Workforce Surveys

Around three months ago I had my regular catch-up with my manager on performance objectives. Shortly afterwards I shared a less formal version of this meeting with my CEO who keeps in personal touch with each individual employee. On both these occasions I offered that I love what I do but I was looking for a new challenge within the company.

Now some three short months later all staff received news that has literally handed me my request on a plate. Infohrm will be acquired by SuccessFactors and the deal will settle in the third quarter of 2010.

It seems that if you hanker after something you might just receive it.

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The subtle conspiracy against social media

Posted on 15. April 2010 by HumanRaceHorses

”Social media – Them’s fightin words around these parts!”

I hear the words “social media” discussed so much anymore that I am starting to fear the backlash of overhype at a time when people in the HR profession can ill afford for that happen.   It would make it for another far too easy excuse for many HR professionals to throw out as their response as to why they can’t /won’t / don’t do much with social media.   Sad, but true.

So, what am I doing today?   I’m gonna discuss social media some more.

I want to broach a topic that I have discussed at length with a few people.   I am not going to share details, but do want to raise the issue at a high level for your consideration, and to prompt some discussion.  If what I am about to describe occurs within the HR profession, it certainly takes place in other functional areas as well.


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I Want To Be An American Idiot

Posted on 15. April 2010 by Trish MacFarlane

I’m in NYC this week for the Conference Board’s ‘Social Media Meetup’.  I’ve been getting some great ideas and insight from this conference and The Conference Board did a good job pulling together real-life case studies of companies who are “getting it” when it comes to social media.  I’ll write about some of the key learning and take-aways soon.  In the meantime, I have to tell you about something else I experienced in NYC that captured what social media can mean to you.

What is social media really for?

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In the age of Social Media Employees & Customers

Posted on 15. April 2010 by Gautam Ghosh

Shiv Singh posts at his blog :Owning the Brand. Employees & Customers. This reminds me of the two blog posts I had made earlier on how your employees are the “new” media (think social) and are the new marketers for your firm.

If you understand them in this context. Else they will be “unused assets” :-)


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OMG!  Unlocked Douchebag badge on @foursquare ...

The Tampa Bay area is not generally regarded as a leading hot bed for Internet business or techie innovation, but right now one simple but great idea is gaining global attention for one Tampa Bay small business owner dedicated to using the power of social networking to build his business.

Profiled in numerous places recently,  Nathan Bonilla-Warford (@NateBW on Twitter) is the owner of  Bright Eyes Family Vision Care in Westchase.  According to published reports, Bonilla-Warford was a geek of sorts in college, who is currently fascinated with a  social media tool called Foursquare.


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We’re Going to Turn This Team Around 360 Degrees

Posted on 17. February 2010 by mick

Every so often, I come across sports-related phrases that make me pause to say..“huh?” This is certainly the case for those related to measurement. In a moment of light-heartedness, I thought I’d take a moment to share some oddities with you; please feel free to suggest your own.

1. When asked how much effort they put into a particular activity, an athlete replies “I gave 120%”. While physically possible to give more than whole, mathematically it seems infeasible.

2. Related to this is the answer of “11” (thereby indicating a superlative) when asked “On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate that game?” Would answering “10” failed to properly convey the game’s excellence?

3. When it comes to length, many such measures are depicted in terms of the “number of football fields”. Similar to TV commercials for fitness equipment (which must always have two requisites – you can use it to exercise in front of the TV and it must fit under the bed for storage), length and distance must be convertible to football fields in order to appeal to our practical thought patterns. For example, the Titanic was 882 feet in length. Which doesn’t seem that long until you find out that 882 feet is the approximate equivalent of 3 football fields. Now I get it. Wow, that’s pretty long.

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Risky Business

Posted on 17. February 2010 by mick

As an Operations Team Leader, one of the questions I get asked most frequently is why an issue arose in spite of a rigorous, dedicated Quality Assurance (QA) process.  Quality Assurance is reviewed regularly at Infohrm and sometimes the obvious conclusion is that a more comprehensive QA checklist is needed.  More often though, the issue is not the QA process itself; rather, it is a case of the QA-er missing the signs.  Signs that, in hindsight, can seem as obvious as walking into an abandoned house, in the middle of the woods, late at night, with spooky music building to a crescendo in the background.  The probability is high you are going to stumble into a room with a saw wielding psychopath.  In moments of weakness, I am very tempted to imagine how a less than diligent QA-er might respond.  ‘Oh, I didn’t expect you to be here.  Are you going to cut off my limbs now?  Okay, I’d prefer if you could start with the left side as I am right handed’.   Such is the outcome of their seeming passivity to performing the designated QA checks.

