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.


Are HR Leaders Ready to Hire Candidates with Criminal Histories? #SHRM19

If you’re a SHRM member or even remotely following major initiatives within the world’s largest association of HR professionals, odds are you’ve heard of “Getting Talent Back to Work”, a pledge drive to promote the hiring of candidates with criminal histories.

Which begs the question – are HR pros really open to hiring people with criminal backgrounds who are available in the talent marketplace?

I was reminded of “Getting Talent Back to Work” at the SHRM National conference, when SHRM GTBTW CEO Johnny Taylor promoted the cause during his address to the general assembly.

Taylor is easily the best presenter SHRM has had as a CEO.  More on that in a bit.  First, let’s do a level set and tell you what “Getting Talent Back to Work” is as a program/initiative/platform:

"Getting Talent Back to Work is a national pledge open to all organizations that was signed even before the formal announcement by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Restaurant Association, the National Retail Federation, the American Staffing Association, SHRM, Koch Industries, Dave’s Killer Bread Foundation and more.

Organizations are pledging to give opportunities to qualified people with a criminal background, deserving of a second chance, which creates successful outcomes for employers, all employees, customers and communities.
 
Ninety-five percent of people in prison will be released—that’s more than 650,000 people every year. As they re-enter society, people with criminal backgrounds are deprived of employment opportunities and organizations are deprived of qualified talent, creating harmful consequences for millions of people."

Getting Talent Back to Work was launched in January 2019, and SHRM immediately got criticized for the inclusion of Koch Industries in the list of organizations agreeing to the pledge.  Koch is run by the Koch brothers (Charles and David), who moonlight as political fundraisers/operatives on the Republican side of the aisle.

I discounted the criticism at the time due to the list of organizations beyond Koch Industries that signed the pledge. Any time you have the National Retail Federation and the National Restaurant Association sign off on a pledge to do something differently in the realm of employment, it’s meaningful.  But seeing Johnny Taylor - a pretty dynamic mix of presenter and disrupter as the CEO of SHRM - go after the issue hard at SHRM made me want to dig in on the issue a bit.

So, I asked 15 Director/VP of HR types at SHRM National what they thought about “Getting Talent Back to Work.”  Here’s a summary of what I heard:

1—Everyone understands the idea has merit.  As our society has become more progressive, it’s clear that most of the people I talked to supported the spirit behind the pledge. Most of us believe in second chances.

2 –The devil, as it turns out is in the details. Here’s where it gets dicey. What jobs are available to those with criminal backgrounds?  Concerns from my groups of HR Directors/VPs are raised where you would expect – in financial jobs, jobs which provide autonomy of work using expensive tools, etc.  If we restrict access to only the lowest level jobs with limited risk, is attempting to employ those with criminal histories still meaningful?

3--Most feel there will be resistance to the idea across the leadership teams they belong to back at the home office related to the concept. While the HR leaders I spoke to get the intent of the Getting Talent Back to Work pledge, most indicated there would be friction and blocking activity as they tried to execute changes to existing policy related to hiring candidates with criminal histories.

4—Hiring Managers are also thought to be a major roadblock. As expected, most of the HR leaders I spoke to thought hiring managers would be less than supportive to this type of hiring policy change. 

With all that in mind, my takeaways after these conversations were simple. HR pros are open and welcome participating in Getting Talent Back to Work, but they’re also unclear about the best way to proceed in knocking down barriers that exist in their organizations.

That means Getting Talent Back to Work as a SHRM initiative has legs, but the next step in the program for SHRM will need to focus on helping HR leaders make the business case to skeptics back at the home office.  While most of the HR pros I talked to were generally unaware of the toolkit that exists here, a review of the resources makes me recommend the toolkit will need to expand provide a base-level communications campaign that a normal HR leader could use to make presentations, send emails and general communicate the policy changes they're asking for. 

The tools that exist are strong, and the next step probably needs to be ghostwritten materials that show an HR leader step-by-step what they can do to initiate change in their organizations.

I like what SHRM is doing in this area, and the fact they stayed on message at the national conference. The next step is to push HR leaders to take action inside their companies and start the necessary dialog.

Change is likely to be slow, but it's a conversation worth having.


PODCAST: e3 - This is HR - Employee MBA Debt, Employer Brand Lies, EEOC Male Dress Code Hardships

(Email subscribers, if you don't see the podcast player, click here to see the podcast)

In this episode of THIS IS HR, Tim Sackett (President of HRU), Jessica Lee (VP of Brand Talent, Marriott) and Kris Dunn (CHRO at Kinetix) cover the following topics:

--recent research from BusinessWeek that shows Top Tier MBA programs saddle 50% of their graduates with six-figure debt. The gang discusses whether they would push high potentials in their organizations on that traditional path with that set of economics in mind (3:30)

--a recent HBR op/ed piece that attacks how your company is approaching employer brand, citing an industry of 40 companies solely focused on the EB market, a number the gang thought was too low (15:12)

--Recent EEOC guidance that says males may be discriminated against via the use of traditional dress codes, guidance which the gang loves and hates at the same time (26:12). 

