Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Holiday Post... which, instead of writing a new post, I link to several other posts and sites.

(What, you've never done that?)

But first, I'd like to wish all my friends a wonderful holiday...

Of course, many of you I know only as a small thumbnail but that shouldn't stand in the way of friendship or admiration.  I trust many of you are actually life-size and hope you enjoyed a wonderful holiday season with friends and family.

 We had a full house this year with Christmas coffee, a Bavarian breakfast for my husband's soccer team and a family Christmas Eve featuring a fondue with seven sauces and more presents for the kids that I remember getting throughout my entire childhood.  On Christmas morning the kids shook out their stockings, played with their new marble run and we started a new family tradition: building a robot.

My husband bought Lego Mindstorm for our 8-year-old daughter, who inexplicably understands electric wiring, motors and things of that kind.  Not from me, I assure you.  She assembled and programmed her first robot in about a half hour.  My husband helped at first but at some point he was just slowing her down.

The robot has a sensor.  As it approaches a wall it backs up and tries a different direction.  Then it asks for a color.  If you show it the right color it says, 'Fantastic!'  If you show it the wrong color it shoots you with a marble, thanks you and tells you to have a nice day.

That's my girl.  Her robotics skill is her own but she has my eyes.

Now then, here's some don't miss holiday reading for those golden hours while you're sitting around the fireplace with your family and an iPad in your lap, thinking that checking email feels too much like work:

Women of HR is running a 2-week 'Best of Women of HR' series.  Check it out!

Paul Smith has posted a wonderful holiday HR Carnival over at Welcome to the Occupation, full of  thoughtful and expensive presents.

Compensation Cafe is always worth a read but since this is my blog I'm going to point you to my own most recent post on creating value with a limited rewards budget.  While you're over there be sure to check out a few other posts, too - the Cafe is a great multi-writer resource for rewards, fair pay, appreciation, employee motivation or talent management.

And while we're on the topic, Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

German Companies Doing Good Things

Just a quick hat tip to three German companies that are blazing environmental and modern workforce trails for the rest of us:
  1. Siemens for opting out of the nuclear business, a brave decision that shows big companies can do the right thing.
  2. Deutsche Telekom for providing flexible working hours and supporting a family-friendly work environment.
  3. Volkswagon for turning off Blackberry email after hours to promote a better work life balance for employees.
Well done, you! And Merry Christmas (or happy holidays) to everyone.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Project Social: The Happy Post

I recently read an article called 12 Things Happy People Do Differently, and was struck by how closely it mirrored my recent thoughts.  In fact, here are my tips for having a magical holiday season and a happier year to come.  You’ll be amazed at the similarities.

No, I didn’t copy, it’s just that great minds think alike!  (And speaking of great minds, be sure to check out what Dave and Lyn have to say this holiday season over at HR Official and The HR Bacon Hut).

Here are my tips for leading a happier life - In all honesty, I don't always follow them but I am happier when I do:
  1. Assume the best - Assuming the best - even if you’re wrong - can give you the confidence and positive energy you need to find the best.
  2. Be grateful - There are countless people who have helped you get to where you are today.  Be grateful to them and let the rest go.
  3. Be generous - A friend once said to me, ‘We are here to help each other.’  Is there anyone you can help or share with today, in the spirit of those who have helped and shared with you?  
  4. Ask for help - No one can do everything alone, which is why the most successful people get lots of help.  Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need and say thank you, in case you didn’t learn that one in kindergarten.
  5. Treat yourself - Obsessing about your own comfort or convenience is not the road to happiness but a facial or a little cake at the right moment goes a long way toward making everything right with the world. 
  6. Make time for people - People are social animals and die sooner without meaningful social contact.  Don’t make a habit of neglecting family and friends for things that don't matter - and if you tell yourself you're 'doing it for them' on a too regular basis, give yourself the hairy eyeball.
  7. Be in the moment - You're sitting here reading this post, breathing air on a planet that circles a sun in a solar system in an enormous galaxy that is actually a tiny blip in an enormous universe made up primarily of nothing - or maybe bozons, I wasn’t totally clear on that.  Let the shopping list go for a minute and really look at what’s around you. 
  8. Be still - Shh!  The health benefits of stillness are well documented.  Find some time every day to be still and watch your thoughts.  Get to know yourself.
  9. Believe in yourself - You will fail sometimes.  That’s OK.  Plan what you can plan and prepare what you can prepare.  If it doesn’t work out, take it on the chin and move on.
  10. Have faith - Things have a funny way of working out.  Be ready for that open door.
One more thing: I was once driving on an icy road when my windshield fluid ran out.  My window promptly started to fog, making it difficult to see the oncoming traffic.  And wouldn’t you know it, my cell phone was dead, so pulling over wasn’t an attractive option.  I was just on the verge of getting really worried about the fact that I was driving 80km/hr on a 2-way road  I could no longer see when a truck rattled by, narrowly missing me and splashing my windshield with some extra windshield fluid.  The ice promptly melted and I could see again.  Was that a miracle?  I’m inclined to think it was, just like my kids are a miracle, autumn leaves are a miracle and social networks are a miracle.

Miracles are all around us.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Good Management: How Do You Measure Up?

The importance of good management for engagement, retention and overall company performance has been a central theme of the blog from the very beginning.

In fact, one of my early posts on talent management boldly asserted that 'the quality of managers is the single most important thing you can get right.' 

Periodically I get sidetracked by other HR-related topics but I always have a hard spot in my heart for inept managers.

Which isn't entirely fair because most managers don't set out to be bad managers.  It's not the master plan, so to speak.  It usually just sort of happens through a combination of stress, neglect and poor communication skills.

This is either a wake up call or a golden opportunity for HR.  If talent matters, and surveys tell us that talent is both scarce and pretty disgruntled at the moment, corporate focus will inevitably start shifting to the people who manage that talent. 

Mediocre managers will need to evolve into leaders who can inspire people to give their best... and it'll take more than a memo or a KBO to make that happen.

Someone will have to offer managers the same support and leadership that is expected of them.  Someone will have to mentor managers and actively measure how effective they are, not just in terms of output and deadlines but also in terms of team performance, engagement and retention. 

Remember this: Poor managers tend to be poorly managed themselves.

As more is expected of them, managers will also demand better tools to support their improved management style.  Think about it: If you ask a manager to lead a modern global team (multi-generational, multi-cultural, remote, contingent, etc.) then saddle him or her with a cumbersome annual performance management tool or make it really hard to access workforce information from anywhere except an office computer you are failing that manager.

So here are some fun HR projects to consider that will help managers manage better and have the potential to create real business value in 2012:
  • Define metrics to measure manager quality today and measure it.
  • Put a manager mentoring and development program in place and execute on it.
  • Provide managers with better management tools and access to relevant business data.

