The Conversation Paradox: Why 100% of Interviews Are Biased

In a recent New York Times article, The Utter Uselessness of Job Interviews, Jason Dana, Assistant Professor of Management and Marketing at the Yale School of Management, explores the biases surrounding the unstructured interview process. He observes that:

“…interviewers typically form strong but unwarranted impressions about interviewees, often revealing more about themselves than the candidates.”

Throughout the article, Dana cites, Belief in the Unstructured Interview: The Persistence of an Illusion, a study he conducted in 2013 with 140 student subjects. To test the effectiveness of interviews in predicting a student’s GPA, Dana broke students into two groups. While both sets of students used past GPA and course schedule to make predictions, only one group was interviewed. The results of the study showed that GPA predictions were more accurate for the students not interviewed. In other words, the interviews muddled the data and negatively impacted the decision-making process. 


Conversations Are Biased

Something occurred during the interviewing process that led the interviewer to misidentify which interviewees were best qualified and thus most likely to succeed. This ‘something’ is the collection of biases that often come up through the course of conversation or what we, at Wade & Wendy, refer to as conversational bias.

Conversational bias is the set of biases that influence the quality and quantity of data extrapolated during the course of a conversation. At a high level, it includes two key components:

  • Set of biases refers to external factors, including everything from confirmation biases and preconceived notions to physical environment and mood, that influence how a person engages in a conversation.
  • The quality and quantity of data refers to the information learned during the course of a conversation and how helpful it is in facilitating good decision-making.

The data learned through conversation is inherently incomplete and/or misleading due to the external factors and biases that influence engagement and perception. This is clearly demonstrated in the study above, where subjects were better able to identify future success for students whom they had never met over students that they had met. While not explicitly referred to as ‘conversational bias,’ the issues it perpetuates have been studied time and time again.

Interviews Are Biased

There is information asymmetry between the data learned in a job description and the data learned from a resume. Former SVP of People Operations at Google, Laszlo Bock, says about this paradigm:

“[having] a taxonomy of skills and abilities that are hard to articulate, and resumes don’t do a good job of capturing them. Employers have a set of jobs, but are terrible at both articulating what they need, and actually filtering candidates.”



Essentially, the two forms (resume and job description) used to determine a job seeker’s ability to fulfill the requirements of a job both contain incomplete data. It is for this reason that a conversation — often in the form of an initial phone screen or a first-round interview — is necessary to resolve this asymmetry. This initial conversation allows candidates to better understand the requirements of the job and allows hiring managers to gather information not found in the resume.

It is at this point in the hiring process that conversational bias comes into play.

For example, imagine a hiring manager has a full day of interviews lined up. Throughout the day, he/she becomes increasingly fatigued and, as a result, asks poorer questions and takes fewer notes as the day goes on. Because the conversation and the subsequent data gathered about each candidate is different, it becomes impossible to compare candidate to candidate accurately.

The Problem

In Dana’s Belief in the Unstructured Interview study, GPA, course schedule and an interview were used to predict future success. Results showed that the assessments were less accurate when interviews were included in the decision-making process. In effect, the interviewers were counterproductive.

The Other Problem

To fill the information gap that exists between resume and job description, a conversation must take place. Applicants need clarification on the requirements of the role, just as hiring managers need to gather information not found within the resume.

The Paradox

These problems present two interesting concepts: 1) Conversations are biased and 2) Conversations are necessary. This is what we, at Wade & Wendy, call “The Conversation Paradox.”

Looking Ahead

While the very act of conversation has been proven to introduce numerous biases, it remains a critical part of the hiring process. To date, many solutions have been proposed, such as Dana’s suggestion to use structured interviews, but these solutions do not go far enough. Rather,

  • What if there were an artificially intelligent tool smart enough to have a conversation without bias?
  • What if there were an artificially intelligent tool agile enough to converse with 100% of candidates 100% of the time?

At Wade & Wendy, we are eagerly working on this solution. To join the conversation, chat with us on Twitter… We’re passionate about conversation, after all: @wadeandwendy.

This article has been written by Bailey Newlan, is the Content & Growth Marketer at Wade & Wendy and originally published in The HR Tech Weekly® blog.

The Role of Gamification for the Workforce

Gamification has gained a lot of attention in the online world as a way to engage customers and build loyalty. While many of us still struggle to understand how playing a game can have a real business impact, companies that have implemented gamification have discovered that there’s far more to it than we see. These programs have tremendous power to encourage motivation and influence customer behavior.

Gamification is the use of game-thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users in solving problems and increase users’ self-contributions. Gamification uses an empathy-based approach (such as Design thinking) for introducing, transforming and operating a service system that allows players to enter a gaming experience to support value creation for the players and other stakeholders (Definition according to Wikipedia). The mechanics involved typically include virtual currency, leaderboards, badges and leveling up.


How does Gamification work?

