Category Archives: Human Resources

3 Things We’ll See in HR by 2022

On Friday of last week (10/20), I was a guest on Michael Cameron’s daily radio program “Win-Win@Work” and had the opportunity to speak about my favorite topic– building and leading a world-class recruiting team. It’s a wonderful thing when you find yourself leading a team that has hit its collective stride. It’s a magical place, a place where the beer flows like wine, and where beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano. Building and leading a team is the most satisfying part of the job for me, and when things are good, they are really good.

But we know in this crazy Talent Acquisition life, every day is a snapshot – who knows what tomorrow will bring, much less what might happen in 2022. So when Mr. Cameron (makes me feel younger to call anyone “Mister”) asked me at the end of our interview, “where do you see Talent Acquisition in five years?”, I’ll admit I chewed on my tongue a bit ~ five freaking years??

Since, “I don’t have a clue, Mike” is a decidedly bad answer to a live broadcast question, the little man started rummaging my subconscious mind for those thoughts I have when allowed to be future-focused. To my surprise, I think I may have made a little sense, you tell me.

Three things I expect to see in Talent Acquisition by 2022:

  1. Talent Networks/Communities Will Explode ~ If you aren’t building a community already, you better get with the program. Building virtual connections by sharing meaningful information is definitely a “long” play, but when those crops start to come in, you’ll have a pipeline of engaged candidates.
  2. Speed Wins ~ The application process is an absolute beating. Everybody seems to know this, but even with technology advances the process takes, on average, 30 minutes. That’s garbage. Find the key to that door and the kingdom is yours. The huge ATS is going to go buh-bye, and the sooner the better.
  3. Blurred Lines ~ With the increased importance of building a people pipeline via talent networks, Talent Acquisition will continue to morph into a Marketing arm of the organization. Candidate or customer, what’s the difference? We’re just scratching the surface of how to maximize the time we engage with a potential candidate, why not also capture them as potential customers? What we have here is another way to tie Talent Acquisition to financial metrics – yay metrics. Same concepts apply – who’s your audience, what kind of persona are you targeting, and how do you most effectively reach them?

There’s also one other fundamental belief I have that isn’t universally shared. Fundamentally, I still see our job being relationship-driven by talented people in recruiting roles. There’s a swell of Orwellian thinking that technology will replace recruiters as time progresses. Here’s the problem –  the HR-Tech boon of the last several years has, in many ways, resulted in white noise. Too many tools, too many gimmicks (too many blogs, consultants, and “experts” too for that matter.) I still believe the recruiting function needs to be internally based and owned by actual employees of the company. The technology that succeeds will be the kind that frees up recruiters to do what they do best – recruit. 

If you want to listen to the conversation, here’s the link. And yes, I really do sound like that.

You Know You’re a Manager When….

I can count many blessings. Among those is the fact that not only do I have a great boss, I have two fantastic managers reporting to me. When you have strong people supporting your efforts, you can sometimes take for granted the fact that development continues for all of us – even those who are already at a pretty advanced level. So, I try to take mental notes from time to time that fall into the category of “You know you’re a Manager when…”

These things may not appear in the leadership “handbook”:

  • You can admit that “YES”, you do have favorites, but the reasons better be in direct correlation with performance. Jimmy Johnson, the sainted ex-coach of America’s Team freely admitted that the “rules are different for different players.” Fairness is different than “the same.” Don’t let a policy hound tell you otherwise. The funny thing about favorites is that they are usually disguised as excellent performers with good attitudes – it’s the damnedest thing, but performance and reliability should count for plenty.
  • Speaking of performance, many of your own moments of brilliance will happen in a vacuum. Part of our job as leaders is to remove obstacles or at least pave the way for our respective teams – chances are your people will never have visibility to many of the things you do for them. They will see the benefits of your work eventually, hang in there.
  • “Happy Hour” with the team has a time limit for you, Cinderella. It usually coincides about the time you pay for the 1st round.
  • If you think they are talking about you,  you can relax. OF COURSE they are talking about you – you’re the boss, at some point you will not be terribly popular. This is one of the reasons you leave Happy Hour after the 1st round. It’s a part of the tribe mentality – and despite what you might think, you ain’t in the tribe. Don’t take it personal.
  • “Be who you are” in your management style. Don’t try to be a hard-ass if it’s not in your DNA; you won’t be good at it, and you’ll seem phony to your direct reports. It happens to all of us when we first get into a leadership role. At the same time you’re learning your new responsibilities, you’re trying to put on your face for the team. Are you a friend? Mentor? Coach? Disciplinarian? Be yourself, act accordingly.
  • Time + attention = “Development”; if you can’t determine what a “formal” training and development plan should look like, spend time with your people and give them some dedicated attention. A lot of budgeted (read: expensive) training opportunities may not be available to you, but face time is always an option.
  • Here’s one that I recently learned myself…slow down. Yup, actually pasted a stickie on my computer screen that reminds me to “breathe, think about it, then act.” We’re all working managers (pretty funny that needs to be a point of distinction), so we’re juggling alley cats throughout the day. In the world of recruiting, we all live with our hair on fire, so it’s not uncommon for things to occasionally get missed, mixed up, forgotten, delayed, misplaced or miscommunicated. I had a whopper of my own just last week when I sent sensitive information over email to a distribution group that still included the subject of the sensitive information.

Which leads me to my final nugget…

  • Forgive yourself. You will make mistakes. As a matter of fact, you’ll make several – something about being “human.” Own it, learn from it, then forgive yourself and move on. I’m still having to remind myself of this tidbit, no one will be harder on you than you. Covering it, rationalizing it, dodging responsibility all lead to bigger problems. Humility is a lesson we all need occasionally, it’s good for the soul.

Saying that, I’d still double check that email first…


John Whitaker is Vice President, Talent Acquisition for DentalOne Partners. For more than 20 years he has built and developed high-powered recruiting teams focused on developing a competitive advantage via strategic Human Capital positioning, planning, and practices.

Killing a Housefly with a Hand Grenade

“Killing a Housefly with a Hand Grenade” is the fifth in a 10-part series outlining the concepts included in “The Physics of HR; Mastering the Laws of Motion,” the Whitaker joint set to publish in mid-2016.

As discussed in the preceding series of posts, the essence of our job in Human Resources is “movement.” As such, we are subject to the laws of physics, and to a larger effect, Newton’s Laws of Motion.

Of the three (the first two are discussed here and here), the law we routinely struggle with is Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion – “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” In our scope of influence, it translates as an appropriate response given any situation. Sounds simple enough, but experience tells me otherwise.

As a matter of fact, we seem to be genetically pre-disposed to inverting the scale, underestimating the impact of change, over-reacting to matters that call for a more subtle response.

Let’s use the ever-growing possibility of Integration as a prime example of how we violate Newton’s 3rd Law, and the mess created as a result.

For an employee, there may be no situation that matches the angst and anxiety experienced during a merger. The amount of uncertainty that exists throughout the process can be paralyzing to the individual, causing significant drops in overall productivity. It’s a serious, significant “action” that packs a hell of a punch. The collective reaction of HR, however, is to under-sell, under-inform, and minimize the action in hopes of controlling the reaction. That MO consistently fails for a few fundamental reasons:

  1. The universe will not tolerate a vacuum. If we (HR) fail to provide information, someone else will. Rumors, gossip, grapevine, water-cooler conversations will be the information dispatch.
  2. People are wired to expect the negative outcome. That mindset impacts productivity by as much as 2-3 lost hours per day. The hidden cost to the company is massive.
  3. It contradicts the Laws of Motion, remember?

Now, flip the coin. What are your thoughts on dress code at the workplace?

Yep, dress code. How many hours of your HR life have you wasted discussing things like “dress code,” “Jeans Day,” the appropriate number of plants per office, and the like? A colossal waste of time and energy, yet HR teams will pursue this legislation as if securing a hill on the battlefield. I have a few theories as to why we seem to be attracted to such trivial initiatives:

  1. Black and white suits us. “Do this, don’t do that” could be an HR bumper sticker.
  2. We can implement and complete an initiative. Maybe to show we’ve got purpose? Misguided.
  3. Like other employees, we’ve been conditioned to think these matters really are important.

