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Building Relationships and Staying Ahead in HR Technology

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HR Tech Connect

Given the rapid rate of change and proliferation of options from HR Systems to Individual Apps for each phase of recruiting, engagement and workforce management, it’s important to find ways to maintain a pulse of the industry, while learning real-world best practices for selection, implementation and integration from the innovators, practitioners and suppliers in this new, converged HR technology workplace. To assist HR and IT professionals in keeping up with this ever-changing industry, WorkforceNEXT launched the HR Tech Connect Summit taking place this November 5-7, 2017 at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, FL.

HR Tech Connect is a focused and intimate conference for both HR and IT professionals to network, share information, strategize and discover the latest HR technology solution offerings from industry-leading vendors. This event is exclusively for qualified executives responsible for driving the next wave of business decisions, strategy, implementation and technology investments to advance and solve their organizations’ HR, Talent Acquisition, Employee Engagement and Workforce Management challenges.

The key players in attendance are fully vetted in order to ensure the highest level of peer networking and learning in the HR tech space. These select professionals are fully hosted, which means that HR Tech Connect covers airfare, hotel, meals and registration fees in exchange for valuable time spent out of office. The conference program builds in boardroom-style case study sessions as well as 1:1 time for face-to-face interaction between attending executives, supplier representatives and industry experts, allowing attendees to accomplish months worth of meetings with solution providers and market experts in just 2.5 days.

The summit agenda is more business intensive than any other event focusing on the HR tech landscape. HR Tech Connect’s unique format offers keynote presentations, panels, breakout sessions and case studies focused on delivering and implementing a successful HR and Workforce digital transformation strategy. There is no wasted time and those in attendance walk away with solutions and strategies they can act on immediately. The goal of HR Tech Connect is to build lasting relationships so all members in these complex ecosystems can better understand and advance their needs.

Visit for more information. For attendee inquiries, contact David Pesko, or Tom LeComte, For sponsor inquiries, contact Joe Warring,

Searching for Talent: The Plight of Oil, Gas Companies

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The oil and gas industry has been aware of its talent shortage for years – fueled in part by retirements, a pause on graduate recruitment during the downturn of the 80s and cutting of training programs. But now that the industry is ramping up E&P (exploration and production) activity again, the shortage is more pronounced.

Still, some would say employers can look within their own organizations for potential leaders, but if there’s nobody in the pipeline – what can be done?

In a Feb. 28 whitepaper, David Armendariz, managing partner for executive search firm Lucas Group, addresses the topic of developing technical leaders. While the whitepaper focuses primarily on Houston, Armendariz looked at companies that are based and work in areas throughout the United States.

He said layoffs and tight budgets left oil and gas companies with less money to invest in technical skill development.

“Rather than grooming younger employees for top technical positions, companies were forced to slash training programs and cut payroll,” Armendariz said. “Now companies are finding that they have few, if any, mid-level employees who are adequately trained to take over more senior positions.”

Many laid off workers argue that there can’t possibly be a shortage of skilled professionals, given the 440,000 global layoffs. Armendariz said though there’s a larger candidate pool of younger candidates and industry veterans, many young professionals are looking outside of the industry – leaving another talent gap for the future.

“Many [industry veterans] are working on technical projects and are adding value, but the whitepaper focuses on leaders who will grow and shape the industry,” Armendariz told Rigzone. “Those skilled professionals – the high potential leaders – are still difficult to recruit out of their current companies. Firms that recognize the war for talent is still going strong will be best positioned for the industry’s rebound.”

Developing top technical talent is not impossible, but it does require a shift in recruitment strategy, said Armendariz said.

This involves:

  • Understanding the current talent gap. This can be done by asking the following questions: What will our energy business look like in five years? How many mission critical employees do we currently have and where are we falling short? At a minimum, how many new hires do we need in each discipline or geography to bridge this gap? How much experience will our new hires have and how quickly can we help them gain additional on-the-job experience and develop their leadership skills?
  • Maximize available talent. Rather than assessing the pool of potential leaders and modeling their likely advancement paths globally through the organization, some companies think only of their local talent – failing to track and coordinate their development at a global level. By redistributing talent throughout the organization, it will help the recruitment team better understand what gaps currently exist. Then they can develop a strategic model for long-term recruitment and internal promotion efforts.
  • Recruit talent with global leadership potential. In today’s industry, globalization and geopolitical risks are just as important as operational excellence and profitability. Tomorrow’s technical leaders must be global leaders as well.
  • Look outside the industry for confident decision-makers and quick learners. Disqualifying candidates for a lack of technical skills won’t work anymore. Instead, companies need to think outside of the oil and gas talent box. These are the people who take it upon themselves to further their knowledge and leadership skills.

