Work From Home Real Talk

This holiday season, I’m stepping away from my usual writing to bring you some of the top-read posts from 2023. Enjoy!

Working from home is not more productive for most people!

The WFH home army hates to hear this! Yikes! But it’s true. While a small percentage of workers, overall, around 10% are actually more productive, the vast majority of people just don’t have the self-awareness and drive to be as productive as they are when they are in an environment that is designed to have them do work.

The media will never tell you this because it’s not popular and won’t get clicked.

Do you know what has happened since the beginning of the pandemic? The golf industry has exploded! Some Stanford researchers, who golfed, started to realize that the golf courses seemed busy. Like really, really, busy! And these courses were busy during times when they shouldn’t be busy, like mid-afternoon on a Wednesday. You know, the time when folks should be working!

They discovered they could use satellite technology paired with GPS and cell phone data to map out traffic at golf courses. This gave them a picture of what this looked like pre-pandemic and what it looks like today. What do you think they found?

First, you have to understand that before the pandemic the golf industry was hurting. Average rounds of golf were down and trending down year over year for a long time. They had this old white guy problem. This means that old white guys were the biggest participants in golf, and that demographic was getting older and dying.

Here’s what Stanford discovered about working from home and golf:

  • There was an 83% increase in mid-week day golfing from pre-pandemic to post-pandemic. All those WFH folks weren’t working all they said they were working!
  • There was a 278% increase at 4 pm. So, we have some hope for those who maybe just were cutting out a little early.
  • The pandemic has led to a golf boom with folks wanting to get outside, but weekend trips to courses were far less of an increase to weekday visits. So, yes, more people are golfing overall due to the pandemic, but weekday golf has exploded with WFH.

I know! I know! This is only one small little study. I’m sure you’re still WAY more productive working at home than you were in the office. But you’re not, or most likely you’re not, but that’s just because you have low self-awareness!

I think most of us just get confused with short-term productivity vs. long-term sustained productivity. The BLS shows productivity of workers has dropped off a cliff, so we really can’t make the WFH productivity argument any longer. I do think for short-term bursts of productivity working from home or someplace where you don’t get interrupted can make you feel way more productive. But day in, day out, over the long haul, working around others who are working will help you sustain your productivity.

I know you hate to hear this. Working at home is so lovely! Plus, you get those great golf tee times during the day!

Posted on  by Tim Sackett

A Christmas Present for Your CEO

This holiday season, you’ve got the chance to make your CEO’s Christmas wish list come true. It’s time to give them the gift of insights into what they really want from their HR and Talent Acquisition teams.

I created a short survey designed just for CEOs, all about what they wish HR and TA would do more of or start doing. It’s all about improvements, tech stuff, and making magic happen within your organization. They get to rate your HR team’s current performance, spot areas for improvement, and even prioritize the issues they care about most. Psst, CEOs, your secrets are safe with us – this survey is anonymous.

Spread the Joy

So, spread some holiday cheer and share this survey link with your CEO or hook me up with their email.

As HR pros, you have the power to make some serious magic happen. By getting your CEO involved in this survey, you’re not just boosting your own game but helping us all understand what makes CEOs tick across different industries!

I’m making this holiday season all about shaping killer HR strategies. Are you with me? Share the link with your CEO and let’s sprinkle some HR magic together!

Love vs. Victory

With Christmas approaching and New Year’s following shortly, it often seems like everyone’s just gliding through these final days. You know what tends to happen at year-end, right? People start assessing their lives and careers. It’s the classic: “2023 was rough. What am I doing with my life? 2024 is my year! I need a job I love!”

I run a recruiting agency, but my focus isn’t on “love”; it’s on clinching victories and having success. It’s a battleground of winners and losers. Tracking down the top-notch talent usually means they’re already working elsewhere when you spot them. You’ve got to win them over.

When you snag remarkable talent, it’s a win for one organization and a loss for another. It’s a straightforward win-lose situation.

Being an outstanding recruiter is all about a drive to win. Sure, loving this game (and I’m one of those who does) is great, but it’s not the make-or-break factor for success. What matters is the hunger for victory.

