#SHRM18 Vendor Spotlight: Ultimate Software

I had the privilege of attending #SHRM18 as a member of the #SHRM18Bloggers Team in Chicago, IL. One of the vendors I wanted to highlight was Ultimate Software. They are one of the sponsors of SHRM #NextChat and was the host for the #NextChat Reception that was held at the conference. I am already aware of how they support the #HR profession and the HR Tech industry, so I wanted to dig in into their product offering. I got the honor of getting my questions answered by Adam Rogers (Twitter: @adamr), Chief Technology Officer, Ultimate Software.

If your organization is in the market for a HCM, hopefully this Q&A will give you some valuable perspectives when considering a HCM vendor. If you’re heading to the #HRTechConference in September, check them out!

GT: How do you differentiate your product/services from other HR Tech companies? If I’m in the market for HR systems, what features would win me over?

AR: There are really three crucial things to consider when evaluating HCM systems: culture, product, and services. I mention culture first because it’s often overlooked during the buying process, but it shouldn’t be. An organization’s culture ultimately determines your long-term experience with them. Ultimate’s commitment to putting people first is paramount, and, in addition to taking excellent care of our own employees, we design products and services that help our customers build the people-centric environments they need to grow and thrive. Ultimate’s also unique because, while most of our competitors focus primarily on either product or services, we’ve always invested equally in both. We introduced UltiPro as the first cloud-based HR/payroll Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) technology back in 2002, and we continue to leverage Agile software development, Service Design Thinking, and other collaborative processes to pioneer exciting new product advancements. At the same time, we view each and every customer as a partner for life. Offering every customer a dedicated account representative, free training for life, and 24/7 access to APA-certified UltiPro experts is just the beginning of our personalized and comprehensive service offerings. By devoting ourselves entirely to these three key priorities, we’ve differentiated ourselves in a crowded space and are proud of our consistent 96% customer retention rate. Our very first customer, who launched back in 1991? They’re still a valued and satisfied customer today. That’s the sort of lifelong partnership that wins our customers over.

GT: Can an organization just purchase one or two components (i.e., HR, Benefits) of Ultimate, or do they have to purchase the entire suite? If they can be bought a la carte, can they be integrated with other payroll systems or will this require redundancy in data entry?

AR: Our standard UltiPro offering includes HR, payroll, and benefits administration, as well as UltiPro Business Intelligence. Other solutions can be purchased as needed to enhance the core offering, such as talent management, compensation management, advanced benefits tools, learning suites, and more.

Our sentiment analysis survey solution is also available to certain organizations a la carte, depending on company size.

We understand that integration is paramount, so we offer various options to help organizations seamlessly exchange data between UltiPro and other business solutions via timely, secure, and reliable integrations.

GT:  How HR savvy are your implementation/design teams? I found that one source of frustration I had when dealing with HR tech teams involved their lack of understanding of the nuances that we face in HR. This is especially true when it comes to accuracy of data and how to address inaccuracies (human data entry error) in a timely manner. I had a PM who thought correcting SSN and COBRA notifications were not priorities.

AR: Thanks to our incredible culture, benefits, and global recognition as a Best Place to Work, we attract and retain many of the best people in the industry. Many of our launch, implementation, and design professionals have decades of experience and multiple certifications. The high level of collaboration between our product and services teams ensures that everyone has a clear understanding of HR and the features needed to optimize our customer’s experience. Our project teams are composed of experienced industry experts specializing in specific areas of UltiPro, along with technical resources, integration analysts, and a dedicated project manager who personally oversees the entire project. This means our customer’s questions are addressed quickly and they benefit from immediate, proactive assistance every step of the way. Many of our integration consultants are FPC and PMP certified, as well as Certified Experts in SQL Server Development.

Finally, we use an iterative design process, which means our user experience (UX) team conducts detailed, ongoing research and actively partners with customers to truly understand our users’ needs. By partnering closely with our customers, we can ensure that UltiPro exceeds their expectations, not what our developers think they need.

GT:  What is the average time spent by an employee doing benefit enrollment?  How will AI assist employees with this process?

AR: Benefits options are quite complex, and employees often aren’t given much (or any) insight to assist with decision making. Many studies show that employees almost always default to selecting the same plan as they chose the year before, including recent research from Aflac that indicates almost half of employees spend 30 minutes or less making benefits decisions. Haphazardly choosing among plans can have expensive repercussions for everyone involved, including employers.

Assisting employees with making more personalized benefits decisions—decisions that help them to save money while ensuring the best coverage to meet their own needs—is a perfect opportunity for AI support.  Solutions like UltiPro Benefits Prime provide step-by-step guidance, educational tools, and personalized plan recommendations. Without ever needing to contact HR or the benefits provider, employees are able to make the best benefits decisions for themselves and their families.

GT:  Are your clients asking you to collect data to determine possible gender wage gap in their organization?

AR: We recently released a Pay Equity report for all of our customers, which allows them to analyze average pay by gender, ethnicity age and disability status.

