SHRMLab Better Workplace Challenge Cup Winners! #HRTech @SHRM

In my post on Monday, I mentioned that my new favorite segment of content at SHRM Annual was the SHRMLabs Better Workplace Challenge Cup. Odd name that doesn’t make much sense to what the content really is. It’s a technology pitchfest. A startup competition of HR Technology companies. I’m going to assume the name came from someone who is sponsoring it, regardless, it was awesome!

The competition started amongst 150 different startups within the HR Technology community who first pitched at regional SHRM events across the country. From those five regional competitions, the winners were selected to present and pitch at SHRM Annual. Here are the five:

  • Compt: A perk stipend software company based in Boston, Mass.  
  • Symba: An all-in-one workforce management platform for talent development programs based in Chicago, Ill.
  • TiLT: A leave management platform based in Fort Collins, Colo.
  • UnboXt: A leadership development platform based in Atlanta, Ga.
  • WorkWhile: A technology company that connects hourly workers to shifts based in San Francisco, Calif.

All five pitched very well, and if you are looking to expand your HR Technology knowledge these five would be great ones to start with demos!

The winner was Compt. Deserving, I mean all of them were deserving, but Compt came across as a little more “sexy” for the judges. Perk companies tend to do that. They pitch well, especially to folks who don’t have a deep knowledge of the HR Technology marketplace and what HR pros actually use. Perk companies always sound cool, because it’s the kind of thing as employees we wished we had, but we don’t because it turns out it costs a bunch of money we don’t have! All of that said, Compt did very well and they do have some great technology.

My personal favorite was Tilt, for the simple fact, I know this is a technology that almost any company with over a hundred employees could use. Managing leave, well, is hard. HRIS systems do a little of this, but not to the extent that it makes the person leave feeling confident and also makes the HR person in charge of leave feel like they have their arms around everything.

I wasn’t a huge fan of bringing in SharkTank judge Daymond James, but honestly, I was in the super minority! In hindsight, it was a good call on SHRM’s part because it got a lot of people in the room who were stargazing, to actually take a look at some great HR Technology. Kind of a brilliant move on SHRMLab’s part to find a way to get folks interested in HR tech who aren’t normally interested in HR tech! Maybe SHRM can get Matthew McConaughey SHRM 2022 in New Orleans to judge!

I’m out at the HR Technology Conference in a couple of weeks and I’m one of the Emcee’s and Judges for their HR Technology startup competition, the Pitchfest. I love that more HR tech companies are getting an opportunity to be in front of actual practitioners. There is so much great HR Tech in the world, and most of us know just a fraction of it. Kudos to both SHRM and The HR Technology Conference for giving these startups a platform to be seen!

Choose Your Hard…

I was at SHRM Annual last week and a very common story from everyone I spoke to, know matter their title, was the fact that recruiting talent is extremely difficult right now. Most organizations are in desperation mode, and I’m not saying that to be dramatic.

There’s a concept that motivational folks have been using for a while now. The concept is “Choose your hard.” Meaning, a lot of stuff in life is hard. It’s hard to be overweight and not feel good about yourself, it’s also hard to work out and eat healthily. Choose your hard.

It’s hard to get up and go to work each day and put in long hours to make ends meet. It’s also hard to be unemployed and figure out ways to survive. Choose your hard.

It’s hard to recruit talent.

There are so many things organizations can do to recruit talent better. You can hire great recruiters and give them the right tools. You can actually fund your recruitment marketing and advertising appropriately. You can measure and performance manage your recruiters and sources. You can work with your hiring teams to help out as employee advocates to produce more referrals. You can shop out your entire recruiting to RPO or Agency. You can hire great employees who love your brand and train them to be recruiters. You can go out and lead the market in pay and total compensation packages.

All of this stuff is hard to do.

It’s hard because most of this stuff comes with accountability. If I can talk my CEO and CFO into funding us correctly, this will come with some expectations of performance. I will put a bullseye on myself and my team.

It’s hard to get fired from a job because you didn’t perform. Because you didn’t do the work that was needed to be successful. That you didn’t put in the work to build the plan, to acquire the needed resources, to lead your organization to success.

Don’t get me wrong, working harder is not a strategy. Working harder is a short-term fix, that eventually leads to failure and burnout. Hard is doing the work that needs to be done so your sole strategy is not just working harder.

