Seven Things Great Employers Do (that Others Don’t)

Originally posted on HBR Blog Network - Harvard Business Review:

For most people, paid work is unsettling and energy-sapping. Despite employee engagement racing up the priority list of CEOs (see, for example, The Conference Board’s CEO Challenge 2014), our research into workplaces all over the world reveals a sorry state of affairs: workers who are actively disengaged outnumber their engaged colleagues by an overwhelming factor of 2:1. The good news is that there are companies out there bucking the trend, and we’ve discovered how.

Over a five-year timeframe, we studied 32 exemplary companies (collectively employing 600,000 people) across seven industries including hospitality, banking, manufacturing, and hospitals. At these companies, the engaged workers outnumber the actively disengaged ones by a 9:1 ratio. To understand what drives that tremendous advantage, we looked for contrasts between them and a much larger set of companies we know to be struggling to turn around bland and uninspiring workplaces.

We found seven elements in place…

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How Companies Can Attract the Best College Talent

Originally posted on HBR Blog Network - Harvard Business Review:

Over the past year, my firm Collegefeed met with more than 300 companies to understand their college hiring strategies and tactics — from employers with large university hiring infrastructures to recently funded start-ups looking to hire fresh grads, interns, and young alum.

Not surprisingly, 84% understand that college hiring is important. Yet almost all agree that it’s really hard to attract good college talent. In fact, 92% believe they have a “brand problem” when it comes to their efforts; this problem is often expressed as the fact that “not everyone can be an employer like Facebook.” In other words, large, well-established companies feel they simply can’t be the newest thing out there generating buzz with Millennials.

To understand more about this underlying “brand problem,” and what employers can do about it, we polled 15,000 Millennials — 60 percent still in college and 40 percent recent graduates.* We asked them:

  1. What…

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Algorithms will do more and more of the thinking in the world

Originally posted on Gigaom:

At the New York Stock Exchange, machines make decisions in as short as 740 nanoseconds — faster than any human can think.

“This is a world where the speed of light has to be factored into the equations for buying and selling,” Quid founder and CTO Sean Gourley said at the Structure Data conference Thursday.

Like trading, which Gourley noted is mostly done by machines, bots now make up most of our web traffic. Within the time it takes to load a page, algorithms determine where a user is located, what they like and what types of ads to serve. More and more, algorithms are ruling our world. And as they continue to get smarter, our relationship with them will evolve.

Gourley said that there are two types of relationships we are already used to, where we are the product or the owner. We are the product on sites like Facebook(s fb)…

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Why RunKeeper built a health tracking app on the back of big data

Originally posted on Gigaom:

Big data and exercise may not have much in common at an individual or personal level. Take the health-tracking information of nearly 30 million people, however, and you’ve got a powerful product. That’s exactly what RunKeeper has done over the past few years and it’s just getting started: The company is laser focused on finding more ways to help people lead an active life.

“Building an app around a single use case may sound small, but it plays out over time for us to see patterns at scale and to build better products,” Jason Jacobs, founder and CEO of RunKeeper, said at the Gigaom Structure Data 2014 event on Thursday. “We can help people self-manage between doctor visits to live better lives not just once a year at a checkup, but each day. And the data is a powerful tool to inform doctors how to give better care.”

Of course…

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BioWare developer Manveer Heir challenges colleagues to combat prejudice with video games

The Future of Prototyping Is Now Live

Originally posted on HBR Blog Network - Harvard Business Review:

Those tasked with developing new products and experiences have long valued prototyping as a way to fuel creativity, explore options, and test assumptions. By making concepts real, we can more intimately understand the underlying mechanics and make informed judgments. There are two main ways that organizations prototype new products and services: rapid prototyping and piloting. However, we’ve discovered the need for an approach that falls somewhere between the two—to explore the customer value proposition and market appeal of a concept in the more turbulent and distracting context of the live market, but without full investment in a pilot. We call this approach “live prototyping.”

To better understand the value of live prototyping, it’s helpful to put it in the context of the two dominant types of prototyping. Rapid prototyping aims for quantity over quality. Dozens of sketches, wireframes, enacted service scenarios, and Play-Doh models are created quickly to get a…

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What Does Professionalism Look Like?

Originally posted on HBR Blog Network - Harvard Business Review:

When we talk about “professionalism,” it’s easy to fall back into the “I know it when I see it” argument.

For Emily Heaphy, an assistant professor of organizational behavior at Boston University, and her colleagues, this isn’t a cop-out. The notion of being seen as professional may be central to how we define success in the U.S. — and, consequently, how and why certain people aren’t able to attain it, depending on how well they adhere to social norms. In particular, Heaphy and the other researchers set out to study “one potential culturally bounded workplace norm — that of minimizing references to one’s life outside of work.”

They did this in two ways: First, they tested how people connect perceptions of professionalism to what a worker’s desk looked like. Second, they examined how recruiters from two different countries rated potential employees who referenced family or children.

For the former, they…

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