PODCAST: e4 - This is HR - Women's Soccer Pay Equity, Management by 2Pac, Productivity Woes

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

In Episode 4 of THIS IS HR, Jessica Lee (VP of Brand Talent, Marriott) is joined by Tim Sackett (President of HRU) and Kris Dunn (CHRO at Kinetix) for a discussion of industry news that only true HR pros could love.

The gang covers:

--Shots fired in pay equity between the USA Women's National Soccer team and the US Soccer Federation, which have different talking points when comparing total comp of the USA Men's and USA Women's National Soccer Teams (3:19).

--A Iowa state Director of Human Services gets canned for broad use of 2Pac lyrics in his management style, which begs the gang to wonder aloud how much 2Pac is too much if you're trying to lead a department of public servants... in Iowa (18:40).

--A new productivity study is out and has some interesting outcomes related to which days are the most productive (22:15).  The gang has issues with some of the findings, including that Thursdays suck.

KD closes it out by forgoing the mailbag and forcing the JLee and Tim to pick a single 2Pac song that most represents their management style, which includes the awkward reading of rap lyrics to defend said favorite 2Pac songs (28:53)

Just another day in the office at THIS IS HR.  


Great CEO Quotes: "My Superpower is Change"

You know you love this post series here at the Capitalist - Great CEO Quotes.

Today's entry comes from WeWork CEO Adam Neumann:

"My Superpower is Change"

That's heavy, my HR friends.  When you work for a line of business boss who is on record with this quote, it's either going to be a fun ride - or you're going to hate life.

It's less about them than it is about you. They aren't going to change, so this really comes down to if you can tolerate the low rules/high change boss. Here's a couple Weworkof snippets on Neumann from Business Insider:

"Bloomberg observes that Neumann is served a bowl of super oats with what he calls "amazing qualities" midway through the interview, his cofounders go around wearing shirts with slogans like "High on We," and WeWork's walls are adorned with signs telling tenants to "Hustle Harder."

Toward the end of the piece, Neumann asks Bloomberg journalist Ellen Huet what her superpower is, he then responded with his own. "My superpower is change," he said, "and change is painful."

I'd categorize Neumann from WeWork as the visionary, low rules boss who trying to create a new category of business and generally disrupt an industry. For those that don't know a lot about WeWork, here's a quick description:

"Think of WeWork as an office leasing middle man. The company rents space and makes it pretty, you need space, so they rent that pretty space to you. On the most basic level, that’s all they do. More specifically, WeWork leases floors of buildings, entire structures, and any primo, available real estate they can get their hands on. Note that WeWork isn’t actually buying any space, just leasing it from owners and property managers."

WeWork wants to become your landlord. They initially were focused on renting space to individuals, but increasingly are signing deals with companies. They believe in the power of office space to drive culture and great work. They think they can do it better than you can do it for yourself, better than traditional commercial real estate firms, etc.  They're probably not wrong, but fulfilling a visionary, Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal (BHAG) like reinventing how workspace gets built and leased is hard.

Find a crazy hard BHAG like reinventing (and more importantly monetizing) office space, and you'll find a low rules, high change boss like Neumann.

His superpower is change. He said so.

Can you survive and thrive with a CEO like this? It's more about you than it is about them.

Look inward, my HR friends. That cool office space affect will only last for so long.


Would You Fire Starbucks Employees Who Ask People to Leave for Questionable Reasons?

If you're reading this while sitting in a Starbucks, be aware - you're sitting a location where bad things can happen.

Starbucks - with its 30,000 locations and 300,000 employees - has become a lighting rod reflection of polarization in America.  Just over a year ago, a Starbucks Cops
manager in Philadelphia had two black men arrested because they sat in a restaurant and hadn't ordered anything.  It turned out they were waiting for another man to start a business meeting.  After that debacle, Starbucks instituted an open-door policy. Anyone could be in Starbucks for any reason, as long as it wasn't illegal or disturbing anyone else.

In July 4th, 2019, six police officers ordered drinks at a Tempe, Arizona Starbucks.  Things were normal until a barista asked them to either move out of the sight line of a particular customer who felt uncomfortable or leave.  The police did the latter and another controversy began for Starbucks.

