Human Resources – Ultimate Software's Blog https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com Thoughts on Putting People First in the Workplace Wed, 10 Jan 2018 18:43:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.2 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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Kickstart Engagement for Your New Hires https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/kickstart-engagement-for-your-new-hires/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/kickstart-engagement-for-your-new-hires/#respond Thu, 26 Jun 2014 16:31:26 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=169 Engagement, or lack thereof, is increasingly cited as one of the most common reasons that talented people leave their jobs. In fact, less than one-third of employees in the workforce describe themselves as “engaged” in their work (not positions). So why not change the equation by making employees feel valued by helping them unlock their true […]

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Engagement, or lack thereof, is increasingly cited as one of the most common reasons that talented people leave their jobs. In fact, less than one-third of employees in the workforce describe themselves as “engaged” in their work (not positions). So why not change the equation by making employees feel valued by helping them unlock their true potential at work?! With all the logistical challenges of onboarding, many organizations forget that the engagement process begins on or even before a new hire’s first day of work.

The companies with the highest levels of employee engagement all recognize that creating a strong, positive first impression is critical toward forging a lasting collaborative relationship in which employees can discover, unlock and fulfill their potential over and over in the work place.  And because close to 35% of new employees quit within 6 months of their start date, you need to keep onboarding simple and straightforward, eliminating the day-one clichés that bore new employees. The result is that you’ll have passionate, productive team members from day one!

Here are some things you can do to make sure you’re letting your new hires know how valuable they are:

  • Let them know why they were chosen for the job! It’s so simple and profoundly impactful in setting the stage for success!
  • Encourage socialization and connections. As we mentioned, first impressions count. Small things that help new employees feel connected and part of the team can have a huge impact. This can be as simple as helping new employees find co-workers they are already connected to via their social networks. Or it can be something as significant as setting them up with a coach or mentor and leveraging onboarding technology to help them connect.
  • Simplify the overall experience. Required tasks like verifying employment eligibility status are crucial, but time-consuming if done manually. Best-in-class onboarding solutions can automate the completion of forms and other important tasks quickly and securely.
  • Start onboarding before day one. Above all… make sure required documentation, software, assets or accounts should be ready for your new hire as soon as they start. Tracking down everything that’s missing can easily fill up a day that should be spent meeting the team and learning the ropes. Providing new hires with a clear understanding of the tasks they need to complete — and enabling them to complete these tasks before starting, even on their mobile devices — will help them feel confident from the very beginning.

To discover even more ways to engage employees from their first impression, check out our exclusive whitepaper, 10 Ways to Wow Your New Hire.

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The Promise of Spring: New Growth, New Opportunities https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/the-promise-of-spring-new-growth-new-opportunities/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/the-promise-of-spring-new-growth-new-opportunities/#respond Tue, 17 Apr 2012 12:22:52 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=114 Whether it is consumers empowered to interact directly with businesses on a platform like Twitter or citizens bringing their collective voices and stories to the world on social and political issues, technology has empowered people to connect and communicate in ways never imagined. And this is real power – not the technology – but unleashing […]

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Whether it is consumers empowered to interact directly with businesses on a platform like Twitter or citizens bringing their collective voices and stories to the world on social and political issues, technology has empowered people to connect and communicate in ways never imagined.

And this is real power – not the technology – but unleashing people to be able to connect and create.

What does that mean for HR & IT? More than you may think. Consumerization has become one of the most popular made-up buzzwords of 2012, as new information technology that emerges with consumers – Twitter and Facebook are great examples – begins to change the way we do business.

Cloud computing and freemium (try it for free, pay later) models mean IT has seen employees and business leaders bring new applications and devices directly into the workplace to help get work done – once significant barriers to entry for new solutions are not just reduced, they’re completely gone. IT organizations that are staying relevant are embracing this and helping lead the charge to empower people – helping their teams make good decisions, integrating systems in the Cloud, and adapting constantly. Is this limited to IT? Definitely not! This same trend is happening within HR.

And as with technology, the consumerization of HR is all about people. Not people as records, not people as employees, but the real people who make “work” happen. HR and the HCM applications that have been at the core must adjust to this new reality by being connected and reaching out, not just looking in. Instead of thinking about terms like ‘enterprise adoption’ we need to think in terms of ‘what tools do my people use right now’ and ‘where does the data I need already exist’. As I’ve talked to many of our customers, I’ve talked about Ultimate’s capabilities to help connect and empower whether that is through collaboration systems or other standard connectors. The point is serving people where they work and collecting information where it exists in order to inform both the individual and the business.

