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Strategic Work Planning

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensible.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower



This week I am travelling and time is tight, so let me refer you to a recent study completed on Strategic Workforce Planning.

In today’s marketplace of growing competition for top producers, workplace disengagement among employees, rising demand for flexible hours/arrangements, plus rapid changes in technology, comes a need for greater collaboration between staff, management and data resources.

Strategic workforce planning (SWP) attempts to address these issues with new tools & resources, steering away from compartmentalized processes towards a more holistic approach serving business and organizational needs. SWP aims to put the right talent in position to achieve goals and objectives.

Here is a summary of this new report:
Despite the importance of SWP and its effectiveness in planning for future growth, improving operational efficiency, and addressing skill gaps, it continues to be a challenge for many employers. But those that get it right understand that SWP must be a collaborative process, with full collaboration between people, data, and technology. Although companies may vary in their model for conducting SWP, there are similar processes that can be used by any organization to ensure full alignment between talent needs and overall organizational goals.

This signature research, conducted in partnership between Workday and the Human Capital Institute (HCI), explores the in-depth challenges facing organizations as they seek to adopt an effective strategic workforce planning (SWP) process as well as the best practices that can help them achieve success, based on the survey responses of nearly 400 professionals involved with SWP at their organizations.


View the entire report here:



Revitalizing Rewards & Recognition

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “People work for money but go the extra mile for

rewards and recognition.” – Dale Carnegie

The art of keeping employees engaged and feeling appreciated requires both variety and customization, whether for an individual or a team. 

One time I was hired for soft skills training and morale boosting of bank tellers. They were having a difficult time dealing with rude customers, and looked like a group of doleful-eyed, droopy-eared Beagles in need of a nourishing bowl of food. I told them there is nothing they could do about their customers’ attitudes until they shifted their own attitude from one of frustration to fun. Like Beagles that just heard an eerie sound, their heads collectively turned sideways.

At the end of their workday on a Friday, I asked them to gather around in a circle and reveal their worst customer of the week experience to the branch managers and me. The sharing provoked wild howls of laughter! The managers and I then conferred a reward to the teller with the best “Worst Customer of the Week” story: A customer reportedly took out a can of underarm deodorant from her handbag and sprayed the teller’s window, screaming, “This place stinks!” The teller’s reward was a gift certificate to a fine restaurant. The following Friday, it was a bottle of champagne (which proved to be quite popular).

The tellers felt supported for enduring difficult customer situations, and morale skyrocketed. Now they were seeking out the rude customers: “Excuse me, sir, you look like you may be having a tough day…come forward. I’ll help you out.” With this unexpected response, rude customers suddenly became more civil. The good will snowballed as customers were telling their family, friends and work associates about the unusual attentiveness they were receiving at their bank.

As a result, the bank experienced a surprising jump in new customers. It was a win-win-win situation. Enduring a cranky customer is something that anyone in customer service can relate to; being rewarded for it is a great way to show appreciation.

Some other thoughts from HR professionals on the subject of rewards and recognition:

“Chocolate can make you high for a short time - but its no substitute for ongoing health, happiness, and well being. I do agree that the occasional celebration, or recognition has some merit. However, attention to the daily rigor of Management By Walkabout, talking to everyone, listening, and acting on feedback is more important to the ongoing morale of the team.” – Dr. Gary S.

“When leading a very young HR team I realized the generational gap in recognition expectations. After casual conversations it was made clear that what mattered most was time-off. After checking our organizational rules I discovered I could allow periods of time off so I created on-the-spot recognition certificates that awarded "Report to Work one hour late", "Start Your Weekend Early", "Take a 2-Hour Lunch". These were more popular than plaques, trophies, or parties.“ – James F.

“Last winter with all of the snow days and cold weather, we surprised everyone with a flower on their desk and a note saying we were closing the office early and heading to a local botanical/greenhouse so everyone could enjoy a "Touch of Spring", just let everyone appreciate that winter was almost over and Spring was near. People LOVED it! This got them out of the rut of nasty weather and gave everyone a chance to breathe in beautiful colors and fresh air. Knowing your audience and what will entice the majority of people is a lot of how our decisions are made.” - Courtney R.

“Our Small Team LOVES games and small rewards. If a manager wants their team to hit a certain sales or shipping target, adding in a ‘if your team reaches this target you will get an extra lieu (time off) hour’ always works and creates the friendly competition among the staff. It's nice to be in a smaller company that's not so corporate. – Stephanie D.

“I posed this question to my class (mostly 30 some-things continuing their education) yesterday, the over whelming response was a little extra (PTO) time off.” - Robert L.

“I think you'll find your BEST ideas (i.e. most appreciated) come from the workforce itself.” – Ivette D.






HR As Strategic Business Partner?

Quote for the Week: "The reason why employee relations have lost its sheen in aiding productivity is to be searched for within the doors of your corporate structure, i.e. your human resource department." - Henrietta Newton Martin

In many respects, the answer is obvious and simple. It should take primary responsibility for providing input, advice, direction, and execution with respect to organization effectiveness. Increasingly, what makes organizations effective is how they organize staff and manage their human capital. Modern organizations are dependent on complex systems and the knowledge of their employees. Yes, it's important for organizations to have the right amount of financial capital and hard assets, but it is the soft assets that are progressively the difference makers between successful and unsuccessful firms.


