3 Ways You Can Extend the Work Lifecycle of Older Employees

One of the biggest biases we have as leaders is ageism. If you’re 35 years old and running a department and you are looking to fill a position on your team that will be your righthand person, the last thing you’re looking for is a 55-year-old to fill that spot! That’s just me being real for a second.

You and I both know that 35-year-old hiring manager is looking for a 25 – 28 year old to fill that spot

That’s mainly because at 35 you’re still basically stupid. I was. You were. We think 35ish is the pinnacle of all knowledge, but it’s really when we just start learning for real.

So, we have this core issue to deal with in workplaces right now. Our leaders are mostly Millennial and GenX, and Millennials are increasing into these roles at a rapid rate. Because of the Boomers leaving in large amounts, there aren’t enough talented young workers to replace the knowledge gap that is being left. So, we are left grappling with what we think we want (youth) with what really needs (experience!).

A recent study at the University of Minnesota found that employers need to add programs to focus on older workers:

The study argued that programs aimed at training workers won’t be enough to satisfy the state’s need for workers between 2020 and 2030. New policy directives and incentives may be needed, including offering pathways for baby boomers to delay retirement, drawing in workers from other states and supporting immigration from other countries

“There’s all this focus on workforce development, but none of it is guided to older workers,” said Mary Jo Schifsky, whose business, GenSync, advocates for meaningful career pathways for older adults and who helped initiate the study for the Board on Aging with the U’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. “We need career pathways for older workers just as much as we do for younger workers.”
 
In the U survey, managers ranked baby boomers high on loyalty, professionalism, engagement, and their commitment to producing quality work.
Employers need to find ways to extend the Work-Life Cycle of the older employees that work for them until the workforce, technology, and retraining programs can catch up to fill the void. Most employers are only focused on programs that are looking at younger workers.
So, what can you do as an employer to extend the life cycle of your older employees?
1.  Have real conversations with older employees about what they want. Most employers shy away from having the ‘retirement’ conversation with older employees because they think it’s embarrassing or illegal. It’s not. It’s a major reality of workforce planning. “Hey, Mary, Happy 55th Birthday, let’s talk about your future!” Oh, you want to work 18 more years! Nice! Let’s talk about a career path!
I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard a hiring manager say, “I don’t want to hire him because he’s 59 and is going to hire soon.” Well, I spoke to him and he wants to work until he’s 70 (11 years) and our average employee tenure is 4.7 years. I think we’re good!
2. Stop, Stop, Stop, believing that all you can do is hire full and part-time FTEs into roles. If Mary, my 63-year-old financial analyst wants to give me five more years of work, but only wants to work three days per week, in role ‘traditionally’ we’ve only had a full-timer, I’m taking Mary for three days! HR owes it to our organizations and hiring manager to push them out of the box when it comes to schedules and how we have always filled positions. 3 days of Mary is probably worth 3 weeks of an entry-level analyst in the same role!
We do this to ourselves. I hear it constantly from hiring managers, “HR won’t allow me to do that.” Why? Have you asked? No, but HR doesn’t allow us to do anything. We need to come to our hiring managers with solutions and let them see we are open to doing whatever it takes to help the organization meet its people’s needs.
3. Develop programs and benefits specifically designed to retain older employees. I work with a plant manager who developed an entire engineering internship program around having his retired engineers come back and work three days a week with interns and paid them ‘on-call’ wages for the days they weren’t there, so interns could call them with questions at any time. These retired engineers loved it! They could come to do some real work, help out, and still have a great balance.
It went so well, he kept some on all year, on-call, and partnered them with younger engineers who needed the same support and assistance from time to time. The on-call rate was pretty inexpensive, the support and knowledge they got in return, was invaluable.
It all comes down to flexibility on our part as employers to extend the life cycle of our older employees. We no longer have this choice where we can just throw our older employees away and think we can easily replace them. We can’t! There physically isn’t anyone there!
This is about using each other’s strengths. Younger leaders will be stretched and we need to help them stretch. We need to help older employees understand their roles. In the end, we need to find a way where we can all see each other for the strengths we bring to the table, not the opportunities.
It’s our job as HR professionals to work on how we can extend the life cycle of each of our employees.

Someone is Banking on You Being Lazy!

