Are You a Jerk for Sending that Email at 9 pm?

No, you're not. But a growing number of people in the world will say that you are a jerk for sending that 9 pm email.

The reality is . . . it's complicated. Let's dig in. IMG_3423

You being a total machine and working to get things done isn't the issue. The issue is the perception that you're projecting your workhorse mentality onto others who report to you who can't match your speed, urgency, or general kick-ass vibe.

In today's world of empathy, mental health awareness, and work/life balance considerations, a growing population feels like you're part of the problem with your drive, ambition and . . .

. . . after-hours emails.  

A recent Wall Street Journal column cited a study of perceived urgency of after hours emails.  Here's what they found (link to full column here):

"We examined this question in a series of studies with a total of more than 4,000 working adults. We had participants take the perspective of either a sender or a receiver of a non-urgent work email sent outside work hours. We asked “senders” to indicate how quickly they expected a response and asked “receivers” to indicate how quickly they thought senders expected a response from them. We consistently found that receivers overestimated the need for a fast response—something we call the “email urgency bias.”

In both studies, we found that, on average, receivers assumed they needed to respond 36% faster to off-hours work emails than senders expected. What’s more, the receivers reported feeling more stressed by off-hours work emails than senders expected them to feel, and the stress associated with this unnecessary pressure resulted in lower subjective well-being.

Without question, when a work email comes in after hours, a lot of your direct reports are going to treat it with more urgency. As they should, if you're the boss. The best practice is laying some ground rules for what you expect when you send the after-hours email.

But before we dig into that, let's further define the players in this email game of after-hours communication. Below is my roster of the players involved.

There are Three Types of Managers When It Comes to Sending an After-Hours Email:

1--Fire away, let's get s**t done. You might or might not expect an answer to your after-hours email. But you'll be damned if you're going to worry about how people feel when you send late or weekend emails. By the way, I support you getting things done. Shine on, you crazy diamond. There's a reason you're in the seat you're in. The bottom line is if no one is sending after-hours emails, you probably don't have much of a company.  Don't shoot the messenger. It's true. "A" players aren't held captive by broad, over-arching calls for empathy. 

2--I'm not sending this now, it will be seen as anti-work/life balance. This manager has seen the light related to work-life balance and is not sending the message out when they think of it, making a note to send it out during normal business hours. Is this rationalization? Is this the most efficient path? I could argue that many of these messages would be delayed by getting busy. In addition, managers who can say they never send out after-hours emails probably aren't—wait for it—working after hours! I could also argue that managers who don't work at least some after hours and weekends are on average trailing from a total production/results perspective. Again, don't kill the messenger. All things being equal, a manager putting in fifty hours is going to outperform one who works only normal business hours. Hard facts from the salt mine.

3--I'm sending now but via Outlook's send later tool, so people think I'm cranking it out in the morning. Ah! The evolved manager related to after-hours emails. This manager says the following: "I'm here kicking ass after hours, but I'm aware that culturally, people are starting to be criticized for work/life balance signals with off- hours emails. I'm using 'send later' so people think my work day starts at 6:22 am." This manager works when they want to work and, if they don't need the response immediately, is winning the game of public opinion by timing messages to be more palatable. They're still crushing the team to get s**t done; they're just showing that they are evolved, even if they wonder why others don't work the way they do.

But let's not forget the employee side of this after-hours email exchange. You can talk about work/life balance all you want, but the reality appears below.

There are Three Types of Employees When It Comes to Email Management:

1--I respond within the hour to anything you send. Nights and Weekends included. You love them. Maybe they do need protected a bit. But damn, it's nice to know they're there.

2--I don't respond during nights and weekends, but I'm in control and you aren't disappointed by my timeliness of response. Cool. You still love #1 better, but you see this group and trust this group. We're good. Look forward to your response to the 9pm email in the morning.

3--I have trouble being responsive to email. It doesn't matter when it is sent, you'll rarely feel like you're a priority. The dirty secret to all the work/life balance world yelling about your after-hours emails is that even if you send all your emails at normal times, this segment still sucks at responsiveness. They're also probably the first ones to bitch about your work ethic and drive, and yes, your 9:31 pm email about the Sparkman account.  

Run through it, and your choices are clear. Keep doing what you're doing or adapt.

The Wall Street Journal article recommends making these disclaimers in your after-hours emails—I kid you not:

--“Even though I’m sending this email outside regular work hours, which fits my own work-life schedule best, I don’t expect a response outside of your own work hours.”

