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July 2019

"The Villain Is The Person Who Knows The Most, But Cares The Least."

"The Villain Is The Person Who Knows The Most, But Cares The Least." I-Wear-the-Black-Hat-jacket_612x612

--From Chuck Klosterman In I Wear The Black Hat

When it comes to Employee Relations, any investigation you do of general bad stuff is going to uncover a lot of ugly things.  Human nature takes over and people do things they shouldn't.

However, at times you still need to look at all the bad in any situation and determine, who's really responsible?  Who is the bad guy/gal in this situation?

I think this quote gives us the best guidance in those situations.  The true villain is the person who knew the most about what was going on, but never had his/her sense of doing the right thing kick in.  

If you're thinking about firing people for conduct unbecoming of a professional teammate, let this quote be your guide.


New Data Tells Us Which Companies/Vendors Owns Corporate Expense Accounts...

If you've ever wondered (what, just me?) what companies and vendors have the biggest share of corporate expense accounts/submitted expenses for approval, look no further.

The Certify SpendSmart™ quarterly report analyzes the most recent business expense transactions and vendor ratings data to provide valuable insights to Certify clients and the corporate T&E industry at large.

Translation - who is spending money on what?

In a bit of a surprise, Uber Technologies, Inc was the most frequently expensed vendor last quarter, according to Certify, a software provider enabling companies to manage travel expenses. Uber receipts made up 12.7% of all corporate transactions among Certify customers. On average, travelers spent $25.37 per Uber transaction.

Below is the entire trend chart (email subscribers click through if you don't see the the image below), which includes some interesting stuff:

Cerify

Note - being at the top of this chart doesn't mean you're generating the most revenue, only that you own X out of every 100 expensed items.

If you click through to see the entire report, you can add up categories to get a better idea on what the total market share is for each industry 

My hot takes on the data:

--Much has been said about today being a bad time to be a taxi driver.  It would also appear it's a bad time to be in the car rental business from the growth of rideshare total expensed receipts over the past couple of years (from 9.5% of corporate expense transactions 2 years ago to today's 16.5%)

--All airlines cited are down .25% of corporate expense transactions over the same 2 year period. Since we're in a peak economic period, the continuing growth and sophistication of video conferencing and virtual meetings would seem to be cutting in to airline growth.

--The presence of Starbucks in the top 2 shows its continued dominance in morning meetings, but the fact it's down a full percentage point of corporate expense transactions (down 18% over a two year period, per ticket price down significantly as well) means people are finding other places to go, growing a bit tired of Starbucks or finance is challenging the expense.

The only thing missing from the report from Certify is the strangest vendor that shows up in the top 100, 200 or 300 results.  I'd like to see that.  The fact that Amazon and WalMart show up as top 10 in corporate expenses hides many of the expensed items/companies we could have fun with.


Breaking Down the Onboarding Style of Steve Ballmer, Former Leader at Microsoft...

I'm over at my other site today - Fistful of Talent - talking about the leadership style of former Microsoft leader Steve Ballmer.  Ballmer is retired and now owns the Los Angeles Clippers, and his leadership style was on full display earlier this week.

Check out my post at FOT - "Could Your Onboarding of New Hires Be More Like Steve Ballmer?" - by clicking here.


Cut Through All the Reference BS with This Single Question...

No one ever gives you references they expect to be negative in any way. 

You know this, right?

When someone calls you up for a reference check and you do anything short of saying they're unbelievable (they provided your name after all), it's not being borderline neutral.

Neutral is the new negative with reference checks.  And it's been that way for awhile.

Think about that - when someone calls you, you say you can only give name, rank and serial number on a candidate who used you for a reference.   

Or you pivot, and give the ole' "I can only give a personal reference, not a professional reference."

Sure you can, Skippy. Let's do your personal reference then (winks as he says the words)

PS - A reference checker's ability to get any type of true negative information out of a reference is gold.  Try my favorite reference checking question below to get a negative view:

"What job in your organization would you not put this person into under any circumstances?  Why?"

It's up with people day here at the Capitalist.  Go extract some negative info when checking references - just for the contrast and actually learning something you didn't know about the candidate.  

