Amazon Employees (BHM1) Crush Union - 10 Things You Need to Know...

I’ll start this post with what should be obvious. Twitter’s not the real world, and neither is today’s version of the news. There are extremes on both sides of the news industry and what you read is likely to be more Op/Ed than true reporting. It takes real work to find true reporting these days.

A related issue is the unwillingness of normal people to share their thoughts and beliefs on any news topic of relevance in the world for fear of one side—generally the left these days—looking to shame the source for any thought not believed to be progressive enough.

It starts with dialog on race (hard topic coming off of 2020) but has spread like wildfire to other areas.

Simply put, the world needs all of us to be vocal when we can add value.

Which brings me to the topic of this post. Amazon

For months now, we’ve heard about organized labor (known as unions to the layperson) bringing justice and representation to Amazon workers at an Amazon Distribution Facility in Bessemer (Birmingham), AL. (In the case of the Amazon vote, the union in question was the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which I’ll simply refer to as the “union” from this point forward.)

 Last week, employees at that Amazon Distribution Facility voted “no” to that union representing them. 

But they didn’t just say “no”. Based on the numbers and the circumstances, the employees actually said, “HELL NO” (all caps to express the sentiment).

What’s been represented by the mainstream media over the past 4-5 months related to this union campaign is very different than the outcome. Due to that, I wanted to share some things that I want my HR, Recruiting, Talent and Business leader friends, who haven’t had much experience with organized labor, to know about the Amazon union drive in Bessemer/Birmingham and about organizing activity in general.

Before we get it into it, let me say this: every employee deserves an opportunity to earn a great living based on their performance. They deserve a safe environment that respects all people and provides maximum opportunity to all, regardless of race, gender, orientation and any other identifier.

If a union is the best option for a group of employees (because the company has failed), so be it. 

But a union wasn’t the best option for workers at the Amazon DC in Bessemer, AL, regardless of the pounding on the topic that happened from politicians and the media.

Let’s dig in and understand why something we were told was great (employees saying “yes” to a union at Amazon) was met with such strong opposition by an incredibly diverse set of Amazon employees in the Birmingham area. 

Buckle up, friends—this is a long one but an important one.

HERE ARE THE 10 THINGS I WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT THE UNION ORGANIZING PROCESS AT AMAZON (BESSEMER DISTIRUBTION CENTER):

1—Let’s start with the basic of how union organizing works, shall we?

The process of organizing generally works like this: a limited number of employees at any company are dissatisfied and reach out to a union organization wondering about representation. A process is followed, and if there’s enough interest, an election is held asking employees at the location/unit inside the company if they want the union to represent them.

If employees vote no, things remain as is. If the employees vote yes (simple majority is all that is needed), collective bargaining (negotiation) starts between the company and the union to create an agreement on all employment stipulations. There are 100 more things experts could tell you about this process, but let’s keep this high-level to make sure you’ve got the base.

Got it? Great.

2—The Union Organizing process at the Amazon DC had a lot of friends on the left, including POTUS, most mainstream media, Hollywood and more. 

Most of the people listed above assumed what they wanted to happen (employees vote “yes” to bring in the union) would happen based on the narrative they were building. It didn’t.

Article after article has covered the Amazon union vote as a watershed moment for workers, the left, and for organized labor. Most coverage cited hard working conditions in an Amazon DC as being unfair to workers. Is that true? You’ll have to dig in to the results to understand what the workers thought. But the media coverage was unrelenting over the past couple of months and was easily a 90/10 split—90% of articles talking in glowing terms about the union movement, etc. and only 10% actually doing reporting.

To increase the pressure, the POTUS was active, making the following statement.

"Today and over the next few days and weeks workers in Alabama - and all across America - are voting on whether to organize a union in their workplace. This is vitally important - a vitally important choice," he said.

"There should be no intimidation, no coercion, no threats, no anti-union propaganda. No supervisor should confront employees about their preferences."

More to come on that statement, because, as it turns out, unions and the employees who are pro-union have all the opportunity in the world to do exactly what Biden is talking about—pressure and coerce employees—as part of the process. We never hear about that.

And, of course, others weighed in. Bernie Sanders came to Birmingham (Bessemer is in the Birmingham, AL metro) to show solidarity with the workers and apply pressure. Entertainment stars piped in with their support, and some even came to Birmingham to support the union.

3—It’s probably warranted to talk a bit more about the organizing process that a union follows to get to an employee vote to give you more context.

I told you earlier that a union organizing process starts with a limited number of employees at any company being dissatisfied and reaching out to a union organization to ask about representation. Let’s keep adding to those notes.

My experience—and I hold it to be true—is that it’s never the high performers in any company who initiate inquiries about unions. High performers are almost always comfortable with a meritocracy and aren’t open to paying a % of their compensation in union dues. To be fair though, inquiries about unions can begin from departments inside companies with horrific managers. In addition, companies with high performance quotas like Amazon can sometimes incite some normal to high performers to consider union representation as well.

Once the call comes into the union, meetings are held away from work between that small group of employees and union organizers to discuss the issues. If the union sees opportunity, they will seek to invite more people to meetings to continue the evaluation process.

Once the union decides the opportunity is strong enough to warrant the additional effort, something called authorization cards are introduced, which ask employees to sign saying that they are interested in the union representing them. In order for a union to have enough cards to present to the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) and get a union election inside the company, they have to have at least 30% of employees within the “unit” in question sign the card.

4—Most unions want 50-70% of employees to sign authorization cards before presenting to the NLRB, because they understand many of the cards will be signed under duress and employees will flip back to the company side.

Here’s how asking for a card works in many circumstances. A pro-union employee will approach their colleagues and friends, give a little elevator speech about the unfairness on the company side and ask the person in front of them to sign the card as a signal that “you’re with us/me.”

At that point, the person being solicited has a choice: they can sign the card or not. As you might expect, many sign the card to avoid conflict with the pro-union person in front of them. Sounds awesome, right? When Joe Biden said workers should be able to make their decision about union representation without interference from the company, he fails to mention this form of coercion on the union side. That’s really weak.