Gamification applies behavior-motivating techniques from traditional and social games to non-game environments. An effective gamification program actually looks more like a loyalty program charged to help achieve real business goals when it is expanded beyond points, badges, and leaderboards.

The power of Gamification works like this: it utilizes the competitive line we all have within us and as we play a game, we become more engaged, we feel a greater sense of achievement and are more willing to go the extra mile in either making more efforts to choose the right people, or completing more training programs, or even helping employees to stay motivated. And as we progress, we continue to increase our engagement with the game and reach new levels.

But it is not restricted to the customers but also for the workforce or people who need to engage themselves to bring better productivity across the business.

 What can it bring to Workforce?

According to SHRM, there are two types of gamification: structural gamification and serious games. In structural gamification, you apply gaming elements (badges, levels, points, leaderboards, etc.) to activities and processes. Serious games are where you create a game or simulation for purposes other than entertainment, such as a training simulation. Gamification is the usage of game-thinking and game mechanics in non-game scenarios such as business environment and processes, specifically in recruitment, training and development, and motivation; in order to engage users and solve problems, as defined by Gartner Group.

So, gamification allows organizations to drive constant improvement in performance through the application, social and mobile apps that enable, enhance and measure the impact of employee behavioral change. Combining game mechanics with technology advances and mobility allows businesses to align employees behind corporate goals, enable cross-collaboration, promote competition, ensure compliance and allocate compensation.

But the reality is what individuals expect from their organizations is changing rapidly. The entrance of new generation into the workforce is fundamentally changing the way that organizations have to operate. Concepts of rights and responsibilities evolve as the once hard boundary between what was once considered work and leisure time blurs. Company technology needs to get adapt as employees want the same devices in the workplace as they have in their home – they want mobility. As this is the age of BYOD – bring your own device.


The picture shows an example from Atta

Here are the some of the common ways that how a gamification can support the workforce and HR team to achieve business goals.

Talent & Recruitment Management: Gamification can be implemented in all aspects of the hiring process, from the application process to the joining date, to increase onboarding efficiency. One can easily turn the hiring process into a gamified experience by rewarding with both acknowledgment and tangible perks for completing each step, from application to joining date. At the same time, HR teams can also use gamification internally to reward top recruiters and incentive employees for referring candidates.

Corporate Culture & Retention: Once the employee is hired, retention becomes very important. Gamification can be used to promote a positive company culture, rewarding employees for cross collaboration or company volunteer programs. A gamified platform can be used to route the available opportunities, make these transparent to the employee and provide a history of all employee engagement in similar programs. The objectives of engagement and retention are two of the most objectives of gamification.

Learning & Training: One can use it to motivating employees to complete training programs (mandatory HR training, like harassment, diversity and other compliance programs) within the time, especially if it doesn’t relate directly to their daily operations it can really help. Adding a gamified experience to onboarding and enablement programs can increase information retention and speed program completion time. Many companies are also investing in gamification to stimulate corporate education programs and optional employee training programs. Atta brings first coached games for corporate learning and development.

Employees, who earn rewards and recognition for having completed these tasks, or missions in the gamification, are far more likely to make it a priority. And HR also benefits from the ability to check that compliance in a timely fashion, without the pressure of having to follow-up employees to complete the programs.

Benefits & Expense Management: Similar to training, the completion of benefits management paperwork can be gamified as well to motivate timely and accurate results. Providing a scalable, gamified benefits management program reduces HR expenses and overhead, and results in a happier workforce. The ability to correctly report employee travel, entertainment, and related business expenses can also be gamified through a system to encourage employees to submit reports on time and accurately. Employees can even attend some levels like Amateur, Professional; Expert based on their usage results and could help other employees as a mentor once reach certain levels.

Performance Management: By using gamification, HR teams can create an ongoing rewards program and even a mission-based career path that shows what steps an employee must take to level up in the organization. The program can focus on rewards, with other employees able to assign points and recognition to their fellow team members who helped them across the organization. By gamifying performance management and making steps to promotions, bonuses and organizational status more transparent, employees will more efficiently complete these steps, resulting in a more collaborative and productive workforce.  SAP SuccessFactors highly value gamification as a key technique to improve employee performance and satisfaction.

Administrative Processes: On-boarding documents and expense forms can be tedious. Reward points for timely completion to encourage efficiency. No one likes to complete paperwork, especially when other tasks are more interesting and exciting. But, paperwork is unavoidable in many administrative areas and needed by HR and Financial departments for tracking and reports.  Similar to training applications, rewarding employees with either peer or management recognition or even tangible incentives for completing required forms with some friendly competition could be an easier solution to avoid delays.

Career Success: It’s no secret that peer mentorship is a powerful motivator that drives employees to want to succeed. One sees colleagues earning praise, achieving goals and climbing the ladder, and they want to know how they can achieve the same results. Using gamification, HR departments can create transparent, mission-based career paths that show the steps employees have taken to level up in the organization. One can even design such programs to allow team members to recognize one another for contributions made toward a common goal. And again, all of this data is traceable, creating a valuable historic record to capture employee and organizational knowledge.

