Archive for the ‘employer’ tag
Keas announced at Healthbeat today two new content partnerships with My Healthy Dish and Noshtopia that will help employees make wiser nutritional choices and save employers money on health care costs.
Businesses use Keas to create and manage their workplace health programs. The system promotes healthy behavior and teamwork by rewarding people for achieving simple exercise and nutrition goals through games and social motivation. Keas’ CEO Josh Stevens said that seventy to eighty percent of health care costs are preventable, like those caused by smoking and over-eating, or conditions triggered by certain habits and behaviors. Unhealthy habits can lead to lower productivity and the business bears the brunt of these costs. Keas uses gamification to make losing weight and making healthy choices a fun, social, and mobile experience.
“It is in employers’ best interest to motivate their employees to do the right thing,” Stevens said. “Healthcare costs are rising and every time an employee takes personal time off to visit a doctor or fill a prescription can result in $250-$500 in productivity costs. The productivity savings of health employees are huge.”
Stevens said his goal is to provide solutions for the “99 percent of a patient’s life when they are not a patient.” Often this means supporting actions like eating more fruits and vegetables and reducing stress. Obesity-related conditions cost around $150 billion a year and a nutritious diet is a central element of overall wellness.
Keas recently conducted a survey to track employee sentiment towards nutrition and gain insight into what it can do to improve workforce habits. The survey found that 73 percent of the U.S. workforce frequently or always reads nutrition labels, 86 percent is eating breakfast at least 5 days a week, and 94 percent is increasing the daily intake of fruits and vegetables. 63 percent believe that fast food and junk food are leading causes of obesity, and an increasing number of people are turning to home-cooking in an effort to eat healthier.
The partnerships with My Healthy Dish and Noshtopia will help employees do things like prepare green smoothies for the morning and provide inspiration for simple-to-prepare healthy dinners.
“These are the folks that publish best content in nutrition,” Stevens said. “They provide meal planning and recipe ideas from experts that employees can use for inspiration. We want to bring everyone together, including CFOs, HR teams, wellness experts, and employees in one central portal.”
The easier it is to integrate nutritious eating into every day life, the healthier employees will be and the less employers will have to pay. It seems like a win-win, except for, maybe, the fast food franchises.
Photo Credit: Michael O’Donnell/VentureBeat
It wasn’t that long ago that we posted about why you should watch what you say on social media, especially in the light of the story that appeared in The Drum about the council press officer who was forced to quit his job after an ill-judged tweet.
Well, once again the issue has been raised in The Drum, this time looking at the legal perspective of work-related social media comments.
We’ve all been there – after a long and arduous week at work, you’re relaxing in the pub with colleagues and decide to rant about your employer or a client on your Facebook page.
After all, it’s your Facebook page so you can write what you like – right? You know your friends will have sympathy with your plight and will offer the soothing words you crave.
But what happens when your employer also sees your comment?
You could argue (as mentioned in The Drum’s article) that they shouldn’t be snooping and that reading your posts is like ‘reading your personal mail.’ But the post goes on to say that research suggests that ‘30% of employers have taken a member of staff through a formal disciplinary procedure as a result of comments made on their social media pages.’
The problem seems to lie in the potentially viral nature of social sharing. You may well post your opinion on your wall, but you have no control over who shares it, re-posts it on their wall or re-tweets it. Before you know it, your comment could be plastered all over cyber space.
So, is there anyway round this minefield?
Well, we all have lapses of judgement from time to time, but when they occur online in the social world, backtracking can be virtually impossible leading to serious consequences.
Although no company can prevent their staff from using social media, they should have a social media policy in place that clearly outlines what is and isn’t acceptable. Plus, they must also ensure they make it very clear what the consequences will be should anyone overstep the line.
What do you think?
As an employee, do you think it’s right that your employer should be snooping into your social world?
If you’re an employer, do you check up on your staff? Do you have a social media policy in place?
Leave a comment below and lets find out your views – whichever side of the fence you’re on.
