Here at Comeet, we’ve been hearing from a lot of HR teams about managing culture and supporting employees during these challenging times.
Across the board, we’re seeing boundless creativity in how companies are staying connected during this period of social distancing. Because here’s the thing: Challenging times can unite us like nothing else can.
We want to help companies strengthen that unity across their team and culture. So we held a Zoomside Chat to dive into the topic. Here are the highlights from the discussion and a full transcript.
Recording: Support Your Team and Culture During COVID-19
Highlights from the Zoomside Chat
LinkedIn profiles of our experts, if you’d like to connect with them further:
- Raven Watson, CEO of Work Staffing
- Benjamin Foster, President of IMC Culture
- Lori Golden, Head of Elastic Recruiting at Comeet
Resources discussed throughout the conversation:
- Ernest Packaging Solutions is an example of an employer that’s been doing a lot to keep employees engaged. They held a fireside chat and made a playlist for employees to listen to during isolation as an E-Team.
- Another story of teams coming together: Sam Navarro from The Womble Company shared that he partnered up with Sherwin-Williams Protective & Marine Coatings to donate supplies to one of Houston’s largest hospitals.
- LendingTree built a Financial Resources Hub to help others navigate their finances during this crisis.
- France tries limiting joblessness by paying companies to not lay off workers.
- A piece written from attendee Rocki Howard on challenging your view of your value and pivoting purposely in these ever-changing times. (Rocki is also host of the Grown Woman Podcast).
- Hubspot has a free certification course on what content marketing is and how to do it.
And finally, some additional reading related to our discussion if you want to keep deep diving here.
- The 10x Rule: The Only Difference between Failure and Success by Grant Cardone
- Powershift: Transform Any Situation, Close Any Deal, and Achieve Any Outcome by Daymond John
- That Discomfort You’re Feeling is Grief from the Harvard Business Review
- What Your Coworkers Need Right Now is Compassion from the Harvard Business Review
- High Anxiety in Uncertain Times from SHRM
Event Transcription of the Zoomside Chat
LORI: “So thank you again if you’re just hopping on, for being on the call. Thank you! We appreciate your concern and your willingness to be a pioneer in these very strange times. I’m excited to be bringing together thought leaders and people to discuss what are some ways that we can leverage what’s happening in the world right now. To still remain in motion, to remain strategic, to really look at our talent strategies, and and what kinds of new opportunities may exist today that didn’t exist yesterday, and how can those be leveraged to kind of reposition your company as a top talent attractor when we get to the other side of this. Have you always wondered if you might be able to compete with Google and Facebook? For Engineers, it’s possible this may be the time to make some shifts and to look at some strategy, and ways that we can leverage this opportunity and your culture and employer brand to really reposition your company for the future. So again, thank you for being on the call. I’m Lori, Head of Elastic Recruiting at Comeet. We are a collaborative AI-Powered ATS and Recruiting Augmentation Solution. I have guests here, Raven Watson and Benjamin, to go ahead and discuss some various interests in Japan foster, sorry some interesting topics that we’ve already kind of pre-curated for you today. Raven, why don’t you go ahead and just say a few things about yourself and then we’ll kick off some questions.”
RAVEN: “Sure. Hi, my name is Raven Watson. Thank you, Lori Golden so much for having this form. I think it is leaders and companies like yours that definitely come out brighter on the other side of this. So thank you. My name is Raven Watson again and I’m the President of AtWork Personnel in Houston Northwest franchise. Atwork is a nationwide staffing firm. We’ve been around for like 30 years and I actually got into this industry almost 20 years ago. I’m only 21 but I’m so excited to be able to share you know being in this industry for so long, I watch, believe it or not, several recessions and we won’t say that bad our word anymore on this call but I’ve watched businesses shift and have to become relevant during times like this. So I’m excited about what we’re doing today and how we can kind of collaborate to help companies stay relevant, really find their voice, become authentic and take advantage of such a dark time would be the light that the world needs to see.”
LORI: “Awesome! Hey thank you, Raven! Benjamin, you want to go ahead and introduce yourself?”
BENJAMIN: “Yes, Good morning to some, good afternoon to others. I’m Benjamin Foster, I’m the President of IMC culture. IMC culture is a subsidiary of IMC. We’re a boutique management consulting firm we specialize in employee engagement, talent management, leadership development, and diversity and inclusion consulting. I recently made a transition to IMC culture back in January of 2020. Prior to this role, I was the Regional Chief Human Resources Officer for HCA Houston Healthcare, which has about 15 hospitals in the Greater Houston area two hospitals in Corpus Christi, it has a hospital in McAllen Texas and a hospital in Brownsville Texas close to the Mexican border. And first, I just certainly want to express my thoughts to everyone in the healthcare industry. During these times, you can only imagine the conversations that had taken place and in all the working hours that are being put into it. I was also fortunate or unfortunate enough to be in this HR role during Hurricane Harvey back in I guess 2017-2018 now, and during that process as you can imagine, the city going through preparing for their hurricane to hit going through the days that the hurricane was there and then all of the recovery work that happened after Harvey. Our workforce was about 21,000 strong at the time and we had almost 2,000 people that either lost their homes or their cars or both during hurricane Harvey and that has a substantial impact on our culture and just really the way that we did business. But I also believe that there were some great decisions made during that period that really really helped establish a culture within our organization, and increase people’s sense of belonging to the organization, because there were decisions that were made that would have looked out for the employee first and then we worried about everything else later. So that would be my word of wisdom and my intro, is to always look at making the silver lining on crisis moments to see how we can really engage and connect with our workforce.”
