5 Things you should know about Generation Z.

baby

Many people are talking about Millennials, Generation X’s and Baby Boomers clashing in the workplace. But we have a new up and coming group and they are called Generation Z.

First off, a Generation Z child is one who was born between 1995 and 2010. They were practically born with an iPod in their hand. I remember when my mom (Baby Boomer) and my daughter (Generation Z) were Facetiming on the iPad and my 5-year-old daughter was walking my mom through the process. “Grandma press here and then I can see you” she said. Talk about a technology native! My mom was born in a time when very few families had a TV in their home and my daughter was born in a time when she could see and talk to her grandma 500 miles away!

Values of Generation Z in terms of their life and work.

  1. They have never known a world without technology. From the minute they get up in the morning until they go to bed at night. It is portable and accessible everywhere they go.
  2. Things need to move fast for them because they expect it and will lose interest as things move along. I think this is because of the speed of technology and their access to it.
  3. They are growing up in a world that is blended in cultures. My daughter is White/Latina and has friends who are Chinese, Syrian, Black and Filipino. Relationships are fluid and cultures are blended and shared.
  4. They have been raised in a world of playdates and very structured activities. Safety is a number one concern of their parents and they are careful when it comes to their choices and moves.
  5. They are cautious when it comes to privacy in the social space. They have seen what happens when a negative picture gets posted online and how the fallout can be dramatic. They have watched and learned from the mistakes of older family members and friends.

I think that going forward they will continue to be creative and productive in all spaces with technology at the heart of it. Business, art, science and the environment will all be impacted and history will be made. I am excited to see the future for these babies who have grown up with a technology device in their hand and how they will change our world.

What do Human Resources Professionals do?

what does hr do blog

I had a medical appointment, recently, and was talking to my new doctor. We finished the appointment and I told him I work in Human Resources and he had a blank look on his face for a moment and said “What does that mean?” Granted, he looked like he got out of medical school about 10 minutes ago, so I proceeded to tell him about my field. The interesting thing about HR is that no one knows what you do until they need you. Kind of like the brakes on your car! You really notice when they go out and you crash into that tree. That may be pretty dramatic but whenever I go on vacation and come back there is this look of relief on the managers and employees faces. Wow, we really missed you! So I gave my doctor the rundown and we started talking about something I am passionate about and that is work/life balance. He was feeling a little bitter about that particular topic since he said that he worked Saturday and the previous Monday, which had been a holiday for most workers in the US. Of course physicians have notoriously long hours but he sounded a little angry about it! I think gone are the days of expecting employees to dedicate long hours in the office without question. After we finished talking about my medical history I left him with some HR law information and yes, I spread a little HR cheer at the doctor’s office.
I thought that most people had a general idea of what Human Resources do but maybe they don’t. So what do HR professionals do for an employee and an employer?

Here is what we do for an employee:

  • On-board you in your new role, answer your questions and get you started at the company.
  • Administer your leave if you are pregnant or decide to take care of a sick family member.
  • We are there to listen if you are getting a divorce or have some other event that might be affecting your work.
  • Someone stealing your lunch from the company refrigerator? Yep, you pick up the phone and call HR. No one calls marketing or finance when someone eats their leftover pizza.
  • We make sure everyone knows expected behavior that there is a two drink maximum at the holiday party.
  • You know that salary increase you just got because you are great at what you do? We do the paper work and get it into the system so it actually shows up on your check. Then we are there to answer questions about your check stub because you thought it would be more. Darn IRS!
  • Too much work to do? Recruiting is part of HR and we are usually the first person to interview your new co-worker and we want to ensure that there is a good match of personalities and they can do the job.
  • Burn your finger on the company coffee pot, you go to HR and we file a workers compensation claim for you and get you to the doctor.
  • Managers, do you have a difficult employee? We are here to advise you about the laws and support you.
  • We also oftentimes administer your 401K and when you have questions we are here to help you now and into the future.
  • Yes, we are usually very involved in terminations and I believe I speak for many HR professionals that it is the most difficult aspect of our job. It is never easy to take someone’s livelihood. Even if that person is a jerk, which for the record is not illegal.

Here is what we do for an employer:

  • Advise what they can and can’t do with their employees.• Advise them regarding competitive compensation for the team. Equal pay for equal work.
  • Get that top talent and keep them with great programs that HR helps create.
  • HR is crucial in helping developing the company strategy to ensure that we all have jobs in the future and everything is moving in a positive direction.
  • We create reports, lots and lots of reports for management when they have questions.
  • New employment laws coming up? We educate ourselves and make sure that they are all honored.

