« August 2019 | Main | October 2019 »

September 2019

Must-Read: The Kaiser 2019 Employer Health Benefits Survey

It's not early October without the Kaiser Family Foundation releasing their 2019 Employer Health Benefits Survey.  It's the best report of healthcare costs and trends available, and a must for any HR leader who wants to be knowledgeable about cost trends.

This annual survey of employers provides a detailed look at trends in employer-sponsored health coverage, including premiums, employee contributions, cost-sharing provisions, offer rates, wellness programs, and employer practices. The 2019 survey included 2,012 interviews with nonfederal public and private firms.

So what did we learn in the 2019 report?  

Annual premiums for employer sponsored family health coverage reached $20,576 this year, up 5% from last year, with workers on average paying $6,015 toward the cost of their coverage. The average deductible among covered workers in a plan with a general annual deductible is $1,655 for single coverage. Fifty-six percent of small firms and 99% of large firms offer health benefits to at least some of their workers, for an overall offer rate of 57%.

Some of you are wondering how that breaks down across HMO, PPO, POS and HDHPs.  I get it, you're nerdy.  I like that you're nerdy - here's the chart you need (email subscribers click through if you don't see the image below):

Kaiser

A few of you look at that and say, "Hey what about EE+Spouse or EE+1?".  That's cute - you know most of us have carved out EE+Spouse long ago.

If you read one thing about healthcare cost all year, this report is the bible.  Go get the full report here!


5 Questions With Sharlyn Lauby - Author of "Manager Onboarding: 5 Steps for Setting New Leaders Up for Success"....

Sharlyn Lauby is an author, writer, speaker and consultant. And a friend of mine!

She is president of ITM Group Inc., a consulting firm which focuses on developing training solutions that engage and retain talent in the workplace. SharlynThe company has been named one of the Top Small Businesses in South Florida.

She's also an incredible, trusted, practical voice on all things related to talent.  That's why I wanted to feature this book today.

She is well-known for her work on HR Bartender, a friendly place to talk about workplace issues. The site has been recognized as one of the “Top 5 Blogs HR Pros Love to Read” by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Sharlyn is the author of “Manager Onboarding: 5 Steps for Setting New Leaders Up for Success” and “The Recruiter’s Handbook: How to Source, Select, and Engage the Best Talent” (both available in the SHRM Store).

Sharlyn previously served as a member of SHRM’s Membership Advisory Committee (MAC) and Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility special expertise panel. Her personal goal in life is to find the best cheeseburger on the planet.

I loved the Manager Onboarding book and wanted to learn more.  Below is my 5 Questions Feature with Sharlyn on Manager Onboarding: 5 Steps for Setting New Leaders Up for Success:

1--Sharlyn, employee onboarding has been a hot topic for a while, but you zigged while others zagged and wrote an entire book on MANAGER onboarding (which I love).  What drove you to write an entire book on the need to properly onboard managers of people?

When it comes to new hire onboarding, there’s no training program that I’m aware of that says, “This is how you effectively onboard employees.” We learn how to onboard from our own onboarding experiences. So, if we onboard managers badly, guess what?! They will onboard employees badly. And there’s a statistic from Korn-Ferry that says 98% of CEOs think the key to employee retention is good onboarding.

The other piece that’s frustrating for new managers (and I’m sure you’ve heard this too) is when managers receive no guidance or instruction on something, then they make a mistake, and then they’re scolded by “Here’s how you do it…” Why not avoid the mistake and just tell managers what they need to know so they do it right the first time?

2--When it comes to manager onboarding, what’s the focus point or activity we neglect that has the biggest return on investment of time or money?

I believe it’s telling managers what their goal is. And I’m not talking about the common functions of management: planning, staffing, organizing, directing, and controlling. A manager’s true goal is to find and train their replacement.

Managers can’t work on the CEO’s super-secret pet project, take a vacation, or participate in training if every time they leave their office, their department falls apart. Managers need to learn how to develop talent and delegate. And they need to realize that doing this will not make them dispensable. It will make them more valuable.

3--What are some tips you have from your deep experience in helping organizations perform at a higher level related to introducing a new manager to an incumbent team?  How can we create a form of trust/transparency/authenticity with the team earlier with a new manager through onboarding?

I believe it starts with the hiring process. Does the incumbent team know what’s going on? Are they a part of the recruiting process? I’m a big fan of collaborative hiring. It allows key stakeholders – like the incumbent team – to get involved and be invested in the new manager’s success.

