will work more effectively with millennials than boomers, Ozer said.

“From a reward perspective,” he continued, “boomers are more likely to be interested in saving award points for larger items that are more substantive and provide ‘trophy value’ than millennials, who will redeem for smaller awards that are fun and useful.”

Millennials might redeem for fun, retro-type cameras, for example, which allow them to take pictures and hand prints to their friends, as well as small housewares that they need for their starter homes and apartments.

“Millennials are masters of their own brand,” added Justin Cesler, content manager, Aimia US. “They are technologically dependent, they are educated, and they are in the business of marketing themselves socially every day.” In terms of incentive, rewards and recognition programs, Kessler believes they look for more than just a personal reward. They require the reward to also help boost their personal brand. This can be through exclusivity, affiliation or amplification in both the real world and online. “For example,” he said, “10 percent off an item is good, but 5 percent off an exclusive item earned through the program is better. An exclusive item is great, but a tweet from the brand and an item is even better! Millennials identify with, and socially partner with, brands that fit into their lifestyle and programs that help elevate them to the next level.”

Understanding Millennials

Millennials have unique priorities and, for employers, this can create challenges. Their view of the world is different from any previous generation, and employers need to understand how to build millennials’ trust, increase their engagement and win their business.

Considered by many as the most socially conscious generation since the 1960s, millennials tend to be much more tolerant and altruistic. Maybe the reason for that, said Dena Hirschberg, vice president of sales and marketing, of Chicago-based Helping Hands Partners, is millennials have been given positive reinforcement “right out of the gate. They respond to programs emphasizing esteem building. Any kind of negative feedback typically should be given in a positive way. They work, they play and are social, in all these different media platforms. Although they are ‘on’ 24/7, there is also a work-play balance that is a little bit different from what other generations are used to. A high priority is given on life outside of work.”

Having witnessed a variety of corporate scandals firsthand, millennials actively seek authentic leaders and ethical corporate policies as they enter and progress through their careers. They look for inspiration and value accountability.

“If today’s business leaders want to connect with millennials,” Smith said, “they should embrace clear missions, ethical corporate values and accountability. Millennials want to believe in the organizations they work for and the brands they support, so transparency, authenticity and involvement in altruistic causes rank as important business strategies.”

“What we have found,” Hirschberg explained, “is organizations that embrace social responsibility as a core value mirror the goals and intent of millennials. So reward and recognition products that are socially responsible— products that the recipient can see having an immediate benefit to the community—are rewards worn proudly by millennials. They want to carry that brand and they will feel good about the company they work for. What is interesting to me are studies that show this is also good for business. Socially responsible companies are attracting better talent, retaining talent and reducing turnover.”

The Plugged-In Generation

Millennials are the first generation raised on technology. They grew up immersed in the digital era and feel totally at ease working with the intricacies of the Internet, mobile technology and social media. Outpacing all older generations in social networking and cell phone use, they consider technology as an extension of their bodies. They keep smart phones, iPads and laptops close by, and multitasking is second nature to these digital natives.

“Having come of age with mobile technology at their fingertips,” Smith said, “millennials view their time as a valuable resource so they multitask in order not to waste it. They are used to being connected to mobile technology at all times and fully expect to communicate directly with family and friends while at work. They believe their ‘always-connected’ state actually outweighs any loss of concentration and makes them more productive. To facilitate the transition of millennials into the workplace, companies should integrate up-to-date technology as part of the overall infrastructure. Because millennials live so much of their lives through technology, they view work as an activity that just needs to get done.”

Unlike the generations before them, they don’t particularly value ‘face’ or ‘desk’ time. This new orientation doesn’t easily fit traditional work arrangements, so thinking companies will benefit from establishing flexible, informal, engaging processes and work environments.

Millennials are also weary of data collection and are skeptical of any program that collects data in exchange for inclusion, Cesler said. While they are early adopters of technology and frequent contributors to social media channels, they like to control the content and prefer to understand how it will be used. Not to say millennials are in control of that data now, but transparency and updates on data collection policies are important.

Additionally, millennials require more interaction with a brand than any other demographic, and must be constantly engaged by a program to stay connected. This interaction must be authentic and—most importantly—it must be a two-way street. Simply talking to millennials won’t do; you must be willing to engage in both sides of the conversation.

