Developing a Human Resource Strategy for the 21st Century

Human Resources Strategy

The role of Human Resources (HR) is changing rapidly as a result of globalization, rapid technological development and changes in organizations operational objectives and stakeholders’ expectations.   As companies struggle to realize the true importance of recruiting and managing the right people to advance the objectives and goals of the organization, a need for a new strategy in human resources is emerging.  Managing a workforce today must reflect a new business reality and new effective means of managing people in the new digital age.

Finding partners, resources and information to help better understand what brought about the current state of things is essential to developing a workable strategy, formulating creative ideas and obtaining the most recent knowledge on how the HR function can respond more effectively to the changing business situation.  Skill in managing global HR issues in 2013 and the 21st Century include:

  • Attracting the right talent
  • Effective leadership development
  • Globalized business environment requiring diversity management skills
  • Good governance in order to build integrity and trust among managers and employees
  • Effective demographic management
  • Ongoing training and creating opportunities for talented, upwardly mobile  staff
  • Managing ever more complex labor and benefits costs

Meeting these and other challenges will require established HR functionaries to think outside of the traditional human resource box, and perhaps outside their current organization, to independent consultative service providers who are specifically focused on the rapidly changing resource trends and tactical maneuvers that will enhance todays successful company’s ability to achieve their short-term goals and long term organizational vision.

Developing strategies for planning, workforce retention, new staff recruitment and job satisfaction will help reduce costs, loss of knowledge capital, and improve the overall organization performance.

Risky In-House Disaster Recovery

Recovery

 

A recently published white paper “The Risks Of ”Do It Yourself” Disaster Recovery” is pointing out significant challenges in resources, funding and preparedness for organizations that are opting to bring the Disaster Recovery (DR) function back in-house.  In the IBM sponsored Forrester study, organizations were asked what their top hardware priorities were for the next 12 months, and 60% responded that improving business continuity and disaster recovery (BC/DR) capabilities was a high or critical priority.  The study further revealed that many who decided to bring DR services back in-house did so without fully understanding the costs and implications of the decision.

Since 2010, the average spend on BC/DR has grown almost a full percentage point. The need for human resources devoted to BC/DR is also on the rise, Forrester found that enterprises employ on average more than 31 full-time equivalents to support business continuity management corporate wide.  The basis for enterprises bringing more DR services “in-house,” was driven mainly by the changing business and technology landscape. With the cost of hardware having gone down, and coupled with an overall down economy, many companies made the decision to run their own DR services.

For many, running DR capabilities “in-house” proves to be a difficult task with unforeseen difficulties.  A lack of focus, funding, testing, and skills stymy firms that run DR “in-house” and a majority of those firms revealed that testing is not entirely successful when left to insiders.  Before a company decides to insource or outsource disaster recovery capabilities it’s critical to understand all of the costs and impacts that are associated with the decision.   Firms should first consider the following:

  • Is the in-house experience and skills needed to run and maintain an effective DR program available?
  • Is ongoing funding ear-marked to make the program successful?
  • Can proper resources be dedicated to the program?
  • Is a consistent testing and exercise regimen in place and sustainable?
  • Is a focus for continuous improvement on the program viable and sustainable?

Once these considerations have been adequately vetted, an informed decision about how to source disaster recovery capabilities can be made with a reasonable degree of confidence.  Some of the questions may be difficult to confront, but they are critical factors to consider if a firm wants to ensure enduring resiliency and continuity for their organization.

Making First and Lasting Impressions

First Impressions

We have all heard it a million times already, whether applying for a job or sweet-talking a potential client or a life partner; “we only have one chance to make a good first and lasting impression.”  For job seekers in a competitive job market first impressions are everything.  While there are differing opinions as to how much time you actually have to hit all the right notes, rest assured that the degree of your success will be determined somewhere in the first 30 seconds of your first interview.  A study by UCLA found that “people evaluate one another using the Three V’s: visual (appearance), vocal (voice) and verbal (what you say).  In short, presentation is the key to establishing a lasting relationship, or as they say in the restaurant trade, “You eat with your eyes first.  You move on to taste only if you first like what you see.”

