The Future of Work Podcast With Jacob Morgan | Futurist | Workplace | Careers | Employee Experience & Engagement |

With companies making a move towards relying on data and algorithms to make decisions, it is important to remember that there is still a human aspect that has to be considered.

Many organizations are making a move towards relying on data and algorithms for their decision making, but we have to ask if this is always a good thing. The truth is, no matter how calculated and precise these programs may seem, there is still a human programming the algorithms and there is plenty of room for error.

One example of this was included in a book by Cathy O’Neil entitled, Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy. In her book O’Neil told a story about a school in Washington D.C. that decided to use an algorithm to find the lowest performing teachers in the school. They ended up identifying around 200 teachers who had low performance levels and the school let those teachers go. One of the teachers, Susan, was particularly surprised that she was one of the teachers who was let go as she always had high reviews from students and was well-liked by peers and supervisors.

It turns out that what the algorithm couldn’t identify was that the low scores were not Susan’s fault. What had happened was the students in Susan’s class came from another school where teachers were editing the tests to make it look like the students got all the answers correct. So when those students moved into Susan’s class where their answers were not edited, it appeared that their scores were falling drastically.

What we have to understand is we still need a human aspect when it comes to making decisions. Data and algorithms are great, but we still need human input to understand why the data is the way that it is. We cannot simply rely on the data alone.

Direct download: dangers_of_relying_on_data_podcast.mp3
Category:Millennials -- posted at: 1:43pm PST

Tracy Reinhold is currently the Chief Security Officer at Fannie Mae, a role he has held since 2015. Prior to working for Fannie Mae, Tracy spent 22+ years working for the FBI, first in the Intelligence Program in areas such as counter-terrorism and national security, and then as an FBI career agent.

With between 10,000 to 12,000 employees, the Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA), commonly known as Fannie Mae, is a United States government-sponsored enterprise and, since 1968, a publicly traded company. Founded in 1938, the corporation's purpose is to expand the secondary mortgage market by securitizing mortgages in the form of mortgage-backed securities, allowing banks to reinvest their assets into more lending and in effect increasing the number of lenders in the mortgage market by reducing the reliance on locally based savings and loan associations. Its brother organization is the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FHLMC), better known as Freddie Mac.

According to Reinhold, every company is a technology company today. It doesn’t matter what your core business is, whether it is in finance, logging or retail, it is bettered by technology

At Fannie Mae the security system is complex. For example, they have sensors on all their floors to figure out the most traveled patterns in the building so they can figure out the best evacuation routes or occupancy plan. This is beyond the usual idea of security functions within a company.  

Security is a cost center for any company. It’s not adding money to the bottom line, as opposed to what it really does - take money away from the bottom line. So in order to be viable, you have to think about what sort of technology can be leveraged to protect the building.  Or consider how it will also enhance the building operation. Ask how could this better utilize the space that the core business is currently using?

Something else going on at Fannie Mae is to leverage technology to enhance access control to what they consider critical spaces.   For example, to reduce a company’s security force. If a turnstile that allows one to reduce 3 shifts of security personnel, the initial investment of $65,000 for that turnstile is quickly offset. So when one makes a pitch to the C Suite, you need to articulate how you will make a return on that technology investment.

When asked if he is worried about the use of increasing technology, Reinhold says, “I am not worried, I’m aware, and I think that is the difference”.

 

What you will learn in this episode:

  • Many innovative ways Fannie Mae is utilizing technology in their buildings and with their employees
  • What it is like to work at Fannie Mae
  • The current state of work and security
  • Why every company is a tech company today
  • How Fannie Mae deals with threats/hacks
Direct download: Tracy20Reinhold20Podcast_DONE.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 8:40am PST

Companies like Google, Netflix and Facebook have great perks and workspaces, but just trying to copy and paste their ideas into your company will not get you very far.

There has been a lot of talk over the past few years about the unique and impressive things that companies like Google, Netflix and Facebook have implemented. These companies have some great employee perks such as free food, massages, work flexibility and unlimited sick days. They have fun and exciting workspaces that include rock climbing walls, breathtaking views, on site gyms with trainers, open floor plans and napping pods. A lot of company leaders see what Google, Netflix and Facebook are doing and they feel they have to do the same to attract and retain their people, but this is a horrible idea.

The fact is, companies like Google are not making these decisions on a whim, so neither should you. They are implementing these things based on people analytics, data, research and studies.
They reach out to their employees to find out what they want and need and that is what determines their next move. Every company is unique and therefore simply copying Google is dangerous and it won’t get you very far.

