I was asked at a conference recently to give one word on how HR can make a difference in 2023.
What was my word?
What do you think? Hat or no hat?
I was asked at a conference recently to give one word on how HR can make a difference in 2023.
What was my word?
What do you think? Hat or no hat?
Yeah, this isn’t something we like to talk about! We love talking about technology that helps our employees be better employees or technology that helps us find better and more talent. But the technology that helps us get rid of people, well, that seems a bit depressing, right?
In 2022 there have been public debates about what a recession is. We haven’t had one since the Great Recession of 2008-2009, so there is a very large part of our workforce that has never seen a downturn in the economy. We are on the precipice of an economic downturn, and companies will be laying off workers. Are you ready? How will you handle this? Spreadsheets?
Offboarding will be a major buzzword in 2023!
God bless the marketing pros who try and make termination software sound sexy! We don’t call it firing software or a termination process, we now call it “offboarding”.
At the HR Technology Conference this past year, I was a judge of the startup competition Pitchfest and one technology that was pitched was Onward HR. They actually did a great job and I really liked their pitch, but they were going up against a bunch of software that “helped” employees, not help you offboard them. Not fair to them, they had real HR software, helping solve a real HR and employee problem. A lot of the software pitched sounded positive and sexy, but it was mostly vapor. Onward had real HR stuff!
Big HCM software and payroll software will tell you they also do offboarding, but honestly, what they really do is basically just help you with the process. True offboarding should be about how do we humanely help our employees transition out of the company and quickly become re-employed. But also, a giant part of offboarding is ensuring those same employees actually might want to come back and work for us again at some point.
You see, layoffs, are an inexact science. Most organizations are bad at it because we don’t practice layoffs. We practice hiring. We practice developing employees. We practice performance management. We do not practice layoffs, so we mostly suck at layoffs. Quite frankly, I’ve never met a leader who wants to be good at layoffs!
That means the technology can help. For the most part, layoffs run like this:
The problem with the last step is we basically move on from those departing employees, and those employees feel that, and it becomes very personal. We try not to keep a connection with previous employees. Then, two years from now, you try and launch an alumni recruiting campaign because you’re growing again and can’t figure out why so many previous employees hate you.
What is my advice for your upcoming layoffs?
Be better. Treat people like humans. I mean treat people like humans you will once again in the future want to have a positive lastly relationship with!
I keep getting told by folks who tend to know way more than me that employees ‘today’ don’t care about staying at a company long-term. “Tim, you just don’t get it. The younger workforce just wants to spend one to three years at a job than leave for something new and different.” You’re right! I don’t get it.
BLS recently released survey data showing that the average employee tenure is sitting around 4.1 years. This speaks to my smart friends who love to keep replacing talent. I still don’t buy this fact as meaning people don’t want long-term employment with one organization.
Here’s what I know about high-tenured individuals:
1. People who stay long-term with a company tend to make more money over their careers.
2. People who stay long-term with a company tend to reach the highest level of promotion.
3. People who tend to stay long-term with a company tend to have higher career satisfaction.
I don’t have a survey on this. I have twenty years of working in the trenches of HR and witnessing this firsthand. The new CEO hire from outside the company gets all the press, but it actually rarely happens. Most companies promote from within because they have trust in the performance of a long-term, dedicated employee over an unknown from the outside. Most organizations pick the known over the unknown.
I still believe tenure matters a great deal to the leadership of most organizations. I believe that a younger workforce still wants to find a great company where they can build a career, but we keep telling them that is unrealistic in today’s world.
Career ADHD is something we’ve made up to help us explain to our executives why we can no longer retain our employees. Retention is hard work. It has a real, lasting impact on the health and well-being of a company. There are real academic studies that show the organizations with the highest tenure outperform those organizations with lower tenure. (here, here, and here)
Employee tenure is important, and it matters a great deal to the success of your organization. If you’re telling yourself and your leadership that it doesn’t, that it’s just ‘kids’ today, we can’t do anything about it, you’re doing your organization a disservice. You can do something about it. Employee retention, at all levels, should be the number 1, 2, and 3 top priorities of your HR shop.
