TO HRMS VENDORS – TODAY’S GEOPOLITICAL ENVIRONMENT CALLS FOR A “PAUSE” ! Help reduce some of the extraordinary pressures on HRM.

Thomas L Friedman in his new engaging and educational book “Thank You For Being Late writes that “we are living through one of the greatest inflection points in history”. His premise is that the “three largest forces on the planet – technology, globalization and climate change – are all accelerating at once. As a result, so many aspects of our societies, workplaces and geopolitics are being reshaped and need to be re-imagined. Friedman goes on to say “When there is change in the pace of change in so many realms at once as were now experiencing, it is easy to overwhelmed by it all.” He believes that in such times it is important to pause and reflect, rather than panic or withdraw. He states that pausing is “not a luxury or a distraction – it is a way to increase the odds that you’ll better understand and engage productively with the world around you.” Friedman suggests that we press the “pause button”. As a great fan of Tom Friedman’s musings in his books and columns in the NY Times, I decided to apply this “pause” concept to the industry I work in, HR and its use of Technology. What pressures are we feeling? Are we feeling the same pressures that Friedman is focusing on? How can we lessen those pressures? What can the HRMS providers do to help the HR community and their clients? What if anything can be “paused”? Here’s my thinking. Based on today’s environment especially with the uncertainties surrounding the new US administration (Executive Orders and such), a great many people feel fearful and (in Friedman’s words), “unmoored”. Alongside of CEOs and all manner of business leaders, HR executives must feel the same way. In trying to comprehend the impact and thus pressures on HR that are resulting from this “inflection point in history”. Most will come from two of the three Friedman focuses on, technology and geopolitical impacts, less so than from climate change. In my world this translates to HR Technology, specifically HRMS providers and users of HR Tech working within the function of Human Resources. So, recognizing the recent developments in America’s political landscape and geopolitical impacts, I am asking my fellow HR Technologists – those of influence and who interact with, or work for the many well positioned, highly reputable and highly thought of HRMS providers to take two very important actions: The First: PAUSE IN YOUR ROLLOUTS OF NEW FUNCTIONALITY. Stop thinking about new functionality for a while, unless there is a fix or an immediate capability that can help HR react to the pressures mentioned here or made necessary by new legislation or by government directive. And the Second: ENHANCE YOUR DIALOGUE WITH YOUR CLIENTS. Seriously think about reaching out to your existing clients to find out what they are doing with your product and your support. Simply put, find out how your clients’ are using the power of your products’ functionality/tools. Ask them if they believe they are getting the full value of the investment they have made and continue to make. I suggest these 2 steps because (IMHO) I think that at this point HR executives and staff are OVERWHELMED and are under pressure to react to, or respond to the unusual circumstances brought about by the pace of change in technology and geopolitical events. The pressures on HR – today – now, February 2017, come from many sources: some totally unexpected and on the surface seemly having nothing to do with HR – but they do. Here are some of the pressures that are now adding to HR’s usual role and responsibilities, thus, adding significant stress on those in charge of day-to-day delivery of programs: PRESSURE POINT 1: THE “EXECUTIVE ORDERS” The executive orders which imposed a “travel ban” and then the rhetoric of “extreme vetting” can and have impacted HR and a company’s workforce. Clearly – as we all witnessed the worldwide demonstrations – this created real anxiety and emotional disruption of peoples worldwide. Within the business community many corporate executives are using Social Media to emphasize their carefully worded positions against these Trump Administration actions. In global business, any organization with staff employed anywhere in the world, and traveling to and from anywhere in the world can be affected. In academia, students from the 7 stipulated countries are seriously affected. The presidents of Google, Apple and hundreds of others have come out with statements of condemnation and in support of refugees and immigrants. HR must take the lead along with Legal and Employee relations’ executives in crafting and issuing communications to help allay the obvious fears within their affected workforce....

THE NEEDED AND IMPORTANT ROLE OF HUMAN RESOURCES AND HR TECHNOLOGY IN INSTILLING WORKFORCE CYBER AWARENESS —- IT’S NOT JUST AN “IT” ISSUE!

