Older Workers are Becoming Invisible

quote-Jeanette-Winterson-whats-invisible-to-us-is-also-crucial-90396My twelve year old son loves to play the game Would You Rather with me.  Have you played?  You basically ask the person to choose between two things and sometimes, they give a reason.  For example, he recently asked me, “Mom, would you rather be invisible, or have the ability to teleport?”  As you can see, this is a question that may cause a gut reaction, but when you start thinking about it, you begin to come up with many reasons why one choice may be better than the other.  For the record, I chose the ability to be invisible.  The truth is, I may have that ability sooner than I think.

A few days ago, I read a friend’s comment on Facebook.  He was at a client location that was filled with beautiful, young people and as they all walked by, he felt old.  For the record, this friend is in his forties, like me.  Another friend commented that once you reach a certain age, you basically become invisible.  I admit, I never really thought about that before.  While I’m not quite ready to buy into the idea that a person in their forties is “old”, I have thought about older workers, namely from my parents’ generation, that are starting to feel left out or ignored in the workplace.

Have you ever felt this way?  Are you old enough that this is happening, or starting to happen?

Maybe the problem is we’re all so focused on the younger generation and making them happy that we are forgetting that much of our organizational knowledge is walking around unnoticed.  In fact, if left unnoticed, are the organizations missing out on ways to actually improve our bottom line?  It seems like this “invisible generation”, formerly know as the Silent and Boomer generations, are actually starting to get a little notice again.

Take for example the movie The InternThe plot has a “senior”, played by Robert DeNiro, who becomes the intern for a young, vibrant CEO, played by Anne Hathaway.  For several months, she not only ignores him, she doesn’t even give him a second thought.  She can’t see the value that is sitting right before her eyes.  I don’t want to spoil the movie, but the point is that older workers are often passed by when we’re in need of support, good ideas, or differing opinions on how to handle something.  It’s such a shame.

All this talk of older workers becoming invisible leaves me with more questions than answers, for now.

Do you have someone older in your life that could provide a different, fresh perspective in your work?

If you are the older person, do you reach out to colleagues who are just starting out or who are earlier in their career to offer advice and counsel that is judgement-free?

If you’ve been lucky enough to have an older mentor in your life, what is the best piece of advice he or she has given?

If you work in an organization or on a team that has little diversity in age, what are you going to do to reach out to a colleague of another age?

How can the idea of capturing the value of more “senior” advice be applied in the workforce today?

In order for organizations to be successful in the future, they are going to need to be able to capture all the knowledge of their older workers.  By taking active steps to ensure that these employees do not feel invisible, you’ll not only be capturing that information, you’ll be ensuring that those employees feel valued and engaged for the remainder of their employment.

 

 

Working Human: Happiness, Satisfaction and Engagement in the Workplace

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 2.40.13 PMWhere do you stand when it comes to thinking about the impact of happiness in the workplace?  Do you fall in the camp that believes that employers can make employees happy?  If so, what specific actions can they take to make the employee happier?  If not, do you think that employees are the only ones who can make themselves happy?  That leads to examining the idea that maybe it’s not about happiness at all.  What if it’s more about satisfaction or engagement?

These are the types of questions that HR practitioners and other business leaders are wrestling with in the workplace every day.  Enter the Globoforce WorkHuman conference to help us have a better understanding of the impacts of happiness, recognition, and giving thanks to our workforce.  I’m here in lovely Oralndo, Florida to participate in the 2nd annual WorkHuman event.  I have to tell you that as an invited guest, I would still tell you if I didn’t believe in the event.  In fact, I wouldn’t come.  This is one of those events where I can find lots to learn and many new business people to engage in discussion with on some fairly challenging topics.

We kicked off today with several general sessions that covered many of the questions in my opening paragraph.  Derek Irvine shared some statistics about companies who approach work from incorporating a more human experience.  According to Derek, “Companies that have succeeded with environment saw a 31% increase in productivity and their employees take 10x less sick leave.”  In addition, he challenged the audience members not to underestimate the power of a simple “thanks”, as that act can have a positive impact on engagement and discretionary effort.