That's what they pay us for.


The #1 Way For Recruiters To Build Creditability With Candidates...

If a recruiter is good at what they do, they'll talk to a lot of people in a given week.

Some of those conversations are short, some are long. There's a variety of information traded between candidate and recruiter - it's a two-way exchange. Phone

But some recruiters are better at building credibility with candidates, which further results in trust, transparency and most importantly - great information.

The #1 way recruiters can build creditability with great candidates is pretty simple:

Great recruiters always include an examination of whether the job is right for the candidate - AS A PART OF THE CONVERSATIONS THEY HAVE WITH THE CANDIDATE.

The intent and meaning behind proactively examining whether a proposed career move makes sense with the candidate is simple:

1--You don't want quick churn as a recruiter, so it make sense to the get the candidate's view of the opportunity, judging what they value most about job in question.

More importantly, here's what making the time to talk about career arc means to the candidate:

2--You're not a transactional recruiter looking to slam bodies into a company. You're looking for true fit.

3--You care enough about candidates that you don't want them to take a step back in what they're trying to accomplish.

Does building creditability with candidates in this way really matter?  That depends on the type of talent you're trying to recruit.  All recruiting is tough in a peak economic cycle, but recruiting entrenched candidates is difficult at best.

If you're looking to hire someone with a lot of options, building creditability as a recruiter could be the most important factor in them making a decision to move from their current company.  You always have imperfect information when you make a career move, so having a recruiter helping you analyze whether a move makes sense is not only comforting, but a competitive advantage.

Of course, if you're recruiting candidates from the lowest of tiers, maybe building creditability doesn't matter to you. 

Good luck with that.


Is Workday Really the Most Used ATS in the World?

If there's one thing that's consistent in the TA/Recruiting world, it's hot takes related to Workday Recruiting.  Which is why a recent report that shows Workday Recruiting is now the most used ATS among Fortune 500 companies is fascinating.  

Many of you object to that finding. But it is science! More from OnGig:

"Workday is the #1 ATS system used by Fortune 500 companies, narrowly beating Taleo.

That’s what we found after a review of the 476 Fortune 500 companies that show their applicant tracking system on their public-facing career sites.

22.6% of these Fortune 500 companies use Workday versus 22.4% that use Taleo.

Oracle is still the #1 ATS provider to the Fortune 500 when you add in Oracle HRMS, iRecruitment and Oracle Cloud (see the long table below). Oracle beats Workday 24% to 22.6% when you add in Oracle’s other software."

It's notable to say that there's a lot of dissatisfaction out there related to Workday Recruiting, as many CHROs are forced into the solution by broader ERP initiatives within their organizations.  

Also notable is the fact this is a survey of Fortune 500 companies - Workday Recruiting most certainly is not the leader in the mid-market ATS category, where a bunch of companies on the tail end of the Fortune 500 full list fare much better (looking at you, Jobvite, Greenhouse, Newton, Lever, SmartRecruiters).  See the top 10 ATS solutions across Fortune 500s in the image below, get the full list here, and see a broader list here from 2017 that includes mid-market companies that probably provides better context and a shopping list for the masses.

Top ATS


Bernie Sanders: Proving the Compensation Side of the People Business is Problematic...

Let me start by saying this is not intended to be a political post. It is intended, however, to show the complexities of running a SMB (small to medium sized business).

Need a case in point?  Try Bernie Sanders.  Sanders is a Democratic presidential candidate, and part of his platform has been the need to pay workers a living wage.  No one really Bernie argues that this is a good idea, but once you get into the execution of the idea, it gets complex.

Let's look at the Minimum Wage in America.  Sanders is on record that the minimum wage should be at $15 per hour nationwide, etc.  That's where it gets tricky as he attempts to build out his campaign organization for his presidential run.  More from the New York Post:

"The Vermont socialist senator made history by agreeing that his paid 2020 presidential campaign workers would be repped by a union, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400, with all earning $15 an hour. But now the union complains some employees are getting less. Worse, someone leaked the whole dispute to the Washington Post. Worse yet, Sanders’ response could be a violation of US labor law, all on its own.

