Ultimate Software's Blog https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com Thoughts on Putting People First in the Workplace Mon, 12 Nov 2018 21:17:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 Data-Based Strategies to Recognize, Reward, & Retain High-Potential Employees https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/data-based-high-potential-employees/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/data-based-high-potential-employees/#respond Fri, 31 Aug 2018 13:38:24 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=1499 Finding, retaining, and engaging top talent is consistently one of the hardest challenges organizations face. Developing high-potential employees is crucial for priming future leaders and improving organizational performance while building a culture that fosters growth from within. Having a solid pipeline of high-potential talent is also one of the best ways to ensure future competitive […]

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Finding, retaining, and engaging top talent is consistently one of the hardest challenges organizations face. Developing high-potential employees is crucial for priming future leaders and improving organizational performance while building a culture that fosters growth from within. Having a solid pipeline of high-potential talent is also one of the best ways to ensure future competitive advantage through intentional, strategic and proactive (rather than reactive) succession planning.

Additionally, not knowing who your top performers are — and whether you’re at risk of losing them — is a significant liability. Statistically, high-potential employees are 91% more valuable to businesses than their peers, and losing one of them can cost up to 3.5x their annual salary, in addition to lost productivity and institutional knowledge. Yet according to UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, while 56% of companies utilize a formal process to identify high-potential employees, nearly half of these were unsatisfied with their current talent pool.

Clearly, there’s a strong business case for optimizing the potential of your people. With the right strategy and tools, identifying and developing both current and future high-potential employees becomes data-driven and highly effective. You’ll be rewarded with engaged, committed and productive employees, better business outcomes,and a strategic succession plan.

Inherent Challenges Of Spotting Potential

So, how do we recognize high-potential employees? It’s perhaps the most difficult aspect of leadership development – and the stakes are high. By promoting the wrong people, we lose valuable individual contributors to management roles and risk losing other top performers to competitors. There’s also substantial risk to team engagement and morale.

I don’t suggest using personality analysis as a primary predictor of employees’ future success, due to the innate difficulty of judging someone else’s inner workings. Rely on manager nominees and performance reviews to determine future value is also inherently flawed due to personal bias or political networking. Finally, current performance isn’t always a trustworthy indicator of future potential – studies suggest only 30% of high performers are actually high-potential employees, and a full 90% of high performers have difficulty adjusting to higher levels of responsibility.

So, if high performance, personality, and manager recommendations aren’t quality indicators, what’s left?

The Science Of Potential

Thanks to Big Data and tech innovation, today’s leaders possess detailed profiles for each employee, including job and salary history, goals and achievements, performance reviews, departmentwide recognition, learning-module completion, advanced certifications, previous actions and outcomes, and so much more. By coupling this people data with statistically accurate algorithms, advanced human capital management (HCM) tools analyze millions of data points to pinpoint employees exhibiting performance and/or leadership potential. This incredible ability to spot not only current top performers, but also those most likely to succeed with strategic development, is truly game-changing. Organizations can build succession plans, consider future compensation or professional development and decide which top performers are worth investing in long term. It’s the kind of insight leaders dreamt about 20 years ago.

These advanced systems can also leverage data to identify and predict engagement and retention, allowing leaders to strategically focus on retaining these high-value employees. Managers can be alerted automatically if an employee falls below a specific benchmark, suggest new challenges or training opportunities, or offer promotions or compensation increases. Everybody wins: managers benefit from improved employee effectiveness, engagement and retention, and employees enjoy increased recognition and opportunities to positively influence their career trajectories.

Turning Potential Into Performance

Once you’ve identified your high-potential employees, it’s important to strategically develop them. High-potential employees usually know they’re out-performing their peers, so it’s crucial to begin the development process before their motivation wanes and they begin looking for outside opportunities. However, it’s important to remember that these individuals have potential: they’re often not yet ready to jump into leadership roles.

In my experience, there are a few best practices for developing your high potentials into successful and highly effective leaders:

    • Create specialized leadership tracks. This can include anything from education or certifications to multi-disciplinary programs across departments and divisions. I also recommend offering unlimited learning opportunities for high-potential employees, if possible. Most high-potential employees will be excited about continuous skill growth and recognize that the investment signals confidence in their long-term value to the company.
    • Keep a pulse on how they feel. Cognitive assessment and sentiment analysis can analyze exactly how your high-potential employees truly feel about their roles, their motivations, and their expectations.  Advanced pulse surveys, like those found in UltiPro Perception, leverage machine learning and natural language processing to analyze open-ended text and identify themes, emotions, and red flags.
    • Offer mentorship and coaching. Most of the great leaders I know credit at least part of their success to a devoted mentor or coach who guided them through their careers. Leadership is rife with potholes and detours, and the ability to learn from someone else’s mistakes (or, even better, their successes) is truly invaluable. Consider establishing formal mentorship or coaching programs to help employees establish solid connections.

