About hrgem

HRD working in healthcare. Fellow of the CIPD. Writer, speaker and blogger on all things HR and work. Author of 'Putting Social Media to Work, A practical guide'. Believes that HR is all about doing good people stuff. Blogs at www.hrgemblog.com. Also writes for Glassdoor and the HR Director Magazine. Tweets as @HR_Gem.

What HR can learn from going to the cinema

This is one of those ‘lessons you can learn from’ posts. I don’t write them very often, but I had such a pleasant customer experience recently, it got me thinking.

I love going to watch a film at the cinema. But it’s something though that I rarely do, as I don’t enjoy the experience that surrounds it.  Usually, there is queuing involved.  To buy tickets, to pick up pre-paid tickets, for the toilets, for popcorn, and then to get into the actual screening.  Then there is the bit that bugs me most of all.  The adverts.  I am a stickler for punctuality.  If I go to see a film that is starting at 7.30, I’d like it to actually do so.  But the time a film is supposed to begin is usually the start of multiple adverts, suggestions to go out and buy more junk food, and trailers for films of an entirely different genre that I don’t want to see.  The actual film probably begins a good 30 minutes after that.

I’m starting to moan. I’m sorry about that.

This weekend I went to a small, local, private cinema. There was no queue.  Just a wave of your phone with the tickets on it.  There was also no queue for the sweets – and you didn’t have to take a mortgage out to buy them.  Best of all was that the film began….. on time.  There were just a couple of trailers for similar films. And… there was an intermission.  Where someone came out and sold ice-cream.  If that wasn’t enough, individual bottles of Proscecco to drink during the screening.

I didn’t love the film all that much. I might, in fact, have had a small nap during it.

But I did love the experience.

First of all, it felt personal. They clearly understand what their customers want and value, they deliver it.  In the march of progress they had held on to the special touches, like the intermission and the ice cream seller.  The staff were friendly – and didn’t appear to have targets to upsell you a larger popcorn.

There wasn’t the range of sweet stuff you get in a big screen cinema. No fancy reclining seats. And no hot food either (because there’s nothing like sitting next to the guy with the highly odorous hot dog).

In much the same way that we have seen consumers begin to value once again the small, independent and local retailers over huge out of town supermarkets, what we want as customers and as employees has changed over time.

On one hand, we want speed and immediacy. Quick responses on Twitter. Products at our doors in ever decreasing time frames.  But at the same time we want something personal.  We don’t want to feel like a cog in a machine.  Processed.

When it comes to people stuff, big isn’t necessarily better. One size only fits one.  Targets, as we know, have unintended consequences. What is valued, is highly variable for different people. For all I love technology, it is possible to lose the human touch along the way.  We don’t have to automate the heck out of everything.

While fast and fancy is good, we don’t necessarily want to trade experience and feeling for it.

Less, can most definitely be more.

 

There’s probably also a HR lesson in the price of pic n mix…. but I’m still working on that.

No job hoppers

This morning I came across a discussion thread on LinkedIn. A fellow HR type was calling out a job advert for a HR Director that stated in the requirements: solid career progression and consistent career history (no life time interim contractors or job hoppers).

As someone currently in the interim market, I am naturally going to disagree with the sentiment behind this statement. Interim work has broadened me as a professional.  Through undertaking it, I have added new sectors to my CV, been exposed to different approaches and ways of working and widened my network. It has certainly made me resilient.

You need a certain skill set to do interim stuff. Typically, you are there to do a particular project or programme.  Maybe you are there to fill a gap or bring along some specific experience.  Either way, it needs focus.  You need to be able to hit the ground running.  You need to be able to quickly find your way around – the building, the systems, the processes and the hierarchy.  You need to be able to get stuff done.

Skills that are transferrable to many organisations and roles.

There are several underlying assumption behind the ‘no interim or job hoppers’ statement. First is that these two things are one and the same – they are not.  Second, is that either of these things equal a lack of commitment, loyalty or engagement.  ‘Job hoppers’ in particular has negative connotations.  That someone can’t stay the course, doesn’t know what they want to do, or maybe is a low performer.

Assumptions without evidence.

The world of work has changed. Shorter service is much more typical.  More and more people are making different choices around life and work.  Many are in the gig economy – some through choice and some through necessity.  It’s no longer about giving your all until you get your gold watch.

Here’s the thing. If you make sweeping assumptions about people in a job advert then you are limiting your talent pool.  Even if I had been looking for a role like this, this wording would have entirely discouraged me from applying. This advert tells me this isn’t somewhere that I want to work.  This advert tells you that this company are oblivious to the present and future of work.  Plenty of people don’t have, or even want, linear careers. Lots pf people chose family or balance over progression.  Many chose to retrain and change direction during their working lives.  When we are all living to 100 and working into our 70’s this is going to become the norm, not the exception.

