Monthly Archives: September 2008

Heard it Through the Grapevine

Americans are nearly twice as likely to speak to a friend or colleague than their organization’s HR department if they have an issue at work, according to the latest Ouch Point(R) survey from Opinion Research Corporation, an infoGROUP company.Though 66 percent would opt to speak to their manager about an issue, 39 percent prefer to turn to friends and only 22 percent would go to their HR department for help.

One of the survey’s more surprising findings is that over one quarter of respondents (26%) expressed doubt about the ability of their HR team to keep personal details confidential.

“Our research demonstrates the need to improve the quality of the relationship between employees and the HR department,” said Vicki Wheatley, Vice President, ORC Employee Engagement Practice (US). “The critical role HR plays within an organization should not be underestimated, as the success of any enterprise depends significantly on the extent to which its workforce is engaged with and dedicated to its mission.”

It might be time for Human Resources practitioners to rethink their role and that of the HR department, not only for the purposes of contributing to the organization’s bottom line, but also for their own survival.

Some advice from

Determine Your HR Department’s Current Reputation and Brand

Ask yourself some important questions:

  • Do you know what your HR department’s reputation is among the employees? When HR is mentioned, do managers picture savvy strategists, backward bureaucrats, or pleasant, people-pleasers?
  • Do employees understand and appreciate the importance of the HR department in furthering the organization’s mission and objectives?
  • Does the HR department make an effort to market its services to the organization? If it does not, then it has the reputation it deserves. You can, however, easily correct this reputation.

    Talk to Employees to Learn the HR Department Reputation and Brand

    The key is to open up conversations with all levels of employees, and present yourself in the role of facilitator instead of enforcer. You have to get out of the HR office and into the world of your organization’s employees. Finding these answers requires dialogue, which means that HR must communicate. That communication must consist of equal parts of listening and promotion.First, HR must listen carefully to what its customers need. Then it must promote what it has done and can do. HR staff must educate the organization about its capabilities and potential contributions. No one knows your capabilities as well as you do.

    Employees, for the most part, still see HR as “those people who handle benefits and do interviewing.” To position the HR function for the next decades, every HR practitioner needs to take on a public relations role-starting with your own employees. Think of yourself as a product and do some smart marketing.

    The marketing of the HR department requires you to demonstrate your problem-solving skills, so others will know you do much more than simply process papers. The best form of advertising is the actions you take. By your actions, processes and programs, you can promote the HR department as a flexible, adaptable, solutions-oriented partner, a resource to whom the organization can turn when it needs problems solved.

Maybe you know a department that might benefit from BRANDEMiX Branding!

Who Cares About Talent Management?

Maybe you’re as surprised as we are to see the results of a trend report on Talent Management culled by Google Search.

The US comes in 9th in average worldwide traffic generated by the phrase. Number 1 is Joannesburg, SA and the 5th most trafficked city is Las Vegas. (No doubt my impressive friends at Zappos at the head of the pack.)

Although the broad definition of talent management includes the general practice of recruiting, developing, deploying and retaining all employees across the organization- the term means different things to different people. In fact, some of the available information implies that organizations employ a software-based approach to the process— employing such outdated metrics as cost-per-hire and time-to-fill to measure success.

One group trying to make a difference in the field is the New Talent Management Network.

Founded by BRANDEMiX’s valued friend Marc Effron, VP Talent Management at Avon, the New Talent Management Network (NTMN) is a group of senior talent management professionals interested in advancing this field and is now more than 500 members strong.

They share three primary goals:
* Improve talent management effectiveness by conducting original research that benefits the TM community
* Coordinate opportunities for local, free networking among TM professionals
* Increase the capabilities of TM professionals and raise the bar for this profession

Unlike other talent networking groups, the NTMN is 100% free and all research and other features will always be free. If you have a Talent Management job to post— they’re always free.

The 2nd Annual Survey on the state of Talent Management is launching soon. If you’re one of the ones who cares (even if you’re not living in Las Vegas) sign up for the group and take the survey. Or download the results from last year’s survey. Or, read the executive summary of Talent Management Magazine’s January 08 State of the Industry report. soi_summary.pdf

At BRANDEMiX, we care about you.

Why I Got Kicked off Wikipedia and How You Can Too.

Change I Can’t Believe In

Wikis are, by definition, a collection of Web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content.

Well, almost anyone- but I’m getting ahead of my rant.

According to the phrase “Did you get the memo?”, which for many has morphed into “Did you get the email?”, may be changing once again to “I didn’t read the wiki”. Businesses are starting to adopt the “wiki”, , and as always a new technology brings with it new jobs.

A recent search( found almost 1,000 jobs available for wiki people.

Wikipedia is one of the best-known wikis– as of April 2008, they had over 10 million articles in 253 languages. Go to there home page and this is what you find:

Welcome to Wikipedia,
the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit.

Don’t believe it? Put it to the test– You didn’t like the telethon this year? Go ahead. Delete Jerry Lewis. Chances are though, he’ll be back.

That’s because of the WP- Wikipedia Police— the invisible funbusters that have made it impossible for me to drive more traffic to BRANDEMiX, the leader in Internal Communications. Since I thought that might be newsworthy, I went to the Internal Communications page on Wikipedia and added the following to the present entry:

Firms Specializing in Internal Communications:

It wasn’t meant to be an exclusive plug- just a new category that anyone could participate in. And apparently it was useful knowledge since BRANDEMiX received tons of traffic to our site. But that was then. Since then, the WP have first reversed my edits, and then shut me down completely with only this as a goodbye:
You are currently unable to edit pages on Wikipedia.You can still read pages, but cannot edit, change, or create them. Editing from (your account, IP address, or IP address range) has been disabled by Zzuuzz for the following reason(s):Spamming links to external sites This block has been set to expire: 10:00, 10 September 2009.

