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Hosts Stacey Harris and John Sumser discuss important news and topics in recruiting and HR technology. Listen live every Thursday or catch up on full episodes with transcriptions here.

HR Tech Weekly

Episode: 241
Air Date: October 31, 2019





Important: Our transcripts at HRExaminer are AI-powered (and fairly accurate) but there are still instances where the robots get confused (or extremely confused) and make errors. Please expect some inaccuracies as you read through the text of this conversation and let us know if you find something wrong and we’ll get it fixed right away. Thank you for your understanding.

John Sumser
Stacey Harris


John Sumser 0:14
Good morning and welcome to HR Tech Weekly, one step closer with Stacey Harris and John Sumser. This is our fire edition. How are you Stacey?

Stacey Harris 0:24
I’m doing well because I’m home in North Carolina whereas there’s no smoke or anything. It’s all just wet and rainy right now. But how are you doing, John?

John Sumser 0:32
Well, I’m living in an episode of The Twilight Zone. Imagine, imagine that you lived in a small town of say 10,000 people and that and that the small town is out by itself. And one day, everybody left. Just everybody left all the businesses shut down and everybody went away. And now imagine going home. That’s where we are. It became it started to become okay to return to the fire zone today so so everybody in town is starting to head back. But it’s like they’ll all be there for the first time. And this is sort of when I travel this is sort of a fantasy I have anyhow which is that when I go away everything stops. This time it did. And so it’s really it’s really strange. It’s really strange.

Stacey Harris 1:24
And I can think of multiple Twilight Zone episodes that match that to a tee right that the one where the person gets dropped down in the middle of a fake community right after he’s been picked up by the very large alien child. That that’s what it was. Yeah, right. You sort of walk around and it’s there, but yet it’s not working quite yet, right?

John Sumser 1:43
Yeah, yeah. And so yes, yes, we can go home But no, there’s no power. There’s no hot water. So what that means is you can go home to clean out everything in the refrigerator is gross now. Go home, go clean everything out of the refrigerator, but you can’t have a hot shower a hot meal. So we’re going to take it easy and go slow on the way home and probably be actually back around Sunday because we were lucky enough to have good insurance and we found a place to evacuate that’s pretty and so we’re just going to let it sit but it was it was an astonishing thing to go through not knowing if your house is going to be there when you get back and I know you probably know a little bit about this and our friends in Florida and South Carolina all understand leaving home and not knowing if your house is going to be there when you get back but it was a

Stacey Harris 2:38
hurricane zones definitely in you know and not knowing and it was I think you know the the other part is that when you do get back if your neighbors were affected right, so maybe you were lucky enough like that or your insurance covered well so whatever water damage ever happened right but you know, five or six streets over someone’s entire life was demolished. Right. And that’s the other part tha’s really hard because your guys’ town is what you were saying they were protected by basically the firemen came in and projected it. Which I am in town, right?

John Sumser 3:08
Yep. Yep, it was it was the hills and the mountains around the town that was where the fires base they described it as a hurricane of fire, which was particularly terrifying idea to me and that’s what that’s what the firefighters dealt with is hundred mile an hour winds and a blazing forest. And so there are these astonishing pictures of of showers of huge embers that if the embers land on the house, they set the house on fire to be big chunks of fire falling from the sky. And I’m glad I missed that part.

Stacey Harris 3:42
That is very surreal. Yeah, I mean, I it’s one thing you have to think about we talked about HR technology and employees and and their roles and organizations every day. But can you imagine an employee like that? That’s not an employe it’s a calling right but to put your life on the line to be in that kind of environment? Wow, it’s just wow. Right?

We often forget how important roles are in our lives until we absolutely need them. And I think you have posted I know on Facebook and maybe we’ll put it on HR Examiner, you know, after with along with all of our other articles, some links on sort of how to support the firefighters and how to support the area out there.

John Sumser 4:22
Yeah, what a good idea. What a good idea. The firefighters need love. They’re still going to be working the fire so we can go home but the fire is not out. They described the next phase as containment and what containment means is that it can’t get any bigger. Not that it’s out. It’s just that they made sure that it can’t get bigger and so right now 60% of this fire is contained. The fire was the size of 3 million person city. It’s huge. It’s it’s 80,000 acres of land. And so they build a wall around it essentially. So it can’t get out. But then that’s first all be done by, by this time next week, then they have to go through and put everything out. So it may burn in places for months.

