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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: 244
Air Date: December 5, 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, loves those Irish guys. Welcome to HR Tech Weekly, One Step Closer with Stacey Harris and John Sumser. You were in Australia. Did you bring home a kangaroo?

Stacey Harris 0:25
I did not bring home a Kangaroo. I didn’t even get to see a kangaroo or a Koala Bear but Sydney was amazing, but it was also dealing with some brushfires that week, it’s been two weeks now since I’ve been there a week and a half now. And they were they were battling that so going outside of that was a little tough. I didn’t get chance to go to any of the wildlife refuges. But I did get to meet some amazing people had a really, really nice time went to Australia when it wasn’t Sunny, which is it, particularly in Sydney, which is a very unusual thing because it’s generally a very sunny part of the world, but because the fires they had a lot of overcast so that was sort of interesting to sort of have a different weather pattern. I took an umbrella out one day and I didn’t realize why I was getting all these weird looks and the people who I went to the conference that day basically said, yeah, it never rains here and I said, Oh, okay, and it rained that day because of the fire. I mean, obviously, you know what that’s like John, you know that it’s bringing the smoke and the wind. So yeah, it was an experience without a doubt I my first time in Australia, and I will say I fell in love with the country and the people they are just amazing forthright, which is wonderful for me because you know, there’s I don’t you know, I’m very direct in my own personal communications generally. And so it worked well for me, and I met some lovely people, they’re probably friends that I will know have for quite a lifelong friends in the Australian market. So so it was good. Definitely.

John Sumser 1:43
So, what did you learn there? What did you learn there?

Stacey Harris 1:47
Oh, yeah. Well, I I was there for the HR Tech Fest, which was a smaller you know, event. It’s not huge, but about 1,000 people with the mix of those big vendors and practitioners, but I was I was highly impressed with the level of skill sets and capabilities of the practitioners that were at the event, not everybody was at the most senior level. But that was actually quite great because what you have is a good mix of executives and senior level professionals as well as people who were on the ground doing the work. And so I thought, you know, that’s a nice mix when you get that an event. And many people brought multiple people from their organization, a lot of uses of both the Australia market as well as the New Zealand market, which is not as close as you might think it’s a good flight away. So we had a lot of professionals from both parts of that area, they had three tracks, one is HR and the other was learning and then they had a talent focused one, which is a lot more in the recruiting in the culture. My overall impression in general about the HR technology market for that sphere of the world is one, they have been sort of left to their own devices, lots of local vendors, lots of local sort of best practices, but they’re starting to get inundated with what I would consider would be more Western or US based technology. providers and it’s a bit confusing and overwhelming for them to get this amount of attention. We know workdays been over there now for quite some time. And so we’ve met a couple of people who had been recently gone the workday platform, we know that Ceridian is getting ready to make a big push in that area, we know talk to ADP, they’re getting ready to make the big pushes in there. You know, it tends to be after sort of the UK market, the next big international market for those large global HR technology organizations. And so they’re starting to get the first wave of this. And you can see a little bit of the deer in the headlight from the people who are making buying decisions because they’ve never had this many choices before and particularly this make choices that are focused on their unique regulations and capabilities. So that was kind of fun to have that conversation with them about what’s getting ready to come down the path. I also thought that the speakers at this event were particularly well selected. I had some my best presentations that I’d seen for this entire year. Three of them were one was that Melanie Barrett from Nestle. She was a workforce analytics specialist for She’s talked about an organizational network analysis efforts that they had done in Nestle. That was fascinating. They did it all without without any particular vendor, which I, you know, I’m sure any money the vendors would have loved to have been part of this process, but they just all I would, you know, basically by hand at some level using a mixture of serving tools and different analytics capability tools and sort of putting them all together, but they did a series of surveys and then analyze that data to get a sense of the risk areas inside of the Asia Pacific market for Nestle around communication and workloads and collaboration and had some fascinating findings about who’s communicating with you who wasn’t communicating with each other what risks they had, because there was only one or two communication points where those things, you know, appropriate for the market. She said it really made a difference in their succession planning and their approach they took to hiring and into some of their strategy around communicating with that market as a whole. So that was that was really interesting to watch and she explained it No way that everybody in the room understood it. And if anybody knows organizational network analysis, it’s a really hard thing to explain.

John Sumser 5:06
So what they did, right, yeah, individual people analysis, a lot of the players in organizational network analysis are not naming names, sort of looking at patterns above the individual level. And so they found real success by looking at individuals.

