Humans of HR

Jason Averbook joins us live from HR Tech Fest New Zealand to share with us why it is OurTime to be in HR

August 16, 2018 David Guazzarotto & Jared Cameron
Humans of HR
Jason Averbook joins us live from HR Tech Fest New Zealand to share with us why it is OurTime to be in HR
Chapters
Humans of HR
Jason Averbook joins us live from HR Tech Fest New Zealand to share with us why it is OurTime to be in HR
Aug 16, 2018
David Guazzarotto & Jared Cameron

Recorded live at HR Tech Fest New Zealand 2018, Jason Averbook (CEO of Leapgen, author, and thought leader) discusses how we are embarking on a new era of HR and this is out time in the sun. The digital age compels us to rethink our approach to HR focusing now on delivering great experiences for our people in order to remain relevant and continue to attract, retain and develop the talent we need for today and into the future.

Show Notes Transcript

Recorded live at HR Tech Fest New Zealand 2018, Jason Averbook (CEO of Leapgen, author, and thought leader) discusses how we are embarking on a new era of HR and this is out time in the sun. The digital age compels us to rethink our approach to HR focusing now on delivering great experiences for our people in order to remain relevant and continue to attract, retain and develop the talent we need for today and into the future.

Dave Gazz:

I'm David Guazzarotto and I'm Jared Cameron and we are "Talking People and Tech" Welcome to the talking people and technology podcast. My Name is David Guazzarotto and I'm joined as always by my partner in crime. Jared Cameron. How are you buddy?

Jared:

Good, Dave, great to be an exhibit. We are here in New Zealand. I know at an HR tech conference. My God, who would have ever thought that. I'm surprised to say it, but it's great to be here actually. I mean I hadn't expected that we're going to get a conference like this running in Auckland, so it's fantastic.

Dave Gazz:

Yeah. Awesome. Well, what better place to start with our HR tech fest here in New Zealand, than with our good buddy Jason Averbook. Thanks for joining us, Jason.

Jason:

Thanks for having me. It's great to be in New Zealand. Sounds like everyone's surprised that there's an event in New Zealand, but why? Why are you surprised? Just because of the size.

Dave Gazz:

Not much happens in New Zealand.

Jason:

Come on a couple of days here the people have been amazing and their thinking's amazing. I, I'm surprised there hasn't been one here.

Jared:

Yeah, that's true actually. Yeah. It's quite a progressive group group of people, you know, they've got the same problems, don't they?

Jason:

Everywhere you go, everyone has the same. I mean we have a problem in the US with the president right now. That's a little bit different, but yeah. Otherwise, you know, we have some political problems. I guess everyone's got problems.

Dave Gazz:

Yeah. Yeah. We'll save that for another day.

Jason:

Shall we infuse it in.

Dave Gazz:

I like where you're going with that or where you come from with that. Anyway, so Jason, you now as well as your usual load of getting around the world, talking to people, speaking at conferences. You're an author, launched your second book now.

Jason:

Yeah, my second child.

Dave Gazz:

That's awesome. We'll have a chat about that in a moment. But you've also got an advisory business called leapgen now. How's that all going for you?

Jason:

Yeah, it's going great. I, we, um, you know, in early 2017, actually late 2016 saw that I think the next inflection point of hr and workforce technology, what's happening where organizations are adopting cloud technology. But not necessarily getting the benefits they were looking for and this tipping point of people outside of the organizations were using technology that was just 10 times better at least than what was happening inside the organization and so here was a great hole to run through for me at least from an advisory standpoint and say, hey, how do we help organizations not just built technology roadmaps, but truly think about what do they need to do to have a digital mindset. Yeah. And you know the. I mean there's lots of organizations doing implementations, which is great, but it's how do you help organizations to truly know what they need, what they want to implement and the order in which they should do it and the way they, the process they should go through to deploy that capability. We see a lot of struggles still so. Exactly.

Dave Gazz:

Well in your keynote this morning sitting in the audience, when you went through the digital roadmap and strategy piece that the number of iphones have popped up, which is that there's a lot. I think that's indicative of just the appetite that people just.

Jason:

I mean it's still, it's still so because technology, I mean if you think about that ratio, we talked about this morning mindset, people process and technology, you know, 20 slash 25 slash 45 and 10, you know, the people still put way too much emphasis on the tech and the upfront other stuff gets ignored. So you know, and that's why people keep switching vendors. Yeah. So we're trying to avoid, we're trying to help people once they have technology in place, you gain adoption of it, drive it to addiction and really start to get the value from it before they switch. Yeah, and you know, I think that one of the things that cloud has done is made it easier to switch and I think that's dangerous.