Here are a few do’s and don’ts to practice if you want to make a first impression not be your last:

The Hand Shake

Archaeological ruins and ancient texts show that handshaking was practiced in ancient Greece as far back as the 5th century BC and is thought by some to have originated as a gesture of peace by demonstrating that the hand holds no weapon.  Today the handshake is commonly demonstrated upon meeting, greeting, parting, offering congratulations, expressing gratitude, or completing an agreement.  A well-executed handshake can get things off to a great start and seal the deal at the end.  Do: Keep it dry, warm and politely firm.  Don’t: Block a sneeze or cough and offer it out (Yuk).

Be On Time

When meeting someone for the first time or the last, be on time.  Whether intentional or not, being late for an appointment says so many negative, unintended things about you are that recovery is nearly impossible.

Do: Always be on Time.  Don’t: Ever be late or offer excuses if you are, they won’t care.

Be Well-Groomed

Presenting yourself in a clean and dignified manner speaks volumes for your professional behavior and the way you carry yourself overall.  It’s important that you smell good, keep your hair and fingernails trim and clean, and your clothes stain-free and ironed.  In marketing when speaking of brand we say “button it up”. In first impressions when speaking of zippers we say, “Zip it up”!

Do: A thorough evaluation of your appearance before the meeting.  Don’t: Cut corners on personal appearance or hygiene and risk being the source of that unpleasant odor permeating through the room.

Non Verbal Communications

The UCLA study also found that “about 93% of a person’s communication effectiveness is determined by nonverbal communication.”  Maximize your height by lifting your head and keeping your shoulders up to suggest that you are confident, assertive, and determined.  Make eye contact. It allows for a more personal connection, so the more time your eyes stay properly focused, the higher your chances of getting the opportunity to make a second impression.

Do: Maintain courteous posture and focus your eyes interestingly on the subject.  Don’t: Slouch, fold your arms in front of your body or dispatch a psychopathic stare towards your subject.

Introduce Yourself

Stand up and properly introduce yourself when approaching your contact.   Be courteous and ask for their name.  These polite gestures will place you in a favorable light.

Do: Concentrate on the proper pronunciation of your audiences name for future reference.  Don’t: Forget your name.

Make Interesting Conversation

Speak clearly with a firm, strong voice and demonstrate your enthusiasm for the subject matter and try to find common interest with your contact.  Make it a practice to listen more than you talk and avoid dominating the conversation with personal opinions.

Do: Be confident and project knowledge in the conversation.  Don’t: Lose your place or the track of the conversation as in; “dah, where were we?”

Research the Company

Find out as much as you can about the company and your interviewer before scheduling the interview.   Make notes of interesting points about the company and sprinkle them throughout the discussion.  Your preparation will be obvious and will create a positive impression.

Do: Your homework.  Don’t: When interviewing for a job at Alcoa, speak of how you’re really interested in working for Reynolds.  Been there, done that one; don’t!

Your first encounter with someone is one of the most crucial moments in establishing lasting relationships.  Others will form quick opinions about you based on the first seconds of initial contact.  Always be aware of how you’re presenting yourself, particularly when you’re absolutely certain that no one’s watching.  And if you do mess up, don’t look around, trust me there is no place to hide.

Interview over. Next!

Beware the Danger That Lurks Just Beyond Our Next Keystrokes

Danger in Keystrokes

More and more of everyday life is moving online, from Tweeting the latest personal comments on the day’s most recent unfolding drama, to posting the cute little ones images, to buying the latest and greatest of everything to finding our way across the landscape, the exponential expansion of mobile digital devises and the seemingly endless lists of task-performing applications, the Internet has become the world’s chosen medium for almost all daily interaction.

But it’s likely that most Internet users share one thing in common as they surf: the last thing on their minds is computer security but surfing the Net comes with certain inherent risks.  The revelation that the National Security Agency conducted mass surveillance on millions of Internet and mobile phone users shocked the public in its very real and very personal nature. We were all accustomed to hearing of the prospective dangers associated with rouge states and terrorist pent on disrupting the economy and the everyday lives of all American’s, but learning of the extent our own government is going to protect us from harm is having an eye opening effect on what dangers exist and from what source.

We have all come to appreciate our law enforcements efforts to detect and curtail internet fraud and the fact that the FBI is using its own hacking programs for installing malware and spyware on the computers of suspected terrorists or child pornographers is comforting, but is also a tactic that is drawing negative attention in the wake of disclosures about the domestic online surveillance of Americans by its own government.  The FBI’s Remote Operations Unit and Remote Assistance Team use private contractors to do the actual hacking of suspects. The contractors can send a virus, worm or other malware to a suspect’s computer, giving law enforcement control of a wide range of activities, from turning a computer’s webcam on and off to searching for documents on the machine.  According to official sources court-approved warrants or wiretap orders are being obtained before implementing the surveillance tactics.  That should make us all feel better, right?