Obviously, we had major news recently around abortion rights in America.
What I really want to talk about today is an amazingly quick response by organizations to immediately offer a new health benefit. Within hours of the announcement, we saw major employers come out publicly stating they would pay for the expense of their employees to obtain legal abortions if they could not get one in the state they lived and worked. Some employers also announced that they would pay for relocations for their employees to live in states with legal abortions.
All of this, just from a health benefit plan design perspective is quite remarkable!
Most employers can’t agree on offering smoking cessation programs for their employees or paying for gym memberships, but within hours, we are now paying for abortions. We have severely unhealthy obese employees, but we won’t pay for bariatric surgery. Organizations tend to move very slowly in making benefit design changes, and those changes tend to mostly be around cost/benefit.
Are we being “Inclusive” by offering an abortion benefit?
Again – I’m 100% in favor of a woman’s right to choose!
But we need to have a conversation about the hypocrisy of some of these decisions being made around this issue. This is what we do as professionals in HR. We discuss decisions we make as organizations, and how each decision tends to lead to other issues we can’t yet know what they might be.
So, we are now offering abortions as a health benefit. Why?
Let’s say we are willing to pay $5,000 dollars for our female employees to get an abortion. It definitely makes us sound like we are a very progressive employer! It’s interesting, though, that many of the employers who are willing to pay for your abortion are not willing to pay for your parental leave if you chose to keep your baby. They are unwilling to pay for childcare assistance after you have your baby.
Why is that?
Could it be, that not having children make you a more productive and less expensive to insure employee?
We must ask ourselves this question, if not only to ensure we are being inclusive in our insurance offerings to our female employees.
If you want to be “inclusive” you offer a woman a full choice. Yes, you can choose to have an abortion and we’ll support you! Yes, you can have the baby, and we will still support you! If you only choose one side, you are being exclusionary. Why?
Abortion as an employer-paid health benefit
There are benefits we pay as employers that have very little financial impact but make us look like we are an employer of choice. College Tuition reimbursement was always the biggest one. We offer you college tuition reimbursement knowing almost no one actually takes advantage of it. It’s one of the lowest-used benefits a company can offer! But, we feel great about ourselves when we market this out to candidates and employees.
Are abortion benefits the next college tuition benefit? You offer it up, knowing it makes you look like a progressive employer, but you know it really has very little financial impact. On the flip side, offering paid parental leave and childcare assistance, well, those benefits actually cost us real money, so no, we won’t offer those!
All women should be allowed to make their own choice with their bodies. Period. Employers are going to decide if they should help women with that decision. I think we, as HR leaders and professionals, should be advising our executives that having a “Choice” is about more than one option. Our benefit plans should support any choice a woman wants to make, not just one.
Abortion is health care. Having and caring for a child is health care. Organizations need to support all choices that a woman might want to make.
I had a Talent Acquisition Leader reach out to me this week. She is having a hard time hiring recruiters and was looking for some insight. Now, she was looking for more of a professional generalist recruiter. Someone who can hire some hourly, but also corporate positions that include: finance, IT, operations, marketing, etc.
She mentioned she had gotten a resume of a recruiter who had four years of experience, but when she looked her up on LinkedIn, she only had 378 connections. Could this recruiter be any good with so few LinkedIn connections?
Okay, before you become unglued, let me explain.
Let’s say this four-year recruiter was only hiring high volume hourly. That would mean this person would never spend time on LinkedIn, since hourly workers, for the most part, do not have profiles on LinkedIn. So, now you’re thinking, “yeah, Tim, LI connections don’t matter for this person so they could be a great recruiter!”
Still, I say no!
Because, for me, a great recruiter builds a network of other recruiters and sourcers to constantly learn from. It basically takes almost no effort or skill to connect with 500 other recruiters, sourcers, HR pros, and your personal network on LinkedIn. Once you get to the 500 mark, no one knows if you have 501 or 30,000.