Then when it comes to onboarding, there’s an opportunity for the new manager and incumbent team to start building camaraderie. I recently read about a concept called a “personal guide”. It’s what you would think it is – a personal guide of how someone likes to work. Years ago, I had a boss who every time he took a profile or assessment, he would copy the results and distribute them to his direct reports. At first, I thought it was weird. Then I came to realize that he was teaching me how he liked to work. And how he wanted me to work with him. I could see that type of activity being a great way for new managers to build relationships and create a sense of team.

4--What’s 3 things that new managers do (without the help of your onboarding blueprint) that undermine their ability to be effective?

Here are three but let me say that I don’t know that all of these are the new manager’s fault. Organizations need to take some responsibility for setting the right expectations with new managers.

    1. They focus on the technical aspects of the job and not relationship building. The biggest mistake organizations make is hiring/promoting the most technically competent person and not giving them the people skills to do the job. Many managers think they’re being given the job for the technical expertise and forget they need people to get the work done.
    2. They forget to manage up. I learned a long time ago that I needed to build a relationship with my boss. And if I wanted them to support me that we needed to agree on A) when I could do something and never tell them B) when I could do something and drop them an email later and C) when I need to go to their office and have an immediate conversation. It builds trust.
    3. And they forget to develop their team. We’ve already touched on this but if managers want to move up in the company, they need to start thinking about developing their team. Otherwise, when they get a promotion, there will be no one to take their job. That leads to a new manager doing their “old job” and their “new job” until a replacement is found. No one wins when that happens.

5--Think about TV or the movies – and give us 2-3 Managers featured in Hollywood that are so good at managing others that you’re wondering if they’ve gone through proper onboarding for managers.

Wow! This is a toughie. Especially since there are so many ineffective managers on TV or in the movies who are simply portrayed that way to make us laugh – like Michael Scott in The Office or Director Ton in Aggretsuko.

I would point to a couple of managers like Morgan Grimes in Chuck who start out as a total goof but as he grows professionally, he really begins to deliver for his team. And he’s willing to admit and apologize when he makes a mistake. Another one is the Commissioner in Death in Paradise. He’s not actively directing all of the police investigations, but he’s there when the team needs him and seems to say just enough to help the team keep moving in the right direction.

Sharlyn Lauby is awesome.  You can order this book here - she's real people and a voice you should be following - Subscribe to her blog and follow her via the social accounts below:

Blog: http://www.hrbartender.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sharlynlauby

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sharlyn_lauby

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HRBartender


The 5 Ways You Intimidate People Without Directly Threatening Them...

I know - that post title feels ugly, dirty and any other identifier you want to put on it. But yet here we are - in the workplace, trying to do things the right way but under siege by the nature of humanity.

The art of influence has been covered by many people smarter than me.  But like you, I'm a student of the game as people attempt to get things done in the Succession workplace inside your company, an environment that's harder to navigate the bigger and more complex it gets.

This post title could easily say, "influence" rather than "intimidate", but that's just a nicer word for what's usually going on.  Your covert actions as a person of influence (at any level, but certainly the power is greater the higher up the org chart you go) make people see shadows and take actions based on attempts to read the tea leaves, your intent as a leader and more - without ever having a conversation with you.

I'm watching Succession on HBO (highly recommended), so maybe that's influencing me to think about this with this framing.

Here's my 5 ways you intimidate people and get them to take action without directly threatening them:

1--Say nothing. Given the circumstances, you should say something. Yet you fail to seek out the person in question and fail to address the issue at hand, even when you're having a 1/1 conversation with them.  Sometimes it's the awkward silence that matters most.

2--Talk to other people, or tell your subject of your intent to talk to other people. That issue at hand?  You didn't address it with the person you should, but you're talking to other people about it.  Or you fail to have a meaningful conversation with the person most impacted, simply telling that person you're "going to check the temperature of others."  You're just dangling them out there.

3--Show favor and affection to others and make a public display of it.  Who's up? Who's down? Who are you taking to lunch?  If there was a scoreboard, somebody would be falling from the top spot. How far will they fall? Only you know.

