SoCap talks with Devon Kerns, Eric Sutfin, and Dr. Liz Selzer, Nancy Holmes
In today’s market where unemployment is at all-time low, it can not only be extremely challenging to attract quality employees, but also to keep them engaged. It is important now, more than ever, for companies to establish an outward-bound image that makes their organization attractive to prospective employees and engaging for current employees. Hence, the emergence of Employment Branding. What exactly is that?
Employer branding, which was barely on any organization’s radar a decade ago, is now one of the top issues in the C-Suite, as companies struggle to find and keep high-level workers in a tightening labor market. Employer branding is particularly important when it comes to attracting, retaining, and motivating Millennials, who already represent the largest portion of the workforce.
Research from LinkedIn shows that companies with positive employment branding get twice as many quality applicants compared to those without. This is undoubtedly why nearly 50% of organizations recently polled by Deloitte plan to increase spending on employer branding.
The gang talks about culture, communication, values, mission, and creating an environment where employees feel valued and that their actions and outcomes matter.
Transcript to Follow:
Welcome back to SoCap Talks, helping innovators build tomorrow, today. Now here’s your hosts: Devon Kerns and Eric Sutfin.
Devon: Hello and welcome back to SoCap Talks, this is the Social Capital Integration conversation about how to have great employment branding combined with HR and leadership development within your company. We are on the topic today of employment branding and we have a special guest with us, Eric who also works with Social Capital. He is a branding and marketing guru, and he’s also been doing quite a bit of research and found an interesting article about, um the- what people are really looking for in the employment space when it comes to working for companies and there’s some interesting changes on the list as to what people are looking for in comparison to what they’re expecting particularly around our conversation with mi- about millennials and what they really want. Um this article is kind of showing that the trend is shifting a little bit so, welcome Eric and uh what’d you find?
Eric: Thank you, yeah thank you for having me. This article I found fro, Forbes is really interesting because it highlights the top 15 reasons why people quit their jobs. So we can flip this and really start understanding well what does keep people engaged and interested in their work environment? And why are they leaving? What- and where is the disconnect in between, uh a current place of employment and the ideal situation for what they’re actually seeking and what’s fascinating is over time, salary has become more and more of a issue. Uh, historically people would say that they’d stay if they had great mentors and leadership, if they saw upward mobility, if they had a community that fostered their development and allowed them to excel, uh and then money would come in. Or they’d deal with a long commute and drive, and we can look at that you know commute is actually number 9th on this list. Uh, which means they’d put up with all this other stuff with a long commute, but now salary has risen and we can entertain you know exactly why is that? Why is salary gone from something that’s not nearly as much of a pressing need to being actually first on the list where over 69% of people will leave because their salary is inadequate.
Devon: What do you ladies think? Why do you think salary has all of a sudden gone from midway on the list to top of the list?
Dr. Liz: I think that uh, one of the things to think about is the millennials are aging and I know everyone likes to put them in a category that are millennials are a certain way, we don’t I know we’ve talked about a lot about not doing that. But, I think as they are getting older, they were very idealistic when they were younger, as we all were when we were younger.
Dr. Liz: And then as they’re moving and growing older, they’re realizing that there’s certain things that they want. They maybe do want a home or a place that they’re purchasing, they don’t want to be in an apartment anymore. They want to you know they’re all facing these dog gone student loans, not all of them, but a lot of them are cuz it’s one of the high, most highly educated generations that we’ve ever had
Dr. Liz: So, you know I think finally life is creeping in there and they’re going wow, you know we’ve gotta take care of these things so we can still live the way we want to live.
Devon: Hold on I can’t work 20 hours a week, have a quality lifestyle, and be broke?
Dr. Liz: Nope! *laughter*
Nancy: Funny thing,
Devon: weird, I feel like that’s been the case for way beyond these millennials that we’ve been talking about. So do you find, Nancy, that particularly from the HR perspective, um this is truth or we were kind of talking about the fact that you were wondering why or maybe is that true?
Nancy: Mmm hmm, well it’s be interesting to see some longevity to some of these studies, to see you know what is that trend, how long has it made that shift because, to Eric’s point it has not really been the number one key reason people stay or go. Um, it’s a lot of other things but I think the economy has you know has shifted so much in terms of the cost of living. Um, percentage wise the differential between what it costs for us to go to school versus what now these kids are being strapped with these huge student loans. I think in part too with the maturity of millennials or anybody for that matter, you start to realize wow I’ve got to start paying bills and um, really being more financially sound and stable and that’s something that I’ve learned about millennials is that they really want that stability, they want to be with a company that has 401k’s, that they feel like they can start to really um make headway and so, that may be part of the reason why pay is important. They need to pay off some of those loans, the cost of housing has just gone up exponentially, especially here in Denver, and so money is now becoming the priority, not so much again though for the stuff, it is that lifestyle of um being very minimalistic with the stuff, the things, but the life experiences that they have so, buying into something a lot smaller that allows them to travel, you know, 4 or 5 weeks out of the year, then um you- all the better. Wanting to have that that financial stability.