In human resources we work behind and in front of the camera to take care of the company and the talent. Essentially, we are hired by the company for the company but we are here to protect both the employees (the company’s most important asset) and the organization. So when the HR person calls you into their office, don’t be afraid. She or he might be telling you that we have a 401K plan or ask you if you like your new role. No, you are going to get fired! So hug your HR professional next time you see him or her!

What do the CEO of Reddit and The Ugly Christmas Sweater have in common?

ugly-christmas-sweaters2In 1963, President John F. Kennedy, signed the Equal Pay Act and we in Human Resources are obligated to honor the act as it falls under FLSA. The premise seems simple. Pay an equal wage no matter who has been offered the role, female or male. But it is far from simple.

Just this last week the CEO of Reddit, Ellen Pao, announced that there will no longer be salary negotiations for new employees coming aboard. She is quoted as saying:

“Men, often negotiate more aggressively than women, leading to higher salaries. “We come up with an offer that we think is fair,” Pao said. “If you want more equity, we’ll let you swap a little bit of your cash salary for equity, but we aren’t going to reward people who are better negotiators with more compensation.”

I think Ms. Pao has taken a step in the right direction to ensure that individuals are paid a fair wage regardless of gender. She is being transparent regarding Reddit company policy. I applaud both her and her bold move to take a step forward and address inequality. She and her company are being transparent. I wrote about workplace transparency a couple of months ago in my blog. I believe transparency and equal pay go hand. If we start looking at historical salary data and examine what we are paying individuals it is a great start to uncover inequities and do something about it. I believe she made this statement after working with Human Resources and examining the salary data, finding a discrepancy and creating this new policy.

I have been reading the back lash from commentators regarding her decision and some of it is focused on the negative. “No salary negotiations for new employees”. I read something different in her message. I read the Yes, “We come up with an offer that is fair”. I am supportive of fair and there are many organizations and agencies that are using a fair system today. Take UCLA for example, a world renowned University. Here is a screen shot with a sample of the pay grades for the University.

UCLA salary data
Am I insulted that I can’t sit in a room and bargain for more based on my skills? NO. I was in a situation recently during an interview when the subject of salary came up and the interviewer tried to demean my skills after I was honest about my former salaries. I left the interview with a bad taste in my mouth regarding the role at that point. Would I have appreciated being offered a “fair rate”? You betcha!

Is this decision going to solve the problems of unequal pay for women at Reddit? I don’t believe so but they have to start somewhere. So what do her announcement and the ugly Christmas sweater have in common? They both start a conversation! We have started talking about the issues regarding pay equality and I think this conversation will assist in getting us one step closer to the ideal, equal pay for everyone. We can’t change anything without first debating the topic. Bravo Ms. Pao! You have opened the door to a topic that was not being discussed two weeks ago. I would love to see my daughter make 100 cents on the dollar that a man makes in her same job. The first step to getting there is examining the issues.

One of the arguments that I have seen is that the “A” Players will not consider working for Reddit since they can’t negotiate their salary. I am here to say, that in my opinion, I find that statement incorrect. I consider myself an “A” Player and would not turn my head away if Reddit called and wanted to speak with me regarding a role. So if anyone from Reddit is reading this, I am available for lunch! I will await your call.

You’re Fired!

You’re Fired!

Firing pic

Back in the day, if the village people in your local community wanted to get rid of you they would set your home on fire. Boy, nothing says “get out” like setting your hut on fire! This is where the term “getting fired” originally came from.

Today we use different terms like, “Your services are no longer needed” and “We have to part ways” or “You have made some improvement over the last X days, but not enough, so we are going to have to let you go”. In one company I worked if they wanted to get rid of you you were put on “special projects” and when they ran out of special projects you were done. Your manager would let you know that there were not any special projects left and therefore you were no longer needed.

I have been fired once in my life. I was living in Oregon at the time while I was in college and I was working at a well-known Italian restaurant chain. I called in and told my manager that I could not get to work due to poor weather and road conditions. He sounded suspicious and the next day, when I reported to work, I was pulled into his office. He said that he had employees that drove down from Mt. Hood to get to work. I suggested maybe they had a 4 wheel drive vehicle and not a 1972 Ford Comet. Needless to say, he fired me. I had no knowledge at the time about employment laws and I left feeling shocked and sad. I received a call from their corporate office six months later and they offered me my job back. The woman I spoke with told me they had terminated the manager who had fired me. I am guessing he was using some unethical employment practices. After all, I had called in before my shift. In the end everyone reports to someone and it was his turn to be fired. I am guessing he felt shocked and sad too on the day they let him go.

