• HR – The Dark Arts?

    After meeting someone for the first time, they often ask, “What do you do?” A normal question, as people often identify their job, their career, their profession with who they are. Well I have been in Human Resources for a long time and I know that it continues to encompass more activities. To date though, I have never thought of myself as one who practices witchcraft or the dark arts.

    Humor me for 0:56 and check out this video.

    While our friend Bruce Cameron in the video is talking somewhat  “tounge in cheek” – we hope; there are a number of disturbing things he says in the video.

    For example, if an employee relates something to you, and insists they don’t want to be called out on what they have shared with you, often times, you must betray that trust and deal with the issue.  Simply by virtue of knowing about the matter, as a moral ethical professional you ultimately end up violating that employees trust.  Day in and day out I feel like I sometimes have to switch from magician to hangman, funny but true. My Project Social Partner Laura Schroeder and I discused this and both felt this way. You can read what she has to say on the matter here.

    HR is called upon to deal with some of the ugliest pieces of business an employer must face.  We must talk to employees about thier divorces; life insurance claims and the death of a loved one, lay-offs.

    So whether you call it HR or the Dark Arts,  the best advise is to be honest and up front with everyone.  I am reminded of what a lawyer friend once told me,  always tell the truth and it’s hard to go wrong. – Good advise for any profession!

  • Employee Retention – Working at it Everyday

    Employee Retention, it is supposed to be a good thing.  When I hear the word retention, it makes me think of attorneys and – retainers.  If an attorney is retained, you either pay to use their services, or you pay to keep them available so you can use them. So now back to employee retention; we do pay them and hopefully they stick around.   That is the premise, you want to keep them around – or do you?  This was a subject me an my Project Social partner Laura Schroeder discussed last week  You can read her take on the matter here.

    Now regarding  employee retention, Jack Welch, former CEO of G.E. felt that, at a minimum, 10% of workforce needed to leave every year. Now, this theory did get Jack and his company in a little hot water. Even so, SHRM must have tacitly endorsed this, as they had Jack as an opening speaker in 2009 in New Orleans. So some turnover can’t be all bad, and there is going to be a certain amount of turnover no matter what.  Employees will move, leave, graduate, quit to care for loved ones, die and/or whatever else you can imagine.

    So with all of that out of the way it boils down to what are you doing to keep most of your better employees from jumping ship?  For the last several years, the economy has been in the doldrums and very few people have left any job because there were so few to move to. But now some of the soothsayers are prognosticating that when, the economy turns around, and it will, Katy bar the door.  The theory is that all of the best talent will be stolen. It will be courted away from your business with more pay, better benefits, on-site daycare and employee massages.

    Now there are some of us employers who really have not been able to land the top tier talent.  For example: my son who graduated last year with a B.S. in M.E. told me that Microsoft visited his campus and was only interested in talking to the top 10 in the class.  (That may be factually inaccurate, but suffice it to say they set the bar pretty high.) I have never had a swing at those kids, or employees of that caliber.  Our organization has had to settle for the kids with a 3.0 who have a well rounded balanced life and are not expecting the world’s treasure’s at their feet.

    Ever since these folks, the 3.0 ers, just like all of our employees, have come to work for our Company we have tried to treat them with respect and provide them with the best pay and benefits our Company can afford.  That’s all we can do.  We will continue to do so. If this doesn’t keep our “B” level talent then I guess we will have to move down to “B-“or “C+” talent.  We can’t give the store away and will never have the resources of Microsoft of Exxon.

    We will hire the people who wish to work at our Company and keep them as long as they want to stay.  I hope this is for a long time.  I am sure that any employer who treats their staff fairly, pays them a fair market based wage and offers reasonable benefits, will in-turn keep most of their best folks.

    Here is the takeaway Focus on what you do control TODAYand how you and your Company treat people EVERYDAY. Too much time spend worrying about what could be is simply wasted effort.

  • All The Good People Are Working – Really?

    All of the good people are working – that’s a phrase most of us in H.R. have heard before.  Do you believe it?  I don’t, not for a minute.  My Project Social partner Laura Schroeder and I were discussing this recently and both shared the same position. You can read what she had to say about the matter here.  However, there are those folks who do not share our view. 