I work in an industry where I’ve been told for a decade technology is going to take my job. The staffing industry is half a trillion-dollar industry worldwide. The entire industry is built on us banking on the fact that someone in corporate TA is going to be lazy.

Ouch! That should sting a little!

So, I don’t really bank on you being lazy at my company. We do contract work so we are looking to fill contingent roles, not direct hire staffing, which is an industry almost completely built on lazy! For my staffing brothers and sisters out there, I hear you, I know you’re ‘just’ filling in when ‘capacity’ is an issue. (wink, head nod, wink)

There are other industries that bank you us being lazy. The entire diet industry! You’ve got overpriced awful foods, bars, shakes, workout gyms, at home gyms, etc. Because we won’t eat less and move more, because we are “lazy”, we pay a lot for that! Believe me, I pay my fair share! Just because I’m too lazy! Ugh, it’s embarrassing!

Direct hire staffing as an industry could be gone tomorrow if corporate TA just did what they were hired to do. You have an opening, you fill the opening. We aren’t trying to put a woman on the moon! This isn’t rocket science!

But, we don’t fill the opening. In fact, we do just about everything except filling the opening. We post the opening. We meet about the opening. We send whoever applies to the manager of the opening. We meet some more about candidate experience. We have another meeting about employment branding. One more meeting with the manager to see if anything has changed.

That doesn’t sound lazy, does it?

But, deflection of more difficult work is just another form of laziness.

My kid doesn’t want to go out in 90-degree heat and mow the lawn. It’s a hard, hot job. So, they come up with ‘alternative’ work that they have to do that just happens to be inside in the air conditioning.

As TA Leaders, we have to understand how are others are banking on us being lazy, and then make adjustments to stop lazy. So, how do you do that?

Well, I wrote an entire book on the subject – The Talent Fix – you can buy it here – but until you can get it, here are some tips:

  1. Have clearly defined measurable activity goals set for each member of your TA team.
  2. Make those measures transparent so everyone can see them every day.
  3. Have performance conversations immediately when measures aren’t met.
  4. Course correct as measures need to be adjusted to meet the needs of the business.
  5. Rinse, repeat.

1 -5 above is like page 37 of the book. So, you can imagine what the rest of the 200+ pages will be like! 😉

If you follow the five steps above about half of your team will quit in 90 days. That’s a good thing, those idiots didn’t want to recruit, to begin with, they just wanted that fat corporate check and Taco Tuesdays. They were being lazy and it was costing your corporate bottom line.

The talent acquisition function is not a charity case. I think in the history of HR we’ve done some corporate charity where we let people keep collecting money even though they were costing us money. They weren’t giving back the value we needed for what we were paying. Great leaders stop this from happening.

Great leaders understand that there are people in the world that are banking on us being lazy.

E21 – The HR Famous Pod: We Discuss the Rooney Rule for Inclusive Hiring!

In episode 21 of the HR Famous Podcast, long-time HR leaders (and friends) Tim Sackett, Kris Dunn, and Jessica Lee come together to talk about The Rooney Rule and VMware’s new commitment to include a minority and female candidate in every search at the company. The gang also discusses how often they’ve filled up their car tanks during quarantine, and something called Generation Zoom.

Listen below and be sure to subscribe, rate, and review (iTunes) and follow (Spotify)!

Show Highlights:

1:30 – How many times have you filled your gas tank during quarantine? Jlee has only filled her tank once since March!

3:00 – Who doesn’t love a best friend duo that runs together? KD and Tim went running in Celebration, Florida together. KD was on Zillow on his phone the entire time they ran in the community and Tim was dying.

5:45 – KD has been reading a lot about “Generation Zoom”; our younger generation that has been learning through distance learning. Jlee talks about how her young kids may have trouble learning in the future since they are losing a lot of development time in school.

9:00 – Do you think there will be a dip in SAT and ACT scores in the coming year? Tim is interested to see where the data falls.

10:45 – First major topic of the day: The Rooney Rule. This NFL rule places interview quotas for minority candidates for coaching positions. Tim talks about how more minority candidates have been put into the interview process and what it’s meant in hiring minority coaches.

16:00 – Jlee discusses her own personal experience getting an opportunity that she might not have based on her resume and how she relates to the experience of Mike Tomlin.

