HR Happy Hour 232 – Technology and Culture at Ultimate Software

HR Happy Hour 232 – Culture and Technology at Ultimate Software

Recorded Monday January 25, 2016 at Ultimate Software HQ, Weston, Fl

Hosts: Steve Boese, Trish McFarlane

Guest: Adam Rogers, CTO, Ultimate Software

This week on the HR Happy Hour Show, while Trish McFarlane was on assignment, Steve Boese welcomed Adam Rogers, CTO from Ultimate Software to the show. Ultimate is a leading provider of HCM technology that has grown over the years from a few people sharing office space in a law office, to an almost 3,000 person-strong organization supporting thousands of customers in the US and around the world.

But perhaps more important than Ultimate’s technology innovation is their unique culture, which reinforces their commitment to their employees, their families, the Ultimate customers, and finally, their shareholders. Ultimate has a slogan, ‘People First’, and once you spend some time with Ultimate people, and hear them talk about what Ultimate represents, reinforces, and values, you will walk away understanding why and how they have won so many ‘Best Places to Work’ awards – with the signifying banners adorning the rafters of the basketball court that is in the lobby of the Ultimate HQ.

On the show, Ultimate’s CTO Adam Rogers shares his perspective and insights on the unique and refreshing Ultimate culture, how that culture informs hiring decisions, customer service and support, and even the way they approach building new and innovative HR technology solutions. Additionally, Adam shared some thoughts about the next evolution of predictive analytics technology for HR as well as some opportunities to innovate in ‘commodity’ solutions like payroll and employee self-service.

You can listen to the show on the show page HERE, or using the widget player below (email and RSS subscribers will need to click through).

This was an enormously fun show to do, and many thanks to Adam and the team at Ultimate for hosting the HR Happy Hour show this week.

Reminder: you can subscribe to the HR Happy Hour Show on iTunes or using your favorite podcast app for Android or iOS. Just search for ‘HR Happy Hour’ to add the show to your subscriptions and you’ll never miss a show.

HR Happy Hour 231 – Employee Financial Wellness

HR Happy Hour 231 – Employee Financial Wellness

Recorded Friday January 22, 2016

Hosts: Steve BoeseTrish McFarlane

Guest: Steve Wilbourne, CEO, Questis

Listen HERE

This week on the show join Steve Boese and Trish McFarlane as they discuss the increasingly important topic of employee financial wellness and well-being with guest Steve Wilbourne, CEO of Questis, a software and services provider of employee financial wellness technology and resources.

On the show, we discuss the issues that many employees are facing with financial planning, financial readiness in case of unforeseen expenses or challenges, and the benefits to organizations and to employees in providing more modern, personalized, and affordable tools for employees to help manage their finances.

In addition, Steve (the host Steve), made a semi-serious pitch for the return of employee pensions, Trish shared a bit of a preview for the widely anticipated HR Happy Hour Oscars show coming soon, and Steve shamelessly appealed for some big-time corporate sponsors to come on board, (are you listening Delta and Dr. Pepper?).

You can listen to the show on the show page HERE, or by using the widget player below (Emaill and RSS subscribers will need to click through)

This was an interesting and informative show about employee financial wellness, many thanks to Steve Wilbourne from Questis for joining us. To learn more about Questis, please go

Thanks for listening and remember to add the HR Happy Hour Show to your podcast subscriptions in iTunes, Stitcher Radio, or any of the major podcast apps. Just search for ‘HR Happy Hour’ to subscribe.

How to quickly solve your engagement, retention, and employer brand problems

If you (and the people in your organization) are representatives of what has been happening more generally in work and workplaces over the last decade or so then you are likely working more hours, remain as disengaged as ever, and now, more acutely, are struggling to find and retain the needed talented people for many of your key roles.

