Mobile Technologies Improve Employee Productivity

by Michael Haberman on April 22, 2014 · 0 comments

Making it mobile helps employees work better.

Making it mobile helps employees work better.

Today’s post is from my friends at

Approximately 91 percent of small businesses use mobile technologies to support their businesses, according to a Research and Markets’ Mobile Solutions Study. When setting up a new office space, adopt mobile technologies, including devices, applications, management, and security and consulting services. Adoption of mobile apps for employees, such as email, calendars and customer relationship management (CRM), has increased by 20 percent since 2012. Use of customer-facing mobile apps and mobile-friendly websites enabling customers to schedule appointments, make payments, and access customer service is also on the rise.

The rise in mobile productivity is driven by smartphones and tablets. A January 2014 Pew Internet Project’s mobile technology research report indicated that 55 percent of adults own a smartphone and 42 percent of adults own a tablet. Clearly, whether you’ve addressed this trend or not, your workforce is already mobile. These devices enable them to meet a variety of situations specific to their job and your business.


Mobile technology enables your employees to use company data and resources from any location. If your employees travel to business meetings, make sales calls, work from a customer’s office, or work from home, their smartphones will keep them connected to company resources and keep them productive.

Moving into a new office space can be present you and your employees with many challenges. Connectivity is one of those challenges. A new space may not provide you with the connectivity to your employees, vendors, and customers that is essential for business. Mobile technology allows you to maintain that connectivity in real-time. This means you can use employee time more efficiently, improve customer service, and deliver a greater range of products and services. It all amounts to increased productivity.

Accessories that boost productivity

Bluetooth headsets: Settling into a new office is a busy time. Often, the equipment hasn’t been installed on schedule or isn’t working properly. If conventional desktop phones aren’t working, employees will have to use their cell phones. Employees will take some calls from customers and vendors while sitting at their desks, but they can’t be at their desks at all times. On occasion, they have to leave the office. If a customer has to contact them at those times, will they have to leave a message? Every missed call equates to lost time while your employee tries to get back in touch with everyone whose calls they missed. A Bluetooth headset can ensure your employees never have to miss an important call.

Charging hub: What will happen if an employee arrives at the office and suddenly realizes their phone’s battery is almost dead? This affects how your business runs and puts affect employee productivity and potentially the productivity of your business as a whole. The solution to this problem is a charging hub. A charging hub allows employees to charge a variety of different cell phones, including the new iPhone 5s. This accessory can benefit the whole office and increase overall productivity.

Slingbox 500 for videoconferencing: If you have offices, clients, or associates in other cities, you are probably spending money to travel to those location for face-to-face meetings. Moving into a new office means you need all of your employees on deck. While those face-to-face meetings are sometimes necessary, your employee’s time can be spent more effectively in the office. The Slingbox 500 can save your business time and increase productivity by enabling employees to turn their smartphones into monitors for anytime videoconferencing.

Bluetooth Slideout Keyboard: You’ve moved into your new office space, but your office equipment hasn’t arrived. Without their computers, how will your employees work? Smartphones are little computers, but the touchscreen keyboards are awkward and you have to give up half of your screen when you want to enter data or text. A Bluetooth Slideout Keyboard gives employees the same feel they have with conventional keyboards along with increased function and productivity on their smartphones. This is another accessory that increases productivity by increasing your employees ability to multitask and work from any location.


Are you actually listening?

by Michael Haberman on April 21, 2014 · 2 comments

When you listen do you really listen or just go through the motions?

When you listen do you really listen or just go through the motions?

I happen to have NPR on my radio this afternoon and listened to a show called “On Being” hosted by Krista Tippett. Her interview guest was Dave Isay, the founder and president of StoryCorps, a show that records conversations of everyday people and preserves them in the Library of Congress. StoryCorps tagline is “Celebrating 10 years of listening to America.” He has also written a book called Listening is an act of love. Naturally the subject of conversation was primarily around the act of listening. Isay, in response to one of Tippett’s questions, said that despite what he does he can be a very bad listener. He said it is hard and it takes work. That got me to thinking about how important listening is in our daily lives and how we generally go about doing a poor job of it.

Listening is a key HR and management skill

Given what we do in HR and management I will make the statement that listening effectively is the most important skill an HR manager or a manager of any sort must have. When do we need to be listening?