“Companies that are positioning themselves in the best way for future growth are spending money, time and resources to identify and grow future leaders,” Armendariz said. “High potential employees are easier to grow organically and are rooted in the company culture better than firms who are forced to recruit reactively.”

>> Link to original article.

10 Steps to Becoming More Analytical

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Business leaders value analytics because they want to better understand how the business works, gain insights and assess the value of talent investments. They want to get help solving problems and to make better decisions. As an HR business partner, recruiter or specialist, you may find that exciting, intimidating or a bit of both. The good news is that you don’t need deep quantitative training to help leaders make more informed evidence-based decisions.

The list below contains 10 simple, but powerful, actions for approaching your work more analytically. They’re based on my 15 years of experience helping leaders at a top professional services firm find ways to attract, engage, develop and retain highly talented people, and on my time at other organizations as a manager and consultant.

  1. Get to know your organization’s strategy.

Do you know how your company makes money? The organization’s strategic imperatives? Your source of competitive advantage? It’s important to explore your company intranet, look at external media and find a mentor who can share insights with you on what leaders care about most. Chances are, most people in your organization only have a general knowledge of your strategy at best. A little time invested in understanding your organization’s strategy will help you focus your conversations, priorities and day-to-day work on the things most important to the business.

  1. Understand your organization’s talent imperatives.

There’s a difference between an organization’s talent imperatives and its HR team priorities. Talent imperatives are the critical human capital decisions, investments or actions required to achieve your organization’s strategic goals. HR team imperatives may be operationally important, but not critical to achieving strategic goals.

What has to happen talent-wise in your organization to meet your organization’s strategic goals?

  1. Ask good business questions.

Do you want to be taken seriously? To be a trusted advisor? You can, by asking powerful questions that get to the heart of the problem the leaders you are supporting are trying to solve. The following seven questions will serve you well:

?          What are you trying to accomplish?

?          What prompted this request?

?          What problem(s) are you trying to solve?

?          What do you hope to learn?

?          How will you use this information?

?          What audience will you share this with?

?          Is there a story you hope to tell?

  1. Get to know your organization’s structure and data.

You should know the types of data you have available to you and get to know the data itself. Understanding the basic calculations (turnover, retention, etc.) your organization uses and making connections with people in other parts of the business who may have access to data that could be useful to you are great ways to learn more.

Other suggestions include the following: learn how the business is organized, how it is managed day to day and how money is allocated among business units, and learn how leaders prefer to look at the organization and data.

  1. Learn some very basic Excel functions.

You don’t need to be an Excel wizard to be analytical, but you do need a basic familiarity with Excel. It is easy to learn, though; anything you need to know is an Internet search away. You should be able to do basic calculations and to use a pivot table to summarize data.

  1. Make and test hypotheses.

Everyone has hypotheses (explanations) about how the world works at work. Sometimes hypotheses come out as stories, rumors or myths: “All the level 5 engineers are quitting!” You’re fully capable of testing this hypothesis with the data in your reports and coming back with a response.

You can make and test a wide range of hypotheses. Maybe the engineers are being poached by a competitor; maybe they’re only leaving in a particular location; or maybe it’s a combination of things. Using the data you have to test hypotheses like these can help narrow the range of possible responses and increase the likelihood that any action taken will make a difference.

  1. Develop and share a point of view.

Many requests are for a specific piece of data rather than a point of view: “Please send me the headcount report.” It’s important to give your perspective anyway: “Here’s the headcount report you asked for. We currently have 5,417 employees; that’s up 10 percent year to year.”

Why give a point of view? Remember, a leader’s goal is to gain insights that help him or her solve problems. Do you want to be the go-to person for reports, or the go-to person when a leader has a problem he or she is trying to solve? People will become accustomed to your offering a point of view and will soon come seeking it out.

  1. Know when to call in the experts.

You don’t need to know how to do a regression analysis. Decisions to pull in an expert should be based on the cost of the problem or size of the investment being made. If you’re proposing a $2 million training program, it’s probably worth spending $10,000 to test the impact of a pilot. When contemplating a survey, get help from someone who has done surveys many times before. If you don’t have a person with these quantitative skills on your HR team, you may find someone in finance, strategy or marketing who is able to help.

