If it wasn’t for one of the Project Coordinators on my team, Courtney, I might still be in the Dark Age when it comes to social media. She is our go-to for anything regarding LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc. She recently attended a webinar about the topic of social media and wanted to share some thoughts on how social media is being incorporated into HR. Take it away, Courtney…
Facebook has 1.06 billion active users, LinkedIn has 238 million active users and Twitter has 200 million active users. Over 72,252,000 people visit social media and blog sites (like this one!) each month. It seems that everyone has dipped their toes into some form of social media. Facebook’s creator, Mark Zuckerberg, predicted four years ago that “over the next five years every industry will have to redesign itself around social.” There has been a big push recently for businesses to go social, not only for marketing purposes but for employee engagement as well. Millennials entering the workforce have come to expect it as a part of business. From using social sites for recruiting and hiring to learning, social media has made its way to HR.
Social media is a great way to find the right employees.
Using social media sites like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook for hiring purposes is high: 92 percent of companies use one of the mentioned platforms for recruitment. Social media sites are even used to pre-scan job candidates. Check out this infographic about social recruiting from Staff.com. Click here for the full infographic.
Social media is a great way to teach your employees.
Organizations that encourage learning and proactively encourage development tend to be higher performers. Social media enables frequent learning interaction. When choosing a social learning tool, make sure that the tool meets a specific need and you are solving the question: “What am I trying to accomplish?” Also, make sure you know your audience. If your employees are Millenials or easy adopters of new technology, then a social learning tool is likely to be more accepted and used.
Social media is a great way to engage your employees.
Social media gives your employees a voice and a sense of belonging. Employees feel the need to be connected, which can be hard in an event-based environment. Adding a social network to your business removes the hurdles of the event-based environment and solves any issues with employee connectivity. Social media outlets can even be used as a way to collaborate with your employees and share ideas- a virtual brainstorm! Our team knows first-hand how valuable social networks can be when communicating with co-workers across the country. Lockton uses Yammer, an Enterprise Social Network (ESN), which makes keeping in touch so easy. We use Yammer to share new documents, vendor updates, policy changes, upcoming events, hilarious YouTube videos (work-related, of course) and even the standings for our March Madness bracket competition.
Social media is a great way to encourage your employees.
Social media sites can be used as tools to encourage your employee population through incentives or even simply by giving shout outs for outstanding performance. It is an easy way to recognize and celebrate the successes of colleagues in real time.
Social media is a great way to communicate with your employees.
It is such a fast way to get information to a lot of people. ESNs can be used to share news updates, policy changes, etc. in real time. It is also a way for employees to communicate with you. If you are worried about getting negative feedback from employees about your company, encourage conversations to talk about your company positively. It’s a possibility that negativity might come up, but if you address the issue quickly in an understanding way, it will usually fizzle out.
Where does your company stand with social media? Is it embraced? Or are you pretending it’s another fad, soon to pass by?
While I am recovering from my shoulder surgery, some of my teammates have stepped up to help out with this blog. Today’s post is from Paula in San Diego.
I was recently at a Comedy Show and I noticed the comedian placed his phone on a stool next to him and looked at it periodically throughout his act. There was a part of me that thought he was referring to notes or some sort of outline of his routine. At one point, he moved the stool and placed the phone on the floor and I could see he had the timer going. Now, Josh Wolf is one of my favorite comedians and I did not think I could possibly like him anymore more than I already did; however, in that moment a new level of respect bloomed. I had paid for a one hour set and he was keeping our agreement by being sure he delivered that full hour. Now he and I never spoke about this directly, we never shook hands or signed a contract, but it started me thinking – how many Performance Guarantees/Service Level Agreements do we silently make that are often fulfilled without question?
When you order a steak at Ruth’s Chris the agreement is they will cook the selection to your liking and you will pay the bill. The waiter also makes a silent agreement to attend to your every need throughout the meal and in exchange, you will provide a tip. Nordstrom is famous for allowing returns on any item at any time with or without a receipt. Most stores allow for some sort of Service Guarantee of a full refund, exchange or a store credit. The theory here is when good service is received, the customer will come back and hopefully spread the word to others. We pay for goods and services because of a want or a need and our expectation is that what we pay for will fill this want or need to our satisfaction or we make a return, send it back . . . . we re-negotiate.
In the world of HR Technology, contracts are negotiated with the inclusion of Service Level Agreements (SLAs) or Performance Guarantees (PGs). However, the majority of those we see have no remuneration attached for failure to deliver, nor are they subjective.