Stacey Harris 5:25
They did I mean, it was definitely a pattern it was it was a large line, that pattern level, right? But because they were able to get down to who, you know, in some cases, maybe two people who were the only two people who were collaborating crossed, no two big teams that should be collaborating and multiple levels, they were able to identify risk areas in the organization, which a lot of times you can because you’re only seeing maybe, you know, a group of 20 or 30. And so you’re not getting to that individual level. So they said there was some some interesting conversations, and they had to be very careful about how they shared that data, and what the end users were coming. Poulos when they shared it, but there was definitely a focus on trying to understand who were the communication that’s within the organization. Yeah. Interesting. And part of it may have been because they weren’t using any particular tool that they, they were able to do that more broadly. So their goal, I think they did it with one business unit, their goal was to expand to other businesses to maybe make it a little bit of tools that they could use here at Netflix. So it’ll be interesting to see where they take it. Melanie was fascinating in our conversation about it. They also had some really good focus at this event on not just culture but culture from a lot of times in the US, we have a culture conversation that talks about getting people to fit into our culture, right, and that you know, the right hires for a specific culture, which is makes a lot of sense because if you don’t get into the right culture, you’re oftentimes then end up leaving the organization to big decision making process. A lot of the organizations in this environment again, I think it’s probably more of a closed environment. So you have the limited resources you have there. So you have to figure out what you’re leveraging. It’s such a world away from everyone else. The conversation was almost flipped, which was much more about making the cultures more inclusive and more accepting of where everyone else was out, there was a great presentation by Fletcher building limited on focusing on a hiring attitude versus hiring skill sets, which was they had this whole video discussing, you know, sort of how they were reaching the younger generation through that conversation, letting them know that you know, how they brought their attitude to work was more important, but that, you know, they were creating a work environment that would meet them both with the flexibility and their needs for mobile access and their need for a more diverse work environment in a way that would be interesting to them versus something that would meet the culture of the company. The other one was an interesting presentation by Steve for him from BlackRock industries. He was fascinating. He’s 37 years old, and already sort of a multi millionaire possibility and I can’t remember the actual numbers but has built a massive conglomerate in the Australian market, Asia Pacific market, and he’s done it by focusing on hiring in a way That starts with what does the employee need their organization to do? So he talked about this great example of the indigenous tribes in the Australian market. They particularly people who come from those cultures oftentimes struggle because they need to have sort of a different cultural environment to work in it. They’re great workers, they get a lot of work done. But they need to have more freedom and more flexibility because there’s a lot of cultural connection to doing things like what they call walkabouts. And I’m not going to claim them appropriately. And I and I apologize already for the fact that I’m probably going to mess this up. But I was fascinated by his conversation about the fact that he worked with a group of representatives from those various cultures to try and figure out when these walkabouts would generally happen, because there’s something that’s more sort of ingrained in the DNA than they are something that you would plan or have a holiday schedule for or something like that. And they figured out the cycles coincided with sort of generally the cycles you would go out and gather food or do hunting, and so they had built in flexibility. So those professionals could do that. They’re walk about and still have coverage within the organization. And that was really interesting because it was all about meeting people where they are with diversity. And there’s a lot of conversation about diversity at the Australian event. So those are some of the big takeaways that I had from the event. But they were it was a fascinating jump into a culture that was so like the United States culture, but just slightly different and enough different that it was fun to sort of watch from the outside to see some of the things that they’re emphasizing that we don’t here in the US and Western culture. So

John Sumser 9:29
Got it, got it. And then right next in the news is page of people but Creech so page, your Australian market.

Stacey Harris 9:38
Yeah, it’s a big individual is one of the biggest talent acquisition providers in the Australian market. The clinch acquisition is along the same lines of what we’ve been talking about for a while, right, its services side of along with the technology and so it’s sort of unexpected purchases from far as the the two things that are going together based off of the conversations that we’ve been having. But this one is out of Dublin and their audience is based a little bit differently than then the current page up market up agent does work outside of the Australian market, they have quite a big base in the education market in the US and European space. So that makes a lot of sense then with the clinch purchase, but I do know that they were hit pretty hard in the Australian market because they had a data breach. And the one thing that I found in my conversations throughout Australia is that Australia is particularly sensitive to data privacy conversations, you know, there is a lot of conversation in that in that region about how important it is to keep your data in the hands of the employees with their say about you know, who gets access to it and when they get access to it. And pages. data breach was very massive, but it was mostly resume kind of information, but it was enough of a breach that it really I think had an impact on the Australian market. So my expectation is we’ll see page up a lot more in Europe and the US as they’re trying to sort of rebuild some of their brand a bit from from what happened there.