With an infinite number of customer interactions every day, Starbucks has an interesting HR question to ponder - Do you counsel employees who make wildly bad judgements that blow up nationally or do you fire them?

Like most things in HR, the choice of counsel or fire when incredibly bad things happen isn't an easy one. You obviously want to help the person in question grow, but that person showed such poor judgement that the incident in question is the headline in USA Today.

What's your call?  Would you counsel or fire the person who asked the cops to leave?

Here's the checklist I would use as an HR Leader before I sign off on the decision to fire the employee:

1--Give me all the context. I know the broad details of the two examples I led with above - two black men in Phili and cops in Tempe.  What's the context I'm missing before the request was made by the employee in question?  Is there more to the situation that I don't understand? 

2--What's the history of the employee in question? Tell me about the person who made the call that led to national headlines. Are they a good employee? Do they have a history of making rash decisions? What have we done previously if so?  A history of bad decisions makes me less likely to want to make a save.

3--Is anyone in the organization telling me it would be an awful outcome if this person got fired? Big events should lead to someone telling me if would be a complete shame if this individual lost their job - if they're a great employee in many other ways.

4--How much political capital am I burning if I make the right call to save the employee when others want them fired? Real talk. If the mob and leadership I'm a part of want/need the employee to go, HR is generally the last line of defense to represent it might be best if they employee stays.  If you or I make that call, we need to understand the costs associated with that decision.

5--I'd remind myself that people generally show us who they are with the judgment calls they make. You can't ponder whether to fire/counsel without remembering this fact. People tell us who they are all the time by the judgment calls they make. We should look for all the facts/the entire picture, but when they tell us who they are, we should listen.

Note that I'm not advocating that the Starbucks employee in either situation should be saved.  BUT - the highly publicized employee issues at Starbucks provide a great backdrop on making employment calls when single, really bad events happen at a company.

Good luck with the judgment calls - here's hoping yours don't land in the Wall Street Journal.


Does a Full Email or Voice Mail Inbox = Low Engagement?

You've dealt with it too many times to count.

You want to leave an email or a voice mail for someone, and your wish is denied.  Their inbox is full. Emailbox

And you start judging them.

"get your #### together"

"that is one of busiest people on earth"

"organizational skills?  Probably not"

"they've reorged to the point where this is happening at this company"

"he has ceased...caring"

If you notice those hypothetical reactions you could have to a full email or voice mail inbox, you'll notice they are part accusation and part empathy.  

The reality is the same - a full inbox can mean a variety of things.  The person with a full inbox can be overwhelmed - a white flag if you will that no person could reasonably be expected to deal with the volume and demands they're under.  Combine that situation with an aggressive IT policy related to the size of email and voice mail storage, and you'll see the white flag early and often.

Of course, there's a harsher reality at times as well.  A consistently full email (also non-responsiveness to email) or voice mail box can mean someone has checked out - part of the issue may be workload, but another part of the issue may be general engagement levels.

How do you tell the difference?  My take is that you can usually tell once you have the opportunity to talk with the person - 1-on-1.

The disengaged person isn't going to have much passion or sense of urgency about what they're doing.  The simply overwhelmed person, on the other hand, is going to have plenty of passion and still show the spark for what they do for a living.  But they're in obvious need of help - the type of help may differ by situation.

Full email and voice mail inboxes always mean something.  You just have to talk to the person to confirm what the reality is.


PODCAST - e2 - This is HR (Employee Activism at Google, Netflix HR Series and Mandatory Sick Leave Laws)

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

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

--A recent report on employee activism at companies like Google, Microsoft and Salesforce. If a small section of your employees starts protesting against your business plan or specific clients you serve, what do you do as an HR Pro? The gang digs in and finds that it's complicated (2:53)

--The team tries to bring the outrage at a new Netflix series, hosted by Dustin from Stranger Things, that take advantage of unemployed people who think they've finally landed a job.  They find their outrage uneven and too pedestrian so they start brainstorming Netflix pitches with an HR theme that would be cool (11:53)

--An exploration of the trend across some cities to enact mandatory sick leave laws.  Good thing or bad thing?  The gang digs in (18:51)

KD closes it out by going to the mailbag and getting a simple question from a manufacturing HR Pro on favorite interview questions, which Tim and JLee turn into a potentially ill-advised primer on passion in your job (27:21)

BONUS: We uncover that that one of the gang is stressed about prepping for Maternity Leave, while another one's not stressed but always preparing for the unexpected like a boy/girl scout.

