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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: 273
Air Date: July 2, 2020





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.

SPEAKERS: Stacey Harris and John Sumser

John Sumser 0:14
Good morning and welcome to HR Tech Weekly, One Step Closer with Stacey ,Harris and John Sumser. Hi Stacey.

Stacey Harris 0:21
Morning, John. How are you doing? Are you safe and sound still in California? Staying inside this day?

John Sumser 0:27
Yeah, they let me out the exerciser for 45 minutes every day.

Stacey Harris 0:31

John Sumser 0:32
It’s crazy. It’s crazy. How about you?

Stacey Harris 0:36
I’m good in Raleigh. We’re sort of holding stable but watching the numbers rise around the country. It’s definitely scary time I think for everybody. So we’re staying in place here in the North Carolina state, sun shining, they can’t complain.

Other than the little bit of time I have to go out to physical therapy for my ankle surgery. I am doing well. But yeah, we’re heading back into what feels like another round of not completely closing the doors for organizations, but definitely in areas like Texas or South Carolina or Florida it definitely I think we’re going to see more requirements for staying inside and wearing masks hopefully and reducing organization sizes inside of buildings and stuff. So we’ll see it’s definitely heading into another scary time here in the leasing days. How about you, John? I mean, California is starting to see rises as well, right, in the covid crisis?

John Sumser 1:31
Yeah, it’s a different world, people are more willing to be locked down to stay alive here. They are other places. This there’s, you know, I live in a tourist town and so so the weekends are full of idiots. But generally speaking during the week, it’s very quiet. People are going about kind of doing the minimum interaction with the world. I think it’s possible that in California we’ll survive without the big catastrophy people have seen but there’s stuff going on in the south around LA that is causing this worry up here in the north. So

Stacey Harris 2:10
One thing about being a country and with all the open no borders crossing people moving from state to state, it’s amazing to be are the United States that also, you know, what happens to one part of us happens all of us, right, like anything else, but this large and global and cross borders. And hopefully, we’ll be able to, as a country come to each of the individual state aids that are struggling right now, particularly Texas, but through all of this, we’re continuing to see business and work and even the stock market rising a little bit. So it’s sort of a weird, confusing time. I mean, it’s been confusing for a lot of reasons, you know, over the last several months, including the Black Lives Matter movement that’s been going on as well as they work that’s going on in you know, sort of trying to manage the economic downturn and people being out of work as well as hopeless. But it’s sort of odd to feel this sort of mix of business as usual, along the same lines as the increasing pandemic crisis as well. Like, I don’t know, are you feeling a little bit like you’re sort of torn in two worlds?

John Sumser 3:14
No, it’s not like that. But it is. Well one of the things that’s really worth just talking about a little bit here is none of our machine learning systems are set up to deal with successive emergent phenomena, right? So disruptive events that happen once a once or twice a century, just we’re never factored in. Right? And so and so the data, the data gets really weird after you have an event like this, but we’re having multiple and there’s no reason to think that we’re not going to have a third or fourth disruption. I saw I saw a note the other day that said, you know, there’s the quote that says some weeks ago last four years or seven years last four weeks, and the calling this time decay Blitz. So every every week is ageless. Meaning you get 10 years or the change crammed into the week. And we haven’t really had to deal with that as a culture. And we certainly never anticipated dealing with that with our technology. So there’s all sorts of stuff that doesn’t work quite right right now. You know, it’s all I think you’re familiar with steampunk, which is, which is this idea of high technology that’s got a lot of patches in it. And so it looks very old fashioned by the time he’s done patching it. We’re in a steampunk timeframe.

Stacey Harris 4:40
Wow. I’m just envisioning our technology covered in sort of Steampunk Style clothing as well. So I’m just done that really well. Okay.

John Sumser 4:50
Yeah, well I think that’s what is going on and we have a lot of people in our industry, working their asses off to They could be what it used to be. Right, you know, we’re going to open up. And that’s it’s like opening up comes before getting it right. And I think we have to try to figure out what getting it right means because just reopening and just doing the things we used to see, you know, so there’s an economic layoff people, that doesn’t really necessarily solve the problem, because we’ve got all this real estate and capital equipment that we have to retain as part of the, quote, future work, and nobody’s really doing that.

Stacey Harris 5:37
Yeah, yeah. I was asking earlier we were we were chatting a little bit. No, I haven’t quite yet seen anybody running economic model, just based off the assumption that human contact will be dangerous for the next year, maybe two, right? And running those economic models would assume new businesses coming out of it. I think I think you said it best. I said rethinking businesses and you said you know, businesses will close the new Winds will come open, right? And those businesses that are based off of a less human contact model, that kind of analysis I think people are almost afraid to do because they’re just like, No, no, no, we just want to, we want to get back to where we were, like you said, we can’t get back to where we were without thinking about how to do it right safely. And with the understanding that this is not a one time thing, probably for most organizations and for our humanity as a whole, right?