I partnered with a colleague of mine, Bob Schiff to create a new entity within my existing consultancy – Miller+Schiff. We will offer initial education and then follow up requirements and policy development to educate HR professionals/employees about Cyber threats, and what Human Resources execs and staff can develop (with IT) to help reduce the threat level of future attacks that might be initiated/facilitated by workforce behaviors and poor HR data security. Let me blog a bit (within Marc S Miller Associates), about what inspired Bob and I to create this new initiative. Clearly cybersecurity is on the world’s stage, especially here in America. Made more visible to the general public through the concerns over the hacking of the democratic national committee and Russia’s alleged influence over our presidential election, the threat of cyber attacks has gotten great publicity. Even before our election, the hacking of records maintained by TARGET, BEST BUY and YAHOO with almost 1.5 billion records stolen (to name just a few) have created great concerns and interest. However, a bit less publicity has been given to and about the threats and executed attacks within any corporation (of any size) stemming from their own employees – or from former employees. It has been often stated that the greatest point of vulnerability to an organizations data files is as a result of the behavior and lack of mindfulness of the employees themselves. A recent VERIZON data breach investigations report (2015) stated “an organization’s greatest vulnerability remains it’s own workforce”. According to the council on cyber security (within the Department of Homeland Security) HR must play a critical role. Their report (2015) states that “HR has always had an important role in managing RISKs – from natural disasters to layoff, lawsuits, and workplace violence – and cyber risk is no different – HR has an important role to play.” Employees and others working for or within any organization, including consultants and contractors can now work from almost anywhere, bring their own devices (BYOD), use cloud-based applications and access work files on their mobile devices. The result? A profound increase in threats to cybersecurity. A major way of mitigating these threats rests with the mindset of the employee population. Among other reasons, this is one situation where HR is best positioned to take a needed role. The HR department has the organizational role and skills necessary, and with effective HR Systems, can mitigate at least some of the known causes of any “insider” cyber attack. One known cause of an “insider” attack is the result of a well-intentioned employees who makes a mistake, such as using a personal email rather than a work email or accidentally shares something classified on social media. HR can deal with these cases by making sure employees are properly trained and educating them on a regular basis. Effective HR Technology already has security based on roles and at the employee level the rights to see, report on, and disseminate data. Another known cause is strongly linked to disaffected employees who have ill will toward the company. Because HR is typically tasked with implementing programs dealing with the workforce’s health and well being, in effect, tasked with understanding employee behavior, HR is the best Department to notice early warning signs that an employee could be being disloyal or headed in that direction, experts say. Oftentimes the “insider” is a disgruntled current or former employee. HR is in the best position to possibly predict or anticipate such behavior through the use of their current HRMS. Breaking into a network takes minutes. However, finding and safely extracting what they want may take criminals months or even years of research and planning. To shorten this process, cyber criminals are getting help from insiders (whether knowing or manipulated) in more than half of all advanced attacks. Attackers use social media to identify a useful target and to create a relationship with them. They target people with a pre-disposition to break security controls such as those with strong views, who do not react well to authority. They look for a trigger event which will break the employee’s psychological contract with their employer – such as a demotion, change in role, redundancy or dismissal. Employees who take action against their employer are most likely to do so within 30 days of such an event. This gives the HR team a chance to intervene, including taking steps to increase monitoring and deter them. Managing an employee’s exit from a company is facilitated by an an effective HRMS which can provide workflow, email triggers and alerts to all appropriate departments. Passwords and email accounts must be disabled in...

WTF??!!! POLLSTERS WITH THEIR “PREDICTIVE ANALYTICS” GOT THE ELECTION ALL WRONG – WHAT IT MIGHT MEAN FOR HR AND HR TECHNOLOGY.

