The Best of 2019: The 3 Rules About Kissing Your Boss!

I’m on a holiday break. Boys are home, we’re going on a trip. So, I’ve put together a Best of 2019 post list for you to enjoy. I’ll be back after the holidays with new stuff and some cool announcements for 2020! (This post was actually written in 2017, but for some reason got new life this year and was of the most read) 

May 20, 2013, I published a silly little post on my blog called “The Rules About Hugging at Work”. The post might have taken me twenty minutes to write. It was just an idea I got, like thousands of others, I thought it was funny, so I wrote about it. To date, it’s been read over 1 Million times. Huff Post picked it up, it went viral on LinkedIn (I got over 1300 comments), I’ve been interviewed and called, “The World’s Foremost Expert on Workplace Hugging”.

Twenty minutes of writing, a throwaway idea.

Months later I posted the exact same post on LinkedIn’s publishing platform. This was before everyone could publish (remember that), you had to be invited. I got a call from the LinkedIn chief editor offering me access. I didn’t know if it was really anything so I just threw up old posts I had already written but added a few new pieces.

On the Hugging post, I added at the bottom my next post would be: The 3 Rules About Kissing Your Boss! as a joke. I never wrote it. Until five years later I got a message last week from someone who found the hugging post for the first time asking how they could find the kissing post! I didn’t even know what they were talking about!

So, here’s the kissing post! 

It would be easy to dismiss the notion of kissing your boss as something that would never happen. When I say ‘never’ I mean never. I mean honestly do any of us ever feel it would be appropriate to kiss your boss!?

This one is hard for me. I come from a family of huggers and kissers! My father is 73 and he still kisses me on the lips when I greet him or say goodbye. Some folks would find that super weird. Different cultures do different things.

My son was overseas this summer visiting friends in Belgium and it was quite common for new people he met to give him that traditional kiss on the cheek, but he said those same people would not give you a hug or a handshake. This kiss on the cheek greeting is very common in many parts of the world.

In America, you would probably get punched in the face if you tried kissing someone on the cheek you were meeting for the first time! I mean, look, if I don’t know you, I certainly don’t want your germs all over my face! Most Europeans I meet for business purposes in the states who come here often have gotten used to handshakes, rarely do I see one of them do the cheek kiss greeting.

All of this is way different, though, then kissing your boss! Kissing your boss would have to be a special circumstance or special occasion. I’m guessing if you’re kissing your boss one of a few things probably hasn’t happened in that relationship. You’ve probably become very good friends, some once in a lifetime event is happening, or you’ve become romantically involved, in which case, not really your boss any longer!

So, if we can see a time in which you might kiss your boss, the great HR pro in me says we better put some pen to policy and make some rules! Here are my three rules for kissing your boss:

1. No kissing on the lips. Kissing on the lips is a slippery slope you can’t put back in the bag! Wants that happens you might as well just get undressed, stuff just got real! We’re going to assume this kiss is not romantic in nature, completely as professional as kissing your boss can be professional!

2. Do not leave moisture on your boss’s cheek. Okay, somehow we got down this rabbit hole to a point where I’m kissing my boss on his or her cheek, let’s not make this super awkward by leaving a nice big wet spot on the side of their face. If you’re so excited to be kissing your boss’s cheek that you leave it wet, you should be checked into a mental ward.

3. Do not have bad breath. First impressions are critical and even though your boss knows you, your boss doesn’t know the kissing you. Do not go in for that first boss kiss with bad breath! I love Ice Breakers Mints and I have some close by almost always. Why? I can’t stand bad breath. Coffee breath is the worst and I know a lot of you are major coffee drinkers! Guess what? Diet Mt Dew breath smells like a flower garden! Think about that next time you go for a fill-up at the coffee station at work!

See? That’s how you do it. That’s how the World’s Foremost Expert in Workplace Hugging becomes the World’s Foremost Expert on Boss Kissing. You can’t be a one-trick pony in this world folks, we all need to keep striving on reinventing ourselves. Watch out fall conference circuit! If you see Sackett coming I might have just raised the game!

So, hit me in the comments. What are your rules for kissing your boss!?

The Best of 2019! What’s the most luxurious Benefit you can offer your employees in 2019?

