Today's post is by Dr. Chris Mullen, Executive Director of the Workforce Institute at Kronos. Here Chris reflects on how he feels as he's picking up the torch.

First, I am honored and humbled for this new opportunity and I am excited to continue working with the impressive group that make up The Workforce Institute advisory board.

Second, as I step into the role of executive director of The Workforce Institute at Kronos and as a board member for years both as a customer and a Kronite, I cannot help but feel a sense of awe with what my predecessor, Joyce Maroney and fellow board members have accomplished over the past 13 years. I had the opportunity to sit down with Joyce in her final podcast  and reflect on her milestones with the Institute. It is truly remarkable to see what was once just an idea flourish into the global think tank that the WFI has become.

My goal as executive director is to continue to fulfill the mission of the WFI as it still holds true and is near and dear to me.

The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated is a think tank that helps organizations drive performance by addressing human capital management issues that affect both hourly and salaried employees. Through education and research, we empower organizations with practical ideas for optimizing the 21st century workplace.

The reason this mission resonates with me is because I have lived in both worlds, the hourly and salaried. In a previous life, I worked for almost 10 years as an hourly employee in the construction industry. Both of my parents are hourly employees. Then after college, as a salaried employee, I was privileged enough to manage both types of employees and see firsthand the challenges that both sets of employees face. But throughout it all, I've never forgotten my roots.

In addition, it is my personal philosophy that we should always strive to better understand others, be open to different situations and new experiences, and constantly look for ways to improve what we do. One way I believe we can accomplish this is through quantitative and qualitative research, something the Workforce Institute has been at the forefront of and will continue to do. Another, is applying the research and findings to real situations to develop best practices. This is where the interdisciplinary thoughts from individual board members come into play via blog posts and conversations.  

I appreciate what The Workforce Institute has done, what it has become, and I look forward to being part of its future.

This is my last post as Executive Director of the Workforce Institute. This podcast is a conversation between incoming Executive Director Chris Mullen. Like the Beatles said, Hello Goodbye.

This is my last post as Executive Director of the Workforce Institute. This podcast is a conversation between incoming Executive Director Chris Mullen and me. Like the Beatles said, Hello Goodbye.

This is it, the last post from me. When I wrote my first post, on October 2, 2007, I never foresaw that I'd still be posting almost thirteen years later. At that time, we were experimenting, but not sure how far we'd take the Workforce Institute.

We've taken it pretty far. Over 800 blog posts and podcasts. 4 books. And so many wonderful HR experts who've lent a hand as board members, guest bloggers, podcast interview subjects, and book contributors.

I am thrilled that Chris Mullen is picking up the reins. Chris is a current Workforce Institute advisory board member and director of human capital management (HCM) strategic advisory services at Kronos. He has more than 15 years of experience as an HR leader and practitioner, having served as director of HR for Housing and Dining Services at the University of Colorado, where he managed the HR needs of more than 2,000 employees. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Northern Colorado with a research focus on work-life balance and the use of mobile technology.

In this, my last podcast for the WFI, I ask Chris about his vision for its future and he asks me how I'm feeling about walking away. You can listen in on our conversation on the player below.

Joyce Maroney welcomes Chris Mullen as new Executive Director of the WFI

Goodbye, everyone. It's been a great ride!

This is my penultimate post for the Workforce Institute! I've distilled 42 years of mistakes into my top five career lessons learned. I hope they'll help you save time and prosper.

Over the years, I've been asked for career advice or assistance many many times. How do I find my first job? I hate my job, how can I find a path to something else? I just got laid off and I don't know what to do. I'd like to work for your company, can you connect me there? My boss is great, but not helping me advance. My boss is terrible and sucking the life out of me. I'm only staying in this job because I need the money. How can I get a job like yours? The list goes on and on.

I'm retiring in five days, and have been thinking a lot recently about my own career highlights and disappointments. Everybody's different, but I think the following five lessons are relevant to most people. Like eat less, exercise more, they are both obvious and often hard practices to implement. Moving on to lesson 1...

You are in charge of managing your career

I know you have bills to pay and a boss to answer to. Those aren't reasons to remain unhappy indefinitely at work. Every job has its boring, routine, or downright unpleasant aspects. However, if you never feel excited or optimistic at work, it's worth it to figure out a different path.

BTW - I'm not saying that making a change is easy. You may need to go back to school. You may need to sacrifice compensation or perks. You may need to sacrifice a title. I experienced all of these and lived to tell about it. Don't let fear or ego stop you from doing what you need to do to get to a better place. In fact...