Did I forget anything?  Please, poke holes!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The OD Post: Squandering Talent and Hoarding Information which I point you to my two most recent Compensation Cafe posts:

Turkey Talk: Squandering Talent - It was the day before Thanksgiving, OK?  I was fresh out of turkey puns.  Even to me, it happens.  This post includes a book review from Malcolm Gladwell's latest book Outliers.  Since Malcolm Gladwell was recently named one of the ten top business thinkers of 2011, if you don't plan to read his book at least read this post so you don't sound ignorant about the whole '10,000 hours' thing.

Why Should I Help You?  I'm just nice that way.  Really, I'm very helpful.  Several people have said so.  Unfortunately, not everyone is as helpful as I am, which is why the topic of this post is how organizations can inspire people to share what they know.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Modern Manager: What's Your '-ity' Strategy?

Diversity.  Mobility.  Productivity.  What are they good for, besides ending with '-ity'?

Not so very long ago, most people came to the office at the same time every day, dressed the same, acted the same, left at the same time and kind of meandered through the day at a steady pace.

You knew where you stood.  You knew where everyone else stood, too.

Not that there wasn’t any diversity, no sir.  You had women in a low-paid clerical roles,  the proverbial ‘new kid’, a couple of older folks who'd been around forever and maybe even one or two people of a different race or ethnicity.

There was mobility back then, too.  I mean, you could totally work from home, just not during office hours.  And productivity basically meant meeting your deadlines with a couple of minutes to spare. 

Back then, becoming a manager was either a matter of past achievement or favoritism and being a good manager mostly meant looking the part and telling people what to do.

Oh, wait, that part about managers is still mostly true, even though pretty much everything else has completely changed.  And it worked OK back then because things were slower and the workforce was more homogenous so you didn’t need as much… finesse to lead people.  But today?

Today it’s a different world.  And when the world changes, the things you need to do to be successful also change.  Let’s take a closer look at these same ‘ity’s’ that - if we really think about them - make it clear that the old ways of selecting and evaluating managers won't cut it any more:


People eating spicy food and going to church on different days is the least of it.  You’ve got up to 4 generations on your team, 20% contingent workers (on average), different races, ethnicities and attitudes, team members all around the world and all of a sudden everyone’s an ‘individual’ and wants special attention, fabulous development opportunities and flexible working hours.  Not to mention half of them aren’t even THERE on any given day. 

But there it is.  We can either see all this diversity as a management headache or as an opportunity to foster new ideas and ways of working.  Here are some ideas about good diversity management as well as a short post about what makes diversity pay. And don't miss Tim Sackett's foundational guide to white people.

The good news is that good diversity management looks a lot like good management so we can think of good diversity management as a twofer.* 

*Please note this is the ONLY time we will ever use the word ‘twofer’ in conjunction with diversity.  Seriously.


WFH. OOO. AOAC.  If you don’t know what at least one of these acronyms stand for you might want check your pager in case 1990’s trying to reach you.  Given new innovations in mobile technology as well as recent studies correlating autonomy and engagement, isn’t it time to  let people work when they want, how they want and where they want?  Just a thought. 

If you're just getting started with the whole 'mobile' thing, here are some tips for managing remote workers.  I also recommend Patty Azzarello’s various blog posts about how to be effective working remotely.


In an uncertain economy where doing more with less has become the new corporate black, productivity is clearly a business imperative. So why is American productivity at an all-time low?  There are several culprits, although this list is not exhaustive:

  • Meetings - A poorly run or unnecessary meeting costs more than you may realize in terms of productivity and opportunity.  Check out this post about the hidden costs of meetings and next time you call a meeting think 'brevity,' another 'ity' word.
  • Tools - As soon as you reach a critical mass of people and/or locations, the cost of not having proper collaboration tools - such as a corporate wiki where information can be shared, web and video conferencing, Internet and device access - will start to add up.
  • Committees - Nothing is quite as big a time sink as not having a clear topic owner.  Assign one and let them do their job.  Enough said.
  • Admin - A certain amount of paperwork is everyone’s lot in corporate life.  However, once dealing with admin exceeds 10% of the standard work week, there’s a problem, Houston.  

And guess what?  If you're the manager, it's your job to help very different people - including 'locationally challenged' people - work well together and do their jobs quickly and effectively.

Diversity.  Mobility.  Productivity.  Like I said, you need an '-ity' strategy.

It isn't always easy.  But hey, that’s why managers get the big bucks and absolute power, right?

For more on the perils of modern management, click over to Dave Ryan's post at HR Official, which is always worth checking out.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Project Social: Trendy HR Trends

Dave Ryan and I were talking last week about what to post about next and I suggested HR challenges.  I made this suggestion partly out of selfish reasons – I was working on an HR trends presentation at the time and was hoping to get a ‘twofer’ out of it – and partly out of curiosity about how he would approach the topic from 'the HR trenches.'

He was all over this idea ('Hmmmn.  That could work...') so here are some cool HR trends to challenge and inspire you in 2012.  Be sure to also read what Dave has to say over at HR Official and Lyn Hoyt also weighed in at The HR Bacon Hut.

Trend #1: Globalisation (aka 'If You Spell it With a Z You're Not Global') – Even if your company isn’t technically global, the global economy impacts you.  Not only can people all over the world consume your products, companies all over the world may be competing for your market share.  If you are a global company with multiple HR systems around the world, your main challenges are probably inconsistent processes and insufficient workforce information.  Inconsistent processes are expensive, inefficient and may lead to compliance violations.  And unless you have a global solution that allows you to track people, work and costs in one place getting timely, reliable workforce information out of multiple systems is a lot like whack-a-mole.  Only in reverse.

Trend #2: Contingent Workers (aka ‘Diversity’ and ‘Who invited all these people?’) – The modern workforce is global, multi-generational, virtual and… 20% contingent!  According to current estimates it’ll be 40% by 2019.  This is a bit awkward for HR since most HR solutions weren’t designed to track contingent workers in a meaningful way.  Which is fine when you only have a few contingent workers but as the percentage of contingent labor approaches 40%  that’s a fairly sizeable knowledge gap.  Where are they?  What do they cost?  What do they do?  Wouldn’t you like to know?

Trend #3: Business Alignment (aka 'Show Me the Money') – Before your eyes glaze over, I read recently that HR people don’t act, talk or think like business people.  What they know is compliance and administration and they hire other people who know compliance and administration.  Ouch.  I've met and worked with plenty of forward thinking and businesslike HR professionals so I’m not sure this criticism is fair but I am sure that business alignment matters.  That means you don’t just roll out training and development, you do so with a higher goal of building critical skills in a particular workforce segment.  You also define success criteria before you do it and you measure how you did after.  It's all about bottom line impact.