What could go wrong with topics like these?  Give it a listen!


Venice Cruise Ship Fiasco: Create a Workplace-Related Caption for This Rough Landing Video......

In case you missed it, 65,o00 ton cruise ship MSC Opera recently crashed into a Venice dock, taking out a smaller ship and injuring a few people to boot.

On June 2, the 2100 passenger/13 story cruise ship laid on its horn as it came crashing into a busy dock, the Washington Post reports. Take a look at the video and then give me a workplace/HR caption that fits what you see below (email subscribers, click through for video):

I actually own a boat, and landing it was and is one of the most humbling things you can do.  Of course, my boat is 25 ft long and I bought it used as hell because I knew it was going to be a complete sh**show at times, and who needs to worry about hurting the value of your vessel when you're a complete newbie?  For that reason, I captioned it as the following in some of my group texts:

"Me landing it at the Marina on a windy day"

My group texts, littered with HR and talent pros, came back with the following gems:

"Me giving a presentation with no prep"

"My LinkedIn rep proposing to triple the cost of my annual contract"

"My CEO talking about his boat in an all-hands employee meeting"

"My Sales Leader changing his team's commission plan via email over the weekend with no warning"

You get the vibe. Give me your workplace related caption to this "rough" landing.


Suck Less: The Reality Behind Your Small Failures at Work...

Let's talk about small failures at work. The kind that stack up and make you feel like you had a crappy week.

Some of you think everyone is watching you when you fail small.  The dirty little secret is no one is watching you unless you beat them (good for you, but watch out) or lose to them (at which point they'll tell others or discretely imply that they crushed you). Of course, life at work doesn't have as many true "L's" as we think.

People are hopelessly self-absorbed.  No one is watching you for the most part, or has time to stop thinking about themselves to evaluate - wait for it - you.  Bask in the fact that your small failures are not really seen or evaluated by those not directly impacted.
 
Then get ***ing better.  Because you might have a problem if you never get a "W".
 
Signed - Your agent KD
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Workers at Delivery Services contracting to Amazon claim deplorable conditions

Amazon Execs Admit "Employee Cages was a bad idea"

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

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

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

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

 

 


Class Warfare in the Workplace Notes - WeWork in NYC and Office Depot Coworking Space...

If you're late looking into the whole "coworking" space thing, it's probably time you at least became knowledgable at a surface level, because things are changing fast my friends.

How fast you ask?  I offer the following 2 items to illustrate the pace of change in this area and who is absolutely getting rocked.

1.  WeWork is about to become the biggest private office tenant in Manhattan. If it leases just another 74,000-square foot office — a typical size for WeWork — it will be bigger than JPMorgan Chase, currently the biggest office occupant in New York’s Manhattan market.

Let that soak in a bit, people. If you need help understanding where this is going, remember Uber.  You thought that s**t was weird one time too, didn't you?  The fact that WeWork (coworking giant, hater of meat) is set to become the biggest landlord in NYC is crazy.  

Here's what that means for you - companies with less than 100 people everywhere are going to hedge their bets and not secure office space - they'd much rather pass the lease risk to providers like WeWork.  Get rid of the lease, have your employees work from home and give them a basic WeWork subscription so they stop whining about being at home all the time.

It's only a matter of time until WeWork and it's competitors get deep into all the 50 top markets in the US. 

2. Here's another sign that things are a changing my friends. Office Depot is converting some of their space to coworking space.  More from Fast Company:

In the latest sign of the ongoing retail apocalypse, Office Depot has been forced to pick up a part-time job.

The company announced today that it is piloting its first-ever coworking space, neatly integrated into its Los Gatos, California, retail location. Yes, that means you can pull up to Office Depot and work alongside real office supplies. It sounds perfect for road warriors who are tired of working in their cars or, you know, anyone priced out of Staples’s coworking space.