5—The reason most organizing campaigns never get to a vote is because employees who don’t care for union representation get wind of the secret card signings going on and report it to the company in question.

Names for these employees reporting the presence of cards in the workplace range from “fink” to “hero” depending on your side of this. But once it’s reported that there are authorization cards in the workplace, most companies ramp up their training on what unions are and begin other union avoidance activities. More to follow on this in a bit.

6—Let’s talk about the result at this point.  The union got absolutely crushed in this thing. CRUSHED.

A union needs a simple majority of voting employees in order to win an election and earn the right to represent the employees unit. 50% plus one vote.

If you believed the media reports in the two months leading up to the Amazon DC union election, you either thought it was going to be a close election or it was a foregone conclusion the union would win.

The union got absolutely CRUSHED in this election by Amazon employees in the Bessemer DC.

Here are the results:

  • Total eligible voters – 5,876
  • Voided ballots – 76
  • Number of votes cast for the Union (RWDSU) – 738
  • Number of votes cast against Union – 1798
  • Number of challenged ballots – 505 (roughly 300 challenged by Amazon, 200 by the union)
  • Number of employees not casting a ballot – 2,759

Amazon’s statement on the vote pointed out that only 16% of employees at the Bessemer DC voted “yes” to the union. Amazon also correctly positioned the result: it wasn’t a win for Amazon (although it was); it was an overwhelming decision made by real employees with real jobs—and probably very few active Twitter accounts.

It should be noted that almost half of the employees in the defined unit (in this case, that’s the entire distribution center) did not vote in the election. Not voting in this election is in all practical purposes a “No” vote.

The union and organized labor got crushed by this outcome.

7—Amazon was helped by expanding the number of voters in the election. This is called defining and expanding the “unit” in any union election.

Here’s another thing to know about the Amazon outcome. When unions get the initial call from a disgruntled employee, they only want work units that maximize their chances of winning an election. This reality means that unions want to keep scope small. Better to keep the group small and win an election than expand the size and lose is the practical thinking.

A common employer strategy is to expand the size of the group voting on whether to be represented by the union. It’s counterintuitive to think employers would want to put more people at risk of being organized, but the bigger the group, the harder it is for pro-union pockets to have influence.

The NLRB hears arguments on this topic and provides rulings on the appropriate scope of a unit for any organizing process/election. For the most part, common locations or work units are the most frequent rationale in expanding the size of the unit that will vote yes/no on whether they want to be represented by the union in question.

One of the things I’ve read in the media was that when the union presented the authorization cards to the NLRB, they assumed the size of the workforce was 1,500 workers. Amazon responded that it was 5,000+, which meant the union had to go out and get more cards to get to 30%. It’s never a good sign when the union in question isn’t aware of the employee count at a facility.

A lot of workers are going to sign the cards under the “you’re with us, right?” peer pressure. Let’s assume the union needed 1,800 cards (30% of 5,876) to get to 30% (after they incorrectly assumed the facility size was 1,500 employees). They ended up with 738 votes in the election. Ponder that. Then add the fact that this whole union vote was conducted over a two- month period via mail-in ballot.

That means that 1,800 employees signed a card when someone rolled up on them and asked them to, but only 58% of them (I added the 300 votes Amazon challenged to the 738 for this math) followed through and mailed in their ballot.

Let all that that sink in. Then think about the pressure the union side puts on an employee to get an authorization card signed based on those numbers. But sure, employers are the only problem in this equation. LOL.

8—It’s obvious that the employees at the Amazon DC voted in a way that suggests for many that working for Amazon is one of the best jobs they’ve had related to pay, benefits, etc.

Only 16% of employees at the Amazon Distribution Center in Bessemer voted “yes” to union representation. The other 84% voted “No” or couldn’t be bothered to vote in such an election.

Why did 84% vote “No” or abstain in supporting a union? There are multiple reasons for this. First up, employees voting “No” or abstaining from voting indicates that they didn’t believe union representation to be in their best interest. They voted for a direct relationship with their supervision and Amazon over union representation.

Another reason for the blowout win is that the jobs in question are pretty good jobs. Consider the following rundown from Yellowhammer:

“On top of Amazon’s $15 minimum wage, the company offers industry-leading benefits to full-time employees, which include comprehensive health care from day one, 401(k) with 50% match, up to 20 weeks paid parental leave and Amazon’s innovative Career Choice program, which pre-pays 95% of tuition for courses in high-demand fields. Since the program’s launch four years ago, more than 25,000 employees have pursued degrees in game design and visual communications, nursing, IT programming and radiology, just to name a few.”

Add base wages, OT, benefits and more, and you’re suddenly looking at a job worth 45-50K+ that grows over time. Amazon is already one of the best-paying jobs a non-skilled laborer can get in Alabama.

A diverse employee base at the Amazon Distribution Center trusted that more than they trusted the union in question.

9—After this result, the Biden administration and the media will push the narrative that employees were influenced in an unethical way by Amazon and will use that as a narrative to push through new laws and NLRB rules. Don’t believe it, remember “FOE”

Scan the news and you already see this: complaints about interference from Amazon in the union election process are widespread. For the uninitiated, the law and NLRB rules and regulations protect the employer’s right to be proactive in telling their side of the story to employees during a time period known as the “campaign period.”

During this period, employers can hold mandatory/captive meetings where they can share their thoughts on why voting “Yes” for union representation is a bad thing. Simply put, employers can provide “FOE” (Facts, Opinions and Experiences) but cannot engage in “TIPS” activity (Threaten, Interrogate, Pressure or Surveil).

The Biden administration will use the Amazon outcome as a proxy for why employers should be limited in telling their FOE-based perspectives and will attempt to change the law and NLRB rules and regulations as a result.

Don’t believe it? Remember that unions conduct their initial activities in secret and routinely use pro-union employees to pressure peers to sign authorization cards (no secret ballot in that!) that lead to elections.