Early last month, Network Solutions (the original registrar and DNS for the Internet & Domain names during its inception) suffered through a Dedicated Denial of Service (DDoS) attack that had the effect of breaking their infrastructure, including the hijacking of over 5000 companies who lost control of their domain names.  The DDoS attackers overwhelmed servers by flooding a company’s pipeline with unwanted network packets.  The outage is one of at least a dozen outages at cloud hosting providers impacting users in 2013.

Network Solutions experience followed an earlier cyber-attack on Spamhaus, a European anti-spam organization, causing trouble for a lot of innocent bystanders.  In this incident the villain is thought to have been a Dutch concern, Cyberbunker, with a reported business vendetta against Spamhaus.  The unprecedented escalation of the commercial cyber conflict with Spamhaus caused costly trouble for countless uninvolved organizations throughout Europe.

One thing is perfectly clear, the threats to the very order of everything about our lives is at risk of disruption on a mega scale.  The additive dependency of the world’s most advanced societies on the vast array of digital devises and the interconnected and rabid use of the internet for every detail of everyday life is supportive of the significant concern.  At what point do all the intrusions to this amazing technological system, whether perpetuated by the good guys or the bad, does the whole system just blow-up and render the orderly function of life useless?

While many claim the concerns to be overstated, dispatching protective anti-spam software, installing secure firewalls (and keeping them up to date), and being cyber savvy is critical to avoiding whatever calamity is certain to be waiting for each of us just beyond our next key strokes.

Network Security Really Does Pay Off

NetworkSecurity

Companies rely on technology for every aspect of business operations whether its sales, different software, or payroll. Technology makes everything easier. However, with all of these advantages come great risks. Technology has the ability to cause just as much damage as it can prevent.  “Bring your own device” policies and high traffic social media sites are only adding to the risk and vulnerability of a company.

Most security systems offer intense firewall security, advanced behavior analytics, and threat detection engines but not all are the same.  Here are a few tips on how to find the right security technology to meet organizational needs:

  • Understand What Systems Are Already in Place: Review the technical infrastructure, policies, and security plans already established at the organization.
  • What Does the Roadmap Look Like: Establish a strategy accounting for short-term and long-terms goals as it relates to IT infrastructure and network security.
  • Detail Assets and Dependencies: Itemize key assets and understand critical dependencies that keep the business operating at maximum capacity.
  • How Does the Organization Communicate: Understand business communications within the company.   Question how information is shared, who has control, and who has access to critical business information.
  • Identify the Worst Possible Scenario: Update your contingency plan in the even of a worst-case scenario that could result in a security breach.

Identifying these critical areas is a first step in determining what type of security network is right for the company. It does cost money but it is necessary to mitigate risk in today’s business environment.  Security may seem like a big investment, but it will pay off.

Reconciling Expectations with Reality

happy graduates

Now that the caps and gowns are put away, the congratulatory celebrations ended, and the college housing issues transitioned it is time for the reconciliation to begin.  Four or more years of study, preparation in life skills and practicing social interactions (partying) have prepared college graduates for making the move from the relatively protective confines of academia to the harsh reality of the real world employment market.  While focused on classes, papers and projects; test, quizzes and exams, the vast majority of college students graduating to the job market anticipate that their struggles to achieve certification to the college educated ranks is filled with expectations of better things ahead.

And for good reason, for generations college bound high school graduates have been promised increased rewards and significant returns on the investment in a college education once they enter the job market, leading to expectations of better opportunities in job and career fulfillment and financial compensation.   So, is college really worth it?

Given the growing price tag and the frequent anecdotes about jobless graduates stuck in their parents’ basements, many have started to question the value of a college degree. But the evidence suggests college graduates have suffered through the recession and lackluster recovery with remarkable resilience.   Among all segments of workers sorted by educational attainment, college graduates are the only group that has more people employed today than when the recession started.

However, closer analysis also indicates that only 27 percent of college graduates can expect to find a job that is closely related to their degree major and with just 53 percent of businesses planning to hire college graduates in the coming year, some significant reconciliation of expectations to reality lie before the members of today’s graduating classes.  The euphoria of having completed all the requirements necessary to qualify for transition to the professional work force may be premature.

