Now That’s What I Call HR! Vol. 1

So, if you’re a regular reader of this blog you know of my friend Chris Bailey, is a Brit expat who is running PWC’s HR consultancy in the Caribbean, and he lives in Cayman. Yeah, Chris has the one job on the planet that every HR pro in the world wants! And, he’s an awesome human being.

Chris also is an integral part of the team that puts on the annual Cayman HR conference. It’s like your normal state level SHRM conference, except that it’s completely awesome, in Cayman, Chris, and the team go so far overboard on making sure they run a great conference, if you run an SHRM conference, you’re now going to feel bad about yourself!


Chris and the team at Cayman Island Society of HR Professionals (who by the way have like 30 people going to SHRM national this year!) made their own musical album of HR songs for the conference! It’s on iTunes! You can buy the full thing for like $5.94! They had to create their own record label to actually get the album on iTunes! What the hell did you do for your HR conference!?

I’ll give you a review here of each song on the album since I’m clearly a critic of everything and I actually listened to Now That’s What I Call HR, Vol. 1 (insinuating there might be a Vol. 2, God help us all!):

Track 1 – HR Stars – Les Mis – Chris Bailey lead vocals – If you’re a Broadway musical fan of Les Miserables, you’ll instantly know the tune of this remake of Stars with HR lyrics in place of the original brilliance by Claude-Michel Schonberg, whom I’m sure never could foresee this happening! To Bailey’s credit, he’s probably more of a classical Broadway singer than he is a pop singer!

Track 2- Stars Original Les Mis – Chris Bailey lead vocals – Didn’t get enough of track 1, here’s another minute of the same stuff! Yep, instead of two minutes of Chris, you get three. Buckle up. For some reason, iTunes shows this track as the most popular which I can only surmise means Chris’s Mum downloaded five times.

Track 3 – Don’t Stop Believing HR – Elisa Brown & Chris Bailey lead vocals – Popular Journey remake and everyone’s favorite karaoke go-to song! We get to meet the great vocals of Elisa Brown who is awesome, and we get more of Chris destroying a song I’ll never listen to the same again.

Track 4 – HR State of Mind – Elisa Brown lead vocals – My favorite song of the album is only you don’t have to hear Bailey! Also, crafty lyrics and a great voice by Elisa. Rewriting a popular song with HR lyrics is super hard, just ask Steve Browne!

Track 5 – HR Baby – Chris Bailey lead vocals – This is actually the song that started it all for Bailey and company. Chris first performed this song at the CISHRP conference in 2015 – “If there is a problem, yo, check out HR we’ll resolve it – Ice Ice Baby” – a remake of the famous Vanilla Ice song, this is Bailey in his natural habitat.  It was a must for the album!

HR Baby By Chris Bailey from CML TV on Vimeo.

Track 6 – Vacation – Matt Brown lead vocals – hip hop, mixed up song that’s all fun and HR – great conference kick-off song. Pretty sure they CISHRP went to a local producer for this one to add a little more HR excitement to the album!

Hat tip to Chris and Elisa for putting themselves out there for the good of HR! We need more people like this in our lives.

HR conference organizers around the world, you’re on the clock.

The Single Best Incentive You Can Offer Millennials!

The world is millennial crazy. If you read this blog you know I think about 99% of the millennial stuff is pure B.S. (we were all young once, it’s mostly great, but sometimes sucks, buy a helmet!), but every once in a while I find something that really hits home.

Student debt is the real deal!

I’ve gotten up close in personal with this. I have two kids in college who are just starting down this debt path. I also have a brother who is a millennial who gets punched in the gut each month he has to make his mortgage-sized student loan payment! Great white collar, professional career, well paid, can’t even think about buying a house. That sucks!

Take a look at his chart:

So, if you truly want to attract great millennial talent you need to do a couple of things:

1. Offer as a sign-on to pay off their student debt.

2. Offer home buying, mortgage assistance.

Why? Turns out employees who own a home, stay around a lot longer, are more productive, and I work for a company that cares enough about me to help me with my student loans and to buy a house, I’m probably a bit more engaged as well!

Here’s the other dirty little secret we know in HR. Let’s say you have a program that pays off student loan debt for employees. With those agreements, you usually have an amount per year payoff (I.E., We pay off $30K, you give us three years of service, or pay us back the money, or something along those lines).

Very few employees leave you after they’ve been employed with an organization for three years. Three years is that tipping point where you decide you’re all in, or all out. So, your job as an HR leader is to get them past three years! Okay, every organization has their own tenure tipping point, but on average most are around three years. Go find yours!