At the end of the day, we all have to choose our hard.

#SHRM21 Wrap – What I learned at @SHRM Annual this Year!

It’s a wrap! The largest HR conference in the world happened this past week and weekend, with around 8,000 in-person HR pros in attendance and another almost 4,000 online virtually. SHRM’s Annual Conference is one the most attended conferences in the world each year, so it was fun to see it back live.

What I learned from SHRM Annual 2021:

– The 8,000 in-person attendees really wanted to be in person! I’ve seen a few people online be very against in-person conferences, The HR Technology Conference has also seen its haters, but the reality is, we will be facing Covid most likely for the rest of my life, like the flu. SHRM and LRP, and many others are doing the work to figure out our new normal. The people who showed up were active and excited, and the live conversations were fun and needed for a lot of people’s mental health. The SHRM crew was vigilant around masking and tracking, and most likely we’ll see this kind of thing at conferences for a while.

– SHRM is making some big advances into the HR Technology space. They had an HR Tech startup pitch fest, which ran through regional SHRM chapter competitions with the finalist pitching at Annual and they even brought in Shark Tank judge Daymond John to sit as a judge. SHRM also has started SHRMLabs around technology and is attempting to have some impact on the HR Technology space. Also, SHRM CEO, Johnny Taylor, commented publicly that SHRM will continue to build more knowledge in this area. Shout out to Guillermo Corea, who is leading SHRMLabs and I’m excited about the future of SHRMLabs under his direction.

– The SHRM Blog Squad is no more, and the replacement is the SHRM Influencers. Those that accepted the assignment were active and awesome! SHRM kind of dropped the ball in terms of setting them up with some special things. The Influencer lounge was sparse and not something you would want to hang at, and I would expect this to evolve as well in the future. Most of the social push SHRM gets at Annual is done by this small group of really dedicated pros.

– SHRM got kind of stuck with dates, so it wasn’t awesome having the conference run over a weekend and end on a Sunday in the west coast time zone. Most attendees took off early Sunday to get back for work on Monday, which made it fairly lightly attended on Sunday. Not much they could do, having to change dates and venues, you kind of take what you get. Everything will be back to normal in June 2022 when SHRM Annual is going back to New Orleans!

– The SHRM members I spoke to, especially those who have been to multiple SHRM Annual conferences were super impressed with the content and speakers. We’ve had some crazy times since SHRM 2019, and there was a lot of knowledge sharing and ideas floating around. The first-time attendees I spoke to all seem to really love it as well. I find the vast majority of SHRM members who come to the Annual conference really like the experience and feel like it elevates themselves as professionals.

– The SHRM Expo was smaller than the past few years, which was expected, but still very big. My biggest takeaway was the lack of TA and Recruiting technology companies there when every single attendee is desperate for help in hiring! Hiretual was one of the standouts and it seemed like they were consistently running demos. The number of Health Tech companies there almost seemed odd. It seemed like every other booth was Health Tech. The SHRM audience definitely trends SMB to Mid-enterprise, where most of these “HR” titles are buying for everything across their stack. Recruiting tech that caters to those HR shops that have 1-10 HR and TA users definitely could kill it at SHRM Annual.

– There is a very small but vocal group of Johnny Taylor haters, who also happen to be non-SHRM members, on social media, but I find that SHRM members love JCT! I spoke to many members and specifically would ask, “Tell me, what do you think of Johnny and the job he’s doing at SHRM?” 100% of just normal SHRM attendees I spoke to have really high praise for Johnny and the changes at SHRM. He might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the membership believes he’s the guy.

– SHRM Board Member, Steve Browne, the “people’s” board member, is done and moving on to other career things. It seems like just yesterday that the HR social media crew pushed a campaign to get Steve voted in, and we felt like we finally had a voice on the board of the world’s largest HR association, and he took that role very seriously. With Steve stepping down, Paula Harvey is our new board member for the people! I hope Paula gets voted in and I think she’ll be an awesome replacement for Steve. Steve will be missed, but I know he’ll stay active within the SHRM community.