Among businesses that are hiring, there exists a widespread dissatisfaction with the graduates’ perceived job readiness, as well as a technical skills mismatch between the applicants and job requirements.  The biggest complaint by hirers was that the graduates lack “professionalism” or “work ethic,” a deficiency listed by half of those surveyed. Nearly half detected a lack of “business acumen.”  In this intensively competitive job environment, it is clear that many very important lessons remain to be leaned by graduating students.

For those who find themselves unprepared taking a job in a discipline unrelated to their major, or counter to the expected direction, may provide an ideal opportunity to garner the skills and experience necessary to open doors to their chosen field in the future, in addition to providing for the expenses of living and to repaying those college loans.  Today’s graduates must be prepared to remap their career path and adjust previously established life assumptions.  The challenge of a better employment future, while deferred, will not be lost to those who are adept to reconciling their expectations to reality.

Stay the Course

Stay the Course

For months now the most prolific promise of 2013 has been that the slumbering employment market is showing signs of improvement with a consistent lowering of the unemployment rate, albeit incremental at best, month over month since the beginning of the new year.  There were 2.99 job seekers for every open job in June, as revealed in the Labor Department’s most recent report, the first time the ratio has dropped below three since October 2008.  Unemployed workers still have it a lot harder than in the mid-2000s, when there were consistently fewer than two workers per opening, but their prospects are far better than in the depths of the recession, when there were more than six job seekers for every job.

As usual, the statistics don’t tell the whole story or at least the whole truth of the story.  Job seekers aren’t seeing their odds improve because employers are stepping up their hiring, but rather they are posting somewhat more job openings — 3.9 million in June, up 144,000 from a year earlier — but they remain slow to fill them. Hiring actually fell to its lowest level of the year in June, and has been little better than flat over the past two years.  In reality unemployed workers are doing better because there are fewer of them competing for jobs.  Millions of job seekers have stopped looking for work and no longer count as unemployed, add them back into the “actively looking” job market mix and there are five workers for every job opening.

While the job market continues to lumber on, showing some encouraging signs for a few belabored job seekers, one key demographic group who has historically shown leadership in employment and retention is now badly falling behind.  Recent graduates under 25 years-old are seeing fewer job hiring opportunities relative to the overall job seeking segments.  One of the factors behind this new post-collegiate hardship is a very sluggish recovery following the great recession of 2008.  Another facet adding to the problem is the fact that fewer people are retiring at 65, and are choosing to work longer to beef-up their retirement nest-eggs which were slammed during the financial crisis.

With an increasingly large number of graduates walking off the diploma stage with no, or few, job prospects and looming tuition loan repayments, despair and panic are beginning to set-in for millions of tomorrow’s most prepared, prospective leaders.  Many are finding themselves overqualified for the jobs that are available and even for those who do find employment in their field of endeavor, discover the pay scale has shrunk as much as 30 percent over 2000 levels, offering little reward for their years and costs and efforts to advanced their education.

While the challenges may seem to be overwhelming, there are some steps that can be taken to improve the odds of finding gainful employment in this very difficult job market segment.

Secure a Job, Any Job

The old adage that it is easier to find a new job from an existing job holds true, even in these challenging times.  Prospective employers will look favorably upon a candidate that is not complacent and will look unfavorably on candidates that sit and wait for a job to find them.

Volunteer

Improve your resume with work of some kind. Nonprofits are looking for more volunteers as their operating funds decrease, and their clients’ needs increase.  This is a great opportunity to demonstrate your capabilities and the non-profit the chance to benefit from your efforts and skills.

Consider Joining a Small Company

Many college graduates seek out larger companies for their initial job, thinking that the environment offers them the best chance of improving their skills and career advancement.  While this may be true, large corporations are falling behind smaller companies in hiring.  Gaining experience in a smaller, seat-of-the-pants operation is a great way to learn more diverse operational skills and gain valuable experience for marketing yourself further down the career path.

Link Your Education and Skills

Link your education and skill-set to as many industries as possible.  The best opportunities for personal growth often come from areas not previously thought to be viable or desired career choices.  The route to your desired goal may not be as direct as you like in this depressed job market.