We see the generic SLAs:
- Users will have 24/7 access to the system
- Users are able to perform key functions within the system
- Inbound/Outbound files will be processed weekly
- Payroll deadlines will be met
- Premium/Carrier Billing will be accurately reconciled monthly
- And many, many more
What we rarely see is any type of return on investment to our client if any of these conditions are not met. When purchasing an HRIS, Payroll, Benefits Administration or Time and Attendance system it is inferred the system will be available and key functions will be operational. These system are not inexpensive, and for what is paid to implement them and the monthly fees, the system is expected to function. Yet in most every contract we see, the generic SLAs/PGs are there in varied forms.
This is where we start pushing a little and asking the tough questions:
- What happens if carrier feeds are not working when OE deadlines loom?
- What if Payroll batches cannot be run and checks will not be funded?
- What if the Hiring Manager is not able to see if all forms have been completed to onboard a new hire?
- What happens if the rates we supplied were applied incorrectly and now payroll deductions are wrong?
- What if we have numerous issues and tickets open and have not had any response or assistance in over a week?
- And many, many more
Our Team spent a good amount of time in January escalating numerous issues to many vendors following the close of Open Enrollment. Most of these escalations also involved the uncomfortable conversation of asking for remuneration on behalf of our clients.
When contracts are being negotiated and SLAs and PGs are being drafted, shouldn’t there be an immediate willingness to back up the product? We see a lot of system demos and we hear a lot of bells and whistles and much bravado around various system capabilities. Then implementation starts and the proverbial onion starts to peel and resources start to scatter. Honestly, the implementation of any system has a built-in level of chaos one way or the other; it’s about change, and change is bumpy. However, if the Service Level Agreements and Performance Guarantees can be as robust as the sales process, we could get a better sense of what is being sold.
I recently helped to negotiate a contract for a client, adding Ultimate Software’s Ben Admin module to their UltiPro suite. They had issues with past UltiPro module implementations, had issues with other vendors and had some valid issues around signing another contract with non-subjective SLAs. The client wanted some proactive verbiage added to alleviate their concerns. Ultimate was hesitant at first, and then agreed to add some cash consequences for potential misses in delivery and performance. We see this as a HUGE differentiator and it’s an important one. When the implementation is done, the system is stable and we move off the project, we want to know our clients will be happy.
It’s good business to stand behind your product, put your money where your SLAs are!!
One of the downsides of scheduling shoulder surgery for this Friday, (Happy Valentine’s Day to me!) is that the recovery time will mean no plane travel for quite a bit afterwards. That’s why these past six weeks have had triple as much travel as usual, and I can announce with confidence that I have found my limit! Traveling during winter is always the roughest, but this pace would be killer anytime during the year: San Diego, Louisville, St. Louis, Hartford, Dallas, Orlando, Indianapolis and Batesville, Indiana.
I log the above excuse to throw myself in front of this blog’s jury as to why the missives have trailed off as of late. There are so many great stories to tell, but I’m struggling to get them all written for you quickly. There’s a pork chop in Louisville (Village Anchor) that I’m still thinking about weeks later. There’s an HR leader in San Diego concerned with Change Management. There are changes happening daily in the private exchange space and we will get all those stories told soon.
Today, as I head to 70-degree Florida (a trip I could not safely tell anyone about in snow and ice encrusted Kansas City), I’m sharing my 14” wide seat with a brand-new retiree who’s excited to have worked his last day. Needless to say, he is not travel weary! He is headed to Florida for fun and sun, not work like yours truly. He’s retiring a little early and looking ahead to a downshifted life. He used to work in marketing for Blockbuster Video so his last several years have not been the best, but it was just enough with some consulting work to get him to this figurative (and literal?) line in the sand.
We had an interesting discussion about his former employer sparked by an editorial he was reading on the plane and I thought you’d be interested in our conclusions. After all, Blockbuster was a fascinating employer to watch in both success and failure. It was launched in this generation’s lifetime but didn’t survive to see the next. What was most interesting to us is that there seems to be a “downsizing” of employers as well as the rough stuff going on with their employees. Think of it: what was Blockbuster replaced by? Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. Streaming replaced renting (and most of us who faced $14 late fees were happy to see the transition).