Trend #4: Workforce Development (aka 'War for Talent') – Companies struggle with critical skills gaps around the world.  According to a recent Manpower survey only 27% of senior HR executives surveyed felt their business had the talent it needed.  Future business leaders will need a new set of skills, among which being able to lead global, diverse and virtual teams will figure highly.  Companies are considering a variety of strategies, such as tapping into previously underutilized talent pools (working moms, older workers, etc.) with new job deals and incentives as well as overseas assignments and mentoring programs.  Gone are the days of cookie cutter talent management, today it’s all about managing a fast and changeable ‘portfolio’ of targeted talent management strategies.

Trend #5: Sustainability (aka 'Let's Not Kill Our Only Planet') - Corporate sustainability has risen up the ranks on the executive agenda not only as stockholders, consumers and employees drive awareness but also as companies begin to realize the enormous cost of data in terms of physical, human and energy resources.  Sustainability is one of the trends driving Cloud computing adoption since sharing computing resources is significantly cheaper and more efficient.  This is really important but the key takeaway for HR?  The top things that consumers want companies to do when they consider responsible behaviors is treat their employees right by caring for their economic and professional well-being.

Trend #6: Social Media (aka 'Last Friday Night') –With so many people involved with social media platforms, the big challenge for HR and companies in general is that you no longer control your brand.  But for companies that embrace this idea as an opportunity the returns in terms of productivity, community and engagement can be huge. There’s a great write up from Balakrishna Narasimhan (@bnara75) about HR and social media here.  And speaking of Last Friday Night, check out Workday's flash mob video and prepare for some serious flash mob envy.

Trend #7: Engagement (aka 'Prosperity') – We’ve been talking about engagement for so long it hardly feels like a trend anymore but I’m going to go out on a limb and say 2012 is the year companies actually do something about it.  At least, I hope so because disengagement’s expensive.  Whereas not only can an engaged workforce supercharge an individual company it actually has the power to create prosperity, which should be everyone’s goal in 2012. Enough destruction of wealth already, it’s time to create more jobs, get talented people into them and show a little appreciation.  Easy peasy.

Here’s to exciting times ahead!  Are you ready?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Carnivals, Expats, HR and Hamsters

I could probably write a persuasive post comparing an expat assignment to a carnival and somehow work in the hamster angle but in this case the carnival and the expat never meet.  And the hamster is a completely different topic.

The Carnival is, of course, the HR Carnival hosted by Anne Freedman over at HREOnline.  It's a good one so if you haven't already seen it do click over.

The expat, alas, is not me, although I wrote a post about Expat compensation over at Compensation Cafe following a Cafe podcast.  You can listen to the podcast here and read the post here.

And finally, check out Tim Sackett's funny post about becoming a D List blogger.  He cautions that Laurie Ruettimann has already cornered the market on HR and cats so I was thinking of moving into the HR and hamsters space.  What do you think, could that be big?

Postscript: Google let me down.  I couldn't find a single picture of a hamster sitting at a desk analyzing health and safety reports.

** Rubbing the soft furry underbelly of the hamster counts as a benefit.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Project Social: Rise (Nothing to do with Zombies)

I admit it, blogging has taken a backseat to paid work since I returned from maternity leave but I still meet  regularly with my Project Social buddy Dave to talk about posts we would write if we (I) had more time. 

Having said that, this week we not only decided to write something but to do something completely new and cutting edge: A book review! Don't miss Dave's review over at HR Official or Lyn's at the HR Bacon Hut

And if anyone else would like to join the book review party train drop us a line and we'll link to you.  We're very social.

My book is Rise by Patty Azzarello, which is the best book of its kind I have read so far.  What kind of book is it, you ask?  It's book about setting and meeting professional goals and what you need to know to get ahead.

I don't actually read many books like this.  I mean, I would but then I'd have less time to read science fiction.  Plus it feels so just out of grad school.  But Patty's newsletter, which I subscribe to, is so well-written and useful that I decided to read her book as well. 

Why is the book so good?  It has a lot to do with Patty herself, such as her conversational tone, crisp prose and vast corporate experience.  But it also has to do with the numerous practical tips and examples she provides throughout the book for doing better work, getting noticed and getting ahead.

They say that those who can't, teach but occasionally, those who can, teach and then you want to pay attention.  This is one of those times.  Patty has actually done all the stuff she recommends and it worked and in Rise she shares her secrets with wisdom and humor.

Seriously.  This is the book I'd like to have written if I'd been promoted to GM of a big multinational company at the age of 33 and gone on to become a CEO.  And I don't just say that about every book.

Mind you, I don't aspire to the C-level.  I admit that there are a few mothers of three out there who have made it to the corner office but they're so rare they get invited to speak at TED about their amazing nannies success secrets.  So you might say I'm not exactly the target audience for a book of this kind.

But you'd be wrong because Rise isn't just for would be executives.  It's a practical guide for anyone who wants to raise their game and get their work noticed instead of toiling in obscurity.  We can all use that, right?

Imagine you could have lunch with a wise, seasoned executive of your choice in an expansive mood.  Rise is like a pocket mentor.

Read this book.  You will like Patty and wish you knew her personally.  You will instantly start thinking more strategically about how you work and feel more in charge of your life. 

As an added bonus, you will finally understand why new executives need to re-organize everything. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Not Just Good to Know

Dave Ryan and I were talking about possible next Project Social topics and I ambitiously suggested, ‘HR’s role in defining a high-performing organization.’

Dave’s response: ‘Hmmmmmn… yeah, that’s one topic.’

(We’ll just call that one Plan B.)

So we pared it down to one aspect of high performing organizations, something that all HPOs have: good workforce intelligence, not to be confused with an intelligent workforce.

It sometimes amazes me how little workforce information you can get out of most HR systems.  No one expects an HR system to provide the answer to life, the universe and everything, but an accurate global headcount report seems like something you could reasonably expect to get.

Imagine your CEO calls your right now and asks for input to decide between two potential locations for a new service center.  You’d probably want to compare workforce information in each location, including labor costs, hiring sources, time to fill job requisitions, quality of new hires, etc.  Can you?

What about other information that might be useful to running a business, such as:

•    What are the most critical jobs in our organization?
•    What are the most critical skills by job in our organization?
•    Where do we have skills gaps or pending skills gaps?
•    Before we bring in a consultant, is there an internal person who can do this?
•    Before we lay someone off, do they have skills we need elsewhere?
•    Is it more cost effective to hire, contract or train someone for this role?
•    How does the work quality of contingent v. employees compare?
•    Do part-time employees really produce less than full-time employees?
•    In which locations are we finding it hard to find people with the skills we need?
•    Who’s working on what and what does it cost?
•    Which managers have unusually high turnover?
•    Where do we have flight risks?

I could go on - there’s all kinds of useful information hidden away coyly in your HR systems today, as well as all kinds of useful information should be there but isn’t.  And Dave and Lyn have their own take on this over at HR Official and The HR Bacon Hut, respectively.  But you get the idea.

Here's the worrying thing:  HR leaders are starting to be replaced by marketing executives because marketers know how to show the impact of strategy execution on business results.