At the end of the day, I always leave SHRM Annual feeling fulfilled emotionally and mentally. To be surrounded by thousands of HR pros who are all working to make themselves better is an uplifting experience for our profession. To see our community sharing with each other and being so thankful for the knowledge they are getting is a very cool feeling. It’s an investment to attend to be sure, but I think it’s an investment that pays for itself for those to attend and get involved.

Congrats to the SHRM staff and volunteers for pulling off another SHRM Annual event and maybe the most challenging event ever. Shout out to Damona Barnes who will lead the volunteers for SHRM Annual 2022, I got a chance to finally meet her in person and she and her team are going to kill it in New Orleans!

Delta Airlines Charging Unvaccinated Employees $200/mnth! Why?

At this point, if you’re in HR, you have seen news of Delta Airlines charging unvaccinated employees an additional $200 per month in health insurance premiums. Needless to say, there has been a strong reaction from the HR community to this announcement.

It’s interesting for sure as you have most HR pros believing everyone should get the vaccine, but also that corporations should not be charging employees if they do not get the vaccine. Some other reactions have been why should an employee be charged a premium, now that we know the vaccine won’t stop you from getting Covid. And an unlimited amount of other opinions as well!

Isn’t this just the smoking premium?

About a decade ago employers started charging employees who smoke higher health care premiums. Walmart charges employees who smoke an additional $2000 per year in increased health insurance premiums. When this was first done by a small employer in Lansing, MI a decade ago, lawsuits were filed, the HR community became unglued, and we had these huge ethical arguments over whether this was right or not to do to an employer.

What right is it of an employer to charge me more if I want to smoke or not! You’re not charging Tim over there eating a Big Mac and drinking a gallon of soda!?

Delta’s Covid decision is causing similar outrage about the vaccine.

Here’s the thing…

From the data we currently have, and the recent FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine, we know statistically those with the vaccine are much less likely to be hospitalized or die from Covid. The “average” cost of a Delta employee who gets the virus and is hospitalized is $50,000!

$50,000 is not a small cost! Multiply that by hundreds of employees and it’s becoming a major issue. The issue being, on individual employee’s personal decision to not get the vaccine, is actually costing every single Delta employee, with upcoming increased insurance costs!

“Yeah, Tim, but someone made the personal decision to light up a cigarette. No one is making the personal decision to get the Covid!” Ugh…

You know you can’t send your kid to public school in the U.S. unless they have their approved vaccines. Millions of kids each year, go get their vaccines and go to school. We’ve pretty much eradicated all kinds of terrible diseases. An extremely tiny amount of parents have an issue with this. Ultimately, science has proven to be effective in helping our kids stay alive. Yay! Science!

More employers will go down this path.

Already we are seeing more and more employers mandate vaccines for employment. SHRM, the largest HR association in the world, has mandated vaccines for its employees. This isn’t a political statement. It’s actually not a statement of empathy, either, although most PR teams will try and turn it into one. It’s a financial statement of fact. We can’t afford for you to be stupid and play Russian Roulette with the virus.

All of this does lead us down a slippery path. It started out with something we all now know is harmful to our health, smoking. If you smoke, you will pay more for health insurance. Now it’s Covid. If you don’t protect yourself, by getting a vaccine, we will charge you more for health insurance. What’s next?

If you’re fat…don’t think it’s not coming…

Reactions From My First In-Person Conference Since the Beginning of the Pandemic! #SHRMTalent

Out in Vegas at one of my favorite conferences, SHRM Talent, this week. I love and missed interacting with all the TA pros and leaders, so this week was really energizing!

There are so many takeaways from this week at SHRM Talent. It seemed both odd and familiar all at the same time. I’ve been going to conferences for over a decade and very few put on a better conference than SHRM, it’s always first-class, and the 2021 SHRM Talent was at the new Cesar’s Forum conference center which is super nice.

