Are You Juicing? Some Common HR PEDs.

Andy Porter Andy Porter, Bad HR, Metrics

Last week 7-time Tour de France Lance Armstrong gave up his fight against the doping allegations that have been swirling around him for years and as a result he was stripped of his Tour titles.  Lance is just one many athletes in recent years – Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire to name a few- who have come under fire and in some cases prosecution for allegedly using performance enhancing drugs (PEDs).  For the integrity of these sports (and the guys who came in second) I don’t believe PEDs have a place and should be rigorously policed.  I wonder what it must feel like to have been a non-PED using, borderline baseball prospect in the late 90’s and early 2000’s and look back now and wonder “what if” the guys I was competing against were clean.  On the other hand, I think it has been a colossal waste of taxpayer money to go after these guys (I sometimes think these federal prosecutors are ex-high school athletes looking for revenge) – why should I have to pay to prove Lance cheated in a bike race in France?  Not to mention this guy has raised over $500 million for cancer patients…but that’s a post for another time.  Then I thought about our sport – HR.

Do we have cheats and dopers in our midst? HR Pros secretly juicing in the bathroom stall before an important interview?  Maybe not that egregious but I have identified the 4 most common HR PEDs that should be banned from our “sport.” Here ya go:

  1. The Fuzzy Math Turnover – To much fanfare every year this cheat reports turnover stats that are far below the benchmarks for their industry.  They proudly boast about how their employees are highly engaged, care deeply about the mission of the company, and how the culture they’ve helped to build makes all the difference.  But here’s the catch – they been using Fuzzy Math Turnover numbers – they only count voluntary turnover.  Those 20 people we fired last year that would take our total turnover up over industry benchmarks?  Doesn’t count because we root out poor performers and we fire ’em. Doesn’t matter that half of those guys were bad hires and left within their first 6 months.  That doesn’t count.
  2. (It takes no) Time to Hire – Classic HR and business disconnect.  Every month this HR Pro cheerfully reports on how quickly his recruiting team is able to fill open positions while the business line leaders scratch their heads and say “it sure doesn’t feel like we’ve been filing these jobs quickly.”  Well, they’re right.  What the time to hire cheat doesn’t tell you is when he starts and stops the clock.  For example:  Jimmy gives his 2 week notice on August 1 (the date the line leader starts the open position clock) and as we know, not much real works happens during these notice periods.  After some delay, on August 21 you receive the updated job spec to post and it takes a day or two to get it out there and finally on August 23 it’s posted (the day the HR Juicer starts the clock).  You get an offer acceptance about a month later on September 30 (the HR Juicer stops the clock).  Bam, position filled in 37 days!  But the new hire has to wrap up his current job and wants to take a one week breather between jobs and will officially start on October 22 (the day the line leader stops their clock).  And there you have it – the HR Juicer says it took 37 days to fill while the line leader says it took 83 days.
  3. Trust Me… -Every company, and by extension HR Pro, wants to be known for compensating their employees competitively – which in most cases means above the 50th percentile.  I mean who really wants to stand up in front of the company and explain how we’ve done a competitive market analysis and we’re paying all of you at the 25th percentile!  Now back to work!  Yeah, pretty much no one.  The trouble though is your market data actually tells you that your pay practices stink.  So what does the HR Juicer do?  Easy, they change the peer companies!  That’s right, why compare yourselves to the best companies in your industry when you can pick the crappy, one foot in the grave companies that no one want to work for anyway?  When you plug those guys into the analysis voila!  We’re paying our employees at the 75th percentile!  The HR Juicer is just hoping no one asks to see the peer group list….
  4. The Best of (something that nobody cares about) – We see these companies all the time with logos on their website proclaiming them to be the Best Place to Bring Your Dog to Work or the Best Place to Work on this Block.  These best of lists kind of remind me of the Who’s Who emails I get from time to time.  At first I get excited  – wow, they asked ME to be part of this group!  Until you realize pretty much anyone can be a Who’s Who.  Many of these Best of Lists are the same idea.  But the HR Juicer doesn’t care – they just keep on piling them up until their website looks like the outside of a NASCAR race car.

So there you have it.  Are you a juicer??