Wellness: Establish a system for employee wellness points and turn it into a challenge could help both employees and company. For example, Welbe is an enterprise solution that combines employee wellness data from wearables into a company dashboard, where one can see leaderboards and set challenges. According to a survey conducted by WorldatWork and Buck Consultants, employers list gamification as their most common strategy for engaging employees in wellness programs. The most common gamification strategy for wellness programs involved contests like other.

Value Alignment: Reward employees with “culture points” or “value badges” for living by your company values. Give everyone the opportunity to recognize other employees when they go above and beyond in culture areas. Gamification platform can easily help one company to engage their employees into company’s core values as well. Badges and Rewards towards the participation and engagement also motivate employees further in this alignment.

There could be much more but definitely, it varies according to Company’s policies, regulation, and decision. Laws and protocols from the Government, Security standards are also needed to take into consideration as always in the case of similar engagements.

The market for gamification is expected to grow significantly in the next coming years. The good news is that using such extensive technologies in a way that people appreciate, organizations can continually engage employees and at the same time create real and measurable behavioral change those results in to generate significant business value.

This article has been originally published in DELITÉ Advisory & Partners blog.

‘Just-In-Time’ Learning: What You Need, Where and When You Need it

I didn’t invent the term ‘Just-In-Time Learning’. I may even be a latecomer to it. I am, however, a raving fan. Money has a value and we’d all like to spend less of it and make more of it. The new currency of business people is not so much money, as it is time – time and focus. We can always make more money. Time, however, isn’t coming back and there’s a lot of noise competing for our attention.

How can we push our topics to the fore? How can we get our people investing their time and attention in the right places? Instead of throwing training at people, hoping some of it sticks through the magic of ‘teachable moments’, why wouldn’t we create quality-controlled learning resources that can be easily accessed and searched by demand-driven learners? How can we enable people who want a problem solved or a gap bridged to find the answer in a self-driven way – giving them what they need, where and when they need it?

HR people in general, and Learning & Development people in particular, need to have their eyes and ears open to this development and be ahead of the wave in both satisfying it and leveraging it. One of my little catchphrases is ‘Don’t fight human systems, go with them’. And what humans are after is learning, but not in the packages in which it has historically been delivered. The old paradigm is supplier-led. Someone believes themselves to be a subject matter expert and they’d like that expertise to be spread around a bit, so they write a book, or draft a lesson plan, construct some activities and tests, and perhaps centrally, in a command-and-control way, attempt to get people in a room at the same time for the delivery of that expertise to occur.

The way of the future, indeed, the way of the now, is demand-driven. It’s not quite as fanciful as a Kevin Costner movie. If you build it, they might not come. They might, but they might not (‘It’ is an online learning resource library). But the beauty of the technology is that it enables you to determine in advance, in a low-risk, low-cost way, what and where the demand is. You can then go there to meet it. Again, the technology allows you to monitor and measure and be flexible, adapting to changes in demand, not quite in real time but close enough.

It might be old-fashioned and may even be inaccurate, but let’s readdress the hoary 70‑20‑10 model. I think it still has legs. When it comes to the different formats of learning for the workplace, imagine a pyramid with three levels. The top, smallest level is formal, planned, classroom training. Let’s say that is the 10%. The next, second-smallest level is planned but informal on-the-job coaching. Let’s say that is the 20%. The foundation and the largest level is informal, often unplanned and equally often self-directed and demand-driven on-the-job learning. You see something. You try something. You break something. You get feedback. You try again. That’s the 70%. So much time, effort, money, sweat, and tears go into the 10% and even the 20%. Even today, I think the 70% is under-resourced, yet is probably where the biggest bang for the L&D buck lies via a micro-learning, ‘just-in-time’ approach.


think it will be helpful to devote a paragraph here to where the term ‘just-in-time’ comes from. I did a postgrad management diploma, part of which focused on service quality management. Essentially, these were the early days of studying the quality management techniques arising from Deming and post-WW2 Japan’s economic boom, trying to apply techniques from processing and manufacturing to the intangible and fuzzy world of services. There was a time when factories would buy and store their inputs. This cost them for the inputs and cost them again for storage. If they bought too much and stored it for too long, there were the highest costs and also possible wastage. So, the goal became to minimize those costs as much as possible with the practice of ‘just-in-time’ manufacturing. With newly developed math and computer logistical algorithms doing the heavy lifting, the modern world of manufacturing and transport has inputs arriving at factories with the minimum of storage and downtime, often being put straight into production.

OK, so that’s the technical origin of the term ‘just-in-time’, but what has that got to do with L&D? Sorry, a bit more history first.

