#SHRM17 Entertainment night

by Michael Haberman on June 28, 2017 · 0 comments

I am focusing on the entertainment on Tuesday night in this post. I don’t always go to the entertainment, but given it was New Orleans and it was Harry Connick, Jr. (and the fact that my wife was with me) we went and enjoyed. Connick is a multi-faceted personality and entertainer. He was certainly popular with the ladies. He is an entertainer, being able to play the piano, electric keyboard, guitar and trumpet (one-handed.) He sings, composes and can tell a good story. He loves his New Orleans. Here are a few shots of the concert.

Singing a ballad.

On the keyboard

Playing “When the Saints come Marching In” This got the crowd up and dancing.

Always good to go with friends. L to R Me, Sherry Haberman, Dave and Sheila Ryan, and the Minyard’s.

We were all asked not to take photos or record the show. How many HR people do you think followed the rules?


This year at #SHRM17 I was focusing more on future views and technology such at Artificial Intelligence (AI) and what companies were doing to incorporate these advances in technology. Last year at #SHRM16 I interviewed Michael Pilnick of First Advantage. In that interview I had asked Pilnick what he saw as the challenges his industry and his company saw over the next five year. He said he saw three challenges. The first challenge was more regulation and compliance. Secondly, changes in technology that will increase the ease of use, especially through mobile, and decrease the price. Thirdly was the ability to use the big data they are collecting and turn it into a predictive tool. They do 70 to 100 million checks per year. That is a tremendous amount of human capital data.


This year I revisited  Pilnick to follow up on last year’s conversation to see what had changed. We included Bret Jardine, Executive Vice President  and General Counsel for First Advantage. I asked them if what they were doing to use AI and big data in the world of background checks. They answered that client analytics were critical to their success. Additionally the customer experience was important. To that end they have developed a mobile app that allows the customer to interact with their candidates on the go. Their mobile app makes it easy to request information from a candidate which enhances the candidate experience with their potential new employer. It also allows the candidate to see reports after they are done making the company much more compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act. This mobile experience is certainly not like anything I have seen in my past.


I asked them how they are using big data to help predict good candidates. Jardine said that while they collect a tremendous amount of data there are some challenges with using it to predict the success of candidates back background data. The EEOC and many states require individual assessments of an applicant’s acceptability for a position. Big data cannot parse that information out and give a definitive answer.

One of the challenges of using technology in background checks is that the sources of the data are not always the most technologically adept. Courthouses and police departments in many jurisdictions still use paper based systems, so regardless of how modern the technology is there is a roadblock at the source. First Advantage, however, is trying to use technology to speed the process, stay in front of the competition, and improve the users’ experience.

Naturally there will always be challenges of litigation. With identity theft such an issue rejecting candidates based on “bad” data will always be a challenge for companies. First Advantage is trying hard to eliminate that issue as much as possible.

I appreciate both Michael Pilnick and Bret Jardine taking time away from their busy schedule at the expo to speak with me. First Advantage can be found here.


How HR Leaders Can Promote Better Workplace Safety

by Michael Haberman on June 26, 2017 · 0 comments

Establish a culture of safety at your workplace.

This post is brought to you by my friends at SocialMonsters.org. I am a big believer in having a culture of saftey and HR can play a big role in that.

This June, Wisconsin-based employer Ashley Furniture Industries reached a $1.75 million settlement with the Department of Labor that requires the company to improve workplace safety conditions in order to avoid even stiffer fines. The company had faced $2.2 million in potential fines following an Occupational Safety and Health Administration review of over 1,000 workplace-related injuries employees had suffered between 2011 and 2015 at four of the company’s plants in Wisconsin and Mississippi. As part of the settlement, Ashley Furniture agrees to maintain a vice president for safety and to involve employees and management in a program for the safe handling of machinery.

As this illustrates, initiatives by management and especially by human resources leaders can play a key role in promoting workplace safety and avoiding stiff OSHA penalties. Here are some steps HR leaders can take to promote a safer work environment and protect their employees and companies from unnecessary safety and legal risks.

Designate a Safety Manager and Competent Safety Supervisors

A foundational step toward improving your workplace safety standards is designating specific personnel with responsibility for implementing this task. A best practice is having a designated safety manager. In many cases, your safety manager can execute their function more effectively with support from competent safety supervisors, and in some cases, designating a competent on-site person can be an OSHA requirement.

When designating safety personnel, it’s important for them to be truly competent in relevant safety procedures and not merely invested with a title, says National Safety Council senior associate editor Kyle Morrison. To be genuinely competent, a designated person must both have the background to recognize safety hazards and possess the authority to make changes that improve safety. In some cases, one individual may be competent in multiple safety tasks. In other cases, competency can be divided among multiple people with sufficient expertise and authority.

Provide Safety Training Support

In order for safety managers and supervisors to exercise their authority effectively, it’s essential to provide them with safety training support. This includes both their own safety training as well as training that can assist them in educating workers in safety procedures. For example, conducting a seminar on fall prevention can help you avoid one of the most common causes of workplace injuries.

To be effective, a safety program should be geared toward addressing safety gaps in the workplace and meeting specific goals and objectives, advises the National Safety Council. These objectives should be measurable, such as lowering the number of fall-related injuries per year, for example. Workplace safety training activities should be selected in order to implement chosen objectives, and ideally should include opportunities for workers to directly apply the safety procedures they’ve learned in hands-on demonstrations and in their daily tasks. Finally, safety training should be evaluated for effectiveness and improved based on feedback.

