Are you more productive working at home? #WFH

If you want and like working from home, your answer is “Yes!”

If you hate working at home and can’t wait to return to work, your answer is “No!”

The truth?

Some people can be productive anywhere. You could put them on the moon and they would find a way to get done what needs to get done. Many of us, need a great deal of structure and guidance, and proper motivation.

We have this giant Work from Home experiment going on right now and a lot of HR folks are pointing to this and going, “See! I told you it would work!” But, is it really working?

The problem is what most of us are doing right now isn’t truly working at home. If you are trying to do childcare to co-habitat with multiple people in a house all trying to do work, it’s not really what a normal work at home situation would be.

Pre-Covid most studies on Work at Home were done by folks who had a mission to get more people to work at home, so quite frankly, I think most of those studies are crap. They didn’t really set out to see what situation would be better, only that working from home is better.

One of the main issues we see with working from home is that your real workers, those ten percenters who put in the most work, put in even more when working from home which could lead to burnout of your best talent. So, you might see productivity gains, but it’s not equal across the board. Like most work, the vast amount of gains is coming from folks who already probably gave you the most!

I’m not a work from home hater by any means. I think it’s a great way to add some flexibility for those employees who need it and can actually make it work. To be very clear, that is not all of your employees. The vast majority will not be more productive at home. And those who love working at home the most might actually be your least productive.

So, should you allow your employees who can continue to work from home? I think during a pandemic the answer is yes! I think once this is all behind us, we have to look at productivity in a normal work from home environment and make those determinations on our own.

In the small sample size, I have with my own company I know there are folks who would kill it no matter where they were working, and I have some folks who better get ready to return to the office!

The key to working from home isn’t your ability to actually be able to work at home. It’s your ability to be as good or better working at home as you were working from the office, in a normal business environment. We are not in a normal business environment. So, you working at 40% compacity at home doesn’t mean you’ve proven anything.

So, during this great Work from Home experiment, do you think you are more productive, less productive, or about the same? Hit me in the comments and let me know what you think!

The New Normal for Hiring Hourly Employees!

Not many of us are actually doing a ton of hiring right now. How do I know? There are 25 million people who applied for unemployment! That means there’s probably another 75 million that are currently under-employed or utilized.

This means that when we all get back to the ‘new normal’ of working, a bunch of stuff is going to change! How we attract, select, onboard, etc. can not be the same as what we did only sixty to ninety days ago.

Hourly hiring has always been a very “hands-on” endeavor and we must change that! My good friend and Recruiting Expert, Madeline Laurano has done a major research project looking specifically at hourly hiring. I’ve been spending time interviewing TA and HR leaders on the changes they are planning moving forward, and we are going to share with you all of those ideas and strategies!

Join us for a free Webinar on Tuesday, May 12th at 1pm EST: The New Normal for Hourly Hiring: 5 Strategies TA Leaders Must Consider Moving Forward! 

I’m so excited to have this conversation and share the information that Madeline and I have found! It’s always a great time just talking shop with her, and this is a topic we are both passionate about.

Thank you to the great folks over at for sponsoring this and allowing us to present this information. Fountain is an easy to use Hiring Software trusted by the world’s leading companies. Source, screen, and onboard your hourly workers, giving them a great experience without all of the physical high-touch!

Your Hosts with the Most!

E10 – The HR Famous Podcast – Unlimited PTO or Accrual? What would your employees choose?

In Episode 10 of The HR Famous Podcast, long-time HR leaders (and friends) Jessica Lee, Tim Sackett and Kris Dunn get together to discuss how COVID-19 has changed their daily life, the Cuomo brothers and work-life balance. Tim wants to talk about PTO: accrual vs. unlimited. What’s better? There are different answers with many variables…

The gang continues to talk about how PTO will be molded by the COVID-19 crisis with Kris wondering if unlimited PTO might attract the “average” performers. The team closes by talking about the differences in how different types of employees want their PTO and Tim brings up the demise of the Unlimited PTO plan.

Listen below and be sure to subscribe, rate and review (iTunes) and follow (Spotify)!

Show Highlights:

1:56 – Tim brings up the question “How your life was pre-coronavirus vs. now – what’s the percentage?” He says he has had a 50-60% change where Jlee has had nearly a 90% change, drinking more and bonding with family.

