Monday, April 14, 2014

Taking Care of Compensation

Gerry O'Neill 
CEO at Curo Comp

The majority of companies find the annual compensation review cycle to be exhausting, manual, time consuming and with a massive administrative overhead. A number of you may be immersed in the process at this time of year. For many companies there is limited governance around the cycle, no audit trail, whilst processes are peppered with issues around version control and data integrity of spreadsheets.  This often results in long hours, loss of visibility of progress and significant budget overruns. On the one hand this is surprising given that for many companies, people costs can represent over 70% of the cost base and yet such a core process like compensation planning is managed manually by spreadsheets, but on the other hand ……….what are the alternatives?

As I look at the rapidly evolving Talent Management (TM) market and the products now available in the market, compensation appears to be the ‘problem child’ – the last big one to be addressed. And the reason for that is that it is arguably the most complex to deal with. Compensation (both salary and bonus) structures, rules, hierarchies differ between companies of different sizes and operating in different sectors and geographies and therefore a single system capable of accommodating these differences needs to have an exceptionally high degree of configurability and scalability as well as workflow control and powerful reporting. 

In looking to the key industry analysts, some interesting nuggets have emerged in recent years :

  • Gartner’s view that TM vendors have not yet driven rapid adoption of compensation solutions and that adoption of compensation solutions is generally thinner than other TM components.
  • Ventana, in a 2012 Compensation Trends Report say that only 15% of participants said they were very satisfied with their compensation management software and 41% need access to 2 or 3 systems to get a complete view of compensation.
  • Bersin state that in companies, compensation data analysis is often incomplete, plans cannot be completed in a timely fashion, inequalities arise and errors abound. 


A pretty bleak looking, yet consistent, picture and one with recurring (annual), yet fundamental issues, which have yet to be addressed by the TM, HRIS and ERP providers. 

For companies, compensation planning solution options are:

  • More of the same……keep the spreadsheets which will grow in scale and complexity thus compounding the same challenges.
  • Develop a proprietary compensation planning system – difficult and costly and needs ongoing investment to accommodate future changes. 
  • Use their HRIS/ERP compensation module, if indeed there is one. This is even more costly in terms of bespoking and ongoing support, inflexible and very limiting. With this option you will most likely end up re-engineering your core compensation processes and structures to shoehorn them into the limitations of the application. It is staggering, but we hear these conversations all the time !  
  • Use a TM solution – again caution. Many TM suites that offer ‘integrated compensation’ have very limited compensation functionality. You hit the same issues as the HRIS/ERP option above. 
  • ………...or go with a best of breed comp solution either in isolation or as component of a TM suite. Yes they do exist!


Compensation planning is too important to compromise on. Technology exists that will take you to a place where your annual compensation review cycle is much simplified, underpinned with both fairness, transparency and with a demonstrable and defendable link between pay and performance. You can have absolute confidence in calculations and the integrity of the underlying data. Key-man dependency can be removed, budget over-runs can be eliminated eliminated and you can ensure consistency between Line Managers recommendations and …………………life can get demonstrably better for the compensation and reward professional.

This isn’t an unachievable utopia. So don’t assume spreadsheets are the only option and don’t settle for second best! Raise the gaze.


To learn more about Curo, click here.



Gerry was one of the founders of Curo and has been CEO of the company since February 2012. Prior to this Gerry was founder and CEO of Vebnet – a market leading global employee benefit solutions business. Vebnet was a start-up in 2000, grew rapidly over an 8 year period and was acquired by the Standard Life Group in October 2008, one of the leading providers of savings and investment solutions to both individuals and corporates. Solutions were implemented across Europe, Asia, US and Latin America.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Pick a Card, Any Card: Why Magic Tricks Can Help You Plan For Succession

When it comes to succession plans, knowing the skills, competencies, and performance of your employees can help make sure that you have the best succession plans in place. But what can you do when this information isn’t at your fingertips? Check out these magical techniques for helping plan for change within your organization.


  1. Pulling a rabbit out of a hat. Some companies find that since they don’t know what is needed for them to begin, it’s easier not to start at all. When it comes time to choose the successor for a position, they simply put a list of names in a hat for anyone they can think of, and then pull one out at random.
  2. Pick a card from the deck. This technique is very similar to pulling a rabbit out of a hat, but some companies find that they don’t have a hat available. Those companies instead write their employee’s names on a deck of cards; then tell someone to pick any card from the deck (and in some cases, put it back in without showing it to anyone).
  3. Two places at one time. For some companies, instead of promoting or moving a successor to a new job, they like the idea of asking for volunteers to take on the new job duties in addition to their current duties.
So, if you find yourself in a situation where you don’t have the information you need to make decisions, these techniques could help save you from having no decision at all.


