How Does an Internal Gig Marketplace Work?

The gig economy has taken on a new form at work as an internal gig marketplace.
An internal gig marketplace offers employees a chance to explore a short term project of interest outside of their usual role.
Implementing an internal gig marketplace can boost employee retention and engagement while keeping your workforce ready for new challenges..
The Gig Economy Never Left, It Just Moved
Each year, there is at least one hot topic that pops up into the sphere of HR relevancy. Just a couple of years ago, we were gifted with the “gig economy.” While the term was new to many of us (myself included) this way of working has been around as long as… well, work.

For those new to the phrase, the gig economy is defined as “a labor market characterized by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs.” Of course, short-term employment is nothing new, but its rise in popularity in recent years is.

All that being said, I won’t bore you with another article about the ins-and-outs of the gig economy. Instead, let’s talk about how the gig economy has been adopted within the workplace as the internal gig marketplace.

What is an Internal Gig Marketplace?
An internal gig economy, or internal gig marketplace, is similar to a job board—with the exception that every “gig” is a short-term project available only to your current employees. Your employees won’t exactly be abandoning their roles to take on this new gig full time. Instead, participating employees commit 10-20% of their time to this new project while still fulfilling the responsibilities of their primary role.

The Business Case for an Internal Gig Marketplace
While there are a number of professionals who work full-time within the gig economy, this world of short-term employment has also been a safe haven for curious minds. Within the gig economy, everyone has a chance to embrace and tap into their other talents that may not be required for their day-to-day role. A career accountant can become a photographer. A teacher can try out voice acting. The gig economy has addressed a need that has exists within all of us—the need to explore and learn.

And that’s why the gig economy has gained some popularity within modern organizations. People are multi-faceted, and generally speaking, many of us don’t like to be boxed into one category.

Imagine if a decorated wrestler couldn’t go on to become a widely popular astrophysicist. Then, we wouldn’t have Neil deGrasse Tyson. If high-flying acrobats aren’t enough to convince you, here are three practical benefits for implementing an internal gig marketplace at your organization.

Talent Retention
The internal gig marketplace provides employees with interests outside of their current roles an opportunity to explore these interests. And from a business perspective, it sure beats losing an amazing employee if their only avenue to exploring these interests is to leave the company.

Employee Engagement
When employees get a peak into a different business function, they also have the opportunity to connect the dots between their day-to-day work and the overall business goal. Employees who can clearly align with an organization’s “why” are more energized and engaged with their work.

Workforce Agility and Adaptability
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that businesses need to be able to transform quickly in order to thrive in the rapidly changing world around us. Having employees who are multi-disciplined and intimately aware of different business functions will help your teams be prepared for unexpected challenges down the road.

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A Bold New Vision for Recruiting: Going Outbound

If there ever was a moment that called for change, it’s now.

As businesses and communities, we are navigating a triple crisis (economic, public health, and social justice) unlike anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes.

As recruiting professionals, we all want to attract the very best talent, and help improve the diversity of our companies.

Yet, most companies still approach recruiting the same way we always have.

Inbound Recruiting Model
Post and market our open positions
Review the applications that come in (along with sourcing candidates proactively)
Run a robust interview and assessment process
Select and hire the best candidate.
We call this an inbound approach to recruiting, where much of the focus is reacting to a pipeline of applications.

Recruiting at GitLab was no exception…until now.

Sure, we’d built key innovations into our model, such as:

Strengthening our outbound sourcing function to attract candidates who likely never would have applied.
Setting goals to focus our teams on attracting more diverse talent from a wider range of under-represented groups (URGs) and geographies.
Articulating the importance of intentionally building outbound talent pipelines instead of over-relying on inbound application flow.
These initiatives helped us improve GitLab Recruiting in important ways, yet our results still showed room for improvement.

We were still relying on a fundamentally inbound model, largely focused on reacting to our application channel.


Thanks to our all-remote workforce and incredibly active contributor community, GitLab enjoyed incredible inbound application volumes (>12k/month) that far outpaced those of most companies our size (and even much larger companies).

This volume meant that our recruiters spent a large percentage of their time reviewing and screening applicants, leaving minimal bandwidth to personally source more diverse talent.

Attracting passive candidates takes time, which was often at odds with the velocity of our hiring process.

Pandemic: An Opportunity to Reflect on our Model
March 2020 ushered in the need for lower hiring volumes for GitLab, and a rare opportunity to reconsider our hiring process emerged.

We asked ourselves questions like:

Instead of continuously adjusting the inbound model we (and almost all other companies) were using, what if we decided to approach recruiting in a completely different way?
What if we focused our full team’s (sourcers and recruiters) efforts on proactively attracting talented people who might never have applied in the first place?
How much diversity and efficiency could we attract at the top of our funnel if we took the bold step of closing our inbound application channel completely?
After reflecting on these questions and reviewing recruiting and retention data, we decided that the most effective way to attract top, diverse talent who aligned with our CREDIT values was to fundamentally revamp our entire approach to recruiting.

Our Shift to Outbound Recruiting
In April 2020, we moved away from the reactive, inbound recruiting model that we relied on, and closed our applications channel (yes, the one that was generating >12k applications per month).

Instead, we adopted a proactive, outbound approach to recruiting, focusing the full efforts of our Recruiting team on attracting talent that might never have applied to GitLab (or even heard of our company). This model will allow us to source the most talented candidates for open roles and focus even more during the interview process on whether candidates truly align with our GitLab values.

