Covering Up a Career Hickey

I had a person work for me at a past job in HR.  She performed the HR cardinal sin of sins, she shared personal, confidential information with an employee outside of HR.  My problem was, this person was a high performer, an outstanding employee, she had a frustrating, weak moment, and did something you just can’t do in an HR position.  This is what we call a Career Hickey. Sometimes you can survive these hickeys and cover them up, and continue to work as normal.  Many times you can’t.

So now, this Hi-Po has a Huge Hickey.  Interestingly though, this Hickey can’t be seen when you look at their resume or interview them in person, but it’s a Hickey they can’t get rid of.  So, barring a life-turtleneck how does one cover this puppy up?

It’s interesting because I think that probably the best of us have a hickey or two that we would rather not have our current or future employer know about.  Sometimes they’re big-giant-in-the-back-of-a-Chevy-17-year-old-I-will-love-you-forever hickeys and sometimes they’re just oops-I-lingered-a-little-too-long type of hickeys. Either way, I would rather not expose my hickeys and have to worry about how this will impact the rest of my professional life. And here’s where most people drive themselves crazy.

As HR Pros I think it’s important for us to be able to help our organizations determine the relative value of individuals.  This person was a rock star at ABC company, did something wrong, and couldn’t maintain that position any longer with ABC because of said incident, and lost their job. Now we have a chance to pick up a Rock Star (and probably for a discount).

The question you have to ask is not could we live with this person if they did the same thing here?  Because that really isn’t the question, you already have that answer is “No.”

The question is: do we feel this person learned from said wrongdoing and is there any risk of them doing it again? 

You might come to the conclusion, “yes, they’ve learned, and yes, there is potential they might do it again” (let’s face it if they did it once, they’ve shown they can do it, so there’s always a risk), but it’s a risk we are willing to take.

So how does someone come back from a transgression at work? The answer is that they have some help.  Eventually, someone is going to ask the question: “why aren’t you with ABC Company anymore?”  They’ll give you the canned answer they’ve been developing since the moment they lost their job. If you’re a good interviewer, you won’t buy the first answer (I mean really – so you decided it was better off not to have a job – is what you’re telling me?!) and you will dig to see the hickey.  Hickeys are funny in that you really can’t take your eyes off of them, once you see them, but for those who can get by the hickeys, you might just find a great talent who is grateful for the second chance.

But, you also might find someone who just likes being in the back of that Chevy and getting Hickeys. You’re the HR Pro though and that’s really why your company pays your salary – to mitigate risk vs. the quality of talent your organization needs to succeed. So, you have to ask yourself, can you live with a Hickey?

You’re an Idiot if You Still Check References!

One thing really hasn’t changed in hiring in like fifty years. Before we hire someone, in certain higher-up levels within our organizations, we do this little dance. The dance is us asking you for “professional” references, that we must check before we can “officially” hire you, and you giving us such references, which are basically your friends.

Don’t think it’s a dance? Think it’s truly helpful in finding noticeably better talent? Answer me this one question:

How many candidates have you rescinded the offer to because they received a bad reference? 

Wait! WAIT! Let me first take a guess at your answer…Let me see thousands of candidates, hundreds of hires, divided by the square root of 73, and my answer is: ZERO!

I’ve asked this question to thousands of HR and TA pros, thousands of candidates and basically it’s like one out of a thousand, and even that “one” has a story! “Oh, sure, just last week Tim we rescinded an offer. So, we checked the references as usual, and everything came back that this candidate was Jesus-like, could walk on the water, all of that. But, our receptionist knew someone who went to school with this guy, who happens to know his girlfriend’s mother he broke up with two years ago and come to find out, he’s a loser!”

So, the references were fine, but…

Checking References in the traditional way that over 90% of organizations still use is a complete and colossal waste of time and resources! 

Look, I get it. It’s always been done this way, but the reality is this isn’t a quality of hire check, this is am I hiring someone who is stupid enough to not give me people who will at least say good things about me check. While you might still think that measure is valuable, it’s not. Traditional reference checking does not filter out enough candidates for it to be worth the amount of time and resources you put into it.

Now, I am a big fan of Reference Checking Technology, automated reference checking because this technology, on average, will eliminate around 10% of the candidates you want to hire, for very good reasons! Modern-day reference check technology is about helping you select candidates you see as technically a good fit, but you want to double-check the cultural fit.

