The Talent Landscape Is Changing. Are You?

Two things are happening in parallel in today’s workplace that are challenging human resources and learning professionals to reevaluate their approach. First, there aren’t enough highly qualified people to go around these days. This month, McKinsey and Co. reported that nearly 40 percent of U.S. employers are struggling to find skilled workers. Second, the high-quality talent that is currently powering companies forward has no qualms about leaving if they don’t feel like their needs are beings met, said Mika Nash, academic dean for Champlain College Online’s Continuing Professional Studies division.

An ample paycheck isn’t enough; it may not even be the difference-maker. Now more than ever, employees want to know organizations will invest in them, and they will walk away from one opportunity for another if they don’t.

In the face of this mounting stress on the business, Nash said it’s critical that academic human resources programs adjust their curriculum to this new reality, if they haven’t done so already. She said over the past 10 years, a trend has emerged where human resources leaders are becoming chief learning officers and other decision-makers more focused on strategic business goals. In these positions, leaders can support their organizations’ efforts to think differently about talent.

It’s a philosophical shift human resources is having to reckon with, Nash said. The old-school human resources approach reduced people to the lowest common denominator, an employee, one easily substituted for another. Today, however, leaders understand that retaining workers means acknowledging their individual value and strategically investing in it.

Nash said when human resources integrates talent management and organizational development agendas, the goal is no longer to bring in and work people until they are sick of coming to the office. “The goal is to bring people in, and then make them feel good about the work they’re doing so they want to stay and grow and be productive — a great symbiotic relationship.”

Arriving at this evolved view requires going beyond building an understanding of benefits, payroll, employment law, promotion policies and other records-mired responsibilities that once defined the HR role. People preparing to enter the field also need to know how to identify skills gaps and development needs and how to support people when evolving personally and professionally.

The modern human resources professional needs to know how to design a workplace culture, how to engage workers and cultivate leadership and coaching approaches that empower employees to respond effectively to work problems, and to grow and think different about their work, Nash said. An ability to synthesize metrics and other analytics will increasingly be necessary as well.

Jean Roque, founder and president of the human resources consulting firm Trupp HR, said HR professionals — new graduates as well as those with established careers — also lack an awareness of what comprises a company’s employee value proposition and how to market an employer brand, align with it and promote it. This is important, because through interactions with company websites, social media and even conversations with current and former employees, prospective workers can build an idea of what a business stands for as an employer.

“Are we being intentional about what that brand is and are we making sure that once those applicants come to work for us that what they were expecting based on what they saw on our employer brand is what they’re getting from the standpoint of engagement and that employee value proposition?” Roque asked.

An understanding of marketing and social media also would be beneficial to today’s human resources and learning professionals, she said. And it’s critical they have greater awareness about different types of applicant pools, the different generations of workers, their stages of life and what appeals to them.

Leaders may naturally encounter insight into these areas once on the job, but Roque said development of these competencies should start before then. Academia must extend its view of human resources management from an operations enabler to a strategic business arm responsible for attracting, engaging, developing and retaining people. “A lot of HR professionals come out of school not even knowing that that’s part of what they need to be doing because when we don’t intentionally do that, it gets defined for us.”

The generation of people now entering the workforce are well-acquainted with the speed of change and ambiguity in ways their predecessors may not be, Nash said. Companies would be remiss to cling to antiquated human resources practice.

Reprinted from CHIEF LEARNING OFFICER magazine

8 Ways Job Candidates E-Sabotage Themselves

The Internet has become such an important part of the job search process. It is the most powerful tool any job seeker has for identifying career opportunities—even at the executive level for which I recruit. Job search platforms have made it easy to seek out and apply for opportunities. However, like any powerful tool, it needs to be used wisely. Otherwise you could end up hurting your chances for roles or even damaging your reputation in the workplace.

Here are eight ways candidates sabotage themselves with their online presence:

Having negative comments or unflattering images on social media. Your social media presence is your image to the public. Manage it wisely. It should be common sense, but people often fail to realize how much damage they can do to their professional life with the information they share online. The golden rule to follow here: Do not share anything online that you would not share at work. You never know who will forward your information to someone else or where the information you post might end up.

