13 More Bold and Outrageous HR and Talent Management Practices

In part 1 of this article (10 Bold and Outrageous HR and Talent Management Practices), I highlighted my top 10 recently implemented bold and outrageous practices in HR and talent management.

The goal is not to recommend these practices, but instead to more clearly define the leading edge of current practice.

In this second part, I will highlight 13 additional practices that define the leading and “bleeding edge” of HR. If your goal is to “push the envelope” in talent management, this list can give you an idea of where the average ends and the truly bold practices begin.

Although every firm cannot directly adopt the practices listed here (some are reprehensible), I find during my corporate presentations that merely becoming aware of these bleeding-edge practices can create great energy and a strong desire for individual HR functions to do more and be bolder.

13 More Bold & Outrageous Practices

Here are my selections for the remaining top recently implemented bold approaches that define the bleeding edge of HR practices.

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  1. Recruiting on social media with the “10 days of shoes” contest – Marriott is a longtime innovator in employer branding but it has found a novel way to use social media for recruiting. The premise of the shoe giveaway campaign is that applicants should always try to “put their best foot forward.” This message is reinforced by Marriott’s giving away a $100 gift certificate at shoe powerhouse Zappos each day for 10 days. To qualify for the selection, the individual merely had to sign up to become a member of Marriott’s Facebook recruiting page. Using highly desirable prizes to drive individuals to your social media page is a bold addition to the standard Facebook recruiting approach. The uniqueness of the approach ensures that it will receive notice throughout the social media and blogging world.
  2. Games become part of the workplace – With so many both young and old hooked on gaming, it only makes sense to integrate games into the workplace. Games have long been used by the military to train, but the giant retailer Target has begun using games to motivate individuals working in mundane jobs. For example cashiers can be scored on each transaction, and individual employee scores can be competitively compared to other cashiers. The end result is both higher quality work and improved morale.
  3. One Friday a month integration – Closer collaboration, cooperation, and integration are major goals in any organization. LinkedIn’s “inDay” program provides an opportunity for the firm’s employees to increase their learning and understanding about other areas of the firm. Each unit sets aside one Friday each month and then comes up with its own plan. Integration examples include the EMEA team holding a “speed dating” type event that provided sales reps with an opportunity to learn about the customers, issues, and products of other reps. During “Hackday” prizes were awarded to techies who successfully implemented new ideas or explored emerging technologies.
  4. Recruiting on customer receipts – In the retail world, your customers should be considered as potential recruits simply because they know you and like you. Wells Fargo ATMs in San Francisco now print out a customer receipt that includes a “Now hiring” recruiting message. It costs almost nothing but it successfully gets your recruiting message out to every customer that uses an ATM.
  5. Contests for attracting passives – Contests for attracting and assessing candidates are becoming increasingly popular because they attract highly competitive individuals who are not actively looking for a job. However, the approach offered by Quixey is unique in that it uses a telephone operator to provide the problem to prequalified contestants. All winners are automatically invited to an interview.
  6. Remote college recruiting – Nestlé Purina had long relied on multiple campus visits to identify college hires. Noting the growth of social media and Internet, it shifted to a complete “remote college recruiting model” which allows it to target any campus. As a result of the program, the quality and the retention of college hires has increased dramatically and recruiting costs have gone down.
  7. Immersing managers in day-to-day reality – This Hilton program requires managers to totally immerse themselves in the day-to-day operations of the hotel one-day each quarter. The goal is to improve communications and operations by improving a managers understanding of the operational employees and the problems encountered by them. By doing the jobs of customer service people, for example, finance employees might increase their understanding of customer issues.
  8. Simulations for assessment – Simulations are an important technology that allows for problem solving without the costs and danger associated with solving problems in the work environment. KPMG has developed an electronic management simulation that allows them to assess second-round candidates and college prospects on real problems that they will face. In addition to better assessment, it may build its employer brand image as an advanced firm that has embraced technology.
  9. “Why do you stay” retention interviews – As the economy turns around and individuals have been stuck in a single job for years, retention issues are bound to increase. It’s important to find out why people leave but traditional exit interviews occur too late to give you a chance to prevent turnover. So Villet International offers an alternative approach called “stay interviews.” By asking current key employees “why do you stay?” and “what might cause you to leave?” in an interview allows the manager to identify potential retention issues before they get out of hand. By being proactive, managers have time to fix any issues.
  10. Forget resumes, watch them work – IGN does not accept resumes because they provide limited information about the capability of an individual. Instead it offers Code Foo, which is apprentice training type program where prospects work at the firm during a six-week-long training and trial period. IGN then hires the very best performers at the end of the training.
  11. Drinking on the job – Most firms punish drinking on the job but numerous Silicon Valley and San Francisco firms now offer beer and wine to their employees. Rather than having to go out after work to drink and collaborate, they can do it in the workplace. Dropbox has “whiskey Fridays,” and Hipster, a San Francisco-based startup, has offered new hires a lifetime supply of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. The key to this practice is to hire individuals who know how to act like mature adultswithout the need for rules and regulations.
  12. Open-office design improves decision-making speed – Many in HR don’t understand the value of rapid decision-making, and they certainly don’t take steps to track or increase decision-making speed. But pharmaceutical giant GSK does, and as a result, it eliminated offices and implemented an open-office design. Not only did it increase collaboration (a precursor to innovation) but by reducing barriers to open discussions, it found that decision-making speed increased by an amazing 45 percent.
  13. Deep dive reference checking — Some organizations (including Maryland’s Department of Corrections and the University of North Carolina) have begun to demand that certain applicants provide them with their social media accounts (Facebook and Twitter) and their personal passwords, so that reference checkers can go beyond the protective firewall to find out more about the candidate’s background and postings. Other employers are occasionally demanding applicants give permission to see their W2 IRS tax forms either during the recruiting process or before the final offer is made. These tax documents can be used to verify the accuracy of information provided by an applicant about their previous salary and their employment status. Both of these practices demonstrate the leading edge of reference checking while at the same time raising serious concerns about employer branding, privacy, and legal grounds.