I’m on a holiday break. Boys are home, we’re going on a trip. So, I’ve put together a Best of 2019 post list for you to enjoy. I’ll be back after the holidays with new stuff and some cool announcements for 2020!

I read a bunch of articles about what’s the next greatest benefit to offer employees. I read one the other day that tried to make it seem like now offering food at work is normal like everyone is giving away breakfast and lunches like you give away health insurance.

It’s the one thing I hate about reading mainstream media HR articles. Apparently, the only employers in America are located in the 50 square miles around Silicon Valley. Do you really think I believe that the majority of companies in America are giving away free food to their employees?

Come on, that’s not happening!

If you are lucky enough to work for a place that feeds you, great you won the job lottery, enjoy it! If they offer you Kombucha as well, then I’m just sorry for you, because that means they hate you.

What’s the #1 luxury benefit to offer in 2019?

It’s Time.

Time is the one thing every single one of us needs more of. For many, it doesn’t even have to be paid time off! Just allow me some time to do some of the stuff that impacting my life, so I can better focus on work when I’m at work.

But of course, Paid Time is always appreciated.

I know some employers have gone to unlimited paid time off and studies have shown that when organizations go to this their overall use of paid time off actually goes down. This is a sad commentary on our society.

I know a lot of HR friends of mine argue this can’t be the case because it seems so contrarian to what you would think would happen. “If I had unlimited time off I would never come in and just be on vacation every day!” Okay, Betty, and you would be fired!

The reality is unlimited time off isn’t the answer because psychology doesn’t work. Some have the self-control enough to use it appropriately, but most people fear that taking time off will somehow impact their performance, so even when they do take their unlimited time off, they still are connected, working in some way.

I know of a few organizations that completely shut down for a week or two completely. Notice out to clients – “hey, it’s our annual refresh the batteries, 100% of us will be off and not connected, we can’t wait to come back fully recharged to rock your world”. I like the idea but get it probably impractical for so many organizations.

I think the best thing we can do as leaders is to ensure our people are actually taking their paid time off and when they do they know that it’s okay to completely disconnect. That we’ll have their back and to enjoy themselves.

I wonder how many of your leaders pull quarterly or annual reports of PTO to see if their team is taking time for themselves?

 

The One Thing that Correlates to High Employee Happiness in Your Office!

Oh, I bet its working for a great boss! Or, maybe it’s having a best friend at work! No, it must be dog-friendly! Puppies make me happy! I wonder if it’s money or free tacos or something like that!?

No, you’re all wrong!

In fact, the one thing that correlates to high employee happiness at the office is the one thing you’re destroying! Isn’t that great! We’ve got one shot, one opportunity, to seize everything our employees ever wanted, but in that moment we let it slip…

There was a study done recently that asked about their modern workplaces. What was it in their office that made them the happiest? Turns out 90% of us want a private office. Yet, on the flip side, in all of our brilliance over 54% of us are converting our offices to open floor plans! Why? Because we’re stupid!

Also, because employees are kind of stupid in answering these kinds of surveys! They will tell you they want one of those cool, open office concepts with the bean bag chairs and picnic tables in a big room because look at those pictures of all the smiling faces of those employees. Also, is it just me, or do those smiling faces seem really attractive as well!? You know what? If we had open offices we would be more attractive!

For a decade, idiots like me and every media outlet known to man as talked about how Millennials just want open, collaborative spaces. We’ll be more productive, and have better teamwork, and make faster decisions, and be more collaborative, and we’ll solve global warming! The reality is much different. Turns out, working in a big, loud room with a bunch of fellow idiots employees makes you less productive.

Oh, great I get to sit in the middle of a giant room, across a giant table and watch Steven pick his nose.

Here’s what happy productive employees actually want in an office:

  • Private.
  • Great WiFi and up to date technology.
  • Quiet.
  • Comfortable.
  • Cool design (which doesn’t equal ‘open concept’).
  • Well lighted.
  • Professional.
  • Clean, but not sterile.

Do we really hate cubes? Well, we hate cube farms that remind us of 1979 Soviet Union. I don’t think most hate cubes that are designed for modern workspaces. The problem is we tend to not think about how we can use cubes in a modern design that lets people have a private space, but also open space for times they want that as well. It’s either cube farm or giant open warehouse, we tend to not think in between.

