Archive | November, 2012

Meet Mike VanDervort

14 Nov

Meet Mike VanDervort. Mike is a human resource professional and the writer of the blog, The Human Race Horses. Mike is a volunteer leader for SHRM at the state and national level and current member of the SHRM Special Expertise panel on Labor Relations. Mike frequently speaks and writes about how social media is impacting the HR profession and tweets at the handle @MikeVanDervort.

Joey Baird, Sage:  We know you’re a frequent speaker, volunteer, you’re extremely active online, and in social media, but can you tell our readers what your day job is?

Michael VanDervort: Yes, I’m a corporate human resources strategist and specialist; I work primarily on our associate (employee) relations. I also dabble in industry research and look a lot at developing trends. My background is in manufacturing and logistics.

At my company, my social media role has evolved over the years. Because of my experience I was asked to help with its implementation, and it’s been a great project. Social media falls under our Public Affairs department, which works closely with Human Resources. We were tasked with creating an internal voice, one that we could respond to customers across networks and in our communities.

Social media is taking more of a presence in the workplace. What are your thoughts on the relationship between HR and social media?

The relationship has been very interesting the past three years or so especially. HR, rather than being an early adopter viewed social media as a risk. Now I think it has evolved, and many see it as a valuable communication channel. I really like that aspect because I think that is what HR does, convey the message, no matter how you communicate. In the beginning I couldn’t understand why HR wouldn’t want to use it. It’s really starting to become part of the culture now and getting more mainstream.

You’re pretty involved in the social sphere of human resources when it comes to live chats, live tweeting at conferences, and so on. What sparked your interest?

From a personal standpoint, I’ve always been an early adopter of technology. In 1991 the company I worked for funded a purchase program so employees could buy home PCs with low interest rates. It wasn’t because the employees needed to work from home; it was because the company cared about enhancing learning and development for its workforce. So I ended up buying that PC and then stumbled onto the Internet. I started looking at what HR was doing online; it was mostly tech companies in chat rooms and rudimentary job boards. Following that crowd, I bounced along, and it kind of dragged me into social when it presented itself. In 2006 a business colleague sent me an invitation to LinkedIn, and I joined.

You must get this question a lot but can HR and social media ever coexist peacefully?

In much of my speaking I talk about why HR needs to be in social not just because it’s “cool” but because it is useful. I don’t think HR practitioners think of it as the snake hiding behind their desk anymore.

What’s a fun fact about you (not HR related) that our readers may not know about you?

Actually, you wouldn’t know it from my presence online and the way I network but I’m an introvert. It has always been hard for me to “break the ice” with people, and social has really helped open up a dialogue for me.

We noticed you enjoy traveling. Do you have any exciting adventures planned?

Funny that you mention the travel, because I just got back from personal vacation to St. Augustine, Fl. We rented a pet-friendly condo, and my wife and I took our dogs and enjoyed the time at the beach.

I just got back from Dallas, for the People Report Best Practices Conference. So now I don’t have anymore travelling for 2012, but I did just get accepted to the LA SHRM State Conference next year, so that should be great!

Do you have any upcoming activities or work that you’d like our readers to know about?

Well, next month or so I’ll be writing a little about how the outcome of the election will affect HR. There are likely to be some changes with the NLRB and so on. Outside of that I’ll be contributing on a semiregular basis to I’m looking forward to 2013 and planning out new opportunities.

Thanks for your time, Mike!

Make Decision Making Simple With HR Analytics

5 Nov

Monitoring the progress of individuals within the corporate structure in order to reach desired outcomes is standard practice within many organizations. However, the reasoning behind HR analytics is not consolidated – some businesses see them as a tool to expedite future growth, while others see them as a way of looking back at the progress they have made. It depends how the company that owns the data wants to use it, and who is interpreting the information at that time.

The value of human resource analytics lies in flexibility. Robust analytics can produce rich reports detailing performance of individuals, teams, departments or businesses as a whole. They also provide a way of seeing where people are in relation to intended goals. This in turn can help human resources managers provide assistance where it is needed most, ensuring that everyone within the organization is cared for equally. HR analytics help with crafting engagement strategies and are the basis for calculations focused on return on employee investment.

Understanding Analytics
Some human resources personnel may still stop and think, “What exactly are analytics, anyway?” Simply put, they are the mix of business data with human input. It’s a way of collating progress in every department, every task and every aspect of the business, thereby allowing HR and other staff members to monitor performance and make necessary adjustments.

To successfully run a business these types of insights are needed. Companies should look within and use tools to research the data they already own. To take it the next level they can then compare their data with other performance indicators to formulate action plans. Additionally, using HR analytics a business can store business performance data and later use it to compare against historical figures.

What to Look For
It’s also essential that, when scanning internal and external information channels, the right indicators are being monitored. Simply looking at the broad expanse of corporate and consumer information can be overwhelming, but targeting specific behaviors and people can be useful. Leaders should be a primary focus, as isolating effective traits in these individuals can help steer others in management positions toward the same qualities. It’s also necessary to present incentives and gestures of appreciation to personnel in order to maintain their loyalty, and assessing these transactions can help businesses target the kind of feedback employees want most.