Clicking the “Apply” button without reading the details about a job. When LinkedIn or a job board sends you an e-mail with a list of jobs you may be interested in, they generate those lists based on key words in your profile or resume. That doesn’t necessarily mean these jobs match your qualifications. Hitting “Apply” without reading more than the title could create a negative impression on the other end. Look at each role and determine if you are really qualified or close to being qualified. Make sure it is something you really want to pursue. Multiple applications to the wrong role could hurt you when a role opens that you really want.

Reading e-mails quickly and not following the instructions. Employers and recruiters put details in our job postings or e-mails that are important. Often, a candidate will skim the e-mail and send us a question about something that was in the information presented. Or candidates will not follow instructions carefully for an interview and end up in the wrong place or delayed, or worse. Lack of attention to detail makes you look careless. Many hiring managers will reject you outright for that.

Applying too often to one entity. This makes you look desperate or unfocused on your true ambitions. It says, “I will take any job.” That is not the message you want to convey to potential employers. If an organization has multiple jobs open, apply for the one that best suits your background and career goals. If someone on the other end thinks you are qualified for another role, they will reach out to you or share your information with others in their organization.

Sending a resume to any recruiter you can find on the Internet. Lately, my colleagues and I are seeing an uptick in this activity. We get e-mails with a resume attached and a request from the candidate for help in identifying a new role. My specialty (and my firm’s focus) is health care and higher education. It is rare that I have a client willing to look for candidates outside its industry, and often the candidate will have skill sets that are not even close to the types of roles I fill. Submitting to multiple recruiters is a waste of your time and mine, and it also makes you look careless. Look for recruiters who specialize in the types of roles you are seeking in your field.

Arguing via e-mail with a recruiter or employer. At my firm, we try to send a note back to candidates we are not moving forward with in a search. Sometimes a candidate will e-mail me back with a request for more information about why he or she is not being considered. This is a reasonable question, and I usually take the time to give some of the specific reasons he or she did not meet an employer’s requirements. On occasion, I get an angry e-mail back stating that the requirements are invalid or not necessary. Ultimately, the requirements are set by organizations in good faith and for good reasons. Arguing about them will not help, and argumentative behavior does not help your image. It also could prevent you from consideration for other roles.

Not submitting a resume and asking the employer or recruiter to look at your LinkedIn profile. As comprehensive as some LinkedIn profiles are today, they are still not a substitute for a resume. Asking someone to refer to your LinkedIn profile says you are not serious about applying for the job.

Being careless about a Skype/Facetime/video interview. Interviewing is an important step in the process. It is important that you present yourself in a professional way. Just because you are interviewing from your home doesn’t mean you should be casual about your appearance or the setting. Dress appropriately. Make sure there are no glaring lights in the eyes of your interviewer. There should not be other people or pets in the room. Go somewhere where you won’t be disturbed. Look at what will be in the background behind you. Sit at a desk or table in a regular chair—not in a recliner. Look into the camera when you speak to the interviewer. If you have never or infrequently used Skype or Facetime before, make sure you test the technology before your interview and make sure you are properly set up to receive a call. Keep the camera stationary and don’t move it around. You want the interviewer to see a polished professional without any distractions.

The Internet gives us great tools to explore career opportunities. Use it to your best advantage.


AUTHOR: Diane Nicholas is a consultant with WK Advisors, a division of executive search firm Witt/Kieffer. WK Advisors specializes in filling innovative mid-level and other critical executive positions in health care, education, and the not-for-profit sector. 



HR Heads to the Front Line as Cybercrime Combatants

In the war against cybercrime, human resource professionals are being asked to join their companies’ cyberdefense as “boots on the ground,” at the front lines. The reason: HR is home to valuable personal and corporate data, systems and processes that cybercriminals target day in, day out.

