CHRO Briefing: WalMart/CVS Battle Shows Why Amazon is coming to Rx Business...

Here's your latest CHRO briefing that matters:

CVS and WalMart have agreed to laid down their weapons, reaching agreement and ending a dispute would have prevented some CVS Caremark customers from picking up their prescriptions at Walmart pharmacies.

Walmart and CVS didn't reveal the terms of their new agreement in a joint statement. CVS had said that Walmart, the biggest retailer in the world, wanted to raise the cost of Amazon rxfilling prescriptions by too much.

The dispute could have affected about $4 billion worth of prescriptions, according to an estimate from Eric Coldwell, an analyst at Baird. It also would have prevented CVS customers from picking up scripts from 4,700 WalMart locations.

Of course, the real briefing is this --If you don't think that's Amazon's coming to severely hamper CVS and similar Rx companies by getting into the Rx game themselves, you're not paying attention.

In case you missed it, leading online retailer Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) acquired PillPack in June 2018, an online pharmacy service that allows customers to purchase medications in pre-made doses.  Walmart was also a contender to buy PillPack but lost out to Amazon's better offer. Closely following the PillPack purchase, Amazon announced a program that will include prescription deliveries through its Prime membership program. 

You know there's always a new play annually when it comes to help you get cost out of your benefits program.  You've seen that with the trends you now know well - managed acute care, tele-doc, mail order Rx, etc.

Someday soon, Amazon's going to have a path to offer you a 20% reduction in your company's Rx spend.  It's only being slowed by realities like Aetna being owned by CVS, which muddies the competitive landscape for Amazon to navigate to make becoming your Rx provider of choice a reality.

But Amazon's coming. They might have to buy an retail Rx firm to get it done, but with the aging of the USA that seems like a prudent investment.


Helping Unemployed/Underemployed People Is Part of Your Job...

If you're like me in the world of HR and recruiting, you get asked for career help as a normal rite of passage. For me, it's tough because there's only so much you can do to help people find opportunities outside of the company you work for.

That process can make you jaded in the world of HR. People think you're more connected than you are, and as a result, you're going to get more of these inquiries than the average person.

But you matter more than you realize, even when you can't help as much as you'd like.  I recently caught up with another HR leader I ran into by chance in our community.  A few years back, she was down but I had references that said she was talented. I introduced her to 5 people I thought might be able to help her in her career.  None of those contacts generated the lead she needed, but she eventually landed on her feet.  Flash forward to our chance meeting a month or two ago - we caught up, and she was borderline emotional about how I helped her, even if it didn't result in the lead that got her the current role.

It's the long tail of career assistance for you and me as HR and recruiting pros. Treat all with respect, do what you can, and underpromise and overdeliver. The results don't matter as much as your empathy and intent.

I've been fortunate to have had a role in helping to start/build some great careers across the direct reports I've had over the years.

Then I get this note yesterday. Take a look and see you below:

--------

From: Kevin
Date: Thursday, January 17, 2019 at 6:02 PM
To: Kris Dunn 
Subject: Hey old friend

KD!

Hope all is well in your world.  I was at lunch with some customers today and we all told our stories of how we wound up in the wireless industry.  

SO... I got to tell them the story one more time about you "lighting me up" in that pickup basketball game in early 1995. Who would ever think a chance thrashing on the basketball court would lead to a new friend and a great career? 

Thanks for all you did to help me get started. I learned so much from you and have tried to replicate as much as possible by helping as many people as possible network and find jobs, especially when they find themselves without one.

I hope things are going good for you and yours! God Bless!

Kevin

---------

I was just starting my career when I met Kevin.  Like you, I have a great bullshit filter, and he was a real person with humility and ambition. So I referred him into the company I worked for and we became co-workers.

The rest is history.  Kevin's built a career in that industry long after I left.  And I get this random email on a Thursday evening, 23 years later.

You have a lot more impact than you know. The next time someone reaches out to you for career help, be patient.  They need you and their expectations are managed.  

Be empathetic and do what you can.  There but for the grace of god, go I.

They need you.  Remember the long tail that exists with this part of your job and identity. Every time you push away the voice in your head that says you don't have time or can't help and provide an ear, everyone wins.

Including you.

 


Call Up The Co-Worker or Boss You Used to Hate and Tell Them You Understand...

We've all had alpha personality co-workers or bosses we couldn't connect with.  

They were overbearing. They had to do it their way. They were too far in the weeds and hyper-critical of your work.  You didn't like them. Hate's a strong word, dislike is not.