Remain Actively Involved in the Job Seeking Process

Don’t become complacent, keep your network active.  About 75% of jobs are never posted publicly before they’re filled.  Make sure you stay in touch with people and help them, because you never know when you’ll benefit from their help.  Polish and update the resume often, adding new learned skills and experiences.  Seek out the services of private employment agencies and head hunters but do not forsake the state or public agencies.  Often the best opportunities come from the most unlikely of places.

It is understandable that despair and negative thoughts are likely to affect your attitude, but remaining positive and exuding confidence will show through to those who are interviewing and hiring for the very few candidates for the very few jobs that are available.  Stay the course, remain stoic and committed to achieving your goals through these tough times.

IT Issues and Solutions

IT Issues and Solutions

Managing a business of any size requires a broad range of skills and experience and while most companies have employees with the necessary skills to handle most business’ needs, maintaining an IT environment may present a unique set of concerns for many businesses.  Even the smallest business today is dependent on IT for the simplest day to day functions of business operation.

Threats of intrusion from outside hackers seeking to steal identities, vital proprietary data or just to cause disruption of normal system operations is becoming more common.  Such IT issues can burden a company’s operation with expensive downtimes, loss of productivity, and added risk to security of company data which result in increased operating costs in general.

Some of the most significant threats occur when employees either intentional or unintentional allow an outside threat to gain access to company data through the use of personal and company email or social media sites.

Hacking attacks can be launched in a number of ways:

  • Attacking computers that don’t have firewalls installed.
  • Installing keystroke loggers or other malicious code by hiding it in email attachments.
  • Exploiting browser vulnerabilities that have not been properly patched.
  • Exploiting weak or poorly protected passwords.
  • Hiding malicious code in downloads of free software.
  • Hiding malicious code in images on websites and waiting for unsuspecting users to click on them.
  • Employees or other trusted users simply accessing an unprotected computer.
  • Exploiting poorly installed networks, and especially wireless home networks.

Make sure all network computers in use have the latest firewalls and anti-virus software installed. Keep up-to-date with the latest patches especially for your browser, use a good-quality anti-spyware solution, and scan your computers regularly for any pests.  Be careful about the types of websites visited and use caution when clicking on unfamiliar sites and what is downloaded.  Make sure that everyone who uses the computer understands the security risks and rules.

Scrutinize suspicious emails that may actually be phishing scams and keep abreast of any new threats to the security of the network.

With the rapid progression in technology hardware and the ever more sophisticated operating software systems, keeping up with the pace of change can be a major challenge even for a company that is able to staff an IT professional.  Choosing to outsource a company’s IT needs with an IT services provider may be advantageous and can save a business time and money by providing ongoing, technology-based solutions.

Blending Millennials into a Boomer Workplace?

Millennials Join the Workforce

As the US economy stabilizes, companies are looking to HR organizations and resource management solutions to obtain and retain talent needed for growth.  Organizations are looking at developing the next generation of leaders as baby boomers exit the workforce over the next 20 years.  A growing generation of tech-savvy job seekers often referred to as “Generation Y,” Generation Next,” “Echo Boomers,” and “Millennials,” is projected to comprise 36% of the U.S. workforce by 2014.  This generational shift challenges organizations to learn how to effectively hire Millenials and manage their expectations.

Millennials have been called lazy and apathetic by some, but other studies show that this group is highly ambitious, diverse, focused on career progression, and can be great assets to growing companies.  Develop an action plan to effectively onboard these candidates to better serve the business:

Establish the Etiquette:  In order to minimize the generational gap in the workplace, companies must define acceptable behavior in the workplace.  Be clear and consistent with the expectation.

Provide Training & Feedback: Millennials are likely to start at the bottom.  It’s important to provide guidance on objectives.  This generation likes to know when they are exceeding or falling short of expectation.

Leverage Technical Capability: Millennials were raised in a technology based world with all things social, local, and mobile. While it doesn’t make the group smarter than other generations, it provides a unique advantage for companies looking to utilize new technologies.

Challenge with Change:  Millennials need to be challenged often. Being raised with the evolving capabilities of technology, they thrive in environments that prove to be challenging and changing.

Capitalize on Brand Advocacy:  Millennials are known for being good networkers and social media aficionados.  Companies have an opportunity to make brand advocates out of this communicative group.

It is important to remember that every generation has different needs and expectations in the workforce. Companies that remain cognizant will be able to adapt quickly and maximize the potential of its workforce.   How is your organization preparing for the generational shift?