Devon: Weird how traveling takes money *laughter*
Devon: not just time. Although speaking of time, number 2 on the list is what?
Eric: Number 2 on the list is being overworked, so the close 2nd at 63% of why people are leaving is because they’re overworked.
Devon: So what’s interesting about that is you now have
*background* he needs to het closer to the microphone *Devon laughter*
Devon: You’re getting yelled at, Eric. Um, what’s interesting is this boils down to, hold on. This place was an awesome place to work and I love working here but now you’re taking advantage of my time and I have no time to have a quality life and if you want me to work this hard you need to do what?
Dr. Liz: Pay me.
Devon: Pay me.
Dr. Liz: Yep.
Nancy: Mmm hmm.
Devon: I feel like that’s a conversation that’s been going on
Dr. Liz: Forever
Devon: For a very long time.
Dr. Liz: Yeah.
Devon: So time and money is not ironic
Devon: In my mind.
Nancy: It’s not new.
Devon: Yeah, it’s not new. *laughter*
Eric: The common denominator here is recognition. I mean if we were to boil down, when I looked at these 15 reasons why people quit and leave their jobs from this paycheck survey that Forbes is referencing, we look across, you know, employers didn’t care about their employees, they don’t enjoy their work, they move to another city, they didn’t like their boss, back to 2 things that you mentioned: recognition of reward or lack of benefits from an HR perspective, the common denominator here are one of three things. Either recognition, communication, or social capital. And in recognition we can look at pay, we can look at team recognition, awards, their titles, their value, um and what that looks like and recognition can take many shapes and forms beyond just pay.
Nancy: Mmm hmm.
Eric: And employers are starting to look at, from an employment branding side of things, when they’re starting to position their company for employers at not just benefits and not just salary but the culture and a culture of recognition beyond just money. But, money still has to be there because of this lifestyle and to Dr. Liz’s point, millennials aren’t now just exiting college, that’s Gen-Z that’s exiting college and entering the workforce. Millennials are well entering their 30’s and they are wanting to either move into homes or have investment properties or wanting to be able to travel more. So they need more money to be able to do so, but recognition can also take many shapes and forms.
Nancy: Mmm hmm, mm hmm, absolutely.
Devon: Yeah and being overworked and underpaid and not recognized, that,
Eric: Strike 3.
Devon: is kind of that triad that will get me to leave real fast. However, if I feel like I’m getting recognized; I feel like my purpose matters, I might accept a little more work and a little less pay.
Dr. Liz: I’d love to see a correlation. So this is Forbes and I again I don’t know their, how they did their um research but you know, if if if you ask people do you wish you had more money? You know a lot of people might say yes and the next one might be you know what do you think about the communication with your manager? And the and so you I don’t know if they were allowed to create multiple things?
Devon: mm hmm
Dr. Liz: and I also wonder if, if somebody was really high on hey, you know I love where I work I love the culture where I work, I wonder how high the money thing would be on those? I mean that’s the thing about research, you can kind of get it to say what you want it to say.
Devon: mmm hmm
Dr. Liz: So, I don’t know.
Devon: So moving um, deeper into the employment branding and knowing that these are kind of the things that employees would be looking for, particularly in a good economy with you know in Denver we have a 2.3 unemployment rate or something like that it’s pretty ridiculous here so,
Dr. Liz: Yeah
Devon: what you’re really looking at is, how do we get those A players to come over to our company?
Nancy: mm hmm
Dr. Liz: and stay,
Devon: and stay yes exactly and perform.
Dr. Liz: Yeah
Devon: umm at the level they were or higher. And so what, what do you guys feel like is the most um beneficial place to start if a company’s really looking at how do we begin the process of attracting these people? Eric what what are your suggestions in terms of the starting point.
Eric: This is one of those double edge swords where you can look at either the tangibles or the intangibles and sometimes the intangibles are really hard to be able to get a pulse on and be able to understand what they’re actually doing to your bottom line and how they’re affecting your company. But I, I’d look at both of them, you know it’s almost like putting it all on paper and writing what are the tangible things and what are the intangible things? And start understanding a company’s strengths and weaknesses because every company and every culture is gonna be different but you can layout things like pay, benefits, how many people are taking advantage of their PTO? Uh, how many people are taking advantage of their medical benefits? Uh maternity leave? You can start looking at employment engagement surveys and teamwork and satisfaction. You can look at how many people are showing up to parties and and uh corporate events. You can take a look at all these things that numbers are really easy to tie to, but then you also have to take into consideration all the things that are far harder to be able to establish KPI’s around. Things like morale, things like intellectual property when someone leaves and they have all these processes they know how to do in 5 hours yet someone else that comes in, it takes them 20 hours to be able to fulfill the same objectives, and what is that over the course of a year? How much are you losing in lost opportunity because someone just left with 15 hours worth of know-how that didn’t get passed along to their next employee. We gotta start looking at things like sales numbers and reputation that you have with not just vendors, but with the general public especially if you are a CPG or a uh product based company. What if someone walks out the door and has just negative things to say at their BBQ at their pool at their Thanksgiving. What is the lifetime cost of that negative reputation that someone now isn’t going to your business but your competitors. All these intangibles add up but so you need to but really be conscience and look at what are all of these considerations? Before you can start assessing where can you improve and start spending more time on those attributes and characteristics that you’re weak in.
