What’s the Future of Work? It’s all about S.E.T.H.

Human Resources

Image by zachstern via Flickr


Recently I wrote about Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) and how it presented one option of job design (or non-design).  There seems to be buzz about ROWE: Netflix kinda does it, BestBuy does it, even the Girl Scouts do it.   And Dan Pink promotes it.  I like Pink.  

I would really love to expand the simplistic equation {work = job} to {work = a variety of options to fit a variety of needs}, or something a little catchier (suggestions welcome!).  But don’t want to just blindly support ROWE.  I know that those in my “social media circle” have talked about the networked economy/enterprise 2.0 and the impact on work: herehere, here, here and here.  

I think there are 4 major drivers for this work overhaul and will take a series of posts to describe them in a little more detail. 

  • There are forces that are happening on a societal level.
  • There are the obvious economic drivers to consider.
  • Like it or not, technology will not disappear in the future, so we need to track those trends.
  • And last, but not least are the demographic or human resources aspects.

Hence the name “SETH”. 

I hope that you’ll weigh in and tell me where I’m wrong or misguided.  Futurecasting (forecasting + imagination) is not an exact science as well all know, and I hope these posts are useful or at least thought-provoking. 

Holly MacDonald is an independent consultant with well over 15 years of experience in the learning & development field.  Holly is a bit of a techno-geek and can often be found playing online.  When she steps away from her computer, she spends time outside: hiking, kayaking, gardening and of course walking the dog.  She lives on Saltspring Island and is a leader in the live/work revolution.


Exit interviews – from both sides of the desk

I have always been a big beliver in exit interviews.  But come to think of it, I have only had an exit  interview in approximately 50% of the companies I have worked with!  Many employers do not conduct exit interviews because they have not done so in the past and therefore are missing out on the opportunity that exit interviews provide for the company.  Although the employer is allowing exposure to possible criticism, this is a unique opportunity to learn the following from departing employees:

Why is the employee is leaving?

What his or her experience was while working at the company?

Is anything that the company is doing well or needs to improve upon?

Is there an opportunity for the organization to enable the transfer of knowledge from the departing employee to current staff in a more efficient manner?

Departing employees are more likely to give constructive and objective feedback than employees still in their jobs.  That said, for the departing interviewee, the exit interview is an opportunity to provide some constructive criticism, leave on a positive note and with a feeling of mutual respect.  Now, I know you are sitting there thinking, “You’re dreaming!” if I think that an employee that is leaving for negative reasons isn’t going to go out with a blaze of glory!

We have all had that one job or boss (whom we should never talk about in an interview) that has created all sorts of nasty scenarios of revenge and dreams of leaving with a case of beer in our hands down the emergency exit like Steven Slater of Jet Blue.  But, spite, vengeful thoughts and feelings should be left at the door. Never burn a bridge that you may later want to cross again.

For both parties, the exit interview is the chance to shake hands and depart as friends.

Dana Sebal has over 10 years Marketing and Human Resources experience.  Outside of her professional career, Dana’s passions include her family, rowing, running, tennis, skiing, yoga, and Beagles.

Branding Through Recruitment

In my last post “Are you committed to your brand?” I talked about employer branding and how it relates to your current employees.  You can learn a lot from the people in your company, but what about the people you are trying to attract to work for you, or the people who no longer work for you?

How can the recruitment process help you with internal branding?  Think about it, would you rather work for a company that is ranked highly in Canada’s Top 100 Employers and has a great reputation for treating its employees well, or a little known company that doesn’t have any employer brand recognition?  Most people would take the safe bet and go with a company they know about.

When looking at your employer brand and how recruitment can help in this process, take a look at the following:

  • What does your recruitment process say about your company as a place to work?
  • How do you use your brand in your recruitment efforts?
  • Walk through the recruitment process. What does it say about your company as a place to work?  How long is the interview process?  Does the recruitment process adapt for the different generations you are trying to attract and retain?
  • Research how people feel about the recruitment process as a whole with your company.
  • Evaluate the orientation program. Does this process make people proud in their decision to work for your company?  Design training materials that will engage your new hires and align them with your corporate brand values.

What about the people who no longer work for you?  Do you conduct exit interviews?  How do you manage the exit process?

When committing to employer branding, it is important to carefully plan how to manage those employees exiting your company – yhey are still ambassadors of your brand even though they no longer work for you.  You want them to remember their experience with your company as positive and to spread the word that your company lives up to its employer brand promise and is a great place to work.

If an employee has a great experience in your company they will tell 10 people.  If they have a terrible experience, that same employee will tell 100 people how horrible your company is.  How do you want your brand positioned?

Dana Sebal has over 10 years Marketing and Human Resources experience.  Outside of her professional career, Dana’s passions include her family, rowing, running, tennis, skiing, yoga, and Beagles.

Business trip etiquette: just some thoughts

I am going on a trip to a conference as well for training to two separate companies.  I am interested to know what people believe is the correct dress code.  As many may know, I work for a yoga apparel company where I wear stretchy pants, tank tops, flips flops, runners, and so on all day long.  If I worked at a bank or another corporate type of environment this really wouldn’t be an issue.  Now if I am going as the guest to a conference, does that mean I need to go shopping and wear clothes I wouldn’t otherwise?

I figure since I am the “customer” in both situations that I should be allowed to wear and do as I would at my normal job.  But the question does arise – am I pushing the boundaries, does dress code really matter to the other company, and would they find it offensive or refreshing?

To make things more interesting, when we have consultants or vendors come to our office, we ask that they wear comfortable clothing (even if it isn’t stretchy pants) and have people come in wearing 3 piece suits, sweat pants, short shorts, dresses, and jeans.  Never have I seen anyone receive it as offensive if the person didn’t wear athletic wear.  What should I do?

