Daily Top 5 Global HR News – 7 December 2017
We bring together from ICube Research and published news, a summary of 5 items that are contemporary. The news is curated from more than 50 HR related websites across more than 15 countries including Singapore, USA, UK, Canada, Australia, India, Malaysia and Kenya, among others.
The Daily Digest covers the Global view of latest people practices and technology developments amongst other areas.
1. Industrial Strategy disappoints on investment in UK’s human capital
You can be forgiven if you failed to notice the launch of the latest version of the UK’s industrial strategy last week given it was somewhat overshadowed by coverage of Prince Harry’s forthcoming marriage to Meghan Markle. It is hard to get people excited about industrial strategy at the best of times let alone amid the furore of the next Royal Wedding.
However, the UK’s industrial strategy is extremely important as Government looks to take the actions necessary to boost the UK’s poor productivity and improve its competitiveness after Brexit.
Industrial strategies reflect the times. They have an expiry date, sometimes unknown. For much of the post-war period, nationalization and privatization were the preferred ways of intervening in, or liberalising, certain markets. During the 1990s and 2000s, government assumed it could craft precise interventions that targeted failings of the market, rather like keyhole surgery. The Coalition government set out an industrial policy though it’s questionable if anyone beyond politicians and policy wonks read it. In any case, 23 June last year meant all such policies suddenly reached their expiry date.
The latest industrial strategy has been positioned as central to the UK’s economic future outside the EU. Yet, for companies trading with Europe, and for the many employers that rely on European migrants, these future relationships will be far more powerful factors shaping their future. The strategy as set out to date might best be seen as trying to give mobile businesses and people (such as scientists) a reason, or an incentive, to stay in the UK.
The strategy describes five “foundations” of productivity: Ideas (R&D), People (essentially education and training); Infrastructure; Business Environment; and Places.
The biggest areas for investment are in research and development, where the Government is pledging to raise total investment to 2.4% of GDP by 2027, and infrastructure which is supported by a £31bn National Productivity Investment Fund to go on transport, housing and digital capacity.
In contrast, investment in the UK’s human capital does not fare nearly so well. There is nothing in the strategy that addresses the UK’s chronic under investment in adult skills and life-long learning, with the focus mainly on education policy and the supply of skilled labour for the future in niche sectors. The new National Retraining Scheme, backed by an initial investment of £64m, seems primarily focused on the use of educational technology for students in two small sectors.
The sector focus in the strategy is also too exclusive to have the impact required given the UK’s productivity challenge, with the sector deals focusing on important but narrow high tech and construction sectors that together account for less than 15% of UK employment.
Leaders of all parties much prefer talking about technology, and visiting construction sites and hi-tech multinationals, but our productivity, and earnings, are at least as dependent on the efficiency of our shops, hotels and hairdressers and the people who run them.
The strategy does acknowledge there is a need to find ways to boost the productivity of the UK’s small firms and proposes to launch a review on this. This is promising but will depend on there being the political will – or money – left to implement its recommendations.
2. Building Behavioral Science Capability in Your Company
If you’re interested in behavioral economics, then you probably heard that Richard Thaler, one of the discipline’s founding fathers, was recently awarded the Nobel prize in economics. You might also be sold on how insights from behavioral science can make a big impact in your organization. You may even have piloted a couple of nudge-based interventions in your organization and are now asking yourself, “What’s next?”
You aren’t alone. Increasing numbers of companies are looking to build a behavioral science team — one that is located at the very center of their business and that the whole organization can benefit from. This makes sense, because the alternative is for behavioral insights to be tried out by individuals or specific departments, and their knowledge and skill are likely to vary: Someone in marketing might use their behavioral knowledge to develop more-effective campaigns, while at the same time someone in HR uses theirs to focus on employee engagement. Sales could be developing a behaviorally informed strategy, while operations looks for ways to cut costs.
While the initiatives may produce some success, it’s likely that they will lack coordination and optimization. Building an embedded and sustained behavioral science unit, with expertise and resource at the heart of the organization, increases the chances that knowledge is shared, coordination is improved (rather than departments all trying to do their own thing), and outcomes are improved for all.
Here are six things to consider when building a behavioral science group in your organization.
Get the Vision Right
This first step isn’t exactly groundbreaking, but that doesn’t make it any less crucial. All the best strategies, policies, and plans start with a vision — that is, being clear on how you intend for your company to benefit from behavioral science. Getting your vision and scope right is essential and will require you to ask yourself some pretty detailed questions. Here are more than a few to get you started:
Why do you want to have a behavioral science team? What challenges are you hoping behavioral science will help you solve? Which departments are already motivated to get involved and are likely to benefit most? At this stage is it also important to think about what is not on the behavioral science agenda.