KD closes it out by going to the mailbag and getting a simple question about the thing HR Pros do to build culture that usually doesn't work (31:26)

BONUS: Disclosure that JLee isn't even in America on the 4th of July.  

What could go wrong?  Take a listen!


Glassdoor Should Try This If They're Concerned About Employers...

If we've learned anything in the world of HR Technology, it's that there's always a hook that vendors/partners are creating scale and mass around.

In no area is this more true than the Talent Acquisition/Recruiting side of the house.  Consider the following areas of our world dominated/owned by specific partners/vendors in recent history:

--LinkedIn - owns eyeballs related to the world's largest candidate database

--Glassdoor - owns eyeballs related to company reputation/reviews

--Indeed - owns SEO on job search (by its very definition, eyeballs), although many expect that to change as Google for Jobs comes to scale

What's interesting about each one of these plays designed to create scale of users and overall interest is that the real product isn't what I've listed above for each vendor.  

If you use a site and it's free, the product - as they say - is you.

More to the point, the real product is Job Postings.

I know, I know.  You can get your head around that being the case with Indeed (duh), but LinkedIn sells a variety of things beyond job postings and Glassdoor wants to charge money to help you manage that very average reputation you have on their site.

But when you really dig into the packages offered by all of these vendors, the hook is what they're known for (biggest database, SEO, company reputation) - but make no mistake, the monetization is job postings.

Why? Because that's what people like you and me most want to buy. We want ROI on our recruiting budget. If a site has enough attention and a connection to the workplace, there's a chance that job postings might work, and more importantly, it's WHAT WE WANT TO BUY.

Let's look specifically at Glassdoor. The fact that monetization for GD is really found in user traffic that sees job postings and converts to applicants at your company means the model won't change, even when it's obvious that it would help users.

Here's an example of a tweak that is needed on Glassdoor.  If GD really cared about employers/your company (and I could argue candidates looking to do research), they'd make it simple for you to search reviews by current employees vs past employees.

You know what doesn't drive as much traffic to Glassdoor?  Balanced reviews.  We live for the car wreck in turn four - the flaming review that's fun to read and just really takes apart the company.

But if we're honest with ourselves as candidates, we don't value that review (or the 5-stars) as much as we value the balanced 3 star review.  

So Glassdoor should change that. But it won't because the car wreck 1-star review from a past employee drives eyeballs.  Eyeballs are traffic that see job postings and covert (hopefully) to applicant flow.

Simple search of reviews by current employees vs past employees won't happen anytime soon on Glassdoor.

The product is you/me/us.  The Glassdoor 1-star review by a disgruntled, anonymous employee is the equivalent of a TMZ camera catching Bernie Sanders exiting an Applebee's drunk and belligerent and being available for viral distribution within 30 minutes.

Traffic always wins.

 

 


So You're a Tough Interviewer, Eh? How's that Working Out For You?

Let's talk about the myth of being a tough interviewer.
 
So you're a tough interviewer. You automatically go on the offensive in any interview setting, some would even call your style "on the attack."  You are confrontational, basically calling bulls**t on the candidate you have in front of you.  Are they sure they really belong in front of you with this background? What's missing?  You routinely attack what's missing in the first 10 minutes of the interviewer, satisfied you're doing your job of preventing people (who don't really have what it takes) to join your company.
 
The tough interviewer could also be called the negative or confrontational interviewer. It's most common tenured employees who don't feel any risk of alienating candidates. If this interviewing style is you, you don't build a lot of dialog with the candidate. You just go negative and watch them squirm.
 
How's being a negative interviewer working out for you?
 
Great, you say.
 
The people around you probably beg to differ.  
 
You see, your hard interviewing style is costing your company candidates. In a peak economy, good to great candidates have a lot choices in where their next job comes from.  It's likely that if a candidate made it all the way to you that they are good or great. They're in front of you because they have already been vetted and someone believes they might be a hire for your company.
 
And you bomb them with negative and hard vibes.  Damn.
 
The path for the most effective interviewers is simple - selling your company and yourself as an leader or peer while getting what you need to evaluate the candidate.  Are you an effective interviewer by this definition?
 
--No. You’re hard on candidates. No one wants to work with you or for you.
 
--Maybe. You’re neutral enough not to hurt your company. But that's probably not good enough in today's competitive hiring landscape.
 
--Yes, Absolutely. You get great stuff to evaluate the candidate, asking tough questions but framing that dialog in a way that makes them think you're on their side and rooting for them.
 