One other item from the chart that sticks out like a sore thumb? No college degree means you’ll more than likely never own a home. That sucks! Guess what, we all have people in our organization without college degrees. These folks need our help with major financial situations, like buying a home, more than any of our employees.

We should be able to figure this out as well. What would stop an employer from offering home buying assistance, for years of service, to their employees? Nothing. But we don’t do it because we see ‘those’ employees as easily replaceable. So, why put in the extra effort?

Employees are our most valuable asset, well, unless, you know, you only make $15 per hour, then you’re just an asset, not really that valuable. Isn’t that what we’re really saying?

Long, story, short: Help your employees buy homes. You’ll never regret it.


What Are Your Rules for Engaging Your Employees After Hours?

On January 1, 2017, it became ‘legal’ for French workers to ignore online communications from their employer when those communications were sent during non-work hours. Meaning if your normal work day was 9 am to 6 pm, any communication sent outside of those times can legally be ignored and the employer has no recourse:

With the implementation of this law, the country aims to tackle the problem of the so-called ‘always-on’ work culture by giving employees the ‘right to disconnect.’

While the new law stipulates that employers sort out viable ways to avoid the intrusion of work matters into the private lives of employees, for now the ‘right to disconnect’ foresees no penalties for companies that fail to reach such agreement with workers.

In such cases, employers will be required to “publish a charter that would make explicit the demands on, and rights of, employees out-of-hours,”

While this is currently only the law in France, we know eventually we’ll see this type of legislation begin to creep into many other countries as well. Currently, most American companies have more of an ‘always on’ concept of work communication response culture. Meaning, if I send you a note, whenever I send you a note, I expect a reply when you see it.

Of course, there are organizations and leaders who have taken the opposite stance on this, but those are really few and far between. Those organizations understand the importance of balance between work and your personal life. The problem comes into play as we give our employees more and more flexibility in their work schedule, we also expect more flexibility in how we communicate with them as employers.

That’s the one issue I see with the French law. The French are still working under a very traditional style of work. You go to an office. You do work. You go home. In America, and many other countries, that type of work culture is no longer the norm. So much flexibility has been added into employees working schedule that traditional communication rules of when and how become very difficult to manage, and quite frankly even employees wouldn’t want those rule.

So, should you have after-hours work communication rules? If so, what should those rules be? Here are mine:

1. Salaried employees, with flexibility in their schedule, in leadership roles, need to be available 24/7/365. You might disagree with this, but at a certain level in organizations, you are always available. The one caveat to this is when you have something personal, or an emergency issue, and have set up a communication plan where another leader is covering for you and taking on your responsibility.

2.  Sales pros and leaders must respond to clients in an expected manner when there is a client issue. “Expected” then becomes a negotiated stance with your clients. So, if your clients expects an immediate reply, you should reply immediately. If you’ve negotiated twenty-four hours, then you reply within twenty-four hours. The point being, negotiate communication expectations up front, not when there’s a problem for the first time!

3. Employees are expected to communicate to their leaders about a known issue that could have a drastic impact the organization immediately. After-hours, during work hours, anytime. Salaried, hourly, temporary, etc. If there’s a problem, let someone know. I don’t hold you responsible for taking care of it, but I do hold you responsible for letting someone know.

4. Don’t be a hero. If you’re at your daughter’s school play, don’t leave to answer a phone call just because you see it’s a work number. Let it go to voicemail and return the call, if needed, after the play is done. Don’t return an email message immediately on Saturday night of something that can easily wait until Monday morning. Just because someone else decided to work on Saturday evening doesn’t mean you are expected to work Saturday evening. It might just be that time worked well for them.

5. Don’t expect others to have your bad habits. Just because you love responding to email at 3 am does not mean others will love doing the same thing, and you believing they should makes you look like a terrorist.

What are your after-hours work communication rules?

Can a Better Lunch Experience Lower Employee Turnover?

You might have seen this recently, a sixteen-year-old girl from California, Natalie Hampton, developed an App called, “Sit With Us”. The App basically lets kids know who in the lunch room would be open to sitting with them. She came up with it as a way to help stop bullying:

“At my old school, I was completely ostracized by all of my classmates, and so I had to eat lunch alone every day. When you walk into the lunchroom and you see all the tables of everyone sitting there and you know that going up to them would only end in rejection, you feel extremely alone and extremely isolated, and your stomach drops. And you are searching for a place to eat, but you know that if you sit by yourself, there’ll be so much embarrassment that comes with it because people will know and they’ll see you as the girl who has nowhere to sit.”

Through circumstance, she gets to go to a new school and has a different experience. She is now accepted, she has people to eat lunch with, but she remembers how having no one made her feel, and comes up with this idea for the App.