Leadership, both good and bad, plays a fundamental role in organizational effectiveness, success, and morale. Developing a succession program that effectively identifies and develops top talent into a steady pipeline of senior leadership is critical to success. If you’re one of the many organizations whose succession strategy leaves something to be desired, consider the impact emerging technology can have on the long-term quality and effectiveness of your people, and your business.

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How to Improve C-Suite Visibility by Linking Engagement to Business Outcomes https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/linking-engagement-metrics-business-outcomes/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/linking-engagement-metrics-business-outcomes/#respond Tue, 07 Aug 2018 10:00:23 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=1490 Proper data collection and analysis play a crucial role in today’s organizations, guiding decision makers through difficult decisions and directing overall corporate strategy. Considering human capital typically accounts for anywhere between 50-80% of variable costs within companies, HR departments often face intense pressure to optimize their talent strategies and prove that their efforts improve the […]

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employee engagement business outcomesProper data collection and analysis play a crucial role in today’s organizations, guiding decision makers through difficult decisions and directing overall corporate strategy. Considering human capital typically accounts for anywhere between 50-80% of variable costs within companies, HR departments often face intense pressure to optimize their talent strategies and prove that their efforts improve the bottom line. In order for HR teams to become truly strategic partners, they must learn to directly link their own metrics with key business outcomes.

Fortunately, it’s become commonly accepted that employee engagement and performance have a significant impact on corporate health and success. Organizations with highly engaged employees consistently out-perform the market, and understanding how to optimize and reward productive, satisfied employees leads to a tremendous competitive advantage in today’s highly competitive labor market.

And after nearly 20 years of studying employee engagement, the results are unambiguous: it’s clear that the best way to measure how employees feel about their work is simply to ask them, in their own words. This seemingly simple solution, however, is anything but—unstructured data adds another layer of complications. The process of normalizing and analyzing massive amounts of free-text data typically either demands exhaustive internal resources or expensive external consultants. Either way, by the time the results are available, they’re often no longer relevant, much less tied to immediate business outcomes.

Fortunately, artificial intelligence (AI) has proven to be the key to making unstructured data both understandable and useful, which is especially pertinent considering it represents an estimated 80% of all organizational data. And this has certainly proven true in the employee survey space, where advanced sentiment analysis tools like Perception by Ultimate Softwareleverage natural language processing (NLP) to decipher free-text responses with better-than-human accuracy. The most incredible aspect of this technology is that it’s capable of not only understanding what employees are saying, but also how they actually feel, discerning between more than 100 different emotions.

In real time.

Feedback can be filtered and analyzed to determine engagement and satisfaction levels throughout various teams, departments, or even geographic locations. It’s easy to drill down if you see any red flags or, alternatively, to reward leaders whose teams are particularly satisfied and engaged.

But when it comes to overall business strategy, the real power of these insights comes not from isolated metrics but from linking engagement metrics with other critical indicators and analyzing the underlying connection. By coupling Perception with a unified human capital solution like UltiPro®, you can combine engagement results with relevant people data such as performance, retention, and compensation. In this way, the connection between employee engagement and the key business metrics your C-suite cares about, such as performance or revenue per employee, is no longer theoretical. It’s factual.

By creating a powerful and compelling story around your engagement data, you can demonstrate the real business value behind your proposed changes. Ultimately, HR leaders who can logically and concisely demonstrate the connection between talent and business metrics are better positioned to gain buy-in from key decision makers and drive meaningful changes in their organizations.

When positioned appropriately, the data will speak for itself.

