The State of Year-End Bonuses

For many workers, 2017 will end on an extra jolly note, according to new research from global staffing firm Robert Half.

More than half of  300 senior managers surveyed (51 percent) said they expect year-end bonus levels to be at least somewhat higher than 2016. Just 10 percent of respondents reported bonus amounts will decrease, and 39 percent anticipate no change in bonuses.

When those senior managers were asked, “Do you expect year-end bonus levels to be higher or lower than last year?” they responded:

Much higher

9%

Somewhat higher

42%

No change from last year

39%

Somewhat lower

7%

Much lower

3%

100%

 

Separate Robert Half research found workers’ performance only partly determines their bonus. In the survey, just 16 percent of HR professionals reported bonuses are based solely on individual work, compared to 27 percent who said amounts are influenced by employee and company results. Another 22 percent said they factor individual, team and company success into bonus decisions.

“Bonuses are a key recruiting and retention tool, especially with the intense competition for top performers,” said Paul McDonald, senior executive director at Robert Half. “If budgets are tight, other ways to recognize exceptional work at the end of the year include gift cards, a department celebration or additional time off for the holidays.”

McDonald added, “To enhance their chances of securing in-demand candidates near year-end, particularly in today’s hiring market, savvy companies are offering job seekers a sign-on bonus to offset a performance bonus they would have received from their existing employer.”

 

An End to Harassment Arbitration?

Does the “Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Harassment Act of 2017have a better chance of becoming law than past attempts to restrict arbitration agreements? Especially given the timing, some believe the answer is an unequivocal yes.

Rep. Cheri Bustos (center) announces a bipartisan bill last week.

As you may have heard, Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) introduced bipartisan legislation last Wednesday aimed at voiding forced arbitration agreements and enabling “survivors of sexual harassment or discrimination to seek justice.” Senate co-sponsors include Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Ark.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.). House co-sponsors include Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.)

In announcing the bill, Bustos said …

“If we truly want to end sexual harassment in the workplace, we need to eliminate the institutionalized protections that have allowed this unacceptable behavior to continue for too long. Whether it’s on factory floors, in office buildings or retail businesses, 60 million Americans have signed away their right to seek real justice and most don’t realize it until they try to get help. Our legislation is very straightforward and simple—if you have been subjected to sexual harassment or discrimination in the workplace, we think you—not the employer—should have the right to choose to go to court. While there are a lot of good companies that take sexual harassment seriously and work to prevent it, this legislation will help root out bad actors by preventing them from sweeping this problem under the rug.”

“No worker should have to put up with such an unfair system,” said Gillibrand.

On hand for the announcement was former Fox News’ host Gretchen Carlson, who sued her former employer and its then CEO Roger Ailes over harassment. (Ailes passed away in May.)

Carlson, who received a $20 million settlement in the case, described forced arbitration as a harasser’s best friend. “It keeps harassment complaints and settlements secret. It allows harassers to stay in their jobs, even as victims are pushed out or fired. It silences other victims who may have stepped forward if they’d known. It’s time we as a nation—together—in bipartisan fashion give a voice back to victims.”

Lawrence Lorber, senior counsel with Seyfarth Shaw in Washington, predicts that the bill, as its currently worded, will likely meet some opposition. Its chances, he adds, would be greatly improved were the wording more targeted to sexual assault and harassment.

“I think the language of the bill goes further than what they intended,” Lorber says. ”What it does is not only preclude arbitration from being applied to sexual-harassment matters, but [from] all contracts of employment.”

Lorber points out that there already exists a model for addressing the legislation’s shortcomings. Ironically, he says, it’s The Franken Amendment, which was part of the Defense Appropriations Act and prevents defense contractors from requiring arbitration in instances arising out of sexual assault and harassment. (Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., who sponsored the amendment, announced last week he would soon be giving up his Senate seat as a result of accusations of sexual misconduct.)

Thanks to The Franken Amendment, Lorber says, there’s already a law that exists for addressing this issue, though “for a much more limited universe.”

Lorber says he wouldn’t be surprised to see a bill addressing this issue become law as soon as early next year.

Healthcare’s Looming Talent Troubles

If you are an HR leader in the healthcare sector, there’s good news and bad news on the jobs front. The good news is the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that healthcare jobs will be among the fastest-growing in the nation by 2026. BLS projects health care will account for about 2.3 million new jobs over the next nine years.  Growth is good.

The bad news? Pinpointing exactly how to fill those jobs won’t be easy, depending on location.

A recent U.S. healthcare labor market analysis from Mercer compares future supply and demand of workers to project workforce availability across 50 healthcare occupations through 2025. According to the report, the projected supply of healthcare workers in several states will fall short of demand.

