Is recruiting employees from a struggling competitor a proven talent acquisition strategy?

If one of your largest competitors is struggling, is that a prime time to poach their top talent? Would recruiting employees from that competitor be considered good gesture in an effort to avoid employee hardship, or a calculated talent acquisition strategy?

By now the entire country is aware of the situation with Market Basket Supermarkets – the executive disagreement, employee protests, and pending collapse of the overall business. The HR industry has been especially interested in this saga, as seen here on The Workforce Institute’s blog and on the local news channels daily here in the northeast. My colleague Joyce Maroney was interviewed just last week as you can see here.

Personally, I am a Hannaford Supermarket customer (primarily based on proximity to my home) and am in my local store multiple times per week (the result of having 4 teenagers). On a recent visit to the store, I saw one of the most interesting talent acquisition strategies I’ve ever witnessed.

At the entrance my Hannaford store was a big, pink sign with a handwritten message:

MB SignMarket Basket Employees

Let us help you through this difficult time.

Hannaford is hiring temporary help for the remainder of the boycott.

Inquire within for details.”

I wasn’t sure if this was a kind gesture, a marketing ploy, or a strategic hiring initiative?

Needless to say, if the Market Basket employees were so loyal to their former CEO that they chose to boycott their employer and risk losing their job, the idea that they would actually leave and go to a competitor seemed far-fetched.

Yet with recruiting, and talent acquisition being such a challenge for so many organizations, particularly in retail, landing one skilled, experienced employee from this effort could prove highly beneficial. The idea is by no means unique. There are dozens of blogs and news articles on how to recruit talent from your competition.

I am curious to know if recruiters look for competitors that suddenly face an issue that could impact their workforce and target them specifically. Let me know what you think.


Kronos Compliance Court Now in Session at SHRM 2014

Guest blog post by Kristen Wylie, Product Marketing Manager at Kronos, Inc.

More than 14,000 HR professionals are gathered in Orlando this week for the annual SHRM Conference and Expo. As wage and hour lawsuits skyrocket, it’s no surprise that this year’s conference agenda includes more than 25 sessions focused exclusively on compliance. Here at the Kronos booth, we’re educating attendees on how workforce management solutions can help reduce compliance risk.

SHRM1Organizations of every size across every industry can be susceptible to wage and hour and other compliance violations. No company wants to be charged with criminal or legal suits. But labor laws are complex and frustratingly fluid, making it increasingly difficult to manage compliance. Consider this:

SHRM2No matter what the compliance issue, when an employee files a claim or an auditor shows up, you need to respond with confidence and speed. In our booth at the SHRM conference, we staged a “compliance court,” helping attendees to evaluate how prepared they would be for an audit or investigation:

  • Are you compliant with I-9 regulations?
  • How would you respond to an audit from the EEOC?
  • Can you ensure time cards are in accurate and complete reflection of actual hours worked?
  • What documentation do you have for your defense against wage and hour claims?
  • How will you address the variety of regulations presented by the affordable care act?
  • How do you gather enough detailed information to determine if an absence qualifies for FMLA?

Kronos Workforce Ready customer Pioneer Metal Finishing showed SHRM attendees how to successfully navigate our compliance court by being prepared with accurate workforce data. Disconnected software applications and manual processes for managing employee data – one system in HR, another in payroll, and another for time and attendance – mean your data may be out of sync and out of date. Pioneer explained that with Workforce Ready, organizations are better able to identify, monitor, and resolve compliance risk before issues have a chance to spark wildfires and result in fines or lawsuits.

Workforce Management Maturity Evolution Part 1 – Automation

This is the first in a four-part series on workforce management maturity. With advancements in cloud-based technology, mobile applications and simplified enterprise applications, organizations are able to transform their workforce from a cost of doing business into a competitive advantage. Part 1 discusses the first phase of workforce management maturity – automation.

Isn’t it amazing that we can land an exploratory SUV on Mars, but yet there are thousands of organizations still manually processing basic HR, payroll and labor management tasks?

While traditional enterprise software has helped many large organizations attempt to get a handle on managing labor hours, payroll, time-off requests accruals, hiring, etc., there are still many organizations, small and large that struggle with manual, but necessary business processes.

In most cases these organizations perceive their workforce as more of an expense – a cost of doing business. And while HR departments aspire for employee engagement, the workforce themselves’ aspire to be unburdened by enabling them to work efficiently and effectively, without obstacles and processes that hold them back.

Workforce Management Maturity – Automate Phase

The first phase of workforce management maturity is to move from manual to automated. The Automate Phase focuses on the ability to streamline, simplify, and standardize necessary business process such as hiring, absence management or converting hours to payroll. As with all phases in workforce management maturity, the Automate phase combines both process and technology improvements. And while the levels of complexity and maturity vary drastically, from one organization to the next, often there are additional automation steps organizations can take even if they have some level of workforce management already in place.