Ultimately, our employees want privacy and cool. So, now you can figure out what that looks like over the next decade!

Your Weekly Dose of HR Tech: @TryVantagePoint – Virtual Reality Harassment Training!

Today on the Weekly Dose I take a look at the HR technology startup VantagePoint. VantagePoint is a virtual reality(VR) learning technology company that has produced both sexual harassment and diversity and inclusion training, as well as a training metrics dashboard to go along with their VR training.

I’m not sure we are even close to what VR can become in the HR world. Clearly, there is a great use case for it in training and we see organizations are beginning to start testing it, but to this point, it’s still rather uncommon in most organizations. In fact, it’s uncommon in almost every part of our lives. Only 2% of people in the world have ever even tried it! But, it’s growing like crazy, basically doubling in usage every year.

All that said, it’s actually super cool and fun! Now, if you ever had put on a VR headset and did a fly through the grand canyon, or taken a trip on a roller coaster, you could probably see how that might get old, are nauseating, very quickly! If you have watched a live NBA game from the first row at half-court, through VR goggles, you start to understand how totally awesome it can be!

VantagePoint’s CEO, Morgan Mercer, was early in on the VR tech and it’s potential use to train our employees in how to be better with sexual harassment and has also added in content for D&I as well. VR is only part of what VantagePoint is about. Doing great VR means you have to have great content for your employees to get emersed in. Ultimately, VR is the training delivery tool, but what VantagePoint understands is you better deliver great engaging content is you want great training.

What do I live about VantagePoint? 

– When you go through harassment training with VR goggles and headphones on, you feel like you are witnessing harassment happening, live, right in front of you. You’re uncomfortable. You want to do something. The fact is, doing training in virtual reality forces the user to be totally focused unlike any other kind of training I’ve ever done.

– VantagePoint has figured out, as LOD and HR pros we don’t really want to mess around with hardware (VR goggles, etc.). So, part of their strategy is to just bring everything to you, have a person on-site, and take away any pain or frustration that might go along with that side of training. You just have them show up, and they take your employees through the training. (You can also do it on your own if you like)

– The harassment training isn’t just watching this stuff happen on VR. The user also gets calls on a pop-up looking iPhone with a call from HR telling the user what they did right or wrong, etc. If you get something wrong, you get thrown back into the experience to do more work.

– I love that you can measure not only the compliance side of the training, but you can also see who is actually getting it, and who isn’t with the metrics dashboard they’ve developed.

We all know we can and have to do better when it comes to sexual harassment training in our workplaces. Traditional, classroom-style training just doesn’t seem to cut it, because it doesn’t grab the attention of the audience. No matter how well done. VantagePoint has figured out a better delivery tool, and one that will be commonplace in the very near future when it comes to all kinds of training.

The price point is actually less expensive then I thought it would be, and I would think most organizations of every size will be able to afford the VantagePoint VR training. I do think Morgan, and her team, are just scratching the surface of what’s possible when it comes to this kind of training in our workplaces. But, great VR content is also labor-intensive to pull off well.

I would definitely recommend a demo, especially if you’re looking for a great alternative to traditional harassment and D&I training. This is training that your employees will definitely remember and pay attention to!

What we say versus What we want in a Job!

My wife always tells me it’s actions, not words that make a difference. You can say all of this great stuff, but if you do nothing, it’s meaningless. I think we would all agree with this.

So, when we hear graduating students, candidates, and employees tell us what they really want is “Meaningful Work” in their careers, we have to understand that those are “Words”! Not actions, just words. A new study from Olivet Nazarene University Meaningful Work Survey asked this question and, predictably, found this:

So, yeah, 90% of us believe that meaningful work is critical for our career and happiness. Sounds about right, those ‘words’ tend to always come out when we talk about our dream job, etc.

Then the study asked another question. It was basically, given your current career, job, etc. what is the one thing that would make it better? An action. But, remember those words!? What you would believe would make their career/job better should be “more meaningful work”! 90% of you idiots just answered that is was super important for your career and happiness!

Here’s what they actually said:

Show. Me. The. Money!!!!