I got my first degree in the 1980s as you were supposed to like people do in the movies. I attended a bricks and mortar university. Mine was a bit more ‘Dead Poets’ Society’ and not so much ‘Animal House’. I got my second degree in the 1990s. I was working a full-on job as a trainer and I was a dad of two preschoolers. I did this second degree via correspondence. Their slogan was ‘At your own pace, at your own place’. My employer supported me financially and with time, resources and access to people for projects. In fact, some of my projects were real assignments solving real problems for them. Looking back, the quality of my second degree far outstripped that of my first. Sure, I was older, wiser and considerably soberer, but I am sure the primary reason is that I was motivated and the learning was demand-driven.

At about the same time, I was also learning a documentation methodology called ‘information mapping’. I’m not selling it but I am a fan. To me, it is far more ‘reader-centric’ in its design. So, at this time, I was immersed in reader-centric documentation whilst involved in distance-learning. It was about this time that I noticed something called the Internet and I got my first email address.


My then-employer ran lotteries and was heavily invested in a franchisee network, with hundreds of outlets that were hugely varied and geographically widespread, and with tremendously diverse owner–operators. From memory, despite all their diversity, they had two features in common. One was a desire to optimize their money-making from the franchise. The other was to spend as little money and time as possible in doing so. This was true of their attitude towards training and learning as well. And they had a lot of learning to do. We continually introduced new products and occasionally threw some real curveballs at them with lots of secrecy and short time frames. We certainly ran a lot of traditional classroom courses but we also produced a lot of demand-driven resources and created some novel and innovative learning events and systems. But it was rough as guts. The technology and the users of that technology were not there yet. Remember dial-up? Yeah, that. The ideas were there. The concepts were sound. The demand was latent. The technology and the users were a jigsaw missing a few pieces.

Flash forward through the 2000s and dancing into our lives and imaginations came broadband and smartphones and online communities like Google and YouTube. Wait a few more years for mobile data networks to build up some muscle mass and we’re probably now two years into a new era when all those old distance learning, micro-learning, just-in-time ideas can come back with a vengeance on digital steroids.

Ultimately, the tech means nothing but falsely raised hopes if the people, the learners, are not just ready, willing and able, but also already familiar and immersed. I’m going to give you three stories that illustrate just how ready the world is. And it is the world, not just your employees. As long as you’re developing resource, why not monetize it for the learners of the world, or gift it as a socially responsible corporate entity might do? But that’s a topic for another, possibly more controversial blog post. Let me just give you my three stories and we’ll conclude that the demand is there for bite-sized, just-in-time learning and that if you build it, they will come.

Story #1

I own three horses, and apart from everything else they do, they are grass-processing machines, producing a lot of manure. We’d like to use this as compost, so I telephoned our local lumber yard and they left for me to pick up after-hours a triple-bin compost kitset. When I arrived to pick it up, I found a pile of wood and a bag of nails. Stapled to the bag of nails, on a ripped piece of paper, was a scribbled URL.

Next day, I laid out the wood outside the barn and, with my iPad able to grab some Wi-Fi from the house, I typed in the URL. From YouTube, up popped a video probably shot on a smartphone with a couple of guys in boots and shorts instructing me how to make my compost bin. Although it wasn’t as shaky as a ‘Blair Witch’ movie, it was clearly an amateur video, but such is the tech in everyone’s hands these days, it was fine. There was no Peter Jackson CGI but everyone was visible, and even with the sound of the wind on the phone’s mic, Steve and Kev were clearly audible. And I’ve never built anything as level and square and strong as that compost bin.

Story #2

I did some work with a boutique printing company. They specialized in short-run, one-off, urgent labels. They had no HR department. They had no in-house trainers. They were a bunch of people with ink on their hands – printing tradespeople. Each with their own smartphone and at least one of them with an idea. Using their phones and the free, user-friendly and ubiquitous YouTube with its search and tag functionality, they created a closed channel and uploaded all their homemade ‘how-to’ videos that they needed to show to new staff. They took footage of their real-life mistakes as a warning and this also became a resource that they added to their online library.


Totally self-directed and born entirely out of demand-driven learning needs. Between Kev and Steve and my printing buddies, I was finally starting to come to the realization that time and tide had risen to where ‘just-in-time’ was coming into its own. Nothing else had to be invented. No one else had to be convinced. Teens were doing this to teach and learn how to put on make-up or play guitar. Why wouldn’t organizations utilize the same channels to supply the learning demands of their people?

Story #3

The third story took place back in my barn. A floodlight lightbulb exploded. It didn’t just burn out. The glass blew out, and that lack of glass meant I couldn’t unscrew the dead bulb to replace it. The glass was what you gripped to do the unscrewing. Fortunately, I talked myself out of my first instinct, which was to shove some pliers in there with all that electricity. I asked Professor YouTube. Three seconds later, I found a ninety-second Lithuanian video showing a simple, safe and near zero-cost solution that was so simple, I never would have thought of it myself. Wedge a potato into the diameter of the missing glass until tight, then grip the potato and unscrew that, taking the bulb out with it.