Candidates can still express interest in GitLab and share their information with us by joining our Talent Community (CRM). By opting in, they’re added to our pool of candidates to consider when sourcing for current and future opportunities.

We set Q2 goals that emphasized diversity and efficiency at the top of our funnel, with the expectation that we could make even greater progress in these important areas by being more intentional in our recruiting approach.

Like everything we do at GitLab, we’re still iterating on our outbound recruiting model.

We’re so encouraged by our early Q2 results that we’ve already (a) established an ongoing KPI for top-of-funnel diversity and (b) raised our KPI for candidates sourced by Recruiting.

Cultivating Diverse Talent
We know that making our companies more diverse is a wise business investment. A great benefit to a proactive, outbound approach to recruiting is that it enables an even more intentional focus on attracting diverse talent.

An important element of any recruiting effort is reducing the influence of unconscious bias in the process, especially when proactively building more diverse recruiting funnels. In June, we held three Live Learning Sessions to help all GitLab team members better understand, recognize, and avoid unconscious bias.

Our transformation to an outbound recruiting model is an important step toward unlocking the potential to meaningfully improve diversity, inclusion, and belonging (DIB) at our company.

As remote work becomes more widely adopted due to the pandemic, more companies are beginning to recognize the potential for all-remote to reduce biases and improve diversity.


I personally feel a deep sense of responsibility to drive bold changes in how we recruit. As the world’s largest all-remote company, we believe we’re uniquely positioned at GitLab to capitalize on the opportunity for remote work to reduce bias and improve diversity.

I challenge other TA leaders and teams to think about ways you can become more intentional in your recruiting models and unlock the full potential of DIB at your organization.

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6 Ways to Avoid Isolation Fatigue While Balancing the Demands of Remote Work

Covid-19 has confronted businesses and employees with the acute challenges of remote work, underscoring the need to provide the right tools, planning, and support to ensure people stay healthy, connected, and productive. Managers are focused on working with employees to ensure the right infrastructure is in place, not just in technology but also in the way they set up expectations, processes, and priorities.

Of course, if remote workers lack the right tools or access to information, they’ll feel disconnected, disorganized, and disengaged. So it’s been vital to put in place the right tools, from computers, microphones, and cameras to the right software and apps. To create a productive ecosystem, employees also need easy access to group and shared drives and a plan for setting up team goals, deliverables, and timelines. Sharing schedules and documenting team members’ preferred working hours are also important.

But working from home is the new reality for many people. It’s not just equipment and process that are needed; employees are confronting new issues around feeling disconnected from the office while facing new pressures at home. So leaders need to think about new ways of helping workers manage expectations around both office and family.

This means managers must be realistic about the challenges. Working at home may mean more multitasking. Some employees may be less productive, so encourage employees to set achievable daily tasks and goals. If those go well, gradually make the goals more ambitious. Get employees to agree on workloads, projects, and priorities with their manager and communicate them to the team.

Keeping the whole team connected is crucial. Get the communication wrong and team collaboration grinds to a halt, customer focus could fail, and innovation could be stifled. So it’s important for each team member to be aware of others’ projects, timelines, and goals. Syncing responsibilities and deadlines with teammates helps manage projects, maximizes efficiency, and ensures that everyone’s work gets done. Online meetings should have clear goals, agendas, and outcomes, so send pre-reads sufficiently in advance.

Connectivity is only one solution for enabling remote working. Failure to provide remote workers with the right support can affect their motivation, productivity, and work-life balance. Isolation fatigue could easily set in, so encourage employees to think about these steps:

Set Expectations With the Family

Encourage employees to agree with partners and children about schedules, quiet spaces, homework time, and when it’s okay to interrupt. Make sure they take time to get fresh air or have some fun. It’s important to be flexible and to keep checking that these expectations work for everyone.

Set Boundaries With a Workspace

Urge employees to carve out a space, zone, or approach to work that’s separate from family members when they need privacy or are on a call. Wearing headphones or placing a sign on the back of their chair or monitor works as a clear signal to others.

Build a Routine, And Practice Good Self-Care

Encourage a routine that helps get work done efficiently and effectively. For some people, this means rebuilding their home office environment. For others, it’s about establishing a new routine. It’s important to set reasonable boundaries so workers don’t feel that they’re “always on” when working remotely. Breaks need to be prioritized to avoid burnout. And routines need to include staying connected with social communities, including business resource groups and work support groups on platforms like Workplace, Facebook, and Instagram.

Stick to Meeting Schedules

Working remotely doesn’t mean working reactively. Give employees the freedom to push back on last-minute conversations and spontaneous meetings—particularly those unrelated to their priorities.

Socialize With Colleagues

Isolation is a common problem for remote workers, so it’s more important than ever to come together. Try creating and participating in chat threads where team members can talk about common interests. Video calls are better to connect with colleagues, even just for an end-of-day watercooler chat. They also help introverts—who’d rather not socialize—periodically connect with team members.

Communicate with Clarity and Positivity

Working remotely makes it vital for communications, especially by email or chat, to be clear and positive, or they may be viewed as cold or indifferent. Happy emojis, fun photos, and generous compliments all are tools to maintain morale and build rapport.

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The hidden—but very real—cost of working from home

In a time of social distancing and remote work, Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon raised a surprising topic during his latest earnings call with Wall Street analysts: togetherness. “Our firm has always had a team-oriented apprenticeship culture, and we benefit from being and working together,” he explained. While many CEOs seem in no hurry to refill their office buildings, and several have told employees they need never return to the office, Solomon made it clear that he wants his colleagues back in the office as soon as is safely possible. He himself has never stopped going to the office through the pandemic.