In my HR career, I have had to fire people and no matter what it is never easy. When it gets easy I think that Human Resources would not be the job for me anymore. It brings to mind the movie with George Clooney called “Up in the Air”. He has a job flying to different companies and terminating employees. This is good from a business perspective in some respects to let someone else do the dirty work. In my opinion though it is a very cold way to tell someone know that they just lost their job.

What does a good termination look like from an employer side? I think that knowing the personality of the individual is helpful because the last thing that I want is the termination to go poorly and not be prepared. In some cases the supervising manager will do the actual termination and I will just follow up with the paperwork. This way there are two people in the room that know the employee.

One HR manager I know makes sure that her desk is completely cleared off just in case the employee wants to throw something at her. No one wants to get hit in the head with a giant tape dispenser. I  keep in mind this is a stressful situation and no matter what I am ending a person’s livelihood. It keeps it in perspective for me. Regardless of the cause for termination this should be at the front of every HR professional’s mind during the process. You, whether it is you decision or not are usually the last point of contact for this individual. It makes sense from an on boarding / off boarding standpoint HR is usually the first point of contact when there are coming in. I see it as equally important time during off boarding to treat someone with the utmost respect when they are going out. Termination is a death of sorts, a loss and everyone deals differently with loss.

One of the ways that I take control is to ensure that the paperwork is organized and accessible. This is not the time to be scrambling for documents. I check and double check the paperwork to ensure I am ready and the paperwork is a non-issue keeping in mind I am following all state laws. The last thing I want is a delay in that final check and the employee files a lawsuit. I will also clear off the projects I am working on to devote my complete attention to the employee. If this is a resignation, easy, I make sure I have answers to all the questions that they have regarding benefits or their final pay checks and do that exit interview to get valuable information about why they are leaving. If is an unexpected termination, I will watch the individuals body language and note if they are acting unusual and how they are taking the news. I will have a backup plan and alert building security ahead of time to cover in case there are any problems. The supervisor and I will usually have a plan in place as well prior to the termination. Sometimes an employee will get emotional and cry during the termination. My job, as I see it, is to listen and support the individual and when they leave I want them to know that someone was there for them. I often think about how I want to be treated if I am being terminated. I want to be treated with dignity and respect and I will treat this individual the same way.

Firing someone is never a fun but it is my duty as an HR professional to ensure that I leave this person with the best experience possible. My worst case scenario is someone leaving my office feeling I did a poor job and made a difficult process even more painful. No, I don’t want to fire anyone I just want them to do their job but it has to be done and I want to do it well and to the best of my abilities.

It is not the easy days that make me good at my job it is the challenging ones that will build my character and my career and make me the best Human Resources Professional I can be.

Job Interviews….the ultimate “gamble”

craps

Here is a historical background of the word “Gamble”

A verb: gamble is from a derivative of gamel “to play games” (1590s), itself likely a frequentative from game. It was originally regarded as a slang word.

A noun: “risky venture”

Today’s version of the word “Gamble”

To take a chance on; venture; risk:

Nothing says risky like a job interview! Using instinct and judgment to achieve a desired result for both the candidate and employer. This sure sounds like the current business market to me.

Here is one of my interview stories;
I wear my best interview outfit and have on my control top pantyhose. The car is gassed up and clean. I have 4 copies of my resume with my driver license and social security card tucked in my wallet. My daughter and I have done a dry run to the interview location, the day before, and clocked how much time it will take to get there. I have accounted for fire trucks and a bus I may get stuck behind. Alright, game day! I get there and I am feeling clean, confident and smart. Fast forward to 47 minutes later and I am sitting in my car decidedly underwhelmed and trying to figure out how I feel about the role and what just happened. What does my gut say? It says I need a Peanut Buster Parfait from Dairy Queen! I am sure that I am not the only person that this has ever happened to but I feel pretty alone.

If you have ever played craps, it a pretty exciting game. When a commercial for a casino comes on there is always a spot on the craps table because it is boisterous and enthusiastic. Everyone wins or everyone loses. That is why you hear yelling when you walk through the casino floor, everyone is winning. I think a game of craps is similar to hiring a candidate or interviewing for a job. Everyone wants to win but not everyone does. I have been on both sides of the table, in Human Resources representing the employer and also a candidate looking for a job.