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The Business Case for UltiPro Perception at SPS Companies, Inc. https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/drivers-of-employee-engagement/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/drivers-of-employee-engagement/#respond Wed, 06 Jun 2018 10:00:01 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=1451 by Corey Kephart, VP of HR, SPS Companies, Inc. At SPS, we have thrived for 80 years by maximizing value in our business and by investing in our people. When we selected UltiPro for our human capital management in 2016, we found a platform that would do both—help us save costs and increase productivity, and […]

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by Corey Kephart, VP of HR, SPS Companies, Inc.

drivers of employee engagementAt SPS, we have thrived for 80 years by maximizing value in our business and by investing in our people. When we selected UltiPro for our human capital management in 2016, we found a platform that would do both—help us save costs and increase productivity, and elevate our employees’ work experience.

When I discovered UltiPro Perception in 2017, I saw endless opportunities to harness value from the tool and drive transformational change in our organization. The business case for UltiPro Perception is clear: if we can understand the drivers of employee engagement, we can make the right investments to boost engagement, and these investments will lead to better business results. I was excited to get started, and we launched UltiPro Perception in about two weeks.

To date, we have used UltiPro Perception to power surveys on almost 20 topics, such as benefits, engagement, and leadership development, through more than 30 surveys overall. Our ability to receive instant feedback through the solution has helped our leaders take action quickly, and be responsive to the needs of our employees.

Beyond the ability to impact organizational performance, my favorite part of UltiPro Perception has been the positive response and genuine enthusiasm from decision makers at SPS, from the chairman and the CEO, down to the senior managers that oversee our different facilities. They often describe the UltiPro Perception reports as the best resource they have ever seen from an HR department, and I take great pride in the ability to provide this level of value.

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Solidifying a Competitive Advantage with Engagement Benchmarking https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/employee-engagement-benchmarking/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/employee-engagement-benchmarking/#respond Tue, 24 Apr 2018 19:14:16 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=1394 As our exposure to Big Data progresses exponentially, analytics and BI are playing an increasing role in overall corporate strategy. Few departments are exempt from regularly analyzing and reporting metrics to the C-suite, and long-term tracking of this data is invaluable. Comparing quarterly and year-over-year success is certainly insightful, but most organizations have the ability […]

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employee engagement benchmarkingAs our exposure to Big Data progresses exponentially, analytics and BI are playing an increasing role in overall corporate strategy. Few departments are exempt from regularly analyzing and reporting metrics to the C-suite, and long-term tracking of this data is invaluable.

Comparing quarterly and year-over-year success is certainly insightful, but most organizations have the ability to take this one step further. Benchmarking enables companies to compare organizational metrics with their peers and competitors, confirming strengths and opportunities for improvement. It’s a strategic, dynamic tool that bolsters continuous improvement within the organization.

Many businesses already use benchmarking to analyze their learning and development (L&D) spending, recruiting, and organizational design, but far fewer are actively measuring and benchmarking their employee engagement scores. Considering talent is typically the most expensive line in the budget, this is a missed opportunity to potentially cut costs and increase productivity.

Today’s labor market is highly competitive, and there’s a heightened focus on employee satisfaction and engagement. Unfortunately, organizations often don’t realize they have a talent problem until they aggressively track talent metrics and compare them with their industry peers. A retail establishment with 40% turnover is about average, but for a professional services firm, this figure would be a major red flag.

But while retention and turnover statistics provide a solid understanding of who’s leaving your workforce, they don’t address the greater issue—why.

Enter sentiment analysis. By initiating regular, Natural Language Processing (NLP) powered employee surveys, business leaders can get into the heads and hearts of their employees to learn how they truly feel about work and flag potential problems before they negatively impact the workforce.

Of course, this data is even more insightful when weighed against industry benchmarks. We’re inundated with articles bemoaning America’s employee-engagement problem, but do business leaders know how to feel about 55% engagement? Does industry play a role? What about geographic location?

At Ultimate, we’ve partnered with Mercer | Sirota, one of the world’s preeminent talent consulting and analytics firms with more than 50 years of HCM and talent strategy expertise, to provide our customers with robust global benchmark data from nearly six million individual data points. This partnership allows our customers to gain invaluable insight into how their engagement and satisfaction scores compare with other world-class organizations, and provides additional guidance in terms of identifying the right actions to improve culture, retention, and performance.

Ultimate’s customers can select from more than 130 questions within UltiPro Perception® to compare their own employees’ ratings with Mercer | Sirota’s employee engagement and satisfaction benchmark data—all at no extra cost. Mercer | Sirota’s normative database represents more than five years of information, and organizations even have the ability to filter data by country or industry.