Having a clear, defined scope and vision will guide you through some of the choices and trade-offs you will face while building the team.
Be Honest About the Resources You Will Need
Once you’ve set a clear, realistic scope, it is vital to be honest about the budget and resources you will require and any time constraints. Have you got the funds to bring in experts? The market for behavioral science is specialized and not yet mature, so your go-to consultancy may not have the expertise to advise you. If you plan for the team to be self-financing after an initial period, how long do you have to make it work — a couple of months, or a couple of years? Being clear about this will help you direct your resources to those programs that stand the best chance of early payback. With your vision and resources in place you are now ready to…
Consider the Team’s Requirements
When you think about it, behavioral science is a wonderful example of successful collaboration: It pools insights from across the social sciences, including psychology, sociology, economics, anthropology, and neuroscience. Your behavioral team should be the same: a successful collaboration of various skill sets and functions.
Depending on the vision and ambition you have set out, it’s likely that you will need a team with specific specialties. In our experience, a good starting point for a balanced behavioral science unit typically includes:
A behavioral scientist or economics expert schooled in the major models and theories. Remember that increasingly there is an experimental angle to behavioral science, which requires knowledge of experiment design and econometrics that might not have been part of previous psychology or economics degree curriculums. (At least not before the PhD level.) So be open to looking at young graduates from up-and-coming master’s programs in behavior and decision science.
A behavioral analyst or project manager who can undertake parts of the behavioral process such as designing surveys, collecting data, carrying out field observations, literature reviews, and some simple statistical analysis. Each of your behavioral interventions will be a project, and it will need to be managed as such. Timelines, risks, scope, change, budget, and stakeholder management will be important factors, as in any other part of your organization.
A data scientist who has the ability to work with and extract value from a large, diverse set of data scattered across your organization and beyond. This role requires having skills in algorithms, machine learning, and programming. But depending on the goals of the behavioral projects being undertaken, this skill set might not always be needed. A good behavioral scientist should be able to handle medium-size data sets, but a data scientist is usually required for larger data sets.
Knowledgeable representatives, folks with expertise and experience in the specific departments and businesses that have consulted with your team. They understand the business context, industry, market, internal processes, customers, employees, and suppliers. As a result, it’s likely that they will change from program to program. They can provide context, help scope your project, and give advice on what is possible (both practically and from a regulatory perspective). Surprisingly, it can help if they are benign rather than evangelical to behavioral science. Given that most of your team are on board with behavioral science, these representatives can provide a healthy balance and prevent biases from forming.
Consider Your Sourcing Model
Who do you need to hire? Do you look to partners or outside vendors? If so, who possesses the competencies you need? What will their roles and responsibilities be? These are questions that should be front of mind when thinking about your sourcing model. Each organization’s needs and current level of competence will be different, so there aren’t definite answers. The chances are that your needs will evolve as you move through the lifecycle of building a behavioral science group.
During the early stages, many organizations rely on external partners with established expertise in delivering behavioral solutions. Be prepared to seek out partnerships with established academics, specialized consulting groups, and noted practitioners. Also be sure that academic partners are motivated to apply their work to the real world, that consulting groups are genuinely skilled and not simply agencies jumping on the behavioral economics bandwagon, and that chosen practitioners can show you their past work rather than just being well read on the subject. Smart selection of the right partners will greatly improve the credibility of your initiative and reduce the risk of blunders or even failure. Ultimately, the challenge in selecting the best behavioral scientist option for your organization will be a question of cost and competency versus scale and reach.
Of course, if you are serious about building an internal capability, don’t leave everything to external partners. We advocate a blended-model approach, where you pair up internal project managers with external experts. With the right support and training, these internal project managers will be your future behavioral analysts. Be sure to ask external partners about their willingness to help you build internal competence. As your behavioral capability evolves, aim to reduce your dependence on external partners, replacing them with in-house capability. But avoid cutting ties completely. Identify external partners that share common values with you and negotiate an ongoing advisory role for them.
Find the Right Home for the Team
There are many places where a behavioral science group can sit in the organization. An obvious place is within an existing operational excellence or performance department. Transdev, a large global transport operator, has set up a behavioral science capability called CHANGE by Transdev as part of the Performance and Development department. The arrangement works well because many of the projects are closely related to promoting efficiency and increasing productivity, as well as supporting Transdev competitive position.
Alternatively, human resources might be the right place. We recommend HR be involved anyway, because its cross-functional view makes it a good advocate for demonstrating value-added activities that connect to all parts of the business.
