Thought Leadership Blog

The HRS Thought Leadership Blog delivers validated findings, visionary perspectives and op/ed commentaries related to HR, Leadership, Organizational Development and Employment Law. To enjoy the full volume of available articles, please enter topic keywords in the search box to explore our body of work. Articles are regularly presented by the HRS team and guest experts.


C-Suite Edge: Keeping HR Eye-Level, Evaluating Partners and Rewarding Top Talent for Optimum ROI

No matter the organizational headcount, C-suite executives must focus due diligence upon talent management, workforce ROI and legal compliance. For any labor intensive organization, the keys to success rely upon increased workforce productivity, astute risk management and surgically cut talent dollars. In doing so, idle time, legal costs, under-utilization and any such wasteful spending must be avoided. Expert solutions exist and are catching on quickly. Those not paying attention will be left behind.

Employment law is ever-changing and requires daily research. Beyond pure legal advice, legal compliance experts need to deploy business acumen, organizational psychology and aligned mission commitment to deliver best decision tools and implementations. Top executives are earning spectacular ROI and competitive edge by finding their own perfect internal-external partnership balance. Some are outsourcing it all, but better options exist.

The options promoted here do not involve the outsourcing of the employment relationship. For many, outsourcing employees can be counterproductive to ROI. Employees want to feel part of a team, and in today’s world of “pay without play” where some label work a “choice,” employees often deliver commitment only with reciprocity and incentive. In many environments, outsourcing employees can be an expedient method of deteriorating engagement and productivity. Keeping workforce on the payroll and outsourcing certain or all HR management, however, can be a collaborative win for the entire organization. 

Third party expert operations have long been enjoyed by employers of all sizes and cultures. Employers under 200 are eligible to partner for all HR operations. Employers of limitless size find third party partnership extremely beneficial for talent assessment, education, compliance certification and change leadership. Most employers will attain betterment through a stable, highly competent and dedicated HR team, rather than revolving part-time talent with limited versatility. Employers who embrace external experts enjoy competitive edge and visionary foresight. Top quality is accessed with keen cost control, unbiased expertise, widespread case study and flexible utilization.

As we re-evaluate the HR team, workforce headcount only matters so much. For the average employer, the optimal team is comprised of functional management plus specialists and support under the direction of a Chief HR Operating Officer (CHRO), a right hand to the CEO. CHROs can be internal or external partners. An established CHRO already succeeding is always to be treasured and protected, as premier talent is undoubtedly rare and worthy of appreciation.

When selecting a professional consultant as CHRO, employers should seek quick adaptability, C-suite proven excellence, vast third party expertise and, of course, flexible utilization for cost control.  HR practitioners for top partner firms never stop learning, growing, embracing and delivering new value. Among many other deliverables, they bridge gaps and engage workforce into the company’s mission. CHROs should facilitate a highly effective and well-aligned supporting team.

Delivering fiscal due diligence, the average cost of third party partnership is less than the average cost of internalized operations. Done well, spectacular ROI is expected year one and builds substantially in consecutive years.  Through selection of the right partner organization, the HR team stays in place, benefiting from learning curve balanced with constantly emerging fresh ideas and case studies. Access to dedicated expert talent on demand without idle time is a steadfast cost reduction and quality optimization technique. Impartial third party experts avoid bias and deliver information with enhanced credibility. Everyone wins.

In some organizations, CHRO and CFO responsibilities are merged. This yields mixed results. Merging CHRO and CFO roles can produce conflict of interest or limited perspective; however, both CHRO and CFO need a clear grasp of fiscal prudence, organizational psychology and legal compliance. Ideally, each of these practitioners is ready to deploy as needed but never underutilized. Neither role should be subservient to the other.

Some fabulous internal HR leaders exist in today’s companies, and many of them are existing or future HRS clients. They call upon preferred partners for compliance, talent assessment, education, decision tools, case studies, affirmative defense and third party expertise. Astute business leaders recognize these top performers and keep them engaged with incentive and growth. Partner organizations deliver the tools and opportunities for such growth. 