  • When we interview;
  • When we review;
  • When we ask a question;
  • When we investigate;
  • When we have a conversation.

There are thousands of articles written on listening skills. Active listening is one of the skills most often recommended.
Active listening generally includes nonverbal feedback to show you are paying attention. This nonverbal feedback includes:

  • Head nods
  • Eye contact
  • Your posture
  • “Mirroring” the other person’s behavior

Not giving into distractions like looking at a watch, or paying attention to the sound of an email arriving is also key to effective active listening.

But are you really listening?

I admit however, that I have gone through the act of being an active listener without really listening and I bet you have too. An observer would probably think I am paying rapt attention, but in reality it is a sham. I have done it long enough to fake it. But I get bored, I am ready for the conversation to be over, for the interviewee to be gone or to have the other person just shut up. Sometimes it is because I want to say something that I consider to be more important.
According to the website SkillsYouNeed there are a number of things you can do that will help you actually be an active listener and keep you from faking it. These include:

  • Asking questions about something said.
  • Remembering something said a few minutes in the past.
  • Reflecting on something that was said.
  • Asking for clarification on a point made.
  • Summarizing what the person has said and allowing the speaker to correct what you have said.

These cues will show the speaker that you have actually listened to what they said. You will be surprised how actually listening will improve communication.


Seven steps can make you an effective futurist in your organization.

Seven steps can make you an effective futurist in your organization.

I have a presentation that I have done several times called “7 Steps to becoming a practical HR futurist.” I think it is important for Human Resources professionals to have an eye toward the future. That is why I write Future Friday. So it was interesting when I came across a post by futurist John B. Mahaffie of Leading Futurists LLC. Entitled  “7 first steps for building an organization’s foresight”, it has some great steps and is not dissimilar to my post.

My 7 steps

My seven steps include the following:

  1. Engage in systems thinking and understand your mental models
  2. Look back to look forward
  3. Scan the environment
  4. Look at the trends
  5. Develop scenarios
  6. Do your forecasting
  7. “DO”

Mahaffie’s steps

Step 1 Mahaffie tells us to first talk to people about the organization’s future. Make it a thoughtful, creative conversation about where the organization is going. The purpose of this is to get people thinking about foresight.

Step 2 is to find colleagues who are also interested in the future of the organization who will challenge you and allow you to challenge them. Have a consistent meeting, perhaps a lunch, over the topic and try to keep the group interested.

Step 3 is do environmental scanning. He says “Start learning about the wider world of forces, trends, issues, challenges, and opportunities that you face. That means carving out some time to do what is called environmental scanning–exploring for new trends, ideas, issues across all sorts of media.”

Step 4 is what he calls “pay it forward.” Basically what he means by this is to share the information about trends that may affect the organization. Make people aware of what you are finding out. He says you may develop a reputation for your valued insights.

Step 5 is encouragement for you to get some outside help or involvement. He suggest joining organizations that have the “future” as their focus, such as the two I belong to, The World Future Society and the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. Great insight can be gleaned from their publications.

Step 6 is that you need to get visible about it. As he suggests “Commandeer a wall, whiteboard, or similar, and put some questions up: ‘What are the top trends shaping our future?’ ‘What are we not talking about that we should?’ Get a conversation going, share and nurture the comments.”

Step 7 tells you to bring the topic of the future or foresight up every reasonable place you can. If you are in a meeting and a topic was discussed he suggests saying “can we take a moment and look at how this plays out, longer term?” With that you will develop that reputation of being the futurist in the room.

My 7 steps revisited

In my seven steps you have to understand your organization and how it thinks (systems thinking and mental models). You need to understand the history or your organization and the industry. How has it progressed to this point? You need to scan the environment focusing on the issues of interest to you and your organization and then identify the trends that may be important. I then suggest you develop some alternative scenarios (stories) about what could happen and what your responses might be (forecasting). Then finally “do” which takes into consideration much of what Mahaffie suggested. Don’t just make it an intellectual exercise for your benefit. Enlist others in the scanning and talk to others about what you are finding.

I think if you mesh these two sets of seven steps you will have a good chance of becoming that practical futurist and gain the opportunity to help your organization be prepared on how to handle the future as it rushes at us at light speed. (A speeding train analogy is so last century.)