The best recruitment firms are consistently on the winning side. They rack up wins at a rate that overshadows their losses, like Stephen Curry hitting threes. Losing should sting, and winning should feel like that unforgettable first kiss.

Love isn’t what decides winning or losing. Some of the toughest rivals I’ve encountered weren’t crazy about what they were doing well; they were just determined to win.

Too often as recruiting leaders we feel we need to find people who love recruiting. All leaders fall into this trap, trying to get their teams to fall in love with the work they do. The belief that ‘love’ will drive great performance. Which might work, but getting someone to ‘love’ work, is really hard, and rare.

Getting someone who only wants to win, that’s much easier to find and feed.

I’m not in the love business; it’s messy and emotional. I’m in the business of winning. It’s clear-cut – it’s either a win or a loss.

HR Meets ChatGPT

Are you tired of the same old HR routines? HR and Talent Acquisition pros across the world are diving headfirst into the realm of ChatGPT. This AI wizard must be able to spice up their strategies, right!? Here are 5 popular prompts that HR and Talent Acquisition are throwing at ChatGPT:

  1. “ChatGPT, is this candidate a real person or a catfish?” HR isn’t meant to be Sherlock Holmes. We’re sick of desperately trying to unmask phony candidates – just tell me if they’re real or not! Expect a wild mix of advice in return, but how else will we know if this candidate is actually some weirdo scam artist living in his mom’s basement?
  2. “Craft a compelling job pitch for this job description!” When faced with the challenge of selling the unsellable—a lackluster job—we to ChatGPT for a miraculous solution. Yeah, it might be for the most boring job ever with a terrible salary, mundane tasks, and awful company culture, but make it irresistible!
  3. “Invent a mascot that represents our company culture!” Introducing “Happy Hootie”! Hootie is a wise owl wearing headphones, adorned with vibrant colors reflecting diversity and inclusivity. Their wings feature a mosaic of interconnected puzzle pieces symbolizing teamwork and collaboration. Hootie’s nest is a cozy library, showcasing our value for learning and knowledge-sharing. With a microphone in one claw and a book in the other, Hootie embodies our culture of harmony, where every voice is heard, and learning is celebrated. This mascot flaps around, spreading the message of unity, knowledge, and harmony throughout our workplace nest!
  4. “Craft a ‘thank you’ email to an applicant using only emojis!” 👋🙏📬📩🙏📝🤝🗣️🔜🌟 … oh sorry, you don’t speak emoji? Translation: Hello! Thank you for applying. We appreciate it! Let’s keep in touch! Talk to you soon. Best wishes.
  5. “ChatGPT, write a job description that makes even a pet rock excited to apply!” No really, that unsellable job description we mentioned earlier, we still need help. Please make this boring ass job description more appealing.
  6. “What do I respond to this candidate to show them that I’m interested, but not that interested, but still interested enough to show my interest?” *Inserts full email chain, with no regard to privacy and copyright laws* Response: I’m just a robot, I have no clue what you’re talking about.

Unlocking Talent Gold: Embracing Hiring Veterans

In HR and talent acquisition, we’re always on the hunt for the ultimate hiring solution. We’re willing to explore almost anything that promises better talent for our organizations. So, it perplexes me that most organizations overlook a massive talent pool – veterans. Let’s dive into why hiring veterans is a game-changer:

Teamwork – The military hones teamwork skills like no other. While a lot of companies find it hard to get their teams to work together, veterans are all about teamwork.

Following & Giving Directions – HR pros always have the best stories of employees struggling with basic instructions. Leadership training discussions are recurrent, focusing on the need for clear direction. Veterans bring an ability to both follow and give concise directives—a skill set sorely needed in organizations.

Pressure Handling and Deadline Management – When someone’s life or safety is at risk, you learn how to work under extreme pressure, which probably pales in comparison to much of the pressure we put on ourselves and our employees in normal work situations.  Regardless, having individuals who can not only handle pressure but thrive under pressure, are skills our organizations need.

Planning and Organization – Military training instills impeccable planning and organizational skills, an area where many employees struggle. Hiring managers often stress the importance of being organized, and veterans are really good at it.