But if blue-sky thinking is where you are, and you really want to embrace the behavioral revolution, how about creating a chief behavioral officer? This might sound unnecessary, but if your company is planning a large volume of strategic interventions, then you should certainly consider it. The benefits are clear: a fully recognized, dedicated team with a direct connection to the CEO.
Be Clear About Governance
The approval processes and governance you put in place for your behavioral science capability will depend on your corporate culture and risk appetite. Whatever these may be, we strongly recommended two things:
Have an ethics committee. At its heart behavioral science is about understanding, predicting, and influencing behaviors, so the ethics of these efforts will be an important consideration. Select your ethics committee carefully, ensuring they span a variety of positions and levels. These people should be cautious, but not so much that they bring you to a standstill — so avoid the ultra-risk-averse. At least one representative should come from your legal function, and committee members should agree up front on a transparent decision-making process.
Engage functional representatives. Before behavioral science interventions are deployed, identify people from the departments that will be affected by your interventions and seek approval from their managers in advance. Having access to these people and their managers’ support will save time, petty negotiations, and filibustering when it comes to putting your team’s insights into practice.
Finally, look for opportunities to piggyback on established governance. If you have a running enterprise portfolio process, find ways of embedding behavioral science into the project approval process. Doing so will ensure that your organization considers the behavioral impact and the required behavior changes of any project it undertakes.
You may already have considered some of our points above. But if you are just starting out and are ready to take the first steps, we recommend you begin by:
- identifying issues important to stakeholders where a behavioral approach could work
- thinking about low-risk, high-impact challenges where you can demonstrate early success
- telling people what you are doing and seeking out internal behavioral advocates
- finding an appropriate external partner(s)
We’re certainly not going to guarantee that following this advice will win you a Nobel prize anytime soon. But it may earn you and your organization a different type of plaudit: a reputation as an organization with an efficient, effective behavioral science capability that is ethical, sustainable, and that delivers competitive advantage.
3. How To Avoid Losing People, Productivity And Profit During Mergers And Acquisitions
When a company is considering a merger or acquisition, its leaders conduct an abundance of research on the other company’s customer base and how it does business, and they perform rigorous legal and financial due diligence. What is almost always forgotten — and is the biggest risk once you’ve committed to the investment — is how executives will lead their teams during this change.
Once finance and legal dot all their I’s and cross all their T’s, they throw the task of operational integration over the wall to someone in HR or operations. Companies typically have long lists of who will be told about the transaction and when. They also typically have extensive project plans for implementing changes in network access, payroll and desk location.
However, they almost always forget to address the most significant driver of engagement and productivity: leadership.
Leading a team on the day-to-day aspects of a business can be challenging enough. Leading a team through the uncertainty, emotions and tactical demands of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) can be daunting. If any employee notices a twinge of concern in the eyes of an executive, you’ll quickly see engagement and productivity plummet. Those millions or billions you just invested in the acquisition are being wasted by the minute because you didn’t take time to ensure the leaders were fully prepared to lead the change.
My team leverages a five-point system to ensure that you make more money with less stress during M&A. Here are some key insights you should address:
1. Align leadership across all teams.
Regardless of what organization bought what organization or the terms of the merger, executive teams absolutely must agree on the vision for the future and get to know each other as human beings. If you skip the relationship-building phase of M&A, you are looking at a long, painful integration and a high likelihood of failure. Similarly, if leaders give inconsistent messages about the future, or worse, demonstrate a lack of belief in the go-forward vision, your top employees will immediately start looking for new jobs and your mediocre employees will become actively disengaged.
2. Know how to lead change.
Yes, the key executives in your organization are there for a reason. They are clearly strong leaders who brought the company this far. However, leading people through M&A is a whole new ballgame. While the executive team is crucial, you may want to consider workshops on leading change effectively throughout your organization.
One of the top mistakes that great leaders make in times of change is assuming the people who speak out against the change are just being difficult. In fact, people who ask you tough questions may be the people who care most. They are being honest with you and offering insight into what may be worrying other key employees. The more the employees know about their future, the more likely they will stay with the organization, remain productive and integrate quickly.
3. Get support for the leaders.
Even the most successful leaders can be overwhelmed with the massive amount of questions, restructuring and logistics that take place during this type of change. With all the paperwork, deadlines and stress that come with M&A, most executives don’t take time to think about what the change means to them personally, much less how to customize what it means to the rest of their team. If they don’t feel confident about what’s going to happen to them during this transition, they certainly can’t role model confidence to employees throughout the organization.
