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.

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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

HR Pros: Emotional First Responders?

On January 4, 2018, well known author, speaker, and HR professor Dave Ulrich tweeted: “In a world of increased uncertainty and change, aspiring #HR professionals are emotional first responders who help organizations and people not only survive, but thrive.”

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According to Merriam-Webster the definition of a first responder is a person (such as a police officer or an EMT) who is among those responsible for going immediately to the scene of an accident or emergency to provide assistance.

So, an emotional first responder is a person who is responsible for assisting a person’s emotional well-being.

 

As an HR Pro for decades, I related to what he said because I often found myself in this role. It’s not an exaggeration to say that many of us in HR often feel like we’re also serving as psychologists and social workers. I am a firm believer in Human Resources assuming a place in the organization that enables its practitioners to relate to employees as people rather than disposable assets. Employees endure a wide range of emotionally charged situations that may or not may not be related to work. Either way, it is our responsibility as leaders and HR professionals to help them navigate through these emotions. We must cultivate both a sense of fundamental compassion and decency, and the ability to minimize the impact of difficult individual stressors on others in the workplace.

I was the emotional first responder in my workplace during the 9/11 event. I was with an aviation company at the time, so the sense of shock and dismay was particularly palpable. I gave my staff time off and I went to work to contact our employees and

I was the emotional first responder when one our staff called in to our receptionist threatening suicide.

I was the emotional first responder when a harassment claim/discrimination claims hit my desk, and when I was tasked to fire a single mother on Christmas Eve (a separate blog on draft for this)

The #MeToo movement taught us that sexual harassment and other discrimination affected many workplaces. At the very least, HR should be the emotional first responder. If only courageous practitioners had provided emotional support instead of financial payoffs to the victims of perpetrators like Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer, there would have been less victims and perhaps criminal investigations could have been filed in a timely manner for those who were sexually assaulted. If they were worried about public relations, the damage to the organization’s brand will be less severe than they are now.

During the hurricanes of 2017, HR pros served as emotional first responders – helping and reassuring employees of their jobs, providing timely paychecks, and helping employees access resources within their communities.

HR is already the procedural first responder when it comes to worker’s compensation claim, disability claim, leave of absence, or bereavement. Serving as the emotional first responder in the face of such events should come naturally to us, given the potential effects on employees’ mental and emotional health.

Psychologist Guy Winch identified society’s expectation that we should “get over” psychological wounds, despite that fact that emotional injuries can be just as crippling as physical ones. We need to learn how to practice emotional first aid. Here are 7 ways to do so: https://ideas.ted.com/7-ways-to-practice-emotional-first-aid/.

What I have learned from HR Leaders like Dave Ulrich, Mark Crowley (author of “Lead from the Heart”, and Steven Browne (author of “HR on Purpose”), when we care about the emotional well-being of our employees and not just maximizing profits, we can help prevent burn out, minimize job stress, and create an organizational culture that cares about people. When employees feel that the company cares about them, they will reciprocate with hard work and loyalty. What makes best employers is not who pays the most, but who cares the most. If you look at who made best employers year in and year out, it’s about who provided the best benefits and perks like flexibility, healthcare, paid time off, professional/personal development, etc. To learn more about these HR Gurus follow them on Twitter:

https://twitter.com/dave_ulrich

https://twitter.com/MarkCCrowley

https://twitter.com/sbrownehr

JhukariPS. This blog is dedicated to my first HR Mentor, Joan A. Hukari, SPHR (picture on the left). Sadly, she passed on January 13, 2007. She was my emotional first responder when I was a HR novice. She mentored me, sent me to HR workshops and very forgiving when I made mistakes and had my back when upper management tried to throw me under the bus. She inspired me to get my college education and gave me flexibility (before it was even a thing when I had difficulty with my first pregnancy. The benefits she put together for our organization were the richest I know, even in this day and age. I am forever thankful for her guidance and her big heart for the employees she worked with. It wasn’t a surprise to me that at her memorial, there were several HR practitioners who credited her for being their mentor. She was the one who encouraged me to be part of #SHRM.

HR Is Not For Lazy People

 

HR is not for lazy people.  Working in HR involves a lot of work and that includes working with PEOPLE!

HR is trending again in the news, but not in a positive way. With all the harassment and discrimination that has recently come to light, the common denominator is this: HR didn’t do a thing! HR personnel either proved to be ignorant concerning their duties in this area, or just plain lazy! Either way, it’s not acceptable, and the fear of losing one’s job is no excuse.

If fear for one’s livelihood is prompted by a desire to do the right thing, it means that our work culture is even more toxic than one might think. Don’t be part of the rot that is slowly killing your organization. No HR Pro should ever tolerate such behavior, even if our jobs are at risk.

We can’t be lazy when it comes to harassment complaints (or any employee issues)!

  1. Deal with it. Don’t excuse it.
  2. Listen, don’t judge, don’t retaliate
  3. Investigate and document every conversation you have with everyone involved
  4. Make the necessary recommendations.

NO EXCEPTIONS!