Hopefully, you can tell that this is an April Fool’s joke but if you find yourself wondering about a real solution to your succession planning needs, read more about succession planning in the related links below.


Happy April Fool's Day! 


Friday, March 28, 2014

Can Your Company Afford It?

by Vincent Fabello

"CFO asks his CEO, 'What happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave the company' CEO answers, 'What happens if we don't, and they stay?'"

Investment in training in a company used to be focused on strictly job related activities, usually compliance or promotion related areas. This has evolved not only into professional development that keeps your employees up to date with the industry, but has even been recognized as speaking to the "craft" aspect of doing one's job and being productive. Even if they leave, former employees are still a more trustworthy marketing piece and review of the company than any marketing campaign. All of these components add up to reasons for a company that values their employees, their reputation, and their future to make the investment and reap the rewards.

"But, I just spent all this money on you."

First off, let's address one elephant in the room. You've spent time and money investing on an employee and they have left. Is that a loss? Yes, losing a highly skilled employee with knowledge and experience is always a loss. Good companies will do all that they can to keep their employees motivated, fulfilled, and enriched. We'll touch how development contributes to that shortly. But some moves are not avoidable or negotiable. If the life change is completely outside of the company's influence or control, such as family or medical reasons, you want the best possible champion out of them. If you have invested the resources to develop them, they're moving forward with your stamp on them. They're leaving with the testimonial of a company that cared enough to invest in them, was a great place to work for, and they'd consider going back to if circumstances were different. If they're leaving with a neutral - or worse, a bad - impression, not only have you lost a champion, but you've added negative reviews from a trusted source to the world. Negative reviews are harder to counter and defeat. That would definitely be a bigger loss.

"You're feeling sick? Let me get the leeches."

In technology, it's easy to know if someone isn't using the most current processes or technologies, but what about other fields? For technology, the right buzzwords used in the correct sequence are almost a magical incantation to open a hidden door. However, not being up to date in the current technology or best practices in any industry or field can hurt your company in many ways. These could be lack of efficiencies, such as using a project management tool incorrectly or in a cumbersome way. These could be losses due to missing entirely new market segments in your strategy. Or worse, you could miss regulatory changes and be hit with associated penalties. Any of these scenarios and more are possible because there was a lack of investment in your employees.

"I did it for the show."

Training speaks to one of the key pillars of motivating employees, "Mastery of their Craft". Dan Pink sums research from MIT (via the USA Federal Reserve Bank) and Cambridge in his RSA Talk on what motivates employees. One of these pillars is "Challenge and mastery of your craft" or "the urge to get better at stuff". This can be observed in everything from getting better at playing an instrument to that employee that wants to keep making an excel calculation table or piece of code better "just because." Training can be targeted at the direct and indirect skills that can help your employees perfect their craft. From direct job skills training to indirect training such as time management, these trainings can tap into an employee's motivation to "get better." The company benefits by employees becoming masters of their craft, because they are practicing your craft with your company.


Training your employees isn't just an investment in the future, but ongoing maintenance needed to keep your company healthy. Without training, you're missing out on fostering an employee and their "craft". Without training, you're opening up the company to inefficiencies over time, becoming out of date and non-competitive or even being hit with regulatory compliance. And finally, without training, you're building a reputation in the market, but the wrong reputation as a company that isn't ready to invest in the most important asset, their people. Can a company afford not to provide training?  Most definitely not.



Vincent Fabello is a Solutions Engineer with a technology background. As a developer, he has worked for a number of software companies in various client facing roles and in industries ranging from data consulting, real estate, insurance, to human resources.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Making the Most of April Fool's Day

