Every week we scrape the internet for the latest and greates HR news, articles, and insights, compiling them here in a weekly roundup. In this week’s roundup, we learn about a new AI-driven add-on for Slack, the best metrics to make data-driven recruiting decisions, and implications for AI in the workplace. We’ll also look at how to choose a work/life balance and improving your leadership consistency quotient.
Joel Cheesman, TLNT
A company in Japan called AIR has just released an AI called Vibe that allows companies to monitor the morale of their employees by analyzing their Slack conversations. “The software works by monitoring conversations on the Slack app, tracking the overall mood of employees based on the five emotions of happiness, disappointment, stress, disapproval, and irritation,” Joel Cheesman explains. “The AI then plots the feelings on a graph, letting managers track what is causing mood swings throughout the day.” While technically designed to give managers insight into the morale of their teams, this new tool will also give insight into employees that are predisposed to complaining. While Vibe does not analyze private messages, it is seen by some as yet another step down the slippery slope toward corporate Big Brother.
In the relentless pursuit of productivity, this might be considered an inevitable development. But it’s becoming apparent that productivity is no longer the primary driver of revenue. Organizations like Amazon, Google, and Apple have created a new standard for revenue growth by focusing on innovation over productivity. This is not to say productivity is not a business necessity – that would be silly. But Amazon didn’t get to where it is today by becoming the most efficient seller of books. Will employees innovate and come up with avant-garde ideas if they’re constantly filtering their messages to fit what they think management wants to hear? It’s doubtful. As the gatekeeper for this sort of data, HR will play a key role in deciding the direction of the workplace.
John Sullivan, DrJohnSullivan.com
The five largest companies in the world excel at recruiting. By making decisions based on data, not intuition, they position themselves for recruiting domination. “Without that shift, not only will you consistently fail to recruit top talent, but also you will have literally no chance of landing the more difficult-to-recruit innovators,” says John Sullivan. He identifies seven of the most crucial metrics the best recruiting functions track:
- What parts of the application process are turning candidates away. A complex and time-consuming application hemorrhages qualified applicants – up to 9 in 10. Track time to apply and applicant drop off rates to evaluate the number of candidates lost to application frustration.
- The tremendous cost of excess position vacancy days. When work is not getting done due to vacancy, it has huge effects on an organization’s bottom line. Quantifying the exact revenue hit will help the recruiting function get the funds it needs to fill those positions quickly.
- What selection criteria matters for finding the best candidates. There are many factors that contribute to new hire success – and these are not necessarily degrees and grades.
- Why new hires leave. “Data reveals that one of the frequent causes of new hire turnover is their frustration because they have failed to quickly reach their expected level of productivity,” Sullivan explains. Utilizing data to build better onboarding protocols is critical to bringing new hires to full productivity.
- The performance differential of innovators and top performers. “One of the ways that companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook justify their focus on recruiting only “A level players” is to calculate what is known as “the performance differential.”” Sullivan explains. “This is the measurable increase in output between an innovator and an average performer in the same job.”
- Employer brand strength. Employer brand is built over a long period of time – it’s effectively a long-term recruiting play. To evaluate your brand strength, simply measure the number of applications you receive each year. Upward trends are a sign your brand is improving.
- Recruiting process efficiency. Streamlining the recruiting process not only helps you land the best talent faster, it also provides the data to improve it long-term.
Another great one from John Sullivan. Intuition and gut-feeling have traditionally played a strong role in hiring decisions, but as we make strides toward a more data-focused world, these methods are starting to show some wear. Google, Apple, and Facebook lean heavily on data to make recruiting decisions, and often go out of their way to gather previously unavailable metrics. You can’t really argue with the implications of these decisions – Google, Apple, and Facebook have been knocking it out of the park for over a decade. A good portion of Sullivan’s list are relatively simple fixes, too. Evaluating improvements in employer brand year over year requires only that a readily-available metric be viewed in a slightly different light.
Mike Haberman, Workology
Holding off the future is hard to do – and it seems like AI, machine learning, and automation are very much the future. Mike Haberman provides two ways to “future-proof” the workplace for human employees.
- Do More Training. “The future is not about acquiring more skills,” Haberman explains. “AI can do that too.” He contends that training soft skills that involve emotion and creative decision making should take priority. The safest jobs are those than involve a human component.
- Pay Attention to Employee Morale. A changing workplace that sees humans replaced with robots is sure to damage the morale of those that remain. HR will stand at the focal point of that shift, and be responsible for making unprecedented ethical decisions.
Haberman hits on an important point in the continuing “Will AI take all our jobs?” debate. Whether AI will eventually take all jobs, or simply improve productivity to the point where many are lost is an interesting debate – either way, HR will be left with the daunting task of maintaining morale as automation cuts away at the workforce. Honesty will be critical in creating a balance between the human workers that remain and the forces of automation. Because if employees can’t trust HR to be straight with them about their job security, who else can they turn to?
Kelly Dingee, Fistful of Talent
In Kelly Dingee’s screening of senior level candidates, she noticed a trend: work-life balance is a struggle for all of them. And when it comes to seeking new opportunities, work-life balance is consistently top-of-mind. Yet in our always-on, interconnected world, such a thing is hard to find. Dingee provides three ways to improve work-life balance for the long haul:
- Be present. “While it’s important to think of the future, it’s vitally important to be present in the moment,” Dingee says. “Start limiting your accessibility – whatever it takes to disengage.”
- Prioritize. Schedule smart and flexibly. Sometimes work has to take priority – and sometimes it doesn’t.
- Communicate. When you do disengage, clearly communicate when you will be open for engagement. “For my most recent vacation, I had one thing that I felt was “unfinished” before I left,” Dingee illustrates. “While I’m a gal that likes to clear the decks before I go, I did take 15 minutes each morning while having my coffee to scan email for updates on this one thing.”
While the “always-on” nature of the online business sphere has made flexible work possible to an unprecedented degree, for many it is more burdensome than freeing. Most flexible work advocates recommend a time of complete disengagement, but many workers find this impossible. There’s always some task on the horizon, some correspondence that needs responding to. Maintaining clear lines of communication and setting aside times to “re-engage” while disengaged is a solid compromise. Dingee strikes a nice balance between the necessities of the modern work environment and the necessities of being a functioning human.
Colette Carlson, TLNT
“Recent research suggests employees prefer a supervisor who consistently acts like a jerk rather than an unpredictable one who wavers between fairness and unfairness,” Colette Carlson begins. “Emotional exhaustion occurs when employees walk around on eggshells trying to second-guess how another will act or react to the same situation.” The consistency quotient is a measure of how consistent your interactions are with others. If some employees are given a pass for certain behaviors while others are not, it creates unnecessary tension in the workplace. Carlson provides three ways for leaders to increase their consistency quotient:
- Make time to connect and communicate. Make space on your calendar for conversations so you can learn what is going on in the trenches. “Well-run team meetings effectively communicate with many, but one-on-one’s deliver priceless insight and make others feel valued,” Carlson says.
- Say what you mean and mean what you say. Make good on your promises – it provides clarity and peace of mind when leaders follow through.
- Stay the course. Once you’re committed to a plan of action, see it through to the end. Stay focused.
“Shiny object syndrome” is common among many leaders. Presented with the latest and greatest idea they promptly drop their previous plans in its pursuit – much to the chagrin of those that need to make good on those plans. Following the advice in point #1 will make leaders consistently accountable to those under them and avoid shiny object syndrome.