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The tech industry and how HR plays out in that space is one of my professional fascinations, and that extends to the boom/bust cycle of HR startups and software providers, some of which are trying to shrink or fully eliminate the HR department. So this week I thought I’d focus on the mess that is Zenefits, HR experiments in tech, and some related stories.
Here is your Friday Five:
Zenefits has a new CEO and a new direction and it’s.. layoffs? The HR and insurance middle man is laying off 45% of its workforce in a cost cutting measure. New CEO Jay Fulcher said that the move had been planned for years but forgive me if I have my doubts — recall that Zenefits also slashed its workforce right after the departure of founder and ex-CEO, Parker Conrad. Much of the shine has come off of this once-unicorn startup, but the HR tech sector as a whole. See, Workday:
Workday only just stopped celebrating Walmart, one of the world’s biggest employers, and now its landed one of the tech world’s largest and most coveted employers: Amazon. The online retailer will use Workday Human Capital Management and Workday Payroll software worldwide. Fortune notes that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was an early Workday investor, which may have played a part in the deal. Personally, I’m just interested to see which other large employers Workday snaps up next.
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This is old news, but I wanted to refresh myself on what was going on over at Namely, in light of Zenefits’ maybe restructuring/maybe freefall. In January, Namely raised $50 million (for a total series D of $80 million) with plans of taking on new clients and new challenges. According to TechCrunch, “Namely today has 650 companies as customers globally, totalling some 120,000 employees and $4 billion in processed payrolls,” but it isn’t yet profitable. As it moves in to snap up some of those midsize former or potential Zenefits clients, maybe that will change.
Business Insider has published an interview with Jolt co-founder and CEO, Roei Deutsch. The video-learning startup is six months into a workforce management experiment where employees have low pay, few perks and an exit plan already in place. Workers commit to a 2 year tenure with Jolt, which they call “chapterships,” and then they move on to the next opportunity. Deutsch’s concept is to respond to the short tenure among tech workers by focusing more on learning and career path than on work life balance or satisfaction today. On the one hand — ugh. Many American workers are already doing too much for work and too little for themselves. On the other hand, if Jolt really does help you plan for the next phase of your career after a “chaptership,” this might not be a bad starter role.
At the start of this year we learned about Facebook’s failure to meet its diversity hiring goals and Twitter’s comparative success. While Facebook’s hiring efforts were hamstrung by engineers, who made final hiring decisions, picking candidates based on clannishness, while HR and recruiters were being incentivized to look for diverse candidates. Needless to say, it didn’t work. This week we learned that Twitter’s CHRO and Head of Diversity are both out the door, apparently for personal reasons. But as TechCrunch points out, Twitter’s been seeing a lot of exits lately, including layoffs among the sales staff, and a recent report of declining ad revenue may speed up that process.