Stacey Harris 5:16
Once it’s got fuel it’ll keep going. And if no, and then becomes the question in an area like yours where it’s already dry and right do you do sort of wait for it to burn itself out, do you expend the additional water? Yeah, there’s there’s a lot of questions and a lot of things they have to go through. Yeah. Wow.

Well, in all of that. And John, I don’t know how much thinking you’ve done it by the HR technology the last week, but we do have a few things going on. So we can definitely pull your mind a little bit out of the personal.

John Sumser 5:44
Gutter. Pull my mind out of the gutter!


Stacey Harris 5:47
What you call it? Yeah. But gets you to a point where you’re talking a little bit about HR technology, get your mind off of things. I know. I know. One thing I found whenever I was going to go through stuff is that getting my mind off of it sometimes helps me just readjust and remember that I’m

Human Being for a little bit. So let’s hope we can do that for you today. So been a busy week in the news cycle. We had Kronos, who announced the day and I’m not quite sure how big of a deal this is, you might have a better idea of this one, but Kronos announced that they had record 2019 results and as annual recurring revenue crossed $1 billion for them. So that was, that was a big announcement. It’s a big press release on about it. The financial analysts picked this up, I got a couple of financial analysts who emailed me about this, you know, and what this meant in the market. So that’s definitely where some conversations that we also have workforce logic, acquiring engage talent. This is when we got a lot of conversation. workforce logic is more of a RPO. outsourcing. Engage is definitely a true technology. One of your winners will talk a little bit about that for the AI organizations with artificial intelligence on top performing organizations. We also continue to have some conversations going on about the HR tech platform aspiring minds that might get acquired by us basis HL around 80 million worth having a conversation about

We also are talking a little bit about the navety but everybody raises 40 million series, a funding for those that have been empty. It is a social responsibility Corporate Social Responsibility platform that track a lot of the things that sort of get lost in the cracks in HR technology such as the how employee do volunteerism, you know, giving within the organization, this type of thing. We also had a couple of organizations the whole ondemand staffing, flexible work environments gig, you know, we’ve been talking about this for a long time seems that there’s a large round of funding particularly for international organizations right now. Cool. A Dirk owned company raised 32 million in that space fountain raises $23 million for this similar there to San Francisco but to transform the gig an hourly recruiting we also have the organization we talked about a little bit last week, but not a whole lot flex careers. They adjusted the amount that they shared that they had gotten from 1.8, which it was last week. It was like one of the 4.5 million this week so there’s probably some mix up in the announcements made so yeah, lots of investment. Go

That gig space. And then if we get time, it might be worth talking about an article that came out in Inked magazine this week, which is delta and IKEA are using AI and thanks scanning decides whom to hire critics call it digital snake oil. It’s really talking about our friends at higher view. But that was an interesting article. And I think there’s probably going to be some buzz about it. So yeah, it’s a busy week, the rest of the world as you said, when I leave does the world keep going out? Right? Well, this definitely keeps going in the HR space. So any of those topics you want to talk on right now? Well, there’s there’s one more thing too that I think is is worth mentioning. And that is there was a bureau of labor statistics news release this week called the 10 year report, the employee tenure news release, and it looks at trends by age in the in the amount of time that people spend in their jobs. So how long does a person hold the job? And what the data shows is not what you think?

John Sumser 9:00
What you hear is that people are holding jobs for shorter and shorter amounts of time. Right? The job hopping is the norm. And when you look at the data, what the data says is that the amount of time a person stays with a job is a function of their age. So the older people get, the longer they stay. And this starts at about 25 years old. And, and so instead of this being a case where people are hopping between jobs over and over, and what you have to do is be prepared for people to have what actually is happening is that people are studying about the same amount of time. So between January 2008 and today, so over the last 10 years, the length of time that people staying and men stay who’s 16 years in overstaying the job has gone up. The same is true of everybody 25 years and older. So, so thisthis weird thing the government report says people are keeping their jobs longer.

Stacey Harris 10:06
Well, they, they have an average year 4.2 years, right?

John Sumser 10:10
But well, so. So when you read the chart, when you read the chart that’s 2008, the first column and it goes out to 2018 the last column. So the average goes from 4.2 to 4.3. Yeah, right to net increase in a world where, where every marketing thing that I’ve seen in the longest time talks about the fact that employee turnover is a big deal because employees are leaving, everybody is leaving jobs faster. That just doesn’t seem to be true. So I just wanted to notice that the actual data says something that the marketing that you hear.