Developing leading-edge technology that empowers people has been Ultimate’s mission since our inception. This partnership with Mercer | Sirota further helps our customers accurately identify strategies that can improve their employee experience while establishing (and maintaining) a competitive advantage.

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Four Ways HR Can Support Retail https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/hr-can-support-retail/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/hr-can-support-retail/#respond Thu, 22 Feb 2018 14:40:01 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=1242 The retail industry is in a state of flux as consumers increasingly gravitate toward e-commerce. While brick-and-mortar stores continue to drive the majority of sales revenue, many retailers are adopting an omni-channel approach that provides customers with a seamless shopping experience and product availability both in store and online. This change, driven by technological innovation, […]

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hr retailThe retail industry is in a state of flux as consumers increasingly gravitate toward e-commerce. While brick-and-mortar stores continue to drive the majority of sales revenue, many retailers are adopting an omni-channel approach that provides customers with a seamless shopping experience and product availability both in store and online.

This change, driven by technological innovation, is affecting more than just where customers acquire their goods. There is less demand for in-store cashiers, and more demand for data analysis. Data is growing exponentially, include insight into how photos, videos, and social media affect sales. For retailers, this presents significant opportunity but requires a strategic overhaul. Instead of focusing on endcaps and placement of products, today’s employees need to translate raw data into actionable insight, utilize software that can offer a personalized shopping experience, and understand predictive and prescriptive analytics. As technology plays a bigger role in retail, employee roles are increasingly becoming skilled positions, demanding superior proficiency and better pay.

Meanwhile, the industry’s infamous turnover rate—surpassed only by restaurants—is now a real liability, as is its dependence on seasonal, part-time employees. To remain successful, retail suppliers must rethink their human capital strategies, nurturing loyal, long-term employees who understand the changing industry and are invested in adjusting their roles and responsibilities as needed. Retail has always been a relatively nimble industry, drawing from a large pool of often unskilled workers, but these changes have led to fiercer competition for talent, higher wages, and steeper turnover costs.

So how is it HR can support retail? By developing a more sophisticated approach to the employee lifecycle, from recruitment to performance to retainment. HR leaders are in the unique position to help companies focus on hiring the right people and developing them into engaged, devoted employees. Here are four ways HR can support retail as employees become an increasingly valuable—and expensive—commodity.

  1. Reduce labor costs and increase productivity

In 2017, 16 states increased the federal minimum wage, which is a baseline for many retail positions. As labor becomes increasingly costly for retailers, identifying and rewarding top talent is crucial. Combining people data with sales data can be daunting, but today’s best-in-class HCM solutions are capable of identifying top performers, finding skills gaps, and optimizing scheduling to align teams with customers’ shopping habits. API integrations are game-changing, as are mobile-access functionality and payroll solutions that can process complex earnings and taxation calculations.

2. Turnover and related hiring/training costs

Effective retention programs are crucial as employers move to promoting long-term employment. When managers don’t know someone’s at risk of leaving, they can’t proactively work to retain them. Retailers are also looking to increase employee engagement and productivity, which can be a challenge with part-time employees. Fortunately, today’s managers have access to valuable solutions that can help them predict retention risks and suggest meaningful interventions to encourage them to stay.

  1. Improve customer experience to increase sales

Many retailers struggle with insufficient resources to properly train sales associates. In today’s landscape, organizations must prioritize onboarding and improving the selling capabilities of their staff. New hires need to quickly understand the product and how to sell it to their target audience, especially during the seasonal rush. Successful onboarding speeds time to hire and expedites integration into store culture, leading to higher productivity and retention.

Advanced learning modules offer bite-sized, consumable videos that bring employees up to speed on everything from customer service skills to compliance, without taking away from time on the sales floor. And since it’s been proven that employee engagement directly affects customer satisfaction, managers can use advanced employee feedback solutions to improve both the employee and customer experience.

  1. Cost-effectively integrate store and HR systems

Disparate data sources and prohibitive costs are common obstacles to integrating systems. But retailers in particular benefit from the ability to share people data with other store systems without having to rekey information, especially as businesses begin to fully understand the impact these employee metrics can have on organizational success. Business intelligence (BI) data can quickly report on the “state of the business,” integrating with external information for a deeper understanding of sales, customer service, and productivity. Finally, compliance efforts—which have often plagued employers—are simpler than ever, with hands-off support for local and state payroll and tax laws. As a result, HR is free to focus on its strategic reorganization in today’s changing world.

Essentially, HR can support retail by being an active partner during this complete industry overhaul.

