Deepfakes in HR

Blame Forrest Gump. The 1994 movie used new technology to edit Gump's character into scenes to make it seem like he talked with John F. Kennedy or sat next to John Lennon — an editing magician's trick that won the film accolades.

That technology has evolved into what is now referred to as "deepfake" technology: a mix of AI and machine learning that allows users to alter videos, audios, and photos in powerful ways.

One deepfake example: A widely-shared video of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi that was doctored to slow down the speed of her speech, creating the impression Pelosi was impaired. Deepfakes can make it seem that someone is saying something or doing something they may never have — and that can create a new kind of security woe for employers of all types.

Just because deepfakes haven't showed up at your company doesn't mean they'll stay away forever, Randy Barr, chief information security officer for Topia, a global mobility management software company, told HR Dive; "We're going to start to see a lot more than this as soon as technology is readily available for people to use and try."

What can HR do now to ensure employees are safe?

It's all fun and photoshop until someone gets hurt

Deepfake technology can have positive purposes, such as in the creation of digital voices for those who have lost the ability to speak, or the David Beckham video that shows him explaining how people can protect themselves from malaria, using deepfake tech to look like he's speaking in nine different languages.

But unlike the altered content from Forrest Gump and Instagram filters, the audience isn't supposed to know that the deepfakes are manipulated pieces.

On top of that, the technology is often used explicitly to create trouble, Niraj Swami, CEO of SCAD AI, an AI consultancy, told HR Dive"It stems from leveraging controversial material…offensive content or offensive perspectives," he said. When this material pops up in social media, it creates media confusion, he said, and many viewers react emotionally to the false information.

Some deepfake videos can be identified relatively easily, Barr said. "One of the simple ways of detecting it is if you look at the video, see how often that individual blinks, because [with] the current AI technology and deepfake, it's hard to impose the face over a body if the eyes are closed," he said. Other tips are to look for a mismatch in skin tone, and placement of the eyebrows and chin, he added.

Just as deepfake technology is becoming more sophisticated, so is the technology used to identify altered media, with improvements on both sides expected to continue.

How deepfakes can harm employers

Although most deepfakes thus far have targeted politicians and celebrities, the technology has been seen in the work environment — and it may be used with increasing frequency, experts said.

Imagine a CEO placing an urgent call to a senior financial officer requesting an emergency money transfer — except the CEO's voice was deepfaked by criminals, as Axios reported happening to a number of companies already. Deepfakes could be used to attack a company, Barr said; "[It] could be the evolution of how ransomware takes place."

Remote employees could use deepfake tech to disguise their identities and hand off work to subcontractors, Swami said. This could be concerning if the subcontractor is not supposed to be offshore or if the initial employee had a security clearance, but the subcontractor does not, he said.

For HR leaders, deepfakes could lead to tricky situations, Forman said. What happens if an employee finds an altered photo or video of them on social media that uses their company ID or picture? What obligation does the organization have to investigate? "It's becoming more difficult. You have workplace morale issues, compliance issues with your policy and procedures that all jump up because of deepfakes," he said.

Guarding against deepfakes

HR leaders are used to discerning fake information, from exaggerations on a resume to doctored emails, but as technology improves, it becomes more challenging to anticipate potential issues. While HR is not expected to analyze media for alterations, leaders can take steps to protect employees and the company from being manipulated by deepfakes.

Review company technology policies, said Forman. New technologies up the ante for the workplace and the employer and employee relationships because of the increased risk for misconduct, he said. An employer may want to take an existing policy regarding anti-harassment, anti-retaliation, and anti-discrimination, and make sure the guidelines address the new technology, he added.

Companies should decide how they would respond if a deepfake incident occurred, Forman advised. Although there may be no one right or wrong answer, being prepared to react to the threat is necessary.

"The biggest thing is awareness," Swami said. If employers see an incendiary video, they can't have a knee jerk reaction if it is presented as evidence of wrong-doing, he said. Managers might not be able to believe their eyes, so employers may need to ensure its managers gather more information. "You can't have a single source of truth."

SOURCE: DeLoatch, Pamela. (5 August 2019). "Keeping it real: What HR leaders need to know about deepfakes" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from:


Performance Management in HR

Does the HR department cross paths with other departments? What exactly is HR? How can your company improve this department? Keep reading this blog to find out some helpful tips to improve this department.

