• SHRM Atlanta Bound

    SHRM-ATL LogoSaturday April 27th, 2013.  –  SHRM Atlanta begins on Monday morning April 29th.  I have attended and participated in my share of HR events, most of them in the Mid-West. On Monday I am off to a different region, to look at conference from a little different prospective.   I will be a Mid-Westerner in the South, and I will a speaker at one of the break out session.

    Fortunately for me, I am not flying solo, I will be presenting with the Uber-Talented  Julie Morelandfrom People Clues. Julie and I are leading an interactive session entitled HR Thinking Creatively.   This is going to be an intensely interactive session, so much, that I imagine (although I hope not) we may chase a few folks out at the opening.  The session takes place at 3 PM, and is the last of the day, as well as the last of the conference.  The challenge is on,  but I am confident we will bring home the goods!

    Past all of this, I am stoked to attend the event.  My twitter buddy Teela Jackson is one of the main conference organizers, and the President Elect of SHRM-ATL.  Teela tops the list of people I want to visit.  However, I must comment, as I reviewed the agenda I have discovered this is in-fact a varitable whose-who of peeps who will presenting at the event – below are  just the ones I know (and I am honored to be among them.)

    Jennifer Mc Clure | Matt Charney | Joe Gerstandt | Jason Lauritsen | Eric Winegardner | William Tincup | Daniel Crosby | Chris Hoyt

    I will no doubt have some tweets, some Facebook posts, and probably a blog post or two from the event.  So it’s off to Hartsfield- Jackson.



  • BNHRC – Why I’m Attending

    While I am not a hugely prolific blogger, I do post regularly here and at the Illinois SHRM site.  I try keep my SHRM posts to business and HR related. However I do afford myself the luxury to rave out or discuss things that might not cut the HR mustard for a strictly HR related site here at the HR Official.

    Having said that today I wanted to talk about an upcoming meeting at the Bloomington Normal Human Resources Council (BNHRC) that I will be attending on Wednesday September 26.  I have written another post about this which ran recently on the ILSHRM site.  Today I wanted to talk about the how and the why of the conference (Social Media Strategies for HR).

    I believe I was invited, for a number of reasons, some of those are

      • I am good friends with one of the organizers
      • I am the Director of Social Media of the Illinois State Council of SHRM
      • I do know a few things about Social Media & HR
      • When I attend events I help promote them nicely on Twitter & Facebook
      • I have actually used Social Media in recuiting in a small 1-2 person HR Shop
      • I am a good networker and help people to connect
      • (Possible) I have a cool twitter avatar (thanks to my son)

    That the how, now for the why, why do I want to attend

    • I like to travel and it’s not too far
    • I get to hear Jennifer Mc Clure speak
    • I like to meet new people (call it networking if you like)
    • Bloomington is close enough I can recruit from the area
    • All of the people I have met from BNHRC are great
    • I want to support my friends from BNHRC
    • It is part of my gig as SM Director for ISC SHRM

    There is one last reason, why I, so much enjoy attending conferences/meetings/seminars. My reason is a stolen idea (just like we do at conferences). I once heard blogger and good friend, Mike Vandervort asked, “Why do you do all this?”  (The questioner was referring to Mike’s involvement in social media, SHRM, speaking, blogging, etc.)

    His succinct answer was this, “It keeps me learning?”

    I am trying. Are you?

  • GPA How Important is It

    Many of you who look at my posts or tweets know that I have attended a couple of college graduations recently.  Today’s post is closely related to graduation.

    When you graduate from college on of the things that you take with you,  that stays with you forever, along with your diploma is your GPA.  As a parent I stressed to my two children how important GPA was, both in high school as well as in college.  I think most parents do.  I think most of the kids who head off from high school to college get the GPA thing, although for some students it is really too late to do much about it by the time they realize that it may affect where they go to college, and if they will be eligible for any scholarships or grants.

    Meanwhile with the college students, they often see that the students with the highest GPA get first go at a number of things.  It might be opportunities to present to the class, lead the class project or some other event with perceived prestige.   At the institution where my oldest son attend one MAJOR employer was there to recruit for their Company, but were only interested in speaking with the students in the top 10% (as measured by GPA) of the class.