Reference check technology also has a low resource impact. It’s automated so you aren’t having a real person track other people down to see how well you can all lie to each other. The questions that are asked, usually through email, are about a candidate’s preferences. I like to work in “X” way. The reference then is asked how they feel the candidate likes to work best on a spectrum of answers where both spectrums are positive. So, it’s hard for a reference to “game” the system.

Look, I hate calling you an idiot! 

I know you are checking references. Or at the very least, your executives think you’re checking references, because, let’s face it, they know nothing about hiring and science. They had their references checked back in the 1990’s, so they feel it’s something we must legally do or we’ll get fined or something. They have no idea!

Be better.

Stop checking references, manually. Start checking references using technology that will actually help you make a better hire. Also, don’t just take my word for it, or the word of one of the many reference check technology companies, prove it to yourself. Make some baseline measures you believe are important, test the technology on your next “X” number of hires, then check those measures again. Did you get better? Awesome. Did you stay the same or get worse? Hmmm, interesting, let’s dig into that! Continue to test and improve. Stop doing shit that makes you look like an idiot!

 

How Many of Your Employees Are Going to Get the Covid Vaccine?

I’m sure you’ve been seeing the headlines, across America we continue to hear about front-line workers, healthcare workers who are refusing to get the Covid vaccine. In Ohio, it’s estimated that 60% of nursing home workers declined to get the vaccine!

I want to believe that those choosing not to get the vaccine when they could get that vaccine are just ignorant and natural selection will take its course. But, not even 100% of hospital workers, nurses, and doctors on Covid units are getting the vaccine they are eligible to get!

So, we know that when it comes time that we can help our own employees get the vaccine, not all will want it. This will cause a bunch of issues in organizations that we haven’t even come close to really knowing, yet.

Can you fire an employee who refuses to get a Covid Vaccine? 

Short answer? Yes. The longer answer depends on a number of factors. Do they have a legitimate religious exemption, not one they’ve conveniently made up in the past day or so? Do they have a document medical issue? Etc.

The reality is employers have a lot of ground to stand on when forcing employees to get a vaccine or lose their job. Getting the vaccine becomes a workplace safety issue and the government and the courts have shown a willingness to back these protections.

The more important question is, do you as an employer want to force employees to get the vaccine, or is there a better way to get the same result? This is really a company by company decision.

What are some ways to get employees to want to take the vaccine? 

Let’s face it, the vast majority of most employees, at most employers, will actually want to get the vaccine and get back to life as “normal” before the pandemic. So, anything you roll out to entice your employees to get the vaccine will be a bonus most probably didn’t need. That being said, here’s what I’ve been hearing some employers are doing:

  • Cash bonus to get the vaccine. $100 if you get the vaccine in a certain time period once it’s available.
  • Extra time off.
  • Extra flexibility around their schedule.
  • Making it super convenient, like offering vaccines onsite at the workplace.

It’s basically the carrot or the stick. Most likely, organizations will have to use both to get to the point of ‘herd immunity’. The reality is, based on data, you don’t actually have to have 100% of employees get vaccinated to make your workplace safe.

I think it’s important to remember that factor. You really don’t need 100%. As organizations do we really want to fight that battle with someone who just refuses, yet, they are a good, solid employee? I don’t think it will be worth it in the long run.

The one thing you might try is drafting an agreement for those who refuse which would state, they are refusing to get the vaccine and I would try and add in some language that gives you the right as an employer to be able to let other employees know who are those employees are aren’t vaccinated from a workplace safety issue, so other employees know who they need to continue to social distance from. Is this ideal? Heck no! There are HIPAA issues, among others. But, this is about how do we keep the majority of our employees safe.

Now, before drafting some agreement like that up on your own, get your legal counsel involved. They’ll balk at first, but with some pushing, they can put something together that will protect the organization from any legal blowback.

Again, you have to weigh the outcome of doing something like this. Those employees who refuse the vaccine, sign your agreement, and you make that public among your employees is now wearing a scarlet letter around. That isn’t good either, from a cultural standpoint.

This is why HR is so much fun! We don’t live in black and white, we live in the gray. There isn’t one perfect answer to the question. Of course, the best-case scenario is every single one of your employees wants the vaccine and gets the vaccine. Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening with too many organizations.

