Social Media Provides Human Resources Departments with Unique Insights

Some human resource departments see social media as a curse. It can take up employee time, distracting them from their jobs and reducing productivity. It can also play host to all sorts of activities that are inappropriate for the workplace. However, some businesses believe that taking advantage of social media can provide the company’s human resources department with important insights.

Sites like Linkedin.com have proven that social media can be professional. Linkedin.com is a social media site built on making professional contacts and displaying resumes. Many employers ask applicants to link directly to their LinkedIn profile when providing references. Companies also take advantage of social media as a means of advertising new jobs and reaching out to candidates when new positions become available.

Social media can also play a role in branding. Marketing departments have taken advantage of this for years, but human resources departments are now seeing social media as a way of building internal corporate identity and reinforcing the brand. Viral trends can also have an impact, positive or negative, on a company’s branding. It is important for a company’s human resources team to keep an eye on potentially viral content because it could have an impact on employees in the office.

Companies worried about their employees’ activities on social media and the ways that could reflect back on their business can put social media to work for them. HR executives can use social media themselves to monitor their employees’ activities. Companies can create social media policies to prevent employees from posting non-work related material during business hours. They can also engage employees to post work related posts and improve their company’s image, while at the same time boosting office morale.

Social media might still be somewhat new, but it has cemented its place as a touchstone of modern culture. Both to prevent it from having a negative impact in the workplace and to better take advantage of it in the future, human resource professionals will have to continue to evolve their social media policies in order to stay relevant.

Human Resources Team Focuses on Making Recruitment Fun

Many human resources programs are designed specifically around avoiding liability. By making sure employees follow proper procedures, they keep them safe, but also keep the company from putting itself at risk of expensive lawsuits. However, while this is important, some employers believe this impersonal focus may be detrimental to hiring and retention.

For Beth Whitehead, executive vice president and chief administrative officer at American Savings Bank (ASB) located in Hawaii, the most important thing is keeping employees happiness at the forefront. Hiring and retention procedures that are built around safe work environments are important, but according to Whitehead, keeping those processes fun and interesting is a crucial part of keeping employees engaged.

Seven years ago, ASB substantially overhauled its traditional recruitment process. As a result, they saw their employee satisfaction ratings increase from 35 percent in 2008 to over 90 percent satisfaction today.

A huge part of this was the recruitment process. According to Whitehead, it is the responsibility of the employer to provide competitive salaries and benefits and to develop better recruiting and interviewing techniques to sell potential employees on the job. If you don’t sell the job well, you run the risk of losing quality candidates who could benefit the company and improve morale in the workplace.

Hawaii presents unique problems because it has a fairly small number of unemployed residents in its work force, its 3.7 percent unemployment rate sitting well below the national average. Employers that want to remain competitive and continue attracting new talent from that increasingly small pool would do well to take Whitehead’s advice and update their recruitment processes.

Furthermore, as Hawaii’s workforce continues to age, industries of all kinds in Hawaii will have to develop new strategies to maintain satisfaction among their employees over long periods of time, or see long time employees drift away to other companies.

Nintendo Passes Controller to Human Resources Executive

Satoru Iwata, the late president of Japanese gaming giant Nintendo, passed away earlier this year from bile duct cancer, creating a void that will be difficult to fill. Iwata guided the company for over 30 years, overseeing the development and success of the Pokemon and Super Smash Bros. franchises and the development of the Wii U gaming system, some of Nintendo’s most successful projects to date.

It has been announced that Iwata’s replacement will be Tatsumi Kimishima, a 65 year old human resources executive who will step up as the new president of Nintendo. Kimishima began his career as a banker, working with corporate planning, international business development, and corporate communications. These skills served him well when he was appointed the Chief Financial Officer of the Pokemon Company in 2000.

He was since shuffled through different branches of Nintendo as the company struggled to deal with diminishing sales in the wake of Sony and Microsoft’s introduction into the market. He has been acting as the director of human resources for Nintendo for several years now, and it is his experience there, as well as in his other executive roles over the years, that led to his promotion to president.

Iwata was a powerful personality that will need to be replaced with three different positions instead of just one. Software and hardware, which Iwata previously took a large role in guiding, are now under the creator of Mario and Zelda, Shigeru Miyamoto, and the lead designer of the Wii console, Genyo Takeda.

Kimishima will be using the experience he gained in human resources to fulfill the administrative functions of Iwata’s old role, and to help lead up the mysterious quality of life initiative that Nintendo’s executive team has been whispering about for some time now.

Miyamoto and Takeda, who had been handling Iwata’s responsibilities in the interim, will assist Kimishima in the transition, but it remains to be seen how he will shape Nintendo in the years to come.

Human Capital Management Coalition Aims to Improve HR Practices

In large companies, managing human resources is a monumental task. It can be hard to make sure that employees are being taken care of ethically and being given access to the resources necessary for them to be successful in the company. Some big businesses have been known to pressure workers for the sake of the bottom line, seen most recently with revelations about how Amazon pressures workers to improve the company at every possible turn.