4--Talk openly and honestly about outcomes that don't match the needs of your subject, without addressing the fact that their needs aren't being met. Oh, OK - you're having a conversation, but it's a subtle counter to what you know the conventional wisdom is accordingly to the person in front of you. Also notable, you seem pretty locked in to the path you're recommending, which makes it unlikely the person you're trying to intimidate influence is going to speak up.  <insert bulldozer emoji>

5--Be erratic as hell. You're happy. You're sad. You're angry. You're forgetting things. You're a unlovable mess, and damn, who really wants to try and be direct with you related to talking opening and honesty? You're like a rouge state with limited economic options that just took another round of sanctions. At most, people will only ask you questions they know the answers to, and they'll just accept and try to figure out the rest. You're a mess. Congrats on the ups and downs as a management philosophy.

There are more strategies related to this for sure.  Hit me in the comments or reply via email to tell me what I missed.

I see you, Machiavelli. And the first task with figuring you out is understanding the game being played.


FLSA Games: Exempt Salary Threshold Moves from 23K to 35K...

Heads up, HR friends at all levels...

Employees who make less than $35,568 are now eligible for overtime pay under a final rule issued today by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The new rate will take effect Jan. 1, 2020.

To be exempt from overtime under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employees must be paid a salary of at least the threshold amount and meet certain duties tests. If they are paid less or do not meet the tests, they must be paid 1 1/2 times their regular hourly rate for hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek.

The new rule will raise the salary threshold to $684 a week ($35,568 annualized) from $455 a week ($23,660 annualized). A blocked Obama-era rule would have doubled the threshold, but a federal judge held that the DOL exceeded its authority by raising the rate too high.

The new rule is expected to prompt employers to reclassify more than a million currently exempt workers to nonexempt status and raise pay for others above the new threshold. 

My experience is that the new law impacts small to medium sized business the most, as they'll have a good number of employees labeled as exempt who have a salary in the low 30k's.  They'll be some exposure to huge companies that still have salaried supervisors in places like call centers in the low 30k's as well.

Feel bad about this?  Remember that the Obama rule was going to raise the threshold to 47K, my friends.

More details here from CNBC.

A good rundown here from SHRM of second-level details you'll need to know behind the broad threshold change.

 


Chick-fil-A: Observations from the Road About Talent and Culture...

I travel a lot for work. Over the last nine years, that's meant a bit of travel fatigue and recent attempts to reduce my total number of nights in hotel rooms.

Reducing nights in hotel rooms generally means getting up as early as needed and hitting the road for mid morning meetings - rather than going in the night before.  Being up early means a need for coffee and food somewhere along the way - especially on trips where I drive into the meeting in question.

Enter Chick-fil-A

Most people know Chick-fil-A for specific reasons:

--Kick Ass chicken sandwiches (you're weak, @Popeyes. Don't @ me).

--Great service at the counter.

--You say thanks, they say, "My pleasure".  You can say thanks 5 times, they're always going to come back and say that phrase.  You could say, "I appreciate how you're going with the company line to such extremes, you robo-cop of chicken sandwich love" - you know what they're going to say?  "My pleasure".

But I'm here today not to applaud Chick-fil-A for the normal things you associate them with.  Instead, let's talk about subtle signs of how they treat people.

I generally walk into Chick-fil-A's in the morning because the restrooms are always clean, etc. I'm around about 4 or 5 Chick-fil-A locations during my normal power commutes of 3 hour trips in the car, and you know what I always see?

I ALWAYS SEE GROUPS OF ANYWHERE FROM 3-6 CHICK-FIL-A EMPLOYEES IN THE SIDE SECTION OF THE SEATING OF THE  RESTAURANT, EATING TOGETHER AND GENERALLY TALKING TO ONE ANOTHER.

I don't want to go off on too much of a rant here, but when's the last time you consistently saw that at a fast food location? 

Try never.  And I see it all the time at the Chick-fil-A locations I'm around.

I've never seen it at another fast food franchise.  It's haunted me a bit, because like any HR geek, I want to know the people practices behind what I'm seeing. I thought about asking the employees but paused due to the jeepers/creepers factor, and have thought about asking to speak with a managers and then I saw this in a social post (email subscribers, click through if you don't see the photo below):

IMG_0058

Makes sense - free food every shift.  Taking care of people, and a meaningful perk for many they employ.

I'm sure other chains offer that as well but DAMN - I always see these Chick-fil-A employees eating with each other and they're actually engaged with each other. It's staggering and meaningful from a cultural perspective.

