MUST SEE: The Conference Concierge #HalfBakedHR #HRevolution

by Matthew Stollak on Wednesday, November 19, 2014

As noted before on the blog, Sir William Tincup and I had the honor of presenting a session at HRevolution on Half-Baked HR, a set of 40 HR ideas that are meant to challenge our expectations of what HR can be.  These ideas aren't necessarily fully thought out and there may be a company out there that is already trying to carry the idea out, but it hasn't gotten much acclaim.  Or, it was a miserable failure and deserves to be in the dustbin of history.  Over the next couple weeks, I will share 10 of these half-baked ideas in a more fully developed form on the blog.  Without further adieu....

HR Half-Baked Idea: MUST SEE - The Conference Concierge

Having attended the SHRM Annual Conference for 14 straight years, tackling the expo hall at SHRM (or any other conference) is among the most daunting of tasks.  Over 1,000 vendors vying for my attention, SWAG hawks searching for their latest trinket, and the risk of rollerbags underfoot, are all perils one must encounter.  In the 48-hour time span that the SHRM expo hall is open, there never seems to be enough time to truly get all the answers one might need while still trying to accumulate those necessary certification credits.  What is a 21st-century HR pro supposed to do?

The Solution: MUST SEE - The Conference Concierge

MUST SEE is a conference concierge company that "shops" the expo hall booths ahead of time to better target what you absolutely, positively need to see.  Looking for specific SWAG (e.g., iPads, GPS, Tory Burch shoes), MUST SEE is your scout.  Need to find a specific relocation service for your pet, MUST SEE sniffs it out.  Tired of timing out with your current payroll vendor, MUST SEE 'checks' out the competition.  When time is of the essence at your conference, MUST see is your answer!

Employee-to-Employee Wellness Challenges #HalfBakedHR #HRevolution

by Matthew Stollak on Tuesday, November 18, 2014

As noted before on the blog, Sir William Tincup and I had the honor of presenting a session at HRevolution on Half-Baked HR, a set of 40 HR ideas that are meant to challenge our expectations of what HR can be.  These ideas aren't necessarily fully thought out and there may be a company out there that is already trying to carry the idea out, but it hasn't gotten much acclaim.  Or, it was a miserable failure and deserves to be in the dustbin of history.  Over the next couple weeks, I will share 10 of these half-baked ideas in a more fully developed form on the blog.  Without further adieu....

Half-Baked HR Idea: Employee-to-Employee Wellness Challenges

Many organizations have adopted wellness programs in an effort to control health care costs.  Healthier employees not only are more productive at work, but are less likely to be absent or get into accidents.  However, several problems exist with the current iteration of wellness programs:
  1. Employees have to jump through a number of hoops to meet the requirements of the program
  2. You are already capturing a significant portion of individuals who are healthy and working out regularly
  3. Limited employee buy-in - terms of the wellness program are often dictated by the organization, with only a small amount of flexibility on the part of the employee on how to achieve the goals
  4. Rewards are not significant enough - will a t-shirt or a small gift card really change long-term behavior?

The Solution: Employee-to-Employee Wellness Challenges

As Robert Cialdini noted in "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion," loss aversion is critical: 'People seem more motivated by the the thought of losing something than by the thought of gaining something of equal value.' 

With that in mind, what really would move individuals to change their behavior is employer sanctioned employee-to-employee challenges.  For example,
  • John bets Tom that the loser of the wellness challenge has to wear a dress to work for a week.
  • Amy bets Sue that the loser of the wellness challenge has to shave her head.
  • Dave the Democrat bets Robert the Republican that the loser of the wellness challenge has to donate the value of a paycheck to the rival's political campaign.

Not only does this create buy-in on the part of the employee, the consequence has real teeth.  Further, these bets would be public, meaning the loser couldn't back out without backlash from the group. 

Now go out and challenge a fellow employee to improve their health.