4:05 – KD talks about how he isn’t doing anything. He’s going on a run sometimes and avoiding people as much as possible. He’s also being a little more introspective. Tim calls KD out on his new deck-lifestyle with the cat.

7:00 – KD hits the cancel culture with a “BACK OFF” and brings up the Cuomo Brothers (recently featured in a POLITICO article) since Chris Cuomo has the coronavirus but is still doing shows from the basement. Where’s our work-life balance? Is he a bad example? JLee says haters are going to hate, and maybe he should use that sick leave – but he’s doing a service to the people by showing them what COVID-19 looks like. POLITICO is just hating.

12:10 – There’s rarely a moment where someone reaches the top without outworking someone. KD calls out the bullsh*t – for everyone, you have to put in the work and people who don’t work as hard, can’t expect the same results. You have to grind it out. Shout out to Chris Cuomo.

14:47 – Tim brings up unlimited PTO vs Accruals – you’re not going to be using 4 months of BeachPTO, but what would win if you had to choose? Would more people choose the unlimited plan?

18:26 – KD says the answer is different pre and post COVID-19. Tim brings up that HR pros have different opinions than the majority of workers.

22:15 – KD likes a system where you use it or lose it for your vacation time – but sick leave can be rolled over for extended sick leave, extended maternity leave, etc. It’s important for major medical! Jlee kind of agrees but when she was younger, she banked those days for an unused PTO pay out.

25:03 – Tim says PTO will be shaped by COVID, because people may stop coming to work sick. Hybrid PTO packages might be in our future…

28:00 – KD challenges Jlee – what plans would workers select, if they could? Jlee says, there’s no way it’s a one size fits all.

31:20 – KD asks Tim, “What plan will the top performer select?” Tim says unlimited, but Jlee and KD say no – KD says the real answer doesn’t matter because the best managers treat their high performers different.

34:48 – Jlee and KD talk about accruals being preferred over unlimited because sometimes, you don’t want anyone to call you and you want the official day off.

38:50 – The team closes it out with their final comments and how unlimited PTO just might go away post-coronavirus.


Jessica Lee on LinkedIn

Tim Sackett on Linkedin

Kris Dunn on LinkedIn

HRU Tech

The Tim Sackett Project

The HR Capitalist

Fistful of Talent


Boss Leadership Training Series

Do you have your CEOs cell phone number?

The world is moving pretty fast right now. Seems like you can’t step away from the news cycle for a minute without something new popping up and changing what we thought to be fact just seconds before.

That’s why I found it refreshing this week when I read a story about Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick giving out his personal cell phone number to all of his employees. If you work for a small or even medium-sized business you might not find this to be a big deal, but Bobby has 10,000 employees!

“The uncertainty created by the coronavirus pandemic can take its toll on employees. For the 10,000 or so who work at Activision Blizzard around the world, one person they can call is CEO Bobby Kotick

“About a month ago, we sent out an email from my email address with my phone number and we encouraged every single employee that has a concern that relates to their health care to just contact me directly,” Kotick told CNBC’s Becky Quick on “Squawk Box.”

Kotick said “a few hundred” employees have reached out to him since that email. “But we’re fortunate. Very few actually tested positive so far for Covid-19.”

I’ve met a lot of great CEOs in my time. Some wonderful, extremely caring folks, and a few assholes. There are not many who would do this with this number. There would be meetings with PR and Comms and HR, and eventually, there would be this rollout of a hundred underlings who would be taking your call directly.

The decision would be made that the CEO would do a weekly town hall, live, and you could send in your questions to be answered, etc. All of those questions would be washed and pre-loaded, and the CEO would say the exact right thing. That is how the sausage is made kids!

The vast majority of CEOs would tell you they would do the exact same thing as Bobby, but they haven’t and they won’t. I don’t know if Bobby is a great leader, but that was a great leader move.

Your people are nervous and scared and frustrated. They don’t want a perfectly prepared Q & A. They just want to let you know how they are feeling. The best CEOs I’ve worked with would find that information priceless. They search out unfiltered news from the trenches!

Turns out, all you have to do is email your cell phone number out to the email list titled”
All Employees” and hit send!


#CoronaDiaries – Return to Work Protocols and Your MVPs! (video)

This week on the Corona Diaries I dig into what the heck it’s going to be like when we finally all come back to work, from our Work from Home sentences! At least for the extroverts who can’t wait to get back to work, or those parents who have been locked in with their crazy kids!

