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July 2021

The Big Lie of Microsoft Office Tracking Your Work-Life Balance/Well-Being

"You don't know me, son!"

--David Goggins

I'll start with a shout out to the benefits of tracking my s**t everywhere on the web. I don't mind it. I like when Google knows, based on the time of day, where I'm going and tells me how long it's going take to get there. I'm fine with the running shoe recommendations and more I get from Instagram. Helpful. 

Track me all day long, because I live an honest life. You're going to be freaking bored if you track me for dirt. 

But don't judge me.

You know who's in the business of tracking AND judging? Microsoft Office.

Google and Instagram don't tell you that you could be a better person. Microsoft does, and it should bother you as an individual, and if it doesn't, you might want to put on your strategy hat and think about the judging and influencing that's going on across your organization. You know—the leadership thing.


Last week, I was just minding my own business and got an email from the MS Office Suite from a toolset called "My Analytics."  The email was titled "My Analytics/Well-being Edition" and was sent at 1:27 am.  I'll let you soak for a second on that combination. 

The email sent by the MS Office 365 engine proceeded to give a reading on my state of well-being.  

Ready for my stats? Remember, I didn't opt into this, it just came to me as an individual employee.  Here's what MS Office thinks about my work habits related to their expertise in "well-being."

1--MS Office is not impressed with my commitment to excellence/world domination/crushing it.

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In this case, well-being is defined as not allowing yourself to be interrupted after hours, which means outside the normal office hours you set up in Outlook. Apparently, I'm one step away from working in the Nike/Phone factory in China when it comes to well-being, given the fact that I've had two Quiet days protected from disruption

What Microsoft doesn't measure: how I define work-life balance. It doesn't show when I'm not working during the day, instead showing that as "focus" time. If you call looking at NBA trade rumors as focus time, you're 100% correct. I kid—the point is that this indicates I am outside of some PhD's "boundaries for clean living" but does nothing to show that I work hard during the day.

2--MS Office is also concerned about my health when I'm online in some fashion "past midnight."

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At least one to two times a week I wake up in the middle of the night, and I know me—I'm up for ninety minutes at least. Sometimes I grab the phone and scroll. Sue me.

Here's an idea: if you are going to lecture me about looking passively at my email at 2 am, maybe you shouldn't send me your wellbeing email at 1:27 am. Just saying.

3-- MS Office would like to admonish me for being too responsive to email.

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MS Office thinks reading 75% of emails is obsessive. That's just me kicking some ass, Redmond. I'm guessing while I hear this, feedback on the well-being front doesn't flow to people who are awful at email. You know, something like, "you have ninety unread emails that are more than a week old. Your employment may be in danger."  That's a well-being note for sure, and one that some people need to hear. Who's going to give them that message? I doubt that it's Microsoft.

4--While MS Office is quick to judge my hours, it only reports on the number of emails I receive and send; it has no opinions on this topic.

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OK! I send 160 emails a week! Is that a lot compared to my peers? Are people taking action on my emails? I read 1,000 emails a week. Am I responding to the right ones? MS Office doesn't have input for me here. Too bad, lost opportunity.


The point is this: this is less about you and me as individuals and more about the messages flowing in your organization. If you're not aware of the messaging that "MyAnalytics" might be sending to your team, you might want to consider the following realities/impact of this type of reporting (that you didn't ask for):

1--This type of well-being reporting is one-way and doesn't have context. If you give a lot of great flexibility for people to figure out how they want to get it done, the standard version of how MS Outlook won't cut it. They could be doing their own thing during the day (approved by you as long as the work gets done), and that will show up as "focus" time. Translation: your org will be framed with the negative (hey, buckaroo, why are you looking at email at 9pm), with no credit given for the positive (I don't micro manage my people's hours).

2--The standard MyAnalytics Package aims to reduce responsiveness under a cloak of "focus time." You reply to emails with a lot of urgency? Hey, you might want to lay off providing great responsiveness. The problem, of course, is that MyAnalytics won't take on the other side of giving feedback. It won't tell someone they should be worried about further employment because they suck at responsiveness. 

