Introducing S.E.T.H., the future of work


Image by Shatterbug11 via Flickr

My Seth isn’t Mr. Godin (although he’s A Seth) or that other cool guy from TEDTalks.  This is a made-up SETH.  I was looking for a mnemonic device to help you remember some of the big things that might influence how you approach work.  Especially if you are in HR or have some job design responsibilities.  SETH stands for: Social, Economic, Technological, Human/Demographic (SETD wasn’t as catchy).  

Let’s start with social.  

My goal is that these blog posts will make you think or examine your current practices.  Maybe, you’ll find that they don’t impact you, but before you just post a job, consider these trends… 

  • Work-life balance – who hasn’t heard this term?  What does it really mean?  I have no idea, but the reality is that we can’t ignore it, individually or organizationally.  Many “jobs” are cobbled together tasks and most of us have experienced the ever-increasing number of tasks.  Expectations of hours worked or face time is a key component of how work is defined, and unspoken cultural norm.  These are the sacred cows of job design.  Remember Ricardo Semler – he espoused a revolution in management, where self-managed teams did just that.  And more recently the best-selling work of Tim Ferris’ Four Hour Workweek touched a raw nerve, encouraging people to stop treating work like a non-stop escalator of serial monogamy of work relationships, but rather your life as a series of sabbaticals funded through short bursts of work.  Where ever you happen to stand, the reality is that it is a mainstream trend. 
  • Corporate Social Responsibility – people are looking for something to belong to – in his recent work (Drive), Dan Pink tells us that people are motivated by 3 things: autonomy, mastery and a sense of purpose.  But, we’ve also seen this in surveys, keynotes/interviews, articles (and articles) as well.  Perhaps offering some paid sabbatical time to some workers to contribute to a social cause opens an opportunity for an intern or work experience program.  Some organizations do this already.  What if an entire intact team did it?  What if your organization sent a contingent of workers overseas which opened up many temporary jobs for others?
  • The role of education/skills and the impact it has on jobs.  What skills does your organization need?  How do employees acquire them?  How is the funding of public education and the quality/quantity of university grads mean to your organization?  Do you still say your jobs need “degree in X”?  Do you know what the forecast for degree holders in that program are?  Do you work with colleges/universities or other education groups to address skill gaps?  Do you offer your workers to these programs as experts in their field?
  • Housing costs/property taxes/urbanization are social issues.  Do people always go to where the work is or do they go where they want to/can afford to live first?  What impact does this have on where you locate your operations or individual jobs, if at all?   
  • Health care – here in Canada, many people seek out full-time jobs because of the desire to gain access to extended health care plans.  What if there were alternatives – increased commoditization of extended group health care plans?   What does the ageing population’s demand for health care mean to your organization? 
  • Climate change – greening of the economy and subsequent localism.  What does this mean to how you design work? 

Big, heavy issues are at play here, and those of us who have the ability to make a change should think about it.  You aren’t just maximizing the dollars spent by your organization on people, you are participating in the future of society.  You may not agree with all the things I’ve listed or some might just not apply to you, but you owe it to yourself and others to think about it anyway. 

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.


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.

Fortes fortuna adiuvat

Just in case you’re one in the few people who hasn’t seen yet, here’s how a young woman to quit her job in 33 pictures in a story titled, “Girl quits job on dry erase board”.  In another time, I’m sure I would have felt very differently about how this woman named Jenny left her job.  But in a world where personality and personal connections (which HR professionals call “organizational fit”) fares equally with experience for job hunters, I think it’s hilarious!

I certainly don’t admire the fact that Jenny chose not to give her employer adequate notice that she was leaving but I do respect the fact that she had the courage to leave a position where she neither felt respected nor valued.  I also applaud the fact that she expressed her reasons for leaving.  Many times, angry workers stomp off and never express what it was that upset them – that’s a disservice to the organization (since appropriate changes cannot be made) as well as a disservice to the individual who quit (since they leave without a sense of closure).

It may seem inappropriate for a broker to publically behave in such a way – since she wants to work in a position of high responsibility and risk – but her actions may have been exactly what she needed to do in order to be noticed by the future employer of her choice.  Who knows what Jenny’s career goals are?  Even if she still wants to be a broker, she may still find work with other brokers who share her sense of humour. 

The Latin proverb, “Fortes fortuna adiuvat,” means “Fortune favors the bold.”  As the layoffs of 600 employees are announced at Service Canada, it seems that this is the time where fortune will only favor the bold.

Geraldine Sangalang is an HR pro working at the Robson Square Courthouse.  She volunteers as a BC HRMA GV CAN Networking Co-Chair, as well as a recruiter for Meaningful Volunteer.  On her private time, Geraldine loves scrapbooking, hiking, kayaking, and dining out with friends.

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.

Unemployed? …. Do Not Apply!

A recent article posted at Huffington Post brings up the question of whether or not the unemployed should be excluded from applying for vacant jobs.  The article reports that some companies in the US are not only discouraging the unemployed from applying for jobs, but also blatantly stating “Must be currently employed” in their job postings.