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Winning the “War for Talent” in the Professional Services Industry https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/professional-services-talent/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/professional-services-talent/#comments Fri, 05 Jan 2018 15:32:35 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=1216 Keeping and attracting hot talent is a challenge in the professional services industry The professional services industry is highly dependent upon people as its biggest revenue driver, making it crucial for firms to retain and nurture their high performers and high-potential employees. And it’s becoming increasingly difficult for professional services HR leaders to do so. […]

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Keeping and attracting hot talent is a challenge in the professional services industry

professional services talentThe professional services industry is highly dependent upon people as its biggest revenue driver, making it crucial for firms to retain and nurture their high performers and high-potential employees. And it’s becoming increasingly difficult for professional services HR leaders to do so. But with cash flow, project staffing, and customer satisfaction on the line, HR leaders must continue finding ways to put their own people first to boost engagement, productivity, and retention.  This blog post will help you to start winning the war for talent.

Consider these statistics: The industry currently employs more than nine million Americans and has less than a 2.8% unemployment rate, yet attrition has risen to 12.9%—the highest it’s been since the Great Recession. It’s a candidate-driven market with fierce competition.

Here are several key initiatives professional services HR leaders should consider implementing to help improve the employee experience (and, therefore, the bottom line).

Ongoing Training Drives Engagement

People are the primary assets for professional business firms, and they want to know their employers are invested in them. As training and development programs continue to improve and become more available and intuitive, spending has jumped, hitting the highest growth rate in nearly a decade in 2015. And it’s not surprising, considering that effective training is a proven driver of engagement and satisfaction, combating workplace boredom, and contributing to an increased overall sense of value. Employee development is also particularly beneficial for professional services firms, who can then leverage the increased aptitudes and skill sets of individual employees.

Leadership Planning to Keep A-Players on the Team

While employees leave companies for a variety of reasons, it’s often due to the desire to move up—either in responsibility or in salary. Increases of more than 10% are not uncommon when changing jobs, compared with an overall average of just 0.8% of real hourly earnings increases from June 2016 to June 2017. Some commentators even suggest employees change jobs every two years to maximize long-term salary growth.

The best way to combat this tendency is for professional services HR leaders to commit to transparent leadership development within their firms. Creating a proactive, executable strategy for professional growth and career advancement within the organization encourages retention by outlining development opportunities while decreasing the risks of talent gaps.

Measure Employee Satisfaction

Considering the extremely high cost of replacing even a single valuable employee, it’s also imperative for HR leaders in professional services to keep an active pulse on employee sentiment, to monitor red flags and pinpoint flight risks before it’s too late.

Sophisticated survey technologies utilize advanced natural language processing (NLP) and machine-learning algorithms to uncover employee sentiment in real time. By interpreting a combination of quantitative and open-ended survey responses, these solutions can accurately pinpoint the topics most important to employees and decipher their true feelings. Specific, data-based, actionable insights are invaluable for improving satisfaction, giving professional services HR leaders a real edge when it comes to improving retention and performance.

By incorporating these initiatives and solutions, HR leaders are supported in their strategic efforts to combat industry pressure and improve their organization’s key performance indicators KPIs. Professional services firms face unusual challenges, but these tools and strategies can help nurture high achievers, develop future leaders, and boost engagement and retention, all while streamlining payroll and HR intricacies and generating accurate visibility into compliance, staffing, and analytics.

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Learning Leadership Strategies from Successful Leaders – #12DaysofHCM https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/learning-leadership-strategies/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/learning-leadership-strategies/#respond Thu, 14 Dec 2017 11:00:55 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=1181 This past summer, Ultimate Software launched HR Spark, a Web series designed to ignite ideas for your people and your business. The show brought together some of the industry’s top influencers and subject-matter experts for panel discussions about today’s challenges in HCM and tomorrow’s HR technology solutions. Topics ranged from hearing the voice of your […]

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HR Spark: Leadership EditionThis past summer, Ultimate Software launched HR Spark, a Web series designed to ignite ideas for your people and your business. The show brought together some of the industry’s top influencers and subject-matter experts for panel discussions about today’s challenges in HCM and tomorrow’s HR technology solutions. Topics ranged from hearing the voice of your employees and establishing a positive workplace culture to the rise of the remote workforce and advances in “People First” artificial intelligence. Today, we’re excited to bring you an all-new video series, HR Spark: Leadership Edition. Join Bill Hicks, Ultimate’s chief relationship officer, as he travels across North America for insightful conversations about leadership development. In the series premiere (the first of a two-part episode), Bill sits down with Richard Outram, chief financial officer at Cross Country Home Services. They share some of their most successful management strategies and the key takeaways they’ve learned in over two decades of leading people. Whether you’re an aspiring leader, first-time manager, or experienced executive, you’re sure to learn something new. Check out HR Spark: Leadership Edition today. Ultimate Software’s #12DaysofHCM is back by popular demand! During the next two weeks, we’ll recap some of the most talked about topics from 2017, and preview what’s ahead for 2018.