Stacey Harris 10:46
I am not as surprised by this, to be honest, I mean, I think we broke the mold, but I don’t think people are saying it as companies for 30 years, like we may we had maybe in the 70s and the 80s still a little bit way and there’s even people

I knew, you know, the early 90s, who had been in a single company for their entire life. But I do think we are, I don’t think we’re seeing people’s jump, you know, this data definitely gives a better datacenter to what I have seen in my own career and what I’ve seen in other people’s careers, which is you tend to sort of move around a lot when you’re younger, right? When when you’re trying to pick up new skills, you’re trying to, to, you know, increase your your capabilities in our organization. And a lot of organizations don’t have great internal abilities, right. Most organizations don’t have the ability not just to sort of move you around, but also to give you the kind of different skills and different experiences you need, because you can’t get them into a single company. But as you get older as you get into your 30s and your 40s you know, oftentimes at that point, you’re starting to look at you know, stabilization of your health and healthcare environment, trying to look stabilization of, you know, trying to actually accomplish something, you’re phoning big projects, you’re managing through things oftentimes, right or you’re part of a team that all

Sudden you you really appreciate being on right? I often think that we make assumptions about how often how long people stay in their jobs just based on the fact that we think people are moving faster. But I also think we make assumptions about why people are leaving their jobs to, I am oftentimes heard that you own you’re leaving a manager and I’ve done lots of people who don’t leave, even if they have bad managers, right, because there’s something else that they’re able to get in that job. So I think there’s a lot of good research that needs to be done both and why you stay in a job and what you’re really doing with a job and what you’re trying to get out of a job. That would be I think it’s done a really good research, not just asking people are you leaving because of your manager, which almost everybody who’s leaving would say that right, so.

John Sumser 12:39
Right, it’s an area that requires a lot of study. And if you’re going to do things this takes us right into the Engage Talent acquisition, note if you are going to try to predict the availability of workers, and generally speaking, we’re going to have to do that because as the workforce ages, the number of workers to clients saying that the workforce is aging is the same thing as saying that the number of workers is declining. So people are going to want to understand the likelihood that somebody is going to be able to move from place to place more and more and more and more and more. That’ll be a big question. And that’s the question that engaged how it answers. I’ve spent a lot of time with them over the years. It’s a pretty interesting company that is built into the data science infrastructure and Duke University and they tell you might not be able to say, oh, Stacey Harris. Yeah, if you call Stacey Harris, there’s an 80% likelihood that she’ll take your call to talk about the job. And that’s the first level of the analysis that they do, they have an idea of that built entirely from data that is not internal to the company.

They don’t know anything about your manager, and they don’t know anything about your performance. And they don’t know anything about what it’s been like to be there. But they do know about all of the changes in the company, all of the stock price movement, all of the personnel changes all of the key player change outs, all the new products, all of the new competitors, so they can measure it, right. Because whether or not somebody stays in a job, there’s some factors associated with whether the company is sticky for them. And there are some factors associated with whether or not other opportunities are sticky for them. And this is a tool that predicts balance of those two factors.

Stacey Harris 14:39
Interesting. Well, and I know they were on your HRExaminer Watchlist for 2019 where there are their use of artificial intelligence because it sounds like they’re pulling a lot of different data set into the conversation. You know, as you’re talking about this, my mind is going to the work that workforce logic does, and I didn’t know workforce logic before the sections and look them up and figure out a little bit more about what they did. They’re more of a RPO vendor management, managed services outsourcing organization, which is generally been a services organization prior to this. And so my head often is going to boil not only would you be able to tell if someone in the organization would be more willing to pick up the phone, but I would sense from that type of information, you would also be able to get a sense of how open that organization is also to some of the other things that they do, right? Because it’s going to be that much change or turmoil or stuff like that going on. There’s opportunities probably in there for that other for the other things to go on as well.

John Sumser 15:30
Oh, what a what a great idea. I hadn’t thought of that. But you’re absolutely right, you should be able to see the likelihood of a deal at the company level that Yeah, you just have to figure out you just have to figure out the 20 most interesting factors that make a company likely to do a deal. And then of course, you can measure that from the outside.

Yeah, that’s interesting. I haven’t stopped thinking about HR tech because of the fire but I’ve been freed from having to ground my thinking in other people stuff I’ve been, I’ve been imagining an intelligent system that takes what the outside world sees about the company and what’s going on inside of the company and creates a situation report. That’s the intersection of those two sets of data. Because that’s often the hardest place when you’re running an organization, the hardest place to really see what’s going on is the difference between when it seems like inside the company and what it seems like outside of the company. And the engaged talent thing here is quite good at seeing how the company looks from the outside, down to how does an individual inside of the company look from the outside that and so and so. So it would be fascinating to see, for instance, the comparison of an engagement score and a likelihood of top management to leave score.