So you ran away and got the hell out.  Time to do your own thing. 

Then a funny thing happened. You grew up, got promoted a couple of times and found yourself being a lot like them.  You didn't notice the similarities until you had a flash point with a direct report.  Then it hit you:

"OMG. I've become what I used to hate."

That's probably true. But the failure didn't happen today, it happened with the younger version of yourself.  You didn't know how hard it was to run the show. 

Need an example?  How about Kyrie Irving of pro basketball's Boston Celtics? Kyrie is infamous for running away from the demanding, badgering, bitchy shadow of Lebron James, requesting a trade after winning a NBA Title with Lebron and the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2017.

Now he's around a bunch of youngsters with the Celtics and feels like the parent Lebron tried to be to him. So he called Lebron to tell him he finally grew up, and apologized for being a bratty kid.  More from ESPN:

Celtics guard Kyrie Irving said that in the wake of his outbursts at coach Brad Stevens and forward Gordon Hayward on the court at the end of Saturday's loss at the Orlando Magic and pointed criticisms of Boston's young players afterward, he called LeBron James and apologized for the way he handled criticism from James when the two were teammates in Cleveland.

"Obviously, this was a big deal for me, because I had to call [LeBron] and tell him I apologized for being that young player that wanted everything at his fingertips, and I wanted everything at my threshold," Irving said after scoring 27 points and dishing out a career-high 18 assists in Boston's 117-108 home victory over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night. "I wanted to be the guy that led us to a championship. I wanted to be the leader. I wanted to be all that, and the responsibility of being the best in the world and leading your team is something that is not meant for many people.

"[LeBron] was one of those guys who came to Cleveland and tried to show us how to win a championship, and it was hard for him, and sometimes getting the most out of the group is not the easiest thing in the world."

Some of the people you used to hate were bad people. Some were good people trying to keep the wheels on the bus as it rolled along at 150 mph and were better than you gave them credit for.

Now that you're running things, you should reach out to the latter group and tell them you appreciate them - if only belatedly.

It might be the start of an important relationship you need professionally.


Amazon Raising All US Workers to a Minimum of $15/hr Is The Simplest Business Decision Ever...

In case you missed it, Amazon announced today that it would establish a $15/hr minimum hourly wage for all 350,000 of its U.S. employees.

The new pay threshold will go into effect Nov. 1 and impact all full-time, temporary and seasonal workers across the company’s U.S. warehouse and customer service teams as well as Whole Foods, the company said in a blog post. It did not disclose what its current minimum pay wage is for U.S. workers, perhaps in part because there is not one set rate. Jeff-bezos-

You can say that it's the right thing to do, but beyond providing a livable wage for employees, THIS IS THE SMARTEST THING AMAZON COULD HAVE DONE FROM A BUSINESS PERSPECTIVE.

Why is that? Because the Amazon effect is on the cusp of being like the Wal-Mart effect of a decade ago.  Remember that vibe?  Wal-Mart put small, local mom and pop shops out of business.  Then they were accused of providing bad jobs and poor working environments.

We all love Amazon Prime.  But Amazon is eliminating as many jobs as Wal-Mart.  They just aren't as visible as the mom and pops that went out of business a decade or two ago.  They're putting big box retailers, malls, strip malls and e-commerce shops out of business.  Why?  Amazon Prime.  We love it.  It's changing a lot of things.

Meanwhile, click on the links below to learn about some reports of working conditions at Amazon:

Workers at Delivery Services contracting to Amazon claim deplorable conditions

Amazon Execs Admit "Employee Cages was a bad idea"

With AI coming on the scene and more disruption on the way from Amazon, the decision to pay all workers a minimum of $15 should have been easy.

If you work for Amazon in Kentucky, you're feeling great today.  If you are based in California, you're probably asking "where's mine?"  If you work for a contractor of Amazon in delivery, it doesn't impact you.

Amazon's going to have the same PR issues as Wal-Mart did within 2 to 5 years.

This move made perfect sense.  Way to get ahead of the coming storm, Amazon.

 

 


Elon Musk Knows How to Embarrass/Frame Talent Leaving for a Competitor..

It's been a tough couple of weeks for an iconic leader in America - Elon Musk.

First, he tweeted/floated an idea for taking Tesla public and may face securities fraud charges as a result.  Then he had a rapper over to the house that started live tweeting a bunch of stuff that was unflattering and the beef continues.