John Sumser 6:24
Yes, I think rethink implies that you can take all of the existing puzzle pieces that you have, and put them together in a new puzzle. And the problem is the pieces. Two pieces, you have to be able to be in a position to throw away the old business model in its entirety to build a new business model. And that’s not that’s not we think that is something harder than we think. And it’s scarier, and most businesses aren’t equipped to do it. And so I think it was an early win. of layoffs. And now we’re starting to see pay cuts. And, and so we’re gonna, it’s gonna be weird and it’s gonna be weird because you can’t, you just can’t pick the same pieces and put them back together in different proportions and still get the same result. Right. And so the problem here is it’s not just the process that has to be revised. It’s not just how we go to work, but it’s what we do, right. And so so the goal for your company has to be a different goal than it was 120 days ago. different goals, you have to you have to get it to be different on the very essence of how performance is measured. You know, Kodak wasn’t able to do this. And so they put a lot of money into trying to solve this problem in a in a market driven environment rather than a catastrophe driven environment. But Kodak wasn’t able to do this isn’t a very, very hard thing to do. And it’s even harder. Still when you’re disoriented from the continuing waves of crisis?

Stacey Harris 8:07
Well, I actually think this is a conversation that not just with a pandemic, but it also fits with the conversations we’ve been having about racism and about equality and justice inside of our communities and our work environments as well. I think what you’re saying is that when you’re faced with something that then a little bit of adjustment is not going to work with it, which is what you’re talking about. You have to break the system down and rebuild it. I think that’s what we’re hearing in that particular conversation as well. You know, there were a couple of interesting articles that came out this week. workday was particularly called out for commenting that their black diversity isn’t as deep as they would like to have it inside their organization, but they were willing to share their numbers which we’re not seeing from a lot of other tech companies in this particular conversation. And I think as we’re talking about those issues, the stomach issues that in our world The way we think about justice and racism and equality, we have to re basically re conceive completely re adjust our thinking about how we start the conversation. And I think that’s the same thing you’re saying about our economic challenges and our and our work challenges as well. Right?

John Sumser 9:19
Yeah, so I want to say something that is probably just gonna sound stupid, but I want to, I want to take you one step further and go artificial intelligence was the first pandemic. And by that I mean, the waves were AI, then the pandemic, then Black Lives Matter. So we’ve had three disruptions of this level when it was just AI. And people said, well, you have to rethink the way you do your business. Nobody understood what that meant. Nobody, nobody, there’s no, but the pandemic started to make it possible for people. We really have to rethink our business. And then Black Lives Matter assuming that But we can figure out how to keep that issue in the limelight is the third wave is the third wave. And people who don’t get the message now are running dying businesses.

Stacey Harris 10:12
And that really is I think the conversation is what businesses will survive the person’s what business as well, or what new businesses will come out of it. Right. And there’s a lot of new stuff happening and news around this. I mean, I mean, before we dive into the news articles this week, I do want to make a just a one call out because I think one of the people who has been probably pushing this kind of conversation before it was even part of I think our overall dynamic because of the challenges that we’ve been facing last month was Joyce Maroney from Kronos, who ran furnaces workforce Institute for the last 13 years and before that was probably one of the leading people in Kronos, who understood the impact of how tracking and managing Time and Attendance impacted employees and you’re just your sense of what work was. Joyce Maroney is retiring after 13 years. Then many more years of man I think for Kronos term the workforce Institute at Kronos incorporated and they’ll be having a new head or executive come on board there, Chris Mullin, who comes from a background of research and analysis and stuff, but I just wanted to say I think Joyce, too, we haven’t. I don’t know if he knew her very well, but I have a chance to really get to know where you’re at Cronos she was talking about things like employee burnout and workplace absenteeism, Boomerang employees, and the impact of four day workweeks and the impact of equality inside of organizations long before it was cool or interesting to talk about. So just just a quick goodbye to Joyce and thank you for all of her hard work at the workforce Institute at Kronos.

John Sumser 11:41
Yeah, I think Joyce probably changed the industry as much as anybody can. It was a great ride it was a great ride. So what’s in the mailbag.