The Perfect Ugly Xmas Sweater for HR Pros!

In a normal world, the biggest decision most employees make in the month of December is which ugly Christmas sweater they’ll buy or build for the annual office party! Can be too controversial, but needs to be the right combination of funny and ugly!

Since 2020 is the year of the Covid, Simplisafe developed the perfect ugly Christmas sweater:

This really got me thinking! If we could do this for social distancing, why can’t we do this to alert us when employees are on their way to the HR Office!?

What would the perfect Ugly Christmas HR Pro sweater look like? 

– It would definitely have to be on the corporate brand from a logo and color perspective.

– I’m assuming somewhere would have to be a cat or multiple cats. Maybe it’s even made out of cat hair! (Wait, is that Peta friendly?) Maybe just made from artificial cat hair.

– I like the built-in technology that might warn the HR pro when an employee is getting close, so you can prepare yourself for whatever that employee might be asking for.

– From an HR Self-Service perspective it’s probably appropriate to put on the URL or email address on the back so you don’t have to speak to employees, you can just turn around and show them on your back.

– I also like something in turtle neck so we don’t throw off any sexy vibes.

I’m totally into this idea of making HR specific ugly Christmas sweaters for 2021! Some HR Tech company get on this! If Simplisafe can do it, we can do it!

 

3 Things you can do at the office the Friday after Thanksgiving – Remote Work Edition!

So, in the United States, if you have to work the day after Thanksgiving in an office environment, we’ve had this neat little game we play. You act like you work all day, while basically doing nothing!

I’ve written about this in the past and tried to give advice to those poor souls who must go into the office the day after Thanksgiving. I was trying to help them be productive, things like:

  • Clean out your files – paper and digital
  • Send out emails to folks you are thankful for but haven’t told recently
  • Organize your calendar for the next month to ensure you kill the last month of the year.

This year, for so many office workers, it’s completely different! You now are remote. The vast majority of you will have no watchful overload to see if you are actually doing anything or not. It’s just you and your conscience, working all alone at your home.

So, what should you be doing this Friday?

Well, the try-hards in the bunch will do the things listed above but also add:

  • Early morning email out to folks that manner with some kind of important question. Make sure to note, “No reply needed today, but you get a minute…”
  • Late afternoon update on something with data. “I was just crunching some 3rd quarter data and found that we can probably do a budget adjustment for 4th quarter on “X”.”
  • Pro-Level: send a text message to someone else who is working asking for a file you can’t find.

This will show the powers-that-be that you’ve been working super hard all day!

Then there are the other things you can do in between that 8 emails and that 4:30 pm email:

  • Black Friday online shopping (this should take up most of the day) – at least one stop at some sort of office supply site, because “office supplies”
  • Catch up on some Netflix documentaries that have some sort of connection to whatever you do. Research for work stuff.
  • For those who love holiday decorations, this is a perfect time to “decorate your office”
  • There’s always some sort of football game on, just have it running on your second or third screen, I mean you’re working!
  • I like to make a big pot of chili for lunch on Black Friday (it’s okay, you’re working you get to eat lunch)
  • I like to send out holiday cards to my professional network on this day, which is probably really is work, so I might hold off until Monday for this task.

If any of my own team at HRU Tech is reading this – do not send me emails early in the morning or late in the afternoon – unless you really need something, because I know you’ll be doing work if it’s needed, and you’ll be enjoying your life if it’s needed! You can sed me any text messages with great deals you find that you think I should be aware of!

It’s 2020 and I’m Re-certifying with @SHRM. Want to know why?

In 2001 I got my SPHR certification for the first time. I started my first real HR Manager job and the CHRO wanted to make sure every single HR person on our team had either a PHR or SPHR. I did an eight-week group study course with fellow HR pros studying for the test and I was lucky that my company had also purchased a SHRM study kit.

I remember leaving that test thinking, “I have no idea if I failed or passed! And, boy, I only know a fraction of what I thought I knew in HR!” This was after studying for two months straight and putting legitimate hours in on the study kit.

I passed and vowed to never have to take that test again!

It’s 2020 and SHRM just sent me a reminder that my SHRM-SCP is up for renewal. For years I carried both the HRCI-SPHR and the SHRM-SCP. Again, I figured I did all the education to keep them up, I’ll just carry both.