The impact those demands have had on recruiting, retention, learning, development, talent strategy, not to mention employee productivity and performance has left many HR professionals wondering… what exactly is HR’s value proposition and function?

HR traditionally manages those routine yet essential processes - recruiting, hiring, onboarding paperwork, legal compliance, harassment training, and workforce planning to name just a few.

This isn’t the rule, of course. HR leaders in many companies have done an excellent job at up-leveling their teams beyond the human capital management administrative processes to a people and culture-first approach that puts the “human” back into human resources.

Still, there is a prevailing problem I see many companies face: the old human capital management processes of the past aren’t flexible enough to adapt to the dramatic shifts in the way we need to effectively manage the workforce, deploy learning initiatives, develop talent, and deploy an overall human capital management strategy.

While there are several of these old processes that sit on my top five “time to adapt” list… one that currently stands out is performance management.

Performance management has evolved

Traditionally, performance management is a point-in-time event that happens annually or bi-annually alongside merit increases.

Over the years, however, multiple studies, statistics, and endless internal pulse surveys have revealed a new trend: a continuous performance management and feedback loop coupled with ongoing learning and professional development programs is crucial to engage and retain today’s modern workforce while giving HR teams a talent pool to meet the ever-changing needs of the business.

Learning & development teams are the linchpin

Having served in many different roles across a variety of companies - restaurant, hospitality, manufacturing, and a few more in between - I’ve witnessed the numerous ways HR and Learning & Talent Development teams engage with each other while serving their prospective divisions, departments, and employees.

What I know for sure is that the learning and development function can act as the linchpin to adapt the old performance management process to the new, continuous performance management cycles. L&D has a holistic view of the needs, gaps, and effective programs based on divisions, jobs, roles, etc...

With the right learning management or talent development platform, they can see the connection between goals, skills, competencies, and behaviors and how those can be effectively deployed continuously alongside the performance management cycles. Their function sees the employee experience during the time it matters most.

It’s time to integrate learning and performance management

“In an age where continuous learning is essential to drive new skills and behaviors, fewer than half of companies effectively link learning to performance.” This observation from The Brandon Hall Group hit home for me because it’s true - but it doesn’t have to be.

What then keeps HR teams from transitioning from one process to another? It’s a great question I challenge learning & development and HR teams with all the time.

What I’ve found is that (1) L&D leaders see the gap, (2) HR teams are constrained with competing priorities and an increased need for their function to address their existing functions (payroll, benefits, rewards, etc…) with the more strategic, higher-priority areas.

Starting your journey to shift toward a more agile, collaborative, and continuous performance management process requires these two teams to come together and recognize this transition as an important priority for both teams’ success.

By implementing a continuous cycle of performance and goals management within your organization, HR and L&D teams can:

  • Measure the impact of competency and skills within your organization
  • Support learning effectiveness and impact measurement
  • Provides line of sight into skill, knowledge and competency gaps for employee and employer
  • Unlock the maximum potential by aligning resources and focused training
  • Establishes a direct link between employee performance review feedback and learning content to help close gaps
  • Proactively plan for the future with a comprehensive view of your organization that lets you find the candidates who are most qualified for the job

There are many ways to adapt your performance management process to meet your organizations changing needs and your employees’ demands. The important thing to walk away with is that it’s an opportunity to bridge the divide between the HR and learning functions to deliver a more personalized, continuous, and effective performance management review cycle.

SOURCE: Brown, Matthew. (31 July 2019). "Why HR should connect performance management and learning" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from


Nine-to-Five at Home


When you hear the phrase "nine-to-five" you picture a day in the office. According to a recent study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics more employees are getting the job done from home. This study accounts for the time spent doing activities that are non-work and work-related.

  • While most employees still spend most of their hours at work in the office, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) analysis showed that more workers in management, professional and related (MPR) occupations, especially, are working at home all or part of the time; they are three times more likely to work at home compared to people in other occupations. The analysis comes from the American Time Use Survey, which measures the time people spend doing a range of activities, both work- and nonwork-related.
  • Not only are MPR workers more likely than other employees to work at home, but they also worked on average fewer hours in the office and more hours at home on weekdays between 2013 and 2017 than they did between 2003 and 2007. The average work time for MPR workers between 2013 and 2017 also varied by location — those who worked only at home worked the shortest length of time. BLS noted that people worked in different locations for various reasons, such as to fit in appointments, work around commitments or catch up on their work.
  • MPR workers in the arts, design, entertainment, sports, media, education, training and library occupations were found to be the least likely to work only at their worksite, while healthcare practitioners and technical workers were most likely to work only onsite.