Solomon’s desire to bring his employees back together physically even as the coronavirus continues to rage around the globe, particularly in the U.S., isn’t rooted in any simple calculation of efficiency. Facebook, Fujitsu, Nationwide, Otis, Siemens, Twitter, and other major companies have announced that large portions of their workforces may or must work remotely from now on. It saves money and may increase productivity, managers say. Many employees prefer it. A recent survey by Korn Ferry found that 64% of workers feel that they’re more productive at home.

But a group of hyper-successful contrarians—Apple, Amazon, Goldman, Google, and others—have pointedly not offered the indefinite-WFH option. They want employees back physically together. Considerable evidence supports their stance. It also shows that when employers offer indefinite WFH, they’re messing with something more powerful than they may realize.

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What’s Your Leadership Origin Story?

Origin stories come in many forms: tales of how we entered a profession, personal chronicles explaining how and when we became part of an organization, accounts of how we met our significant other, or even how we emerged as a new person after a crisis. Despite this natural inclination, we rarely examine what we include (and don’t include) in those accounts and how those choices shape our present reality. To better understand how leaders see themselves, we conducted in-depth interviews with 92 men and women to discover how they tell the story of their leadership origins, and then examined how their telling aligned with their present-day realities.

Our findings provide insight into how leaders tell their stories, why they matter, and, more specifically, how those stories differ across gender. Below are our key findings, along with questions you can consider when it comes to your own leadership origins, how you can draw on your origins to become a more adaptable leader, and what you can do to cultivate different ‘types’ of leaders within your organization.

We All Pick a Lens
How would you respond if someone asked when you first felt like a leader? Would you start in childhood, or when you first took on that big position in your organization? Was it when others told you that you were a leader or asked for direction? We found that the 92 origin stories we studied converged around one of four dominant themes, which we labeled: being, engaging, performing, and accepting. These themes acted as lenses, determining how the leaders we interviewed see themselves today. As you read through them, consider which one sounds the most familiar to you, and think about how this narrative might shape your leadership today.

The leaders who adopted this lens suggested that they have “always thought of themselves as leaders.” For example, Juan told us: “I’ve been a leader since I was a child. I’ve always enjoyed leading teams, leading people.” They highlighted a natural call to leadership that started in childhood or early school years, perhaps organizing kids in the neighborhood, engaging in entrepreneurial activities, or becoming captains of sports teams. In describing their current leadership, people who use this lens often noted their personal qualities, such as confidence and optimism, and their natural — and inspirational — leadership styles.

Leaders who used this lens highlighted the successful facilitation of others and activities. They believed their leadership originated when they were compelled to address an urgent need. For example, Jennifer linked her origins to activities: “It’s not like I came out of the chute trying to be the natural-born leader,” she told us. “But I do like the idea of creating a vision, looking at what needs to get done, making something better than it is now.” The leaders who used this lens took it upon themselves to change unsatisfactory practices: starting a new organization, helping disparate groups come to a shared vision, volunteering to tackle a challenge or crisis situation, liaising between two groups in conflict. In the present day, these leaders gravitate toward a more facilitative leadership style, focusing on engaging others and enabling collective action.

Do you feel a sense of duty to the organization? Or perhaps you often feel protective of your team, which you might sometimes refer to as “my people”? Leaders who adopted this lens often recounted their leadership as emerging from the achievement of a particular position. For example, Randy said: “I never really thought about [being a leader] until I worked for the agency in Chicago. I was actually running … [an organization with] 50 full-time people, in 50 offices, [who] all needed me. And that’s when it clicked in that, ‘Wow, I have a big position and I’m responsible for a lot of people.’” People talked about having a sense of autonomy and control over an area of work, as well as a strong sense of duty and responsibility for their teams. This group tended to describe themselves as having paternalistic leadership styles, marked by a demonstration of control, support, and guidance of their team.

Those who used this lens didn’t think of themselves as leaders until they realized that others were following them. They recalled suddenly noticing that people were coming to them for answers, guidance, and support. Tyler recounted: “It wasn’t that I said I wanted to be a leader. But I think it was classmates at that time that saw [my] leadership qualities, which meant treating others equally [and] with respect and being able to make a good fair and strong decision. So I’d say when I look back on it, I was recognized by others as a leader before I even knew what leadership was.” As Tyler’s quote suggests, this group tended toward supporting or serving the needs others above themselves, often with a low-key demeanor.

How did you become the leader you are today? Which of the above lenses do you most naturally gravitate toward? Reflect on how the stories you tell may link to how you lead others, and who you recognize as leading or showing potential for leadership. This is not just an activity to classify your past. The lens through which you view your early leadership experiences impacts how you behave — in both positive and negative ways.

Your Leadership Lens Both Enables and Constrains Your Leadership
In our study we discovered there is a strong and reciprocal link between the stories people tell about “becoming” leaders and their current leadership. This means that rigidly using only one lens could limit your ability to experiment with different styles over time. For example, if you only see yourself as a leader when and if others are following you (accepting), your identity may be highly tied to the perceptions of others, which could hold you back from claiming a new leader role unless you’re “asked” to by others. Sticking to one lens may also constrain who you see as leaders, limiting who you seek out as role models and who you tap to take on leadership roles. For example, if you “have always been a leader” (being), it may be difficult to let someone else, especially someone with a different style, assume a leadership role in a team of your peers.