It should be noted though, that this response would be completely a-typical of any Infohrm employee; and particularly uncharacteristic for people that are hired into the Operations team.  Characteristics like intelligence, perfectionism, consideration and just a touch of pedantic-ness.  In other words, people that I would trust with my iTunes library (it must be neat) and you should trust with your data.

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In the spirit of forecasting, and taking a cue from colleagues, I’d like to offer some thoughts on what will happen with Strategic Workforce Planning (SWFP) in 2010.  There’s good reason for me to be confident to prognosticate, but if these predictions miss the mark, I’ll borrow a policy from TMQ, a favorite sportswriter of mine: “All predictions wrong or your money back.”

SWFP is going to be a big deal for more organizations, and more HR groups will get involved.  Why?  Libby Sartain, former HR chief at Yahoo and Southwest Airlines, on Workforce identified Strategic Workforce Planning as the biggest opportunity for HR in 2010.  As well, the Infohrm Global Workforce Planning Survey shows that the percentage of respondents that conduct SWFP grew by a 20% rate from 2008 to 2009, which should continue into this year.  Furthermore, despite the tremendously difficult economic conditions, more organizations indicated that they are going to increase their level of investment in SWFP in 2010.  If that doesn’t prove the point, look at the vast array of knowledge published lately that highlights executive thinking around making workforce reductions more strategically focused.  That’s the strongest recent business case for SWFP: proactive talent alignment and workforce flexibility minimizes the risk of workforce reductions hurting a firm’s strategic position.  The recommendation here is to start Workforce Planning (for a longer forecast than two years) if you’re not already doing it.

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Anybody who has attempted to embed strategic workforce planning (SWFP) into their business planning processes will attest that it can be an uphill battle at times.  I recently saw an organisation make great strides with SWFP only for the process to be somewhat de-prioritised before its roots took hold and the true benefits were realised.  This is not to say the WFP team failed to create a burning platform, didn’t attempt to embed the process, or did a generally poor job.  The business planning and HR departments still saw tremendous value in SWFP, but found themselves perpetually fire fighting and decided their resources were better allocated to more operationally focussed initiatives in the short term.  If this scenario rings a bell, here are a few tips to make sure you are prepared when your organisation is ready to re-focus on tomorrow:

1)  Refine operational reporting and planning – In order to be successful with SWFP, the business must trust your workforce data and planning processes.  You can use this SWFP downtime to build or further solidify that trust by supporting the business with their operational reporting and planning needs.

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Project Commitment

Posted on 17. February 2010 by mick

I have seen many project managers with all the best intentions of meeting project objectives and delivering on time… Until they begin to meet roadblocks with people.

Generally, across the life of a project, a project manager deals with various stakeholders. Each stakeholder group has varying levels of engagement, generally motivated by the nature of their involvement in the project. For some stakeholders, this may be a chance for them to provide guidance in relation to business strategy, for others this may be a chance for them to show their boss that they can cope with additional responsibility. These variables can make it difficult to use a standard approach to stakeholder engagement when managing projects.

We all know that at the beginning of a project it is essential to plan. This includes planning everything from schedules and scoping through to resources. An essential element of planning is to work out how you are going to engage stakeholders. The most overlooked step in this process is assessing individual’s motivation towards the project and implementing strategies to manage each stakeholder. Unfortunately, there is no amount of preparation that can remove that one stakeholder who actively resists the project, but there are a few of steps that can be taken to help achieve a smoother project.

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Human Capital Measurement Predictions for 2010

Posted on 17. February 2010 by mick

Following the lead of George Sandford at Praski Publishing, who offers his own blog of HR predictions for 2010, I thought I’d share 5 of my own thoughts (I don’t have many more to give away!) on where human capital measurement/metrics/analytics/planning is heading in 2010. Would love to read feedback on these*:

1. Headcount lists will finally be replaced with strategic reports that managers actually use. We’ll know that they do by using feedback loops to gauge the “actionability” of each report.

2. All-encompassing workforce scorecards will focus more on the “wow” factor – what can we teach a senior executive about our employees that they did not previously know? – and less on measuring everything under the sun.