Whereas IT and other technology specialists work daily with the thought of protecting corporate networks, in today’s cyber risk-laden world, HR professionals, despite their limited technical expertise, must work to protect sensitive data and operate in ways that mitigate the potential for attacks by technologically proficient cybercriminals.

Take cloud-based HR systems. Because of minimal hardware costs, affordable subscription rates and scalability, these systems are utilized widely by small to middle market enterprises as well as by large corporations. Many of the core back-office HR functions, such as benefits management, time and attendance, have migrated quickly to the cloud after leaping from antiquated, paper-based spreadsheets to on-premises software.

In a recent worldwide survey of 1,100 senior IT security executives by Vormetric, 85 percent revealed they keep sensitive data in the cloud and 70 percent admitted they are very concerned about the security of the data in this environment.

This survey also found that 70 percent of respondents are concerned about security breaches and attacks at the cloud service provider, while 66 percent worry more about vulnerabilities from shared cloud infrastructure.

These fears are not unfounded. Left unchecked, cloud systems have become a potential gateway for cybercriminals to access such personally identifiable information as employee information, social security numbers, credit card numbers, bank account details, medical records, salaries and other financial data.

Social engineering schemes, with scammers posing as company executives via email (also known as “spoofing”), are moving from their original ploys of inducing a bank transfer under false pretenses to seeking to induce HR personnel to click on a deceptive link (opening ransomware) or to send sensitive payroll data, including W-2s. The seriousness of this was driven home earlier this year when IRS Commissioner John Koskinen warned company executives and HR professionals that criminals are focusing their schemes on company payroll and HR departments.

“If your CEO appears to be emailing you for a list of company employees, check it out before you respond. Everyone has a responsibility to remain diligent about confirming the identity of people requesting personal information about employees,” Koskinen said.

The Toll of Cyberattacks

So far this year, a record amount of personal information was stolen from W-2s and used to file fraudulent tax returns.

In May, ADP, the giant payroll processing company that services more than 640,000 clients, divulged a breach that exposed tax information of employees of some of its clients. The cyberthieves reportedly gained access to the tax data through an external W-2 online portal maintained by ADP.

The total W-2 social engineering and fraud impact to date, for the most recent year available (2014), is mind-boggling. According to the IRS, $3.1 billion was paid out under fraudulently filed W-2’s. The 2015 tax year is expected to see this number increase dramatically.

In other recent cases, cybercriminals are looking to target HR data or HR network access for ransom. Various types of ransomware — software used to encrypt files and lock computer screens — have been used to attack HR systems, with levels of success. Symantec reported that in early 2016, ransomware found new targets and moved beyond its focus on PCs to smartphones, Mac and Linux systems.

The Industry’s Response to Date

Despite the increased vulnerability of HR systems, many HR professionals still view themselves in the traditional role of workforce management, choosing to leave cyber risk management to other departments, notably IT.

According to a recent IBM security study released this year, 57 percent of chief human resources officers globally have rolled out employee training that addresses cybersecurity. However, the respondents’ positive percentages dropped noticeably when asked if they provided cybersecurity training that included measurable, results-based outputs, or if there was reinforcement throughout the year that provided more than a once a year cybersecurity training.

Some HR departments operate under the incorrect assumption that an HR back office cloud service provider is automatically responsible for employee data breached or exposed. In fact, should lax security measures or a breakdown in security protocols of an HR cloud or an IT service provider allow cybercriminals to steal employee data or breach personal information, the company that owns the data — and by extension the HR personnel responsible for the data — will incur the obligations (and expense) for notifications, credit monitoring and other issues.

In other words, just because a company hands over data to a cloud service provider doesn’t reduce or eliminate its liability. This is an emerging contractual issue that HR, legal and the C-suite need to work together to address in all HR IT service contracts.

The costs to notify, provide credit monitoring and hire third-party forensics experts can be staggering, potentially costing millions of dollars in the event of a successful cyberattack. Additionally the resulting business interruption expense could force small to medium-sized businesses to close.