What does this mean for you?
Experiment with different origin stories that draw on different past experiences and memories of your leadership. Consider when you saw yourself stepping up during adversity to help others take action, or consider when others looked to you for support, advice, or guidance. What if you were born a leader? What would this mean for your leadership? Practice constructing and telling different types of leadership stories, which can strengthen your identity and increase your adaptability.

This is important to do for people you manage or mentor as well. Ask them to tell the story of how they “became” a leader, and share yours. This will expand your shared understanding of what leadership is and may trigger opportunities for them to experiment with different behaviors.

Gender Differences
While we found no difference across industries, ages, seniority level, or functions when it came to which lens our respondents used, we did find that gender played a role. Similar numbers of men and women relied on the being lens (I was always a leader) and the accepting theme (I’m a leader if and when others see me as one). However, more women felt like leaders when they were actively “doing” what they consider to be leadership activities (the engaging lens). More men, on the other hand, relied on the performing lens, meaning that they believed they became leaders when they achieved a particular role, and felt like leaders when taking care of their teams and performing the duties and responsibilities assigned to that role.

Women’s gravitation toward the engaging lens may help explain why research shows that women may be asked to — and tend to take on — more non-critical tasks at work, or step up to take actions in times of crisis. The engaging lens allows them to take an active role to better the situation, in the absence of positions that may be harder for women to attain than for men. At the same time, this particular lens may also place an extra burden on women to continue taking on tasks, to sustain this sense of being a leader by “doing.” Such gender differences are subtle but can have significant implications for how both women and men conceptualize and take on leadership. Being aware of these gendered tendencies can help us “try out” new lenses, and to uncover potential blind spots that could limit advancement.

What does this mean for you?
Be mindful that men and women may gravitate toward different lenses when it comes to reflecting on their leadership. To help them develop their identity, allow them to experiment with multiple narratives and select one that feels comfortable. That’s an important step. You can also help them notice the possible constraints of one narrative and enrich their stories with multiple narratives.

How you remember and explain your path to leadership matters. It can shape your style as a leader and unknowingly bind you to certain beliefs about what a leader does. By getting to know your story, and experimenting with different ways of telling it, you can become more adaptive, and ultimately, a better leader.

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Introverts Vs Extroverts in the digital workplace

That the Universe has changed forever is stating the obvious – what a curve ball has been flung onto us; our whole lives upended, and the entire world brought down on its knees by the invisible and insidious Covid monster. We have had black swan events in the past but this one is (due apologies to Nassim Nicholas Taleb) not just one black swan, it seems to be an entire bevy of them.

With theworld having moved indoors at least for the foreseeable future, at home and in front of digital screens, all the existing communication channels – emails, virtual meetings, social media instant messaging – have begun to redefine the rules of ‘online’ engagement.

With forced isolation for most of the world’s population, how people respond and engage with others have come to be limited by the platform and with no means of real social engagements, a shift in communication styles is perceptible. Many vivacious, gregarious extroverts are finding it hard to find the stimulation to keep up. Whereas those who don’t need other people to charge their energies are finding it easier to speak up!

It was Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung who proposed the theory of basic personality types, including the constructs of introversion and extraversion in the early 20th century. He classified introverts as people who need little external stimulation and turn inward to recharge, as opposed to extroverts who get energized by spending time with others in stimulating environments.

Introverts like inert environments

In the present day scenario with almost nil face-to-face communication other than with the immediate family or co-habitants, this has had some curious ramifications. Introverts who derive their energies from within and generally prefer focused conversation find boisterous office environments un-productive. The buzz, always-meandering-but-not-leading-anywhere-brainstorming sessions and the ever-proliferating grapevine are things they shun.

Today with the world on Zoom, WebEx, Hangouts or Teams and the like, they find themselves much more at ease in this scenario. The home desk is the office, free of any interfering chatter from around, making the before and after meetings small-talk superfluous. People cannot complain of being late in traffic or having been stuck in the ‘other-wing’; the calls are far more punctual and focused. The needle of control is sharp, thus offering a conducive environment to those who prefer it.

Not surprisingly, individuals who are shy, do better in virtual meetings, as it is comforting and far easier to face people online than in person. Likewise for individuals who loathe making presentations, the virtual medium is a Godsend with no audience to face, the screen being a non- threatening and non-intimidating entity. The images come nowhere close to a real audience that can look uninterested, or worse, snigger derisively. It takes nerves of steel to combat these audience reactions because it is a well-known fact that you don’t lose just one member, you lose several and before you know it, the audience is going, going gone.

A virtual presentation is free of these “irritants”, as the screen acts as an impersonal barrier and can somehow be strangely reassuring. Communication experts often talk of how good presenters never speak in a vacuum; they realize that they are not speaking to an amorphous mass but to different individuals seated out there and try and address almost all of them individually which helps to establish an instant rapport and connect.

It is almost the reverse digitally, with the screen muting the physicality of the audience, thereby rendering it extremely comforting. Sometimes, even that screen and video can be switched off and communication is done via chat-box, making it even easier to express and participate without actually putting yourself out there in front of people.

Extroverts cannot exert enough

Now for the yang – those who thrive on energetic coffee sessions, water-cooler conversations, staff-lounge banter find it depressing and distressing to come to the anodyne, agenda driven virtual meetings where one cannot trade stories or comment on new accessories or add grist to the corporate gossip mill.

Also, unlike in real life, online meetings rarely get tangential owing to extraneous factors like erratic Wi-Fi and poor connectivity. Shorn of welcome distractions like endless cups of coffee and cookies, meetings for them have lost their mojo.

