3 Ways You Can Extend the Work Lifecycle of Older Employees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Someone is Banking on You Being Lazy!

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

Ouch! That should sting a little!

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

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

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

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

That doesn’t sound lazy, does it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You’re not fired, you’re uninvited!

I’m not terminating anyone ever again.

I can’t terminate anyone, because I don’t hire anyone.  I do invite people to join me.  Join me on this journey, on this path. It’s going to be a great trip.  I invite them to be a part of my family.  Not my ‘work’ family, but my actual family.  I spend more time with my co-workers than I do with my wife and children (in terms of waking hours).  So, when I invite someone to join us, it is not something I take lightly.

That’s why, from now on, I’m not terminating anyone.  From now on, I’m just uninviting them to continue being a part of what we have going on.  Just like a party.  You were invited to attend, but you end up drinking too much and making a fool out of yourself, so now you’re uninvited. You can’t attend the next party.  I don’t know about you, but when I throw a party, I never (and I mean never) invite someone I can’t stand.  Sometimes a couple has issues with this, where one spouse wants to invite his or her friend, but their spouse is a complete tool and it causes issues.

Not in my family, we only invite those people we want to be around, life is too short.

Here’s the deal.  When you invited someone into your family, you usually end up falling in love with them.  It’s that way in business. It’s the main reason we have such a hard time firing on bad performers.  We fall in love with those people we hire.  “Oh, Mary, she’s such a nice person!”  But, Mary, can’t tie her shoes and chew gum at the same time.  So, we give Mary chances, too many chances, and pretty soon Mary is part of the family.  It’s really hard terminating part of the family.

I would rather just not invite Mary to attend work any longer.  “Hey, Mary, we love you, but look, we aren’t going to invite you to work.  We’ll still see you at 5 pm over at the bar for drinks.”  Sounds so much easier, right!?  It happens all the time.  I use to get invited to stuff, but somewhere down the road, the group stopped inviting me.  I might have been a little upset over it, but it didn’t last and I’m still friends with everyone.  Termination is so permanent, it’s like death.

Being uninvited sends the same message, but there’s a part of being uninvited that says “you know what, maybe it was you, maybe it was us, but let’s just face it, together it doesn’t work.”

You’re Uninvited.

When is the time to work hard?

“Never! Work smarter not harder!”

Shut it. I wasn’t talking to you idiot.

I tend to try and surround myself with people who are “hard” workers. Who sees stuff that needs to be done and they just do it. In fact, they can’t even turn themselves off if they wanted to. Maybe all the work that you, or I, or they do isn’t “hard”, however, you define hard work, but it’s work and it needs to get done.

Every successful person I know is a hard worker.

Being a hard worker doesn’t mean you almost always work more than everyone else, but when work needs to get done, they get it done. But, don’t discount time and success, most successful people work more and harder than none successful people. It’s super rare to find a lazy successful person.

At what point in your life should you work the hardest? 

No, it’s not all the time, unless you’re young, then yes, when you are young you should be working hard all the time! That is the time to build the foundation. That is the time you have the most energy. That is the time when you have the least to lose.

The time in your life when you should be working the hardest is when you are young. 18-35 years of age, should be a work fest, followed by brief interludes of some trips and stuff.

I often get into conversations with young people who want to retire young, be super successful, but they have yet to work 50 hours in a full week in their life! They should be working 80-100 hours per week. This is the time you can work that amount and make it count.

But girls (and boys) just want to have fun, Tim!

Yeah, you know what’s not fun? Being a greeter at a mass retail store at 68 years old because you can’t pay your rent. The world is a young person’s game because you are fun. You have the time, the energy, you as nice looking as you’ll ever be, you have the fresh young person smell, all of the world wants more of you!

To be successful you must work hard. Part of that success comes from working hard all the time when you are young. As you age and gain experience, you begin to find out when exactly you need to turn it on and when you can shut it down for a bit. If you’re young and you think you already know when to shut it down, you’re a moron, or at the very least you are only getting to a fraction of the success that you are capable of.

If you just graduated high school or college this month, it’s not the time for a break, your life is just beginning. Right now, today is the exact time you should be working hardest and you should be doing it all the time!

 

Performance Feedback for a New World

Channeling my inner Seth Godin today…

It really is a choice.

Either you can decide to perform the job you have, or you can decide to work someplace else.

Either you believe this is the right company for you, or you can decide it’s another company.

Either you treat your coworkers as peers, or you are welcome to go treat someone else’s employees like crap.