18:00 – Tim talks about some negative views on the Rooney Rule and how often coaching positions are planned and picked out far in advance.

20:00 – KD and Jlee bring up another positive of the Rooney Rule, in that it forces forcing hiring managers to look harder and potentially finding special people that they may not have been able to find before, even if it’s not for that particular position.

22:30 – Second topic of the day: VMware’s CEO (Patrick Gelsinger) announced their company would commit to interviewing a POC and a woman for every single position. KD thinks this sounds similar to the Rooney Rule. KD and Tim praises VMware and other companies who have come out recently with new processes and practices to help diversify their workforce.

26:20 – Jlee brings up potential backlash from recruiters and other hiring managers. She notes that leaders need to give recruiters some leeway in order to reach performance metrics and new interviewing goals.

29:40 – How will this new hiring practice work in practice? KD brings up the self ID process and when it comes into play in the hiring process. Jlee discusses the data recruiters will be giving to hiring managers and how they will report that they are meeting a certain requirement.

33:00 – KD reads VMware’s CEO statement again to Tim and gets his reaction. Tim thinks there are many aspects to this new rule that need to be addressed in order to be successful in finding the best possible candidates.

36:00 – Pat (CEO of VM Ware) is a new best friend of the pod!

36:20 – Jlee and KD praise the leadership at VMware for going ahead with this announcement and implementation of the rule instead of getting bogged down in details and complaints.

38:45 – Jlee and KD talk about the concept of equality vs diversity, with KD bringing up Salesforce’s move years ago to grab the high ground of equality.

41:00 – HR Famous would like to congratulate Patrick Gelsinger from VMware on a job well done with their new version of the Rooney Rule.

The Worst Hire You’ll Ever Make!

A crazy thing happens almost every day in professional sports, and it’s the one thing that separates great teams from the pack. Talent selection will make or break a team’s success and in professional sports, it’s about getting the right talent for the right price.

The problem with most professional sports teams, regardless of the sport, is they continually try to improve their roster incrementally. “Oh, let’s pick up Pitcher A because he’s a little better than Pitcher B”.

Great Pitcher A is better than Pitcher B, but did Pitcher A truly solve the issue you have?

That’s the real issue!

The worst hire you can ever make is one that doesn’t solve your problem but just make it a little better. “We suck at sales, let’s hire Tim, he’s not great, but he’s better than Bob.” Wonderful, now you only slightly suck less at sales!

Never make a hire that doesn’t solve your problem completely that you are having in that specific position. Upgrading doesn’t always fix problems, and many times it actually continues your main problem longer instead of fixing it completely.

We have this belief that all we need to do is continue to get a little better each day, each week, each month until we eventually have fixed it. The problem is that this isn’t how most problems are actually solved, by getting a little bit better over time. Most problems are fixed by implementing one solution that solves the problem.

It’s basically this crappy failure paradox we continue to get sold by seemingly everyone with a platform. “Just keep failing and eventually you’ll find success!” Which is complete and utter bullshit, but we LOVE hearing this!

In hiring, you can’t keep failing and find success. You will actually find failure even faster and be out of business. In hiring, it’s critical you find success and hire the right people who will solve your problem the first time, not just make you a little better.

Another great example of this is in the NFL. It’s critical in the NFL that you have a great quarterback, but they’re extremely hard to find. So, if you don’t have an elite quarterback, most teams will continue to try and upgrade with average quarterbacks.

The better advice is to work with what you have and make it the best you can until you get the opportunity to hire, or draft, that one great quarterback that can truly change your franchise. Constant change and churn, just to get a little better, is slowly killing your organization.

Make great hires. Organizational change hires. Individuals who have the ability to make things right. Too often, and we’ve all been there, we make hires that feel safe, knowing they won’t hurt us, but they probably won’t help us much either. Those are the worst hires you can make.

The Weekly Dose: @VaultPlatform – Workplace Misconduct Reporting Tech

Today on the Weekly Dose I take a look at a timely technology in a world of #MeToo #BLM #Covid-19! Vault Platform helps organizations resolve workplace misconduct including that related to Me Too, Black Lives Matter, COVID-19, and all other workplace issues with a safe speak-up app for reporting incidents.