    Now where I am going with all of this is on to Human Resources and hiring college graduates.  As an employer do you want to see the students GPA?  What do you do with this information?  What does it indicate or not indicate to you. Do you exclude candidates because of a low GPA?  I am no longer sure it means too much.

    You see, I know another recent graduate whose GPA was under three,  2.8 to be exact.  That in and of itself is not too impressive, I agree.  She did not make very good grades.  So, what does this tell us or indicate? She is not very smart or didn’t apply herself at school, maybe or maybe not.

    Here are a couple of other facts about this young lady.  She worked the whole time she was going to college, as she paid for her own education.  She took out student loans as well.  During the time she attended college, she also took care of her mother who is and remains nearly bedridden.  She also spent a lot of time looking after her younger brother, who was still in high school, because her father lived and worked out of the state.  She was also involved with a number of campus activities, many of which were volunteer and community based activities.  Lastly, she was involved with a boyfriend and had a long-distance relationship. A busy girl to say the least.

    So it would appear that even though her GPA was not stellar she is capable of managing multiple priorities, a hugely important skill in business today.  Given her endeavors she seems to have a pretty good  “moral compass”. Now I know that most of the good HR folks can sift through the crap and find out what really is going on in someone’s life, but if your Company has a  GPA exclusion, you will never get to talk to them. Then because of this exclusion,  you and your Company may be missing out on some Rock Star Talent. Capiche?

  • Is HR Sexy to the Grads

    2012 EKU Graduates

    Last weekend I attended my nephew’s college graduation  at Eastern Kentucky University.   In a few more days, I will be attending my youngest son’s graduation at SIU Carbondale.  So this has got me to thinking about what it must be like to be a graduate headed into the world, and starting out as a young professional.

    Well, being the good attentive Uncle I am, I attempted to  listened closely to what all of the commencement speakers had to say and then reflected on their comments.  What I got is this from the  speakers collectively:  now is an exciting time; go out into the world find your niche, aim for the stars and be the best that you can be – oh and don’t forget to donate as an alumni.   The students that were graduating with my nephew were from the College of Health Sciences and the College of Justice and Safety.  Many of these students will end up working as various health care occupations, nurses, policemen and firemen. I am confident that many of them will make a difference in peoples lives.

    I could sense the excitement the graduates.  They seemed genuinely amped up about going out into the world.  I would include my nephew as one of the jacked up students.  This got me to thinking about me and what I do –HR.   I will always remember hearing Johnny Taylor, former SHRM Board Chairman, speaking at a SHRM Leadership Conference.  He said this;  ” I talk to a lot of students and I don’t hear any of them saying when I grow up I want to be a benefits administrator for a Fortune 500 Company.”   I think Johnny nailed it too.  HR just ain’t sexy.   That is a problem.

    If we don’t look like a cool field to get into, we are not going to get some of the best and the brightest into our field.  So how do we make it cool – sexy?  The HROfficial does not have the answer for this one – but I think SHRM and some of the younger folks in the field had better be thinking how we are going to doll this up and get students jacked up about wanting to be in HR.

    In a effort to gauge our coolness or lack there of, I googled “Is HR sexy?”   Based upon what I found on the first two pages of returns I am going to have to go with NO.

    Perhaps if I were at a large business school with an emphasis on HR, I might get the notion that the HR profession was a little more glamorous.

    Next weekend will take me to another college graduation. I am going to mingle with these graduates and ask them, “Have you ever thought about getting into Benefits Administration?” – and see what kind of responses I get. Perhaps I will do a little video or my investigation, to capture the essence of their responses.

  • Leading HR What’s In Store

    My youngest child is a senior in college, and even though I want to think I am a young man, but all the signs in my life tell me I am

    moving into the autumn of my career.  As someone who is passionate about the Human Resource profession I sometimes wonder where will this field of HR be in twenty years and how will it get there.  Will we end up there because that is where the collective mind of HR thought we should be, or will we end up where we are because simply by happenstance?