Historically, many critics of the HR function (formerly known as personnel) have pointed out that HR is more of an administrative unit than a strategic player. Recently, more and more articles and books have claimed that HR has changed and become much more of a player when it comes to organizational effectiveness and business strategy. We present data from 1995 to 2010, which shows little to no change in how HR spends its time. It also shows that HR spends less than 15% of its time as a strategic business partner. Where does it spend most of its time? It spends it dealing with the implementation and administration of HR policies and practices. This is true in 1995, and data recently collected show that it is true in 2013.


When HR executives were asked in the survey to report if they have recently increased the amount of time they spend on being a strategic business partner, their answer is, "Yes." Many report that it has increased significantly since 1995, despite the fact that our data say it has not.


What should HR do and what can it do in order to become a more strategic business partner and greater contributor to organizational effectiveness. Before answering this question, it is important to note that the research clearly shows that spending more time as a strategic business partner leads to better company performance. It is clearly the right place for organizations to position their HR function.


There are many ways that HR can contribute to business strategy. It ranges from helping to identify and design strategic options, through to picking the best options, including facilitating the implementation of the strategic options the company chooses to pursue. Usually new strategies require different behavior and different performance from many individuals and parts of the organization. This type of change should be a real sweet spot for HR.


Unfortunately, our data suggest that HR rarely plays a major role in the development and implementation of business strategies. They are most active in helping design the organization for change, and least active when it comes to working with the corporate board. When I look at whether their role has changed in the recent years, the answer is, "No." HR seems to be about as involved in business strategy today as it was a decade ago. This is despite the fact that data clearly show that when it is involved, organizations function better and are much more successful in implementing strategic change. Incidentally, our data covers the U.S., Canada, Australia, India, Europe, China, and the U.K. We get virtually identical results from large corporations in all of those countries. The failure of HR to be the player it should be, with respect to business strategy, raises the question of how it can become more of a player in corporate strategy design, implementation, and change.


Clearly, HR should be eager and ready to take on assignments having to do with organization design and effectiveness, but that may not be the best route to being a major player in business strategy. The best route may be through a focus on talent and its procurement, development, retention, and motivation. It's not a matter of just being a provider of good talent; it is a matter of identifying the critical talent that makes a difference between the organization being effective and not so effective. If HR can identify key talent areas and provide coherent, well-developed plans for obtaining, developing, and managing critical talent, it has opened the door to being a major strategic player, with respect to organizational effectiveness.


Talent is clearly an area where CEOs and senior executives need help, recognize they need help, and often look to HR for advice and counsel. HR can establish its credibility by performing well in this area, and this can open the door to being a true strategic partner. Talent is a key issue among senior management and at the board level, so expertise in talent has the potential to make HR executives major players not just at the mid-level in organizations, but also at the board and senior executive levels. A major advantage of establishing credibility in the talent area is that it naturally leads to discussions about organizational design, rewards systems, strategy and change management. All of these additional areas need to be dealt with in order to create an effective organization, and should be natural parts of any discussion about talent development, procurement and identifying the critical positions in an organization.


(Reprinted from article by Edward E. Lawler III,


Social Networks & Business

Quote for the Week: "If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends." - Jeff Bezos

Social networks online with a business orientation diminished with the astronomic growth of consumer-driven platforms like Facebook and Twitter. These served to cultivate broad acceptance of the principles of social networking in business, making it more popular among business professionals.  

Than along came LinkedIn with a more professional networking model that has amassed a worldwide membership of 332 million. LinkedIn is of course the biggest network for business in history. Not only is it the most successful business-oriented platform, LinkedIn acts as an umbrella to more than two million groups and subgroups for a vast array of business needs.

While LinkedIn effectively serves a horizontal market of business people in all sectors, and to a certain extent accommodates the needs of vertical markets, the acknowledged lack of commercial benefits to professionals is spurring a new generation of business communities extraneous to the LinkedIn sphere..


The emerging communities are referred to as ‘Vertical Social Networks’, ‘Vertical Professional Networks’, or simply described as Vertical Networks’. These are now attracting increasing numbers of investment and interest. However, most are still grappling with models of generating revenue and few have reportedly reached profitability.

Speculation is abuzz that major corporate players in technology, finance and media are vetting some Vertical Networks as future acquisition targets. And, among the most likely gobblers of Vertical Networks is none other than LinkedIn itself.

A glimpse at what is on the horizon can be found in this new White Paper here:





Retirement Security Fueled by Global Uncertainty

Quote for the Week: "According to your latest social security income projections, if you retire today, you can live reasonably well until 5 p.m. tomorrow."
— Dave Erhard

The 2013/2014 Global Benefit Attitudes Study examines how employees' preferences for retirement security affect their financial priorities and retirement planning, what makes them join an organization and what makes them stay, and the kind of benefits they desire.


The research was conducted in 12 countries, and the survey was completed by 22,347 employees representing all job levels and major industry sectors.


For large numbers of employees around the world, retirement security has become a higher priority. Employees in India, Brazil, Caazil, Canada and the U.S. lead the world in concern about retirement security, while it is less of a priority in Japan.


Retirement security has become a more important issue for me over the last two or three years (those choosing “agree” or “strongly agree").



In all countries, employees prefer more generous retirement benefits over higher pay when the benefits are guaranteed.


Employees in Mexico, Chile, India, China and Australia lead all others.


If your employer offered the choice between the following, which would you choose?

(Courtesy of


This shows that people have clear concerns about their retirement. They do not feel sufficiently prepared and, worryingly, they are not acting on it. For more information, recommendations and solutions, check out the 2014  Retirement Readiness Survey at:











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