It all comes down to how they hire. If you know anything about the company, you know franchise are owned by individual operators who are highly vetted. A living wage doesn't hurt. They're offering family discounts as well as free food and you don't have to work Sundays.  All of those things add up to provide a place as an employer of choice, one you see in the service you experience vs other chains (airport locations excluded).

You love the chicken sandwich. I say "screw the chicken sandwich, did you see what's happening on the side?"  They have people engaging each other on THEIR OWN TIME.

Staggering. Well played, Chick-fil-A.  I see you.


Feedback Notes on KD From the Speaker's Circuit: If Everyone's Happy, You Didn't Do Your Job...

My friend Jennifer McClure is a speaker and loves to share actual feedback that's been gathered by organizations that bring her into speak. Overall ratings that are numbers-driven are appropriate and you have to have them for overall measurement.

But the real gold? It's in what I'll call the "verbatim" comments, where people can say anything they want.  Jennifer is known for sharing chippy comments from attendees about her outfit - dress, shoes, etc. Good stuff.

You'll never please everyone in the room when you put yourself out there to speak. It's one of the first things you learn as a speaker, and over a decade ago (when I first started speaking at conferences) it was a hard lesson to learn.  But it's probably also a lesson for anyone who's going to share a strong point of view (POV) inside their company as well.

I've spoken 4 times in the last two months - audiences range from 800 to 70 attendees.  To underscore the reality you can't please everyone with your POV, I thought I'd offer up an overall rating and some verbatim comments from the speakers trail.  Enjoy and scroll to the bottom for analysis and the soul crushing, hard criticism:

Date - sometime in the last 2 months.

Audience size and type:  200 attendees,

Overall Ratings: 

"The content was valuable to me" - 8.90 out of 10

"The Speaker was knowledgeable and engaging" - 9.38 out of 10.

Verbatim Comments:

Very entertaining speaker. Love this event.

The pictures used on the slides!

The speaker

Recruiters are sales people. Period.

Timely reminder of how employers SHOULD relate and deal with all candidates.

Valuable insights on making for TA experience human, the power of story telling, using assessments throughout the employment lifecycle.

What's up KD!! Speaker was great. (editor's note - I do a group exercise to get people comfortable referring to me as "KD", which is what my friends call me)

Good mix of data with tips to take back to the office.

Q&A session & some of the content

Actionable takeaways

The delivery was intentional and he told a story vs. a lot of words on a slide. He made the session relevant.

The speaker used compelling numbers and gave solid advice!

Learning valuable information and networking with my peers.

Engaging speaker

Wealth of knowledge of the speaker and the valuable insights provided during the presentation.

Conversation about finding low rules and highly organized individuals. Also Text Recruiting and the implementation of it.

The welcoming environment at my table. The relevant/timely presentation.

Value of story-telling in recruitment (company's TA website)

Kris' succinct style of communicating a complex message, real genuine info that is implementable

 

App length, Real people, 3:1 job posting, Text recruiting

Sell, not screen. Focus on differentiators in culture. Make it easy to apply.

Always Be Hustlin :-)

Dynamic presenter on a very relevant topic

Everything

Designing the career website so it's real and memorable.

How to manage effective recruiting processes

Company branding and culture tips

 

The application process should take no more than 5 minutes, assessments should be used to find people that fit the company, and should be used post hire as well.

Memorable in a bad way. Usually, I find the speakers interesting and informative so this was an exception. It felt like an infomercial. The advice was simplistic and often not evidence-based. At least at my table, his comments about the unattractive people on the Amazon website prompted groans and comments such as "is he for real." He might consider more humility. At least acknowledge that "sometimes" these strategies might work.

How difficult it is to confirm your company’s culture and how important it is to share and explain the culture during recruiting.

The critical importance of having the website to be mobile ready.

Engaging and practical

The helpful advice and key takeaways from the speaker

The dynamics of the speaker

Good presentation

Presentation mode - pictures and main thought.

The number of relate-able business scenarios the speaker talked about.

Kris' engaging personality and being a SME in the areas of culture, recruitment & retention.

Discussion on ATS and attracting employees though branding.

Great speaker and program!

I absolutely loved the presentation

KD would be good to have along with a panel of others to conduct a half/full day of talent acquisition/retention.

 

SHRM member.

Favorite speaker this year!

 

Great meeting!!!!

