If Your Company has a Chief Happiness Officer you Should Rethink Your Career Path!

In the past three weeks, I’ve been pitched by some well-meaning PR person about a story on how Google, Salesforce, Zappos, Airbnb, etc., have “Chief Happiness Officers” and how important they are to corporate success. Or at least, how “Happiness” as a measure is important to corporate success.

I’ve been pitched this idea four times, primarily so I would talk about their client, Snappy, which apparently is a chatbot of some kind that asks your employee questions to probably gauge their happiness or something, and in turn, you can then turn to your Chief Happiness Officer to fix the happy that is broken. (BTW – look for my new book in 2020 – “Fix the Happy!”)

Snappy might be some awesome tech, but I don’t like the pitch. I think that pitch is broken, for the real world. The real world is not Google and Zappos. Those are unicorns. Real companies have real issues and making their entitled employees happy is not one of those real issues.

I want to punch every Chief Happiness Officer in the smiling face!

Seriously, how completely warped do you have to be to think you actually bring happiness to another human being, let alone an entire company of human beings!?!

Will Smith is my Chief Happiness Officer:

Turns out CHO’s don’t make employees happy. Employees make themselves happy. No amount of money, or time off, or Taco Tuesdays, or standup desks or seven flavors of Kombucha in the employee cafe, will make a person happy. Happiness is an emotion controlled by the individual, no matter the environment they’re in.

There are great stories of prisoners at Auschwitz that chose love and happiness in the darkest hours and circumstances that anyone could imagine. There are people who win $500M lotteries that blow their head off because of how depressed they are. A CHO can’t change that.

Chief Happiness Officers are what happens to organizations when leadership gets out of control. When we stop actually leading and managing the business, and we ‘become’ leaders. When we start believing our own bullsh*t to a level where we think we actually control the emotions of our employees.

Look, I get it. I also want to drink the Kool-aid and believe in Santa Claus. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful, fantasy-filled life?! But that is life. 99.99% of us have to work to pay bills. Within that, we can choose to be happy, or miserable, or somewhere in between and that actually might have many times in the same day. No one person is going to make me happy or miserable unless I make that choice to allow that to happen.

There you go. That’s my take. Chief Life Officer, out.

When Did Causal Friday Die?

I love the fact that at some point almost every industry decided that it was mostly stupid to wear suits and ties and dresses to work. Even more, Business Casual has mostly died out as well.

I can’t tell you how many F500 organizations I go into where the head of HR or head of Talent is wearing jeans. At my company we went casual pretty late, primarily because we are a service organization and we match that dress of our clients we go to visit.

You’ve probably seen some of these sayings going around social media:

  • There was a day when you picked up your child for the last time. You didn’t know it the time, but you’ll never pick them up again.
  • There was a day when you went outside to play with your friends. You didn’t know it at the time, but you never went out again to play.

We do a ton of stuff then one day we stop doing it and we don’t even realize it. I like to think that’s what happened to Casual Fridays.

For the longest time Casual Fridays were the thing! Some companies used them as motivation, some used them as charity vehicles to raise money for great causes, etc. Then one day, every day was casual and we no longer needed Casual Friday.

I’m not 100% sold that being casual at work all the time is the answer and there is some growing research that says the same thing. There are certain times when dressing up puts you in a better psychological state of mind!

In the study, The Cognitive Consequences of Formal Clothing, researchers found that when a person puts on formal clothing (business formal, not wedding formal) our brain gets us to believe we are better than maybe we really are! 

When wearing formal business clothing we tend to do certain things better, like negotiating. If you were going to close a deal with a big client, it’s best you don’t show up in jeans and a hoodie, even if those you’ll be negotiating with will be. In fact, you’ll have an advantage over them if you did show up fully suited up! 

Billionaire, Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA Mavericks recently shared a post he wrote in 2007, doubling down on his belief we should never wear suits and he says he only does, to this day, for weddings and funerals. 

Mark doesn’t believe in the psychological impact of wearing a suit and tie (despite what the research says) and believes letting your employees be casual is the way to go. Since his post in 2007, I would dare to say 100% of tech companies are casual! 