Myths and Challenges

Some people believe millennials are self-absorbed and don’t work hard, but Hirschberg insists that is anything but the truth. “They are hard-working, self-motivated and expect great things for themselves,” she said. “They are dedicated and have a passion for what they do. They respond to team-building. In fact, millennials work well within the give-and-take of a team environment.”

It’s also true that millennials were once thought of as flighty, in-the-moment addicts, added Cesler, “but they are actually much more loyal than that. A Snapchat may only last 10 seconds, but that engagement with the brand or person lives a long life. Incentives, rewards and recognition must be well thought out and longstanding, while also living within those little 10-second moments.”

Molded by their upbringing into achievement junkies, they have an ingrained sense of purpose and an inherent drive to succeed. Millennials crave meaningful, challenging work so they can personally feel they make a difference.

To help keep them from getting bored, managers may want to keep millennials in the loop with frequent communication about how the particular tasks they perform contribute to the company’s strategic goals. They want immediate feedback, Hirschberg added. “And…they are seeking that feedback from their managers and expect it frequently. They also respond to a variety of tasks to keep their job interesting, and they want to feel a sense of accomplishment.”

Willing to work hard in order to achieve and advance in the workplace, they also crave structure and a clear career path. Managers should not only tell, but also show millennials what success looks like. Measurable goals, concrete benchmarks and regular training that help millennials maintain cutting-edge skill sets and achieve professional goals will all help managers get better results from their newest workers. In short, millennials want strong leadership and clear instructions.

Millennials believe they are special and want their managers to recognize their specific strengths. In fact, a close relationship between supervisor and employee may actually help ensure that millennials develop loyalty to their companies and meet their own performance goals. Not surprisingly, mentoring relationships can work well with this group as long as the mentors check in often to make sure their protégés stay on track with projects and have the necessary resources to feel sufficiently supported.

Engaging and Motivating the Workforce

Business leaders need to understand the characteristics of the millennial generation: broad optimism, social tolerance and involvement, value of work-life balance, team orientation, desire for inclusion, inherent trust issues and embodiment of technological communications. Leaders and marketers ought to demonstrate that they value and care about millennials and want to foster relationships with them.

As a matter of fact, Smith said, anyone who wants to successfully market to this newest adult generation should fully comprehend that millennials:
• Use Google and other search engines to do their own research before purchasing.
• Can be attracted through social media, blogs, electronic newsletters, etc.
• Often rely on video content for learning.
• Trust testimonials from their peers and peer groups.
• Want customized solutions that fit their lifestyles.

Because of their relentless electronic research, millennials have different expectations from those of previous generations when it comes to making purchases and engaging in retail commerce. As customers, millennials know about, and expect, the best value from what is available. In this context, marketers will want to focus on creating specific messages and products that resonate with millennials.

Social media is an incredible motivator for many millennials. The need to update their feed—their brand—drives decisions on a daily basis. Is the upgrade to first class worth it if nobody knows about it? How would that first-class seat look on your Instagram travel page? Are the newest shoes essential for your shoe blog? Do you need an exclusive vinyl record from your artist of choice to post on Snapchat? If so, millennials—more than any other demographic—will seek ways to gain access to these perks. This helps drive loyalty and rewards programs if they create the right incentives.

Reprinted from PREMIUM INCENTIVE PRODUCTS magazine

Few Employees Aware of Retirement Transition Benefits

Employers have either dropped the ball when it comes to offering employees retirement transition assistance like flexible work arrangements, retirement seminars or financial counseling, or employees are just not aware of the benefits their employers offer.

Either way, fewer than 10% of retirees and pre-retirees polled for a Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies report said that their employers or past employers offered this type of assistance.

Workers over the age of 50 were more likely to say their employers offered retirement transition assistance, but the proportion doing so was still low at less than 25%, Transamerica found.

If employers are offering these options to employees, “word is not getting out to these bases,” says Catherine Collinson, president of Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies and the author of The Current State of Retirement: Pre-Retiree Expectations and Retiree Realities.

Retirement education has been a huge topic of conversation for years, with much of it focused on how to get people to sign up for and contribute to their 401(k) plans. Less attention is paid to when people should retire and how they can make that happen.

