With Paul Hebert’s last post here on FOT (Hebert Out) he challenged all writers to avoid “saying the same thing over and over, using different words”. He challenged us to create innovative content and not just drudge through the same topics, over and over again. Given that the HR blog world has been around more than a decade and has exploded in terms of the number of sites and writers, that was a big ask.
What could I possibly write that hasn’t been written about over and over again? And then it hit me. A story. A story or experience that sheds light on otherwise common topics.
So here’s a recent story that opened my eyes about what the HR/TA/Talent profession might look like in the future. It’s a story about my son Alex and his experience getting two jobs in twenty four hours during the highest unemployment market in US history. Yeah, a twenty-one year old kid with more experience spinning a whistle at a pool than anything else.
Once upon a time …
Alex got furloughed by his employer, a big box retailer during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. He needed a job. Did he freak out? Rewrite his resume? Seek outplacement support or find a job search group and start applying for jobs online relentlessly?
Nope. He just got online using his phone and secured job #1.
“Dad, I’m driving for Door Dash starting this afternoon.” What, no job interview?! Nope, I’m driving for them starting this afternoon. I have no idea what information he had to input online. What I know is that he made $42 in his first afternoon/evening of work. And he made $250 his first week. He earned enough “scratch” that soon my other two kids were Door Dashing too.
And now for job #2.
Alex got online again (this time on his computer), answered some questions, and got hired. One day! And by whom?!
Only the world’s largest online retailer, that’s who! Fifteen bucks an hour to start, in one of their fulfillment warehouses. He needed to take some online training once hired, and bring his employment authorization documents into the site HR office the next day to be validated.
So the next morning, he got up and grabbed his drivers license and social security card and headed for the fulfillment center. When he arrived, he entered the parking lot on the wrong end of the building. “Dad, it took me five minutes to drive to the other end of the building in the parking lot”. So it’s a big place. The world’s largest online retailer sells lots of stuff!
Upon entering the proper entrance to the building he was unceremoniously greeted by an HR representative with “Name?” Alex Baldwin. The HR representative asked for Alex’s employment authorization documents and asked “did you complete the online training?” Yes. “Thank God” the HR representative gasped.
Perhaps a bad day at the world’s largest online retailer?
As the HR representative retreated behind a door to validate Alex’s documents he took a quick look around. A large sign in the small room he was waiting in proudly read, We’ve Hired 1763 people at this location so far this year. It was May.
The HR representative returned promptly and my son asked, “how many people work here?” “Too many” was the HR representative’s trite response, followed by “we’ll send you an email advising of the time and date you will start.”
And that was it. My son received an email later that afternoon advising that he would begin work the next day, 8am. Job #2 secured.
It’s been wild watching how my three young adult kids managed to stave off unemployment (they might have made more filing instead of working) and find jobs to earn some money during their COVID-19 impacted summers.
What does this tell us about the future of our profession? Maybe not much. But maybe, a lot more than we would like to believe.
Ed’s a career HR front man who’s advised business owners and the C-suite on developing great cultures and inspiring work environments since the profession was called “personnel.” Yeah, that makes him seasoned but also quick to call out the fluffy HR theoretical crap from HR strategies that actually work.
His versatility has taken him all over the world, continually acquiring knowledge of how to build a great company through innovative HR practices, learning mostly from real world experience and his own mistakes.
He’s the founder of HRO Partners, a HR consulting firm that specializes in guiding leaders on what they need and don’t need from HR for their business.