--“Note that you might receive this message outside of my office hours but that I have no expectation to receive a message outside of your office hours.”

--“Please know that I respect boundaries around personal time. If you receive an email from me during your personal time, please protect your time and wait to respond until you are working. It’s important that we all prioritize joy over email whenever possible.”   (KD note - !!!!!)

I honestly am fatigued by these messaging suggestions. The problem with these messages is that you're still the boss, and you need service on the things you need service on. 

I'd recommend the following options: 1) do nothing different and keep on rocking emails when you want, 2) adapt and use the "send later" option and still rock how you want to rock, or 3) make sure everyone on your team knows that you'll text or call them if you need an immediate reply to an after-hours email, which prevents you from the absurd messaging recommended above in every after-hours email.

If you're concerned about this, I'd recommend the "send later" option. It still says you're working harder than most and need people to be in range of your sense of urgency. I'd text people as needed without making the proclamation.

The bigger the company, the more you'll need the strategy in this area in years to come. Big companies follow broader society trends more responsively than smaller companies.

Your employees' feelings matter. But then, so do yours.

KD out.

-9:54 pm


COVID Vaccine Incentives/Penalties for Leaders, Ranked by Harshness...

Editor's Note: This post was published before the proposed Vaccine Mandate for all private employers with more than 100 employees by the Biden Administration in September 2021.

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

We're just going to shut everything down for two to three weeks, and we'll be good.

--Everyone, late March 2020

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

In a pandemic, wouldn't it be cool to say, "I don't know?"

Masks, distancing, hybrid school, vaccines and more. The reasonable position on all of it is that most of it makes sense. But, if you become absolute about your position and your position turns out to be wrong, it kind of undermines your authority to be absolute moving forward. This is the problem with COVID hot takes eighteen months in. Lalapalooza

Three weeks to flatten the curve.

Masks are effective. Wait, two masks might be better!

Say hello to leisure travel and eating out with freedom once you get the vaccine.

You can't get COVID once you get the vaccine.

Uhhhh. Like a lot of moderates, I'm stuck in the middle. I'm OK with how we've handled it to this point. Pandemics seem to be tricky (shocking!), and we've tried some stuff and have a vaccine. It makes sense. But we've been wrong enough on all the non-vaccine stuff that it's human nature that some people are going to be skeptical of the vaccine.

That's where you come in, HR Leader. Time to rally around the Covid vaccine.

What's that? You say you don't want to be involved? Good luck with that. Having no plan or point of view still means you have a position. With FDA approvals starting to roll out, you're going to be looked to for an opinion on how to maximize the percentage of your workforce that is vaccinated.

I'll stop here and offer up the reality. Different companies have different views on COVID and using incentives/mandates/penalties to get people vaccinated. If you are at a business that's not going to get involved with mandates/driving behavior, that's fine from my moderate point of view—you do you. This post is for HR and Talent leaders who have to help find the path to higher vaccination rates, because their business, leadership and/or boards make it a necessity.

Maximizing vaccine rates at your company is a game of incentives, threats and intrigue.  Especially in a tough labor market where it's hard to find people. In a morbid turn, the Delta variant probably makes it easier for you to take a stand related to vaccination.

That's why I'm here. To rank the Vaccine incentives/penalties—by harshness.

Here. We. Go. On to the rankings, from softest to hardest:

1--Incentives - You're so nice. Kind even. You're throwing out extra PTO days or $500 to get the vaccine. This is the least harsh of all the options. It's also the one least likely to move the needle, because you're likely just paying for someone to get the vaccine with more urgency than they would have anyway. They were likely to get it, and you gave them the final prod with a free Honey Baked Ham. Well played. Not likely to get you to 90% vaccinated, however.

2--Vaccine Mandates - I know what you're thinking. This isn't the harshest one? No, it isn't. If vaccinations are important to your organization, this is the one that signals where you're at. You can also talk about all the reasons why you're doing it: keeping people safe (really important for healthcare organizations), etc. There's nothing like clarity when you're trying to lead.

3--Medical Insurance Penalties/Surcharges - Delta Air Lines will impose a monthly $200 surcharge on unvaccinated employees enrolled in the company's health care plan, CEO Ed Bastian announced in a memo earlier in August. This is undoubtedly the harshest way to deal with employees when you want them to get vaccinated.