  1. Explain things simply and clearly.

Sometimes analysts are tempted to try to impress with big technical words, artistic charts or lots of data. One of most valuable things you can do is to share your conclusions in plain but precise, everyday language. Charts should be simple and clean, and they should only include elements needed to make your point.

  1. Persuade others to act on what you’ve learned.

My team has a saying: “Now we know this. So what?” It turns out that 20 percent of analytic work is done in spreadsheets. Eighty percent is done by communicating what we’ve learned and encouraging people to act on it. Data by itself typically isn’t enough to persuade people to act. It needs to be put into context, linked to the issues leaders care most about, presented simply and clearly demonstrate what action should be taken.

Jeff Merrifield is a leader in the Americas Organizational Development and HR Enablement function at EY, Ernst & Young LLP, a member of the EY global professional services organization. The views expressed are his own and not necessarily those of EY. Send questions or comments about this story to

>> Link to original article.


Developing Creative Human Resources for the Preparation of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

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Human development has always been accompanied by the advent of innovative technologies and corresponding paradigms. The emergence of new technologies led to a variety of industrial developments, which soon led to alterations of social and economic structure.

Humankind has experienced vast transformations on industries, which in turn changed the economy and society; we call these transformations “industrial revolutions.” There have been three so far: the first industrial revolution, or the invention of the steam engine replacing human physical labor; the second industrial revolution, or the full-scale mass production; and the third industrial revolution, or the hint of a prelude for the era of digital industries. Now, we are looking at the dawn of the fourth industrial revolution, an era of the “cyber-physical system.”

The discussion of the fourth industrial revolution emerged during the 46th World Economic Forum (WEF) with the chairman, Klaus Schwab, discussing the latest technological transformations. WEF defined the fourth industrial revolution as a “fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres,” and predicted that the fourth industrial revolution will make 7.1 million jobs disappear and create 2 million jobs in the next five years. In other words, changes in the future industrial landscape will alter the occupational landscape, with simple, repetitive office administrative or low-skilled tasks being replaced by new technologies.

Thus, there is increased demand for human resources with competencies that are irreplaceable by automated technologies, such as creativity, innovation, sensitivity, and social skills, as well as the capability to flexibly cope with the rapid changes. The time has come to let go of the outdated human development strategy that focused mainly on the acquisition of the knowledge and move toward the new paradigm: talented individuals who can apply existing knowledge, create new ideas, and learn from trial and error.

Developing Creative Human Resources

The 70-20-10 model has emerged as one creative human resource development strategy. It proposes that 70 percent of learning is experiential 20 percent is social, and 10 percent is formal. The model emphasizes providing appropriate learning environments that encourage self-driven workplace learning, stepping away from the past formative learning framework. However, 70 percent of the learning in companies is still in the form of lecture-based formative learning; learning through experience, practice, and collaboration is hard to find.


Experiential learning contains informal learning through on-the-job performance, which is also known as workplace learning. Workplace learning is an efficient learning strategy that can maximize the learning transfer. For example, Microsoft’s Garage project is an innovative support system that aids employees’ self-directed research and development, leading to the creation of new service ideas. Because they can research whatever they’d like, employees can manage their own learning. Microsoft also established Garage project spaces in cities in 16 countries to support collaborative research and learning. Employees present their developed products on the market and seek feedback to improve their products. Microsoft provides a natural platform for trial and error to help employees enhance their creativity and expand its research and development.


Social learning is learning through interaction and collaboration. It improves creativity because it helps people add what they know to the organization’s collective intelligence. LG Group is one of the corporations that exemplifies social learning. In the company, there are three channels where employees share and accumulate their own expertise and experiences, known as LG Open Talks, LG-Life, and Ignite LG. In LG Open Talks, three executive members share their noteworthy success stories, ideas, and knowledge, and discuss core ideas for 15 minutes. Additionally, they apply new ideas derived from the discussion to every business performed in LG groups. Through the in-company portal site LG-Life, employees can offer product ideas, develop prototype products, check the validity of a product, and recommend improvements by participating in such activities as Future Challenger, Big Question, and LG Dots. Ignite LG is a presentation party that serves as a place for successful learning, sharing, and exchanging ideas. There is no limit on topics, and employees can describe their original ideas for five minutes.

This kind of social learning reflects the “hyper-connected” characteristic of the fourth industrial revolution because it constantly accumulates, connects, and combines individual knowledge to create innovative ideas. In addition, peer learning helps solve problems more efficiently and creatively by sharing various experiences, including failures.


