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The 2012 Annual PIHRA Conference

August 30, 2012 Leave a comment

James and I just finished a wonderful experience at this conference. We exhibited, I spoke and did a book signing. Here are a few things I noticed:

  1. There were many excellent presenters. The largest attendance seemed to be at the “had to know” legal presentations and those that offered strategic HR credits (like mine).
  2. About 40 people wanted to buy James’ T-shirt that said “HR is Boring” as well as the other T-shirts we wore at the conference (“HR is a Verb” and “Human rEvolution”).
  3. There were many background checking, payroll, HRIS, insurance, and training vendors at the show. Also some award vendors, and amusement parks.  Seemed to me like most folks were more interested in the contests and freebies than learning what distinguishes these vendors so that they  work with the best possible fit for their company.
  4. It seemed as if many were “in transition” (meaning they were looking for a job). I sensed many other were “consultants” while they were looking for a job.
  5. It hit home once again that most people outside of HR really don’t like HR. For example, a couple of engineers at a nearby conference I spoke with said they hoped a missile would land on the HR convention (and I’m not making this up). Do you feel the love?
  6. The workshop I did on Getting Paid to Grow the Bottom Line was awesome! Afterwards I had HR folks with tears wanting a hug (I kid you not) while other wanted a high 5. Fact is, HR folks are very emotionally invested in their work and highly sensitive to criticism. Which is also a challenge as it inhibits them from taking risks and handling any judgment that comes their way.
  7. The biggest “excuse” for not growing in the HR career is time management. When asked about it, less than half had ever done a time management program (as a reminder there is such a program on HR That Works). Interestingly few said it was upper management holding them back. I say it is they who hold themselves back.
  8. Here is a link to my handout for that workshop.

Darwin Award Applies to the Most Popular Claims of the Week

August 24, 2012 Leave a comment

This list I was sent from Claims Journal has some great titles.  What I conclude from them is as follows:

  1. When you  go parasailing it’s called an assumption of risk.
  2. Taking ecstasy is not an accident, it’s stupid…and an assumption of risk.
  3. You don’t want baby seats causing skull fractures. Bumbo?
  4. I learned something: “Consumers generally need only share their names, correct vehicle insurance information and the phone numbers of insurance providers. Sharing additional personal information, such as driver’s license numbers and home addresses, puts consumers, their property and their safety at risk.”
  5. I learned that Work Comp insurers want: “The elimination of sleep disorder, sexual dysfunction and psychological issues as additions to primary injuries, when determining disability awards”. Not sure what witty thing to say about that.
  6. If you look at the numerous comments to this article you can see just how much of an emotional issue this is. Obesity is a choice that has nothing to do with logic; otherwise people wouldn’t be obese.
  7. Did anyone really think those stupid looking Skecher sneakers would help them somehow? Seriously? Because Joe Montana endorsed them? That guy is so beat up he can hardly walk anymore.
  8. The guy at the beach doesn’t want to pay for your fires and the guy in the mountains doesn’t want to pay for your coastal flooding. And nobody wants to pay for their own problem! Which is a problem.
  9. Remember, work comp is a no fault system. This was an accident with no fault you can assign other than perhaps  poor walking skills or footwear being present. She gets the WC.
  10. Too much dust and lint is a bad thing. Clean your ducts.

Top 10 for the Past Week

1. Woman Falls From Parasail Harness Off South Florida
Aug 17, 2012 — South Florida authorities say a woman plummeted as much as 200 feet into the Atlantic ocean after her parasail harness broke. Pompano Beach Fire Rescue spokeswoman Sandra King tells the Sun Sentinel that the 28-year-old woman was parasailing with …
2. Student’s Death in Las Vegas Ruled an Accident
Aug 16, 2012 — A coroner has ruled that the death of a 22-year-old pre-med student from Arizona who fell from her Las Vegas hotel room after taking Ecstasy was an accident. Family and friends of Emily McCaughan have told The Arizona Republic that the University of …
3. Skull Fracture Incidents Lead to Recall of 4M Bumbo Baby Seats
Aug 16, 2012 — About 4 million Bumbo Baby Seats are being recalled after nearly two dozen reports of infant skull fractures. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says babies can wiggle out of the floor seats. About 1 million of the molded foam seats were …
4. NAIC Unveils WreckCheck Mobile App
Aug 16, 2012 — According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 5 million wrecks occur every year. However, according to a July 2012 survey from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), many Americans do not know what …
5. Lawyers Throw Workers’ Comp Deal on the Rocks
Aug 15, 2012 — A highly sheltered workers’ comp reform proposal being quietly passed around California’s capitol has the potential to make some noise when and if it ever gets introduced. The general consensus among those seeking reform is the need for roughly …
6. States Ranked by Obesity Rates
Aug 15, 2012 — In 2011, rates of adult obesity in the U.S. remained high, with state estimates ranging from 20.7 percent in Colorado to 34.9 percent in Mississippi, according to the Centers for Disease Control based on 2011 data. No state had a prevalence of adult …
7. Judge Tentatively OKs $40M Skechers Settlement
Aug 15, 2012 — A federal judge tentatively approved a $40 million settlement between Skechers USA Inc. and consumers who bought the toning shoes after ads made unfounded claims that the footwear would help people lose weight and   strengthen muscles. An undetermined …
8. California Fire Fee Ignites Anger as Bills Go Out
Aug 14, 2012 — More than 800,000 Californians who own property in wildfire country will begin receiving bills this week for a new annual fire-protection fee, rekindling outrage among rural residents and leading to a likely lawsuit seeking to overturn the …
9. Michigan Court: Icy Lot Couldn’t Be Avoided at UP Lodge
Aug 14, 2012 — A woman who was just days away from leaving a job at an Upper Peninsula lodge can sue her former employer over her broken leg in an icy parking lot. An Alger County judge dismissed the case after the Cherrywood Lodge in Munising argued that the ice …
10. USFA: Clothes Dryer Fires Cause $35M in Property Losses
Aug 14, 2012 — An estimated 2,900 clothes dryer fires in residential buildings are reported to U.S. fire departments each year and cause an estimated $35 million in property losses, according to a new report by the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA). The …