ToutApp Comes to Outlook, Brings Its Message Tracking and Inbox Organizing Power Along With It [Windows Downloads]
Windows: ToutApp, one of our favorite tools to keep your Gmail inbox under control unveiled an Outlook plugin today that offers many of the same features for those of you who choose to (or are forced by your employer to) use Microsoft Outlook on the desktop. The new ToutApp for Outlook lets you see when recipients have opened emails you’ve sent them, compose a message but delay sending it until a scheduled time, and makes composing messages faster thanks to built-in templates for different contacts. More »
You can’t read any marketing-related publication without hearing some statistics about how companies are increasing budgets for digital marketing and that the number of digital marketing jobs will increase as a result. Case in point: According to a study by eMarketer, U.S. online advertising spending is expected to grow 23.3 percent to $39.5 billion in 2012. In addition to this growth prediction, at Aquent we saw a significant increase in demand for interactive design, creative, and digital professionals during the second quarter of 2012.
Ask a hiring manager their perspective on today’s digital job market and they would likely say they’ve got front-end development, interactive design, and UX jobs available, but they’re not able to find candidates with these types of specialized skills. If you ask a job seeker their perspective, they might say that no human could possess all of the skills required for the open job descriptions.
Pose the question to just about anyone working for a staffing agency placing marketing, creative, or digital talent and they’ll definitely say that all of the above is true. They will also be quick to say that both hiring managers and job seekers need to adapt their hiring, staffing, and job-hunting strategies for a new reality.
Hire people with specific skills
Can one person really be expected to: deliver beautiful creative, produce compelling content that can be shared on social media, write adaptive code for all of the interfaces your audience might be using, track and analyze massive amounts of data, and deliver leads that drive revenue? Whether looking for temporary or permanent hires, employers need to take a step back and make sure that their job descriptions are realistic. Taking the time to think about which skills are required versus which skills are “pluses” is key to making a successful short-term or long-term hire.
Staff up with contract talent
According to a 2012 Nielsen(TM) study, “Americans are consuming more content on more devices — often simultaneously.” Digital marketing has evolved far beyond display and search advertising. This fact poses not only a huge strategic marketing problem for brands that are trying to cohesively communicate their message across all platforms, but also a problem from a hiring perspective. Can you source enough job candidates to do the work in-house?
The answer is “yes,” but you may not be able to find candidates to do it on a full-time basis. Ten-plus years after we were introduced to the concept of a “free agent nation,” the idea continues to gain momentum. More and more highly skilled professionals are seeking out temporary or contract work as a replacement to fulltime employment. To adjust, some of the world’s largest brands are becoming more strategic about their staffing plans. They are working with ad agencies (who are also using contractors to keep pace with their client needs), staffing agencies, and bringing in freelance talent to build a more flexible workforce to help meet their digital marketing objectives.
Highlight variety in your portfolio or resume
While some job descriptions may be totally unrealistic, it is important to highlight your range for a potential employer. A digital marketing portfolio or resume shouldn’t showcase every project you’ve ever worked on, rather it should provide a potential employer with evidence that you have specialized in front-end development and also worked collaboratively on projects with analytic experts, interactive designers, and user-experience professionals. This type of displayed experience will go a long way in showing your prospective employer that you understand how all of the team members collaborate to design, execute, and evaluate a digital campaign.
Actively seek out professional development opportunities
The digital media landscape is rapidly changing. Online tools like Smarterer offer 39 tests in design and 89 tests in software development to help “show what you know.” If you score lower than expected, there are well-known online resources, such as Creative Edge or Team Treehouse, which offer no-cost or low-cost training options to help you stay ahead of the curve. Conferences like the HOW Interactive Design Conference can offer digital marketing professionals the opportunity to stay updated on the latest industry trends. Candidates who can talk about putting the most cutting-edge technologies to work for their digital campaigns are more likely to impress potential employers.
Yes, good digital talent is difficult to find, but qualified candidates are out there. The key for both hiring managers and job seekers is to adjust their expectations, mine their experience, and get to work.