3--Performance isn't considered. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. High performers everywhere work harder than average performers 99% of the time. While MyAnalytics makes broad recommendations to cover well-being, a braver tool would not only cover well-being but would give some line of sight for where you fall in these measurements in your company, which makes the guidance culture-specific. That guidance would go something like this: "Hey Kris, you're answering 75% of your email within 30 minutes, the average at your company is 150 minutes. Why don't you still do great things in this area but only check email once an hour? The benefits of doing this are ___________. Plus, consider this: only 13% of people you respond to that quickly look at your email within 150 minutes."

I like the idea of well-being tools. But well-being doesn't exist in a vacuum. It has to be placed in a package with performance, organizational culture, and great recommendations based on data that compares you with others in your company.

Think about those things, Microsoft. And maybe stop sending me wellness emails at 1:27am—if you're going to preach to me about reading emails past working hours.

KD out.

GHOSTING BY CANDIDATES: It Sucks, So Let's Make it Happen Early

Post-Covid. Summer of 2021. The tour you wish you didn't have a ticket for.

You thought the market would be employer driven coming off of 14% unemployment. You (we) were wrong. Ghosting

Here we are. The recruiters, the HR pros, the talent leaders. At our best, we like to think about candidate experience and, at times, even take action to make it better. If the internet has taught us one thing, it's that it's probably too easy to apply for a job you're not qualified for via technology. That means hundreds of applications—way too many to treat people with any modicum of respect.

So from a candidate experience perspective, the entry level action item is, "I told everyone who didn't get the job they applied for where they stood." To do anything else is a form of ghosting.

I gotta be fair to my recruiting and HR brothers and sisters. If people are applying for a hundred jobs a day through Indeed Easy Apply, I'm not sure they should expect that courtesy. 

Still, ghosting candidates is bad, and we'd like to avoid it.

Especially now that candidates HAVE THE NERVE TO START GHOSTING US.

It's true that in the post-COVID world, especially at the $20/hour, 40K and under range, candidates are increasingly ghosting good natured recruiters by not doing one of the following:

1) answering an initial note to talk,

2) showing up to phone screens,

3) showing up to live interviews with hiring managers, or

4) showing up to their first day of work.

It hurts, right? Every time a candidate ghosts us or a hiring manager, it's time to do what comes naturally, which is to blame COVID-period federal and state unemployment benefits for de-incentivizing millions of Americans from truly wanting to work. That reality means that those in the marketplace can act horribly as candidates, confident that another job is available the same day if they decide to pass on your scheduled call.

Getting ghosted by a candidate sucks.

But I'm here to tell you that they're actually doing you a favor, and your job when you recruit is to make someone who is inclined to ghost DO IT AS EARLY IN THE PROCESS AS POSSIBLE.

Why should that be the goal? Simple. Because the later they do it in the process, the more it hurts your business and your reputation as a recruiter.

With that in mind, I'm giving you the following 3 rules FOR PULLING THE GHOST OUT OF A CANDIDATE as soon as possible, if it exists inside them:

1--Give as many critical details that might make the candidate ghost you as early as possible.  Money, hours, and any other critical decision point should be shared with the candidate as early as you can. Don't assume just because you shared these details in a posting that they've actually read them (see note above about applying for 100 positions a day). If a candidate has the ability to ghost you, sharing details as well as hard facts is the best way to get them to do it early.

2--Make the candidate do some form of work to get to the next stage. What's up, automated calendar? If a candidate can't do something as simple as pick a time rather than you spoon feed them, they're probably a) not the candidate for you, or b) they were going to ghost you any way. Do some simple task for me, candidate. In later stages (but not too late!), taking the time to complete an assessment you have is a great way to see who's going to ghost you later and get it out of the way.

3--Challenge them to commit to showing up to the next step. Turns out, simply talking to candidates about showing up and how others have ghosted you is a great way to increase your show rate. It's behavioral science, if someone commits after you ask them for a specific commitment, they're much less like likely to blow you or your hiring manager off.

Let's say that four out of every ten candidates you interact with in this post-COVID environment has something in them that might lead to ghosting. You want to get that out of the way and DARE THEM TO GHOST YOU as early as possible. Remember, them applying and then never replying when you reach out is a form of ghosting. That's when you want it to happen, so get the party started right and give them the hard details in your first text/email and make them pick a time to talk to you rather than you serving them like a 100K waiter at the Four Seasons.

Ghosting by candidates is bad. Ghosting by candidates late is worse. 

Let's embrace early ghosting, then blame the government for this mess like we've always done (insert evil laugh).