        As clearly evidenced by the Trump election and the fact that a vast majority (if not all!) of the pollsters who predicted a different outcome were wrong. With all their algorithms and underlying BIG DATA points – they still got the outcome wrong. The issue, in my humble opinion, is simple – nothing is easy or straightforward when trying to predict human behavior. In my sphere of influence, that of the HRMS and HR’s use of technology, we seem to be (up to Nov. 8 at least) enamored with the concept of “predictive analytics.” So, one issue that deserves some thought – does HR’s utilization of HRMS delivered predictive analytics to bolster and support actionable strategies regarding decisions affecting the workforce – globally or even individually – have a strong basis for validity? No less reliability? Certainly, many HR technology software providers have, in the last few years created and delivered thoughtful and reasonable workforce metrics. Those almost “out of the box” reports have added tremendous “Clout” to the role of HR in an organization. The software puts in the hands of HR Technology executives and HR C-level executives the opportunity to move from “Data Management to Information Craftsmanship” – providing future projections of workforce staffing levels and strong indications of the pipeline of talent, among other types of forecasts, in keeping with many well known lists of HR metrics. Models and forecasts for staffing and performance outcomes based on incumbent performance have proven to have a basis of validity and reliability, as much research has already shown. Executive and Management dependence on an effective HRMS delivering metrics and dashboards is certainly is needed and justified and would prove effective in a majority of cases calling for deep dive and a view of the underlying raw data that can enable cause and effect analysis. More recently, a few of the top tier comprehensive HRMS providers and the “best of breed” niche functionality providers in talent management suites have begun to emphasize their concept and definition of “Predictive Analytics” which seemingly attempts to incorporate behavioral analysis added to the standby standard metrics related to HR management. However, the approach must meet the challenges of quantifying human behavior, and must incorporate additional aspects and applications of social media, beyond the input of baseline data elements. I think the HRMS provider community will endeavor to do this, but there are some caveats. Specifically, with regard to the behavior of people in any company’s workforce, as we have seen, human beings are under many influences – some stated and some left or kept private by any one individual. So predictions – for example – the “9 box model” of predicting which employees are prone to leave (especially those that are considered “key”) – a popular and often “out of the box” delivered metric by a good many leading HRMS vendors, must, or might, or should be viewed (and acted upon) with some skepticism. Is the report truly reliable and useful? Are we relying too much on statistics based on data, instead of listening to our “gut” and observing behavior about specific individuals?. It could be so. Could taking action based on such predictive “models” end up overtaking other important inputs? Again, it could be so. Larry Acton, in his “Under 30” blog (Forbes – 11/18/16) “Can you quantify your Human Resources Department?” points out that HR poses a unique problem in the field of business analytics because its bottom-line goals involve a degree of subjectivity and because not all employee actions and behaviors can be easily quantified and humans behave, well, like humans, even lying when asked their opinion (or, how they voted in exit polls – as we found out,) not to generalize – but still. HR executives and managers must consider, and take advantage of all points of intersections between any employee and his/her manager. That would include such standard input resulting from frequent communications and exchanges. Exchanges begins with some formalized interactions – usually a performance review process. But by no means should that be the sole dialogue, and it would be a mistake to think that any exchange of future “engagement” on the part of the employee is fully candid or even truthful. How HR Can Currently Be Quantified Moving into 2017, HRMS providers will undoubtedly seek to integrate even more Organizational Behavior and Industrial Psychological aspects into their efforts in delivering more meaningful, and selective Predictive Analytics for which they have the underlying data. Here are 3 areas of HR measurement that may become potential breakthrough metrics to be seen shortly – integrated within Talent Management and general HRMS...

The “DELIGHT” – FUL path to a great HR technology solution provider business and reputation.

