Category Archives: HR technology

News on the M&A Front

Two items of note for HR leaders on the M&A front today: ADP completes its acquisition of Workscape, while one of the legal restrictions possibly hampering the merger of Aon and Hewitt disappears. [Duh: I wrote Workday earlier by mistake.]

 As for ADP/Workscape: Carlos Rodriguez, president of ADP National Account Services and Employer Services International, says the “strategic and cultural fit between ADP and Workscape is compelling, and will be extremely complementary in terms of services.”

 He notes that “an integral part of ADP’s growth strategy is expanding our benefits and talent-management portfolio and the strategic acquisition of a well-established player such as Workscape represents a significant step in that effort.”

 In the Hewitt/Aon merger, the organizations announced that the anti-trust waiting period had expired. The deal is still pending approval by stockholders and foreign regulatory officials. We previously wrote about the merger here.

 UPDATE: Make that three items of note … as Monster completes its acquisition of Yahoo! HotJobs and enters into a three-year agreement to provide career and job content to the Yahoo! home page. 

 

A Goliath Gets Even Bigger

ADP’s recently announced acquisition of Workscape, a provider of compensation-planning tools, will be “hugely disruptive” to the talent management marketplace, says Josh Bersin, CEO of Bersin Associates, who was briefed on the deal by ADP earlier today.

The acquisition will enable ADP, the $9 billion provider of HR, payroll and ben. admin. services to 570,000 clients throughout the U.S. and the world, to offer Workscape’s world-class compensation planning tools to the thousands upon thousands of small-to-medium-sized companies that already use ADP for payroll processing.

ADP already distributes Cornerstone OnDemand’s suite of performance management and succession planning tools. The Workscape acquisition (ADP did not disclose the terms of the deal) will enable the Roseland, N.J.-based behemoth to gobble up an even bigger share of the TM marketplace by reaching out to the vast number of mid-sized firms that are just starting to focus on talent management, he says.

“The compensation-management platform from Workscape is the most sophisticated of its kind out there,” says Bersin. “If ADP is already providing payroll services, not to mention performance management [through Cornerstone] to these companies, and now they can sell comp planning as well, they’re going to have a huge leg up on other TM vendors. ”

ADP may also be able to differentiate itself from other software vendors through its  pricing, says Bersin.

“They get paid by their clients via a monthly charge, on a per-employee, per-check basis,” he says. “My guess is, they’ll embed the Workscape services into that monthly charge, just adding to it slightly, which will enable them to price it in a way that a typical software company could never price it. This will help them gain a lot of market share.”

“The big question is how aggressive ADP will get with it–how well will they train their salesforce and how heavily they’ll promote it,” says Bersin.

“I like to think of ADP as the General Electric of the software industry–they don’t think of it as tools, but as a business,” he adds. “When they buy a company, they look at how rapidly they can integrate it into their sales organization and sell it. I think they’re going to get a lot of traction, and other vendors–especially in the mid-sized market that ADP sells into–they’re going to have to deal with ADP.”

Healthcare Reform via Video

Charleston, S.C.-based Benefitfocus just announced at the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2010 conference a pretty straight and simple way for employees to understand how healthcare reform will affect them — without bugging their HR executives.

It’s called the Healthcare Reform Certification Program, but don’t let the name fool you. It’s more about education than certification — though visitors to the site can actually become “certified” by passing certain quizzes to test the knowledge they just acquired.

In a nutshell, the new offering is a simple collection of bare-bones information and a series of videos, professionally created in the company’s high-definition studio in Charleston, to guide everyone — including those under 30, who are still trying to get their arms around the benefits morass — through HDHCs, HMOs, PPOs, HSAs, FSAs, you name it.

The videos are designed to transform complex concepts into short, easy-to-understand sound bites. Each segment communicates a different provision of the law, using chalkboard animation to bring the legislation to life. Visitors can view the videos as many times as needed.

The Benefitfocus platform is a Software-as-a-Service model, available for a monthly fee to companies; the certification program is free, with no codes or customization work needed. “We’re calling this video-as-a-service,” says Jim Kelly, vice president of employer sales. “It basically answers the ‘What’s in it for me?’ question — ‘What does healthcare reform mean for me?’ We think it changes the game dramatically.”

What if Your Star Talent Came Knocking Today?