On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.
“Businessmen entering into the digital world” image via Shutterstock.
I continue to be amazed at the repressive nature of a great deal of discourse online about the ‘obvious’ and ‘inherent’ need for individuals to self-censor online unless they are willing to lose their jobs.
The newest example is the following piece by Jon Hyman, who has a lot of badges on his site proclaiming his status as a top 25 this and a top 100 that. And – surprise – he is a lawyer.
After mentioning the brouhaha arising from Voula Papachristou’s racist remarks that led to her being tossed off the Greek Olympic team last week, Hyman goes on to make a sweeping overgeneralization, basically asserting that employers can fire workers far saying anything that annoys them:
If an employee doesn’t want something they say online to affect their employment, they shouldn’t post it. We can debate whether an employee should lose his or her job for something non-work-related he or she posts on his or her personal time. If, however, someone can connect an employee to his or her place of employment through an online profile, what is posted becomes fair game for an employment decision.
The takeaway might simply be that employers remind their employees to “be professional” online, and that businesses will hold employees accountable for what they post that could cast the company in a bad light.
Leaving aside how vague this all is — what is a ‘bad light’ defined as? — what about the basic premises of constitutionally protected freedoms of free speech? If individuals can be coerced from taking controversial stands by conservative employers, aren’t we ceding control of political discourse to business interests?
The First Amendment is a check only on the government, that the government will take no action to prohibit free speech. But this doesn’t extend to other employers, and as a result, employers often act as if they can fire an employee for any sort of public stance, online or in public.
In some states — California, New York, and Washington DC — there are laws barring discrimination based on political activities or affiliations. Colorado and North Dakota go further, prohibiting discrimination based on ‘lawful conduct outside of work.’ Some cities have similar rules (Seattle, Lansing MI and Madison WI).
It’s maddening that we do not have similar national laws protecting our freedoms.
Anyway, Hyman does continue with his screed, expressing his surprise that the National Labor Relations Board supports the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA):
Amazingly, however, the NLRB might take issue with such a policy.
In his latest missive on workplace social media policies, NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon passed judgment on the following neutral provision in an employer’s social media policy:
Remember to communicate in a professional tone…. This includes not only the obvious (no ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, etc.) but also proper consideration of privacy and topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory—such as politics and religion.
Mr. Solomon concluded that such a policy, which merely reminds employees “to communicate in a professional tone,” unlawfully restricts employees’ rights to engage in protected concerted activity:
We found this rule unlawful…. [R]eminding employees to communicate in a “professional tone,” the overall thrust of this rule is to caution employees against online discussions that could become heated or controversial. Discussions about working conditions or unionism have the potential to become just as heated or controversial as discussions about politics and religion.
Hyman leaves out the most important part of this discussion, which is that the NLRA prohibits employers from ‘chilling’ the workplace in regard to protected ‘concerted activities’, specifically, discussions about workplace safety, conditions, and collective bargaining. So vague policy descriptions that employees should be ‘professional’ and to avoid saying things that ‘reflect badly’ on an employer are unenforceable, and firing employees who — for example — complain about unsafe working conditions is illegal.
Hyman then concludes with the most blatantly reactionary summing up imaginable:
What’s the real lesson here? Social media is an evolving communication tool. Employees have not yet figured out what it means to be “profersonal.” Employees need to realize that anything they say online can impact their professional persona, and that every negative or offensive statement could lead to discipline or termination (even if employers can overreact in these situations). Until people fully understand that social media is erasing (has erased?) the line between the personal and the professional, these issues will continue to arise. It is our job as employers to help educate our employees about living in a “profersonal” world, even at the risk of offending the NLRB’s prickly sensitivities.
But it is my job, as a long-time observer of the social media jungle to offer some advice to employers out there, and employees too.
First, for employers:
- You shouldn’t fire employees who are expressing lawful opinions that you do not agree with, even if you can. And based on where you are sited, or where your employees work, maybe you can’t. It’s a rotten world if every Republican CEO can fire Democrat employees, and vice versa.