The last key was a robust, reliable and responsive mobile network. My barn is pretty remote and Lithuania even more so, yet in three seconds I had all the learning I needed to solve my problem and bridge my gap at near zero cost. (The potato was collateral damage.) Leaving aside the pun of ‘wedging’ a potato, the other pun that came to mind was that this was a ‘lightbulb’ moment for me. Finally, all the jigsaw pieces were there for me and I had my realization about the power of just-in-time learning – what I needed, where and when I needed it.

This article has been written by Terry Williams, he is an expert, author and motivational speaker on the subject of people engagement. And originally published in WISP blog.

How HR professionals are affected by talent shortage

Skills shortage has become a major concern lately across all industries. As the economy grows, many companies around the world are eager to expand and add more positions to their workforce. However, with an increasing number of job openings, talented workers are hard to find.

For example, constant growth in the private sector has caused talent to become scarcer than jobs in other sectors, which is a major contradiction to the recession of 2007 through 2009. So now, organizations are struggling to complete their hiring plans and as research shows, this global talent shortage has reached its highest in the last couple of years.

It’s clear that without a plan to address this problem, companies are at a risk of going out of business. As a result, more and more companies are dedicating an entire department to workforce planning and HR plays a vital role here.

Talent shortage today

Industries all over the spectrum are experiencing talent shortage. To start with, there are traditional trades that are lacking the necessary workforce. Jobs that took the longest to fill are tired repairers, electrical repairers, power dispatchers, pile-driver operators as well as tax preparers and vocational education teachers, as Fast Company research results show.

The tech industry hasn’t avoided this pitfall, either. Even here, the hiring challenges are starting to hurt the industry. Certain fields of technology have experienced such an enormous growth that there hasn’t been time to train and educate the new skilled workforce.

In Netherlands, tech companies are facing major challenges in hiring experts even though the Dutch tech scene is one of the most vibrant ones in Europe and they are among best non-native English speakers. With all the favorable conditions for investors and entrepreneurs, such as strong economic

foundations in industry and commerce, a great taxes, and strong international travel infrastructure, still over fifth vacancies in IT sector remained unfulfilled.

Although the gap between employer demand and job seeker interest has generally been decreasing over the past couple of years, the number of tech job postings is still far greater than job seeker interest.

Healthcare industry is also experiencing major talent shortage, especially with nurses and care workers. As the global population ages, this shortage will become even more recognizable.  Both the United States and the UK, are already struggling to fill these positions and the discrepancy will continue to grow in the next 5 to 10 years, with the existing workforce retiring leaving a vacuum behind.

What can be done?

Handling the reality of talent shortage isn’t an easy task but there are ways and strategies that can help companies face these problems and stay afloat.

Expand your search

In examining candidates’ applications, you should look beyond the ticked-off boxes. Since there are no perfect candidates to be found, those imperfect ones start looking much better. This does mean you will have to be open-minded and progressive and invest in additional training and re-training, as many companies are doing nowadays to get the workforce they need.

Expand your search

Challenging times call for creative and imaginative measures. If traditional methods don’t work, you go alternative. This can include referrals, retirees or veterans, and hire through social media that can bring maybe not perfectly suited candidates, but surely ones with experience and positive attitude.

Internal training and mentoring

Another effective way to deal with the problem is to turn inwards – to your current employees.  Rather than having to hire new workers, an employee in your own business – when given proper training – can be even better suited for the vacant position.

By offering employees IT and software courses, companies can effectively streamline their processes, reduce the need to hire externally which is costly and time-consuming.

Developing external contacts

When there’s a talent shortage and it’s challenging to find skilled and experienced workers, companies can benefit from forming partnerships with external organizations that work with aspiring professionals. One great example is partnering up with educational institutions. It’s a smart future investment for companies to offer student training and internship as it will produce graduates with the desired skills set and interest for work in the organization. Also, in highly competitive hiring environment, this can be an invaluable strategic partnership.

Be cautious with flexibility

Naturally, companies need to be cautious not to become too flexible when choosing potential employees. A great example of this comes from the US, more precisely, the health care industry. There is a new law that HR people in home care must take into account when hiring the new workforce. Specifically, California surety bonds requirements started including home care organizations in 2016 stating that all of their aides have to be checked beforehand.

It would surely hurt your business relationship with one such organization if one of their candidates turned out to have something suspicious in their background.

Promote company culture

Many companies have fallen into a trap thinking that only salary increase would be enough to attract job applicants. While this strategy may have worked in some organizations, there are other, more effective ways to attract talented workers. One of them is to promote company culture focusing on work-life balance.

