Category Archives: workforce planning

Temp Jobs: 3 Million and Counting

New research from CareerBuilder and Emsi (Economic Modeling Specialist Intl.) shows more companies will be tapping into the temporary labor segment of the labor pool, with temporary employment expected to add 173,478 jobs from 2016 to 2018 – an increase of 5.9 percent.

The analysis was reportedly based on data pulled from more 100 national and state employment resources.

“Today, nearly 3 million people are employed in temporary jobs, and that number will continue to grow at a healthy pace over the next few years as companies strive to keep agile in the midst of changing market needs,” said Kyle Braun, President of CareerBuilder’s Staffing and Recruiting Group:

“Opportunities are opening up in a variety of occupations and pay levels, and this is a trend we’re seeing in a wide range of industries and company sizes.”

Click here to see CareerBuilder’s list of fast-growing occupations for temporary employment from 2016 to 2018.

To further bolster the claim that temp jobs are here to stay, in a Harris Poll study commissioned by CareerBuilder and completed in December 2015, 47 percent of employers reported that they plan to hire temporary or contract workers in 2016, up slightly from 46 percent last year. Of these employers, more than half (58 percent) plan to transition some temporary or contract workers into full-time, permanent roles.

“Temporary employment benefits both sides of the labor market. Hiring temporary and contract workers helps companies stay flexible and adapt quickly to changing market demands,” Braun said. “For workers, it opens doors for those who want to utilize various skills, build relationships with different organizations and explore career options.”

More proof that temporary jobs are now a permanent fixture in the labor landscape. Is your organization ready to embrace the temp trend?

What Happens When Robots Get All the Jobs?

Fans of the show South Park know the episode where the angry townspeople chant “Dem robots took our jobs! Took err jerbs!” But regardless of whether you call it a job or a jerb, the anxiety over losing one’s livelihood someday to automation of one sort or another is very real. Nearly half of today’s U.S. workers are at risk of losing their jobs to a robot or software within the next 20 years, according to a 2013 study by researchers at the University of Oxford. It’s not just truck drivers and factory workers who are at risk: About one-third of 1,700 managers fear being replaced by “intelligent machines,” finds an Accenture  study titled Managers and Machines, Unite!

Robot typing on keyboard
Journalists could certainly be replaced by robots …

Pundits say, not to fear: The rise of the robots will lead to other jobs opening up in areas we haven’t even thought of today. But what if they’re wrong? Automation could well lead to massive numbers of people with no employment opportunities, with societal upheaval sure to follow. Avoiding scenarios like that may require “universal basic income,” writes New York Times technology columnist Farhad Manjoo.

With UBI, people would receive a check from the government each month to cover their basic living expenses. The theory is that “machine intelligence will produce so much economic surplus that we could collectively afford to liberate much of humanity from both labor and suffering,” writes Manjoo.

It’s not just Bernie Sanders supporters who may find this appealing: The idea has support among some conservative economists as well, he notes.  Y Combinator, a Silicon Valley tech incubator, plans to spend “tens of millions” of dollars on research examining what life might be like under U.B.I. What would people do — would they become more entrepreneurial, would they goof off, pursue meaningful activities? How would it affect people if their ability to sustain themselves was no longer tied to having a job?

Albert Wenger, a venture capitalist and a proponent of U.B.I., told Manjoo that U.B.I. could usher in the possibility of people accomplishing even greater things than we can currently imagine today.:

I think it’s a bad use of a human to spend 20 years of their life driving a truck back and forth across the United States. That’s not what we aspire to do as humans — it’s a bad use of a human brain — and automation and basic income is a development that will free us to do lots of incredible things that are more aligned with what it means to be human.

 

BJ’s Gets Boost to Promote from Within

Jeannine Loy, director of talent development at BJ’s Restaurants, took the podium Monday at the 18th Annual HR Technology Conference and Exposition® to tell her story of the Huntington ThinkstockPhotos-479406580Beach, Calif.-based restaurant chain’s mission to maintain a culture of promoting from within, no matter what.