LORI: “Absolutely. Thank You Benjamin. I just have two small housekeeping items. I just want to remind everybody who hopped on may be a few minutes late, we are recording this session and will be sharing at the end. Also if you have questions as we go, please go ahead and post them in the chat. They are not necessarily visible to the whole attendance list but we will go ahead and throw those questions in as they make sense. So please do, we want to make this an open dialogue and opportunity for people too, you know get their discussion points hit on. So again, thank you very much for joining. We really feel the three of us Raven, Benjamin and myself that you know, while it’s a very challenging time right now there is a lot of kind of uncoverable opportunity here right? If you maybe have not been in a position to be able to compete for talent in the past or you’ve had a difficult time really understanding how to cement that culture and, and an amplifier and player brand, there are some really exciting examples that we’re going to share with you of ways you can do that and how you can leverage this very specific slowdown in history to kind of re-evaluate and re-strategize some things around your talent your talent approach and maybe reposition yourself for the future so that’s really the kind of the overlying high-level idea of the of the call today and we have some deep dive questions that Adrian’s going to throw out to us and as HR leaders and leaders in the talent space we’re going to share some things we’ve seen and some examples of ways that this can happen and then of course each of us is available for a deeper dive conversations offline. So uhm Adrian why don’t you go ahead and shoot and we can get this party started.”
ADRIAN: “Yes. Hi everyone from the MC table over here, so I guess we’ll start off asking what efforts have you seen that employers have done to kind of support their teams over the last few weeks that have really stood out to you?”
RAVEN: “Well, I guess I’ll take that one first. I’m sure Benjamin and Lori, you both have seen some incredible things, you know, when Benjamin mentioned earlier about hurricane Harvey, I am thankful that I actually watched him firsthand as a leader really take a forward charge during that season and create this is some togetherness this oneness of an organization and I’m starting to see that a lot with other companies too but not just within their own company, they’re reaching out to their neighbors and saying hey how can I help you? An awesome story that’s really warm in my heart is I watched a plant manager of a company that’s here in Houston ,the Womble company. One of his neighbors is I believe an HR leader or a nurse leader or a hospital here that did not have PPE for their nurses and I’m sure everyone can tell from all the news that we see not having proper PPE for your nurses is it’s not an OK thing right? You’re sending them into the war and into the battle without the proper suit and armor, that’s not good. So as neighbors they were just having a conversation and this plant manager, his industries completely unrelated to people help reached out to some of the other people that he knows within his network and found Sharon William’s Organization that said , You know what we’re going to ship this for a second and they were able to supply them with more over a thousand PPE for their nurses and frontliners so they can continue serve and help patients that have the virus. But it is really amazing stories like that and they were not looking for any client or a thing, not even looking to do anything to kind a brand themselves, they just wanted to generally help across the aisle. And then I’m seeing organizations help entirely by having really fun stuff, whether creating a spotify playlist for the team to share during meetings and having happy hours. Its system really got feels for good stuff that I have seen.”
LORI: “I also, go ahead Benjamin.”
BENJAMIN: “Ok. The other thing is, there’s a lot of interest right now and that’s ravelling around in supporting healthcare industry and so I still need to see non-healthcare organizations lean on to provide help and support wherever they can while maintaining the physical distancing and trying to flatten the curve. But seeing local restaurants step in and provide lunches to the nurses and the commissions at hospitals has been absolutely great and then also things like services to nurses that can’t get home to maybe care and treat for their families and step in providing assistance there. The other thing is, and that has been pretty naive cause some organizations can be very progressive and aggressive at equipping their employees with the resources to maybe get help on a mental bonus or a recovery support during this time where we are asked to isolate to be able to flatten the curve. And that is some of a taboo topic in a professional setting. I bet to see your organizations to step up, acknowledge that everyone probably knows someone that is dealing with inadequate moments, a recovery issue and provide additional resources that they really need.”
LORI: “And I’m definitely seeing people coming together, sharing knowledge, big kudos to people, you know, who were bringing partnering with even competitors to discuss how one of the best ways that we can move forward with this, sharing information, sharing ideas of almost an open source mentality if you have something to offer and give, I see companies doing that for the most people.”
RAVEN: “To your point Lori, I was going to tell you like, I was trying to get your point. Over the last two weeks I have received more written messages from other competitors in myspace saying Hey, how can we help each other right now? Because people need jobs, we watched unemployment skyrocket overnight within a week, and working with my competitors actually has been a lot of fun because there are a lot of things naturally is not your sweet spots but being able to collaborate saying Hey, what are you doing and how can we help each other? We do not just help each other because we want to earn revenue or business but we really help each other to help our companies and our teams and also just to help other people to find jobs.”