Employers, especially large ones, are getting more progressive, in large part because of the baby boomer generation, says Collinson. That generation has “rewritten the rules throughout their entire lives and now they are redefining retirement,” she says.

Many of them are working longer or easing into retirement instead of quitting their jobs cold turkey.

“It seems like a huge opportunity for employers to offer these types of arrangements from a workforce management perspective. If someone says they are looking to retire in a couple of years and they want to transition, an employer can work out a much smoother transition plan than if the employee decides to retire on two weeks’ notice,” Collinson says.

Collinson says she’s surprised at how few employers offer financial counseling about retirement or seminars about transitioning to retirement. Employers do so much in this arena, from sponsoring a 401(k) plan for employees to automatically enrolling them into the plan.

“It seems logical they would have transition assistance,” she says.

She points out that many retirement plan providers do offer this type of service, so the question is, are employers taking advantage of those services and are they widely communicated to employees?

Also see: “Student loan debt hindering retirement savings.”

“The retirement landscape is changing, with many workers planning to work past the traditional retirement age of 65. This new vision of retirement among workers is a tremendous departure from the experiences of those already in retirement,” says Collinson. “Many retirees stopped working before age 65, largely for reasons outside of their control. Their financial realities serve as a cautionary tale for workers, employers, and policymakers.”

More than half of pre-retirees over the age of 50 who were surveyed said they plan to work at least part-time in retirement. Out of retirees surveyed, only 5% are currently working and 2% were unemployed but looking for work, the report found.

Pre-retirees are also more likely to view retirement as a “transition that involves shifting from full-time to part-time, working in a different capacity or working as long as possible until they can’t work anymore,” the report found.

Sixty percent of retirees retired sooner than expected and 66% of those did so because of changes at their workplace, job loss or unhappiness with what they were doing. Only 16% retired because they felt they had enough saved up to live comfortably in retirement, Transamerica found.

Also see: “Michelin, NIH see value in recruiting older workers.”

And if people leave the workforce earlier than expected, is it possible for them to re-enter the workforce?

Workers of all ages bring experience, wisdom and tremendous value, says Collinson. There are ongoing studies looking at how generationally diverse work teams can outperform work teams that aren’t as diverse.

“Through the [2008] recession, employers were solely focused on their businesses. There was so much going on through the recession. Now that we are out of the recession and many are recovering or are fully recovered, now the world is different,” Collinson says. “It is time to focus on staying in step with employees’ expectations. It is helpful for employees but can be very beneficial for employers from a workforce management perspective.”

Collinson encourages employers to consider offering employees flexible work arrangements, allowing older workers to shift from full-time to part-time work or work in a different capacity.

“We should be encouraging life-long learning and training as a mutual investment between employees and their employer, making sure people are keeping their job skills up to date and their skills competitive,” she says.

If employers want to encourage workers to retire, they need to help raise awareness of the opportunities available to employees who leave the workforce, she says.

Paula Aven Gladych is a freelance writer based in Denver.


Millennials Freak Out More

stk128196rkeYounger employees looking frazzled lately? It’s a symptom of being Gen Y.

A 2014 study by the American Psychological Association found that millennials are the most stressed out generation. Top cited reasons included money (64 percent) and work stress (60 percent).

Theresa Fox, president and CEO of DeStressify, a stress relief program, talked with Chief Learning Officerabout the causes for this generational freak-out and what learning leaders can do to calm their young employees. Edited excerpts follow.

How does Gen Y compare with other groups?

[The American Psychological Association study] demonstrates that millennials are the most stressed out generation. On a scale from 1-10, where 10 is most stressed, millennials scored the highest. Their score of 5.5 was significantly larger than baby boomers at 4.5 and matures [who are born before 1945] at 3.5. Gen X averaged 5.4, just behind the millennials in stress levels.

Why is that? Are they not well-equipped, or is there just a lot more stress?

Millennials graduated college and came into the job market during a difficult period when unemployment rates were high. While many millennials felt an advanced degree would guarantee a good job, as it did for many of their parents and teachers, reality did not live up to their expectations. Struggling to pay off college debt and working in jobs outside of their anticipated fields have also created frustrations with the system.

