Wednesday, 3 February 2016

#hrevent16 blog #6 of many

Rather frustratingly I'd typed out most of this but upon clicking Save, the app crashed and I lost it all. So I'm having to recreate this from memory. 

Day two of the event. It appears many people had a blast staying over last night, but for me after a long day all I wanted to do was get home to my kids, have a dance, a story, and then shower and I was in bed by 10pm. Worlds apart. 

So here we are listening to Dame Stephanie Shirley, whose story had such humble beginnings but which was both inspirational and interesting. Hard to believe that the things she experienced, the barriers she faced, were only 50 years ago. Our age is more enlightened, but how will we and our ways be viewed in another 50 years time?

She talked a lot about equality, citing the lessons she learnt and the ways in which she structured her company so that jobs were fitted around people and not the other way around. How many companies still struggle with this concept? Listening to the barriers she ran into as the first female IT entrepeneur in the UK was both frustrating and inspiring. 

She raised some interesting points about legislation potentially hampering equality in the workplace. Here she was talking specifically about the National Minimum Wage and its potential to create barriers for disabled people obtaining entry level jobs. This was a perspective I'd not encountered before and it certainly made me think what the purpose and impact of employment legislation may be. 

She also talked about the rise of robots doing HR work, and gave some examples. She questioned whether, if this continues, "human" resources needs to expand to include how robots are managed as part of the workforce. This made me laugh initially, then it sank in and I think she's right. Robot Resources?

Much of my other reflections on her talk are now lost unfortunately. 

Next up was Hollie Delaney from Zappos. The Zappos story is one I had read about before but hearing about it in person was really good. 

Hollie explained how the Zappos culture came about, and how it influences all aspects of the company. Recruitment at Zappos is heavily weighted by cultural fit, and the induction period focuses on cultural integration and fit, rather than technical ability. 

She explained the concept of holocracy, designed to eliminate bureaucracy, rules and hierarchy, and gave examples of how it works. I can see that it does for Zappos and it would in many organisations too, but I wonder how many organisations are too entrenched in their own histories and origins to fully embrace this style of working, no matter how innovative or successful? 

Hollie's enthusiasm was infectious, and her style seems perfectly suited to the culture at Zappos so it's easy to imagine how happy a workplace this is. I do wonder though if the cultural fit assessment prevents the development and evolution of the culture by preventing the entry of new and different ideas and ways of working, that most organisations get from an influx of different people from time to time. Perhaps their way is the better way, but sometimes organisations need people to act and behave in different ways in order to evolve. 

Maybe. It's something I'd be interested to discuss and research further anyway. 

A quick jaunt downstairs and now I'm listening to Eric Tyree from Capita talk about the increasing use of analytics and big data in the workplace. Now, this is something I have blogged about on more than one occasion so it's of interest to me. 

Eric challenged organisations to "be more retail". He cited examples from Amazon, Tesco (etc) who personalise and customise the shopper experience to an individual level. His assertion is that the information is out there for employers to use, so we need to overcome our fears about using it and start to customise the employee experience to an individual level. 

Increasingly, he says, employees will be expecting this and if you as an employer can't, you risk them taking their labour elsewhere. In particular he recommended that we do this in employee benefits, but this advice came with a warning not to listen to employee surveys on benefits as people will often say yes to benefits without thinking through whether they really want or need them. 

So segment your employees. Look at their career stage, income band, gender, age, marital status, dependent or not etc. And then put the benefits in front of them based on this analysis and let them choose whether to take them. 

This is a challenge because in my current role I've been looking at benefits, but not really considered segmenting employees to look at what they might need. It's been an organisation wide choice but not personalised, and maybe it could be. I wonder though how easy this would be for smaller organisations? All his examples were organisations employing 1000+ staff, and I can see how it works very well in that size of company. 

He went on to talk about using big data in talent management, eg using data to analyse attrition rates and segment accordingly to manage talent and reduce turnover and absenteeism. 

Thankfully he also talked about correlations in data, which is something I think is critical to data use. So he asked us to link things like employee relations data to recruitment data and so on. I think this is where organisations can make HUGE leaps forward in understanding their workforce and in making changes to how they engage with their staff. 

A big piece of advice about correlation from Eric though was that if you present any correlated data, you must be able to explain WHY and HOW there is a correlation, otherwise it's worthless. 

And now it's coffee time. Loooooonnnnngggg overdue. 

Gary