Devon: mm hmm
Nancy: mm hmm
Devon: So look at the pros and cons make a pro and con list, and from there start analyzing why.
Dr. Liz: mm hmm
Devon: and from the why you can sit down and what do you suggest is next?
Nancy: Yeah, well I think you hit uh a strong point uh, of having engagement surveys, um the kicker is if you’re going to participate in that, you’re asking your employees to give their honest you know candid feedback, then you have to be prepared to take action with what’s come back. Not to say that it’s going to create this wish list, that they’re going to get everything that, you know they asked for, but at least to acknowledge address it, but if it’s a well constructed survey and I’ve been part of that process for a number of different companies, you can get a wealth of information. But then how is it that you translate those concerns and and what people value into actionable items that they can change and make an impact.
Eric: I think before that it’s a keen understanding of what type of culture you want to create.
Nancy: mm hmm
Eric: I think it’s really, before you start putting in events and actual items and things, you need to know what is the culture and community that you want to have people showing up to on Monday morning?
Eric: Cuz culture is something that le- lives and breathes even when you’re not there.
Eric: A company culture isn’t just 9-5
Eric: It’s around the clock.
Eric: And so you need to look at, what is the environment and culture what do you want your employees and prospects to say when they’re talking about your company from an employment perspective? And what are you looking to create that community into? And that’s gonna really help then guide what actionable things you’re going to be implementing.
Eric: Are you implementing more events? Community? Or are you implementing a completely different series of practices.
Dr. Liz: You know what, it’s funny because I- I go to a different place I- I tend to go to when I hear about KPI’s and those things I think those are the things that get the executive group to care.
Devon: mm hmm
Dr. Liz: but I think honestly you’ve got to boil it down to it has to start from a place of values. Um, values that are non negotiable, values that are articulated well, that everybody knows don’t have a list of 30, have a list of 3, 5 at the most, and values that everybody in your organization is apart of. And then, and this is something that Devon and I have talked about a lot, is then you also have to have that diversity. So you sit there and go we’ve got everybody who agrees on the values, but then you also have to have a lot of diverse thought or you lose innovation. And I think you can do it you just have to understand the difference
Dr. Liz: Because I think a lot of people go oh well we don’t want this clone-like group. Well no we’re not saying that, but you can, you and I can have the same values and live very different lives in a very different perspectives because of our experiences.
Devon: We don’t at all though,
Dr. Liz: yeah really, okay that’s just
Nancy: Well and I think if you step,
Dr. Liz: Our lives couldn’t be more different you’re right.
Devon: but we do have the same values I think.
Dr. Liz: We do have the same values.
Devon: I think I think it’s a part of what’s so attractive about how we work together and
Dr. Liz: I agree.
Dr. Liz: I love it.
Devon: Participate in helping these other companies as we walk the talk and I think that’s the point. Is we aligned and in fact we were magnetic around that
Dr. Liz: Yes
Devon: and how we even came together because we were so obsessed with the core value system of what we truly want and what we truly believe in and how we live our day to day in openness. Even things that are the intangibles like you’re talking about right. The, the
Devon: Yeah, well yeah I think communication’s probably number one, um in any partnership, relationship and particularly communication top bottom sideways, any angle that you want but communication’s really hard when we have not established core common values. And,
Nancy: Well and I’d even like to take it back even one more step to say that, unless you’ve got senior management and a CEO who has complete buy-in, who has is just as equally passionate about creating that culture
Devon: mm hmm
Nancy: You can’t, you- you’re gonna be dead in the water. You can have a phenomenal work environment, um great culture great values everything can go well, and we’ve all seen new management come in and completely disrupt that. Why? Because they don’y buy into that, they don’t see the value in it, and so over time, I’ve seen it with a couple different companies, one where the CEO’s actually worked side by side for a year, which created a huge amount of tension that rippled through this whole organization that otherwise was, you know the motto was we work hard we play hard. And um so I think it, it’s gotta start there. Uh they can give lip service, but if there isn’t true buy in and true uh a passion about the company that they want to create in terms of it’s culture, um it’s an uphill battle for any HR person, marketing person, senior management, I mean small groups may be able to have their own little pockets, and I’ve seen that happen before too they had a phenomenal manager who knew how to motivate, inspire, and develop her people, and they had an awesome department.
