Recently, there was a short article in the Wall Street Journal regarding the monitoring, tracking and data-mining companies are doing with their employees. It’s a natural response to be alarmed, but in my humble opinion this isn’t anything new. The tools to collect employee data and Large Company Corp’s ability to interpret that data have evolved, but the act of making sure your employees are using their time on the clock effectively, efficiently collaborating, and/or not breaking the law has been happening for a long time.
Stoking some nervousness around the potential police-state you’re working in makes for a great story and cute animation, but there is another way to interpret organizations having all this data that errs much more on the positive side. One that relates to our thoughts around the ‘Consumerization of the Employee Experience.’ The move by companies to treat their employees (and their data) with the same intent as brands do. Personalizing, customizing and aligning the working experience to the individual’s expectations (stated or unstated).
Interestingly, there was a recent post on the app, Fishbowl, about a similar situation where IT flagged to a manager that their newest hire was actively searching for jobs a month into their new role and on company time - the manager was looking for advice on how to broach this with their employee. Not surprisingly a large number of comments on this post were about the IT team’s actions (most employers make it quite clear that they are monitoring you and make you sign a contract in acknowledgement - IT is just doing their job). But there were also a handful of comments directed to the manager trying to understand what may have caused the employee’s unhappiness in their new role, asking why they wouldn’t use this information from IT to turn what might be a negative experience into a positive one.
That’s the key shift that employers, managers, leaders in companies need to make and need to prioritize. If we only use this new, rich employee data to contain, monitor and homogenize our people, we’re creating a terribly unbalanced relationship that fundamentally has no trust built into it.
However, if we use this data in ways to anticipate wants and needs, address nagging issues, build better processes and enhance experiences, we’re showing our people that they can trust us with their data, that we understand them on an individual, human level, and that we care about their experiences and well-being.
In a digital world our offline gestures matter even more
Like most of you, the number of conversations I’ve been having recently about Artificial Intelligence and where the digital world is heading has to be approaching the high triple digits. It seems to be all anyone wants to talk about and, fortunately for me, is an extremely exciting subject to explore.
The implications AI holds for our lives is really outrageous and when you start to drill that down to how it may impact talent strategies in the future – the possibilities are quite endless – Alexa voice applications, Chatbots, personal office assistants - I could go on and on. In fact, I’m sure I will in an upcoming post!
But what I’m really thinking about right now is how these digital enhancements to our lives are going to further highlight the importance of offline, real world actions.
Recently we’ve been growing our team in North America. We posted the opening and an algorithm sent us a ton of relevant applicants. Relevant based on a data framework aligned to “what” we were looking for and not necessarily “who” we were looking for. For our role the “who” was just as, if not more, important than the “what.”
Of course we scheduled phone interviews and in-person conversations to learn more about the people we were talking to. Nothing groundbreaking there, but we now knew more about who they really were and could begin to determine if they’d bring the right attributes to our team and fit the tight-knit group.
Had we been using a video interview platform we may have been told by yet another algorithm how trustworthy and honest our candidates were. If we were hiring a high-volume role, we may not have had the luxury to vet our candidates so thoroughly and would have relied even heavier on an algorithm to influence our decision.
In this instance our algorithm identified a high-potential candidate, we took things offline to understand them better and then the candidate did something all job search advocates recommend but few searchers do – they sent a handwritten thank you letter after our first telephone interview!
This was someone we knew we wanted to hire from our first conversation, but this extra level of attention and care shown really put them over the top. If we were stuck between two good candidates, this would have made the difference. Had we automated the entire process, well then we would never have gotten the letter in the first place.
In a world where it’s easier to ‘click and do’ then ‘think and do,’ this extra offline effort really stands apart.
Tim Middleton, Agency Director