The BLS analysis supports what other studies have also noted: employees are increasingly taking advantage of remote work options, and in some job positions — such as tech developers — remote working is considered the norm. Flexible work options, generally, have captured public opinion and factor into job seekers' decisions over whether to accept a job offer, a previous IWG study showed; for that reason, 83% of employers have adopted a flexible workspace policy in the past decade.

A significant number of workers say they'd be more productive at home thanks to fewer distractions and interruptions and less stress from commuting, a 2018 FlexJob survey noted. But many employees particularly enjoy having the option to choose where to work, even if that option tends toward the office for some demographic groups. Despite the growing popularity of such arrangements, however, many still do not have a flexible work policy in place; only 36% of respondents to a Randstad Workmonitor study said their employers support flexible work options.

Improved technology has enabled MPR workers to work from home or other remote locations. For jobs that don't allow remote or flexible work options due to the nature of the work, such as in healthcare or retail customer service jobs, some employers have instead opted for flexible or predictive scheduling programs to give workers more control over their work hours.

SOURCE- Bolden-Barrett, Valerie. (24 July 2019). “BLS: More employees are working from home regularly” (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from


AI in Human Resources

Administrative work, including answering employee questions, takes up about 73.2% of HR’s time, according to a study by the Center for Effective Organizations. That doesn’t leave much room for evaluating workplace culture, researching new retention programs or recruiting — all equally essential HR functions.

“It takes about three minutes to answer a question, but when you consider how many of those are coming in you realize how much it can really bog [HR] down,” said Debbie Smith, vice president of HR at software company E2open — during a recent webinar. “We could spend that time on higher quality initiatives.”

To help redirect some of HR’s more tedious work, 20-year HR veteran Beth White programmed a chatbot last year to specifically address workplace questions. She dubbed the virtual assistant — and her company — MeBeBot, which can be customized to answer questions specific to a company’s benefits program and policies.

“Our goal is to enable HR professionals everywhere to leverage technology to extend the knowledge of HR, and to put the focus back on our most important priority: our people,” White said.

Employees get frustrated when there are too many digital platforms to access work benefits, she added. So MeBeBot is integrated with popular online communication tools like Slack, Skype, and Teams that employees already use at work to make the application more accessible, White added. And being online, employees can access the program outside of office hours.

“You can get questions about your benefits answered when you’re at the doctor’s office,” White said as an example.

E2open is a customer of MeBeBot; the software company was able to save their HR department 184 hours of labor last year after introducing a custom chatbot, called Eva, Smith said. The HR department requested the chatbot be programmed to answer basic administrative questions about benefits, taking time off and company policies. Since its induction, Eva has been answering around 300 employee questions a month, Smith said.

“We introduced Eva to the staff as the place you go for questions; now it’s the first place they go,” Smith said. “Now our [HR] staff is able to do more impactful things to run the business.”

Using the data it collects from employee questions and usage, MeBeBot is able to identify training topics employees need to be covered and identify workplace issues that may threaten employee retention efforts, White noted. Going forward, she said she would like to explore how artificial intelligence can also support employees’ professional development.

“We can’t scale or grow without thinking about smart ways we can use technology to become more efficient,” White said.

SOURCE: Webster, Kayla. (23 July 2019). “HR bogged down with questions? AI can help” (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from

Technology Influencing the Healthcare and Employee Benefits Industry

Technology is taking the world by storm and the healthcare/employee benefits industry is no exception. Whether you are an employee or an employer shopping for benefits can be the same for both parties. Here’s how technology will influence the industry in the future.

Apps will push value-based care
This tech shift to shopping for benefits will bring with it the rise of platforms and app-based insurance. The hope is that apps and platforms will make it easier to buy and understand insurance, and easier to get the best healthcare fast. That means high-quality care at a low price at a time that’s convenient for patients.

Emerging tech platforms should provide employees with more options for insurance — and a better understanding of those options — and make it easier to manage wellness, healthcare and insurance coverage. Apps will put more information in front of the average employee, giving them more freedom to make choices about their care.

The idea is these emerging platforms and apps tie together payroll and HRIS with wellness and healthcare navigator apps to help workers live healthier lives.