Devon: mm hmm
Eric: Nancy did you say work hard play hard?
Eric: That’s a new one I haven’t heard that before.
Eric: but even within that and what you’re talking about with subcultures, is what does that look like to your business? Right?
Eric: I mean we all want that lifestyle, we all want to participate in a business community and culture like that, but what does that mean when it comes to the married populous within your organization? What are the LGBT, perhaps the hispanics, perhaps the single professional moms? That can take shape in a variety of ways and it’s gonna look way different for the mom that has daycare than it is for the salesman.
Nancy: mm hmm
Eric: and so we need to recognize and look at, that’s what I mean by like what type of culture you really looking at the end of mine we’re saying the exact same thing. But it’s having a very clear understanding of what that culture looks like. And then working back, then you can start implementing processes and procedures
Nancy: mm hmm
Eric: whether it’s HR or whether it’s in leadership development and you can work back but it goes back absolutely to values and standards and what that looks like for your company. You can work hard and play hard and maybe your play is philanthropy, maybe your play is going outdoors
Nancy: mm hmm mm hmm
Eric: Maybe your play is uh you know cooking and being able to have these these workshops where you get everyone together for a potluck once a month
Eric: that can take a variety of forms but it comes back to your values and standards as
Nancy: mm hmm
Eric: an organization
Devon: So, let’s let’s kind of digest values real quick and let’s look at this list of particularly the top 2 things right we’ve got um the the biggest factors that employees are now concerned with, looking for, one being low salary, one being overworked. What is a value that solves both of those problems that a company could have that then engages people to understand that maybe I don’t feel like I’m getting paid enough but I believe in this company. Or maybe I’ve got to get the job done, and I don’t feel like I’m overworked, because we believe what? What does a value system that solves both of those problems? Because we can always make more, we always want to make more we’re human beings right? I think once I’ve been here for 5 years I deserve more than the manager that’s been her or whatever it may be. And at the end of the day even at your if you’re at the top you want to make more. Right? So what, is it about the money or is it about something deeper that could be an established value that allows people to feel like these two things matter a little bit less because of this value.
Dr. Liz: Well coming from my perspective with the leadership and valuing each individual, I think there is something about people real, knowing, knowing deeply that what they do when they come to work matters.
Dr. Liz: And it contributes to the overall mission of the organization. And, I mean that’s where money comes in because gee if they’re paying me well, I must be contributing well. Okay, so if they truly know that I mean I do believe you can get away, get away it sounds like you don’t want to pay people more, but I’m just saying I don’t think they need as much money if they truly feel like man when I come into work, first of all I matter, people care that I’m here and and then what I do today, matters.
Devon: mm hmm
Dr. Liz: and that it’s yeah if I if I didn’t do my work today, it would make a difference.
Nancy: and not necessarily just for the company, but for a greater cause.
Dr. Liz: Yeah
Nancy: I think that’s what really gets people excited and creates greater passion. If they feel like you know Habitat for Humanity they feel like I’m doing something bigger than myself,
Devon: mm hmm
Nancy: is a huge part of that.
Dr. Liz: well and I but that’s why i said tie it into the mission, because I’m not talking about the profit margins.
Nancy: mm hmm
Dr. Liz: I’m saying tie it into the mission of the organization. And that’s part of this whole employment branding piece,
Dr. Liz: is why are we here?
Dr. Liz: it’s that whole Simon Sineck. Why? The the value of why, why do we come to work everyday? What difference are we making in the world?
Eric: you know what we like to call that?
Dr. Liz: what?
Eric: Social Capital.
Dr. Liz: There we go
Dr. Liz: I teed it up for you baby, it’s right there
Eric: Thank you thank you.
Eric: That’s the third one. So we, we’ve talked about recognition, we’ve glimpsed over communication, but the third is social capital, and that is how do you have a business that is mission driven, that both of you guys are talking around it and I’ll I’ll call it out. The elephant in the room is what is your mission beyond just the monetary compensation and the bottom line.
Dr. Liz: mm hmm
Eric: What is this business doing in its industry and what are those values I think you’re talking about Devon about contribution. We’re not just making this dodad or gadget or widget to be able to make money, but ultimately at the end of the day it is impacting society in a significant and meaningful way. And I know that, even if I stay another 10 hours later after work, its because it has an impact and it has significance and whether I do it remotely or whether you know I have to be at the office or sit in rush hour traffic it doesn’t matter because I know that my time and input into this is going to make a much bigger impact and I can see that and the company is going to tell me that so I think perhaps the value around that equally is transparency in what the company’s influence and impact is in the community.
Devon: Well let’s be honest there’s a lot of dodads in America that probably don’t bring a lot of significance to our world however, using and utilizing profit and gain from the dodad that America wants like the little spinny thing that you hold in your hand down there *laughter* I don’t know that it did a whole lot for me when I’m spinning it in my hand but man, if they were doing something of value with the money that they’re gaining off of a 30 cent product that they’re selling for $25 and a large part of that $25 profit, or $24
Devon: *laughter* yeah exactly went to, went to solve the chemical imbalance problem
Dr. Liz: ADHD research that’s good
Dr. Liz: I like it.