I’ve worked in a business that went from a formal dress code, to a business casual dress code, to a casual dress code. I’m not sure I can tell you one made a difference over another.

I know from a client relationship standpoint when I was in formal clothing, clients felt a little uncomfortable when I was dressed up and they weren’t. But, those same clients when I was meeting them for the first time knew I looked at their business with the utmost importance. Once the relationship was established, I’m sure they felt more at ease when I showed up looking like they did.

From an employment brand standpoint I never understood the large organizations where they executives still wear suit and tie but the rank and file are casual. But I feel the same way about coaches on sidelines wearing suits, or even politicians. There is definitely a psychological power play with all of these.

So, raise one up for Casual Fridays or pour one out or whatever it is you do when something you’ve known for so long dies. Casual Fridays, you’ll be remembered well, or at least remembered as ‘why the hell did we do that?”

Gen Z HR Pros!! Are you ready to blog or vlog? I want you to join me!

So, this summer my son, Cameron, and I started up this series on my blog called, “Career Confessions of Gen Z”. He did an awesome job finding his voice and creating compelling content that was coming straight from the mouth of Gen Z, and not some old washed up blogger, like me, who claimed to know what Gen Z was all about.

I loved it! The audience loved it!

He went back to school, got busy doing school stuff and Career Confessions just sat there.

Another crazy thing happens in HR blogging. If you look at most HR Bloggers, the vast majority are Gen X, older Millennials, some Baby Boomers. So very few are actual Millennials and almost zero are Gen Z. While our executives still like to believe all young employees are still Millennials, we know in HR that Gen Z is the newest generation we need to pay attention to entering our workforces.

So, Gen Z HR and Talent Pros – I need you! 

What’s the gig?

HR and/or Talent Blogger for The Project – specifically under the “Career Confessions of Gen Z” series.

How much do you have to write?

Once per month, every 4-5 weeks. Each post would be anywhere from 400-800-ish words, or a video-blog (vlog) 3-5 minutes. The initial project is for 12 months, so if you get invited to join the team, you’ll be asked to write 12 posts in 12 months.

What can you write or speak about?

Anything work or career-related, as long as it’s interesting or entertaining or educational, and hopefully a combination of all three!

Can I do this anonymously? 

Hell no! Why would you?! This is your big break and a big platform – let yourself shine!

What do I get for doing this?

Fame mostly. I mean micro-fame, but it’s still fame. You might get invited to attend some HR or Recruiting conferences for free. We can be friends if you’re not super annoying. I’ll tell people you’re awesome. If I find a sponsor for the series I’ll split the cash with you.

How can I apply? 

Simple. Send me a writing sample of what you would do on the blog. Don’t suck. Have an opinion. Don’t tell me you first have to run it by legal for approval. Send that sample to: timsackett@comcast.net or just Venmo me $1000 and consider yourself 100% on the team! (jk – don’t do that) Deadline for submissions is December 19th – that’s 2 weeks! So, get going! Invitations will go out on or before January 3rd for those selected to join the team!

HR and TA Leaders – Recruitment Marketing and Employment Branding leaders – this is a great stretch assignment for the Gen Zers on your team for 2019! Send this to them and get them to submit!

I’m looking forward to reading your work!

Why Did Amazon Decide on Having 3 Corporate Headquarters?

So, the biggest news of the week is Amazon finally made a decision on where they were going to build HQ2 and come to find out instead of just one location, Amazon is splitting the job lottery into two prizes and both Washington D.C. and New York will get an Amazon Headquarters. Okay, it’s probably really about 4 Headquarters since they’re really focusing a ton of the supply chain talent in Nashville, but who’s counting!?

I never really thought Washington D.C. or New York City had a chance because I was thinking about stuff like the ability to actually move around! Turns out Amazon’s real decision point came around brain power. Now, I know what you’re thinking! There are absolutely no brains in Washington D.C.! Hello, is this mic on!? Also, have you been the urine-scented streets of New York!? Joking!

