Category Archives: HR Technology Conference

Vendors Analyze New Trends

Two major vendors exhibiting at the 15th annual HR Technology® Conference in Chicago have released new studies that take a close look at some important trends. SilkRoad Technology’s “Social Media and Workplace 2012 Report” pokes a hole in the widespread misimpression that employers are demanding that workers share their social-networking passwords with them: 97 percent of the 1,200 employees surveyed said they hadn’t been asked by their company for their passwords. Guess someone better tell the governors of Maryland and Illinois. The survey also found that employees are checking their mobile devices frequently throughout the workday, with more than 60 percent saying they check their personal social media more than once a day on their mobile devices. And which sites are they checking? Twitter is the most popular social media site accessed at work, at 70 percent, closely followed by Facebook at 65 percent. Only 19 percent use corporate intranets.

ADP’s Research Institute, meanwhile, has come out with a report detailing what’s on the minds of leaders at mid-sized businesses in the U.S. Although 52 percent of respondents believe the economy has improved during the last four years, only 15 percent are extremely or very confident that it will continue improving over the next 12 months. There also appears to be a bit of false confidence at play, with 81 percent of executives and business owners expressing confidence that their organizations are compliant with payroll tax laws and regulations, yet a full third (33 percent) report having incurred fines, penalties and/or lawsuits related to non-compliance.

Finally, 48 percent of respondents are concerned about the quality and skills of the available workforce, yet less than half (49 percent) say they’re confident that they have the tools to find and keep the best talent.

Productive Thoughts on Uncertain Benefits

A reassuring moment occurred at Tuesday’s CHRO panel discussion on “Benefits in a Time of Uncertainty” during the 15th annual HR Technology® Conference in Chicago.

To a person, every panelist — Artell Smith, CHRO at Aon Hewitt; Brian Johnson, executive vice president of HR at Fidelity Investments; Norbert Englert, CHRO at Mercer; Gail McKee, CHRO at Towers Watson; and Tom Maddison, corporate senior vice president and CHRO at Xerox Corp. — agreed their companies would not be casting their employees off, across the board, into healthcare exchanges under the impending healthcare-reform implementation.

And this despite prevailing research showing between 2 percent and 20 percent of employers are expecting to drop employer-sponsored benefits and release their employees to the exchange system come reform-enforcement time, said Mark Stelzner, principal and founder of Inflexion Advisors, and moderator of the HR Technology® Conference session.

Nevertheless, also to a person, panelists shared new strategies and approaches they’re taking to help their workers embrace the coming healthcare-change monsoon.

“My charge,” said Smith, “is to help employees see what they can take charge of in this uncertainty.”

Or, as Maddison agreed, “Uncertainty is an enabler of change.”

All discussed their slow-but-proven successes in consumer-driven-healthcare and health-savings-account initiatives.  They also elaborated on some of the bumps in the roads.

Are employees ready for the added responsibilities in determining their own care, adopting healthier lifestyle choices and taking additional steps to reduce costs?

“Yes,” said McKee, “they are ready to take control of their care. We’re already seeing results in dropped emergency-room visits [and other indicators], but it takes time … and it takes identifying and going after those pockets of resistance [that emerge]. It has to evolve.”

Making the successful transition from top-down to employee-owned healthcare, here and abroad, will also require more energy on the part of employers in setting up action plans for each individual. “We need more energy around the specifics,” said Maddison.

Englert agreed: “The way people decide is usually not as rational as we would like. It’s not easy to get people to really spend the time to manage health and cost consequences. We can’t just say, ‘Here is it, go for it and good luck with it.’ We need to provide guidelines and pointers.”

Johnson concurred as well. “Anything we can do to ensure, simplify, personalize, streamline, use vehicles of education — such as role-modeling — that we’ve never used before,” he said, “we should be doing.”