Jared:

It's interesting Jason, because we see a lot of business cases for the customers and the funding still seems to sit in that 10 percent though, doesn't it? And in actual fact that sits in that 10 percent from the deployment perspective, there's not really as much that's going into looking at process and looking at mindset and understanding culture. And we heard a bit of it actually from, from spotify this morning, they talked a lot about values and culture, which was great to hear, but it still seems to be the exception, not the rule.

Jason:

We're still going through the process of moving from IT or from technology to digital and truly getting HR to understand that they need to have ownership in that. And then from a resource and a spend standpoint that there needs to be more dollar spent on that 90 percent. Then there does the 10 percent. I mean what with the cloud, I mean what happened is when we went to the cloud, we took so much pressure off that technology percentage number, but yet we didn't shift our spend to focus more on their reinvention side and now we're paying the price for that today.

Dave Gazz:

Yeah, that's an area that we focused a lot on. You and I, we've riffed on this for number of years now. It's this whole...

Jason:

We'll be old and gray and rocking chairs still riffing on it I'm afraid with are not going to have teeth in and all that.

Dave Gazz:

Nostalgia - it ain't what it used to be they don't make software, like they used to joke seriously my, it's just. Yeah, but no, seriously, we were know we've talked about this, the move to the cloud, it changes the whole dynamic. Right? And what is one of the things we've coined the term living the assess lifestyle, which is sounds like a death sentence, but no, give me your thoughts on what it means to kind of move from that on prem world to genuinely embracing the SAS lost all of the cloud last 30 to 40 percent of my re my time, my effort and shifting it out it and moving it into the function, you know, and you still have to do 100 percent. Yeah. You know, so the question is, is where do I focus my time and since I'm not keeping servers running, I'm not maintaining database versions and things like that, you know, I ha, I have the focus, I have the attention that I should have the attention on the people in the process side and the mindset side.

Jason:

And I just, I, I, unfortunately, I still don't see it. Uh, you know, organizations, you know, as much as we talk about living the lifestyle, you know, I think people that's there. I don't know, I hate to say it, I, I don't think I, no, I don't think people know what that means. Snow still and I think that's were caught right in the middle of, you know, it's kind of early childhood and teenage years and we're in that awkward phase where it's like, Whoa, Whoa, you know, I shouldn't be living that lifestyle but I haven't figured out what it means. So I think that, you know, our job from an industry standpoint is to really help organizations think through what that means because if they do, if they do think about what it means, they're going to be so much more successful long term with the investment. And we're not, I mean business case, you know, I have a dream that I have a dream business cases for workforce solutions and technology will go away to continue to make the business case

Dave Gazz:

Or at least they'll be all created equal, right?

Jason:

We don't make the case for email, a new email licenses. We don't make the case for new slack licenses yet. We have to make the case for new HR technology. I, I just think that if we do this the right way, that business case will be so easy that we won't have to make that case any longer. I mean, something.

Jared:

You stated in your keynote this morning, Jason, you talked about organizations need to decide what they're going to be great at and where they're just gonna perform. Yeah. I took that away in particular because I find often when you talk to people they want to try to be great at everything and it's a reality that none of us are in it. It's actually very difficult to do that. I was. Oh, I mean it's just.

Jason:

For me, it's like I said it's, it's because if you tie it to business, so a perfect example. I don't mean to go back to it and we heard the spotify. I mean we saw the corporate HR strategy, you know, we saw what they wanted to be great at. So now I take unfortunately in most organizations, and I don't know, spotify, they don't take their hr tech investment and tie it to that. They're like, hey, we have to, we need this module and we need this, but they're not tied together and that's the death nail because you know, the businesses saying and the HR function, if they're aligned to the business, is saying this is the capability I need. But over here you know, I'm doing this module thing because the quote unquote vendor told me too. Yeah, that's back ass words following instead of leading under probably a good segue talking about this, you know, the vendors selling modules and us focusing on delivering experiences.

Dave Gazz:

So you've just launched your book. Yeah, on the digital workforce experience. Tell us about the key themes you're touching on and what's really driving your thinking there.

Jason:

So you know what I want people to understand it and that is that people remember how you make them feel and you know, we live in this whole world where self service or direct access as we like to call it, you know, that's a transaction, but what people really remember longterm is, as I said, how you make them feel and that's a lot of interaction and a lot of unstructured data. So the book is all about how do you take the concepts that you've laid out from a foundational standpoint and turn it so that the employee is front and center. Yeah. So Hr is not front and center anymore. Employees Front and center. And when you do that you're not focusing on transaction and you're not focusing on just, hey, you know, this is a tool for hr. We're really focused on hey, I need to create an experience to engage the manager or the employee, the executives in using and consuming this data. So we've shifted from transaction to interaction to how do I get employees and managers consuming data? And if I do that, you know, the long term ability for the function to be strategic is endless. But if I keep trying to own it myself in hr and pushing out hr technology and HR solutions just to my hr team and then kind of like pretending to expose it to the employee, you know, that's where it doesn't work. I mean we have to be all in on digital and the way they'd be all in on digital. Let's say my audience is the workforce first. Yeah. If the audience is the workforce first and the HR people second win. But if I design my processes that when they deploy the technology that way it won't work.