#HalfBakedHR - Mobile Video Interviewing Prep #HRevolution

by Matthew Stollak on Friday, November 14, 2014

The 7th iteration of HRevolution took place last weekend.  Want to know about how it went?  Check out the recap HR Happy Hour podcast as well as posts from:

*Ben Eubanks - The Evolution of HRevolution
*Steve Boese - Owning Disruption at HRevolution

*Kellee Webb - HR:Friend or Foe
*Dwane Lay - The Unbearable Lightness of Being Together
*Tim Gardner - I Can't Summarize HRevolution
*Melissa Fairman - Not Your Typical HR Conference

*Broc Edwards - It's Time to Get Bold
*Jennifer Scott - How About A Trust Culture Instead?
*Bonni Titgemeyer - Doodling at HRevolution

As noted before on the blog, William Tincup and I had the honor of presenting a session on Half-Baked HR, a set of 40 HR ideas that are meant to challenge our expectations of what HR can be.  These ideas aren't necessarily fully thought out and there may be a company out there that is already trying to carry the idea out, but it hasn't gotten much acclaim.  Or, it was a miserable failure and deserves to be in the dustbin of history.  Over the next couple weeks, I will share 10 of these half-baked ideas in a more fully developed form on the blog.  Without further adieu....

Half-Baked HR Idea - Mobile Video Interviewing Prep

Video interviewing has grown leaps and bounds over the last few years.  More and more companies are utilizing Skype, Google Hangouts, GoToMeeting, or other proprietary software in effort to learn more about a candidate.  It makes intuitive sense that this is the next generation approach to recruiting - it contains significantly more information richness than a phone interview, companies are able to save thousands of dollars by not having to bring a candidate, who may be less than stellar, on site, and the technology to conduct video interviewing has gotten cheaper and cheaper.

However, for the candidate, this can often become problematic.  The candidate may be dressed inappropriately, hair or makeup may be slightly askew, the Skype connection may be poor or spotty, or the background during the interview may not scream professional.  

For example, one candidate I interviewed in the spring had chosen her kitchen as the site of the interview.  She was sitting at her kitchen table, the refrigerator was covered with her kids' drawings, and the wallpaper was distracting.

Now, some may argue that where a candidate choose to have the interview may shed insight on the kind of professional he or she is.  But, shouldn't we minimize the likelihood of non-job-related factors to creep into the decision-making process?

The Solution

The future of video interviewing
Why hasn't a business taken advantage of this scenario by creating a mobile video interviewing unit (think the EM-50 Urban Assault Vehicle from "Stripes.")Each unit has the latest technology to ensure the video connection is strong.  Inside the unit, there is a spot for hair, makeup, wardrobe.  Professionals in the unit will be available to assist with any of the candidate's needs prior to the interview.  The actual interviewing spot will have a green screen in the background, so that the candidate can choose the image he or she wants to project.  And, best of all, the unit can come directly to the travel involved.   With the mobile video interviewing unit, candidates can take comfort knowing that they are able to put their best foot forward?

Call me Mark Cuban...I'm ready for my pitch on Shark Tank.

How Expensive Will #SHRM15 Hotels Be?

by Matthew Stollak on Wednesday, October 22, 2014

With the news  that hotel reservations are now being accepted for the 2015 SHRM Annual Conference, I bring you my 6th annual expose of SHRM hotel costs.

I look at selected SHRM conference brochures (i.e., the ones that I still possessed) over the past 15 years to see what it would cost a person to book a single room on a per night average.  Clearly, prices in 2001 will be different than in 2015, so I use an inflation calculator to adjust costs to today's dollars.  So, how does the 2015 Conference in Orlando compare to years past?

Cost of an Average SHRM-Affiliated Hotel (per night: 6/28-7/1)
 Chicago (2008): $267.00 (sd of $30.74)
San Francisco (2001): $266.69 (standard deviation of $58.80)
San Diego (2010): $254.95 (sd of $43.88)
Chicago (2013): 253.46 (sd of 20.99)
Washington DC (2006): $240.38 (sd of $41.30)
Philadelphia (2002): $226.45 (sd of $60.54)
San Diego (2005): $212.11 (sd of $51.72)
Atlanta (2012): $204.31 (sd of $22.80)
Las Vegas (2007): $173.20 (sd of $33.38)

Orlando(2014): $162.07 (sd of $36.07)
Las Vegas (2015): $142.79 (sd of $22.85)
Las Vegas (2011): $133.83 (sd of $18.56)