Formal learning traditionally means collective learning, including lectures and instructor-led education. As technology develops, formal learning has taken on additional forms, including e-learning, mobile learning, and smart learning. Amid various alternatives, learning curation, or categorizing and distributing personalized learning content to learners, has been proposed as the most efficient approach to providing effective learning experiences. An exemplary case of learning curation is Google Edu, a platform where Google employees can take part in relevant programs to advance their career path, including programming language, data-based technology, and communication skills. Because workers could be provided with a plethora of learning experiences based on what they want or need to learn, they could expand their knowledge and thinking, which ultimately leads to the utilization of knowledge and creation of new idea. This could form a basis of creativity development.

To prepare for the fourth industrial revolution, companies must cultivate creative human resources that can effectively utilize technology and produce new products. In this new era, the 70-20-10 model can foster the development of creative human resources, and lead the transformation of the human resource development paradigm into a learning framework characterized by applying informal learning, social learning, formal learning, and learning curation. Therefore, application of the 70-20-10 model will be a big step forward for human resource development.

>> Link to original article.

The Future Of Work: The Intersection Of Artificial Intelligence And Human Resources

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Artificial intelligence is transforming our lives at home and at work. At home, you may be one of the 1.8 million people who use Amazon’s Alexa to control the lights, unlock your car, and receive the latest stock quotes for the companies in your portfolio. In total, Alexa is touted as having more than 3,000 skills and growing daily. In the workplace, artificial intelligence is evolving into an intelligent assistant to help us work smarter. Artificial intelligence is not the future of the workplace, it is the present and happening today.

IBM and a number of startups are targeting intelligent assistants, also known as chatbots, or computer algorithms designed to simulate a human conversation,  to recruit employees, answer HR questions, or personalize learning experiences. A survey of nearly 400 chief human resource officers conducted by the IBM Institute for Business Value found that half of the survey sample recognize the power of cognitive computing to transform key dimensions of HR, such as HR Operations, Talent Acquisition, and Talent Development.

Just as marketers have discovered the power of chatbots to personalize a shopping experience, HR leaders are starting to pilot chatbots to transform the employee experience.

Investment in AI has accelerated from $282 million in 2011 to $2.4 billion in 2015, a 746% increase in five years. In 2016, this continued to increase with roughly another $1.5 billion being invested in more than 200 AI-focused companies in 2016.

AI In Our Lives And In Our Workplaces

Immediacy is one reason why a host of consumer brands are building AI into their products. According to research by, more than 22% of millennials expect a response within 10 minutes of reaching out to a consumer brand. The solution: consumer brands are increasingly turning to chatbots to offer 24×7 service, rapidly engage with consumers and answer their questions. For example, Staples now uses machine learning to automate ordering and customer service, engaging customers in real time through their Facebook Messenger app.

But it’s not just millennials who expect instant answers. All of us have become digital consumers. Expect 2017 to be the defining year for conversational experiences online. According to Gartner, nearly $2 billion in online sales were performed exclusively through mobile digital assistants in 2016.

IBM uses Watson to transform healthcare. Watson is able to treat rare forms of childhood diseases such a a kidney disease in children under the age of two. Watson can read all the medical literature and quickly connect patterns to provide better ways for doctors to pinpoint treatment options.

Perhaps, that’s why Bernard J. Tyson, CEO of Kaiser Permanente, says, “I don’t think any physician today should be practicing without artificial intelligence assisting in their practice. It’s just impossible (otherwise) to pick up on patterns, to pick up on trends, to really monitor care.”

Will we be saying the same thing about CHROs using artificial intelligence in the workplace? Will we consider it unthinkable not to use intelligent assistants to transform recruiting, HR service centers, and learning and development? I believe the answer is yes.  HR leaders will need to begin experimenting with all facets of AI to deliver value to their organizations. As intelligent assistants become more widely used in our personal lives, we will expect to see similar usage in the workplace.

For employees, chatbots deliver an unmatched level of employee experience, from real time answers for HR questions to personalized learning and development. In addition, they are critically important to the 3.7 million workers, or 2.8% of the workforce, who work remotely at least half time and do not have easy access to an HR department.

For HR leaders, chatbots are well suited to improving talent acquisition and on-boarding processes by increasing speed and providing greater consistency in answering frequently asked HR questions, improving the talent acquisition process, and enhancing the online learning experience.