In marketing, business results drive whether you succeed or fail.  Period.  Which is why the first thing a marketing person in an HR role would do is get that information, right after hanging the ‘Marketing: HR: Two Drink Minimum’ sign outside their door.

HR hasn't been held accountable for business performance compared to areas of the organization but that's starting to change as companies realize it's all about people.  Everything else is just... stuff.  Which means that current, accurate workforce information is pretty important for HR leaders to have.

As an added bonus, good workforce data will help you look attractive, confident and well-dressed like that woman in the picture... no, it's not me, although the resemblance is uncanny.

It's more than just good to know.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

On Wives and Brains

This post is not what you think it is, i.e., nothing whatsoever about the brains of wives.

I just wanted to point you at a couple of posts I wrote recently for Women of HR and Compensation Cafe.

The first post For the Working Mom Who has Everything takes a hard hitting look at how having a wife is a HUGE competitive advantage in the workplace. 

The second post Brains in a Jar looks at a very unusual form of workplace recognition...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Just Say Yes

Laurie Reuttimann wrote a great post recently about how she always says Yes to her boss.  That came out a bit wrong but you know what I mean.

The point is that the boss is... the boss.  And chances are 'yes' is one of his or her favorite words. 

Saying yes to your boss may be one of the best pieces of career advice ever, although a recent post by Judith Lindenberger about the importance of networking is also one of my top 5. 

But what about how empowerment and autonomy are key to engagement and motivation?  And don't we know by now that micromanagement kills creativity?

Yeah, yeah, go work for yourself.  Just kidding.  The point is that saying yes to your boss does not mean you aren't empowered at work.  In fact, assuming your boss is basically a decent person, the opposite is usually true.

I once had a manager who liked to have final approval of everything.  And I mean everything.  He was nice enough but he wanted to know what was going on and be in charge.  At first this rubbed me the wrong way because I tend to run off with a task and not show up again until it's done or I need help.  But he was my boss so I sucked it up.

I started meeting with him for about 15 minutes every morning to let him know what I was working on, where things stood and what I planned to do next.  Occasionally he would ask me to do something differently but not very often.  For the most part, sharing the information with him and giving him a chance to provide guidance seemed to meet his needs.  And over time his trust increased and I was able to work more independently.

(Ironically, I found myself missing those 15 minute meetings.)

I'm not a perfect soldier.  I'm outspoken.  I don't always agree and will say so.  On  rare occasions I can be sarcastic.  But like Laurie, when my boss asks I say yes.

*Unless there's a really, really, really good reason to say no.  And I mean, good.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Project Social: I Storyvite You Again!

I wrote a post back in July I Storyvite You about my initial experience using Storyvite, an online personal branding tool.  The basic selling point of Storyvite is that it lets you present your 'profersonal' story in a more inviting way than a traditional CV or LinkedIn profile.  It also helps you manage your online identity by pulling information about you from multiple sources (LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.)

The thing that sets Storyvite apart from other online personal branding tools is the social way in which the founder, Satish Sallakonda, has reached out to the business community to design a tool that meets their needs.  For example, when he saw the link to my post he contacted me with an offer to help me create a stronger story for myself.  (He was too polite to say my original story kinda sucked.)

He reached out to other people as well, including my Project Social buddies Dave Ryan and Lyn Hoyt and you can read about their Storyvite experiences over at HR Official and The HR Bacon Hut.  You can also check out my updated Storyvite profile below - the black background was my idea so if you hate it don't blame Satish.

Play Story
To give fair warning, the Storyvite product is still under construction.  Although the plan is to automatically pull in more information from LinkedIn and other sites, as well as provide easy to use templates for different layouts, the user experience remains largely manual.

On the plus side, looking at some of the prototypes for what's coming, I can easily imagine using this tool or one like it to generate a very slick resume or bio:

How cool is that?  Unfortunately, this capability isn't there yet but you can use what's there today to give your own 'profersonal' story a face lift using the invitation code 'social' to get started.  And if you run into any snags, just reach out to Satish directly, he'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

This Is How We Roll In Bavaria

In honor of Oktoberfest season here in Munich - and because I've been too busy to write anything new - I've decided to re-publish an excerpt from an article I wrote back in 2008 about what to expect at Oktoberfest.  The Oktoberfest Planning Commission has made this required reading for all first-time Oktoberfest attendees so please read the following very carefully.

(OK, I made that up.)

The Four Phases of Oktoberfest*
Phase I: Why are people staring at me?
You’ve had your first refreshing sip of ice-cold beer and are prepared to enjoy yourself but several complete strangers are looking at you as if they’ve known you forever and really like you and it’s just a little embarrassing. So you watch the band and look at the ceiling and gulp beer whenever anyone catches your eye, including your boss who's at the next table three sheets to the wind.

Phase II: I love you guys
You’ve finished your first beer and started on a second when it hits you that we are all connected. You start waving excitedly and blowing kisses to people at other tables and most of them wave and blow kisses back, except that guy two tables over who just threw up into his beer. This is the best phase to be in when you have to go to the bathroom because the deep, genuine love you feel for everyone around you allows you to glide past people and obstacles without getting yelled at or arrested. All you have to do is go to the front of the line, put your arms around the person you displaced - as long as they don't work with you - and tell them you love them... right before you dart into the bathroom and lock the door. When you come out they probably won’t be there anymore and even if they are, chances are that they will back away from you nervously so you're home free.

Phase III: I understand everything now
Finally, the unified field theory has been solved by you and the fundamental nature of the universe is no longer a mystery. The nature of the universe is hilariously funny so you laugh out loud. You share your new knowledge with the person sitting next to you and they totally get it. Now that you’ve solved the mysteries of the universe together you know that you’ll be friends forever. Unfortunately, neither of you will remember any of this tomorrow.

Phase IV: It's all good
In this phase, you have moved beyond understanding everything to a quiet, content acceptance of everything exactly as it is. Suddenly you realize that this is a perfect time for a Fischsemmel, which is pickled mackerel on a Kaiser roll with a slice of onion.** As you take that first tangy and slightly chewy bite your happiness is complete.

*There are actually 5 phases but Phase 5 happens the next day and isn’t nearly so nice as the other phases. I won’t say much about Phase V, except that it is a lot less full of universal love, omniscience and Fischsemmel than the previous phases. 

**It's better than it sounds.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Compensation Planning for 2012

Several members of the compensation cafĂ© – Ann Bares, Jim Brennan and myself – teamed up yesterday for a TLNT webinar to examine where compensation practice is headed in 2012 and beyond. 

You can replay the webinar here or read my summary of compensation trends over at the Compensation Cafe.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

While I Was Gone

I just spent a glorious week disconnected on a dairy farm in the Italian Alps.  As you can imagine, the milk was quite good.  And the disconnection... priceless.

So, I haven't been blogging or tweeting for a whole week but strangely, I don't feel behind on things.  There's no need to 'catch up' as you do with work emails, you just plug back in. 