Offer some meetings around lunchtime as opposed to always in the morning

Great session quality and impact! Let's bring him back  :-).

Fantastic program! Would love to be back!

Glad to be a member of the local chapter.

Dynamic speaker

2nd program I've attended. First was Dec '17 or '18. Found program inspired. Now I'll return!

---------------------------------------

OK, so in the big scheme of things, that's pretty good feedback.  I had a great time at this session and the audience is a hidden gem in the speaking world, engaged and responsive. While I probably had something to do with that, the reality is that some audiences are just better than others. This was a great crowd!

But just like my friend Jennifer McClure knows, there's a lump of coal ready for anyone with a point of view willing to share in an authentic way on the speaker's circuit.  Usually there's more than one lump of coal, but in this case really just one.

Did you see it?  Here it is:

"Memorable in a bad way. Usually, I find the speakers interesting and informative so this was an exception. It felt like an infomercial. The advice was simplistic and often not evidence-based. At least at my table, his comments about the unattractive people on the Amazon website prompted groans and comments such as "is he for real." He might consider more humility. At least acknowledge that "sometimes" these strategies might work."

My favorite part?  "He might consider more humility."  Also, "memorable in a bad way." Translation: KD seems like a bastard.

Now that's not a chippy comment about shoes or dress that Jennifer gets at times.  Men don't get a lot of dress/look comments, which is good for me and another post. BTW, the Amazon thing was a crowd exercise where I ask the crowd to rate the attractiveness of some employees featured on Amazon's career site.  The crowd was unified, they're a bunch of 6's.  The point? You need to share real people, not pretty people in stock art as a part of a drive toward authenticity on your career site.

But the overall comment underscores a reality about anyone in the professional world with a POV.  If you're going to have passion about something, you just need to know that when you share, a certain percentage of the world thinks you're a complete *** and should step back into the crowd. While this audience was a great one, I'd generally put presentation audiences in a bell curve of sorts - 20% of going to be supporters, 20% are going to be detractors - related to your content, your style, etc.  It's what you do with the 60% in the middle that matters. You want to convert them, because the more you convert them, the more muted the detractors become.

If you're a white collar professional in America who wants to rise, your career rides on your POV being perceived as value-added and/or innovative.  You can't communicate that POV without detractors.  Don't stop sharing your POV if you believe in what you do. Detractors will always be there.

Oh, and could you be a little bit more humble when you share your opinion in the next staff meeting, please?  That would be great.


@Google: Stop Talking About Your Opinion and Get Back to Work...

Without question, candidates with options in the job marketplace are looking for companies with a purpose behind their business.  That's why you see the rise in CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) as a topic and companies like Unilever not only revamping their corporate values, but also mandating that every brand in the portfolio have a mission/purpose that people can get behind.

Funny thing about all this mission talk - It's OK for companies to dictate what the purpose-drive reason is for their corporate existence, but once employees start dictating what the purpose should be, it all goes straight to hell. Atn

That's because we live in America. We can't talk about most topics of meaning and generate a better than 60/40 split in agree/disagree.

Welcome to the difference between "purpose-driven mission" and "employee activism".  One wants to save the planet. The other?  Let's just say it's bound to be divisive.

So divisive that Google - the standard for employee voice and the company who's primary value for years was "don't be evil" - recently placed limits on what employees can say in the workplace related to their views.  

More from Recode:

"Google announced new rules on Thursday about what employees are allowed to say in the workplace — including restrictions on political expression and guidelines on internal debates about company activity.

The new rules come as Google faces increasing scrutiny from politicians, the public, and its employees on a number of issues. Republicans, including President Donald Trump, continue to make unfounded accusations that the company’s products display a bias against conservatives. Employees on both sides of the political aisle have accused Google of retaliating against workers on the basis of their ethical and political beliefs. And internal debates over controversial projects, like a censored search engine for China, and company decisions, like how to moderate abusive content on YouTube, have created a growing rift between employees and leadership.

In an email sent to employees Thursday evening, Google CEO Sundar Pichai explained the company’s revised community guidelines, which now explicitly discourage workers from discussing politics on Google’s thousands of internal mailing lists and forums, several of which are devoted exclusively to discussing politics and related topics.

“While sharing information and ideas with colleagues helps build community, disrupting the workday to have a raging debate over politics or the latest news story does not,” the guidelines state. They warn employees that their primary responsibility is to “do the work” that they’ve been hired to do — “not to spend working time on debates about non-work topics.”