Agata Zasada is an HR generalist in a fast-paced company no one in Vancouver ever has heard of, lululemon athletica.  She has three years of experience in HR supplemented by a BBA in HR. Outside of her love for her career, Agata has been learning to run as well as practicing yoga (mainly Savasana), and is known for her witty humour.

Are you committed to your brand?

In a previous blog post Building an Internal Brand I talked about employer branding and how to create an internal brand.  One of the most important steps in internal branding is committing to the process.  Commitment is hard for a lot of people, especially me!  Therefore, to ease the long term pain and get used to the idea of committing, you will want to research and learn about your employee’s experience in your company. 

You can learn a lot from your current employees if you are willing to really listen to what they are trying to say to you.           

Discover what your employees believe to be your brand, what it promises to customers and what it promises to employees.   Conduct employee surveys that ask employees what is most important to them in the workplace, what they like or dislike about working at your company.  

Figure out how your customer and employer brands compare and what your employer brand requires from employees.  Ultimately your employees will be delivering on this promise. 

Define how your employer brand supports your business strategy and where your employees fit into the plan. 

Three ways to get your employees involved in the process:

  • Generate pride in the workplace for your employees
  • Create appropriate employee reward and recognition programs connected to the brand promise
  • Be consistent in supporting HR programs and processes over time

Not only will this research help you with your internal branding process, you will really get a feel for both the culture and the climate of your organization and if it is in line with your strategic goals.

In my next posts I will talk about new hires and former employees and how their input can help you with your goal of internal branding. 

Stop being a commitment-phobe and start talking to your employees. What they have to say may surprise you!

Dana Sebal has over 10 years Marketing and Human Resources experience.  Outside of her professional career, Dana’s passions include her family, rowing, running, tennis, skiing, yoga, and Beagles.

What I learned at Disneyland

If you read my previous post, I was in Disneyland for a week of my vacation.  You know, I forked over too much money on mouse ears, cotton candy and the Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast, I watched a zillion meltdowns from overstimulated kids, and my nephew got sick all over me but it was one of the best experiences of my life.  Here’s why:

  1. They say that at Disneyland the most important employees are the sweepers (more important than Mickey Mouse) because they are in the customer service role.  Yes, they keep the park clean but really their primary job is to answer any visitor question.  Knowing this, and because I’m evil, I tested this out with several inane questions and the sweepers rocked each one of them.  The lesson:  the service at Disneyland will floor you.  But then again, I didn’t spend my hard-earned money and fly for 3 hours to talk to a sweeper.
  2. I visited the Boudin Bakery at Disney’s California Adventure which was quite interesting given that I haven’t a clue what it was.  But we were walking by, got asked to come in for a tour and decided, why not?  Well now, it turned into an engaging 5 minute tour on how they make their famous sourdough bread, learned the history of the bread making and we got samples of the best tasting bread ever.  We were hooked.  We paid a fortune every day after that on this sourdough bread.  The lesson?  If no one is paying attention, open the doors for 5 minute tour of your department, wow them and give them something worth coming back for (and blogging about).
  3. Ke$ha and her entourage were on the plane ride from L.A. to Vancouver with us.  We were flying Westjet.  Not knocking it, I fly with them all the time but as Canadians know, Westjet is all coach, our equivalent to the the American Southwest Airlines.  My brother-in-law said seeing that he just lost all respect for the pop star; where was the rock & roll life style and glamour that comes with it?  The lesson here:  When perception and reality collide, it’s jarring.  Please, someone at the record company give her an advance, she’s had like 3 hit singles, I’m sure she’s good for the money.

In summary, I heart Disneyland.

Helen Luketic is the manager of HR metrics & research at BC Human Resources Management Association.  Besides editing this blog, researching and running the HR Metrics Service, she is busy working on a policy which would allow her to wear her Mini-Mouse ears to work.

Choosing the right consultant

I wrote before in defense of consultants.  Today’s post is about choosing the right consultant.  I am the right consultant for some, but not others.  Maybe I’ve got the skills, but not the right style.  Maybe I’ve got the reputation, but not the experience.  Maybe you just don’t trust me, because we’ve just met and you think consultants are smarmy.  The type of relationship will fall somewhere in between life partner and car dealership, give or take a few degrees of opinion.  How do you go about choosing?  Until e-harmony comes up with a “consulting” match service, you might have to do it the old-fashioned way…

Trust – you’ve got to trust that the consultant is going to provide you with their best advice.  So, meeting them and talking to them is kinda important.

Reputation – ask around – have others worked with this person/firm and if so, what was their experience?  Just because you’ve seen their name all over the place, doesn’t mean that they are good or more importantly a good fit for your organization.

Experience – look at the whole of their experience – in today’s world, people move in and out of organizations and they may have spent time “internally”.  One thing many people have said to me, is that they appreciate a consultant who is honest and says “no” to requests that they feel they are not qualified to do and recommend someone else for that work.

Size/scope of work – sometimes you have a small piece of work and can engage an independent consultant/contractor.  Other times your needs are larger and you need a firm with depth (or a well-connected independent who can help broker your needs).

Role – are you looking for a contractor for the individual piece of work or would you like to build a longer term relationship?

Style – do you need someone who is going to take the bull by the horns and tell you what to do?  Or, do you need someone who is going to involve you in the process and collaborate.

In fact, it’s a lot like finding an employee.  So, don’t just treat them like a commodity – buying a surveying service or training product – these folks are part of your talent ecosystem…

Holly MacDonald is an independent consultant with well over 15 years of experience in the learning & development field.  Holly is a bit of a techno-geek and can often be found playing online.  When she steps away from her computer, she spends time outside: hiking, kayaking, gardening and of course walking the dog.  She lives on Saltspring Island and is a leader in the live/work revolution.