Author Archives for dancrosstaw

About dancrosstaw

Dan Cross is particularly passionate about two things - basketball and human resources. Unfortunately, Dan was never drafted into the National Basketball Association (NBA) so he embraced a career in Human Resources instead. Driven by data, Dan challenges conventional HR and People practices through the use of analytics, human-centered design, and agile methodologies. An advocate for disability employment, Dan coaches for Special Olympics and regularly volunteers as a vocational rehabilitation specialist. When he’s not in the office, on a plane/train, or on the court – he’s most likely on Twitter (@CrossOverHR).

If You Build It, They Will Come: Create a Positive Company Culture for More Effective Recruiting

Create a Positive Company Culture for More Effective Recruiting

Many recruiting departments struggle to find and hire talent that has both the skills required for the job and the right “fit” for the company culture. This struggle only intensifies when the current culture is not ideal for the industry, growth stage or business strategy of the organization. It’s simply backwards to think that hiring the right people will be the cure to fix an existing negative company culture.

Rather, HR professionals and business leaders must first work to address the culture of the organization. Once a positive, collaborative and cool corporate culture is established, you’ll be able to more effectively recruit positive, collaborative and cool candidates.

Look no further for confirmation of this than the 1989 classic movie Field of Dreams, starring Kevin Costner. Costner’s character, Ray Kinsella, a farmer and baseball fan, hears whispers of the phrase “if you build it, he will come” while walking through his cornfield. He decides that if he can build a baseball field on his farm, then the ghosts of his favorite players and father will come to him. This brief synopsis doesn’t do the movie justice – so if you haven’t seen it, check it out when you have some time to spare.

Back to the theme of this post: Building a positive company culture isn’t as daunting as it seems. Sure, it will take time and resources – but not as much as you might think. One way to get started is with programs like TicketsAtWork’s new Reward Management Solution, which helps boost employee engagement through recognition and employee awards. How an organization rewards employees is a key indication of the company culture – and can be a big draw in recruiting top talent and cultural contributors for your organization.

In a nutshell: Build a thriving company culture and yes, they will come.

Top 10 Takeaways from #SHRM17

Top 10 Takeaways from #SHRM17

My mind is still spinning from all the thought-provoking sessions (or maybe from the long nights on Bourbon Street) following the 2017 SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition in New Orleans. There were so many opportunities to learn, network and have fun. Here are my Top 10 Takeaways from this year’s SHRM Annual Conference:

  1. Being humble is critical for all leaders and teams. Humility was a key theme for almost every keynote or must-see speaker, from Kat Cole to Patrick Lencioni, and even Laila Ali. As an HR professional, it’s important to remember this valuable trait in our day-to-day interactions and in how we coach our employees to be better team players.
  2. No, robots are not taking over the world. However, they will dramatically change how we get work done. You may have thought artificial intelligence or AI was only connected to self-driving cars or virtual assistants (hey there, Alexa!). The conference exposed a variety of interesting HR or Recruiting applications, however. The effective utilization of AI proved it can help streamline the candidate selection process or help employees navigate their benefits and administration. Looking ahead, it’s clear AI will continue to penetrate our daily lives, particularly in the office.
  3. Wellness programs are key. I took a lot of steps at SHRM. Of course, I forgot my Fitbit charger so I wasn’t able to track them all but the first day alone I walked over 23,000 steps. On the next day, I certainly walked the same, if not more, but my Fitbit was nothing more than a dead-battery fashion statement around my wrist. The continued emphasis on health and wellness was on full display at this year’s SHRM Annual Conference. If you don’t already have a wellness strategy in place for your workforce, get on it.
  4. Data, specifically people/talent/HR data, is becoming more and more ubiquitous. The majority of speakers discussed the importance of leveraging data to make decisions or used it themselves to build a business case for their message. Also, almost every exhibitor pitched advanced analytics or reporting as part of their product or service suite. In short: Data is now at the forefront of everything we do in HR and it’s not going away any time soon.
  5. Employee engagement continues to be a priority for many companies. Everyone’s looking for the “secret sauce” to full employee engagement. After all, engagement is powerful – research shows that it leads to improved retention, hiring – and business results. However, as many speakers note, it’s actually rather simple – treat your people like people and recognize and reward them regularly. Check out TicketsAtWork’s new sleek and intuitive Reward Management Solution as a potential provider for your company’s engagement efforts.
  6. Student loan assistance is the latest “hot” benefit trend. The crippling student loan debt described seemingly daily in the news has forced companies to address it as part of their employee benefits package. The focus on education is not new. Tuition reimbursement programs have been around for a while. Loan repayment assistance programs for previously received degrees, however, is picking up steam and will be a benefits package game-changer in the coming years.
  7. A basic benefits package is no longer enough. At the SHRM Annual Conference, SHRM released the 2017 Employee Benefits Report. The report provides in-depth analysis for HR professionals, including resources and information about trends and employee expectations for the market and various industries. In a nutshell: No longer can companies simply offer the basic benefits package and average pay if they expect to compete in the war for talent.
  8. Performance management needs a revamp. HR professionals continued to show their great disdain for the typical annual performance management cycle. There were so many performance-related exhibitors that I lost count after picking up my thirteenth branded pen. In 2017, figuring out how to effectively revamp the performance management process for your organization will be critical.
  9. Employees are looking for more than a paycheck. As the former SVP/Head of HR and People at Google Laszlo Bock shared, HR professionals must help employees find purpose and meaning in their work and the organization. Ask yourself, “What is my company’s mission?” and then try connect it to the work that each and every employee performs for your organization.
  10. I need to go back next year. It was another awesome experience and I’m already getting pumped for the takeaways I’ll come away with next year. I look forward to seeing you in Chicago for the 2018 SHRM Annual Conference!