CedarCrestone Report: PeopleSoft Still Going Strong

CedarCrestone’s Lexy Martin used the 15th annual HR Technology® Conference in Chicago as a backdrop to reveal the results of her firm’s 2012-2013 HR Systems Survey report, the 15th edition of the venerable bellwether of HR technology trends and budgets. This year’s report garnered 71 percent more responses than last year’s report, she said, with 1,246 respondents, 90 percent of them from the United States.

HR tech vendors should be happy to hear that nearly 50 percent of the respondents from large and mid-sized companies said their organizations intend to increase their HRT spending next year, she said, with the two biggest areas of spend expected to be talent management and social media. Spending on workforce analytics and workforce planning applications is expected to grow by 142 percent over the next three years, said Martin, followed by social tools, at 81 percent.

“From a practitioner standpoint, I think you need to be thinking about how to use social tools strategically, rather than just letting people use them at random,” she said.

The number of organizations implementing Software-as-a-Service/Cloud-based systems is expected to grow by 50 percent during the next 12 months, said Martin, while on-premise systems implementations will continue to decline in number. The No. 1 reason cited by respondents for moving to the Cloud is improved user experience for employees, cited by 69 percent of respondents, she said, followed by best-practice functionality at 55 percent. Fifty-two percent cited the reduced need for staff and internal infrastructure as an impetus for moving to the Cloud. The Cloud still causes worry among many HR practitioners, however, with 56 percent indicating concern about integration and 53 percent worried about the inability to customize.

PeopleSoft continues to be the dominant HRMS solution and will keep its dominant position during the next 12 months, said Martin: Thirty percent of respondents use PeopleSoft and that number is expected to decline by only 1 percent over the next year. ADP is second, at 17 percent, declining to 16 percent over the next 12 months. SAP was third at 13 percent and will also decline by 1 percent during the next 12 months. Workday is expected to see the biggest jump by far in the number of implementations over the next 12 months, going from 3 percent today to 10 percent over the next year.

Panel Takes on the Newness and Nebulousness of Collaboration

In rapid-fire — at times, almost dizzying — questions and answers, participants in the HR Technology® Conference’s Third Annual Social Media Panel grappled with what to do with, how to encourage and how to handle today’s also-rapid influx of collaboration tools in the workforce.

Led by moderator Kris Dunn, vice president of HR for Kinetix, the three panelists — Todd Chandler, vice president of learning and performance for Helzberg Diamonds; Ben Brooks, senior vice president and global director of enterprise communications and colleague engagement for Marsh Inc.; and Phoebe Venkat, director of digital and social media communications for ADT Security — fielded questions via Twitter (including the conference’s own HRTechConf group) and the audience that seemed to underscore just how much the corporate-collaboration movement has entered everyone’s lives.

Not to mention how untested and fledgling the movement still is. Perhaps Chandler said it best: “We are just starting this journey.”

How do you create that culture change you need? What’s it going to take in people and resources? How do you incent those ambassadors you find in your workforce to help champion and sell the idea? What should HR’s role be? Who should own it? The questions were perhaps as telling as the answers, indicative of just how vast the social-collaboration frontier is.

Interestingly, more than one panelist bemoaned the fact that HR professionals are not out front as some of the best social-collaboration ambassadors. “They say it’s because they’re told they need to stay removed and keep a screen in place between themselves and their employees,” said Venkat. In other words, there’s a seeming danger for HR in embracing the real-time, interpersonal transparency that collaboration affords.

“This obviously needs to simply evolve as a mind-set,” said Venkat. “It’s truly an issue of gradual trust.” In fact, for her, it has already meant sneaking visits with vice presidents of HR to encourage them to “like” something a daring employee has ventured to share, “to encourage [that employee], but also to spread the word throughout the business that this really is OK.”


Talent Panel: “Let’s Simplify Performance Management”

At technology firm ETS-Lindgren, the annual performance review is a thing of the past, and at Motorola Solutions, it soon will be. “With the annual review, you’re trying to recall conversations and events that happened up to a year earlier,” said Vicki Colaneri, senior director of global workforce technology at Motorola Solutions, which was split off from its larger sibling, handset-maker Motorola Mobility, when the latter was acquired by Google last year. “We want managers and employees to have regular, ongoing conversations about performance, instead.”