A poster on had stated that “This ‘practice’ been going on for almost as long as I can remember (30+ years of TPR) now everyone is upset because a company actually said it in a job post?” Is there any wonder that the US, is still in a recession if the unemployed are discouraged from becoming employed?

The part that I am having a hard time understanding is what makes someone who is currently employed in the wake of so many layoffs, more employable than someone who was let go due to the recession? Some might say that if the person was really good, s/he would still be employed. But, if you are employed and currently looking for a job wouldn’t that suggest that you are unhappy with your position, company, boss, or are on the list to be fired? And how does this make you more worthy than the pool of unemployed candidates that are team players, top performers and will be real go-getters because they want and need a job.

I don’t know the answer. I just hope this isn’t happening in Canada as well as the US.

I would like to think that since we are a in a better economic position, we would not discriminate against the unemployed. And since I would like to think we would be less discriminating, I did a little research on the major job boards and Craigslist.

In my search, I found that there were no ads specifically requesting that candidates be employed. In fact, I found a few ads stating they would prefer to hire someone who is currently unemployed.

This does raise the question – is this practice going on in private in Canada? Do the resumes of the unemployed undergo more scrutiny than the resumes of the employed? What are your thoughts on this issue? Where do you stand on this?

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.

When social networking, it’s all about quality

This is a meerkat in case you were wondering.

If you are a reader of other HR blogs and in particular Fistful of Talent, you’re probably familiar with the one of the main writers, Jessica Lee.  Jessica flew in from Washington D.C. to speak at last week’s BC HRMA Conference 2010 on “Social Media as the Great Recruiting Equalizer”. 

I sat up like a meerkat when I heard her say something that spoke to my recent post on LinkedIn connections, debating whether it is more beneficial to have large quantities of connections or a smaller group of quality connections.   Jessica said that the number of connections we had on any social networking site (Facebook, LinkedIn, and so on) was irrelevant.  Instead, we should care that we’re connected to the right people.  In other words, as a recruiter, it doesn’t matter if you’re connected to 500+ users, what matters is that you’re connected to people who might be interested in coming to work for your organization.  Or that you’re connected to people who know the people who might be interested in coming to work for your organization.  Sorry if you had to re-read that last sentence a few times! 

So according to Jessica Lee, it’s about quality connections, not quantity.  However, I guess what really differs for each of us is what defines “quality”. 

A few other tips from Jessica when getting started with social networking:  authenticity matters!  Don’t be afraid to show your personality and have a voice that’s your own.  Jessica’s own experience has shown that personal networks are far more popular than the corporate ones.

HR practices that are so 2000 & late

Thanks, Black Eyed Peas, for coining this new term.  I’m using it ad nauseam to annoy my friends, family and most importantly, coworkers.

BEP are always ahead of the game but then, they have to be.  As for HR, rest assured that you don’t always have to be ahead of the game.  But, you should at least be on top of your game by applying new ideas that have been tried, tested and produce results.

Trying to decide if you’re ahead, on par, or behind the game?  Here’s the quiz.  Make the most of it by thinking about your response before checking out the answer key.

  1. Are you upgrading your talent in the downturn?  In other words, are you letting go of poor performers in hopes of snatching up better employees?
  2. Do you care if your employees are at their desk or do you care if they deliver?
  3. Are you recruiting solely via your corporate careers site?
  4. Is your company making a profit, albeit less of one, and cutting employee pay and benefits to maintain it?
  5. Are you a hoarder?

Here’s your answer key:

  1. It’s understandable if you’re trading up while the War for Talent is on hiatus.  But let’s be blunt – you’re not giving the impression that you’re regularly dealing with underperformers and you’re missing an opportunity to be a game player.  (and pssst… like in your case, the high performers may still be working….)
  2. Of course, you care more that your employees deliver.  However, chances are that you pay by the clock and not the results.  The underlying assumption is that your employees have to be at their desks.  Think about it – how would you react if your employee walked out of your office after doing only 4 hours and yet they’ve met all their targets?  Figure your way around this to be on top of your game.
  3. If your answer is “yes” (save for the occasional newspaper ad), you must be watching the hit new show Three’s Company.  Using only your careers website as a sourcing tool is like being a hotdog vendor in the corner of an underground parking lot.  If you’re using LinkedIn, Facebook,  or Twitter, you’re at least on top of things, but you’re a long ways away from being ahead of the crowd.
  4. It’s a new world out there, one where people are fed up with exorbitant executive compensation and the sole focus on the shareholder.  Harvard Business Review says that “trust in business is running out”.  These smarties say that the future will include a “broadening [of] the list of key stakeholders to include employees, customers, suppliers, communities, the press, unions, government and civil society.”
    In other words, if your focus is on profit and the shareholder, you are officially 2008 and late.
  5. I get it, there’s a recession and we’re all in survival mode.  But history has taught us that society thrives when it works together.  Hoarding ideas, resources, people, money, knowledge, and whatever else is soooo over.  It’s all about collaboration, sharing, adding value, and unity because we’re all in this together, baby.

Thanks for playing!  Get ready for Round #2, where the questions will be tougher and the stakes higher.  Coming at you next week….