Almost two years ago I came across an article in the NY Magazine – Intelligencer column – titled “DELIGHT” – WHAT SILICON VALLEY’S FAVORITE WORD SAYS ABOUT TECH PRIORITIES”. It stuck with me as I was looking to write about HR technology vendor behaviors as potential differentiators. The column was of interest because it involved semantics, marketing and organizational behavior concerns. The columnist Kevin Roose (on August 10 2014) presented his case for the importance of, and proliferation of the use of the word “delight” – especially from an entrepreneurs point of view (and verbiage), as it self describes any number of efforts to win over new customers. In his report, Mr Roose, goes on to say: “Sit in any high-end coffee shop in San Francisco and you’ll see start-up founders pitching their delightful wares. “Delight” and “delightful” have become all-purpose marketing words in the tech world, trotted out to describe anything even marginally surprising or well made, in the hopes that even uttering the word will loosen the purse strings of investors and customers.” The use of the word “delight” has been pervasive in all industries. Especially used by those trying to describe their approach in business development, marketing and their overall approach in making a significant inroad in penetrating any clients thought process leading to a positive action. That action can be the adaption of a new product, a new software capability, a new business relationship/partnership, indeed, any new anything at all. Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey has called Twitter ads “a delightful experience.” Sheryl Sandberg has vowed to show Facebook users “something … that really delights you.” Apple a while ago) employed a new corporate motto: “Simplify, perfect, delight.” From the sound of it, you’d think these were executives at Mattel’s toy factory, not mobile developers or software developers in Mountain View, California. When did the titans of technology start talking like kindergarten teachers? Even the old-line economy has gotten in on the action—when Frito-Lay introduced a new line of Cracker Jack in April of 2014, its press release promised “new flavors that will continue to delight our consumers.” The heaviest use of “delight” seems to be concentrated within the consumer start-up world, among those who believe that good design can help them stand out from the competition. “The world is pretty bored with being able to accomplish tasks efficiently,” Rishi Mandal, the co-founder of urban-discovery app Sosh, (as he told Mr. Roose). So what does this discussion have to do with HR technology? Well I am trying to make the point that in the selling of any kind of HR technology the secret is in the ability to ‘engineer a smile’ in other words, to “delight” the prospect. As we should all grasp, a delighted prospect most likely becomes a customer and hopefully one that remains delighted. If not, there are a whole new set of problems to deal with – (a topic for another blog). To this writer, as an HR technologist – industry observer – it makes me wonder how to, in a meaningful way, emphasize the need for any vendor to embrace the concept of “DELIGHT”ing a prospect/client – aka the “customer” with the objective of a building a mutually rewarding (and profitable!) relationship. One that deepens and lasts many years. To do so requires a good many conscious and effective actions that depend on thoughtful marketing, use of media, and salesmanship all aimed at building trust and even building a sense of “humanized” partnership. In effect I am seeking the answer to “how do you accomplish the necessary tasks involved with turning an interested organization into a solid and reference-able client/customer at the same time as always striving to “delight” them?. This is not typically easy when trying to sell a software application such as HRM – as opposed to a really “cool” gadget or app. Creating “smiles” is an important and achievable goal, and it does require mindfulness at many levels within the HR Tech vendor organization. Could the dissection of the word delight make a buzzword meaningful? Lets try to see if it could. Buzzwords inevitably stray from their original meaning, and even techies who traffic in “delight” will admit that the word has gotten diluted. The word can feel trendy and overused, and can certainly get an eye-roll. But the concept is ever strong and a proven methodology to win over new business and clients. So allow me to introduce the word DELIGHT and take it apart letter-by-letter using my own definitions for each letter, thus expanding the underlying concepts and power of doing things that “Delight”. In effect I am suggesting that keeping...

CLOUT GAINING ACTION ITEMS FOR HR EXECUTIVES AND WHY HR TECHNOLOGY MUST BE IN PLACE!!