Final thoughts

If you wonder whether you are being too conservative in your approach to talent management, this article should certainly stimulate your thinking about what is possible and what the outer limits of current practice are. If the talent wars are not yet raging in your industry, now is the ideal time to begin planning for it by developing one or two people-management practices that are bold enough so that both employees and potential recruits will want to talk about and share them.

With the growth of social media and worldwide Internet access, stories that can be used to increase the image and visibility of your talent-management practices are essential. And remember that your story and talent management practices certainly can’t be compelling unless they are bold, innovative, or even outrageous.

Note to readers: If you know of other recently implemented bold and outrageous corporate HR approaches, please feel free to post a brief description of them in the comments section following this article on ERE.net. Or alternatively, if you would like me to write me, I can be reached at JohnS@sfsu.edu.

Dr. John Sullivan, professor, author, corporate speaker, and advisor, is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high-business-impact talent management solutions.

He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of talent management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops, and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations/ organizations in 30 countries on all six continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR, and the Financial Times. In addition, he writes for the WSJ Experts column. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the "Michael Jordan of Hiring," Staffing.org called him “the father of HR metrics,” and SHRM called him “One of the industry's most respected strategists." He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked No. 8 among the top 25 online influencers in talent management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees, and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website www.drjohnsullivan.com and on staging.ere.net. He lives in Pacifica, California.



1 Comment on “13 More Bold and Outrageous HR and Talent Management Practices

  1. John — thanks for including “stay” interviews on your list.  I learned this from my manager when I started out in HR many, many, many “moons” ago.  I won’t go any further back than that!   But as far as I know he created the concept.  He should have written a book about it —- he would have been the first.
    In the “new normal” HR needs to let go of practices that are “dead horses”  (exit interviews) and focus on practices that will retain key people with critical skills.   The kind of company culture they like is what the company needs to do more of in order to attract people of the same caliber. 

    Jacque Vilet —- Vilet International

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