And as it happens, there was some activity during my absence:

One of my Compensation Cafe posts went live: 'How To Take Credit for Paying Less.'  This post started out with the title, 'Does This Compensation Make Me Look Fat?' but I couldn't make the analogy work without some fairly obvious contriving and reluctantly let it go.  Blog posts do tend to write themselves and this particular post wanted to be a post about how to communicate low salary in a positive light rather than how poorly tailored compensation makes your company look fat.  Go figure.

At Women of HR you can check out my most recent post 'Are Part-Time Employees the Deal of the Century?' about the general fabulousness of part-time employees, in particular working moms.  Spoiler: Companies who want to increase their overall workforce productivity might consider giving leadership roles to people who have to get home by 4 rather than to people who have all the time in the world because their spouse is holding down the fort.  I'm just saying.

Next, my close personal friend Jason Seiden hosted a all around good Leadership Carnival this month featuring one of my posts 'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective 5-Year-Olds.'  Gotta love that guy.  He's funny.

My other virtual friend and project social collaborator William Gould hosted a timely and relevant Online Social Currency Carnival of HR that includes one of my social media related posts 'Project Social: What is Influence?" (Hint: It's getting someone to press a button.)

Finally, if you haven't checked out my recent YouTube video 'The Cost of Disengagement' I encourage you to do so since it may well be the only one I will ever do.  No promises, though, I may inflict more of them on the world if the mood strikes me or I have another good hair day.

Friday, July 29, 2011

No Comment

Dave Ryan and I were chatting the other day about how our recent project social topics have generated lots of new traffic but little in the way of comments so we decided our next PS topic would be, ‘Why do I comment?’  

Of course, we don’t know if our reasons for commenting are the same as yours but we're both so typical they probably are. 

So here’s why I comment:

1.    Your post made me laugh or struck a chord
2.    I’m letting you to know I stopped by
3.    I have an alternative point of view
4.    I recently blogged about the exact same thing
5.    I thought of the perfect one-liner

And here’s why I don’t:

1.    I can’t think of a darn thing to say
2.    I’m not sure what your point is
3.    Leaving a comment requires a password
4.    Your post is too long

Anything ring a bell?

You can check out what Dave Ryan has to say about commenting over at HR Official.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Project Social: What Is Influence?

I recently came across a couple of posts on social media that made me go, hmmn.

The first was about how to use LinkedIn to grow your social influence.  I made a mental note to read the post again in more detail and perhaps try out a few of the recommendations.

That's when I thought, hmmmn.  On the one hand, it makes total sense that the LinkedIn users who are the most active are also the ones who are most visible to peers, recruiters, hiring managers, etc.

On the other hand, unless your job involves using social media, your online presence is what is known as a hobby.  Remaining active and visible on multiple social media platforms requires a significant time investment, which either comes out of your personal life or your work life.

Or both.

Which made me wonder if spending more than an hour a day blogging, tweeting and 'liking' things really makes you more attractive to potential employers... if so, it's kind of ironic.

The other post that caught my eye was  a harsh dismissal of so-called 'experts,' accusing them of forming circles of adoration and  promoting each others' work in order to perpetuate the illusion that they have actual expertise.

Naturally, having a network of connections that sycophantically share everything you say - as long as you return the favor - precludes any real expertise. 

Which brings me to Klout: brilliant, seductive, a bit scary.  You can log on and see your score immediately, along with a cool visual representation of your 'influence.'  You can compare your influence to others.  You can drive up the influence of your friends, hoping they will reciprocate. 

You may tell yourself you don't care but you can't help feeling compelled to take action when your score drops.  So you spend more time on social media. Or you give Klout access to all your other social media platforms and now they OWN YOU.

What is influence, anyway?  These days it seems to mean getting people to click a button on your behalf, which sounds lame but actually makes a kind of sense.  I mean, if you can't even get people to CLICK A BUTTON FOR YOU, you don't have much chance of getting them to hire you or buy your product.

That's why Dave Ryan, Lyn Hoyt and I decided to form our own 'circle of adoration' (really more of a triangle) to inflate our online influence.  Amazingly, as soon as Dave gave me a '+ K' my Klout score jumped 5 points without me getting any new knowledge or experience.  

(Of course, I've always been very influential.  People just didn't know it.)

What does all this mean?  First of all, it seems fairly clear that influence has more to do with popularity than expertise.  Of course, this doesn't mean that influential people lack expertise but it also doesn't mean that the people who influence you necessarily know what they're talking about.

I'll leave you with that thought but be sure to check out Dave's and Lyn's posts on this topic over at HR Official and The HR Bacon Hut, respectively.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

HR: Ready to Relocate?

Guest post by Kim Urban, MSHR

In 2005, a company that had been located 38 years in the small town of El Cajon, California, made a decision to move out of state.

The company was the famous Buck Knives, known worldwide as one of the finest manufacturers of knives.  Besides employing over 250 employees, Buck Knives was the type of company a small town like El Cajon could use to lure other business into town.

No one guessed at the time that the Buck Knives departure would be just the start of an exodus, a trickle that turned into a flood of businesses leaving California. In fact, the year Buck Knives packed its bags, the Public Policy Institute of California issued a calming and reassuring report stating that business relocations cost California less than a tenth of 1 percent of all the state’s jobs.

But each year since 2005, the number of businesses leaving California has grown exponentionally. Today, a recent report by Joseph Vranich, an Irvine-based business relocation expert, indicates the exodus is 5 times greater than it was just two years ago.*

So what does this mean for a California HR professional? Well, it means, at the very least, you need to be aware there is a very real possibility your company might be considering a major move. And at the most, assuming you’re in the loop (and let’s hope you are), you need to start the huge process of transferring a company’s biggest asset—its people—to another state.

Each company will present its own unique challenges, of course, but it helps to look at what another company did, in this case Buck Knives, and perhaps get an idea of what could be involved.

Buck Knives had at the time of the move over 250 employees but only 58 employees - about 20% - actually ended up relocating. The remaining employees were laid off. When Buck Knives set up again in Idaho, it filled over 200 jobs from local applicants.

Naturally, one has to wonder about this. Only 58 employees relocated and the rest were laid off? What exactly happened here?

From what I gathered, Buck Knives was offering buy-outs and early retirement to the senior, long-term employees who didn’t fancy the idea of moving at this stage of their careers. Other employees, who worked part-time and sometimes had a second job that anchored them locally, simply could not afford to move. Some employees, married to a spouse who perhaps had a higher-paying job locally, refused to go; others didn’t want to leave the San Diego area or agree to a pay adjustment.

Local incentives may have also played a role in the decision process. Idaho, as part of its program to convince Buck Knives to locate there, offered to give Buck Knives $690,000 to train new workers. I have to assume that Buck Knives considered this when it accepted the money and that this played at least some part in the layoffs in El Cajon.