by Judy Fort

Let’s face it – no matter who you are or where you work, when it comes to April Fool’s Day, there are at least small peeks into this jocular holiday for everyone. Whether you are the intended target, the prankster, or an innocent bystander, in some way, shape, or form, you will be affected by the fun antics of others on this day. However, while it is somewhat inevitable for something to happen, in order to maintain a professional and safe work place while still taking part in the fun, some guidelines are needed to make the most of the day.
  1. Keep it fun. Don’t do anything that would make someone worry, panic, or have to spend a large amount of time working to clean up the mess you made. Keep the joke fun for all involved.
  2. Know your target. Try and keep away from pulling a prank on someone who has an important meeting that day, has reacted poorly in the past to pranks, or would not appreciate the particular prank you have in mind.
  3. Turnabout is fair play. If you don’t want someone to prank you, don’t prank them first. Nothing kills the fun behind a prank as quickly as someone who cannot understand this simple guideline.
  4. Be practical. Don’t do something that could have long-term repercussions, like pretending to quit. Someone may take you seriously, and you may not like how that plays out.
  5. Enjoy the day. Know that pranks will happen, and be ready for what may come. This day is a good day to build employee morale (as long as those involved understand “rules” 1-4).
Here are some (awesome) prank ideas that HRsmart has "heard" of... 


  • If someone happens to be OOTO, move everything in their office to another empty office but place everything in exactly the same position, only on the opposite side of the room.  It's all in the subtlety. 
  • Tape an air horn to the bottom of someones chair. If you place it just right, you will make sure their day, (and everybody else's) starts off with a bang! (See photo above)
  • Place small cups of water from wall to wall in someones office (avoiding hardware of course). Cheap, effective, and hydrating.
  • Put a sign on the printer that says it has been upgraded and now accepts voice commands. (See photo to the left) You'd be surprised...
  • Put a piece of tape on the bottom of someones optical mouse. Tried and true favorite! 

HRsmart would love to hear about your own pranks, strictly for educational purposes... of course. Share your own stories in the comment section below! 

Have a fun and happy April Fool’s Day!


Judy Fort heads HRsmart's Sales Engineering department and bridges the gap between technology and real world users. For a decade she has been working with diverse HR organizations helping them to achieve their goals.

Additional Contributor(s): Nadia Hamdan

Friday, March 21, 2014

Goal Setting: Why Bother?

by Marilyn Hoare

Goals. Why is it so important that organizations set clear, well developed goals? Many of us see goal setting as a chore we must complete at the beginning of each appraisal cycle without really understanding the impact or importance of the process. If done correctly, goals can motivate employees, help align business processes and improve the overall performance of the company.

How can goals motivate employees? While the SMART Goal theory often uses “tangible” rather than (or in conjunction with) “time-bound,” there needs to be some element of the intangible to the goal. Consider that a goal is not an action an individual or organization can take, but the actual outcome they hope to accomplish. Therefore, if there is some open-endedness to the goal, it leaves room for improvement and helps to push for excellence. The element of intangibility within the goal can prove motivational as it can, for example, foster a healthy comparison to a rival organization in trying to achieve a goal to be the best trained, most creative, or most effective. This is not to say that a goal should be generic or broad, as they still need to contain specific information about where the employee or organization hopes to be in the future.

How can goals help to align employees and business units with the overall organizational business processes? There needs to be great visibility throughout the goals of the company. If realistic goals are set and there is a vast deal of information sharing during the goal creation process, goals throughout the organization will be consistent. Visibility into the organizational goals enables employees to align their own goals with those of the organization to ensure they are helping support and contribute to the future of the company. Furthermore, this can help clarify the roles of all employees in the company so they are clear in how their performance contributes to the overall success. But, this needs to go a step further. Those within cross functional areas also need to make certain their goals “mesh” and support one another so everyone is working toward the same ultimate outcomes. Again, the amount of information sharing that needs to take place cannot be stressed enough.

Both questions answered above help to respond to how goals help to improve the overall performance of the company. For this to be effective, it is important to remember that setting the goals is not the final step. The goals need to be continually monitored throughout the appraisal cycle and need to include the other key elements outlined by the SMART Goal theory in order to be successful. For example, not only is determining a realistic time frame a key factor in monitoring a goal, but also determining how it will be achieved and how it will be measured. In some cases, a particular goal may require several objectives to be adequately monitored. Goals without objectives are essentially meaningless because progress is impossible to measure. It is this level of specificity sets goals and objectives apart.

The bottom line is that goal setting is not just an annual exercise all employees need to go through so they can check off the box in their list of tasks to complete. Goals are critical to the success of a company and when the proper attention and priority are given to the creation of realistic goals, the outcome realized will definitely be well worth the effort invested up-front.