And while recognizing pay disparity is a great initial step, working to improve overall diversity, equity and inclusion is obviously the ultimate goal. We’re working on a variety of solutions to interrupt and eliminate bias before it occurs, including tools that help improve quality of hire while eliminating unconscious bias, revamp interview guides and job descriptions based on diversity data, and help recruiters and organizations reevaluate their recruiting and hiring processes.

GT: What AI related features are you rolling out in your upcoming releases?

AR: We’re still extremely excited about Xander, which isn’t really a feature but our “People First” AI engine. Xander uses natural language processing (NLP) to digest and actually understand human language, including the emotions that drive the words, coupling analytical and emotional intelligence to analyze all aspects of HCM data and provide decision makers with detailed, unbiased insight.

Armed with a comprehensive understanding of what’s really going on in their company, leaders can take meaningful action to drive positive changes within the organization.

We’ll be leveraging Xander’s enhanced AI capabilities in a variety of solutions and recruiting-based predictive analytics are coming next. Customers will be able to leverage AI and predictive analytics to identify top candidates and make smarter talent decisions.

Building off of our AI-powered sentiment analysis and NLP capabilities, we’re working on delivering a new kind of performance management tool that’s focused not just on managing performance but improving it. With real-time coaching for better quality feedback and team-level performance intelligence, a manager will be able to quickly make sense of continuous feedback and focus on real improvement opportunities.

GT: Have you seen demand for machine learning features from your clients?

AR: Absolutely. Machine learning enables the platform to learn from experience and get better with time, which is clearly desirable—you’d want the same thing from your employees. Ultimate’s machine-learning technology looks at how effective UltiPro’s predictions are and automatically makes adjustments to improve, which means your data from today is even more valuable tomorrow.

GT: You emphasize capabilities that will enable the removal of barriers faced when applying for a job. What are some of the more serious barriers these features address?

AR: Traditional recruiting systems can be complex and burdensome, leading to candidate disengagement and application abandonment. UltiPro Recruiting’s unique candidate-centric design helps engage potential hires with familiar technology they want to use and build successful relationships from the first interaction. We use social and mobile technology for an easy, personalized, and enjoyable experience. Candidates can even use gamified features to find opportunities or import their information from LinkedIn. And with automated candidate match capabilities coming soon, we’ll be able to speed up processes for identifying promising candidates and getting them into the right roles.

GT: Do you partner with anyone on your Learning Management system to make sure that education is centered not just on the employee, but the organization as well? Depending on industry and/or state, there are some statutory training requirements. Are those pre-packaged, or add-ons?

AR: UltiPro Learning enables organizations to build an optimized learning strategy while effectively reaching employees where they are, with mobile and social learning capabilities. Today’s learners expect their learning at work to be much like the learning they do at home – on-demand and snackable.  Think YouTube for the enterprise – where we can easily share what we know with others, as simply as uploading a video from our phone.

Organizations have several options for creating courses and adding course content, including building their own content, converting existing content, or adding third-party content. By leveraging our course marketplace, customers can jumpstart or expand their development content, including best practice statutory, soft-skill and technical training courses and materials.

GT: How much of an impact will the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) have on your systems, considering the massive personal data collected from ATS, HRIS, and Payroll?

AR: The GDPR has specific requirements for data processors like Ultimate, regardless of whether the organization operates within the boundaries of the European Union. Ultimate already has all the key practices in place to align with our responsibilities as a data processor to allow for an employee’s right for data portability or erasure. Additionally, we’ve added the ability for customers to capture or withdraw an employee’s consent in UltiPro and have a team of subject matter experts available to guide our customers through the new regulations.
Adam-Rogers-head-shot1

Adam Rogers began his career in 1997 as Ultimate Software’s very first intern and quickly became a leading innovator in the field. In 2002, Adam led his team to deliver the very first Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) cloud Enterprise solution, redefining industry standards by bringing HCM to the cloud. Today, Adam serves Ultimate as CTO and holds the unique distinction of leading both product innovation and corporate IT strategy. His teams are routinely recognized for their industry-leading innovations and Adam’s thought leadership work is regularly published in Forbes, InformationWeek, and a variety of online blogs and publications.

 

Hold Your Judgment!!!

Hold Your Judgment!

It’s only been a few days since Starbucks(SBUX) held their company-wide training on racial bias, but many seem ready to write it off and dismiss any positive effects as transitory! Some of these individuals are HR professionals – but none seems to have actually participated in the training!

As a person of color and an HR practitioner, I am hopeful. I have a daughter and a nephew who work at Starbucks, and they have had nothing but positive things to say about their employer—even before the unfortunate event that prompted this training. I am optimistic about continuing this conversation, and thankful to Starbucks for taking action. They never claimed that this training was the ultimate solution. On the contrary, the company has made it clear that this is part of an ongoing initiative. They know that lasting improvement will require a sustained effort, and that it may be necessary to tweak the training over time. And I appreciate their express willingness to share the materials they develop with other organizations.