The truth is there is no secret to figuring out what perks and benefits to offer your employees. If you want to create an organization where people genuinely want to show up to work you just have to ask your people and listen to them. Focus on what makes your company unique; what are your values, what are your goals, what do your people care about? Trying to be like Google kills what makes your organization special. So instead of trying to copy and paste from Google, try figuring out what is important to your organization and to your people before implementing perks, benefits or a new workspace.

Direct download: why_your_organization_should_stop_being_google_podcast.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 10:27pm PST

Francine Katsoudas is the Senior Vice President and Chief People Officer of Cisco. She plays a major role in the company's overall performance, leading organizational strategy, promoting operational effectiveness, and elevating team performance through innovative leadership.

A 20-year veteran of Cisco, Katsoudas has extensive experience leading organizational transformations. Prior to her current role, she was the HR leader and business partner to the Engineering leadership team helping oversee its workforce of more than 25,000 people. She has also held leadership positions in the Service Provider, HR Operations, Customer Service, Acquisition Integration and Services groups.

A new venture at Cisco this last year was Leader Day. One day brought 8500 leaders together both in person and remotely, around the globe in 7 locations and it included leaders that report to CEO. Leader Day was meant to create a community for the 8500 people striving to be better and it was developed due to desire to align expectations for leaders . The event started with everyone listening to the same keynote speaker and scenarios. After that the entire group of 8500 were then divided into groups of 10 and each group had exercises that they discussed based on those scenarios.

Cisco looks at 3 pillars within the talent strategy:

  1. What do we want individual experience to be?
  2. Teams – create an environment that builds and develops world class teams
  3. Team of teams – how do we work with 73,000 employees to drive alignment and innovation

In addition, Cisco has identified 11 'Moments that Matter’. Identifying the concept of ‘moments that matter’ has led to managers becoming more thoughtful about issues surrounding these types of moments. It has also driven a new level of appreciation.

What you will learn in this episode:

  • The story behind ‘getting rid of annual performance reviews in 3 days’*
  • The path that led to Katsoudas to her current role at Cisco
  • What is ‘The best of we’ and ‘The best of me’
  • Should you be aware of your personal brand?
  • How do you deal with fear at work?
  • An offer to other orgs to collaborate with Cisco on new topic

*Check out previous podcast with Jacob and Francine to learn even more about this subject!

Direct download: Francine_Katsoudas_Podcast_DONE.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 8:47am PST

It is quite common for people to worry about technological advances such as AI, Automation and self-driving cars. And while these changes are coming, it won’t happen overnight.

The impacts of technology are all around us. You don’t have to go far to hear a conversation about how technology is shaping the future of work and the way that we live. You can see it on television, you can read it in the newspaper or in online blogs, you can hear it on the radio--it really is all around us.

The subject of technology is usually at the forefront of any conversation about changes in our world such as AI, automation, the Internet of Things, robots, self-driving cars, etc… A lot of times people are quick to panic when these subjects are brought up. They worry about automation taking over jobs, they worry that self-driving cars will be dangerous, they worry that robots will become too advanced.

But it is important for us to remember that there is more to these changes than just the technology. Just because we have the technology in place to create these things doesn’t mean that they can be implemented tomorrow. There is a lot more that has to happen aside from the technological ideas and know-how.

Other things that have to be considered before things are implemented are rules and regulations, ethical issues, culture, society and the environment. For example, we have to have rules in place that will help a self-driving car make critical decisions in the case of an accident. Also, before something can be widely implemented humans have to be comfortable with the idea of using the technology. There was a time when Airbnb or Uber probably wouldn’t have been accepted by people, for example.

Don’t get me wrong, the changes brought on by technology are inevitable and they will keep coming. But we need to remember that we aren’t going to wake up tomorrow and all of a sudden be living in a whole new world; these things take time.

Direct download: Technology_Alone_is_Not_Enough_to_Change_the_World_podcast.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 9:08am PST

Kimberly Samon is the Chief Human Resources Officer at Weight Watchers. She has more than 20 years of HR experience in the Retail industry. Previously Samon was at KSL Advisory Services, a private Corporate Strategy and Human Resources Consulting firm providing expertise to companies on all facets of their business.  Before assuming that position, she held top HR and Strategy executive roles with Simmons Bedding Company, Frito-Lay, HQ Global Workplaces, Lacerte Technologies, and Kinko’s (now FedEx Office).

Samon holds a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University, a MBA in Management from Mercer University, and a JD with a focus in Labor and Employment Law from Stetson University.