Cookie cutter solutions are abused, overused and rarely appropriate in HR. Every employer is unique across widespread criteria, including but not limited to company brand, culture, history, demographics, business model and keys to success. Accredited consultants deliver the ability to assess and tailor programs which plug into these unique paradigms. Those who devote only to a single employer at a time and/or “job hop” do not necessarily deliver the third party expertise necessary to capture success opportunities.

While the essentials are somewhat universal, today’s business leaders enjoy a healthy range of HR options. Whether enjoying premier internal talent, premier external talent or a custom blend of the two, HR is never a remedial function. The HR function should be in the hands of those who deliver extraordinary legal knowledge, fiscal due diligence, talent management, lifelong learning for leaders, policy establishment, organizational communications, conflict reduction, operational efficiency and forward thinking, to name a few. HR is an executive function which, done poorly, can decimate an organization… and when done well, delivers impactful ROI, business sustainability and critical risk management. Today’s top executives keep it eye-level and empower extraordinary partners.

 

Article by Jessica Ollenburg, HRS Chief Empowerment Officer. Summary Bio. 


Jessica Ollenburg - Monday, May 05, 2014

 





FCRA Compliance Blueprint for Employer Background Checks

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and its effect on employment practices are finding new court scrutiny, case precedents and employer confusion. The following blueprint simplifies employer “need to know” information. 

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforces the FCRA. As of August 2013 the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection advises employers to perform the following steps before conducting a background criminal, court or credit check:

1) Provide the applicant or employee a written stand-alone notice, outside of the employment application, which advises of the pending background check.
2) Gain written permission from the applicant/employee which includes forward moving checks as performed.
3) Certify compliance to the company from which you are getting the applicant or employee's information. You must certify that you notified the applicant or employee and got their permission to get a consumer report, complied with all of the FCRA requirements, and will not discriminate against the applicant or employee or otherwise misuse the information, as provided by any applicable federal or state equal opportunity laws or regulations.

Thereafter, according to the Bureau:  “Before you reject a job application, reassign or terminate an employee, deny a promotion, or take any other adverse employment action based on information in a consumer report, you must give the applicant or employee:

Notice that includes a copy of the consumer report you relied on to make your decision; and
Copy of “A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.” 

Giving the person the notice in advance gives the person the opportunity to review the report and tell you if it is correct.

If you take an adverse action based on information in a consumer report, you must give the applicant or employee a notice of that fact – orally, in writing, or electronically. An adverse action notice tells people about their rights to see information being reported about them and to correct inaccurate information. The notice must include:

Name, address, and phone number of the consumer reporting company that supplied the report;
Statement that the company that supplied the report did not make the decision to take the unfavorable action and can't give specific reasons for it; and
Notice of the person's right to dispute the accuracy or completeness of any information the consumer reporting company furnished, and to get an additional free report from the company if the person asks for it within 60 days.”

According to the Bureau, “Employers who use ‘investigative reports’ – reports based on personal interviews concerning a person's character, general reputation, personal characteristics, and lifestyle – have additional obligations under the FCRA. These obligations include giving written notice that you may request or have requested an investigative consumer report, and giving a statement that the person has a right to request additional disclosures and a summary of the scope and substance of the report. (See 15 U.S.C. section 1681d(a),(b)).” 

Additional information is available at…
http://business.ftc.gov/documents/bus08-using-consumer-reports-what-employers-need-know

State and federal courts have recently set case law enforcing these notices and rights of appeal as related to not only agency checks, but also employment references and interviews. Several employers have found themselves embroiled in legal battle, settlements, fines and adverse publicity specifically over failure to notify candidates of their rights to be provided notice or appeal. A few of these found additional EEOC complaint by treating protected classes dissimilarly, thereby creating discrimination. 

In light of these and other risks, it becomes increasingly important to manage incoming and outgoing background check data. Employers who publish a policy denying reference checks will continue to find a demotivation and “What happens in Vegas…” attitude among staff. Employers must control information without avoidance of information.