Why are additional premiums a dumb idea? Let's start with the broad strokes. If you want all your employees to be vaccinated, LEAD and go to vaccine mandates as your strategy. The whole, "it's going to cost you" strategy just leads to ill will, indecision, and creates a long trail of dissatisfaction in your organization. You're creating a class of people and asking others to look down on them. Just cut the cord, mandate the vaccine if that's what you want to do, and get ready to recruit.

If you need more of a reason than pure leadership to know why insurance penalties are a bad idea, let's so some math. I'm using the Georgia workforce for Delta Air Lines as an example:

Total Delta Employees in GA: 33,000

Estimate of count of non-vaccinated: 9,000

Annual cost of non-vaccinated insurance penalty per employee: $2,400

Total pool created annually by the penalty payments: $21.6 million

Cost per COVID hospitalization: $24,000

Number of Hospitalizations that would need to happen to use the entire pool: 900

I'd note here that Delta says their cost is north of $50,000 per COVID hospitalization. Clearly, they are self-insured and have access to the data, but all cites available show average hospitalization cost from $17K to $24K, so I used the higher number of those two.

To give you a sense of COVID hospitalization rates, Georgia has had 72,822 COVID hospitalizations since the start of COVID on a population north of ten million. If I plug in those numbers to the Delta population, it comes to a projection of roughly 237 hospitalizations (versus the 900 they've funded via the penalty) that could be expected over the same period. You could argue that the rate would be lower since we now live in a world with many vaccinated, but variants like Delta put that analysis at risk, so let's assume the run rate might be the same.

So the Delta program isn't looking to simply pay the costs of hospitalizations; they had to make the number much bigger to provide the penalty needed to move human behavior. Anyone who stays and pays that penalty is going to hate the company for the rest of their life. Gallup says employing people and making them hate you is a bad idea.

All of that to say the following. If you are at a business that's not going to push, that's fine from my moderate point of view—you do you.  

BUT, if you're going to push for vaccinations, incentives won't get you there. You can stop short of the vaccine mandate, but I'd argue things like the Delta COVID penalty are just going to create ill will. If you want people to be vaccinated, make the call and lead—and mandate the vaccine.

Good luck with the educational campaign. And fire up the recruiting engine regardless of your approach.

Leadership is hard.


Taking Sides Politically: Wrong For Your Company and For You as a Manager of People...

I'll start this post by saying this: I've been on the corner of "no politics at work" way before 2020 happened. I've been on this corner so long that I questioned the wisdom of many small business owners pressuring their employees to vote GOP in the 2016 election for reduced taxation and concerns about Obamacare.

Ah, 2016. Ah, Obamacare. So long ago, such a simpler, innocent time. Mitch and nancy

When you choose political sides at work, you're alienating and decaying trust with close to 50% of your workforce. Go back historically and look at the vote splits. We're a 50/50 nation.  To choose either side politically is a bad look for any leader. You shouldn't do it. The great ones don't choose, because they know it's a suckers game from a leadership perspective.

"But, KD," you say, "times have changed! There's right and wrong!" I hear you, so let's dig into the topic a bit on 3 levels:

--The post 2020 escalation of what politics at work means

--The trap of picking any political side as a company—big or small

--Managing diverse sets of employees as a manager of people

Ready? Let's discuss.

The Post 2020 Escalation of What Politics at Work Means

It used to be that talking politics at work meant comparing, discussing, and arguing simple GOP vs Democratic platforms. You know the issues: taxes, government, social programs, etc.  Those days are gone. Discussing politics at work has exploded into nuclear identity politics and more. Regardless of what you believe, endorsing a political view as a company or a leader polarizes people more than it ever has and forces people to take sides.

In addition, allowing politics to be discussed in the workplace or taking a position as a company invites future employee activism that detracts from your goal—to serve customers/clients and be great at what you do. We'll talk more about that in the company section of this post.

Finally, if you have people in your company who aren't for opportunity for all, a world without racism, and other issues being discussed these days, you should get rid of those people. But that's not really the issue we're facing inside our companies when we talk politics and social issues identified with political platforms. Both major political parties weaponize the issues, which decreases meaningful conversations inside our companies, because the weaponization makes the issues (DEI, BLM, etc.) too hot to debate.

That loss of meaningful conversation means many view company positions as one of two things: 1) a call to make a portion of the business and their time about the political/social issues, or 2) empty virtual signaling. Neither outcome is great.