Here’s how it could work: When an employee isn’t feeling well, they first turn to their telemedicine app instead of picking up the phone to make a doctor’s appointment or visiting urgent care. Telemedicine is more convenient for them and costs less than a traditional doctor’s visit. If the telemedicine provider refers them to a specialist, they can then turn to a health navigator app to find a high-quality specialist at the lowest price for their next appointment.

When they're feeling better, they can use a connected wellness app to record gym visits, meditate, speak to a therapist and earn points for wellness activities like reaching a step-count milestone or getting a preventive checkup. These points can contribute to a real-time insurance premium discount that they can easily view from an app. The app can also present them with the opportunity to add or change voluntary benefits and, during the open enrollment, learn about their benefits choices and decide on the best plan.

Apps specific to shopping for benefits will provide more information to healthcare consumers and the necessary tools to make better care decisions. The hope is this technology will help people become healthier, get better care and use insurance more efficiently.

How HR fits in
Though employees will have the ability to make easy changes to benefit plans — especially voluntary benefits — the role of HR may change, depending on the employer’s size.

Large, more than 1,000 life employers will likely partner with a technology company and a benefits consultant who will manage the platform and the insurance-buying process for employees. Representatives from the HR technology platform, the benefits consultant and human resources staff will be responsible for educating employees about their options. Importantly, the employer will continue to sponsor employee benefits. They may present cafeteria-style benefits plans and provide a dollar amount toward the purchase of benefits.

Bigger changes may come for small companies with fewer than 100 employees. Many of these businesses may turn to a professional employer organization or other HR outsourcing arrangements with a built-in technology platform. Though healthcare insurance costs will continue to rise, small employers will continue to contribute to employee benefits premiums to help attract and retain talent.

The imperative for employers: communicate and educate
The only way this shift to platforms, apps, and other technology-based solutions will work is if employers, benefits brokers and platform companies themselves work to educate and communicate with employees about how this all works. Insurance platforms can no longer be staffed with technologists only; they need experts who understand health and welfare benefits in order to onboard employees and teach them how to get the most from their benefits platform.

And while HR’s role may change slightly, those teams are still in charge of helping employees learn about the benefits landscape and plan their healthcare and financial well-being for the next plan year. HR teams need to focus on communicating through any channel necessary, whether it’s email, social media, in-person education meetings or podcasts. It benefits everyone when employees understand how to choose the best plan and make decisions about appropriate care.

Putting more healthcare and insurance information in front of employees when they’re shopping for benefits and seeking services can drive them to make smarter decisions and look for better options when possible, but only if they understand how it all works.

SOURCE: Lisa, Mike. (24 July 2019). “Shopping for benefits: What technology holds for clients” (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from 

Workplace Wisdom: 4 True Tales and Tips for HR and Managers

From the Society For Human Resources Management (SHRM), by Christina Folz

Like priests and therapists, employment attorneys will hear just about everything over the course of their careers. They are privy to all manner of human tragedy, triumph—and stupidity. The best of them will turn their knowledge and experience into something deeper: wisdom.

That's what attorney Jathan Janove, who has more than 25 years of experience litigating workplace issues and consulting for companies, has done in his unconventional new management book, Hard-Won Wisdom: True Stories from the Management Trenches (Amacom, 2016). The book is refreshingly free of motivational platitudes and vague advice and instead imparts practical wisdom to managers and HR professionals through unforgettable stories of living, breathing—and highly flawed—people.

True Tale #1: Phil was a well-intentioned director of finance who did everything right in communicating his expectations and feedback to his direct report, a staff accountant named Melinda, except for one thing: He didn't listen to what she had to say.

Lesson Learned: Keep track of your "period-to-question-mark" ratio when conversing with employees. If it starts to skew heavily toward statements, make a point of inserting more questions. Also follow the "EAR" method of listening by exploring issues through open-ended questions, acknowledging that you understand and responding to what you learn.

True Tale #2: And then there's the story of Texas Wes, the oil company executive who was great at sharing constructive feedback but who never wanted to document it. ("Ah hate to write," he told Janove.)

Lesson Learned: To improve in this area, Wes borrowed a tip from attorneys who regularly use "opposing counsel confirmation letters"—bulleted summaries of important discussions that can be compiled quickly and easily based on prepared templates. They typically start with "This note summarizes our conversation from this morning" and end with "Please let me know if I haven't captured the information accurately."