Given the company’s positive reputation within the global community, it didn’t have to proceed on this scale, but it did!  Those who consider this a PR stunt may need to check on their own bias. It was more than a PR. It was an investment! If other organizations invested in their employees so generously, we wouldn’t have so many compliance issues in the first place. I was appalled when people moaned about missing their coffee runs. Is that more important than a grand gesture focused on building a better community and tackling racial bias? Let’s think about the fact that on the day of the training, people were showing disgust for Roseanne Barr’s racist tirade. This led to innocent coworkers losing their livelihood–on stage and behind the curtains—but some still defended her. Isn’t this a climate in which fighting bigotry takes precedence over our daily cappuccinos? If you still aren’t convinced, think about the actions of our president, who spews hatred on People of Colors (African American, Hispanics, Middle Eastern, etc.). When it comes to combatting racial bias, there’s no time like the present.

Rather than writing off Starbucks’ effort, why not help promote it? They planted the seeds, let’s nurture them so that they will take root, grow, blossom, and bear fruit. What would have happened if we listened to naysayers when the “Do Not Litter” and “No Smoking” campaigns were launched? It’s easy to forget that these attempts to change American society produced their share of scoffing and cynicism. It took time, but society did change and changed in recent memory. Sure, there are those who still litter and smoke, but at a vastly lesser scale than in decades past. Remember the business owners who thought that smoking ban would be bad for business? The opposite turned out to be true.

We all know that we are not born racist. Racism is learned, much like smoking. As someone who grew up with smokers, many of my family and friends (myself included) do not smoke, and our children aren’t hesitant to announce to someone that smoking can kill them! We are also of mixed race and multi-religion, making it important to be respectful of our differences, and those of others. Education is a big step. We all learn at different pace. So, before we judge Starbuck’s effort and write it off, let’s give it some time. Perhaps, if we just hold off on being judgmental, and instead practice open mindedness and patience, our world will be a better place… who doesn’t want that?

#SHRM18 Vendor Spotlight: Quantum Workplace

Quantum Workplace will be one of the vendors at the #SHRM18 in Chicago, IL. They are an employee engagement software company designed for a manager-driven work culture. Quantum Workplace is headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska (my new home town).  I had the opportunity to tour their new location where I conducted this interview.

Quantum Workplace is the survey engine for the “Best Places to Work” contests nationwide.

I Interviewed Natalie Hackbarth (NH), their Inbound Marketing Manager. 

GT: In an elevator pitch format, what is Quantum Workplace?

NH: Quantum Workplace is an all-in-one employee engagement software that gives managers the tools they need to increase team engagement and effectiveness.

GT: How do you differentiate your product/services from other HR Tech companies?

NH: Our software differentiates in two key ways:

1) First, it’s built formanagers. Our engagement software fits right into their existing workflow, it coaches them on how to be better managers, and it transforms the way lead and engage their teams.

2) Second, it’s provides organizations all the tools they need for measuring and improving engagement in one place. It’s the only of its kind, offering survey and pulses, recognition software, goal setting and tracking software, feedback, one-on-one conversation, ideas and alerts, as well as team and company-wide analytics.

GT: How did your company decide to hold the “Best Places to Work” contests?

NH: Listening to and acting on employee opinions is crucial. Quantum Workplace wanted to honor and showcase companies that valued employee voices and treated people as the most important resource.

GT: Tell me about some of your best success stories with a client.

NH: Fossil Group uses Quantum Workplace to empower thousands of users to own and improve team engagement. PromiseShip, a non-profit based in Nebraska, had never had a method for collecting employee feedback and improving employee performance — and they now use our tool to engage employees in a continuous cycle of improvement.

GT: Are your clients asking you to collect data to determine possible gender wage gap in their organization?

NH: Not specifically, no. But employers can use our analytics feature to uncover almost any trend, gap, or blind spot they might have in their organization.

GT: What AI related features are you rolling out in your upcoming releases?

NH: Quantum Workplace just launched text analytics, giving managers the ability to make sense of employee comments at the click of a button.

If you’re in the market for an engagement software or would like to see your company be honored as one of the best companies to work for, find out what it takes to get you there and visit their booth at #SHRM18! You can find out more about Quantum Workplace at http://www.quantumworkplace.com.

Throwing The First Stone…Hypocrisy and the Call for Corporate Accountability

Starbucks is trending on social media because of an incident in which two African-American men were arrested for trespassing at their Philadelphia store. They were taken in handcuffs just as the person they were waiting for arrived. You can find out more about the story here: Starbucks

What I found interesting is how quickly the internet blame roared into action. People have been almost gleefully eager to throw the first stone at Starbucks. This kneejerk rhetorical bile wasn’t directed at the employee who called the cops, or that employee’s manager, or the cops who made the arrest—all individuals who might rightly be criticized. The same puritanical souls railed against Starbuck’s press release as “unacceptable” and claimed that it doesn’t really “scratch the surface of the issues.” Many of these reactions came from people whose stances I generally find well-considered and fair. These are people in HR.