Why am I re-certifying for the SHRM-SCP? 

  1. If you’re in HR, SHRM is the world-recognized leader in HR. So, having a certification from SHRM carries career weight.
  2. 99% of Leaders of organizations who care about someone having an HR certification have always believed it was a SHRM certification, even though for most of that time HRCI was the actual certifying body. Now, SHRM has its own HR certification, and quite frankly, it’s as good as the HRCI one, and in some cases better.
  3. I don’t see any other association in the world doing as much as SHRM does to advance the practice of HR. Because of that, I foresee them being the leader in the HR space for a long time.
  4. When I speak to actual SHRM card-carrying members, they are very satisfied with the association and they are very happy with the education and support they are getting.
  5. It’s a cost-effective way to stay on top of changes in HR and show those who care that I’m staying on top of my profession, probably better than most people are.

Let’s be honest, I’ve reached a point in my career where the SHRM-SCP certification isn’t needed for me personally. I don’t have to re-certify and I’ll have a job tomorrow and at any time in the future. But, I’m choosing to anyway because I did the work!

I developed content for webinars and presented it to my peers in HR and TA. I sat and watched peers in HR and TA present at conferences and on webinars and I learned things I didn’t know. I read books and listened to podcasts, and consumed tons of HR-related material so I was staying up on all the changes in the HR field.

Maybe it’s PTSD from taking that test once, but I’m re-certifying because I never want to have to take it again. I’m re-certifying because having my SHRM-SCP makes me feel special and accomplished. It sets me apart in the field of HR, and I won’t apologize for that, I passed the test and did the work.

Me re-certifying isn’t about taking a stance for or against something. This is about me and my professional development. I encourage every single professional to find ways to continue your professional, functional development long after you have “gotten the job”. Getting the job is just the start, not the end!

(FYI – for those thinking somehow SHRM is paying me for this post. They aren’t. But as always I welcome anyone to pay me for anything if they are so inclined! I’m an equal opportunity check casher.) 

At what age should you retire?

We tend to believe retirement is an age thing. Well, once you turn 65, it’s time to retire! Do you know where ’65’ actually came from? Most HR pros will probably guess it, it’s when America instituted social security insurance back in 1935.

The U.S. Government, in 1935, didn’t even use any science to determine 65 years old.  At the time, the national railroad pension retirement age was 65, and about half the state pensions were the same (the other half were 70), so 65 years old was chosen. Way less red tape back in 1935! Can you imagine the government trying to make that decision today!?

So, you turn 65 and you’re supposed to retire. In 1935, that probably was fairly accurate. The actual life expectancy in 1935 was only 61! So, we built social security knowing most people would not live to receive it. Today, life expectancy is around 79 years old!  As you can imagine, 65 years old is no longer a realistic retirement age.

I’m currently 50 years old.  It’s my belief that I have about 20 years left to work and save for my retirement. I’m assuming I’ll work until I’m at least 70.  70 years old today doesn’t seem like 70 years old when I was a kid.  My parents are now in their 70’s and they don’t seem ‘old’. I mean they’re old, but not like they can’t do anything old.  Both could still easily work and produce great work if they wanted to.

All of this should change how we look at succession planning in our organizations, but we still use 65 as the ‘expiration’ date of when someone no longer seems to have value. “Oh, you know Tim, he’s going to be 65 next year, I’m amazed he can still stay awake all day!”

65 in 2020 is not the same 65 we saw in 1935!  The health and physical wellbeing of those two people are worlds apart!

Succession Planning needs to catch up with this difference.  HR needs to lead this charge.  Part of this change starts with us changing the language and numbers we use when describing retirement.  Regular retirement age needs to start at 70 years old, at a minimum, and move up from there.  We need to eliminate 65 years old from everything we write and speak.  It’s just no longer valid or accurate.

Once we push this date out, we can then start to plan much more accurately to what our organizational needs will truly be.  Next, we need to have frank conversations with those who we believe are reaching an age where they want to retire and have real conversations.  HR pros have been failing at this for years!  It’s actually not against the law to ask an employee what their retirement plan is! It should be against the law that you don’t ask this question!