What I Believe About HR

Here’s what I believe about HR:

  1. It just may be the single most untapped opportunity in business today.
  2. Marketing is about them. HR is about US.
  3. HR needs to listen to the criticism, not whine about it, and then do something about it.
  4. HR executives have a choice to be great…or merely average at best.
  5. Lawyers have turned HR into “don’t get sued.” HR is much more than that.
  6. The greatest concerns HR should focus on are hiring people you can trust, getting them to perform and keeping them when they do. These three concerns drive profitability. All other concerns are a distant second.
  7. People who trust each other don’t sue each other.
  8. HR executives have to believe in themselves first before they can be truly effective.
  9. HR would be well served to better understand business acumen in general.
  10. HR should know all the math surrounding personnel activities.
  11. HR should outsource as many administrative functions as possible so they can focus on growing and protecting the business.
  12. HR has to become proficient at using new technologies including HRIS and social media.
  13. HR has to better market itself if it wants “a seat at the table.”
  14. HR has to work on “branding” the employee experience.
  15. HR can be fun and profitable–that’s a choice too!
Categories: Thoughts & Musings

Abundance is Our Future!

While it’s easy to focus on the negative (especially in a campaign year) there remains plenty to be optimistic about. I encourage you to invite your fellow workers and family member to watch this powerful 16-minute TED Talk.

Categories: Thoughts & Musings

The Power of the Mastermind Group

February 27, 2012 Leave a comment

I am in, speak to, and also run Mastermind Groups and can personally attest to their power. When I was starting out my business more than a dozen years ago and didn’t have the money I do today, I did what Napoleon Hill suggested that you do in Think and Grow Rich–create your own fictional group (his “Invisible Counselors”). If you haven’t read that book a few times by now, go out and buy it today. Hill’s own personal group had people like Carnegie, Rockefeller, and Lincoln in it. I had folks like Hill, Deming, Drucker, Godin and Bucky Fuller in mine. If I was a marketing guy or gal I might have people like Barnum, Ogilvy, Reis and Trout, Abraham, Levinson, Walker and Kern in mine. Here’s Hill talking on it.

If you want a copy of my Visionaries Workbook, simply email me at don@hrthatworks.com.

Bottom line: Get into a Mastermind Group whether in person or in your mind!

We’ve Come a Long Way

February 2, 2012 Leave a comment

For those of you who enjoy a bit of workplace history, here is a link to some great photos of children at work by famous photographer Louis W. Hine: http://www.historyplace.com/unitedstates/childlabor/.

Categories: Thoughts & Musings

Trokey’s Take: Why don’t they want or use my solutions?

November 30, 2011 Leave a comment

By Kevin Trokey

I hear various broker conversations that include a similar complaint: prospects don’t seem to truly appreciate the value of the value-added services being offered. And, even when they do, they don’t use them after they become a client. There are many reasons for this, but I’m going to focus on a few within your control.

I’m assuming many of the value-added solutions you offer prospects are intended to help improve internal communications: You set up websites, deliver valuable content, discuss year-round communication strategy, provide communication resources to improve performance management and maybe you even suggest ways to improve communication with their clients.

I’m also assuming you can empathize with these conversations, and you have prospects to whom you present your solutions—prospects who would clearly benefit from having them, but never hire you to get the job done. I’m just as certain that some of your prospects-turned-clients never use the solution as either of you intended. That lack of use almost always happens for two reasons:

  1. Lack of motivation by the client or prospect to do the hard work of implementing the new solution, process or procedure that you are offering.  This is largely because you lead with a solution rather than with a conversation as to why the prospect may need the solution.
  2. We, as brokers, leave them only to consider the price of our solution—or worse, leave them thinking it is “free” and, by reasoning, has no inherent value—rather than putting them in position to weigh that price against the cost of their current action (or inaction, as it were).

Leading with a client-focused conversation is a topic for another article; for now, we’ll examine some ways to quantify the high “cost of doing nothing.”