Promote company culture

This is one of the major concerns of modern-day workers and it ranks high on their priority list. Businesses that offer flexible working hours, telecommuting options, paid family or maternity leave or any other benefits, are sure to be more attractive to talented applicants than those simply offering high salaries.

Use Tech

Of course, another great thing for HR professionals of the modern age is all the technology that is made available by various companies from around the world. It makes it easier and simpler for HR professionals to focus on the important stuff while leaving the boring paperwork part of HR to software.

It goes without saying that a presence such as HR Tech Conscience also plays a huge role in this part of the Modern HR.


It’s obvious that HR managers have difficult work cut out for them when it comes to recruiting and hiring in a competitive market. It’s important to stay alerted and be proactive, keep an eye out for new ways to attract talent, look out for smart solutions, make the most of what you already have and bear in mind that trends change so be adjustable.


This article has been written by James D. Burbank, who has spent almost 20 years working with companies of various sizes around the world. He has seen them do their HR in all kinds of ways. He is the editor in chief of BizzMarkBlog.

Workplace Health and Wellness as a Strategic Talent Management Lever

Workplace Health and Wellness is a booming industry, estimated to have permeated over 78% of workplaces in 2016. Furthermore, a recent study found that 87% of companies are investing in or planning to improve their investment in employee wellbeing offerings in the near future. As these programs become more commonplace and employees become more informed healthcare consumers, now is the time for organizations to think about workplace Health and Wellness programs as an impactful strategic talent management lever.


Through our research and working with clients on workplace Health and Wellness between 2014 and 2016, we developed a model that identifies the four primary dimensions that underlie the maturity of workplace Health & Wellness programs:

– Programming: encompasses the Health and Wellness offerings that an organization delivers, including incentive programming.

– Governance: assesses the degree of leadership buy-in, employee resources, and vendor management a program has.

– Enablers: refer to how programming is experienced by employees based on vendor use, technology, and communication.

– Performance Measurement: considers the extent to which organizations set objectives for success and the measurement strategies they use.

Based on these four dimensions, we have developed a four-stage Health and Wellness Program Maturity Model (© 2015-2017 Kaiser Associates) to diagnose client programs and ultimately help them move from Nascent and Emerging stages to Comprehensive and Blue Ribbon programs.


So, what are some of the best practices we have learned from our work in this field?

– Start with a good business case, as you would with any other strategic initiative. When pitching a Health and Wellness program to senior leaders, it is critical to be transparent about what success looks like, how it will be measured, and what milestones will be achieved. In fact, in addition to looking at the traditional ROI, many leading organizations are also incorporating a “VOI” measure – looking at the value of the investment or benefit to the employee.

– Start where you are today. It isn’t possible to further analyze and achieve measurable business outcomes unless you know that employees will continue to participate in existing programs. Therefore, measurement is a “walk before you run” scenario that starts with getting employees to participate in whatever your program is today.

– Evolve your organization’s language, actions, and behaviors to elevate the conversation. Think carefully about the language used to describe programs, initiatives, and outcomes, and get senior leaders on board with sharing their personal stories too. For example, phrases associated with stigmas such as “weight management” may resonate more effectively when referred to as “fuel management,” “mental health” may resonate better when referred to as “emotional fitness,” etc.

– Take an integrated approach to Health and Wellness at an organizational level. Historically (and among less mature programs), workplace Health and Wellness has been considered a vertical initiative within HR / Benefits functions. The current and future maturity of Health and Wellness programs requires a shift to approach it as a horizontal platform, or better yet, to embed it into the fabric of the organization. Decoupling Health and Wellness from the Benefits function enables greater integration and synergy across the organization.

– Focus on the “whole person” and individualizing Health and Wellness at the employee level. Enabling individuals to personalize programs based on their unique Health and Wellness goals yields more significant and enduring outcomes. Storytelling is another way to spread the message and to enable individuals to understand how to apply the benefits or programs to themselves.

As workplace Health and Wellness continues to take off, organizations who approach it as a strategic talent management lever will reap the most positive – and lasting – return on investment and value.

This article has been written by Lilith Christiansen is a Vice President at Kaiser Associates and originally published in WISP blog.

Original Post

How Machine Learning is Revolutionizing Digital Enterprises

According to the prediction of IDC Futurescapes, two-thirds of Global 2000 Enterprises CEOs will center their corporate strategy on digital transformation. A major part of the strategy should include machine-learning (ML) solutions. The implementation of these solutions could change how these enterprises view customer value and internal operating model today.

If you want to stay ahead of the game, then you cannot afford to wait for that to happen. Your digital business needs to move towards automation now while ML technology is developing rapidly. Machine learning algorithms learn from huge amounts of structured and unstructured data, e.g. text, images, video, voice, body language, and facial expressions. By that it opens a new dimension for machines with limitless applications from healthcare systems to video games and self-driving cars.