If an employee knows that you are working with them to reach their goals, and you let that employee know that ‘hey, we need you for another five years’, most will actually happily stay on the additional time.  My Dad worked in a professional job until he was 72, and they wanted him longer! Don’t ever underestimate the power of being wanted. As we age, that desire to be wanted just increases!

So, I’ll ask you. At what age do you think someone should retire?

What is the Perfect Diversity Mix for your Organization?

This is a question I think many executives and HR and TA leaders struggle with. SHRM hasn’t come out and given guidance. ATAP has not told us at what levels we should be at with our diversity mix. So, how do we come up with this answer?

Seems like we should probably be roughly 50/50 when it comes to male and female employees. Again, that’s a broad figure, because your customer base probably makes a difference. If you’re selling products and services mostly women buy, you probably want more women on your team.

The more difficult mix to figure is when it comes to race. Should we be 50/50 when it comes to race in our hiring? Apple has taken it on the chin the last few years because of their demographic employee mix, and even as of this week, are still catching criticism for having only 1/3 of their leadership team is female, and only 17% of their entire team being black and Hispanic. 55% of Apple’s tech employees are white, 77% are male.

So, what should your diversity mix be?

The most recent demographics of race in America show this:

  • 61.3% are white
  • 17.8% are Hispanic/Latino
  • 13.3 are black
  • 4.8% Asian

Some other interesting facts about American race demographics:

  • 55% of black Americans live in the south
  • White Americans are the majority in every region
  • 79% of the Midwest is white Americans
  • The West is the most overall diverse part of America (where 46% of the American Asian population live, 42% of Hispanic/Latino, 48% of American Indian, 37% of multi-race)

So, what does this all mean when it comes to hiring a more diverse workforce? 

If 61.3% of the American population is white, is it realistic for Apple to hire a 50/50 mix of diversity across its workforce? I go back to my master’s research project when looking at female hiring in leadership. What you find in most service-oriented, retail, restaurants, etc. organizations are more male leaders than female leaders, but more female employees than male employees.

What I found was as organizations with a higher population of female employees hired a higher density of male employees as leaders, they were actually pulling from a smaller and smaller pool of talent. Meaning, organizations that don’t match the overall demographics of their employee base have the tendency to hire weaker leadership talent when they hire from a minority of their employee base, once those ratios are met.

In this case, if you have 70% female employees and 30% male, but you have 70% male leaders and only 30% female leaders, every single additional male you hire is statistically more likely to be a weaker leader than hiring from your female employee population for that position.

Makes sense, right!

If this example of females in leadership is true, it gives you a guide for your entire organization in what your mixes should be across your organization. If you have 60% of white employees and 50%, female. Your leadership team should be 60% of female leaders.

But!

What about special skill sets and demographics?

These throws are demographics off. What if your employee population is 18% black, but you can’t find 18% of the black employees you need in a certain skill set? This happened in a large health system I worked for when it came to nurse hiring. Within our market, we only had 7% of the nursing population that was black, and we struggled to get above that percentage in our overall population.

Apple runs into this same concept when it comes to hiring technical employees because more of the Asian and Indian population have the skill sets they need, so they can’t meet the overall demographics of their employee population, without incurring great cost in attracting the population they would need from other parts of the country to California.

Also, many organization’s leaders will say instead of looking at the employee base we have, let’s match the demographic makeup of the markets where our organizations work. At that point, you are looking at market demographics to match your employee demographics. Again, this can be difficult based on the skill sets you need to hire.

If I’m Apple, I think the one demographic that is way out of whack for them is female hiring. 50% of their customers are female. 77% of its employees are male, but only 33% of their leadership is female. It would seem to make demographic sense that 50% of Apple’s leadership team should be female.

Thoughts? This is a really difficult problem for so many organizations, and I see organizations attempting to get more ‘diverse’ in skin color without really knowing what that means in terms of raw numbers and percentages.

What are you using in your own shops?

Why Don’t We Make HR Simple? (hint: we might possibly have deep psychological issues!)

Have you ever wondered why HR Departments continue to make complex processes?  In reality, all of us want things simple.  But, when you look at our organizations they are filled with complexity.  It seems like the more we try to make things simple, the more complex they get.  You know what?  It’s you – it’s not everyone else.  You are making things complex, and you’re doing this because it makes you feel good.