All in all, a challenging time for HR.  There was the relocation selection process, the layoffs before the actual move, the recruiting and hiring process that took place once the company arrived at its new home, not to mention all the training that needed to be done.

If I were to face a relocation task, I suppose I’d break things down this way:
  1. Find out if there is a limit of employees who will be allowed to relocate.
  2. Determine which employees simply cannot or will not relocate
  3. Of the employees willing to relocate, determine which of those will be allowed to go.
  4. Conduct the layoffs at the old location.
  5. Pack my bags and grab one last fish taco.
  6. Recruit and hire at the new location.
  7. Put in place any training plans needed for the new hires.
Having never undertaken such a project, I’m sure my list is woeful and incomplete but I’d love to hear from any HR professionals who’ve actually handled a company relocation project. What were your biggest challenges? What went right? What went wrong? What advice would you give?

*Besides my conversations with Buck Knives employees, I relied on Anne Krueger’s article, “Buck Knives enjoying a better business life in Idaho than El Cajon,” dated March 26, 2006, for the San Diego Union-Tribune; and also Tami Luhby’s article, “California companies fleeing the Golden State,” dated July 12, 2011, for CNNMoney at

Friday, July 15, 2011

Diversity: It's All About Critical Mass

*Picture courtesy of Bad Stock Photo of the Week at Know HR.

Some of you may have seen this spirited debate on diversity at  There seem to be several schools of thought:
  1. ‘I just want to hire the best candidate’ – People in this camp accuse diversity proponents of foisting less skilled employees on them in order to meet some meaningless quota.
  2. ‘Diversity isn’t just about race, religion or gender’ – People in this camp like to broaden the definition of diversity to include people who work and think differently, claiming that these differences inspire greater creativity and performance. 
  3. ‘People who assume diversity means hiring less qualified people are the reason we need diversity legislation in the first place’ – People in this camp are stridently pro-diversity and insist that minorities aren’t asking for a handout, just a fair shot. 
All of these have merit but are incomplete.  There’s actually a 4th camp that I didn’t see represented in the debate, although I may have overlooked it: Companies that embrace diversity have higher performance.

It's pretty easy to make a 'common sense' business case for diversity:
  • Your customers are diverse and the leadership strategy of the 50s may not help you relate to them or inspire them to buy your products. 
  • Competition is more fierce and new ideas are needed, wherever they come from.
  • Teams have become more important in a business context, which means that managing diversity has become a critical business skill.

If you prefer hard numbers to common sense, a Cornell University study found that once diversity reaches a critical mass (20-25%) at the leadership level the company realizes higher performance. 

Interestingly, below this critical mass diversity has a negative impact, possibly because until critical mass is reached everyone treats it like a quota and the company fails to value and leverage the unique contributions of the minority leaders. 

So, to people who want to hire the “best” candidate I say, ‘Perhaps you haven't reached critical mass yet.’  To people with a broader definition of diversity I say, ‘Yes, even wearing plaid or a nose ring can be considered diverse.’  And to people who think everyone should be given a fair chance based on their skills, I say, ‘Aw.  I think so, too.’

And to companies who have truly embraced diversity and inclusion and are realizing the benefits that a diverse workforce and leadership team can bring I say, ‘Yeah, baby!’

For more on diversity, HR luminaries Dave Ryan and Lyn Hoyt also have some choice observations, which you can read over at HR Official and The Bacon Hut.

And if you want to look at a compelling example of diversity in action, check out PepsiCo’s Diversity and Inclusion site.  

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Cost of Disengagement

A video version of this post is available on YouTube and at Compensation Cafe.

By now it's well accepted that companies with engaged employees outperform companies with disengaged employees. That means they earn more profit, which is what most companies are trying to do.

Here's a formula that expresses the relationship between engagement and profit:

If engaged employees = higher performance and higher performance =  more profit, then engaged employees = more profit. 

I call this the transitive property of engagement.

What we talk about less frequently is workforce disengagement, which is arguably the more important topic because it helps underline why companies have a vested interest in treating people well. 

Clearly, not every organization will have highly engaged employees but many will somehow carry on regardless.  But every company should take steps to avoid active disengagement because disengagement’s really expensive.

How expensive?  Well, there are the obvious costs such as lower productivity and absenteeism, which can be calculated.  For example, Recent Gallup research found that only 13% of Germany’s employees are engaged in their jobs.

“Gallup estimates that actively disengaged employees cost the German economy between 121.8 billion and 133.6 billion euros per year in lost productivity. Absenteeism is also pretty expensive, considering that each day an employee is away from work in Germany costs companies an average of € 247.20 per worker."

These are the obvious costs but there are also less obvious costs, such as the negative impact on company morale and customer care.  The risk isn’t that disengaged people leave, it’s that they stay.  They may even show up and do their work adequately but behind the scenes, subtly bad things are happening.  For example:
  • Fear – Employees withhold important information, such as customer issues or problems with your products or services.
  • Passive resistance - We've all encountered someone who, while being perfectly pleasant, is also completely obstructive.
  • Information hoarding - People don't share information and may even actively withhold it.
  • Lack of initiative- Beyond doing what it takes to stay employed, no one cares enough to go the extra mile for a customer.
  • Suppression of creativity - Creativity obviously doesn't flourish in this environment.
  • Unhappiness - The negative atmosphere is palpable to employees and customers alike.
All of this is very bad for the business and it has a cost.

So firing people with a termination notice on their windshield, making people work extra hours with no extra pay or cheating people out of their expected compensation aren’t just inhumane practices, they're also bad for business.

Even the more common and less extreme example such as micromanaging, hiring externals for more money into the best leadership roles, failing to develop internal talent and generally treating people like replaceable cogs are also bad for business.

What’s good for business are the things that give people a personal stake in your company's success.  Developing people.  Showing people you value them.  Letting them grow and make decisions. In other words, good management is good for business.

I’ve come up with a formula that expresses the relationship between good managers and good business:

If developing people is good for the business and good managers develop people, then good managers are good for the business.

I call this the transitive property of good management.

That means that you need good managers if you want to avoid disengaged employees. And you may want to think about compensating your managers for developing people, because that’s probably not what they’re compensated for today.

Bottom line: Not every company may aspire to workforce engagement but every company has a vested interest in treating people well.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective 5-Year-Olds

It recently occurred to me that there’s a lot leaders can learn from 5-year-olds.  For example:
  1. Use what you have – Don’t have a dollhouse?  Use a shoe box!
  2. Don’t be afraid to use stuff in a new way – Ignore that nice stable mommy bought you for your toy horses, make your own using a bead necklace.
  3. Be insatiably curious – Enough said.
  4. Make time to play – As Mary Poppins taught us, the potential for fun lurks where you least expect it.
  5. Always be closing – Children are born negotiators.  It never hurts to ask.  And ask again.  And again.  
  6. Shake it off – So you got egg all over the kitchen counter, that shouldn’t stop you from knowing you can break the eggs perfectly next time.
  7. Don’t stereotype or judge – Everyone is a potential friend, playmate or someone to help you paint your wall with fingernail polish.
And one bonus habit:

Be in the moment - The place is here.  The time is now.