Either you follow our rules, or you will follow someone else’s rules.

Either you make a positive contribution to the organization, or you make me make a choice about your future.

Earning the right to work here isn’t hard; it’s just a simple choice that you control. Losing that choice is up to you until you make it up to me.

The Top 4 Recruiter Lies We Tell Candidates!

The world quickly turned from a candidate-driven market to a company driven market, meaning for the first time in about a decade Recruiters will have the power. Now, as a candidate, you might have always felt that recruiters had the power, but you haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen a recruiter in full “I’ve got the power” mode!

I was thinking about this and wanted to share some of the top Recruiter Lies so candidates could spot them, and while you probably can’t call them out, spotting a recruiter lie will help you strategically begin to work on another way to get the response you need:

Send Us Your Resume, Even Though We Don’t Have a Job Lie – I would say this is a ‘semi-lie’. While the recruiter might not have the opening currently, they’re asking for a resume because they frequently have those openings and they never know when one is coming. The recruiter, though, is wrong by not telling you this upfront, so you know what to expect.

The Hiring Manager Hasn’t Gotten Back To Me Lie – This is a lie and not a lie,  potentially! For Corporate Recruiters this is a lie or lazy, I’ll let you pick. If you’re a corporate recruiter and tell the candidate that the hiring manager hasn’t gotten back to you get your butt up from your desk and walk over to the hiring manager’s desk! If they’re in a different location and won’t get back to you, then you have an influence problem you need to work on. Agency-wise it’s the one frustrating things recruiters have to deal with. Hiring Managers will get to ‘us’ when they feel like it, and usually after they’ve exhausted every other opportunity internally to fill the position.

The Never Call Back the Candidate Lie – this really isn’t a lie but this happens all the time!  For the sake of Recruiters everywhere if you do this please quit this profession! We (all Recruiters) Hate you as well. You give all of us a bad name. It takes 10 seconds to call back a candidate you spoke to a job about, and tell them “Sorry, you were not chosen and stay in touch, or don’t call me again, etc.” 10 seconds!

The You Didn’t Score High Enough On The Assessment Lie The company you’re trying to get into might actually have cut-off scores they’ve established and the lie comes into play when a hiring manager presents someone they’ve worked with previously and that person scores the same as you but they still get the job. If they really like you, the assessment wouldn’t stop them from hiring you.

The We’ve Decided To Go Another Direction Lie – This comes along with the ‘We really liked you, but” Lie.  This is Recruiter training 10, to not get yourself into trouble when telling a candidate they didn’t get the job we give them a reason that legally can never come back and bite you in the butt. “We really, really, really liked but have decided to not fill the position.” Two weeks later a job posting comes out that seems very similar but with a title change and a few description changes. They didn’t like you.

What’s the biggest reason Recruiters lie? 

They have major conflict-avoidance and are not willing to tell you the truth, which is usually there is something wrong with you based on what they are looking for and don’t want to hurt your feelings.  Unfortunately, many candidates would actually be helped by a little Recruiter honesty but recruiters are afraid of candidates who get told the truth and then get charges from the EEOC, other state or federal agencies, or just get flat out sued.  Candidates have a hard time with feedback like, “you’re really creepy”, “you’re annoying” or “your personality is grating”.  So, the lies come into play because Recruiters have found Lies are easier than the truth.

Leaders Aren’t Best Judged in Crisis, No Matter What You’ve Heard

We are in a crisis. Everyone would agree with this.

It’s been popular since the beginning of time to judge people based on their best moment. Stand up tall, when others are small and you are destined for greatness in history. No matter when you did before or after.

Rudy Giuliani, by most, is considered a great leader of our time for his leadership in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. He was in charge when the towers came down. He said and did the right things during that time. He will be forever remembered for that time in his legacy.

The reality is, leaders are not best judged in times of crisis.

Great leaders should not be judged by how they reacted in a once in a lifetime event, but how they act every day. On good days, average days, bad days, and very rarely on crisis days. The problem is we aren’t paying attention on normal days. We don’t see the greatest. So, we judge them on the few times we see them, which are either celebrations or catastrophes.

Crisis management is incredibly difficult by leadership teams at organizations. You try with all of your might to put your own situation aside, but it’s always there in the background, while you try and do what’s best for all involved. The hardest thing a leader will ever do is make the decision that some will have to lose their job, so the majority can keep their job. Even putting your own name on that list of cuts, isn’t as difficult.

