Sneaky….not so much!

I have been in the applicant pool for a few months now and you can’t fool me when you have this fancy HRIS system that sets up a “profile” for me to check my applications and I am required to put my birthday in it. Why do you need this information? You are not supposed to discriminate against me or anyone else on the basis of age among a long list of other items.

You Can’t Fool Me

As an HR professional in the market place, you can’t fool me with this tactic. I guess you feel like people are so desperate that they will give you the information so they have a chance to get in to your company.

When an applicant is applying to multiple organizations, the thought of having to first fill out a profile and then an application is daunting. In my opinion, you should be making the application process much simpler for people. They should have the ability to send you their resume, answer a few pertinent questions for your team and be able to receive text messages for the status of the application.

Remember to K.I.S.S.

Keep it simple sweetie. Okay, sweetie isn’t exactly PC in today’s HR world, but the message is clear. Keep the application process simple for the applicant. You don’t need my birth date. You don’t need to know how old I am. If my resume is not enough for you, you can always send legal and thoughtful follow up questions for the candidates that you want to move forward in the process.

Why Does it Take So Long to Hire?

The time it is taking employers to make decisions on hiring is excruciating. I am all for finding the right person for the job and the right fit, but if after multiple phone screens and in-person interviews you can’t decide, then you don’t have the right person or you are being way too picky. Employers should be hiring with diversity and inclusion at the forefront of their thinking as well. But if you wait too long, you will lose the candidate that could take your organization to the next level.

Please Consider the Candidates Timeline

You as the employer, have no idea of the circumstances of your candidates and why they are looking for new employment. Unemployment only lasts six months and there are no extensions in Washington State. So, this could mean that your candidate is on the brink of homelessness or bankruptcy at no fault of their own. I’m not saying that all candidates are in this dilemma but there are many people that I have spoken to that have been looking for a position for up to and more than a year. They report that unemployment is low and companies are having a hard time finding people, (so they say) I just don’t buy it.

Speed Up or Fine Tune Your Processes

You can find good people quickly. That same first impression or chemistry test you all use when meeting a new friend or potential mate can also be used to find a new employee. Do you like their knowledge, skills, and abilities? Are they answering the questions correctly? Do they have a nice demeanor? Then give them a shot! You may be saving a life in the process or the life of an entire family.

What Can HR Leaders Do?

Work with your executive teams and hiring managers to set compensation ranges, job descriptions, and hiring timeline expectations. When you are organized in the beginning and you have a generous advertising budget you will gather the resumes you need to start the phone screening process and get people in the door to begin interviewing. There will always be those exceptions in the process, but ultimately you can speed this up by planning ahead and being organized.

Recruiting Trends

They say we’re in a candidate-driven market.

They say that the candidate picks the employer, not the other way around.

With the use of social media to advertise your position, comes the added amount of candidates seeking work at your organization. Are they quality candidates? Do you have a quality company? How do you stand out to create the kind of experience that will entice a candidate to come to your organization, apply, accept an offer, refer others, and stay for the long haul?

Make sure that you are truly comparing the resumes you receive to the job descriptions you write.  Make sure that you are in as much contact as possible with your applicants. I know that when you receive hundreds of resumes that this may not be easy, but even a standard response email is better than being ghosted by a potential employer.

Candidate Experience

One of the trends that are really important in recruiting is the candidate experience. This occurs at the beginning of sourcing through the onboarding process. How does the candidate feel about their experience with you? What is their overall perception of your company based on these experiences?

I briefly mentioned above about being ghosted. This occurs way more often than you think. This is not the kind of experience that an applicant wants when job hunting. The applicant tracking systems also have a login and password. So think about the potentially large amount of ATS systems that a job hunter is having to navigate. Sometimes a text message on the progress of an application is appreciated more than an employee having to remember the login credentials for each ATS to find out where they are in the process or if they have been declined without so much as an email. Pay the extra money to set up this type of text programming for your candidates to enhance their experience with you.

What is the importance of the candidate experience?

If your candidate, now employee, has had a satisfying experience they will refer others to your company.

Their great experience along with the culture of your organization gives them the confidence to refer people they know to your company. They expect that you will treat them the same way they were treated.

If their experience is far from satisfactory, the organization could potentially lose a lot of money. Companies with a bad reputation will lose employees, or worse.