The Reactions:

  • SHRM has opened up their 2021 conferences to be both in-person and virtual. This combination has been unique. After a year and a half of only doing virutual, as a speaker, you have to get back into practice of the cadence of in-person speaking. In virtual, you have very little audience reaction to what you’re saying, so you just plow through the content. In-person you get reactions, so you have timing that you have to be concerned about. Funny line, hold for laughter, wait I actually heard some laughter!
  • At the same time, you still have a virtual audience that you have to engage. What I found, across many sessions, that quesitons from the virtual audience were usually 3-4 times more than the in-person audience. I think in the future, SHRM and others, will figure out a way for people to ask questions all through one format, so those in-person attendees can have the same comfort level of asking their questions as well.
  • Those attendees who chose to be in-person seemed to be very engaged! It’s like these were the folks hungry for real-life interactions and they are making the most of being out in the wild for the first time in long time. Everyone has been very friendly, talkative, welcoming. I think we are all just happy for a bit of back to normal.
  • SHRM has caught some criticism for going back to in-person, but I applaud them for making the hard decision to figuring this out. It’s not going to be perfect, but at some point we must rip off the band-aid and get back to some normalacy, while trying to be safe. Masks were required and you were reminded immediately if you forgot. I was asked upon checking in if I was vaccinated and had to sign off on that. It wasn’t required, but highly encouraged, and definitely tracking attendees.
  • The difficult piece of all of this Covid/Vaccine stuff. You go to breakfast and sit down at a round talbe with four or five peers and all of sudden no one has masks on and everyone is talkign and interacting. You go from your hotel room through a Vegas casino cesspool and into the conference and back and forth. Is anyone really believing that any one is safe? It’s all kind of a game of make believe. This isn’t a SHRM issue, this is an issue every single in-person conference has to navigate. The HR Tech Conference has mandated vaccines, but the same reality will be experienced there as well. The reall world is all around us, just because we protect ourselves some part of it, doesn’t mean the rest isn’t all around us.
  • The content and the practitioners desire to learn and grow is still so inspiring to witness live. To see people really getting nuggets they can take back to the office and make them better, and see a speaker talking passionately to an audience can not be replicated virtually. I think we’ve found that when you can’t do virtual and good second place is virtual, but in-person just hits differently.
  • I don’t think SHRM will ever be able to put the toothpaste back into the tub when it comes to having virutal attendees. I also think this is awesome for those pros who can’t afford the travel, or can’t travel for so many reasons. But it does mean that in-person SHRM audiences will probably be smaller moving forward. SHRM National is rumored to be around 11,000 attendees this year, down from over 17,000 (in-person) for 2019. Also, around 25-40% of those 11,000 will attend virtually. Virutal attendees are very profitable for SHRM, so it’s not all bad to the bottom-line for SHRM. I do think in the future SHRM, and others, will have to figure out some unique things to do for virtual attendees verse the in-person. Transform Recruitment Marketing did an unboxing for their virtual audience, and I can definitely see SHRM working with vendors to put something like this together to help make those virtual attendees feel more connected to the conference experience.
  • Finally, I got some “real” hugs this week from friends I haven’t seen in a long time and it felt amazing! And, yes, we were all masked and vaccinated!

Shout out to the SHRM staff for putting on a great event under a lot of uncertainty. As always they handled it with class and professionalism, and I’m sure it was a great trial run for them to get ready for the upcoming annual conference!

SHRM Annual Conference is happening on September 9-12th and I’ll be back in Vegas to present to a live audience again, and I’m so excited to see how this goes as well since the numbers will be much larger, and then soon after back again to The HR Technology Conference in Vegas on Sept 28 – Oct 1. Come join me!

3 Things to Stop, Start, and Keep Doing in Talent Acquisition! #SHRMTalent

Hey, gang, I’m out at SHRM Talent this week, and I have to tell you, it feels amazing to be back doing some in-person events! I’ve been a part of some exceptional virtual events during the pandemic, and the content is always very strong, but there’s something about interacting live with practitioners, face-to-face, that can’t be replicated!

As I’ve been hitting sessions and talking with corporate TA pros and leaders this week, it’s clear that the pandemic has given us some new challenges in TA, but we also have so many things that were broken before that we keep doing. Usually, at SHRM Talent, I find a lot of stuff that speakers are telling us we should start doing, some will tell us some things to stop doing, almost no one says “Hey, keep doing this…”

The Top 3 Things I Heard You Should Start Doing:

  1. Find automated ways to include all applicants in the selection process. Currently, we eliminate too many candidates that we believe aren’t a candidate, by taking a five second view of their application or resume. Hello, unconscious and conscious bias! Also, this kills are diversity and inclusion. We need to find ways to let everyone in the process, without slowing the process down!
  2. Go back to old school techniques! I’ve been hearing from everyone at SHRM Talent that many are finding success by going back to some old school techniques like, in-person career fairs (no black hole!), actual newspaper advertising, community networking with religious organizations and community organizations, etc. Yes, digitial is important, but when everyone turns right, some will find success by turning left!
  3. 95/5 – Still only 5% of organizations are using Programmatic for job advertising. 95% of organization’s marketing teams are using Programmatic to sell your organization’s products and services. More organizations are going to have to start testing and using programmatic for job advertising.