Amazon said in a statement that “the union will say that Amazon won this election because we intimidated employees, but that’s not true.”

“Our employees heard far more anti-Amazon messages from the union, policymakers, and media outlets than they heard from us,” the company said. “And Amazon didn’t win — our employees made the choice to vote against joining a union.”

The union got blown out in this one. Companies should be able to tell their story on such an important topic before the employee base votes.

10—To really blow your mind, consider the fact that this election was held 100% by mail-in voting due to COVID. Let’s dig in on what opportunity that provides for a union attempting to organize.

My friends, consider this. NLRB-sanctioned union votes are generally held in similar fashion to pre-COVID federal and state elections. Employees go to a polling place run by the NLRB and vote in secret-ballot fashion. It’s on lockdown.

The union vote for the Amazon Distribution Center in Bessemer was held over a two-month period via mail-in voting. Let that sink in—a distribution center where the work is 100% on site (no remote employees) was allowed to do 100% mail-in voting for a union vote. Amazon protested this (rightfully so) and lost its challenge.

What does mail-in voting mean? It means the union in question had the opportunity (if they opted to or asked pro-union employees to act as proxies) to approach employees, ask them to complete their mail in votes (pro-union of course) and offer to drop the ballots in the mail for the employee. It basically offered the same opportunity for influence, pressure and more in the voting process that I described earlier when pro-union employees approach their peers for a signed authorization card in the stage before a vote.

Still, only 16% of employees voted for the union. Crazy.

THE BIG FINISH

I know about 100 people who know more than I do about unions, organizing efforts by unions and strategies to remain union-free on the company side.

But none of those people feel like they can share their expertise publicly. Why?

Because all of them fear being attacked by the digital mob.

That’s where we’re at in America in 2021. Good people with great knowledge and a perspective the world needs to hear won’t share their expertise on a variety of topics for fear of being cancelled, shamed or—God forbid—being called a Republican.

The Amazon union vote is a great reminder that the vast majority of America isn’t aligned with the extremes—on either the right or the left. They’re simply looking for opportunity that they didn’t have last year, and when someone treats them fairly—even if the work is really hard—most Americans are going to be very skeptical of someone telling them it’s a bad thing.

As for me, I’m going to try to be less fearful of the digital mob moving forward. I’m going to try and write and have conversations that respect how the vast majority of America thinks.

To the Amazon employees in the Bessemer Distribution Center: congratulations on the outcome that left no doubt on what the vast majority of you value, and thanks for the reminder that at the end of the day, we all need to be less afraid of speaking the truth on a day-to-day basis.


Work From Home: What Happens When COVID Fades in 2021?

REVOLUTION. Wait, maybe not.

If there's one overhyped thing about COVID, it's probably the revolution that's happening in workplaces and more importantly, the "location" of work. Read enough of Fast Company, Inc.com or whatever your flavor of progressive workplace trends is, and you'll swear that we'll soon have vacant office buildings everywhere.

That prediction is wrong for the following reasons:

1--Many jobs - including 100% professional grade positions - can't or won't be performed from a home office. These jobs are everywhere, and they include great careers in many professions (healthcare, retail, etc.)

2--Many companies and leaders value the impact of a team being together. That means that once the COVID fear has lifted, teams are getting back together in person more than you might think - as you put down that highlighted copy of Esquire about the 2020 revolution of work.

So what's the reality? How many jobs actually went from the office to home during the pandemic, and once this thing fades, are those jobs actually staying at home?

PRO TIP: If you want to get in the weeds about what happened and what's going to happen with Work from Home arrangements, cut through all the BS and start thinking about your total workforce and define the following - Paid Working Days at Home as a % of all Working Days.

Paid Working Days at Home as a % of all Working Days is your macro economic stat as an HR leader to measure this. Measuring it can be simple and hard at the same time. You basically need reporting or at the very least, estimates from across your workforce about who's working from home. Add it all up and apply your HR magic to it, and you get Paid Working Days at Home as a % of all Working Days.

I've been estimating work from home this way for awhile and it works. It takes you out of the anecdotal and into what's real. Rather than be caught in your bubble related to the professional grade positions around you as a leader, it forces you to think globally.

Now that we have a metric, what's actually going on out there in America related to work from home?  The Atlanta Fed does a great recurring piece of research called the Survey of Business Uncertainty (SBU) in conjunction with the University of Chicago and Stanford University. As a small part of this survey, they polled their business leaders and looked back at pre-COVID data and found the the following trends and realities about work from home across the USA (email subscribers, click through if you don't see the graph below:

Screen Shot 2021-02-24 at 9.06.32 AM

To summarize the chart and findings:

--During Covid, the total number of Paid Working Days at Home as a % of all Working Days multiplied by a factor of 4X+, moving from 5.5% to 23.7%. That's killer, right? But that still seems low to some of you reading this. 

--More importantly, the SBU finds that while Paid Working Days at Home as a % of all Working Days won't be going back to the pre-COVID level of 5.5%, with respondents estimating that Paid Working Days at Home as a % of all Working Days will settle back to 13.6% after the COVID pandemic ends.

To summarize - WFH days across organizations of all sizes multiplied by x4 during the pandemic, but the SBU estimates that we'll see WFH days be cut by 40% post-COVID.  Still, a gain of 2.5x from pre-COVID levels.

So significant gains for WFH, but not the revolution many expected or the sustained level of WFH we thought we would see.  Here's a chart from the SBU related to the numbers by industry. Note that it's easy to view your corporate office numbers in the Business Services segment, where Paid Working Days at Home as a % of all Working Days currently sits at 40%, but it is estimated to be going to 28% post pandemic. Feels about right.

Screen Shot 2021-02-24 at 9.07.02 AM

Most of this is common sense, but if you want to have a great post-COVID stat to add to your Talent Metrics Deck, Paid Working Days at Home as a % of all Working Days makes a lot of sense to show your Leadership Team you're on top of the trend and the workforce planning conversation related to COVID.