Conduct Safety Check-ups

Scheduling and conducting regular safety reviews is another important key to keeping your workplace safe. OSHA recommends that your company’s designated safety manager, along with a qualified professional consultant, conduct a comprehensive safety and health survey of your entire facility to identify and correct potential problems. Your review should also evaluate your safety programs, including safety and health activities, equipment policies, employee capabilities and the history of accidents and illnesses at your facility. OSHA’s website provides a comprehensive checklist for how to conduct your own safety inspections.

In addition to doing general safety inspections, you may also need to do inspections and monitoring for specific health issues. For instance, OSHA currently requires employers to keep asbestos levels below 0.1 fibers per cubic centimeter per 8-hour work shift. Following related preventive practices such as monitoring air levels can protect your company from an expensive mesothelioma lawsuit; to fully understand the risks, contact a mesothelioma attorney. Depending on the nature of your industry and the machinery and equipment your employees use, you may need to conduct other specific inspections to assure workplace safety.


Future Friday: Lessons from the SHRM conference

by Michael Haberman on June 23, 2017 · 2 comments

Learning is the challenge for HR today.

I have just returned from the SHRM17 conference that was held in New Orleans. With hundreds of sessions and over 17,000 attendees it was a busy time. I looked for themes while attending sessions, conducting interviews, and visiting vendors. Naturally compliance was a major issue, as it always is. Vendors were interested in showing their software, pay systems, engagement systems or whatever. But the main theme I heard in all of this was learning.

Learning is important

Ryan Estis, in his Rethinking HR presentation, said that the biggest message for HR is learning. He asked the audience to think about “what will you do back at your business as a result of what you learn at the conference?” He further said that research has shown that teams stop growing when leaders stop learning. Estis says that five hours a week has to be scheduled for self-improvement. I agree with him.

Several of the keynote addresses also stressed the importance of learning. Learning from your mistakes. Learning what your teams need. Learning how to select your team. All these thing require HR leaders to be on a constant quest of learning.

Machines are learning too

Gary Kushner told us that one of the five global trends that will affect HR is machine learning. Kushner told the audience that we need to prepare for a new model and we need to determine how people and machines can interact because that interaction may require training and retraining new workers.

After listening to Kushner’s presentation I have the opportunity to meet with Moritz Sudhof, who is a Senior Director and Principal Data Scientist at Ultimate Software. In an earlier blog post, Future Friday: Letter to vendors at #SHRM17, I asked for vendor to tell me how they were using AI in HR. Micole Kaye of Ultimate Software then connected me with Sudhof. In Ultimate’s UltiPro Perception product they use machine-learning algorithms and  natural language processing to make it easy to survey your workforce and gain real-time analysis of employee feedback and sentiment. By using surveys the Artificial Intelligence can interpret the answers give and the language used to give better insight into how employees really feel about their work.

The good news is that this data, in general terms, can also be used to help smaller companies overcome the challenge of not being able to collect their own data to qualify as “big data.” I will write more in this at a later date.

Everyone there to learn

The good thing about going to a SHRM conference is that everyone is there to learn something. It is good to see a profession that is dedicate to improving itself and the number of professionals seeking knowledge. Sessions were packed and many had to have overflow spaces. One attendee, Olga Ershova from Keywords Studios, was there with a thirst for learning. She said she could not get to enough sessions. As an old dog in HR it is encouraging to find younger members so thirsty for the opportunity to learn.


Report from Day 3 of #SHRM17

by Michael Haberman June 21, 2017

Tweet Tuesday at #SHRM17 started off with a rousing presentation from Patrick Lencioni, CEO  The Table Group. Patrick’s theme was selecting the right team. He had a great deal of information but the information that I thought was most important to record was his advice on selecting the right team. He said: We need to stop […]

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Day two report from the #SHRM conference

by Michael Haberman June 20, 2017

Tweet The day started off for many attendees with attending a 7 am session. I am not that ambitious this year, but it was interesting walking by the various session rooms hearing snippets of wisdom as I walked by. My first session was the general session where we learned that this is the second biggest […]

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A Report from #SHRM17- Kat Cole the REAL Wonder Woman

by Michael Haberman June 19, 2017

Tweet The opening session of #SHRM17 was held today. People scrambling to register, others looking a might peaked from a night on Bourbon Street Saturday night. We met in the main hall to the music of Irwin Mayfield playing Satchmo on the trumpet. He said the rules for our time in New Orleans was to […]

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Future Friday from the Archive: Don’t let today get in the way of tomorrow

by Michael Haberman June 16, 2017

Tweet I had a student ask me the other day about how she can further her HR career. It reminded my of this post. If you are going to be at #SHRM17 in New Orleans, watch for me, I can be found at the Bloggers Lounge or in a session. I read an interesting post […]

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Carnival of HR: It’s all about SHRM17

by Michael Haberman June 15, 2017

Tweet Next week is #SHRM17. I will be in attendance. To recognize #SHRM17 this month’s Carnival of HR is hosted by Melissa Fairman. She is encouraging you to follow the conference via social media if you cannot attend in person. In the meantime she posted this set of blogs to spark your interest in some […]

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Can you swear in the workplace and get away with it?

by Michael Haberman June 14, 2017

Tweet I bet it is a sure thing that all of us have heard some vulgar words at work. I certainly have. I worked in a manufacturing plant in Illinois and with some employees every other word was “mother-f**king” this and “mother-f**king” that. The question is can you clamp down on vulgarity and avoid claims […]

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