You can see these disconnects between action/reaction throughout the organization, not just Human Resources. We are simply following the model we’ve seen throughout our careers. It’s time to re-examine our priorities and align our response levels to be more appropriate, more strategic, and, well….more scientific.

Next up: Recruiting, where Physics was forgotten…

Sympathy for the Devil

Besides the distinction of being a kick-ass jam, the Rolling Stones classic tune “Sympathy for the Devil” offers an interesting discussion on the duplicity of human nature. We’re a funny bunch of monkeys, my fellow HR professionals… as “good” as we may strive to be, we still are not above using whatever means necessary to achieve the ultimate goal. Lie, cheat, steal, or… make a deal with ol’ Fire-Britches himself.

In Human Resources, we hear lies every single day. There’s a motivation to lie when you’re job is on the line. For example, in the case of the job seeker, it may be because the candidate experience is largely designed to force the hand of anyone hoping to make it past the “currently employed” knockout punch. Ask anyone who has been unemployed for a significant stretch of time whether or not honesty pays in their job search effort. It becomes easy to eliminate applicants when we have an SEO mentality. So, if it gets me in the door, I might forget to add my “end date” for my last (excuse me…”current”) employer. HR is the gatekeeper, and we designed a fence to keep them out… so the candidate may build a Trojan rabbit in which to gain access.

But what about US? How many rationalizations, half-truths, and smokescreens do you communicate from the HR desk? Ever been through an acquisition or merger? Are the rumors and innuendo you hear throughout the workplace generally of the optimistic or fatalistic variety? As the HR “insider,” we are often the point of contact for many employees trying to gain more certainty of their future. The universe will not tolerate a vacuum of information—so we stretch, embellish, guess, hypothesize (i.e., lieto employees instead of telling the truth, many times because we are handcuffed from sharing sensitive information.

How about the fabled recruiting pitch? Staffing is infamous for painting a rosy picture to potential candidates, some of which disappears like a fart in the breeze once we get the candidate on board.

Then there’s the sometimes awkward disposition phone call to the candidate(s) not making the cut. Do we explain to them that they talked with marbles in their mouth, had breath like a dragon, appeared to be a dedicated over-blinker, and/or had the energy level of a dial tone? Or, do we soft-pedal (lie) the feedback to let them know that “despite overall positive feedback, we have decided to pursue a stronger candidate.”

Employee investigations, performance reviews, even exit interviews—there is ample opportunity to utilize some fuzzy talk in our efforts to accomplish the greater good… or, to avoid the worser bad (I just made that up—it looks terrible, but I’m sticking with it).

The point is we just can’t help ourselves and, in some cases, it’s an occupational hazard. Our integrity will, at times, take a coffee break.

So, if you meet us, have some sympathy and some taste. I know it’s puzzling you, but it’s the nature of our game, so to speak.

Are You Pushing Your Top Talent Away?

You know what’s a difficult thing to do? Leaving a good job is a difficult thing to do. When you’re fortunate enough to work for an employer that treats you fairly, offers competitive compensation, and provides job security, that’s usually the trifecta.

That’s not to imply that these are “negative” qualities in a company, but would it surprise you to know that each can create problems in the retention of your most talented people?
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This is a wake-up call that you may be doing a great deal of things correctly, but still be setting up an exit path for your top performers. I’ve seen it happen countless times in my experience with Fortune 500 companies that have miniscule turnover rates—but the people they do lose … ouch babe. (read more)

“Equal” Is a Stretch

Guest post by our self-proclaimed “Compensation Geek” Meghann Bedell, hermetically sealed to guarantee freshness.

Equal means equal,” she said. “The truth of it is the older an actress gets, the less money she makes. It’s inexcusable that we talk about equal rights for women in other countries and yet…we don’t have equal rights for women in America. It’s time for all the women in America and all the men who love women and all the gay people and all the people of color that we’ve fought for, to fight for us now.” – Patricia Arquette

Equal pay for women, how long have we been hearing about this issue?  It seems to be a political hot topic every four years and it tends to get people on both sides of the aisle equally stirred up. It even received a special mention at the Oscars!  There’s even a special White House webpage where any woman can go to read about how the government is on her side.