These challenges of work/life balance, engagement, and retention collectively have had about 4,958,909 articles and ‘advice’ pieces written about them in the last few years, (I looked it up), and yet most organizations and people still struggle with one or all of these problems. But what if there were one simple change to the design of work and workplaces that actually could improve the situation across all three of these measures? What if there were the equivalent of an HR/Talent/Org Design magic wand that you could wave and you’d pretty quickly see employees happier with their work/life balance, become more enthusiastic and engaged with their work, and be much less likely to leave your organization to search for greener pastures?clock1

When you hear this idea (especially if you are from the USA), your first reaction is almost certainly going to be ‘There’s no way that will ever work here’, but I ask you just suspend your cynicism for three minutes and at least allow your imagination to play with the concept – it’s Monday morning and you are having a hard time getting going anyway.

So here it is, the easy solution to burnout, engagement, and retention:

Change your standard workday to 6 hours.

That’s it. Keep everything else (salary, benefits, performance standards, org structure, etc.) the same. Just cut the workday from the 8 hours down to 6, and remind everyone that you still expect and require the same productivity and outcomes as you did on the 8 hour day, but you now only ‘require’ them to work for 6 hours.

This is an idea that has been in the news again lately, based on a few experiments both in the public and private sectors in Sweden, and are reviewed in this recent piece in the Guardian. Organizations that have either tested or totally adopted the reduced hours have consistently reported improvements across the three key objectives I have been mentioning – work/life, engagement, and retention.

From the Guardian piece, the experiences of a tech startup, (a type of company much more commonly associated with 12 or more hour days):

For Maria Bråth, boss of internet startup Brath, the six-hour working day the company introduced when it was formed three years ago gives it a competitive advantage because it attracts better staff and keeps them. “They are the most valuable thing we have,” she says – an offer of more pay elsewhere would not make up for the shorter hours they have at Brath.

The company, which has 22 staff in offices in Stockholm and Örnsköldsvik, produces as much, if not more, than its competitors do in eight-hour days, she says. “It has a lot to do with the fact that we are very creative – we couldn’t keep it up for eight hours.”

And what about a more ‘normal’ job, say as an auto mechanic? Well their is evidence that shorter workdays can be successful there as well:

Martin Geborg, 27, a mechanic, started at Toyota eight years ago and has stayed there because of the six-hour day. “My friends are envious,” he says. He enjoys the fact that there is no traffic on the roads when he is heading to and from work. Sandra Andersson, 25, has been with the company since 2008. “It is wonderful to finish at 12,” she says. “Before I started a family I could go to the beach after work – now I can spend the afternoon with my baby.”

I know what you are thinking – there is no way a 25% reduction in work hours without a reduction in comp and ben costs will EVER work for you.

The bosses will never go for it, and for US companies, it just sounds too ‘European’ and vaguely socialist an idea to ever merit serious consideration. But if you can get past your instinctive reaction as an HR pro and just consider the notion as an individual employee you might think differently.

How much time, really, do you spend each day on ‘non-work’ – catching up on your idiot friends posts on Facebook, calling to schedule a Dr. appointment, or doing the lunchtime ‘bank/dry cleaner/pharmacy’ trifecta?

How many of your kids school activites to you either miss or have to guiltily sneak out of work to try and attend?

How many times to you sit in traffic from 5:45PM – 7:00PM only to reach home completely frazzled and wiped out?

And after all of that, how much work, actual important and quality work did you get done that day?

Definitely some, you are a solid pro, but definitely not 8 hours worth, that is for sure. Work expands to fill the available space and time provided, often crowding out the other, ‘non-work’ parts of our lives. And, if your job is similar to many of the other folks I know, it never really is ‘done’ anyway – no matter how much time you spend in the office.

These small experiments with shorter working days all seem to turn out the same – employees are more focused, have more energy, provide better service, are happier, and are much less likely to leave what they perceive to be a great working situation.

What’s not to like about that?

Nah, it would never work here.

Originally posted on Steve’s HR Tech blog.


The most important employee benefit you’re probably not offering

I have written in a couple of places early in 2016 about how I think the topic of Employee Benefits will be a very important one in 2016, perhaps more important to organizations in their quest to attract and retain talent than it has been in the last several years. And one of the ‘newer’ benefits that is emerging in at least some leading organizations is a relatively new one, but as things might turn out in the next few years, could be one that better enables adopting organizations to attract and retain workers in an increasingly competitive labor market.

That benefit?

Student Loan Repayment Assistance.