If you've ever prided yourself for being a "hard" interviewer, time for a little self-evaluation. If candidates leave your interview thinking that the session went awful or worse yet - they wouldn't want to work for you or with you, you've got a problem. You're net negative to the employment brand.
 
You're better than that. You can still ask the hard questions, but cadence, taking the time to build positive dialog and demeanor means everything.
 
You can do this. Help us out. 

But Will They Stay? (Weak Things HR and Business Leaders Say)

Ever hear managers, executives and even HR say some weak things?

Of course you have. For me, there's one thing that rises to epic level when it coms to weak: Kawhi

"I like them as a candidate. I'm just worried they won't stay."

This mindset values retention over talent, performance and more. The candidate is strong and wants to come. Yet, there's something about the work history (too heavy), the comp (we can't provide as much as we would like) and a myriad of other factors that make your hiring manger wring their hands about offering a job to the candidate in question.

As I write this, the Toronto Raptors are set to clinch the NBA championship tonight over the dynastic Golden State Warriors. The Raptors are up 3 games to 1, and their success is driven by the acquisition of Kawhi Leonard, for whom the Raptors traded another all star for, even though Leonard only had one year remaining when the deal was made.

That means contractually the Raptors traded for an employee who would open up their recruiting process one year later, and faced a heavy chance they wouldn't retain him.

"I'm just worried they won't stay."

The older I get, the more I'm convinced that if you can keep great talent in your company for a stint of 2-3 years, you're better off for having had them, reaping the contributions they make - than never having them at all.

This obviously refers to the top 10% - the most talented among us.

The Raptors traded for Kawhi Leonard and knew that it was highly likely they would have him for a year. They did it anyway. Now, they're about to win a title.

Unwillingness to bring in top talent - long term retention risk be damned - can say a few things about your organization:

1--I don't think we're very good and I'm sure they won't stay.

2--We're OK, I know we can get better, but I'm not sure we'll improve quick enough to retain them.

3--We're not going to be able to comp this person they way they'll need to be comped to retain them.

4--I'm personally threatened by hiring someone this good. I'd prefer to have village idiots around me.

But what if you put any and all of those fears aside and hired the best person available, then got the **** out of the way and let them do their job?

They might be gone in a year. But that year might have been a hell of run.

Just ask the citizens of Toronto.


The All-Too Human Condition of Hating a Candidate Due to the Referral Source...

Referrals - We love them in the talent world.

Ideally, referrals are made by employees/team members who understand the culture we've created at our company, and only refer the best in their network to us. That's generally true, and even if there's a few referral spammers in your company, we're better off with referrals than without them.

You know what types of referrals we hate and are suspicious of?

THE REFERRAL FROM SOMEONE IN OUR ORGANIZATION WE DON'T LIKE.

If you've got enough experience in the recruiting/team building game, you've been there before.  You've got an open spot on your team, and you're doing your normal recruiting game.  Then it happens.

Rick, a guy you detest, sends you a referral and vouches for the candidate.

Damn. That's the last thing you needed. But the intensity of your discomfort is directed by the following determination:

--The candidate isn't good. AH HAH!  Rick is clueless. Order has been restored to the universe.

--The candidate is really, really good.  Whoops!  Shit just got complicated.

Why does the candidate being good make it problematic? Well, you hate Rick. That means the following things are in play:

1--If you don't interview a great candidate, you're the problem, not Rick.  That's never been a part of the narrative you had related to your relationship with Rick.

2--If you interview the great referral from Rick and don't hire them, it gives Rick an avenue to criticize the selection you do make. 

3--If you interview the candidate and hire them, have you just hired someone sympathetic to Rick when he's kind of been your nemesis during your tenure at ACME.com.  That seems like it might be problematic.

All of these things go through our mind when we get a referral from someone in our organization we don't like. The blind spot is simply to ignore the referral, because you won't engage with a person you don't respect and trust. But if you do that, you're playing small. You're better than that.

The real talent magnets understand that quality internal referrals from sworn enemies or simply people you don't like are GIFTS.  You should absolutely interview them and hire them if they're the best person for the job.

Whether you simply interview or actually hire the quality referral from a known enemy inside your company, you're playing chess - not checkers - with your engagement with this type of candidate.

Mine the candidate for info about Rick. You may learn they don't know Rick as well as you thought they did.  But if they do, be sure and drop some details to Rick about your conversation.  It's fun to watch Rick be a little bit uncomfortable.

Can you hire this candidate?  That really depends how good you are at your job.  If you're great at your job, they're going to enjoy being part of your team and Rick's not a threat.  Rick may actually end up hating the fact that he gave you a great referral, which is a gift in itself.

Great referrals from sources you hate are an opportunity. Play chess, not checkers.


Chill Out: It Really Doesn't Matter Where Your Kids Go to College...