The next session focused more on happiness and how it can impact our employees.  Harvard professor Shawn Achor shared research about the potential for person / employee to impact people around them.  Let me start by telling you that Shawn’s energy and passion for his topic is contagious.  I am always a little cynical, but he really spoke to the optimist buried inside me.  His research is showing that true happiness is not coming just by equating it with success because our brains are constantly redefining success.  He said that happiness comes when you are moving toward your potential and by helping others reach theirs.  It made me wonder if people can truly be happy if they aren’t moving toward potential? Can there be a stopping point?  I’m wondering if the phase of life you’re in can have an impact on this.  So many good questions arising from these sessions.

Obviously, events like this really make you think beyond the every day approach to work.  Stay tuned for more information from WorkHuman and be sure to weigh in with a comment if you have any ideas or opinions on happiness, engagement, impact or any ideas from the post.

 

Planning Your Annual Benefits Strategy

adpIf you’re a regular reader, you may have noticed I have not been as active on my blog.  Over the years, I’ve written for several solution providers and other websites.  I love to write, but since I’m only one person, if I am asked to write for another site, it typically means I don’t have time to write here too.  I’m excited to share that I’m writing for ADP’s Spark blog.  I’ll still be writing here at HRRingleader.com, but when I have an article for ADP, I’ll share the link here too.

If you’re someone who is involved in planning your company’s benefit strategy, I hope you’ll check out (and share) my latest post:  Planning Your Open Enrollment- It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint.  I hope you’ll click through and check it out.  I feel strongly about being prepared for benefit planning and hope these suggestions help your organization and you.

#AmericansInLondon A Collaborative Look at HR Learning in London

I’m HUNGRY!

By Frank Zupan, Director of Talent Management at Associated Materials

12813971_10156716950515523_388711202620285107_nI hate that feeling…I was hungry. I was REALLY hungry. One of those times when I didn’t even realize how long it’s been since I’d eaten and I’m thinking, “Holy Crap, I’m so hungry, I’m dying here”. Come to find out I wasn’t really hungry for food, I was hungry for learning.

My Q4-Q1 work schedule as a corporate Director of Talent Management had been a bit brutal. A new boss, several enterprise-wide and functional initiatives on both recruiting and development sides of my “shop” with lots of heavy lifting, travel and deliverables. All leaving very little time to feed my learning needs. I was REALLY, REALLY hungry when I saw Bill Boorman’s Facebook post at the end of February about how the fast-approaching March #trulondon was shaping up. It appeared to be shaping up very nicely indeed. Over 100 registered, a very strong group of track leaders with solid topics, an “interesting” location, so of course I, randomly and without any clear strategy, clicked and registered to attend an unconference in London which was now less than three weeks away.

Of course two minutes after I’d registered Bill messaged me asking if I’d like to be a track leader. The great thing about the tru track format is that it’s part knowledge, part experience, part improv and ALL about the discussion. Suffice to say I’m now able to add “tru Track Leader” to my LinkedIn profile!

What a great decision! <patting myself on the back>. Add to the reasons listed above, I could also plan visits with friends and colleagues that I hadn’t seen since working in UK in 2006, jump on an opportunity to attend #HRTechWorld being held in London the following two days, and connect with some HR leadership pals that I hadn’t seen in some time, hence the #AmericansInLondon hashtag. #winning

Ultimately, and fortunately, I responded to an internal need that I hadn’t yet recognized or acknowledged…I was REALLY hungry for learning! And I was able to satisfy that incredible hunger with a fantastic learning experience at #trulondon and was lucky enough to connect that to extra learning at #HRTechWorld. Fantastic experiences at both events, connecting with old and new friends during a few days of serious learning and networking…WOW, did I ever need that! Add to all of this several great discussions with current technology partners to my business, and I would return to the States quite happy.