Extroverts are inveterate people’s persons; they feed off the energy and derive their sustenance from others. The potency of a first impression, appearance, charm – buzzwords for communication impact, fade on an online meeting. What remain are small tiles of hazy pictures on a darkened background where each individual dissolves into the other. This toning down is not just restricted to appearances; those who are scintillating conversationalists and whose biggest weapon in their arsenal is a quicksilver tongue, seem to find their lustre dimmed. Personal charisma and the sheer force of an inexplicable executive presence pales and is muted because the medium robs them of it.

Another casualty of online communication is humour which relies on quips, repartee and timing most of which is lost digitally. In most meetings where people talk on top of each other, or there is a lag, or a network drop, humour stands a snowball’s chance in hell of being understood. The funniest quip that remains alive and kicking is ‘you are on mute’!

The pre-Covid world belonged to the extroverts who are generally known to communicate and persuade better than their more reticent counterparts. In keeping with the chaos around in the world today, where a host of theories have been debunked or nothinged, it is perhaps poetic justice that introverts are enjoying their moment in the sun.

Finally, regardless of personality types, it is a challenge to keep the attention glued to a virtual meeting which necessitates that only one can speak at a time. The lure of a WhatsApp ding and an email dong can easily distract the audience away. If Work From Home becomes a long-term reality then rules of workplace communication would probably all be redefined. Perhaps, the predictable high-in-demand communication skills, usually aced by extroverts, will be substituted by new rules of how to ‘digitally’ win friends and influence people by the introverts.

(Dr Seema Khanvilkar is Professor, SDA Bocconi Asia Centre. Vineeta Dwivedi is Assistant Professor, Bhavan’s SP Jain Institute of Management and Research. Both teach Business Communication. Views are personal.)

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What to Do When Your Employee Is Harassed Online

U.S. law requires employers to create a workplace free from discrimination and harassment. But as offices go virtual, what happens when staff confront a torrent of hate and abuse online? Given that over 44% of Americans say they’ve experienced online harassment, chances are, if you’re an employer, you have people on staff who’ve been impacted. For those with public facing jobs (journalists, policymakers, academics, etc.), online abuse may well be part of day-to-day working life.

Although anyone can be subjected to online abuse, women, BIPOC, and members of the LGBTQ+ community are disproportionately targeted for their identities and experience more severe forms of harassment. As more and more organizations proclaim their commitment to providing equitable and inclusive work environments, they can no longer afford to ignore the very real consequences of online abuse.

And yet the professional impact, within and across industries, is significantly understudied.

The creative and media sectors are among the few industries for which we have research. A 2017 PEN America survey of writers and journalists found that over a third of respondents who had experienced online abuse reported an impact on their professional lives, with 64% taking a break from social media, 37% avoiding certain topics in their writing, and 15% ceasing to publish altogether. A 2019 study from the Committee to Protect Journalists, which focused specifically on female and gender non-conforming journalists in the U.S., found that 90% cited online harassment as the single biggest threat they faced.

In other words, in the media sector, online abuse is damaging the professional prospects and chilling the speech of those already underrepresented in the industry. It is precisely the voices that most urgently need to be heard in debates around race, gender, and the rights of marginalized groups that are at the greatest risk of being silenced.

Though we currently lack hard data to measure the impact on other industries, there are countless articles on rampant online abuse in tech, finance, gaming, higher ed, and beyond. Employers increasingly expect staff to be active on social media and, in most sectors, using email and cell phones is effectively required — all factors that increase vulnerability. Still, the issue is rarely discussed in the workplace. In fact, rather than being supported, in some cases staff have been reprimanded, suspended, and even fired for being harassed (every troll’s fantasy).

Employers need to do better. When staff are attacked online in a way that intersects with their professional life, organizations have a responsibility to take the abuse seriously, and help address it. Some employers may feel they don’t know where to start, but in fact there are many steps you can take to support your teams in preparing for, responding to, and mitigating the damage of online abuse.

As an organization…
Acknowledge the harm: To create an environment where employees feel safe and supported enough to come forward when they are being abused online, leadership needs to let staff know that they take the issue seriously and expect managers and colleagues to do the same. Targets often suffer in isolation, partly because there’s still a great deal of stigma and shame associated with harassment, online or off. Many people who are disproportionately attacked online have also been marginalized in other spaces, so they may have legitimate concerns about being dismissed, mocked, or punished. A commitment to supporting staff who are being abused online can be formalized by amending existing policies and protocols around sexual harassment and social media use, communicated via all-staff emails and meetings, and reinforced by the ways in which managers and HR react to individual cases.

Assess the scope: Survey staff to figure out the degree to which they are facing and how they are navigating online abuse. The survey can be informal and anonymous. It should examine: how often staff are experiencing abuse and on which platforms; what kinds of tactics they’re being subjected to; the emotional, psychological, and professional toll; and how the institution can offer support. You may be surprised to learn just how many of your employees are affected — especially those who identify as women, nonbinary, or nonwhite.