Employers cannot ignore responsibilities for candidate background checks and have been held responsible for negligence by ignoring reasonable care in hiring. Additionally, bona fide occupational qualifications (BFOQs) remain legitimate hiring criteria. Employers need to conduct these checks lawfully and fairly with consideration to comprehensive risk management.  

Crafting of policies considers the staging of notice, probabilities of disqualification, hiring steps, differentiation in screening among company job descriptions and unique employer compliance strategies. HRS recommends the incorporation of full scale screening permission, most recently including job-specific Internet records research, into the crafted notice. HRS is available for custom crafting of expert policies and permission/notice forms according to unique employer needs and practices.


Jessica Ollenburg - Tuesday, August 13, 2013

 





Writing Job Descriptions for Legal Compliance and Organizational Development Results

Templates exist for best practices job descriptions.  Some templates hit the mark and others fall short.  Our article outlines the minimum goals to be attained by job description creation as well as some helpful guidelines to writing a custom description.  Rarely can an organization pull a job description "off the shelf" from another organization and apply it without essential modification.  Consider a job description model only a starting point and invest the effort into customizing the instrument to your organization and your unique job.  The exercise of doing so offers value in itself. 

For starters, let us explore the goals.  A strong job description will...

  • Serve as an effective tool for employee selection and orientation to specific position duties and evaluation criteria.
  • Establish a training checklist for new hires or incumbent job changes.
  • Provide a point-by-point quality of work itemization for performance appraisals and ongoing performance management.
  • Document position goals and performance standards.
  • Protect the firm from legal risks through written documentation of position requirements.  Establish ADA, FLSA and EEOC compliance.
  • Benchmark the position for accurate compensation scale review.
  • Facilitate a merit-based compensation system by clearly identifying distinguishing characteristics between positions and position levels.
  • Communicate recruitment parameters to safeguard the hiring process.
  • Effectively distribute workload among team members to ensure organizational “right sizing.”
  • Manage legal risks in employment law by comprehensively documenting the position requirements and performance requirements.
  • Allow team members to measure their own performances between formal performance appraisals.
  • Establish individual accountability.
  • Internally market the position to each relevant team member through controlled terminology and quick communication of the “keys to success” in the position.
  • Enhance training and thereby minimize relevant turnover.
  • Validate the need for pre-employment testing/screening toward legal risk management.
  • Protect team members not selected for promotion from failure to understand selection decisions.  Protect the company from challenged decisions.
  • Assist supervisors with the performance appraisal system by providing written reminders of the goals and expectations actually communicated to the team members.

 

Job Analysis should involve both incumbent employees and their supervisors.  Not only should the tasks and position goals be documented, but in crafting and weighting such considerations, the keys to success and risks of failure should also be considered.  The consideration and the documentation of facts are two different things.  The final product will be edited and filtered for content and purpose. As an example, we document what an employee is responsible to do to avert problems, but we do not necessarily document the potential problems themselves.

Typical categories of information include Job Title, Immediate Supervisor, FLSA Status, Mission/Summary, Essential Tasks & Responsibilities, Supervisory Responsibility, Job Requirements, Working Conditions, Physical Demands, Skills & Learning Goals, and Disclaimer of Management Ability to Modify.  Some descriptions may include Department, Pay Grade, Work Hours, Location/Site Travel and more.

When crafting language, measurable benchmarks must be present to ensure the standards are meaningful and reliable.  Legally compliant language is essential to ensure compliance and perception of compliance at every stage of employment.  Desirable behaviors should be documented in detailed description.  While some label behaviors as"soft skills," successful leadership recognizes that behaviors drive results often more than skills do.  Behaviors need to be measured both on the job and at pre-employment assessment.  The HRS Assessment Center supports just that! Owning a characteristic is not as important at appropriately deploying that characteristic when it counts.  In order to pay a bill, one needs not only to have the money but also to write the check.

Job analysis questionnaires, sample job descriptions, outsource assistance and more information are available from HRS.  We wish you great success with your project!