The Top 3 Things I Heard You Should Stop Doing:

  1. Stop treating candidates like crap. Okay, you aren’t, but everyone else is! The fact remains that candidates are telling us in survey after survey they keep getting ghosted and not getting feedback after applying and interviewing.
  2. Stop spending money on “job boards” without knowing what your actual stastics are regarding that spend. Which “job boards”? Indeed, LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter, etc. If you are spending money to post a job you need to know what is actually happening or not happening. Too many of us are still posting jobs and spending a ton of money without really understanding what is happening. More spend doesn’t always equal more of what you want.
  3. Stop allowing HR to pre-board and on-board all those candidates you worked your butt off to get to a “yes”! The candidate has the relationship with a recruiter, and they are more likely to work with a recruiter on issues they might be having intially. It’s too easy for them to break-up with HR, because they don’t know HR.

The Top 3 Things I Heard You Should Keep Doing:

  1. Keep picking up the phone. Turns out, very few candidates claim they will accept a job without first speaking to someone either via phone or live about a job.
  2. Keep trusting your remote recruiters by fully understanding and knowing what they are actually doing through measurement of funnel recruiting metrics that validate why you trust them so much!
  3. Keep communicating non-stop with your executives, and really your entire organization, weekly on what’s really happening in recruitment. Be transparent and ask for help. When a crisis hits any part of your organization almost all employees would be willing to help. We are in a hiring crisis, it’s not time to be quiet, it’s time to be loud and get everyone on board!

The Dance We Call Work.

I read a statistic the other day that said on average a person works about 6 hours per day, Monday through Friday. The number of hours worked per day has actually decreased during the pandemic. It’s interesting because when you ask people how many hours per day they work almost all would say at least 8, or more.

But, do we really “work” eight hours per day?

Prior to the Pandemic when most people went into an office, you definitely “worked” at least eight hours most days. Or at least you were present in your office environment for eight hours. How much work you actually did during that time varies widely!

The Pandemic hits and people work remotely and we begin to hear a different narrative around work. The conversation switches from “hours” to what actually got done. Let me be clear, this should have always been the conversation, but culturally we still have so much “asses in seats” management going on it was tough to break through.

When people started “working” remotely they began to have the flexibility to integrate all of their life at one time. No longer did you have to shut down one part of your life to go to work. You could now seamlessly start a load of laundry on the way to fill up your cup of coffee and still make it back in time for the beginning of your sales Zoom meeting. It all just kind of made sense, for those who could do it.

All of this now makes “The Dance” we do in the office seem a bit silly!

I’ve always been a giant fan of set solid productivity goals and if someone hits those goals, I could care less if it takes them 10 hours a week or 60 hours a week. You make life decisions on how you work at the office, at home, etc. If you are super productive and kick out your job in 32 hours a week, but still get paid a full salary, you’re winning the game! If it takes you 50 or 60 hours a week to complete your job, you need some development to help you, or to find a new job/career!

You show up at the office at 8 am, dink around a bit, catch up with co-worker-friends on what happened in the 12-16 hours since you saw them last, do some stuff until lunch, do some more stuff, wait until 5 pm, then run off to do life stuff. Rinse, lather, repeat. The Dance is never-ending.

But something cool happened during the Pandemic and now everyone wants to dance a different dance! It’s not that everyone wants remote. If you say that out loud, just know I’m judging your intelligence! Everyone doesn’t want to work full remote. A lot of people love working with others and seeing them face-to-face, many on a daily basis! You might not like your co-workers, company, job, etc., but actually, most people do.

The New Work Dance is really about finding ways to add in some flexibility.

A little bit goes a long way! “Yeah, but Tim, our jobs don’t allow flexibility! We open the doors at 7 am and customers start coming and we need our workers there!” Yep, I get that. You can’t have someone make coffee at home for customers who come to your location to buy coffee! But that doesn’t mean you can treat your employees like adults and allow for some flexibility.