Flexibility and Adaptability – Change is a constant in organizations, and managing it consumes resources. However, veterans excel in adapting to change, drawing from a background where constant adaptation was the norm. Their ability to navigate change smoothly is a skill that organizations desperately need.

So, why the struggle in hiring veterans? It’s not about the veterans but about HR professionals stuck in a rigid mindset. We’ve cultivated a culture fixated on matching every single qualification in a job description, missing out on the potential of great individuals. It’s time to shift from instant gratification to investing in training and nurturing talent within our organizations.

While we are at it, let’s dispel some myths around veterans:

  1. Misconception: Military service is for troublemakers or those not smart enough for college. Reality: For many the military is a strategic choice, not due to a lack of intelligence or options.
  2. Misconception: Veterans are rigid and only understand top-down management. Reality: Today’s veterans are well-versed in soft skills leadership, adaptable to various management styles.
  3. Misconception: There’s no time or resources to train veterans. Reality: Not true – plus haven’t you already had that position open for 6 months? The fact is, this is an organizational choice and you as an HR Pro have the influence to change it. There are many resources out there for organizations to train returning veterans.

We have great men and women who make a personal choice to keep this country great.  As employers and American citizens, we owe these men and women a chance. At HRU Tech, 28.6% of our new hires in 2020 were Veterans. Grab this free eBook, crafted to elevate your Veteran recruitment approach to new heights. They deserve a shot, and this resource can help to make that happen.

Maximizing Employee Referrals: The Key to Hiring Success

Referral hires often stand out as the cream of the crop in any company’s recruitment efforts. It’s a simple equation:

Good Employee + wanting to stay a good employee + employee’s reputation = usually good people they recommend to HR/Recruiting to go after and hire

I’m like Einstein when it comes to HR math! However, here’s the challenge: despite this equation, many companies struggle to receive enough referrals. We’ve analyzed our referral process, fine-tuned collateral materials, and even leveraged technology to automate referrals. Yet, the numbers remain short of our expectations and needs.

There’s a straightforward but often overlooked aspect: giving employees explicit permission to share job openings within their personal and professional networks every time a referral is needed for a specific position.

HR excels in roll-outs—we’re masters at initiating programs. However, where we often stumble is in the continuity of these programs post-roll-out. Brutal truth, but true.

So, how can you ramp up your referral game?

  1. Establish a program (surprisingly, not all companies have one).
  2. When in need of a referral, ask for it every single time. Assuming that employees will naturally share openings isn’t always effective.
  3. Specifically “give permission” to employees to share job openings on their social networks—Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok you name it!

BEST PRACTICE TIP: Create departmental email groups. When a relevant position opens up, send an email to the group with standard referral language and an easily shareable hyperlink along with clear instructions.

Granting “permission” triggers action—it’s a psychological thing, and it works wonders. Think about it, like you were a 5 year old.  Your parents tell you, you can’t ride your Green Machine in the street.  Then, one day, Mom is out getting her nails done and your Dad sees you doing circles in the driveway on that Green Machine and he goes “Hey, why don’t you take that into the street?!”  What do you do?  You immediately take that bad boy for a ride in the street! Dad “gave you permission” and you ran with it!

Referrals aren’t quite the same, but it’s surprising how some employees question whether they’re allowed to share job postings with friends and family. Don’t assume—they might surprise you.

So, empower your employees. Give your employees permission to get you some referrals! Or what if you allowed anyone in your company to hire?

The Recruiter Texting Rules!

Here we go! Your boy is back with some more rules! You know I love me some rules! I’m high rules, and low details, which drives most people crazy!

I was having a conversation recently with some recruiters about texting candidates. For the most part, in recruiting, we’ve gotten to this point where we believe every candidate prefers texting over every other kind of communication. And, if they don’t want a text message, then they want email.

This isn’t exactly true! I did some research and surveyed over 1600 candidates we screened to find out the facts and published it – 6 Things Candidates Want You to Know – you can download it here for free. But I’m not here trying to sell you a free whitepaper!

The entire reason we believe candidates prefer text over any other form of communication is some creative marketing around text vs. email response rates in overall text vs. email communications. Now, this is where all of this falls apart. I get over 500 emails per day. I get maybe 25-50 messages. Of course, I’m going to respond more to text messages vs. email. But that doesn’t mean, as a candidate, I want text vs. email, necessarily!

