Karen spent over 15 years in senior and C-suite positions in HR in leading companies such as Convergys Corporation, Kendle Corporation now INC Research, American Modern Insurance Group, and currently Paycor.
Paycor is a trusted partner to more than 33,000 small and medium-sized businesses. Known for delivering modern, intuitive recruiting, HR and payroll solutions, Paycor partners with businesses to optimize their people management.
Paycor’s key areas of specialization include Payroll Management, Human Resources Solutions, Benefits Administration, Time & Attendance Solutions, Tax Filing & Compliance, Workers’ Compensation and Employment Screening Service.
The interview is hosted by Alexey Mitkin, Founder, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, The HR Tech Weekly® Online Media Co.
- Hi Karen, and first of all thank you very much for this interview with The HR Tech Weekly®. Recently you told us about HR predictions in terms of employee benefits in 2017. What do you think this year will bring to us in respect of HR technologies?
HR technologies are following the social landscape in many ways. For example, smartphones have become the human body’s external central nervous system. They relay information from every facet of our lives – news, entertainment, calendars, email, text messages, phone calls and so on. We have come to expect fingertip access to real-time information that integrates our personal and professional lives. From my perspective, mobility will continue to be the top trend. This is especially critical as the work itself becomes more fluid in terms of when, how, and where it’s completed. Mobility also supports the dynamic of collaborative and virtual teams that group, disband, and regroup as the work requires. HR technology must be mobile-friendly to be relevant.
Another trend is analytics and guided insights through dashboards and reports. For example, a young professional with a 401(k) does not just want to know her account balance, but also her performance relative to their peers. Is she saving more or less than peers? Is she using similar investment strategies? Lastly, she wants to know what to do to maximize her savings. The same concept applies to organizations. For example, employee retention data in the aggregate does not provide insights into critical talent segments like first year employees, top talent, or Millennials. You can take this further and look at industries, geographies, peer groups, and so on. HR technology must not just present data, but also interpret it, benchmark it and guide an outcome.
Lastly, as consumers, we appreciate curated products and services that match our interests. Amazon and Netflix are great examples. This same concept is shaping learning. We want to be served the highest impact content, in any format, which helps us close a learning gap. We also want that content to have our peer groups’ stamp of approval. For example, a sales person wants to be shown the best example of a product demo or the best script for overcoming objections. It must also be accessible on the smartphone or tablet, bringing HR technology full circle.
- You have extensive experience in managing Human Resources for over twenty years. How has HR management evolved since you started, and what are the tips for 21st century from your perspective?
HR management today is about keeping business leaders and managers tuned into the voice of employees and removing obstacles to their performance and development. Engagement at the grassroots level is critical to a healthy organization. You must cultivate candid, two-way communication – and really listen. Today’s business moves too swiftly and has too many complexities to rely on just the executive team for all the answers. That’s probably the biggest change – the power of the people, and the need to embed HR at the front-lines of the business. Your best ideas, your biggest innovations, and your efficiency ideas all reside at the grassroots, and HR can help surface them.
- It is a kind of standard to consider that Human Capital Management (HCM) solutions are designed mostly for the corporate business. How it’s important for small and medium businesses and why?
HCM solutions are even more important for SMBs. SMBs often run fairly lean, yet they face the same business challenges and to-do lists as larger companies, with fewer people to handle the load. HCM solutions create capacity by automating data collection, data analysis, work flows, reports and so on. For every task you automate or put at people’s desktop through employee or manager self-service, there’s more time to spend on the customer experience, new product ideas, recruiting top talent, or a host of similar business issues. HCM solutions create capacity for SMB leaders and their teams to work on the stuff they love – making a great business.
- What is the role of a Chief HR Officer (CHRO) and why it’s important for them to have a voice at the leadership table?
The primary role of the Chief HR Officer is to be the coach, counselor, sounding board, and voice of reason for the CEO and senior executive team when it comes to leadership team dynamics, the leadership of the executive’s team or function, and his or her personal development. Another role is to be the physician to the company’s organizational health and culture. It’s better and easier to practice preventative care than to address neglect. One example that illustrates this is an empty succession pipeline. It’s important for CHROs to have a voice at the table to keep people matters front and center in the context of business strategy. Businesses without a solid “people plan” are missing a leg of the stool. CHROs facilitate and guide that important, most often strategic, dialogue.
- Employee engagement is a hot point in HR discussions. Very often it seems that it’s mostly addressed to new hires (and new generations) while it’s important from “hire to retire”. Could you share some tips from your practice please?
At Paycor, we are more sophisticated in segmenting the workforce and in personalizing services. As an example, we learned that our 4-6 year tenured sales professionals were sliding in their connection to the company. No surprise there, as you noted in your question. In a high-growth company like Paycor, we focus significant energy on onboarding new associates. We started action planning at the segment level, which in this case resulted in a Chief Sales Officer roundtable, more career consulting, a HQ visit, product training, and so on. Segmenting by life events is another way to personalize engagement. For example, how can you make recognition of a baby or a wedding, or your response to a serious illness memorable? When you get personal, you strengthen the connection and ultimately engagement.
- What companies of all sizes should consider when evaluating HR technologies?
When evaluating HR technologies, it’s critical to start with the end in mind, what problems you are trying to solve, and how you want the business to run in the future. That helps prioritize the features, functions, and types of technology needed. Next, consider the relationship you have with the providers. There will be hiccups along the way. Think about who it is you want and trust to be by your side. If your partner listens to and responds during the sales process, it’s a signal that the customer experience matters. Lastly, consider the voice you have in shaping the future of the technology. What role does the customer play in identifying and influencing new releases? The technology must grow with you.
- What are the upcoming challenges for you as CHRO of an HR Tech company and Paycor as an HR Tech vendor?
As the CHRO of Paycor, it’s about scaling our people practices in support of rapid growth and reinforcing our strong culture across an evolving geographic footprint. Growth creates first-class challenges! The HR tech space is intensely competitive when it comes to hiring the best and brightest engineering and product management talent. As CHRO, I stay vigilant on the state of hiring and on internal mobility. A healthy talent pipeline is one signal of a healthy company. Finally, for Paycor as an HR tech vendor, we are monitoring the ripple effect of the new Presidential administration. Our customers expect and want Paycor to help them navigate compliance complexities and business opportunities. Finally, our hallmark is service. We want to keep improving the customer experience and make employee management even easier.