Let me share an example. I have a friend who manages a retail chain. She’s a really good manager. A single mom who works her tail off to make ends meet. Her child is starting to play sports and on Saturday mornings for an hour, she wanted to go watch him. She was told she couldn’t have every Saturday off, so she would have to miss some games. She said I don’t want to take off every Saturday. I’ll come in, open up, run over to the game, run back, and the other workers said they’ll cover for me. Adults working out a solution.

What happened? You know! Nope, you can’t do that, because if we allow you, then everyone will want to start doing stuff like that!

Yes!!! They will, and if it works out, fine, that’s okay! Adults being adults, making adult decisions and solutions. Let them Dance! Find ways to give them a bit of flexibility in a mostly inflexible world. They’ll be happier, perform better, feel good about working for you, etc.

Will it always work out? No. Real-world, some folks will take advantage of the situation and those are the people you don’t want working for you. But, we have to change the dance. We have to find more dances that work for more people. We will not find one for everyone, but we can find more.

My hope is the Pandemic taught us one thing. This dance we call work is a fraud. 8 hours, 40 hours, whatever it is, it’s not about time, it’s about results, it’s about getting a job done well. I want to hire people who think about how to get the job done well in less time verse hiring people who want to show up and dance for forty hours a week.

How Realistic Is It for Your Entire Company to Take Collective PTO? #SummerShutDown #HRFamous

On episode 70 of The HR Famous Podcast, longtime HR leaders (and friends) Tim SackettKris Dunn, and Jessica Lee come together to discuss the 2021 Summer Olympics, the concept of collective time off and entire companies shutting down, and the lack of women returning to the workforce.

Listen (click this link if you don’t see the player) and be sure to subscribe, rate, and review (Apple Podcasts) and follow (Spotify)

Show Highlights

2:30 – The Olympics are here! Tim’s wife is Olympic-obsessed and watches anything and everything.

4:00 – KD’s favorite Olympic sports are men’s basketball and the decathlon. He loves seeing some bigger dudes struggling with the run at the very end. Tim is a swimming and track-and-field fan.

6:45 – JLee is more of a winter Olympics fan, but she loves watching archery during the summer. She loves watching the Koreans kick butt in archery at the Olympics.

9:00 – To help combat burnout, companies have started to implement the concept of “collective time off,” where the entire company shuts down. Bumble recently decided to give their entire staff a week off at the same time.

11:00 – KD is skeptical of the concept — calling it Privilege — since a lot of companies cannot afford to let all of their employees take off a day like that.

14:00 – JLee mentions that at her company, Marriott, they cannot afford to give every employee time off since they are a 24/7 operation and that opens them up to controversy and criticism.

17:20 – JLee asks Tim if this can be used as a recruiting tactic. When he was working at Applebee’s, he found himself working an HR job on Black Friday even though there was nothing to do. Then they got a new CEO that changed the mindset not to treat everyone the same.

22:45 – There has been some more data released recently about women in the workforce. JLee mentions how it might not be an option for some women to return to the workforce now. Tim recently found a data point that said there are 2 million people that still have not returned to the workforce.

27:45 – KD thinks this isn’t an issue that HR can fix on its own. It can be a lot of work, but it can be very worthwhile since it’s one of the biggest untapped segments out there.

30:00 – JLee remembers seeing two moms that job-shared and thinking how progressive and seamless it was.

32:00 – Tim mentions how his brother-in-law is a teacher and only took home $10-15k a year after paying for childcare.

2.9 million Americans have been unemployed for at least a year! Why?

When I saw this number released this week, I was shocked. This month that number increased by almost 250,000! The 2.9M number represents 29% of all unemployed workers. I found myself asking, Why and How? How can someone who wants to work be unemployed for one year?

Being someone who is in the business of hiring people my gut reaction wants to say, “well, these people must not really want to work!” But that’s a cop-out and mostly ignorant way to think about it. The truth is, there are 2.9 million reasons why 2.9 million people remain unemployed for a year or more!