In terms of category, more than half of the new jobs the BLS forecast – around 1.6 million combined – will come from employment of personal care aides, home health aides and registered nurses, driven by an American population that’s trending older, sicker and more sedentary.

“These high-growth jobs will likely have gaps in demand and supply of workers,” said Jason Narlock, senior consultant, Workforce Strategy and Analytics at Mercer, in a company statement.  “While BLS figures show employment for Home Health Aides is expected to grow forty-seven percent in 2026, our analysis shows that providers might find it tough to fill all these roles – with each state facing a likely gap of 2,000 workers on average by 2025.”

Potential gaps in key worker availability will greatly impact healthcare employers as they consider the future-ready workforce they need to deliver quality patient care, Narlock explains. Mercer recommends employers should:

  • Understand full exposure to potential workforce risks – both external and internal. In addition to considering external labor market risks, employers must also understand the flow of employees in, through and out of its organization for the full picture.
  • Be proactive to mitigate the impact – While employers can’t control what is happening in the external labor market, effectively managing internal labor markets can help mitigate exposure to these risks.
  • Figure out how proposed workforce changes will impact patient health and satisfaction. Before making large investments, employers can use data and analytics to better understand the likely impact of changes on patient metrics.

“The good news is that much of this work relies on data that healthcare systems already collect,” Narlock said. “It’s not a matter of getting new data, but better leveraging data to develop empirical insights that will drive strategic workforce planning and build a future-ready workforce.”

HR’s Top Challenges for 2018

It’s been an eventful year, to say the least.

Mass shootings in Las Vegas, Sullivan Springs, Texas and elsewhere; a botched repeal of the Affordable Care Act and ongoing gridlock in the nation’s capital and, within the last two months, an almost daily drumbeat of sexual harassment allegations against leading figures in the entertainment, media and political realms — hardly any facet of American life was left undisturbed in an unusually eventful year in which it seemed abnormality in all things was “the new normal.”

A new survey from XpertHR  on the top 15 most challenging HR compliance issues for next year reveals that, unsurprisingly, current events are weighing heavily on the minds of HR leaders these days as they look ahead to 2018. Among their most pressing concerns is workplace violence: 45 percent of the 1,000 HR professionals surveyed identified preparing for, or responding to, an active shooter or workplace violence as very or extremely challenging. (In fact, concerns over deadly  workplace violence have given rise to new businesses dedicated to training and preparing employees for how to deal with an active shooter situation).

An emerging, patchwork crazy quilt of state and local regulations on marijuana legalization is also giving employers fits, with 35 percent of survey respondents feeling very or extremely challenged by managing employees who use marijuana medically or recreationally. Meanwhile, 32 percent cited addressing the impact of illicit substance abuse (such as heroin or opioids) in the workplace as very or extremely challenging.

“Just as with alcohol, it is lawful to prohibit an employee from bringing both lawful and unlawful drugs to work and use such substances on the job because of the risks drug use may have on the safety and productivity in the workplace,” says Beth Zoller, XpertHR’s legal editor. “Employers need to stay on top of federal, state and local developments as this is a rapidly evolving and changing issue.”

One of the headline-grabbing developments from earlier this year — the massive data breach that took place at Equifax — is illustrative of another top concern for HR going into 2018: protecting their organizations from cyber theft. Sixty four percent of respondents cited data security and the threat of a cyber breach as very or extremely challenging.

The legislative chaos in Washington is also extending into the workplace, particularly the uncertainty over healthcare reform, with 46 percent of respondents viewing the ACA as very or extremely challenging and 40 percent viewing ACA reporting as very or extremely challenging.

However, there’s an upside for employers now that a politically conservative presidential administration is in place, says Zoller.

“The appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court is sure to have an impact on labor and employment law cases and ensure a conservative majority in favor of employers and management-side issues,” she says. “The rollback of agency authority and more restrictive policies of the National Labor Relations Board and the EEOC will potentially have a positive impact on employers, who may be subject to less regulations.”

Study: Pay Scales Tip Toward Gay Men

happy man with moneyOver the past few years, the world has made some great strides in the acceptance of LGBTQ individuals. Same-sex marriage was legalized in the United States in 2015, same-sex adoption was legalized in all 50 states in 2016 and the transgender military ban was lifted in 2016.

Meanwhile, more than two dozen countries now recognize same-sex marriage, according to the Pew Research Center.

And now new research has revealed that gay men no longer experience a negative pay discrepancy when compared with demographically similar straight men. In fact, gay men appear to have reached a 10-percent earning premium – meaning they earn more than their straight-male counterparts.