- The NLRA needs to be examined in detail, and you should tailor social media policy documents to specifically state what the NLRA does and does not allow you to do, as an employer, and what the rights of workers are. Vague exhortations about professionalism are likely to be no help in a NLRB issue.
For employees? Just remember the opening lines of Blood Simple, the Coen Brothers’ movie set in Texas: ‘I hear that over in Russia they got it all worked out where everyone pulls together. But what I know is Texas, and in Texas, you’re on your own.’ Here, in the US, companies can fire you for just about anything, unless you live in one of the states or cities that provide greater freedoms. Move to one of those places, or accept the precariousness of employment in a social media era.
Or, of course, we could campaign to create a real Freedom To Work Law that would make our First Amendment rights something more than civics mouthwash.
Some more developments for Referly, the Y-Combinator/500 Startups company co-founded by Twilio’s ex-head of marketing, Danielle Morrill. In what may be a hat-tip to the adept use of APIs at her former employer Twilio, today Referly is launching an API program that will let any online merchant create a referrals program powered by Referly’s pay-per-action marketplace. At the same time, the company is launching a service that will drive more traffic to its own retail operation: a new shopping directory for people to browse products being recommended by users of Referly’s referral program.
Referly describes the new API scheme as “customer acquisition as a service.” Free to use while the product is in beta, it is constructed loosely around a Google AdWords-style business model: businesses decide how much they are willing to pay to get a new customer (represented by a signup, or upgrade or whatever else is chosen). The businesses ”fund their account with a pre-paid deposit,” the company says. Referly subsequently takes from that account with each reward that is paid out: users get cash rewards when they generate actions like sign-ups or sales.
The service is open to all merchants, but Morrill notes that it will specifically be targeting software-as-a-service companies, which rarely have social referral programs and could benefit from them.
“The Dropbox referral program and Living Social referral program are awesome examples of how this tactic can be very successful,” she tells me. “We want to make it much more widespread and accessible to web-based companies of all kinds.”
Of course, Referly will also be looking to work with e-commerce sites, but some of that territory has already been trod by others. “We find they usually already have affiliate programs we can integrate with,” she says.
Since launching earlier this year, Morrill tells me the company has added “thousands of users.” She notes that referrals typically have been converting “very well,” and yield three to five times the eCPMs one sees with search engine marketing.
“There is a very simple reason for this,” she says. “People are only recommending products they believe in, to people who trust them. Individuals are more creative and have better targeting with their tweets, Facebook status updates and emails than any automated ad network.”
And in what must be music to some of your ears, so far Referly has seen very little spam. “Spammers don’t win when it comes to referrals and they find out very quickly,” she heeds. The reason for that is because if you post too many recommendations to your Facebook feed, your friends will name and shame you. “There is a social contract when using these tools that requires you to do something interesting, or risk getting unfriended. It’s a natural deterrent to spam,” she says.
As these services grow, it will be interesting to see if that continues to be the case. The movement for more social shopping, indeed, is being approached from many angles, from sites like Facebook and work on a so-called “want” button, to sites rewarding for referrals like Referly, to sites like Pinterest and Lyst that let users see what other friends looking at and endorsing.
In that context, the focus on more sophisticated browsing on its own site makes sense. The new service, with categories like apps, art, beauty, books and electronics (and adult, it turns out), will give a bigger, easier to read picture of what people are endorsing across Referly. One example here:
Morrill tells me that there are already some companies signed up for the merchant API but they cannot be named because they are mostly in the same class as Referly in the Y-Combinator program, and so they have not yet been launched. These should be coming out soon, however.
Although the beta version of the API is free, longer term, Morrill tells me that Referly will charge. She says the company is exploring two different models: pay-as-you-go where Referly takes a percentage of rewards; and flat rate where a business pays would a flat amount for various transaction thresholds.