John Sumser 11:00
Hey, interesting and clinch is the product of a guy named Shane gray who I bet you know, Shane, everybody does shame. He put a lot of frequent flyer miles in to get that deal to happen.

Stacey Harris 11:15
And it isn’t about the technology and the service is reading between the lines or is it mostly technology that two things are merging? Now,

John Sumser 11:23
my view and I am subject to be well, here My view is that it’s that it’s both in that it’s just forward thinking enough to anticipate when a lot of software is going to look like going forward, which is you can’t really run software as a pure licensing business any longer. And so they’re just, they’re just early to get it right.

Stacey Harris 11:43
And going to be a conversation I think that all of the earpiece solutions are going to have to face which is you know, they’ve made their bread and butter and they’ve made their focus. We are software only right all of the services are outsourced to mainstage which is the next one up in our conversation here is a really good example of that. Stage acquired take HR. Now, I don’t know cake HR, but my sense of sort of reading through is that they are more of a head of HR, but focusing on compliance in the HR space. And it’s interesting to know, you know, stage is primarily for SMB or small businesses organizations under maybe 1000 or 1500. But KKR has over 27,000 customers, their London based organization and stage plans to roll out cake services to its own UK customers, it looks like the by the beginning of this year. And we also know that age bought in 2017, fair sale, which is more of a talent management, career management HR application as well. So the other thing that I know that take HR brings is a payroll system. And that was the one thing that felt didn’t have, so this might be their way of getting a more robust payroll system as well. Yeah, I think I think something in general big is happening at sage and it isn’t always easy to see it but they seem to be putting pieces together to build Monster business. I know, quite a bit was traveling. So I would agree, I think I think it would be it would be a poor judgment to ignore them and you oftentimes they oftentimes do get ignored in the European conversation particularly on the HR side or

John Sumser 13:16
they play a different game but then it is a fascinating enterprise. Okay, hasty, you know, hasty.

Stacey Harris 13:25
I don’t know Hey, Steve, but I thought if you’re getting 269 million US dollars, 208 million euros then maybe company we should be paying attention to it’s a lot of money, right? And the investment space, but they’re an employee benefit. They’re focused on on demand payroll, that’s really what they are, but they kind of position themselves with financial well being and benefit but they’re an on demand payment in the European market looks like mostly and their focus is on solving the nation’s reliance on payday loans, credit cards and overdraft. That’s what their commentary is. They have huge customers like London City Airport Iris Avery care homes Mitchell Butler’s with some pretty big names in the UK and in the European market. So I don’t know I mean, that’s a lot of money for a payday application Don’t you

John Sumser 14:12
know this? Here we go again on this topic. This is a payday loan company where the employer secures the loan. This is not right. So the key here is that you can have a free first withdrawal everybody have 100 pounds, and then anything else is a 2.5% transaction fee. So these are hourly workers in the UK then 2.5% is something that will be spending every week and 2.5% per week is an annual interest rate of what I don’t know 200% something like that. And 125% I love this crazy story that pays They loans are the enemy. And what we’re going to do is secure your payday loan with your paycheck and only charge you a transaction fee. And that isn’t really interest.

Stacey Harris 15:11
And we’re getting a different story from some other organizations that both ADP and workday are. You know, they rolled out they’re similar products in the last couple of months. And they’re very clearly saying they are not charging the employee or the employer, but the actual merchant is where they’re going with their current dream.

John Sumser 15:28
Yep. Yep. It’s good money. It’s good money. So I should be I think it’s really worth it. Both are doing it without charging the employee.

Stacey Harris 15:45
And then, you know, speaking of work day, yeah. No, go ahead. We are just off on our balance today. Just it’s been a couple of weeks is what we get. Right.

John Sumser 15:55
Right. I think I think you just I think you just still to Australian Come back on Saturday.

Stacey Harris 16:02
Exactly. So still too blunt into the point. I we were heading into the sort of last one of the last conversations for the for the half hour which is working on a pretty big press release and a conversation with their new chief customer officer Emily Macavity. Now they made the announcement about the chief customer officer a little bit at there was day rising. I thought it was worth maybe talking about their focus on having a chief customer officer at this point in time. Their comment here from from her interview is that it’s about the fact that customers now have a lot of choices and products and services and they want someone who could have will oversee sales support marketing services teams to make sure that all the needs are being met at a at a much better pace for the they work for workday customers. What do you think about this move? I mean is this we’re both aware that workdays been been getting a little bit of a hit recently with their customer conversations. And we need We’re in the market that there’s been a lot of conversation about his workday getting to a point where they’re they need to have more focus on their customers, because they’re no longer the darling of the industry, right the underdog, do you think as a customer role like this is an important way to address that? Or is this conversation where they’re going to need to do probably a lot more?