The new rules are a radical departure from how the historically open company has always functioned, and they demonstrate how seriously Google is confronting its ongoing struggle with internal dissent among its rank and file and external accusations of political bias.

Hidden in the announcement and spin from Recode - activist employees don't speak for the employee base as a whole. Whether the topic is politics or a strong opinion about providing products and services to the US government, activist employees represent the polar extreme of a viewpoint.  Many of our employees have differing views, and the majority are moderate and exist somewhere in the middle of the spectrum on any issue.

Google has chosen to address the activist employee voices and get everyone back to work and doing what they're paid to do - create great products and services.

When it comes to purpose-driven work, the new rules at Google provide clarity on a reality - defining purpose is the domain of the corporation/organization - not the employee.


Can the Young Star Ever Earn Less Than the Employees They Manage?

Capitalist Note - Got an email about this from a young gunner over the weekend, and sent her this post.  Felt like I should share again.  Cliff notes - you play to win the game, not win today.

-------------------------

In a word, yes.  It's rare, but it happens.

Here’s my take - most star managers on the upswing of their careers have usually faced the prospect of either managing someone who has either:

a) earned more than they have, or

b) earned close to what they have. 

It happens more often with rising stars who are relatively young in an organization, because they tend to aggregate additional responsibilities beyond their years.  You’re aggressive with the star within the definition of “aggressive” within your company, then the department of the star has to grow, you move people around internally to work for them and BAM!  You also experience the reality that in order to hire people with the skills to work for the young star in the growing department, those new hires need to come in at or around the salary you have the star at…

Is that a problem?  Many would say yes.  To anyone (this message is for you, young star) who finds themselves in that situation, I would say "have patience, young grasshopper".  If you are that star who finds themselves managing people who earn more or close to what you earn, you're right, there should be more of a divide.  However, note this - you got to where you are because you are viewed as a high, high potential asset to your company.  There's probably only one way you can mess that up if you continue to perform - by not handling the situation with class.

If you make it about the money, some people will chalk that up to maturity, and you might see theMo money upward arc of your career slow down a bit.  If you find a classy way to bring it to someone's attention without demanding any immediate action, I can guarantee you one thing: You're going to make a LOT more money than the people you're currently managing over the course of your career.
 
To the stars of the world who find themselves in this situation, I say: "Be the ball, Danny".  Don't let pride or some shortsighted advice from your Uncle Tommy drive your reaction to this situation.  You've managed to be different than everyone else to this point.  Keep being different. 

Play to win the game, not this possession.


BUILDING CULTURE THROUGH RECRUITING #5: Building the Right TA Tech Stack...

Capitalist Note: This post is part of a series on Building/Reinforcing Company Culture Through Great Recruiting and Talent Acquisition Practices. 

Let's face it people, "company culture" is a loaded phrase. Some of it is real, some of it is aspirational, but one thing on my mind recently is that as we try to build the culture we want at our companies, we forget about the messages we send in our recruiting process.

So you're proud of your culture - cool!  Let's dig in and see if you're reinforcing that culture in all the gritty details of your talent acquisition/recruiting process. Remember - if your TA/Recruiting process doesn't match and promote your culture, you're not going to get the fit/matches you need in the candidate marketplace.

------------------------

It’s only natural we can’t end a series on building culture through great recruiting practices without talking about Talent Acquisition technology (TA Tech). Once you’ve got your recruiting team, process and employment brand set up for success, the right TA Tech can dramatically help you scale your ability to communicate your culture and your company as an employer of choice.

TA Tech has blown up over the past decade with billions of dollars entering the marketplace in investment. It seems like every single day we’re getting an announcement via HRM-software email about the launch of a new TA Tech company.

All of this has caused massive confusion among HR/Recruiting/TA leadership trying to keep it all straight. The common questions are:

--What does this tech do?

--Do I need this tech?

--Doesn’t my ATS do this?

--What is my competition using?

--What should we be using to attract more talent?

The TA Tech marketplace is moving at a fast pace and innovation within the space is truly unparalleled in comparison with other segments of the HR Tech space. We’re offering up the following notes on buying/optimizing TA Tech with a narrow view hyper-focused on communicating your culture.  To ensure you have max ability to communicate your culture focus on the following items (after moving through post 1 through 4 of this series).

1—Find and culturally optimize the right ATS that fits your needs.