 

  

 


Jessica Ollenburg - Monday, September 26, 2011

 





Candidate Screening by Video Technology Reveals Mixed Success

As global talent assessment experts, HRS has spent many years researching success of video technology use in screening.  We’ve reviewed dozens of platforms and learned from thousands of employers.  Recently, with the continued emergence of videoconferencing use in business, video skills gain importance.  However, screening platforms are still showing flaws.

The first major flaw lies in the difference between skills just being on camera as opposed to actually “addressing” the camera.  These two skills have little or no correlation between them.  Addressing a known audience can be far more comfortable than addressing an unknown (camera) and vice versa.  Even the company’s sales reps appear “frozen” and ill at ease in certain platform demos.   Videoconferencing typically allows the visibility of and interaction with an audience, a different dynamic altogether. As a regular speaker, I find it infinitely easier to “come alive” with dynamics when I have an engaged and participative audience.  A flat, unresponsive audience is a challenge, and often a burden, to an educator.  Entertainers sometimes enjoy that challenge, yet entertainers and educators are two different characters.  Consider the actual video skills requirements of the job, and align the screening dynamic with the job’s parameters.

The second major flaw lies in the platform’s validation.  Some platforms align with the proven concept that the best interviewers often are those who have the most practice. Sales and substance are two different concepts, and for many, these are sadly mutually exclusive.  We researched several platforms which have specifically positioned themselves to major market employers whose keys to success lie in turnover versus employee retention. Not all organizations are talent based. In fact, many large organizations rely upon “plug and play” capabilities which create sustainability without reliance upon specific talent.  The important takeaway here is to find a platform which aligns with your corporate goals for talent lifecycle. You may adopt more than one platform if you do not find an integrated solution.
 
The third major flaw is legal compliance.  While the federal and state governments are mandating appropriate timing to potentially discriminatory data collection, inappropriately deployed video screening can heighten risks of noncompliance.  Structure a program consistent, compliant and true to the job description for best protection. These are the same risks discussed in our teachings on social media use in screening.

The fourth major flaw lies in BFOQ test of reason.  Unless a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) is prominent, the screening technique is at risk.  If video skills are not necessary to the job description, do not consider video skills in the screening.  How people present in person, in writing, via telephone and via camera are all unique characteristics independent of one another.

HRS has pioneered telework principles and use of global technology for decades.  We understand the benefits and the risks. Many technology options are available, appropriate to individual job requirements.  Video may or may not be the solution, and please adopt the platform which truly represents your best interests.  We use video technology often… but selectively according to the actual job requirements and career path lifecycle.  Detailed research is available from HRS.

 


Jessica Ollenburg - Tuesday, June 14, 2011

 





Social Media Investigations May Be Essential to Hiring and Can Be Conducted Lawfully

Some attorneys will advise employers to avoid using social media as a recruitment and screening tool.  The caution is wise; however, avoidance may be impractical, and the proper use of social media can most definitely pay off.  In many cases, we consider it actually necessary. While risks of unlawful use exist and need be avoided, bona fide occupational qualifications can be investigated through proper methodology.  The following 3 rules are set forth to simplify legal compliance.

1) Timing is everything.  The EEOC is often more concerned about the timing and outcomes of collecting data than the collection of data itself.  That is, we know certain visual characteristics when we interview or videoconference a candidate, yet premature collection and use of this data is considered unlawful “profiling.” The investigation of social media after interview is typically safer than prior to interview.  A company that shows reasonable care and great diversity in demographics and advancement provides substantially stronger affirmative defense than a company with insufficient diversity and/or without reasonable care compliance. Protected characteristics are found not only in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 but also in the legal changes and state regulations emerging ongoing.
 
2) Bona Fide Occupational Qualifications (BFOQs) are still considered a lawful job requirement subject to reasonable investigation. How a candidate presents his/herself to the general public and company stakeholders is a legitimate public relations and credibility concern.   While off duty behavior may or may not be appropriate to monitor and discover as a BFOQ, how a candidate chooses to be known on the Internet as searchable by customers, co-workers, competitors, associates, vendors, investors and other stakeholders, is certainly a BFOQ.  Such a presence affects on duty performance, especially when easily detected by search engine or links to professional or company presence.  A great job description and strong company policies will validate social media investigations.
 