Paired with Kirsten Helvey, senior vice president of client success at Cornerstone OnDemand, it was a story of retooling and rebooting several years ago — with Cornerstone’s help, of course — to ensure such a commitment to internal promotions could support and sustain a trajectory of growth that’s gone from a small one-room pizzeria in Santa Ana, Calif., in 1978 to 159 restaurants across the United States today.

“I’m really proud we’ve been able to promote this culture,” Loy told listeners at the session, titled Driving Talent Retention With Succession and Internal Mobility at BJ’s Restaurants. “We even call our corporate office the ‘Restaurant Career Center.’ We take team members’ individual success and growth very seriously.

“We want everyone to learn and improve and develop who they want to be, and how they want to get there, for their careers, not just for BJ’s,” she said. “A lot of people at BJ’s in management and senior management started as hourly workers. This is the story we’re especially proud of.”

The problem was, several years ago, the company was still handling the tracking of employees very manually, with Excel spreadsheets, for the most part. Managers couldn’t get real-time access to data on their employees fast enough to make the decisions they had to make to send worthy candidates up the ladder and “back-fill” the old positions, Loy said.

Now, using Cornerstone’s learning, connecting, performance and succession systems, the company has enabled managers — and managers’ managers — to see, in real time, who should be next in line; how much each and every team member has completed in necessary compliance, and learning and development work; what their career preferences are; who’s a low performer with high potential; and who’s a flight risk.

“We have talent visibility at each level for every position now,” Loy said. “You have no idea how much this has boosted our engagement numbers as well. People now know their successes are visible to top leadership. That is huge.”

And instead of being behind the eight-ball, she added, “we already have people in mind for succession and for back-filling those positions left vacant into Q3 and Q4 of next year.”

Report: HR Really Is Becoming More Strategic

Back view of businessman
Back view of businessman

We’ve all been hearing and talking about HR professionals becoming better strategic leaders and business partners for years, so there’s no real surprise here.

But in this report from the Cranfield Network on International Human Resource management, in collaboration with the Society for Human Resource Management and the Center for International HR Studies in the School of Labor Employment Relations at Penn State University, we do have new numbers. And they’re worth noting.

The report, Human Resource Management Policies and Practices in the United States, outlines the results of a survey of almost 700 senior-level HR practitioners in organizations with 200 or more employees.

It finds HR is more often on an organization’s board of directors or executive team and taking sole responsibility for major policy decisions than in years past.

Specifically, in terms of leadership, 70 percent of responding organizations said HR has a place on the board now, compared to 63 percent in 2009 and 41 percent in 2004. Also, two-thirds of responding organizations (66 percent) said they have a written HR-management strategy. As the report states:

“The HR department appears to be moving away from working jointly with line management in terms of where the responsibility lies for major policy decisions across a whole range of HRM activities such as pay and benefits, recruitment and selection, training and development, industrial relations and workforce expansion/reduction.

“In most cases, there has been an increase in either the HR department taking sole responsibility for these activities or line management taking responsibility (but at a much lower absolute level), with a concurrent reduction in the number of cases where both parties collaborated on the activity led either by HR or by line management. On average, line management is most active in the area of training and development, and least active in establishing pay and benefits policies.

“This trend implies that HR and line management roles may be becoming institutionalized, with each party focusing on its own responsibilities. The increasing regulatory environment may be playing a part here, with firms needing clear guidelines around responsibilities to ensure compliance with regulations and standards.”

This last sentence certainly underscores what we’ve been hearing lately as well!

The report also confirms the use of technology as a foundation for increased strategic HR leadership, with 83 percent of organizations using HR-information systems or electronic HR-management systems and 67 percent using employee self-service options.

Interestingly, according to the report, HR departments remain involved in the development of business strategy, either from the outset or through consultation, although their involvement has declined slightly (ranging from 80 percent in 2004 to 78 percent in 2009 to 76 percent in 2014/15).