The company is taking a refreshingly fluid approach to how it takes that next. “We’re open to exploring other models, too. This is a big reason why we are not waiting any longer to launch. We need to start figuring out pricing and the market can help us with that,” she says.
Technology has made it so we’re all constantly connected to each other. With just a click we’re readily available on email, social networks, or text messages. Because of that, employers started to expect their employees to be just as available as the technology made them. So, we’re asking you: does your employer expect you to be always connected and available? Or do they understand you need downtime? More »
It feels like I’m being pitched a social recruiting service at a rate of about one a week at the moment, so hot is the space right now. That would suggest at least one thing: recruitment is still broken, at least in the eyes of starry-eyed entrepreneurs.
Today, JobVidi throws its hat in the ring with a new social recruitment offering that it claims makes the job-seeking process more efficient, interactive and discreet, and in doing so opens up a better stream of candidates for those recruiters who the startup hopes will pay to use the service.
In some ways, JobVidi resembles a standard jobs site type offering: candidates sign up, create a CV and profile, which forms the basis of any potential job matches, while recruiters post jobs and use the tools provided to sift through and contact potential candidates. However, where things get more interesting is the way JobVidi attempts to address a number of problems that jobseekers encounter when using most job sites, namely the lack of response and feedback when applying for vacancies, the need to sometimes remain anonymous so as not to alert a current employer, and the inability to test the current job market without actually applying for a new job.
Sign up to JobVidi is via Linkedin, so as to take some of the pain out of creating another CV, while candidates can add additional information that they may not feel comfortable including in their public LinkedIn profile. The company also argues that a sudden update to a user’s profile on Linkedin can alert an employer to the fact that they are thinking about leaving, which brings us to one of JobVidi’s more interesting features: the ability for a candidate to remain entirely anonymous until they are ready to reveal personal details.
The idea here is to widen the pool of potential candidates by respecting a candidate’s privacy. “Not everybody is comfortable with their CV and personal details about themselves and the companies they work for being sent around by recruiters”, says JobVidi co-founder and CEO James Brookner.
To further motivate candidates, any job they do apply for through JobVidi is guaranteed a response. This could potentially be quite a big pull given that, according to the startup, candidates typically only receive a response and/or feedback for two out of every ten applications on average. “If the employer doesn’t respond to you within 14 days, our system will analyse the recruiter’s preferences and inform you of the outcome”, says Brookner. How valuable that algorithmic feedback will turn out to be is unclear, although any feedback is probably better than none.
Finally, potential candidates can take a softer approach to job-seeking via a feature of JobVidi that enables them to test the market for their skills and experience. They do this by submitting what the startup is calling a ‘Value Request’ to recruiters that Brookner says will let them find out their “general marketability and financial prospects if they were to decide to move”. It’s a stealthy feature — who doesn’t want to see what’s out there from time to time?
Other features of the site, though not all of them are differentiators, include the ability for recruiters to post jobs to JobVidi from Linkedin or Twitter (using the hashtag #jobvidi) and a matching algorithm that ensures that recruiters only see relevant candidates.
The revenue model is paid subscriptions for recruiters once JobVidi leaves Beta. Along with Brookner, the startup’s founders are Nabila Sadiq, Vic Daniels and Graham Morris, who come from the world of online advertising, recruitment and technology. The company, founded in February this year, is based in east London’s ‘Tech City’, and has raised £100k in angel investment to date.
It’s taken quite a while but it’s finally here – Wikipedia Best Practice Guidance for Public Relations Professionals: version 1 of a document that sets out a formal picture on how the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) believes public relations practitioners should behave when it comes to content on Wikipedia.
The most controversial view clearly stated in the guidance – the concept of which has been in the doc since its earliest public incarnation as a draft made available in May – is that PRs should not directly edit content in Wikipedia that is about their clients, their employer, related brands and issues, or competing organizations and associated brands when there is a conflict of interest. (the text in bold is my emphasis).