LORI: “Absolutely were in this together the global economy has to recover for everyone to win, right , and it’s not going to be each and one of us in a box trying to figure it out , I actually, it’s like we’re being trusted in a future work and I for one, I know many people are uncomfortable and they are pulled out of their routines and that’s uncomfortable. And then some of us get very excited about the change that’s happening because we’ve kind of been waiting for this for a long time, not necessarily coronavirus, no, but the shift, right, the greater paradigm shift into the future of work paradigm that we talked about so much , this is really an opportunity where we are seeing people come together, and sharing information for the greater good, for the collective versus for the individual needs and benefits. So, that’s what’s exciting to me and again within that there’s a lot of opportunity especially in a kind of bold leaders, visionary leaders to be at charge of this conversation. So, it’s wonderful I’ve seen a lot of you know virtual book clubs, virtual trivias, virtual happy hours of course just you know I encourage companies to stay open and available for conversations with people who maybe are sheltering in place by themselves and are alone right now, and how can a company be a resource to those people, as well as just consider the fact that your folks may have it more difficult times being engaged because there are a lot of very routine oriented people, right, not everyone but a lot of people are very routine oriented and as soon as things are reshuffled up and look different than what they used to It may take a period of adjustment so being compassionate right, if I can encourage everyone on a call for anything here, be compassionate, be open,be available for any kind of conversation, even one’s that maybe a little less traditional to the workplace, right, because there’s nothing traditional at present or about this so we’re going to take off the hat of what we think we know and the status claw and just be human to human connectors with our employees. So, that’s the kind of my two cents on the matter.”
ADRIAN : “That’s a great transition into some of the commons that we’ve gotten so far so Aaron had asked if anyone is working at you know softer company startups or anything based in highly impacted states and kind of tangentially, CJ had said great point about Raven coming together as a united team with our competitors , it’s about helping right now so kind of with both of those comments in mind, how can a company serve as a resource for its employees in this crisis situation whether you’re in a highly impacted state or just an impacted state at all, right I think we are all kind at a point of being impacted. How can companies serve as a helpful resource?”
LORI: “Well, I can jump in as being in a startup environment and very connected in a world of startups in a very high impacted area, New York. I’m sitting here in Brooklyn and clearly we’re in the epicenter, as they say some of this is media, you know, media play but you know, certainly we have a lot of cases here and certainly life has been a little bit disrupted, not a little bit disrupted here in New York, but I’m you know, discussing with my peers and other startups and client and folks in my network is you know, again there are a lot of opportunities. Personal kudos to those who are furloughing their employees and not just letting anybody go. You know this really is an opportunity kind of shift the mindset around, you know, profit might dip for a little bit for a few minutes but it’s ok right, you will recover as a stronger company if you keep your people secure, safe and employed during this difficult times. More companies lay people off, the tougher economic climb back we’re gonna have. You know actually I’ve just read an article this morning about what friends is doing which is instead of giving all that stimulus money to people directly a one time payment that just going to, you know, go away in just five seconds, they’re giving all that money to companies to not lay people off. It is a more proactive approach than reactive approach and refreshing of course. So I think that kind of mindset for companies right now being proactive and being facilitating ways to keep people working, we keep people well, we keep people safe is how it can be mend, you know. I’m sure Raven and Ben have more to say on this.”
BENJAMIN: “Yeah, I’ll jump in and so in an IMC culture’s target market are really that IMC five thousand or other smaller organizational startups and so one thing that I can offer , recommend, or we have them recommending are for those companies. If they have people in their teams that can help their colleagues navigate through the stimulus bill and all of the maybe funding they may be eligible to receive, even a small business is looking into that. And as a miasmic consulting firm that is something we our offer really free of charge during this period so, we’re working really really hard to get smart in all the details that this stimulus bill, what does it mean for small business administration in different cities and states across the US and across the world that are given with stimulus packages. And then also what can employees do to make sure that they look at options to sustain their life, particularly if they are being furloughed or being asked to take a less pay. And in some organizations they are very very aggressive and even going to a point of even giving details about what maybe some of the big banks are doing to defer payments and that what we have found to be some of the most successful strategy is to think, really really focus on what we can do. Let’s be really creative in brainstorming all the things that we can do to help our colleagues and ask them, where do they need help, where they are struggling, what are the things that they are looking for the organization to support them, and again just another plug, if there is a company out there that maybe doesn’t have the resources, they haven’t looked into how it happens into small business administration. We certainly are providing that service to small businesses free of charge.”
RAVEN: “You know, I just want to piggy back up of what Benjamin just said, I’m sure a lot of the audience are zoomed into them, you guys can see the mark you Ben have said with a very loud voice which I’m so appreciate for. I am sure what is happening right now in the economy is not firstly impacting his piggy bank, its impacting businesses but not, you know not as bad as him personally and he has taken such a fresh voice and an opportunity to kind of help us, as small business owners in reducing that IMC 5000 to sleep. So it’s good to kind of piggy back up Benjamin and also answering question Adrian admit, you mentioned someone asked about the startup, that’s actually what I can see as the best option to keep your business liable. It’s to think strategically outside the box and what can you actually offer to companies that is not at cost. What can you do pro bono to become relevant and stay relevant in the space because when we get in the other side of it everybody remembers that goodwill, everyone will remember how you were able to provide them with something yet is killing the game when there’s so much risk on the line you still care, and then you kind of go on a little bit further to what Benjamin also shared is to foster your top process there Benjamin, no play on your name, well hahahaha, but you know, it’s all about finding an, I think partnering in a company like yours too, is that kind of create something for their employees and culture and because we can get our employees marching to our drumbeats and singing our song as employers, that’s a customer for a life having employee that absolutely believes and breathes your organization and can see division and they know what you did for them during the tough time that goes so far.”