3) Outsource investigation and/or control consistency and chain of information.  HRS policy establishment, training and candidate investigation services are currently booming.  While we are biased that no competitor meets our standards, please know resources abound for outsourcing implementation or procedural design as risk management. If choosing to insource the effort, control documentation and custody of information. Appropriate policies and disclosures should be considered.  One size does not fit all here.  Social media usage and monitoring policies should match the company’s unique practices.  And, although the candidate may choose the “world wide web” to air private and personal information, the employer must remember to not further the information distribution except on a “need to know” basis. Use of search engines to collect data is recommended.  The method of collecting data should align with reasonable access to information by company stakeholders.

The appropriate use of social media in hiring provides cost-effective recruitment, often with cost savings or targeted candidate access impractical to ignore.  However, the very nature of recruitment via social media could grant us access to candidate social media profiles too soon. To use only social media for recruitment, in certain cases, may in itself be considered discriminatory.  Audience demographics should be considered to both control costs and to also ensure abidance with Affirmative Action Plans where they exist.

It is difficult to investigate certain social media sites, especially those of a personal rather than professional focus, without receiving information regarding age, race, nationality, military, family status, sexual orientation, religion, or some combination of the many, many lawfully protected characteristics.  Pictures, comments, links, interests and profile page data cannot be reasonably avoided. To better manage risks, we suggest directing the candidate to the company’s own application system rather than linking the recruitment response with the candidate’s social media profile.  Such a step allows the company to broadcast the recruitment via social media but to collect responses through traditional methods discouraging profiling. 

Upon reaching the correct stage and method of data collection, be certain to avoid risk of error and falsehood. Identities can be confused, and inaccurate information may be collected.  Be certain you have the correct individual, and be certain the information is true. Background check permission forms should collect necessary data to validate identity. HRS recommends and designs a sequential plan of using social media investigations lawfully, consistently, with proper timing and privacy controls toward the appropriate evaluation of BFOQs.  As an added safeguard, it is popularly recommended to involve an outside firm or an individual not participating in the employment decisions. That individual or firm should then be in position to report only on job requirements and BFOQs, thereby inherently controlling the distribution and use of data.

 

 


Jessica Ollenburg - Thursday, February 24, 2011

 





Don’t Be Fooled by Salary Negotiation Strategies Generated by the Unemployed: 6 Rules to Success

Countless unemployed individuals with plenty of time to write are emerging again with salary negotiation strategies.  While it is true that strategies should change with market conditions, in many cases, negotiation should disappear completely. While many form their viewpoint based upon experiences with one or a few employers which eventually “outplaced” them, our analysis is based upon statistical knowledge working with thousands of preferred employers plus extraordinary research concerning hundreds of thousands over three decades and adapted to present conditions.

The following is a proven 6-rule blueprint to getting the most from “employers of choice.”  Sure, there are plenty of bad bosses and exploitative companies out there who do not follow appropriate protocol. However, if you are a candidate worthy of a top employer, ignore what happens at substandard employers and subscribe to what works at top companies.

Rule #1:  Top employers offer compensation based upon compensable factors, internal/external equities and merit-based performance proven within the organization.  For top employers, the base compensation component is non-negotiable at organizational entry, except possibly at C-level. 

Rule #2: Top employers do not pay you for what you did for someone else, but rather what you will do for them.  Success in one environment is not necessarily transferable to another.  Top employers know this.  Top employers also know that overall organizational development is optimized by practices which favor merit advancement from within.

Rule #3: Top employers request salary histories up front not to set your pay accordingly but rather to evaluate equities and expectations before continuing the very costly pre-employment screening process. Failure to provide history when requested risks indication of unwillingness/inability to follow direction and/or indication of something to hide.