From Harvard Business Review:

“There are several deep psychological reasons why stopping activities are so hard to do in organizations. First, while people complain about being too busy, they also take a certain amount of satisfaction and pride in being needed at all hours of the day and night. In other words, being busy is a status symbol. In fact, a few years ago we asked senior managers in a research organization — all of whom were complaining about being too busy — to voluntarily give up one or two of their committee assignments. Nobody took the bait because being on numerous committees was a source of prestige.

Managers also hesitate to stop things because they don’t want to admit that they are doing low-value or unnecessary work. Particularly at a time of layoffs, high unemployment, and a focus on cost reduction, managers want to believe (and convince others) that what they are doing is absolutely critical and can’t possibly be stopped. So while it’s somewhat easier to identify unnecessary activities that others are doing, it’s risky to volunteer that my own activities aren’t adding value. After all, if I stop doing them, then what would I do?”

That’s the bad news.  You have deep psychological issues.  Your spouse already knew that about you.

The good news is, you can stop it!  How?  Reward people for eliminating worthless work.  Right now we reward people who are working 70 hours per week and always busy and we tell people “Wow! Look at Tim he’s a rock star – always here, always working!”  Then someone in your group goes, “Yeah, but Tim is an idiot, I could do his job in 20 hours per week, if…”  We don’t reward the 20-hour guy, we reward the guy working 70 hours, even if he doesn’t have to.

Somewhere in our society – the ‘working smarter’ analogy got lost or turned into ‘work smarter and longer’.  The reality is most people don’t have the ability to work smarter, so they just work longer and make everything they do look ‘Really’ important!   You just thought of someone in your organization, when you read that, didn’t you!?  We all have them – you can now officially call them ‘psychos’ – since they do actually have “deep psychological” reasons for doing what they’re doing – Harvard said so!

I love simple.  I love simple HR.  I love simple recruiting.  I hate HR and Talent Pros that make things complex, because I know they have ‘deep psychological’ issues!  Please go make things simple today!

If You Pay Women More They’ll Work Harder Than Men! (It’s Science!)

A new study out from Harvard (so you know it’s legit and sh*t!) on what is the real payoff on paying employees more. It the age-old question, right? We can’t find great talent, so we say, “well, if we paid more we could find more talent”. Not quite “great talent” but more talent.

But, that really isn’t even the question this is answering. This is about what about our own employees and if we paid them more, would they work harder?

So, will employees work harder for more money? 

The study looked at mass retail and warehouse workers and found that a $1 increase in pay would on average, overall employees, give back the company $1,10 in extra productivity. Not great, but in very big organizations, an extra $.10 per hour in productivity could be significant, but there were other findings I found more fascinating:

1. Women, on average, will actually work harder for more pay than men! 

2. It’s super hard to pre-select those employees, or candidates, who will actually be more productive with the additional pay.

In fact, “women’s productivity responds more and their turnover responds less to wage changes than men’s, which can lead to occupational pay gaps”. Meaning, less pay doesn’t have the same impact on women as it does men. Men are more likely to turnover when they feel they aren’t being compensated fairly.

The other side of this study that is fascinating from a compensation perspective is something we all kind of know, but never like to admit to – we actually kind of suck at selection and determining who will be a great performer from a poor performer. Interviews, especially in no-skill, low-skill jobs, are basically worthless.

You might have a better chance of being a pay leader and only hiring women. At least you’ll give yourself a better chance the ladies will work harder for that money!

I think what this really speaks to is class pay for performance. Our need to make sure we are paying those employees, who perform the best, more than those employees who do not perform the best. We struggle with this. “Well, Tim, they are all classified “Warehouse Associates 1″ if we paid them differently there would be chaos!”

I get it. It’s not easy, but being great is never easy. Do you really think what you are doing now is really working great?

I think we have the ability in retail, dining, warehouse, manufacturing, do compensation testing where we try some of these philosophies and ideas. What would happen if we developed great productivity measures, and then we really compensated our best performers more. Not twenty-five cents more, but significantly more than their peers who are average or below average on those same metrics?

Might you have some turnover of weaker players? Yep. Is that a bad thing? Maybe, most likely not, if you’re prepared with a funnel of potential new hires. Becoming great at HR is about challenging what we are doing now, so we can become better than we are for the future.

Now, go take care of those ladies who are working harder than your dudes!