These are exciting times to connect, collaborate and create. We need HCM systems and HCM leaders that will look outward and embrace these changes.

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Big Data and Predicting Turnover https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/big-data-and-predicting-turnover/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/big-data-and-predicting-turnover/#respond Sun, 15 Apr 2012 10:13:21 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=111 I learned a lot about data during this year’s Ultimate Software Connections conference. Which is totally cool with me; I’m not afraid of numbers. One specific term was “big data.” Now, I admit that I had heard the term but didn’t really have my arms around what it meant or what it means for business. […]

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I learned a lot about data during this year’s Ultimate Software Connections conference. Which is totally cool with me; I’m not afraid of numbers. One specific term was “big data.” Now, I admit that I had heard the term but didn’t really have my arms around what it meant or what it means for business.

Chris McLatcher, director of business intelligence and analytics for Ultimate Software, really gave a great overview of big data during his session, “What’s Coming in the Area of Reporting, Metrics, Analytics & Predictive Analysis.” In case you’re wondering, the term “big data” refers to groups of data so large that they become challenging to work with. But we do it anyway, because of the trend data that we can pull from it. If you’d like to learn more, here’s a video that can help.

 

Data has always been important to our organizations. Now that lots of it exists and more is generated every second, data is even more important. But not just getting the data. It’s equally key that we can read, process, and make decisions based upon it.

This is where predictive analytics takes over. We can use these techniques to leverage the data. Because what our organizations are able to do as a result of the data will help them achieve success. Having data just for the sake of data isn’t achieving success. Ultimate Software talked about one of the ways they are able to use big data for their clients. Think about this scenario:

Your company is getting ready for their annual strategy session. Part of that session is setting business goals for the next operational year. During the conversation, someone mentions that they are concerned about achieving the goals being discussed because of the current talent situation in the company. “There are lots of reports in the media about people looking for new jobs. If we lose a couple key players, we won’t have the bench strength to make these goals a reality.”

Wouldn’t it be great if you could put the senior leadership team’s fears to rest? The question is: what could possibly be said? Ultimate Software has been successfully testing the use of predictive analytics to not only determine how much turnover an organization might expect but the likelihood of an individual to leave the organization. This is pretty powerful stuff!

If businesses had more accurate data regarding potential turnover, there would be opportunities to potentially change the outcome. Again, what our companies can do with data becomes incredibly valuable and has the potential to impact the bottom line. It all comes down to knowing and understanding the business data we have available.

If you want to stay on top of business analytics and how they can help your organization, consider joining the UltiPro Business Intelligence SIG on LinkedIn. Chris also mentioned two books: Investing in People by Wayne F. Cascio and John W. Boudreau and HR Analytics Handbook by Laurie McBassi. Neither are reads for sipping a pina colada by the pool, but when you need them, they will be very useful.

There’s an old cliché about knowledge being power. In today’s world, having access to the data you need, at the moment you need it, will create powerful opportunities for your company.

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Have you Future Proofed your Company? https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/have-you-future-proofed-your-company/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/have-you-future-proofed-your-company/#respond Wed, 11 Apr 2012 13:58:37 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=108 According to Gartner Research, succession planning in the C-Suite is a significant concern. I’d argue it’s a concern at every level in an organization. When 61% of employed workers are open to or looking for a new job, companies need to allocate resources toward attracting and retaining their future talent. But the question is…what does […]

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According to Gartner Research, succession planning in the C-Suite is a significant concern. I’d argue it’s a concern at every level in an organization. When 61% of employed workers are open to or looking for a new job, companies need to allocate resources toward attracting and retaining their future talent.

But the question is…what does our future talent look like?

That was the focus of Cale Hammer’s session during Ultimate Software’s Connections 2012: Future Proofing Your Business. While we all realize succession planning is important for business success, nearly one-third of companies don’t have succession plans and over 50% of individuals in VP-Level positions have no successors.

It made me wonder if one of the reasons so few organizations have succession plans in place, is because the process is perceived as down-right painful. As HR pros, we know the keys to success with any program implementation are:

  1. Aligns with business needs
  2. Has top leadership support
  3. Receives regular attention
  4. Gets dedicated resources
  5. Is both manageable and effective

And in the case of succession planning, #6 – Provides a commitment to talent development. Cale shared a client quote during the session that really struck me about the significant need for companies to spend resources on their current talent.