If you look at the U.S. and did a heat map around higher education institutions you would find a gigantic section of the Eastern seaboard is shaded a bright red! From Boston to New York to Philadelphia to Washington D.C. you can’t find a more concentrated area of higher education in the world! Amazon’s newest HQ2 and HQ3 will be strategically located right amongst those areas!

The largest employers in the U.S. look like this:

Walmart is stupid big, but almost all of their employees are onsite at stores.  Accenture is huge, but again their employees work in every medium to large city in the country, not a one big headquarters. FedEx is basically the US mail service. Go down the list and you’ll most of the largest employers are not headquartered centric, but location-centric.

Amazon is the lone giant employer who has most of its employees in office buildings. Knowing they were going to have to hire 50,000+ employees, there was really no one location in the U.S. that could have handled that need for talent in such a short time. Washington D.C. and New York are probably two of the places that can handle 25,000 new jobs, each, without crippling every other employer in the market. And, this will still cause a giant disruption in those cities as people will be moving around like crazy.

An additional 5,000 white collar jobs in Nashville will be an incredible amount for that market, especially in the key skills they’re looking for which are desperately needed everywhere in the U.S. right now. Better dust off your employee engagement strategies and update your compensation models, Nashville employers! 2020 is going to be a tough year!

This decision signals one other potential massive shift for IT. Washington D.C. was already a pretty big IT hub with all the government work, but now moving this many IT related jobs to the East Coast could begin a big shift away from organizations believing you have to be in Silicon Valley to hire IT talent. Amazon will bring and grow IT talent for the entire east coast and strengthen those cities as large IT hubs worldwide.

Amazon definitely didn’t help workers out from a quality of life standpoint. Both D.C. and NYC are awful in terms of cost and commute, at least in California you get sunshine in your closet of an apartment!

The decision for me showed that Amazon truly looked at labor markets and demographics (and some giant tax breaks – which, let’s be honest, everyone was willing to give) as the major decision points in the location of the new headquarters. The U.S. demographics over the next decade should be a major concern for large employers. More workers will leave the workforce than are coming into the workforce, so you better be close to where we tend to grow white collar, educated workers.

This is a win for higher education as much as it is for Washington D.C. and New York City.

What if you let your TA Interns run your campus Career Fairs? #TC18Live

I’ve noticed something when I go onto campus for career fairs. The TA Pros that are there representing your company, don’t really want to be there. They don’t really want to be talking to students. They find this beneath them in many aspects.

That is if you’re over one year out of college! It seems like the only people who want to go on campus are your new hire recruiters. They’re super excited to go on campus! Then they get a year out and the culture beats them down and they become too ‘professional’ to talk to lame students who only want an internship, or they just want some of your swag!

Here’s what I know, when your TA interns go back to school for the year, they would love to represent you on campus to students at the fall and spring career fair! LOVE!  They would advocate for you, like your own people ever could!

What would it cost you? Like a few hours of $15/hr wage or something like that!

What would you get in return?

– “Recruiters” who love being at that career fair!

– “Recruiters” who love being at that school!

– “Recruiters” that candidates at that school would listen to!

– “Recruiters” that would do a better job than your current team!

What could go wrong?

I mean really, what would really go wrong if the interns took over a career fair? I’m guessing absolutely nothing! Oh, they might not spin bull shit as good as your internal team could spin bull shit, but on the positive side, Gen Z doesn’t really react to that style anyway!

The reality is Interns will take career fairs more seriously than your normal team. They are trying to impress you. They are trying to impress their classmates. They’ll give it their all. When was the last time you looked at your internal team and thought, “Oh boy, the team really gave it 110% on campus this season!” Never! You never thought this!

This isn’t about your team not doing well. They do fine! They’re representing you just fine. Fine. No, really, fine! The question is, do you want ‘fine’?

Sometimes the craziest ideas are the best ideas! I mean, if you have a campus that you’re just not making it happen, what do you really have to lose? Let the interns take over and they might just surprise you on how great they do. If they fail, oh well, you were sucking on that campus anyway!