Given the growing financial exposure and traditional duties in human resources (e.g., screening new employees, onboarding, training and the administration of sensitive HR data), HR must incorporate comprehensive cyber risk management practices across the enterprise. This is crucial; the study by IBM shows more than 20 percent of data breaches at work can be attributed to careless employee mistakes.

HR Roles Need to Evolve

The IBM report urged key executives in human resources, finance and marketing departments to be more proactive in security decisions, coordinate plans internally and to be more engaged in cybersecurity strategy and execution with the C-suite and IT.

This means HR personnel should not only stay abreast of proper security processes when it comes to accessing sensitive employee data, but they should be able to communicate updates about cyber threats effectively to the enterprise, to current and new employees, and contractors.

For example, during the onboarding process of a new employee, HR personnel can begin cyber risk education by delineating corporate policies on email sharing, network access, social media policies, what to do if there is even a doubt about the veracity of an emailed instruction, and company best practices on the use of cybersecurity tools. On a continuing basis, HR departments can facilitate cyber risk-focused internal communications to employees, particularly when the information relates to cyberattack prevention and training against emerging threats.

Another crucial emerging HR responsibility is ensuring that proper steps are taken to prevent former employees and contractors from continuing to have access to corporate networks. While this requires HR and IT to be aligned in real-time to minimize lag that could allow for a security exploit, the threat is real — a survey by Heimdal Security found that nearly 60 percent of fired employees steal important corporate data, including HR data, after departing their position.

Given their growing importance on the front lines in the war on cybercrime, it is imperative for HR professionals to evolve in their roles and become valued security partners within their organizations.

As HR systems incorporate new technologies, HR and IT, along with senior enterprise management, must partner together strategically to combat cyber threats. We’re all in this together now.


AUTHOR:  Paul King is senior vice president and national cyber practice leader in USI Insurance Services’ Dallas office.

Reprinted from Workforce


‘Hamilton’ Producers Aren’t Discriminating — They’re More Honest Than Hollywood

A month ago, Workforce employment law columnist and blogger Jon Hyman wrote in his “Practical Employer” blog that the producers for Broadway’s “Hamilton” could not claim race as a “bona fide occupational qualification” when sending a casting call out for nonwhite actors. He was right that they can’t claim race as a BFOQ, but he neglected the reason they should be praised, not condemned, for their practice.

I read the post after seeing the show at Richard Rodgers Theater in New York. Hyman admitted in his first paragraph that he doesn’t get the show or why it’s the “greatest thing to come to Broadway in the last few decades,” but I can declare right now: I’m a Hamilhead and have been since the album dropped last September. I’m also a theater geek, so when I say it really is the greatest thing to come to Broadway in the last few decades, I recognize that iconic musicals like “Rent,” “Avenue Q,” “Wicked”and “Hamilton”writer Lin-Manuel Miranda’s own “In the Heights” are included in that timeframe.

But don’t take my word for it — just look at the show’s record-breaking 16 Tony nominations.

Although I’m consciously biased, my “Hamilton” love is based on the very practice for which it’s being condemned. Miranda explained in a CBS Sunday Morning interview: It’s “the story of America ‘then’ told by America ‘now.’ It looks like America now.”

As a member of America “now,” I’m all in favor of seeing our population’s diversity echoed on the stage.

The lawyer who originally critiqued the show’s requirements, Randolph McLaughlin, said, “What if they put an ad out that said, ‘Whites only need apply? Why, African-Americans, Latinos, Asians would be outraged.’ ”

But show business has always said “Whites only need apply,” just not in so many words.

In February, the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies’ 2016 Hollywood Diversity Report stated that people of color play only 8.1 percent of TV lead characters and 12.8 percent of film leads.

Even the legal precedent Hyman referred to, Ferrill v. Parker Group, Inc. (11th Cir. 1999), was a court decision that gave white actors more opportunity by prohibiting their exclusion from auditioning for African slave roles.

