HR Technology In the Era of Drones, Robots, and Infinite Data delivery drones, robotic co-workers, Google’s self-driving cars… How will these new technologies impact workforce and HR functions over the next few years?

Recently, we’ve seen quick adoption of mobile technologies, real-time performance analytics, and automated recruitment/retention platforms that we couldn’t have predicted just a few years ago. So it’s safe to assume we’ll see even bigger advancements in HR tech in the months and years to come.

While it’s tough to predict exactly where we’re headed, failure to embrace new workplace technologies could leave not only you, but your entire organization underperforming and lagging behind your competitors. In this one-hour webinar, Steve Boese (HR Technology Conference Co-Chair, host of the The HR Happy Hour Podcast):

  • reviews and recommends technologies that simplify and automate HR workflows and functions.
  • highlights business technologies that are fundamentally changing the way people work.
  • provides info and resources to help you stay ahead of the curve and at the forefront of modern HR practice.


Avoid Disaster With These 6 HR Must-Do’s for Social Media

In today’s hyper-competitive environment, organizations are striving to put in place social media strategies to help them attract and retain employees of all ages. No longer confined to twenty-somethings, an effective social media program is a “must have” for any organization who wishes to stay connected with its global employee base.

However, in their rush to adopt the latest and coolest program, organizations often fail to fully think through the best way to deal with social media’s double-edged sword of access and liability.

Steve Miranda is Managing Director of Cornell University’s Center for Advanced HR Studies. Prof. Miranda as he walks you through six “must do” social media initiatives aimed at mitigating your organization’s strategic, reputational and financial risk.

During this webinar, you’ll learn to:

  • Destroy your policies…before you reissue them
  • Get the troublemakers involved
  • Think inside the box
  • Not everyone gets to play short-stop
  • Be culturally inclusive versus exclusive
  • Avoid “channel fatigue”

UPDATE: Here’s the archived version of the May 14 webinar. You can check out the video and download Prof. Miranda’s slide deck here on Slideshare.

Motivating and Evaluating Performance with Prof. Robert Bloomfield

Incentive compensation is one of the most powerful tools managers have to motivate and direct their employees—but only if they are used properly! On Wednesday, 4/23 from 1 – 2 PM EDT join eCornell for a webinar with Cornell University Prof. Robert Bloomfield entitled “Motivating and Evaluating Performance.”

During the webinar, Prof. Bloomfield will discuss how to:

  • Link performance evaluation and incentives to organizational strategy
  • Revise strategy and operations to accomplish strategic goals at lower cost
  • Help employees collaborate and work together across departments and functional areas, and communicate more effectively with colleagues about the goals and performance of their organization

There will be time for a Q&A session with Prof. Bloomfield so you can ensure that you get information relevant to your area of business.

This webinar is perfect for managers and leaders, including accounting and finance professionals who are responsible for managing costs, margins, revenue, or efficiency and would like to take a more strategic approach to motivating performance.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM EST

Seats are limited, so register soon!

Update: Even if you weren’t able to attend this webinar, you don’t have to miss out on all the great information shared. Go here to get the video recording of the webinar along with the SlideShare presentation. Then come back and let us know what you thought!


What is Old HR Tech Costing Your Company?

For decades, HR spreadsheets were really the only option for managing employee data. Only lately have companies (especially smaller companies) had options for managing HR data. Because technology allows you to keep employees states—even countries—away, you should also use the latest technology to manage your employee information accurately and efficiently. If you are still using spreadsheets to track employee data, you need to ask yourself—why?

Why to Get Out of HR Spreadsheets

HR spreadsheets have been holding companies back for years. Because on-premise HR solutions were so bulky and expensive, it left small to medium companies to fend for themselves with only their flimsy spreadsheets. Here are five reasons spreadsheets don’t cut it anymore:

  1. Spreadsheets waste time. HR is stuck spending up to 80 percent of its time trying to update many scattered spreadsheets with the same information.
  2. Spreadsheets are inaccurate. Studies have shown that over 90 percent of company spreadsheets have significant errors! If HR provides inaccurate data, the whole company suffers from non-compliance and possibly costly litigation.
  3. Spreadsheets can’t report. Trying to report using data from many spreadsheets can take hours or even days! By that time, information could already be outdated.
  4. Spreadsheets lack security. HR has to store lots of super sensitive information, like social security numbers, addresses and bank account numbers. Fifty percent of identity theft occurs because employee records weren’t protected.
  5. Spreadsheets aren’t universal. There’s no standard to entering data into spreadsheets. With all the different ways to set up formulas and tabs, it gets complicated fast!