Your EEOC Job Posting Statements are Hurting Your Diversity Hiring!

Employers discriminate in hiring. This is a fact. It’s been a fact for generations. It’s the main reason anti-discrimination statements show up on job postings. That and it’s the law for Public employers and Government contractors who are required to have these statements. Many private employers use these as well to show they don’t discriminate in hiring.

For fifty years we’ve seen these statements on job descriptions and job advertisements. Recently, two Economists from the University of Chicago did a study looking at the impact of candidate behavior when these statements are added to a job posting and their findings were shocking!

In their study, the two economists posted advertisements for an administrative assistant job in ten large American cities. Of the 2,300 applicants who expressed interest, half were given a standard job description and the other half were given a description with an equal-opportunity statement promising that “all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to sex, colour, age or any other protected characteristics”.

 

For racial minorities, those who received the pro-diversity statement were 30% less likely to apply for the job—and the effect appeared to be worse in cities with white majorities (see chart). In a follow-up survey, the prospective applicants said the statement prompted worries that they would be token diversity hires.

30% Less Likely To Apply!!! 

What the what?!?!

This isn’t a study that was done decades ago. This was done in the past twelve months!

So, what should we do? 

One thing the study found that had a positive impact on increasing diversity application is to show your senior executives, including your CEO, talk in a ‘real’ transparent way on the impact that diversity has on your organization.

No, not some overly-produced puff piece about how we are all part of the same rainbow. Include video on your career site with your CEO telling stories about how D&I isn’t just a marketing tactic, but how it’s really impacted the organization in a positive way.

Have diverse employees ask the CEO question that gets to the heart of where D&I is in your organization. Don’t be afraid about keeping this conversation open and maybe a bit uncomfortable. The more real, the more candidates will understand that you’re really trying to make a difference.

If you really want to make sure you’re not missing great minority applicants who are skipping even applying to you, embed these videos right into your job postings!

Don’t think that when you put an “EEOC” statement at the end of your job posting is letting a diverse candidate pool know you’re a great place for them to work. They don’t buy it! You have to be better than that!

Could We Use Congestion Pricing Theory in Recruiting? #SourceCon

Oh, lord, what the heck is Sackett talking about now!?

Congestion Pricing Theory (CPT) is basically paying more for convenience. We see it used on things like tollways, where if you want to ride on this road you pay a premium, or if you want to use this certain lane on a tollway you pay more for the access to a less congested lane of traffic.

You also see it at places like the movies. You pay $12 per ticket to go to a movie on a Saturday night at 8 pm, but if you go at 10 am on a Tuesday morning, you might get that same ticket for $8. It costs more to go during the busy time.

Airlines fully embrace CPT when you pay a little more to get on the plane first so you don’t have to deal with full overhead bins, etc. Theme parks now have tickets you can buy that lets you bypass the long lanes. Congestion Pricing Theory allows consumers to pay more for what they believe is important to them.

So, could we use this model in recruiting?

Let’s say you’re Google and you have thousands of people apply to your jobs that will never get seen. Could Google use CPT to allow applicants to pay an upcharge if they were certain to have their application examined and given feedback? Maybe it’s $25.

For $25 you can be assured your application will have a real human look at it. Would you pay to ensure that would happen? Depends on the company, the job, the competition, your income level, etc. But, the reality is, if someone turns CPT on in their hiring process, and their brand is very attractive, people would pay the fee!

Now, ethically, is this right?

Ethically is it right to have roads paid for by tax dollars, then to drive on those roads in a less congested way, you still have to pay more money? Is it right to charge one person a different, higher, price for the same service that another person paid less for?

One of the main complaints that candidates have about applying for jobs is the lack of information. The reason they don’t get the information they want is it costs too much money for organizations to properly staff TA shops in a way that would allow them to give this high level of feedback.

Congestion Pricing models would definitely give candidates and organizations an option to offer this service for those candidates who truly wanted the feedback they desired or at least more feedback then they’ve historically been given.