True Tale #3: No one will forget Shameless Sheila, the waitress who was fired after stripping down to her underwear in full view of the restaurant's customers. Her boss had confronted her about not being in uniform in time to start her shift, so she changed clothes on the spot. Yet, unbelievably, Sheila wound up getting a settlement from the company because she was able to demonstrate that the restaurant culture constituted a hostile, sexually charged environment.

Lesson Learned: Company leaders made the common mistake of thinking that no harassment complaints meant no problems. Had they paid more attention to the culture in which Sheila had been working, they might have avoided making a settlement payout for an otherwise-appropriate termination.

True Tale #4: While many of Janove's stories are funny, others are sad reminders that workplace reality rarely matches up with the ideal environments described in culture statements or employee handbooks. For example, Janet, a vice president of HR for a large corporation, was inappropriately propositioned by William, a senior operations director at her company, on a business trip. The conversation started with William asking her whether she still had sex with her husband and went downhill quickly. Yet this revelation came to light only after William had voluntarily departed the company, when Janove was counseling Janet in preparation for an anti-harassment training that he was helping her implement.

Lesson Learned: Even knowledge of HR and the law aren't always enough to overcome an employee's reluctance to act on her own behalf for fear of being ostracized or blamed. Janet's experience emphasizes the critical importance of making sure a company's approach to harassment goes beyond annual training to working daily to institute a culture in which everyone, including those in HR, feels completely safe coming forward.

See the original article Here.


Folz, C. (2016 Novemeber 14). Workplace wisdom: 4 true tales and tips for hr and managers[Web blog post]. Retrieved from address

6 new solutions for benefits brokers and HR managers

Benefits brokers and HR benefits managers, you’re stressed, and for good reason.

So maybe you didn’t catch these new or redesigned HR and benefits-oriented products or announcements recently. Here they are, just in time for open enrollment.

#1: Help with open enrollment

Open enrollment can be confusing for employees, many of whom can't even define what "deductible" means. (It's true -- someone, somewhere, has studied this and counted the number of people who don't understand the concept.) PlanSource, a provider of cloud-based benefits and human capital management software, has created what it calls "an Open Enrollment Communications Kit" to help with this challenging time.

The kit is for brokers, human resources teams, and benefits professionals who need to communicate benefits information to employees.It includes examples of daily emails and text messages, customizable posters, flyers and postcards in a variety of themes, educational videos and messaging templates.

A sample timeline can help with marketing a communications campaign from beginning to end of open enrollment. The kit can be seen in a webinar you sign up for. Access it at the PlanSource website.

#2: Managing the hiring, onboarding, and benefits process

Isn't it gratifying when computers can actually take on duties you find tedious? Unless you find the onboarding and data entry process extremely interesting and life-affirming, of course. Software from Flock helps manage HR, benefits, and compliance, and now it's adding an applicant tracking system from Greenhouse for hiring, onboarding, and managing employees.

The partnership will let HR import candidate information into Flock, with the goal of streamlining the hiring and onboarding process. The HR platform is available for small to midsize businesses and insurance brokers can subsidize or sponsor the benefits administration module. Learn more at the Flock website.

#3: 5 ACA plans to be offered to Arizona residents

Okay, technically it's not a solution. Still, someone you know might want to know that five different Affordable Care Act plans will be available during open enrollment from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ).

The five include EverydayHealth, Portfolio and SimpleHealth. Members who enroll in the plans use their primary care provider to coordinate their care. The ACA plans will be offered in 14 of Arizona's 15 counties, and, as you know, open enrollment runs from November 1, 2016 through January 31, 2017.

To help find the right plan, Blue Cross Blue Shield is pointing Arizonans toward their local broker or to Cover Arizona.

#4: Online benefits administration

This is the year of partnering in the benefits industry. Employee benefits, HR and payroll provider BenefitMall is partnering with EaseCentral to offer additional online benefits administration.

The goal is to help with completing enrollments in a timely way. Brokers will now be able to choose between EaseCentral's all-in-one software solution and BenefitMall's online benefits administration system, EmployerFocus. Learn more at the BenefitMallwebsite.

#5: New option to enroll employees in voluntary benefits

Did we mention partnering? Yes? Transamerica is partnering with Maxwell Health to expand enrollment options for key employee benefits.

The partnership will enable Transamerica to offer help to employers in streamlining enrollment, administration, reporting, communication, and engagement processes, while allowing benefit advisors to browse, compare and quote benefits in an intuitive way. To learn more, see the Transamerica website or call 866-872-6726.