But the new employers don’t employ as many people as the companies they’re replacing. Netflix has only about 2,000 employees, which puts them right in the mid-market. Blockbuster, at its heyday, was an enterprise-level operation with over 60,000 folks. That’s a huge difference in workforce. Certainly, the efficiencies of streaming over brick and mortar businesses are well documented, but does this example of market destruction and replacement mean that HR is going to be supporting very different employers on average in the future? Are large enterprise employers going to become rarer as the employment agreement in America has seemed to shift away from job security? And from an HR Tech perspective, are the ERP systems (Workday, Oracle, etc.) going to have to move down market to simply find the same number of customers?
It seems that we are under a macro-level transition of the workforce that all of us in the HR and HR Tech world are going to have to support. A recent headline has Google becoming the #2 employer in the United States by market capitalization. What’s most interesting to me is that they have only 45,000 employees compared to the more traditional employers who have held this spot before (think Exxon’s 79,900 employees Google just knocked out of the #2 spot or General Electric’s 300,000 strong workforce!) If the largest employers are replaced by smaller and more nimble workforces, we’re going to have a very different HR marketplace. Shouldn’t we see fewer of the multi-year, million-dollar, ERP odysseys and more of the best-of-breed, Just-in-Time type procurement? Will this be the rise of the “plug-in” systems who dominate a specific functional area and interface well to other systems? This will enable a more efficient response by employers, but will create more demand for data integration specialists at the expense of PeopleSoft consultants!
I know my crystal ball is fuzzy at best. In fact, with sun and sand nearby, I’m lucky I’m able to think at all! However, this vivid example of change in employer size drives home to me that we are in the midst of a dynamic economy and that nothing stands still. We must be ready to help!
Although a majority of the work that my team does is Benefits Administration, we do venture out into other areas of HR. Last year, we had the privilege of helping a major construction company client with a new Talent Management system. This Texas-based client was looking for an Applicant Tracking System to manage its large workforce. Read the quick summary on how we were able to help this client find a long-term solution.
I recently checked the Periodic Table (and no, I don’t have that as my shower curtain… anymore), but I couldn’t find a listing for feedback among the elements. Perhaps the chemistry texts haven’t been updated to reflect our new age, but I am truly convinced that honest feedback has to be a precious building block of life. As a leader, consultant, co-worker as well as friend and husband – there’s not one area of my life that doesn’t improve with thoughtful and honest feedback.
Nonetheless, in our surface society where pleasantness is practiced at all times, constructive feedback can be such a rare commodity, indeed. Consumers don’t complain, they just stop buying. Dates stop calling without reason. And everywhere we have the ultimate surface word: “Fine.”
As a husband, I’ve painfully learned that the word “fine” means absolutely anything but “fine.” Can you imagine the wrath I would face if I was to think all was fine after a disagreement and go back to whatever I was doing before? The dead would envy me.
Wayne McKamie has a program on feedback that inspired me to see feedback as a precious treasure. Here are a couple of his thoughts:
- The world would be a scary place without feedback (i.e., Leprosy). Many mistakes are made by leaders who limit honest feedback and surround themselves by “yes men.”
- We receive and use feedback all the time (e.g., Speedometer). Sometimes we integrate it into our plans and worldview and other times we choose to ignore it.
- Honest feedback is neutral – it is neither good nor bad until we label it. We have the power to let feedback not affect us or to cut us to our core.
- Feedback is unique in it’s ability to:
- give another perspective to things I think I already fully understand
- allows me to see myself through someone else’s judgments & perception of my actions
- it can hold a mirror up to my actions providing encouragement or conviction
- can help me identify blind spots
So bringing this back to our HR Tech world of magic and wonder, I should point out that we often look to see how a vendor seeks or handles feedback. Everyone says they want feedback – it’s the obvious right answer to the question – but they often then 1) don’t handle it well or 2) don’t act on the feedback.
For an example, I invite you to look over my shoulder at an exchange between the Head of Sales at a reputable Midwestern Benefits Administration vendor and a peer of mine in the account service side of our Dallas office.
First, the vendor reaches out. (Often this is the most difficult step! Initiating this conversation is always a scary proposition and requires a courageous commitment to self-knowledge.)
“I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I wanted to check in and see how we are performing for your team and [Client]. I appreciate your insight. Thank you in advance for your reply.”
Then comes the feedback:
“I was on vacation, but your team continues to break their previous records on amount of errors, and not understanding the needs of the customer. The customer and I are extremely unhappy and nothing continues to get done. The only person I have any faith in is [Local Sales Guy]”
Finally, the reply:
“Not the news I wanted to hear. I will get with the team and see what I can do. Thank you for the reply.”