Friday, July 8, 2011

I Storyvite You

When I saw this article on TLNT about creating a visual resume from your LinkedIn profile I was intrigued and decided to give it a whirl. 

I signed in using the free registration code offered in the TLNT article (spoiler: it's 'tlnt').  Not surprisingly, the first step is to pull over your LinkedIn information.

After this things got a little bumpy.  I was advised to update my profile, which I ignored because my LinkedIn profile – while not my best work – is fairly complete.  Instead, I opted to cut to the chase and go right into the visual profile.

At this point the user experience was reminiscent of working in Powerpoint only without all the options you expect.  The tag cloud depicting my strengths and experiences is self-generating and I could never get it to look quite the way I wanted.  The slide templates leave you on your own with sizing and alignment and the examples offered for each type of slide weren’t always relevant.  The preview looked like a slide show that swirls around in a cluster instead of advancing sequentially.

My first impression was that I could have done a better job in Powerpoint.

So I took a break and came back to it, determined to give it a fair shot.  Again I was asked to update my profile and this time I did it, not wanting to be one of those users who ignore polite procedural reuqests and then complain when things don’t work.  Suddenly the user experience improved.  For example, this time when I elected to ‘play’ the visual profile I got a groovy carousel:

‘OK, this is pretty cool,’ I thought.  Powerpoint can’t do that.  (Er… can it?)

I think this product needs some work on the user experience side and I’m not sure who wants to watch the Laura Schroeder story but the basic idea of simplifying information is a good one.  The result is less complete than my LinkedIn profile but it’s also more inviting.

One more thing: When you update your information you get to this page, which I think would be a good alternative public profile option to offer for people who aren’t into swirling clusters of slides or carousels. Sad, lonely people.

Why not give it a try? It’s free, it's kinda fun and for another few weeks it’ll help you stand out from the crowd.  As an added bonus, having your work experience fly around like that will help distract the reader from any missing skills you might have. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Carnival of HR is Up and Running

Abhishek Mittal hosts this month's Carnival of HR with a very timely theme: The Talent Race.  Check it out and leave some comments.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Missing Talent or Goldilocks Syndrome?

A recent talent survey published by the Economic Intelligence Unit reports a global shortage of critical talent.  You can read more about what companies are doing to bridge the talent gap in my recent post Where Has All the Talent Gone?

At the same time, public opinion seems divided about whether it makes good business sense to hire superstars, with superstars taking a beating in favor of solid team performers.

To summarize an extremely complex and multi-faceted problem: We don't want underqualified people and we don't want overqualified people.

Now, what does that remind me of?

Monday, July 4, 2011

A Star Spangled Leadership Development Carnival

Forget buying leadership books because everything you need to know about leadership is covered in the July 3rd Leadership Development Carnival over at Great Leadership!  As an added bonus, match your favorite leadership guru to the correct firework. 

I think I got the best one, although 'Boom Boom' also isn't bad.

Laura 'Emerald City' Schroeder

Thursday, June 30, 2011

I Just Don't Know What to Do With My iPad...

My husband was recently awarded two iPads at work in recognition for separate projects, making us a two iPad household. That means I now have an iPad, which is fair because I'm his creative muse (which I'm sure he would agree with, at least if he wants dinner).

My oldest daughter wanted the iPad but I was like, 'You're 7 years old. Go play with a ball or a stick like I did when I was 7.'

The problem is, I'm not sure what to do with the iPad. Yes, I'm a seasoned software professional. Yes, I spend most of my day on a computer. And yes, my company has amazingly cool iPad applications.

But I write. All the time. I'm writing right now. Even when I'm just browsing I need a proper keyboard in case I want to write something. Plus, I switch mediums constantly, so if I use the iPad for tweeting or Googling I have to switch back to my computer to pull up a document or type a longer email...

And I don't really want to play the bird game.

The problem here is clearly me because 11 million consumers can't be wrong, right? My husband thinks I'm weird. Well, more accurately, he still thinks I'm weird after all these years.

Maybe he's right. I mean, even the Pope uses an iPad, which means we can now receive the Papal epiphany of the day from any location. The Pope is more current than I am.

(I may be a late adopter but when they finally offer space travel with holodecks and replicators I'll be first in line.)

If I don't start using the iPad my husband will take it back and give it to someone more deserving. Like the Pope. So here are a couple of ideas I've come up with to incorporate the iPad into my daily family life:



Monday, June 27, 2011

Rock Stars Need Not Apply

Some people love rock stars - Mark Zuckerberg, for example, thinks they’re 100 times better than everyone else.  I myself think they're about 3 times better and there are probably some people who think they're 5 or 20 times better.

Others think they’re more trouble than they’re worth and that a team of solid performers is the way to go.

And then there are people like my project social partner Dave who're happy if people just show up and do the work: ‘I’m not in a creative industry.  I don’t need to recruit the top students from MIT and couldn’t get them anyway.’  More wisdom from Dave here.

So, all kinds of opinions.  What is seems to come down to is what you’re trying to accomplish and whether it's being measured.  For example, in revenue generating jobs like consulting or sales, everyone loves rock stars.  If they’re a little full of themselves or hard to work with it's OK as long as they’re making money.

Rock stars are also tolerated in really hard jobs that no one else knows how to do (as are scraggly beards, madras shirts and Birkenstocks).

In other areas of the business - even in creative industries - it’s less clear.  No direct revenue is lost, for example, if a report or a presentation is not rock star quality.  Over time valuable hours may be wasted and the company may be less successful but the consequences of mediocrity are hard to spot where nothing measurable is at stake.

Rock stars have a reputation for being difficult to work with, doing things their own way, having better ideas (or thinking they do), putting uncomfortable truths into words and a host of other grievances.  They may be as important to company success as they think they are but that doesn't mean people want to work with them.

The average manager, for example, neither wants to deal with someone who challenges them nor with someone who potentially threatens their own job.  Ditto with colleagues, who don’t want anyone raising the bar on work quality or competing for opportunities. 

They aren’t bad people, they’re just… people.

Of course, no one says to themselves, ‘I’m intimidated by this person so I’m not going to hire them.’  What they actually say is more like, ‘I don’t think this person will be a good cultural fit.’  Or, ‘They’re overqualified for the job and will probably leave in 6 months.’  Or, ‘They don’t have the industry experience we’re looking for.’

Sound familiar?  Of course, sometimes these statements are perfectly true.  It's a subtle problem.