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The Reengineering of the Workforce https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/reengineering-workforce-fluidity/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/reengineering-workforce-fluidity/#respond Thu, 30 Nov 2017 14:03:44 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=1156 The transformation of the workplace—relinquishing many of the entrenched work and leadership structures that many companies and HR leaders hold dear, such as org charts and hierarchical management roles, in favor of promoting more fluid ways of people working—is a sea change that, unfortunately, has not gained widespread momentum. Many companies understand the value of […]

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workforce fluidityThe transformation of the workplace—relinquishing many of the entrenched work and leadership structures that many companies and HR leaders hold dear, such as org charts and hierarchical management roles, in favor of promoting more fluid ways of people working—is a sea change that, unfortunately, has not gained widespread momentum. Many companies understand the value of workforce fluidity, but they struggle in their resolve to make it happen.

Workforce fluidity is an all-encompassing term I coined to describe job fluidity, organizational fluidity, and identity fluidity. Job fluidity describes a workforce where people are not tied to or identified by a specific job description; rather, they flow among initiatives and supervisors to maximize their contributions. Organizational fluidity accepts the reality of how work gets done these days, generally through collaborative efforts with diverse minds and skills coming together. And identity fluidity encourages new levels of self-definition and expression, with the knowledge that feeling safe in our authentic uniqueness will foster innovative ideas.

These tenets of workplace transformation stand in sharp contrast to yesteryear’s rigid organizational structures, regimented ways of working, and uniform definitions of what constitutes a leader. Certainly, those ways made perfect sense in the post-Industrial Age, when small shops gave way to large, unwieldy business organizations with a need to control the labor force. The use of divisions, departments, and jobs based on a person’s specific expertise ensured that work was appropriately doled out, supervised, and completed.

The problem with this static structure today is that it clashes with the dynamism of the global business environment and the current needs of people in the workforce. Thanks to distributed technology advancements, today’s business is conducted in real time. Layers of management and delegation authority slow down the required speed and flexibility of work.

At the same time, employees are increasingly being asked to participate in different projects and other initiatives under different supervisors. Titles and job roles seem almost superfluous in this multi-skilled, multi-task setting. Yet, most companies are still stuck with org charts, trying to shoehorn these modern workforce realities into an inflexible hierarchy.

Why is this the case, and how can HR become more nimble and lead the necessary change? According to Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends survey of more than 10,000 business and HR leaders from 140 countries, 88% of respondents say building the organization of the future is an important or very important issue; yet, only 11% understand how to do it. To get a better sense of why this is the case, I reached out to Josh Bersin, principal and founder of Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP.

Josh began by recounting his own workforce trajectory. “When I joined the workforce out of college in the late 1970s, I was given a job description and title and told how much I would earn,” he recalled. “My boss told me what to do and wrote up my performance appraisal at the end of the year. The goal was to stick around and get a promotion to buy a house, have kids, and retire in comfort. This workforce concept was based on the old industrial-scale model, which is now a disadvantage for companies, as it slows them down from reacting quickly.”

Josh’s view is affirmed by Deloitte’s survey. Only 14% of respondents believe the traditional hierarchical model involving jobs based on a person’s expertise in a specific area is effective. “It’s pretty clear to me that just about everything in organizational management needs to be reengineered,” Josh said. “The ways that work gets done are fundamentally changing, with leading companies moving to a more agile, collaborative, and flexible way of working. Instead of a hierarchy, there is more of a network organizational structure.”

When asked for an example of this work type in action, Josh pointed to the now-common practice of forming a team of people from across the organization to take on a specific project. “People are collaborating with others who are not from their business area, lending their unique expertise and experiences to the task at hand,” he said. “They jump on and off such projects on a routine basis. Yet, in the background, there still is the hierarchical work structure that has little to do with reality.” I wholeheartedly agree and would add that, as a result, people’s work is often evaluated by someone who isn’t seeing the whole picture, also removed from reality.