The NLRB basically says you have to allow negativity

by Michael Haberman on April 17, 2014 · 0 comments

According to the NLRB negativity is a protected concerted activity.

According to the NLRB negativity is a protected concerted activity.

As I was telling a class the other day the National Labor Relations Board is getting more and more intrusive into non-union companies. Here is an example.

Poor work environment

Many companies have made attempts to improve the work environment when it as devolved into a state where there was a lack of cooperation, fighting among employees, disintegrating customer relationships and customers looking for other places to do business. That was just the case at Hills and Dales General Hospital in Michigan.

As any good HR department and management team would do in that situation they put a policy in place that tried to improve the work environment. They told people they could not engage in negativity and prohibited them from engaging in negative comments about fellow workers and engaging in gossip. The attempt was to try to improve things at the hospital and put the hospital in a better light in the community.

NLRB said you can’t do that

An Administrative Law Judge upheld the NLRB’s General Counsel when the GC told the company they could not have such a policy. The ALJ said:

By maintaining a work rule (par. 11 of its Values and Standards of Behavior policy) that proscribes making “negative comments about our fellow team members,” the Respondent interfered with, restrained and coerced employees in the exercise of rights guaranteed in Section 7 of the Act, and thus violated Section 8(a)(1) of the Act.

By maintaining a work rule (par. 21 of its Values and Standards of Behavior policy) that proscribes engaging in or listening to negativity, the Respondent interfered with, restrained and coerced employees in the exercise of rights guaranteed in Section 7 of the Act, and thus violated Section 8(a)(1) of the Act.

By committing the unfair labor practices stated in Conclusions of Law 1–2 above, the Respondent has engaged in unfair labor practices affecting commerce within the meaning of Section 8(a)(1) and Section 2(6) and (7) of the Act.

The end result of this is that this company could not prohibit negativity in the workplace or negative gossip. The implication is that being nasty and negative is the “God given right” of all employees. I guess we should not expect anything else from someone who works for the government.

If you want to read the entire ruling on this case you can go here.

Thanks to Charlie Plumb of McAfee & Taft for the heads up.

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic /


Seven Signs of Age Harassment

by Michael Haberman April 16, 2014

Tweet “Ageism” has been talked about frequently in the news, especially in the recent years following the recession. It has gotten a lot of press recently with reports of workers in their 30s in Silicon Valley getting Botox injections in order to appear younger in an attempt to compete against “younger” workers. Discrimination We all […]

Read the full article →

Tough to be a Federal Contractor these days

by Michael Haberman April 15, 2014

Tweet (Note: The promised post on gender pay inequality has been postponed.) On April 10th I wrote a post about two Presidential actions that were taken to put pressure on federal contractors to reform pay procedures. This followed the Executive Order that raised minimum wage to $10.10 per hour for federal contractors. Now comes the […]

Read the full article →

How the Paycheck Fairness Act is bad legislation

by Michael Haberman April 14, 2014

Tweet For a number of years the Obama administration has been trying to get the Paycheck Fairness Act passed. I first wrote about this in 2008 and several times since then. The Paycheck Fairness Act is a supposed amendment to the Equal Pay Act of 1963. The EPA has provided protection to women in pay […]

Read the full article →

Future Friday: Employees habits will provide data to employers

by Michael Haberman April 11, 2014

Tweet I and others have written a lot on wearable devices and how they may be used in the future. Here is one other possible use. Quantified Self Quantified Self or QS is a termed used to describe people keeping track of their activities and behaviors. Although the term is relatively new, coined in 2010 […]

Read the full article →

Two New Executive Actions on Pay that Federal Contractors Must Heed

by Michael Haberman April 10, 2014

Tweet One April 8, 2014 President Barak Obama signed two Executive actions that require Federal Contractors to abide with new pay rules. Failure to abide with these orders could result in loss of all federal contracts the company has and at minimum will increase scrutiny of the company by the OFCCP. Federal contractors are any […]

Read the full article →

Two very interesting posts to read Midweek

by Michael Haberman April 9, 2014

Tweet Here are two very interesting posts that I highly recommend you read. The first is from Kris Dunn, considered to be a superstar in HR by many. He is also a sports fiend so much of his writing is related to sports. But don’t dismay this one is fascinating and deals with ageism. Read […]

Read the full article →