A little fear is healthy

Progress has a price tag in every aspect of life, but especially at work. New jobs, better projects, acquiring new skills, promotions, increasing responsibility and the other good stuff should stretch you to learn new things and operate outside of your comfort zone. Don't let yourself get stuck because you're afraid of appearing incompetent. One of the best ways to become more competent is...

Ask lots of questions

For me this was never hard, because it's in my nature to ask a lot of questions. I also started my career in science, and so was trained to ask lots of questions. I've noticed, though, that this can be hard for a lot of people.

Question why you're doing something before you do it. Ask lots of questions to make sure you understand the objectives and how success will be measured. Ask why "we've always done it this way". Ask others outside your firm how they do it. I can't remember a single significant example where I suffered negative consequences for asking questions. I can remember things that didn't go well when I failed to ask more than I did.

One of the most important questions to ask is to make sure you understand who needs to be part of a project or process before you start changing it. The human element is the most powerful of all in any organizational system. Which brings me to lesson 4...

Put yourself in the other person's shoes

I mentioned that I was educated and even worked for a few years as a scientist. In science, you think in terms of systems. You seek to understand the interdependence between the players in a system. That skill has always served me well.

We're all part of larger systems. Our decisions and actions affect other people for better or worse. Putting yourself in others' shoes isn't just about the Golden Rule (though you should practice that too), it's about stepping far enough back from a situation to understand the goals and constraints of the other players.

This technique is one I learned from Getting to Yes, a terrific book on negotiating. In the book, the technique is referred to as "stepping to the balcony". From the balcony, you can assess how your behavior and assumptions are helping or hurting your case with others.

Speaking of the needs of others...

Don't neglect the life part of work-life balance

My last lesson is one that I often struggled with. My husband and I were fortunate to have challenging and rewarding careers. We got to travel the world on somebody's else's nickel and meet so many smart and accomplished professional colleagues. We were able to give our children the gift of an undergraduate education with no student debt. That all had a cost.

In the olden days, putting family first wasn't typical company policy in most places. You were expected to show up and do your thing. I was a working mother when that was still a somewhat novel concept. I missed events that were important to our children or friends and family for work stuff I can no longer remember. I never wanted to create the impression I wasn't completely on board.

The good news is that many (not all) leaders have come to understand that they get better results when their workers have the time and flexibility to invest in themselves, their families, and their communities. They understand that they are "borrowing people from their lives", a quote I love from Charlotte Lockhart. If your employer doesn't see the world that way, find one that does.

In closing

I hope some of these ideas will help you. I wish you good health and great adventures. Take care of yourselves.

It is April 6 in Massachusetts and currently 34 degrees with wind chill making it feel like 29.  Although crocuses and daffodils have been valiantly trying to bloom during sunny periods in recent weeks, we're all still tromping around in warm socks and down coats.  The folks who braved Fenway Park yesterday for a 12 inning opening day game were treated to near freezing temperatures - though perhaps consoled by the Sox 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.

Even if the current forecast for some snow this weekend dampens our spirits, we know that spring will eventually be here.  We'll put away the down and wool, and break out the sandals.  We'll applaud the change in seasons, confident that spring will give way to our brief and glorious New England summer.  By late fall, we'll be looking forward to the first flakes of snow, because to live in New England means that we have selective amnesia that allows us to endure winter over and over again.

In our work lives, similar cycles play out year after year.  The excitement of a new year, project or opportunity brings with it highs and lows as the reality of execution meets the challenges of not-quite-enough resources and changing circumstances.  Bosses and coworkers come and go.  If we're lucky, we hang on to a few good relationships beyond the workplace.  And at some point for all of us, we'll transition out of the workplace altogether, leaving its peculiar circadian rhythms behind.

In January of this year, I joined the ranks of Boomer workers who are approaching retirement age, and transitioning to a part time position as a means of achieving more work life balance without giving up the personal and economic benefits of work.  In their 2017 Retirement Confidence Surveythe Employee Benefit Research Institute reported that although 79% of workers plan to work for pay in retirement, only 29% of retirees reported that they had actually done so.  Almost all who did so worked for reasons that weren't solely financial: staying active and involved (90%), enjoy working (82%), or a job opportunity came along (47%).