Now let’s take a step back and really look into this issue.  If it’s important enough for an Academy Awards acceptance speech, then it’s probably important to know about.

We will start way back to 1963 when John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act, which makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate with regards to pay.  This law is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and violations could potentially result in large penalties and fines.

Now fast-forward 50 years, and we are still talking about the same issues.  Lets look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics and their most recent stats on women’s earnings.  The National 2014 Data takes a look at the entire nation’s wage information. When looking at these stats please notice the focus on the following sub categories: Race and Ethnicity, Educational Status, Age and Marital Status.

This information is interesting because only one point matches to what is truly reviewed when looking at compensation for an employee.   The categories that we review when completing a compensation analysis are the following: Years of Experience, Education, Certifications, and Military Service. The only matching aspect from the National Data is the Education level.

What is missing in this analysis is a breakdown in the types of jobs that the people are in and how many years of experience they have in relation to the specific job. Years of experience is calculated the same for both men and women.  The National Data, however, does not mention anything about years of experience.

They do, however, include age, gender, and marital status. Is that strange? Why would the data that is used by our government and politicians include those aspects?  Could it be that they are trying to use data to sway your opinion?

Or, maybe Patricia Arquette should have mentioned what Ethan Hawke was paid for his role in the movie?

Status Check

***Another guest post from Meghann Bedell, our Gen Y Compensation Geek***

Did you think that you finally made it when you got your first salaried position?

That’s how I felt too before I became “exempt,” too. I quickly realized that the change was minimal.

For those of you who don’t know, exempt and non-exempt are how the department of labor classifies jobs.  Basically, some jobs are determined to be exempt from overtime, hence the “exempt” status.

Companies determine which jobs are exempt and which jobs are non-exempt by using an exemption “test.”

I’m not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the line there became a stigma regarding being exempt.  Some false belief that being exempt means that the position is more valuable to the organization than a non-exempt position.

It seems that everyone wants to be exempt because they think that something magical happens when they become exempt.  I’m not sure what, but I’ve racked my brain and this is what I could come up with:

⁃    More Money:  This has to be it!  Everyone wants more money, right?  Well that’s not always the case.  See once you are exempt, you will not be paid overtime.  Remember when you would work extra hours and see that awesome bump in pay? I’m sorry, but when you are classified as exempt you are responsible for working the extra hours and you will be paid for the first forty hours you worked……and that’s about it.

⁃    Hours Worked:  Maybe people think that when you’re exempt you are only responsible for working 40 hours.  This is not true either.  Actually, you will be responsible for getting the job done, no matter how many hours it may take.

⁃    Recognition: Oh I know, that exempt position will provide them with the recognition that they deserve.  I hope that happens, but in the majority of cases, being exempt just gets you more work.  This extra work does not exactly equal more recognition.

Honestly, though, I think that this viewpoint goes way back to the days of the “blue collar” and “white collar” jobs.

At one point these classifications of blue vs white collar positions were accurate; the “blue” collar was the laborer, the “white” collar was management.  But as we have progressed as a workforce and as jobs have evolved, these classifications have become less relevant.  Now, when we determine whether a job is exempt or non-exempt, we are not determining the worth of the position to the organization, but rather the best way to compensate for specific job functions. I find it ironic that consultants are paid an hourly wage, but they are hardly viewed as “blue” collar or non-exempt. It’s all in the perception.

So the next time you think that it’s “about time” that your employer recognized your excellence and allowed you to enter the wonderful world of exemption – just please take a moment to review all of the current perks that come with your current position.

And be careful what you wish for.

Millennials and Retirement? Comp Corner…

Time for another post from our little Compensation Geek, Meghann Bedell:

Are you ready for your retirement, Millennial buddy? Yes, I know you’re 20-something years old, but bear with me – 401(k), 403(b), Ira Roth, IRA do you know the difference? What does your company offer? Do you even know?

Are you making the mistake of thinking who the hell cares about retirement – I’ve got 30 years to save.