Marilyn Hoare joined HRsmart in 2003 and has worked in variety of roles during her tenure, bringing a well-rounded perspective to her current role. As VP of Product Management, she is responsible for the evolution and enhancement of all post-hire solutions by working closely with the development team and product stakeholders.


Monday, March 17, 2014

Let's Get Digital

by Britni Salazar

As digital interviewing continues to experience rapid growth in the HR industry, many are left to wonder just how this technology can be applied to their very own hiring process.

The noise surrounding digital interviewing has gone from understated to tremendous in a very short amount of time. While it’s been incredible to watch this technology emerge as one of the fastest growing trends in HR, it’s also been interesting to see how many different viewpoints one type of technology can generate. 
Snapshot of the video interview. Click here to learn more.

Certainly, varying viewpoints and opinions are important to consider when it comes to laying the foundation of any new technological advancement. And we all know that change is never easy – especially when it comes to changing old methodologies that have been in place for years. However, recruiters and hiring managers have a significant opportunity to adopt a technology that can truly revolutionize the way talent is found. Understanding just how much value digital interview technology can provide, however, is essential to that adoption.  

The 4-1-1

Digital interviewing technology has emerged as a time saving and cost saving solution for companies of all sizes and industries. Digital interviews combine cloud-based video and voice technology with interviewing best practices to streamline the hiring process for job seekers and HR professionals. This technology is often used for one-way videos, where the candidate answers pre-recorded questions for the hiring manager to review or in two-way videos where both the candidate and hiring manager conduct a live interview. 

The voice option is very similar to the one-way video option; however, the candidate is able to respond to pre-recorded questions without using a webcam. With digital interviewing, employers are able to deliver better interview options, improve productivity, and identify the top talent faster and easier than ever before.

The Benefits

While there are numerous benefits to digital interviewing software, perhaps the most notable are convenience, cost effectiveness, and talent expansion opportunities. 

iPhone and iPad compatibility. Click here to learn more.
Convenience

Imagine a world where recruiters and HR teams no longer have to sift through stacks upon stacks of resumes. Aside from the obvious feelings of jubilation over the idea that paper cuts may no longer be an issue, the amount of time saved begins to really add up. Recruiters can now engage with top talent faster than ever before, while uncovering key traits that a traditional resume cannot account for. Candidates are happy because they can record interview responses on their own time – scheduling is no longer an issue. Improving the candidate experience by providing a convenient interviewing solution is an absolute value-add to for any company to consider.

Cost Reduction

Companies have become globalized and are no longer looking in just the proverbial backyard for talent. However, flying in out-of-state or even international candidates is extremely expensive. Through the use of live video interviews, recruiters and hiring managers can narrow down their top choices and invite the top two for that face-to-face interaction instead of the top five. Video interviews allow managers to connect globally without incurring more expenses. 

Talent Opportunities 

In keeping with the idea of making global connections, wouldn’t it be nice to have zero limitations set on finding the best talent? With digital interviewing technology, recruiters and hiring managers can interview any candidate, anywhere, any time. Engaging with talent has never been easier. The barriers and obstacles that prevented companies from uncovering the best of the best have been eliminated. 

Digital interviews are not a passing trend. They are here to stay. Isn’t it time you uncovered how you can use this technology to achieve all of your hiring goals?



Britni works as the Marketing Communication Specialist for RIVS Digital Interviews and enjoys writing about the evolving world of HR. She doesn't enjoy long walks on the beach but is partial to moderate strolls along the boardwalk.

Click here for more information about RIVS


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Steering Clear of Groupthink

by Vincent Fabello

Groupthink is a lot more subtle and insidious than the ominous enemy that it is. Rarely will one be faced with a “resistance is futile” moment, but there will be times where self-censorship, not wanting to upset someone or the group, or just not questioning how things have always been done even as circumstances change. Taking steps to avoid personally avoid groupthink and structure your teams to avoid it is well worth the effort. Recently I had to avoid it when I was selected as the foreman of a civil jury case, and I sleep better at night knowing I avoided groupthink.

“Know thy enemy”
One of the first steps is to be aware that it exists. Without being aware of it, you can’t take steps to prevent it and be watchful for it to happen. Once the judge cleared us to discuss the case, some of the jurors were ready to vote for the “obvious” verdict. They didn’t realize that they were promoting and succumbing to the dynamics of groupthink. Putting the brakes on that train was necessary not only for me to come to my conclusion, but also to make sure that others didn’t succumb to groupthink.