#6: New ACA compliance and reporting solutions

Affordable Care Act reporting is pretty darn fun. Still, there's probably something else you'd rather be doing, like going to the dentist for a root canal. This newly designed product from SyncStream Solutions offers both Affordable Care Act compliance and reporting.

The new solutions were designed to meet compliance requirements through a guided workflow that marries employer data with ACA analytics to achieve ACA compliance and provide the assurance of auditability.

SyncStream's product offers employee tracking and ACA full-time status determination, generates the proper forms to meet IRS requirements, populates IRS indicator codes based on business logic, and normalizes employer data into ACA-compliant language, among other features. For more information, visit the SyncStream Solutions website.

See the original article Here.


Marwitz, C. (2016 October 24). 6 new solutions for benefits brokers and HR managers. [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address

Employee Recognition: Picking Up the Pieces

Here's an interesting article from The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) by David Kovacovich

As I enter my tenth year in the Human Capital Management space, I figured it would be beneficial to my readers to reflect on how our industry has (and has not) evolved over the last decade's time.

* The following scenarios are built on real life business engagements. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Case Study #1: A Story of Manipulation
Employee A (Let's call him Carl) had worked for Company X (let's call it Pied Piper) for a calendar year. After 3 failed endeavors at Bay Area start ups, Carl was looking for something more stable. He had a single motivating factor: MONEY!

Work at a Large Corporate Technology firm was different than the start-up world: Bureaucracy was thick, rule structure was more intense and cashing out was trumped by climbing the ladder. So how could he climb the ladder?

Achieving sales results did not come as easily in an Enterprise role at a large company and Carl struggled in this first year. The results weren't there so he needed another tool to help get him promoted. Then it hit him like a lightening bolt..... his company had announced the end of the annual performance review process to be replaced with a high touch performance management system (even large corporations cannot refute common sense). The performance management process was positioned as a pro-active measure to build the internal talent pool.

Carl's bargaining chip? Employee Recognition would be leveraged as part of the Performance Management system. Carl's job was simple, he sent an email to roughly 100 colleagues asking them to participate in an experiment (he even went-so-far as to title his email "An Experiment In Human Compassion"). Carl asked each of his colleagues to send him a recognition through their peer to peer system. He offered to return the gesture. Carl was a fun guy at happy hour so getting his peers to buy-in was no problem. Within a week, Carl shot to the top of Recognition Leaderboard. This flagged him as an 'up and comer' in the system and garnered him an opportunity to apply for a Management position.

Carl was promoted to Management, 8 employees left under his reign and he was fired less than a year later.

The company lost great performers and the recognition program was tarnished.

What's worse? The company was sued by an employee who was passed over for promotion sighting leadership development as a popularity contest. (Carl's "Human Compassion" email was submitted into evidence).

Lesson Learned: Using Recognition as a Performance Lever is Dangerous Business!

Case Study #2: A Shattered Cookie Cutter
The message was simple, "we need to cut costs so any programs that are not mission-critical are to be discontinued". The CEO was very clear in her directives so the formal recognition program was removed. This program had operated with over 90% adoption for nearly 10 years (CRM adoption hovered at about 38%).

With the program removed a caveat was dangled. Keeping our employees engaged is job one so we are reconstructing programs that will streamline appreciation:

1. Employees would go to dinner with their supervisor if they qualified as a top quarterly achiever.
2. Employees who hit a tenure milestone would receive a letter from the CEO and a gift card.

When Employee A (let's call her Nancy) hit her 20 year anniversary with the company, she received a form letter from the CEO and a $250 gift card. She tested the signature on the letter but it did not smudge. Then she pulled out her i-phone to use the calculator.

$1.73 a month. That's what her contribution to the organization was worth.

She flipped over the form letter, wrote two words on the back, grabbed a picture of her kids from her desk and headed out the door.....


Lesson Learned: No Recognition is Better than Thoughtless Recognition!

Case Study #3: Leadership Jumps on the Manipulation Train
The VP of HR sent out the annual employee survey at the tail end of the 7 paragraph diatribe. The message offered a proverbial laundry list of all of the "perks and benefits" of working at Company X. Benefits packages, non-guaranteed pay increases, company functions and education aid were all mentioned as the things that made Company X a "Great Place to Work". Mr. HR Guy included a mention of half day Fridays during the summer months if the company hit their revenue goal.