“We lack investment in training and development and do not provide enough opportunities for employees to learn beyond their own roles.”

If organizations plan to remain competitive and grow or even just retain market share, they have to figure out how today’s employees fit tomorrow’s business needs. Cale provided an overview of Ultimate Software’s Succession Planning solution for companies that are trying to figure this out.

There were a couple of things that really stood out for me.

The flexible Talent Assessment Box. With the Ultimate Software Succession Planning solution, you can create a 4-box, 9-box or larger with custom axis to monitor employee status. Imagine one axis as current performance rating and the other as potential for promotability. Each employee is noted on the report. It’s a clean, easy way to monitor and present to leadership where individuals are in relation to your succession planning efforts.

A Succession Readiness Report. This report allows an organization to view the percentage of candidates by division or region and their readiness level in terms of months. So if senior leadership wants to know the number of people who will be ready in the next two years, it’s just a report away. And the report can provide details on who those individuals are.

Those are just highlights, the solution does so much more. If you haven’t already seen a demo of the succession planning module and how it can help future-proof your business, click here to sign up. Succession planning does not have to be long, drawn-out and painful. But it does need to be done for the success of the business.

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Wrap Up from #UltiConnect 2012 – Talent Management is a Journey not a Destination https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/wrap-up-from-ulticonnect-2012-talent-management-is-a-journey-not-a-destination/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/wrap-up-from-ulticonnect-2012-talent-management-is-a-journey-not-a-destination/#respond Mon, 02 Apr 2012 05:32:29 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=106 One of the definitions that has always perplexed me is talent management. If I talk to a dozen people, I’ll get several different answers about what talent management is and its individual components. Lisa Sterling, director of people engagement at Ultimate Software, brought the concept of talent management into focus for me during last week’s […]

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One of the definitions that has always perplexed me is talent management. If I talk to a dozen people, I’ll get several different answers about what talent management is and its individual components.

Lisa Sterling, director of people engagement at Ultimate Software, brought the concept of talent management into focus for me during last week’s Connections 2012 conference. She defined talent management as the umbrella covering talent acquisition, onboarding, performance management, compensation, succession planning and career development. More importantly, she defined it as a business process not an HR process.

Now some of you might be saying, “I already knew that.” But this is where Sterling shook up conventional wisdom by adding the workforce business data we’re hearing about. For example, thousands of employees are reaching retirement age every day. And the Millennial population will outnumber Boomers in the workplace by 2015. Voluntary resignations have reached their highest point since 2008.

It’s this kind of business data that is impacting the definition of talent management.

While the components of talent management might remain the same, as business pros we must change our approach to stay current with the times. Sterling cited three well-known examples of how current trends are changing the face of talent management:

  1. Technology – It was only a couple of years ago when we were introduced to tablet computers. And now they are a staple in our work lives. Mobile technology is creating opportunities for employees to stay engaged at different levels than before.
  1. Social Collaboration – Tools like Yammer allow employees to exchange ideas, solve problems and stay connected no matter where they are. Companies are able to leverage these tools to create a more informed and productive workforce.
  1. Social Media – Communication has become individualized. Employees are able to have valuable conversations on a variety of social networks. And we all know the company benefit of good communication.

What I found exciting is that Ultimate Software recognizes these business trends and is enhancing their solutions to meet the changing face of talent management. Sterling said it best when she talked about talent management being a journey not a destination. There will always be new business insights we have to consider. They will always cause us to redefine talent management. The real question we have to keep asking ourselves is “Are we ready for the future of talent management?” Because that’s what will keep our business ahead of the curve.

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Live from #UltiConnect 2012: Statistically Aware Human Resources https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/live-from-ulticonnect-2012-statistically-aware-human-resources/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/live-from-ulticonnect-2012-statistically-aware-human-resources/#respond Fri, 30 Mar 2012 06:03:39 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=95 I’ve always been a numbers person. I think there’s much we can learn from looking at data and statistics. And it’s never too late to embrace the numbers. In fact, Thomas Otter, vice president of research at Gartner Research coined the phrase “statistically aware HR” during his session on workforce analytics at the Ultimate Software Connections […]

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I’ve always been a numbers person. I think there’s much we can learn from looking at data and statistics. And it’s never too late to embrace the numbers. In fact, Thomas Otter, vice president of research at Gartner Research coined the phrase “statistically aware HR” during his session on workforce analytics at the Ultimate Software Connections conference and I believe it’s a perfect way to approach data.