Hyman’s and McLaughlin’s arguments assume that the casting ad excluded white actors outright. It didn’t. It declared it was looking for nonwhite actors but never excluded white actors from auditioning.

Some of the ensemble cast I saw two weeks ago was white, as are two named characters: King George III and Samuel Seabury. They had to get the roles somehow, right?

Where the producers made their mistake was claiming race as a BFOQ instead of just handing casting critics a ticket to the show so they can see for themselves that there’s nothing illegal going on — though even the producers can’t score seats these days.

So forgive the producers’ legalese gaff, but don’t neglect the fact that they’re being more honest than whitewashed Hollywood has ever been. After all, as Leslie Odom Jr., who plays Hamilton’s rival and eventual killer (spoiler alert) Aaron Burr, said in an interview with Buzzfeed:

Theatre “is malleable. It is strong. It is sturdy. … We can make it whatever we want it to be. Kids can play adults. And old people can play young people. And black people can play white people, and Asian people can play black people. If it’s done with a thoughtfulness and a care and a reason, we can do anything.”
AUTHOR:  Kate Everson is a former Workforce associate editor. Follow Everson on Twitter at @EversonKate. You can also follow her on Google Plus.

Reprinted from WORKFORCE

How HR & Marketing Can Build a Better Brand Together

Enduring brands are built by people—not ads, clicks or views.

Marketing has traditionally taken the lead in communicating the corporate brand promise, but when it comes to delivering on those promises, it’s people from all around the organization who have to do the meticulous work of successfully bringing the brand promise to life. In fact, employees need to do many things (often behind the scenes) that are “on brand” across dozens of customer touch points. Ultimately, it’s the organizational culture—”the way things are done around here”—that becomes the true brand differentiator.

That’s precisely why HR has a significant role to play in the process. It’s time to recognize and leverage the critical role employees play in enhancing and delivering the brand promise.

The Challenge

The digital age has brought forth exceptional corporate transparency. In order to productively drive cohesion and a seamless customer experience, organizations have to communicate internally with employees as aggressively and consistently as they do externally with customers. Branding is no longer just visual identity and an external promise to customers, but has become a means of executing business strategy via internal brand-led behavior and culture change to create a compelling customer experience delivered by the entire organization.

Rather than viewing brand as an outcome or intangible asset, the concept of employee-based brand equity affords us the opportunity to use brand as a lever to value and capture returns across the organization, and this is achieved with HR practices at the core.

What HR Gains

Recruiting top-tier talent is crucial for any organization wanting to achieve and sustain success, and hiring the right people is essential to building a workforce that’s truly engaged in what your company does. However, attracting that talent has become an increasingly challenging proposition, as candidates have become more discerning, and have far greater resources for evaluating their fit with your organization. Discovering brand inconsistencies between what’s promised externally and the internal reality employees experience could be enough of a deal-breaker to turn off those coveted candidates.

To prevent that from occurring, we have to consistently tell our brand story through a variety of channels, not just to reach customers but to reach prospective employees as well. Many companies fall short on communicating with current employees, much less extending the brand story to those they hope to recruit.

Marketing has the talent to help HR target an employee audience—just like it does a customer audience—and bring the brand alive by creating passionate, emotional connections with potential candidates. The qualities that matter to customers also matter to the high-potentials we want to recruit—especially on the topics of culture, leadership, challenge and growth.

Marketers know how to drive and measure audience engagement, how to create engaging experiences, how to nurture audiences, and how to tell a story that keeps people interested and engaged over a long period of time.

Invite marketing to help you map the employee journey, understand what matters to potential employees, how to find them and capture their attention, how to woo them into an employment relationship, and how to nurture, grow and retain them as valuable leaders at all levels of the company. Likewise, invoke marketing’s assistance to craft congruent messages so what new employees are presented with is consistent with the brand promise.

What Marketing Gains

HR’s role is to connect the dots between the customer value proposition/brand position and the various codes of conduct around the organization, starting with the mission, vision and values, to the employee value proposition and leadership model. A frequent challenge is that these values are often generic, disconnected, and say very little about the brand they represent.