This all lead me down a path where I believe we need some rules around texting as recruiters!

The Recruiter Texting Rules:

Rule No. 1 – As the first outreach to a candidate you don’t know, texting is not preferred by candidates. They don’t know you, and they certainly don’t want you jumping into their private text messages with a spammy job offer!

Rule No. 2 – No one of quality ever accepted an interview and job offer through text message without first speaking to a real human. Pick up the god damn phone. Once a candidate is all in with you, then yes, they will most likely only want texts from you.

Rule No. 3 – Give me a way to opt-out of your bad text recruiting automation hell! For one, it’s the law. But, most still make it way too difficult to stop the automated texts.

Rule No. 4 – Just because you have my number as a candidate does not give you permission to stalk me for a date. It’s super creepy!

Rule No. 5 – If we aren’t friends, don’t text me like we are friends. Avoid sarcasm. Keep it professional and short.

Rule No. 6 – If it feels like you’re sending candidates too many text messages. You are sending candidates too many text messages! Also, don’t text me a novel! Send long stuff in an email.

Rule No. 7 – If I ask you a question, answer the damn question! We are adults. You can tell me the truth I don’t need some run-around answer that doesn’t really answer my question.

Rule No. 8 – If you expect me to respond within minutes. I expect you’ll respond within minutes. Set the ground rules around expectations early.

Rule No. 9 – Never! And I mean, NEVER! Text with a green bubble! Just Kidding! 😉

Okay, peeps, what did I forget? Give me your favorite rule for texting candidates in the comments below.

If You Could Choose 1 ATS Which One Would It Be?

One of the most asked questions I get over the last decade of writing and speaking is “What ATS should I buy?” I don’t have one, because there are so many variables at play, plus there are most likely over one thousand ATSs in existence!

My buddy, Hung Lee, at Recruiting Brainfood, had this study put together and I love it! Basically, it was asking users of ATSs (a couple thousand, worldwide, so statistically relevant), if you could choose an ATS which one would you choose?

The results:

https://insights.recruitingbrainfood.com/wdrw/2021

What can we learn from this data?

From the get-go, Greenhouse Software seems to be very popular with users! Greenhouse is definitely one of my top recommendations when people ask, and I truly think you can’t go wrong if you choose them.

You can also probably understand fairly quickly, that there isn’t a ton of big enterprise users that answered the survey because the vast majority of giant enterprise use one of the big 3: Workday, Oracle, or SAP. Taleo/Oracle and Workday are at the top of the big enterprise ATS world, with SAP/Successfactors coming in third, which seems to align with what I hear from enterprise Talent leaders.

You hear the big 3 enterprise recruiting modules get beat up a lot, but the truth is, when you’re hiring hundreds of thousands, if not millions of employees per year, you need a system that can handle that volume and complexity. Plus, you most likely need full global and you want something that won’t break. They tend to lower marks from users because they aren’t as feature-rich as the best-of-breed ATSs on the market, but all have a solid partner ecosystem that adds most of the features a big enterprise is looking for.

As you start to look at the lines that have more attractors than detractors, you see some interesting stuff. You see the large numbers of likes for SmartRecruiters, Lever, and SMB ATS Workable. All of which are great selections as well. Avature is a surprise, as they are an ATS, but were built as a CRM, but users seem to like the combination.

I use Loxo, so I’m excited to see them in a very positive light on a list with all these big brands and established ATSs. At the end of the day, the best thing that can happen for any brand or service is the people using you would choose you to use it again if given the option.

Is someone banking on you being lazy in your job?

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 laziness! 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 fill 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 laziness. 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 needs 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.

Should Corporate Recruiters Get Paid Salary & Commission?

First, shoutout to @Hervbird21 (Recruister) on Twitter for starting this conversation (Editor’s Note: Hervbird21 I don’t know who you are but send me a note and I’ll share your LinkedIn if you’d like) Also, take a look at the Twitter thread as there are some exceptional recruiting thought leaders who had thoughts on this subject.