If you’re REALLY hungry for learning, you’re not alone. Whether through random circumstances from your “world of work”, or if you haven’t taken time to develop a learning strategy, my suggestion is to <continue to> connect online with the people driving the creation and development of professional and social communities. Find them, connect with them, talk to them, read their stuff, meet with them, learn from them, let them learn from you, and every once in a while, say YES to investing in your own development…or just stay HUNGRY.

 

Wake Up Kids! We’ve Got the Dreamers Disease

By Trish McFarlane, CEO of H3 HR Advisors

1545675_10156716950235523_5452239827204249531_nIf you’re like me, you’re someone who dreams about the future of HR. You think about doing things differently and shaking things up in the industry. One of the best ways I’ve found of feeding this addiction of mine is to network and learn from other dreamers in the industry. As someone who is fortunate enough to call this crazy HCM space my home, I go to my fair share of events. Each time I leave, I assess whether the time I spent was worth it or not, aka was my “inner dreamer” satisfied. Most recently, I attended TRULondon and HR Tech World. So, what makes these two fall in the “worth it” category?

As a destination, I can’t think of a single downside of attending an event in London. The only thing to keep in mind is giving yourself a little extra time to see a few of the best things London has to offer. If you’ve never been, the city is easy to navigate thanks to the Tube and trains. You can get almost anywhere in the city in a short time and wont’ need to rent a car. Add to that the numerous museums, eclectic restaurants, clubs, shopping and the ever-popular tourist attractions and it’s a great place to visit. From the dreamer perspective, there is a sense of wonderment and history that you can’t achieve anywhere in the U.S.

TRULondon

I’ve been attending the recruiting unconference for six years. It’s changed quite a bit over the years and as it’s developed, it is now one of the best places in the world (yes, in the whole world) to meet with recruiters, sourcers, talent acquisition leaders, marketing pros, solution providers and practitioners. The secret sauce for this event is that you walk in and immediately feel part of a community and a movement.

People who attend are tired of the status quo. They don’t want to do what everyone else is doing. They are there to challenge their own perceptions… and yours. They have the dreamer’s disease and they are going to make sure you have it too.   It’s a deliciously, wonderful mix of learning, networking and chaos. With Bill Boorman at the helm and the partnership of Noel Cocca and Matt Charney of RecruitingBlogs and Recruiting Daily, this is not only a great use of your time, but your money.

Track leaders managed to challenge us by thinking about how to apply the way auto dealers market to the way we market our businesses to candidates. They threw out the notion that we’ll all be out of work because the robots are taking over, well, at least the idea is that most of the recruiting function will be handled by automated systems that “learn” as they are used. Track leaders also cursed and laughed as they shared hacks for creating content. There were Tech Labs and product Show & Tell labs. It was a mash-up of all things great in the recruiting industry and the future to come.

HR Tech World

Attending my first HR Tech World was an experience. It’s a more intimate experience that provides all the learning and vendor interaction you’d expect from an event like this. From a forward-facing, dreamer lens, their solid focus on the numerous startups in the HR tech space is what drew me in. Not only were the startups available to learn about, there were specific disruptive sessions focused on the direction of the industry. Add to that a fun, informative “pitch” session by five of the startups and it made for an interesting day.

If you have the dreamer’s disease like me, check out both of these events and follow them online. They will point you to learning all year long and really help you challenge your approach.

People Talking

By Michael Heller, CEO & Founder of iRevu

1916154_10156716951180523_8415946151352119352_nI have been practicing human resources for years – practicing being the operative word. The more I learn about people, the less I feel I truly know. Therefore, I don’t expect to necessarily master the discipline as much as continue to become better at it. But along my way, I have picked up a few things: Most problems can be solved by listening sincerely and being empathetic. Throwing money at something might correct an issue short term, but rarely long term. My favorite? Never EVER judge a book by its cover. Never.