When we think about it, we have tons of data about our workforce right at our fingertips. And how much of it are we actually using? When we’re faced with a problem, is the first question…let’s run some reports and see what the data tells us? I’m sure some companies are doing it. But Otter points to research that indicates “65% of organizations will fail to exploit workforce analytics because of a lack of skilled resources.”

So regardless of our current skill level, here are 4 things you can do to become more statistically aware:

  1. Invest in learning statistical skills. Take a class, read a book or blog. Find a way to learn more about the subject. Example: During Otter’s session, I learned about the Bradford Factor which says there’s a difference in being absent for 7 days and being absent 7 times for one day. This data is important because it can impact workplace productivity.
  1. Start with a small problem. Now is not the time to take on more than you can handle. Remember to consider operational factors in your calculations. And don’t promise numbers you can’t deliver!
  1. Leverage external data. Think about the partners you are working with who can provide data. Also leverage applications your employees are using, such as LinkedIn. With the popularity of the platform, make sure your organization is using the available data about your industry and competitive set.
  1. Learn from history and others. Collect historical data and use it as a test of what actually happened. That can offer insight into data analysis skills. Also, tap into the expertise around your company. For instance, work with marketing professionals who have become very knowledgeable about measuring brand awareness.

Like most skills, the more we work at something, the better we get at it. Once your analysis is complete, take action based upon your findings. Plan to evaluate the results at pre-determined milestones and adjust accordingly. Soon, you too will become one of the “statistically aware”.

 

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Buying a House, Saving for Retirement and Choosing Benefits https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/buying-a-house-saving-for-retirement-and-choosing-benefits/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/buying-a-house-saving-for-retirement-and-choosing-benefits/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2012 12:23:24 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=93 Today I want to talk about something that is very important to all of us: choosing the right benefits. I relate to this because as someone with a wife and two small sons at home, it’s absolutely critical that I choose the right benefits for my family. Given that I’m responsible for HR & Benefits […]

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Today I want to talk about something that is very important to all of us: choosing the right benefits. I relate to this because as someone with a wife and two small sons at home, it’s absolutely critical that I choose the right benefits for my family. Given that I’m responsible for HR & Benefits within Ultimate’s UltiPro and I’ve spent my entire career studying and managing benefits solutions, I am fortunate to have the knowledge and tools necessary to make informed benefits decisions. Unfortunately, for most people, knowing how to differentiate and select benefits can be confusing and daunting. This fact is very concerning because outside of buying a house and saving for retirement, choosing the right benefits is probably the most important decision a person will make.

At this point you may be thinking, “He’s just saying this because he has spent his career in benefits.” This may be true but let me explain it from my vantage point.

The reality is that benefits are important because of their potential impact on one’s personal and financial well-being. Based on recent data from Mercer, an employee’s annual healthcare cost for a family of four is expected to top $10,000 in 2012. That is approaching almost $1,000 per month! At that level, we are in the ballpark of a monthly mortgage payment. This is where the similarities end. The reason is that unlike buying a house, if you choose the wrong benefit plan you could suffer catastrophic financial losses should you get sick or have a health problem that is not covered. Even worse you might not even be able to get the medical treatment you desperately need. I think this makes it pretty clear why understanding how to choose the right benefits is important.

What’s ironic is that most people spend only a few minutes choosing their benefits and do so with very little information. This is where the need for benefits decision support comes in. As a business owner or HR leader who wants your people to make informed benefit decisions, it is critical that you provide the tools for them to do so. This includes: 1) definitions of key benefit terms, 2) the pros and cons of each benefit plan being offered, and 3) comparison tools that can be used to determine the benefit plan that is best tailored towards their unique personal situation. Historically speaking, people have relied on their employers to provide the information needed to make informed benefits decisions. This approach, however, is becoming ineffective at a very rapid pace. This is because the younger generations entering the workforce rely almost solely on their social networks for all kinds of advice. Now I’m not new to the workforce, but soliciting benefits advice from my friends and family using my social network seems like a much better approach to me.

So my message is, take your time and be wise in your benefits decisions. If you are the person responsible for benefits management in your organization, take it upon yourself to provide your people with the information and tools they need to make informed benefits decisions. Put yourself in their shoes. Failure to do so can have terrible consequences for everyone.

Here’s to putting people first.

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