In short, ML will connect intelligently people, business, and things. It will enable completely new interaction scenarios between customers and companies and eventually allow a true intelligent enterprise. To realize the applications that are possible due to ML fully, we need to build a modern business environment. However, this will only be achieved, if businesses can understand the distinction between Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML).

Understanding the Distinction Between ML and AI

Machines that could fully replicate or even surpass all humans’ cognitive functions are still a dream of Science Fiction stories, Machine Learning is the reality behind AI and it is available today. ML mimics how the human cognitive system functions and solves problems based on that functioning. It can analyze data that is beyond human capabilities. The ML data analysis is based on the patterns it can identity in Big Data. It can make UX immersive and efficient while also being able to respond with human-like emotions. By learning from data instead of being programmed explicitly, computers can now deal with challenges previously reserved to the human. They now beat us at games like chess, go and poker; they can recognize images more accurately, transcribe spoken words more precisely, and are capable of translating over a hundred languages.


ML Technology and Applications for Life and Business

In order for us to comprehend the range of applications that will be possible due to ML technology, let us look at some examples available currently:

  • Amazon Echo, Google Home:
  • Digital assistants: Apple’s Siri, SAP’s upcoming Copilot

Both types of devices provide an interactive experience for the users due to Natural Language Processing technology. With ML in the picture, this experience might be taken to new heights, i.e., chatbots. Initially, they will be a part of the apps mentioned above but it is predicted that they could make text and GUI interfaces obsolete!

ML technology does not force the user to learn how it can be operated but adapts itself to the user. It will become much more than give birth to a new interface; it will lead to the formation of enterprise AI.

The limitless ways in which ML can be applied include provision of completely customized healthcare. It will be able to anticipate the customer’s needs due to their shopping history. It can make it possible for the HR to recruit the right candidate for each job without bias and automate payments in the finance sector.

Unprecedented Business Benefits via ML

Business processes will become automated and evolve with the increasing use of ML due to the benefits associated with it. Customers can use the technology to pick the best results and thus, reach decisions faster. As the business environment changes, so will the advanced machines as they constantly update and adapt themselves. ML will also help businesses arrive on innovations and keep growing by providing the right kind of business products/services and basing their decisions on a business model with the best outcome.

ML technology is able to develop insights that are beyond human capabilities based on the patterns it derives from Big Data. As a result, businesses would be able to act at the right time and take advantage of sales opportunities, converting them into closed deals. With the whole operation optimized and automated, the rate at which a business grows will accelerate. Moreover, the business process will achieve more at a lesser cost. ML will lead businesses into environs with minimal human error and stronger cybersecurity.

ML Use Cases

The following three examples show how ML can be applied to an enterprise model that utilizes Natural Language Processing:

  • Support Ticket Classification

Consider the case where tickets from different media channels (email, social websites etc.) need to be forwarded to the right specialist for the topic. The immense volume of support tickets makes the task lengthy and time-consuming. If ML were to be applied to this situation, it could be useful in classifying them into different categories.

API and micro-service integration could mean that the ticket could be automatically categorized. If the number of correctly categorized tickets is high enough, a ML algorithm can route the ticket directly to the next service agent without the need of a support agent.


  • Recruiting

The job of prioritizing incoming applications for positions with hundreds of applicants can also be slow and time-consuming. If automated via ML, the HR can let the machine predict candidate suitability by providing it with a job description and the candidate’s CV. A definite pattern would be visible in the CVs of suitable candidates, such as the right length, experience, absence of typos, etc. Automation of the process will be more likely to provide the right candidate for the job.

  • Marketing 

ML will help build logo and brand recognition for businesses in the following two ways:

  1. With the use of a brand intelligence app, the identification of logos in event sponsorship videos or TV can lead to marketing ROI calculations.
  2. Stay up to date on the customer’s transactions and use that behavior to predict how to maintain customer loyalty and find the best way to retain them.
How Enterprises Can Get Started Implementing Machine Learning

Businesses can step into the new age of ML and begin implementing the technique by letting the machines use Big Data derived from various sources, e.g. images, documents, IoT devices etc to learn. While these machines can automate lengthy and repetitive tasks, they can also be used to predict the outcome for new data. The first step in the implementation of ML for a business should be to educate themselves about its nature and the range of its applications.

Another step that can bring a business closer to ML implementation is data preparation in complex landscapes. The era of information silos is over and there is an imperative need for businesses to gather data from various sources, such as customers, partners, and suppliers. The algorithms must then be provided open access to that data so they can learn and evolve. The Chief Data Officer of the company can oversee the ML integration process.

To start with completely new use cases for Machine Learning is not easy and requires a good understanding of the subject and having the right level of expertise in the company. A better starting point for many companies would be to rely on ML solutions already integrated into the standard software. By that, it will connect seamlessly with the existing business process and immediately start to create value.