Today’s new ways of working are good for companies, increasing employees’ sense of purpose, engagement with their work responsibilities, overall productivity, and personal happiness. People feel more in control of their lives. Hopping from one initiative to another also puts them in close proximity to others who have different talents, increasing everyone’s range of skills.

Best of all, people are able to coalesce around what is most important in business—serving the customer. “Instead of focusing on efficiently executing the same task over and over, employees are empowered to make the customer happier,” Josh said.

What will it take for more companies to let the sea change happen? The first step is to realize that workforce fluidity is already underway. The digital transformation of business is a powerful undercurrent tugging the organization toward more fluid ways of working.

Once this reality is accepted, business leaders can make the most of it, and HR agility can truly take hold, ushering in a more fluid, inspiring, and modern workplace. Some of Josh’s suggestions for navigating this shift include creating mission-oriented project teams composed of individuals from marketing, sales, customer experience, and other functions, and empowering them to make decisions that benefit customers. To that, I would add the need for empathy—the capacity to sense how people around you in the workplace feel about their work.

True leadership entails the ability to unite people in a shared purpose. Work that is personally fulfilling will always be a motivational force that creates organizational health and success.

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HR for Manufacturing Companies: How Today’s Tech Can Help https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/tech-helps-hr-for-manufacturing-companies/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/tech-helps-hr-for-manufacturing-companies/#respond Wed, 16 Aug 2017 10:00:35 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=1076 The manufacturing industry contributed $2.18 trillion to the U.S. economy in 2016 and accounted for 11.7% of its GDP. On its own, U.S. manufacturing is considered the 10th largest economy—in the world. It’s also one of the largest U.S. employment sectors, accounting for 9% of the workforce and 12.3 million employees. With such a heavily […]

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HR for manufacturing companiesThe manufacturing industry contributed $2.18 trillion to the U.S. economy in 2016 and accounted for 11.7% of its GDP. On its own, U.S. manufacturing is considered the 10th largest economy—in the world. It’s also one of the largest U.S. employment sectors, accounting for 9% of the workforce and 12.3 million employees. With such a heavily populated workforce—many of whom are hourly employees, union members, or scattered throughout the country—it’s not surprising that manufacturing HR leaders face a variety of complex, industry-specific challenges. Thankfully, today’s technology solutions are increasingly alleviating these challenges.

To compete in today’s global economy, manufacturing companies must find innovative ways to strategically manage their human capital, streamline procedures, and attract investors. Fortunately, just as manufacturers are taking advantage of technology to improve their development and production, today’s HR solutions optimize the latest technological advancements to help manufacturing HR leaders recruit, train, and manage their employees.

Here’s an overview of some of the most common challenges in HR for manufacturing companies.

Recruiting difficulty

The sheer number of positions to be filled often poses challenges for manufacturing recruiters, and this problem is expounded by the industry’s widening skills gap. Deloitte predicts that from 2015 to 2025, nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will be needed, but 2 million of these will go unfilled due to a serious shortage of qualified applicants for skilled and highly skilled production positions. Already, 40% of manufacturers are citing the lack of skilled talent as a primary roadblock to investing in technology that could improve their businesses and products.

With talent shortage comes steep competition. Traditional recruiting systems can be tedious, repetitive, and complex, making it difficult for candidates to engage and often causing frustration and dropout. Many companies lose candidates during the process without even realizing it. But by making it easy for candidates to provide information and actually interact with prospective employers, manufacturers can attract the best talent and encourage them to apply—especially younger workers, who are sorely needed in manufacturing. As an added bonus, innovative recruiting strategies can have a positive impact on retention.

Compliance complexities

With an abundance of shift and union workers, overtime, and geographically dispersed employees, manufacturing payroll can be highly nuanced and brimming with complexities. Employers must consider shift premiums, overtime, and union membership while keeping track of constantly changing federal, state, and local taxes for each employee.

Seasonal work and turnover

Transitions in HR for manufacturing companies occur frequently due to seasonal changes, acquisitions, and mergers. The industry is also experiencing a significant increase in turnover as talent shortage provides more competition and opportunities for skilled workers.