In a press release the CIPR issued earlier today, CEO Jane Wilson makes that point clear with crystal clarity:
[...] The main theme of the guidance is quite simple – where there is a clear conflict of interest created by the relationship between the public relations professional and the subject of the Wikipedia entry, such as a client or employer, they should not directly edit it.
That conflict-of-interest qualifier is key to understanding what this guidance document is all about.
It’s at the heart of much of the public debate about PR and Wikipedia that has taken place, informally in the CREWE community initiative on Facebook spearheaded by Phil Gomes, Stuart Bruce, John Cass and many others, as well as formally as illustrated by the CIPR’s document and the people directly involved in its creation, notably Philip Sheldrake, Phil Morgan and Gemma Griffiths as well as many members of the CIPR’s Social Media Panel.
I believe the guidance document is an essential step in helping practitioners (whether CIPR members or not) gain better understanding of Wikipedia – the community itself as well as how the content creation and editing procedures work. It makes clear sense to better understand a community whose content you want to contribute to in some way, and engage with those in that community on the terms of engagement of that community.
In my view, that’s a simple step we in the PR business can easily undertake and commit to doing. After all, we’re pretty good at community-building and -engagement, are we not? If we want to change the Wikipedia, system, well, offering opinion, ideas and insight into how to do that as part of the community is the way forward.
So we have guidance. The PDF document published today – which you can freely download – is a first step, probably the easiest one. I think it’s also impressive that it’s issued not only in the name of the CIPR but also in the names of other professional bodies who publicly support it and are committed to it from the outset – the Canadian Public Relations Society, the Public Relations Consultants Association in the UK, and the Public Relations Institute of Australia.
Now we embark on the real journey – putting the fine words into tangible action. One area I think will take a lot of work surrounds the broad notions of conflict of interest and neutral point of view (click the links to see how Wikipedia sees those terms) and how that works in a PR context.
All of this will require education, awareness-raising, helping others understand, reaching out to Wikipedians, patience, commitment, diplomacy – and, yes, courage. I’d like to think we’ll see reciprocity from the other side of the fence, as it were. I believe that will come sooner or later.
But first, let’s get PR’s house in order in relation to Wikipedia. One step at a time.
- Add your voice to the PR and Wikipedia conversation
- Your time, your place, your opportunity
- Wikipedia and public relations
- Closing the chasm between PR and Wikipedia
There’s a “Recommend Me” feature on LinkedIn which I’m sure many readers of TechCrunch will be aware of, having been asked multiple times for references by their contacts. But what if you took that concept and created a data-oriented approach? That’s the angle the bootstrapped startup ViewsOnYou is taking, and it’s aiming it at companies that want to find out much more about you, beyond what your CV might say.
The problem with recruitment these days is that recruiters need more than paper credentials, and now often rely more on people’s “soft skills,” such as creativity, ingenuity, and resilience. So to address this, ViewsOnYou consists of 23 sliding scales covering a broad spectrum of the kinds of things employers and headhunters look for.
Admittedly this has been tried in different ways. TalentBin (formally Honestly.com) is a startup that aggregates a person’s social profile to build up a picture of them, and already has corporate customers including Intuit, Groupon, and Yahoo. And BranchOut and BraveNewTalent are attacking this from different angles.
But unlike an app like BranchOut, which is about networking and displaying a CV, ViewsOnYou more about displaying what you are like. You can try it out on me.
The ability for a user to match their ViewsOnYou 360 profile with the culture of an organisation lets them see how well they fit. The idea is you find out what your top traits are, and whether you are a better match with Google or Facebook, HSBC or Goldman Sachs, KPMG or McKinsey.
Heaven forbid that we end up seeing how Google compares to Facebook as an employer – but that’s ViewsOnYou’s potential.
The business model is employer branding (advertising). And there is an incentive for employers to get their employees onto the platform so they can work out where they are strong and weak, and also benchmark what they do.
The startup was founded by tech entrepreneur Ab Banerjee, a non-exec director of PeerIndex and a former Founder and CEO of RAW Communications.