Create protocols and offer training: When staff are being harassed online, they often have no idea where to turn or what to do. Arm them with the knowledge that there are concrete steps they can take to proactively protect themselves and respond. Having clear protocols can make staff feel safer and more empowered. To ensure staff are actually aware of these initiatives, employers can fold policies and protocols into onboarding and employee handbooks, post them on intranets and Slack channels, and encourage managers, HR, IT, and social media staff to reinforce them — and offer training. Here are a few examples of protocols and training that could be put in place:

Digital security: Although most employees use digital tools (email, messaging, search engines, social media) professionally, few are given guidance and training on how to do so safely. But providing your employees with this information is vital to bolstering their digital security. Mandating long unique passwords and two-factor authentication (more info here) to protect from hacking and impersonation are two steps all employers can take to protect staff. Leadership can also encourage self-auditing on search engines and social media to defend against doxing and the weaponization of old posts.
Online abuse: Map out what staff can do if they are being abused online, including how to report the issue internally, what kind of support they can seek, and what the institutional position is on practicing counterspeech, a tactic for combating or neutralizing hate speech.
Social media: If you expect staff to have a social media presence, you need a social media policy. Most are prescriptive and prohibitive, focused on what staff should not do on social media, but a responsive and inclusive policy also offers guidance on how staff can navigate abuse.
Develop an internal reporting system: As a part of your online abuse protocol, create a space where staff can safely and privately report it. They may not know whether to approach a colleague, a manager, or HR. Or they may be hesitant to speak to a manager if, say, the harassment is sexually explicit or their manager has previously dismissed their concerns. Put together a small task force to clarify what kinds of abuse staff can report, create a reporting mechanism (for example, a designated email account or Slack channel), monitor it, and ensure prompt follow up offers resources and support. A reporting system can help you identify patterns in abuse (multiple staff might be dealing with the same stalker) and assess threats (distinguishing between, say, someone being a jerk vs. an abuser with a history of violence).

Offer concrete resources and services: These should include: cybersecurity services that protect against hacking, impersonation, doxing, and identity theft, including password managers, such as Password or LastPass, and data scrubbers, such as DeleteMe or PrivacyDuck; mental health care or counseling; legal counseling; and guidance, such as PEN America’s Online Harassment Field Manual.

Moderate content: If your organization expects staff to express themselves via blogs, articles, or organizational social media channels — that is, on platforms allowing for public commentary — you can protect them from harassment by creating and enforcing guidelines for acceptable content. While fostering open online debate is important, it is also fair to define what you consider to be abusive and decide how such comments will be dealt with. News outlets like the Wall Street Journal have started creating clear policies. Machine learning — such as the Voxmedia’s Coral Project or Jigsaw’s Perspective — can also help human content moderators enforce those policies.

Encourage peer support networks: Online abuse is intended to be profoundly isolating, which is why giving staff a safe space to vent, share experiences, and exchange strategies is vitally important. Encourage staff to band together and create a peer support group. Just make sure they have adequate time and access to leadership to apply their hard-earned knowledge to help improve policies, protocols, and resources.

Issue a statement of support: If staff are being harassed in response to their work, odds are high that the abusers want to push them out of professional spaces, intimidate them into self-censorship, or even damage their employer. The power dynamics between a lone target and an abusive (often coordinated) mob are extraordinarily uneven. Let staff know you have their backs by taking a stand against hate and harassment online.

As a manager…
Reach out and listen: Proactively reach out to staff targeted by online abuse, check in, and listen closely to their needs. Keep in mind that some individuals — depending on their identity or life experience — may not feel comfortable calling attention to their situation for fear of retaliation or increased scrutiny, so be discreet. These conversations are best held privately, although the affected employee should feel empowered to invite a trusted colleague or HR representative. Ensure staff facing online abuse are engaged in every decision that could affect them, particularly in terms of public disclosure and interactions with law enforcement.

Assess the threat: Work closely with targeted staff to gauge threats to physical safety (for themselves, their family, and other staff); it may be necessary to engage law enforcement or professional security experts.

Document and delegate: Documenting online abuse can be instrumental for escalating abuse to tech companies and law enforcement, and pursuing legal action. Using in-platform mechanisms like reporting, blocking, and muting can be one of the best places to start. But taking these steps can also be exhausting and re-traumatizing for the target. Employers can offer a temporary respite by asking a close colleague or the social media team to monitor, report, or document abuse.

Escalate: From social media to email and messaging apps, most digital platforms have mechanisms to report online abuse. But sometimes these mechanisms fail. As an individual, it can be difficult to get a platform’s attention, but organizations often have direct contacts at tech companies. If a staff member has reported abuse that clearly violates terms of service and is nevertheless unable to get it removed, escalating the issue directly to tech company contacts can make all the difference.

We are facing an unprecedented moment in professional life. The hyper-digital world we’ve been plunged into is already exacerbating harassment and hate online. At the same time, the Black Lives Matter movement has put much-needed pressure on for-profit and nonprofit organizations to redouble their commitment to creating more diverse, inclusive, and equitable workplaces. Online abuse is a major stumbling block to these efforts. If organizations are serious about supporting staff who identify as women, nonbinary, or BIPOC, it’s high time to have their backs in the face of online attacks.

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The 6 Biggest Concerns for CHROs in the Second Half of 2020

A lot of organizations came into 2020 with big plans around new technology, new recruiting methods and new ways to go about improving the employee experience. Those plans certainly didn’t involve moving the entire organization to remote work, layoffs, furloughs, shutdowns and new regulatory measures to comply with.

By the end of the first quarter, those priorities had changed drastically for most HR professionals and now, as hectic second half of the year is underway, priorities are shifting yet again. There is a great deal for CHROs to consider as they look toward the future, both near and short term. Here are 6 things of the most important ones that leaders will want to emerge from 2020 having either addressed or begun strategizing for.

Workforce Planning
The pandemic has sparked a rethinking around workforce planning and what happens next in terms of reskilling and career mapping for their people. Around one-third of all leaders say workforce planning is a high priority over the next 12 months in a recent report from McKinsey & Company.