I hate the tendency to indict an entire HR department because of one isolated incident. I also hate it when companies known for strong corporate values are maligned because of one individual’s poor judgment.

Yes, even the best companies have bad apples. Is that really HR’s fault? Is it the fault of the company as a whole? It is, if the bad apples are allowed to continue to be employed there.

If you were on Starbuck’s PR team, how would you address this in a short amount of time? If you were one of their HR people, how would you react? Is it really practical for them to address the entirety of the racial discrimination issue, or does a greater weight rest on the police department who made the arrest? At the end of the day, the cops have an obligation to assess the situation and determine whether the law has been broken. There is no doubt that Starbucks does have certain responsibilities as well. They must investigate in a robust and comprehensive manner. If the employee was at fault, would you fire them right away, or approach the incident as organizational learning moment, to be addressed by intensified training?

Many have responded to #MeToo by asking “Where is HR?” instead of “Where’s the HR representative”? We all got painted by the same insidious brush, when most of us would never let that sort of thing happen. HR gets blamed for failing to do proper training without bothering to find out whether or not training was actually done.

If we want to ask for fairness and equality, let’s not throw the first stone. Let’s not replace accountability with hypocrisy. As HR folks, we wait for all information and investigate rather than passing judgement based on a sensational smattering of unsubstantiated claims. Let’s instead focus on constructive questions: If you worked for Starbucks, what changes would you implement so that this won’t happen again?

I’m not ignoring the fact that something unacceptable happened. It was wrong, and it was clearly racial discrimination, based on eyewitnesses accounts. But to expect Starbucks to take full responsibility for an action of one person (whose story is yet to be heard) is unrealistic. It would be a different story if this was happening at every Starbucks, but it simply isn’t. If anything, we should be asking more for better accountability from the police department whose officers were involved.

#SHRM18 Speaker Spotlight: A One-on-One interview with Jonathan Segal

Jonathan Segal is a Partner at Duane Morris, LLP. He has been cited as a national authority on employment issues in The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal, to name just 3. Jonathan’s many accomplishments are listed on the SHRM18 Conference page.

As an HR professional, I’ve always attended various employment workshops. Jonathan is one of the lawyers I followed on Social Media and I often retweet him or share his articles on LinkedIn. When we were assigned to pick a speaker to interview, I knew I wanted to interview him. You can also follow him on Twitter.

I am thankful that he was willing to share his personal thoughts on HR matters, sexual harassment training, workplace culture, and leadership. This interview will surely encourage you to sign up to his sessions at SHRM18.

GT: As a lawyer, how did you decide to specialize in Employment Law?

JS: I decided to become an employment lawyer because it focuses on people and the relationships between them.  I also think employment/HR issues are both interesting and incredibly important.

I have a particular passion for issues involving equality. As employers, we can do a lot to make equality a reality and not just a policy.

My passion for equality is a natural outgrowth of my upbringing.  My parents—and my grandparents—were both role models and messengers that there is nothing you cannot do because of your gender and nothing you must do because of it

Most of my family was killed in the Holocaust, and my grandparents were proud and productive immigrants.  These facts also inform how I see the world and the role I want to play in it. 

HR is the bridge to compliance and culture

GT: Your topics at SHRM18 are all related to Sexual Harassment, do you think with the #MeToo movement, training will be taken more seriously, and harassment claims will be better handled?

JS: We hear a lot about compliance and culture. Some suggest it is one or the other. I think we need to marry the two.  Our compliance must take into account our culture and our culture must reflect the values underlying our compliance obligations.

I love your term “bridge,” and I agree that HR is the bridge between compliance and culture.

GT: Many companies have used videos for sexual harassment training and 70% passing rate. It’s one on one and not really interactive. Do you think that’s enough? 

JS: I agree a lot of training programs are deeply flawed. That does not mean training of leaders is not important.  We just need to take a look at our training and ask how we can make it more effective.

At a minimum, it must be interactive and customized. If it is canned, it belongs in the can.

We need to provide examples of specific behaviors that leaders must avoid, even if they don’t raise to the level of illegality. Remember: power magnifies wrong.

We must provide leaders with guidance on how to respond to complaints they receive and how to deal with bad behavior that they see or hear, even if no complaint.  Leaders, and that includes everyone in HR, cannot be passive bystanders.

Differential treatment is not a solution to better training, don’t ignore the fear.

GT: Many employment laws are not new, like Title VII, sexual harassment, ADA, etc. Why do you think companies don’t enforce compliance more to protect themselves?

 JS: We must provide guidance on how to navigate the gray areas, such as when giving a hug or compliment on appearance may be okay.  We don’t need to implement sterility as we strive for greater workplace civility.

It is important that we talk about how to work human. I fear some men may be so scared of harassment claims they that will or already are avoiding women.  There’s a word for that: discrimination.