I challenge my own entry-level recruiters that have no recruiting experience to get to 500 connections as quickly as possible. Within six months, they should be able to do this very easily. So, if you run into a recruiter who is three or four years into their career, and they are under 500, they are showing you that they probably have very little interest in expanding their network and learning from others.
500 LinkedIn connections are like training wheels for a recruiter. I don’t expect every profession to have over 500, but recruiters, sales pros, and people looking for jobs should always have over 500. There’s no reason not to, it’s literally the easiest professional networking available to everyone for free.
Do more LinkedIn connections then equal someone is a better recruiter than another?
But, wait, you just said…
Recruiters, of all types, need to get to 500. After that point, it really becomes more about the quality of the connections that you build. If you just accept every Open Networker on LinkedIn, that network will be full of Life Coaches and Pyramid Scheme sellers!
Great recruiters build networks that help them learn more and recruit better. I would say once you establish a network, you then become much more selective about who you invite and which invites you to accept. Right now, with my network that runs over 20,000, I only accept about 1/3 of the invitation requests I get based on the criteria I want in my network.
I know recruiters that quickly maxed out their LinkedIn networks with garbage and had to go back and scrub their networks, and it’s very time-consuming. But, I also see recruiters who switch industries and skills who do this as well. Your network should grow and change with you based on where you are at in your career.
So, LinkedIn connections matter and they don’t. That’s just reality in today’s world of recruiting. Whether you are recruiting doctors or truck drivers, you should still be using LinkedIn for your own professional development on an ongoing basis.
I have this tendency to get up on a soapbox and tell HR and TA leaders that measuring “Days to Fill” (Time to Fill, Time to Hire, Applicant to Hire, etc.) is a complete waste of time! I do this knowing that this is primarily the main recruiting metric used by the vast majority of organizations. So, I’m kind of calling them dumb, and I don’t like that, because that’s not what I believe!
I find the majority of HR & TA leaders to be hardworking, caring folks who want to do the right thing, but no one is showing them the “right” thing. I mean, I did in my book, but no one wants to read a full book!
Why is speed overrated in recruiting?
First, there is absolutely no correlation between how fast you got someone hired to how good of an employee they will be. Zero! Nil! Naught! None! So, you are measuring something, and telling people is massively important, but it has zero correlation to whether or not you hired someone that will be good for your company.
Awesome! Wow! Let’s hire faster! The faster we can get these walking zombies in here the faster we can fail! Yay! Fail faster! #WinkyFace
Second, I’ll give you that some sort of speed of recruiting metric as correlated to your industry benchmarks might be a good indicator to let you know how well your function is running or not running. Meaning, if your average days to fill is 40 and the industry benchmark is 30, you probably have some work to do. But, if you are at 29 and the benchmark is at 30, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are better at recruiting, just a bit faster.
Third, you can hire too fast. We tend to never think about all the false-positive hiring we do by moving too quickly. If we are rushing our process, we open the door to letting bad hires into the organization. We also open the door to filling roles before we can truly see what’s available in the market. Oh, Timmy is interested, let’s hire him quickly! And then the day after, Mary, applies and she’s much better, but you already hired Timmy.
Fourth, a large portion of the time in a day’s-to-fill metric isn’t even owned and controlled by recruiting. Hiring managers and the candidates themselves, control upwards of 50% of a time metric in any recruiting process.
Why do we focus so much on speed in recruiting?
Because “speed” is something c-suite executives get all excited about. If we are doing it faster, we must be doing it better. Plus, most c-suites think it takes too long to hire, so slower recruiting validates their belief that recruiting is broken. But, 99.99% of c-suites never recruited, so they are stupid. I mean, they are stupid about recruiting!
Because this is the metric we’ve always used to measure recruiting success in our organizations. Throughout the history of recruiting this is the metric that was measured, so this is the one we use. Kind of like how sports used metrics like points per game, and then advanced analytics came out, like plus/minus and now we look at older metrics as rudimentary in describing the performance of athletes.