Chatbots To Answer Frequently Asked Employee Questions

Let’s consider Jane, a chatbot created by Loka, in 2014. Jane provides real time answers to a range of HR questions, including, “Are we off on President’s Day?” or “What are my dental benefits?” Jane is capable of answering any question and answer set that can be stored in a database. In addition to answering frequently asked questions, CEO Bobby Mukherjee says Jane is designed to proactively promote benefits to employees they may not yet know about. Says Mukherjee, “Companies are coming up with lots of new benefits, but they do not have an effective way to promote usage.” Imagine Jane can reach out to employees with, “Hey John, have you tried our Yoga class that we are offering in your building today at 3:00 pm? Click here to automatically book yourself. You’ve been working hard and you deserve it!”

Another value of Jane is the opportunity to track employee issues using real time analytics and then apply sentiment analysis to address these issues. Let’s say that a majority of employees are asking questions about late payments for travel reimbursements. This data can indicate something in the system isn’t working correctly. Before things become a full blown issue, HR leaders can uncover the issue and communicate a solution.

Granted there will be questions Jane can not answer yet, but the opportunity is here to provide AI for all types of HR related questions that might be coming into your HR Service Center.

Chatbots To Improve Talent Acquisition 

 Talent acquisition and new hire on-boarding are ripe areas where intelligent assistants can tap multiple data sources to develop candidate profiles, schedule interviews, and make decisions about prospective job candidates.

Talla is a chatbot designed to augment the HR processes that source job candidates. Talla can provide a set of interview questions based upon the role, and can even conduct a Net Promoter Score survey following the recruiting process. Rob May, CEO of Talla, sees, “an intelligent assistant as being able to augment a mid level HR professionals’ job so she can focus on more strategic HR issues.” The vision behind launching Talla is to ultimately become a real time advisor to HR professionals in how they source and on-board new hires.

May estimates that Talla will save many hours in recruiting and on-boarding new hires and will greatly enhance the employee experience. Improving talent acquisition and new hire on-boarding is a priority for CHROs. According to Eric Lesser, Research Director of IBM Institute for Business Value, “More than half of of the CHROs surveyed believe cognitive computing will affect a wide range of roles in the HR organization, ranging from senior executives to individuals working in service centers.”

Chatbots As Teaching Assistants

A long overdue application of intelligent assistants is now being piloted by professors who teach online courses known as MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses. As the number of students enrolling in MOOCs explode, with 35 million enrolled at the end of 2015 up from 16-18 million the previous year, there is more work for university professors and their teaching assistants.

Enter Jill Watson—so named because she’s powered by IBM Watson analytics. Jill was one of the nine teaching assistants for the 300 plus students of an online course taught by Professor Ashok Goel at Georgia Institute of Technology, entitled Knowledge Based Artificial Intelligence. Since this course was offered in 2014, Professor Goel estimates roughly 10,000 questions have been asked by students in the online forums.

In 2016, Professor Goel added a new Teaching Assistant, Jill Watson, to provide faster answers and feedback to the students. Professor Goel estimates that within a year, Jill Watson was able to answer 40% of all the students’ questions, freeing the human TAs to tackle more complex technical or philosophical inquiries, such as, “How do you define intelligence?” In fact, one student reported, “Just when I wanted to nominate Jill Watson as an outstanding TA, always there reminding us of due dates and posting questions to engage us mid-week, I find out she is a chatbot, I was flabbergasted.”

As enrollments in MOOCs and SPOCs (Small Private Online Courses) continue to grow, intelligent assistants like Jill Watson will be used to augment the role of human Teaching Assistants. Professor Goel stresses that Jill Watson was trained to operate at the level of an expert providing answers to questions where she has a confidence rate of at least 97%.

Ed Miller, CEO of NovoEd, sees the power of AI to provide the type of learning experiences we dream about today. Quite simply says Miller, “AI will make it easier to scale learning experiences that are personalized and adaptive to the learner.” This will impact all aspects of HR, not only the corporate learning function but the HR Service Center and Talent Acquisition. HR team members will need to acquire more knowledge about what chatbots are and how to experiment with them so technology is used to streamline and improve the employee experience.

>> Link to original article.


ConocoPhillips CEO Talks Talent Shortage and Learning in the Downturn

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The oil and gas industry has been plagued with the looming question of whether or not it’ll have enough workforce as E&P (exploration and production) activity picks back up. Many believe the talent will not be available. There’s another viewpoint of the industry as well – that with automation and technology, the industry won’t need that much talent.

