Over the last couple of months I have been interviewed twice by mainstream media on blogging and HR. First was by Jean-Paul Pelosi from Human Capital looking at how blogging is finding its way into the corporate world and whether the trend should concern HR and business leaders. Jean-Paul also interviewed Richard Giles, Cameron Reilly, Brad Howarth and Simon Van Wyk (Hothouse). The full article can be found
here, the article was a balance view point and overall showed blogs in a good light.

The second is yet to be published with David Stonehouse from The Sydney Morning Herald looking at on how the Internet has changed the way we find information about other people and the specific recruitment spin. Not sure when this one will surface or what my input will look like once the editors finish with it but I will post a link once it is out.

A culture for collaboration

In the comments of my last post Regina Miller points to her posts at Corante’s Future Tense on creating a culture for collaboration where she extends some of the ideas and thoughts from Nancy White on collaboration with Web 2.0 tools. Nancy tries to dispel the myth of “effortless collaboration”, which is what the marketing hype will be selling and provides some great insight into why there is no such thing. Regina also points to Steve Coats on the softer side of collaboration which adds further depth to the discussion.

Fundamentally it all comes down to corporate culture. Some companies just do not generate a culture of collaboration and I would also suspect that they also have a larger grey zone. Culture influences so many aspects that it should never be ignored or even underestimated.

One final thought IT should never drive broad workplace technology projects. However they tend to end up at the helm because no other department stands up. In my personal view a technology project should be driven by the function who services end customer and owns the end result. Where employees are concerned, this is HR. If you are an HR director where are you? Marketing would never let IT drive a CRM project, Finance a new finance system the same should be for employee tools. Period.

Into the grey zone

Leon Gettler from Management Line posted a couple of days ago about the grey zone in organisations ie the things you make for personal use while on company time and which companies secretly endorse. This is an interesting dilemma.

How does the HR profession react, while the issue is not new people have been calling in sick when they really are perfectly healthy for decades. For this we have use reports such as unplanned absences to see where possible issues were.

But what about employees mindlessly wasting away the day online? Do we now review reports around internet usage and track down the abusers? Do you limit personal internet time to 10 mins a day like some companies? And what about those employees who need to use the internet for their job, do we now have equity issues? Are there privacy issues with this monitoring? You notice a specific employee has been spending a lot of time on recruitment sites, how can you deal with this and keep the confidence of the employees, managers and not breach a privacy regulation? Your average HRIS/HRMS/Payroll product will not help you here.

Moving on from internet usage. The Telegraph article starts hinting at managers who spend their day building political empires for self gain and satisfaction. While they look like they are “working” are they really adding value to the organisation? Once again technology will not help you here.

Leon followed on with concept of the underemployed and how they are on the rise. I’m sure we have all seen them in the workplace. Do we start time and motion studies to hunt them down and hope the workers don’t all go on strike? Only joking.

These topics raise an interesting challenge to managers and HR departments. With the looming skills shortage how do you leverage the underemployed, how do we limit the grey zone? How do you reengage them into the workplace so that their skills can be put to use and their needs? Just getting people into the organisation will not solve the problem either. Unless they are the right people.

Engagement in the workplace is one of the biggest issues that organisation face in the coming decade. So how do you get people to engage at work? Invite them to something that is meaningful.

Yes I know it is more complex than that but it is also as simple as that. And if someone is participating in something meaningful then they are engaged, they are also more likely to be retained, less likely to be underemployed and abuse the grey zone.

The referral buzz

Oh the noise about referrals over the last month or two is making my head hurt. Who is right and who is wrong? Is it ethical is it not? Do they work or not? I just don’t know. What I do know is all western world countries are heading down the same path.

Skills Shortage!

We all have very similar issues. Ageing workforce, multiple generations, growing economies, competitive offshore outsourcing offerings to deal with. We are all trying to understand engagement and how that influences retention. But what can the average HR professional do?

Unfortunately I do not have all the answers, and if you have read this blog for a while you will realise I tend to just create questions.

Then this morning I read something that made me really think. Are referrals the long tail of the recruitment industry? Now I am not sure John’s article fully explores the concepts and he does drop back into the looking at the viability of online referrals but that little phrase has had me going all day. Thanks John I will send you the bill for my drop in productivity! Below are some rough thoughts on this.

If you do not know the long tail, well I could explain but it would be wrong so go read the original Wired article and then come back, I’ll wait….. Back good. Its a numbers game basically. To quote John

That’s where the niche is small and the customer desires so specific that you can really deliver service.

For the recruitment outcome to be a success you need to get the right candidate and the long tail might be where these people are. To find referrals in the long tail we need to make sure that we target the niche group of potential candidates who make up this referral market. John makes this point loud a clear. It is in this area where CRM, personalisation, data mining and other techniques that are used by the Amazon’s of the world will really begin to add value to an organisation. Imagine a recruitment toolset that is tracking the movements of potential candidates/referrers. Mapping the social interactions and networks that are used by the potential candidate/referrers. These are the same tools and techniques being used by companies like Amazon to personalise an experience with their organisation. Lets take this a step further, imagine if the tool was integrated into the corporate web site and if a candidate/referrer landed on the site specific advertising or messages would be delivered to them to ensure you got access to the niche. Maybe you even customised the banner advertising on other sites to drag them in, this is technically possible through advertising networks.

“Welcome back Michael, by the way we are looking for experienced network engineers and offering $1,000 per successful placement would you be interested in helping us out?” Because you have collected background information about this person you are now targeting the niche. Ok you might not know the name of the person but you get the idea. And yes this could be classified as underhanded tactics in the same manner as some of the previous discussions but marketers are doing it all the time for product sales, and let’s face it a vast amount of attraction today is just that marketing.

This might only relevant for certain industry groups and certain roles, but then so is an online referral program and as John pointed out many could just end up as untargeted email floods, even spam.

Look for another post tomorrow on retention, once you snag the right candidate.

Email problems

Over the last couple of weeks I have had several issues in sending mail from GMail. A couple of organisations have started to completely block GMail, in particular PageUp which is anonying as I have to deal with people there. When I send a message I get a reply :-

A message sent by this account comes from a domain or host not allowed by this mail server.

A couple of days ago I sent an email to bugs at about an issue I was having with the AND|OR operators with certain sources they are aggregating. Today I get an email back saying that there is a temporary failure while I do not need to resend the message is very strange:-

TEMP_FAILURE: SMTP Error (state 9): 451 is not yet authorized to deliver mail from 451 to . Please try later.

I am going to try a different method. Hey Chris Pirillo are you listening I am trying to give you feedback on your new service. My feedback:-

I have been trying out and found what looks like a bug when you combine dots and dashes in a URL for a search that is limited by a category. Specifically is I have a URL of the results returned have SAP Resources that do not contain the term “michael specht”. I suspect that it might be an issues with the source search engine not playing ball correctly and using an OR where they should be using an AND.

Other than that a cool service.

links for 2005-10-13