The lead researcher for this study, Christopher (Kitt) Carpenter, professor of economics at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., examined available data on self-identified gay men, which is harder than it sounds.

Not only is the overall self-identified LGBTQ population small, approximately 2 percent to 3 percent, but surveys haven’t asked about individual’s sexual orientation until very recently, said Carpenter.

For this study, he examined data from the nationally representative National Health Interview Survey, which began including sexual orientation in its questionnaires in 2013.

“For the past 15 years, I’ve been crunching numbers from every single data set I can find that credibly identifies LGBTQ individuals and their economic details. And for more than 20 years, studies have all concluded that gay men, when compared with straight men who come from similar economic backgrounds, earned approximately 5 to 10 percent less. This is the first study that has shown the opposite may now be true.”

The 10-percent premium surprised Carpenter and his co-author so much that they ran extra tests to determine if this earning premium  was a coincidence.

All previous literature points to gay men earning less. But test after test revealed the same thing: Gay men are earning more than demographically similar straight men.

“This finding has raised more questions than answers,” Carpenter said. “What helped the pay scales tip in favor of gay men – is it new legislation, or perhaps greater acceptance of LGBTQ folks? If this is the case, the implications of this study are to look closely at what is it about the nature of the workplace that has changed. If it’s anti-harassment and discrimination policies that’s great and should certainly be evaluated closer.”

Scholars have long thought that sexual-orientation minorities spend a lot of time and energy closeting themselves, he added. “They spend time worrying about whether their colleagues are wondering about them, or, if outed, will they be fired? This means that LGBTQ folks can’t perform to their full potential. Anti-discrimination and harassment policies are catalysts to change this.  Creating safe spaces for LGBTQ folks to just be themselves will only foster a more productive environment in and out of work.”

Carpenter hopes that these results will compel HR leaders to review and refine their own compensation policies and procedures because there’s still an enormous amount of evidence that points to the nature of discrimination in the workplace.

For instance, a recent study conducted in India found that discrimination against LGBTQ individuals may cost the country an upwards of $32 billion a year in lost economic output. That type of loss certainly isn’t in the best interest of anyone.

Emotional Intelligence in Recruiting

The World Economic Forum predicts that by 2020, emotional intelligence will need to be a Top 10 skill for all workers.

So what does that mean for recruiters?

More than you might think, according to Caroline Stokes, who presented the session “How Emotional Intelligence Can Make You a Better Recruiter” during the Recruiting Trends and Talent Tech conference in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Considering the fact that the U.S. Air Force recently switched to emotionally intelligent recruiters and saved $3 million in operating costs, Stokes says that shows there is a definite bottom-line impact on the organization when choosing emotionally intelligent recruiters over typically trained recruiters.

Stokes is founder and CEO of both her recruiting agency FORWARD  and The Emotionally Intelligent Recruiter, and she has nearly ten years as an executive headhunter and coach, with clients such as Autodesk, Sony, Microsoft, Electronic Arts, Disney and other innovation leaders.

She began by sharing what Facebook’s head of workforce, Ross Sparkman, identified as some attributes of a good recruiter, including:

* The ability to learn from mistakes;

* Continually self-improving;

* Opportunistic and able to move fast; and

* Data/metric driven.

Stokes said that while curiosity is among the most-valuable qualities recruiters can exhibit when interacting with candidates, recruiters may sometimes hold back their questions when meeting a candidate.

“One of the reasons why curiosity isn’t part of our normal makeup is because [recruiters] are supposed to know everything. But we don’t,” she said in a mock whisper, “so don’t worry about it and just be curious.”

Recruiters will continue to be the lynchpin for organizational success even as bots, artificial intelligence and automation increase in usage, she said.

“We need to work in harmony with artificial intelligence,” she said. “Tech cannot replace the human experience. In fact, it’s never been more important to be human.”

Regardless of where technology takes recruiters in the future, one thing won’t ever change, Stokes said.

“The actual skills recruiters need,” she said, ” are to be a good listener and communicator.”

HR: It’s About Quality, Not Quantity

Most organizations are structured along the following lines: On one side you have the competitive differentiators — sales and marketing, product development, customer service. And on the other, you have compliance and cost containment — finance, legal and HR. The competitive-differentiator side tends to get the lion’s share of funding and attention — and that’s the side HR and recruiting needs to be on, said Recruiting Trends & Talent Tech Conference Co-chair Elaine Orler.

“Talent is the only real competitive differentiator,” said Orler, who spoke during a session at the conference on future trends in talent technology. “That’s how we win.”