Link to the thread

I’ve written about this a number of times over the years, but with the recruiting market being so hot right now, I’ve actually had a number of Recruiter compensation calls with corporate TA leaders trying to figure out three main things: 1. How do we retain our recruiters; 2. How do I attract more recruiters; 3. How do we reward great recruiting performance?

First, I’m all in on the fact that recruiters should be paid in a pay-for-performance model. That doesn’t mean that corporate recruiters, agency recruiters, and RPO should all be paid the same way. All three of those roles are different and should be compensated based on what the organization needs from each recruiter.

Let’s take a look at the Pros and Cons of Performance Pay for Corporate Recruiters

Pros:

  • You get more of what you measure and more of what you reward.
  • Your best recruiters will be compensated more, and higher compensation is tied to longer tenure.
  • Low performers and internal recruiters who actually hate recruiting will hate it and self-select out.
  • It will most likely raise individual recruiting team member performance in the aggregate.

Cons:

  • You will most likely have turnover with this type of change
  • Potentially, you could get behaviors that aren’t team-oriented. (IE., senior recruiters not helping junior recruiters)
  • Potentially, you could lower your quality of candidates as recruiters move quickly to gain performance comp. (the quantity over quality argument)
  • It actually might increase your compensation budget, initially, until you can find the model that is most effective.

Okay, wait, why did I say “potentially” on the Cons? Primarily, because it truly depends on the model design. Just making a decision to pay more for hires is ridiculous and leads to bad outcomes. But, developing a model that rewards individual performance that is based on recruiting behaviors that lead to better hires, quickly, and in a team setting, well, now you diminish the negative outcomes of pay for performance.

How could we make pay for performance work for corporate recruiters?

I’m not trying to dump on all the folks who commented on “Quarterly Bonuses” but stop that! “Quarterly Bonus” really means, “I don’t want to be individually measured and held accountable, but I also want more money on top of my great base salary”. Quarterly bonuses in most corp TA shops are a joke. They are usually based on Hiring Manager satisfaction and days to fill, two of the most subject measures that have zero correlation to better recruiting.

Also, internal recruiting pay for performance is not just a modified agency or RPO model. Corporate recruiters do much more than just recruit in most TA departments, so if you reward them to just recruit, understand, you’re just standing up an in-house agency model. Your internal recruiting model for corporate has to be unique to the job.

Some thoughts and ideas:

– Spend a bunch of time deciding what you actually want from your recruiters and from your function as a whole. Those two things must be aligned.

– Before going to a pay for performance model you need to get your arms around your recruiting funnel data. Otherwise, you’re just guessing at what and who to reward.

– In most cases, you can’t make the rewards the same because recruiters have different requisition loads and levels of position. Also, in most cases, certain areas of your organization hire at different times. So, get ready to test and be flexible to do the right thing at the right time.

– It’s okay if a recruiter makes more than you think if the model is producing what you want it to produce. Too often I hear from TA leaders that are like, “Jill is making too much!” But, Jill it killing it and the top recruiter.

– If you can’t get your head around paying for hires, pay for the behaviors and activities that lead to more hires.

– Start with a month or quarter test, make sure during the test no one will lose money. The goal is to try and reach some sort of outcome of better performance, to see if it can work. If they are only concerned they might make less money, you won’t truly see what can work or not work.

– It’s not about quality or quantity. It’s about quality and quantity. I’ve never led a recruiting team in a corporate or agency where good recruiters would ever send a crappy candidate on purpose. That just doesn’t happen, normally. If it did, that recruiter didn’t belong on the team.

I don’t believe in recruiting “team” rewards as pay for performance in most cases. Most teams are not designed and measured for “team” performance, so many on the team are getting the reward for a few doing most of the heavy lifting. You can still have team rewards, but you truly have to think about how you reward your most effective recruiters, short and long-term.

I think the ideal ratio for compensation for corporate recruiters should be 75% base salary and 25% pay for performance, where your best top recruiters can make 125% of their normal total comp if they are killing it. As I mentioned above, you will have recruiters quit because you have “recruiters” on your team that didn’t take the job to recruit, but to administer a recruiting process and collect a nice base salary.

Okay, tell me what I missed in the comments or if you have a model that is working you would like to share with everyone!