Here are a couple of data points to help you think about what is happening with student loans in the USA, and how these loans are impacting younger workers in particular.

First, the sheer amount of student loan debt in the USA is now a staggering $1.3 trillion. That is with a ‘T’. That is the kind of money that laughs at the Powerball jackpot. And this is not ‘just’ a new graduate or ‘millennial’ problem. The Associated Press reported late last year that “Generation X adults — those 35 to 50 — owe about as much as people fresh out of college do. Student-loan balances average $20,000 for Generation X.”

So lots and lots of folks, maybe the ones your organization is aggressively recruiting and hoping to retain, are carrying pretty significant Student Loan debts. So naturally when asked about whether or not these debt holders would value an organization that offers Student Loan repayment assistance, a recent survey showed that 80% would indeed like to work for an organization that offered such a benefit, (according to a recent survey by Iontuition and reported in BusinessWeek).

So in response to these colliding conditions – extremely high student loan debt loads, desire to attract the retain talented workers, and the desirability of student loan repayment assistance as a benefit, more leading organizations are adopting or at least experimenting with an employee student loan repayment assistance benefit. One example is PwC, who in a recent piece on Bloomberg shared their approach to student loan repayment benefits. PwC plans to contribute $100 monthly towards student loan payment reduction for eligible employees, a total benefit that can accrue to as much as $7,200 over time.  Other companies are taking a slightly different approach towards the student loan repayment benefit, such as offering a lump-sum loan payment to employees when certain performance and retention targets are met. So an employee would receive a $5,000 loan repayment benefit upon completing five years of service.

While SHRM estimates that only about 3% of organizations currently offer student loan repayment as a benefit, it seems like the combination of factors above will drive the offering of this benefit higher in the next several years. It could be something to consider adding to your benefits offering mix if indeed you find that the talent you seek to attract and retain value this benefit above other, more traditional offerings.

HR Happy Hour 230 – Email Me! Battling Constant Connectivity

HR Happy Hour 230 – Email Me! Battling Constant Connectivity

Recorded Wednesday January 6, 2016

Hosts: Steve Boese, Trish McFarlane

Listen HERE

This week on the show Steve and Trish recorded the first HR Happy Hour Show of 2016 by chatting about email and the impact of connectivity on multiple platforms.   We somehow get derailed a little bit and end up hearing what Steve plans to do before conference season starts.  Hint….it has to do with facial hair!

We wind talking about not making predictions about the HCM industry.  Instead, we cover what should HR leaders be talking about in 2016.  From intelligent technology, the world of benefits, to the importance of the employee experience, we cover it all.  Please listen in and then weigh in on what you think is important for the upcoming year.

You can listen to the show on the show page HERE, or using the widget player below, (Email and RSS subscribers will need to click through)

And of course you can listen to and subscribe to the HR Happy Hour Show on iTunes, or via your favorite podcast app. Just search for ‘HR Happy Hour’ to download and subscribe to the show and you will never miss a new episode.

No interviews, no phone calls, no live meetings at all… And you’re hired!

Despite the rapid advances in technology to support sourcing, screening, recruiting, and assessments, most recruiting processes still follow the traditional, typical, and time-honored processes we all know. Most organizational hiring looks something like this:

  • A candidate finds a posted job ad and applies, (or is ‘found’ by one of your recruiters)
  • They apply for the job and their resume/credentials are assessed
  • (if they pass initial screening), they are contacted and screened again and/or interviewed by phone or video
  • Applicants who make the ‘short list’ are brought in for a round of in-person interviews with a series of managers, executives, peers, and who knows whomever else has a say in hiring in the organization
  • The ‘top’ applicant has their references checked and if they pass, is extended a formal offer
  • The applicant (hopefully) accepts and the process is completed

Again, very familiar, very traditional, and probably resembles the hiring process of something like 90% of organizations still today, (more or less).wplogo

Just for fun, compare the traditional process to the hiring process employed by the software company Automattic, the organization behind the popular WordPress blogging platform as described in this recent piece from Business Insider, Automattic Hires Employees Automatically:

  • Company CEO pre-screens all potential candidates
  • CEO passes selected candidates on to hiring managers
  • Hiring managers contact select candidates via Skype chat, exchange messages
  • Hiring managers review online work samples and portfolios
  • Select candidates are invited to complete trial or sample work projects, and are paid $25/hour for their time spent on these sample projects that normally take about a month to complete usually in the candidate’s spare time
  • Candidates and hiring managers review progress via private blogs and messaging
  • Top candidate is referred back to the CEO for a final chat and sign-off, and then the offer is extended and (hopefully) accepted

According to the piece, many new hires complete the entire process, (screening, assessment, trial project, and offer), without ever having a direct, voice conversation with the hiring manager. In fact, the process works so well that one hiring manager reports in the last year or so seeing about 250 resumes, screening via chat tools 63, giving ‘trial’ projects to 41, and hiring 14. It is a unique process for sure, and it seems to work for Automattic given their structure and culture, but can it work for your organization too?

In truth, not many organizations could adopt these hiring processes, especially ones that are larger than the smallish Automattic, (about 350 employees). But there are at least a few lessons that any organization can take from Automattic’s approach to the hiring process.

First, Automattic does a great job of taking a measured approach to hiring. The interactions with candidates are thoughtful and deliberate, and all are designed to help both parties arrive at the best decision about whether or not a candidate would be a good fit.

Next, Automattic does not have extraneous and unnecessary people involved in the process at all. Just the CEO and the hiring manager. No hiring committees, no awkward panel interview sessions, no rounds of 1-1 interviews with every company exec or manager who feels like they need to be a part of the decision. Just the primary people and no one else.

Finally, by making use of the trial project approach, Automattic can get a really good feel for the skills, capabilities, and approaches to solving problems that the candidates possess. This makes the final decision about whether to extend an offer much more informed, and likely less prone to error. And the candidates benefit from this too, even the ones that are not selected. They are provided some solid exposure and experience, (and are paid), and can get some valuable feedback to help them in their current roles or if they re-apply to another role at Automattic later on.

Your organization likely can’t adopt wholesale the kinds of unique and non-traditional hiring processes that are working for a 350-person, widely distributed, high-tech company. But you likely can examine these processes and take something of value from them that can be adopted in your processes to make them more expedient, to create a better experience for candidates and hiring managers, and too ultimately arrive at the main goal of all of this – driving better outcomes.

HR Happy Hour 229 – Lessons from the Academy of Rock

HR Happy Hour 229 – Lessons from The Academy of Rock with Peter Cook

Recorded Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Hosts: Steve BoeseTrish McFarlane

Guest: Peter Cook, Founder, Human Dynamics


This week on the show, Steve and Trish were joined by Peter Cook, leads Human Dynamics, offering Business and Organisation Development. He also delivers keynotes around the world that blend business intelligence with parallel lessons from music via The Academy of Rock.

We chat with Peter, about the impact of music on our success and learning in business.  We also talk about his new book (coming out in 2016) called  Leading Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise.  Peter shares his stories from a lifetime in business and experiences with many well-known musicians.

You can listen to the show on the show page HERE, or by using he widget player below, (email and RSS subscribers will need to click through)

This was a really fun and interesting show and I hope you will check it out.

As a reminder, you can find the HR Happy Hour Show on iTunes and all the major podcast apps for iOS and Android. Just search for ‘HR Happy Hour’ and add the show to your playlists and you will never miss a show. And follow the HR Happy Hour Show on Twitter – @HRHappyHour.

Finally, thanks for listening to the show in 2015 – lots more in store for next year!

HR Happy Hour 228 – Selecting and Implementing HR Technology Like a Pro

HR Happy Hour 228 – Selecting and Implementing HR Technology like a Pro

Recorded Monday, December 21, 2015

Hosts: Steve BoeseTrish McFarlane

Guest: Jeremy Ames , President, HiveTechHR


This week on the show, Steve and Trish were joined by Jeremy Ames, President of HiveTechHR, a Massachusetts based firm that helps companies with strategize and implement their HR Technology. He’s a member of the SHRM HR Management and Technology Expertise Panel Member and a former IHRIM Board Member.