Millennials, more than any other generation, are looking for employment that is meaningful and full of purpose. A 2014 study by Bentley University revealed 66 percent of millennials indicated they would like to start their own business. The daily grind of most jobs does not fulfill a millennial’s desire for autonomy and to be making a major difference.

According to a 2015 study by Harris Polls for EY, at 78 percent, “millennials are almost twice as likely to have a spouse/partner working at least full-time than boomers (at 47 percent).” While previous generations had a spouse at home to take care of errands and household tasks, millennials are more likely to be doing it all, leaving less time for activities they enjoy to recharge.

The APA study also found millennials are more likely than other generation to choose sedentary and unhealthy stress relief techniques such as spending time watching TV or surfing the Internet.

How can you teach employees to better handle stress?

There are a many stress relief techniques that have been scientifically studied and proven to reduce stress. Practices such as mindfulness, meditation, breath work, yoga, Qigong and physical exercise have all demonstrated positive effects on stress levels. Major employers are beginning to include stress relief programs as part of their wellness initiatives. In fact, many offer on-site classes, mobile apps and other training material to support their employees. Mobile apps are geared toward stress relief offer particular benefits for this technologically savvy group who need the flexibility to practice whenever and wherever due to their time constraints. Stress relief programs can not only reduce the costs of medical care for employers but also reduce absenteeism, turnover and workplace conflicts. They have also been shown to increase focus, attention, creativity, problem solving and efficiency.

Additionally, employees are looking for assistance from their employers, and millennials are making decisions about where to work based on whether or not they believe the employer cares about them. With millennials already outnumbering baby boomers and becoming more than 50 percent of the workforce in the next five years, according to the PwC NextGen forecast, employers need to address millennials’ issues.

Creating a Coaching Culture

How does criticism and critique differ from coaching? Based on my experience, the critical manager offers his “comments and questions,” but doesn’t offer a solution, or a better way of doing the task. On the other hand, a coaching manager notes that something could be done differently, and points out how to think about coming up with a new solution. It’s a difference between being productive in communicating areas of needed improvement versus just venting.

If managers can direct their communication with employees so that it’s focused on “Here’s how to think about doing something differently,” you have the seeds of a coaching culture. At least it seems that way to me. What do you think?

An interview with Amit Singh, president of Google for Work, conducted and condensed by Adam Bryant inThe New York Times’ Corner Office column, made me reflect on the importance of a coaching culture: “I learned the hard way about the importance of coaching people rather than jumping in and doing the work for them. A lot of folks have a tough time with that balance, and I did, too. Instead of giving people advice or coaching them on how to present something, I would go and do it for them or write their presentation…It’s about trying to make somebody better versus criticizing someone for doing something. Done right, people love it, because you’re really invested in their success. The flip side is that if you just say what’s wrong, then people feel terrible,” Singh tells Bryant.

Is there a way to teach managers how to coach? What kinds of programs do you have at your company to teach and encourage coaching?

Singh’s employees were fortunate that he had the technical know-how and skills to actually do the work he was managing.

The challenge is it’s so much more fun offering critiques without solutions, or without offering solutions that are feasible. It’s hard to have a coaching culture if your organization has the phenomenon of managers, who, unlike Singh, are managing people who know more than them. With the computer revolution in the workplace, this is pretty common. The Baby Boomer manager overseeing a Generation X or Y employee, whose job it is to interact with technology the manager doesn’t understand, can make a coaching culture impossible. The manager in this situation can point out what he doesn’t like, or thinks needs to be changed, but is not able to coach the employee in a new or better way of doing whatever is seen as being inferior.

It’s controversial of me to suggest it, but I’d say that the inability of a manager to coach means that the manager shouldn’t be a manager. The manager may be a wise person to speak with as a neighbor, or an interesting person to speak with at a conference or cocktail party, but his wisdom isn’t useful to the employee he is managing. In these cases, the organization has to ask itself the value of retaining a veteran employee with a lot of generalized knowledge about its industry, but little knowledge about the specific work he is responsible for managing. What is a solution for cases like this?