Filling out the survey was mandatory. Managers received bonuses for "5" rating across the board and were regulated for examination if any of their team dipped below last year's survey results.

The survey structure was based on the following:
1. Make the Great Place to Work list and Senior Managers receive a bonus.
2. Managers who average a "5" receive a bonus.
3. Managers whose average scores wavered were consulted by HR as to what to do to ensure employees "no longer seemed discontent".

The leader of the Human Engagement process allowed his greed to override a prime opportunity to receive feedback from the trenches. He did not receive his bonus.

Managers were subjected to adversarial relationships with employees: meeting with each of them to guess who used what comment to berate them while urging employees to keep their comments in-house.

The results of the survey were skewed. Employees who wished to stay in their managers good graces "marked 5 to survive". Those who saw through the hypocrisy of the exercise gave lower scores than they otherwise would have to mock Leadership's misunderstanding of workforce engagement!

Lesson Learned: Surveys Are an Opportunity to Identify Areas of Improvement not a Meter for Compensation!

The Recognition industry was built by fulfillment houses whose strengths lie in purchasing & distribution. Times have caught up with them. It's 2016 and systems of feedback and leadership development are far more important to today's employee than a logo-ed lamp.

1. Companies are still investing heavy dollars in catalog-driven Service Anniversary programs (because employees still like them).
2. Performance Management has not replaced Employee Recognition.
3. Social Recognition has proven effective for a limited time if there is not a reward within the process of participating.
4. Results compensation programs are up to 100x more-invested than Recognition programs in the majority of companies.

1. Diversify budgets to create more high touch, immediate recognition opportunity
- I've beat this horse to death since 2006 and I'm not giving up.
2. Make recognition initiatives performance based.
- It's incredibly simple to program technology to reward mission critical behaviors instead of off-the-shelf catch phrases.
3. Use Social Recognition to attract employees to a platform that offers a variety of performance-based programs.
- Consolidation enhances engagement and saves significant dollars.
4. Replace revenue improvement incentives with behavior-based development programs.
- Compensating the bottom line is easy to measure and easier to manipulate. Creating programs that promote responsible behavior geared toward relationship development will strengthen long-term organizational stability and improve revenue.

I believe the Human Capital Management industry (or whatever you want to call it) has the greatest opportunity for growth of any:

- Human Resource professionals need to continue a Change Management focus.
- Vendors should shift from reward fulfillment to active behavior change consulting.

Don't Forget to Remember!


See the original article Here.


Kovacovich, D. (2016 September 27). Employee recognition: picking up the pieces. [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address

What You Need To Know About The EEOC’s Updated Guidelines For Retaliation

Interesting article on EEOC guideline updates from, Employee Benefit Adviser by Bobbi Kloss

Did you know that under the U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, an employee who believes that they have been retaliated against by an employer for complaining against unlawful discrimination in the workplace can file a complaint with the EEOC under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), Title V of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Equal Pay Act (EPA), and/or Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. It is worth noting, this is not an either or situation, meaning, an employee’s claim can cross over the various discrimination laws.

Employers with at least 15 employees — or 20 employees in age discrimination cases, including labor unions and employment agencies — are covered by EEOC laws. The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person's race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or genetic information. A very important point to keep in mind: it’s illegal to discriminate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

The EEOC laws apply to all types of work-related actions, including hiring, firing, promotions, harassment, training, wages and benefits. To put it all in perspective — and show just how large and widespread this issue is — here are some sobering statistics: charges of retaliation filed with the EEOC accounted for 44.5% of alleged basis of discrimination in FY2015 with more than 39,700 allegations filed and with monetary benefits awarded in the amount of $173.5 million (not including those paid through litigation), according to an EEOC report on litigation statistics: Retaliation-Based Charges FY 1997 - FY 2015. Compare today’s numbers to 1997, when 18,198 allegations were filed and $41.7 million in benefits were awarded. Retaliation complaints continue to be the most frequent form of alleged discrimination filed with the EEOC since 2009.

Final enforcement guidance
It is no wonder then that at the end of August the EEOC issued its final enforcement guidance on retaliation and related issues replacing its 1998 Compliance manual section on retaliation. The update also provides guidance for the “interference” (prohibiting coercion, threats or other acts that interference with exercise of rights) provision under the ADA.