Gaining From Data
Creating these assets is one thing, but figuring out how to implement them could be challenging for companies that just started their analytics usage. Once entities understand what these tools are and how to make use of them, there are a plethora of resources available waiting to be tapped, both within the business structure and in the public sphere, which present opportunities to gain insight into hidden patterns and market indicators.

Outlets like social media and online communication are a wealth of analytics data, because these sources represent a massive channel of rapidly changing trends and information. Picking out the common themes amidst the chaos ensures a business that its strategies based on this massive volume of supporting data will be sound ones. What results is a product that can almost detect future movements within the corporate structure, taking previous performance indicators and other landmarks in both human and technology assets, providing a better business forecast for those within the organization. As Dashboard Insight wrote, “When HR uses fact-based decision making – instead of intuition or best guesses – the group becomes a more credible partner to the business it serves.”

If difficulties arise in the human resources management process or other roadblocks leap up to prevent progress, HR analytics are the ace up your sleeve in defraying the chaos and making sense of the situation. Finding solutions for difficult HR problems is as simply finding the facts and presenting solutions that alleviate these negative conditions, and triangulating the source of these issues is easier with quality data analytics.

Meet Melissa Fairman

2 Nov

Meet Melissa Fairman. Melissa is the author of the HRreMix blog. She has worked in the HR industry for over five years and is currently working as an HR Generalist. Melissa has an MBA with an HR concentration from Baldwin Wallace College and holds the PHR certification form the HRCI institute. You can follow her on Twitter at the handle @HrRemix.

Joey Baird, Sage HRMS: We love the name of you blog and your Twitter handle. What inspired you to choose that name? Did you use to be a DJ?

Melissa Fairman: Well I do love music, and a good friend of mine is a DJ! When I was thinking about starting my blog, I wanted a name that was different, that communicated the idea of change. Techno and house music, especially mashups, are a form of music that is heavily tied to change. Quite a bit of it is a blend of other different types of music, and oftentimes it builds upon older music and makes it better. So it was in that vein that I decided on my name. I almost decided to name the blog HR mashup, but I liked HR remix better.

Blogging is very popular way to share information in the HR industry. How important is it for an HR professional to participate in engagement through blogging and social media?

Social media is an excellent way for HR professionals to get involved in the community.  It helps you to learn and grow within the field on a daily basis. It isn’t something to go into half-heartedly; I make time every day to be on Twitter and Facebook.  That consistent presence has helped me to build a large network of other HR professionals I can reach out to when I have questions.  Jump in with both feet in order to build a community and establish a presence.

Blogging is a much bigger commitment, but I encourage everyone to do it. You develop such a great knack for synthesizing your thoughts in a few hundred words, and that is a great skillset to have. I’ve been blogging about a year now, and I’ve learned so much from blogging; it makes it easier to keep up with the pace of HR news because I’m constantly writing and thinking about the issues.

There must be an endless amount of topics as they relate to HR write about. How do you prioritize and choose topics to blog about?

I wish I had some ordered system, but I really don’t. I use Evernote to take notes about potential ideas because it allows me to sync all my notes across all my devices. These notes are usually short thoughts about news stories that stick with me. After I think about these stories for a while, I’ll then develop the ideas into posts.

Do you have any insight as to what some industry trends will be in this upcoming year (2013)?

It’s hard to predict what is going to be impactful in the future. So much of what affects HR depends on what happens in the general world of business. I know that a big force of change we are currently seeing and will continue to see is technology. There are constant additions of new technology to the industry, and I can barely keep track of all the tech solutions. Social media is another aspect of technology that’s helping to push human resources forward. The overall driving force though is how quick technology is changing. If a company can keep up with the pace of technology, that will give it a huge edge in the marketplace.

The HR blogger community seems like a close bunch. Do you have a change to get together with members of the community throughout the year outside of conferences?

I’ve only been in social media for a year but I’m really starting to develop some connections. Earlier this year I was able to meet Buzz Rooney from The Buzz on HR. I recently attended the Minnesota SHRM State conference and had the opportunity to meet many people from Twitter in real life as well as some of the great speakers.

There are so many HR publications! What are your go-to resources that you find inspiration for your blog posts?

I think it is important for HR professionals to read information that is geared toward business, not just HR. To truly partner with a business, you need to understand how money is made.  I read the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Harvard Business Review, the Economist, and articles from It’s a lot of information, so I’m always a few months behind!

I’m a member of SHRM so I read the email newsletters and their magazine as well. I also read a lot of HR blogs. Some of my favorites, my must reads, are by Chris Fields, the Buzz on HR, the HR Capitalist, and Fistful of Talent.

Sometimes I cut back on blog consumption in order to read some of the great books that come my way. I have limited time so I have to prioritize my reading selection.

We noticed you’re a fan of the NFL. How are you feeling about this season’s encounter with replacement refs? Do you have any friendly HR advice for the NFL?

The NFL can learn a number of things from this season’s replacement ref ordeal especially along the lines of talent management, succession planning, and workforce planning.

For example, I worked briefly at a company where some of their manufacturing team was part of a union, but some were nonunion. We started planning a year in advance for the contract renegotiation just in case there was a walkout. We knew we needed to be prepared for that and other instances.

It shocks me that with the money the NFL generates that they didn’t have people on top of the issue. Their back-up plan was to bring in refs from the lingerie league. Really? What kind of a joke is that? I didn’t even know it existed.

Thanks for the interview, Melissa!