When to Get Out of HR Spreadsheets

Just because HR spreadsheets have done a “good enough” job isn’t reason enough to keep doing HR with inefficient, time-wasting spreadsheets. For true growth and productivity, your HR process needs to reflect that by allowing an innovative and agile solution to manage employee data.

HR software allows you to keep all your employee data in a single, secure database that’s accessible from anywhere you have an Internet connection and is always up-to-date. Reports are created in seconds, rather than hours, because data is right there. It’s protected with layers of encryption and security measures. HR software simplifies most of the day-to-day HR functions, like automating PTO, managing training and tracking benefits. It’s time to throw out that old HR technology and gives HR hours back into their days to focus on improved hiring, training programs and turning employees into tomorrow’s leaders.

Best Practices for Virtual Communication and Meetings

Did you know that almost 10% of the present-day workforce telecommutes from home? The likes of AT&T, Accenture, and P&G have opted for a remote working system by partially eliminating their traditional offices. While there are obvious benefits associated with this system, a big drawback is the lack of communication between remote workers/teleworkers and their organization.

Teleworkers are far removed from the face-to-face interactions occurring in their organization. This automatically makes proactive communication an important facet of a remote working arrangement. And while it is best when initiated from both the remote workers and their supervisors/contact points, the onus fall on the latter.

After all, communication is a key mechanism through which remote managers cultivate relationships with their reports.

Here is a look at five best practices of virtual communication that can be very useful in any remote working arrangement.

1. Communicate frequently with remote workers

When you don’t make a dedicated effort to include remote workers in the office communication loop, you risk isolating them and making them feel less engaged with projects. It is imperative that you communicate frequently with your employees to share information, monitor their performance, and make sure they know you’re available to help them.

2. Leverage the most effective modes of communication

As a remote manager, you need to be flexible about how you communicate with your employees. Employees may prefer different communication tools, and if you can adapt to these preferences, you will be able to connect with them more often. For instance, some may find it more comfortable to connect with you or the in-office team via Skype exclusively, while others may prefer a mix of email and telephone. It is best to understand preferences and align communication accordingly.

3. Focus on communicating clearly

You can devote only so much time towards communicating with teleworkers. To make the most of this time, you must provide clear direction and goals to get your message through to them effectively. In this regard, you should also practice closed-loop communication, which involves following up with employees to ensure that important information is both received and understood. Messages can be easily misinterpreted in virtual settings – clarity and follow-up can eliminate confusions, ensure smooth communications and keep frustrations at bay.

4. Planning a meeting – What you should know

Meetings can be held to communicate updates, make decisions, brainstorm, and more. Each meeting has its own purpose, and for it to be accomplished, you must have a proper structure in place.

The Society for Human Resource Management has provided a list of nine different tips for running effective virtual meetings. Here are some you will definitely find useful:

  • Prepare and distribute agendas in advance, and ensure that they reflect input requested from the participants. You can also initiate meetings with a roll call of all participants and to review the agenda, meeting objectives, and time frame.
  • A meeting is a participatory event, where inputs from attendees must be actively encouraged. You can assign facilitator and scribe roles to one or two members of your team. Their responsibility will be to encourage every attendee to participate and to set follow-up assignments at the end of the meeting. As you can see, these tips focus largely on creating a virtual meeting structure that will enhance participation and lead to more effective communication.

Make it a point to keep track of who is participating or talking, and ensure that all participants are on the pulse of discussions, by asking, listening and polling.

5. Understand the four types of awareness

Your ability to listen and hear what cannot be seen is an important and oft ignored aspect of remote communication. Here are the four different types of awareness you must know about to effectively manage your remote employees or teams.

  • Activity awareness, where you are aware of employees and their work activities.
  • Availability awareness, where you are aware of employees’ schedules.
  • Process awareness, where you understand how individual employees’ tasks need to be sequenced and how they fit into an overall project.
  • Social awareness, where you know about employees and their social environment.

In a nutshell, communication is critical to managing in virtual environments. To be effective, remote leaders need to focus on the frequency, mode, clarity, and structure of communication while also maintaining high levels of situational awareness.

Pay Matters – But Does it Pay Off?

Subtleties matter

Asking “What matters about pay?” is quite different than asking “Does pay matter?”

The former question makes you think. The answer is hard, and is not the same for every culture, company or individual. The latter question is simply answered “Yes.” And if you stop there, you may have successfully answered the question, but the question itself was the wrong thing to ask.

Asking “What matters about pay?” starts from the foundation that pay is not monolithic.