Nobody wants to be judged by his or her worst moment. In crisis management, we tend to have a lot of worst moments because we are often making quick decisions with limited information that in hindsight looks foolish.

As we are all going through some level of crisis management currently, I wanted to share Professor Scott Galloway’s three steps of crisis management from his NYU class he teaches on the same subject:

  1. Top Guy or Gal Takes Responsibility
  2. Acknowledge the Issue
  3. Overcorrect

Overcorrect is the key. Well, I’m not sure if we should do this, let’s just wait a little while longer and see what happens. NO! Overcorrect. Make the safest choice possible. Make the best choice possible for your people. Act swiftly.

If we watch, we will see great leadership moments in any crisis. Some of these moments will be by great leaders doing great leader stuff. Some of these moments will be done by idiots who just happen to be in the right place and make the right decision. Don’t confuse a moment of leadership competence with being a great leader.

Great leaders don’t just show up for a crisis, they show up every day.

 

Should the US Women Soccer Team be Paid the Same as Men? No!

How’s that for a clickbait headline! “I knew it the SOB Tim Sackett is a Sexist!” Slow down, read the post, you might be surprised on my take…

The US Women’s Soccer team should not be paid the same as the US Men’s Soccer team. They should be paid more!

Okay, let’s dig into this issue.

The media coverage on this issue is rightly pro-US Women’s Soccer. The US Soccer’s legal team continues to make ridiculous statements in an attempt to fight for their client. That’s what you pay lawyers to do, win your case. The men have more responsibility!? What is this, 1935!?! I’m not even sure how the US Soccer’s in house council even allowed that language to be released!

Here’s the full read of the US Soccer Federation’s legal argument. It’s worth a read if you truly care about this issue.

My first reaction to this case when it first got hot last year was this entire thing is ridiculous. If the women want the same as the men, why not just do straight revenue share that is equal. Both men and women get the exact same percentage of revenue they bring and can split it up in whatever way they deem appropriate for their teams. Seem fair? I thought so.

You bring in more money, you get more money. You bring in less, you get less, but don’t bitch, you brought in less.

My thought process on this issue has changed considerably since my first reaction. I love the logic behind revenue share because the Capitalist in me seems like that is equitable and fair. You make more, you get more. But the reality is, the women, in this case, have not had the same advantages of the men for decades, maybe a century, when it comes to this issue.

Let me break down some points:

– You don’t want to hear this but if the US Women’s Soccer team had the same contract as the US Men’s soccer team, they would actually make less money than their current contract. The US Men would argue and are currently renegotiating, they would make more if they had the women’s contract! From US Soccer, the women actually make more than the men, but the men make more overall because of professional money and non-US Soccer tournaments.

– Men’s soccer has been funded and supported at such a different level for so long, it has given them a giant, one could argue, an unsurpassable advantage in player development, infrastructure, marketing, etc. This is why the US Men don’t require have compensation to play on the national team because they make exponentially more than the women playing professional soccer.

– If we pay the US Women equally to the US Men, the women will actually make less overall, because they don’t have this advantage of time and resources the men have gotten for so long. I don’t think pay equality is what is needed, it’s pay fairness. By the way, if you take a few minutes and actually read the legal documents, this also what the US Women are saying. But, in the media, it wouldn’t play well to say “we want more”! But, what they are actually trying to get, would, in fact, pay them more than the men, when it comes to US Soccer compensation, but not total overall compensation.

– Carli Lloyd, the famous US Soccer women’s player, admitted in her testimony that the US Men actually do have more “skill” when it comes to speed and strength. The use of the word “skill” is really what the media pulled out. The actually tactical and strategic soccer skills, ballhandling, passing, etc. Is way too subjective to argue that men have more skill than women.

– “Women’s Soccer and Men’s Soccer are not the same game.” This was a statement from my wife, a former D1 college athlete and a national team invitee. The name is the same, but we have to get over this fact that men and women playing a similar game is the same. It’s different! I love to watch women’s volleyball. Men’s volleyball is boring. I would rather watch men’s basketball over women’s basketball. If I love “basketball” why don’t I love watching both? Because I actually love watching “Men’s basketball”. Different games.

– The legal argument that US men soccer team members have more responsibility is just an ignorant statement. Again, based on history, awareness, resources, etc. US citizens get super pissed if US “men” lose at anything to other countries because we’ve been conditioned by mostly media, that this is how we should react. If the women lose, we tend to not be as upset. “Oh, they played their butts off! Next time!”  Again, we’ve been conditioned to this response. If we would have been conditioned that losing, men or women in a national team competition, is awful and unacceptable for decades, we would all truly believe this responsibility is equal, which it is, but we tend to think differently about, because of how we’ve been conditioned.