ConocoPhillips CEO Ryan Lance subscribes to both views.

“They’re probably both a little bit right,” Lance said Tuesday during the CERAWeek by IHS Markit conference in Houston. “Our industry is pretty fortunate in that it’s high-paying here in North America and around the world as well. I think we will naturally attract people who we need to run the business, but [the number of employees it takes to manage a rig] is coming down. We’re running our fields with less people so that’s a reality as well.”

Though the industry is significantly in better shape than a year ago, as many conference speakers noted, how companies manage through the lower part of the cycles is important.

“You have to be prepared for what you do at the bottom end of the cycles,” Lance said. “They’re going to get longer and they’re going to get more frequent because of the cycle times with the unconventional revolution in the U.S.”

While the Permian has been a hot spot for acreage acquisition recently, Lance believes there are definitely opportunities outside of the Permian. He said ConocoPhillips is focusing a lot of its capital today in the Eagle Ford.

“The interesting thing about these unconventionals is, let’s take the Eagle Ford for example, people might have drilled that up very fast in the last two to three years and they had to because they were measured on multiples of growth and had to grow very quickly,” he said. “They probably regret it because they learned so much more about how to complete these wells more efficiently today than even what we knew two or three years ago.”

Lance said the learning curve still exists today.

“We’re learning a lot more getting efficient. We’re still accumulating knowledge about the Eagle Ford going forward,” he said. “I think that’s why big data and analytics – which come from outside our industry – are working its way into our industry.”

>> Link to original article.

Four-day workweek’s appeal may be overshadowed by health issues

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Dive Brief:

  • Four-day workweeks seem appealing to many workers in the U.S. and abroad, but have hidden dangers, writes Quartz. The four-day workweek is usually four 10-hour days instead of the traditional eight-hour days.
  • Employers toyed with the idea of adopting a four-day workweek back in the 1980s. Some employers view the shortened workweek as a way to lower overhead costs by using less energy or reducing commuting time. Workers like the shortened week so they can have more family or leisure time.
  • But a shortened workweek means longer workdays. Quartz says studies show that increased fatigue and stress occur in employees who work a 12-hour day or more, or a 60-hour week. Another study shows that compressed workweeks raise the incidence of industrial accidents by 31%.

Dive Insight:

Compressed workweeks might have more benefits than disadvantages for workers overall. But employers shouldn’t overlook study results showing that compressed work schedules can cause employees stress and fatigue, and raise the risk of accidents.

While four-day workweeks are particularly common in the summer time for some employers, the benefits may not carry over all year round. Tired workers aren’t likely to be productive or maintain productivity over time. Also, they might not have as much energy as they’d like to spend time with families or devote to leisure activities.

Employers that are thinking about adopting a compressed workweek schedule may also want to consider the bonuses of flexible work environments, which provide workers with the freedom to work from home when needed, instead of pushing all work into four days.

>> Link to original article.

BLOG: Survey Says Automation, Digitalization Good News for Industry

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The majority of the oil and gas industry workforce is not afraid of the widespread adoption of automation/digitalization in the sector, according to a Rigzone survey carried out on social media site Twitter.

When asked if the practice would be largely positive or largely negative for workers within oil and gas, 53 percent of the 96 voters who participated in the survey answered with the former statement, compared to 47 percent who chose the latter.

The survey outcome supports suggestions made by Piyush Sheth, Honeywell Process Solutions marketing director for process measurement and control, who implied late last year that digitalization within oil and gas will create more jobs and attract more people to the industry, instead of reducing the number of workers in the sector.

Sheth also highlighted the safety aspects that digitalization can bring to the industry, suggesting that the technology could help reduce the need for workers to operate in hazard area locations.

Another Honeywell representative, Andrew Hird, vice president and general manager of digital transformation at Honeywell Process Solutions, even went as far saying that the oil and gas industry could find it hard to attract and retain staff without the adoption of digitalization.

“Think about millennials, they’re used to having a very collaborative set of tools, they’re used to experimenting with applications and they’re used to a very different environment than what we would put them in, particularly in upstream,” Hird told Rigzone in October 2016.

“Our customers’ ability to hire and retain people is predicated upon us employing better technologies in upstream oil and gas,” he added.

Thomas Sparks, head of strategy at Siemens Oil & Gas, was another industry figure who outlined the positive effects of automation/digitalization within the sector.