But you know what's going well for Musk?  Embarrassing employees who are jumping to Apple (the companies are infamous Musk2 for training development and design talent) by tagging them all a certain way.  Consider this:

"We always jokingly call Apple the 'Tesla Graveyard.' If you don't make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple. I'm not kidding," Musk told German newspaper Handelsblatt in 2015.

CNBC reports that Apple is on a current hiring spree, poaching "scores" of ex-Tesla employees for a variety of projects, citing better pay at the iPhone giant.

If Tesla was doing an Employer Value Proposition (EVP) study, two of the themes would undoubtedly be "we work on the bleeding edge" and "everyone here is all in".

Then culturally, Musk and his direct reports do what they do - framing defections to a world class company/competitor for talent as the "lazy people" or "not good enough to work here".

Love it or hate it, it's an aggressive approach you can learn from.  Our body language and framing when people leave our companies tends to be too passive.

Play offense when talking about turnover.


EMAIL + WORK: We Need Tags Like "Facts", "Opinions" and "Danger"

Most of us have been overwhelmed by email at work.  Even though the advent of the smart phone has made it easier to keep up, it's been pointed out that the digital leash this provides is of questionable value.

When you really think about it, the contrast of traditional Outlook Exchange and Gmail provides a pretty good backdrop for what's possible.  Outlook is clunky, hard to personalize and not very flexible, but it wins a lot of users because it's the defacto choice for the enterprise.  Gmail, on the other hand, has become the defacto choice for everyone else who doesn't have an email choice forced on them by the company.

Gmail features like enhanced search and tagging provide flexibility Outlook can't match.  A recent product annoucement for Google News got me thinking about what else is possible with email.  More from TechCrunch on advanced tagging:

"Today Google added a new “fact-check” tag to its popular Google News service. The site aggregates popular timely news from multiple sources and has traditionally grouped them with tags like “opinion,” “local source” and “highly cited.” Now readers can see highlighted fact-checks right next to trending stories.

The company cites the growing prominence of fact-checking sites as one of the reasons for creating the tag. Content creators will be able to add the new fact-check tag to posts themselves using a finite set of pre-defined source labels.  

ClaimReview from Schema.org will be used to compile and organize stories offering factual background. The Schema community builds markups for structured data on the internet. The group is sponsored by Google but also has support from Microsoft, Yahoo and Yandex."

The fact that tags are in play everywhere got me thinking.  Why can't email be smarter related to the type of email that's flowing into our work inbox hundreds of times per week?  Gmail already has transcended what's possible in Outlook by sorting emails into tags that include "primary/social/promotions" and delivering those types of emails into separate inboxes.

What would help us for work-related to emails?  I'm thinking tags that would separate our non-junk emails into three primary groups:

--Facts - Similar in some aspects to the Google News feature, this would use smart technology to determine an email is an attempt to educate with facts of some type with limited opinion added to it.  We all get emails that are fact-based and designed to be consumed when we have time.  This would be the tag for those data dumps.

--Opinions - This email tag would tell us that an email contains primarily opinion about something in the workplace.  There might be facts in the background, but this email type would tell us that someone or a group is providing their opinion about a topic.  Let's face it, these are the most interesting to us.

--Danger - The most valuable of all my proposed tags, I'd love to see smart technology sift through the emails and tag the ones that cross a danger threshold, telling me I really need to consider the way I respond.  This would sniff out email chains related to my work, a boss or skip level exec who's emotional about something in my wheelhouse, or people I've responded to a in less than optimal way in the past.

It's probably time that email becomes smart and helps us figure out what to prioritize and when more caution/rigor is necessary.

What did I miss?  A "hot take" tag?  A "crazy" tag?  You tell me.


Must Listen Interview: Robert Hohman of Glassdoor...

You hate Glassdoor. Check.

You can't get your good employees to rate you on Glassdoor. Understood.

Are you done? Can I move on?  Ok, finish your tweet - I'll wait.

Look, I know Glassdoor is a sticky issue. But it's a reality in our world.  You might as well seek to understand it.

That's why this interview with Robert Hohman, co-founder and CEO of Glassdoor, is a great listen.  Hohman appeared on Recode/Decode, a podcast hosted by Kara Swisher, one of the strongest female figures in Silicon Valley and the business world.

One to the things you'll learn in the podcast is that Hohman was part of the early team at Expedia, and the goal of that team was to bring more transparency to the travel industry.  After the team gradually left that company after being purchased by Hotwire, Hohman and people on that team looked for other industries that needed more transparency. 