In 2015 I attended my very first TRU event. I ‘knew’ Bill Boorman from his online presence and met him for the first time in Las Vegas at a conference. He didn’t strike me as the typical HR professional, but had knowledge spewing out the brim of his trademark hat. He mentioned that he hosts an event – The Recruiting Un-conference – designed to get people talking.

“Get people talking?”

“That’s right, mate. People talking.”

What struck me was his emphasis on the ‘people’. Color me intrigued. The conferences / meetups / seminars I’d been to definitely had people talking. At the front of a room. With a slide deck and a quick wit. Don’t get me wrong, these people talking were great. They were armed with data and knowledge and technology and eloquence. But these people talking were talking TO me. Maybe at me? I don’t know, I tweeted a ton, got some great nuggets and if I stood in line I might be able to say a quick hello and introduce myself. This was my typical experience at a typical conference.

Bill told me that the TRU events are different. I realized instantly that he wasn’t joking. When I arrived to the venue this year, The King’s Head, it looked like a proper English pub. A pub?? For an HR Conference?? Walking inside, there were drinks and taxidermy. In every room, from the armed chimpanzee in the basement to the giraffes and tigers in the boudoir. I have to admit the butterfly room freaked me out a little. But, remember, don’t judge a book by its cover and: “People talking”.

So when he kicked off the event, there were a few takeaways. No name badges ensures that everyone is on a level playing field. No inflated titles, no fancy companies. If someone said something interesting and you want to meet them, by all means introduce yourself! The sessions are super topical and led by international HR A-Listers. People like William Tincup, Matt Charney, Trish McFarlane, Noel Cocca, and Stephen O’Donnell.

But the sessions (called tracks) are also different – the good session leaders are NOT there to show you how smart they are. They show you how smart and innovative YOU are. They are roundtable-esque discussions where everyone is encouraged to participate and share their experiences and thoughts. Anyone can participate, everyone learns. Everyone wins.

TRU events are extremely valuable. There’s a warmth and affability about them that draws you in, even when the discussion gets heated. In one session, ‘The Day in the Life of a Recruiter – how we spend our time?’ the leader asked as much and then stepped back while the track attendees discussed everything from sourcing to relationship building to extinguishing the fire du jour. In this session, the what wasn’t as valuable as the how. The attendees were so diverse and their approach so varied, I saw so many nodding their head and saying ‘wow, I never thought about that.’ I plan on attending TRU events for a long time to come.

This year TRU London helped me lower my associative barriers even further and I am better for it. Sure, I got to lead a track session and show and tell a software product. I got to meet people IRL I’ve only followed on twitter. But, I learned from everyone there – from the A-Listers to the regular people like me. If you want to wear a name badge and talk about what’s already happened, this is not your conference. However, if you want to be immersed in real discussion about what’s happening and will likely happen, you owe it to yourself to attend at least one TRU. Just be ready for the venue to spark as much conversation as the topics.

 

 

 

 

How To Surpass What Your Job Title Says About You

TEDx-1-e1430710475881I had a conversation with one of my friends from India and we were sharing stories about how throughout our careers we have both been known as people who can do more than what our specific job title would indicate.  We weren’t talking about being able to take on more responsibility in order to receive a promotion, we were talking about learning and using skills from another industry to help further our careers.

Breaking out of YOUR mold

I spent many years learning human resources and honing my skills related to compensation, benefits and employee relations.  It wasn’t until I reached my mid-thirties that I realized that I was compelled to learn more about technology, finance, marketing and communications, and ultimately social.  Spending my free time educating myself was some of the best time I’ve ever spent in terms of the return on my investment.  The best compliments I get now are when someone tells me I’m a good writer, a marketer, or an expert for them in social media.

What are you known for?