Bottom line: If your managers and employees feel threatened rather than exhilarated by talented people you can talk about the importance of talent all you the hand.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Global Leadership Roundtable

Are you in a global leadership role or working in a global team?  Join us for the global leadership round table at Focus next week:

Managing an organization made up of people from the same cultural and linguistic backgrounds is a difficult task, but imagine if you were asked to lead a company that's spread out across the world. Would you be able to lead with a global perspective? What skill sets would you need to develop and refine? A panel of Focus HR and leadership experts plan to discuss:
  • How to define, "global leader"
  • How leaders can prepare to be global leaders, and necessary skill sets
  • The pitfalls that impede global leadership success
Whether you are in a global leadership role or part of a global team, join the discussion and expand your global horizons.

Worth a Second Cup?

The other day I highlighted 3 blog posts that I thought were particularly good… and then realized I forgot one!  How could I have forgotten Dan McCarthy’s hilarious post on Boomer Bosses and Millennials?

Why do I like this post so much?  Well, aside from it being such a gracious and funny post the note from the millennial to the Boomer is so insightfully snarky:

“Whether you like it or not, Boomers, you are being replaced. This is called change, evolution. Don't worry though. Keep being crotchety. It will prepare you well for your upcoming retirement. Drink your cheap coffee. Plan ways to spend your social security. I'll do my best to stay off your lawn.”

No offense to the Boomers but I had to laugh out loud about the coffee.  I still remember visiting my mom’s office as a kid where the coffee even smelled stale.  And to this day, while she doesn’t object to a good cup of coffee, she also doesn’t insist on it.

The coffee snobbery of my generation may be a subtle form of rebellion.

The Boomers as a generation have had an enormous impact on our world.  They were the first generation to embrace the modern culture of self-gratification, consumerism and waste that endangers our planet today.  They were also the first generation to 'do it my way,' laying the foundation for future generations to express themselves freely and pursue non-traditional career paths. 

More so than any other generation, if it weren’t for the Boomers this world of ours would look a whole lot different, in both good ways and bad.  Boomers, I salute you.

Now, how 'bout some real coffee?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Monday, June 20, 2011

My 3 Posts: Letourneau, Doody and Big Daddy Paul

In the spirit of project social, Dave, Lyn and I wanted to share some of our favorite posts with you.  Since we all hate lists with more than 10 items (OK, I hate lists with more than 10 items) we’re each picking 3.

For a total of 9.

It wasn't easy.  There are many great posts out there and I’m probably forgetting several that really moved me at the time.  But I tried to come up with three that I think are particularly good and a little off the beaten path.

  • And finally, my favorite post of all time: Ugly Malcolm Photos by Big Daddy Paul.  Since I tend to post pictures that make my life appear perfect and effortless, I admire Paul’s honesty and hilarity as a parent.  I recommend you check out this post and his very funny blog.

So, that's my three.  To complete the list and get your full money's worth, click over to Dave's picks at HR Official and Lyn's at The Bacon Hut!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Employees, Aging Parents and You

Guest post by Susan Avello

If you are responsible for taking care of an elderly relative or friend, it will likely impact your health and your employer’s bottom line.  Employees in the U.S. who are caring for an older relative are more likely to report health problems like depression, diabetes, hypertension or heart disease, costing employers an estimated average additional health care cost of 8% per year, or $13.4 billion annually, according to the MetLife Study of Working Caregivers and Employer Health Care Cost.

These family caregivers are juggling their responsibilities to their own families and to their parents and have now been labeled “The Sandwich Generation.” They are trying to juggle children, parents and work and are experiencing considerable health issues as a result of their focus on caring for others. The need for flexibility in the workplace and in policies that would benefit working caregivers is likely to increase in importance as more working caregivers continue to remain in the workplace and put off retirement.

As the percentage of employees who are caregivers continues to grow, there will be greater demand on employers for help and support. Caring for family while trying to fit it into an already stressful work situation can be challenging and negatively impact physical health and workplace productivity. Although most employers offer family medical leave of absence they are also starting to see the need to incorporate strategies for flex-time and are looking for a creative approach in helping their employees with the myriad of life changes they are currently facing.

Who Can Help?

Aging Info USA has been working closely with corporations and employees in the workplace since inception and closely monitoring these issues to provide the best in education and training both for employee caregivers and for executive management. Our goal is to partner with employers, evaluate the cost of employee care giving to their specific situations and create solutions to increase productivity, employee engagement, reduction of health care costs and increased revenue.

More Help On the Way

In Fall 2011 we will launch, an interactive online 'one-stop shop' to help employee caregivers navigate the continuum of aging care through educational videos, blogs, webinars, interactive discussion boards, Skype conferencing and podcasts centering on care giving and work/life challenges. will also be an interactive training portal for HR and management to stay ahead of the game in the area of work/life issues associated with eldercare and all aspects of care giving.  In addition to providing training and education in the form of webinars, videos, podcasts and virtual events, will offer continuing education certification through our partnership with Human Resource Certification Institute.

We are excited about the launch of CaregiverLife coming in the Fall of 2011 and helping employees and employers alike navigate these critical life changes.

Susan Avello is Vice President and Partner of Aging Info USA and is based in Chicago, IL. Aging Info USA directly supports employee caregivers, HR and Executive Management by implementing creative approaches in education, resources and training in regard to eldercare and family caregiving and work/life challenges. She is the author of two books as well as The Working Caregiver and HR Virtual Cafe blogs. You can connect with her on Twitter @susanavello.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Attrition: What Is It Good For?

Our new project social team member Lyn suggested today’s post topic: Attrition. (Our little team is growing. Now we just need someone who looks like Sabrina.)

Dave and Lyn plan to talk about the downside of attrition, i.e., how it can negatively impact the rest of the team - you can read all about it over at HR Official and The Bacon Hut, respectively.

To mix it up a bit, I want to focus on the upside of attrition. Voluntary attrition, that is.

Here’s why: Attrition creates opportunity. Opportunity creates hope and fuels healthy competition and creativity. If no one ever leaves you have stagnation.

Look, it’s always sad when someone really terrific that everyone loves leaves. If it’s a colleague and friend the ‘survivors’ feel lonely and left behind. If it’s a great boss they worry about how the change will impact their job. And the person leaving may leave a big fat skills gap in their wake.

But we all know people who do an adequate job in a role someone else could probably do as well if not better. If they leave voluntarily everyone wins: no one gets fired and a new opportunity opens up for someone else.

Another point to consider is that at some point an individual has gone as far as they can go at one company. If they still have higher career ambitions, it may be better for all concerned if they move on.

"If you're the second runner up for a position that isn't changing hands any time soon, you may have reached the end of your career at a particular company... Career development is a bit of a ponzi scheme, after all - barring wild growth, it only works if people at the top periodically move out of the way. In fact, attrition may be key to retention because it helps companies retain the people who haven't yet reached the end of their career tether.
Source: Is Attrition a Key Component of Retention?

So, although a lot depends on why the person left and how the new team dynamic shapes up, I think voluntary attrition helps keep it fresh.

Related Posts

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...