Stacey Harris 11:50
Well, along the line, we also got some good research from another good friend of ours. Stacia Garr and who runs Red Thread Research had launched a really interesting bit of research on performance management and women are tracking the overall approach organizations are taking to performance management and how it compares between men and women. Her research study was called leveling the field making performance management work for women. At the same time, they did a subsequent analysis of how that was taking place over the last several months, because the Cova traces so much of what we were just talking about the double shift supporting women’s performance during a pandemic. So we can definitely talk a little bit about that, that leads into a lot of the conversation that we have this week. We have some items from last week that we didn’t mention that I think are worth maybe some conversation servers now and reducing its data center capacity in Europe. And as we start talking about things like data privacy and data standards, where data is housed is going to continue to be a big conversation and ServiceNow is continuing to expand the idea that it is a very large global company wants to meet the needs of global companies. We also talked a little bit last week about work human to reaching $1 billion status but in this point of view, Words recognition kind of tools sort of meeting sort of very large numbers in an industry that is struggling right now is probably worth having a conversation. And if we have a little bit of time, I think along the lines of what we were talking about the idea of rethinking work, there was an organization that raised $7 million. George Laroque a good friend of ours had brought this forward. And I thought as well worth mentioning that armored things raised $7 million for workplace utilization analytic and George mentioned is the fifth one from his perspective to deal with the similar kind of base and actual work sort of environment analysis type of technology. This one particularly sort of analyzes the use and capacity of your work environment and sort of gives you insight into sort of researching and contract racing and all the things inside of that, that that requires, and we’re going to see more of this sort of technology that’s tracking the environment as well as the digital side of the employee variants. We also have work shield raising $4 million, which is in their series A which is a total harassment reporting on this particular we have talked about this a while back now where these these kind of applications that we’re going to get funding look like they’re continuing to get funding in this environment. And then PwC facial recognition tool criticized for homeworking privacy, invasion, all of those kind of fit into what we were just talking about 3d conceptualizing the idea of the work environment and the work that we’re doing. So, busy week still.

John Sumser 14:24
Yeah, yeah. So there’s a book in every one of the topics that you’re talking about, which one do you want to open?

Stacey Harris 14:30
There’s a lot, but maybe let’s touch a little bit on the work that they should guard did with performance management, and the difference between sort of how performance management is being addressed for women and men. But how did that change in perception change as we went into the pandemic? I mean, have you thought you were just talking about the fact that artificial intelligence didn’t quite come to fruition the way we wanted it to our machine learning basically broke as we were heading into this pandemic, and the artificial intelligence was maybe giving us answers that weren’t quite the Write one Do you feel that had a bigger impact on women particularly in the workplace?

John Sumser 15:06
I don’t know about that the dynamic seems to be you’ve got two earners in the household. You’ve got two kids two earners in the household. And because pay equality is an issue, the guy always makes more money. So when you try to decide what’s the right thing to do for income and dealing with kids, when there’s no school and all that stuff, the guy’s for pushier financial reasons, the guy’s career gets to come first. So you end up with this crazy world of women being sort of punished because they don’t make as much money. And I think it’s happening everywhere. I think it’s happening everywhere. And and it is a dramatic step backwards that we haven’t even begun to think about yet. But double double shift. What that means is what that means is that if you are in a family with children, and you are the woman in that tribe, It’s often the case that your life is just gotten dreadful with with huge, huge requirements. And if we’re going to do this work at home saying in the way that people are suggesting we have to address this particular level really quickly, so it’s fantastic. That station red thread, got the research to the table.

Stacey Harris 16:19
Yeah. And I mean, I can remember conversations with my grandmother back in the day where she would talk about if she’s to go to work and you know, the baby on her hip, you know, you that’s what you did. And, and I don’t know if that has changed much in the world we live in, you know, it’s funny, I raise my children and mean, my husband made the decision that he was stay home for work. I was the primary breadwinner, a family for many, many years. And I think even though I was the primary breadwinner, there was still a perception I think that this is a bit of a challenge for women in our world is that even as the although I financially wasn’t making as much as other men in my field doing the work that I was doing, right, I was making more than my husband, but there was still a perception that I had to handle A lot of the details that were sort of more generally allocated to the females, right, the doctor appointments, making sure the groceries were about making sure the the, you know, financial elements were handled within, you know, the family, those kind of things. Just because it was stuff that you know, normally had fallen on my plate even though I was doing the additional work in the house. And I think that’s also part of this problem is a perception issue for women as well feeling like they own what we oftentimes call the subconscious that can shift your mind is always thinking about these things that you have to get accomplished or do for the family or for the household that doesn’t seem to fall on the shoulders of anyone else. And you know, the double double shift when you think about a pandemic environment is that you were doing your work every day and you’re at your home desk and the kid needs help with their you know, homework to do they go to an ask question, Who is that primary person who they would ask questions of those are the kinds of things They think that they should was pulling up in her research and, and so this is a much more I think than just a sheer facts and data percent conversation. It’s also a perception and a feeling and an emotional conversation as well. And there’s a bit of that from what I read and what Stacia was talking about as well.