Your Company's Sharepoint Game Sucks, Right? The Microsoft VIVA Announcement...

If I've said it before, I've said it a million times:

The GREATEST thing about America is that anyone with $5,000 and a hoodie has a chance to start a great tech company.

The WORST thing about America is that anyone with $5,000 and a hoodie has a chance to start a great tech company. Technology

Confused? Don't be. The fact that anyone with 5K and a hoodie has a chance to disrupt our world is the best and worst of us - all at the same time.

That's why proclamations that Microsoft VIVA will dominate the marketplace are..well...it's a bit early declare Microsoft VIVA a pure winner.

Let's start with last week's announcement from Redmond so you know what the hell VIVA is (I'm pulling these from joshbersin.com, who's done a nice job in this post of helping us get our head around it):

Microsoft introduced an offering that is likely to transform the market for enterprise software: Microsoft Viva, a digital platform built on Microsoft 365 designed for the Employee Experience. Developed over several years and integrated with Microsoft Teams, Viva is an Employee Experience Platform carefully architected to leverage a company’s investment in existing systems and Microsoft technology.

Cool?  Let's keep going:

Viva, which is built on Microsoft 365 and delivered in Teams, is a place to pull this all together. While the four core Viva apps are new, they cover many of the employee needs for companies and Viva becomes an integration platform for everything else. Out of the box, Viva covers a wide array of application areas, and the company will offer Glint, LinkedIn Learning, and content from Headspace, Skillsoft, and dozens of others in the experience. I’m sure third-party vendors will line up to join the parade as soon as this is launched.

So Viva, in addition to a suite of applications, is a vastly functional “integration platform” that lets IT and HR departments standardize their EX strategy.

OK - that's some overview stuff - let's dig into the details. The 4 Viva apps (read more about them at the link to Bersin above) are:

--Viva Connections - System that brings Sharepoint and other portal systems together to provide a single place for the employee portal and employee comms! (note, the ! is written as if I'm promoting this as a Microsoft team member)

--Viva Learning - Get your LinkedIn Learning and other tools connected to Teams!

--Viva Insights - Productivity Analysis and Workplace Analytics. Danger, privacy geeks!

--Viva Topics - Crawls through documents and emails to find "topic experts". Interesting!

It's all cool, right?  Before I shoot holes in the whole, "game over, man" thing we do when any of the heavyweights pulls together pieces to make our lives easier, let me say this - Microsoft is making the right move and they are the 800 pound gorilla that can take this swing for the fences.

Our continued reliance on MS Office and the move to Office 365 to take advantage of the cloud means we are more connected than we've ever been. Microsoft has also been helped by the pandemic, as Teams became the Avis to Zoom's Hertz related to video conferencing, which led to great adoption of the Teams collaboration suite.  

It's all good, and Microsoft is important.  But it's early to say this dominates the corporate world, especially for small to mid size companies, but even for large companies. Here's a few reasons why:

1--Implementation is hard. So you say you've got a portal for me, and I can revolve my EX world about the portal. Cool. Do I just install it? No, turns out to really make this work, you're going to have to think, do some stuff and execute. If Sharepoint has taught us anything through the years, it's that the big tools are cool, but the devil is in the details. Shout out to my corporate homies who are on their 4th cleanup of their Sharepoint portal. Godspeed friends - you're almost there - I think.

2--Adoption is hard. You built it. Will they come? Maybe, maybe not. There's a lot of things vying for their attention. Are you sure the boomers and Gen-Xers are using 365 or is all their work local? Yes, you can force that if their work is not 100% on the network. Are you ready to pick that fight? To achieve the promise of VIVA, there can only be one tool set and everything has to be in the cloud. Confounding variable - Google Drive adoption among your employees you don't even know about.

3--People still love their "best in breed tools" and the edges of VIVA will still be nibbled at by the peeps in hoodies. Related to adoption, people love their Zoom, Ring Central, Slack and about 500 other workplace productivity tools. They think many of these tools are better than Microsoft. Depending on the adoption of Office 365 and Sharepoint, to really ramp the promise of VIVA, you're going to have to mandate that people FULLY COMMIT TO THE USE OF OFFICE 365 AND ANY EXPANSION OF THAT DOMAIN, including VIVA. Will competitors (Salesforce, anyone?) allow that messaging to go unchecked? <HELL NO>. Cue the Fight Night music, and watch your adoption linger in the 50% range when you sum up all the productivity tools that are being used across your company.

4--Privacy will continue to rise in importance. Hey! We have some suggestions for how you might be more productive, and we've also listed you in the expert category for "Most Barstool Videos Watched at Work". I kid - but the more you get into productivity analysis and try to make suggestions, the more people are going want to get off the Matrix.

5--Development of strategy (and at times content for the machine) isn't automated.  Really related to #1.  True Strategy and Implementation takes work. You're going to need a bigger boat.

6--The small and mid-cap company world places this initiative and all that is listed above as the 26th most important thing on their list. They'd love to get the goodies - but they're attempting to survive. Thus, the revolution will be slightly delayed.

In short, I think Microsoft VIVA is important and potentially transformational for companies with incredibly large market caps. For everyone else, it's complicated.  Those kids in the hoodies in the HR tech space? They're the snipers in this scenario, and they'll keep taking their shots with micro-solutions that make sense.

Buckle up, VIVA team. What you are doing is cool, but the revolution is going to take longer than you think.  In fact, everyone who's working to compete with you thinks you are "The Man" and THEY are the revolution.

--KD out.


Does That Job Posting Make You Look Like a Misogynist?

There's a whole class of new tools designed to help you take various bias out of your job descriptions and job postings. While there are many benefits to these tools, there are some challenges.

How are your job descriptions these days?  They suck, right? Well, let's start this conversation with a couple of definitions:

--Job Descriptions: These are the common everyday items that drive a bunch of stuff in your HR back office. They are a legal document, meant to establish the bonafide job qualifications you need in a role, and the basis for how you match jobs in compensation surveys. They also probably do 100 other things, but I started with what I know best.