She’s awesome. The world needs more Natalie’s!

This idea has got me thinking about how this could have an impact at our workplaces as well. We already know that having a best friend at work increases tenure and happiness at work. Having someone to go to lunch with is usually the first step in making a new friend!

The tech is simple which is why it makes so much sense. We go through so much effort and resources to get people hired. We provide great orientations and onboarding. Then we kind of leave it up to them to figure the rest out. We all probably think the same thing, “Well, we’re all adults, go make friends!” or “Their boss, and the team, will make them feel welcome.”

Then, we hear from their boss that they put in their notice and we’re shocked.

A workplace version of “Sit With Us” could really help individuals in organizations quickly feel like part of the team. Like they have a place. Like they found ‘their’ place at your organization. The best hires are the ones we never have to make.

I see tons of technology in HR and TA and I’ve even seen a few employee communication technologies that could probably be used in this capacity but weren’t designed to just do this. (If you know of one, please share it in the comments so everyone can check it out!)




2016’s Newest Benefit – Baby Sign-on Bonuses!

According to this USA Today article, the U.S. birthrate is in sharp decline and is at it’s lowest levels in the past 25 years.   Here are probably a few facts you don’t know:

– Projected 2013 birthrate in the U.S. is estimated to be 1.86

– Birthrate needed to maintain a population over a 20 year period is 2.1

Why should this concern you?

There are a number of reasons one might be concerned that you need as many young people as old for the simple fact of having enough young people to take care of your older population.  If you turn that equation upside down (Taiwan 1.1 or Portugal 1.3) you have a society full of older people and not enough young people to fill the jobs needed to keep running your society.

The U.S. already has 3 Million jobs left unfilled because of lack of skilled employees today. Imagine if you now have millions of fewer workers to even choose from, and by the way, skilled workers aren’t coming from other countries because their societies are growing and need them as well.  That is what our country’s employment picture will look like in 2032.  I know for many people right now this sounds very good – because of our high unemployment – but this will be

That is what our country’s employment picture will look like in 2032.  I know for many people right now this sounds very good – because of our high unemployment but this will be an HR/Recruiting nightmare for those young HR/Talent Pros starting out their careers in the next 20 years.

Being the Futurist that I am, I’ve already provided a solution to this problem back in 2011 over at Fistful of Talent, Should You Encourage Your Employees To Have Babies, check it out. Basically, my advice remains the same as U.S. employers we need to create a positive, encouraging environment for our employees, with family-friendly policies that make our employees feel like starting a family is a good thing, and that if they do start a family their job and ability to get a promotion won’t be compromised.  This is not the case as many U.S. employers right now for both men and women in the workforce.

As HR Pros and organizations we tend to think this isn’t our issue.  It will take care of itself.  But as we look at countries with low birthrates the issue doesn’t take care of itself and those countries have a worker crisis going on right now.    We need to change our ways right now. We need to be family friendly employers. We need to, as HR Pros, be concerned and find solutions for our employees around daycare, flexible schedules and other practices that will help our employees with families.   I know it sounds a bit the-sky-is-falling-ish, but the numbers don’t lie we are headed for some of the hardest

I know it sounds a bit the-sky-is-falling-ish, but the numbers don’t lie we are headed for some of the toughest hiring this country has ever seen.

One solution I’ve thought of, that I didn’t bring up in 2011, is baby sign-on bonuses!  We already do it for college students! I think we start doing for babies of our best employees.  I mean if parents can arrange their kid’s marriage, what stops us from arranging their first job?  Nothing! That’s what.  Imagine how happy your employees would be to cash a $20,000 check to help with baby expenses for the simple task of forcing their kid to come to work with your company upon college graduation.  It seems so simple, I’m not quite sure why no one has started this yet!

It seems so simple, I’m not quite sure why no one has started this yet!

T3 – @Benevate

This week on Talent Tech Tuesday (T3) I review a new and unique benefits solution called Benevate. Benevate is a solution that will help you attract and retain talent and improve employees’ financial wellness. “DRINK” – that’s the new HR drinking game for 2016! If anyone says “Financial Wellness” you have to drink. You might recall that “Candidate Experience” was the HR drinking game code word for 2015.

But, seriously, I really, really like what Benevate is doing!

Benevate is built on a really simple premise, which is how all the great products start. Your younger workforce faces two major hurdles, for the most part:

  1. Student Loans
  2. No Cash to buy a house.

Benevate gives you a simple to use Saas software platform that allows you to manage these two issues with a Student Loan forgiveness program and an Employer Assisted Living loan program.