Here are 7 major issues* and action items facing HR Executives today – and ALL of them cannot be accomplished without HR Technology of some sort…. (*from many sources including LinkedIn discussion groups/postings) Recruiting and retaining knowledge workers – attracting the new workforce Leveraging HR technology to gain strategic “CLOUT” and senior level influence Obtaining a “Total Compensation” quantification and using it to retain and recruit seasoned executive staff and newer generation workers Aligning the HR function with overall company business strategies Implementing business process improvements utilizing workflows that incorporate employee and manager self service over the web Outsourcing what is not in HR’s core competencies and that which makes economic sense Incorporating on-boarding and employee engagement programs – built and utilized even prior to the first day on the job. *******************************************************************************************************   1.            Recruiting and retaining Knowledge Workers – especially the last 2 Generations – Millennial’s and Gen X The workforce is the one component that competitors cannot easily duplicate quickly. Recruiting and Talent management are the two areas of most interest by HR executives. Taking advantage of the Boomer workforce – creating flexible job schedules, telecommute, part time positions, and the ability to be a mentor will provide strong benefits for retaining not seeking to replace, the Aging Boomer workforce. Have a website – employee and manager portal that incorporates and delivers such functionality as: Employee and Manager Self Service, Performance Reviews, Appraisals, 360 degree feedback, team interactions (twitterlike), team relate-ability, template based workflows, email triggered by events, etc, that is intuitive and common to at least 2 workforce Generations. Take care in making sure that any delivered HR related functionality must be able to be accessed by any device. 2.              Leveraging HR Technology and related systems to provide Strategic, value added “information” to the Board of Directors”, move from “Data Management” to “Information Craftsmanship Use the power of technology to generate metrics and dashboards to provide forecasts and other models of strategic importance to the C-level executives, especially the CHRO, and potentially the Board of Directors. Provide information not data: seek to build or take advantage of top tier HRMS vendors who have already built, dashboards of workforce metrics. Just start with 10 or so, and gauge the reception. Chose metrics that make sense for your industry, and that would seemingly add value by leading to actionable initiatives spearheaded by HR. Consider your organization’s willingness to embrace “Predictive Analytics” from your HR functions. Go at a considered pace in formulating and distributing your findings. Make sure your underlying data and assumptions are accurate.   3.     Obtaining a “Total Compensation” quantification and using it in a retainment strategy “Employers are giving up rigid wage scales in favor of flexible compensation. They are learning to live with high turnover and abolishing seniority-based pay” – BusinessWeek Magazine, The Wild New Workforce, December 2005. HR Technology and systems must be able to produce an accurate picture of total compensation for each of the organization’s employees. Boomers and aging workforce care less about base salary than all the other characteristics of the total compensation – time off, benefits coverage, flexible work schedule etc. 4.   Aligning the HR function with overall corporate business strategies The traditional HR function has often been perceived by the organization it supports as both paternalistic and obsessed with legal compliance and bureaucratic trivia; the unfortunate result has been, at times, a strained relationship between HR and the rest of the organization. The new HR must change and become the enabling force that helps the organization realize its business goals and objectives. HR must be proactive in its ability to provide the Board of Directors of the organization the Information (not data) they need to strategically guide the organization. Always think “VALUE” showing how the end result of any HR initiative adds VALUE and impacts the business in a positive way. HR must remove itself from the “Silo” view of HR activities, and must understand the “company” – its plus and minuses, its direction, its competitors, etc.  5.   Implementing business process improvements that incorporate employee and manager self-service. Today’s HR Technology applications provide templates for best practice workflows for many life cycle events, including email triggers, alerts and notifications with built in approval processing. Most, if not all, HRMS solutions include workflow, some standard metrics on a template dashboard, built in ESS/MSS etc. If using a selected HRMS provider – seek to use what they       Examples of Opportunities for Cost Savings: Information Week Magazine provides the statistics that the cost of routine HR transactions typically falls from as much as $17 to just $2.40 when self-service technology is employed. The self service...

“E Pluribus Unum” a motto that can work for HR and HR technology! …. really.