In an attempt to limit unethical or unreasonable practices, The Human Capital Management Coalition was formed. It’s composed of 24 representatives from various union and public pension funds. Their purpose is to pressure large companies to improve their HR practices by asking for transparency in their HR practices, and if necessary, asking them to improve conditions and wages for their workers.

The primary force driving this is a desire to change the overall perception of workers from “costs” to “assets.” This simple change in terminology comes from the “good jobs strategy,” a system developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Zeynep Ton. This strategy has been shown to lead to improved profits. By not treating workers as they deserve, a company exposes themselves to financial risk.

The Human Capital Management Coalition has been able to successfully meet with Gap Inc., Walmart Stores Inc., McDonalds Corp., and others. Not every company is fully cooperative with the Coalition’s mission, but they have had success. A spokesperson for Gap was among the first to say that they would be considering the Coalition’s advice.

Ultimately, investing properly into human resources policy has been shown to lead to net gains. In a study conducted by Harvard Law School, 67 of 92 companies that implemented positive human resources policies also experienced growth in profitability and stock prices.

University of California, Irvine Opens New HR Leadership Certificate Program

On August 27th, 2015 the University of California, Irvine publicized its new certificate program created specifically for human resources professionals pursuing leadership roles, such as HR managers, directors, and generalists.

According to the University of California, Irvine, the Strategic Human Resources Leadership Specialized Studies program will delve deep into what it takes to become a human resources leader in today’s workforce. The program will combine classroom instruction, webinars, and onsite training to cover material pertaining to the scope of practice, strategic and tactical approaches, structural organization, current occupational trends, and business applications.

The certificate will only be awarded to students that successfully complete the five core curriculum courses by scoring at least a “C” grade. The program’s courses equate to 9.5 credits, or units. The five required classes include:

  • Linking HR Strategy to Business Success: Coursework focuses on the necessity for human resources workers to understand, express, and apply business concepts to HR programs within organizations.
  • Organizational Design and Development: Coursework shows how organizational design directly influences employee performance and overall business success.
  • Human Capital Strategy: Beyond Workforce Planning: Coursework centers on improving human capital utilization to create more avenues for organizational success.
  • HR Management Systems and Technologies: Coursework introduces technology tools, practices, systems, and trends to enable students to better navigate the human resources management system (HRMS).
  • Building a Talent Pipeline: From Identification to Succession: Coursework concentrates on aspects of leadership roles such as handling responses to big decisions and respecting the ability to influence.

The program may be particularly rewarding to current human resources professionals that want to advance their careers in order to earn higher salaries. In 2014, the United States Department of Labor reported that human resources specialists received an average annual salary of $62,590. Meanwhile, human resources managers enjoyed a much higher average annual salary of $114,140.

4 Tips for Hiring a High Quality, Low Risk Employee

One of the key tasks of an HR recruiter is making a risk assessment of potential employees. This involves sifting through unqualified applicants from the resume review process, all the way through to the interview process.

Here are four tips to weed out unsuitable candidates and find the most qualified employee.

  1. Check online profiles. In today’s society, people share moments from their lives and post opinions on current events all the time, letting you catch a glimpse into a candidate’s personality. If their online profiles include aggressive commentary or inappropriate activity, you may not want this person representing your business. In addition to seeking negative clues, you can guess about the candidate’s character and personality, matching them with your corporate culture.
  1. In resumes, watch for poor grammar. In the business environment, clear and professional communication is not optional. Misspellings and incomplete sentences should prompt you to immediately pass on the candidate.
  1. Make sure each resume specifically addresses the job posting. For example, if you are looking to hire a systems administrator, and you ask for Microsoft Exchange experience, a resume that lists generic email server experience either indicates that they have no experience managing Exchange systems or that they did not read the job posting. The best applicants will directly address your business’s needs and be able to prove it.
  1. Narrow down the candidate pool and look for problem solvers. Once you’ve narrowed down the best candidates for an interview, you’ll want to know how the candidate will problem solve. Ask them how they would solve a problem currently being worked through in your business. Make sure to specify that there is no right answer, and have them vocalize their thought process. This should give you a good idea of their character and how they will fit with current employees.

Amazon Defies “Good” HR Practice, and Succeeds

Amazon.com has been a bit of an oddity since its founding in 1994. In spite of having led the way in making ecommerce a solid portion of the world’s business landscape, it often barely makes any money. International Business Times recently covered the company’s strange business methods, which include offering free shipping and expanding at a rate no advisor would suggest. Not only this, but Fortune recently published an article entitled “Working There Will Kill You, But You’ll Love it.”

The company evidently has their employees work long hours, often on the weekends. Not only this, but they are expected to be accessible by email 24/7, ignoring what seems to be a fundamental commandment of good HR, leaving work at work.

For a long period of time, the company also insisted that their engineers, managers and operations specialists carry pagers on them at all times. The reason for this was so that they could be contacted in an emergency. Employees at an online commerce website, of which there are many (Ebay, Shopify Overstock, etc.) were expected to be as reliably reachable as some doctors.