ADRIAN: “In terms of supporting those employees, Rocky left a comment saying you know, as we all make those shift to working from home making sure your employees are equipped to work virtually, Rocky said that we have a log mall to work at home purchase traditional equipment, and then provided daily tips to make the adjustments and what creative virtual connections have you seen in order to trust into working remotely?”
BENJAMIN: “Yeah well, I’ll take a shot, the one thing I thought was pretty neat that the the greater Houston Partnership which is a no pressure organization, It actually had a Houston young professional they used that of a young professionals, so the only way I can get to them was a crash at a party but I had a networking back then that was completely virtual, there was no need for an experience, right ,it was completely voluntary from you know would have typically a happy hour time, and that allow folks to go on a virtual environment like this, meet with other folks, connect with folks, and then there’s kind of profile of bio that was out there, so that was I thought was pretty neat , everything that I participated in, was a virtual zoom workout session with some folks and some of our colleagues in Atlanta, Dallas and in Florida. So That’s always a pretty neat, I tried to stay as healthy as possible can, and I invited all my boys to join me, so that’s was a fun of them where we connect, you know, get up and get moving exercises together, and then I incorporated my family into some fun activity of a some zoom on Zumba, ah Zumba on zoom.”
LORI: “I jumped in here and just say we’ve also done some cool things, we’ve done some fun online, happy hours and trivias like I’d mentioned before. I have to be honest with you guys I’m probably connecting with more people now than I did before. You know, especially by video and people, you know, from all parts of the country and worlds. So It’s been quite exhilarating actually for me to reconnect and connect with so many people in my network, I think we’re all craving human connection of any sort at this point, and I think that should be leveraged. I think knowing that, you know, positions us as employers to really dive in there and get all of our people in the line together, encourage people who are not showing up to those ancillary videos things like happy hours and trivias. Reach out to them, they might be, you know, having a more difficult time. A lot of people are experiencing severe anxiety, I’m not a psychologist, I’m not going to get into the mental health deep dive, there are many webinars going on about this things too. But just all more of, you know, what we’ve been saying, which is bringing together thought leaders, sharing your expertise and your knowledge and whatever services you can and at this point, you know is really helpful to the collective. But if you’re seeing people not showing up to these events, do connect with them, do reach out and make sure that they’re ok because I don’t know, you know I don’t know that this has the same impact to everyone. I have seen some reacting very, you know in different ways and some people are you know well are little anxious and a little excited about change and things that are happening and how they can, you know where they can leverage that. I have seen people also feeling a little stuck, feeling a little bit like I don’t know how to move forward or make any decisions in this, you know, in this phase of so much unknown. I think there is a lot of that kind of anxiety, so just, especially as HR practitioners, let us be aware, let’s really connect. You know, this is time for us to put our human hats on all the way and you know just connect with whoever needs it. That is my guidance for that question.”
RAVEN: “Yeah, I wanted to share just a couple of things I’ve watched as to the network family and I love it. So twice a day, our corporate team provides updates cause there’s so much right now, that’s impacting, I mean everything is changing, almost every second of the day and you know subscribing to the CDC and subscribing to all of this different state data points, and reading them, I’m making that time to read, I remember the first week I’ve probably spent 3 hours a night without sleep because I was reading, and so wake late in the night skype. I still happen to get up and run my business, so twice a day in the morning and at the end of the day copies providing movie good updates, relieves three sources, it’s something that my team is doing and I think a lot of us were doing of course were having virtual team meetings, every morning we hit up, we hit the ground running trying to have some fun with it. I have a couple of people whom are very creative with some of the things that they do. Every morning we get to see something very fresh. I have one person that gives us something different everyday whether it’s a different hat, like one we cheat it all hats, haha, the next we cheated necklaces and different scarfs something like that, and that’s something fun and we all know as she comes on in the clock, we can have a little chuckle and this can be fun . Then something else too is, right now we have a lot of resources right now, materials are coming out for small to medium size businesses and that’s very helpful, we have mortgage relief that come out two weeks ago and I’m on the staffing side of it, so a lot of those employees that Tim who work for staffing agencies are paycheck to paycheck. So we’ve taken a different approach where we’ve dug in deep and hard to try to find out information to help renters to still be able to figure out resources because there’s not a lot of resources right now I’m a lot of cities have said hey listen you can’t evict anyone through this day if that data is closely approaching so we’ve kind of stuck our heels in looking for other lender partners and communication should be able to share to that workforce because they’re not gonna always happy easy proven is to that so just a few things to kind of do to help other people and and I think it’s also helped our teams to kind of have a different a second job in a way so look and find resources to help people.”
