Wednesday, October 29, 2008

From Chief People Officer to Chief PRODUCTIVITY Officer

I have had an excellent week having the pleasure of talking with many SMART business people that just happen to be in HR. It is so refreshing to have discussions that are not about open enrollment, having a seat at that table, and doom and gloom over the economy.

Smart business people know that "this too shall pass" and "who cares about the table" it is all about value and impact. I love it when a conversation with a top HR person starts off with "Let me tell you how we measure the success of our business" 1) market share 2) efficient processes and 3) revenue growth. Any by the way, "this is how HR will impact those 3 areas." that is cool.

Another discussion was around understanding how something subjective like culture, can be measured in an objective way and be tied to things like decrease in turnover, employee engagement, etc. Not that we have the definitive answer on the subject, but it is a good conversation.

I belive now more than ever, we should be talking about productivity, efficiency, value and effectiveness.  HR can and must contribute to increasing these areas.  More importantly, HR needs to measure its contribution to these areas. 

Maybe we need to change our title to, Business Analyst, Performance Consultant, or Chief Productivity Officer.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Can PDA Use Cost Your Company Money?

Is there a place left in the Universe where you do not see a PDA (personal data assistant) in use? People are on their Blackberry’s and Treo’s in the grocery store, in the Doctor’s office and even Church. This persistent need for connectivity proves that nothing is sacred anymore.

Does all this connectivity equal liability?

The issue of liability is very possible. Think about this scenario: You have a non-exempt employee, which is defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act as an employee who must be paid overtime for hours worked over 40 in a work week. This employee answers many emails on her company issued Blackberry over the weekend, even though she is not asked or required to do so. Because PDA’s leave such a detailed paper trail companies can be liable for overtime pay in situations such as these. According to Adele Nicholas in her article Pernicious PDAs, in Inside Counsel, “Over the past year, companies have seen an avalanche of wage-and-hour litigation from workers who claim they are owed back pay for uncompensated overtime.”

In a recent survey of SHRM-Atlanta members, sponsored by SHRM-Atlanta and Intellectual Capital Consulting, Inc, 89% of the respondents said that they DO NOT track cell phone usage during non work hours. 67% of those surveyed stated that they DO NOT pay non-exempt employees for PDA usage for non-work hours.

Companies with similar practices may need to reevaluate both of these policies in light of recent litigation. Prevention is definitely the key in this area of PDA usage.

According to Greg Hare, an employment lawyer with the Ogletree Deakins law firm in Atlanta, “companies should issue handbooks to employees, setting forth the guidelines and rules that employees must follow. For example, the policies should state that all overtime work must be authorized in advance by the employee’s supervisor. Thereafter, if an hourly paid employee presents a time sheet claiming that she worked 3 hours on Saturday (e.g., responding to email messages), the company can issue a warning to her for “working without authorization.” Of course, the company still must pay the employee for all hours worked, but by issuing the disciplinary warning, the company can prevent future instances of paying the employee for unscheduled hours.”

Another area of increasing liability as it related to PDA’s is workers compensation claims. Recently “Blackberry Thumb” has been recognized by the American Physical Therapy Association as an actual painful condition caused by typing repetitively with the thumb which is not typically used for typing.
94% of the SHRM-Atlanta respondents indicated that they had NOT had any workers compensation claims resulting from PDA usage.

Unfortunately, several recent news stories have shown that accidents are commonly caused by drivers who are distracted by their own PDA usage. It’s incredibly common to see drivers pecking away on their Blackberries while driving down the highway. Hare suggests that all companies insert a clause into their employee handbooks stating that phones and other PDA’s may not be operated while driving any company vehicle or operating any piece of equipment. By implementing such a ban, Hare says “the company is likely to accomplish two things: (1) the employees will be less likely to hurt themselves – i.e., reducing workers’ compensation claims; and (2) the employees will be less likely to hurt third parties – i.e., reducing general liability insurance claims.”

In addition to the above topics, a discussion regarding weekend and after hour PDA usage should be included in the company policy as well.
64% of SHRM-Atlanta members surveyed said they do have a policy for “Company-provided cell phone usage.
Having a well written policy is a good thing, but making sure everyone is aware and consistently following that policy is left up to our managers and supervisors. HR professionals can assist managers with making sure they are aware and trained on these PDA related issues.