--Job Postings: Oh! Now I remember! You also use your job descriptions in all their legal, boring state as your job postings in your recruiting process. You actually just upload these and use them in your ATS, in all of their "must be able to lift 45 pounds" glory. Complicated

It's OK to have boring job descriptions. It's not OK to have boring job postings, at least not if you want to compete for talent vs the competitors in the marketplace who are a lot like you. Job postings matter, and if you get them right, a funny things happens:

Good Job Postings in the recruiting process attract the people who can be successful in your company and the role in question.

AND NOW WE COME TO THE CATCH.

You should stop using racist and sexist and other "ist" labels in your recruiting toolbox, including your job postings. The new anti-bias tools for job postings help you do that. Hard to argue with the intent of this. Many of you have thoughts on this. That's OK, stay with me. 

Let me say it plainly for the folks who want to jump on this hard: I'm for any tool that decreases direct or indirect bias. Cool? That's me. So let's dig in on the rest of what these tools do and the challenges beyond identifying racial and gender bias - because there are some.

Long before George Floyd in May/June of 2020 and the social unrest that followed, there were a variety of tools for Talent Acquisition that claim to use artificial intelligence, data analytics, and industry benchmarks to analyze potential bias in job descriptions/postings. These tools (I'm linking a broad Google search here) scan your job postings and give you suggestions to reduce the following concerns:

Gender Bias – whether the job is going to attract a disproportionate amount of male or female applicants

Racial Bias – assumptions due to name or location 

Insensitive Words – opportunity limiting words

Readability – ease of consumption 

Sentiment – the tone (positive, neutral, or negative) 

Word Count – is your job description too long for your industry standard? 

THIS JOB IS HARD, CAN I TELL THEM HOW HARD IT IS?

That's kind of the point of this post and my concerns about these tools.  You can't really tell someone about the challenges of working for you, according to these tools, if you take all their suggestions that are listed above. Don't go hard in the paint related to a realistic job preview, because that's going to run afoul of the following items in the types of job posting/job description graders I described above - sentiment, insensitive vibe, the words and readability.

Kind of like ALL CAPS headers in the article you're reading. 

Level of difficulty and what the applicant has to do to perform at a high level in the job is going to come across as aggressive, at times insensitive, and might run a little bit long. The job description Artificial Intelligence grader is going to HATE IT.

I'm 100% supportive of eliminating gender, racial and every other type of bias. Let's do that in our recruiting collateral. However:

WORK IS HARD. IT'S EVEN HARDER WHEN YOU'RE NOT TRUTHFUL ABOUT WHAT'S UP.

The reality is not everyone can be successful at your company, and you don't want everyone to work there. 

I think you should tell the truth: Work at your company is hard. If fact, it's a bit of a freak show at times, full of chaos, moments where you don't have all the tools you need, and occasionally, creative conflict.

Job description/job posting graders that scrub your text for the items above are useful. But keep in mind they have no clue what it's like to work in your company. You'll pay the money for the insight, then their robot/text scrapers/hot word lists are on to the next client.

You? You're left to find top talent with job postings that are something akin to the flavor of an unsalted cracker. 

I've worked with a lot of powerful women and talented people who aren't white. The common denominator? They all are more than capable of performing as well (or better) than me in tough environments.

The right person—regardless of gender, race or orientation—can kick a** in a tough job. Let's not pretend that they don't deserve the truth, told at times in a way that might sound aggressive or negative to the most critical eye or technology.

It's called real talk. If you're fancy, it's called differentiation. 

IN CLOSING: BE WARY OF PEOPLE WHO SAY THAT TELLING THE HARD TRUTH IN A JOB POSTING IS BAD

If you listen to the experts/bots/AI layers in the area I'm covering above, they'll encourage you to serve up a flurry of careers content that's vanilla (ironic). What you really want is more flavor and color in that content than a stocked freezer at Baskin Robbins. 

Don't be racist or a misogynist. Don't discriminate. Have a plan for DEI, and go get candidates who don't look, think or sound like you. Use the parts of the tools that help you check your traditional materials.

But don't be boring in your career collateral. Tell the hard truth, and the people who can do the job (across all Title VII identifiers) will be drawn to you.

KD Out.


Capital Riots: Considerations for Great HR Leaders...

Welcome to 2021 friends! Had a couple of publications reach out to me for comments on employee situations related to the Capital Riots, so I thought I would share the responses I gave to one of them. 

Any time you're starting your response with the phrase, "In a world" in a classic movie trailer guy voice, you know that reality has officially jumped the shark. I can only assume I'll be answering questions about the best way to onboard Alien employees in 2022. Politics

Onto the questions I answered about whether we should term employees wearing Trump stocking caps only, versus those carrying the speaker of the house podium while wearing said hat:

-Beyond legal questions, what kind of ethical and cultural considerations do HR leaders need to think about if they learn an employee participated in the Capitol riots?  

I'm going to start my answer sounding like the movie trailer guy with the great voice that always starts each trailer with "In a world..."   In a world where almost every election of note is a 50/50 split, HR leaders thinking about the Capital riots are going to have to dig deep and do what they normally do related to showing judgement with employment decisions. That includes logic, judgment and common sense rarely seen in social media, and at times in the media cycle.

Great HR leaders will start with the obvious - for the employee in question, what did they actually do? If they were in the Capital on the day of the riots, did they a) participate in some low level demonstrations somewhere around the mall, b) attend the Trump rally at the White House, c) march with the crowd to the capital, d) protest outside the capital and/or e) enter the capital (and if so, did they cause damage)?

This is the world of the HR leader and employment calls. People come to us with a claim, and it's up to us to figure out what actually happened. An employee that was in DC on approved PTO but did not enter the Capital building and wasn't otherwise arrested, etc. isn't a relevant call to term. People will make the case that it is, but assuming the employee is a functioning member of your company and didn't do anything illegal, real HR leaders have to look at the facts. 