LORI: “That’s awesome, Raven.”
ADRIAN: “I think one of us touched on mental health right? And teams just keeping up their kind of mental health through all of this. How can organizations support their employee’s mental wellness just kind of generally but even down to having conversations that kind of dispel the fear and uncertainty that we’re all feeling right now?”
BENJAMIN: “Well, I may jump in on that one first. So for that the larger organizations that may have a formal Employee Assistance Program or EAP. As what most of us are familiar with. The first thing I would ask and encourage is to have a conversation with that provider around the volume that’s coming into the line. We all know that if an employee is to the point where they’re calling the EAP line, they probably have really really been struggling for a while. And I had a conversation with some of the vendors that I used to work with in my past professional year as a chief human resources officer and their volume is up 30%. And unfortunately some of the items that are going to they’re a suicide prevention specialist is almost up 40%. So we know that the volume is there and is being driven and so anyone that doesn’t have a formal EAP provider, you know, reach out to them. I get a sense of but you know it’s the volume up or not. And the folks that are the smaller organizations that may not have a formal Employee Assistance Program simply providing them resources are opportunities to whatever mental health support they have in their current benefits package or plan, or some resources that may be completely free and don’t require benefits. I have been really kind of overwhelmingly surprised and pleased at how many people are very very passionate about this. But they may be an engineer, they may be a nurse or whatever, and there are a lot of folks that actually are your resident expert on this and a simple filler out to your employee base. You may get some folks that are very passionate about it and we want to take that on as other duties as assigned. To be kind to the point person that liaison our resident expert on just guiding people to the professionals. Not giving it advice, right, but just guiding people to professionals or looking at different options and just simply teeing that up and making that an option for your colleagues will show the employee base that you’re thinking about it and is another way to kind of build that credibility with.”
LORI: “I also think that companies have an opportunity right now to potentially be a resource for people in terms of you know, making sure they have what they need. Making sure they have the, you know, perhaps companies that have maybe you know supply chain systems or other such you know shipping systems or ways to get supplies from you know, one person in the company to another person in the company. Perhaps I have a stockpile of toilet paper and perhaps my colleagues in California are completely out of toilet paper. How can I, you know, via the company, you know, use the resources that we have collectively to maybe find out what people need and how I can get that to them? I think it’s a great opportunity for it, like you said Benjamin and Raven, you know there are side projects there pet projects that we can all be doing. And even Rocky mentioned Rocky, Howard in the chat, you know his vote, his teams are struggling with how they can add value in these times. Well, it’s a great way to feel like you’re adding value by even just being supportive within your company. I think also and you know, it’s a great time for ERG’s. You know, what kind of ERG can be put in place to bring, you know, people together and to, for conversation, for support, for guidance, and for resources.”
RAVEN: “And to your point or that comment by Rocky, I think that the value that teams can add there’s another article again another March human I promise he didn’t pay me to say this. But, he talks about that, and I watched this during hurricane Harvey. He talks about employee A, that is working extremely hard to try to add value to, try to bring solutions to the table, try to help, help, help. Make especially their leader’s job much easier and even their teammate’s job easier. And then he talks about employee B, that is working hard to create hurricanes and firestorms and problems and so you know when you think about that value that an employee can bring because right now it is hard. We’re all working remotely in our homes so I think employees will have that thought process of how does my leader know that I’m really given it all I have. And I think it’s really by finding ways to be solution driven, giving answers absolutely thinking of things that you may think your leaders are not thinking about. Because a lot of leaders right now are very focused on how I can keep my teams afloat financially. How I can keep this business moving in this new crisis and world that we’re facing.
LORI: “Just to answer one of the questions in the chat, what is an ERG? My apologies, I may took for granted that we have a lot of HR people on the phone and then we may not have some HR folks on the phone so of course ERG is our beloved employee resource group. You know it historically, they’ve been, you know, created around commonalities, religious, or race, or you know, women or men or whatever you know various different kinds of unique qualifiers bring people together. But in this you know in this situation I would say just an ERG around people feeling anxiety, due to Covid. You know, would be a perfectly acceptable energy to form right now. And again, a place where people converse, chat, ask questions, share information, you know, and just say hey, I have no idea what I’m doing right now. I don’t know how to add value right now. You know, and just be able to, again, create these small versions of what we’re doing right here now. Together, as leaders, in our companies right, amongst our people. Help them form groups together, so that again, it’s all about unity, and a collective, and you know, sharing resources and information. So let’s be the leaders that encourage those things within our companies right now. ERG”
ADRIAN: “These comments from everyone are really great. So please keep your questions coming. Whether to just the panelists, or you can direct message me, or throw it out to the whole group. So Tamara had asked, how can companies prepare for the day after the Corona crisis ends? Right, what should we be doing for the long-term and the short-term? And maybe, we can kind of focus that question even more specifically on talent acquisition, right. How should companies be preparing for, once this crisis is over, what they’re hiring looks like?”