First and foremost, an HR pro must protect employees, and must make this a priority that supersedes selfish concerns.

  1. Remember: protecting the employees is ultimately protecting the organization
  2. Remember: protecting a person in power or leadership is NOT protecting the organization.
  3. If threatened by management, turn to the EEOC.

Yes! We can blow the whistle on those who protect the harasser. We can call to account those who throw the victims under the bus.

When misdeeds are allowed to snowball, this inevitably makes things worse. They eventually come to light, affecting the organization’s reputation and profitability in a way that cannot be readily remedied. It could cost the company millions of dollars in judgements and court fees! Being the founder or the CEO is no longer a shield of protection. The founder for Uber, Travis Kalanik, Harvey Weinstein, and Kevin Spacey, have all been axed for inappropriate behavior and illegal activities in the workplace. As far as I’m concerned, the ax should also fall on the cowardly and irresponsible HR pros who tacitly enabled their behavior.

As HR Pros, we must be courageous, fighting for what is fair, what is right, and what is ethical.  If we can’t do that, who will?  Organizations need to recognize that in order for HR to be effective, it’s practitioners must to be supported and empowered—a beacon of light for everyone in the organization.  For HR to be truly be business partners, our mission to keep the organization in compliance and be competitive in the job market has to be welcomed instead of threatened.

Corporate leaders: Invest in HR and invest in your people. Your leaders and superstars may bring you robust profits in the short term, but if their performance is marred by toxic behavior the long-term costs may be extraordinary.

Litigation.

Penalties and fines.

Court awarded damages.

Tainted reputations.

Don’t commit career suicide by covering up the misdeeds of callous and entitled individuals.

HR is not for lazy people.  It’s a complex field that calls upon us to wear many hats—sometimes two or three at once.  As HR pros, we are mentors, teachers, therapists, mediators, legal wranglers, safety experts, marketing mavens, and techies. Most of us do it all.

We not only help write policies, we teach them and reinforces them. We do this across the board, at every level in the organization. As Steve Browne (@sbrownehr) said, “We are responsible for every employment’s life cycle – from talent acquisition through termination or retirement”. We provide services to every single employee, and even former employees.  This includes broadcasting an unequivocal message:

  • Harassment will not be tolerated
  • Harassment will be reported and investigated using well-defined processes
  • Harassment training will be completed on an annual basis, at the very least.
  • Prevention is key!

We are constantly learning, and not just because we need CE for our recertification. We keep learning in order to become more effective in the workplace. It is how we can protect our organizations and employees in the face of constant change. From legal compliance to best practices, the sand is always shifting under our feet. That learning process has taught us how to deal with toxic employees within a well-understood legal framework. We have the skills, we have the knowledge, but we must, in addition, have the confidence and courage and will.

Being lazy or complacent jeopardizes our organization, employees, and ultimately, our job!

#HRCourage #TogetherForward #SHRM18 #MeToo

Is it a Skills Gap or Pay Gap?

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My husband and I were recently discussing the skills gap issue that seems be the latest excuse for recruiting failures.

He mentioned reading one article after another that complained of a mythic skills gap, with no one providing any specifics! I agree! We never hear about concrete details, it’s all vague hand-waving without any investigative journalism to question the basic premise and drill down into meaningful answers. We’re not saying that the gap doesn’t exist, as it almost certainly does for certain industries.

What are these companies complaining about skills gap doing about it?  Are they willing to provide on the job training, or are they just going to keep their positions open and unfilled?

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My brother & his wife received a paid OJT to be dialysis technicians almost 20 years ago when there was a shortage of skilled techs. He didn’t have to go to a tech school and drown in debt. They were shown the way and excelled at it for almost 20 years!

I was also trained in HR! My education came later. I learned how to use HR systems and learned how to use Microsoft software without the benefit of a formal education. It boggles my mind when certain companies ask for certifications pertaining to skills that are readily picked up on the job. How can we expect our recent grads to step up if we’re not willing to provide training? Exposure to a wide variety of HR scenarios grants us the ability to get past a one-size-fits-all mentality that often afflicts those with knowledge of practices and procedures, but little else. This is particularly important for those working in states with complex and nuanced regulatory regimes, such as California and Oregon.

Find other solutions on skills gap here: https://bloom.bg/2oXX0sW

The Purple Squirrel Syndrome

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The Purple Squirrel is someone willing to accept unconscionably low wages. Click here to read Urban’s dictionary humorous definition: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Purple%20Squirrel

In this job market, no one wants to be a Purple Squirrel. They want to be the “Unicorn” – rare, hard to catch, and very valuable. They want to be richly compensated (who can blame them?).

If you want to bridge the skills gap, pay up! Economic principles tell us that the job market abhors a void, and the bigger the salary, the bigger the void. Sufficient wages will inevitably motivate candidates to pick up whatever skills are required.  If you can’t afford to pay up, then train up. Your new employees will probably be more loyal to you in the long run.

#SHRM #HR #TalentAqcuisition #SkillsGap #OJT