Not surprisingly, when you saw Las Vegas as the location of choice in 2015, you knew you would be able to get a hotel relatively cheaply, and the numbers don't lie.   This will be the 2nd lowest average hotel cost in the last 15 years.  Half of the hotels are below the median cost of $149.  The first quartile is at $131, and the 3rd quartile is at $1596.   The lowest price hotel is at $99 with a top price of $179.  5 star hotels such as the Bellagio ($179), Venetian ($149), or Wynn ($165) can be had for not much more than the average hotel room...just be leery of the resort fees.   Even better SHRM hotel costs in Las Vegas are usually competitive even against such sites as Hotwire and Priceline.

Just get ready to save your pennies, as more expensive hotels will be expected as Washington, DC and Chicago will be the destinations in the not too distant future.

See you in Las Vegas

One Month Until #HRevolution

by Matthew Stollak on Wednesday, October 8, 2014

On November 8, one month from today, leading HR professionals will be heading to Grapevine, TX and Symbolist HQ to have a little BBQ and discuss the latest HR issues at the 7th iteration of HRevolution.  The full agenda can be found here, but I wanted to give you a taste of what to expect from a couple of sessions.

Bold HR with Broc Edwards

We all know what bad HR looks like. Bad HR hides behind policy, embraces mediocrity, creates bureaucratic fiefdoms, and becomes a barrier for managers and employees alike. But HR has a bigger vision for itself – we want to be recognized as a player in the business, not just an administrative check box. So we strive to be a strategic business partner with a seat at the table (whatever that all means), but we get bogged down in clich├ęs, “best” practices, and infighting that holds the field back rather than moving it forward.

What if we tossed all that aside and just decided to be Bold?  Easier said than done. Boldness exists as a virtue in myth and legend, but in the everyday it’s easier and safer to say “no” than “yes”. It’s more prudent to replicate the past than create the future. We choose safe over meaningful, stable over fulfilling, secure over interesting, known over opportunity, and comfort over making a difference. And it’s keeping us trapped in mediocre sameness. Enough.

In this highly interactive session we’ll take a look at what Bold HR is and what it isn’t. We’ll explore what it would mean for our employees and managers, for our companies, and for us if we drew a line and started practicing Bold HR. And we’ll come away with practical ideas and plans to put into action when we get back to the office on Monday.

HR Half-Baked Ideas with Matt Stollak & Sir William Tincup

The problem - everyone loves having an office refrigerator to store their drinks and food, and a microwave to cook their meal.  It's both a cost and a time saver for those constantly on the goHowever, after a few weeks, no one wants to open up that brown bag containing a mystery meat with a fresh coating of mold, or clean the crusted tomato sauce off of the roof of the microwave from an unprotected Lean Cuisine.

The Half-Baked Idea: "Mom's Got This," a company that will come in once a month to clean the refrigerator and microwave. 

That's a HR Half-Baked idea that is not quite complete.   Will "Mom's Got This" work?  Is it a viable business?  Come to the session to find out this, and 20+ other half-baked ideas, as well as bring your own.

If these kind of sessions appeal to you, the planning team of Steve Boese, Ben Eubanks, Trish McFarlane, and Matt Stollak would love to have you attend.

Good tickets are still available here.

Thank you to all our sponsors for helping us make the dream a reality. With the help of Mercer, Symbolist, Small Improvements and personal contribution from Lois and Ross Melbourne, this will be a great event.

Hope to see you in a month.

Is Looking at GPA Lazy HR? The Role of Grade Inflation

by Matthew Stollak on Wednesday, August 27, 2014

As a professor, I am vigilant in examining my grading practices to ensure students are receiving a fair and deserved grade.  I want to ensure that the grade reflects the work and performance a student demonstrated over the course of a semester.  Last semester, I taught two sections of the same course - one section earned an average grade of 3.12 (on a 4.0 scale), the other a 2.67.