Determining the cost of doing nothing for corporate communications
To illustrate, let’s evaluate the costs for hypothetical ABC Co., based on the following information. If your prospect can identify this information for their own company, you can help them quantify their financial impact of poor communication:

  • 50 employees
  • Average salary = $41,674 (avg. annual U.S. wage according to ssa.gov)
  • Revenue/ee = $100,000 (avg. revenue for small business)
  • Profit margin = 10% (according to smallbiztrends.com)

We’re going to evaluate the organizational impact of poor communication in the following four key areas:

1. Organizational vision
Employers need to be communicating to their employees about where they are now as a company, where they are going, the steps they need to take to move from the former to the latter, and how they are performing as an organization at any point in time.  Those who don’t are disconnecting themselves from their employees and exposing themselves to the high cost of employee disengagement.

According to a recent Gallup study, the cost of disengagement is represented by the term “payroll efficiency factor.” In an average company, this runs 63% (leaving an inefficiency factor of 37%). That means for every $100,000 spent on payroll, there is only $63,000 worth of work being performed. Let’s calculate for ABC Co.:

  • Annual Payroll = $2,083,700 (average salary x number of employees)
  • Engagement inefficiencies = $770,969 (Payroll x inefficiency factor)
  • Let’s assume that only 1/3 of that inefficiency could be attributed to this area, we still have a negative financial impact of $256,989

2. Individual performance
Let’s be honest, almost nobody enjoys performance reviews—mostly because few managers have been properly trained on how to do them effectively. Many elements contribute to effective performance management, but ongoing communication between managers and direct reports is key.

A study by the Hacket Group cites companies who excel in this area show a 22% improvement in net profit margin. For ABC Co., that translates to:

  • Annual Revenue = $500,000 ($100,000 rev/ee x 50 ees)
  • Profit Margin = 10%
  • Net Profit = $500,000
  • Increased profit due to improved communication in this area = $110,000 ($500,000 x 22%)

3. Customer communication
We talk often about the importance of employee engagement, but almost as important is customer engagement. The key to customer engagement is twofold. First, engaged employees will result in engaged customers. Second, we have to ensure that we are communicating the right message in the right way to customers.  When we do so (according to Harvard Business Review), the results are also twofold: engaged customers will spend 23% more with us, and the dollars that they spend will also be 23% more profitable.

Again, let’s see what that translates to for ABC Co.

  • Current annual revenue = $5,000,000
  • Engaged annual revenue = $6,150,000 ($5,000,000 x 23% increase)
  • Engaged profit margin = 12.3% (10% x 23% increase)
  • Engaged net profit = $756,450 ($6,150,000 x 12.3%)
  • Improvement in net profit = $256,450 ($756,450 – previous profit of $500,000)

4. Benefit program
We all know that employers want their employees to place the highest value possible on the benefits provided, and effectively communicating that is the key to maximizing that value. What we may not all know is the quantified cost of that value: According to the McKinsey Quarterly study, effectively communicating a benefits program can reduce costs by as much as 20%. For ABC Co., that translates to:

  • Annual benefit spend = $729,295 ($2,083,700 payroll x 35%)
  • Potential benefit program savings = $145,859 ($729,295 benefit spend x 20%)

Totaling the cost of not communicating effectively
                 Organizational vision          $256,989
                 Individual performance      $110,000
                 Customer communication  $256,450
                 Benefits program                $145,859

                 TOTAL                                 $769,298

Those are significant numbers! They are so significant, you may struggle buying into them. Let’s assume that they are overstated a bit—or, overstated by a lot. Even if the potential cost impact is only 20% of that total, the “cost of doing nothing” for ABC Co. is still $153,859.

I don’t know about you, but I think $153,859 is a significant amount, especially in a company with $500,000 of net operating profit. When it comes to financials, you can either impact the bottom line (what we have identified here) or you can impact top-line revenue. For ABC Co., whose profit margin is 10%, the alternative would be to produce $1,538,590 in top-line revenue. It’s pretty safe to say that that would make you the best salesperson in the company.

So, there are four areas where we all know that communication is critical and likely four areas where you have been offering solutions that don’t pique the interest of prospects or get used by clients. Perhaps if you helped them see the high cost of their current practices, those prospects would find the urgency to work with you, and perhaps your client would find the continued motivation to use what you have put in place.

As I said at the beginning, understanding this high cost is the first step. The second is putting together an implementation plan—and taking the responsibility for its execution—that will ensure your solution is used, and used as intended.

If your solutions aren’t causing prospects to buy and aren’t being used by your clients that do buy, don’t blame the solution. The likely problem is that the known “cost of doing nothing” and “plan for implementation” are missing from the picture.

It’s a picture you are capable of completing, you just have to ask yourself, “How badly do I want to?”

About the Author
Kevin Trokey is President of Benefits Growth Network, a firm specializing in growth strategies for Employee Benefit agencies, departments and producers. He can be reached at
kevin@benefitsgrowthnetwork.com.