Guess what came up on that list? Careers and a look inside companies - and Glassdoor was born.

Other team members found similar opportunities elsewhere - a Expedia teammate of Hohman's disrupted real estate and founded Zillow.

Regardless of how you feel about Glassdoor, throw this podcast on on the drive home. Hohman is engaging, educational about the thought process behind Glassdoor and insightful about the research the company has on our workplaces.  (email subscribers click through if you don't see the player below)


Mindfulness and Meditation Might Be Bad For Your Company...

There's a great scene in the movie The Matrix i'll use as the intro to talking about mindfulness.  It goes something like this - one of the machines (Agent Smith) has captured the leader of the human resistance, and he can't help but taunt his prisoner (Morpheus) about how stupid the human race is.  The quote is as follows:

"Did you know that the first Matrix (editors note - this is the software program the human minds are plugged into as prisoners) was designed to be a perfect human world where none suffered, where everyone would be happy? It was a disaster. No one would accept the program, entire crops were lost. Some believed that we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world, but I believe that as a species that human beings define their reality through misery and suffering. So the perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from. Which is why the Matrix was redesigned to this, the peak of your civilization. I say "your civilization" because as soon as we started thinking for you, it really became our civilization which is, of course what this is all about."

Translation - there can be a lot of unintended consequences to what seems like the right thing to do. Smith

So let's talk about mindfulness and meditation. I haven't been bitten by the bug, but I've actually been at conferences where someone asked the question if they could force people to use the meditation rooms at her company.

I'm not joking. 

Mindfulness and meditation are hot topics/trends in the cutting edge of corporate America.  There are a lot of people experimenting with this.  We accept through research that this is good for our employees (I'm assuming, I don't have research to quote), but we've never really asked if it's good for the company or even the employee's career.  Hmm.

A new study digs into that question. More from the BBC:

"Meditation has long shed its Buddhist roots to become a secular answer to all of our ills in the West, with numerous studies finding benefits like reduced stress and better concentration.

Some of the world’s biggest firms, including Google and Nike, have embraced the practice, using meditation programmes as a way of tackling stress, staff turnover and absenteeism.

Meditation is also used as a tool to motivate workers, partly thanks to research on the relationship between wellbeing and productivity. But a new study suggests that mindfulness meditation, a popular type of meditation that practises being aware in the present, may not be the best way to increase your motivation at work."

That's the level set for the research.  Here's what the study found about mindfulness meditation, which is a flavor you''ll encounter on your journey if you explore the sector of meditation:

“Meditation is about accepting the present, which is the opposite to being motivated to do something, where the present moment isn’t acceptable, so meditation is inconsistent with being motivated to achieving a goal,” argues Kathleen Vohs, professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota and co-author of the study.  

Vohs enlisted hundreds of participants to test her theory across five studies. In the first, 109 participants were given audio instructions in common mindfulness meditation techniques by a meditation coach. A comparison group were asked to simply let their minds wander.

After one 15-minute session, all participants were asked to tackle some simple tasks including doing an anagram puzzle and editing a cover letter. They were then asked how motivated they felt to carry on with the task.

Vohs, and her co-author Andrew Hafenbrack from the Católica Lisbon School of Business and Economics in Portugal, found that the self-reported motivation levels of those who had meditated were lower than the control group, though their performance of the task wasn’t affected. The meditators also had fewer thoughts about the future, which the researchers said could interrupt the behavioural processes that contribute to achieving goals.

“The Western world, Americans in particular, love a panacea,” she says. “If mindfulness meditation came in a pill form, we’d all be on top of it. It’s calorie-free, portable, it doesn’t cost anything, and it’s capitalised onto you sitting down and doing nothing. To think the antidote to what ails you is to ‘just be’ is probably a welcome message, but it’s pure speculation.”

Meditation is a fast-growing industry – in 2018 meditation services are expected to generate $1.15bn for the US economy, according to IBISWorld’s Alternative Healthcare Providers in the US industry report – and Vohs’ message is an unusual one amid a generally positive tide.

Another study from Germany and the Netherlands that looked at mindfulness in the workplace, meanwhile, found participants reported improved wellbeing and lower stress levels, but didn’t look at motivation. 

So, the picture is mixed and, according to Desbordes, compounded by confusion over what mindfulness actually is. Some mindfulness teachers, she says, teach the importance of putting your daily suffering aside to achieve a new level of consciousness, whereas others advocate gaining insight into these challenges and how to improve them; two very conflicting approaches."