    Somehow the folks who subscribe to this theory think that this, no matter what, the good people always land on their feet, and in a job – without fail. Taken to a wild extrapolation, the other side of this equation would go like this; all of the people who are unemployed, if hired would be or become bad employees, 

    As I think about the axiom of this post, all of good people are working, it seems more ludicrous in light our current economic situation.  In my state IL, statistics tell us that unemployment runs from about 7.5% to 13%.

    I understand how organization, want and need to get rid of the dead weight in their organizations, and like it or not an economic down turn does give a company a chance to shed some of those folks.  There is also no doubt they are not going to get rid of their key or top performers,  short of the nuclear option (bankruptcy, sale of the business, etc.),

    But what about that nuclear option – that does happen.  So if the theory is valid it would seem that the displaced employee, who is must not be or can not become unemployed, must have had a couple of things in the works.  Theory one says that the perfect employee is so good that they are always being hunted, courted or followed by recruiters or other employers, and once they became available the other employers would be pouncing on this person lavishing them with job offers.   Theory 2 finds the perfect employee always in the job market, perhaps unbeknown to their current employer.  Theory 2 though makes this person less than perfect, because the perfect employee is not on the hunt.

    Assume once again that I have figured this out, and the best do stayed employed – are there not any good ones left in the ranks of the unemployed?

    Those who would answer no – there are no good ones, are part of our consumable, disposable society.  Today there are so many things

    We don't fix or re-use these keyboards, we just throw them away. Are we doing that with the unemployed?

     that we do not repair, we just toss ‘em and get a new one.  Micro-waves, DVD players, computers, and televisions we don’t fix them, when they break we get a new one, a better one.  This is what they want to do with our unemployed folks, they’re broken – unemployed. They have lost their job and subsequently have now lost their employability.   So we’ll throw them away never to be hired again, at least as an “A” player.

    I don’t have a huge volume of jobs to offer, but I will not exclude looking through the ranks of the unemployed to find some good ones.  I know that they are out there and I will find some of them, I haven’t given up on them.

  • Why I am Attending HREvolution

    Eric Winegardner speaking at HREvolution 2010

    Bill Kutik speaking at the Catalyst Ranch – HREvolution 2010

     HREvolution is coming up next month, and I am really looking forward to attending. I am going to get to visit with some old friends, meet some folks face to face that I have met online, make some new friends, attend some mind-bending sessions which will help me grow and learn, and to get out of town and spend a weekend in Atlanta.  

    Last year leading up to HREvolution2010, I was a relative newcomer to twitter.  I was trying to figure out what all the chatter was about.  The one thing that everyone was buzzing about was this HREvolutioin conference.  I really wasn’t sure what in the heck the conference was all about and who all of these people were.  I had met a few of them and but most of them were unknown to me. The conference was in Chicago (200 miles from me) and cost $100. I figured what the heck, I should attend.  I thought even if I went and it was a bust I would only be out a few hundred bucks.  

    I made the decision to go, and then I heard from my old buddy John Jorgensen.  He assured me I would enjoy the conference and learn a lot.  This was one of the best decisions I made last year.  I did attend, met a lot of great people and had a great time.  

    Since attending the conference at the Catalyst Ranch last year, I have really dove head long into the social media scene – and am thankful that I have had the opportunity to do so.  I don’t know that all of these things happened as a direct result of attending, perhaps, but even if they were not a direct result they were a by-product of attending HREvolution.  

    Since May of 2010 these are some of the things I have been done… 

    • I was asked to become the Social Media Director for the Illinois State Council of SHRM
    • I was invited to write a guest post on Blogging for Jobs about the SHRM Blog Squad
    • Launched a blog site for the Illinois State Council of SHRM www.ilshrmblog.org
    • Attend SHRM Annual Conference in San Diego
    • Meet a number of the notable HR Bloggers in San Diego
    • Worked with IL State Council, John Jorgensen, Curtis Midkiff, Mike VanDervort and Trish McFarlane making the IL SHRM State conference a social media event
    • Started my own blog (here)
    • Was a guest on Drive Thru HR (twice)
    • Attend the SHRM Leadership Conference participating as a Social Media Panelist
    • Hung out with Ben Eubanks at that conference learning that boomers and GenY can in fact get along
    • Met the HR Florida gang at SHRM Leadership (Social media royalty)
    • Met many great HR folks on twitter and look forward to getting to know them better (Steve Browne, Kimberly Roden, Jay Kuhn…just to name a few)
    • Planning for a really exciting IL SHRM conference in 2011 which is going to be huge and I get to be a part of it
    • Planning to attend OHSHRM and WISHRM and bring back ideas for ILSHRM
    • Became a fan of HRHappyhour 