Don’t discount the fear, although I think it is overstated. Take people where they are and hit the fear head on and provide granular advice on how to ensure there is equitable inclusion.

GT: What advice would you give HR professionals about having courage in the workplace?

JS: Sometimes we need to stand up and fight for what is right, as Johnny Taylor, Jr., the CEO of SHRM, has emphasized. It is not risk free. That is why they call it courage. If there are no risk, then there is no courage.

I think of the VP of HR who spoke with his CEO about another executive who had engaged in serious sexual misconduct.  His message was, “one of us will not be here by the end of week”.  He’s there, but I am not sure the termination (which was the proportionate response) would have happened if he had not spoken up.

When speaking up, look for an ally. Going at it alone is harder. Try not to attack. Give the other party a chance to save face and agree.  Influence based on values and not threats. 

I think HR has done so much more than that for which it gets credit. We don’t hear about all the times HR pushes to do the right thing and gets results.  This makes me very proud to be a SHRM member. 

Click on the link to sign up for Jonathan’s Sessions:

#702: Investigating Harassment Claims

Sexual Harassment 2.0

Male Allies and Sexual Harassment

 

#SHRM18 Speaker Spotlight Mark Fogel, Founder/CPO

Mark Fogel is a former CHRO and currently consults, teaches MBA courses, and blogs for SHRM, FistfulofTalent.com and Recruitingdaily.com. He has been a regular speaking at SHRM national conferences on a variety of topics for more than a decade.

Here’s a sneak peek into his background, his thoughts on the gig economy, and talent acquisition, well as his upcoming topics at #SHRM18, and thoughts about courage in HR.

GT: What made you decide to start your own company, Human Capital 3.0? What does the 3.0 signify?

MF: When I was the CHRO at Leviton I used to go to SHRM chapter meetings on Long Island with my head of L&D throughout the year. We would always get hit up for our opinion or advice. We did a lot of pro bono advising. We always said when we left Leviton we would join forces and start a consultancy on the side of our day jobs and we did. In the beginning it was a hobby and it turned into a business. We kept it going for almost 4 yrs. as a side project until I took it to another level in 2016 after leaving my role as CHRO at Success Academy Charter schools.  The 3.0 was a play – off everything being “2.0” at the time, we said that we were the next generation of consulting and used 3.0 to signify being a step ahead.

GT: How do you juggle working for Signium and Human Capital 3.0 and still teach at Adelphi University?

MF: I think of my work as being a senior executive in the new “Gig” economy. I do high level Retained search and large talent project work for Signium, Training and one-off small projects for HC3, and I have a steady gig teaching a couple of HR classes in the MBA program at Adelphi. It’s easier than a full-time job most of the time. You just must be rigid and organized about scheduling. TIME MANAGEMENT is the key…

GT: As a talent acquisition expert, what do you think is lacking in the talent acquisition industry these days?

MF: Empathy for the candidates, especially the ones who do not ultimately get the job. We all need to do better on this topic.

GT: What is your advice to someone who is new in the talent acquisition role?

MF: Be a sponge, listen and ask questions, but don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo. And don’t be average, be daring and different!  Create your own brand and be authentic every day.

GT: One of your topics at #SHRM18 is “The Performance Review Dilemma: To Continue, Change or Eliminate – What’s an HR Practitioner to Do?”.  Some says Performance Reviews are dead, what do you think?

MF: I think they are far from dead, and probably will always be around. Organizations need processes to keep folks in check regarding promotions, compensation, and evaluating quantity and quality of work. Personally, I would like to ditch them, or make them simple enough to do on the back of a napkin. Giving regular feedback is the key. I will expand on that during my presentations in Las Vegas at the SHRM Talent Conference and Chicago.

GT: Your additional topic at #SHRM18 is “The Empire Strikes Back, The Dark Side of HR Part 2”.

MF: It’s about standing up to senior executives and dealing with unethical and illegal scenarios.

GT: Do you think HR folks who lacks courage should step out of HR?

MF: I don’t fault folks who lack courage, sometimes you must put your job on the line and I mean that literally. I have a couple of times in my career and even left an organization when I couldn’t change the situation. We all need to remember its work, not life or death. You need to be able to do the right thing and sleep at night. You also need to pay the bills. Sometimes that is the bigger issue, not being brave. So, we all need to live with our decisions. I personally am comfortable with mine. Everyone needs to answer that for themselves, no judgement here…

Links to archives:

https://blog.shrm.org/author/1101

http://fistfuloftalent.com/author/Mark-Fogel

http://recruitingdaily.com/author/mfogel/

I went “All In” for SHRM17 and Now I’m Expanding My World for SHRM18.

I’ve been in HR for decades, but I’ve been truly active on Social Media for less than two years. SHRM18 will only be my second annual conference.

My first SHRM Annual Conference was in 2017 and the theme was “All In.” I took that theme to heart from the time I signed up for the conference. While attending, I wrote on a sticky note declaring my commitment to the HR profession and to myself about being “all in.” So did many of the other attendees, and you can see the result below.