Also, interestingly (and it’s hard to pinpoint what’s behind this), there was a decrease in the percentage of HR departments not consulted when the organization was going through a merger, relocation or acquisition between 2004 and 2009 (8 percent in 2004 and 4 percent in 2009); however, in 2014/15 the percentage returned to 9 percent, a level similar to that reported in 2004.

On a more positive note, though, the report states …

” … more than one half of HR departments report that they are consulted from the outset in such situations, which has remained stable since 2004 at 54 percent to 61 percent (depending on the type of organizational change), an indication that HR continues to be involved in processes vital to the success of organizations.”

 

A Coalition to Put Youth to Work

According to recent Pew Research Center statistics, more than one quarter of America’s nearly 8 million unemployed individuals are between the ages of 16 and 24.

Tomorrow, more than two dozen big-name U.S.-based employers will be in Chicago to launch an initiative that has designs on helping thousands of these out-of-school and out-of-work young adults find jobs.

The Opportunity Fair & Forum—starting at 8 a.m. at McCormick Place Convention Center and featuring a performance by hip-hop artist, actor and Chicago native Common—will kick off the 100,000 Opportunities program, a Starbucks-led alliance that seeks to “jump start the future” of young Americans who are neither in school nor employed, according to USA Today.

In addition to the Seattle-based specialty coffee retailer, nearly 30 other companies—including Chipotle Mexican Grill, CVS Health, Microsoft and Target—are expected to be on hand at the day-long resource and job fair. They will be joined by more than 3,000 young Chicagoans and their families for a variety of interactive experiences as well as workshops, college counseling, skill-development activities and other events.

Employers participating in tomorrow’s forum are expected to make hundreds of on-the-spot job offers to attendees, which would be quite an auspicious start for the month-old endeavor.

Spearheaded by Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz—who earlier this year pledged to hire 10,000 young, low-income individuals to work at Starbucks by the end of 2018—the coalition currently counts 29 companies as members. That number includes a dozen organizations—FedEx, Hyatt, Nordstrom, Pizza Hut and T-Mobile, for example—that just signed on last week.

Faced with a recovering labor market and a subsequently smaller pool of job candidates, these employers certainly have good, practical reasons to get on board.

The aforementioned USA Today piece points out as much.

“As the unemployment rate has dipped, the pool of workers available for entry-level jobs has shrunk,” the paper notes. “And for many companies that want to expand their footprint in urban markets, engaging disconnected youth, who are disproportionately African-American and Latino, makes business sense.”

True enough. But making business sense isn’t the only reason why 100,000 Opportunities came to be, says Sheri Schultz, wife of the Starbucks CEO and co-founder of the Schultz Family Foundation, which describes itself as “a launchpad for young adults in transition.”

“We know that this is a complex issue, and we need all of our collective horsepower to solve it,” Schultz told USA Today. “For too long, it’s been the non-profit and public sectors tackling this issue, without meaningful involvement from the private sector.”

The program certainly has ambitious goals. And even if 100,000 Opportunities doesn’t hit its target of creating 100,000 jobs for unemployed youth by the end of 2018, it’s hard to envision a scenario in which the participating companies—and scores of young job seekers—don’t benefit from its existence.

A Goodbye to Bosses at Zappos

manager exitIn a matter of days, Zappos will officially say so long to hierarchy, and say hello to Holacracy.

As of April 30, “people managers” will be a thing of the past for the Las Vegas-based online shoe and clothing retailer, according to a recent memo sent from CEO Tony Hsieh to all Zappos employees.

In that same memo, Hsieh outlines the Holacracy system, which he says removes traditional managerial pecking orders, allowing employees to self-organize “to complete work in a way that increases productivity, fosters innovation and empowers anyone in the company with the ability to make decisions that push the company forward.”