Weight Watchers started in 1963. With over 18,000 employees, it is the world’s leading commercial provider of weight management services, operating globally through a network of Company-owned and franchise operations. In the more than 50 years since its founding, the company has built its business by helping millions of people around the world lose weight through sensible and sustainable food plans, activity, behavior modification and group support.

Weight Watchers has gone through a major transformation over the past several years. When Samon started working there the industry was in turmoil, but they have found a way to refocus their brand and in turn they have seen the company return to success. It started as a company that was solely focused on weight loss, but now it is a company that looks at the overall well-being of their clients. It is not just about losing weight, it is now about being your healthiest self--physically, mentally and emotionally.

Samon believes that instead of thinking of work-life ‘balance’, it is important to think of it as work-life ‘integration’ – we need to give ourselves permission to not work 24 hours a day. For instance, Samon will go to events during her children’s school day but then will work later in the evening.

What will leadership skills look like in 2025? The fundamentals like communication will remain the same and results orientation is always going to be fundamental to organizations. Now people want to be attached to a purpose, and a meaningful mission. So how people show up may change but fundamentals won’t change.

Samon’s advice for employee skill sets are to have technology skills, be agile – as a way of thinking.  and have the ability to collaborate.

What you will learn in this episode:

  • What it is like to work at Weight Watchers
  • How Weight Watchers has evolved over the last few years
  • Fundamental leadership skills for now and the future
  • What practices listeners can use to be more authentic, empathetic and vulnerable at work
  • The distinction between traditional and non-traditional HR
  • How WW justifies spending money on Employee Experience
Direct download: Kimberly20Samon20Podcast_DONE.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 7:36am PST

Want to get a visual of what our future may look like? The best thing to do may be to grab a sci-fi book off of the shelf.

Over the years there has been a multitude of great science fiction books and movies that have been released. Authors like H.G. Wells, George Orwell, Philip Dick and Orson Scott have created fantastic futuristic worlds for us to think about. Movies such as The Matrix, Avatar, Interstellar and Total Recall have been very popular entertainment. But what is the role of science fiction in the future of work?

Works of science fiction, whether they are books, movies or TV shows, allow us to get a glimpse into what the future could be like. They have allowed us to see things like robots, AI, connected devices and self driving cars before they were mainstream realities.

It is one thing to read research, data reports and to look at the numbers to see projections 10 to 20 years out. It is another thing completely to be able to physically view practical (or extreme) ways in which different technologies and advancements could be implemented into our world. It is hard to grasp what the future could look like when all you have is data and numbers. Works of science fiction movies and books help paint a picture that makes it easier to visualize what could be.

So the next time you are wondering what the future may hold 10 to 20 years down the line, pick up a good science fiction book or go out and see a science fiction movie. You may get a good glimpse into what’s to come.


Jordan Birnbaum is the VP and Chief Behavioral Economist at ADP. In his role, he is responsible for the integration of behavioral economics into software design and marketing communications of new talent-based products. Birnbaum has more than 20 years experience as a start-up specialist and entrepreneur, as a Founder / Senior Vice President at Juno Online Services and Founder / CEO of The Vanguard, Los Angeles. He holds a BS from Cornell University and a Master’s degree in I/O Psychology from NYU.

ADP – Automated Data Processing - began in the 1950’s. It is a Fortune 500, company with 50,000 employees worldwide. 1 out of 6 people gets paid by ADP. They have adapted and evolved to look at down the road at the art and science of providing payroll.

“Behavioral Economics is putting ‘would’ in front of ‘should’”.  The idea is to improve the predictions of human reactions to just about anything. Being able to define ‘the should’ is critical.

When it comes to loss aversion, “human beings are twice as motivated to avoid a loss as we are to secure a gain.” So it is twice as motivating to avoid losing $100 than it is to gain $100. The impact of gaining it is only half as impactful.

How can managers and leaders apply this in a company? Through communications.

An example of Loss Aversion:

Trying to get people to participate in leadership development programs. Two sentences and understanding how to frame:

  1. Consider all the career advancement that you stand to gain if you were to improve as a leader.

Or

  1. Consider all the career advancement that you stand to lose if you don’t improve as a leader.

Changing just 2 words makes the second sentence twice as motivating as the first. So understanding how to frame things relative to what we stand to lose versus what we stand to gain is often the difference between success and failure.

Birnbaum’s advice to listeners is to realize that ‘should’ is not a very good predictor and he says behavioral economics is a great party topic!

