Monday, March 25, 2013

Resource Management: Yahoo Got It Way Wrong

Yahoo’s decision to stop letting employees work from home is about as smart as most of the product decisions they have been making lately: Way off the mark.

Was Marissa Mayer hibernating in some cave for the last several years then woke up and said: “Where is everybody?”

They are at home working very well thank you – and if you make them all come back to work every day, you will be losing some of the best resources you have, plus losing out on a very creative way to maximize your employee assets.

Simon Kennedy in a recent blog post on DNA writes: “Marissa Mayer’s decision to order Yahoo! Inc staff to work in the company’s offices runs counter to new research published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.” He goes on to quote the National Bureau of Economic Research whose results “showed home-working led to a 13% increase in performance, mainly reflecting reductions in sick days and breaks. The rest was attributed to making more calls per minute thanks in part to the quieter working environment.”

 And this didn't even take into account the fact that people who work from home spend time on work activities well beyond the normal 8 hour work day.

I can understand a leader trying to turn around a company by taking some drastic measures to improve performance. But I think this was a knee jerk reaction based on faulty data. In the long run this will be just one more stupid move Yahoo has made. Yahoo is traditionally 2 steps behind in their marketplace, and apparently they are at least two steps behind in employee workplace trends as well.

I guess, in the end, this decision (along with many others at Yahoo) will serve as great case-study fodder for future MBAs. I would suggest a title for the case study should be: Yahoo: A study in Bad Timing.

Guess they won’t be making next year’s 100 Best Places to Work List.

Read more blogs by Jerry on Toolbox For HR

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Give A Con A Break

The City of San Francisco was one of the first to take up a measure to ban the use of criminal histories as part of the pre-employment process. Several other government jurisdictions are considering similar legislation. This trend is born of the idea that criminal histories may be racist (because minorities tend to be convicted at a higher rate than non-minorities) and that it exacerbates the unemployment problem – especially among those with criminal records.

But for me the more interesting question (and more difficult challenge) is how do we truly assess that risk and make smart hiring decisions about people with previous legal or drug problems. Should they all be damned forever and a day? Story ended. That would be the easy way to handle the problem. No need to worry about complex hiring procedures or concerns that people won’t follow the exact dictates of the company. We hire no one with a previous conviction or a previous problem with drugs. Period!

We’re better than that.

A previous conviction does not have to be a permanent sentence of unemployment. The real solution to the problem is that criminal history alone should not be the only reason for rejecting a candidate. Yes – I understand (I used to be in the background checking business after all) that there are very real circumstance that mean zero tolerance (access to vulnerable populations like children or elderly for example) where the risk is just too great. But that is what I mean when I say that a criminal history record alone should not decide the hire/no hire choice. A criminal history record PLUS a high sensitive position – should mean no hire. Other situations such as repeat offenders, people with a pattern of multiple problems, a conviction along with lying on your resume might all be reasons for rejecting a candidate.

Patterns and context should dictate hiring risk – not just single data points.

It's people we are dealing with and people can make mistakes and still move beyond them. This is where our professionalism as recruiters and human resource people comes in. We use data to help make decisions – we don’t let data make the decisions for us.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Are there Republicans and Democrats in Your HR House?

Bickering, drawing lines in the sand, creating controversy where none really exists, refusing to compromise, perceiving slight, grandstanding: Sound like the national political scene, or does it sound like one of your staff meetings!

I have never really understood people who have to win an argument at all costs. It has never made sense to me why some people make things personal so easily or have to take exception to everything certain people say. I also don’t get why people get so stubborn about a topic they become irrational and immovable.

Sure, I believe strongly in things. Sure, I can get pretty assertive about my agenda when I am passionate about the topic. But I have never felt that I had all the answers. I don’t take other people's input personally and I don't tend to set my feet so firmly in the ground that I cannot be moved. Don't call me Speaker of the House.

Why do people get so obdurate that they are willing to sacrifice success to win a point?

The example set in Washington lately brings the point to a national spotlight. The leaders of both parties have become so entrenched, are trying so hard to make sure the other side looses they are guaranteeing that nobody wins.

Do you have people like that in your company? Are there people like that in your HR department? My bet is the answer is yes.

In my experience this atmosphere of irrational competition is at the heart of most dysfunctional companies.

Just chill

I wonder, do we teach this to our children at an early age? Do we model this behavior in ourselves or in our society?

How many people will suffer in our nation because of the stubbornness of a few? How many will suffer in our companies for the same reason?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

An Ode to SEO for Recruiters

If I were to SEO
What would be the way to go?

Would I blog or would I write
A mighty pen to make me bright?

Key word phrases all strung out
Makes my writing all flung out.

Search for hires
High and low
Better with my SEO
20 key words and long tails to sell
If I try and say them all,
will you promise not to tell?

My marketing Director does insist
That all my writing should consist
Of random words
Thrown to and fro
Just so Google loves me so.

And then there’s Mack
I love her too
She’s our queen of SEO
But write a word that sounds just right
And suffer wrath at all her might

So homage to the SEO
Throw those words in, watch them flow.
Add some funky phrases too
Let them know that hiring is what we do.

Have some job postings
And offer up a referral or two.
Get alumni in the game
Contact everyone fit or lame.

Company name, best hires too
JAVA, Lava, and Code Blue
I’ll get those words in as I can
And hope you understand my plan.

So if what I say seems out of sorts
Trust my words to the Google courts