One solution is to identify these management situations in your organization, and, if possible, move those managers into consulting, sales team, or marketing roles, so their depth of knowledge about the industry can be made use of in meetings with others from the industry, while the job of managing work they are not technically skilled in is left to someone else. This does two things: It beefs up your marketing and sales force, while making room for the hiring of more employees with actionable knowledge. Technically skilled managers are not only able to better coach those under them; they are able to provide better oversight for the company.

For example, if you have a manager who oversees a Website, and he communicates the wishes of the organization to the employee who works on the site, and the employee quickly tells the manager those things won’t be possible, the manager without technical knowledge won’t know if what the employee has told him is true. And, from a coaching standpoint, if the employee is being genuine and not trying to deceive, yet does not feel the executives’ goals for the site can be met, the manager with technical know-how can work together with the employee to find a solution.

The hard part is if your organization is too small, or poorly funded, to move the managers with generalized know-how into other positions. That would mean letting them go. One idea might be to offer outgoing managers limited consulting work while they look for a full-time position at another company. Like any layoff, giving ample advance notice also helps. What do you think of letting a manager like this, who you feel will have to be let go due to a limited amount of actionable knowledge, know six months in advance that he’s on his way out? I’ve heard some say you shouldn’t do this because the manager will be resentful and create problems for the remainder of his time with the company. But I don’t agree. Most employees, and especially seasoned managers, will appreciate being given enough respect to not be hustled at the door with no notice.

A last option, depending on the needed technical skill, is to ask the manager if he would be willing to get trained in the technology. If it were me, I’d jump at the opportunity, but you might be surprised at the number of managers who may feel it’s beneath them to learn new technical skills. “That’s why we hired Mary,” he may retort. “That’s not my job. Given my experience in the field, I can provide guidance, or offer my thoughts, but it is up to my employees to make it happen.”

Wrong. In a coaching culture, no one should be too senior and lofty to learn a new skill—and to be able to use that new skill to work with those they manage on finding workable solutions.

Do you have a coaching culture in your organization? What does having a coaching culture mean to you? Can you offer other companies tips on training managers to serve as coaches?

Reprinted from Training Magazine

Diversity Training Pros Must Get to Know ADDIE

Why should we evaluate diversity training? One primary reason is to determine if the benefits derived from the training program justify the costs. Some other reasons could be:

To determine how well the diversity training initiative met participants’ needs and to what extent the participants mastered the content.

  • To assess how much of the diversity training content, including newly acquired knowledge and skills, transferred to on-the-job behaviors.
  • To determine whether the results of the diversity training contributed to the achievement of organization’s goals. 
  • To determine the initiative’s Diversity Return on Investment. 

The ISD Process

ISD is a systems approach to analyze, design, develop, implement and evaluate any type of training. Each phase of the ISD process provides information that feeds directly into the next, as each phase must be completed before moving on to the next. If a phase is skipped, the process is not ISD.

Professionally created diversity training follows this five phased process: analysis, design, development, implementation and evaluation — commonly referred to as the “ADDIE model.” In ADDIE, analysis is the input for the instructional system; design, development and evaluation are the process; implementation is the output. These elements overlap somewhat, depending on the project, and because the instructional system is dynamic, there will be some sharing of duties.

Phase 1: Analysis

The analytical phase is sometimes referred to as a “front-end analysis,” “needs assessment” or “needs analysis.” An effective needs analysis answers the following questions:

  • What is the problem?
  • Is diversity training the answer to the problem?
  • What knowledge and skills should be included in the diversity training course?
  • Who needs to be trained?

Analysis is the data-gathering element of diversity training design. Here diversity instructional designers assemble all the information they can possibly gather about the strategic business problem or opportunity before they consider anything else.  

Phase 2: Design

After the problems have been defined and trainees and course outcomes have been determined, it is time to begin the design phase. This phase develops a training blueprint that includes:

  • Learning objectives
  • Content outlines
  • Course structure
  • Training methods and media

Design is the blueprinting stage of instructional systems during which diversity instructional designers create the project blueprint with all the specifications necessary to complete it. During this stage, diversity instructional designers write the objectives, construct course content, and complete the design plan.

Phase 3: Development

The next phase of the ISD process is development of the diversity training course. The steps of this phase are:

  • Develop a draft set of training materials.
  • Pilot test the training materials with the target audience, and make necessary revisions.
  • Finalize training materials.