    My instincts tell me that we will end up where we desire to be, because the leaders of the the collective mind will help lead us there.  Mahatma Gandhi said, “We must become the change we wish to see in the world. ”  So what will change with HR in the future?  Although I am not a futurist, I see big changes on the horizon for HR of the Future.  It will not be for the faint of heart. We need to be preparing tomorrows leaders today.  They are going to be forced to deal with many issues.  I really got on this train of thought following a conversation about leadership with my blogging buddy and #ProjectSocial partner Laura Schroeder.   See what Laura has to say non the matter over at  her blog Working Girl.  Then take a look at what follows.  These are some of the issue I see confronting the HR Leaders of  tomorrow.

    Work and Mobility  In many instances it would appear today’s employer is all about bricks and mortar, but I feel that is a concept that will continue to fade into the past.  Work teams will be diverse and dispersed.  A work team can already be located around the world.  Right now societies and employees are struggling to adapt to this concept.  You may report to someone that you see face to face on very infrequent basis.  This will also continue to cut away at the concept of long-term employment.

    I see work teams of the future more like talent that is assembled for a project, for a finite period of time.  You will work together and then disband,  perhaps to work together again, or not.  The concept is very similar to making a movie, or drilling for oil.  You assemble your talent, perform this project and move on to the next, call them mercenary employees.  Some of the folks will be on site, some off site and all will move on at the completion of the project.

    The Definition Work  As technology becomes more and more pervasive and more and more intrusive,  it appears that the lines between work and non-work is going to become seriously blurred.  At least in the country our labor laws are going to have to change if we wish to compete on the world stage. What we will know as work in the future does not exist today.  It will be different.

    Productivity  How will work output be measures and evaluated. In many instances it will not be measured in any way shape or form that we are doing so today.  I see output and productivity being measured over longer periods of time – say during the duration of a project.  In some pursuits there will be certifications or endorsements to tell the world you are competent or qualified and perform work properly and in a prescribed time frame.  I see this coming more from independent agencies or not for profits.

     Health Care as an Employee Benefit This will no longer be what we know it as today.  The employee benefit will sit on top of some type of care that is provided to everyone.  Given the direction of health care and health care costs it appears that some level of care will be afforded to everyone. Employers will still sweeten the pot if you will.  Things like better funding for this, access to more exclusive providers or a greater degree of on-site or close by care, perhaps delivered by a CVS, Walgreen’s of (God Forbid) WalMart.

    Workplace Diversity  This too will change as the workplace changes most likely leading to a redefining of what it means.  What we know a s the workplace will not be the same.   And diversity – well I see us moving into one big melting pot that continues to become more and more homogeneous.  I think we will still have some classes, such as gender, age and religion.  Some of the other classes will become more of a challenge to define and I think will just go away.

    HR in Government  This is my mind is an emerging area. So many governement bodies have done such a poor job of meeting their employees’ needs employee will drive government agencies to professionalize  call it Government HR. (Hey SHRM a new certification GHR.)  As long as we continue to have growth in public sector unions and politicians making ill conceived and poorly planned government operation and staffing decisions based upon budgetary constraints, both government employees and voters will demand accountability and it will require professionals to deliver that accountability. HR in government is minimally existent today, but won’t be in the future.

    All of this talk of the future makes me think of the Jetson’s.  As a child of the ’60’s. I grew up watching  George and Jane and their family.  So much of what seemed literally outrageous has come to fruition.  The Jetson’s cooked with their fingers (microwaves),  talked on video phones (Skype) and had a robot (Rosie) to clean their house (Roomba).

    I can’t help but wonder how Human Resources will look In the Year 2525.


  • Employee Engagement in 600 Words

    Ok here in the HR blogosphere we all touch on the HR hot buttons – it’s required.  My last post looked at on-boarding.  So now, I am moving on to employee engagement,  specifically at smaller organizations.  Currently employee engagement is one of HR’s sexy subjects.  It is the subject of books and conferences. Many of the beautiful people in the speaking realm, pontificate often about the dire consequences of a failed employee engagement programs.   So those of us in the HR space sit up and take notice and want to do our very best with this. We do so because they tell us this must be done to keep all of our “A” players,  to keep them from running away when the economy picks up

    I heard a term from my ProjectSocial partner Laura Schroeder the other day, she spoke of Diva Engagement – I loved the term.   Laura works in that realm where she is dealing with creative and highly educated individuals, and you can read about her prospective on employee engagement in that realm here.  For  the rest of us there is one problem.  What if your company does not have any of the darlings – really?  It seems to me in some smaller organizations there are the A players, but they will be A players regardless of what we do to feed them or starve them. I am not advocating ignoring or dissing them; but that’s who they are.  They are the stars who will always be in the game and if they are that good they will be there until they decide to do something else.  Let them know they are appreciated, smile at them and pay them as much as your organization can afford to do so.