With hiring budgets in a state of flux and the future being so uncertain, the focus for many CHROs is on uncovering the skills their teams need to develop now to help the business weather the storm and come out of this crisis with a clear vision for how it will operate in a post pandemic world. Expectations have shifted and with it, so have the possibilities.

With remote work becoming more of a norm, a workforce that isn’t constrained by borders is closer to reality than ever. This can have a big impact on addressing skills shortages, diversifying cultural perspectives within the company and development of new talent acquisition strategies after the pandemic is over.

In the end, the devil is in the details and this is as good a time as any to get into those. The road to recovery is paved by the workforce planning efforts HR leaders do now, but it won’t be realized by simply envisioning a destination. HR and finance leaders within the organization have to collectively sink their teeth into where the organization is and what steps are necessary to get to where they want to go.

Learning and Development
L&D teams suddenly find themselves at the center of the organization’s priorities. CHROs will do well to work even more closely with learning leaders to identify new skills and ensure wider access to training materials across the organization. As conversations around organizational agility and employee reskilling ramp up, the focus on L&D as a driver of business results is only going to intensify.

For CHROs and CLOs, a major consideration question to answer will be about investment and how long it can be sustained.

“Learning and development is not a “nice to have”, even more so now,” says Gabrielle Botelho, HR Director at geoscience company CGG. “Delivering capabilities for the future is one of the main functions of L&D. It’s about creating, acquiring, and transferring knowledge, which promotes the business growth. In the current scenario, there are many industries that are suffering with this crisis, such as retail, airlines, tourism, automotive, oil and gas, among others. For these industries, it is quite challenging to keep the investment in L&D now.”

The crisis has forced a lot of L&D content into digital systems at a rapid rate, a change that was already occurring but has now been done well ahead of initial timelines. This could present HR with an opportunity to begin collecting data on learning initiatives and effectiveness in ways that weren’t possible through in-person trainings. Understanding the right metrics around training and how it can influence skill development and organizational effectiveness will be vital going forward.

Employee Wellbeing
People are working longer hours from home and their habits are quickly changing. To keep a productive and inspired workforce, every HR team needs to be looking at employee mental health and wellbeing. The fact is, these are stressful times for everyone. A trip to the grocery store is filled with uncertainty as the supply shortages, public health and safety and the social ramifications of pandemic all weigh on people’s mind in that once trivial activity.

From day-to-day, the people that make up our organizations are experiencing a great deal of stress. CHROs should look to connect to the workforce where they can and help them find balance in their lives. Employees can hear from their managers that they should disconnect and go for a walk or take a day for their mental health, but the continuity of that messaging matters and hearing from people at the top of the organization will help a great deal to increase employee comfort levels.

There is a lot for everyone in HR to think about right now, so much so that Gallup provided a comprehensive list of tactics to help mitigate issues with employee wellbeing. From workplace to safety to employee engagement on everything from polarizing social issues that spill into the workplace to health benefits and pay adjustments, it’s down to CHROs to set the right tone within the organization to create continuity and inspire trust.

Part of the process of ensuring people their jobs aren’t at risk and helping them to be productive is steady communication from leadership. CHROs should be looking to reassure everyone within the organization of the processes and precautions the organization is adhering to in an effort to ensure everyone’s safety.

Regular communication inspires a bit of faith and should include some personal elements so that everyone is reminded of the humanity of the organization. Additionally, CHROs should remind everyone to get news from credible sources and to not spread rumor or information that may be alarming to co-workers.

Messages from leadership should occur regularly and be tailored to the audience. As this crisis goes on, those messages can change, but one thing should remain constant, their sincerity and transparency. This isn’t a PR exercise, it’s an opportunity to lay it out there for our people and CHROs shouldn’t underestimate the power of doing so.

Remote Culture
The shift to remote happened faster than it ever would have naturally do to the pandemic. But it comes at a cost as teams who had traditionally been in-person suddenly found themselves working at home among kids trying to finish the school year, pets, neighbors and a variety of other distractions. The switch has predictably upended people’s routine and typical working hours meaning companies have had to show more empathy toward the lives their employees lead outside the walls they traditionally interacted in.

While it’s tempting to want to maintain culture and in some ways, companies who had an effective culture should look to do so, it’s also important to recognize the ways in which that is impossible. Remote culture will be different, but that is okay. Work-life integration in this environment isn’t going anywhere, so the only thing that remains in question is how leaders embrace it. CHROs can set the example for lower level managers who may be struggling with things like asynchronous workflows and flexible scheduling.

While we are seeing that remote work doesn’t mean a dip in productivity, it may have other ramifications for things like innovation and cross-functionality. How those challenges are tackled comes down to culture and how leaders inspire the development of a remote first culture.

The CHRO role has taken on a great deal of importance during this crisis. It’s been widely repeated that the CHRO is to this crisis what the CFO was to the Great Recession. Part of the legacy CHROs will carry out of this period is how they reacted and how they applied new strategies to the lessons they learned. For many, one of the biggest lessons was the importance of a contingency plan.

Moving forward, HR will have to plan for the possibilities the world may throw at the business more than any other department. The current social unrest, public health concerns and political climate could spin off in a variety of directions and leave the business reeling if CHROs and the teams around them don’t take contingency planning into account when making almost all of the decisions they have to make.