Lastly, businesses should start gathering the components necessary for building AI products. Among the requirements would be a cloud platform capable of handling high data volume that is derived from multiple sources. The relevant people are as important to this step as are the technology and processes. After all, they would be the ones who will be testing the latest digital and ML technologies.

This article has been written by Ronald van Loon, he is a top Big Data, and IoT Influencer and originally published in The HR Tech Weekly® blog.


Onboarding Process – The Employee Experience Way

It must be said that whilst onboarding processes have generally moved to a higher standard across sectors in recent years there are still some significant flaws being experienced by new staff as organizations fail to set the right tone and create the right impression for newly recruited employees. A recent survey by just about everyone indicates as much.

Onboarding process is really important – we know this personally, don’t we?

The best recent research comes courtesy of the trend taking place across companies to share photos of a new recruit’s first day desk, which has grown into a highly visible and visual demonstration of the care (or not) taken by employers across the globe to connect staff to their brand and employee experience from the outset. With a range of branded goodies and tech to greet new staff, we have had some sneak peaks into the inner workings of the employee experience at some organizations most notably Uber and FanDuel.

With an Open Heart and a Bottle of Bacardi: Onboarding Kits of Forward-Thinking Companies>>

The inevitable backlash has also unfolded with other protagonists popping up to kindly remind us all that humor is also important. One of my personal favorite examples on that note was the response from the good people of Yorkshire, England; one company showcased their new recruit’s desk via the photo above- an authentic employee experience- no branded stuff, no MacBook, no mobile, no hoodie… just the basics- barbecue sauce, post-its, and a penguin. Nice.

There is something very cool about the desk craze and it shows how competition between employee experiences is hotting up. As the example from Yorkshire shows, you don’t need to be cash rich to make a memorable impression on a new colleague’s first day. Come on, employee experience goes much deeper than new toys.


A tongue-in-cheek welcome; Yorkshire, Englan

Yet it is new toys and a big welcome that is delivering millions upon millions of brand hits. Hundreds of thousands of likes. We are liking the great big and authentic welcomes as part of the employee onboarding experience. Most certainly, and we also know that that kind of experience may not be the norm, and therein could be a mistake amongst many others within onboarding processes. Remember your first day? Good, great or indifferent?

“The new game in town is about engaging your employees, the employees of your talent rivals and other companies generally, and also your customers!”

Across organizations and sectors, some of the more common mistakes involve a less than adequate welcome and induction; employees not being treated as an important member of the team and not being provided with clear information about the organization and what their experience within it is all about, and more importantly, what matters in terms of performance, values, and culture. There are also process issues with the set up of related workstations, delays in getting the tools employees need to get their job done, and a visible lack of senior leadership presence in those early stages integrating new staff into the workplace. There could also be a distinct lack of connection to other teams and colleagues; this element may be left to chance, which may not be the best approach to position new staff in and may not lead to early productivity outcomes.

This feeds into a sense of disconnect and could be made worse if those initial manager conversations are not properly led. Relationships matter and none more so than the one that takes place between employees and managers. It is important to get this relationship on the right track early. It isn’t about giving new staff their work and saying get on with it; it’s much more than that. It’s about creating that great team and community atmosphere around the new member and demonstrating the values of the business in and through a range of planned experiences.

As part of a connected employee experience, the onboarding process really is significant and allows employers to really express their unique culture in many different ways, and more importantly, help new staff integrate quickly. The simple and effective way to avoid issues is to fully consider, and engineer, the onboarding experience to get new colleagues up and running quickly, and to enable them to connect with the organization and the people around them in a meaningful way. This can be achieved through mapping any and all of the moments of meaning such as the offer letter, the first day, and other important points during employee onboarding.

We know that a strong focus on the employee experience energizes everything, from pre-hire to retire, so it must be given due consideration if you wish to attract, guide and retain the best. What do you want that experience to look like? How do you want the new colleague to feel? How do you want them to interact and experience their new environment? What does the data and information from past onboarding experiences tell you about where you should focus attention?

This could be a desk already set-up with a standard issue kit and tech, a mug with the new colleague’s name on it, a talk from the CEO and top team about the values of the business to new recruits, a pre-determined buddy to show people the ropes, a learning experience shaped on the values of the organization. The list is endless. It’s all about the context, being authentic, and creatively shaping those initial experiences.

The successful onboarding process is fairly straightforward in theory and should be in practice too. The easiest method of charting a successful onboarding process is to stop thinking of it as a process in the first place, but more an experience. From that perspective, you are free to design the experience in full and shape an employee’s early stages within the organization aligning learning and orientation activities that set the right context for what is to come and the future stages of the employee experience journey.

In effect, keeping in mind the employee experience and intentionally designing the first experiences of new employees is the best way to ensure new staff thrives, not just survive, in those initial interactions with their new workplace.

This article has been written by Ben Whitter, who is one of the World’s leading figures within HR & Employee Experience and originally published in WISP blog.