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Posts from the ‘employee engagement’ Category

Is Uber’s View of Workers Old-fashioned?

uber logoThe following guest post is courtesy of our board member, David Creelman.

Lately, Uber is getting beaten up in the courts, as judges rule that Uber drivers are more like employees than independent contractors (see example of recent UK ruling here).

For those who don’t like Uber’s management strategy, this is a good thing. For those who love Uber’s service, rulings that hurt the company are a bad thing. What I wonder about is whether the source of the problem is that Uber is just too old-fashioned. Maybe Uber is locked in an out-of-date view of the workforce.

The pure free agent model that Uber claims to embrace is that truly independent “people with cars” drive around “people without cars”, with the matching made possible by an app. However, in practice, Uber drivers are far from independent. Uber, in fact, tries to control them in a variety of ways—that’s why it’s in trouble with the law.

The question is: does Uber really need to control drivers this much? Or is this attempt to control just the knee-jerk impulse of managers, who for all their tech savvy, still have a view of workers rooted in the industrial age. Managers feel they should be controlling workers; they feel they have the right to control workers; they feel uncomfortable if workers are not controlled.

The lesson for organizations in general, is that perhaps we need to embrace the idea of free agent workers as truly free. Why not lean towards giving workers as much freedom as possible in how they work with us, only imposing limits where it is absolutely necessary? A good real world example of this is Semco Partners, a Brazilian company best known for its radical form of industrial democracy and corporate re-engineering (see “The Seven-Day Weekend” by CEO of Semco, Ricardo Semler for an in-depth look at this unique company). In Semco’s case the workers are employees, but I bet they feel a lot less controlled than Uber’s “free agents”.

Companies that free themselves of the need for control and learn how to give workers as much freedom as possible without hurting productivity or quality, may be the best prepared for a future where the workforce will be a mix of employees and free agents.

What do you think?  Do you agree that less control of workers is better?





Employee Engagement: The $687 Billion Question

couldnt do it without employeesEarlier this year, we conducted a global research project with Coleman Parkes Research to dig into the drivers behind employee engagement – and what a lack of engagement may be costing organizations.

One of the key findings from this research is that in the US, the average worker spends 3.4 hours per week on tasks that are not core to his or her core job role.  These are tasks that are generally low value and administrative in nature.  The opportunity cost of this no-value work adds up to $1,518 per employee per year in the US – for a total of $687 billion across the American workforce.

Other world regions are similarly impacted:

  • China: $522 billion;
  • Germany: $144.6 billion;
  • France: $79 billion;
  • United Kingdom: $78 billion;
  • Canada: $66 billion;
  • Australia and New Zealand: $35 billion;
  • Netherlands: $34 billion;
  • Belgium: $16.5 billion; and
  • Mexico: $2.2 billion.

For more details about what the study revealed, you can access the full US report here.

To learn more about the study and the insights it reveals about drivers of employee engagement, you can view a replay of a webinar of my conversation with Research Director Ian Parkes  here.

In this webinar, co-sponsored by HR Executive, we discuss the following topics:

  • The increasing complexity of working life and the impact on employee engagement
  • The high opportunity cost of time wasted on non-job-related administrative tasks
  • How outdated technology is hindering employee productivity and engagement
  • Why executives and HR need to focus on building a culture of engagement

Please tune in, then share your ideas about how to improve employee engagement by commenting here.

A Different Kind of Exchange Program

flying“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” -Benjamin Franklin

When you hear the phrase “exchange program,” what comes to mind? You may immediately think of student exchange programs – opportunities for those still in school to experience a new country while pursuing their degree. But learning in a new-to-you country doesn’t have to end once you have your diploma  – traveling abroad for work is also a huge learning experience, no matter what level you may be on the corporate totem pole.

Last year, Kronos launched a Marketing Exchange Program, giving qualified Kronos marketing employees all over the world the opportunity to spend two weeks in another Kronos location. Interested Kronites nominate themselves, and one employee per quarter is chosen by their manager based on several criteria. Travel, accommodations, and meals during their two weeks away are all provided by Kronos.

In addition to being able to explore a new country, Kronites also choose three learning objectives ahead of time that they’d like to explore in their new location. They’re also assigned an on-the-ground mentor to facilitate their stay – and that same “buddy” will be who the Kronite works with on a specific project related to their career. Upon their return to their “home base,” the employee presents his or her key learnings to management.

This program has already proven to be a major win for all parties involved: the Kronite traveling abroad gets to explore another country while advancing their career; the Kronos office they visit can benefit from the additional assistance and perspective; and Kronos as a whole grows thanks to the employees’ growth and expanded knowledge, further contributing to our overall business objectives.

Does your company offer a similar program? Or are you thinking of implementing one? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.