If we could easily go to each of these 2.9 million people who have been unemployed for at least a year I think we would start to hear some common reasons:

  • Pandemic related reasons: They have medical issues that make it very dangerous for them to return to the type of work there were doing prior, and possibly they are also concerned over an experimental vaccine that could protect them, or even that the pandemic shuttered the work they do, and it still has not come back. Childcare issues do to normal school and after-school programs not running as usual.
  • Pivot Reasons: We talk about “Reskilling” all the time but we don’t truly talk about the logistics of truly reskilling yourself. I was employed as an “X” and because of whatever reasons I left the workforce to reskill because I now want to be a “Y”. Maybe this was of their own doing, maybe this was pandemic related, etc. Some probably are unemployed because they lost their job and decided to go back to school.
  • Executive Positions: There is a lot of data around how long it takes someone to find a job the higher up in a company or your salary is. At a VP level for large organizations, on average it takes six to twelve months for people to find their next position after a job loss, at that same level. This is simply do to the fact that very few of those positions come up, so there’s a waiting game that takes place.
  • Retirement: For a number of reasons I made the decision to retire, but because it’s to my benefit to not actually retire, and claim unemployment, I now get this soft landing going into retirement by taking advantage of extended unemployment benefits, etc.
  • Stimulus and Extended Unemployment Benefits: Let’s not be naive and act like this doesn’t have an impact as well. It does, but probably not to the extent that most people believe. If I can make more money not working than working, well many people will decide to ride that out as long as possible. Some would even find that you know after doing this for 6-9 months, maybe our family can actually live on one income for a while, etc.
  • Habitual poor performers: Have you ever noticed that some folks just aren’t good at working, any job, ever! For whatever reasons, these folks just are not wired to work. They constantly get fired, and eventually it’s really hard for them to get a job. Could be cognitive issues, mental health issues, drug and alcohol issues, etc.

What I know is having 2.9 million workers out of the workforce for a year, is a problem for US companies. We need those individuals, or at least we need those within the 2.9 million capable of working, to return to the workforce in whatever capacity they can!

The unemployment rate currently sits at 5.9% that is still rather high as compared to early 2019, but actually not very high historically. Those of us in HR and TA figure that once you get below 5% unemployment, you have slim pickings when it comes to talent, for many of the reasons listed above. Within that 5% or less, many of those folks just don’t want to work, or can’t work, in the jobs we have open.

Currently within the US today we have one open job for every unemployed worker, but as we all know, those jobs are not aligned in a way that we can fill those jobs with those who are unemployed.

If you are one of those folks who have been unemployed for a year or more, I would love to hear your reason and see if it aligns with mine above. Hit me in the comments!

In HR (and life) the story that wins becomes the truth!

In HR we hear a lot of stories.

We love to tell ourselves we are hearing the truth from one side and a lie from another side, but the reality is both sides are stories with a little truth and a little lie built-in. We then ‘measure’ who we feel is telling more truth than lie, and that side becomes the full truth.

Throughout history, this plays out. The winners of war decide what the truth is, not the losers. One side is good and righteous, one side is bad and evil. Before the war, both sides were just trying to make it through the day and make their society better. Truth.

We fire someone because they harassed another person. That person is a bad person. The person who got harassed is a victim and is a good person. The problem is, that’s not really reality, is it? Many times the person we fire is actually a pretty good person and the victim is a piece of garbage. But, the winner gets to decide the role they want.

We fire an employee because we are told by their manager that they are not performing well. We trust our manager. We have to it’s what our structure is built on. If we didn’t then what are we really doing? The employee claims they weren’t trained properly, they weren’t given good direction, they were put in a position to fail. You’re fired, you’re a bad employee. You lose, you don’t get to decide the truth.

It’s one major reason why I tend not to really care that a person was fired from a job. The reason probably matters. I don’t want to hire someone who embezzled from their former employer or some other major offense, but if it’s performance, let’s talk. I’m willing to talk because I know there are always two sides to the story. It just happens that this candidate lost their last story, but they might win the next.

It’s important as HR pros and leaders we understand this concept, not just for hiring, but also that we understand most times we don’t deal in complete black and white wins and losses. In HR we deal in the middle, in the gray. Once we make a determination, we are making a determination of ‘win’. We are validating one story over another. We like to tell ourselves and our leadership that this one story is the truth, but it’s really just another version of a story.

So be careful this week as you decide which stories will win and which ones will lose. Truth can be a pretty powerful thing even when it’s just a story.