Did you attend the 2017 SHRM Annual Conference? If so, what were your top takeaways? Send a tweet to Dan Cross (@CrossOverHR) on Twitter and tag it #SHRM17.

By: Dan Cross

#SHRM17 Recap from New Orleans

SHRM 2017 Recap in New Orleans

The SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition was hosted in New Orleans this year. Over 15,000 HR professionals were in attendance from all different human resources functions, industries and states and countries. For a behind-the-scenes view of the conference, check out my takeover of the TicketsatWork (@TicketsatWork) Twitter account.

The must-see speakers certainly impressed with a recurring theme of hard work and humility. Kat Cole, Group President at FOCUS Brands Inc. (parent company to Cinnabon, Inc.), shared a variety of lessons with the large crowd during the opening general session. One of her thought-provoking, inspirational quotes stuck with me more than the others, “Never forget where you came from but don’t you dare let it define you.” In a humbling approach to kick-off Day Two, Laszlo Bock, former SVP/Head of HR/People at Google, encouraged the audience to help employees find purpose and meaning in the work they do every day.

The following day, Patrick Lencioni, founder of The Table Group, discussed the three ideal values of a team player: “Be hungry, be smart and be humble.” This solidified the trend of the importance of humility in leadership and human resources. Lastly, early Wednesday morning featured professional boxer and entrepreneur, Laila Ali. She inspired the audience with a detailed story of her athletic and entrepreneurial journey through her dedication and constant reinvention.

Attendees had the opportunity to check out vendor solutions and collect branded swag in the exposition hall in between the speaker sessions. The expo hall itself was massive; it seems to get bigger and more overwhelming each and every year. The TicketsAtWork booth had lines around the corner with many excited attendees waiting in line to get a picture taken with Gru and the Minions from Despicable Me. (Not surprisingly, the Minions were a hit! Check out the snaps from our popular photo booth.)The TicketsatWork team also stayed busy showcasing live demos of the platform on large computer screens or chatting with attendees about the importance of corporate rewards and the impact on employee engagement.

Of course, what would a conference be without some fun and networking? On Sunday evening, TicketsatWork and Universal Orlando Resort hosted a cocktail reception at Generations Hall – a lavishly decorated venue originally built in the 1820s as a sugar mill. The attendees, full from a delicious dinner, were shown a sleek and intuitive Reward Management Solution that allows business leaders to plan, schedule and distribute rewards to their employees all in one platform.

Up next during the reception was a special presentation from Project:Time Off, a nonprofit initiative that was born out of the U.S. Travel Association aimed at transforming America’s thinking and behavior about vacation time. I was blown away by some of the stats, like this one: There were 662 million days of unused vacation time in 2016 alone. It inspired me to book a weekend vacation over the Fourth of July holiday, and hopefully a few more throughout the year! The evening wrapped up with a generous raffle for gift cards and a trip to Universal’s Volcano Bay. It was great to experience how the TicketsatWork organization treats and rewards their customers and conference attendees.

Hope to see you for the 2018 SHRM Annual Conference in Chicago. If we’re lucky, we’ll have another photo opportunity with the Minions!