Unfortunately, grade inflation has been a major problem at many colleges and universities.  As Libby Nelson at notes:

By 2007, 83 percent of all grades at a sample of 200 four-year colleges and universities were A's and B's. And research from a former Duke University professor found that A's have been the most commonly awarded grade at four-year colleges since the 1990s:
grade inflation

One school, Wellesley College, attempted to combat grade inflation by enforcing an average grade for an introductory class: a B+.  If a faculty member exceeded this grade, he or she had to explain, in writing, why the higher grade was justified.

What was the impact of such a policy shift?  Research by Kristin F. Butcher, Patrick J. McEwan, and Akila
Weerapana in the Journal of Economic Perspectives

found that results were immediate; average grades were brought down in previously high-grading departments.

Further, not only did it impact choice of major, but evaluation of teachers; with tougher grades, teachers received lower ratings...SHOCKING!

However, where HR should take note is how GPA is used for hiring decisions.  Wellesley students were obviously concerned that lower grades would impact hireability, particularly if they were the only college instituting such a change.   As Butcher, et al, note:

"They point to examples of web-based job application systems that will not let them proceed if their GPA is below a 3.5," the authors wrote. "The economist's answer that firms relying on poor information to hire are likely to fare poorly and to be poor employers in the long run proves remarkably uncomforting to undergraduates."

In the absence of other universities replicating Wellesley en masse, is using GPA as a criterion for hiring lazy HR?  Do firms have evidence that the higher GPA is not only necessary for the job being performed, but distinguishes good performers from poor performers?  Further, if all colleges (other than Wellesley) engage in grade inflation, is the GPA really meaningful for hiring purposes?


"The Leftovers" and HR

by Matthew Stollak on Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I'm 100% in on HBO's "The Leftovers." 

The basic premise is that three years ago, 2% of the world's population simply vanished without a trace.  Three years later, there are no answers for what happened, and much of society is still coping and grieving over the loss of friends and loved ones.  A hierarchy of sorts develops (as well as a hidden backlash) based on the number of people one lost.  It is grim, but fascinating viewing (aside: I haven't yet read Tom Perrotta's novel for which the show is based).

Of course, I couldn't resist putting on my HR hat and imagining what the world of work looks like in the aftermath of the event.

The world's economy continues unabated (or does it?)

No mention is made of the initial economic impact of such an event.  Was GDP disrupted?  Three years later, grocery stores are still stocked with the usual array of cereals and other durable goods.  Pharmacies are still stocked to address appropriate medical needs.  People are still working and earning an income.

Of course, we see the rise of new businesses that attempt to profit from the situation.  There are conferences that host discussions on the possible causes of the event.  One company produces lifesize replicas of the departed for up to $40,000 (depending on how detailed you want the body to resemble the person you lost) that can be used as substitute body in a casket for a funeral.

Is it a recruiting boon or bust?
If 2% of the world's population disappeared, it is likely that, on average, organizations lost 2% of their employees.  Some may have lost more than others.  How do organizations replace that lost talent?  Does it thus lead to a war on talent?  Does it give recruiters a little more job security?  There are also many more individuals who decide to drop out of working altogther, but more on that later.

How are bereavement and leave policies applied?

With so many now "gone," how do organization deal with people taking time off from work to deal with the loss(es) they are grieving?  Do they apply sick leave?  Are EAP investments increasing?

How are survivors benefits handled?

The show noted that insurance companies are refusing to pay as there is no evidence the individuals actually died.  The government has stepped in and created "departure" benefits.  Bureaucrats go to the survivors homes and ask them a detailed 150+ question survey (in part to see if there is some commonality or correlation among those who left) to sift out frauds.

Is there career planning?

It doesn't appear to be a major concern for Generation Z, as there has been little to no discussion of career plans or college.

Your most engaged individuals will not necessarily be working for your organization

Perhaps the most fascinating part of the show is a group created in the aftermath of the departure called the Guilty Remnant.  They are comprised of individuals who essentially have dropped out of family and societal obligations; who feel guilty for not being chosen to be one of those who departed.  They do not speak.  They dress in all white (to set them apart).  They chain smoke (ostensibly because they believe the world ended on that fateful day three years ago, and so, why not smoke, since they believe they are likely to be raptured long before the smoking kills them).  They are 100% committed to their cause (though I em not sure where there economic support comes from).

What are your HR thoughts if 2% of the population disappeared?