Late Nights at MeritShare


Today we will be interviewed by one of the top HR bloggers Nisha Raghavan on Drive Thru HR and their lunch time show.  The topic: “What keeps us up at night”.  So to prepare for the show here are some of the items that are top of mind that I might discuss today.  In the spirit of the agile methods, continuous improvement, and real-time communication benefits I cover below, I am writing this 30 minutes before I speak and will update and adjust this after the show.   Please excuse any typos or grammar, this has not been proofed.

1.  Change is the only constant.  Here are some of the trends I see:

  • Millennials will be 50% of the workforce in 10 years
  • Baby boomers will not go quietly into the night and continue to be a key part of the workforce in both a full time and part time capacity
  • Remote employement will grow: outsourcing and project teams located in multiple locations will continue to match supply to demand
  • Organizations will continue to become flatter and more cross-matrixed.  Efficiencies will be achieved by cutting out senior and middle management overhead and empowering employees and teams with more decision-making

2.  How can we help HR implement change?

Given the above, the question I ask is what companies, leaders and organizations are doing to adapt to this change?  I think for the most part, the response is reactive and much slower than needed.  Why does it take so long?  A seasoned HR executive who runs her own company now and has served as a Board of Director for a large public company once told me, “every change and program in HR is an bomb that could go off”.  I recall several times at the various companies I have worked at where well-intentioned programs for the benefit of employees have back-fired.

3.  We need to give HR permission to fail

One of the most transformative principles used by hyper-growth companies like Facebook and Google is agile development —  where you ship new products and features quickly, measure the results, optimize, and fail fast if needed.  Every department from sales to operations is encouraged to test, learn, and optimize.  Executives, employees, and shareholders, need to give HR the same permission to innovate and fail.  Several of our clients have tested out MeritShare first by rolling it with teams and groups of people first to test and build support.

4.  How can we create great user experiences

Apple was not the first company to make a MP3 player or mobile phone, they won by creating great user experiences.  Up until recently, most HR software had terrible user experiences.  Now I’m starting to see some great user experiences.   Just this week I saw a demo from Trakstar which provides performance management software and one of the best sign-up experiences I have experienced at Bamboo HR.  At MeritShare we have followed a similar approach and constantly ask, what can we do to make this easier, how can we reduce the barriers to appreciation.  Our site is self-service and you can set up a recognition program in minutes and give a merit or thanks in seconds.

5.  What gets measured gets done

Companies track and measure the areas that matter most: revenue, expenses, and sales. On the HR side, their are diversity, compensation, and turnover metrics but how many companies are tracking employee engagement and recognition?  There have been several studies that show that companies with high employee engagement are more profitable, productive, and have less turnover.  Given this, how many companies are tracking these key metrics?  Metrics also drive behavior and make things fun.  We live in a “measured me” world with fitbit’s, runkeeper where tracking encourages people more to focus on the goals.  Ask your sales leader what would happen if he/she didn’t send out the weekly or monthly leader board showing ranking by sales rep.  At MeritShare we send out a weekly email to every user that shows their recognition score and ranking within the company and against our national index.  There is always a huge spike in activity after this gets sent out.  What get’s measured get’s done and makes it fun.

6.  Right-size social media

When the topic of social media comes up, most people talk about either the dangers of the the career-killing mis-guided tweet or the overwhelming flow of information streams created.  I look at the benefits of social media:  real-time communication, transparency, instant feedback loops, and giving every individual a voice.    Prospective employees are searching and looking at what is being shared on blogs and tweets, marketers get instant feedback on their new products, and everyone can voice an opinion.  For me the question is how can you make social media work for you, your goals and how much effort do you put into tweeting and blogging.  For business and the enterprise, I’m a big fan of blogging because it gives employees a voice, control for the company, and provides the potential for thought leadership.

7. What will I eat for lunch tomorrow?

I try to think one or two meals ahead.  The point here is that we are all human and achieving work/life balance is critical for both happiness and success.  Today it’s a spinach salad I made with heirloom tomatoes, avocado, ham, and corn.


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