The Trap of Picking a Side or Allowing Politics/Causes to Be Discussed as a Company

Do Black Lives Matter? Of course, they do. Is BLM as an organization the carrier of the message we want to get behind? Uhhhh....

No one I know (including my GOP friends) argues with the fact that we need opportunity for all, a world without hate, and reasonable approaches to all the social issues on the table. Be about that 100% as a leader.

But the world, organizational life, and humanity gets in the way the more you try and formalize and activate your support of a platform. Are you in the business of focusing all your energy on your clients, or are you ready to channel 10-20% of your time talking about social/political issues (increasingly the same thing these days) whether you want to or not?  

You'll have a cross section of employees in any company who want you to formalize this support of social/political issues. The last year has shown us that formalizing your support for any political platform or cause creates activism inside your company.

Case in point: you're a US-based global company, and you promote Pride Month in the USA (good) complete with a logo change for the month, only to be reminded by a small section of your employee base that you didn't change the logo for all of your other country-based social accounts. Turns out, there are parts of the world that don't want anything to do with Pride month or what it stands for, and from a business perspective it's problematic to push this promotion in those parts of the world. Your employees on the left are disappointed in you and active in telling you about it, and your employees on the right think the whole show is PR. It's complicated.

As you wade into the political waters, a small percentage of your employees will become vocal activists, wanting to spend a percentage of their time at work active on politics. This has become a big enough issue that two companies with liberal, left leaning founders—Shopify and Basecamp—recently reversed course and sought to put firm limits/eliminate time spent at work on political/social issues, reminding employees that the company mission to serve clients was what work was about. While the Basecamp communication was bungled in many ways (link to outcomes here), the bigger of the two companies, Shopify, locked down the politics at work discussion hard.  See the entire note from Shopify CEO Tobi Lütke here.

Summary of this note to employees from Tobi Lütke:

We're not a family, we're a team. You came to Shopify to work with great people. Our record on liberal values and equality of opportunity. Sometimes we see opportunities to help nudge these causes forward. We do this because this directly helps our business and our merchants and not because of some moralistic overreach. Slack trolling, victimhood thinking, us-vs-them divisiveness, and zero sum thinking must be seen for the threat they are: they break teams. Teams survive and thrive on the actions of the collective, and the cohesiveness of the whole. Poor performance and divisiveness cannot be tolerated.  

How do I insert 1,000 handclap emojis? Magnificent. Get back to work and stop wasting time on things that aren't in support of our business goals.

Managing Diverse Sets of Employees as a Manager of People

It's simple for best results as a manager of people. You don't routinely share your political views or hot takes on things that could be considered to be political with direct reports.

The reasons are pretty simple. As a manager of people, you're responsible for shepherding a group of direct reports through a given week, quarter or year.

If you've done a good job of hiring, you're leading a diverse team - which broadly defined, means your people don't all look, sound or think like you. You're in a position of power, so the more you broadcast polarizing information like political views, the more you risk alienating good people who aren't a carbon copy of you.

I'm not saying you can't be you. And note I'm 100% saying you should be clear that you're against racism an a supporter of other ideas of note. You can and should share those views, and it's an important part of leading on issues.

I'm saying that the stronger/hotter you are on a polarizing take - whether you come from the hard left or hard right - the more you risk shutting someone down on your team from talking to you, which almost always results in lower engagement and one foot out the door.

Managers from both the hard right and the hard left struggle with this. For best results, remember that in competitive election years, the country is split pretty much evenly between two political parties.

Some of you will email me and say, "But Kris, how do I find the line?" Well, if you're manager of people, that's what the money is for.

Your job is to keep all the good people on the bus. The team that successfully navigates 2021 and arrives at 2022 at a different place with the highest percentage of talented employees retained and rowing in the right direction wins.

Leadership is art. I'm sorry I'm saying you shouldn't share that op/ed you loved from The New York Times or Fox News with the team. 

Listen more than you talk. Connect with everyone on your team on a 1/1 level. Show empathy to all.


Remembering Facebook vs Google+: The Value of the Rally BHAG...

There's a lot of hate heading Facebook's way these days. But step away from the politics and the obvious corrosive, addictive drawbacks of social media, and you'll see a company that has fought like hell, got lucky at times and generally rallied the troops better than most around BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals). See this post for more on the value of a good BHAG.

BHAGs at Facebook include the move from campus focus to the general public, the move to mobile first and more.  But let's talk about one BHAG that most of us have forgot about.