RAVEN: “Yes, I think that’s a great question and very strategic, because, and I’m grateful for whoever answered or asked that question because I think a lot of people are thinking of today. And you cannot think about today, you have to think about tomorrow or how to position yourself. So from my experience, and what I’ve watched happen during moments like this in crisis is focusing on, if possible like after you finish your budgets and after you determine, what the state that the business looks like for the next 12 months. If possible work extremely hard to top down, bottom down, square teens, keep those egg players, keep them home, keep them loving and breathing and drinking your kool-aid of the organization and if you have any openings right now it’s easy, in fact I had a conversation earlier this week. And also, read an article by sure, where they’re recommending hey you’re looking for top talent right now don’t stop. Because as we see unemployment increase right, finally top talent is going to become a needle in a haystack and it will be hired. So I think strategically, not pulling back that trigger you have an opening, meet as many good people as you can, because those great people will flock to you they’re going to be like a magnet, they’re going to remember that what you were doing during the hard times. So from a, just at our equation, that’s my perspective. I also think this is the season, I’m so not stop marketing, marketing but just tend to get slash looks like the first and easiest budget to slash whenever money is tight. Don’t do that because right now marketing firms are negotiating. They’re working hard to kind of keep their company sustainable and they will work out really good deals with you. And I think if you can afford to market, and find a way to continue to keep that budget healthy, if not, social media is free and as a good friend you just continue to market that way.
So I think from a from an employee perspective, talent acquisition is very important to not lose sight of marketing and staying relevant. It’s also important not to lose sight of so that you are set up for next day’s ahead.”
LORI: “Go ahead Benjamin.”
BENJAMIN: “Well, okay and I guess I’ll come at it from a culture and engagement standpoint. So one thing, I think the question was to do for the short term in the long term. I think I certainly would argue in the short term. I’m making sure that organizations have a good understanding or do some scenario planning around. I, what if this is the new normal until June to August? What would that mean for us? And then, what do we want to communicate, and how can we communicate our plans and efforts for these different types of scenarios that may occur in the short term, and I’m calling short term 2020. For the long term I would argue, because I would also argue that this could potentially be more devastating than what we experienced during a hurricane. It took us easily 18 months to kind of get back, right, or to get back to the point where folks were not worn out for all the stress that they dealt with through a very, you know, short period but with the hurricane. And so all I would and we encourage all of our clients to think about two years out, you know, and even 30 months out about the things that you have to intentionally do to address people’s just overall sense of being because of this being such a huge crisis for the world. And so, and you know, and I always will argue, you know there are some things that are being challenged right now. Our employee, the workforce across the world, it’s really really gonna challenge does my job need to be an office job in the future, right? If I was forced to be able to go home and work for 60 days, I was able to maintain my productivity and met everything that we had to do. You know, organizations probably should start thinking about that, and organizations unfortunately are probably going to have to really really look at you know,the value being added you know for the different roles across the board. And then maybe how can we repurpose people’s jobs or roles to really really focus almost much critical for the business. And also for the short term and this is particularly an engagement piece. I would argue that you can’t over communicate right now. So being very very intentional on what you want to communicate throughout 2020, what’s the frequency, where’s that message going to come from, what’s that channel that you’re going to get that message to the workforce, and then what do you want to embrace going forward throughout to make sure that we’re always communicating those key messages and decisions to the workforce until we get a chance to find out what the new normal will be.”
LORI: “It’s good, and I’ll add, you know, just like piggybacking on what Raven said, even if you’re on a hiring or freeze, you know, but you know the kind of talent that you eventually are going to need to attract again in the future. Keep talking to people, right, every interview doesn’t have to be a formal interview for a job that we’re hiring for today. It can be an exploratory conversation. Start building out your networks you know there’s an abundance of time to connect right now, and I think that’s really one of the keys to success and getting through this is to connect with as many people as possible. You know, also it’s a great time to really dig into your talent strategy. You know ,what have I, who have we been as talent attractors? What is our employer brand say about us and our culture up to this point, and is that what we want? You know, look at your glass door reviews right now. This is a great time for really digging in on some of those, you know, some of those, you know, key points that we normally don’t have a whole lot of time to spend on. Please do, you know use this opportunity for all those things and, you know, maybe look at your ATS system, you know, reevaluate some of the technologies that you have in place. Do they make sense? Are they you know, are they economical? You know, you may have a some very expensive systems in place. Maybe one way to cut back on some costs. instead of slashing marketing budget, is maybe shifting some technology spend, you know, to better solutions that are lower cost. You know, there are a lot of ways to cope with this, and to use this opportunity to again be more strategic not less strategic.”
RAVEN: “Hey Lori.”
ADRIAN: “And to build on your, oh go ahead Raven.”
RAVEN: “I’m sorry, I just want to add one more thing. So I thought about this after listening, you know, that question again in my brain, yeah, that person asks what can you do long term and short term? Another thought process is we talk about keeping employees whole, and engaged as we can, is to invest in them, if they’re not, I wanted to see if there are resources right now there are so many free resources that audible right now, I think, is offering 30 days for free, but just investment employees, employees invest in yourselves, learn as much as you can right now. Become a, I work for a company during the housing crisis ,and one of the things that they did which I thought was very special, is they took the time whether your executive leader, middle management, or just simply starting off .But they took the time to invest in training and developing, teaching people how to probably speak. Teaching people to rather get their legs around, they gave skills that typically you wouldn’t have gotten in your regular day job. I think, for as employers strategically, if you kind of, if you can get your employees to just move up to the next stage of an expat, it’s going to really truly push your business ahead.S when we get on the other side of it, after coronavirus, companies will be more profitable successfully that’s pretty much at an all-time low properly for the organization.”
