Do Zoom, Teams, and Slack Help or Hurt?
When businesses use so many overlapping apps, crucial information can be hard to find.
Here are today’s highlights:
A CEO shares hard-won management lessons.
Is salary transparency good for employers?
Expectations for holiday retail sales are dimming.
They’re not buses! They’re luxury coaches.
Do Zoom, Teams, and Slack help or hurt productivity? “Workplace tools have never been popular — who enjoys filling out expense reports? — but when the pandemic hit, virtual communication and collaboration programs became critical for businesses. New employees got onboarded by one app, trained by another and surveyed by a third. As Covid-19 wore on, concerns about burnout and record quitting rates prompted companies to add well-being and recognition programs. Rogue workers and teams brought in their own favorite tools as well. Apps upon apps, all with incessant notifications, cryptic passwords and byzantine protocols. And unlike your uncle’s Facebook posts, they’re not easily muted.”
“How bad is it? Companies deployed 89 different apps on average last year, up from 58 in 2015, according to Okta, a cloud software company. At large employers, that figure is now 187. Of those apps, close to 30 percent are duplicative or add no value, according to a survey of senior business leaders by WalkMe, an enterprise software provider.”
“Natacha Arboleda is a hairdresser at Fox & Jane, a chain of about a dozen salons, mostly in New York City. The company uses one app for scheduling appointments, another for the stylists to chat with the office staff, and a third for HR functions like payroll and time off requests. Making matters worse, management has changed the HR app three times since Arboleda started there.”
“Steve Dinelli, who runs a digital marketing agency in Chicago, says the overload problem has hurt his company’s productivity. ‘There are always messages going back and forth internally asking where different things are for different clients. Is it in a Google doc? Email? Dropbox? Slack? It could be anywhere.’”
“And good luck trying to eliminate apps: ‘Clients will just find someone who will work the way they want.’” READ MORE
A CEO shares hard-won lessons, including learning the difference between honest mistakes and sloppiness:
The chief marketing officer at a jobs search engine makes the case for salary transparency: “This year, three of America’s most influential states—New York, Washington, and California—passed statewide salary transparency bills, putting the issue under the spotlight. Conversations around quashing the pay gap and mandating salary transparency on job ads have become popular in the U.S., but we haven’t arrived. The U.S. is among the worst in the global ranking of salary transparency, with less than 3 percent of job postings, including salary information.”
“Many employers fail to recognize the hidden costs incurred by the lack of salary transparency. Our recent research has found that the absence of salary clarity directly hinders talent attraction and damages employer attractiveness.”
“According to our survey of 2,000 job seekers in the U.S., one in three would turn down an interview opportunity if they do not know the salary range. Even worse for an employer, over half would decline an offer after finding out the salaries. The cost of a vacant role compounds over time.”
“Jobseekers are skeptical of employers who do not disclose salaries in job ads. A third assume the company is hiding something, while 30 percent believe it shows the company will underpay them.” READ MORE
The surgeon general says toxic workplaces can be hazardous to your health: “Surgeon General Vivek Murthy’s office—which is more often associated with warnings about nicotine, Zika and the Covid-19 pandemic—issued a guidance Thursday outlining how long hours, limited autonomy and low wages can affect workers’ health and organizational performance. Chronic stress disrupts sleep, increases vulnerability to infection and has been linked to conditions ranging from heart disease to depression, the document said, citing research from the American Psychological Association and a Stanford University psychologist.”
“The surgeon general’s guidance on the role of the workplace in well-being comes as many workers report work stress and difficulty concentrating. Meanwhile, companies have stepped up spending on mental-health and well-being benefits in recent years.”
“A mentally healthy workplace, according to the framework, includes growth opportunities, work-life balance, community, protection from harm and employee influence on workplace decisions.”
“Of more than 2,000 workers surveyed by the American Psychological Association in April and May, 18 percent described their workplace as somewhat or very toxic, and 30 percent said they had experienced harassment, verbal abuse or physical violence at work, including from customers.”
“Forty percent of 563 companies with at least 100 employees and $1 million in annual revenue surveyed by the benefits-consulting firm NFP in February and March spent between $201 and $600 per employee on well-being, a category including programs such as mindfulness workshops and office fitness challenges, in 2021.” READ MORE
Amazon is going to sell insurance in the U.K.: “The product will show shoppers quotes for policies from insurance providers including Ageas, Co-op and LV+ General Insurance, with Amazon pocketing a commission on each sale from its partners. It is similar to offerings from price comparison sites like Comparethemarket and Moneysupermarket. Customers who want to apply for home insurance on Amazon can do so by filling out a questionnaire, which asks them questions on their home insurance needs. They’re then shown a list of quotes from Amazon’s insurance partners, along with reviews and star ratings from other customers.”