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Film To Pharma: Kodak’s New Moment And Other Game-Changing Corporate Pivots

The venerable photography company is shifting to drug manufacturing in an effort to fight the pandemic. From Samsung and Slack to Taco Bell and Toyota, here are some of the most dramatic business reinventions.
This week, Eastman Kodak announced that it would radically refocus its business strategy. After more than a century of making cameras, film and other photography equipment, the Rochester-based company announced it would become a pharmaceutical company, its new mission boosted by a $765 million loan from the U.S. government to produce “starter materials” for generic drugs in an effort to fight Covid-19.

Who could have predicted such a development? Countless investors, who were tipped off by a barrage of tweets and local news stories speculating about a new Kodak initiative. On Monday, a day before the deal was announced, more than 1.6 million shares of Kodak were traded, roughly 7 times the average daily volume during the previous 30 trading days. Kodak shares soared more than 1,400% over the next two days, causing its market cap to rocket from an moribund $100 million to more than $1.6 billion. And pointed questions are now being asked about why its CEO, Jim Continenza, was granted 1.75 million stock options shortly before the loan announcement. Continenza’s options were valued at nearly $4 million on Monday. Those shares—which the company claims were scheduled purchases—are now worth about $50 million.

The Big Picture: Kodak is now focused on medicine not cameras BETTMANN ARCHIVES
Although the shift to pharmaceutical manufacturing may seem incongruous to those who recall Kodak moments, the company has been producing photographic chemicals for decades. Founded in 1888 by George Eastman, Kodak dominated the photography market for nearly a century—by the 1970s, the firm controlled 85 percent of the domestic camera market and 90 percent of the U.S. film market. And though a Kodak engineer invented the first digital camera in 1975, the company saw it as a novelty, failing to see its revolutionary potential. Increasingly marginalized, revenues peaked in 1996 at $16 billion.

By 2012, Kodak was bankrupt. When it emerged from Chapter 11, the company was considerably leaner—with just over $2 billion in revenue and an emphasis on printing and imaging. Then in 2018, Kodak tried to capitalize on the blockchain frenzy with a pivot to a cryptocurrency for photographers called KodakCoin. The announcement of an ICO spiked the stock price but was delayed and quietly canceled the same year. But Kodak’s latest move could vastly change the fortunes of the company in addition to bolstering America’s pharmaceutical supply chain.

Will Kodak’s new mission work? If history is any indication, other renowned companies have made fundamental shifts in their business models and altered the course of history. Here’s a snapshot of some other impressive corporate pivots.


Welcome Employees Back to the Office with Mini-Onboarding

Even if your organization isn’t operating at full capacity, it makes sense to start having conversations about what employee “re-entry” into the workplace will look like. That way, when the organization is ready, there will be a plan in place.

Organizations will not want to simply tell employees, “Starting Monday, we expect employees to report to the office.” In some organizations, employees have been out of the office in excess of 10-12 weeks. Employees haven’t forgotten about the workplace during that time, but it would be nice to give them some reminders of the formal and informal office environment. Think of it like a mini-onboarding process where employees get time to become reacquainted with a new routine. Because when it’s time for their re-entry, they will not be simply returning to the pre-COVID days. Here are a few things to consider:

Create a welcome back committee.
This group can include representatives from HR, legal, risk, facilities, operations, IT, accounting, and others depending on your operation. This group will be responsible for monitoring what’s happening in terms of reopening/relaxing of state and local restrictions, but they can work together to make sure all the proper safety and wellbeing precautions are in place.

Develop internal protocols.
Speaking of safety and wellbeing precautions, organizations need to take this time to develop policies and guidelines for personal protective equipment (PPE), employee temperature taking, internal contact tracing, workplace distancing, cleaning procedures, updated workplace signage, and more. HR departments can work with legal and risk management to make sure the workplace is safe for everyone.

Think about a preboarding component.
Organizations often use preboarding to stay in touch with candidates before they become new hires. Maybe we can use this time to communicate with employees before their re-entry. Have the CEO send out a video welcoming everyone back to the workplace. Draft FAQs for employees on what to expect when they arrive including everything from face coverings to physical distancing to what’s happening with the employee breakroom (i.e. free coffee, the community refrigerator, etc.)

Give employees time to catch-up with each other.
At some point, the organization will have to rigidly enforce punctuality and minimizing hanging around the water cooler, but the first few days or week probably isn’t the right time. Encourage employees to catch-up with each other. Maybe create a game out of having employees talk about what they did during quarantine and sheltering-in-place (SIP). This isn’t just a feel-good activity. It’s re-establishing camaraderie and the company culture.

Plan one-on-ones to reset goals.
Once employees have reconnected with the rest of them team. It’s time to focus on work. Managers might start some of these conversations while employees are still at home, but ultimately, they will want to talk about what projects have been completed during SIP and the ones that will be priority moving forward. Also, take time to recognize employees for their flexibility and productivity during this time. This hasn’t been easy for anyone.

Talk about a Plan B.
None of us know what’s going to happen in the weeks and months to come. Managers can regularly check-in with employees about the things that are going well and what the organization could do differently should they need to shelter in place or work remotely again. The welcome back committee can gather these responses and use them to put together a business continuity plan. Hopefully they never need to use it but, if necessary, they have it.

Keep lines of communication open.
During new hire onboarding, we encourage employees to tell us their ideas and their concerns. We remind new hires to ask questions. As employees re-enter the workplace, the organization should tell employees all of the same things. Make sure employees know that their safety and wellbeing is a priority. Communication is an essential part of that plan.

Traditional onboarding programs are designed to help employees feel welcome and become productive. We can use those principles to design a mini-onboarding process for employees re-entering the workplace. That way, when the organization is ready, there’s a proven plan to welcome employees and resume productivity in the workplace.

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