Executive coaching can be critical during this time because executives need to have an impartial sounding board to manage their own concerns, create action plans on the fly and prepare themselves to be the best leader they can during this complicated transition.
If possible, bring in executive coaches who also understand how to lead change greatly so it can be positioned as more of an executive advisory program than a coaching program. Successful leaders often prefer to have an advisor who has walked in their shoes and can serve as both a sounding board and trusted partner.
4. Integrate the cultures.
Don’t overlook how big of a deal the small things are. I use a 23-point cultural analysis that can help guide tactical integration and, more importantly, guides verbiage for everyone from the CEO to the individual people manager to ensure team members feel confident, stay engaged and boost productivity during the first three to six months.
Key among these points is customer commitment. You may assume both organizations are customer-focused, but at a closer look, you’ll see variances in perspectives on service excellence or how much support employees have to problem-solve for customers. Taking time to clearly evaluate the simple nuances will help you establish clear expectations around what is changing and what is staying the same. This may sound like an employee-serving solution but its greatest impact lies in what your customers experience during the integration, which directly impacts your bottom line.
5. Don’t stop too soon.
It’s way too easy to think, once everyone has new payroll, access to the shared drive and both organizations are serving customers, that your job is done. Far from it! Executive teams need to remain focused on the integration for a series of months. It becomes more and more subtle month over month, starting with excitement, then integration, then sustainability. If you follow the steps above of aligning executives, ensuring leaders know best practices for leading change and do the leg-work to truly integrate the cultures, your timeline to success will be much quicker.
Without these elements, your productivity and profit will drop significantly upon announcement and may never fully recover. With key strategic workshops, executive advisory on leading change greatly and executive coaching on dealing with all the nuances of leading M&A, you can and will get through this exciting time in a way that retains the top performers, maintains productivity and ensures profitability.
4. Walker proposes $6.8 million talent attraction plan
Gov. Scott Walker proposed last week a nearly $7 million plan to attract workers to the state, drawing praise from conservatives and business groups and charges of gimmickry from one Democratic senator.
Walker unveiled the targeted plan at the fourth annual Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce Foundation’s Future Wisconsin Summit.
Under the plan, according to lawmakers supporting the proposal, the state would provide up to $6.8 million for workforce attraction initiatives. Specifically, it would provide $3.5 million to attract veterans to Wisconsin, $3 million to market Wisconsin as a destination for millennials in the Midwest, and $300,000 for the Department of Workforce Development to create a mobile job center that would provide job services and talent recruitment in underserved areas and at out-of-state events.
WMC president and CEO Kurt Bauer said the plan was exactly what employers in the state have been asking for.
“Four years ago we launched The Future Wisconsin Project because employers had been telling us they were having trouble finding workers,” Bauer said. “Today, more than three-quarters of our members are still struggling to hire for the positions they have available.”
It’s not just a mismatch between available jobs and willing or adequately skilled workers, Bauer said; it’s a need for new bodies.
“Our unemployment rate is at historic lows and our labor force participation rate is one of the highest in the country,” he said. “Simply put, we need more people to move into Wisconsin. Our businesses are ready to expand, they just need more bodies.”
Bauer said the governor was taking real action to tackle a specific and real workforce challenge.
Two lawmakers, Rep. Mike Rohrkaste (R-Neenah) and Sen. Dan Feyen (R-Fond du Lac), said they would help the governor move the plan through the Legislature.
“I fully support Gov. Walker’s initiative to attract more workers to the state of Wisconsin,” Rohrkaste said. “Sen. Feyen and I have been pushing for investment in talent recruitment, and we look forward to assisting the governor in these efforts. As a former human resources person in the Fox Cities, I know first-hand how hard it can be to attract new talent to Wisconsin.”
In fact, Rohrkaste said, it was the greatest challenge his company faced, and the representative said it continues to be for companies across the state.
“Initiatives like this one will be key to attracting more workers to Wisconsin,” he said.
Feyen said the administration and the Legislature had done an excellent job of supporting worker training programs but it was not enough.
“Wisconsin needs more people to fill jobs in our growing industries,” Feyen said. “Getting out the message that Wisconsin is a vibrant state with plentiful opportunities to expand a career, start a family, and build a life is a key piece in solving our workforce puzzle.”
It’s a gimmick
But state Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) said the plan was little more than a gimmicky ad campaign that wouldn’t work. What is needed, Hansen said, were real incentives.
“Young people are intelligent and savvy as many advertisers will tell you,” Hansen said. “Slick ad campaigns will not keep or lure them to Wisconsin if we do not give them a good reason to choose our state as opposed to places that might be more attractive because of their weather, mass transit, or metropolitan areas.”