LORI: “Absolutely, and let me piggyback on that as well, that reminds me I saw HubSpot is doing a free content creation workshop. I mean I don’t care what industry you’re in, like content is king, we see that now, you know, a lot of us have nothing much more to do than to create a lot of content right now and share it and connect with it. So yeah take that course, or what about all the available courses on Coursera. I mean there’s so much opportunity right now to, you know, subscribe to that lifelong learning mentality and really develop your employees. I mean, I, good add Raven.”
RAVEN: “And you can become a Yale graduate in six weeks. Yale is offering free classes so I think you know that’s another win too, for anyone. I think you could put that on your resume right?”
LORI: “I can, I saw a free MIT classes like wow! might be something.”
ADRIAN: “Grace also said that Harvard is offering many free diverse courses as well, and Aaron will try and dig up that HubSpot link after we’re going to send all the resources we’ve discussed. So I wanted to piggyback on this discussion too because we kind of talked about what recruiters can focus on during something like a hiring freeze. In terms of their community, or whether you know their connections, looking at different solutions. But are there also things that they can do? Aaron asked to provide more value to their company or to current employees, how can recruiters or hiring teams kind of look inward to during a hiring freeze?”
RAVEN: “Oh, I’ll take that one. I think, you know, right now I’m watching right now within our internal team. Is a lot of people are great interviewers. So and there’s a young lady right now I don’t know if she’s on this call or not, but I’ve watched her kind of own LinkedIn over the last month or so, in connecting with as many people giving out tips and tricks for resumes, building the resumes, their platform, their professional platform, offering tons of resources. But I think that’s really how recruiters at this time if they’re if there’s a big hiring freeze entirely be able to support and help their teams. Was that the question to help their internal Teams?”
BENJAMIN: “Yeah, and I’ll put a plug in. I thought I worked with one of the best talent acquisition teams in the world and my role is a CTO. And, but I always asked them to be my brand ambassadors, right, and so for me it was more about enhancing the brand image to all candidates out there. So as much as and I think my touch down in early as recruiters can reach out proactively talk to candidates, cascade the information that the organization is doing to support colleagues during this time. And just to see if they need any support for anything, particularly those top candidates that you most certainly want to maintain and sustain a good relationship with. Leveraging the recruiting team to build your brand and be your brand ambassadors to folks that don’t work for the organization. As to see if after all, I would argue would be the most important thing that my talent acquisition team could do during the hiring freeze. And that would include the relationships with universities and colleges, or whatever if that is a recruiting strategy.”
LORI: “Yeah go, ahead.”
ADRIAN: “Sorry, it took me a second to find my unmute here. So we’ve been talking about talent acquisition strategies and kind of revisiting them could we dive deeper into the analytics work that companies could be doing right now to better understand kind of the current nature of hiring internally. What KPI should they be looking at, how can they kind of revisit their approach to hiring analytics.”
LORI: : “Well I can jump in. It’s certainly a great opportunity in time to to look at the numbers and the data and see where maybe there are points in the process, in the interview process, in the hiring process where there are you know bottlenecks happening or where there are periods, slow periods that maybe can be improved on. I can’t think of a better time for looking at process under a microscope. It’s very challenging I know because I helped scale UI path over the last couple of years and that was a incredibly fast growth company. And one thing was like you know trying to change tires while flying down the highway. So being able to look at process analyze process and data points and seeing where things can be tweaked tightened up and improved was always very difficult. So for fast growth companies, Aaron you’ve asked a lot about startups and and you know how to handle this you know this is a great time to really put those processes under the microscope and look at them and and and shift the. Now is also a great time since everybody’s in this you know sharing of information and ideas to talk to people who have scaled companies before and how they did it and what process has worked, in what processes didn’t, you know I’m certainly a fan of process you know that’s necessary and and minimal you know not process for the sake of just more process. So now might be a good way a good time and a good opportunity to release us through some of that.