Look, I'm just a kid from the Midwest who lived in a blue collar household growing up.  

Am I skeptical of meditation and mindfulness?  Yes.  Am I open to learning more? Yes - and I have an app on my phone as proof I know I should be exploring this more.

But the article referenced above is a cautionary tale to me.  Agent Smith had to make the Matrix less than perfect to get the results the machines wanted.  Mindfulness Meditation might put your employees so much as ease that they're more mellow than you'd like them to be about goals.

The truth and the right solution is out there somewhere - but you're going to have to invest a lot of time to find it - and to ensure you don't get unintended consequences from your meditation program.

(h/t to Jenny Briggs for the article referenced, she's one of the best Human Capital pros I know!!)

 


When Employees Challenge Others to Step Up or Get Out...

The Cleveland Browns (pro football) are bad.  HBO has a show called "Hard Knocks", which embeds cameras at a training camp of one team each year.  This year, they are on campus with the Browns.

The hope, of course, is that the organizational dumpster fire that is the Cleveland Browns will provide notable moments.

Look, kids!  The Browns are doing it to themselves!  Those lovable losers!! Jarvis

Good news - Hard Knocks at the Browns started us off with a notable human capital moment.  More from the Ringer:

"After a particularly disappointing practice where Jarvis Landry and Hue Jackson were visibly frustrated with the effort of Cleveland’s pass catchers, Jarvis Landry asked whether he could address the receivers room.

“Fellas, I don’t know what the f**k is going on here, and I don’t know why it’s been going on here,” Landry says, “But if you not hurt, like your hamstring ain’t falling off the f**king bone, or your leg ain’t broke, I don’t even know, you should be f**king practicing. Straight up. That sh*t is weakness, and that shit is contagious as f**k. And that sh*t ain’t gonna be in this room, bruh. That sh*t been here in the past and that’s why the past has been like it is. That sh*t is over with here.”

The words land because Landry, who the team acquired in a trade this offseason and signed to a five-year extension with $47 million guaranteed, spends the episode walking the walk. His workouts include catching medicine balls one-handed while balancing on a Bosu ball with one foot, which explains why his dazzling one-handed catches look so effortless. In practice, Landry’s aggressive work ethic routinely rises above the other players on the field. Every catch he makes is inevitably punctuated by “bless you,” which he delivers with a sincerity that is more effective than actual trash-talking."

Sorry about the language.  But it's notable in that Landry is coming into an organization as an employee, knows what he's walking into isn't world class, and is trying to change the culture.

If my career managing people has taught me anything, it's that change agents are needed.  Some thoughts about change agents who come into organizations with statements and challenges like Landry - and what has to be present for them to be successful:

1--Change Agents who are highly verbal and challenging must perform at a high level.

2--The same change agents must mentor others, rather than simply dressing people down verbally.

3--In order for the change agent to be successful, managers and the company must support those efforts and embrace the cause, removing people who don't get on the bus of change.

In short, Jarvis better perform, should use the development of others in positive terms as a leader for an equally powerful statement as a change agent, and the organization (the Browns) should be ready to move people out - if they believe that Jarvis Landry represents their view of what the future is.

The same thing applies to your company - except your change agents can't get that many F-bombs in.

 


Older Workers and Unconscious Bias...

I did a post over at Fistful of Talent last week on older workers, unconscious bias and a new org attempting to represent older workers call I, Too, Am Qualified.  Here's a snippet of the post, hit FOT for the whole thing:

"Why is better understanding of unconscious bias a good thing for older workers?  Mainly because it transcends what is merely legal and seeks to connect on a higher plane.  The key to getting better treatment in the recruiting world for older candidates is inclusion in the concept of unconscious bias as it gains traction, which goes something like this for your average hiring manager:

1--I'm a good person.

2--I'm a horrible person because I have bias I'm not even aware of.

3--I shall correct this unconscious bias by giving impacted groups of people more play than my mind is telling me too.

4--Did I mention I'm a good person?

5--I made a hire from an impacted group of people as a form of self-correction, and I'll be damned, that ended up pretty good.

6--I'm going to keep looking to hire people from groups of impacted candidates since that went well.

7--Told you I was a great person.  I'm not even sure I was part of that whole unconscious bias thing.  Other people, though? Heathens...

Go take a look and support I, Too, Am Qualified.  You'll know they (and others like them) are winning when we include age in the unconscious bias narrative."

Go hit Fistful of Talent to get the whole post!