So, Friends of BRANDEMiX and occasional readers, here’s how you can help. Go to Wikipedia and add the following for BRANDEMiX under your own IP address

==Companies Specializing in Internal Communications==

After all, isn’t change for everyone?

While you’re there, do read the wiki on Internal Communications and find out more about what we do so well.

Best Buy “Employee” Making Less Than Minimum Wage

In what might be an ideal situation for some employers, Best Buy has unveiled the perfect employee to Mall of America shoppers. He knows what to say, he shows up for work on time and doesn’t even need a lunch break.

For lack of a better name, I’ll call him Buzz.

When Best Buy wanted to create a buzz around their new store, they didn’t go the usual route and hand out flyers. instead, they created a digital hologram to attract attention.

Not everyone is as impressed as I am. Some comments from the advertising community:

It’s bad because who wants a holographic projection talking to you and you walk through the mall. It’s good because all you have to do is walk to the side of it and it disappears.”

“It’s only a matter of time now until Terminator-like robots patrol our nation’s food courts, gesturing menacingly with their whirring appendages, their fixed gaze wordlessly urging you to check out the new Sears bathmat sale at the price of your life.”

“Creepy. I would punch this thing if he started following me.”

But for BRANDEMiX, we see the potential in delivering rote material in an exciting way, using the latest in digital technology.

  • Imagine holding orientation where you can see and hear the CEO everywhere, every day.
  • Imagine showing up for your first day at work and meeting your mentor.
  • Imagine holding a job fair where hiring managers could “sell” candidates on the Employer Brand.
  • Imagine someone calling me for more details about how to clone their “best” employees!

Pt. 3. Reputation Eats Compensation for Lunch

Restaurant Survey Reveals Potential managers, hourly workers value brand culture.

With rising minimum wages equalizing pay rates among restaurants, pay is becoming less of a factor in attracting hourly workers, said operators, who noted they are looking for other ways to recruit and retain their workforces.

A recent study by the Hay Group for the Chain Restaurant Compensation Association found that a company’s reputation was a leading factor in recruiting both hourly and managerial employees. Other important factors included benefits, work climate, culture and flexible hours.

With the federal minimum wage reaching $6.55 per hour in July and given that 32 states have even higher minimum-wage rates, restaurants do not have as much flexibility for additional pay incentives, said Maryam Morse, a consultant for the Hay Group.

“Premium pay over the minimum wage is not as compelling an employment proposition,” Morse said. “From this study, one of the top reasons people go to a company is the company culture.”

Even in a down economy, where escalating labor and food costs have forced some chains to close units and lay off employees, recruiting and retaining remains a challenge, said compensation and HR managers and executives.

“Employees may be more cautious in considering job changes based on the ever-increasing number of layoffs and store closings,” said Wendy Harkness, vice president of CRCA, a group of more than 100 restaurant companies that strive to improve compensation practices by pooling data. “However, companies are particularly vulnerable to losing top employees in a challenged economy.”

Top performers typically know their worth and can leverage that with employers looking to upgrade positions, said Harkness, who is also vice president of human resources for Checkers.

“You have to develop a compelling employment brand,” she said, “not just to fetch the brightest and newest, but also to keep the ones you have today.”

Besides a company’s reputation, medical and health benefits and then base pay were important recruiting factors for regional and district managers. Company reputation, benefits, and an attractive work climate and culture ranked above base salary for restaurant managers, while top concerns for hourly employees were company reputation, attractive work climate and culture, and flexible work hours. Base pay did not occur in the top five recruiting factors.

Bottom-ranked factors for recruiting and retention were employee stock ownership plans, child care or elder care programs, cash retention bonuses, and sign-on bonuses.

Pay is rarely the No. 1 motivator in staying at a job, said CRCA board member Chip Stalter, compensation manager at 414-unit White Castle.

“It’s all about how is the company to work for, do they communicate with me, do they provide benefits, is there some place for me to go in the organization—those factors are ahead of pay,” Stalter said.

The slowing economy may be slowing turnover for some operators, but training, development, benefits and quality of life remain key drivers in retention and employee productivity, operators said.

“Our folks, we feel, are just tucking their heads under the blanket to protect themselves from the economy,” said Mike Conner, vice president of Frisch’s Restaurants Inc.

But while Frisch’s has seen a decline in turnover for managers and hourly workers, the company remains committed to training and retention because fully staffed restaurants with well-trained employees are more profitable, he said.

The CRCA study points out that if employees leave a company, it is often because of their boss, Conner said.

“If you look at the reasons for leaving—scheduling [conflicts], compensation, work-life balance—the manager has control over every one of those items,” he said. “Our managers are our best leaders, and our best managers have the lowest turnover and their restaurants outperform their peer group.”

Morse from the Hay Group encouraged operators to survey their employees to find out what attracted them to the company and what is keeping them.

“The implication for restaurant companies is reconsider what is of value to your people and what will get you the most bang for the buck,” Morse said. “Survey them on their way in, while they are there and when they leave.”