RAVEN: “Yeah and I this is Benjamin sweet spot so I’ll just make a quick little plug right now. EOS worldwide, it’s actually they have, there’s a book that I absolutely love, it’s great for a startup. It is also good for organizations when you’re in a place of change or limbo which is exactly where we are. It’s a free it’s very inexpensive but they also have an app EOS worldwide and it gives you a quick little assessment throughout the application where you can actually tell or communicate to the system where your organization is it, helps you size it up from the bottom up top down and and I actually I’ll share the information with you so that you can share with the audience as well but that’s my little plug and I think I’m gonna type you know share this over or to tack us over to Benjamin because this is his sweet spot
BENJAMIN: “Yeah and some of the things that we work on and really support clients with is particularly on the employer brand as a reputation management index for the employer brands so we look at the Glassdoor, Indeed, conversations and work on some, I on the backend to really really understand and provide an index score that’s similar for external marketing the the company’s reputation to consumers. We apply an index score two candidates perception and reputation of organizations as being a preferred employer or not and and we you know track that over time to see how folks are are progressing changing improving or maybe not improving in terms of the reputation that they have with candidates and it is a specific index a score and also a lot of the the software technology, we are not a software firm but a lot of them actually provide a pretty neat reporting and dashboards around the reputation component right? That that’s right and and then also I would just argue internally on the engagement front there’s a there’s a lot of data if you’ve ever done an engagement survey, looking at that data understanding the pockets within your organization that you know are gonna be more vulnerable now then then maybe other pockets because they were probably more vulnerable a year ago for a variety of reasons. Don’t not look at all the day that you already have. Right your engagement survey, the turnover pockets obviously by the different ways that you may look at your organization.”
LORI: “And I can’t hurt this can’t be a bad time to just throw maybe a less formal survey out to your entire staff and ask them how can we support you right now? I think that just asking the question and leaving it pretty open right like this isn’t one of those surveys that you’re looking for a specific outcome or a net promoter score or something like how can we help how can we support you right now? It’s it’s authentic its genuine and it’s compassionate. I think it wins points.”
ADRIAN: “So we have seven minutes left this hour has flown by but I’m just gonna ask one more question and then while we’re kind of talking through this last question if any of you have ideas on other topics you’d like to see us walk through or just kind of questions for us to keep in mind for future sessions, please just add them in there they’re really helpful we want to make sure that we’re having ongoing discussions about all of this. Okay so last question, we have talked about company culture and you know kind of the rapidly shifting nature of the workplace right? So now that we’ve kind of been abruptly thrust into this future of work, how can companies adapt their culture or leverage their culture in these changing times to keep attracting talent?
BENJAMIN: ”I’ll take a shot at that first. Is one I would say analyze how you as an organization stacked up to the other folks in your industry right? And then once you understand how you stacked up into other folks in your industry. What may you know your organization particularly special during this time and and then being very very intentional in communicating around that up to and including you know videos vignettes that every candidate will see after we get through this on what your organization did for coronavirus, specific stories from the employee base on how they were supported by the organization, that’s like uncut and authentic and real that you can share on a broader basis and then even you know looking at and re- communicating back with your own an employee base this is what we were faced with this is how we over comment and this caused us to think about how we’re gonna change direction going forward and then we’re gonna make a commitment to do this so if we ever have to face this again, you’re gonna know that you’re supported by us as the organization. But being very very intentional and how you leverage the strengths and the support that an organization provided through this period and all phases whether you’re start-up or you’re you know a fortune 100 company and communicating that message internally and externally through the appropriate channels.
LORI: “And then adding on to that, and then really identify your internal brand ambassadors right they’re the ones who are organically out there sharing you know what your company is doing right now, you know if you rally them around especially those who are looking at ways to create more value right now, that’s a great project right to put together a team of brand ambassadors and help help show them how to amplify some of the things that you’re doing on LinkedIn, on social media, etc. you know but also what a wonderful time if if they are genuinely feeling supported by their companies they’re going to share that.”
RAVEN: ”I just want to add for a second I know we only have a few minutes left, is right now, parents have become or employees have become more than just employees we’re now professional teachers. We’re doing so much more than ever before so I think as a company and a culture finding resources to truly help that employee that does help children that are at home now learning giving them a little bit more extra support and guidance and free resources is very helpful as well.”
LORI: “Absolutely, I’m just thinking about this but and I haven’t seen anyone do it yet but I can’t see why a company couldn’t organize like a kid zoom call, like at certain times when they’re having important meetings to get all the kids of those people on a call doing some trivia game or something while their parents are trying to focus on a very important All Hands meeting or something that’s going on. Why not right? Again this is this is this is different territory this has changed stuff here like we can get really creative I think that, I think the overarching theme is creativity during this time as what’s going to innovation and and and what we’re looking for so yeah.”
ADRIAN: “Awesome! So thank you all for your amazing chats and questions and comments oh my gosh speaking of.”
BENJAMIN: “This is little Benjie Junior, so it’s a you know, got kids all around the house.”
LORI: “My new coworker hasn’t been barking during this call.”
RAVEN: “Hey Benjie!”
ADRIAN: “He’s dressed to the ninth today.”
LORI: “I wanna thank everybody for joining. He’s adorable but thank you all for joining. If you’re still on the line, we are going to share with the recording, we’re gonna also share a collection of the questions the answers, the resources, the links and this is an ongoing conversation guys, this isn’t like okay we’re done today that’s it you know we’ve done our part no this is an ongoing growing conversation. Let’s do this again. We’re gonna put one together probably for either next week or the following week with more guests and you know let’s bring more of our peers and the folks in our network to the conversation and get some you know a breath of ideas and share them together. So this has been fun and thank you Raven and Benjamin for your time and little Ben and Thank You Adrian as well for being a magnificent moderator.”
ADRIAN: “Thank you, thanks everyone!”
BENJAMIN: “Thank you.”