Devon: Yeah, and and it really is do I matter? Do we matter? Are we doing something that matters? And I think that’s a great um thing to digest in terms of solving the I need more money or I’m feeling overworked is if things matter within the entity then I am willing to participate beyond what my expectation is because I’m a part of a mission that is greater than myself.
Eric: From an employment branding standpoint what’s interesting when you communicate those, not only do you increase your bottom line by being able to sell more of those dodads, but you also increase the ability for employees to want to work for you.
Nancy: mm hmm
Eric: and what happens is now the people internally within your organization, have a higher ….. they’re they’re demanded more, right? And so because that job that position is in more demand, their expectations are higher because they know they’re now replaceable. There’s someone that is perhaps more qualified, that will take the same pay rate or less because they know this lines with their values and their contributions. So you’ve got this just talent pool of exceptional individuals that want to work for your organization because you, one recognize them, and two you have the ability to contribute to the economy to society at a much larger scale.
Devon: mm hmm now moving in a slightly tweaked direction, so you were talking about a value system that I feel like belongs to a corporation that might have a call department um, a lot of admin assistance and a sales department and so on and so forth but there are some companies that just have um w- a in other words you’ve got a lot of salaried individuals. But then you have businesses like real estate or mortgage or insurance that aren’t necessarily salary based but they’re performance based. And there’s a value system around pay and feeling overworked that can be established in terms of performance. We believe in performing for the sake of the customer and we believe in performing for the sake of taking care and serving the community, that gets me to intrinsically feel like if I perform, I make more but I only make more because I’m performing for the sake of the company and that bigger vision. I think it ties back to mattering, but in terms of sales which is what I’m used to right, starting businesses starting companies or if I don’t perform I don’t make money, period. And that’s uh, something you need to look at because how am I attracting people that really, what they do dictates the revenue of the company versus just showing up to complete a job.
Dr. Liz: I you know I’d be interested to put this back on you just for a second because I feel like when I’ve done research in this area, the companies that don’t have longevity are the ones that focus only on the money.
Devon: mm hmm
Dr. Liz: So, even in sales, so an example I was actually in sales, believe it or not, a long time ago I actually sold insurance door to door, yes
Dr. Liz: I know you cannot believe that I actually did this and I actually did very well at it unfortunately, um but *laughter* when I say unfortunately but the thing was because then I was like okay, um but
Eric: Just focus on the money.
Dr. Liz: just focus on the money. What I found out, so it was basically we were selling and innuity, and um you know when they were selling us on selling for them, they made it sound like this was this great situation for anyone well you can get in there and you get in there and you talk about the poor elderly who are eating cat food because they can’t afford things and this is gonna prevent you from being in that situation, I mean it’s a very emotional sell and they had us literally almost memorize a script.
Dr. Liz: um that you did that you went in there and did and I actually did very well with it until I actually spent some time and I’m not really great with numbers I’ve said this many times numbers and I do not get along, but when I finally sat down and did the math and I realized that this actually was excellent for people who are like 28 to 38
Devon: mm hmm
Dr. Liz: it was great, they should buy it. But if you were younger than that, you were paying too much and if you were older than that you were paying too much. And, and once I figured that out, I couldn’t sell it anymore.
Dr. Liz: and I had to quit. Thoughts? *laughter*
Nancy: mm hmm
Devon: what, what do you think caused that that if they had a value system that was there in place in the beginning, either A was it trans- transparency of communication? Or was it B, this is our target demographic and we believe in raising the value of this target demographic because it best suits them. Or, were you saying I couldn’t sell it anymore because my core value system couldn’t rip people off who’re outside of that age and that’s who they were aiming at.
Dr. Liz: See I think that was the thing. I think if the organization had been really transparent about this is the sweet spot, focus on these people, because this really does help them. And you know if somebody else wants to do it just explain to them you know what that looks like in their lives. But they didn’t do that, what they told us and I will say it was close to a brainwashing thing I was really young I was right out of college you know, and I, I was talking to them and, and when they would give their spiel to us and indoctrinate people into this culture, it was almost cult like with how they did it. They claimed that it was good for no matter who you met, that it was the ideal thing for them and I think that, I think okay thank you for asking that question because now I’m processing this and I think it was when I lost faith in leadership
Dr. Liz: That they were lying to me.