Too often, HR must scrape and beg for the money for implementing the tools, systems and resources to make talent acquisition faster and more effective, she said. It needs to reorient its mindset away from cost-containment to value-added, and have the confidence — and the data — to successfully present this argument to the C-suite so it can get the resources it needs.

“We need to have those straightforward conversations — that if we only have 30 days to find a candidate, we’re only going to come up with C-players,” she said. “We need to advocate for 40 days, and 20 percent more salary, for example, to fill that position with an A-player.”

Orler, who’s worked as a recruiter and technology consultant for 20 years and is now senior vice president for professional services at Talent Sonar, also discussed her predictions for what we can expect to see in talent acquisition during the next year and beyond. One trend will be “total talent management,” she said, in which organizations will need to take into account the growing number of non-employees who fill critical talent roles. HR needs to take ownership for the contractors, gig workers and temps who fill these jobs and help them develop their careers and skills, even though they’re not full-time employees, she said.

Another development will be the realization that machines are not going to take over after all — but millennials and Gen Z will, and HR needs to help companies adapt to the different way in which the younger generations prefer to interact with their employer, said Orler. “We’ve got five generations in the workforce now — that’s unprecedented,” she said. “We’ve got to address how to manage the mixed workforce, and technology will help us do that.”

Then there’s what Orler refers to as “Suite Play 2.0,” or the growing availability of “plug and play” talent applications enabled by so-called “partner ecosystems,” in which HR tech vendors share their APIs with other pre-approved vendors to make it easier for clients to install new point solutions on their platforms without going through all the implementation and integration headaches of yesteryear, said Orler. “This is going to make things easier and faster,” she said.

Finally, talent acquisition will increasingly be measured by quality, not quantity, she said.

“If I could ask you to do one thing, it would be to refuse to allow TA to be measured by time-to-fill,” Orler told the audience. “Time-to-fill only generates quantity. Measure quality instead — that’s how we can show that we’re on the value-added side of the business, not the cost-containment side.”

‘Listen Up, Hiring Manager’

If you’re a recruiter who feels as though you don’t have the respect of hiring managers, you’re probably not alone.

During a mega-session yesterday titled “Getting Hiring Managers to Focus on Great Recruiting” at Recruiting Trends and Talent Tech event, San Francisco State University Professor John Sullivan said that only one out of three hiring managers think recruiters have a positive impact on their businesses. But he also told those attending that recruiters have a number of options at their disposal for changing that dynamic.

Sullivan said that the best way to get the attention of hiring managers is to approach them with data that matters to them.

Recruiters, he said, shouldn’t waste their time trying to change what hiring managers care about, because they won’t change. Instead, he said, they should focus on what they do care about: money.

“Managers live in a world that’s data driven, but mostly it’s about money,” Sullivan said.

If recruiters want to get through to hiring managers, Sullivan said, they need to be able to explain how what they do impacts each of these four areas: business goals, bonuses, getting promoted and time.

“Don’t bother coming in to talk to hiring managers about diversity or time to hire, because it just glazes them over,” he said. “But if you come in and tell them you can increase their sales by 20 percent, then they will listen to you, instantly.”

Sullivan noted that recruiters have a compelling story to tell. “If you do great recruiting, you can increase revenue by 3.5 times,” he said, adding that leadership development has roughly half that impact.

“Every other manager on the planet measures process effectiveness,” Sullivan said. “But only 33 percent of firms actually measure quality of hire?”

How can recruiters know they are doing a good job if they’re not measuring the right outcomes? he asked.

At the same time, Sullivan said, everyone else in the organization measures failure rates, but not recruiters. (New hires, he said, fail nearly half the time, with a 46 percent churn over an 18 month period.)

Not good, he said.

Sullivan advised those attending to show hiring managers what a weak hire costs their organization. “How much damage can one employee do?” he asked. “A lot. They can cost you 10 times their salary.”

Curing Healthcare’s Hiring Woes

Few sectors exemplify the scope of the challenges facing today’s recruiters better than healthcare.

As iCIMS Chief Economist Josh Wright pointed out during a breakout session titled “Approaching Intensified Competition for Talent in Changing Times” at this week’s Recruiting Trends and Talent Tech event, employers in healthcare continue to struggle in their quest to find and attract the talent that’s needed.

Healthcare, he said, continued to grow even during the most recent economic downturn. “The reason is pretty intuitive,” he explained. “People don’t stop getting sick just because the economy slows down.”