The union’s gripe centers on the fact that field organizers, the lowest-level workers, often put in 60 hours a week but get paid only for 40, since they’re on a flat salary. That drops their average minimum pay to less than $13 an hour.

“Many field staffers are barely managing to survive financially, which is severely impacting our team’s productivity and morale,” the union said in a draft letter to campaign manager Faiz Shakir. “Some field organizers have already left the campaign as a result.”

The campaign’s immediate response, now that it’s all gone public, is to restrict the field workers from putting in more than 40 hours a week. Hmm: If it then brings on more unpaid volunteers to pick up the slack, that’s a different union grievance."

The HR pros who read the Capitalist - regardless of political orientation - know that Sanders has experienced the following:

1--He believed workers should be paid no less than $15 per hour.

2--While he partly accomplished that with how he set up his organization, he either didn't understand or cut a corner by classifying field organizers as "exempt".  My guess is he told his people his intent and they found the path of least resistance to make that marching order a reality while maintaining cost certainty - aka, salary over hourly.

3--The good people that read this site understand it's debatable that field organizers would be classified as "salaried" under the FLSA.  But collective bargaining with a union pushes some of the burden of classification to the background - at least initially.

4--Overtime pay kills all SMBs.  The Sanders campaign has a budget - they can't reclassify those workers to hourly status and make their budget (paying them $15 per hour for all hours worked and OT for hours past 40 per week).  Also, if they reclassified, they'd be on the hook for back pay for OT.  So they do what the only thing available to them - telling salaried field organizers to stop working at 40 hours.

What Bernie Sanders has ran into is a classic small business problem. As a business owner, you'd like for the vast majority of your workforce to be salaried - so you have cost certainty and instruct workers to work until their objectives are met - no overtime. The FLSA exists to provide legal boundaries for SMBs (as well as large companies) related to classification of workers.

The devil is always in the details.  There's never enough resources when you're attempting to bootstrap an organization, and that fact makes you look for the most affordable labor possible in some situations.  

Bernie Sanders is bootstrapping an organization in America.  It's an interesting contrast of ideas, market forces and math.


Let's Look at the Numbers Behind Amazon's Program to Retrain 100,000 Employees...

Odds are you’ve heard that Amazon plans to make a huge investment in retraining its existing workforce, partly due to the displacement of employees by emerging automation and A.I., and partly due to scarcity of talent in key job families.

I want to take a look at the Amazon re-skilling investment with a critical eye, but first here’s a primer of what Amazon has planned for the uninitiated: Amazon

"Amazon (AMZN) today pledged to upskill 100,000 of its employees across the United States, dedicating over $700 million to provide people across its corporate offices, tech hubs, fulfillment centers, retail stores, and transportation network with access to training programs that will help them move into more highly skilled roles within or outside of Amazon.

Amazon’s Upskilling 2025 pledge invests in a range of new upskilling programs to serve employees from all backgrounds and Amazon locations. Programs include Amazon Technical Academy, which equips non-technical Amazon employees with the essential skills to transition into, and thrive in, software engineering careers; Associate2Tech, which trains fulfillment center associates to move into technical roles regardless of their previous IT experience; Machine Learning University, offering employees with technical backgrounds the opportunity to access machine learning skills via an on-site training program; Amazon Career Choice, a pre-paid tuition program designed to train fulfillment center associates in high-demand occupations of their choice; Amazon Apprenticeship, a Department of Labor certified program that offers paid intensive classroom training and on-the-job apprenticeships with Amazon; and AWS Training and Certification, which provide employees with courses to build practical AWS Cloud knowledge that is essential to operating in a technical field."

700M is a lot of money. Let’s do some simple math and then start evaluating how to the investment could intensify if it wasn’t spread evenly (which is never is):

--First the simple match.  700M across 100,000 impacted employees equals a base investment in retraining/upskilling of $7,000 per employee. Compare that to the average annual per employee investment in Learning and Development cited by Bersin ($1,200), and the investment seems solid above and beyond what Amazon already does.