During this polarizing, exasperating, entertaining and just crazy political cycle for the Republican and Democratic nominations, I seem to pay more attention and even look forward to reading the op-ed pieces in the NY Times. Gail Collins, Maureen Dowd, Frank Bruni are among my favorites. Also Thomas L Friedman who most know as the author of some far reaching best sellers about our global environment and workforce, particularly “The World is Flat”. Recently (NY Times, Feb 17, 2016), Mr. Friedman had an interesting op-ed piece entitled “Who Are We?” which was triggered by his amazement and dismay about our current election cycle. He notes that he: “finds the current election bizarre for many reasons, but none more than this: If I were given a blank sheet of paper and told to write down Americas’ three greatest sources of strength, they would be “a culture of entrepreneurship,” “an ethic of pluralism” and the “quality of our governing institutions” And yet I look at the campaign so far and I hear leading candidates trashing all of them.” Friedman goes on to discuss Donald Trump – with his issue banning all Muslims – as showing no pluralism, and Bernie Sanders for his unworkable and contrary to US history view of socialist governing, and Friedman finds fault with Ted Cruz ‘s slashing and hateful ranting against established government institutions and ideals. Friedman ends his opinion piece with the following, and this is what made me think about HR and HR Technology. “American didn’t become the richest country in the world by practicing socialism, or the strongest country by denigrating its governing institutions, or the most talent filled country by stoking fear of immigrants. It got here via the motto “E Pluribus Unum” – Out of Many, One”. He ends his column by saying: “Our forefathers so cherished that motto they didn’t put it on a hat. They put it on coins and then on the dollar bill. For a guy with so many of those, Trump should have noticed by now.” No matter your political leanings, I highly recommend reading his column. But, now allow me – as I seem to do recently – to take this concept into my sphere of (shall we say) influence – that of HR and the HR technology. The concept of “Out of many – one” – can lead to a number of actionable practices on the part of HR executives, HRMS project teams and the HRMS software providers themselves. Here are a few concepts to keep in mind for these groups – based on the vital American motto: For Human Resource professionals at all levels: Out of MANY databases or master files – there should be Out of MANY separate and distinct department heads, each with their own objectives and goals – there should be ONE overriding goal and strategy that they must be in alignment with – that of their organizations’. Out of MANY (most likely) static and ad-hoc reports – there should be at least ONE that is deemed effective and provides meaningful and actionable information in support of the strategic goals of the entity. Out of the MANY needs within your organization – prioritize and pick ONE that will deliver VALUE to your business – and get that specific need addressed, fixed, enhanced and/or resolved – by the many technology tools that have the ability to do so. For an HRMS project team – doing a HRMS software evaluation and selection or for any project team evaluating a third party provider: Out of MANY self-interests, goals and objectives among individual team members and “end users” – seek to identify ONE common goal with agreed to objectives (deliverables and timeframes) and then get it done. Out of the MANY HRMS solution providers (software vendors and consultants) – lean towards selecting the ONE that give you the comfort level of being in a business partnership – together having effective collaboration methods and mutual respect. And finally, for the HRMS solution provider: Out of the MANY pre-configured and delivered best practices, workflow and functionality – make sure to deliver the ONE that can be readily seen by those seeking a solution – that will add value, fix a convoluted process, and provide efficiencies that can be documented. Out of MANY issues that your current client or current prospect organization documents and/or verbalizes – focus your attention and response on the ONE that will result in your client/prospect organization’s seeing the quickest and most value added solution, the one which will, with proven metrics, alleviate the largest point of pain. If we believe in, and keep in mind “E Pluribus Unum” then...

DOES THIS LOOK LIKE HR AT YOUR COMPANY? – A CAVEMAN MENTALITY

In my humble opinion, many companies don’t appreciate, know, utilize or understand what their Human Resources function can do if given the right support, direction, tools, underlying technology and the correct mindset. We all can agree and recognize the burden of regulations, legislation, policies and procedures put on the administrative responsibilities that HR is typically charged with accomplishing. It will not go away, and yes, someone has to do it. More importantly, most companies have some kind of HR technology – either specific modules that focus on a few key functions such as Recruitment and Talent Management, or more comprehensive HRMS/HRIS or even HCMS. And yet, some of these companies still have entrenched procedures and policies that might bring a nod of self-recognition to the cartoon shown here. Another frequent situation is organizations who are seeking new or upgraded HR technology in support of specific functions or a general replacement of an older HRIS, seek solutions based on what they are currently doing. They know how to drag a box to move things through the sand. But they are myopic, of a singular vision and do not seek to see new potential pathways or use new or available tools. This will lead to the same result – shown above. The answer, visualize what CAN be done. Not what has to be done. Take advantage of the delivered and well thought out workflows provided by the HRMS software. Take advantage of the vendors’ knowledge of best practices and workflows. Look at the tools that you will have, or already have that are being underutilized. Insist that the end result of any new implementation, or of any new program using technology provides actionable value. And that Value can be shown, proven and provides a new path for progress. There can be, and will be, metrics to make your point. After metrics, workforce analytics come to the forefront, to gain insight from the metrics. If HR can find and prove the first few instances of value, then its reputation, visibility and importance will continue to grow. Well beyond being needed to do administration and recordkeeping. This can only happen if you visualize and stretch the capabilities within your existing HRMS or seek out the improved solutions that are provided by many of the HRMS providers, yes, as some sales person would say, with “out of the box” functionality – getting HR out of their cave and into the world around them. Marc Feb 22,...