Hansen said one of the best ways to keep and attract young workers would be to pass his Higher Ed/Lower Debt bill that would allow Wisconsin residents to refinance their student loans at lower interest rates.
“Employers could use a state student loan refinancing program as a selling point to prospective applicants, many of whom are struggling under the high cost of their student loans,” he said. “Passing HELD would give Wisconsin employers a competitive advantage over their competition in other states. And refinancing could be done at very little to no cost to state taxpayers.”
While the governor has repeatedly said the private sector is best able to deal with the crisis, Hansen said, the crisis continues to grow. The lawmaker said Wisconsin is among the top five states for the percentage of college graduates with student debt, with over two-thirds of state graduates holding student loans.
Since 2014, Hansen said, the average student debt for college graduates has grown from $28,800 to more than $30,000.
“Clearly the private sector is incapable or unwilling to solve this crisis,” he said. “In the meantime our communities and businesses lose out as more and more graduates consider moving or delay buying a new car, a home, or starting a family.”
Student loan debt is also impacting students who attend state technical colleges, Hansen said. He said the average amount borrowed by graduates of Northeast Wisconsin Technical College increased by about $5,300 between 2007 and 2015.
“The student loan crisis is trapping more and more of our state’s young people, including many who chose to go to technical college for its affordability,” he said. “We need to do something to help them get a good start in life.”
And that something was his student loan refinancing bill, the senator said.
“Rather than paying millions to media consultants for a marketing campaign that is unlikely to work, Gov. Walker and Republicans could do something that would actually benefit up to 900,000 Wisconsin residents and provide a real incentive to keep and attract young workers by embracing student loan refinancing and the Higher Ed/Lower Debt bill,” he said.
5. TALENT ANALYTICS, AI AND WAGE PRESSURE ON RANDSTAD US’ LIST OF WORKPLACE TRENDS FOR 2018
Talent analytics will become more sophisticated, artificial intelligence will advance and the talent shortage will outpace wage stagnation, according to an analysis by Randstad US on hiring and workplace trends for the next year.
“Technology has significantly impacted business models in nearly every sector,” said Alan Stukalsky, chief digital officer, Randstad North America. “The growing STEM skill shortage, AI both disrupting and creating jobs and talent driving a shift toward agile work arrangements is a lot for employers to keep up with. It requires progressive thinking to find talent and meet short- and long-term needs. We’re still in the infancy of most of this, but digitization will advance the pace of change in the labor market and workforce in 2018.”
Here are the workplace trends that Randstad US sees for 2018:
The talent shortage will outpace wage stagnation. Many businesses have not yet updated their pay packages to reflect market realities, especially for hard-to-find talent. Hiring managers must weigh the importance of the quality of a candidate against the cost to recruit them, and companies that continue to keep wages below market will struggle. This will also drive employers to more broadly offer nontraditional benefits, such as wellness perks and competitive maternity and paternity leave.
Agile and flexible workforce models will expand. There’s a shift underway in the long-held perception that in order to attract the best candidates and build the best team, organizations must hire full-time, permanent employees. Flexible work arrangements will remain key to employee attraction and retention, and companies will expand their use of agile talent by filling one-time temporary resources and seasonal staffing needs or bringing in highly-specialized consultants to tackle critical initiatives.
Employers will hire for culture and soft skills, train on hard skills. With a depleted candidate pool, employers are struggling more than ever to identify right-fit candidates with the depth of necessary skills. While hard skills reign in sectors like technology and healthcare, less-teachable soft skills will continue to be critically important — even in a more technology-driven work environment. Employers will increasingly focus on training existing or future hires, especially when they find the culture fit they are looking for or superb soft skills.
STEM skill needs will continue to increase. Although much of the industry discourse around the STEM skills gap focuses on jobs that require advanced degrees, mid-level STEM jobs like computer support specialists, web developers and engineering technicians are actually in highest demand. These vacancies present a real opportunity for employers to upskill workers with high potential and the ambition to grow.
AI and automation will advance. Many organizations have already begun incorporating automation into their workflows to make their employees and processes more effective and efficient. But, despite fears that automation will eliminate jobs, the need for skilled humans to operate, use and advance technologies will remain significant for the foreseeable future.
Talent analytics will become more sophisticated. Data is evolving beyond metrics like employee engagement and retention rates. In 2018, more organizations will place data at the forefront of strategic workforce planning, with metrics that help them understand how to build better teams, make more processes agile or lean, analyze the utilization of resources across the company and truly understand the output of cross-functional teams.
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(The articles above have been curated from various sources but not been edited by ICube staff)