Let’s be clear to start, this isn’t your parent’s workplace 1-800 hotline, where you called some third-party company that would listen to your story, filter it, and then pass it along to HR, who then call you in. Vault is a technology, mobile-first, platform that allows employees to report any type of workplace harassment, fraud, corruption, racism, etc., and document their experience. Then, when they feel the time is right, they can actually send this forward to be responded to.

Each time an employee reports it is dated and time-stamped and the employee has access to their actual record the entire time. Once an employee decides to move forward it gets sent to the appropriate parties within the organization to resolve the issue.

What I like about Vault:

– “Go Together” – when talking about things like sexual harassment and racism, many times an employee does not feel comfortable reporting on their own, but they also don’t trust others when they say they’ll also report. Vault’s “Go Together” allows an employee to report, but only move it forward once another employee reports the same or similar behavior, so they are not making these accusations on their own. It’s really a brilliant idea!

– Vault dashboard works as a case management dashboard so HR, legal, D&I, etc. can check and track that reports are being resolved and how they are being resolved. It allows executives to instant insight access to the real problems that are going on in their organization, unfiltered, right from their employees.

– It allows employees to communicate in a way that is most comfortable to them, mobile messaging, not a phone call talking to a stranger.

– Employees can record for as long as they want without reporting and always have access to their own words, an organization can not delete or edit the employee’s own records. Many times something happens to an employee but they aren’t sure if it’s actually harassment, but as they see a pattern of behavior begin to happen, it becomes clear. Keeping these records makes it easy for the employee to give proof of how long and how much this is happening.

Right now every single organization on the planet is concerned with the experiences their employees are having. Me Too, BLM, COVID, etc. have shown us that our employees are having very drastic differences in their experiences, and we need to give our employees access and the ability to share these with us quickly and easily if we want to truly make changes and improve their experiences.

I first saw Vault at the HR Technology Conference right after Me Too and I liked it. With the additional social and health issues today, it’s even a more relevant technology. Vault Platform happens to be the perfect workplace technology at the perfect time. I highly recommend you take a look and a demo.

It’s Really Hard to Judge People!

I was out walking with my wife recently (that’s what middle-aged suburban people do, we walk, it makes us feel like we are less lazy and it gets us away from the kids so we can talk grown-up) and she made this statement in a perfectly innocent way:

“It’s really hard to judge people.”

She said this to ‘me’!  I start laughing.  She realized what she said and started laughing.

It’s actually really, really easy to judge people!  I’m in HR and Recruiting, I’ve made a career out of judging people.

A candidate comes in with a tattoo on their face and immediately we think: prison, drugs, poor decision making, etc. We instantly judge.  It’s not that face-tattoo candidate can’t surprise us and be engaging and brilliant, etc. But before we even get to that point, we judge.  I know, I know, you don’t judge, it’s just me. Sorry for lumping you in with ‘me’!

What my wife was saying was correct.  It’s really hard to judge someone based on how little we actually know them.

People judge me all the time on my poor grammar skills.  I actually met a woman recently at a conference who said she knew me, use to read my stuff, but stopped because of my poor grammar in my writing.  We got to spend some time talking and she said she would begin reading again, that she had judged me too harshly, and because I made errors in my writing assumed I wasn’t that intelligent.

I told her she was actually correct, I’m not intelligent, but that I have consciously not fixed my errors in writing (clearly at this point I could have hired an editor!). The errors are my face tattoo.

If you can’t see beyond my errors, we probably won’t be friends.  I’m not ‘writing errors, poor grammar guy”.  If you judge me like that, you’re missing out on some cool stuff and ideas I write about.

As a hiring manager and HR Pro, if you can’t see beyond someone’s errors, you’re woefully inept at your job.  We all have ‘opportunities’ but apparently, if you’re a candidate you don’t, you have to be perfect.  I run into hiring managers and HR Pros who will constantly tell me, “we’re selective”, “we’re picky”, etc.

No, you’re not.  What you are is unclear about what and who it is that is successful in your environment.  No one working for you now is perfect.  So, why do you look for perfection in a candidate?  Because it’s natural to judge against your internal norm.

The problem with selection isn’t that it is too hard to judge, the problem is that it’s way too easy to judge.  The next time you sit down in front of a candidate try and determine what you’ve already judged them on.  It’s a fun exercise. Before they even say a word.  Have the hiring managers interviewing them send you their judgments before the interview.