When I think of the most successful people I know, these are the people who continuously increase their knowledge.  Here 6 steps you can take to update what you are known for and be more than the definition of your job title:

  • Identify industries you want to learn more about-  Before you invest your time, make sure you have carved out a path that is not only going to be interesting for yourself, but one that will actually provide you improved business opportunities in the end.
  • Read as much as you can online about the topic-  The internet brings the best education to us at our fingertips.  It’s easy to find written works from experts in your chosen field as well as video to teach you what they know.
  • Interview “experts” already in that field and ask for recommendations to get up to speed in that industry- This is the time you really need to break out of your comfort zone.  You will be reaching out to people you may not know and asking for them to help you learn.  Keep in mind that many people like to
  • Listen to podcasts on the subject while driving or working out
  • Register for a course online or at a local university
  • Ask to job shadow someone already working in the industry

With a bit of time, a plan, and a desire to learn and expand, you will be able to position yourself to no longer be defined by your job title.  What have you done to change this in your career?  Share with me in the comments.

*from the dusty archives…

Betting on Gender Pay Equality: How Long Will It Take?

*Today’s guest post is by Mary Sue Rogers (@msrlondon on Twitter).  With over 30 years of experience in Human Capital and Talent Management, Mary Sue has been instrumental in building highly successful outsourcing, consulting and HR technology practices in NA, EMEA and Asia Pacific.  In addition to Human Capital, she is passionate about investing in the future – especially when it comes to women and children.  Spare time is travelling to places that provide great scuba diving.  You can reach out to her directly via her blog SaveHR.com.

There have been several recent articles on the gender pay gap, with various predictions on how long it will take to truly achieve pay equity. Research done by “Right Time” a company in the Manpower Group, said 17 years. Another prediction in the Guardian says 118 years. Personally, I am going with the 118 years if I had to bet.

Closeup of assorted coins.

Here are some reasons why:

  1. The time when the first countries granted women the right to vote (for example NZ) to the last (Saudi Arabia), has been approximately 120 years. The Vatican is the only place in the world that women cannot vote.
  2. It was over 40 years ago that the Equal Rights Amendment was approved by the USA House and Senate, but it was never ratified by enough states, and died in 1982.
  3. It has been only 50 years since the UK and USA banned specifying a preferred gender in recruitment ads, and there are countries where this is still allowed. Japan only passed guidelines in 2015.
  4. It has been just over 40 years since women in the USA who were not married, did not have to have a man guarantee their bank loan irrespective of their financial net worth.
  5. The equal pay act in the USA, UK, and Australia has been in place less than 50 years. For some countries, like Switzerland, it has been less than 25 years.

So if you were Hilary Clinton, when you left University at age 21, it was still legal to specify gender in a recruitment ad. She would have had to ask her dad to co-sign for a loan, and if she was born in the UK, it would have been legal to discriminate due to gender.

For Ginni Rometty, Meg Whitman or Mary Barra, CEO’s of some of the world’s largest companies, when they graduated from university the USA was struggling to pass the Equal Rights Amendment. In the UK they would have been taxed with their husbands and not as individuals. If they were in Japan, they would not have been able to keep their name when they got married, they had to change to their husbands.

If you were Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsi Co, who was born in India, it was even more challenging as India did not give women the right to vote until 1945. This was just 10 years before she was born. Things were similar for Angela Merkel who was born in the old GDR (East Germany), which was under Russian rule until 1954, the year she was born.

If you used historical change to forecast the future you would most likely bet with the Guardian prediction of 118 years. In 2014, the median full-time wage and salary for women was 81% of what it was for men, according to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics. The 19 cent difference is an improvement from 38 cents in 1979. So 35 years to gain 19 cents. And according to the same source, the difference has remained between 17 and 20 cents for the past dozen years. So forecasting would put you at best case around 35 years, worse case forever.

Equal pay is very important for global and local economic and social wellbeing. We should get there as fast as we can, but if I was going to have a flutter on when based on history I would place my bet with the 100 versus the 20 years. Maybe governments and business around the world will prove me wrong.