Hsieh also lamented not making “fast enough progress toward self-management, self-organization and more efficient structures to run our business,” announcing that Zappos would be taking a “rip the Band-Aid approach” to accelerating the full implementation of Holacracy, a concept the company first adopted in 2013.

Over the next few months, Hsieh plans to minimize service provider groups and lean more toward creating “self-organizing and self-managing business-centric groups,” and will begin the process of breaking down the organization’s silo-like structure of merchandising, finance, marketing and other functions.

All that said, the company will still have room for those who are giving up their manager positions, says Hsieh, who acknowledged the “absolutely necessary and valuable” role these leaders have played in aiding Zappos’ growth to this point.

He also expressed his eagerness to see “what new exciting contributions will come from the employees who were previously managers,” noting that these soon-to-be former supervisors will have opportunities to find new roles within Zappos “that might be a good match for their passions, skills and experience.”

In addition, all former managers who remain in good standing will keep their salaries through the end of 2015, “even though their day-to-day work that formerly involved more traditional management will need to change,” according to the memo.

It’s fair to say that adopting this kind of model is unorthodox. But it becomes a much less unusual move when you consider who’s making it.

This is, after all, the same organization that eliminated traditional online job postings and created Zappos Insiders, a social network where job seekers can sign up to schmooze with the company’s employees, participate in contests and chat directly with recruiters.

And, Zappos has famously offered workers financial incentives to leave the company, as a way to ferret out those who were sticking around strictly for the paycheck.

While Hsieh and Zappos have often been lauded for flouting the conventional, other firms have largely avoided following the company out on such limbs.

The Holacracy concept does have its proponents, however, with Twitter co-founder Evan Williams implementing the system at his new company, Medium, for instance. Whole Foods CEO John Mackey did the same at non-profit Conscious Capitalism Inc.

It’s not easy to envision that list getting significantly longer anytime soon. But, as was the case with telecommuting, dress-down Fridays and every other workplace development that once seemed like a radical idea, someone had to be the first to try it.

Layoffs or No Layoffs, Employees Come First

Whatever side of the layoff story you find yourself on — now or in the 187065451 -- layoffsfuture, conducting them or avoiding them at all costs — don’t ever lose sight of your employees’ experiences.

That seems to be the collective message of two articles I came across recently, written on the same day, no less. One, from the Harvard Business Review site, written by the chief executive officer of Scripps Health, Chris Van Gorder, trumpets that company’s no-layoffs policy.

The other, from the Society for Human Resource Management site (registration required), details Target Canada’s recent “unprecedented” move to offer a $70 million severance package to the some 17,600 employees who are slated to be laid off by mid-year 2015 as the company exits the Canadian retail market.

A more recent HREOnline news analysis by Senior Editor Andrew R. McIlvaine, “Cushioning the Blow,” highlights the merits of giving severance to everyone. In that story, Sanjay Sathe, founder and CEO of San Jose, Calif.-based outplacement consultancy RiseSmart, is quoted saying that, “if the No. 1 goal of severance is to take care of employees, then the practice should be to offer it to all employees.”

Without a doubt, taking care of employees is at the heart of both the Target and Scripps Health examples mentioned above.

As Brian Cornell — CEO and chairman of Target’s U.S. parent company, Target Corp. — says in a statement:

“We do not take lightly the impact that our decision to discontinue operations in Canada will have on Target Canada’s team members who have worked tirelessly to make improvements to the guest experience. That is why we took the unique step of establishing the employee trust.”

More specifically, that’s why his company has set up a trust fund for employees to receive 16 weeks of pay, an amount that will be kept separate from Target’s restructuring process. Lisa Stam, a partner at Koldorf Stam in Toronto, calls the severance amount “unprecedented.”

Anil Verma, director of the Centre for Industrial Relations and a professor of human resource management at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, tells SHRM it’s “unusual” for a company to protect its employees with a trust fund. In his words:

“[Laid-off employees] will also accrue certain benefits, such as medical and life insurance. This act demonstrates that Target is a good employer.”