A so-called ‘solid’ CV means nothing. It is no indicator or talent.  It might instead be an  indicator that someone has spent a long time in one place and hasn’t been exposed to new ideas.  Or it might not.  Assumptions, without evidence.

It is also, frankly, arrogant. It’s like those job application processes that make you jump through a thousand hoops because they think you should be willing to do anything to work there.  Only it’s 2017.

So the company that are recruiting with this approach I say simply this.

More fool you.

Go home on time… or whenever

Today, it came to my attention via Twitter that the 21st June, the longest day of the year, is ‘Go Home on Time’ Day, organised by Working Families.  They say: We want to start a national discussion that puts work life balance and employee wellbeing at the forefront and stresses that going home on time should be the norm, not the exception.

I’m torn.

I like anything that raises awareness of the need for life work balance and integration. That challenges thinking about the way that work is usually done.  But at the same time, I find it sad that we need such a day.  That we need to raise awareness, give permission, remind people, to leave their work at their normal finish time.

Here is what I know.

Time spent at a desk does not necessarily mean high productivity.

Time spent in the office does not necessarily amount to good work.

Time spent working after the end of the normal working day does not equal hero status.

Time spent working does not necessarily equal business performance, an increase in the financials, innovation or creativity or any of the other things that businesses need to survive and thrive.

A culture of long hours can be damaging. But all the same, it is hard wired into many places – and leadership styles.

If your people are regularly working excessive hours it should tell you something.

At best, you have a cultural problem.

It may also mean that there is a resource issue, unrealistic expectations set, excessive pressure or demands, or simply, a time management issue.

But something is wrong. The wrong stuff is being valued.

Here’s the thing. People value flexibility.  Research suggests many will take it over a pay rise.

I love the work that I do. I also need balance.  If I go home at 5pm, I am no less committed or engaged.  And I am not the only one.

It’2 2017. It is long past time to judge people on the hours that they work, or the time they clock out.   Judge them instead on what they bring, deliver and contribute.  The value that they add – all the time.

Not just after 5pm.

Are your employees really your greatest asset?

simon heathThe first tweet I saw this morning was from Simon Heath. He was calling out that old staple ‘your employees are your greatest asset’.

It is a statement that has become a cliché.

It’s also a cliché to say that actions speak louder than words. In the case of employees, it is most definitely true.

Anyone can say that employees are their greatest asset. In much the same way that anyone can come up with a generic list of values and put them on a website and into the corporate induction.

When it comes to leading people, words are just words.

Whether you really mean them is shown up in your actions, in the every day.

Putting aside the idea of employees as assets (something that I instinctively dislike), this is something you shouldn’t get to say unless you mean it.

If people are your greatest asset, don’t say it, prove it.

It should be evident in your recruitment practices, your people policies, the reward that you offer, the learning opportunities in place, in the actions of your leaders.

To anyone organisation that says people are their greatest asset, I would pose these questions:

  • Do you pay the living wage?
  • Do you offer flexible working?
  • Do you go out of your way to create a great candidate experience?
  • Do you have an induction that supports this statement?
  • Do you invest heavily in your leaders so that they can bring this to life when it comes to leading their teams?
  • Do you have a way to give people regular feedback on their performance – and I don’t mean a once a year appraisal.
  • Do you have awesome internal communications?
  • Do you offer people the freedom to do their best work?
  • Do your people polices treat people and speak to them like they are adults?
  • Do you invest in people’s development even when budgets are tight?
  • Do you offer a range of rewards that are flexible and meet the individual needs of your employees?
  • Do you treat your employees as well as you treat your customers?

As a minimum, if you can’t answer yes to these questions, then your actions don’t match your words. You are not treating people like they are your greatest asset.

So stop saying it.

Image by Simon Heath.

 

#CIPDNAP17 – it’s all about the experience

This week I am volunteering at the CIPD Northern Area Partnership conference. It’s my favourite event of the year, and it is privilege to be part of the organising committee.

Why do I think the NAP conference is so special?

A few reasons.  First of all, the conference is run entirely by volunteers, for other HR professionals.  The aim behind the very small organising committee is simple: create a great couple of days at a reasonable price.  It isn’t about making a profit, it’s about learning and connecting and sharing.

I love NAP because the delegates love it. Every year people tell us that it’s the best conference they go to.  And that is why we do it.  It is why the speakers give their time, for free.

Of course it also gives me the opportunity to go back to beautiful Yorkshire. And, if I am honest, there is wine and dancing and laughing and friends.