Must-See Speakers at #SHRM17 in New Orleans


Get pumped! The 2017 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Annual Conference & Exposition is only a few days away. This will be my third time attending the annual conference and I have yet to be disappointed by all of the options for speakers, concurrent sessions and networking opportunities. But, without a little guidance, having all these options can also be a bit overwhelming. Here’s my take on the must-see speakers for #SHRM17:

  • Kat Cole: Kat is a food service leader – but she’s also a lot more. Cole is active in providing advice to and investing in start-ups, and she also gives back her time and resources as a humanitarian. Her story is often shared as inspiration: She moved up from working as a hostess at the age of 17, to restaurant and corporate jobs, and eventually became Vice President of Training and Development for Hooters of America, Inc. She is now Group President at FOCUS Brands Inc. (parent company to Cinnabon, Inc.).
    Session: “Be a Leader of Innovation and Progress: How to Iterate, Adapt and Succeed Faster” on Sunday at 2:30pm
  • Steve Browne: Steve, Steve, Steve. He won’t be hard to find, that’s for sure. Steve helps define what it means to be an “extrovert” and can typically be seen wearing a tie-dye t-shirt. He will strike up a conversation, give advice and hug just about every conference attendee. His session will focus on the brand of HR and how to improve it, apply relevant skills and integrate it into your company brand. Should be a great one!
    Session: “Brand Name HR: Giving Your Function Life and Purpose!” on Tuesday at 2:15pm and a Smart Stage Session, “Connecting on Purpose: How to Make Your Conference Experience Last” on Sunday at 12:50pm
  • Laszlo Bock: The former head of HR/People at Google is an inspiring advisor and best-selling author. If you’re interested in data and analytics related to the HR industry, make sure you catch Laszlo’s session. He is often referred to as a key figure in the creation of the “people analytics” field. In 2010 he was named “Human Resources Executive of the Year” and in 2015 the “HR Professional of the Decade.” If that impressive resume doesn’t draw you in, Laszlo also reveals more than a few fun facts: He held a world record for Greek Syrtaki dance and was, at one time, ranked as the best player in the world for the video game, Assassin’s Creed.
    Session: “Work Rules! Insights from Inside Google and Elsewhere to Transform How You Live and Lead” on Monday at 8:30am
  • Heather Kinzie: As the workforce becomes increasingly connected through technology and the desire for improved work-life balance grows, remote workers will be on the rise. Heather will highlight the critical elements to address in order to maximize the individual and team performance management of remote workers in your organization. Heather is also a member of the #SHRM17 Bloggers and Social Media team so be sure to follow her for awesome connections and hilarious insights.
    Session: “Out of Office Rise of the Remote Worker” on Wednesday at 11:30am and a Smart Stage Session, “STRIVE! Endeavor to Discover, Innovate, and Grow! on Monday at 3:20pm.
  • Patrick Lencioni: Patrick’s illustrious career has focused on a variety of leadership models and how to build high-performing teams. In his general session, he will share the three indispensable virtues that make some people better team players than others. This approach has served as the basis for hiring and evaluation at his own firm (The Table Group) for the past two decades, and now offers an effective method for leaders to identify, cultivate and recruit true team players in any organization.
    Session: “The Ideal Team Player” on Tuesday at 8:30am
  • Dan Schawbel: Dan is a best-selling author and researcher who will be discussing some of the key workplace trends impacting HR practitioners today and tomorrow. If you can’t catch him live or just want to know more, check out one of his books, Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success or Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building Your Future.
    Session: “The Top 10 Workplace Trends of 2017” on Tuesday at 2:15pm
    Laila Ali: Wrapping up the conference in the closing general session, Laila will share how she has reinvented herself from world champion athlete to TV personality/author to entrepreneur. One thing we know: She will inspire the audience to “fly like a butterfly, sting like a bee” borrowing a quote from her father, Muhammad Ali, legendary boxer and activist.
    Session: “Reinventing Yourself” on Wednesday at 8:30am

Between these awesome speakers, make sure you visit the TicketsatWork Booth #3047, in partnership with Universal Orlando Resort™, and learn how we help employees save big on thousands of travel and entertainment experiences as they plan for their next vacation. The team from Project: Time Off will join TicketsAtWork at the booth to connect and answer questions about their recently released State of the American Vacation report. Project: Time Off is a nonprofit initiative that was born out of the U.S. Travel Association aimed at transforming America’s thinking and behavior about vacation time. Be sure to follow EBG and TicketsatWork to stay up to date on all the great happenings, giveaways and grand prize sweepstakes.

[Photo: Laila Ali is a featured speaker at SHRM 2017 in New Orleans (Getty Images)]