Job seekers won’t take jobs with companies that have a bad reputation. The result of this is that there will be limited or no employee referrals. If the culture of your organization is such that no referrals are coming in, then you must reevaluate what your mission is in order to gain the trust of your employees and create the type of experiences that translate to more referrals, candidates, and new hires.

Is It Happy Hour Yet?

Why do we limit happiness to an hour?

We have all been there; It’s Monday afternoon and the first day of the workweek, already you and your colleagues are itching to get to happy hour to bitch about your day. Why aren’t we happy at work?

Now, I’m not saying that leadership should have an open bar in the office, but the atmosphere obviously requires an upgrade if by 10:00 am your team needs a collective drink.

Of course, what I’m talking about is company culture. Is yours so bad that your team would rather be buzzed to cope? How can you change it?

The Bartender is Essentially your HR Director

The bartender is always there to listen. Listen to your troubles and offer tools to cope. The difference is, they are handing out rum and cola, where your HR team can provide tools like mediation, suggestions for improvement, and company-wide training.  Now, HR can’t solve all the problems of corporate unhappiness alone. To change the culture and make things “happy” again, you must start at the top and require buy-in from your leadership. Communicate with the workers to find out what they think can be improved. Reevaluate the mission of the organization or write a new one.

Don’t Belly up to the Bar, Raise it.

  • Raise the bar on the expected behavior of the team at all levels
  • Raise the bar on the benefits you offer
  • Raise the bar on the compensation you provide

Expect Results to change, but not immediately. Like a fine wine, culture change takes time and nurturing.

Cheers to You!

You have gone through the process of culture change. You have partnered with your HR Director and created an atmosphere that your employees can enjoy. You have asked for feedback and listened to your team members to provide better products and services for them and their families. Great job! This rounds on me!

Leadership and HR

I had a great human resources mentor. She taught me how to work with leadership, even if leadership didn’t want to work with me.

When I start a new job, I always communicate with my new boss they will always get the truth from me whether they like it or not. Whether it is good news or bad. I will speak truth to power every time so don’t shoot the messenger. I try not to say no all the time. I would rather say, “here’s how” instead.

Howdy, Partner!

I appreciate leaders that invite me to the executive strategy meetings. Any growth they want for the organization most likely includes new employees or positions which I have experience in. Making me a partner in growing the company will help get you to the finish line.

Instead of having me clean up your mess, let me help you build. As the saying goes, “Measure twice, cut once” If you let me and my team in, you’ll save on buying more lumber.

New HR Directors should meet with each of the department heads when they join a company. Sit down for a few hours and find out what their needs are. Let them provide you with feedback of what has worked for them with the last HR team and what didn’t. Give them the opportunity to show you their style, then you can give them a synopsis of yours. This will begin the building of the trust between you. During this initial meeting you may find things that you can fix immediately. Repeat this process with each of the department leaders and you will have started down the path of excellent communication and a trusting partnership with each of them.

Don’t Go Changin’

I never want to walk into a new situation and immediately start changing everything. However, if warranted, a quick fix here and there to maintain order is appropriate. I like to see what each month brings in the cycle of this new organization and take notes. That way when it comes around again, I have new ideas to try or keep things the status quo. Sometimes it is better to leave well enough alone and build on what is already there. I am a fixer by nature, so I tend to be a bit controlling and want to change everything. I have learned over the years to sit back and watch the processes first while asking lots of questions as to why we do it this way. It makes for a much better transition if I do decide to change something down the road.

Look in the Mirror

I always try to look in the proverbial mirror as well. Am I portraying myself as the leader I want to be or am I being a dictator, passive-aggressive, or a controlling jerk? Let’s hope it’s the former not the latter. I analyze everything before sending out to the world. I want to be sure that there are zero to minimal trickle-down effects of my decisions. You can’t please everyone all the time but if decision you are making are well thought out ahead of time, you have a better chance at succeeding.

Why Do I Love HR?

HR can be a thankless job, but I love it. So many people will tell me, “Oh, I could never do what you do!” I’d like to say, they’re right. Not because they don’t have the patience or character, but because they have no idea what I really do.

HR Gets a Bad Rap

These same people think that I just fire employees all day. I’m the “hatchet lady.” If I fired people all day, the office would be empty.