3. The story will become as important as the data.

4. We’ll identify the  2010 version of the Sears’ Employee-Customer-Profit chain, a landmark model linking workforce and financial metrics. What’s the next great breakthrough in human capital measurement frameworks? (Infohrm certainly has some ideas…)

5. And finally, we’ll see human capital data become a more integral part of public companies’ external reporting activities. Analyst call comments along the lines of “We just need to hire more sales staff” will be replaced by “Our data analysis indicates that sales staff with X skills, from Y source, and having gone through Z training modules are 32% more productive than their peers. As such, we are putting a premium on building a sales force consistent with these parameters.”

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Infohrm has several Consortia that provide networking and benchmarking in specific industries – Retail, Financial Services, Healthcare, Global Technology, and Energy and Utilities. I have personally been involved with the last one, and learned that most of the Partner organizations we’re working with have a higher level of Workforce Planning experience than North American firms seem to, on average.

Recently, we finished a research project on Critical Roles in the industry, and came up with some interesting findings, including:

  • Many organizations care about their most critical roles and job families, but a high percentage have no formal framework for critical roles and/or lack a comprehensive integration with HR/Talent Management programs and processes
  • Definitions and criteria for critical roles vary widely – over 30 different jobs and job families are labeled as critical by research participants in a common industry
  • Organizations that conduct Strategic Workforce Planning are more likely to have criticality of roles embedded within their job families, HR and talent management practices, and data
  • Engineers are the most common critical job family across E&U industry sectors, with “shortages” driving costs up and creating difficulties, particularly in achieving gender/diversity targets

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Technology-Easier Than It Looks

Posted on 8. February 2010 by UpstartHR

Technology... Could it really be this easy?Recently I was working with a friend to figure out an easy (free) way for her to create a place for her coworkers to share documents and connect with each other from remote locations. The half an hour we spent setting up the site showed me just how easy it is to collaborate with coworkers using free and readily available tools.

There really isn’t any reason not to do it, but you’ll still get some pushback in several ways.

Too Technical

With thirty minutes of training, I can get someone up and running with a basic understanding of a WordPress (my preferred web software) site. And that’s for the administrator. Users can usually handle the interface with relatively few problems. These things have been developed by people much smarter than me to be used by people who are beginners in the technology area.


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ROI on automating the Payroll Function

Posted on 6. January 2010 by Gireesh Sharma

Manual Payroll SystemIt is difficult to anticipate the benefits of taking your payroll online. This was a challenge faced by one of our recent customers where the HR department found it challenging to estimate the ROI derived from implementation of an integrated Payroll software.

This article describes some of the benefits analyzed and presented to the senior management such that critical purchase dollars were allocated for the procurement.

The exercise which started as a small initiative actually helped me dive deeper into how a CFO or CEO perceive their human resources department and what are their expectations from an HR platform.

What I will share here is a small part of the study in how organizations are managing their human capital assets and the challenges being faced versus what are the best practices. In this, I will share what are the different metrics and how can organizations save costs in this critical area.

Elements of ROI

To determine the ROI, we had to first understand how the payroll process works in a manual environment. Our interactions revealed that there are three distinct steps in the successful processing of a payroll which are:

  1. Data gathering
  2. Read the rest of this entry »

High Performance Companies Focus on Performance Management

Posted on 31. December 2009 by Gireesh Sharma

High Performance EntrepreneursWe often listen from the successful business leaders that “People are our strength”. Recently I read the book “The High Performance Entrepreneur” written by Subroto Baghchi. He is co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of Mindtree Consulting, one of India’s most admired software companies.

Mindtree has grown from 0 to 3500 people and crossed $ 102 Million in revenue, all in six years, making it one of the highest performing companies in India.

Based on Subroto’s personal experiences, the book is all about entrepreneurship and how an organization can achieve high growth. Being involved in development and implementation of Performance Management Systems, one paragraph caught my attention.

Under chapter “Getting Good People and Keeping Them”, Subroto says’ “I can never overstate the importance of five things in managing high performance professionals: setup a performance management system that everyone understands, communicate with people with evangelical regularity, listen to the voice of your people through forums and regular perception surveys that are conducted by an outside agency, focus on development of leadership and finally create a support network for your leaders. If an organization knows how to do these five things right, it can scale without breaking up.

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