That's what the money's for as an HR Leader.  People pay HR leaders to be the grown ups when bad situations happen and calm minds are needed, and the good news is that's exactly what we are.

-What is your advice for HR leaders concerned about action they take looking partisan or political?

Welcome to the world of HR. The more HR leaders have pitched their political beliefs in the past, the less they have the ability to lead in times of crisis where employment calls can be considered politically driven. Note this isn't rationale for HR leaders not to make tough calls, just the reality. The more you've shown you're less than politically neutral in the past, the less you'll be able to make a tough employment call (fire, don't fire) in your company that both sides of the political spectrum will respect and acknowledge as fair. 

-Do you think this event should prompt HR to revisit codes of conduct? If so, what should they look out for or consider including in light of current events?

It's 100% imperative that HR has access to a broad-based "Professional Conduct Policy" that gives them the ability to take employment action across a broad range of unforeseen circumstances. A great Professional Conduct Policy (PCP) not only lists specific things for consideration in the workplace, but includes broad language that suggests conduct and behavior outside the workplace that is inconsistent with the values of the organization may warrant an employment decision by the company, if the company deems the behavior and conduct makes it impossible for the company to more forward with the individual as a member of the team.

Great Professional Conduct Policies provide flexibility for HR leaders, because you can't cover every scenario this crazy world is going to throw at you. 

That said, great HR leaders treat these policies as a last resort for action, only using them if it's apparent the employee can't move forward.

2021 is the best! You know I'm around for the punishing emails. Don't hate me because won't automatically term someone. Great HR Leaders evaluate, consider, then show decisiveness. That's what makes them great.


It's OK to Think a PhD Calling Themselves Doctor in Corporate America is Weird...

Last Friday, the Wall Street Journal published an opinion article regarding incoming First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, and her use the pre-nominal “Dr.” when she has a doctorate in education, Ed.D, versus a medical doctorate, Ph.D.  The article shared the belief that medical doctors are the real doctors, and broad use of the title "Dr." if you're not looking at my broken toe or an ear problem is inappropriate.

First up, there is no doubt that Jill Biden did the work and received the degree, from a real, actual university. The-Doctor-is-In-

But the reaction was swift! Warriors were mobilized! Part of the world lost their mind that someone would challenge Jill Biden's desire to be addressed as "Dr. Biden".

I'm here to tell you that regardless of that article's tone and spin in the WSJ,  you can think someone with a PhD who wants to be called "Dr." is absurd. It doesn't make you a misogynist, as long as you're consistent across gender and Jill Biden isn't the first time you've laughed at the use of the title, "Dr."

I think most PhDs (and Ed.Ds) who want to be called "Dr." outside of the academic world are being short-sighted as best, and narcissistic at worst.

Let's dig in:

1--If you have a PhD and you're in the academic world and the norm in that world is for people to call you doctor, go to town. I'm not in that world and don't understand it. My son is a research assistant for some PhD candidates this year and he thinks they deserve to call themselves "Dr." in academia if they achieve the PhD. Cool.

2--Once you leave academia, my opinion is that you should demand to be called "Dr." in corporate America at your own peril and it's only occasionally situationally appropriate. PhD in cellular biology and you work at Pfizer? Dr. sounds right. PhD in Labor Relations and you're an HR pro supporting Sales and Marketing and you want to be called Dr.?  Cue the snickering. PhD in English and you're in a corporate comms job?  Less snickering than the HR person, but snickering around you nonetheless.

3--If you know someone from the questionable category that wants to be called Doctor, you know the level of narcissism by whether the following things happen:

--They share a bio that includes "Dr. <insert name> in 48 font letters at the top of the page and continues to refer to them as "Dr. Dunn" throughout the rest of the bio. LinkedIn as well for this measurement.

--They have an email signature that shows their name as "Dr. Kris Dunn" at the top of said signature.  Woof.  That's a lot.

--When you're in a meeting with them, the need for them to be called Doctor has been mobilized in your company to the point where people below them in the org structure called them, "Dr. Dunn" out of respect and in an effort not to make some imaginary shit list.

4--This really comes down to formality vs approachability in corporate America. If you're set on being called doctor and send a bunch of smoke signals out related to what you expect inside a company, you just need to know that you're missing how normal people think. Will 10% of the high rules people love the fact that you're all schooled up? Yes. Will another 10% openly mock you behind your back?  Yes. The 80% in the middle probably view you as less than approachable until they have a reason to believe otherwise. Is that the type of culture you're tying to build? That's the real issue.

The power move here is obvious. Make sure that people know how credentialed you are and the fact that you could go by "Dr.", but don't.  

Jill Biden can request to be called "Dr." and it's fine. But like the male HR person sending an email signature with Dr. before his name, she'll be judged on whether it feels absurd or not based on the circumstances, which is a personal decision by the receiver of that communication/request that cancel culture can't touch.

By the way, lawyers don't call themselves "Dr." (juris doctor, yo) but should stop with the "Esquire" shenanigans in email signatures.

And yes, get off my lawn.  KD out.


California's Affirmative Action Bill Defeat and the Future of Diversity Hiring...

Had the honor of talking to California reporter and resident John Hollon on my podcast (Best Hire Ever) about the November defeat of Prop 16 in California, which would have overturned past bans on Affirmative Action style quotas and preferences in public hiring, contracting and education in California.

Regardless of your position on any of the related issues, America is becoming increasingly multicultural, and there's a lot to unpack and think about with this surprising defeat in the Golden State. Worth a bit of time to consider for sure. #hrleadership #hr #diversityintheworkplace #diversityandinclusion #californialaw

Full podcast rundown appears below - something for everyone, regardless of your politics or view.

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

In Episode 22 of BEST HIRE EVERKris Dunn talks with California resident (born and bred) news editor and professor John Hollon about the defeat of Proposition 16 in the November 2020 election, which would have allowed the reinstatement of affirmative action style quotas and preferences in public hiring, contracting and education in California. Voters in the Golden state rejected it by a margin of 57% to 43%, even though proponents of the bill outspent the opposition by a margin of 16/1. 