For example, time clocks may automate data collection from hourly employees punching in and out – yet a company may still benefit from biometric identification, automated time off requests or self service labor level transfers. Or, there may be a segment of your workforce that works remotely, without regular access to a time clock, and requires more mobile technology.

The goal in the Automate phase is to eliminate waste and minimize errors by moving from complex, manual processes to streamlining, and simplifying wherever possible.  The end result is fewer payroll errors, reduced time fraud, better accuracy end efficiency – controlling labor costs and avoiding compliance risk.  

The value of the workforce increases as an organization navigates the automate phase.  Manual, unstructured business processes require tedious data entry, transcription, hand calculation, and error-checking.  This is low-value, unrewarding work.  Automation unburdens the workforce and allows their time and energy to be invested in higher value activities that will further the mission of the organization.

How mature is your organizations’ workforce management? How complex and manual are your necessary business processes? Is your workforce considered more of an expense?

With cloud-based workforce management on demand, even small to medium sized organizations can leverage and benefit from enterprise-class technology at a fraction of the cost and resource requirements.

In part two we will review the second phase of workforce management maturity – Planning.

More on Moneyball & Workforce Management – Impactful Workforce Analytics

Moneyball -the movie based on Michael Lewis’ bestselling book spawned countless articles over the past year comparing the Moneyball concept to HR and the approach to hiring by leveraging the “big data” concept. (Yes that is my obligatory buzzword of the year usage!) While the comparison is definitely valid, there are even more concepts from Moneyball that apply to Workforce analytics, beyond just recruiting.

Payroll – That was Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane’s primary challenge from the outset, a limited labor budget, right? He was faced with the challenge of gaining more productivity out of the workforce without increasing his labor cost.

Labor productivity – A core component of Beane’s strategy was to maximize the productivity and efficiency of his workforce. The concept of on-base percentage vs batting average, runs batted in and stolen bases may have changed baseball, but the idea is applicable with any workforce when productivity metrics are collected. Once the analysis is done, and the preferred personnel with the desired skill sets are identified, schedule optimization is critical (put in the right place at the right time). This challenge can be seen in the film, when Oakland’s manager continually ignores Bean’s request to play a certain player at a particular position (Scott Hatteberg at first base).

The – “You can measure every single event and you can measure the value of that event, which is not dissimilar to every single business,” he said. “Especially now — you can get information at your fingertips as it happens.” Billy Beane, General Manager, Oakland A’s

Visibility and accountability – this is a critical component to workforce management, and is illustrated well in the movie. Beane was innovative. He was visionary. He had a strategy to achieve their organization’s goals which was not being implemented by management. He wanted certain players in the game, at specific positions to execute his strategy. While the outcome of his plan and vision was visible in wins, a think about a retail company with hundreds of stores, or a manufacturing company with dozens of plants. The ability to measure performance and compare results based on implementing certain programs provides the visibility needed to hold management accountable and make the changes necessary to achieve organizational goals.

Moneyball inspired HR leaders to embrace analytics for recruiting and create new metrics for performance management. However, the impact on business operations and the insight into more mature workforce management opportunities seems to be inspiring organizations to evolve their processes and technology strategies with workforce analytics.

Extreme Hiring Process – the NFL Draft

So the NFL Draft was held last week. How did your team do? Did you get a future super star? It should be obvious, right?

The circus that has become the NFL draft is by far one of the most unique and extreme hiring processes ever seen, not only in sports but in any industry – a spectacle like no other. To put it into a Workforce Management context, think about your recruiting and hiring process. What other industry (besides maybe the FBI, Secret Service, CIA, etc.) puts so much evaluation and scrutiny into their selection of a new hire? Especially one with no professional experience! How do you hire a recent college grad? Sift through hundreds of resumes? Maybe use a college job fair?

The NFL hiring process is a 2-3 month public boot camp, with physical and mental testing that would result in countless HR violations in most industries. After detailed review of film and analysis of the previous three or four years of on and off the field performance, players are then subjected to the NFL Scouting Combine. At the Combine, all invited players have every aspect of their physical make-up and skill sets measured, documented and ranked. Every test is now not only open to the media, it is broadcast on television! Everything from a players’ speed, strength and agility to their height, weight, wingspan and body fat percentage are made public. Then there is the Wonderlic Test – an IQ test, used by many employers, that is given to all players entering the draft. While this practice is common in many industries, these scores seem to have less of bearing on a prospect’s chances of being hired than in any other industry. Following the combine, players are asked to hold additional workouts – sometimes called Pro Days, where more football specific sessions and interviews are held to showcase their abilities.

Here’s where it gets interesting… when teams begin to hone in on the prospects they want, not only do they perform “reference checks”, they do full blown background investigations. Players that may have questionable character or may have had some type of trouble in the past could be subjected to private investigations. These findings are often also publicized.

What’s fascinating is that will all of this “selection science” used by the NFL, the success rate for top picks is not nearly as high as you would think. The two top draft choices last week were quarterbacks. Will they turn out to be like a Peyton Manning or John Elway, Hall of Fame-bound champions, or a big miss like JaMarcus Russell, David Carr, Tim Couch and Ryan Leaf? With all of the effort put into the selection process, how can that happen? Have you ever hired your top choice candidate, only to be let down when they turn out to miss the mark?