Devon: Cuz there’s no way they didn’t know that, they were just purely looking at the profit from both ends of that demographic. It cost them the most to have the demographic that it worked for because it was most effective for them which means the dollar amount was less, but for the people who had to pay more on either end of the scale, we were making more and that’s, and and let’s be honest like we live in America and for a lot of people that’s a value system. And if that’s a value system there’s plenty of people that can come work for you that would align with that value
Dr. Liz: mm hmm
Devon: As as crappy as that may feel for the vast majority of people, I need to be educated as a consumer, or my competition needs to come along and be the person that doesn’t lie to me and all of a sudden that other company disappears because they are fighting on my behalf and they’ve adjusted the product or the service to serve me in a better way than the company that I was conned on or sold on. So I think that value systems can vary, right?
Devon: Clearly from leadership all the way down, welcome to America um right?
Dr. Liz: But I, but I think that’s a that’s a legitimate part of employment branding though. Is you, your value system may be, may- maybe it is make money maybe that is a value system and there is, there are a lot of people that would be right there that’s fine, just be really clear about this is what our value system is so that everybody’s on the same page.
Devon: yeah well and that and that’s engagement, right? They lost you and they lost a lot of sales because the transparency wasn’t there and they weren’t uh they were attracting people who believed in the lie instead of attracting people that would’ve believed in the truth of just being up front and honest.
Dr. Liz: Yeah
Nancy: or maybe too young to know the difference, you know?
Dr. Liz: Yeah, yeah
Dr. Liz: Well you know what, I- I was and I was, I yeah I mean I was very gullible back then.
Dr. Liz: Yeah I know shocker
Devon: In your early 20’s?
Dr. Liz: I still am, yeah I know I still
Devon: hold on I can travel and work 20 hours a week, I can sell the products that this company really only has me in mind and the good of everybody else like right of course we’re all guilty of it but I think that’s the point, right?
Dr. Liz: sure
Devon: Just be uh it really doesn’t matter I think I would take truth and and and honesty over bullshit and lies and that’s fundamentally one of the differences I think today.
Nancy: mm hmm
Devon: The blessing behind millennials is they’re conned and sold and see so much bullshit
Dr. Liz:: mm hmm
Devon: every single day, that they intrinsically tune in to their intuition because that’s the only thing that’s gonna ma- does this feel right does this not feel right. And they’re gonna be waving the flag as they already are on a bunch of nonsense and it’s gonna be super powerful to watch companies and leadership crumble because they’re trying to use old tactics to make the um, machine work and the machine has changed, period in terms of how the game and process works. Um, you just, it is really interesting and working with a lot of millennials and having an an incredible team of millennials, not that I’m that much older, no joke Eric *laughter* um but uh I they just call you out on your bullshit.
Dr. Liz: mm hmm
Devon: and it’s so great and I think they’re starting to do that with a larger voice across the board.
Dr. Liz: Yeah, I think honesty and authenticity are starting to hedge out that, that
Nancy: mm hmm
Dr. Liz: You know charismatic kind of thing that, I mean charisma I think now has to have more authenticity and honesty then it did in the old days where they were just kind of flashy and fun and
Eric: and that’s something though that we can look at actually, bring to the surface. Companies used to not look at communication as something that they could brand and market, but today they can actually pride themselves on saying, you know what we have a clear direction and saw a path that is laid out for upward mobility I mean I know people that are in liquor sales and back to selling on commission right out of college, these students with stu- or previous students with student loan debt are working commission based jobs because they know what the trajectory will look like within 5 or 10 years they know what they’re going to be making they know the trips that they are gonna be able to go on to Hawaii or to Mexico if they exceed their quota, and so they’re not rewarded with a base at all but they do have a culture that values communication and a clear path for growth. Growth in their personal life, their professional life and otherwise, and the company is able to communicate that from the onset and so companies can actually now use communication and the ability to allow things like Dr. Liz references with micro learning and video systems that allow for someone to take a video and and shoot it out the ladder and now it’s not coming from upper management, it’s coming from them and the entire workforce is seeing that they were the one that came up with this concept, this idea to increase an efficiency or a process by even 10 or 15% can have a huge difference across the entire organization. So that communication now, being led from within is something that a company can say this is something that you’ll be recognized for
Devon: mm hmm
Eric: and that you’ll be rewarded for and that is an intangible, again that you can’t necessarily look at how it affects the bottom line until you look at the long term and after you’ve actually implemented and instilled these, what is the difference and it’s hard to track just one at a time but you can look at, you know after you implement a full campaign and instill these into your company, 12, 18, 24 months later, not only did we sell more but let’s look at you know our cost of recruitment, let’s look at our cost of and productivity I mean you’ll be able to not just walk in the office on Monday and feel the difference, you’ll be able to look at the numbers and see the difference.
Devon: So value systems, communication and once those things are established you know we we are a company that comes in we do the employment branding side of this and the whole point in employment branding is if you have not gone down this process of figuring out values which then the values that dictate culture, and then that same culture has subcultures where the core value systems has a sense of belonging across the board in the entire company but then across those subcultures, give them the freedom to communicate, how do we fit in what do we believe in how do we inspire each other how do we develop each other? And through that, you then bring in an internal agency or an external agency and you look at that entire side of how do we attract A level talent? And are there any words of advice on creating the brand that might be a little bit different in terms of selling a product or service versus speaking to human about human capital.