IMG_1223.JPG

It was an eye opener! The experience vastly exceeded my expectations. I came alone and left with many new friends who share my passion for the profession. I didn’t realize until that time that many of the HR pros I met on Twitters were also bloggers. I knew some were, but, was still surprised that I knew so many! I learned how to have fun with HR folks. It wasn’t just about learning. It was also about connecting with the HR community, getting to know partners in technology, employee engagement, learning & development, marketing/promos, and meeting vendors that do business with HR folks.  The conference opened my eyes to the fun side of HR. I’ve never been to a party with a bunch of HR folks. Yes, HR pros like to party and have fun just like the rest – we’re people, too!

The SHRM17 conference has inspired me to launch “All in HR Services”. I chose “All In HR” as a constant reminder of that commitment. It’s the latest expression of my desire to showcase everything I know about the discipline, from administration to compliance to technology. A few months after the conference, I got inspired by the friends I’d met and started my HR Blog. I wasn’t seen as a competitor but as a fellow contributor. I tried not to miss #NextChat, a twitter chat on Wednesday sponsored by SHRM that fosters the exchange of HR ideas and the sharing of experiences related to HR topics. Before long I found myself tagged on other twitter chats with the same theme.

Fast forward to my birthday (January 2018). I was asked if I wanted to be one of the bloggers for SHRM18. I immediately said, Yes! I didn’t have to think about it because I was “All In”.

When the SHRM18 Bloggers Team were announced, I got even more excited when I noticed that many of them hail from my #HRTribe (We’re a bunch of HR pros out to show the world that there are great people in HR.

The SHRM18 theme is “Expand Your World”. What a great sequel to “All In”. A few days after the announcement, I’m already getting out of yet another comfort zone. It’s bad enough that I’m so poor at taking “selfies” now, I have to make a video announcement? Fortunately, I’m not one to back away from challenges. You can see that video here.

https://youtu.be/HWHC08WtDCw

The next 4 months will bring interviews with SHRM18 speakers and vendors. Expect a podcast and video interview with one of these individuals sometime next month.

If you haven’t been to SHRM Annual Conference, what a great way to expand your HR world. You never know how it could change you, your organization, and your local HR community. Learn, connect, and have fun! Come follow the #SHRM18 on all social media. Check out the SHRM18Bloggers Team here: https://blog.shrm.org/blog/shrm18-bloggers

Follow us on all Social Media, you never know where it will lead you. You can start expanding your world by joining #NextChat and following the #SHRM18Bloggers team on all Social Media channels as we take you on a journey all the way to SHRM18 in Chicago, Illinois. You never know how SHRM’s Annual Conference might help you evolved as an HR Professional.  Make the investment. I’m glad I did!

 

Predictive Analytics in HR: Do you have the data needed to back that up?

Some organizations have begun to use predictive analytics as part of their hiring process. I filled out questionnaires used for analytics while applying for HR Manager positions. Supposedly, there are no right or wrong answers. The employer just wants to know “how we are wired” to move on to the next phase.

An excerpt from one of these questionnaires appears below. Section one lists one hundred ten adjectives from which the applicant chooses to describe him/herself.  Section two presents the same list and asks that the applicant use them to describe how one should behave in their current work environment.

PA3

Do you really know how your predictive analytics are supposed to work? It has a growing presence in talent acquisition but has never been proven effective in this context. We do know that these algorithms must draw from a wealth of data to reach any meaningful conclusion. Does your company have enough data to determine who will make a great hire?

I applied for two positions for which the hiring manager applied this methodology. A “thumbs up” from the predictive assessment was required to move on to the next step in the process. Despite claims of “It’s not pass or fail,” I never received a follow-up call after either test. When I asked for feedback, none was provided.

The test is pass or fail. Don’t believe otherwise.

You passed if you are called to the next phase. You failed if you aren’t.

The soul-sucking part of this assembly line process lies in the fact that there is no way to know where you went wrong. You are selecting adjectives with no situational context. Does it really make sense to exclude a candidate because of vacuous word selection? If someone did this manually, they would be considered a crackpot, but because the actual logic is hidden within an automatically executed algorithm, the result is treated as gospel. This is not logical, or rational, or in keeping with any expert understanding of computer science. It is nothing but snake oil software.

Depending on our age, our culture, upbringings, education, and experience, the way we answer these surveys will vary. When implementing this type of strategy do you really know what you’re looking for as a recruiter or as an organization? Do you know what kind of mental-wiring you’re looking for?

I am at a point in my life and my career that I picked the same words for Section 1 & 2. If I was younger and new to the workforce my answers will be different. If this was supposed to be no right or wrong answers, nor is it pass or fail, what is the point of this process? Why spend the money on this assessment if you’re only trying to detect how a person is wired? Wouldn’t this be at some point a discriminatory/prejudicial process that may impact people based on age, gender, ethnicity, and disability since how we answer may predict these things?  Not knowing which section is given more weight and how we are scored, how do we improve or meet the implicit expectations?