Gerry Crispin raised a provocative mind-bender at his Monday session at the SHRM conference in San Diego. “If an exact duplicate of your very best employee was applying right now, what would happen?” said Crispin, principal of CareerXroads and recognized recruiting expert.

“More importantly,” he said, “can you afford not to know?”

The purpose of the session, “Mystery Job Shopping: What Happens When You Apply Online to your Own Firm,” was to get HR professionals thinking — or, rather, rethinking — about how they brand — or rather, fail to brand — their organizations through their recruiting processes.

For instance, he pointed out, most companies won’t accept the risk of following up with candidates who weren’t hired, detailing the reasons they weren’t; in other words, the skills they don’t have yet need for the job. The message this could send about how your company cares, and the propsects it could reap down the road in return candidates would far outmeasure the potential liability of providing that kind of information, he told listeners.

“I guarantee you,” Crispin said, “when those people come back to apply at the point they do qualify, they will turn out to be the best employees you could ever hope to have in that position … because you provided the information they needed.” Getting such a practice past your corporate attorneys, he added, means “building the case that this kind of follow-through will be worth the risk.”

Not only was Crispin touting the merits of becoming far more transparent for online candidates who come knocking at your Web site, he was also promoting “mystery shopping,” or applying through your own recruiting process and those of your competitors.’ How’s your time to apply? Are you asking so many questions that you’re losing top talent because their time is too precious to be “writing a dissertation, answering hundreds of questions” the first time they visit simply to poke around? And how about technology and social networking? Have you embraced that? “Can your competitors’ candidates set up a mobile connection with your recruiters and yours can’t?” he asked.

Crispin also spoke in favor of picturing recruiters and providing simple instructions for constant access to them. “How available is your recruiter?” he said. “You need to think about what you’re doing and how transparent you’re being. You gotta figure smart candidates know how to find your recruiters anyway, through LinkedIn and other modes. If you’re refusing that kind of accessibility, that says something about you, and it isn’t good.”

Your company brand, your commitment to sustainability, your value proposition as to how people should be treated … it’s all in how you present yourself through your online recruiting, Crispin said.

One recruiter in the audience admitted she went through her own system anonymously just to see what experience her department  was providing. “How was it? Crispin asked.

“It was awful,” she said.

Crispin: “I rest my case.”

Disputing the Value of Social Media

Tim Bevins on nGenera’s Wikinomics blog disagrees with Peter Cappelli’s recent HREOnline™ column on the Promises and Limitations of Social Media, in which Cappelli concludes that social media will eventually be used mostly by the recruiting and sales functions, where networking is most important.

Bevins ofters some good counter-arguments to each of Cappelli’s points — which is probably not too surprising since nGenera Insight is headed by Don Tapscott, who told an enthusiastic audience at the HR Technology® Conference last year that social media is the new operating systems of corporations.

But I don’t see this disconnect ending any time soon. Evangelists for social media will continue to praise it, use it and profit from it, while many — and maybe even most — business leaders will remain wary.

It takes time to explore the opportunities of social media, to learn it and leverage it. And with time at a premium, there are only so many senior-level executives who are going to make that effort — or allow their workforce to do so when the risks of doing so remain a valid concern.

They may stick their toe in the water here and there, but until the next generation takes control (a generation that grew up using it), I think such use will remain mostly a curiosity instead of a crucial part of corporate strategy.

Three Tips

Very active in the online world herself, Sue Marks, CEO of Pinstripe, a Brookfield, Wisc.-based recruitment-process outsourcer, offers her own three pithy tips for any executives who want to create social-media policies for employees.

During her session at the Social Media Plus conference in Philadelphia on Tuesday, she said:

* Don’t say anything stupid.

* Be nice.

* Don’t give out any company secrets.

Simple and succinct. And even better, employees will actually read the memo — as opposed to the two pages of legalese your corporate counsel may want to use instead.

Getting Stricter

Companies are tightening their grip on the way employees use social-networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Contrary to the views expressed by experts during the Human Resource Executive Forum®, “Tear Down that Firewall,” chief information officers surveyed by Robert Half Technology finds that CIOs are getting more strict in their IT policies related to personal use of social networking (23 percent) and business use (15 percent).

More than half (55 percent) said there were no changes, while 10 percent were becoming more lenient with business use of such technology and 7 percent more lenient with respect to personal use.