The various topics explained in the new guidance include:

  • The scope of employee activity protected by the law;
  • Legal analysis to be used to determine if evidence supports a claim of retaliation;
  • Remedies available for retaliation;
  • Rules against interference with the exercise of rights under the ADA;
  • Detailed examples of employer actions that may constitute retaliation.

The EEOC also released The Small Business Fact Sheet: Retaliation and Related Issues and a set of FAQs, Questions and Answers: Enforcement Guidance on Retaliation and Related Issues for clarification on main topic points for employers.

As a trusted benefit adviser, why should you be concerned about this update in the EEOC Compliance Manual? This is another opportunity to be in front of your clients and help guide them with their employment practices. Good business practices help attract and retain employees during these competitive times. Creating a culture free from employment discrimination can also create a motivated, stress free workforce leading to reduced benefit claims, reduced absenteeism, and turnover, which can allow for business growth.

What can your employers do now to ensure that their organization is proactively compliant with EEOC laws?

1) Make sure the Employee Handbook contains their EEOC policy statement and includes a process for an employee to file allegations of a complaint of workplace discrimination.

2) Train employees and supervisors on lawful and unlawful employment practices, including retaliatory behavior.

3) Take all complaints of discrimination seriously and ensure that a prompt and thorough investigation is conducted.

Employers should also make sure that their performance management process is documented and non-discriminately administered. If an employer needs to take corrective performance action — up to and including termination of employment — against any employee who has filed a complaint of discrimination, it is advised that they seek guidance from their Employment Law attorney before taking any action.

Lastly, discrimination in the workplace can be avoided by having a culture that promotes diversity, making employment decisions based upon performance, and maintains professionalism in all forms of communication.

See the original article Here.


Kloss, B. (2016 September 22). What you need to know about the EEOC's updated guidelines for retaliation. [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address:

8 Common But Costly Benefits Communication Mistakes

Original Post from

By: Tim Gould

Here are a few stats that really drive home just how critical benefits communication is for HR pros.  

When employees that were offered rich employer benefits received poor communication, just 22% of those workers reported being satisfied with their benefits.

On the other hand, when employers with less-rich benefits communicated those benefits effectively, 76% of workers reported being satisfied with their employers’ benefit offerings.

These stats were part of a recent study by Towers Watson WorkUSA.

At the 2015 Mid-Sized Retirement & Healthcare Plan Management Conference in San Diego, Benefits Strategist Julie Adamik used those surprising stats as an opening to launch into a presentation about effective benefits communication.

What to avoid

During the presentation, Adamik covered some of the most common — and costly — benefits communication mistakes, which included:

1. Holding a boring benefits presentation. There’s a common misconception among workers that anything about benefits is going to be boring. But when HR pros don’t make the effort to make their benefits presentations interesting, the message is bound to be lost on employees.

2. Letting Legal draft all of your benefit communications. When employers let a legal department write all your benefits communications, there’s a very good chance the documents will be littered with legalese that confuses employees, bores them to the point of tuning out or both.

3. Not allotting enough of the budget to the benefits communications. Upper management often doesn’t have a handle on just how much solid benefits communications are going to cost — at least not in the same way HR does.

Benefits communication must be more detailed than standard inter-office communications, so it’s likely to take more time to prepare and produce.

4. Relying on workers will bring their benefits info home and discuss it with their family members.Effective benefits communication should always try to include spouses and family members.

5. Assuming employees will simply act on the messages in the benefit communications. It’s up to HR to specifically tell staffers what they should do with the benefits info as well as why.

6. Thinking workers will read their open enrollment materials cover to cover on their own time. The more HR can go over during the actual open enrollment meeting, the better. Of course, enrollment time shouldn’t be the only time benefits info should be addressed. Communication should be a year-long process.

7. Opting for “professional-sounding” language instead of simple “plain-speak” English. Sure, HR pros’ world is filled with jargon, buzzwords and benefits-related acronyms, but rank-and-file employees’ worlds are not. Keep the benefit communications as simple as possible.

8. Covering too much info. It’s only natural to try and cram everything possible into your open enrollment materials, but when there’s just too much being thrown at employees, they suffer from information overload — and retain little (if any) of what was covered.

Remember, continuous education is a proven way to improve employees’ decision-making regarding their benefits, which should be the goal of every communication effort..

 Adapted from “Effective Benefit Communications” by Julie Adamik, CEBS, CCP, CBP, as presented at the 2015 Mid-Sized Retirement & Healthcare Plan Management Conference in San Diego.