Yep, you know I love this! “We just a job that saves puppies! That would make me so happy!” Oh, wait, saving puppies only pays $23,000 per year!?! Yeah, screw those puppies! I want to work for a private equity firm! I’m a boat, bitch!

Want to retain your employees? Stop trying to make your employees believe that the rubber vomit you’re manufacturing matters and pay them more and give them flexibility! Stop asshole managers from treating their people bad! And magically, you’ll have high retention and your people will love working for you, even though you don’t save puppies!

I get it, deep down, we all want to do something that changes the world for good. We want to help others, and save puppies. And the concept of meaningful work does really matter, given all other things, like compensation, flexibility, great leaders and co-workers, etc. are equal.

If I can make six figures a year saving puppies, I’m saving puppies. You’re saving puppies. We are all saving puppies!

But it doesn’t, so our actions speak way louder than our words when it comes to career choices and change. Meaningful work is not the most important thing for people in their careers. Its something to consider, but don’t get too caught up in believing it’s going to fix all of your employee experience issues!

The #1 Employee Recognition Tool of All-Time!

At the Michigan Recruiter’s Conference last week I got into a side conversation with a TA leader who had her team at the event. She was talking about motivating and recognizing her team, and that it seemed to be more difficult with younger generations versus the Gen Xers she has managed in the past. I told her I wasn’t sure it was generational, but I had a couple of examples of recognition I thought might work for her.

The first example happened when I was working in my first HR manager position.  One of the executives I supported had a good, young, enthusiastic worker, a top-notch kid who had a great work ethic.  I sat down with this executive and the employee to do their annual performance review. Everything went perfect, as it usually does with that type of employee.  It was what happened afterward that blew me away.  The executive asked me to get him the address of this employee’s parents.  We knew he thought highly of his folks, and he mentioned them when we gave the employee praise for his performance.

I went back and found the address, the executive drafted a short letter, handwritten to these employee’s parents.  He didn’t tell the employee he was doing this, he just did it.  The executive basically told the parents you should be extremely proud of your child, our organization is lucky to have them, and our organization wants to thank you for raising such a fine person.  End of letter. Send.

About a week later, I got a call from the front desk. It was the employee’s father, asking the front desk to talk to the executive and telling them they were the father of this employee.  The front desk person called me (HR), believing something bad must have happened, so I took the call.  I spoke with a man in his mid-50’s who had a hard time holding back tears of pride, thanking me (and our executive) for sharing such a wonderful story and how proud they were of their son.

Later, the employee also came into my office to thank me for doing this, believing I must have put the executive up to it (it’s an HR touchy-feely thing).  The employee said that they could never imagine a better place to work.  A 3-minute handwritten letter = powerful recognition and engagement.

The other example I have is of an experience that happened to me a few years ago. I was working as a director in a large health system, and my mom was in town and came to my office to meet me for lunch.  Being a hospital, she came into the building and walked into the HR office.

I introduced her to some of my team and we were walking out when the head of HR came walking in.  I introduced him, and he shook her hand and said: “I want to thank you for sharing Tim with us, he’s an extraordinary individual, and I’m sure you are responsible for that.”  Bam!  My mom talked about that moment all the time!  I felt pride and respect, and most of all, loyalty to my supervisor for such a gesture.

Employee recognition doesn’t have to be hard, or take a long time, or be a part of a process.  It has to be genuine, in the moment and meaningful.  Too many times we forget this on the organizational front.

“My” Company vs. “Our” Company

I was listening to some of my recruiters talk to candidates the other day. I like to do that from time to time. You learn a lot about your team, your jobs, your hiring managers, your engagement levels.

One of the things I overheard was something like, “I’m going to tell you about the benefits that “MY” company offers”. There was another conversation where someone used “our”, “I’m going to tell you about the benefits that “OUR” company offers”.

It seems like a small difference, right? Both positive, for sure.

I will tell you, as a leader, “my company” brings me to tears. The one thing I consistently hear from senior executives is “I can get my team to care about this company the same way I do”. It’s a very common issue that comes up all the time. How do we get employees to take ownership when they don’t have ‘real’ ownership?

It’s a cop-out and too easy to say, “oh, just give them some real ownership”! Having an employee-owned company isn’t simple or easy, it’s very complex.