I've got a senior in High School, and you know what that means - time for admission envy, parental handwringing and everything that goes with along with that.

Sarah's going to Vanderbilt/Harvard/Stanford.  Man, I wish my kid would have worked harder...

I get it - we all want more for our kids. To the extent they've worked hard, we want them to go to the best school.  When that doesn't happen, we start worrying, because not being admitted to a top school is a classic 1st World problem. The volume gets amped up when your kid is a high performer and can't even get a sniff to a top school with a 4.4 GPA and a 32 ACT.  See this post (spend more time on the comments from parents who feel they've been wronged) for some crazy stories, accusations of unfairness and helicopter parents losing their minds.

It's easy to understand your paranoia.  If the school your kid is going to isn't up to par in your mind, or if you think he/she has been wronged by an admissions process, it's easy to rant and wish for more. C-siue

Until you figure out the following 2 things:

1--Comparison is the thief of joy, and more importantly;

2--By the time your kid has his second job and/or 5 years into the world of work, it's not going to matter where he/she went to school.

Couple of things to offer up. First, consider this study that estimates the economic return of attending an elite college, a summary of which appears below:

Stacy Dale, a mathematician, and Alan Krueger, an economist, collaborated in two large-scale research studies (Dale & Kruger, 2002 & 2014) in which they effectively controlled for the background characteristics of students attending colleges that varied in selectivity (based on average SAT scores of the entering class). The first study was of students entering college in 1976, and the second was of those entering in 1989. Essentially, their question in both studies was this: If people are matched in socioeconomic background and pre-existing indices of their academic ability and motivation, will those who go to an elite college make more money later in life than those who go to a less elite one? The overall result was that the college attended made no difference. Other things being equal, attending an elite school resulted in no income advantage over attending a less elite school, neither in the short term nor in the long term. 

The key, of course, is students matched in socioeconomic background, academic ability and motivation.  Match kids up by those factors, and there's no outcome difference in attending Kennesaw State vs Georgia Tech (Atlanta example, plug your own in for your area of the US).

And when it comes to the factors considered, give me motivation over the other factors once a decent level of academic ability is present.  The average GPA of millionaires is said to be 2.9 - I'll be back with more on that later this week.

I see it all the time as a recruiter - people from elite universities with average careers, and people from schools I've never heard of killing it and running the world.

I was blessed to have my first son do the minimum at a really good high school to get a 3.7 GPA and mail in a high 20's GPA.  So my expectations are managed, that's easy when your kid knows not to apply to elite schools.  But he was an absolute grinder in other things in his HS years, so I know he has a shot via transferred motivation to do great things and outperform a 34 or higher ACT.

I'm a recruiter by trade. If you're still recovering from your son or daughter going to the state school, chill out. He or she has a 50/50 shot to outperform the kid of the mom who stuck the Stanford admission in your face.  But only if they grind and the motivation is greater than their peer group.

BONUS - Video below shows a kid wanting Ivy and coming to the realization it's University of Illinois (from Risky Business, click through if you don't see the video player).


Google For Jobs: Is Indeed Dead Yet?

We've talked a lot about Google For Jobs and it's potential impact on your future recruitment marketing spend.  As a quick reset, Google for Jobs was launched in October of 2017 and was thought to be a significant blow to Indeed for 2 reasons:

1--Indeed was not listed as a partner that would automatically have its jobs included/indexed in the Google for Jobs product, and

2--The presence of the Google for Jobs interface on search results for jobs pushes the once dominant SEO power of Indeed way below the fold, which means the ROI of Indeed spend should go down over time.  Translation - the first thing candidates see won't be Indeed, which is like Uber customers losing access to its app.  In fact, they'll have to scroll a loooooong way down.

Nobody discounts the power of Google.  But the erosion of Indeed has been slower than many predicted.

HR Wins, a site run by George LaRocque who has more than 25 years in the HCM industry, recently published an article entitled, "Everything on the Internet starts with Google. Sure, but what about online job search?"

His article provides a bit more proof that the erosion of Indeed via the Google for Jobs threat isn't final, and many job seekers still use the Indeed interface to start their job search.  Check out the following graph from HR Wins (email subscribers click through to the site for the graphic), click on the article link above and subscribe for more goodness like this:

HRwinsChart

The disclaimer to this data, of course, is that candidates at times are notoriously bad at self reported data (my favorite is the over-reporting of "I heard about this job from the company's career site", which is rarely true).  

But beyond the candidate self-reporting issue, the directional info seems true with what I've seen. Indeed isn't dead yet.  The info about LinkedIn being secondary to candidate job search is a nugget you won't find elsewhere.

Three certainties in life - Death, Taxes and Google.  But Indeed's not dead yet.  Keep your eyes on your spend, and hit the George/HR Wins article for more great results from this candidate survey.  Make sure you subscribe while you are there.