Wright noted that healthcare is becoming a much larger part of the economy and predicted that that trend most likely will continue. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, he said, projects average growth will be 6.5 percent between 2014 and 2024 for all [healthcare] occupations. Technical and support jobs, he added, are positioned to grow the fastest because of today’s aging population (16.4 percent and 23 percent, respectively).

He said that wages are rising, though only modestly. “Most economists are scratching their heads as to why, with unemployment is so low, wages aren’t moving up more aggressively,” he said.

These economic and labor realities, Wright said, are forcing healthcare institutions to revisit and rethink their hiring priorities and practices.

During the breakout session, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Director of Talent Acquisition Kyla Nemitz shared her institution’s story, which includes a major expansion.

Nemitz said that each of new MSK site requires hiring 250 to 300 people. In 2019, she said, the organization plans to open a new center financed by the Koch Brothers that will require the hiring of up to 1,500 people.

Market data shows that patients are at risk if the patient-to-nurse ratio is 4:1 or less, she said. “We have to hire those nurses,” she explained. “They have to be there … .”

To address its staffing challenges, MSK’s talent-acquisition group realized in 2011 that it needed to develop a formal workforce plan. “We knew that we were going to open all these sites and needed a strategic roadmap,” she said.

Nemitz said TA worked closely with finance and strategy planning to make that happen.

MSK has also been able to successfully use market data to drive recruiting efforts, she said, noting that the company uses LinkedIn data to identify what’s happening the market.

In addition, the center has begun to use employee-survey data to help drive its TA strategy, reviewing the data to determine what motivated workers.

In the case of service workers, Nemitz said, respect was a key driver. Based on that insight, she said, MSK began to incorporate that insight into the messaging aimed at those workers, who include security guards and janitors.

Nemitz said that sometimes the best solution can be found internally.

“We were looking at our internal data, as well as the market data, and realized that lab technologists are an aging field,” she said. “The market data showed us that people were not going into these programs and we had a ton of openings.”

So what MSK did, Nemitz said, was spearhead a program of its own called the Lab Scholars Program. “We partnered with a school in the area, sending five to eight of our employees to an 18-month lab technology program,” she said. (The program is now in its third year.)

Roughly 20 lab technologists either have graduated from the program or will be graduating, she said. In order to participate, workers were required to sign a “commitment letter” that requires them to stay with MSK for three to five years.

Through that program, she said, MSK is finally “making a dent” in filling those positions.

 

Financial Issues Worrying Workers

Despite a surging stock market and low unemployment, several years of apparent financial good times for American workers may be heading in the opposite direction, according to a new survey from Willis Towers Watson.

The consulting firm’s biennial 2017 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey found that only 35 percent of nearly 5,000 U.S. employees polled felt satisfied with their financial situation this year. Two years ago, that number clocked in at 48 percent. Also, employees feeling satisfied with their financial situation had been improving steadily since the recession year of 2009, when it bottomed out at just 25 percent reporting being satisfied.

Another survey finding revealed that 34 percent of workers believe their current financial concerns are negatively affecting their lives. Two years ago, only 21 percent felt that way. Finally, 59 percent worry about their future financial state, according to Willis Towers Watson. In the last survey, that number stood at 49 percent.

So what’s going on?

Vincent Antonelli, senior consultant at Willis Towers Watson, said in a release that the “ongoing financial worries that are plaguing so many employees are taking a toll on their financial confidence.” He added that WTW knows from its research that more than half of all workers have experienced a major financial event in the past two years, such as divorce; a significant medical experience; or borrowing money from a friend, family member or payday loan.

“These factors, combined with growing debt and low wage growth, are leading to heightened worker angst,” he said.

As a result, productivity is, in part, bearing the brunt of this emerging trend, according to the research. For example, among “struggling” employees (identified as those worried about their short- and long-term finances; about 30 percent of the employees surveyed identified as “struggling”), about one-third report that “money concerns” were keeping them from doing their best at work. That translates into more absenteeism for those struggling employees.

Stress levels also are rising, as seven in 10 struggling employees reported high (37percent) or above average (33 percent) stress levels.

“Employers understand that financial worries, which are linked to stress, can have a negative impact on their employees’ personal and work lives,” said Shane Bartling, senior consultant at Willis Towers Watson, in the release.

What can employers do? One thing is to offer and promote service providers and technology solutions to employees suffering from personal financial issues, though there is some pushback as to how deep employers can delve into that situation.

While employees are eager for their employers to provide support and technology that deliver valuable guidance and suggestions on retirement and financial decisions, employees are very wary of personalized outreach.

“What’s the nuance? Workers are saying there is a distinct line between personalized tools where the interaction is controlled by the employee and personalized messages that can be unsettling,” he said.