Ultimate Workshop Learns: Why Roadshows Resonate with HR

HR, Maren Hogan

Things I Learned at an HR Roadshow…

A couple of weeks ago, I spent an amazing day with the Ultimate Software team down in San Antonio. I was invited to speak about Employer Branding, but it was what I learned that was the most illuminating. In fact, so many of the presenters were asking the audience for ideas that I took a full two pages of notes.

Here are some things I learned. Some related and some unrelated:

Who does HR talk to when they need help?

Kathy Conklin, of the SCBEP, gave a fascinating presentation and asked this question during her presentation and it shocked me that I had never thought of it before. In HR, you have to handle a lot of different issues, whether it’s writing someone up for falling asleep on the job, moderating an employee disagreement, or telling someone their body odor needs a tweak. But where does HR go when they have an issue?

Well, I think they go to their tribe. We have so many communities and Facebook groups and close friends and colleagues in this space, precisely because no one understands but a fellow HR professional! And while I never thought of it before, Ultimate Software HAD, and it’s clear in these roadshows, they understand the value of coming together as HR Pros to learn, ask questions, and yes…vent a little.

Sometimes what you learn at a conference is better than speaking at one. Check out these #HR lessons: Click To Tweet

Onboarding is getting overhauled, at least at some places.

I’ve worked with a couple of onboarding companies and when you speak to many HR professionals, it almost feels like onboarding is a last-minute thing, or that it’s synonymous with training. Neither are true. While companies like Ultimate and ClearCompany are building onboarding into their platforms, it’s up to HR professionals (and hiring managers!) to make onboarding special for their company. Here were some ideas that got shouted out during and interactive portion of the workshop:

WOW Snack: Basically, it was to find out the new hire’s favorite snack and have it waiting for them at their desk when they arrived. It certainly has a WOW factor (and it’s not an expensive idea either.)

Company Swag: Always popular, company swag makes new hires feel like part of the team right away. Whether it’s a cozy hoodie or an “official” company mug, many companies welcomed new employees with branded goodies.

Mentoring Programs: There were several companies who described their mentoring programs in detail. More than just a buddy system, these are sophisticated programs designed to make the new hire more comfortable and to build trust and knowledge within the organization.

Scavenger Hunt: If the new hire is going to get lost anyway, might as well make it fun. One company had a scavenger hunt for the new hire and included people, things and rooms to help them get to know people and understand the layout of their new office.

Why is this so important? Well, Conklin shared some shocking stats around new hires and how important it is to make onboarding part of your responsibilities. For instance, did you know half of hourly workers quit new jobs in the first 4 months and that 35% of all workers quit in the first 6 months?

Performance Personified.

Another fantastic lesson was in performance management. Having a performance conversation is never easy and you want to ensure the employee truly understands you before leaving the room. Add to this the fact that it’s far easier for the manager to give positive accolades then it is to give constructive feedback, usually reserved for HR. This makes the manager the good guy and HR the bad guy. And it further separates HR from the employees they spend their days working on behalf of! This is a toxic relationship for everyone involved.

Here’s how to avoid that toxic merry-go-round:

YOU catch people doing something good. This might mean getting up and moving around more than usual. It might mean venturing into departments you’re not familiar with. While this is helpful for both HR and managers…it doesn’t eliminate negative behaviors, which brings us to…

Management training. Someone has to teach your people how to give constructive feedback and it might as well be you, or someone on the HR team. If you are seeing a retention issue in one of your departments, go talk to the manager about getting management training.

Instead of telling them where they are failing, show them the standard and help them come up with a plan to get there. If they need support, offer it so they can achieve that plan.

Tell them they are better than that. If you know you can get more out of an employee, tell them so. If something has changed about their work situation, give them space and time to tell you about it.

@MarenHogan shares insights she learned from speaking with the @UltiCareers team. Take a look! Click To Tweet

Let’s Get Emo!

Dr. Jarik Conrad, Senior Director of HCM Innovation at Ultimate Software rounded out the day with an incredible presentation on emotional intelligence. Instead of using just our technical and intellectual prowess when it comes to solving the issues of our workforce, Jarik showed the workshop attendees how to use their “whole brain” to help employees struggling with issues at work. He also explained how understanding our emotions can help us control them so we don’t make impulsive or rash decisions in the workplace.

And of course, I spoke on employer branding, taking attendees through three case studies before turning the tables on them and asking them to describe their toughest employer branding challenges. Together, we tried to “solve for x” for companies as diverse as medical equipment to waste management. We discussed building out candidate personas and even had a contest to see who had to recruit for the toughest job (it was the woman who had to hire people to clean port-a-lets).
I was thrilled to be part of this workshop. HR can be a lonely place, and it’s so important to get together to discuss the highs and lows of being the one everyone comes to. And while I love the BIG conferences like SHRM and HRTech, not everyone has the time or budget. That’s why other ways of connecting are so important, whether it’s your favorite HR group on Facebook where everyone shares horror stories, roadshows and workshops like Ultimate or The Talent Board put on all over the country, or if it’s just your local SHRM group in your city. I’m sure Dr. Jarik would approve!

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