“It is not a question of whether oil and gas jobs will lose out to automation and digitalization in the future,” Sparks told Rigzone back in October last year.

“The question is how the industry will be able to translate huge quantities of information into better operational decisions and how this will lead to new job profiles and job opportunities for the workforce,” he added.

As evidenced by the survey results, there is naturally still some concern among oil and gas workers about the impact of automation/digitalization on the sector. People are worried about losing their jobs in an already strained market environment, and that’s understandable.

What seems to be a key theme among industry figures though is that automation/digitalization will be positive for the oil and gas industry workforce. Hopefully this statement will prove to be true as we gradually see more and more companies adopting this practice in the future.

>> Link to original article.

Job Switchers Want Challenge

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The latest chapter in the ongoing book on employees and what they really want from their employer finds them pursuing a slightly different Holy Grail than previously reported: challenge.

In a recent global Korn Ferry survey of nearly 2,000 professionals, nearly three-quarters (73 percent) say that if they were to plan on being in the job market this year, it would be because they’re looking for a more challenging position while the quest for greater compensation comes in almost dead last as a reason to leave.

Trailing far behind that 73 percent, 9 percent say they would be looking elsewhere because they either don’t like their company or their efforts aren’t being recognized, 5 percent would blame the fact that their compensation is too low and 4 percent say it would be because they don’t like their boss.

“What that answer tells HR is if people are thinking of moving for challenge, how do we challenge them?” says Kevin Cashman, senior partner at Los Angeles-based Korn Ferry. “It presents a call to invest in more engagement, challenge, stretching, coaching and developing. That’s what you’re competing with, [employees who are] looking for challenge, and growth and development, especially the high-potentials. HR and managers need to be aware of this and [either set up or] have engagement programs in place.

“These results mirror study after study Korn Ferry has done [including one HREOnline? reported on in January] that show money is not the key motivator for employees,” Cashman says. “Professionals who have progressed in their careers have done so for a reason. They’re passionate about what they do and need to feel that they are being pushed professionally and continually learning new skills.

Sandra McLellan, the Toronto-based North America practice leader for rewards at Willis Towers Watson, however, sees the latest Holy Grail of challenge as more integrated into everything an employee is seeking.

“That notion that people will trade off, [preferring] a promotion over a pay increase [which the earlier Korn Ferry study mentioned above found], I just think it’s more complicated than that,” McLellan says. “A lot of times, the promotion comes with a pay increase,” and the worker is certainly seeking both.

Even challenging assignments are craved for, especially by high-potentials, because of the full package, she says; i.e., what they bring in terms of new skills, advancement, career development and, yes, pay.

“Many of our future leaders may be craving [challenge],” McLellan says, “however, in designing career paths, it may be more important for the success of the organization to have those challenging assignments, but . . . know many of these people actually want more traditional, incremental development, not necessarily huge challenges.

“Remember,” she adds, “career development means different things to different people” and, many times, what employees are really craving, especially the top-talented ones, is an ever-growing bank of marketable skills they can take with them into the outside world.

“So here’s my challenge that I put to organizations: How do you create an environment that will replicate the outside world of skills-building? How can you create these challenging assignments within your cultures that better replicate that outside world they’ll find when they leave?”

And there’s nothing wrong with building people’s skills for success outside your doors, McLellan adds. Facilitating growth in such a way, she says, “helps build up the organization and keeps pace with how work is changing, but every employer needs to decide what kind of organization it wants to be and how it will create this culture.”

And given the right environment, “it’s also up to employees to talk about where their aspirations lie and where they can get the right experiences within the organization.”

Her company’s recent survey, the Willis Towers Watson 2016 Global Workforce Study, based on responses from 3,105 U.S. employees, finds they would like their employers to do better jobs at providing substantive career management. Highlights from that study include:


* Only 41 percent of employees think their employer does a good job of providing advancement opportunities or promotions;


* Barely half (52 percent) say their organization does a good job of providing opportunities for personal development, such as challenging project assignments;


*Only 41 percent say their employer offers career-planning tools and resources such as coaching, self-assessment and career paths;


* Less than one in three employees (32 percent) say their immediate supervisor or manager helps them with career planning and decisions; and


* Almost half (47 percent) think they would have to leave their employer and join another company to advance to a higher job level. Additionally, a comparable number of high-potential employees say they would need to leave their employer to advance their career.


Which ties right into what Korn Ferry has found, says Cashman.