John Sumser 18:14
Yeah. How are you supposed to deal? You know, it’s like we have 1000 intractable problems on our plate right now, how do you solve this?

Stacey Harris 18:22
I would be comfortable that I’m the first person world to solve anything like I don’t think anybody think that’s part of the reason why the research is so invaluable, right? the solving of this is a global conversation, just like racism, just like social inequality. These are conversations that whole communities have to have, and our technology and the images we see in the world around us. And the perception of our bosses and the perception of our organizations don’t have to change, right. I mean, that’s a lot of change to take place.

John Sumser 18:55
Yes. Yes. Very challenging, very challenging problem and this project Killer one just compounds itself right? The more overwhelmed and more tired any employee gets the worst people’s opinion of them gets. And this is what I think about the long term consequences here. I think we’re going to need to do a lot of work repair what’s getting broken here.

Stacey Harris 19:19
Yeah, yeah, no I agree in and the repair work. In some cases, we will see what the numbers look like when we come out of this. I haven’t looked through all of this research yet to see if she’s got numbers on Pay yet. But I am betting that as we come out of this, we will see that as pays were reduced across the organization. It will be interesting to see how those reduction in pay and the and the economic loss that took place, how that played out across females and male different races and ethnicities inside of our organizations in our communities. And my bet is that yes, that we have taken at least as a step event, two steps back Some of the progress that we made over the last several years because when you were in crisis mode, it’s much easier to fall back on old perceptions and old expectations. Well, you know, if you’ve got a child at home, does that mean she’s working less? You know, do I pay her laugh, that kind of thing compared to what we might do in other times?

John Sumser 20:19
This is depressing. This is depressing.

Stacey Harris 20:24
Well sometimes, lately, it’s tough to deal with, but it’s real, it’s here. Yeah. But I agree yeah.

John Sumser 20:30
Well, you know, you know, and this and this is going on at the same time that there are, it appears to be the case that the new model for solving staffing problems in the downturn is you’d have a small layoff that touches everybody in the organization, but just barely, and the Fed but that gets everybody nervous about it. And then you come along and cut everybody’s paying 20% and say, oh, oh, yeah, I know you’re scared about losing your job, but you can keep it if you just take it 20% thank Cuz that’s happening that’s happening in big consulting companies. And what are the skills such as the next the next five years? It’s just gonna be a lot of digging our way out of a car wreck.

Stacey Harris 21:15
Yeah. But I think my hope is, is that and I think the light at the end of his tunnel, right, if you if we are looking for light is that when things like this have happened previously, I mean the economic downturn of 2008 2007 wasn’t nearly as bad and didn’t have all the other things that that went around it but similar things are happening, particularly those over 50. other categories of workforces were laid off and much higher percentages know back in 2008 2009. And we didn’t really know that data until probably years later because we kind of had to look at all of the stats and the numbers and to see who got brought back and all that stuff. Right. And I think today we’re going to have more data faster and more People looking at that data than we’ve had in the past. So I think, you know, as we started off the conversation about, you know, Joyce this afternoon, and her leaving and inserting the workforce Institute 13 years ago, I think that was really a very lonely place for her. There weren’t a lot of people having some of these conversation. I think today, that is not the case. And so if there is a live internal event, maybe we’re going to we’re going to see the issues earlier and faster, be able to maybe make adjustments much more quickly as we move out of it. That’s my hope, John. So does that help a little bit brighten the day a bit.

John Sumser 22:32
Well, yeah, sure it does, I mean, another way of saying what you said is that people analytics is going to become a major part of HR going forward was major part of HR going forward and that, you know, I like that I like the idea that they charge getting much more data oriented and analytical and so, so I’m all for that that makes for a world in which we can use technology to solve drudgery and move people on to more interesting ways to spend their time.

Stacey Harris 23:06
Yeah, definitely.

John Sumser 23:07
Okay, not our usual cheerful show.

Stacey Harris 23:12
But a good conversation and one that was that was probably needing to happen. And and you know, I think as we’re heading into what is the holiday weekend for money here in the States, at least maybe an opportunity to think a little bit about how are you tracking this kind of information? How are you thinking about this kind of conversation inside your organization to hopefully a little bit of thinking through for everyone this weekend, but a good conversation.

John Sumser 23:32
Okay Stacey. Thanks. And thanks, everybody, for tuning in. Have a great holiday weekend. You’ve been listening to HR Tech Weekly with Stacey Harris and John Sumser. And we will see you back here next week. Bye Bye now.

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