I also talk about the concept of those employees who contract and get better from COVID (should we call them “Covivors” – shout out to Mary Kaylor at SHRM as we were discussing what we might tag someone who is on the backside of the virus) and now have a special place in society.

Are you working on your RTW Protocols – if so, share a tip you’ve discovered while talking through this and strategizing at your organization in the comments below!

Reader Question: Can I negotiate my offer during the COVID Pandemic?

So, we like to think that no one is hiring right now, or the only people hiring are Amazon, Grubhub, hospitals, etc. The reality is, even in the worse economy, a lot of stuff still needs to happen.

Many organizations are finding out they can still get a bunch of their work done with folks at home, and collaborating in new ways, and the learning curve is steep, but everyone is working together to figure it out.

I had a call this past week from a soon to be college graduate, dual major, Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering from a great school, so it makes sense he already has an offer. He had some questions for me. He was excited, of course, and understood that he was the exception right now, not the rule. With historic unemployment, companies are still going to want him!

One of the questions he had was where and how do you negotiate during a crisis situation like this. The company that offered him the job, was also laying employees off! Not the best environment to play hardball negotiator! Plus, his school had stopped all career fairs, etc. So, he didn’t have a traditional route many college students would have in normal times to connect with some other employers.

Can I, and should I, negotiate my offer during this COVID crisis? 

My answer:

You can negotiate anytime you feel you need to, but having the political savviness to understand the situation and current timing might work for you best long term if you don’t right now.

That being said, here’s how I would negotiate right now! First, you have to play this very coy. You, and the person making the offer, both know the dire straights going on right now, especially when employees are being laid off, but they’re making you an offer.

There are two things I might try if you feel like you can play this very soft. First, you still have a semester left of school, you could politely ask if they have any kind of tuition assistance and would they be willing to help you out during this last semester? The other ask could be for a signing bonus, to be paid upon start, which is later in the year, but good to negotiate now.

There is little risk they will pull the offer because you are trying to negotiate, and if you play it right you will come out looking fine, no matter the outcome. The other option is to just wait until your actual start date in December and then ask for a sign-on bonus at that point, or as you get close to starting, make the call and say something like, “Hey, I’ve got some friends who have accepted at other companies and they are all getting some sort of sign-on bonus, is this something I can get as well?”

You will learn a few things in this process:

  1. You don’t get what you don’t ask for, but timing can be everything in terms of when you ask.
  2. You are the only person managing your career. If you wait for a company to do it, you’ll miss out on a lot. Manage your own career.
  3. The job offer is contingent on them actually needing you when it comes time for you to start. It’s not a guarantee the employer will need you, so you don’t need to act like you’re signing a guaranteed contract. Things can and will happen between now and December.
  4. Know your value. Just because it sucks for everyone else, doesn’t mean it sucks for you.

What do you think? Should you negotiate in trying times?


Trying Not to Lose in HR!

I usually love this time of year, primarily for March Madness and because I love basketball.  I should have spent the weekend watching the NCAA Tournament but alas nature had other plans, and instead I spent that time watching past games which weren’t quite the same.

While enjoying this pastime I heard very often the sports cliche: “They are playing not to lose versus trying to win”.

For those who have competed in sports (and for many in business), you know exactly what this looks and feels like. It’s playing keep-away with the ball when you’re up 3 in the first half!  No! Stop! Run your normal offense. It’s your favorite NFL team going into a prevent defense up 10 points with 15 minutes to play (Don’t do it – it’s going to “prevent” you from winning!).  Playing not to lose is being conservative may be too conservative to the point of you stop doing what it took that got you in the position to win.

We do this in HR.

Too many times we tell managers “No” when we should be telling them “Yes” we become so risk avoidant that we miss out on some very good opportunities for our organization. It’s not HR’s job to avoid risk, it’s HR’s job to measure the level of risk and work with our organizational partners to determine if they are comfortable with the level of risk we are about to take. Those are two very different things and many HR Pros misconstrue this issue. They try at all costs to avoid all risks, which isn’t necessarily the right thing for the business. They aren’t trying to win, they’re trying not to lose.

The next time you find yourself in a position of giving advice to your operations partners at work, ask yourself this one question –

  • Am I trying to make the company/organization better right now, or am I trying to eliminate risk?

Then determine, what should I be doing? For some of you, the right choice will be to say – at this point, right now, I have to eliminate risk it’s the right call. But for many of you, you will have to circle back and truly try to make your organizations better by managing the risk that is presented.