HR professionals should take branding out of the marketing communications silo and into employee and organizational processes that underpin the delivery of the brand. Reconfigure existing HR processes like hiring, onboarding, training, reward and recognition—adapting them to ensure effective delivery of the brand and strategy.

Marketers’ ongoing quest for authentic and compelling brand stories can be supplemented by human resources. Partner with HR not only to tell the brand story through them, but also to discover new stories about why people come to work at the company, what matters to them, and how their own stories mesh with the brand story. This provides marketers insight into how their efforts make a difference in helping to recruit the right people.

Making It Work

Marketing and HR need to talk about what HR wants to accomplish with new and existing employees, and explore how the message and the experience between the brand and new employee onboarding can be unified.

In “Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing,” authors Carla Johnson and Robert Rose support increased collaboration between HR and marketing, and outline a plan for making a partnership like this work:

  • Extend the brand story through HR so the people recruited fit the culture, believe in the company’s purpose, and seamlessly step in to begin contributing in significant ways and creating delightful experiences for customers.
  • Reach candidates and new hires in new and meaningful ways based on their generational preferences.
  • Decide how and when to bring IT into the picture so the candidate experience is easy and user-friendly.
  • Help colleagues understand what could be, how all the brand pieces fit together, and how to work together to create new and different experiences for both employees and customers.

As the war for talent continues to rage, and customer expectations continue to escalate, we need to begin to create incredibly customized and personal experiences for those who have such enormous impact on our organizations and our ability to achieve our corporate goals. Increased and targeted collaboration between marketing and HR will go a long way in helping to accomplish those goals.

It’s time to recognize and leverage the critical role employees play in enhancing and delivering the brand promise.

AUTHOR:  Named one of the most influential women in the incentive industry, Michelle M. Smith, CPIM, CRP, is an accomplished international author and speaker, past-president of the FORUM at Northwestern University, president emeritus of the Incentive Marketing Association, vice-president of research for the Business Marketing Association, and vice-president of marketing for O.C. Tanner.

Reprinted from PREMIUM INCENTIVE PRODUCTS magazine

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.


Connecting the Dots: The Ultimate Challenge for HR

The typical Human Resources department has responsibility for a broad set of activities — from ensuring that people get paid, maintaining employee data, complying with labor regulations and reporting mandates, to administering health and retirement benefits, managing recruiting, training, performance management, and a host of other talent management activities.

While much attention is paid to how to execute these activities and benchmark their performance, relatively little is directed at how they connect to each other, and more importantly, to how the outcomes of these activities drive organizational performance.

i4cp’s People-Profit Chain™ model illustrates the influence of these people-management factors on organizational performance. It represents a high-level schematic that shows the connections between key human capital domains — Market, Strategy, Culture, Leadership, and Talent — and how their outcomes work together to drive market performance.

Vail Resorts, described in a recently published i4cp case study, provides a compelling illustration of how one organization identified and connected the dots that matter most. In particular, this case example demonstrates how HR leaders can go beyond the traditional responsibilities of the human resource function to play lead roles in defining integrated market vision, business strategy and cultural values while ensuring that leadership and talent programs and practices align with them.

A Common Challenge Met by an Uncommon Leader

Vail Resorts Management Company operates businesses in three distinct areas: mountain resorts, lodging (including luxury hotels, condominiums, and golf courses), and real estate development (linked to the areas near the company’s resorts). Senior leadership had the perception that Vail Resorts’ three business areas lacked interconnectedness–a sense that their operations were not synchronized–that motivated company leaders toward change.

They aspired to create an integrated, holistic strategic plan to drive long-term success. At the same time, they sought the synergies that grow from an engaged, cohesive workforce, and the economies inherent in consistent processes and enterprise-wide purchasing power.

The effort to tackle this challenge was initiated and led from an unusual place: the HR organization. Mark Gasta, Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer, guided this effort.