Pay up is made of many components, each with different characteristics that play out differently for different people and in different environments. Pay in the form of wages or salary for example makes up just under 70% of the total compensation costs of the average U.S. employee; and, that doesn’t even count the wide range of immeasurable ways we feel rewarded for working where and how we do, like the reputation our organization may have for “doing good,” or the flexibility to bring a dog to work. These kinds of components of our total compensation might be things we are willing to trade-off some traditional wage or salary pay for.

What does the research say?

Because it is complicated, personal and context-dependent, there is still a lot we don’t know about getting pay right in a specific organization. But, there are many things we do know. Research has shown that pay for performance:

  • Works better for extroverts than introverts.
  • Is less effective if it’s newly implemented immediately following a significant downsizing.
  • Needs to be underpinned by a well-functioning performance review process.

Research has also shown that the motivational impact of money:

  • Is weaker the more money one already has (diminishing returns)
  • Is stronger in recruitment than retention
  • Can be negative if it’s “known” in advance the same superstar gets the big bonus every year
  • Creates a selection mechanism whereby employees who like monetary rewards sort into jobs with a larger variable pay component

Separating Fad from Function

Some fascinating case study research by founder and faculty director of the Institute for Compensation Studies, Kevin F. Hallock, has shown that individual factors, including gender, correlate which components of compensation employees prefer. If your goal is to have your compensation program function similarly across all employees, then adopting the latest “everyone is doing it” component into your pay plan may not give you the desired result. Deeper digging into your unique employee pool, empirical assessment of the form and result of pay incentives, and thoughtful review of how your strategic goals align with your pay practices takes effort. In the end, however, it will pay off.

Overdoing HR Analytics – Is Automation A Boon or Bust?

No doubt, the explosion in business automation software has been a boon to HR departments. Certain business processes have become significantly easier (managing headcount, labor costs, turnover rates, demographics). Business software is also providing us with reams of actionable HR data that was previously unattainable. So what could go wrong?

You can send a whole department down a rabbit hole of data-mining if you don’t have a strategy and a framework for understanding, and acting upon, that data. If you don’t know precisely what you’re looking for, you’re not likely to find it. What began as efficiency measures have now become a drag.

Analysis Paralysis

HR departments and entire business units are collecting terabytes of data on employees’ behavior and performance. But overdoing it with analytics can lead to ‘analysis paralysis’. How do you find that sweet spot with HR analytics and use it to maximum advantage?

“I think the main area where companies overdo analytics is when a large number of individual metrics are created without an overarching framework for why these particular metrics matter,” says John Hausknecht, Associate Professor of Human Resource Studies at Cornell University’s ILR School.

“A stronger approach moves beyond individual metrics and gets into understanding linkages among multiple factors. It shows what HR data, specifically, predict performance, or better yet, can show that changes in certain HR policies or practices actually cause business performance to increase.”

“Most HR issues cannot be reduced to a single number, so it makes sense to think about building (and testing with data) more sophisticated models that capture the causes and consequences of whatever it is we’re interested in understanding. Once that work is done, we can have greater confidence in why we’re tracking and trying to influence certain metrics.”

Culture Coding for Fully Formed Adults

How to create and maintain good culture while fighting complexity creep.

The issue of creating and fostering culture in a company or organization is tricky. Partially because the concept of culture is somewhat nebulous, but also because in order to do it right, you have to make one giant assumption.

Darmesh Shah, CTO and co-founder of Hubspot, gave a talk at DF13 about creating, establishing and maintaining culture in a company. We’ve talked about the why, and a bit about the how.

Dharmesh pulled back the curtain on Hubspot’s struggles and successes with exploring, creating and documenting company culture. And that included one significant assumption that might seem a little obvious, but it’s implications for Hubspot might surprise you.

Assume you’ve hired fully formed adults

That’s it. Assume that when you hire someone, they are an adult with all the neat features adults come equipped with – good judgment, responsibility, the ability to use logic to make rational decisions, etc.

With that in mind – here’s how company culture played out for Hubspot.

  • Employees choose their own hours and where they work from. Results matter more than where or what time of day we produce them.
  • Vacation time is not tracked and there are no limits on vacation time. And, Dharmesh cautioned, his employees do abuse this policy, but not in the way you might expect. He found people weren’t taking enough vacation.
  • Almost complete transparency is tucked into every crease of Hubspot’s culture. The average age at Hubspot, Dharmesh said, is 27 years old – a fairly young crowd. They love transparency. More precisely, they “love it; love it; love it” he said.
  • No social media policy. You should know whether or not you should post something to your network.