--Now imagine a world where the investment isn’t spread out equally across all employees.  Since the Amazon upskilling initiative will have a voluntary vibe to it (similar to AT&T’s upskilling efforts require the employee to proactively opt in and spend their own time preparing their skills for the future), it’s not hard to imagine the opt in rate won’t approach anywhere near 100%. 

--Spread the 700M investment over 50% of the employees, and you’ve got an investment of $14,000 per employee.

--Spread the 700M investment over 30% of the targeted employees, and you’ve got an investment of over $23,000 per employee.

The devil, as it always is, is in the details.  It's a cool program. Will Amazon spend the same total amount of money if just 30% of the impacted employees opt in to the program? The presence of pre-paid tuition and certification programs suggests no.

The voluntary, opt-in nature of the Amazon Upskilling 2025 program is necessary. After all, employees impacted by A.I. and automation have to WANT to improve their long term career prospects. That's why so much of this program will have to be completed after work hours.

That's going to sound like a second job (unpaid as well) to a lot of employees. That means Amazon likely won't spend as much as projected.

If you were in Vegas, you'd take the "under" related to the bet of whether Amazon will spend more or less than 700M by the year 2025 on this program.


WORKPLACE ARTIFACTS: "Patient Zero" Drives Dress Norms at Your Company...

Ever notice that everyone in your company pretty much dresses the same?

Me too.

Note that you didn't hire with this criteria in mind. Before joining your company, your employees had a much greater degree of diversity in the way they dressed.  Then once they joined your organization, conformity and groupthink became the order of the day, and something called "regression to the mean" occurred.  Examples of groupthink dressing in the workplace include:

--Patagonia vest for hedge fund people

--Dress sneakers for tech company people

--Blue Blazers and specific pants choices for white guys over a certain age EVERYWHERE (click the links for my takedowns on these topics)

--and countless more examples.

It's sociology 101.  Norms, customs, etc.  I was reminded by the consistency of the pack by the following from Esquire:

"I work at Morgan Stanley."

Pause.

"It's a bank."

I fight the imminent eye roll with my entire being, like you'd fight an alarming wave of nausea in public:

"Oh, wow! Cool! Are you, like, a bank teller?"

Unidentified Banker No. 1 and I did not speak again after that. He wasn't a teller. (Of course.) He was an analyst. (Of course.) But not just any old analyst. He was a capital B Banker. He lived and breathed the lifestyle, the attitude. He was a douche bag. And, like any true capital B Banker douche bag, he carried the bag. The Douche Bag.

If you're unfamiliar, the Douche Bag is a small-sized duffel bag (the "good" ones are navy), with straps embroidered with the name of the bank the bag's owner works for. The owner is probably a dude. He's probably an analyst. He definitely peaked in college.

The bag itself has many names. It has been called the "corporate duffel" (by the issuing firm), the "deal bag" (by Bankers), the "banker bag" (by New Yorkers), and the "douche-tastic man purse" (by my fellow misanthrope, Renata Sellitti). And, of course, the Douche Bag. By me.

It is a known quantity: the mark of a first-year associate, and a symbol of belonging to the trade. But it is also a known problem. I am not the first person to rail against the obnoxiousness of the banker bag. I'd even call the argument tired, if it weren't for the fact that nothing thus far has stopped these guys from treating promotional canvas duffels like they're limited-edition Louis Vuitton holdalls.

What gives with the follower/norm/desperation to fit in related to workplace dress? I thought about it for awhile. What causes people to conform and who leads trends in your company when they break?  Here's my thoughts:

1--People follow trends inside companies and conform to norms because existing outside of the norm can introduce risk. If there's one thing that average performers don't want, it's more risk.  

2--The older someone is at your company, the less they want risk.  They've made it this far, have closet full of clothes of the existing uniform, and they really don't care about fashion. Translation - they're not picking up a fad or trend at your company - you guessed it - unless NOT picking up the new trend presents them with risk.

3--Changes in dress trends at your company are usually introduced one of two ways - by overall societal trends or industry specific changes.  Industry specific changes are things like the duffel bag above, the Patagonia vest in hedge fund land, etc.  A trend starts at one company in the industry, then is shared via conferences and other forms of networking and spreads like wildfire.