When I sit on the employer side this is what I am looking for in a candidate;
• The best candidate I can find for the salary I have been allotted
• Do they meets the necessary job skills
• An individual that will represent the company well
• Good cultural fit and will get along with the team
• Positive attitude

I have interviewed that hiring manager and found out their wish list and off I go on my search. I have sorted my stack of resumes and now my job as an employer is to discover what these candidates are really about. I will read between the lines in the resume, phone screen and in person interview to try and come up with the clear picture of this person. Social media is a big help with recruiting in today’s market and I firmly believe it is the future way to find out information about potential candidates. When the right candidate comes in and is a success it is a big win for me and the company. Unfortunately, I have not always been right and at times I misjudged a candidate and paid for it dearly but also learned a tremendous amount about red flags to look for when interviewing. For example, one man I interviewed spoke mainly about the salary, bonus and commission structure and when he would be to be promoted. He also let me know that this role was a lesser role than he deserved. We had not even hired him yet and he was asking about promotion!

Let’s flip the table and now I am interviewing for a new role.
When I sit as a candidate being interviewed this is what I am looking for in the new role;
• Great boss and good personality match for me
• Role fit and future potential
• Good skills match
• Best pay
• Company culture

Wow, pretty much the same list! If you look at both of the list for desires each one is nearly identical. The trick lies in that both the employer and the candidate are truthful and honest about themselves and the role. I have seen times when a new employee was upset because what they interviewed for and the role there was doing were different. I have also seen a hiring manager upset because a new employee misstated their skills and was not qualified for the job.

No one knows the outcome of the game until weeks or perhaps a year later when the person takes the job.

I have included some tips that I have found helpful when interviewing from both sides as a candidate and an HR professional.

Candidate Side

Phone Interview
This is your first and best opportunity to shine! Your resume made it out of the stack and now you have a call scheduled. When you are interviewing for a job over the phone, treat the opportunity with respect. Have a quiet place where you will be uninterrupted for an hour or more. I have taken interviews in my car and my walk-in closet to ensure I am not disturbed. Target is never a good place to take an interview phone call! When they ask you about your salary expectation, I recommend that you don’t say anything about it other than it depends upon the role. That way you are not boxed in.

In Person Interview
Now you have gotten to that second stage of interviewing research the company and have a list of questions. Some of my favorites are asking about what an average day in the role is like and what are the top 3 items or projects for the year. Be ready for any kind of interview in any location. I recommend doing a dry run to the office location to have a clear idea of where any snags might happen. Keep your clothing conservative, clean and professional. Make sure and have extra copies of your resume and some cash for parking. Breath mints never hurt either! I did read a story when an employer said that a candidate ate an entire can of mints during the interview. I think that person must have had the freshest breath in town.
I have been in some really hot interview rooms and was thankful I had on a jacket I could remove when I got too warm. The funniest question I have been asked was if I was an ice cream flavor what I would be. I answered Neapolitan and said that I am a little bit of everything a “jack of all trades’. I have no idea if the answer was what they were looking for but I got the job.
Take note of the “office vibe” and culture. Are people running around and not smiling? Is the office clean and bright or dirty and unkempt? This will be a location that you spend 40 or more hours per week so take note.
When you leave shake all appropriate hands and when you get home send a hand written thank you note. Many people don’t send any kind of note and this is a professional and classy touch to wrap everything up. I have gotten a job because I sent a thank you note and none of the other candidates had done so.

Employer Side
Phone Interview
After I screen all the resumes and have a short stack I will look them up in social media to get a complete picture of the candidate. I once had a candidate put her website on her resume and I went to check it out. It was mainly about her drinking and partying including pictures of these activities, needless to say her resume was rejected.
I am a big believer in a phone interview and I can tell a lot about a person in the first couple of minutes on the call. First off, are they on time for the call? Is this person hard to understand on the phone and are they answer my basic questions clearly. This is also the time to ask about salary expectation and history. By bringing it up in the beginning it alleviates a problem if it is not in the same range that you are look for to fill the role. At this point if I want to bring the person in I have a pretty good idea about them and we have built a rapport. If not then I have not wasted what could have been 2 hours and meeting space.