I'm still adjusting to the more leisurely rhythms of life as a part time worker after 40 years of go go go.  I am only responsible for myself after having led teams for 25 years.  As I discussed with Sharlyn Lauby of the Unretirement Project a couple of months ago,  making the transition from full time to part time work is a process.  As Pete Seeger sang in Turn! Turn! Turn!, quoting Ecclesiastes 3:1-8,  "To everything there is a season...a time to plant, a time to reap".  As this first spring of semi-retirement begins, I look forward with great anticipation to seeing what this new phase of my  life will yield.

Picture taken in Tokyo, January 2018.  Semi-retirement means more time for travel, among other things!





According to Pew Research, the Millennials have finally overtaken Boomers in the workforce.  This demographic shift has a lot of repercussions in the workplace.  For years we've been talking about similarities and differences between the generations at work.  The stereotypes abound - Milliennials are digital natives, Boomers have trouble with the remote control; Millennials want it all now, Boomers worked their way up the ladder, etc.

Whether some of these multi-generations cliches are true or not, the Millennials are entering the management ranks as they mature and their Boomer bosses start to head for the retirement exit ramp.  What happens now?

I had that conversation recently with two of our Workforce Institute board members, Dan Schawbel and John-Anthony Meza.  Dan is a bestselling author and founder of, a research and advisory membership service for HR professionals, as well as managing partner of Millennial Branding, a Gen Y research and consulting firm.  John-Anthony is the Human Resources Officer (HRO) for the Community Health Accreditation Program (CHAP), where as a member of the senior leadership team, he provides strategic leadership and direction for all facets of human resources.

Some of the topics we discussed included:

You can listen to our conversation here.

What do you think? Is the rise of the Millennial Manager the dawn of a new age, or more of the same?

Relevant Links:

Sue Meisinger on When The Boomer Levee Breaks

Research conducted by Dan Schawbel:

GenX/Baby Boomers on what they think about Millennials   

Millennials and women not aspiring to senior leadership  

Millennials want more frequent feedback 

Millennials lack soft skills  


Fans of our blog and the podcast series should be very familiar with the work of MIT business professor Zeynep Ton. We've cited her book, “The Good Jobs Strategy,” on several occasions, as well as her research showing that paying workers better and treating them better is - surprise - better for the bottom line. We've also cited research from Gallup indicating that companies with a highly engaged workforce outperform their competitors by almost 150% in earnings per share.

Time and again research proves that engaged employees create happier customers, which leads to better company performance. At The Workforce Institute, we call this the virtuous cycle of engagement. So what does it take to put the right people in the right place at the right time to deliver a great customer experience?

Dr. Scott Spera has some thoughts on that question.  Scott is the director of analytics solutions at Convergys, an organization that helps its clients improve customer loyalty, reduce costs, and generate revenue through programs like customer care, analytics, and tech support. Scott is directly responsible for designing and implementing best practice customer experience measurement and improvement programs. One of my responsibilities at Kronos is to lead our Voice of the Customer program, and we happen to be a Convergys customer - so was very pleased to have the opportunity to speak with Scott about how Convergys uses metrics to drive performance.

You can listen to our conversation to hear his anwers to the following questions:

1.  How have you been able to measure the relationship between improved customer experience and higher revenues?

2.  What are the biggest drivers of employee engagement at Convergys?

3.  How do leaders create and sustain a culture where engagement can thrive?

4.  What are the reasons for a break in the chain where the vision of the organization does not connect with first-line supervisors or vice versa?

5.  Are there any engagement tips you'd recommend to get leaders onboard, or to help with building engagement in other companies?

Listen to the podcast here.





At a recent board of advisors meeting, members of The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated discussed the top issues we believe will impact the world of workforce management in 2015. Individual board members also recorded personal predictions that will affect their respective industries that you can view on youtube.

We'll be discussing these predictions - and yours? - during a Tweet Chat on Thursday, Jan. 22 from 12:00-1:00 p.m. ET to discuss 2015 workplace trends and predictions.  Use #KronosChat to participate.