Materials production and pilot testing are the hallmarks of development. Everything from lecture notes to virtual reality is brought from design to deliverable. Before diversity instructional designers move from development to implementation, it is wise for them to do pilot testing to ensure deliverables do not need revision. The pilot testing process allows organizations to implement any necessary changes before expenses associated with materials development are realized. Pilot testing also helps designers feel confident what they have designed works.

Phase 4: Implementation

The implementation phase involves conducting the diversity training program and completing any related follow-up activities to ensure learning transfer on the job. At implementation, the design plan meets the leaner, and content is delivered. The evaluation process most diversity designers and learners are familiar with takes place in this element. Diversity training evaluation is used to gauge the degree to which learners meet objectives and facilitators or technologies deliver expected outcomes. 

Phase 5: Evaluation

The final phase of the ISD process is to determine whether diversity training was successful. It will answer the following questions:

  • What is diversity training evaluation?
  • Why evaluate diversity training?
  • What are diversity training evaluation levels?
  • How is the diversity training analysis and diversity evaluation linked?
  • How is an effective diversity training evaluation conducted?

Evaluation doesn’t deserve to be listed last in the ADDIE model because it takes place in every element and surrounds the diversity instructional design process. Evaluation is a constant guard at the gate of failure.  

The advantages of using an instructional system are numerous, the most important being the ability to design diversity projects quickly and efficiently. Nothing is left to chance or ignored when a diversity instructional designer stays within the ADDIE framework or other ISD models. It is my contention that an effective ROI-based diversity training evaluation cannot be completed unless the training design was built using ADDIE and a behaviorally specific competency model built on correctly structured objectives.  

Do you know and use ADDIE?

Edward E. Hubbard is president and CEO of Hubbard & Hubbard Inc., an international organization and human performance consulting corporation that specializes in techniques for applied business performance improvement, workforce diversity measurement, instructional design and organizational development. He can be reached at


A New Way to Help Employers Meet Mounting Compliance Challenges

The Affordable Care Act has forced benefit brokerages to reinvent the way they do business over the past six years. But one brokerage, Brookfield, Wis.-based The Benefit Companies Inc., has been preparing for this moment since it opened its doors in 1974.

The brokerage is a group of companies, each one providing services related to employee benefits or HR needs, such as payroll and time and attendance. While these services typically operated independent of each other pre-ACA, the employer shared responsibility rule and ACA reporting requirements now call for an unprecedented amount of integration between these systems.


Recognizing the brokerage’s unique position to understand all the HR and benefit aspects required for ACA reporting and compliance, a new member of the Benefit Companies was born in 2013, Affordable Care Act and Compliance Services Inc. (ACACS). The company offers such ACA reporting-related services as tracking and monitoring of employees, ACA analysis of an employer’s data, ACA compliance reports to help employers manage their budget, IRS reporting 1094-C and 1095-C, and certain ACA legal services.

“We had a product model that was already established that really helped us build this ACA model,” says Leslie Straus, president of the Benefit Companies’ ACACS. “That’s because we already work in payroll and know the technical aspects of payroll; we know time and attendance; we have a health insurance division with a background in health; we have an HR consulting firm; and we have a technology company. When you think about it, all of that was being built almost in anticipation of this law coming out. That has provided us with a lot of satisfaction.”

Straus has been with The Benefit Companies since 1988. The firm was formed in 1974 in response to the Pension Reform Act of 1974 known as ERISA. Since its inception, the Benefit Companies has grown to a group of 10 companies, including Benefits Inc. and BeneCo, both of which specialize in employee benefits. The company’s BeneTrak provides retirement plan services; BenHR Inc. provides HR services such as policy and procedure consulting, hiring assessments and background screenings, HR staffing support, and training and Bene-Chex Inc. provides employers payroll processing and solutions, including W-2 reporting, workers’ compensation audit reports, tax payment and filing, state new hire reporting, etc.

Responding to regulation

In 2010, when the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, Straus says, “We kind of paused. The whole industry paused a little bit, because we understood there was a big implication here for us, but we weren’t sure how to handle it. We knew it was going to literally transform our industry.”

Straus says she and her colleagues at The Benefit Companies went about reviewing how it was going to dramatically change the landscape.