” ‘Challenge’ is a word for accelerating,” he says. “In general, people are looking for ways to grow and be challenged, but they’re also human and thinking of their individual gains in career development and marketability in the global marketplace, not just their corporation.”

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HR and ‘Always-On’ Transformation

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Transformation has long been viewed as a one-time, crisis-driven initiative of limited duration: Get in. Make things better. Get out.

However, according to a new e-book from The Boston Consulting Group titled Transformation: Delivering and Sustaining Breakthrough Performance, leading organizations are committing to a new kind of transformation that heralds the end of individual transformative initiatives in favor of “always-on” transformation.

A confluence of factors have led to this shift in strategy: unparalleled disruption due to globalization, technology, and a volatile marketplace, along with “an increasing view that transformation is not just for laggards that are in distress, but can actually be a means to achieve superior performance,” says Jim Hemerling, senior partner in the San Francisco office of the Boston Consulting Group.

“Companies will have several transformations of various types underway at various stages, each building upon and often interconnected with the others,” says Hemerling. “Executed well, these combine to take the company to successively higher levels of performance.”

Unlike continuous improvement, which tends to be bottom-up, always-on transformation consists of “large-scale transformation programs that are typically initiated and driven by senior leaders and Boards,” says Hemerling. “These are big transformative moves that can come along in parallel with more bottom-up continuous improvement efforts.”

Such large-scale transformative efforts require leadership that is not just about being directive, having a vision, communicating clear milestones, and then holding people accountable for meeting them, says Hemerling. Rather than “treating people as a means to an end,” leaders must reach out to employees, listen to them, actively engage and inspire them, and then provide opportunities to contribute their creativity and energy to the transformation.

In Lincolnshire, Ill., consultants at Aon Hewitt have not only been “preaching the vision of transformational leadership,” they have witnessed it as a best practice in organizations that are “thriving in a world of transformation, uncertainty, and volatility,” says Seymour Adler, a partner in the firm’s talent and rewards practice.

“It’s really important that leaders recognize that they don’t possess all the answers, that there is wisdom in crowds and in the rank and file employees throughout the organization and that that wisdom needs to be harnessed, which means they need to listen to and energize people,” says Adler. “They need to change their leadership style to be one that is more introverted in the sense that it’s more about forging deeper relationships, rather than command-and-control.”

As leaders seek to be less focused on giving directives and more on energizing the organization, they’re increasingly looking to HR as a strategic transformation partner. This is a significant shift from how transformations have typically been undertaken, with HR often viewed as an afterthought, says Hemerling.  In always-on transformation, there’s a recognition that HR not only has a role to play in making sure the organization has engaged in the necessary hiring, downsizing, and restructuring to drive the desired change, but also to help the CEO become emboldened and fluid in his or her leadership style.

The concept of HR as a strategic business partner is nothing new, but some CHROs might be apprehensive about working to embolden the CEO. They’re likely to feel more comfortable playing that role in organizations where the CHRO is already considered a trusted advisor at the most senior level, according to Adler.

“There are some CHROs who are absolutely joined at the hip to the CEO and the leadership team and often very close to the Board as well,” says Hemerling. “They are right there and they understand the difference between running the business and transforming the business.”

As a CHRO seeks to work with the CEO to drive always-on transformation, there will be times when it becomes apparent that the chief executive’s existing leadership style is just too deeply engrained. As Adler explains, “We have immunities to change,” and an executive whose past successes have rested on a particular leadership style may not have the capacity to adapt to a new style of leading.

“If your style has paid off and you’ve been lauded as a great leader and now suddenly, you are expected to become adept and flexible and a humble, servant leader, that is a transformation in style and personality and behavior that quite honestly most people can’t make effectively,” says Adler. “HR needs to supply rigorous, objective, thoughtful tools to come up with a good assessment of where the gaps are in their leaders and either develop ways to close those gaps or find leaders who already have in place what the future requires.”

Ever the contrarian, John Sumser, principal analyst at HRx Analysts and editor-in-chief of HRExaminer in Bodega Bay, Calif, argues that it’s not HR’s job to insist that their CEOs change. Rather, he says, it’s the C-suite that should be holding the CHRO’s feet to the fire in this era of always-on transformation.

“Things are changing in very fundamental ways, and it’s unlikely that the right way to meet changes in substance is with a change in style,” says Sumser. “The problem requires clear thinking and investment, not another bout of CEO shaming done to a Kumbaya soundtrack.”

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