Dave Gazz:

We'll see what, as, as any human, particularly in the first world, I guess. Um, but most of the third world now as well, we're all in on digital already, right? We need that lives on these things.

Jason:

Yeah. I mean, that's the other thing I talk about in the book and you know, I've dedicated the book to my two boys, Alex and Ben, Ten and 13 because they're digital natives, you know, and I want the workplace when they get into the workplace and the next five to 10 years to be ready for that. And it's not. I mean I think as I said in the speech, we disrespect the year, we live in 2018, how we all operate, whether it be uber or whatever we're doing outside, like once we get into work, it's 20 years earlier and that, you know, once the. I mean we can adjust to that because we're mutts. We're caught between the digital natives and digital immigrants, but the digital natives that don't know anything about what, how it used to be for short and the paperwork. What are you talking about? Paperwork. Why would you use a phone book? Why would you do any of this stuff?

Jared:

And that's going to challenge it.

Jason:

It's going to be a sad day when those people enter it because they're not gonna know how to do it. Not just are they're going to reject rejected, they're not going to understand what it is that you're doing,

Jared:

and I think they also have a natural challenge mindset. I think one of the things about the education system now is that it's trying to teach children to be free of thinkers. Right? Right. So if you have a free free thinking child, and as parents we all tell them the same thing, chase your dreams, do it. You won't challenge the status quo, or at least a lot of us see the message that you're going to come into organizations and they're going to naturally challenged things that are crap.

Jason:

I don't think it gets talked about enough and I think that I don't think that we look at the. We're still using millennials. The Gen z are digital natives and I actually think it's not as much age as it is that what they're growing up with. The fact that they get every question in the world answered on their device and they don't search. Yeah, I mean that's the other thing that's really interesting in the book I talk about searches dead mean there's organizations still trying to master search and come up with the right results when someone types in some information and like people just want answers. Yeah. I mean we've gone from a search world to an answer world and hr hasn't got search down.

Jared:

It's surprising how quickly that actually happened because it actually wasn't that long ago that we were still saying that Google searches the benchmark for information and for finding solutions. We are still saying. I mean, I remember I remembered saying literally, if you can't just sit down in your enterprise and search for the answer, then you'll behind google and now with less than two years from search to answer in less than two years.

Jason:

And it's a, it's fascinating. That's the exponential speed. Which is why I say if we don't make up that chasm, the chasm in one year grows 10 years. Absolutely. Let's just crazy just get the gap gets bigger. Yeah.

Dave Gazz:

And it said the kids, uh, they want the brains and literally wired not to care about doing the way that we've done it well and not to use search

Jason:

and they're the ones that are developing the new consumer apps every day. So you know, that they're going to keep developing that way as well. Which once again, this creates that bigger chasm.

Dave Gazz:

Yeah. So we, um, you know, buzz here probably. Hopefully we can be heard about this. Jared almost, you know,

Jared:

we sound pretty good. Nice background. Hum though. So.

Jason:

No, this is great. You know what's really funny, I think that, uh, that they conferences that people in Australia and New Zealand, I was in Australia a few weeks ago, like they get this stuff more than we get it in the US. I mean, I know that. Hm. Yeah. That might be the case in a lot of cases, a lot of things. But I spent a, I was in Australia, I was in Singapore, I was in Malaysia, I was in Hong Kong. Like this whole concept of experience replacing just the HR technology thing is real. Yeah. And um, but it does take a journey and know and I think that that's like the work that you know, Alight does or talk about in the book is how do you build that journey, but focus on the right thing. Yeah. Uh, it's, you know, for a lot of his people, it's a new day.

Dave Gazz:

Yeah. Look, I think what makes it interesting now is, and, and you, you've got recent experience floating around the globe, the same everywhere. Do you agree? It really is.

Jason:

It really is. And I think that the focus is the same. I'd say the one thing that still frustrates me more than anything is that it is the same, but it's also the same siloed at the silos aren't going away. The centers of excellence within businesses aren't going away. And I'm not thinking about, excuse me, organizations aren't.

Dave Gazz:

Dave Ullrich we're going to hunt you down, buddy.

Jason:

Dave Ullrich. I mean he never thought Dave Ullrich was really brilliant at from a capability standpoint, like how do I focus on capabilities that the people function needs to deploy. But what Dave didn't do is think about how do I create an experience? It looks the same, tastes, the same, smells the same across all those coe. When each CEO is responsible for their own delivery, it's not. It's impossible for it to be the same. So how do I create this delivery center of excellence to me is a huge, huge trend that's going to have to happen going forward. Because if I am going to have one IV just shoot all my capabilities through, I need one person owning that and if I have each coe owning pieces of it, it won't work. So that means, well, it's positive that everyone's talking about the same thing globally. It's also negative to me that not enough people are thinking about how am I going to, how am I going to structure the function to actually deliver that?