I met a couple of data scientists who use predictive analytics in a variety of business domains. One works for a health insurance company, and I can see how datasets available to insurers could drive useful analytical outcomes. Unfortunately, they also took on the task of extending these methods for use in talent acquisition. Neither has ever actually worked in the recruiting field! We need to stop letting non-HR people define the essential decision-making processes we use to do our jobs! Would you let someone with no HR expertise walk up to your desk, rifle through your files, and start ordering around? Let’s wake up to the fact that this is exactly what’s being done, being blinded by those who package the clueless interference in a piece of software and label it “analytics.”

I’m not a fan of any personality assessments. I don’t think they are useful indicators of who we are as professionals or indicative of what we bring to the table. If anyone out there has rigorous studies they can quote to contrary, I’ll gladly listen to them, but I’m not holding my breath. The business world has a long and infamous history of rabidly seizing upon trendy practices without a shred of evidence that attests to their effectiveness.

I’m also not a fan of hiring for cultural fit, because what constitutes cultural fit should and will evolve over time. A static, inflexible notion of cultural fit is a surefire way to achieve organizational sclerosis. If we want to assess our candidates, let’s assess the skills they bring to the table After all, isn’t our current concern about skills gap, and not some nebulous black-box notion of “how we are wired?”

Predictive analytics is the practice of extracting information from existing data sets in order to determine patterns and predict future outcomes and trends. Predictive analytics does not tell you what will happen in the future (wabopedia.com).

The Data: “Lack of good data is the most common barrier to organizations seeking to employ predictive analytics” (hbr.org).

To make predictions about what kind of employees we should employ, we need these kinds of data points:

  • Characteristics and accomplishments of current employees
  • Characteristics and accomplishment of past employees.
  • Reasons employees stayed
  • Reasons employees left

If you lack this kind of data, along with some means to feed it into the analytical model, then the analytical model is useless. If you’re a small-medium company or a start-up, it’s particularly likely that this is the case.

The reason predictive analytics work in domains such as sales is the wealth of data available to the model. The same goes for healthcare.

The same just can’t be said of talent acquisition. Period. Even worse, applying these algorithms may lead to bias and perhaps discrimination, if the outcome includes disproportionate impact on protective groups. If you can’t open the black box, how do we know there’s not a bigot inside? The software vendors pushing this snake oil provide nothing but vacuous hand-waving when they assure us this isn’t the case. This is why many HR pros who are also practicing attorneys don’t like assessments that fail to actually measure person’s ability to do the job.

Your Predictive Analytic Model Sucks!

As I mentioned earlier on, I have taken the predictive analytics tests twice. This was in the Summer of 2017. Both of those employers have since re-posted those jobs on multiple occasions. I never reapplied because they haven’t changed their requirements. I got a call from an external recruiter yesterday and she thought that I was a perfect candidate for their client based on my resume. When she told me who the client was, I laughed and told her that I’d already been disqualified without an interview. I let her know that I appreciate her thinking of me and wished her luck!

Clearly, the employer is failing to realize that their predictive analytic model sucks! My husband who is a software enterprise architect thinks they got scammed into buying a technology that was full of promise but failed to deliver. If they admit to drinking snake oil it will reflect badly on those involved in the decision, so backing down isn’t an option.

I’m not claiming their model sucks because I didn’t get the job. I’m saying this because they’ve been trying to fill this position since the summer of 2017. They have hired multiple staffing agency to help them fill this position every time it gets reposted. There are a plenty of great HR managers in the Midlands. This is not about a skills gap.

When will the employers utilizing these products wake up to the fact that they’re cheating themselves out of great hires? By leaving the HR Manager post vacant, the company I applied to is leaving themselves vulnerable to compliance issues.

Meet your candidates.

Have the conversation.

Stop hiding behind junk software that reduces your workload by doing your work badly.

Photo Credit: media.licdn.com

#HR #TalentAcquisition #HRTech #PredictiveAnalytics

HR: What’s On Your Cup Today?

This post was originally posted as a LinkedIn article on February, 5, 2018.

To be honest, I don’t own any of these cups. If I have a cup for everything about HR, I’ll have a shelf-full of HR cups.

Let Me Drop Everything and Work on Your Problem Cup…

This may be a sarcasm for some, but when you work in management, especially HR, there will be plenty of times where we have to drop everything and work on people’s problems. Because, that is what we do! The #MeToo problems were the result of not dropping anything to work on their people’s problems.

HR Manager Because Freakin’ Miracle Worker Isn’t an Official Job Title Cup…

You don’t need to be a miracle worker to be an effective HR professional. You just need to learn to be efficient to allow for more time to deal with people. The organization is made up of people who deal with people internally and externally. That’s a lot of people! As HR Pro, it is our job to make sure that we help all these people throughout their employment life cycle.

HR Technologies

Leverage technologies to help you! HR technologies are great tools to help streamline processes, remove redundancy, gather data that we can crunch and analyze for whatever reports we want to create.