Using “My company,”, says to me that this employee is 100% in. Onboard. Wearing the logo! Reppin the gear! It’s not that saying, “our company” doesn’t say that, but “my company” definitely says that!

It’s similar to when you hire a new employee from a competitor and it takes some time to get them away from “we” vs. “them” vs. “you guys”, etc. “So, I know ‘you guys’ do it this way…” Oh, you mean, “us guys”, right!? You’re now on the team. You’re not a ‘them’, you are a ‘we’!

Sometimes some of the biggest changes we make to culture are simple changes in our own language, and what those changes end up meaning to all those stakeholders in an organization.

Who are the best companies to work for? And why?

I don’t put much stock into “Best Company to Work For” lists. That said, the data provided by Universum in there World’s Most Attractive Employer Report is pretty cool and gives you some insight on how you can help move your organization in the right direction.

What’s wrong with the best places to work lists?

  1. It only measures those employers who actually do the work to be considered for the list.
  2. It’s based on data that someone, other than yourself, decided was criteria for being a great place to work. And that might not align with what your org considers to be a great place to work, or the talent you market to, etc.

All that being said, I find that organizations, every single one who tries out for these lists, probably care about their employee and candidate experience at a pretty high level. Are they really the ‘best’ place to work? I don’t know, but they’re trying and that’s more than most of us can say!

So, who are they?

So, you can already see the bias, right? Tech, Business services, big brands. There isn’t one company on the list you haven’t heard of. Doesn’t that seem strange? You mean in the top 50 companies in the WORLD, there isn’t one company we haven’t heard of who is just great? Well, it’s the “World’s 50 Most Attractive”, so the one thing about being “attractive” is you’re probably known, when it comes to lists like these.

What makes you an “Attractive” employer? 

1. The ability to have high future earnings (you can make a lot of money) – 49.1%

2. You’ll get professional training and development – 43.8%

3. The job is secure (you won’t get laid off) – 39.1%

4. Working for this brand will help your career in the future – 38.8%

5. You have the ability to be creative – 38.7%

6. The company is successful within the market they compete in – 38.5%

7. The company encourages you to go home once in a while – 38.2%

8. You like the people you work with – 38.2%

9. You have leaders who support and they know how to develop talent – 38%

10. Competitive base salary – 37.6%

Anything pop out at you from the list?

What about #1 and #10? Oh, so, really base salary doesn’t mean anything, as long as I make a lot of money from what I’m doing!?! Turns out we release research and data for a reason. If you’re trying to sell employer branding software, it’s important for employers to understand it’s not about how much you pay because at that point you don’t need a brand, you need to pay the most.

But, it’s not what this data says. Like all modern research around this topic, what you make, is significantly more important than things like ‘being developed” and having “challenging work”. The person has to know and understand that financially this will work out very well for me, and then, all the other stuff becomes important once that question is satisfied.

You can not act like the most important thing on the list (#1 – High Future Earnings) is really that different than the last thing on the list (#10- competitive base salary). Those things are married at the hip if we have any inkling about basic compensation theory on where someone starts their career in base salary vs. the impact that has on future earnings, in the millions of dollars, going forward.

Let’s face it, as an employer you want to be able to deliver each of the ten things on the list in a really good way. If you do, you will not have trouble attracting talent or keeping your best talent.

In Attracting Great Talent, What’s More Important: Employment Branding or Recruitment Marketing?

Like most stuff I write, I try to break down things in HR and TA that we make way more complicated than it really is. We’re just hiring people, and trying to get the most out of our employees that we can. We aren’t launching the space shuttle or performing brain surgery. This stuff really isn’t that complicated.

I asked some of the most brilliant minds in the space and they gave some great advice, tips, and tricks. Some started to get deep into the weeds, but most gave ideas that were simple in nature to execute. There was basically one theme for each function, employment branding, and recruitment marketing:

Employment Branding at its core is your organization just telling your stories to candidates. 

Not made-up stories of what you want people to think about you, but your real employee stories. Simple, straightforward, this is who we are and why we love who we are. Some will love you, some will not. The best EB does just that, allows people to choose, so they don’t make a bad cultural fit choice.

Recruitment Marketing at its core is ensuring your stories get in front of candidates in a way and time they would like to consume those stories. 