– These are all union bargained terms. This is why the US women have taken their argument public because legally this win will be hard. They bargained fairly and agreed to these terms. Courts love to uphold bargained agreements. You signed the contract and now you think it sucks. Okay, go back to the bargaining table. Isn’t that why you joined a union?

I hear your argument right now. “Tim, more people want to watch men over women, the TV viewership, ticket sales, etc., show this!” The reason women don’t have the same resources is because it’s not the entertainment people want. Well, for decades, men were the only entertainment option we’ve been given! “Tim, men’s football and men’s basketball pay for all those Title 9 scholarships for women!” And every other men’s sport as well. Again, historically we didn’t support women’s athletics even close to men’s. So, if we did, from the beginning, would we even need Title 9? We won’t know, we are where we are right now.

Also, I don’t give a crap that one team was more successful than another. In the world of national teams, that doesn’t really matter. In the US, our best male athletes usually gravitate to the sport that pays them the most money (basketball, American football, baseball, even hockey). Women, again, don’t have those same avenues. The highest NBA player salary in 2019 was $34,000,000 per season. The highest WNBA player salary was $127,000.

The US Women’s Soccer team should not be paid equal to the US Men’s team. They should be paid more. Paying them the same would just be another injustice to female soccer players. We have systematically put women athletes at a disadvantage for so long in the US. Not pay equity, pay fairness.

Getting Your Hiring Managers to Stop Sucking! (Video)

I was out in San Francisco a few weeks back at SmartRecruiter’s Hiring Success conference. The theme of my talk was about this often strained relationship that HR and Talent Acquisition has with our hiring managers!

For the most part, Hiring Managers tend to Suck! And I dig into why do they suck so much, and how can we get them to stop Sucking!

Check it out!

Want to get your hiring managers to stop sucking? Send me a note and I’ll come do a Hiring Manager Intervention at your company!

You supply the Antibacterial gel and mask, and I am there!

Can I be Completely Honest With You?

“Can I be completely honest with you?” is a phrase usually followed by some sh*t you don’t want to hear.  We talk about this concept a bunch in HR.  We need to tell our employees the truth about their performance.  We work to coach managers of people on how to deliver this message appropriately.  We develop complete training sessions and bring in ‘professional’ communicators to help us out on the exact phraseology we want to use.  All so we can be ‘honest’ with our employees.

Can I be completely honest with you?

No one wants you to be honest with them.

Employees want you to tell them this:

1. We like having you work here.

2. You’re doing a good job.

3.  You are better than most of the other employees we have.

4. We see great things coming from your development, and you’re on target for promotion.

5. Here is your annual increase.

Now, that might actually be ‘honest’ feedback for about 5% of your employees.  That means you will be saying a different version of honesty to the other 95% that won’t like you being completely honest.

That is why talent management is really hard.  No piece of software will help you with this one fact.  Most people don’t like honesty.  The cool part of this is that most managers don’t like to be honest. It’s uncomfortable. It causes conflict.  Most people aren’t comfortable telling someone else that they have some issues that need to be addressed, and most people don’t take that feedback appropriately.  You tell an employee they have ‘room for improvement’ and they instantly believe you told them they suck and they’re about to be fired.

So, as managers, we aren’t completely honest.  We tend to work around the truth.  The truth is we all have things we need to get better at, and it sucks to hear it out loud.  If someone tells you they welcome this feedback, they’re lying to you and themselves.  Those are usually the people who lose it the most when they are told the truth.  People who tell you they want honest feedback will believe you’re going to tell them ‘honestly’ they’re a rock star.  When you say something less than ‘rock star’ they implode.

So, what’s the honest solution to this?

Say nothing.  Set really good metrics. Metrics that show if a person is performing or not.  Make sure everyone understands those metrics.  Then, when the employee wants feedback, set down the metrics in front of them, and shut up.  Don’t be the first to talk.  The employee will give you some honest feedback if you wait.  Which will open the door to agree or disagree? Otherwise, you’re just working on subjective.  Subjective and honest don’t go well together.

But, you knew that. I really like having you stop by and read this.  You do a great job at your job. You’re certainly better than all those other readers who stop by and read this.  I’m sure you’re on your way up!