“Know thy self”
Avoiding groupthink can begin at home. Knowing yourself and your learning and decision style is important. Are you an extrovert thought processor that needs the collaboration to fully work through an issue? Or does your process require some independent research and reflection to arrive at a conclusion? Perhaps you can arrive at an initial conclusion based on your initial information, but need collaboration and/or reflection to make sure that conclusion is the best decision you can make. Regardless, you should recognize how you process information. Once you recognize it, you can make sure that you’re playing to your strengths and allocating time to process information or research if needed.

For myself, I recognized that I had an emotional reaction to the defendant and a gut reaction summary of what I thought. However, there were several rational outstanding questions that I needed to think upon, ask questions about, and weigh before I could fully form my decision. For instance I needed to review some of the records submitted into evidence. See that the addresses matched up. I needed to satisfy that I had verified those facts before commenting on them.

“One of these things is not like the other”
There’s not really an excuse to not be diverse and so many benefits to work to be diverse. Between globalization, remote resources, higher mobility for today’s work force, the talent pool is more diverse than ever in most fields. From recruiting to retention, companies have the ability to choose from a wide range of experiences and time in career. By choosing a diverse pool of people for your team, you increase the choice will never be “obvious”. You also increase the ways that people arrive at their conclusion. Not only will they bring different perspectives to the table, but they will also bring different ways to arrive at conclusions. These differences will help the team challenge previous assumptions, patterns, and ways of doing things. There may be additional discussion as to “why” things are being done one way or “why” a particular outcome is desired, but that is a good thing. The questioning “why” in the group will keep testing assumptions and beliefs and verify that the approach really is appropriate and not just groupthink.

Suffice it to say, the jury selection process guaranteed that the assembled crew was quite the diverse slice of humanity. There were introverts reading their books. There were extroverts forming cliques for lunch as well as playing social director. I made the mistake of making some witty jokes and bringing my work laptop thinking I would get some work done during breaks. Note to self, next time bring a book and keep your head down to avoid being elected jury foreman. But suffice it to say, there were a diverse group of people.

“Give them what they need”
Just like it’s important for you to know how you process, knowing how members of your group process their thoughts will help them be more effective and avoid groupthink. Some of your members may be suited for extemporaneous problem solving or evaluation. Some may need that time to research, reflect, and come to their independent conclusions. Giving the latter what they need does not have to be a large onerous process. Sometimes a “heads up” Instant Message or Email is enough to give them the space to process. Sometimes they may need a few days to research before a brainstorming or decision meeting.

I wish that I had the time to do all of the above during deliberations. But like projects under deadline, I didn’t have the luxury of time to really get to know my “team” nor poll them individually to make sure that all of their needs were accommodated. After making it clear that we were not going to make a decision immediately, I stated that I certainly had some questions I needed to discuss and answered and that I wanted to give everyone a chance to ask questions and participate in a discussion. This not only gave space for people to process their thoughts, but also time for people that needed the time to work through their thoughts.

“R E S P E C T, find out what it means to me”
When new perspectives or questions are brought, don’t dismiss them. This is as dangerous as arbitrarily dismissing ideas during a brainstorming session and for similar reasons. Questions and perspectives that challenge what is “assumed” by the team are what you’re looking for to overcome groupthink. Looking for the easy “it will work” or “it’s always worked” is what leads a group down the path of group think. Granted, not every axiom can be reproved every time; such an exhaustive proof would exhaust time to do the work. But each person should be encouraged to ask these questions. A happy medium should be found between too many and too few questions.

As we went around the room asking if people had questions or points they wanted to discuss, there was one jury who said they didn’t know how they should vote. As I asked if she had any questions that left her with doubt, it seemed like she had come to her conclusion rationally but needed to be sure. Guessing that she needed time to do an internal gut check, I moved us on to the next person. After a few additional topics of discussion, she confirmed that she “felt” good about her decision. I could empathize with her knowing that I have both a rational and emotional component of my processing and thus felt very certain that she had the processing that she needed to come up with her independent decision. I was able to honor her process as I was able to honor each person’s individual process.

By the time we polled the room, had some discussion, and joked about how the prosecution was making faces at us trying to gain our sympathy, everyone felt confident about their decision. And most importantly, I felt confident that everyone was making an independent decision and not caving to groupthink.

Vincent Fabello is a Solutions Engineer with a technology background. As a developer, he has worked for a number of software companies in various client facing roles and in industries ranging from data consulting, real estate, insurance, to human resources.