In this reply the vendor isn’t doing anything incorrect. They asked and they received. Now the proof of their intention will come from whatever actions they next take. Does this feedback fall off like water on a duck’s back? Does the vendor leadership rally their troops around this employer client (and Account Team) to ensure a drastic change? Here’s where the true value of feedback is realized: in the results.
We know lots of vendors who say they want to know what their clients are thinking. What we’re looking for are the vendors that can deliver progress when the feedback isn’t stellar just as much as they celebrate when everyone’s singing their praises.
As a born-and-raised Missourian, I am very familiar with the state motto, “Show me.”
To be clear, this is the Midwest ─ so unfortunately we’re not talking about “Show me the money” riches or even some Kid Ink/Chris Brown level romance lyrics here. Just some plain-talking, put-up-or-shut-up expectations that if you’re going to take up part of my time on this planet, it had better be real. This motto also roots itself in the HR Technology portion of my life. It’s no secret that every vendor is trying to sell their systems and services. But when I am watching a vendor presentation, you better be able to show me what you just tried to sell me.
I have sat through hundreds of vendor presentations, some of them good and some… not so much. After recently having the honor to view a demo gone stale, I was inspired to come up with the list of dos and don’ts regarding vendor demos and presentations. Here they are:
Do maintain professionalism. Dress to impress. Even if your office tends to be more business casual, the client might be used to business professional. In everything you do, put your best foot forward.
Do show off your system. Make sure to show the overall system and other important features like reporting, the employee experience, configurability and customization. This might include non-system differentiators like service, implementation quality or referenceable customers.
Do respect the client’s time. If you were given two hours, you have to be done within your allotted time, as difficult as that may be. Leave the prospect wanting more instead of proving you have nothing more to offer.
Do prepare in advance. You should know your role going in to the presentation and have practiced a little in advance. Practice transitions between speakers and technical changes in demo material.
Do have an updated agenda for the presentation. Make sure to cover everything that the client was expecting. I believe in starting off meetings with questions to make sure you prepared well. It’s always better to know where there might be concern up front than wonder about it for weeks afterwards while you’re waiting to hear if you got the contract.
Do have fun with the presentation. You can still be professional and fun. Keep in mind that most clients will be looking or have looked at other systems. Make your presentation stand out.
Do share your company’s culture (Assuming you have one, right?) Be memorable and you’ve given your audience something precious in exchange for the time of their lives they’ve just invested in you.
Don’t forget to introduce yourself. Let the client know who is talking to them. It doesn’t have to be long but it is nice to know names, location and roles within the company. Don’t be coy. If you’re new, tell why you joined the firm. What made you seek them out for a job.
Don’t forget about the client! Make sure to do your research prior to the presentation. You should know what they are wanting and what is important to them and cater your presentation around that. Employer clients are so vast in what they want, cookie cutter presentations just won’t fit! Also, don’t forget to change the logo that appears on your demo screen to that of the client’s!
Don’t speak in sales lingo or tech jargon. We get it. You want to sell your system. But as I mentioned before, we want to see your system and get into the functional side of things. Don’t alienate unnecessarily.
Don’t make up an answer to satisfy a question. If you don’t know the answer, just say so! Please don’t make something up or promise to deliver something that can’t be fulfilled in the implementation end of the process.
Don’t focus too much on future state or Roadmap items. Although it will come up and future features might be important to the client, focus on the current state of the system. Focusing on the Roadmap items can lead to overpromising when things don’t always go as planned and functionalities are delayed.
I know most of these seem like such common sense things, but you’d be surprised at how many vendors have committed one or more of these presentation sins! An effective demo is so important in the decision process for new technology systems, that even just one of these mistakes could make it or break it for a vendor.
As our HR Tech team hunkers down to survive freezing sub-zero temps here in the Midwest, we sure seem to be hearing a lot of taunting chatter from our San Diego based teammate and blog collaborator, Paula. So not only do they have great weather, they also have a NFL team that’s going to the Divisional Round!?!
How is that fair?
I’m still pouting over the Wild Card weekend results, so I’m thinking we’ll just make Paula take the wheel for this week’s blog post. Since she doesn’t have to be out shoveling snow, it appears her thoughts have turned to the wild world of Benefits Administration.
Benefits Administration is truly one of the most complicated components of HR because there are so many moving parts and critical decisions made throughout the process. As with any area of high cost and massive complexity, change is going on every year. Rarely can an employer just “re-do what we did last year.” Part of our team’s job is to see the overall picture and figure out what could go wrong and just to frustrate Mr. Murphy, make sure it doesn’t. We play a dual role of trusted advisor and devil’s advocate because what can go wrong, will go wrong.