Spend today trying to win.

Who are your “Essential” employees!?

Karen in Payroll – can you come to the CEO’s office!

In Michigan, we got the governor’s executive order to work from home for all nonessential companies. Basically, the only companies that should still be working at the office are those saving or sustaining life.

The order was like 18 pages. One of the bullet points directed that HR professionals responsible for ensuring payroll checks were processed and benefits administration continued were considered essential!

Eat that you other HR and Talent Pros!

Payroll and Benefits are Essential!!! You’re all non-essential! If fact, why are you still here? Get out, let the pros work in peace and safety, you dirty, virus-carrying waste of space wannabes!

It’s true. If our folks don’t get their paychecks, it’s a problem! Right now, more than ever we need access to our benefits, and for many people, who rarely use their benefits, they’ll have questions and be in a panic! So, feel yourself right now Karen in Payroll! We salute you as a first responder!

Have you ever wondered if you were an “Essential” employee? 

Many of us are finding this out for the first time right now. For those who worked through 9/11 and the Great Recession, you’ve probably experienced this. At some point in crisis situations and terrible economies, organizations go through a strategy talk about who is essential and who is non-essential to the business.

A great example of being an “Essential” employee is I heard a story from one of our Utility clients recently where they have certain employees who will be locked in the power plants during the pandemic. They have beds, and food stores, etc. But, the utility has to ensure these employees don’t get sick or the power grid could come down!

I’ve been in the unenviable task, many times in my career, where an executive has said, “Tim I need a list of employees we can cut, and still deliver our critical services, products, etc.” Big spreadsheets, a lot of conversations with leaders, and ultimately the list of death.

It’s not fun. It’s not exciting. You go home each night and drink.

Almost every time I’ve put these lists together I did the one thing I thought was responsible, which was I put my own name on that list with all the other names. After making sure we have all these talks, and make the moves we need to make, the last move will be me locking my door and leaving as well.

Every single time, and CEO, CHRO, etc., who I was reporting to saw the list and said, “Take your name off the list” you are essential and here’s why. Now, I didn’t think I wasn’t essential, but it’s a great test to find out, because if they accepted the list with me on it, then I know for sure!

The thing is we always want to be essential. If you think about your current role and you can ask a few questions to determine if your role is essential:

  1. If you don’t come to work, your customers can’t get your products and services?
  2. If you don’t come to work, a system or process doesn’t get done that ensures your product or services function in the way they should?
  3. If you don’t come to work, and your work doesn’t get done, something catastrophic will happen to your organization?
  4. You are the only one in your organization that does what you do?
  5. Someone else makes decisions on what you do and has the ability to do what you do?

Non-essential doesn’t mean you’re not important. It just means you might not be critical to keeping the lights on and making the donuts. When it comes to career security, being “essential” is truly the ultimate security.


What’s Wrong with Virtual Conferences? #Covid19 #Coronavirus

My Spring is usually filled with travel. This year because of the “Great Outbreak’ (I used this on Twitter before everyone, once you start to see it everywhere, just know, you and I, will know where it truly came from!) I’m not traveling at all, but I’m still doing a few conferences, virtually.

Virtual conferences have been around for a long time. Almost every organization I know has tried them at least once. Most of these were free events and while most have fairly high numbers organizations go back to the “real’ thing. Most of us tend to not like virtual conferences over the in-person conferences. Why?

I have an opinion that most virtual conferences fail to prosper is because we try and take the in-person experience and we just transfer it to online. Here’s everything we did at the in-person show, now it’s online and just via video. The thing is, an in-person presentation is quite different from an online presentation. It’s one reason so many people hate webinars! It’s just some person talking at you through your speakers with a deck in place of their actual face.

The reality is, these two experiences, in-person vs. virtual are truly two extremely different experiences. Just throwing content up online doesn’t make it the same. In fact, it kind of sucks for most attendees!

So, how could we make virtual conferences better? Big question! One no one has really figured out. We just keep throwing the same garbage up thinking it’s the future of conferences. It’s not, in its current format. Here are some things I think we should be doing to make virtual conferences something people will want to attend and pay for:

Live interaction with the community attending. One way to make this something people will remember is to get them more involved. I once did a “live” virtual event, which wasn’t really live. My presentation was recorded and then ran at a specific time and date, but I actually went into the chat while I was presenting and started asking questions and responding, etc. The chat blew up and everyone was interacting.