John and Kris have a wide ranging conversation about the bill, including John's rundown of the history of such legislation in the state and his reaction as a California resident. The conversation then turns to an examination of California's multicultural makeup and the fact it is a preview of the future version of America - and what we can learn about multicultural attitudes towards Affirmative Action and the impact of those diverse views to corporate DEI programs today and in the future.

Please subscribe, rate and review (Apple) and follow (Spotify) to get the latest delivered to you.  Click here if you don't see the player below!

RESOURCES AND SHOW NOTES:

------------John Hollon

John Hollon on Linkedin

------------Kris Dunn

Kris Dunn on LinkedIn

Kinetix

The HR Capitalist

Fistful of Talent

Boss Leadership Training Series

Kris Dunn on Twitter

Kris Dunn on Instagram


Post-Election Skill for Leaders: Making All Feel Welcome & On Equal Ground...

I read this post recently by William Wiggins at Fistful of Talent on Transgenderism. It's a simple, insightful piece on being aware. 

Prior to reading William's post, I finished Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber by Mike Isaac. It's the story of how Uber rose from humble beginnings to become a Unicorn, then stumbled from the top as it's bro-tastic culture caused it to be tone-deaf to the world around it via PR fiasco after PR fiasco.

Both are highly recommended reading. One is 500 words and one is 80,000 words.

Then of course, like you, I've been through the shit show that is the 2020 Election Season.

There's never been a bigger need for awareness for making all feel like they belong and are welcome than post-election 2020. 

The lesson? Being a leader in modern times is tricky. Consider the following realities:

  1. You're a leader.
  2. You're full of personal thoughts, a specific background and some form of bias. You think how you think. Politics included.
  3. When change comes and you're asked to lead everyone, it's easy to react as if it's a burden or worse.
  4. You can say it's all gone too far you shouldn't be asked to manage people on the far right or the far left. Many will agree with you.
  5. But - you'll ultimately acknowledge the views of the group of people in front of you - everyone - or you won't be allowed to lead anymore. Unless you're in a groupthink organization where everyone thinks the same.

History shows this cycle to be true. Your job is to lead everyone. When you don't engage or find the good in a group of people in front of you, you won't get the results you want or need as a leader in your organization.  When you think about the election we just went through in 2020, it's easy to become polarized and lose sight of this universal truth.

Saying that the vocal people on the left want to ruin America is lame. Saying that anyone that voted republican must be a racist is lame. Both are intellectually lazy. 

What if you decided that rather than be late to the game, you made it a priority to make all feel welcome and on equal ground in your company or on your team as a leader?

What if?

I'll tell you what if, my friend.  If that was your approach, you'd find the people in question - the special class of people currently causing others discomfort (the groups change over time) - incredibly willing to work for you and just as importantly, freed to do their best work.  You'd be maximizing your ability to get great work from the resources you have.

When you choose to lead everyone and not take the polarized bait the world wants to feed you, a funny thing happens. Performance and the ability for someone to do their best work goes up.

None of us are perfect when it comes to the change cycle outlined in #1 through #5 above.  Stop reading things in your bubble and start thinking about the best way to bring everyone on the team into the fold in 2021.

Performance goes up as bullshit goes down.  Just be crystal clear on what's bullshit in this cycle (anything that makes you slow to accept that reasonable people can think differently).


5 Reasons I'm STILL Bullish On America: Election Day 2020...

Election day is here. So many voices shouting, so let me add my thoughts to the mix with a bi-partisan thought that's not said enough these days:

AMERICA: STILL THE BEST THING GOING. Yikes

Let's start with my favorite songs from Hamilton, which you can find on Disney+. If you're looking for a reason to feel good on election day, you could do much, much, much worse.

Yorktown

One Last Time

What Comes Next?

It's been a rough year in America. Pandemic, George Floyd, second phase of the first wave of the pandemic and now, one of the most disruptive elections in history. The economy is questionable and things have never felt more divisive - which obviously spills over into the workplace, thus the post on something you thought had nothing to do with HR... 

Note that I'm hardcore moderate that thinks both polar extremes politically in the states are 100% crazy.

Here's 5 reasons I'm still bullish on America, with some HR/management thoughts embedded within:

1--We live in a country where you can actually tell the leader to "F off" directly to him/her via his social account. He might even "@" you! I just think it's interesting and a complement that our society/constitution allows for that and people aren't afraid to do it.  Try that in Moscow, Wuhan, Istanbul or Cairo these days, friends.

I don't agree with the decision to tell a leader from any party to F-off publicly. But I'll support your right to do it until the day I die. Side note - be careful with this approach with a leader in your company. Like the Dixie Chicks in the early 2000's, you'll find out that your right to free speech is protected, but the free market can and will remove you from corporate consideration. Also note the Dixie Chicks are now The Chicks, because Dixie didn't survive the cut in 2020 but "chicks" is OK, but as FYI, I've issued an advisory for dudes not to get comfortable using that term. Got it? Cool.

2--We have a history in the USA of being getting fed up, then vocal and moving for change. It's a long history and I could list all the problems America has had through the years - but you're aware of the history. Instead, I'm going to focus on what actually happens over time in America. People are vocal, critical mass is formed and change happens. It's easy to say it takes too long  - it sure does  - but just grab a live look in at St. Petersburg, Tabriz or Shenzhen for perspective. Also noted that it remains very much a work in process - as the George Floyd events illustrate (see my posts on the aftermath of George Floyd here and here, as well as these posts by great writers at my other site (FOT) if you doubt my intent). It's a rough look for the USA right now, but I believe America is 100% going to get this right - both now and in the future.

3--America is still the premiere melting pot of the world.  When I look around at the world my sons live in, I'm happy and proud that their world is more defined by meritocracy via equal opportunity more than mine was growing up. They see race, national origin and gender less than our generation did, and are accepting of people who don't look like them totally kicking a## in various walks of life. Why? America. Also see this map from the Washington Post that is a visual representation of the most and least racially tolerant countries in the world. Spoiler alert: Racism is a problem around the world, and while the USA has so many miles to go, we have some common ground to work from. (Note: I ran this map by some of my liberal friends and they had a hard time processing it. But still, it's the Washington Post on the left and they haven't pulled it down, which to me means it's solid for me to quote).