 Top Trends for 2015

  1. Regulations Shake up the Workplace: Minimum wage law changes and looming U.S. Affordable Care Act deadlines dominated 2014 headlines, but organizations will feel the impact of these and other legislated changes in 2015. Additionally, with continued public discourse on non-exempt workers and topics surrounding a living wage, new legislation is expected to arise in this final term of the Obama Administration. With today's regulations administered not only at the national and state levels but down to the city, municipal, and individualized union levels, new compliance requirements will shake up processes for organizations while adding another layer of complexity for national and  multinational organizations.
  2. Employees are an Asset: Successful organizations have learned that excellent financial returns do not have to come at the expense of the employee. Research shows that employees - especially the front line, hourly workforce - should be seen as an asset, not just a cost to be managed.  Successful organizations will invest more in their workforces to increase employee engagement and create a virtuous cycle that leads to happy customers.
  3. Seismic Shift in Generational Workforce Dynamics: Baby Boomers - the largest generation to ever hit the workforce - will continue retiring in droves as their children take on more workplace responsibility. As their predecessors exit the workplace, many Generation Xers could see increased opportunity, including long-awaited pay raises. Millennials will take on management positions for the first time. Talent retention and career development will be key in 2015 as organizations train new managers while working to simultaneously shrink the skills gap and hold onto knowledge assets of a retiring workforce.
  4. Analytics for Evidence-based Decision Making: Most organizations drowned in data in 2014, as many have not yet unlocked the secret to analytical success. However, organizations that have lagged behind will take notice of winning big data best practices from previous years, while workforce management tools will deliver analytics for evidence-based decision making in 2015. Industry-specific solutions, visualization technology, and new applications from specialized consultation and services vendors will utilize existing workforce management data to create actionable insight.
  5. Consumer Technology Infiltrates Workforce Management: Human resources, operations, and management professionals would be wise to keep an eye on news from the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show, as consumer technologies are poised to dramatically impact workforce management. Mobile devices and social media have transformed the way employees and employers communicate, while gamification and wearable technologies are expected to win in the workplace. Workforce management software suites and mobile platforms will continue to evolve with consumer software design concepts, including increased focus on the user experience (UX), responsive design, and drag-and-drop and touchscreen performance.

If you'd like to hear all of these predictions and more directly from our board members, you can find them on youtube.

Related Information:

2015 Major Tech Trends for Small & Medium Businesses

When Will (or Did?) Wearable Technology Come to Your Workplace?


Happy (Almost) New Year everybody.  And welcome to the last podcast of 2014.  Coming soon - a new year, new resolutions, and hopefully some new inspiration to drive us all to do some great stuff at work.  In this podcast, I'm chatting with William Tincup, Principal Analyst at Key Interval.  William started Key Interval this year to provide HR professionals with "disciplined, pragmatic research to help practitioners separate fact from anecdote."

William has been working with HR pros and the people who sell to them for many years. This gives him a unique perspective on today's topic - that is how marketing and HR could work together to create cohesion between organizational and employee branding.  Your brand is your promise of value - to customers and employees.  More importantly, your brand reputation is the sum of all the interactions that customers and employees have with you.  What are you doing to burnish that brand?

Listen to the podcast below for our take on these questions, among others:

Relevant Links:

William Tincup - Is a Chief Brand Officer Necessary?

Podcast with David Creelman on how big data can enhance HR practices






burgess meredith twilight zoneSince many of you will be enjoying some well earned downtime over the next two weeks, you may be looking for reading material to break up the non-stop viewings of Miracle on 34th Street and Scrooged. Career management and the Market Basket saga dominated the top ten most popular posts from the Workforce Institute this year.  I'm not sure what to read into this, but perhaps it shows how much people want to get more out of their work lives, and how fascinated they are by the rare situation where employees are passionately attached to their employer and colleagues.

My favorite marathon during year end is the Syfy Twilight Zone marathon.  This starts at 8:00 am on December 31st and continues through the early morning hours of New Year's Day.  For one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes of all time, about a guy who doesn't like his job very much, scroll to the bottom of this post to see the end of the episode "Time Enough at Last".

Top 10 Posts of 2014:

  1. Managing Your Career - 4 Rules for Taking Charge
  2. Are Myths You Tell Yourself About Your Career Holding You Back?
  3. The Workforce Institute Board on the Top Five Trends in Workforce Management for 2014
  4. Top 10 Career Myths - and how they hold you back (Part 1)
  5. Market Basket According to the HR Bartender: What Does Employee Engagement Look Like? This.
  6. Market Basket Employees Willing to Fight for Leader
  7. Top 10 Career Myths - and how they hold you back (Part 2)
  8. When will (or did?) wearable technology come to your workplace?
  9. The Scientific Method isn't Just for Scientists
  10. Is Employee Engagement Ever a Bad Thing? (Market Basket Saga Continued)


Wearable Technology

Wearable technology is not new, but the increasing functionality and decreasing size of wearable devices are spawning a growing industry.  Devices are increasingly smaller, more intelligent, and more wearable than in the past. They can collect more information including location information through GPS or access points and employee biometric data such as movement, heart rate, sleep patterns, and fatigue.  Sensors can be embedded almost anywhere - such as on an employee's uniform or even on tiny stickers on a person's skin.  Employee data from wearable tech can be combined with data from other sources to provide real time visibility into worker productivity and availability.