In defending his decision to establish a no-layoff policy, which “isn’t the norm in my [nonprofit] industry,” Van Gorder shares his belief that “a no-layoffs philosophy is good for employees’ physical and psychological health.” As he puts it:

“I’ve seen what it’s like to carry out mass layoffs — I had to do that in the 1990s at a hospital that was in bad financial shape. I vowed never to let myself get into that position again. Instead, nonprofits need to match institutional discipline with authentic good will toward employees, developing effective employee-assistance and wellness programs and eliminating anxiety about job security.

“Who knows? If enough nonprofits master this balancing act, then maybe we can teach the for-profit world something for a change. … In today’s economy, organizations are supposed to treat employees almost as free agents, with low expectations of loyalty on either side. … But paternalism works — even in the 21st century, and even in an industry undergoing disruption.”

Just some food for thought, I thought.

Gazing Into the Crystal Ball

As 2014 draws to a close, folks — as you might expect — now have their eyes set on 2015, and are figuring out what might be in store for their organizations as far as HR and the workplace are concerned. For this final post of the year, I did a quick search of the web to see what  people are predicting for next year. For your reading pleasure, here are a few of the things I stumbled upon. (Feel free, of course, to click on any of the links to see the sources’ full list of predictions.)

159188661Establishing a “chief of work.” Peter Andrew, workplace strategy director for Asia at real-estate company CBRE, predicts in Fortune the addition of a new position: chief of work. Most C-suites have not added new roles since the chief-information-officer title took hold about 20 years ago, but CBRE’s research suggests that’s about to change. For one thing, Andrew writes, companies today have human resources, IT and real-estate all acting separately and, often, unwittingly working against each other. He suggests that a chief of work would coordinate all that, with an eye toward building a culture that attracts top talent. Finding the most efficient balance between full-time employees and a growing army of independent contractors, he adds, will also be in that individual’s wheelhouse.

The rise of mobile assessments. From website CPA Practice Advisor: Mobile assessments will be increasingly tapped for selection, performance management, and training and development decisions. Technology, including social media and social collaboration, is changing the science and practice of selection, recruitment, performance management, engagement and learning, the article says. And I-O psychologists, it continues, will work to design assessments that are valid and reliable, regardless of how and where they are delivered.

Every child born in the next 12 months will learn coding as a core subject. Increasingly, Samsung writes, governments are recognizing that computer literacy is a fundamental, basic skill and are incorporate coding into their curriculums. For example, the UK, it says, launched a new computing curriculum during the current academic year, in which children as young as five are taught programming skills. In 2015 and beyond, Samsung predicts, such education innovations will gradually become the norm, with businesses, educators and governments working together to raise skills across Europe. Longer-term, it says, this trend will help spur the use of internships, as businesses recognize that they can benefit from welcoming young, computer-literate people into their organizations. “The need for employees to be computer literate,” Samsung says, will result in a wave of coding schools that will help longtime employees learn coding quickly.

Honesty will become a revered leadership trait. In a Forbes article, contributor Dan Schawbel predicts that “companies are going to start embracing transparency more next year as younger generations are demanding it.” Leaders, Schawbel writes, won’t just have to be good at inspiring and educating; they will have to be able to instill trust through honesty. “It’s only natural that people would want to work under leaders who are open about what the company is doing [and] where it’s heading in the future, and give honest feedback regularly,” he writes.

Niche becomes the norm. Korn Ferry’s Futurestep unit predicts “niche will become the norm” in talent acquisition.Now that organizations grasp the power of data,” Futurestep says, “next year, the challenge will be to prove ROI on all activities using analytics.” Organizations, it notes, need to be clear on the touch points that fit best with the types of candidates they are looking to attract. To that end, it says, interest and demand in creating functional talent communities is becoming top of mind as businesses strive to target hard to reach groups.