Rule #4: Salary negotiation is effective in a very limited sector. It can be effective only when handled correctly and in cases where the job description requires heavy amounts of negotiation implementation. Time, place and audience are paramount.  Don’t be the first to bring up money, and don’t wait too long after money is mentioned to reveal that your requirements are higher.  Attach compensation requests to your delivery of quantifiable results to the new employer.  “I respect that the company has valued this position based upon specific metrics and expected outcomes.  Based upon my history of success, extraordinary knowledge and my determination to succeed, I expect to deliver outcomes beyond those benchmarks.  Is there opportunity for me to share in those financial successes? Can we set my quotas higher?”

Rule #5: Attempting negotiation risks the entire deal. It expresses discontent with the company’s existing practices and with the immediate job.  Just as a counteroffer constitutes an offer rejection, negotiation of any types constitutes rejection of the “as is” opportunity. There is usually another candidate right behind you who is appreciative of the opportunity to earn rewards without staunch demands.

Rule #6: If the relationship begins with negotiation, expect that you have set the tone for continued negotiation.  Rather than being awarded what you have earned, expect that you shall need to always negotiate for it.   The best way to avoid constant negotiation with your company as an “opponent” rather than a “teammate” is to negotiate all at once a gain-sharing program with pre-determined financial rewards for the outcomes and results you facilitate.

When an offer is presented, please know that taking time to consider may risk the opportunity.  Some companies will volunteer a proposed timeframe for your decision. Many will not. It is a myth that immediate acceptance makes you look “desperate.”  Actually, failure to immediately accept makes you look “hesitant” and possibly “disinterested,” either of which can immediately sandbag the relationship. If you believe it is best to take time to consider, state your unwavering interest up front.  Consider a safe explanation of the rationale behind your decision delay.  If the screening process was thorough and involved multiple steps, you should have entered the offer stage ready to accept if offered.  Your questions should already be answered and your interest should not falter.

Company cost control, lifelong learning, succession planning and sustainability are key organizational goals.  Age discrimination can be a factor, and advancement from within is typically a preference.  Employers are reluctant to pay you for what you did for someone else, because too many over time have “rested on laurels.” Employers typically have more leverage than employees in this situation.  Know your power. Evaluate the dynamics of your specific situation and reject “cookie cutter” advice. 

 


Jessica Ollenburg - Monday, November 29, 2010

 





Being a Leader is a Trained Skillset, an Innate Talent and Definitely a Practice

Contrary to what temp services and unemployed consultants are currently blogging about, it is essential to understand that while being a leader requires consistent practice and execution, effective leadership is also both innate and learned… nature and nurture.

Make no mistake. Effective leaders need a deep understanding of the discipline, tasks and environment in which they lead.  Those who believe a management degree or diploma somehow qualifies them to lead in an unfamiliar environment are sadly mistaken, likely BS’d by their college recruiter.  Simultaneously, great implementers are not necessarily great leaders.  The most common mistake in business is empowering the wrong leadership, either promoting implementers without leadership skills or hiring great sales artists with no leadership substance. 

Good advice is hard to come by.  Bad advice is abundant.  With advancement the #1 workplace motivator, promotions from within not only best engage the whole team but allow leaders to have deep understanding of that which they lead.  Nonetheless, self-starters and independent achievers typically do not “get” the average worker and do not know without formal leadership training how to effectively motivate and modify behavior in others.  If others do not become better performers directly due to those who lead, the leaders “lift right out” as ineffective.


Jessica Ollenburg - Saturday, October 02, 2010

 





Your Consulting Firm May Be the Very Last Job on Your Resume

Some believe filling resume gaps by labeling or creating a “consulting” firm is a positive resume builder.  More often than not, this adversely impacts one’s ability to be re-employed.  To set oneself apart as a freelance “consultant” or company owner can be synonymous with setting oneself apart as averse to taking direction from another… a statement likely to create de-selection from employment opportunities.  Top employers will also investigate the legitimate success in engagements during this “consultancy” time period on one’s resume.     
 