Jared:

But it's interesting though, because you talked this morning about the headless machine and maybe part of the answer is, I'm not sure if it was quite the right word to use, but they

Jason:

Well headless app.

Jared:

Yeah. I think, I mean maybe that's. Maybe that's her in the future, right? Like maybe, maybe hr is just, it's in the background and it's data to help drive your telling, but it's not visible.

Jason:

That could be true too. So the brilliant thing is is that digital breaks silos. Yeah, it does. So by nature, digital break silos. So you know when I talk into my device and I asked a question, I'm not going to say recruiting or performance or learning. So eventually it's going to break it. It'll fix. It'll start to, to heal itself because of the way that the worker will work. But that's all. I mean that's a hard one.

Dave Gazz:

I think that's an interesting point right because when you use the term digital there, and again it's not the actual app itself that breaks it down. It's the connection between what the APP provides as the conduit to the information, but it's actually the actions that individual takes as a user that drive it.

Jason:

That digital mindset, David, a lot of people don't understand and still aren't thinking about this being, how do I am be to my user and actually say the user has one view. They want an answer. You don't care what function. They don't care who's answering it. They want an answer.

Jared:

The irony of that is they actually don't just want one answer from her. They actually want one answer from the whole organization. Yes. They want one place to go that says, how do I do my job? How do I take leave? If I need to take leave, right? What happens when they have a problem? What if I'm going to be late to work in any of those problems that they encounter?

Jason:

Like I mentioned in my speech. The interesting thing about what you're talking about, and this is where organizations, I think right now we're kind of in this, Oh shit moment phase is all that stuff you just said has nothing to do with an hrms I know, or hcm. So when people are trying it, when you like, if that's what we're talking about, and then people are out going out and buying, you know, core hr systems. Yeah. That's just the start. Yeah. And people are like, I thought this was the end. I'm like, no, no, no. Every question that is truly the thing that employees are asking about isn't answered by the hrms that hrms is what's helping the HR departments do.

Jared:

Their transactions could be an enabler, right? Like it could be part of the picture.

Jason:

If I have that data, then I can start to personalize those answers and actually be proactive and prescriptive. So it's definitely an enabler. But when people all of a sudden go live and they think that's it. Yeah, that's a. they're like, Whoa, what am I going? How am I going to answer those questions?

Jared:

Well, that surprised that they haven't been able to peps or maybe they think that maybe they know the way. Those are the questions people around.

Jason:

We've, we've done it with manual heroics and tribal knowledge. Like it's in the brain. So I know who to call at this organization. I know who to call this organization when all of a sudden my hr generalist switched from answering questions to solving problems and they're out there to answer questions anymore that who do I call is going to go away and if I don't have the digital capability in place to solve it and my question is not going to get answered. I thought it was really interesting. Spotify said the number one reason people leave, and I think this is like this, a huge point number everywhere people leave is because of their manager. The biggest reason that managers aren't successful is because they don't have information to be successful. Yeah, I agree. It's not because they're dolts like it's because they don't have the information to be successful. So like when people say, well, HR technology is not the number one reason why people leave. Like I think that's bull. Like if I'm truly delivering workforce capabilities and training managers on moments that matter how to interact with their people is the number one reason. So you know, and you hurt. I mean you hear all the time managers. The reason that people leave. If I'm helping managers be better managers through the use of workforce technology, my God, I'm going to have a low. People aren't going to leave as much, so you can say you've got a budget to keep to train your managers, but you don't have the budget for workforce technology I think it's insane because they're inherently linked.

Jared:

You can be sure that managers got excess to sales sales data that you can be sure they got access to budgeting and finance information. Why don't they have the right people information

Jason:

For whatever reason, people don't equate the fact that managers are bad. That's why people are leaving with the fact that they don't have the data, which is why they're bad.

Dave Gazz:

Yeah, absolutely. Well, I'm afraid because I can say this room clearing now, Jason, I've got fear your obligations as the MC to kick in, so I'm a. whilst as always, I just feel like we're warming up on these things. Yeah. Thanks very much for coming on. Jason. Always good to have a chat.

Jason:

Yeah. I love your digs here. You guys are growing up fast are you the next Howard stern or suddenly.

Dave Gazz:

Yeah, Larry King. Let's not go there. Thanks for having. Thanks jared. Catch you again soon.

Jason:

Take care guys.

Jared:

That was the talking people and tech podcast brought to you by Alight Solutions. Thanks for listening. Subscribe now to catch our next episode.