T@W Weekly: Big Brother at the Office

California contractor laws, disappointing tech, and entitled millennials

The Word: HR Tech Update

Hey, all. My newsletter analytics show this is the second best place to put important information that I want you to read so this is the second most important thing I want to share with you today.

If you’ll be at HR Tech in Vegas in… checks calendar… two weeks(!) and you’re a tech vendor who’d like to do a briefing with me, you’re out of luck. I’m done doing briefings at shows, where your demo and talk track gets lost in a sea of other demos and talk tracks in my dehydrated, second-hand smoke addled mind.

Instead, if you’d like to connect, talk about what we’re both seeing in this wonderful industry like two adult humans, and fist bump/hug/shake hands all business like, send me an email (lancehaun@gmail.com). I love putting a person behind an impersonal email. If you want to do a briefing, let’s do it when I can focus 100% on what you’re telling and showing me and take exceptional notes that will actually benefit us both!

In case you’re wondering where the best place to put stuff I want you to actually read is, it’s the next section down. Fortunately, some of you have already skipped ahead to that.

What the Click?

  • Workers for app-based companies like Uber and Lyft should now be treated as employees according to a new California bill. Of course, it’s not going to be that easy, with some of those companies pledging $90M to fight it in court. It’s a lot easier to pay lawyers than drivers, I guess.

  • Kathryn Minshew, CEO and co-founder of The Muse, shares her story on how to break into the very insider world of talent acquisition and management technology. The skepticism that The Muse has overcome is impressive.

  • Should your work technology plans include disappointment? Too late, you may say, but David Creelman writes on TLNT that companies and tech providers often lose sight of the bigger picture: Overall improvement (which, almost every tech implementation accomplishes).

  • 45% of people in a new survey say that the workplace is skewed toward millennials. As a millennial, let me speak for all of us in saying that 45% is still less than half, and we could really work on getting those numbers much higher.

  • Other research on the employee experience shows that employers should focus more on internal service. Key moments, especially in onboarding and preparing for and returning from leaves, still have a lot of room to improve globally.

I Always Wanted a Big Brother

In 1984, a sort of government-driven paternalism on steroids has turned our (still somewhat) fictional future into an oppressive regime obsessed with control. What your office knows about you could be just as startling according to a report from Axios that includes tidbits such as:

  • IT departments regularly bug office workers' computers. Employers can install software to see every keystroke and print job, and even record every computer's screen at all times.

  • Email monitoring that once flagged predetermined keywords can now scan every message for emotional cues, giving bosses a heads up if someone's likely to quit, or if they seem to be considering corporate sabotage.

  • Cameras and sensors can monitor how long each individual worker spends at their desk.

Only a few states require employers to even notify employees about any of these actions.

Because I’m an entitled millennial, I never got this level of monitoring, even when I was in HR. Who cares if Brenda, your best SDR, spends her late afternoons on Amazon while dialing-for-dollars or gets up to talk to her colleagues?

And while I’m cautious about the level of surveillance at work, I’m also cautious about sensationalizing this as well. Do most IT and HR departments have the bandwidth to do deep dives on to screen recordings or monitoring camera data on when you’re going to the bathroom?

My guidance for employers has always been to disclose what your monitoring and why and for employees to understand it before you look up that weird fetish porn on your work iPhone. Seems easy enough but we aren’t there yet.

T@W Podcast of the Week

The great Matt Alder talks to Matthew Syed, former table tennis player and now journalist, about how we can diversify the thinking inside of our organizations. One great example Syed gives is about how the CIA is both individually perceptive but problematically blind as an organization, helping them miss key issues.

And Finally… Hiring for Fit

Suzanne Lucas, one of the OGs of HR blogging, dropped a doozy on Inc. that I must share with you:

Gala Camacho spotted a job posting on LinkedIn that she found sexist, so she commented that they "might reach a wider audience if your job ad was not so gendered and/or white.

But, it became a big deal when Relevant Software CEO, Andrew Burak responded and defended the picture saying, "It's just a very precise marketing approach and no more, no less. Do not look here for any inequality ground. According to our research, most of our potential candidates look like on the picture."

Big yikes.

Burak, to his credit, has tried to take on a pretty tepid backlash in a LinkedIn post. Whether you believe it’s simply backtracking or whether it was an honest mistake, you may be right in both cases.

Marketing based on pure demographics can be more precise than ever these days. You may “know” your best buyer is a 38 year old married Latina with two kids and a dog (whose mother lives nearby, whose best friend is pregnant, who lives within one mile of a Starbucks, and on and on…). But marketing this way is problematic, usually quite transparent, but not illegal.

For hiring, that’s a different story. Laws make it more complicated but jobs are always a scarce commodity. One person, one job (at least, ideally). That means when you imagine your best fit based on demographics, you’re doing it wrong. There can only be so many VPs of Engineering (scarcity) and those indicators of fit are probably skewed based on discrimination (what laws are trying to fix).

I am constantly on guard for “cultural fit” being used as a synonym for sameness. I think Relevant Software probably learned their lesson on this front as well.

Cheers, Lance