Dr. Liz: mm
Eric. Great, great question and I’m glad that you brought that up because the authenticity of being able to show a day to day week by week uh environment within your company culture is super important and not just to millennials anymore. I mean we’re entertaining in conversations with Gen X and Baby Boomers that are having to go and re-engage in the workforce. They know that their retirement isn’t gonna have longevity but they’re in their legacy years and just like millennials they’re caring about who they work with and what is the social capital what is that contribution? So clearly being able to express that whether that’s through video whether that’s through you know a day in the life whether that is through the ability to show some of these subcultures or events that your company does. The more clearly you can educate your potential employee and not just consumer, the easier it is to be able to filter, you’re not gonna have now 10,000 people applying you’re gonna have 1,000 but those 1,000 are going to be above and beyond your wildest expectations because they align with their values. And they totally get to see what working at your establishment or your organization looks like and they’re going to perform and outperform uh that other 9,000 people that you didn’t want to waste your time interviewing anyways. So, you know it’s it’s really important here and I think that it brings up uh a great uh point is not just videotaping this and not just being able to brand it for consumers but looking at the numbers there I mean if it costs you 2 and a half times your mid-level management and employees salary to replace someone in between recruiting costs and training and now looking the intangibles of intellectual property the like if that person is being compensated, say, $60,000 how much more, how many more dodads do you need to sell to make up that 2 and a half times that $150,000 for every single person that leaves. You can do the math you know exactly what your profit margins are and what that looks like but recognize for every single time that that mid level management at $60,000 leaves how much more do you have to sell? Externally to recoup that bottom line and you gotta that into consideration and and address how valuable is this to us? How much are we potentially losing uh annually because we aren’t addressing this
Devon: How valuable is it to address it now and actually create a quality brand but equally as important backup that brand. A lot of people are gonna go and go oh, employment branding this is something new we’ve heard it a few times we should just hire an agency and or internally create a really cool brand but we never actually establish the values we never, we don’t have anything that backs it up, we put on a fake event, and we put on one little charity thing and raise $10,000 and look at us but then when I show up, it was a bunch of BS. That’s gonna cost you way more money than taking the time to really look at the infrastructure of the inside out approach. The inside being go back and really figure out what you stand for, what those values are, what does that culture look like? Who are the subcultures, how do we create systems and procedures that fit and benefit those subcultures as well as the overarching culture and then we can create the brand because we can now back it up.
Dr. Liz: and we’ve talked about this before, and culture is not the ping pong table or the foosball table or the beer tap, it’s it’s so much deeper than that and that’s that’s what creates the stickiness and I think that’s something that all of us, we love and understand is it’s really, you’ve got to get it implanted in the heart of every employee that they care.
Dr. Liz: and that’s why you start with a values place because that’s what touches people that’s what gives people that motivation and that passion to kind of move forward is when okay this aligns with what I care about. And then as to Nancy’s point and then, you know the executive leadership and the upper leadership they have to model it.
Devon and Nancy: mm hmm
Dr. Liz: They can’t just lip service it because you almost do more harm than good if oh yeah that sounds good and then none of the leaders of the organization actually follow it. You’re you’re toast.
Devon: Which means be prepared to get rid of some people.
Dr. Liz: Yeah
Devon: Across the board.
Dr. Liz: Well said.
Eric: Because if it’s just theory, you’ll be able to tell in 6 months when you’re getting just hammered on Glassdoor.
Dr. Liz: Yeah
Devon: mm hmm
Eric: When your social capital and your reputation starts getting one stars because oh it sounded great but then people are leaving left and right and you’re now having to hire more because the morale continues just to
Devon: to sink
Nancy: mm hmm
Eric: Fall through the floor.
Devon: mm hmm
Nancy: Well and that’s kind of an interesting point about the transparency is that not only from top down and being transparent about the values that you wanna really live by, but transparency in terms of employee engagement because we have all these social media outlets the people can, I’d be more likely to look at a company on Glassdoor then go to their website because when I read their website I’m like what does that mean
Devon: mm hmm
Nancy: I can’t you know it’s really well written marketing ad but it doesn’t give you any insight into what the culture’s really about
Devon: It’s a bunch of fluff.
Nancy: You go to, it’s a bunch of fluff so I would much rather go and see you as much as I can on anything you know buying appliances whatever, go to all the different reviews and see what’s really being said because that’s what the that’s again a deeper value an added value of having that strong employee engagement, and that employee branding is because people will advertise for you. If they love where they’re at you’ve got that extra element if they hate where they’re at you’re gonna hear that too.