John Sumser 17:19
Well, you know, it’s it’s pretty easy to read this as the customer satisfaction problems are so severe that we had to elevate them to a CEO level position, right. And so bonus points for paying attention to the fact that there is dissatisfaction in the market, but an interesting signal about about the company I am reasonably persuaded that that what’s going on at work, they are the growing pains associated with having accomplished their basic goals of becoming an ER in World Class SAP, Oracle level DRP provider. I think they’ve done that So now they have to figure out how to live with the fact that that’s what they’ve done. And elevating the voice of the customer to the, to the C suite is exactly how you start doing that. Right?

Stacey Harris 18:14
Yeah, yeah. And you know, it’s one of those places and be careful what you wish for, I would have to agree. I mean, they’ve now hit the the point at which when you’re no longer punching above your class and trying to get to a certain point, but you are the organization to beat it changes the whole dynamics, right, both of your customers of the people who are working around you and of the of the competitors that you’re working with. And so so I think it’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out. Yeah,

John Sumser 18:39
yeah. King of the Hill is a different game when you’re coming up the hill and when you’re King, and it is it is quite challenging to get used to the difference. And so the game

Stacey Harris 18:52
yeah, and and a company has been through this and multiple levels. Right. Our last maybe conversation is worth talking about is what’s next Putting on the broader technology market, which is Google CEO. Sundar, I’m not gonna say his name correctly. I never have a child I think it is their feature is the new CEO of alphabet. But we’re basically Larry Page and Sergey, Sergey Brin are leaving their primary roles and heading of alphabet and Google. They’ve been on a Google for a while, but they were sort of heading up, I think alpha that for a while. What’s the scuttle on this, you know, in the Bay Area, any commentary on why this is happening right now? And both of them at the same time? And is this a similar thing where they hit a new level, and they need a new type of leadership at this point, and have to rethink their model?

John Sumser 19:39
You know, I think it’s healthy for the company, but Google’s like 22 or 23 years old now. These guys have been at it from the beginning. So they’re going to go off and fly their 740 sevens around the world and come back for board meetings periodically. And that probably makes sense because in tech, it’s very unusual for somebody Be able to survive multiple generations at the top of the organization because things change so fast. And so. So Sundar Pichai has astonishing at Google is brought discipline and focus to something that really needed it. And so it’s good that he’s taking on the bigger challenge of running the entire and the rice.

Stacey Harris 20:24
Do you do you think it has anything? I mean there was also at the same time an article, just I think last week about Google firing four employees over alleged data security issues, there was a big push back that that might have been firing because of labor conversations right as well. Do you think some of that also has a bit to do with it right now, which is that there is a big backlash to some extent with Google’s own employees about what the organization stands for and what it should be doing when you when you create innovation and create an environment where everyone’s voice expects to be heard this is that a realistic way to run a business? I mean, obviously, Google’s made it very successful. I, like I said, one of the great presentations at this Australia event was Google’s learning and development function, talking about how they were creating an innovation environment. And it was a fascinating look into how that’s done at a sort of even the most basic level within Google. But, any of that do you think had something to do to play with some of this?

John Sumser 21:19
There are certainly changes going on in the company. But I think this is a different thing. This is a different thing. When you’ve made that much money the idea of going to work every day may not be as interesting as it was when you were in the process of making that much money.

Stacey Harris 21:34
Yeah, you do forget that most of the people who have figured out gone through these processes don’t need to work right. That’s a small percentage of the world but it is it is a nice place for them to be at.

John Sumser 21:46
Well, and you have to wonder if people who don’t need to work and think about it that way aren’t exactly what you don’t need in an operation. You know, the people who need to work tend to get things done together. People who don’t need to work tend to go slower.

Stacey Harris 22:03
Time and time and money make up all conversations right as they say.

John Sumser 22:10
Yes they do. Well, great conversation, welcome back and we will now get back in our weekly groove and keep at it. Thanks for taking the time today Stacey.

Stacey Harris 22:20
Yeah, always fun, and definitely good to get back from the from the Australian market and share some of the insights. So looking forward to talking again next week.

John Sumser 22:27
And thanks, everybody for listening in. You’ve been here with us on HR Tech Weekly with Stacey Harris and John Sumser. See you back here next week, same time. Bye Bye now.

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