4--Whether changes in the dress norms at your company are due to broad fashion trends or something industry specific, there always has to be a "Patient Zero" at your firm (aka the first one at your company/location to break ranks and embrace the new fashion).

5--"Patient Zero" - the one who embraces the new trend at your company - must be considered trendy enough for people to follow, but also be viewed as a high enough performer to modify the norms at your company - aka, if he/she did it, no one is going to call BS on them because they produce results.  

When patient zero picks up a new dress trend and 3-4 people quickly follow, you've got change when it comes to dress norms at your company.

The patient zero of dress trends at your company is generally not only a high performer, but a manager of people as well.  After all, there's nothing that will make the lemmings be fast followers quicker than their upwardly mobile manager trending a certain dress direction on a casual Friday.

Look around - odds are you have a Patient Zero at your location. Don't smile the next time you walk by them.

 


Firing Lab: Dairy Queen, a Birthday Cake and "Moana"...

It's judgement on terminations day here at the Capitalist. HR pros get their stripes from helping the business decide when employees need to stay, and when they need to go.

The decisions are probably most important for what we'll call "overall judgment in critical situations."  You know the deal on these - an employee is thrust into a situation involving an interaction with a customer/client, a co-worker or a manager - and their judgment is on full display.

The question of whether to term based on a single event of questionable judgment is something HR pros deal with all the time. Moana

Today's lab exercise: A Dairy Queen employee fielding a customer request for a birthday cake involving "Moana."  Here's more on the DQ situation from USA Today:

"A cake mix-up that went viral is drawing national attention, but the whole scenario is a nightmare for one Georgia woman who lost her Dairy Queen job.

The incident started gaining attention on July 2, when Kensli Taylor Davis shared a Facebook post with a picture of her 25th birthday cake purchased from Dairy Queen. The cake shows a marijuana leaf and what appears to be a high "My Little Pony" smoking with bloodshot eyes. 

Davis said her mother asked for a "Moana"-themed cake from a Milledgeville, Georgia, Dairy Queen. Instead, she got a marijuana-themed cake. The post has garnered more than 12,000 reactions and has been shared more than 13,000 times, mostly by people laughing at the mix-up. 

"I think they thought that she said 'marijuana' because we are from south Georgia and kind of have an accent. So, 'Moana,' marijuana?" Davis told WMAZ-TV in Georgia.

That's your situation. Here's how it went down in the workplace:

Cassandra Walker, the Georgia mother of two who made the cake, isn't laughing. She told USA TODAY she made the cake after her manager, who she says misheard Davis' mother, told her it was OK. Walker said Dairy Queen fired her for the mistake on Monday, which was her birthday. 

"The manager stood behind me while I pulled the images off the internet," Walker said. "She walked by as I decorated the cake. As I boxed the cake up, she was the one who walked it up to the front."She said she was told by Al Autry, who is one of the Dairy Queen's owners, that she couldn't be employed anymore.

"This was a simple misunderstanding from the beginning," Autry said in a statement to USA TODAY. "Our cake decorator designed a cake based on what she thought she heard the customer order. When the customer picked it up and said it was not what she ordered, we immediately apologized for the error and offered to redesign it the way she originally intended. The customer said it was fine, paid for the cake and left."

The statement did not address Walker's claim that she was fired. 

So what say you? Do you fire this employee?

My takes below:

1--The employee went through the manager and the design was approved.

2--The customer picked it up, laughed it off and had some fun with it.

3--Most HR pros wouldn't support a term in this circumstance.

If you're digging in from a investigation perspective, the fact that a manager saw and approved the design is a key thing to verify, as is the alleged fact that the manager actually took the call.  Confirm those two facts are true, and you really can't term.

But even if the employee rolled out that cake on her own - the fact that the customer laughed it off and took the cake means a term probably isn't in order.  

Notable in this situation is that Al Autry, identified as the owner of a DQ, is likely a franchisee, which at times can struggle with a lack of deep HR support from people like the ones reading The HR Capitalist.

VERDICT: The fact that pot is generally illegal in GA means you need to do a written warning (don't create work product that illustrates illegal activity), but a term is over the top.