Your choices related to Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are endless. ATS options are available for every budget and appetite for complexity. As you consider new systems or simply seek to configure the ATS you have, remember that simplicity wins. Reducing complexity maximizes the odds your recruiters will use the system and candidates will have a positive candidate experience.

Optimizing your ATS to maximize candidate experience is straightforward. As we’ve covered elsewhere, strip your initial apply process down to the minimum necessary. Revamp all ATS messaging to sound like a human. Ensure your recruiters use the system to update candidate status and allow the technology to provide status updates. Doing these simple things puts you in the top 10% of all companies related to TA Tech and signals your status as an employer of choice.

2—Make investments in technology beyond your ATS that deliver candidates who value and fit the culture you’re building.

The ecosystem of TA Tech is immense. Beyond the ATS, there are dozens of TA Tech segments with new solutions arriving every month. When making decisions about where to spend beyond the ATS, think first about where your best hires originate from.

For most companies, employee referral not only a leading source of hire, but the source with the highest perceived quality of hire. For this reason, it makes sense you would seek solutions that can help you automate the communication and marketing of employee referrals.  The right tech partner in this area can dramatically impact the reach and efficiency of your employee referral program.

Other solutions making sense for post-ATS spend at your company include CRM and Talent Pool technology, which allow you to track candidate interest and interactions and also make great use of the storytelling strategy described earlier in this series.

3—Invest in emerging tech in the Text Recruiting/Chat segment of Talent Acquisition.

The holy grail in TA Tech stack investment can be found in solutions that are candidate centric and help your recruiting function operate more efficiently. With those two goals in mind, one solution set comes to mind – text recruiting and chat.

Open rates on text dramatically outperform email in our lives, and this trend is true in recruiting as well. The best text recruiting solutions offer up early version of A.I., allowing a recruiter to work a candidate through multiple yes/no questions about their background and schedule time for phone interviews – all without the recruiter being present. This saves recruiter time for what’s most important – more phone time with the highest quality candidates.

The right solution in the text recruiting segment will also allow you to enable automated chat sessions on your career site – maximizing application rates by ensuring candidates don’t leave before they find what they’re looking for.

4—Mobile matters, so don’t mess it up.

Smart phones are ubiquitous, and 9 in 10 job seekers say they will use a mobile device during their job search. For that reason, you should develop your careers site and evaluate other solutions in your TA Tech stack with a “mobile first” mentality.

Most important to the mobile candidate experience is the apply process. Studies show that after 3 clicks, you lose 60% of applicants. That means it’s not enough to simply have a site/ATS that’s mobile responsive – design matters. The right “mobile-first” philosophy combines mobile-enabled platforms with an application process that that takes 2-3 minutes to complete. While features like “apply with Your LinkedIn profile” can ease this pain, keep in mind many candidates aren’t active on tools like LinkedIn.

Once you get your ATS and apply process mobile-friendly, remember that tools like required assessments should follow the trend of “mobile-first” design.

---------------------------------------------

Views expressed are the product of the school of hard knocks, which includes watching my team at Kinetix represent great companies and brands on the RPO recruiting trail. Reach out if you ever need recruiting help while you build something great.


REAL TALK: Managers are Looking for Alphas for Succession...

There's a millions things that go into a decision on succession, who gets the promotion and other spoils of career advancement.

I'm here today to talk about one of those things - being an alpha.

All things being equal, the leaders who make decisions about who moves up in the organization want someone who can take charge and lead. Gruden

I was reminded of this as I watched Hard Knocks, the series on HBO that follows a single professional football team in training camp.  The coach of the Oakland Raiders, Jon Gruden, spent over 5 minutes in a recent episode evaluating backup quarterbacks, with a job in the NFL on the line.  

Both quarterbacks were equal. What did Gruden want most? He wanted one of them to stop being passive/blending in and start taking charge, directing others and being vocal - and he was telling them as much.

In other words, he was equating leadership with alpha qualities that are visible in nature.

Most managers are looking for the same thing when it comes to promotional decisions, especially in spots that manage others.  All things being equal, alphas get the nod.

That's not you? You might need to fake it!!!  Or at least understand you have to summon your Alpha in select spots.

You may not be a natural alpha. That's OK.  Just understand that if you're in a competitive spot with others, sometimes succession and promotions are decided by observing who naturally asserts themselves in fluid situations.