Because we don’t know a better way to measure how or if we are successful in recruiting in our organizations. This is a tough one because we don’t know what we don’t know. I wish our ATS and recruiting technology vendors would do a better job of measuring and teaching advanced metrics to TA leaders. (Shoutout to vendors like SmartRecruiters, Greenhouse, Gem, and Predictive Hire – they all have some good stuff if you choose to use it.) The reality is, you would make your technology stickier if you did this.
What should recruiting focus on, rather than speed?
You know what’s coming. The funnel dummy!
We have certain actions that lead directly to recruiting success in our organizations if we analyze our recruiting funnels. The recruiting funnel will show you directly individual and team performance. But, let’s set that aside for a second. The funnel will ultimately give your organization the first truth about recruiting it’s ever had, the actual capacity it can rely on in recruiting. Your c-suite is dying to know this, and all you can tell them is, “we’ll work faster and longer and harder”.
Knowing your actual recruiting capacity will set you free and make you look like a genius as compared to every other TA leader that has become before you in your organization.
Cost of hire by source. Source effectiveness. Quality of applicant by Source (No, not the quality of hire, that’s not a TA metric), candidate experience metrics, recruiter experience metrics, etc.
Most shops run a classic 6-3-1 funnel. Meaning, it takes six screened candidates passed onto a hiring manager, who will then choose three of those candidates to interview, and then make an offer to one. If you take the billions of hires done at all organizations each year, it will almost always, on average, fall into a 6-3-1 model. Top of funnel, I.E., how many applicants to find six screened candidates, is a different story. That is dependent on a number of variables.
So, should you stop focusing on speed?
Yes. And, No.
Yes, you should stop focusing on speed if you are in a cycle where this year’s recruiting speed goal was to reduce your days to fill from 37.1 days to 36.8 days. At that point, your speed goal is worthless. You are only incrementally getting faster and you’ll see no real positive outcome from such a small time savings, even at enterprise and a million hires. Yes, I know the math says different at scale, but you are also forgetting the most important part. THERE. IS. NO. CORRELATION. BETWEEN. SPEED. AND. QUALITY. IN. RECRUITING!
No, you should not stop if you know your recruiting is flat-out broken and you are not even in the ballpark from a speed perspective. If it’s taking you 50 days to fill a position that your competition is doing in 25 days, you’re broken, and while speed isn’t the cure to your ills, you’ve got to catch up on the process side of things.
Okay TA Peeps! Tell me I’m wrong in the comments!
I had a question the other day from an executive outside of HR and Talent. A C-suite type who was frustrated by the lack of hires his “HR” team was making. My first question was, does HR hire for you, or do you have a recruiting or talent acquisition team? He didn’t know. Problem number one.
This guy wanted my opinion, well, he really wanted my agreement if I’m honest, to something he was forcing his HR team to do with job offers. You see, they had many job offers turned down to accept another job offer. Basically, almost all candidates we have are interviewing at multiple places, and these are technically skilled candidates, in IT, engineering, etc.
His plan was to start offering expiring job offers so that the candidate would be forced to accept their offer at risk of losing it!
Brilliant, right!? He asked me…
Here’s my exact reply:
“So, in an employment market where the unemployment rate is around 1% for technical candidates, you feel the best strategy is to force someone to make a decision to come to work for you? Also, who says that they won’t just accept your offer, continue in the process while waiting on other offers to come, and eventually just leave you high and dry? Also, do you really want to start off an employment relationship with someone who felt forced to take your offer?”
“Well, the hell should we do?”
The Problem with Exploding Job Offers
What’s a better way? Because it’s not unheard of in today’s world where we put some timing around job offers. The reality is, we can’t wait forever. So, the real question is, how long should we give someone to consider our offer before we have to pull it back?