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 2.35.24 PM

Why is this important? Either one of these programs will give you great ammunition to attract and retain a younger workforce.  I can tell you the first time I used ‘student loan forgiveness’ was about 12 years ago when we did this recruiting Pharmacists right out of school, and it worked like a charm! I also used this in healthcare to attract CRNAs when you could find them anywhere, we were fully staffed! I’ve seen companies recently do this with hard to find IT and Engineering talent.

The problem with doing this yourself is that it’s a major pain in your ass, for HR and for the organization in general. HR isn’t built to be a bank/loaning institution. The last thing in the world I want to do in HR is manage a bunch of loans and worry about some kid defaulting, then what do I do. That is why Benevate is so awesome! They take care of all of this, but at the same time allow you the flexibility and freedom to design the program you want for your organization.

So, right about now you’re asking yourself, well all this sounds great Tim, but how do we pay for it!

That’s where it’s important to understand what the true cost of your employees are cost you.  51% of young employees go to the doctor once or less per year! These young workers cost you a ton less to ensure.  They don’t even use their health benefits, for the most part! As an employer, you need to offer them benefit equability. Benefits they’ll actually want and use.

You pay for it by giving benefits to your younger workers that they actually want, which in turn comes with a loan guarantee from them that they’ll stick around. The cost of replacing great talent is crazy high, a heck of lot less, than what you’ll spend on a loan forgiveness program.

Love the program and concept. More companies should use this idea, but they don’t because it was always a pain in the butt. Now it’s not!  Take a look at Benevate, they make loan forgiveness super easy!

T3 – Talent Tech Tuesday – is a weekly series here at The Project to educate and inform everyone who stops by on a daily/weekly basis on some great recruiting and sourcing technologies that are on the market.  None of the companies who I highlight are paying me for this promotion.  There are so many really cool things going on in the tech space and I wanted to educate myself and share what I find.  If you want to be on T3 – send me a note.

5 Ways to Make the Best Impression During Onboarding

Like the saying goes, “you only get one chance to make a first impression!” Well, unless you hire back a boomerang, then you get two chances, or if you fire someone, but then hire them back, you get another chance on that one as well. Theoretically, if you hire identical twins you would get two chances, but genetically it’s almost the same person.

You get where I’m going with this! When onboarding, you need to make a great impression, and for most of us, we only get one chance.

Years ago when I first went to work for Applebee’s, I actually started the week of Thanksgiving.  The timing just worked out that way, and they wanted me for the first three days of the week. When I arrived for my first day, I was blown away at how much work they did to prepare for me to come. I had all the accesses I needed, a laptop and phone ready, libraries of documents electronically that I might need in my position, a training calendar that laid out my first month of employment by the day!

It was unlike anything I had ever experienced.  It set the ground work for an amazing employment experience, that I still talk about and share, ten years later!

Not everyone has the resources that a large company like Applebee’s has, and can do what they can, but everyone can make a great first impression regardless of their size and resources! Here are some things you can do to make a great impression during onboarding:

  1. The element of surprise! This is the one idea where I think you should spend a few bucks. I love sending a token of appreciation to someone close to your new hire. A spouse, a boyfriend, a parent, etc. I’ve sent flowers to the home of parents of a new hire thanking them for raising us a great person to work with. It costs $25-30. The result is priceless! Talk about a huge win in onboarding.
  2. Don’t waste their time! Probably 80% of current onboarding can be done before the employee even shows up to work. Use technology to get ahead of the game and have employees fill out all the necessary paperwork before they show up. That way, day one,their ready to rock and roll, and not fall asleep in endless, boring onboarding meetings.
  3. Executive presence is a present! Being able to spend a little one-on-one time with your highest functional leader in your division, location, etc. can be huge your first day/week. Instantly, you feel like what you are bringing to the company and your position matter. I mean, what company allows you to talk with a high-level executive day one!? Bonus, this is free!
  4. Everybody needs a friend!Having a work mentor day one is nice, having a work friend day one is even better. I love connecting people who work in different functions. It’s really difficult to ask stupid questions to your peers. You’re new, and you don’t want to sound dumb, but someone in another area will tell you how tuition reimbursement works, without looking at you like you’re an idiot. Bonus, this is free!
  5. Check out this free webinar for even more tips! (It’s called 8 Tips for Awesome Onboarding, and it’s being hosted by the folks who make ALEX (and friends of The Projects), a benefits decision support platform I think is pretty neat. Next Tuesday, February 16, 2-3 EST.)

Anyway, onboarding doesn’t have to be fancy (or expensive) to be exceptional. People don’t come into your company expecting a parade. They come into your company expecting to go to work. It’s our job to make sure they’re ready to do that!