T@W Weekly: Diversity-as-a-Service

LinkedIn's lack of controversy, HR in the public cloud, and what wellness can learn from big gyms

The Word: Wellness

Have you ever joined a gym? One of the most popular is Planet Fitness, with cheap rates ($10 a month, a small fraction of the rates of popular fitness groups like SoulCycle or Orangetheory) and what it boasts as a judgement free zone.

The Wall Street Journal covered why it might be too good to last. With an average membership of 7,500 people per gym, you’d expect that it would be packed. On a daily basis though, less than 10% of their members show up for a workout and many members rarely, if ever, show up.

Like most gyms, Planet Fitness make it difficult to cancel. Being able to easily sign up online for a membership, only to have to send a certified letter 30 days in advance of cancelling your membership seems like an easy way to squeeze extra months (or years) out of clients. It’s also a lot easier when your pricing looks closer to a Netflix charge than part of a car payment.

If you’ve ever tried to create a wellness program for your employees, none of the article is likely surprising. For those who already prioritize fitness, giving people a cheaper option will likely activate them. For those who don’t, maybe a lower price gets them to sign up and go a few times but it ultimately depends on them to make bigger changes in their lives. But lower pricing also lowers the stakes for those trying to change, something SoulCycle and Orangetheory may have going for them.

Unlike big gym chains that depend on all their members not taking advantage of their benefits, most organizations measure the effectiveness of wellness programs via participation rates. Companies need to think about how raising the stakes, rather than lowering them, can be a more effective lever for change.

That, or tell employees the only way to opt out of the wellness program is a certified letter with a month notice.

What the Click?

  • Micole Kaye covers how online review sites like SoftwareAdvice and Capterra work and how you can find which ones are more trustworthy. As a skeptic of the efficacy of online reviews in general, maybe there’s some hope.

  • Matt Charney writes about HR and recruiting tech built on the public cloud. If you’ve ever wondered why around half of enterprise HRIS systems are still on-prem, this is a major reason.

  • You’ve heard about IQ and EQ, but what about CQ (a.k.a. cultural intelligence)? Laura-Jane Booker covers how organizations are identifying leaders who can make use of cultural diversity in better ways.

  • Superminds could change how people work with autonomous technology (and maybe their perceptions, too). John Sumser writes about how this trend might help companies reorganize work and let human and machine work as one.

  • Time away from work is great for employees and employers. This is only the millionth article on this subject, yet U.S. workers are laggards in both receiving time off and using what they have. When will we learn?

  • Bill Kutik covers the latest critique of HR, this time by Marcus Buckingham in Nine Lies About Work. The perceived need for corporate control and uniformity is at the heart of many of the lies. I wonder if workplace tech will be responsive to that?

What About The Office’s Social Network?

With all the baggage that (rightfully) gets piled on Twitter and Facebook for being privacy-invading, radicalizing forces in our world, what about LinkedIn? The New York Times writes in a feature:

Considering its size and social footprint, LinkedIn has been a notably minor character in major narratives about the hazards of social media. The site hasn’t proved especially useful for mainstreaming disinformation, for example, nor is it an obvious staging ground for organized harassment campaigns. It is unique among its social media peers in that it has not spent the last five years in a state of wrenching crisis.

And perhaps even more importantly, LinkedIn is not, in the popular imagination, a force for radicalization, a threat to democracy, a haven for predators, an environment that encourages mob behavior, or even a meeting place for pot stirrers.

I probably frequent LinkedIn more than most, and what I will tell you is that outside of a few Cheddar videos about inventions that will never hit the mainstream, the place is boring, but weird, backpatting subculture. A true reflection of work? Maybe.

The Best of LinkedIn Twitter account is, perhaps ironically, the best source of this phenomenon, with gems like this popping up far too frequently:

It seems unlikely that LinkedIn will turn into Facebook, in spite of the meme-worthy posts that occasionally get shared on a different social network.

T@W Playlist of the Week

Today’s playlist is a podcast from my friends Laurie Ruettimann and Victorio Milian. What happens when ethical leadership questions intersect with the largest non-union lobbying influence for the workplace? Listen to this podcast today and understand the messy nature of HR’s role in workplace and politics.

And Finally, Diversity Software?

Workplace diversity and inclusion doesn’t seem like it has a natural place in the technology stack at work. Yet, as Mark Feffer covers for TechTarget, it’s a growing market and a growing challenge for organization. Like all things, it comes down to how data is being used:

The effectiveness of diversity and inclusion technology largely depends on its own code and the quality of the data sets it works with. While many people assume numbers don't lie, in truth, "there are biases in the data selected for the systems to use," said Nick Chatrath, managing director of U.K.-based staffing and recruiting firm Artesian Transformational Leadership. "And then there might be biases built into the coding and the way that different networks are put together."

Data and inherent biases in software are problematic in their own right but it hasn’t stopped companies from coming up with ways to technologize the process.

RedThread Research and Mercer estimate the market to be about $100M in size and they’ve also categorized diversity & inclusion into three helpful categories:

  • “D&I Focus” vendors: These vendors’ primary business is helping organizations address their D&I challenges.

  • “D&I Feature” vendors: These vendors offer feature or functionalities that cater specifically to D&I needs, but their primary business includes more than D&I.

  • “D&I Friendly” vendors: These vendors do not address D&I as their primary focus, and they do not market themselves specifically as doing so, but their features or functionalities could positively impact diversity and inclusion in organizations.

Ultimately, I believe every piece of technology that touches the workplace will have to be D&I friendly at the very least. A diverse and inclusive workplace is about more than one little piece of the puzzle. It has to be about everything.

That still includes people, and guiding managers and leaders to more inclusive practices will require some level of human interaction.

Cheers, Lance