While these NFL Draft pick busts still happen, the selection science seems to be getting better and yielding much more success. Which may just be why more detailed analysis and science is being applied to hiring in the workforce. From healthcare, to hospitality and retail, organizations in almost every industry are improving their hiring process, reducing turnover and strengthening their growth and profitability with more advanced employee selection and hiring.

Talent Acquisition – Why rebuild when you can reload? Just ask Coach Cal!

Imagine if every time an employee of yours left (quit or promoted) you had the #1, ideal, best possible candidate immediately available to step in as a replacement? What a luxury! Workforce talent acquisition made easy…

For this to happen, your organization would need to be considered one of the best possible employers with a history of success. You would need to be considered an outstanding leader who could virtually guarantee not only that the new hire would be wildly successful while working in that role, but that they would most likely be considered for a major promotion after working for you after only a short period of time. And year after year, this cycle would continue while you were at the helm! Sounds impossible right?

Photo from

Last night, the #1 high school basketball recruit in the country Nerlens Noel signed with the University of Kentucky Wildcats.  Not a huge surprise. Two weeks ago, the University of Kentucky (UK) won the NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship. That was no surprise either. UK was ranked #1 all season and picked by virtually everyone to win this year. But why?

In 2011, they had three of the nation’s top recruits. Two of those three will be moving up to the NBA to play professionally next year. In fact, UK has had the #1 recruiting class in college basketball for 4 straight years now. Not only did this year’s #1 recruit sign on with UK, four of the top 100 recruits in the nation all signed letters of intent to attend Kentucky.  Life is good for Coach John Calipari. His top players leave, often after only one season, and the best players in the county are lined up to take their place!

Photo from

In three years, Calipari has taken Kentucky to two Final Fours and is fresh off a national championship, the eighth in school history. He has taken three different programs to the NCAA Final Four (UK, Memphis and UMASS). As of today, 22 of his players have been drafted by the NBA.

Remember the John Grisham novel The Firm? Similar scenario right? A tax law firm, Bendini, Lambert & Locke, would hand pick the top recruit each year and fast track that lawyer to success.

While college basketball and fictional novels don’t necessarily represent reality, it is possible to consistently position your company for growth and continued success through your hiring processes.

Recently, men’s clothing retailer JoS. A. Bank was featured in Stores Magazine for their successful recruiting and hiring strategies. When the recent recession hit hard in 2008, JoS. A. Bank positioned themselves for growth. In addition to marketing strategies targeted towards interviewees who were looking for work, the company applied selection science and automation to their hiring processes to help identify the best possible sales associates. Starbucks has seen similar improvements in their recruiting processes, featured here, as they can both attract and identify quality candidates with their automated talent acquisition system.

Businesses can identify the top candidates that are most likely to be successful based on their skills and interests, which inevitably leads to lower turnover rates and top recruits becoming interested in working there.

There’s a saying that applies to successful teams in sports – They don’t rebuild, they reload. Employee turnover, when managed well can be an opportunity for growth and continued success.  Simply recruit the best possible candidates available, and position them for early success. Easier said than done? Just ask Coach Cal.

The Future of Time & Attendance Part 3 – Using Time and Attendance Data Beyond Payroll

Most organizations implement time and attendance systems to address a common business pain. It may be to control labor costs. It may be to improve payroll accuracy and efficiency. Whatever the business driver that leads to this investment, the data collected is primarily used for paying employees and tracking their work time.

However there is a lot more value in this data than just punch-in/punch-out information. Today, many best-in-class companies are tracking and analyzing the data between the punches, and using this valuable information to reduce employee turnover, improve business productivity and help transform business processes.

One example of this is in hiring and talent acquisition. Time and attendance information says a lot about a worker. Are they habitually late? Do they leave early? Are often calling in sick? This information can be appended to an employee’s profile and used as a model for hiring purposes. By reviewing an existing employee’s hiring assessment and combining that with their time and attendance history (and potentially their tendency to resign), a hiring manager can gain greater insight into employees they would likely want to avoid. Conversely, a positive time and attendance record combined with a particular employee’s profile and positive work history can give insight to the ideal worker a hiring manager would want to target and acquire.

Another area where time and attendance information can be leveraged beyond payroll is in tracking labor productivity – essentially tracking what activity a worker does while on-the-clock. Data collection solutions can provide visibility into jobs that were worked on, tasks that were executed, work-in-progress, units produced/sold, product quality and more.

Collecting and tracking employee labor data allows companies to accurately account for labor expenses and reconcile all paid time by tracking all employee activity. This can also be used to measure employee output against predefined standards for efficiency. The resulting information empowers companies to reduce labor expense by identifying & trimming nonproductive time and ultimately grow profit margin by understanding & controlling labor expense.