In spite of this, employees that work at Amazon reported that they enjoyed the stress. “Amazon will work you to death, either you are gone after two years, or you stay forever because you love working that hard,” an employee told Fortune. Many employees reported being proud of the culture put forth by the company, following fourteen leadership principles that the company instills in its workers.

The articles from Fortune and the Times have not stopped swathes of people from applying at the company or using its services. Some have objected to the articles, saying they’re taking parts of the story out of context and that Amazon employees should be allowed to work in a high-pressure environment if they wished. Others have sided with the article’s findings, saying the workplace environment is unhealthy.

The jury is still out on Amazon, but one thing is for sure: it is a fascinating time to do HR work. With companies like Amazon making national headlines, human resource experts will be called upon more and more to weigh in and help fundamentally change how Americans work.

Personality Testing is a Crucial Part of Team Building and Assessment

An important part of every human resources department is understanding how to assess the strengths and weaknesses of their employees. Understanding how someone works within a work environment can be difficult, with a variety of different group and personal dynamics impacting an individual’s relationships with their co workers and their team.

However, this process is simplified today by a variety of different analytical tools and tricks that human resources workers have at their disposal. Some of the most useful of these are simple personality tests. A whole industry has developed around personality testing and assessment, with tests using a broad range of psychological theories and common sense wisdom to give their two cents on a person’s characteristics and development. Human resources experts would do well to take advantage of these tools and apply them to ease the difficult task of balancing team dynamics in the work place.

One useful example of this would be the DISC Personality System. The DISC Personality system comes from the work of writer and psychologist William Marston. Marston developed a 4 prong theory of personality built around behavior types. He believed all behavior could be reduced to the categories of dominance, inducement, submission, and compliance. This was later developed into a test by industrial psychologist Walter Clarke in 1957.

Participants take a test comparing groupings of words to their own self-assessment of their personality, picking those that most and least represent them. It paints a picture both of how participants view themselves, and how others view them.

The DISC profile’s validity has been called into question over the years, but so has the validity of many different personality tests. Human resources professionals may find that by administering a variety of different tests alongside something like the DISC they may be able to paint a much fuller picture of their employees’ strengths and weaknesses than they would by using one test alone.

Coalition to Hire Young People Opens Discussion About Discrimination in the Workplace

Human resources professionals are responsible for creating an atmosphere that is both productive to the company and healthy for employees. This sounds simple enough, but it can turn into an absolute mess when issues of discrimination related to race, religion, gender, and sexual preference are thrown into the mix, not to mention dealing with the general problems that can arise in the workplace big or small.

Even actions that were intended to be positive and helpful can be seen as discriminatory and expose a company to potential litigation. No one has learned this lesson better than Starbucks, who have come under fire this week after joining a coalition of over a dozen other companies pledging to hire thousands of disadvantaged 16-24 year olds.

Legal analysts and human resources professionals throughout the industry believe this to be a risky move for all the companies involved. Included in the coalition are airline Alaska Air, drug store CVS, and the tech giant Microsoft Corp.

By pledging to hire young people, there is some implication that older candidates might not be considered regardless of their qualifications. Even though the coalition has good intentions, hiring based on age is technically a violation of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s guidelines, which state that it is illegal for an employer to offer a job opportunity that someone is discouraged from pursuing as a result of their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability.

Furthermore, by targeting disadvantaged young people with systemic barriers to receiving an education, there are some who are accusing the coalition members of targeting racial minorities who make up a disproportionate amount of the pool of disenfranchised young people.

Regardless, human resources in the future must always be careful when trying to provide an opportunity to someone who needs it, while at the same time not excluding anyone along the way.

Coalition to Hire Young People Opens Discussion About Discrimination in the Workplace

Human resources professionals are responsible for creating an atmosphere that is both productive to the company and healthy for employees. This sounds simple enough, but can turn into an absolute mess when issues of discrimination related to race, religion, gender, and sexual preference are thrown into the mix, not to mention dealing with the general problems that can arise in the workplace big or small.

Even actions that were intended to be positive and helpful can be seen as discriminatory and expose a company to potential litigation. No one has learned this lesson better than Starbucks, who have come under fire this week after joining a coalition of over a dozen other companies pledging to hire thousands of disadvantaged 16-24 year olds.

Legal analysts and human resources professionals throughout the industry believe this to be a risky move for all the companies involved. Included in the coalition are airline Alaska Air, drug store CVS, and the tech giant Microsoft Corp.

By pledging to hire young people, there is some implication that older candidates might not be considered regardless of their qualifications. Even though the coalition has good intentions, hiring based on age is technically a violation of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s guidelines which state that it is illegal for an employer to offer a job opportunity that someone is discouraged from pursuing as a result of their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability.

Furthermore, by targeting disadvantage young people with systemic barriers to receiving an education, there are some who are accusing the coalition members of targeting racial minorities who make up a disproportionate amount of the pool of disenfranchised young people.

Regardless, human resources in the future must always be careful when trying to provide an opportunity to someone who needs it not to exclude anyone along the way.


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