When choosing to be a consultant, know beforehand it is not all glamour and glitz.  A corporate career as an internal key member dedicated to one corporate environment at a time is NOT preparation for consultancy.  Successful consultancy requires the proven ability to simultaneously serve multiple unique organizations through analysis and adaptation... and deep knowledge of multi-employer case studies.  Serving one or a few selectively chosen organizations is not necessarily preparation for consultancy.  Conversely, consultancy is not necessarily preparation to become an internal expert. Deep knowledge of that organization is the only preparation for that role.
 

Consultancy requires reporting to many “bosses.”  It is a myth that one can succeed in consultancy without subordination.  While it is true that many employers are drawn to candidates who have demonstrated the responsibility and ambition of starting a business, employers of choice will carefully screen this situation and select/de-select candidates accordingly. 
 

If not prepared to forever risk livelihood, think twice before abandoning the safe route of remaining steadily and stably employed, creating documented successes as an employee. Embrace consultancy for what it truly is and understand that a great consultant is never “in between jobs.”


Jessica Ollenburg - Tuesday, September 14, 2010

 





Great Consultants are Never "In Between Jobs" and HR is Never Part-time: When & How to Deploy Insource & Outsource Toolsets

With a wealth of auxiliary talent options available to company business plans, employers too often miss the mark in deploying the optimal schemata.  In any organization, flexible utilization of experts can create cost savings while simultaneously adding new problem solving opportunities.  Statistically, the most common related employer mistakes are either stagnation or selecting the wrong remedy.  The four primary categories for flexible talent utilization are each unique.  These are consultants, outsource firms, part-time managers and non-profit memberships, and in their uniqueness, these are not to be deployed interchangeably.  The following analysis is a blueprint to determining where to plug and play each option.  Let us start with definitions.

 

Consultant:  “an expert who charges a fee for providing advice or services in a particular field.”  Expertise relies upon extraordinary knowledge relating to a magnitude of employers and third party objectivity.  A consultant advocates specifically for and tailors programs on behalf of the retaining employer.

 

Outsource:  “to buy labor or parts from a source outside a company or business rather than using the company's staff or plant.”

 

Part-Time:  “working less weekly hours than the company’s typical hourly requirement for full-time.”

 

Non-Profit Association:  “tax exempt organization serving the membership as a whole without individualized attention… prohibited from advocating on behalf of or representing private interests” or, in other words, an intended “greater good” concern which is the exact opposite of consulting.  Non-profits are expected to substitute general population betterment in consideration for taxes not paid.  Non-profits by nature make great networking and collaborative organizations but cannot legally participate in the act of private interest consulting.  

 

Clearly, these definitions describe uniquely distinctive situations, at times mutually exclusive, yet many still erroneously use these ideas interchangeably.  The following is a breakdown of where to deploy each option and discussion of expected value provided.  The examples herein focus upon the field of HR Management and Organizational Development.

 

Non-Profit Associations can be a great source of access for publicly available information, to consolidate and discuss without concern for private interest and individualized attention.  Customization is limited but open door networking is high.  With the exclusion of private interest, members must take on their own responsibility to screen and select only applicable offerings and talent provided by such greater good organizations.  Especially in HR/OD, what is appropriate to one employer can be entirely irrelevant and inappropriate to the next employer.  Classroom learning, written publications and networking access are expected to be among top offerings, and these can be offered at great prices given the tax exemptions and other fiscal advantages awarded to these entities.  Individualized workshops, private employer advocacy, targeted strategic planning and custom programs are largely if not entirely prohibited.  Liability is more difficult to subrogate to a non-profit; therefore, reliance upon non-profits as "experts" can be challenging. Where customization and private interest is desired, the following 3 options are better suited.