So, we don’t do this because we’ll say it impacts the poor and those out of work the most. They can’t afford the price to ensure they will be seen, so the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

I think it’s interesting that this is the main argument of doing something like this, but we don’t argue this type of pricing when it comes to other parts of our life where these things used to be free, and now they are not.

I’m not saying that we limit those who apply. All are still open to apply and all will have the same experience as they had before. Some, who choose to have an elevated candidate experience, will choose to pay for that experience.

I’m not saying this will ever happen, but if it does, I’m not going to be shocked because we’ve seen so many successes using CPT in other areas of our lives.

What do you think? Hit me in the comments.

Career Confessions from Gen Z: The 4 Essentials Every Office Should Have!

Ever since I was little, I’ve been pretty particular about the spaces that I live in. For my 12th birthday, my parents took me to Ikea and Target and let me “re-do my room” with a New York theme. I can also vividly remember the time when my Mom and I went to tour a college in Upstate New York and we almost left the hotel because we were worried about bed bugs. This particularness caused a lot of stress before going off to college about having to share a room with another teenage boy (a personal nightmare for me).

As I am entering the workforce, I know that this will carry over into the office that I work in. On average, a person will spend about ⅓ of their life at work. That’s longer than most of us will spend at any house we will ever live in! Since I’ve started interning, I’ve noticed some things that have made a big impact on my happiness and productivity at work:

1. Drink Machines: I am drinking water CONSTANTLY and I know that almost everyone sitting around me has a water bottle or cup at their desk. Having a water machine, like a Brita filter attachment or a Bevi machine, is more important to me than having elaborate coffee makers or nice vending machines. (editor’s note – the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree – I’m a life-long advocate for a Diet Mt. Dew soda fountain in the office!) 

2. No Cubicles: I didn’t anticipate this making such a difference, but I now do not want to work in a cubicle. At Quicken Loans (where I’m interning!), we have little half walls that make rows and columns, but they are short enough to see and talk to the people around you. This creates a much more open environment so I can ask questions without getting up or I can eavesdrop on other people’s conversations!

3. Bathrooms: Read my last post for more of my feelings about bathrooms at work but basically, just make them nice.

4. Updated Decor: I get that office decor is difficult. You’re never going to please everyone’s tastes, it’s expensive etc. BUT you could at least put in a little bit of effort to put some decor on your walls that is from this century. A good rule of thumb: if your decor is older than some of your employees, you probably should get rid of it! There’s nothing sadder to me than being surrounded by gray all the time. Liven it up a little!

Now, I could go on for a while about what else I look for in an office, but these are just the basics. Just put a little effort to meet your employee’s requests, and you’ll probably be on the right track!

Another Editor’s Note (because apparently, I don’t have my own platform to say anything I want): I’ve been telling HR leaders this for a couple of years now. With Gen Z – Design matters! It matters in your employment brand, it matters in your personal workspaces, it matters for younger generations. Perception of working in a great place is influenced by design. Don’t discount it! 


 

This post was written by Cameron Sackett (not Tim) – you can probably tell because it lacks grammatical errors!

HR and TA Pros – have a question you would like to ask directly to a Gen Z? Ask us in the comments and I’ll respond in an upcoming blog post right here on the project. Have some feedback for me? Again, please share in the comments and/or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Career Confessions from Gen Z: Bathrooms matter to a great Employee Experience!

In my opinion, there are few places that are worse than a public restroom. There have been very few times in my life where I’ve been happy to use a restroom in a public area. I strongly dislike any bathroom that is not a private restroom or one that is in my home.

I have 2 main reasons for my strong distaste for public bathrooms: cleanliness and privacy. I can thank my Mom for my concerns about germs, and 9 times out of 10 a public restroom will be dirtier than my nice and tidy bathroom at home. My main problem with using public bathrooms is privacy. Even if I just went in to fix my hair, I don’t want anyone looking and judging me for doing it!

Although I really would prefer if I could just use my bathroom at home 24/7, that is not realistic especially when I’m working every day. I’m going to at least have to pee a few times. So, if I have to use a different bathroom than my own, I want it to be as nice as possible.