There a lot of vendors in this space and the global market for wearable tech is anticipated to grow from over $9 billion in 2014 to over $30 billion by 2018.  As the variety and volume of these devices increases, organizations are taking notice of potential benefits of newer wearable technologies.  We recently conducted a global study to assess worker attitudes toward wearable tech.  You can read the results of our Wearable at Work survey here.

Some of the highlights we found interesting:

  • US adoption of wearable technology for personal use is low compared to other world regions. Only 13% of all US respondents use wearable technology in their personal life, with Bluetooth devices and fitness monitors leading the way compared to 73% in China, the highest ranking region surveyed.l
  • 82% of adults in India and Mexico, and 81 percent in China, have worn technologies such as headsets, smart badges, and barcode scanners for work-related activities, while only 20 percent of U.S workers have done so.
  • 87% of worldwide respondents see at least one potential personal work benefit (U.S. = 61%) with improved safety for staff and customers rating high overall.

We'd love to hear from you about your thoughts on wearable technology in the workplace.  I'm co-hosting a tweet chat on Monday, December 1 at noon  with Stowe Boyd,  lead researcher for the future of work and work technologies at Gigaom Research.  You can join the tweet chat at #WearablesAtWork.

Relevant links to learn more about wearable technology in the workplace:

Wearable Technology Set to Take the Workplace by Storm - Gigaom Research

US Perception of Wearables at Work Lags Rest of World - Gigaom Research

Will the Workplace Lead Wearable Technology Adoption? - Forbes

Kronos Brings Bio-Tracking Wearable Tech into the Workplace - BostInno

Presentation on the Future of Wearable Technology - Joyce Maroney








53millionfreelancers1One of the most important issues we help our clients address is the need to match their workforce to a changing workload. One way to do this is to use workforce analytics and scheduling technology to make data driven decisions about how to deploy talent. That talent often consists of a mix of full time, part time and contingent (temporary) workers.  The chart here from Harvard Business Review notes that the different categories of temporary workers  represent a significant portion (31%) of the US workforce.

The rise of the freelance economy has been predicted frequently in the last 15 years or so.  When I worked at talent management vendor BrassRing  (now IBM Kenexa) years ago, we frequently discussed whether the resume was dead, whether the internet would remove the role of the recruiter altogether, and whether the freelance economy would replace the traditional model of employer-employee.  While the resume is still with us, social tools like LinkedIn have made it easier than ever for recruiters (yup, still with us) to find great talent.  And yes, the freelancers continue to become a more important part of the overall workforce.

In a new blog post on Harvard Business Review, Workforce Institute board member David Creelman and his co-authors John Boudreau and Ravin Jesuthasan write about the emergence of talent platforms that help organizations hire and manage freelance workers. The examples in this article are focused on creative talent for project-based work at ad agencies.  Read on to learn about how some of these new talent platforms are enabling the connection of freelancers and those who need their services in "Tongal, dLance, and Topcoder Will Change How You Compete".  The question the article raises is how easily this model could be extended to other types of freelance work.

What's going on in your organization?  Do you use a lot of freelancers?  Do you use talent platforms like the ones mentioned in the HBR post to engage and manage them?







Today's post is part 2 of a 3 part series on the career myths that can hold you back professionally. Part 2 focuses on managing yourself at work.

Myths About Managing Yourself at Work

You need to be outgoing and liked by everyone to succeed.

You need a mentor to be successful. 

Networking is most useful when you're looking for a job.

  1. Familiarize yourself with professional associations - national and local  - where people in your field get together.
  2. Talk to your manager about paying for your attendance at these professional conferences as part of your development plan.  If you can't attend in person, you may still be able to access conference presentations in online forums connected to the event.
  3. Make sure you're a member of online communities that are active in your profession.  This can be a great way to “meet” people.  I've made some great connections by complimenting people on their content in forums then connecting with them by phone or in person later.
  4. SOCIAL MEDIA! You have LinkedIn - you can find your way to just about anybody you'd like to meet.  Twitter is another way to connect with people.  Share interesting information on your feed.  Compliment others on theirs.
  5. Actively look for ways to contribute back to your network - send people information you think will be useful to them, make introductions for them.

You need to focus on becoming the best functional expert possible.  Success means knowing all the answers.

Taking risks can be bad for your career.

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