“Once a user decides on which policy they want to go with, they pay for it using Amazon’s own online checkout.”
“The service is initially rolling out to a few select customers but will be available across the U.K. by the end of 2022.” READ MORE
Expectations for holiday retail sales are dimming: “Foot traffic in stores has yet to rebound to pre-pandemic levels. In September, it was down 8.8 percent in department stores, and 8 percent in specialty apparel, from last year, according to Placer.ai, which tracks foot traffic through mobile phone data. Compared with 2019, department-store foot traffic was down 24 percent and specialty apparel down 14.5 percent. And online sales growth in November and December is expected to be anemic compared with the past two holiday seasons.”
“According to Adobe Analytics, online sales are expected to increase just 2.5 percent, to $209.7 billion, this year. That is a far cry from the 33 percent growth in 2020 and the 8.6 percent growth last year.”
“The holiday season is always characterized by proclamations of lower prices and can’t-miss deals, but executives have said in earnings calls and interviews that they anticipate more discounts than usual this year across the industry.”
“‘It’s a crucial year for brands and retailers to make their numbers, especially as most brands and retailers have re-forecasted,’ said Ms. Amlani of the Retail Strategy Group. ‘If they don’t make those numbers, then drastic measures will need to happen.’” READ MORE
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Home buyers are looking for bargains in Florida cities hit by Hurricane Ian: “Friley Saucier, a global real-estate adviser at Premier Sotheby’s International Realty in Naples, is working with a wealthy individual planning to spend as much as $50 million on distressed real estate in areas that suffered damage from Ian. ‘He called me after the storm,’ she said. ‘I’ve spent a week calling agents and others trying to find properties that are off-market because these homes are still being dried out and remediated, so they’re not yet listed.’”
“A study released Oct. 11 by Dr. Johnson and Eli Beracha, Ph.D., of Florida International University, found that the Cape Coral-Fort Myers metropolitan area was the nation’s most overvalued housing market in August—before Hurricane Ian—with buyers paying an average of 70 percent over the area’s long-term pricing trend.”
“‘Due to the devastation, there won’t be a lot of homes to sell for a while,’ said Kristen Conti, broker-owner of Peacock Premier Properties in Englewood, Fla. Lack of supply, combined with the demand for homes by both end-users and investors, will cause home prices to increase for 12 to 18 months, she said.” READ MORE
Startup travel companies are hoping travelers will embrace luxury coaches: “Giant sleeper buses have been a staple of travel in parts of Latin America and Asia for decades. But in the United States, the concept has never taken hold, despite our vast highway system. Around 2017, Cabin, a two-story bus with beds tucked into private pods, began taking passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco for overnight trips, but stopped in 2020. Gaetano Crupi, the founder of Cabin, declined to comment on why the service ended. More successful have been high-end coach services that offer shorter journeys, like Red Coach, Vonlane and the Jet, a 14-seat bus that ferries people from Metro Center in Washington to Hudson Yards in Manhattan.”
“They advertise seats that recline far back, high-speed Wi-Fi and a feeling that even though you’re technically on an intercity bus, you are on a refined, affordably priced journey, said Andisheh Ranjbari, an assistant professor of travel behavior at Penn State.
“You don’t see the word bus anywhere in the advertisements,” she said. “They say it’s a first-class luxury experience.” READ MORE
THE 21 HATS PODCAST
Rule No. 1: We Will Not Have Civil Wars: This week, Shawn Busse, Paul Downs, and Liz Picarazzi talk about why it’s so easy for tension to break out inside a business. Liz sees tension brewing between her people in the office and her people in the field. Shawn often sees friction at businesses between sales and those who have to deliver what sales sells. Paul says there’s always the potential for problems when a project gets handed from one set of workers to another, and he’s created a very deliberate process to address it. We have, he says, “really tamped down the civil wars and started solving the problems, as opposed to letting them fester.” Plus: Are Shawn and Liz going to hit their numbers this year? And have the owners seen their health insurance rates for next year?
You can subscribe to the 21 Hats Podcast wherever you get podcasts.
Thanks for reading, everyone. — Loren