So what is it that I do differently? Maybe it is not different, but it is me. I like to keep it real.

I work very hard to establish relationships with all of my employees. Yes, I call them mine. I want to know about them. I want to hear what their dreams are, career goals, and of course, what they need from me.

Never Promise What You Can’t Deliver

I try to follow through on my promises to them. I never promise something that I can’t deliver. You don’t build trust that way.

If they come and knock on my door, I know they want to talk. Before I let them start, I make sure they know that how I react is dependent on what they say to me. I always let them know that I have three virtual filing cabinets in my brain. The first one is for verbal vomiting that is mainly a place I put the information that they are giving me and it doesn’t need further inquiry. I may offer tools and suggestions to help them through their crisis, but it is usually a safe place for them to come and let off some steam. The second virtual filing cabinet is for those issues that involve a co-worker or supervisor that need coaching or mediation. I make sure that I tell the employee that I will help them as much as possible. Most of the time they don’t want me to do anything. The third and final virtual filing cabinet is reserved for when the employee says keywords or phrases that would lead me to open an investigation. Things like feeling as though they are in a hostile work environment, or they are being bullied, or that person sexually assaulted me. These issues are immediately dealt with. This is the hard part. The employee usually tells me they don’t want to get anyone fired. I have to explain that I would start an investigation before that happened. I also remind them that we have policies and procedures that we need to abide by. I remind them that at this point, I don’t have a choice and I must move forward. In the end, they are appreciative that I have done my job to protect them.

Yes, I Have to Discipline Sometimes

I do have to follow the disciplinary action processes that are set up in each organization. I prefer to train employees on what they should and shouldn’t be doing and monitor their progress. You also have to train the managers and supervisors to document. We try to live in a world where there are fewer disciplinary actions and more education, but there are times when we have to drop the hammer. I want all employees to be set up for success. Have we given them the tools to do their jobs correctly in the first place? Have we explained the behaviors and norms we expect to see at your offices? If, not then we haven’t done our jobs yet.

Benefits and PTO and 401(k)’s Oh My!

Yes, an HR team is responsible for making sure that each employee is also enrolled in all of the eligible benefits. If you are in an organization that has high turnover, this can be challenging for the HR team. Give them a break. Timing on benefits is everything. Making sure people are signed up and/or removed from coverage based on their start/stop dates is not always easy. We have to make sure the invoices from these vendors are correct at all times on top of taking care of the employee’s needs.

Sounds Like a Lot, Right?

I haven’t really scratched the surface of what an HR team really does, but you can catch a glimpse of the complexity. Give your HR Director the budget to staff the team they need so you don’t lose them from being overworked. Make sure you pay them what they are worth too. Don’t always look at the industry you are in, look at their skills, abilities, and experience. Ask them what they believe they should be making and negotiate. All in all, I love my job. I enjoy the people and I enjoy the challenge.

What Does “Being a Team Player” Really Mean?

To some, it could be as simple as showing up for work when scheduled, on-time, and with little to no mistakes.

For others, it means taking extra shifts, always being that extra pair of hands, and staying late.

How do our expectations as employers differ from our staff when it comes to this? Are we expecting too much? After all, we are paying them to show up every day, on-time, and do a good job for us.

Should we expect more? If we do expect more, are we being fair? Is that expectation causing overall stress to the team, and will that added stress end up hurting the morale and decrease productivity?

I believe there is a balance to find when evaluating who a team player is. If everyone is present and completing their tasks in an efficient manner without extra supervision and mistakes, then we have a solid team. A “working machine”, if you will. For most companies, this is the ideal model. It is when we begin to get greedy with our staff and start adding duties without adding compensation or additional team members, that we see a disruption in that working machine we had earlier.

We tell our people to suck it up and “be a team player”, when really that’s what they were doing in the first place.

We are so used to fixing things that we don’t stop to take a good look when things are running smoothly.

My challenge to you is to:

  • Thank your team members now rather than apologizing to them when you have to ask them to cover for staff you have lost
  • Re-evaluate your criteria for what a “team player” means to you and your organization
  • Give out verbal accolades to the team and individuals. Be fair, consistent, and inclusive to all
  • Re-train any outliers, so they learn what your new criteria is for the team to succeed

Enjoy it when you have that moment to breathe and not worry. It does happen, you just have to see it.