“We knew the health insurance industry was going to be affected. We knew that employers were going to be affected. And we ultimately knew that it was going to change the employer’s relationship potentially to their adviser and change the adviser role with their client,” she says.

As the company began to list the changes out, she says, they realized The Benefit Companies Inc. was uniquely positioned to solve this and create a service for employers and advisers.

It was a big undertaking, she says, noting that one of the biggest challenges is that the ACA is more than 20,000 pages worth of rules and regulations for employers to follow. The regulations were new to everybody and still continue to change, posing challenges for all industry stakeholders.

“We had to create administration and tracking tools that would be the foundation of how we would deliver our service,” she adds. “We had to go out and find partnerships with leading technology firms to assist us with building that technology foundation, and they were just getting their arms around the regulation and trying to understand what they needed to do, too. That was rather daunting on their part.”

“All of that was going on while the law was unfolding and the regulations were coming out about how to deal with it and all of it was changing on the fly,” she says. “In the midst of all that, we had to assemble a team of people here that embraces change and has a background that works in the area of this expertise, which is truly unique because it crosses over and reaches into many areas, not just employee benefits.”

Straus says the process of creating the ACACS service model and solution was akin to “building the plane while you’re flying it.”

We kind of paused. The whole industry paused a little bit, because we understood there was a big implication here for us, but we weren’t sure how to handle it. We knew it was going to literally transform our industry.

Starting this year, applicable large employers must report whether an individual is covered by minimum essential coverage and that an offer of minimum essential coverage that provides minimum value was made to each full-time employee.

“The ACA has really opened up an administrative need within the health insurance marketplace and that’s where we saw the role of the adviser begin to change,” says Kathy Tunney, a director at ACACS. “Our clients and the clients of advisers needed guidance, not only technical, but they also needed administrative help. That’s where are our services were born.”

Tracking and monitoring

ACACS’ services, she says, center around a piece of proprietary software that allows the firm to track and monitor employees at a company and apply ACA regulations to that tracking and monitoring. This allows for the employer to “get out ahead of any potential financial surprise under the ACA.”

The data needed to ensure compliance doesn’t fit within one system, Tunney says. “It’s in a multitude of systems, including time and attendance, benefits, payroll and human resources. We work with clients to determine where that data is and pull it into the software so the software can develop management compliance reports.”

ACACS produces several management compliance reports, including:

  • Data quality management reports: “We know with the ACA that accuracy is key,” Tunney says. “We work with clients to make sure their source system has accurate information and I can tell you that every single client we have had to date has had some type of data quality issue.”
  • Health insurance eligibility: The software tracks and reports on employee eligibility for health insurance benefits.
  • Analysis on affordability: With this service, ACACS has the ability to model for an employer what affordability looks like or is projected to look like for an employee base. While not just an important tool for employers, Tunney says this service allows their adviser partners and their employer clients to have a “very important discussion about how to set a strategic employer contribution strategy.”

“Our services are not only helping employers to get ahead of any issues that potentially could affect them with penalties, but it’s also allowing the adviser to perform the role they have always performed, but at a higher level,” adds Straus.

‘Game plan change’

When the reality of ACA reporting became apparent, Maggie Kusch, president and general manager of the New Berlin, Wis.-based Regency Janitorial Service Inc. said she originally thought the company’s thorough tracking of employee hours and labor would be sufficient for the company to hire some part-time administrative help and handle ACA compliance and reporting requirements “by ourselves.”

The Benefit Companies had been a former cleaning client of the company’s, so after some consideration about the task at hand and mounting regulations, Kusch and her HR manager decided to consult with Straus and The Benefit Companies “just to see if we could pick their brains and see if we could do this ourselves.”

The more they learned about the ever-changing regulations, the data required to track and monitor the company’s 400 variable hour employees and the ACA reporting process, Kusch says, her HR manager looked at her and said, “game plan change.”

“We said, ‘Give us a cost,’” Kusch says. “They had attorneys. They had their own core group, plus all the support that would be needed in any area we might need. I have a labor attorney, I have a tax attorney, but I don’t have an ACA attorney.”

The cost, she says, was similar to hiring a part-time staff person to do just the administrative work, but that wouldn’t have freed Kusch from having to stay abreast of all the regulations and reporting deadlines herself.