Let's talk about Google Plus (or Google+) and remember the threat and the response. Lockdownlogo

Google+ ------ Man, some kids don't even know what this was. Here's a definition of the social app launched by Google back in 2011:

Google+ (pronounced and sometimes written as Google Plus; sometimes called G+) was a social network owned and operated by Google. The network was launched on June 28, 2011, in an attempt to challenge other social networks, linking other Google products like Gmail, Google DriveBlogger and YouTube. The service, Google's fourth foray into social networking, experienced strong growth in its initial years, although usage statistics varied, depending on how the service was defined. 

Google+ was introduced in June 2011. Features included the ability to post photos and status updates to the stream or interest-based communities, group different types of relationships (rather than simply "friends") into Circles, a multi-person instant messaging, text and video chat called Hangouts, events, location tagging, and the ability to edit and upload photos to private cloud-based albums.

Google+ was shut down for business and personal use on April 2, 2019. Google+ continued to be available as "Google+ for G Suite".

Google+ was perceived as a huge threat inside Facebook when it launched. After all, many of us live our lives through the Google Suite, so it makes sense that a social network that liquified that usage was going to pop in a big way.

At Facebook, the launch of Google+ was scene as a declaration of war. The company had a large sign in its Bay Area HQ that simply said "LOCKDOWN." It was rarely used. The sign was lit up upon the launch of Google+ and it was an all hands on deck moment.

Mark Zukerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, wasn't a great public speaker. But he took the mic during the all hands meeting that followed shortly after the LOCKDOWN sign was lit up. Here's how the scene was described in the book Chaos Monkeys:

"Rounding off another beaded string of platitudes, he changed gears and erupted with a burst of rhetoric referencing one of the ancient classics he had studied at Harvard and before. “You know, one of my favorite Roman orators ended every speech with the phrase Carthago delenda est. ‘Carthage must be destroyed.’ For some reason I think of that now.” He paused as a wave of laughter tore through the crowd.

The aforementioned orator was Cato the Elder, a noted Roman senator and inveigher against the Carthaginians, who clamored for the destruction of Rome’s great challenger in what became the Third Punic War. Reputedly, he ended every speech with that phrase, no matter the topic.

Carthago delenda est. Carthage must be destroyed!"

There's nothing more BHAG than a big ass sign that's the size of a family sedan that says "LOCKDOWN" and your CEO pointing at a competitor and saying, "Carthage Must Be Destroyed."  The internal PR team also went into BHAG mode as evidenced by another passage in Chaos Monkeys:

The Facebook Analog Research Laboratory jumped into action and produced a poster with CARTHAGO DELENDA EST splashed in imperative bold type beneath a stylized Roman centurion’s helmet. This was Facebook’s ministry of propaganda, and it was originally started with no official permission or budget, in an unused warehouse space. In many ways, it was the finest exemplar of Facebook values: irreverent yet bracing in its martial qualities.

The Carthago posters went up immediately all over the campus and were stolen almost as fast. It was announced that the cafés would be open over the weekends, and a proposal was seriously floated to have the shuttles from Palo Alto and San Francisco run on the weekends, too. This would make Facebook a fully seven-days-a-week company; by whatever means, employees were expected to be in and on duty. In what was perceived as a kindly concession to the few employees with families, it was also announced that families were welcome to visit on weekends and eat in the cafés, allowing the children to at least see Daddy (and, yes, it was mostly Daddy) on weekend afternoons. 

And if you're skeptical of the value of a true BHAG moment like LOCKDOWN AND "Carthage Must Be Destroyed," that's cool. Just know it matters when the survival of your company is at question. The final passage I'll share from Chaos Monkeys talks about the difference in moods at Google versus Facebook:

Facebook was not f**king around. This was total war.

I decided to do some reconnaissance. En route to work one Sunday morning, I skipped the Palo Alto exit on the 101 and got off in Mountain View instead. Down Shoreline I went and into the sprawling Google campus. The multicolored Google logo was everywhere, and clunky Google-colored bikes littered the courtyards. I had visited friends here before and knew where to find the engineering buildings. I made my way there and contemplated the parking lot.

It was empty. Completely empty.

Interesting.

I got back on the 101 North and drove to Facebook.

At the California Avenue building, I had to hunt for a parking spot. The lot was full.

Was there any question who would come out on top?

In a time of crisis, BHAGs matter.


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.