“Niche talent requires niche strategies,” says Chong Ng, president of Futurestep’s Asia- Pacific operation. “Whether it is businesses seeking high-demand talent such as STEM candidates, or organizations located in high-potential growth locations looking to specifically attract local talent back in the country, employers need to be more sophisticated in their attraction and retention methodologies in order to find and keep candidates.”

Companies will set new hiring priorities. Website Customer Think predicts employers will pay a lot closer attention to soft skills in 2015. “In the past,” writes Marcelo Brahimllari, “candidates were hired for open positions based primarily on their skills and experience. The ability to ‘do the work’ was traditionally valued over other skills.” But with more competition for jobs and deeper talent pools today, Brahimllari says, many employers are considering candidates’ so-called “soft” skills just as much, if not more, than education and experience. Employers, he writes, want to hire applicants who fit with the culture of the organization and share in its values. Traits such as honesty, flexibility, positive mind-set, creativity and leadership skills, he says, are being looked upon as being just as important as the ability to crunch numbers or write code.

Look forward to seeing you back here in 2015! Happy New Year!

Introducing: Retail Robots

The retail world is going robotic, according to the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.):

Lowes Cos. is introducing robotic shopping assistants at an Orchard Supply Hardware store in San Jose, Calif., in late November. Lowe’s, which acquired Orchard Supply last year, says this is the first retail robot of its kind in the U.S.

The “OSHbot” will greet customers, ask if they need help and guide them through the store to the product, according to the report. The 5-foot-tall white robot also reportedly houses two large rectangular screens—in both the front and back—to enable video conferences with a store expert and to display in-store specials.

The robot’s head features a 3-D scanner to help customers identify items and OSHbot speaks English and Spanish, but other languages will be added.

OSHbot , the WSJ story notes, was co-created by Lowe’s and startup Fellow Robots, but the companies declined to disclose how much it cost to produce.

But while cost continues to be a hurdle to the creation and implementation of more robots in our realm, as the technology matures and becomes more affordable, experts say, more robots will begin to appear not only in retail, but restaurants and other kinds of businesses as well. Indeed, just a few months back, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. introduced a room-service robot at its Aloft hotel in Cupertino, Calif.

“I think we’re going to see a rush of companies wanting to be the first [in their industry] to have robots,” said Andra Keay, managing director of Silicon Valley Robotics, an industry trade association, told the WSJ.

So far, though, there’s been no word on whether the robot’s human coworkers will invite it to sit with them on lunch breaks.

New ADP Index to Focus on ‘Vitality’

ADPPayroll-services provider ADP, which currently puts out a monthly employment report based on its massive trove of payroll data, announced today that it plans to start providing a quarterly workforce index that will offer “deep insights into U.S. workforce dynamics. The first index will be released next month, says ADP. Data from the new index will form the basis of a high-level panel discussion at the HR Tech Conference on October 9 in Las Vegas. David Gergen, senior political analyst for CNN, will chair a panel entitled “Workforce 2020: How Data and Analytics Will Shape the Workplace” that will discuss the implications of data analysis and the workforce from an economic, academic and talent management perspective.

“The U.S. labor market is as dynamic and complex as it has ever been, and this new index will help uncover key factors driving workforce trends,” said ADP president and CEO Carlos Rodriguez in a statement. “The index will provide a clearer picture of the vitality of today’s workforce.”

The new index is intended to answer “critical questions” about the state of the U.S. workforce, according to ADP, such as: How is the workforce thriving as a whole? How do major regions and large states compare? Which industries are doing well? What are the wage trends? What roles do age and gender play?

The index will measure quarterly changes in metrics such as employment growth, wage growth, job turnover and hours worked, says ADP. The index will be compiled by the company’s ADP Research Institute, which also puts out the monthly employment report, and will be derived from its warehouse of 24 million aggregated payroll data sets from companies of all sizes. ADP will collaborate with Moody’s Analytics Inc. on the quarterly report.