The bathrooms at Quicken Loans(where I’m doing my summer internship! Hey, guys!) check almost all of my boxes. They are extremely cleanly and I see cleaning staff work on the bathrooms a few times a day. But, the best part is the almost completely private stalls that they have! The walls in between the stalls and the doors go all the way from the ceiling to the floor. It’s my dream honestly.

No one wants to poop at work, and if they have to, it might as well be in almost complete privacy.

In addition to the cleanliness and the private stalls, the restrooms on my floor have baskets of toiletries; toothbrushes, stain sticks, lotion, hairspray, basically anything you could need to make you comfortable and fix any problems you may have. It’s so comforting to know that if I ever spill something on my clothes or have bad breath, I have a quick fix just a few steps away.

If you want to make sure your employees are comfortable and doing their best work, the bathroom is a good place to put some luxury into. Most people don’t enjoy using the restroom but we all have to do it. So why not make it a more enjoyable experience for your employees!


 

This post was written by Cameron Sackett (not Tim) – you can probably tell because it lacks grammatical errors!

HR and TA Pros – have a question you would like to ask directly to a Gen Z? Ask us in the comments and I’ll respond in an upcoming blog post right here on the project. Have some feedback for me? Again, please share in the comments and/or connect with me on LinkedIn.

The ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ Internship Program!

I’m a kid of the 80’s! Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller, Pretty in Pink, St. Elmos.

There was one other movie from that era that stuck with me called “Can’t Buy Me Love”, starring a very young Mc Dreamy, Patrick Dempsey, and a very young, Amanda Peterson. Of course this was a favorite of mine because well let’s just I indentified with the main character!

Quick story line – Patrick Dempsey plays a nerd-type, nobody in high school who just wants to be one of the popular kids. Basically, the same plot line for every teen movie ever. He mows lawns and saves all of this money. He asks Amanda Peterson’s cheerleader character to be his girlfriend and he’ll pay her, believing that’s all it will take to make him popular.

She does it. She does the makeover on him. It works. It works too well. She really falls for him. He gets cocky. His world falls apart. He gets the girl in the end! God, I miss the 80’s!!!

The concept of ‘buying’ popularity is both brilliant and stupid. In high school, popularity is a valuable currency. If you have it, it’s awesome. If you don’t have it, you want it, but it’s not something that is very transferable. The key is association! If you’re in with the popular crowd or the right people or person, you can catch their popularity exhaust.

So, what’s the “Can’t Buy Me Love” Internship Program? 

Here’s what I’m thinking. If I was a college student, right now in the world, I would pay the right person, at the right company, to be their intern for the summer!

Stay with me.

Two kids graduate from a B-level college, both with a degree in business, both will similar GPAs. Kid #1 did summer internships with local organizations, mid-sized companies, good brands locally, solid stuff, nice resume. Kid #2 also did summer internships, but her internships were with Apple, Amazon, and Google.

Which kid are you going to hire? Which kid will get a job faster? Which kid will get the better offer?

Kid #2 – will get better everything!

So, it would be to the advantage of every kid to get the best internships possible! But, we know getting the best internships possible are super competitive and hard to get.

Next question: What is an internship, really?

An internship is an experience someone obtains that will help them obtain the next experience. That internship is basically validated by the organization, and more specifically, by the person who manages the intern.

How much would it cost me to get a manager/director/vice president at a major brand to let me ‘shadow’ them for the summer? $2,000? $5,000? Let’s say it’s for 10 weeks, and I’ll do anything this person wants me to do to help them, and I’ll show up every day and stay as long as they want.

Whatever it would cost, that money would be coming back to me 10X or 20X over my career when I hit the market looking for a job with “Giant Brand Experience” on my resume as an intern, with a reference from my ‘internship’ supervisor to back it up.

The “Can’t Buy Me Love” Internship Program!

But, instead of can’t buy me love, it’s really I Can Buy Me A Great Resume! Don’t hate the game, love the hustle! It comes down to how much are you willing to invest in your future? You were willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on that education. Don’t you think it’s worth a few thousand dollars more to separate your resume from the pack?

Food for thought, kids.


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