Proactively managing talent with meaningful and unbiased metrics is crucial for manufacturers, as is identifying top performers and potential flight risks. By utilizing a variety of reporting, analytics, and business intelligence tools, managers can gain complete insight into headcount, turnover, and recruitment to make the most informed and strategic workforce decisions.

Click on the links below for some examples of how manufacturing companies have overcome their HR challenges:

Kawasaki (http://www.ultimatesoftware.com/UltiPro-Case-Study/Kawasaki)

HOLT CAT (http://www.ultimatesoftware.com/UltiPro-Case-Study/HOLT-CAT)

Armacell (http://www.ultimatesoftware.com/UltiPro-Case-Study/Armacell)

 

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Partner with Your People: Scott Shares His Entrepreneurial Advice with Fortune https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/scott-scherr-entrepreneurial-advice/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/scott-scherr-entrepreneurial-advice/#respond Wed, 09 Aug 2017 13:05:36 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=1048 At Ultimate Software, we put people first. Period. We owe a lot of that to the example set by our CEO, Scott Scherr, and his commitment to not only taking good care of his employees, but treating them as true partners. Scott recently shared his words of wisdom in a guest post for Fortune, discussing […]

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At Ultimate Software, we put people first. Period. We owe a lot of that to the example set by our CEO, Scott Scherr, and his commitment to not only taking good care of his employees, but treating them as true partners. Scott recently shared his words of wisdom in a guest post for Fortune, discussing some of the perks that set Ultimate apart—like our 40 percent no cap 401(k) plan and guaranteed company equity—and how other entrepreneurs can foster their own people-first culture. In Scott’s words, “take care of everyone, every day, and they’ll return the favor many times over.” Check out the piece on Fortune, or read more below:

Why the Most Successful Companies Think Like Sports Teamsscott scherr

Note: this post originally appeared on Fortune’s Insiders Network

Everything I know about building a business, I learned from my father. As a kid in the Bronx, I watched him build a successful company from the ground up. His straightforward approach to business just made sense: The people were there to take care of the business, and the business was there to take care of the people.

Many young entrepreneurs focus mainly on the business plan, profit margins, and mastering the investor pitch. While all of that matters, it’s important to remember the fundamental questions: What kind of company do you want to run? And who do you want to help you build that business?

Remembering my father’s advice helped guide Ultimate from day one: Take care of everyone, every day, and they’ll return the favor many times over. To me, the “secret sauce” isn’t in the best-laid marketing plans—it’s in having the right team to execute on them.

Here are a few ways you can foster business growth and success by focusing on your people:

Make a big investment in your people

In our early days, one of my “non-negotiables” was 100% paid-for health care benefits for employees and their families, and 401(k) matching for every employee. That’s uncommon for startups today (only 14% of companies with 100 or fewer employees offer a 401(k) plan) and it was virtually unheard of 27 years ago.

Think of the ways you can walk the talk so your employees know you’re truly invested in them. Catered lunches and group celebrations help preserve your culture, but remember what cultivates your core values. Maybe it’s flexible hours or generous PTO to support employees’ work-life balance. Running a successful business has many highs and lows. But when you’re relentless in putting your people first, they’ll continue on the journey with you, weathering the good times and bad.

Think like a (sports) team

As a former athlete and lifelong fan, I see many connections between sports and business. The best teams that consistently win are not simply teams with good players. Championship teams have the best players and are coached by leaders who are fully committed and know how to get the most out of their players who are equally focused. Not every person you hire has to be a star athlete or accomplished coach, but it helps to have that team mentality.

Every person counts and must be working toward the same goal. No matter what business you’re in, if you find and keep the best, most committed talent, and coach them, you’ll make it to the playoffs every year—and bring home championships.

Promote from within

When businesses are looking to grow, they’ll usually look to the competitive market to find top talent. However, many times, the best people are already on your team. Focus on building leadership from within, rather than hiring the first outsider with the right skill set, but who may not be a cultural fit. Your existing employees have a greater knowledge of the company, a deeper connection to its values, and a more personal investment in its long-term success (especially when you’ve shown you’re invested in theirs). Developing your current people also helps foster stronger relationships and business growth as your employees build their careers with your company. Some of Ultimate’s highest-ranking—and most successful—people were our very first employees.

The business strategies that work best often seem simple, but they’re also the most powerful. Like I learned from my father: Your people keep you inspired, and keep your business moving forward. To achieve continued success as an entrepreneur, keep your eye on what matters most. Always remember to invest in your people first.

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