We all do it.  Then, flip the script, and have your hiring managers show up for an interview ‘blind’. No resume beforehand, just them and a candidate face-to-face.  It’s fun to see how they react and what they ask them without a resume, and how they judge them after.  It’s so easy to judge, and those judgments shape our decision making, even before we know it!

 

Are You Struggling to Find Happiness at Work?

In 1942 Viktor Frankl, a prominent Jewish psychiatrist, was taken to a Nazi concentration camp with his wife and parents.  Three years later, when his camp was liberated, his pregnant wife and parents had already been killed by the Nazis. He survived and in 1946 went on to write the book, “Man’s Search For Meaning“.  In this great book, Frankl writes:

“It is the very pursuit of happiness that thwarts happiness.”

What Frankl knew was that you can’t make happiness out of something outside yourself.  Riding the Waverunner doesn’t make you happy. You decide to be happy while doing that activity, but you could as easily decide to be angry or sad while doing this activity (although Daniel Tosh would disagree!).  Frankl also wrote in Man’s Search for Meaning, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing, the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

I get asked frequently by HR Pros about how they can make their employees or workplace happier.  I want to tell them about Frankl’s research and what he learned in the concentration camps.  I want to tell them that you can’t make your employees happy.  They have to decide they want to be happy, first. But, I don’t, people don’t want to hear the truth.

Coming up with ‘things’ isn’t going to make your employees happy. You might provide free lunch, which some will really like, but it also might make someone struggling with their weight, very depressed.  You might give extra time off and most of your employees will love it, but those who define themselves by their work will find this a burden.

Ultimately, I think people tend to swing a certain way on the emotional scale.  Some are usually happier than others.  Some relish in being angry or depressed, it’s their comfort zone.  They don’t know how to be any other way.  Instead of working to ‘make’ people happy, spend your time selecting happy people to come work for you.

In the middle of a concentration camp, the most horrific experiences imaginable, Frankl witnessed people who made the decision to be happy. Maybe they were happy to have one more day on earth. Maybe they were happy because, like Frankl, they discovered that the Nazis could take everything from them except their mind.

Provide the best work environment that you can.  Continue to try and make it better with the resources you have.  Give meaning to the work and the things you do.  Every organization has this, no matter what you do at your company.  Don’t pursue happiness, it’s a fleeting emotion that is impossible to maintain.  Pursue being the best organization you can be.  It doesn’t mean you have to be someone you’re not.  Just be ‘you’, and find others that like ‘you.’

#CoronaDiaries: Did you add Juneteenth as a paid holiday?

A real conversation happening in all organizations across the U.S. last week, and it will continue, is whether or not your organization was going to add Juneteenth as a paid holiday. I dive into the HR operational side of this question. It’s definitely not a simple, straightforward answer, and everyone in your organization is going to have an opinion!

Hit me in the comments:

  1. Will your organization add Juneteenth as a paid holiday?
  2. How many paid holidays should employees have?
  3. Should we just give “X” hours/days of PTO and you as an employee can decide which holidays you want to celebrate?

Episode 20 of HR Famous – Adidas CHRO in Trouble & Micromanaging Work at Home

In episode 20 of The HR Famous Podcast, long-time HR leaders (and friends) Tim Sackett, Kris Dunn, and Jessica Lee come together to discuss this week’s Supreme Court ruling, pronouns, and Zoom fatigue. The trio talk about the new developments that may come out of the SCOTUS ruling, the calling for the resignation of Adidas’ CHRO, and micromanaging WFH employees.

SHOW HIGHLIGHTS

2:40 – Weird voicemail time: Tim talks about a voicemail he got from a young person looking for a job with no information whatsoever. Do you have any crazy voicemail stories?

4:50 – Do you put your phone number on your LinkedIn profile? Tim has his out there and he doesn’t get a lot of spam calls (yet).

5:40 – First major topic of the day: SCOTUS ruled on Monday that the Civil Rights Act protects LGBTQ workers from workplace discrimination. Jlee thinks that this is may open up a new dialogue about transgender workers amongst HR professionals and compliance. KD wonders about self IDs and any new developments with affirmative action.

10:00 – Tim discusses the importance of collecting gender in order to collect data on discrimination. He also talks about how he first was hesitant about the importance of pronouns and how he’s come around on the importance of proper pronouns in the workplace.