    So a big thanks to Ben, Steve, Trish and Crystal for putting together and pulling off this HREvolution thing. It has treated me well and provided me with a lot of opportunities.  I will be in attendance and happy to be there. I hope to see you there.

  • Under the H.R. Umbrella

    Recently I had the opportunity to post over at Michael Carty’s XpertHR site.   Michael had asked folks to answer this question in their post. If you could, what is the one thing you would change about HR. My take on the matter had me looking at the HR certification process and looking at broadening the types of certifications.

    On Monday of this week when I was visiting with my Project Social partner Laura Schroeder, we were discussing this and Laura was sure there was more to say about the subject than I had said. We agreed that HR has changed and continue to broaden as profession and there are several disciplines that have now moved under the umbrella of HR.  Let’s refer to them like we do in the job descriptions …. and other duties as assigned.  In a recent post Laura has likened it to HR housework.

    We continue to be bombarded about engagement.  Engagement as best as I can tell, falls somewhere between Organizational Development and Industrial Psychology.    To a guy like me with a pedestrian undergraduate degree in Communication from a largely liberal arts university it looks like I really should be some sort of clinician to have this job.

    So as I move from the clinician improving employee engagement back to a compensation initiative, I am nearly knee deep in the accounting world.  That is a tough transition.   Charley Judy is the only guy I know who sports CPA/SPHR behind his name.

    In the same day I might be called upon to render an opinion/directive on how we as a Company, given a certain set of circumstances will  comply with OSHA standard 1910.147 (and if you know what that is without looking it up you are a geek too).

    And before the end of the day someone has come to me with a question why our HRIS is not interfacing properly with our ATS, and I am expected to know the answer immediately.

    So if you are going to be in HR these days you had better be able to wear a lot of hats, because it seems like the CEO types continue to push things under our umbrealla.

  • Death and Social Media

    Within the last six month I have had three friends who have lost a parent. In each of these instances I have communicated with all of the electronically/via social media about their loss. While some folks might be aghast that someone would even consider “sending an email”, about a family death, I have found it to be much appreciated and genuine. Whether or not everyone wants to accept it, some of us can communicate pretty effective in this way.

     In the first instance, a friend of mine’s father past away.  The funeral home had some information about the deceased on their site.  I wanted to see this. I read the material and got a review of his life.  I had known him well and I was moved by the words and pictures.  After reading about his life, I was not sure if my schedule would allow me to attend the services.  So I took time and wrote a couple of paragraphs on the funeral home’s web site adding my thoughts about his life to some of the other comments.

     Fortunately I was able to attend the visitation.  As I went through the receiving line, I met one of the family members whom I had never met.  I introduce myself, and told her of my relationship with her father.  She smiled and looked at me and said, “That was wonderful what you wrote on the website about Dad.” 

     Ok I am not looking for a pat on the back, but when I comment on the funeral home’s site I was truly and honestly expressing my feelings, in fear of not being able to attend the funeral.  Whether or not I had met this woman, what I had to say touched her, and allowed me to share publicly how I felt about her father. Thus it was effective communication, and delivered in a respectful manner.

     Two other friends, both fellow SHRM board members, each lost a parent recently.  In both of these instances there were too many miles between us to practically allow me to attend the services.  I shared my feelings with both of them with electronic means. 

     Since that time I have had a chance to speak with both of them face to face.  Both were appreciative of the fact that I had reached out to share my feelings with them. There was no negative perception of the means in which I chose to communicate.  Given the circumstances I feel the communication I offered was more heartfelt, real and original than a card, or flowers, or anything else an “out of towner” might do to express their feelings.

     Going forward from here, I have learned that sharing your feeling with someone who has experienced the lost of a loved one is better than not sharing.  I have no qualms or reservations about sharing my feelings about the loss of a loved one, regardless of the means