Colaneri spoke at the 15th Annual HR Technology® Conference’s Sixth Annual Talent Management Panel, at McCormick Place in Chicago. Also on the panel was David Adrian, senior director of global talent management at WalMart; Dan Guaglianone, global leader of HR operations at Merck; and Heathre Moler, global HR director at ETS-Lindgren. Serving as moderator was Jason Averbook, CEO of consultancy Knowledge Infusion (which was just acquired by global technology-services firm Appirio).

Averbook began the conversation by asking each panelist to describe their current challenges. WalMart’s Adrian said he’s focused on “simplifying and improving” the talent-management tools used by the 2.2 million-employee retailer and helping it build a “deeper bench of executive talent.” “My role right now is mostly about change management,” he said.

Colaneri said Motorola Solutions is “undergoing tremendous change,” transforming itself into a “fast-moving, innovative company.” It’s in the process of transferring over to Workday while standardizing its back-office functions on Six Sigma.

Guaglianone said Merck recently underwent a “big bang” implementation of SAP, having every one of its global locatons going live at once, and is currently focused on deploying succession-planning tools to the workforce at large.

Moler said her company has been using Rypple (now for performance management, having done away with annual performance reviews.

“A lot of companies want to blow up their performance-management process,” said Averbook. “Does doing that start with HR?”

Absolutely not, said Moler. “It starts with a conversation between you and the business leaders–and you can’t use terms like ‘talent profiles’ and ‘talent management’–you have to talk in terms of how it’s going to improve business performance,” she said.

Motorola Solutions is completely redesigning its pay-and-performance processes, doing away with ratings as well as annual reviews, said Colaneri. “We’re making it overt that we disproportionately reward our high performers.”

When asked by an audience how HR can do away with performance ratings yet still capture information pertaining to high vs. low performers, Colaneri replied that Motorola Solutions “is still managing toward objectives. We still identify potential and, if you’re underperforming, we’ll create a performance improvement plan. But performance management is about the dialogue between manager and employee–that’s it. Managers can document these conversations if they want, but it’s not required.”

At ETS-Lindgren, however, managers are still asked to document the regular conversations they’re expected to have with employees about performance, said Moler, so they can “use that information to feed their coaching strategies.”

Rousing Keynote Inspires New Insight into the Future

Tom Koulopoulos delivered a pretty rousing opening keynote to a crowded auditorium at the 15th Annual HR Technology® Conference in Chicago Monday morning.

Fitting that it was a message about breaking new grounds and leading organizations into a whole new future of connectivity, considering the conference itself — a reflection of today’s full-speed-ahead HR technology movement — hit new milestones this year with a record-breaking 6,000 people in its conference community, including a record-breaking 3,500 attendees.

“My premise is you folks are the rock stars of HR,” said Koulopoulos, president and co-founder of the Boston-based innovation consultancy Delphi Group and author of numerous books, including his latest Cloud Surfing: A New Way to Think About Risk, Innovation, Scale and Success. “My premise is you’re the most important people in the world now because you hold the reins of where organizations are going.”

Where that is, he said, is into an uncertain future where technology itself takes second seat to behavior. And it will be the cloud that will “alter the fundamentals of how we manage work and human capital,” and this behavior, he said.

“Our kids are thinking through technology,” as opposed to applying technology to their thoughts and innovations, said Koulopoulos. “Human capital will be defined more through the notion of community and how to manage that community. And your role in HR will be to continue the connections that define that community.”

“Our kids are inhabiting our organizations with the expectation that everything is being personalized for them,” he went on. “If you’re not looking at the way these kids will be expecting this intimate personalization and community … where there will be no need for patents anymore … if you’re not capitalizing on that, then you’re missing out.”

“Your kids will be leading these organizations,” he added. “They deserve it.”