Stacey Harris 16:56
Oh, yeah, yeah. Well, and that’s, I think, I think that’s where we’re heading in this Market right, which is more intelligent decisions require a broader go than what we’re generally saying right now and in there and all technologies don’t think that they have to pick a new niche lane, figure out how they gather data, analyze it, right. But then you have to think about sort of the next layer of analysis, which is what else do you compare it to? Right.

John Sumser 17:19
Right. And I think that’s covered. You even bring this back to the fires. There’s a great article this week in the black magazine about how badly neglected infrastructure has become in the United States. United States is, is in many places a third world country in the way that its electricity is distributed, the roads are maintained that stands and bridges are take care of, and that comes from political short term thinking. It’s much easier to give a tax cut than it is to attend to getting the roads maintain. And so we’re getting ready to pay the price for that and you can imagine that going forward government

and businesses might have a longer term view of decision making. And if you go take a longer term view of decision making, you need better situational analysis so that you don’t mistake a popularity contest for good decision making.

Stacey Harris 18:15
And that might actually be, you know, our next thing that the other term that sort of caught my eye this week and their funding is this Benevity, right, the Benevity out of Calgary, Canada. They are the provider of what they call corporate social responsibility, CSR and employee engagement software. They just raised $40 million to Series C funding so they’re getting along the truth and series. Their backers include General Electric and JMI equity. The company intends to use the funds to continue to further accelerate clients and con support services and product innovation. They say they have about 600 employees, they plan to fill an additional 200 full time technology sales client success positions, and the software is available in 17 different languages which is and is to an employee base of 12 million users right now to give us that

Have to search 12 million users or the fierce leader survey. We surveyed what 1800 organizations and around the world, and that was 22 million users this year. So that should give you a sense of how many companies they may or may not have, depending on the size of the companies. But this is really, you know, this hit me because at first I was like, is this really an HR software? Right, is they are doing things like volunteer management, tracking, corporate giving, you know, I could see something like this, you know, if roads and maintenance electricity that is considered social good social responsibility, right? Would there be some connection to that down the road based off of what you’re talking about? Right, looking at the longer term thinking versus the shorter term thinking? Obviously, things like global warming probably fall into some of those. I don’t know, john is do you see this as a as an HR software?

John Sumser 19:42
You know, it’s interesting, I think you just put the frame around it that changed my mind. I wasn’t sure.

You know, you could get you could get pretty snippy about this and go, Oh, this is a tool that coordinates volunteer hours and you know,

Maybe that’s not such a big thing. But when you when you reframe it as the company’s capacity to engage in long term participation and communities, that’s that’s, that’s more likely to be something that the HR department will own. I never heard of these people. So the idea that there are 600 employees of a company that does this blows my mind.

And they’re backed by serious players who understand the HR tech market. And so this is a thing that’s going to come faster than I would have thought.

Stacey Harris 20:37
And this, this is definitely an area that you know, I think organizations are trying to wrap their arms around. We know there are some of the larger I know, Cornerstone has a volunteer tool built into their application that they offer, right and they’re free of charge or as part of their overall HCM package I know as part of the HCM package, their wellness and their vault.

And they are social responsibility package. Oracle HBM has a similar sort of package that does a little bit of this not all of it, right? So it’s definitely a thing that other HCM tools are seeing as is somehow connected to what people are doing. Right.

But what got me this is $40 million and segment here. So this is definitely something people are investing in. So that that definitely is an area to watch, I guess is a good way to put it, right?

John Sumser 21:23
Yeah, yeah. So what else we got? You know, you know what, we didn’t talk about that we should talk about Charles Coy, who runs Analyst Relations at Cornerstone and has been doing it for 15 years. I don’t know where he’s going but he’s going somewhere that’s not Cornerstone in the industry. And he is he is bidding us all adieu and he is one of the bright spots of the industry.

