A new study from the University of the West of England examines the impact of commuting on employees’ wellbeing and job satisfaction. Based on an analysis of 26,000 workers in England, the study found that “every extra minute of commute time reduces job satisfaction, reduces leisure time satisfaction, increases strain and reduces mental health.” Commuters who travel by bus are particularly affected by the negative impacts of long commutes, but the effect is reversed among those who travel by train: Longer train commutes tend to be less stressful than short ones as commuters are “better able to use their journey time productively.” Those who commute on foot or by bicycle, in contrast, have higher levels of job satisfaction and perceptions of their own health.
The study also measured just how much long commutes hurt job satisfaction, Olivia Rudgard highlights at the Telegraph, finding that an extra 20 minutes of commute time is as bad as a 19 percent cut in pay for the average worker:
For someone earning the average pre-tax salary of £1,800 per month, equivalent to £21,600 a year, an extra 10 minutes spent travelling each way was equivalent to a £340 fall in monthly income, the study found.
At CEB, now Gartner, our recent research has also found that grueling commutes have a major negative impact on employees’ work.
Organizational culture is critical to business outcomes and more than 80 percent of organizations hire specifically for culture fit. Seeing an opportunity here, tech startup Bunch wants to help companies bring more analytic rigor into how hiring managers assess job candidates for culture fit. Steve O’Hear recently profiled the startup at TechCrunch:
Specifically, by mapping company culture data against that provided by a job applicant, the idea, Bunch founder and CEO Darja Gutnick tells me, is to be able to highlight any potential cultural fit issues that can be teased out during a subsequent interview…
The way Bunch works is as follows: A company signs to the Saas and its teams take a 5-minute culture assessment, based on the O’Reilly model. Then, using the data provided, Bunch creates a culture profile for the company and each of its teams, mapped onto 6 key dimensions: Results-orientation, Adaptability, Collaborative, Detail-orientation, Principles and Customer-orientation. Every new applicant is tasked with taking an automated culture quiz that Bunch checks against the team and company profile.
Bunch’s push to put a quantitative lens on hiring for culture fit is well-intentioned. Taking a more “gut feel” approach to culture fit, as many managers currently do, can open up the organization to unconscious biases that threaten workforce diversity. There’s just one problem: Hiring for cultural fit is both more difficult and less effective than Bunch’s platform makes it look. Beyond the significant issue of bias, our research at CEB (now Gartner) shows that common strategies to change or strengthen culture by bringing in certain types of people don’t usually work.
Here are three main reasons why tools like Bunch’s are unlikely to produce the results organizations are looking for:
Writing at Recode, Inkling founder and CEO Matt MacInnis discusses how he discovered his own values as a leader when he left Apple after eight years to start his own company. In the beginning, he explains, he attempted to emulate the tech giant’s famous culture of secrecy, because he had seen it work so well for Apple, but soon began “to recognize that some of the default settings I had adopted were at odds with my own values”:
I did at Inkling what I had been trained to do at Apple: I strictly controlled information flow in and around our tiny organization. I had an aversion to speaking with media. I insisted that new employees sign strict NDAs. And I behaved as though our little-known brand and products were worthy of instant, outsized coverage. It was a tad nutty. …
My own move from middle management at Apple to executive leadership in a startup provided time for reflection and recognition of what is most authentic in me. While retaining some of the most valuable characteristics of Apple — a commitment to craftsmanship, strong top-down leadership and a devotion to hiring A-level players — I also forged an independent course. I found my own voice in radical openness and transparency, a hallmark of the Inkling culture.
We all eventually recognize that we don’t get to choose our core values. Rather, they choose us.
MacInnis’s experience both at Apple and as a founder speak to some of the core lessons of our latest research at CEB (now Gartner) into how organizations can effectively and design and manage culture.
In the era of big data and analytics, data scientists are hot property in the labor market right now: A report released last month by the Business-Higher Education Forum and PwC warned that the US is facing a huge skills gap in this field, with 69 percent of employers who say they need candidates with data science and analytics skills, compared to just 23 percent of college and university leaders who say their students are graduating with those skills.
An analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics earlier this year showed that data scientists were at the top of the list of the most in-demand professions, and according to Glassdoor, they are earning some of the highest salaries in the country. Yet the US, it seems, is simply not producing enough data science experts to fill the large and growing demand.
One way to address this gap is to invest more in university data science programs, but employers don’t have the time to wait for new classes of graduates to rise through the college pipeline. With that in mind, John Mannes reports at TechCrunch, Airbnb is trying a different approach—introducing its own internal, university-style data science program, “complete with a custom course-numbering system”:
Data University is Airbnb’s attempt to make its entire workforce more data literate. Traditional online programs like Coursera and Udacity just weren’t getting the job done because they were not tailored to Airbnb’s internal data and tools. So the company decided to design a bunch of courses of its own around three levels of instruction for different employee needs.
The “WannaCry” ransomware cyberattack that began spreading last Friday quickly affected over 300,000 machines in 150 countries, mostly in Europe and Asia, making it the largest such attack in history and putting in stark relief the threat cybercrime now poses to organizations around the world. WannaCry exploited a vulnerability in outdated versions of Microsoft Windows, and as Washington Post tech writer Brian Fung explained earlier this week, some businesses were hit particularly hard because of a simple lack of resources and attention. There’s no question that if the affected businesses had kept their Windows systems up to date, they would have been protected from this threat, but doing so is often a lot less straightforward than many would assume, especially if cybersecurity isn’t properly ingrained in a company’s culture, or when cybersecurity efforts or IT upgrade initiatives lack the resources they need.
While the WannaCry attack appears to have been more sophisticated than a typical phishing scam, the majority of ransomware attacks (in which the attacker encrypts certain files on a user’s computer, locks them out of vital programs, or freezes their desktop, then demands payment to undo the damage) are conducted through phishing—a confidence scam in which the user is tricked into giving personal information or loading malicious software via email.
Why HR Should Care
Ransomware is—and should be—a major concern for HR departments: HR professionals are particularly vulnerable to such attacks, as they are often accustomed to receiving and opening innocuous emails from outside the organization. Cybercriminals know this and target organizations through their HR departments with malicious software disguised as a job application, résumé, or invoice. A recent phishing attack that compromised thousands of current and former employees at the newspaper publisher Gannett, for example, exploited this vulnerability.
The other reason HR needs to pay attention to cybersecurity is that rank-and-file employees are one of an organization’s foremost lines of defense against hacking.