In my opinion, we are having issues with employee engagement and experience because we are allowing technology to remove the “people equation”. HR Technologies were never meant to replace people interactions. They were created to lessen the administrative tasks that were keeping us away from people, be it more time assessing candidates or assisting employees.

You can be Tech Savvy and People Savvy

I chose to work in HR because I get to help people and I get to help the organization grow. Somewhere along the way, I also found myself working on the many HR technologies we work on these days. I saw first-hand why they were needed and having learned HR from the ground up (I started as HR Assistant/Recruiting Coordinator), I knew how essential they were for my efficiency as well as productivity. It gave me time to help employees with their benefits, allowed me time to provide informational interview for students, and helped me tracked our candidates. This also allowed me to grow in HR as I had more time to attend seminars as well as finish my college education since I am not stuck in the office trying to complete tasks from one system to another. As I climbed up in ranks from one organization to another, working for various industries and sizes, I got the opportunity to implement and customized many of these technologies (ATS, HRIS, Payroll, HCM) from mainframe to now cloud based. Everything I know about these technologies were hands-on. The only thing I needed is my HR expertise to help me work side-by-side with the techies. Many of the Project Managers and Software Developers that I worked with had no understanding of HR Compliance. They have no understanding of benefits, payroll, etc. That wasn’t their expertise. What helped me be an effective Project Manager/Client Service Manager was I was able to communicate their needs and frustrations to our techies and helped our techies how to resolve the problems plaguing our clients.

Keep Calm and Focus on Artificial Intelligence (AI) Cup…

We are now getting into the whole AI realm. Depending on who you listen to, it’s targeting HR jobs. I’m not worried, not because I don’t believe in AI, but because I don’t believe AI can truly replace HR.

AI should be treated as another tool. I do believe that AI will help most of the problems we have in executing our job like Talent Management, Workplace Safety, and Total Rewards offering.  However, that will only be possible with the help of HR at the helm.

Like many of the HR technologies in many organizations these days, if HR is not involved in the implementation process, it will fail! AI will only be effective in Talent Management if we’re honest about removing any bias assessment in our processes.

AI will not replace the genuine and authentic human interactions. It’s called artificial for a reason. AI will not solve your employee engagement or experience if you continue to treat them less than people. Organizations will still employ people to build, maintain, and fix these machines. Therefore, organizations will continue to hire HR pros to deal with the human aspects of things as intended.

#SHRM #HRTribe #AI #HR

 

HR: Stop the Word Games

It’s interesting how people plays with words these days. If you want to know the traditional definition of a word, you go to the tried and true, merriam-webster dictionary. In this information age, you don’t need to grab a dictionary, you can simply google a word and it gives you alternate places to find a definition: dictionary.com, urban dictionary, or simply type the word on google for definition.

How would you know which definition to use? That depends on which audience you are targeting. If you’re looking for slang, the urban dictionary might be your bet. Although, I don’t recommend it for anything that relates to the workplace. Case in point, if you look up the word Human Resources, the definition just seems to come from someone who hates HR to the core of their being. Depending on where they work, that may be true. However, not every HR Department is as described on urbandictionary.com.

The purpose of this blog is to explore the Word Game in the world of HR.

According to dictionary.com:

Personnel – people employed in the organization

Human Resources – the personnel of a business or organization, especially when regarded as a significant asset.

Human Capital – the skills, knowledge, and experience possessed by an individual or population, viewed in terms of their value or cost to an organization or country.

Based on these definitions, I don’t understand why there are people who have problems with these words. To blame the word for poorly executed purpose and the lack of value of the HR department is just ignorant. It doesn’t matter what you want to call it, be it People Resources, or whatever name you want to cook up, it wouldn’t change if the value and purpose of the department doesn’t reflect the intended meaning.

Even the word asset is seen as a negative word. Asset means a useful or valuable thing, person, or quality. However, some people like to focus on a particular word that makes it seem negative. Based on the definition, when we consider our employees as assets, it means that we are considering them as valuable people. What is wrong with that?

Job Titles are also subject to word games. Changing your title to People Manager, People Happiness Officer or whatever “cool name” you can think of, it doesn’t change the fact that you still work in Human Resources. Besides, aren’t people, human?

We need to be cognizant of the work that we do as HR Professionals. Until we can show the value and the purpose of the work that we do, changing the name of our department or our job title just seems foolish and simply playing a game.

As Human Resources professionals, let’s show and treat our people (personnel) like a true asset (valuable people) in our organization. Rather than playing the word game, let’s find ways to truly engage them, let them understand the value of compliance, and show them our true purpose of having a memorable employee experience – be a true HR advocate. This means taking care of people. The organization cannot succeed without its human capital.

If you feel uneasy about the word advocate, you may want to read my fellow #HRTribe, Tamara Rasberry’s blog post: “When Did ‘Advocate’ Become a Dirty Word”.

Photo Credit: http://www.wordgames.com

#HR