Kusch says she researched other compliance solutions and companies, but nobody was offering the comprehensive package of services The Benefit Companies and ACACS was.

“There is nobody doing it the way they are,” she says. “They are very progressive and thoughtful in all the different services they offer.”

Kusch says her company ultimately decided to have The Benefit Companies process its payroll as well, because it offered a cost-savings to the company and made the data transfer that much easier.

Her HR manager meets regularly with ACACS and works hand in hand on any discrepancies with the payroll data that in turn could lead to discrepancies with ACA reporting.

“They get our payroll every two weeks and any kinds of red flags or discrepancies, Leslie and her folks are in touch with my HR manager and talk through the gapping information — sometimes it’s the Social Security number or an employee that typically works four hours a day and is suddenly marked on a timesheet for 16. It’s almost like an audit for us. You’re not as apt to catch your own mistakes,” Kusch says.

At The Benefit Companies, she adds, “there are four different people doing the ACA work. If we were doing this all ourselves it would be one part-time person and I would have had to stay on top of all the regulations and reporting deadlines. It would have been an almost full-time job for me to learn it all and oversee it, and I don’t want to do that. This has freed us to be able to do what we want to do.”

“A reporting-only solution will only take the data and spit it out. One of the things we do is help clients identify data that may be incorrect or anomalies of data,” says Denise Chambers, a director with ACACS. “We work with the client to make sure the data is accurate first.”

Adviser partners

“We knew we had to help the employers, but we also had to help advisers almost reinvent themselves with their clients,” Straus says. “As a brokerage/agency ourselves, we knew it was going to impact our own clients, but we understood there were independent adviser relationships out there and this would give us an opportunity to also work with them.”

“We work with independent advisers all over the country and work with many well-known large national agencies as well,” Tunney says.

Typically, she says, an adviser will reach out to the company and “basically vet us. We’ll have preliminary conversations and ask questions about their client. We’ll share with the adviser what our services are and why that’s important. We’ve had a lot of conversations about why it’s important to hire us to do that for them, rather than do it themselves or have their adviser try to do it. Typically, from there, we are introduced to the client and we ultimately direct contract with the client for liability reasons. Advisers don’t want to be in the middle of that. They are always welcome to participate in our presentations and our meetings and sharing of information, but they don’t want to be in the middle of trying to receive files and running analysis.”

Randy Pickering of Vista, Calif.-based Pickering Insurance Services says he brought one of his clients to ACACS last June and has several other clients currently working on proposals with them.

“They made the client feel totally comfortable,” he says, adding that the service is great for the employer, but also for him, as the adviser, especially since they direct contract with the employer.

“It’s huge for a broker trying to deal day to day with all the issues an employer has. I don’t want to be involved in ACA compliance. I don’t want to be involved in that day to day. [ACACS] takes that whole heavy anchor out of my wheelhouse and shifts it over to them,” Pickering says.

For prospective clients, he says, it has also been a value-add to have access to such a service. “We had a presentation yesterday and we let this new prospective client know that we have the source to do all their ACA administration and their eyes just sort of lit up, because I don’t think their current broker has told them anything about it that a service like this even exists.”

Services are fee-based and paid for by the employer. The fee-based service has several components, which include an implementation fee based on an hourly rate to set up the client, a per employee monthly tracking and concierge service fee, and a reporting fee, not only for providing the reporting but also the printing and mailings of the 1095s to the employees and the 1094s to the IRS.

The ACA concierge service includes a team of compliance and technical experts to assist with questions regarding day to day ACA administration, provide preliminary research that can be confirmed by legal counsel, educate employers on the ACA regulations, analyze the employer’s data and help create an ACA action plan.

“The benefit of creating ACACS has not only been to the employer, advisers, but also to us as well and that’s because we know the data is accurate. It has given us new opportunities to work across state lines and given us an opportunity to learn about clients in different industries and regions of the country,” Straus says.

“It has also strengthened each of the companies within our family of companies,” Tunney adds. “We’re able to walk across the hall to our payroll company and talk to them about what information in the payroll system needs to get pulled, what reports need to get developed. That has been able to strengthen our services in other areas as well.”


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