The details and logic behind every click on a Benefits Administration website are vast and complicated. Government regulations, protecting personal health information, plan design, a company’s culture are all taken into consideration when building an online enrollment tool.
If you’re in the market for Benefits Administration, summarized below are some of our favorite features we see across the systems that might be beneficial to look for. We’ll be covering these in more detail in future postings.
Functionality of the Technology (automate manual processes)
- Centralized premium reconciliation and billing processes
- Send qualified event notices to COBRA vendor
- Run dependent verifications
- Automate information to and from carriers
- Automate information between Ben Admin system, HR, Payroll, Time & Attendance, etc.
- ACA reporting requirements
- ACA time tracking
- Multilingual website
- Multilingual documents
- Single location of document storage
- EE uploaded documents
- ER documents (SPDs, Notices, etc.)
- Reporting, Reporting, Reporting
- Analytics & Metadata
- Report types
This is just a short list as there are many more functions a Benefit Administration system can offer. Some of these are much harder to find than others.
If I were to offer you one piece of advice, now would be the ideal time to start a Benefits Administration vendor selection if you are looking to implement a new system. With plenty of time to select and carryout an implementation project before Open Enrollment 2014, a Healthcare.gov-style fiasco can be avoided.
For those of you spending your holidays reading up on HR Tech (and who isn’t?!?) I wanted to leave you with the best wishes for you and yours from our team.
For those of you who are Nice, the first card below is for you. On the other hand, for those of you who might find your names in the Naughty list, well, I think the 2nd card below is for you! (by the way – if you can’t tell, we’re a bunch of movie quote fans! And as a Christmas challenge – who’s the first person who can tell us what movie that 2nd card’s quote is from? We have a prize ready to send to the first person who correctly names the movie this quote is in.
Note: there are two possible answers to this question – but the best prize is for the most accurate answer. Judges are standing by – click on the comment link above to reply)
Also – as an update to some previous blogs, I just wanted to share with you all some blog comments we received about our vendor consolidation trend of 2014. I talked about my HR Tech predictions for 2014 in a previous post. In that post, I concluded that one of the biggest trends of 2014 would be the changing vendor landscape. Here are a few blog posts from Naomi Bloom in which she gives her suggestions to coping with vendor consolidation and stories of vendor consolidation fairy tales. (See, I’m not that far off in my predictions!) I guess only time will tell! Stay tuned…
I wonder if we should develop a Naughty or Nice list for HR Tech vendors as well…
Now that I wrote that headline, I think instead of Fleetwood Mac, we should be talking Hee-Haw:
Now, we’re not ones to go round spreadin’ rumors
Why really, we’re just not the gossipy kind!
Oh, you’ll never hear one of us repeating gossip…
…So you’d better be sure and listen close the first time.
There’s a sale going on!
Buying an HRIS system is never quite an impulse purchase an employer picks up in the checkout line at the local market along with Altoids and a magazine with the latest Jennifer Aniston relationship gossip. It’s a process that takes months of research (or at least is should!) and careful consideration of business strategy, contract negotiation, vision alignment and reference checking.
That being said – there’s a blue light flashing “Buy Now” for any employer in the later stages of Vendor Selection who’s focused on the vendor Workday.
We’ve heard reliable rumors of a 7.5% across-the-board price increase with the start of Q2 on February 1st, 2014 for Workday. Several employers we’re working with are considering January contract signings just to take advantage of the lower pricing.
Just thinking you’d want to know.
You would think that gathering our far-flung HR Technologists together for a 2013 Holiday Party wouldn’t be too headline worthy, right? After all, we’re a well-mannered crew – if a bit rowdy at times. There’s usually laughter and tales of daring do, but not danger.
Ahh, but this year is a little different.
Let’s say you’re staying at the brand-new Hotel Sorella in Kansas City and you happen to get stuck in an elevator between floors.
You text your co-worker to rescue you.
Now, even before you’re out of the elevator you’re working on how you can bring payback to a whole new level !
But, all joking aside, your co-worker is there at the rescue to fully document your re-emergence into the world of the living. Are they there helping rescue you? No, that would be Greg the manager with the assist. Your co-worker is just making sure the moment is preserved for all history and hilarity to follow!
I hope you’ve enjoyed your trip to KC Paula & JoAnne. I’m sure you can’t wait to return in January for our team Confab!