Stacey Harris 21:49
Thank you for mentioning that I got that email yesterday actually turned to my colleague. I was like, Oh, this is a sad moment, Charles was1 my first analyst relations rep like like the first AR person I sort of understood what an AR person was. We’ve been a driving sort of planning kind of force. He’s just like you said, He’s been a bright spot. He’s been a cornerstone, I think almost since the beginning, right. And he has always, I think, had such a great balance. And for those of you who don’t understand the analyst space, we have you almost call them handlers is probably a good way to put it. We have a group of people and all the very large organizations and even the smaller stations, sometimes it’s their PR person, the smaller organizations, but who is known as the analyst relations representative and the analyst relations representative is the person who we communicate with they get us the interviews that we need within the company, they give us new make sure we get our demos that are briefing, they are the ones who put together no on site visits or the opportunities to sort of talk to different engineers deeper inside the organization. You know, it’s they a unique position inside organizations. And it makes a difference for us as analysts to whether or not we get good solid conversations that are as a or just getting marketing fluff, right. And there’s a lot of times where we get marketing fluff. I would say Charles is one of those who early on realized if I give access to the analysts, they can only share what’s happening in the market that they can help us do better for our customers. Right. And he’s always stood by that, but he’s, we will definitely miss them in the market. Yeah,

John Sumser 23:18
Yeah. Yeah. And he was he he has perhaps the driest sense of humor of anybody I’ve ever met. And he is just he’s just incredible and relentlessly funny. And you know, this is a world where a sense of humor is necessary but not often found. And he was a shining example of how to do this while making you know, his his the spoonful of sugar kind of guy and so this is this is we’ll miss you.

Stacey Harris 23:53
Yeah, the spoon full of sugar with a cherry of irony, right as He always was able to pull up and yeah, this is how it really is right?

Yes, we’ll miss him momentum greatly but wherever he’s done hopefully it involves a little bit of rest and a little bit of time with his family that is important to him so so we wish you well Charles, wherever you’re heading so yeah so outside of that and the only thing maybe we want to touch base a little bit on is there was this interesting article that came out about really higher view is what was about but it was about a scanning that higher view does and Delta and IKEA using the technology multiple mentions in this about how people said that once they start using HireView face scanning technology for acquisition they were actually getting better diversity and inclusion said their organization but a lot of pushback on it as well. You know, the hiring new team quite well. Are you surprised by this article? Do you think this is going to get a buzz or is this just one more of the sort of push backs on any artificial intelligence?

John Sumser 24:49
Well, so the article in Inc magazine is a response to the deep article in The Washington Post and right

Right, so so there’s this really credible journalism going on here. And there’s a lot of questions you know, higher view was in its inception of video interviewing. And even way back then you could go video interviewing company what kind of dumb is that? But you know, they made the case to to construction and make it logical and branded store and they created workflow around it but they were never able to really get a hook into the market. And then they started doing personality analysis by correlating the data in video interviews with personality tests. And it’s a sketchy idea. It’s a sketchy idea. And they’ve worked very, very hard over the years to to reduce the sketch of this and that kind of a model for the evolution of modern hire which takes the conceptual ideation of HireView and scales it back to something that’s provable. And so this is an area where we’re going to see stuff. Facial analysis is with us to stay. But it’s very early days, and it’s probably not all that smart to trust it yet.

Stacey Harris 26:16
But we are testing it. So what does that mean cause companies are using it to make decisions right so.

John Sumser 26:22
Well, we could have a week’s worth of conversation about

you know, in the early days of computing in the 80s, people often believed whatever the person with the spreadsheet said, because it came out of a computer. Yeah, that so there’s this authority, that’s a given data that emerges from a machine that I wouldn’t give you if you told me in a conversation, but if you show me a printout, and it’s in rows and columns, I’m more likely to consume it that way. And so you and I can look at you while you’re talking and watch your facial expressions, and then the

Develop a judgment of you, but it isn’t worth a damn, the machine does the same thing. And because it comes out of the machine, people believe it. And that’s a very, very challenging problem for our society. So we’ll be, we’ll be talking about that a lot over the coming years.

Stacey Harris 27:18
I will be watching it. And I think, you know, to your point, we almost have to do it to find out where it’s going to end up. And it just has to require a lot of testing and double checking and reviewing, right, what you’re trying to do and their process and all of their pieces. But like you said, it could end up being that we find that there are some real flaws and in any, in any process, or any tool that does this or even if there is as long as people themselves just might push back on this right and that might become the bigger conversation. So yeah, so it’s a place to keep having a conversation about what we went through all of these topics. Hopefully we’ve gotten your mind a little bit off of your current situation, john, and next week, hopefully, cross your fingers but you might be back in your home doing the show for right

John Sumser 28:00
Oh, I’m sure that I will be back next week. Absolutely, sure.

So thanks. And thanks for doing this again. Stacy it was a great conversation. Thanks for listening in everybody. You’ve been listening to HR Tech Weekly, one step closer with Stacey Harris and John Sumser. This is our 241st episode. See you here next week, same time. Bye Bye now.

Stacey Harris 28:23
Thanks, everyone. Bye!


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