We chat with Jeremy about a topic that is becoming increasingly important in Human Resources~ how to select and implement technology.  Jeremy shares some secrets to doing that as well as insight on how to take all the additional steps needed to successfully make technology changes in your organization.

You can listen to the show on the show page HERE, or by using the widget player below: (Email and RSS subscribers will need to click through).

This was a really fun and interesting show, thanks to Jeremy for joining us this week.

As a reminder, you can find the HR Happy Hour Show on iTunes and all the major podcast apps for iOS and Android. Just search for ‘HR Happy Hour’ and add the show to your playlists and you will never miss a show.

HR Happy Hour 227 – Measurement and the Emotional Drivers of Workforce Culture

HR Happy Hour 227 – Measurement and the Emotional Drivers of Workforce Culture

Recorded Monday, December 14, 2015

Hosts: Steve BoeseTrish McFarlane

Guest: Anthony Abbatiello, Principal, Human Capital Practice, Deloitte


This week on the show, Steve and Trish were joined by Anthony Abbatiello from Deloitte to talk about Workforce Culture and how it is measured and driven – and how culture is intrinsically and inherently tied together with organizational strategy.

Anthony is a Principal in the Deloitte Human Capital practice, based out of the New York office. Anthony focuses on advising global clients on building high performance businesses that drive growth and optimization through Human Resources and Talent Management.   He is the responsible for the Leadership, Culture and Engagement practice.

In this episode of HR Happy Hour, we cover some compelling aspects of workforce culture, like:

  • Misalignment of corporate culture with business objectives
  • How people make decisions
  • How to harness the learnings of marketers when examining human behavior
  • Putting emotion into culture analytics
  • Implementing an effective culture
  • How to take analytics and measurement and use it to enact real cultural change

Additionally we talked about Deloitte’s CulturePath, a set of technologies and methodologies designed to help HR and organizational leaders better understand the drivers of culture and how to better align culture with organizational strategy. CulturePath helps organizations pinpoint their existing cultural strengths and gaps, and then continuously cultivate that’s right for them. You can learn more about CulturePath at

Steve and Trish also talked some NBA basketball, how Trish is now very tight with the NBA’s Orlando Magic, and how Steve talked Anthony into rescheduling a family vacation so he could speak at the HR Technology Conference in 2014.

You can listen to the show on the show page HERE, or using the widger player below, (email and RSS subscribers will need to click through).

This was a really fun and interesting show – thanks to Anthony for joining us to talk culture, strategy, and organizational success.

As a reminder, you can find the HR Happy Hour Show on iTunes and all the major podcast apps for iOS and Android. Just search for ‘HR Happy Hour’ and add the show to your playlists and you will never miss a show.

HR Happy Hour 226 – BetterWorks and Modern Performance Management

HR Happy Hour 226 – BetterWorks and Modern Performance Management

Recorded Friday, December 4, 2016

Hosts: Steve BoeseTrish McFarlane

Guest: Kris Duggan, CEO and Co-Founder, BetterWorks


This week on the show, Steve and Trish were joined by Kris Duggan from BetterWorks, a leading HR technology solution that helps organizations create and align individual and team goals, drive improved performance through increased conversations and coaching, and provide a platform to support what could be called ‘modern’ performance management.

A 2015 trend, and one that is likely to continue in 2016, is organizations moving away from the traditional and annual performance review and employee rating and moving towards the adoption of more frequent, ongoing, agile, and coaching-oriented performance management platforms. Kris shared his thoughts on the topic from his perspective working with BetterWorks customers and partners. This conversation is one that can help HR leaders as they think about evolving and modernizing their performance management processes in 2016.

Additionally, Trish talked about her recent trip and keynote presentation at an HR event in Dubai, Steve shared the important Pantone ‘Color of the Year’ selections for 2016, and in a ‘big’ announcement, the HR Happy Hour twitter account passed 20,000 followers this week!

You can listen to the show on the show page HERE, or using the widget player below (email and RSS subscribers will need to click through)

This was a great conversation and show – big thanks to Kris Duggan for joining us this week.

And be sure to subscribe to the show on iTunes or your favorite podcast app – just search for ‘HR Happy Hour’ to add the show to your playlist and never miss a show.