Devon: mm hmm
Eric: and that’s you know, the social capital element of that is really interesting because whether it’s Glassdoor or whether it’s Yelp everyone’s a critic and are far more likely to contribute a harsh review than a positive one yet if you create a culture that rewards reviewing your company because they inherently understand the value of that, that cycle can either go in the positive direction or the negative direction.
Devon: mm hmm
Nancy: mm hmm
Eric: and if you have a value of transparency and communication, and integrity, you can actually make it very easy for your employees to contribute a positive review and to film themselves at that career day or that park day and completely flip the script of what it means to be a contributor to this company.
Nancy: mm hmm, absolutely.
Devon: In the spirit of wrapping this up I’d love some last points and and starting with one that I actually encountered recently with Eric and Anne um, it takes time to figure this stuff out. We were speaking in front of an organization that um they’ve been around for a long time. And they didn’t include some of the most important people in their mission, in their vision, and when called out on that, it was an upheaval because there was a fear underneath getting too specific about who belongs in out entity and who should work for us and who should contribute to us and who are customer is and figuring out that archetype and figuring out that value system had some kickback because it was gonna take too much time to figure those things out and what if we turned away somebody that could potentially just be the person that shows up and be the person that gives or be the person that contributes on some level and I think the underlying thing was like one fear of losing out on money or potential money and a fear of it taking too much time and interfering with the day to day operation and my only challenge for people that are listening is it’s costing you way more now and in the long run to not figure this out.
Dr. Liz: Yeah, a poor hire is very very very expensive because it kills morale you’ve got people and an again if people don’t believe in the process of how you hire too that you you have lip service these things matter and then all of a sudden you hire this person that doesn’t fit. You know that’s the thing we’re all critics now, we’re all observing we’re all deciding and and as we’re looking at you know you hired this person I mean it’s like cancer.
Devon: mm hmm
Dr. Liz: When you hire the wrong person and I’m glad you said something Devon about sometimes you gotta get rid of them and it’s really hard, especially for a manager when you spend all this time and you’ve hired this person and your name’s kind of attached to them and all of a sudden you find out they’re not working out, I mean it’s it’s hard to admit that and then have
Devon: Because it reflects on me as the hiring manager it reflects on everybody in the company it reflects, and I’d say the alternative to that is equally as true. A poor hire is costly and I think it’s potentially even more costly to hire al the right people and not back up why they showed up in the front door.
Dr. Liz: nice
Devon: Right, because now I could hire 10 new people and I lose all 10 because my culture and my value system do not back up the stuff that I put out into the world and it wasn’t truth. So either either end of the spectrum will cost you a lot if you do not take the time to figure this out and then live up to it. And again my challenge is this, my challenge is everybody has different intrinsic value systems, different leaders believe in different things. While I may not align with those it doesn’t matter, all that matters is there’s enough people that would that would help you grow your company. Do I think there needs to be better companies out there do I think there needs to be better leadership? Yes. But who am I to judge. The world will dictate whether they want to buy that product or not whether they want to work for you or not, whether that value system works or not, but at the end of the day just take the time to do it.
Dr. Liz: mm
Nancy: I agree.
Devon: Any last words from you guys?
Nancy: No, I think we covered a lot of different basis but it it really goes back to that critical communication, the values, the aut- authenticity um you know you’ve gotta have it all all together before you really try to establish and create that culture. You’ve gotta figure out what you want that to look like.
Nancy: I conquer.
Eric: My, my last words here would just be to simply summarize what we’re talking about in a conversation that I entertained with Kimble Musk. Kimble Musk is one of the founding members behind PayPal, he’s Elon Musk’s brother he’s done some incredible things launching the Kitchen Group, is on the board helping with Space X it’s massive things. And, he was at Denver Start Up Week I had the fortunate ability to sit at a round table with him and asked him you know being on the cutting edge, being a leader across food and travel and all of these things, how is it that you maintained this forward thinking ability and got people behind you and supporting you in this mission to be able to act as a catalyst so that it didn’t die? So that you know you’re 20 years out but you can’t wait for 20 years you gotta do the 20 year thing in like 5 years or less otherwise you’re not gonna have the capital to sustain it. His response cues into this perfectly it summarizes exactly what we’re talking about which is whether it’s consumers or whether it’s employees. Tomorrow’s businesses will be mission driven. We align around these values around mission and whether it’s in supporting and buying companies that have products and services which we align with or working for them. We are finding community we are finding tribe in a unique way today where technology is bringing us together uh on both ends of the spectrum and mission driven businesses will without a doubt be the industry leading companies int he respective fields. So now is the time to really take the ability to hone in what does that look like for you? And if you don’t want to be on the front end of this and you’re completely okay letting your competitors surpass you in time, then dope but recognize that you know the those that are will be leaders.
Devon: That’s right. Awesome stuff guys again I appreciate you Eric thanks for stopping in I know we’ll hear from you quite often as we continue these conversations are social capital integration everybody thank you for turning, tuning in and stay tuned for our next episode. Talk to you soon.
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