So, it’s less “We’re a great company to work for!”, because everyone says they’re a great company to work for. No one says, “Hey, we’re a better than average company to work for!” Even though, that’s probably the real truth.

There is a piece of this, though, that I think the true employment branding experts are missing.

As consumers, we are all mostly dumb. A company tells us they have the best most reliable cars and then they tell us this over and over a million times, and we believe that those cars are the best and most reliable. We actually don’t do any research to find out if these cars are actually the best and most reliable. We got ‘marketed’ to.

Recruitment marketing can work in the exact same way. Put enough content out saying you’re the employer of choice, and people will recognize you as an employer of choice. The reality is the difference between a ‘true’ employer of choice, and an organization that is not an employer of choice is pretty small. Small, like, most people wouldn’t see any differences.

Most employers are stuck in the middle of delivering a fairly stripped-down basic employee experience. We all offer basically the same thing for all candidates. Thus, there’s a great opportunity for marketing to tell people we ‘actually’ offer a ‘better’ experience. Say it enough times and people will believe it.

I know my EB expert friends will say this isn’t being transparent and once the candidates get hired they’ll realize it’s not an exceptional experience. But, this is also mostly bullshit. Most people don’t realize it. They’ll get hired. They’ll go to work. They’ll be super excited about the new job. They’ll post a pic on IG. Life continues. One day, three years from now, they’ll wake up and think nothing. They won’t think either way about your company from the last company.

There are like 3 actual companies that offer up this ‘unicorn’ level employee experience that can actually match your brand. The reality of employment branding is far less sexy and fun than we make it out to be. Our stories are uniquely our own, and yet, very similar to those stories of every other employer.

I love your stories, but don’t discount the power of marketing will have on candidate behavior.

What is the biggest driver of Employee Engagement?

I got to see Marcus Buckingham speak at the HR Technology Conference in Vegas a couple of weeks ago. I think it’s the 2319th time I’ve seen him speak. I’m not sure if I’ve seen Marcus or Josh Bersin speak more, it’s probably almost a tie. Basically, if you go to HR conferences, you get to see those two dudes speak, a lot!

That’s not a bad thing. Both bring great data and are strong presenters, Marcus has the English accent which all American’s love. Marcus and ADP’s Reseach Institute released some new data on Engagement and that was the main focus of the talk. The research shows that 85% of employees are just showing up to work, because only 15% are ‘fully’ engaged, and if you’re not fully engaged, you’re basically showing up to collect a check.

That was pretty shocking, but the most shocking piece the research showed was the number one driver of engagement in any organization had to do with one simple thing: Are you a part of a team.

The research shows that being a part of a team is the strongest predictor of full engagement. There are others, like being new to an organization is fairly strong and makes sense. When we first start working at a new job, we are usually more engaged. Do you trust your team leader is another strong predictor, but first you better be on a team!

Being a member of a team.

It seems fairly simple, but for those of us who are constantly working on teams, we know it’s not. You could simply just throw everyone who works for you on teams and think, “okay, I just fixed engagement!” It’s really more about the dynamic of being on a team where you feel you belong and have a role that is valuable to that team.

Belonging is a big part of being on a team and being fully engaged. There are plenty of people who are on teams but don’t feel like the team they’re on needs them or wants them. Or you are on a team that isn’t successful. Turns out, failure is a big deterrent to engagement as well.

Once you are on a team, it then becomes critical that you trust the team leader. Lack of trust of the team leader is another negative driver to engagement. This then becomes more about the leader themselves establishing trust, and having team members who are open enough to first assume trust. Too often we get on teams and immediately believe the team leader is keeping things from us, probably because many times they are.

In any team, in the beginning, or when new team members come in, they should do a transition meeting. A meeting designed to establish trust from the beginning. It’s a time to get everything out in the open, at the beginning (or when it’s new for someone else) and do things like ask all the questions that usually go un-asked but then become issues down the road, establish communication likes and dislikes, share items that you should know, but might not, etc. I always have this facilitated by someone outside the team, so the leader doesn’t try and control the outcomes.

Go download the research paper, there’s great information about how to drive higher engagement in your organization and more information about the importance of the team dynamic.