So very early Friday morning you will find me putting up signs and helping exhibitors and handing out name badges and tweeting and running a fringe session and sorting out slide decks and making sure that the sweet stand is full (it’s a tough job but someone has to do it) and any of the other many, many things that need doing before the delegates arrive and the learning begins.

The subject of the conference this year is employee experience. There’s a reason that we picked this subject over employee engagement.  Everyone wants engaged employees. It’s a given.  A look through the theory will tell you the stuff that drives it.  Allegedly, it’s all about having organisational integrity, inspiring leaders, an organisational narrative, strong employee voice.

So far, so good.

There is other stuff too. It’s in the day to day. Engagement can be about big programmes, projects and initiatives.  But it’s all the little things too.  The individual employee experience.

The emails sent to the candidate in the application process.

The welcome on day one.

The food in the canteen.

The thought put into induction.

The office environment people are expected to work in.

The policies and procedures that must be adhered to.

The tools provided to do the job.

The quality of the conversation with the manager.

The training courses.

The internal communications issued.

Every interaction. Every day.

Real stuff.  Stuff that can be worked on.  Every day.

 

This blog is a thank you to every that is coming this year to speak, to facilitate, to volunteer. To talk about employee experience from a whole range of perspectives. Thank you to everyone that is giving their time to help others learn.

If you can’t make it, follow the hashtag on Twitter for all the commentary and blogs > #cipdnap17 

And if you are coming…. I’ll see you on the dancefloor!

 

Walking for women

This one is a personal blog post. Not something that I do all that often. I hope you won’t mind too much.

Last year, I agreed to take part in the 2017 Moonwalk with some awesome women.

Two things were different in my life when I signed up.

First of all, I was pretty fit. I worked out every day, sometimes twice.  But some pretty big life stuff has got in the way during this last six months or so, and I’m nowhere near as fit as I was this time last year when I was busy doing triathlons and mud runs and the like.  So truthfully, I’m worried about being able to complete it.

The second thing that I didn’t know when I signed up for the walk was that my mum was about to get diagnosed with breast cancer. The very disease for which I had agreed to walk over 26 miles through the night.  Not knowing how close it was going to come to home.

My strong and powerful mum has not let this diagnosis stop her. She’s faced tough times before and she has been an inspiration throughout her treatment.  I would have taken it from if her I could.  Instead, I can do this.  Try and raise some money so that one day no other woman will have to go through what my mum, and too many other women, has gone through.

So if you fancy sponsoring me and the rest of #TeamUnicorn to walk through the night for all women, here is the link.

https://moonwalklondon2017.everydayhero.com/uk/teamunicorn

Thank you in advance.

Employer brand. It’s a crowd thing.

I saw a post over on LinkedIn recently, in which a recruiter criticised a candidate who dropped out of an interview process after reading negative reviews about the company on Glassdoor. The post suggested that this was a ridiculous reason to decline an interview.  It had generated a whole range of responses, some agreeing and some not.

My thoughts are these. If that candidate made a ridiculous decision, then I am guilty too.  Because I once did exactly the same thing.

Recruitment today is in many ways no different to other types of consumer behaviour. When we are on shopping sites we read the reviews from other people who have already purchased the product.  If we want to go on holiday, we head over to TripAdvisor or the like, and read what previous guests had to say about their experience.

Guess what? We don’t know these people.  We are willing to put our trust in the crowd.

So why should recruitment be any different?

It’s the world we live in. I’ve decided against buying certain things over on Amazon because there were too many reviews making the same criticisms about quality.  I’ve also decided against applying for a job at an organisation where a few too many people talked about the terrible culture and management style.  I take note on how many reviews there are in total.  I look at the average star ratings before getting the credit card out.

We live in a world in which what people think about you can be shared easily.  You can’t control your employer brand, no matter how hard you try.  The stuff that used to be said in the pub to a handful of mates can now be shared and seen on a massive scale.

From a trust perspective, many folk will take the views of the many, even if they are strangers, over the corporate brand message.

Here’s the thing.  You can either embrace it, or ignore it.  But isn’t going away.

Better to do the former.

I’ve heard of organisations unwilling to set up a company Facebook page or Twitter account ‘because people might say something negative’.

Stating the obvious klaxon perhaps, but there’s probably a bigger elephant in the room if that is your reason for avoiding social media.  For the most part, people will only say yours is a bad place to work, if it’s a bad place to work.  Maybe that should be the starting point instead.

If you have bad reviews about your company find out why. Just as importantly, acknowledge them, where they are.  If people have had a bad experience working or interviewing with you, acknowledge it.  Offer space to take it off line for a proper discussion.  Apologise if you need to.  It is better to be part of the conversation, than unaware of it.

But either way be assured people are making their mind up about whether or not they are interested in working for you based on the opinions of the anonymous crowd.  This is the social world.

Hang back or get ahead.