And of course, during orientation, every new employee should sign an acknowledgement form, confirming that she received a copy of the employee handbook and policies, and agreeing to abide by all the company’s rules. Hare stated that in his litigation experience, these signed acknowledgement forms have been a vital piece of evidence, allowing the company to prove conclusively that “the employee knew or should have known what the rules were, and she was properly subject to discipline for failing to follow them.”

This issue effects productivity, costs, and liability all very important ccompenents of HR metrics. 

Monday, October 20, 2008

Value MATTERS Now More Than Ever

You can't turn on the TV or pick up the news paper without hearing more and more bad news. It is enough to make you want to jump out a window. Because companies are under intense scrutiny due to pressures on revenues and expenses, VALUE has to be the new criteria for evaluating almost everything.

1. What is the value the customer receives?

2. What is the value a particular vendor brings?

3. What is the value of this program or process to our bottom line?

4. What value does one employee have versus another?

5. How do we increase our brand value?

HR has been trying to defend its position by trying to prove value for many years now. I believe we have to quit trying and start adding value immediately. With job losses being reported on a daily basis, those that do not add value will be on the downsized list.

How can you tell if HR is adding value? A good first step is to complete an HR audit (see October 13th post). Another good way is to ask your internal customers. By conducting an HR Effectiveness Survey, you can uncover how you are performing in certain areas and determine what is important to your customer. For example, if customers score you high on benefits administration but talent management a low scorer, is what is most important to them, what do you do? Remember value is not determined by the provider but by the receiver. So, if your customer values talent management, you need to get busy focusing on delivering superior talent not benefits administration.

That sounds easier said than done, because HR in reality has to make sure both benefits and talent are handled in an effective and efficient way. By understanding where HR can impact the bottom line, the decision on what to focus on internally is easier. Benefits administration is one area that is very easy to outsource and many times more cost effective. (another opportunity to add value if costs are reduced).

ACTION ITEM: Conduct an HR audit and an HR Effectiveness Survey

Monday, October 13, 2008

It's a Great Time for an HR Audit

With pressures on the bottom line now more than ever, I am sure you are looking to be as efficient and effective as you can possibly be. The HR Department is no exception. An HR Audit can reveal if the department is performing at its highest and best level.

A HR Audit will determine if:

• HR Strategy is linked to the organizational goals and objectives thus providing the linkage necessary to be high performing

• HR Metrics are being utilized to track HR performance making sure HR is effective and efficient

• Policies and procedures are compliant and are being consistently implemented throughout the organization to prevent unwanted legal exposure

• The Performance management program is measuring the competencies that make your  organization successful

• Recruiting processes are yielding high quality talent based on your organizational competencies

By taking the time now to determine what can be done to save costs and improve productivity, HR can focus on adding value during this economic downturn.  The pressure of adding value to the organization will be heightened as top executives have to make sure that systems are streamlined, customers are served and profits are protected.  Now, more than ever HR must be focused on those activities that can add to the top line, protect the bottom line and increase productivity. 

Sunday, October 5, 2008

How to SELL HR Metrics

So many times after I conduct a seminar on "HR Metrics that Matter," I am asked the question, "How do I get Senior Managers support on starting a metrics project for HR?"

My answer is usually around starting small, getting some credibility by showing impact, and then you can go from there. 

In Al Adamson's, HR Executive Online article, Building Workforce Analytics, Adamson discusses 6 key challenges that must be overcome in order to continue a successful metrics program:

* Providing quality data and clearly defined metrics;

* Generating the initial deliverables and exhibiting their value;

* Understanding the requisite processes -- and time -- required to generate meaningful insight;

* Understanding the technology requirements, limitations and possibilities;

* Commanding the resources (internal and/or external) and appreciating their capacity; and

* Packaging and communicating insight in exceptional ways. No ordinary deliverable.

So, what can you do tomorrow?  If you are interested in starting a metrics project, find out what the real pain is in the organization and design your initial project on how to help with that pain.  For example, if in your industry, you are experiencing high turnover, high retirements in key positions, and growth as an overall strategy then identify workforce metrics that can help with these issues.  Start your analysis by trending turnover by age over time, add in known retirements for the same time period, forecast the number of positions needed due to growth and present a plan to obtain the necessary talent over the next 18 months.  You can add recruiting metrics into the project to show how efficient and effective the recruiting project was during the 18 months as well.

Now, this well get you noticed and build credibility by understanding the business and adding value at the same time.  Your next metrics project which hopefull will be an ongoing metrics project, will be a no-brainer and a lot easier sell!