12:00 – Any Billions watchers out there?

13:00 – KD brings up the issue of a few corporations encouraging or forcing the use of personal pronouns on platforms like LinkedIn profiles. He thinks it may slow the progress of the adoption of this new practice.

16:00 – Tim thinks that companies can force pronoun use and identification onto employees if they’re a company that fosters a more progressive culture. He thinks it may help with less offensive situations by encouraging leadership to adopt the practice and see the culture change from the top down.

18:30 – Second topic of the day: Adidas employees are calling for the resignation of the brand’s CHRO Karen Parkin due to previous problematic comments on racial issues within the company. Jlee discusses how companies can’t have any missteps right now and if they do, they have to react quickly.

23:00 – Tim and Jlee comment on their distaste for digging up old dirt and bringing it back up years later. He commends Howard Stern and his genuine apology for doing blackface. He also brings up the differences in racial issues across the world and from country to country.

26:20 – KD says that it is hard for him to fathom a business leader that isn’t able to acknowledge issues within a company when confronted. Jlee discusses the need for humility and empathy as HR professionals.

28:15 – Final topic of the day: micromanaging! We’re not talking about the messaging platform but about leaders who micromanage their teams. Tim calls out Jlee for being a micromanager but she claims her extra micromanaging is due to the uncertainty of the times.

31:40 – Tim doesn’t believe in Zoom fatigue. Do you?

33:50 – “Do you know what’s worse than Zoom fatigue? Not having a job.” – Tim

34:00 – Jlee stands up for permanent remote employees who weren’t forced to show their face on camera before but are now due to everyone working remotely.

35:20 – Did you know KD writes on the side?

37:15 – Tim thinks that 25-30 working at home may equate to 40 hours to an office.

Resources:

Jessica Lee on LinkedIn

Tim Sackett on Linkedin

Kris Dunn on LinkedIn

HRU Tech

The Tim Sackett Project

The HR Capitalist

Fistful of Talent

Kinetix

Boss Leadership Training Series

Random Rules of Leadership

Leadershipping is hard. You try as you might to do and say the right thing, to the right person, at the right time, and sometimes it works, and sometimes it fails miserably. That’s life. Mostly we try to be the best version of ourselves, and not f*ck up to bad!

We love rules. Rules are safe. If you follow them, mostly things work out. If you break them, mostly things don’t work out as well, but every so often, you’ll be just fine. I think the trick to breaking a rule and having things work out is if you still follow your moral compass when determining which rules you’ll break and which ones you won’t.

As a leader, we are both rule-maker and rule-follower. In my time as a leader here are some rules of leadership that I try to follow:

– Never expect an employee to care as much about the department/function/company and the job as you do, but if they do, show that respect.

– Starting a new project is awesome and the feeling is great, but surround yourself with finishers because that’s what really matters.

– No one wants to hear what’s wrong, they want to hear what’s your plan to fix it. Any idiot can tell you what’s wrong.

– Always be prepared for your largest customer to kick you to the curb. It likely won’t happen, but when it does you won’t panic and your team needs that more than anything at that moment.

– You’ll never fully get the full truth from someone who relies on you to get their check. It will be washed and wrapped, and that feedback will be as kind as possible. Unless they already have one foot out the door.

– Keep your expenses low. I don’t need a fourth kind of Kabucha in the office, but I do need that extra salesperson.

– You never have to talk every person in the room into your idea, just the person with the most influence. Before you open your mouth, understand who that person is.

– If “average” is the ceiling of someone working for you, you can live without them on your team.

– Don’t be concerned with overpaying for expert advice that you trust and count on.

– Ship it. You will never really perfect an idea or a project. Put it out in the wild and see what happens, then adjust. Too often we hold stuff until it’s too late because we don’t think it’s ready.

– It’s not your job to make someone who works for you happy. It is your job to help them make a happiness decision. Either they are mostly happy working in the job they have, or they need to go find out where they can be happy.

– Your job isn’t to be the best at whatever function to lead, it’s to put the best team together that will be the best at that function. Great leaders do two things exceptionally well. They recruit great talent onto their teams, and they knock down roadblocks to great performance.

Okay, share your favorite leadership rule in the comments below!