Defining Values First, Then Customer and Business Strategies

Gasta’s first move was unconventional. He started by examining the company’s culture and values rather than customer needs or business strategy. He formed a cross-functional team that engaged staff at all levels across the entire organization. The team identified six key principles that define Vail Resorts’ culture, then worked to infuse each principle with an action orientation and created colorful icons representing each one to make the values more memorable for employees. The simply stated values include: “have fun, be safe, serve others, do good, do right, and drive value.”

Vail used these mission and core values to define their core business–to operate ski mountains–and a strategy built on providing an integrated set of products and services that delivered on its mission to create the ski experience of a lifetime. Having clarity about the core business made it possible for executives to prioritize, and helped leaders make tough decisions about other product, service and business opportunities.

The values were also incorporated within key talent and leadership activities. Says Gasta, “in fact, we’ve built our communications around them, and we include them in new-hire orientation and in development programs. Our employees get these, they resonate, they make sense.” Gasta says that the values now figure strongly in Vail Resorts’ employee performance appraisals as well.

The Result: Strategic Clarity and Organizational Synergy

Vail Resorts integrated HR strategies and practices and also identified and applied a single defining logic and set of values to its business strategy and operating model, which sharpened the company’s competitive differentiation and galvanized its workforce. With those vital fundamentals in place, it became possible to gain new clarity about the organization’s core business competencies and to craft a compelling vision strong enough and inspiring enough to move Vail Resorts toward a unique and successful future.

Gasta says that the several years of effort by company leaders and the Culture Team enabled Vail Resorts to “galvanize everyone around a shared mission, shared values, clarity around our core, and where we’re going to focus so that we really have one agenda for the company.”

Lessons for HR Leaders

Gasta sees the work accomplished by Vail Resorts as a good illustration of the valuable role of HR at the strategic level.

“It’s facilitation of cross-functional, cross divisional groups and who else can take the lead? HR is well-positioned to do this kind of work and begin integrating agendas toward a common purpose. We may not be subject matter experts in every piece of this, but we’re facilitation experts who can bring people together, establish a shared vision and begin creating movement toward that. The value is strategically significant for the organization, but it’s also the reason we are in HR–enlisting our employees in a greater purpose–something more than themselves. It’s getting them fully involved in the organization, providing services and creating products because they are passionate, connected and engaged.”

In other words, connecting the dots for all employees to the company’s vision, values and strategy.

Gasta cautions HR leaders to avoid the tendency to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the work to be done and advises: “Envision the future state you want, and begin your roadmap with just the first few steps. The thing about vision is that you may not be able to chart your course all the way to the end, but if you just know those first few steps, you can see a little farther from there. Then the next step will become clear.

“Too often, we don’t act because something seems too big. Just do what you can. Momentum builds momentum. You’ll look back a year from now and say, ‘Wow, I can’t believe how far we’ve come.'”

Reprinted from i4cp

HR and IT Must Work Together to Control Mobile Devices

According to Forrester Research, 23 percent of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) workers claim their mobile device is not IT approved. With the number of devices moving in and out of organizations and the potential security risks at stake, all devices on an employer’s network should be approved by IT before gaining access to corporate e-mail and/or IT infrastructure.

While on one hand mobile devices can help employees and companies increase productivity, they also can be disruptive to an entire enterprise. These risks can be eliminated through implementation of a mobile device management policy and establishing a mobile monitoring service, but it’s important to know where to begin.

HR’s main priority is to protect the company’s IT data and infrastructure, and mobile devices are an extension of the organization and its valuable data. As such, it has become a part of HR’s job to implement tools that improve employee productivity and, as of late, these tools have included mobile devices and tablets.

And while the increased productivity and even the perks around mobile expense reimbursement have been beneficial, HR needs to play an active role in creating terms and conditions for employees using these devices to ensure there is a clear understanding of how the mobile devices are to be used.

These acceptable use policies must balance corporate culture, common sense, and business objectives, and limit potential risks to the enterprise. To be effective, it’s important that HR and IT are seated together at the mobility strategy table. Doing so ensures that the IT department, which is procuring, provisioning, and enforcing policies for these devices and managing enterprise mobility risks, is mindful of HR’s goals of improving employee productivity and satisfaction levels.