I like to use this as a great way to find out what I’m up against. Let the candidate tell you a time, and then negotiate it down if you don’t feel like it’s appropriate. First, when I make an offer, I expect a full acceptance the moment I make it! What?! But, you just said…! Yeah, I don’t like exploding job offers, but I also work as a recruiter who has already pre-closed the candidate and knocked out all the objections, so when I make the offer, the candidate and I have already agreed, if I get X, Y, and Z, you’re answer is “Yes”, correct?
That doesn’t mean it works every time!
In the case where the candidate, legitimately needs some time, I give them some time, but also I need reasons to go back to the hiring manager with. Why do you need the time? Are there other offers you are waiting on? What would make you take those other offers over ours? Again, keep closing, with demanding an answer. Changing jobs is one of the top three most stressful things a person does. These decisions don’t come lightly, and we need to respect that.
Offering Exploding Job offers is old advice that has turned into bad advice, similar to not accepting a counter-offer from your employer. Job negotiation has changed a lot over the last few decades, some of the traditional things we did in the past just don’t work anymore.
I read an article in The New Yorker on the importance of “Coaching” by Atul Gawande. Atul is a writer and a surgeon, smart and creative and I should hate him, but he’s so freaking brilliant! From the article:
The concept of a coach is slippery. Coaches are not teachers, but they teach. They’re not your boss—in professional tennis, golf, and skating, the athlete hires and fires the coach—but they can be bossy. They don’t even have to be good at the sport. The famous Olympic gymnastics coach Bela Karolyi couldn’t do a split if his life depended on it. Mainly, they observe, they judge, and they guide.
As an HR leader, I’ve always believed that HR has the ability to act as “coaches” across all vestiges of our organizations. The problem we run into is this mentality, “You can’t coach me! You don’t know the first thing about Marketing, or Operations, or Accounting.” You’re right, a good thing I’m not “teaching” you that! That’s why we hired you. Having a coaching culture in your organization starts during the selection process. Are you hiring people who are open to being coached?
More from The New Yorker –
Good coaches know how to break down performance into its critical individual components. In sports, coaches focus on mechanics, conditioning, and strategy, and have ways to break each of those down, in turn. The U.C.L.A. basketball coach John Wooden, at the first squad meeting each season, even had his players practice putting their socks on. He demonstrated just how to do it: he carefully rolled each sock over his toes, up his foot, around the heel, and pulled it up snug, then went back to his toes and smoothed out the material along the sock’s length, making sure there were no wrinkles or creases. He had two purposes in doing this. First, wrinkles cause blisters. Blisters cost games. Second, he wanted his players to learn how crucial seemingly trivial details could be. “Details create success” was the creed of a coach who won ten N.C.A.A. men’s basketball championships.
I think this is critical in working with adult professionals. Coaches aren’t trying to “teach” them new concepts, but helping them self-analyze and make improvements to what they already do well. We/HR can make our workforces better, not by focusing on weaknesses/opportunity areas, which we spend way too much time on, but by making our employees’ strengths even stronger.
Coaching has become a fad in recent years. There are leadership coaches, executive coaches, life coaches, and college application coaches. Search the Internet, and you’ll find that there’s even Twitter coaching. Self-improvement has always found a ready market, and most of what’s on offer are simply one-on-one instruction to get amateurs through the essentials. It’s teaching with a trendier name. Coaching aimed at improving the performance of people who are already professionals is less usual.
I’m talking about turning HR into “Life” coaches or “Executive” coaches”. Those types of “coaches” are way different and fall more into the “therapists” categories, than what I see HR acting as “professional” coaches. Professional coaches work alongside their Pros day-to-day and see them in action, and work with them to specifically improve on those things that impact the business. They don’t care that you’re not “feeling” as “challenged” as you once were, and need to find yourself.
I think the biggest struggle HR Pros will have in a role as “coach” is our ability to understand most employees have low self-awareness (including ourselves!). Being a great coach is measured on your ability to get someone to see something in themselves, they don’t already see, and make them truly believe it. If we can get there in our organizations, oh boy, watch out!