That’s just a sample of some of the outcomes when you assume you’ve hired fully formed adults…for Hubspot, anyway. According to Dharmesh, the approach was – “don’t write rules, right wrongs.”

And using good judgment is crucial when you allow this amount of freedom. Dharmesh described a hierarchy of good judgment that sounded a little like a military creed, but it’s really built like a mathematical formula. You solve for a series of things:

Solve for team over self, company over team, customer over company.

If you choose the wrong side, the equation falls apart – and that’s the definition of using bad judgment. Every decision should be run through this test. Failure will be painfully obvious.

There are dangers, Dharmesh said. Complexity has a way of creeping in. What’s good for one group might not be great for another. Even raising the issue of culture might rub some people the wrong way.

Address the complexities immediately, as their true toll lies below the surface and can slowly and silently pull your culture apart at the seams.

One way to approach culture coding that can help address complexities before they arise is to start with a “federal” set of values – an executive-level take on things.

But, Dharmesh said, you’ll run into “state” laws that conflict.

The key is to balance federal against state – it won’t be the same for every organization, but it’s a good framework to apply to the task of codifying culture.

Dharmesh described building, defining and maintaining Hubspotter culture as the hardest thing he’s taken on during his career to date. It’s easy to see why and even after you’ve “created” your culture, the challenge isn’t over…in fact, it never ends.

The final task for creating a company culture is not being married to any version of it you’ve created. Workforces change. Companies change. Organizations grow and shrink and mutate time and time again. Your culture should, too.

“As you grow, there is a very very strong temptation to preserve culture – understandable, but wrong,” Dharmesh said. “You have to adapt.”

The Challenges of Creating Organizational Culture

Darmesh Shah exposed the why of Cracking the Culture Code at Dreamforce 2013 today, but his approach is even more interesting.

As co-founder of the then-young Hubspot in the late 2000s, Shah was posed the challenge of defining the culture of Hubspot.

“For the first three years at Hubspot, the word ‘culture’ wasn’t spoken,” he said, confirming the uniqueness of the challenge.

The idea came from co-founder and CEO Brian Halligan, who had joined a CEO support-group of sorts and other, more seasoned CEOs warned that company culture could end up biting you a lot harder than you think if left untended.

Dharmesh started with a simple survey of 60-or-so Hubspotters – “On a scale from 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend Hubspot as a place to work?”

The responses indicated a maniacally happy workforce.

But the real question is why? And that’s where the work really started with Dharmesh – documenting the culture of Hubspot…on paper.

The Hubspot culture deck is, apparently, the second most widely read culture document in the history of the planet. The first? Netflix.

Hubspot found that the key to documenting your company culture is remembering that it “can’t be about who you are. It should also be who you want to be.”

And the measurement should happen with frequency and consistency.

Have a company meeting? Ask your employees afterwards on a scale of 0 to 10 if they would have that meeting again.

Meet with company alumni and ask how happy they are to have your company on your resume.

Always measuring. Always adapting.

Cracking the Culture Code – Why You Should Care About Creating Culture

“There is no magical unicorn that craps out great culture”

Those are words of caution from Dharmesh Shah, CTO and co-founder of Hubspot and self-anointed introvert that captivated the audience during his Dreamforce 2013 talk on developing and implementing culture in an organization.

Tasked with documenting the Hubspot company culture a few years back, Dharmesh claims it was the “hardest thing I’ve taken on in my career.”

Shared beliefs, values and practices – that’s culture

Company culture used to be standard – rules and regulations handed down from executive-level folks were accepted by employees as long as the benefits and compensation were good.

No more, Dharmesh found. That model is broken and Hubspot set out to figure out how to tackle company culture.

But why? As a business leader you probably think of 100 things more pressing than something as seemingly trivial as company culture.

Here are Dharmesh’s top reasons why to spend calories in culture:

  1. Creating a culture is hard, killing it is easy – left alone most things degrade to crap without outside intervention
  2. Culture debt is insidious and often interminable – hiring the wrong people can be a really tough and lengthy thing to overcome
  3. Good culture makes the easy decisions unnecessary and makes difficult decisions easier!
  4. The team determines the destiny and the culture determines the team
  5. Don’t just hire to delegate – hire to elevate
  6. Culture is to recruiting as product is to marketing – customers flock to great products, workers flock to great companies with good culture
  7. Helps the stars “shine”
  8. Whether you like it or not, you will have a culture – why not take the time to design?

We’ll have more from Dharmesh. Specifically – how do you actually go about documenting and creating the blueprint for culture code.