 

Part-time Managers can be an outstanding remedy to those disciplines which are not required full-time by an employer.  Depending upon organizational structure, examples may include Training, Compensation/Benefits and Talent Acquisition.  Smaller employers without the headcount to support 40 hours weekly work in these disciplines can divert these activities reasonably to a smaller time increment per week.  Certain activities are more spontaneous in emergence and can be scheduled with less ease, making part-time management less appropriate.  These include legal compliance, performance management, employee relations and safety.  While a certain percentage of these disciplines can be compartmentalized to a part-time schedule, the organization needs at least a backup “go to” during all operational times.  Where part-time managers are utilized, there is typically opportunity to choose consultancy or outsource instead.  A challenge with finding a part-time manager is finding someone willing and able to consistently work only part-time and during the employer’s required hours.  Turnover can be high, jeopardizing the learning curve and cost efficiencies.  Semi-retirees can be a great option, provided they are still ambitious to learn proactively and do not demand to be paid for what they did well for a prior employer.

 

Outsource can be a great option where better efficiencies and/or outcomes are gained by using another dedicated entity’s site and resources.  Depending upon the company’s existing resources, possible examples include Employee Assessment, Training, Benefits Administration, Payroll and Talent Acquisition.   The most common outsource mistake is where labor intensive organizations rely inappropriately upon PEOs (professional employer organizations), temporary help services or RPOs (recruitment process outsource) for talent acquisition.  Used well, quality outsource companies in these fields can control costs and streamline efficiencies.  Used poorly, these methods can create barrier to attracting, selecting, engaging and retaining the right talent. Appropriate outsource of candidate assessment not only streamlines efficiency and allows expert input, but also very importantly allows third party unbiased objectivity, which is especially essential when incumbent talent is being evaluated.

 

Consultants and non-profits cannot be used interchangeably and by nature are mutually exclusive.  Consultants are entirely devoted to private interest concerns.  Top consultants understand that each employer is unique – in culture, brand, labor intensity, business plan and comprehensive operations.  “One size fits all” solutions do not exist in consulting.  A great consultant knows the difference and how to apply the other 3 options and will work collaboratively on that team, also offering his/her own resource team.  A great consultant works with and works for the employer, drawing upon multi-employer case studies without betraying any company’s intellectual property.  When selecting a consultant, it is critical to understand that consultancy is NOT the natural evolution of the seasoned professional who created success during internal corporate life… or was formerly entrusted by a successful corporate entity.  Successful consultancy requires the proven ability to simultaneously serve multiple unique organizations through never-ending research, analysis, adaptation and deep knowledge of multi-employer case studies.  As what works for one company need not work well for another, success for one or a few corporate entities is not necessarily transferrable predictive success for your organization.  Great consultants are never “in between jobs.” They are constantly in demand, loyally retained, adaptable, and they stay busy in any economy.  They do not rest on laurels and they hone their salesmanship… needing to constantly promote change and inertia.

 

 

 

 


Jessica Ollenburg - Tuesday, September 14, 2010

 





September and January are Best Times to Attract Working Talent

Year after year we statistically validate that applicant pools shrink during summer and holiday seasons. Working candidates find these times the least attractive for job change. As a direct result, the best times to gain recruitment attention are September, January and Springtime (with the exclusion of Spring break).
 
The factors that will affect this phenomenon related to any individual employer include geographical seasonality, workplace demographics, employee retention and labor market pressures.
 
Working candidates under normal circumstances do not wish to give up paid time off accruals during typical vacation and holiday times. Back to school, summer plans and holiday pressures can also overburden the personal tasks in a working family, deferring job change to a time where appropriate time and attention can be devoted.
 
Although even in recessionary times certain market sectors continue to experience talent shortage, extreme recessions outplace otherwise employable candidates. When these fine people are seeking work during these less popular times, we can expect the existence of an above average work desire. Keeping in mind that desire for work does not necessarily translate into better work habits, the desire is still considered a positive attribute.
 
Under typical conditions, please expect longer talent acquisition lead times during summer and holiday seasons. Given that each employer is subject to unique talent needs, offerings and market conditions, please consider all applicable variables when planning. HRS is enthusiastically available to provide further insight, custom design and/or implementation assistance.


Jessica Ollenburg - Thursday, September 02, 2010