Let me say this loud and clear – it’s never too early to start saving. For the more stubborn folks, I repeat, NEVER TOO EARLY!

Millennials (and everyone else) remember the unprecedented collapse of the economy in 2008/2009.  I personally know some people who lost everything (and if I know someone I know that most of you know someone too)!

This all happened when my class was graduating college…what a great starting point for us! “Congrats on all of your hard work, but….” – now it’s time to compete with people that have 10+ years of experience in a job with a company that may or may not be around in the next five years.  Oh, and remember what we were telling you about the “Baby Boomers” moving out of the workplace?  Well that’s off the table, too, because the majority of them just lost all of their savings, and they will be in the workplace for another 15 years. Good luck!

If you were fortunate enough to find a job at that point then I say hold on to it for dear life and don’t let go – but now five years later the economic situation has stabilized a bit (not recovered, mind you), and more people are getting permanent positions.  Now you are asking, what’s the moral of this long-winded terribly boring story?

It’s important to save what you can now because it’s not a guarantee that the option will always be there. Not tomorrow, not next pay period, not next year…. Now!

Most employers put a freeze on matching a portion of what their employee’s contribute to retirement plans when the economy went south, but now they have lifted that freeze and are offering you free money. All you have to do is be smart enough to take it.

It doesn’t take 50%, 25% or even 10% of your pay – Contributing as little as 3% of your pay will make a difference over the course of a year.

More good news – if your company offers you a retirement plan then I bet you they offer payroll deduction for your contribution – that means the contribution comes out on a pretax basis and that in turn lowers your taxable income – a win-win for you!


Don’t let articles like this be right.  Don’t let a false belief that you will live forever, or the thought that “the recession is over” prevent you from saving for your future now.

Portion Control

Say hello to our new Compensation Contributor, Meghann Helman Bedell…self-admitted compensation geek and keeper of the flame at GenYHR.

This is it…the one time each year when we suck it up and ask for more money. It seems reasonable; you work hard, you showed up on time, you definitely deserve more than Charlie, why would you be denied? Could it really be as a simple as “yes” or “no” from your manager? It’s not like you’re asking for a big raise, it’s only a few more dollars per week.

You are not alone.  Actually, this time of year it is very common for employees to begin to look at their compensation and wonder what the New Year could possibly hold for them.  It’s also the time of year when businesses begin to look at their finances and being to plan for their new fiscal year.

The foundation of employee compensation can be explained in the laws that the government has put into place like this one, that one and this other one.  Companies are incentivized to do their absolute best to make sure that their pay practices are fair and equitable. If companies are found to be in violation of these laws, then the consequences can be very severe and expensiveportion-control

Working in HR, I often hear the following phrase “This is a big company; they make enough money to pay me another $.50/hr”. It’s understandable not to understand all of the nuances that effect compensation when you do not work with it every day. So, it should be no surprise that there are applicants, employees and even random people who actually believe this statement. These people have come to some sort of random conclusion that compensation is just their base rate of pay, and that the company that they work for or want to work for is just being plain greedy.

Let’s take a look at this logically.  If your position is a 40 hour per week position, then a $.50/hr increase to your base rate of pay would be an additional $1,040/year. If your company is nice enough to offer you benefits, then please remember to add on the expense for your benefits. This expense is approximately 15% – 33% of your annual salary (please note that this is an estimated/average cost and the actual percentage will depend on the company). Don’t forget if your employer has a retirement program (pension plan/401(k) or 403(b) match program), then that would be an additional 5%-10% annually (estimated).  Also, please add in the increased cost of any shift differential, overtime, on-call pay, holiday pay, sick time off, vacation time, preceptor pay, education pay, etc ……these would all be costs incurred by the company.

Finished doing the math? How much does it come out to be? I bet it’s a little more than you originally thought, right!

When you are finally get up enough nerve to have a compensation discussion with your boss again, just remember to keep in mind what that company invests in you already.  I’m sure you are worth that extra money, but make sure you let your boss know that you are appreciative and understand the monetary commitment that the company has made to you at this point.

Besides, Charlie is probably lying about what he’s making, so to hell with him.