HR Can’t Be Strategic If They’re Busy Being Your Mother

noseI’ve been honored to work in the HR industry for twenty years.  Honestly, with all the perceived negatives, there are so many more great moments that make working with people worthwhile.  But, as I sit here as an analyst, conducting research surveys and interviewing HR leaders, I find it sad that we are not really moving the needle as much as we should.  Why?  Because organizations ask HR to be more strategic while making them take care of the unusual, mundane and sometimes gross aspects of people management.

Unusual?  Gross? Mundane?

Yes, HR leaders and their teams are still doing the “dirty work” that managers don’t want to handle.  Do you have an employee with body odor and don’t want to handle it?  Just go to HR and they will address it for you.  What about the employee that dresses inappropriately, showing just a little too much of their stuff?  Yes, just take that one to HR too.  Here’s one for you….employees rubbing boogers on the men’s room mirror?  Yes, even that can come to HR to address.  I know these may sound like things a parent would address with a child, but I assure you these are all very real in our workplaces.

I don’t know how the HR department became the keeper of all these great incidents, but I am ready to hear that the managers in the organization are stepping up to handle them.  Then, and only then, will your HR teams have time to actually work on strategic things to help drive revenue or support the business goals of the company.

What about you?  If you work in HR, are you still spending time on these issues, “mothering” employees and leaders, or am I just happening to get a lot of stories from the trenches that are not true?  I’d love to hear your comments….

Suffering at Work: The Skeleton That Supports the Flesh of Genius

whiplash-2014-movie-review-car-accident-playing-drums-bloody-andrew-neiman-miles-tellerFor those who know me or listen to me on HR Happy Hour, you’ll know that each year, I rush out and binge on as many of the Oscar-nominated movies as I can.  There is something magnetic about a movie intended to make you really think compared to all the summer blockbuster action movies that are just around the bend.  Well, this time last year, I had the pleasure of watching Whiplash.  It’s a movie about the complex relationship between a student and his conductor of a jazz band.  But more than that, my takeaway then was that it’s about the need to go through harsh feedback and sometimes pain in order to develop.

When I wrote Cringeworthy Feedback: How to Take it and How to Dish it Out, I was so close to seeing the film that it was all I could think about.  Now, a year later and after watching the movie a few more times, I see it’s like an onion and I’m peeling the multitude of layers back to reveal even more significant meaning.  So you see, it’s the perfect Oscar movie because it continues to make me think about what lessons come from examining the relationships.  Dr. Matt Stollak, beloved friend and professor at St. Norbert College, shared an article with me that made me want to revisit some of the themes from Whiplash.  The article he shared was a review by Matt Zoller Seitz called 30 Minutes on Whiplash.  In his article, Matt says:

“This formulation is insidious, cruel, reductive, joyless. It turns the pursuit of artistic excellence into a referendum on the ability to endure shame, rejection, public humiliation, doubt and physical punishment. It’s as singleminded in equating endurance and transcendence as Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ.” Nevertheless, as a indicator of future success, the ability to withstand suffering is hard to beat. It might in fact be the skeleton that supports the flesh of genius.”

As I read that, I focused on the suffering.  Do we need to suffer for our art?  Do we need to suffer in order to experience greatness and excellence?

I don’t believe I’ve ever thought about these questions in relation to greatness or excellence at work.  I’ve had a more practical approach and that is if you work hard, it leads to success and excellence at work.  When I really think about those key moments in my life that made a difference in the way my work habits developed, they involve failure.  They involved hardship, doubt, insecurity and many feelings that are negative.  From that, the work that was forged became more meaningful to me because I felt that I really had to work even harder to overcome the obstacles.   I wonder if I would have achieved many of the successes I have without the hardships.

I think not.

So, what about you?  If you have reached levels of excellence in your career that you’re proud of, were you able to get there without suffering?  I’d love to hear your perspectives in the comments….