When I see a Black, Asian or Indian kid/family achieving in America, I'm not threatened. I'm proud they are American. I love it when the melting pot kicks ass. 

4--There's still a role for moderates in America. If you're not feeling the polar extremes of either political party here, it's OK. While the polar extremes are less tolerant than ever of your lack of willingness to commit, you've become the swing voter block that drives both sides crazy. You're also probably uniquely qualified to manage people as you've learned to see different points of view and co-exist with the highest % of people. This just in - the best managers of people are the ones who can get as many people in the bus to where we are going in 2021, 2031 and 2041 as possible. It's hard to do that when you say - as both parties do - you're either with me or against me.

5 - AMERICA ALWAYS COURSE CORRECTS. We've had a lot of dark times in our country and we've made some questionable decisions. What I love about America is that WE ALWAYS THROW THE BUMS OUT. Every. Single. Time. Regardless of party. In addition, just when you think you know what the answer will be, America rises up and pleasantly surprises you. Who saw a 6-3 vote FOR LGBTQ+ rights in a Supreme Court loaded with Republicans? No one, and you'd be fair to be skeptical on why that wasn't celebrated more. So be active, shoot your shot and trust the process. If you don't like how things are going in the USA - all you have to do is wait - we are junkies for change and can't accept too much of a single point of view. (side note - the picture in this post is my 4th of July t-shirt. It says, "YIKES", with subscript that says "England 1776")

Let's dig into that "Yikes" reference to close this July 4th post. This recent article from The Atlantic called "The Decline of the American World" digs into the perception of America around the world, especially in Europe. I found the article to be incredibly balanced and why it certainly focused on some negative perceptions of our country, it also featured hot takes by many that the world needs America to be great.

The article is highly recommended. I can't let you go without sharing the close of the article with you, focused on what Charles Dickens found in America:

"Over America’s history, it has had any number of crises—and any number of detractors. Le Carré is just one of many who have delved into the conflicting well of emotions that the United States manages to stir in those who watch from outside, part horrified, part obsessed. In his travel book, American Notes, for instance, Charles Dickens recalls his loathing for much of what he saw on his adventures through the country. “The longer Dickens rubbed shoulders with Americans, the more he realised that the Americans were simply not English enough,” Professor Jerome Meckier, author of Dickens: An Innocent Abroad, told the BBC in 2012. “He began to find them overbearing, boastful, vulgar, uncivil, insensitive, and above all acquisitive." In other words—it’s the aesthetic again. In a letter, Dickens summed up his feelings: “I am disappointed. This is not the republic of my imagination.”

Dickens, like le Carré, captured America’s unique hold on the world and the fundamental reality that it can never live up to people’s imagination of what it is, good or bad. As it watches today, it recoils but cannot stop looking. In the United States, the world sees itself, but in an extreme form: more violent and free, rich and repressed, beautiful and ugly. Like Dickens, the world expects more of America. But as le Carré observed, it is also, largely, an aesthetic thing—we don’t like what we see when we look hard, because we see ourselves."

Translation: The bumper sticker for America could easily be, "AMERICA: WE'RE MORE EVERYTHING THAN YOU ARE".

Which is why we'll be back. Happy election day, America. You are imperfect, dysfunctional, and at times, hard to look at.

But you're still the best thing going. Regardless of the outcome this time around, I believe you'll get this right, as you've gotten so many other things right.

See you at the cookout. 


Talking About Glassdoor's New Diversity Ratings with Joel Cheesman...

In Episode 18 of BEST HIRE EVERKris Dunn chats with Joel Cheesman, founder of Poach and Ratedly (as well as a co-host of the aptly-named Chad and Cheese Podcast) about the addition of Diversity Ratings on the Glassdoor platform. 

Joel and KD discuss the new rating and what it means for company reputation, the complicated relationship between Indeed and Glassdoor and how smart EB/Marketing/HR/TA pros can use the DEI focus to grow and protect their careers in a recession.

Please subscribe, rate and review (Apple) and follow (Spotify) to get the latest delivered to you.  Click here if you don't see the player below!

SHOW HIGHLIGHTS

1:25 - Joel breaks down his work at Poach and Ratedly. Poach follows employee sentiment and tells you when to reach out to great talent at a company that's thinking about jumping. Ratedly aggregates review sites so you can track what's being said about your company without logging into 15 review sites.

4:40 - Joel covers and outlines new Glassdoor ratings in the area of DEI and Diversity. Are you ready for your employees to rate your company on diversity?  Sure you are...

8:30 - KD and Joel talk about the number of ratings needed at a company for the diversity rating to appear - a disadvantage for SMBs.

9:30 - KD breaks down big company current DEI ratings on Glassdoor and Joel reacts.  It's complicated.

12:05 - Joel breaks down the complicated relationship between Indeed and Glassdoor, which are owned by the same PE firm. The companies had a 28% drop in revenue during the COVID period.

14:50 - Joel and KD talk about who has more leverage in the world of HR and TA - Glassdoor or Indeed. 

16:40 - KD asks Joel about the potential to show Glassdoor ratings on the Indeed platform, etc.

19:20 - Joel breaks down the challenge specifically for Employment Brand and marketing pros during the downturn, and how DEI branding presents an opportunity for them to survive in a pandemic flavored recession.

RESOURCES AND SHOW NOTES:

------------Joel Cheesman

Poach.ai

Ratedly

The Chad and Cheese Podcast

Joel Cheesman on LinkedIn


------------Kris Dunn

Kris Dunn on LinkedIn

Kinetix

The HR Capitalist

Fistful of Talent

Boss Leadership Training Series

Kris Dunn on Twitter

Kris Dunn on Instagram