Creating a Plan

The first step to managing mobile devices in a company is to create a plan. To be effective, HR and IT departments need to join forces to understand what functions are required of a mobile device for an employee to work efficiently, what they want their employees to use their devices for, and what device applications support these goals. Applications that can be distracting or pose a threat to a device or network integrity should be banned from an employee’s mobile devices.

Once there is a general understanding of how employees should use their mobile devices, a mobile device management policy can be established. This policy should include all rules and regulations associated with mobile devices owned by the company and all devices owned by employees that access company data or use the corporate network. Here are some questions to ask while developing the policy:

  • Which mobile platforms, and models, can be enrolled for business use?
  • What minimum business and security requirements must the device satisfy?
  • What applications are required and which are prohibited?
  • How will you monitor and enforce these apps?
  • Which corporate networks, services, applications, and data are they permitted to access? How will you secure corporate data?
  • What rights must the employee grant the employer?
  • How will you monitor and control device settings, applications, and data to mitigate business risk?
  • Will you allow mobile VPN? If so, for what platforms do you trust most or least?

Application Management

With more than 500,000 device applications available in the Apple Store, it’s critical that the mobile device policy clearly addresses application management. Applications can be very dangerous for networks and devices as they can be an entryway for hackers to access private data and can distract employees from their job responsibilities.

Application restrictions reduce the risk of an application harming a device or network. One hacked mobile device can be an entry point for malicious activity that can affect the entire origination.

Policy Must-Haves

  • Ownership: Establish written policies for multiple scenarios to indicate who is responsible if the device is lost, broken, or stolen. It’s important to outline who will be responsible for the cost of a device if it is lost or stolen. It should be made clear that all employees must report missing devices immediately to allow HR and IT to take the necessary steps to secure the device
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    and its data. The device needs to be remotely wiped to limit the risk of company data being exposed.

  • Device Trust Model: Make it clear that devices distributed by the employer are trusted, while BYOD devices have limited trust. IT needs to communicate what devices are allowed access to what company programs—e-mail, VPN, apps, etc.—and if the employer will service the device. Establishing a list of devices at the outset that will not be allowed on the network will help enforce these policies.
  • Mobile Software: Choose mobile software packages every employee is required to have loaded and updated on their device. MDM can help define and deploy packages, as well as resolve platform, memory, and application dependencies. Define how deployed packages will be maintained to eliminate user pain or failed updates. Ensure there is secure communication to each device. Lastly, make sure the apps you deploy utilize the data protection APIs for iOS, and for Android platforms, the apps must not allow access to the native data on the device by other apps.
  • Device Control: Know your device capabilities to encrypt and protect data, applications, and network access to limit the risk of data being inappropriately accessed or changed. If the device becomes compromised, you need to be able to wipe the device, remove the iOS Exchange Payload (and the certificates for hardware authentication and VPN communication), or block network access points such as Exchange ActiveSynch. Schedule over-the-air backup from remote handhelds to a central location by authorized users or administrators. If necessary, maintain an audit trail of corporate data copied to and from mobile devices.

With 78 percent of companies permitting employees to use their personal devices for work-related activities, there is a need to address the risks associated with BYOD. BYOD devices need to be monitored and managed just like company-owned devices. These devices also can be harmful to an enterprise if they are not monitored correctly.

In order for mobile devices to be useful for employees while not introducing unnecessary costs and risks to the enterprise, HR and IT need to work together to develop a mobile device management policy that clearly outlines the regulations associated with BYOD for employees to understand the risks and restrictions.

About the Author:

Troy Fulton is director of Product Marketing at Tangoe, a global provider of Communications Lifecycle Management (CLM) software and related services to a range of global enterprises. He is responsible for guiding product concepts and leading the strategy and execution efforts to deliver seamless mobile solutions to enterprise customers. Reprinted from the Training Magazine Network

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