 

What you will learn in this episode:

  • The power of saying...”but you are free to decline.”
  • What role Priming can play in business, marketing and other spaces
  • What is a Heuristic method and its role in behavioral economics
  • What consistent irrational behaviors we should be aware of
  • How to drive behavior change in the workplace
  • How loss aversion can be used by managers
Direct download: Jordan20Birnbaum20Podcast_DONE.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 7:59am PST

Celeste Warren is the Vice President of Human Resources and Global Diversity and Inclusion, Center of Excellence at Merck. In this dual role, she has responsibility for the strategic and operational Human Resources support of Merck's Global Legal, Compliance, Communications, Population Health, Patient Health and Global Public Policy Organizations.

She is also responsible for working with Merck’s global leaders to advance and embed diversity and inclusion as a strategic approach to maximize business performance and create a competitive advantage. Warren is extremely passionate about D&I and she has received numerous awards for her work including Diversity Global’s 2017 Influential Women in Diversity award and most recently she was named one of the 21 Leaders for the 21st Century.

Merck is a pharmaceutical organization that makes drugs, operating in about 140 countries with about 60,000 employees.

What is the difference between diversity and inclusion? Warren explains that diversity is simply our ‘differences’. For example: men/women, Black, White, Latino or a disability that is not visible, whether someone is married or single, genetic differences, and in general, what difference someone identifies with.

Inclusion, on the other hand, is creating a culture that allows all people to ‘bring themselves into work’.

When you have employees with differences within the organization, how do you create a culture of inclusion that allows them to be able to bring themselves into work? We have to find out whatever people identify with - so they can be productive. We also have to ensure that people aren’t marginalized and that their ideas are received and considered, to contribute to the success of the organization.

There are four diversity ambassador teams at Merck that look at D/I.

The first is employee business or affinity groups. There are 10 groups in Merck that come together once a month to talk about issues within organization to be the voice of organization.

The second is their global diversity and inclusion business consortium. This group focuses on how business leaders need to do their job through the lens of D/I and so they learn from each other

The third is the global diversity and inclusion extended HR leadership team who ensure that work is done with the lens of D/I

And the fourth group’s focus is on creating a culture for employees with disabilities.

Advice for managers to be more aware of Diversity & Inclusiveness

  1. Look inside themselves, what are the capabilities, how knowledgeable am I? Read articles, around D/I and see what is happening around the world.
  2. Build your own capabilities - take a few online courses to look at unconscious bias and how it impacts your leadership
  3. In staff meeting, bring in an article around diversity and start a dialog, create a safe, brave space to talk about these things. What can I be doing better? What can I do to better create a culture?
  4. Take that information and go to your peers/ your manager. Have that discussion with your manager to figure out how your organization can create a more diverse and inclusive environment.

Warren’s advice for individual employees is to understand your own biases, come into the workplace and talk with your peers about it – bring in an article, get together with others and talk about things happening, have a conversation with your manager and join an employee affinity group. Get involved and be a leader. 

What you will learn in this episode:

  • What role diversion and inclusion plays in organizations
  • Why should organizations think about diversity?
  • How is diversity and inclusion tied to business goals?
  • What data should organizations look at in terms of D/I?
  • What roles individual employees, managers and leaders play in creating a more diverse and inclusive organization
Direct download: Celeste20Warren20Podcast_DONE.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 8:09am PST

A study about satisfaction carried out by a professor of psychology gives us something to think about in the workplace.

Tom Gilovich, a professor of psychology at Cornell University, did a study along with some members of his team to find out how levels of satisfaction are affected by spending money on experiences versus spending money on physical things. Gilovich and his team found that people who spend money on physical things such as phones, computers, houses or cars tend to have a drop in satisfaction as time goes on. On the other hand, they found that people who spend money on experiences, like skydiving, traveling or learning a new skill, have higher satisfaction levels overtime.

How can we translate this phenomenon into the workplace? A lot of times the relationship we have with our organizations tends to stay very transactional. When we first get the job our satisfaction levels are high, we are excited, expectant and happy. However, as time goes on we tend to become more and more dissatisfied with our jobs. We get bored, disconnected and burned out.

Organizations need to find a way to allow employees to feel as if they have purchased an experience--as if they have climbed a mountain or gone skydiving. They need to find a way to help employees get that feeling of increased satisfaction as time goes on. If organizations could do this successfully, think of what that would do to the way we work, the way we feel and the way we live. What do you think? How do you think organizations could fix the way we view work?

Direct download: the20future20of20work20is20employee20experience20midweek20podcast.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 1:42am PST