In Person Interview
Surprisingly, I get nervous when I am interviewing candidates. If I have a good feeling about the person I am excited to meet them and am hopeful that I can fill the role. When I am interviewing, I treat my interviews as a conversation. I prefer the natural approach and let them tell me about their experience and background. It is amazing what people will tell you when the interviewer and the interviewee are comfortable together. I had one woman tell me at the end of the interview that she had to tell me something. Of course I was concerned when she said that and I asked her what it was and she said she was an actor and was hopeful that the role would provide flexibility during the day to go out to casting calls. I spoke with the hiring manager about her desire to be an actor and we decided that she was not a good fit for the role but I appreciated her being comfortable enough to tell me.
Make sure and have a clear job description to ask appropriate questions. There is nothing worse that bringing someone in when the role is not clear. It will lead to frustration on the part of the candidate. I will then look for gaps in employment and ask for clarification and explanations. Look for clues in their resume as to what they are about and how they are as a worker. It is as much about what they don’t say as what they do say. I ask them how they have dealt with a past difficult situation or co-worker and listen when they explain the situation and how they handled it. One woman I interviewed talked about how she had just met her former co-workers for dinner the previous week. In my eyes this showed that she was well liked and to maintained contact even after leaving the company.

I wrap up the interview and try and ensure that the candidate leaves with a good feeling. Even though I may have decided that the person is not a good fit they may tell others about their experience and I want it to be positive.

At the end of the interview process we both want the same things. For the employer, this means a solid contributor for the company and for the candidate a meaningful and competitively paid role. Nothing that is said during the interview replaces the experience of a real day on the job.

In the words of Effie Trinket from the Hunger Games “may the odds be ever in your favor”.

Roll the dice.

Can I bring my dog to the office?

dogwork2

Charles Schultz (Creator of Snoopy) said, “All his life he tried to be a good person. Many times, however, he failed. For after all, he was only human. He wasn’t a dog.”

Do dogs make us better people or better employees? What about an organization that has a company dog? Fido would be taken care of by the people who work in the company. Many of us have pets at home but what about bringing our pet to work. What does research say about bringing Fido to the office?

It is well-known in specialized job environments that dogs are considered not pets but workers. For instance, there are police dogs, Drug Enforcement Agency dogs and dogs used for comfort and rehabilitation. In traditional farming communities dogs are used as sheep herders and guards but what about the typical 8-5 office environment? How would pets fit in to the standard workplace?

According to PetMD bringing dogs to the workplace helps in three areas;

1. Reduces stress in the workplace
2. Encourages longer work hours
3. Provides increased camaraderie

There are many cutting edge companies that allow dogs in the workplace and include a clear-cut, “pets in the office” policy in their handbook. According to Samantha Cole, who writes for Fast Company Leadership, these companies include Google, Amazon, ESTY, Meet-Up and Zynga. One of the companies even has a dog park on the roof of their building!

If you are going to have pets in the office, it is recommended that you set some clear boundaries. Some challenges regarding pets in the office that you might encounter include, allergies, aggressive animals, and people who are afraid of dogs. Trupanion.com has a checklist of items to consider before allowing pets in the workplace. It includes ideas for your policies and animal etiquette issues.

I think that if concerns are properly addressed and the practice of allowing pets in the workplace is well supported, the benefits of allowing pets in the workplace will outweigh the drawbacks. So, next time you go to work don’t forget to bring a sack dog lunch and a ball.

The Holiday Office Party…. A Showstopper Gift or Lump of Coal?

christmas-ball-wallpapers-bauble-red-tree-balls-holiday-182270

What is the point of the holiday party? The purpose of the party is to increase employee morale and engagement. It is a reward for the employees who are working hard and it is meant to be fun and a time to celebrate at the end of the year.

Typically, planning of the Holiday Party falls on the Human Resources Department. I have seen and heard horror stories about employees behaving badly and complaints about those participating in boring activities during the party.

Here are some tips to make it successful

1. Send out a memo before the event detailing specifics about the party and expected employee behavior.
2. Create a theme such as Christmas Around the World or a Casino.
3. Do not request employees “volunteer” for activities during the party. This is a time for employees to celebrate and being Santa or an Elf is not everyone’s idea of fun. Hire vendors for catering and entertainment.
4. Hand out drink tickets with a two drink maximum to ensure that drinking will be kept under control and serve lots of food.
5. If you have the holiday party during work hours, pay employees for their time and do not offer alcohol. This is also a cost saver for the company.
6. Offer cab vouchers for those that overindulge.
7. Do not make attendance mandatory. There are statistics that many employees attend because there is company pressure to do so.
8. Give a gift to employees or hold a drawing for prizes. Give out high quality prizes to make it worthwhile.

With some thought and pre-planning it will be an event that employees with look forward to and talk about the whole year. Go ahead and get the party started!