While working at an Office Depot sounds like a beige-carpeted version of hell, on the plus side, you’ll never run out of toner and will always be able to find a pen when you need one. How that will stack up against WeWork’s onsite gym, The Wing’s on-demand blowouts, and Servcorp’s private jets is TBD.

The coworking space comes as the company expands its Workonomy platform in a bid to be less reliant on retail revenue. In addition to the new coworking concept, Workonomy also includes services like DIY copying, printing, packing, and shipping as well as a new line of tech-support kiosks that will offer “direct, on-demand access to Office Depot’s technology experts,” and whatever it takes to survive in the current retail landscape.

It's hard to get my head around wanting to go in to an Office Depot and get some work done.  But if society is going to convert to coworking spaces, everyone needs a place to go, I guess.  

In retail, the masses shop at WalMart.  The rich people avoid WalMart.

When eating, the masses go to Applebee's.  The rich people avoid Applebee's.

What about coworking?  The trendy people will be at WeWork. The professional grade people without a WeWork subscription will still head to Starbucks and feel fine.  I'm guessing everyone else goes to Office Depot.  Feels like a lot of laid off people are going to end up at Office Depot before they figure it out.

Pictures of Office Depot and WeWork coworking space appear below (in that order) so you can get your head around the class warfare to come in our new world of work.

My favorite part of the Office Depot space is that retirees confused by laptops will browse and peer over at me, like I'm a Lion at the Zoo.

"That's right, retired Boomer.  I'm sitting in here and in total control of my laptop, while you can't find help to answer your questions."

Don't you dare ask me for my take on the best laptop.  Can't you see I'm coworking?  Damn.

Office depot
Office depot

 


Founder's Rules: Marriott to Put Copies of Bible and Book of Morman in Starwood/Westin/Sheraton Hotels...

There's a lot of pros and cons about working for a company that's still controlled by a founder.  For me, I think the pros dramatically outweigh the cons.  Every once in awhile, a little company grows into a giant that's still controlled by the founder and because they still call the shots, things get interesting related to what's important to them.

Case in point - Chick-fil-A - while the founder has passed away, the company is still run by the son - Don Cathy, who's conservative Christian views have been front and center in recent years.  There was past drama related to the Cathy's views on same-sex marriage, etc.   Since the company is still thriving, you have to guess that the service and food is still so stellar that the controversy didn't make an impact.

Here's another founder-controlled company with some new ripples - Marriott International plans to place copies of the Bible and the Book of Mormon in 300,000 rooms of its Marriott newly acquired Starwood, Westin, and Sheraton hotels, the Associated Press reports:

The big picture: The number of hotels that offer those kinds of religious materials fell 16% over 10 years, per the AP. Starwood-owned hotels haven't offered religious materials at all until being acquired by Marriott. But Marriott requires "its 6,500 properties to have the books in each room."

Marriott told the AP in a statement: "There are many guests who are not digitally connected who appreciate having one or both of these books available. It’s a tradition appreciated by many, objected to by few." Gideons International provides the Bibles, and the Books of Mormon are purchased with the help of the Marriott Foundation and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Other major hotel chains like Hilton and IHG, owner of Holiday Inn, let hotel managers decide whether or not to provide Bibles in their rooms.

Marriott, whose namesake founding family is active in the Mormon church, has been putting both the Bible and the Book of Mormon in its rooms since opening its first hotel in the late 1950s. Like most major chains, Marriott doesn't own the majority of its hotels. However, it stands out from the other companies by requiring — in franchise or licensing agreements — its 6,500 properties to have the books in each room.

There are some other Starwood properties acquired by Marriott that won't be get the book - the W and Moxy brands won't, for example. Turns out that condom packs in the rooms, etc - is inconsistent with the messages in the books.

A quick scan/text stream of 4-5 Marriott employees I know at decent levels in the company - and having a variety of political views - found my Marriott friends to be comfortable with the decision. They see all the progressive moves that go unnoticed by the company and are happy to shrug off the power play of 300K Bibles and Books of Morman going into rooms.

Founder-driven companies that scale are always an anomaly.  Good enough operationally to get big, small enough via the founder vibe (even at Marriott's size) to do whatever they want - damn the critics.

Long live the American entrepreneur. See you at the Westin, my home away from home, now with new books.