    Next, let’s move on to the “C” players, or as they are known in the space as the actively disengaged.  These guys are poo pooing everything.  Let’s identify them, call them out and isolate them as best we can and move on –my strategy here.

    The last group I will call our presentees  a.k.a. the disengaged.  This is where we need to be working.  In a smaller organization you don’t have the dollars to spend on things that don’t produce results.  Accordingly we learn to spend wisely, where we can show results. This group makes up about 50% – 60% of the employees, depending upon whose surveys you find to be credible.  Let’s call it half of the work force – they come to work, do their job, cause few problems and go home, to return the next day. That is every day for them.

    With the presentees there is still hope, but how do you get to them.  The best method I have found is through good supervision and management of them.  It seems simple, but if these folks are treated just a little better than the average employee, you can boost their level of engagement and their productivity.  It is little things like telling them thanks for a good job, thanking them for working overtime or taking the time out to ask a caring question about a family situation.  Treat them like your friends and they just might act like it. Those who study generational matters tell us Gen X & Yers are loyal to people and not to organization.  Knowing that, train your front line supervisors to be those people their employees can be loyal to, give them a reason to feel connected with them.  Start small, with one employee, try to make them feel important and needed.  Find a way to bring them into the fold – to be an integral part of the business.  Then start on a second employee.

    So in a little over 600 words I have covered employee engagement and provided an effective, inexpensive strategy for managing your staff – sort-of.  However, it still might be a good idea to pick up a book or two, maybe even attend a seminar if you want a few more details.

  • On Boarding – Are the Signs Clear?

    Personnel has now become Human Resources and orientation has morphed into what is now called On-Boarding.  Anyone in HR in this century knows what On-Boarding is supposed to be, but it really is unique to every organization.  There is no one size fits all approach.  Many approaches will contain most of the same elements, but a good program will be built to order for the organization.  You just can’t go to a vendor and buy a program off of the shelf or off this task to some perky contractor. If it is going to work you have to own it.

    Each employer must develop and continually improve their on-boarding process.  It is like any other process though, you might have all of the right elements but if you don’t assemble the thing properly it doesn’t work.

    So how does it start? Well, even prior to the first day, as the employee’s new employer we are sending messages and expectations about our organization.  How did you treat this employee in the interview process?  Did you make them wait in a lobby for 30-40 minutes past the time they were scheduled for an interview?  Was everyone who spoke to the prospective employee courteous?  Did you follow-up with them in the time frames in which you said you would?  Did you provide answers to all of their questions?  See these are all things are things that you can’t undo – and you have already laid this foundation whether or not this prospect is a hire or no hire.

    Ok so I hope you did all of that stuff right – either way you are moving ahead with on-boarding.   Now it is time for all of the obligatory stuff;  forms, policies, training, exits, fire extinguishers, rest rooms and so on ad nauseam.  I am not going to delve into the proper aspects of this, because this is your stuff to get right – or wrong.

    Now you have a new employee at your Company.  Do they now know everything they need to know?  Oh yeah you gave them all of the stuff you can no longer be sued for, but did you give them any of the really useful information as to how to assimilate into the culture.  Sometime some of the cultural fits are a little more subtle.  Things like if you want to advance in this Company you will go with the Friday Night Gang down to the Pub and Grub for more the first than the later.  Or maybe the successful people in this Company are the ones who rarely have a taste – just thought you would want to know.  The people who succeed here almost always started out heading up a committee. Hopefully these lessons will come through in the buddy system, provided your buddies really want new folks to succeed.  In summary, help them fit into your Company culture.  This is an ongoing process.

    Not everything a new employee needs to know is contained in the Company propaganda, because there is some stuff none of us would want published.  So we need to help the new people find their way through the organization.  HR must guide them showing them where to go and not to go. We must also make sure they know how to succeed – because if they don’t – you will be doing this all over again!