If I have learned anything at all in my HR/Recruiting career it’s that everyone has an opinion on what makes a good hire. If you ask 100 people to give you one thing they focus on when deciding between candidates, you’ll get 100 different answers! Especially with today’s difficult hiring event where we are pushed to hire any warm body, don’t!
I’ve got some of my own. They might be slightly different than yours, but I know mine work! So, if you want to make some better selections, take note my young Padawans:
1. They only have bad things to say about former employers. Notice I didn’t say “employer” singular, because we all can have a bad, toxic work choice we’ve made. Once it gets to multiple, you now own that, turns out you’re bad at knowing what’s good for you! Plus, there is a high correlation between hiring a candidate that bad mouth their former employer and that eventually they’ll be bad-mouthing you as well!
2. Crinkled up money. Male or female if you pull money out of your pocket or purse and it’s crinkled up, you’ll be a bad hire! There is something fundamentally wrong with people who can’t keep their cash straight. The challenge you have is how do you get a candidate to show you this? Ask to copy their driver’s license or something like that!
3. Slow walkers. If you don’t have some pep in your step, at least for the interview, you’re going to be dud as an employee. Of course, if the person has a disability, ignore this point!
4. My Last Employer was so Awesome! Yeah, that’s great, we aren’t them. Let’s put a little focus back to what we got going on right here, sparky. Putting too much emphasis on a job you love during the interview is annoying. We get it. It was a good gig. You f’d it up and can’t let go. Now we’ll have to listen about it for the next nine months until we fire you.
5. Complaining or being Rude to front-desk and/or waitstaff. I like taking candidates to lunch or dinner, just to see how they treat other people. I want servant leaders, not assholes, working for me. The meal interview is a great selection tool to weed out bad people. Basically, if you feel comfortable in an interview treating anyone bad, you’re a bad person.
6. Any communication issue where they aren’t apologetic. “Yeah, I know you contacted me five times about the interview, but like, the new game came out and I was like busy and stuff.” Hard no! I don’t need you to respond immediately, but at least have some awareness of the moment! Before you lose your shit, this is for both candidates and recruiters! If a recruiter is bad at communicating with a candidate they should be apologetic as well. Common civility is a bare minimum for an offer!
What are your signs not to make an offer? Share in the comments!
Let me start this by saying I’m 100% pro-vaccine. I’m vaccinated and my entire immediate family is vaccinated. I encourage everyone to get vaccinated where it’s healthy for them to do so.
Organizations are really struggling right now to figure out what they should do about Covid vaccinations and employees. We see some giant employers mandating vaccinations and I’ll also publicly say I think that mandating vaccines for 100% of your employees is basically stupid.
Wait, what?!?! (TRIGGERED!)
I get that we all want everyone to be safe. I do as well. I also pay attention to the science and after you had Covid, there is no reason to get vaccinated. There is a growing mountain of global research and evidence, from real doctors and scientists that care about ending this pandemic, that show those who have had Covid already carry the same amount of antibodies as those who have been vaccinated. So, forcing someone who has had Covid to get vaccinated, is frankly, stupid!
Too many good employees are losing their jobs over this and many of these folks have valid reasons to not get the vaccine, and some honestly have already had Covid and don’t need the vaccine, but we are forcing it upon them for really no reason whatsoever.
The Tim Sackett Covid Vaccine Employer Policy
1. If you want to work here you have to get a Covid vaccination. We care about each other. We care about our customers and clients. We all want to live our best lives, alive.
Policy Instructions for HR Leaders and Executives:
That’s it. That’s the policy. Short and simple. The best policies are.
I know some folks will lose their minds about this. I get that. I’ve heard stories about HR departments forcing people to “prove” their closely held religious beliefs. I mean, really?! This is time well spent? Forcing someone to prove their religion. Come on, we are better than this. We are smarter than this. There are better ways we can torture employees, right!?
I think there are only two real arguments when it comes to mandated vaccinations:
FYI – for those looking for a link to “Form A” there isn’t one. It’s just an example of what we do and what we make in HR. If you want a Form A go make one, you don’t need my help!