Live video feed of the presenter, not just the slides. We know people are more likely to watch a live person speak versus just watch a static slide for two minutes while you tell some story or make your point. Virtual conferences need to find out how to put the real person on screen.

Full professional production. You know what we love, all of us? Watching a well-produced TV show. If I’m running a virtual conference I’m not renting out a hotel ballroom and stage, I’m renting out a production studio and I’m going to make sure I’ve got great sound and lighting, etc. If you want someone to pay $1,000 or $2,000 to attend a virtual event, I better be entertained and it better look and sounds amazing. In the middle of the presentations give me live “anchors” talking about what we just saw and what we are about to see. Bring on a guest to talk shop, etc.

This will cost some money. It will cost way less money than an actual in-person conference, but if you want to make money doing virtual events, you need to up the production value a million times more than it is right now. No one is going to pay you big money to jump on a pseudo-Zoom conference call!

Navarro Cheer Coach, @MonicaAldama, is the Greatest Leader of our Time!

If you haven’t watched the series, Cheer, on Netflix yet, you must! It’s great.

Honestly, I wasn’t thrilled to watch a series about cheerleading. Just not something I thought I would be interested in, but it’s so much more than a show about cheerleading. It’s about getting to great performance, about inclusion, about leadership, and about how a great leader with a vision and no-how can take any organization to the next level.

For those who haven’t seen Cheer, I’ll give you the quick rundown. Navarro College is a two-year community college in the middle of nowhere Texas, that has a multi-time national championship cheer team. It’s led by hometown coach, Monica Aldama, who just happens to have a degree in Finance from the Univ. of Texas, Austin, and her MBA, but decided to come back to sleepy Corsicana, TX to get married and raise her family.

She was a cheerleader in high school and decided to take a job as cheer coach at the local college, and her type-A personality, world-class attention to detail, superior drive, business knowledge, lead her to become the greatest cheer coach in the country at any level, where kids from all over the US are looking to come to Navarro College if you want to reach the highest level of cheer.

Why is Monica Aldama the Greatest Leader of our Time? 

– She’s performance-driven at a world-class level. She seeks perfection and understands to get there she has to rely on 20-ish 18 to 21-year-olds who have to be pushed to levels they can’t even imagine.

– She’s a relationship-based leader. To get the highest performance out of someone as a leader, that person must believe and trust 100% that you have their best interest in mind. Their future. That you are helping them become the best version of themselves and nothing else.

– She is a data-driven leader. Early on Monica found out her background in finance and numbers would serve her well in how these competitions were scored and understood beyond her peers what it would really take to win at the highest level.

– Practice, practice, practice. Another thing that most people don’t understand about the show is Navarro Collge, being a two-year college isn’t under NCAA rules for practice time, scholarships, etc. There is an NJCAA governing body, but having a kid who played two years of JUCO baseball, I can tell you there are no real rules! So, Monica being at a two-year school gives her a major advantage over traditional four-year schools bound by NCAA practic rules. Is that fair? Is that too much on these kids? If you want to be the best, and this coach and these kids do, you don’t care. They don’t care!

– Attention to detail is off the charts! The way you practice. The way you look. The way to represent the team and the community. Every single step, movement, she is watching. I find that the greatest leaders I work with have extremely high attention to detail. They see things others don’t, all the time, and then make sure those things are changed for the better.

– She embraces diversity and inclusion. Monica was raised and lives in a very conservative area. Many of her athletes, especially on the male side, are gay. Many are people of color. Many come from disadvantage homelives. She embraces it all and helps these kids grow into adults.

– She has high rational compassion. What’s that? She cares about everyone on her team as an individual, but she isn’t willing to hurt the overall team, for the sake of one individual. You are injured. You were on the performing team. If we keep you, you might not perform to the level we need to win. You are now off the performing team, and we’ve replaced you with an alternate. The team needs this, and you need to support it, as you are still a part of this team, and you having drama right now hurts our team.

Here’s what I know. You could put Monica into the CEO role of any Fortune 500 company, today, and she would succeed. She has all of the DNA needed to be great at leading people, leading an organization, reaching extremely high performance.

Set a goal. Have the vision. Do the work. Hold people accountable. Care for each other.

Don’t @ me trolls! Monica Aldama is the greatest leader of our generation and you can’t convince me otherwise!