Janel, thank you so much for joining us. And I'm really excited about this conversation as an employee experience leader, it's something that we keep talking about. So I'd love to hear your thoughts and your perspectives about the space and how it's growing in importance I think. So it would be good for you to just give us a quick introduction about yourself and, your experience and where you're at today.
Sure. Absolutely. I am so happy to be here. Thank you for having me. So I have been doing employee experience and leadership development for about the past 10 years or so. I worked in the health care space previously. So provider based health care and now currently work in the financial industry doing workplace experience. And I am so passionate about it that I went and got many degrees in it, including recently achieving my doctoral degree and did some research on employee experience as well.
Oh, wow. That's excellent. So what was that doctorate about?
I got a doctorate in organizational leadership studies, and I actually ended up doing my research on how development or, employee development impacts engagement and the experience of nurses in the hospital setting. So it was really important to me. I'm, I was working in health care. We all know how hard it is on health care workers, particularly in the past few years. And so I wanted to understand, what factors might motivate them or keep them energized and combat that burnout that unfortunately they're all prone to.
Oh that, that sounds amazing. And congratulations on that. That's a fantastic sort of topic. Anything specific that you thought that was really a new learning for you from that?
Yeah. I think that the new learning it was, pretty much my hypothesis were proven. I expected that they would be welcome and that, it would offset some of that burnout. But I think what was surprising was that it turned out to be actually motivating for them. Personally motivating and regardless of sort of their age or stage in life or stage in their career, they actually found it motivating. These were nurses that ranged in age from mid twenties to mid sixties and it was true for all of them. So that was a surprising finding.
You were in healthcare and now you mentioned you've moved to the financial services side of things. So do you see similarities now that you've done this from a doctorate perspective, you've gone through this process in depth from a healthcare and, the nurse job role specifically, is there comparisons that you can bring in, even in the company that you're at today?
Yeah, I think that I would say the similarities are that, people are people, right? As human beings, there's certain things that we find that, energize us about work that, we're interested in doing that help us bring that psychological enthusiasm into the workplace, regardless of what that workplace is. The differences are probably around the type of work and the nature of work. So it's really important to understand if you're getting into a role that is more monotonous or, than, or detail oriented say, then something that's more creative. Or, you have an opportunity to change or shift often. Those kind of nuances are definitely different in a corporate setting versus something like healthcare. But otherwise, like I said, I think more similarities than differences, I would say.
And I think you had mentioned somewhere that, there was this power shift from an employer world to an employee world where due to low unemployment rates and, due to the economy kind of continuing to grow the sort of power dynamics that shifted. What does that do for the employee experience? Does that, what make a company go out and do more or are companies struggling to find their feet, you know. What's happening from that perspective?
Yeah, it's really interesting, right? Think about traditionally. Especially before the digital age, there was this hierarchy that we all think of, when you think of an organizational structure, right? So you've got leaders on the top and then, people beneath that kind of flows the powers up here. And now, that's changed so much. I think of it as more of a sideways. If you just turned it on its side, there's still a leader, but they're at the table. With their employees. And everyone has a voice or has talents and skills and abilities that they bring. And a lot of it's because of the digital age. So sometimes I'll say to managers or leaders that are maybe, in a different generation and older generation, when you need help with your computer or phone or something who do you go to? Do you go to the 50 year old or do you go to the 20 year old, and it's because we have and we have to acknowledge that that younger people, older people, people of different generations have different skill sets and abilities. And not to stereotype, but, generally speaking, the exposure and what you've grown up with younger generations have grown up with more technology, than older generations. So yeah that levels the playing field a bit. And it says it's no longer the case where as a manager or leader, you started off in a certain role, mastered it and moved up. And now you know, it all so to speak, the people under you. It's not like that. It's everybody's got these different skill sets coming to the table. So what it means to be a leader, what it means to be a manager has changed. And it's more of a coaching type position. And that is really important for companies to understand as well. Because for the employee, then coming into the workplace, they want to feel valued and they want to feel respected. And, like they are a consumer. Like they are also a consumer, like much as employers have treated consumers in the past or customers, they have to think about their employees that way as well. It's just the the reciprocity has changed. It's no longer that a paycheck is enough, it's not about just the paycheck anymore. It's about, the overall experience that I'm having. It might even be the overall mission of the organization, the personal values that I have, whether or not they're aligned. Because people have choices in the world today.
No, absolutely. I think when we talk to a lot of leaders across organizations. I think the big concern is immediately at the point of recruitment because when you give out an offer, you have to assume today that a good candidate has three other offers that he or she is thinking about at the same time. And so as an organization, how do you set yourself apart so that the individual chooses you rather than the other way around, right? Because maybe five, 10 years ago, it was the individual who was hoping that the company would choose them. But now it's the company hoping that the individual chooses the company. So from an employee experience perspective, and as an EX leader, what does that do for your role? How do you go into your office every day, and what does that change for you as an EX leader?
So if you're in employee experience, any aspect of it, you have to be thinking about that life cycle of the employee that you just referenced, right? Starting with, I would say, even starting with the application process, so not even at the point of, so moving way back into, a person just even considering which companies they want to work for. There's that. There's such alignment and integration with all other aspects of the business. It's not just an HR issue or it's not just for HR to own. Because when you think about marketing and external marketing that's happening, your potential employees are seeing that. And when they go and they are looking for a job, maybe they see your posting and they, search you on the Internet. What are they seeing? So you have to pay attention to that and then continuing in that vein. Thank you. If you don't, if you don't make them an offer, do they hear back from you? Do they, what is that overall experience that they have? Because then they, again, are become vocal. People are very vocal, especially on social media, so people will go on to all kinds of different social media sites to share what their experience was. So even if they don't get hired, they don't get an offer, what was the application process like for them. So that becomes important. I was touching on kind of that integration with other partners or other people within the firm. It's really employee experience is everyone's, it should be everyone's concern.
Yeah, no, I think there are a couple of things that you touched upon, which I keep talking to companies about. One is that, I don't know if you agree with this, but HR is the new sales team of the company. Fundamentally because you need to sell people on to why they need to come and join the company and be a part of the company. Because if you're not doing that today, it's just gonna be a terrible sort of experience, and people are not going to be convinced about joining your company. And if you really want to grow, you want the best talent to join you today, right? Because that's the differentiator. It's no longer about the technology. It's no longer about the pace of innovation. It's really the people who can drive that growth, right? And I guess the second part is what you touched upon is that it's not and again, this is something I keep saying is that EX not an HR problem. Because if you think of it as just HR, that's just one facet of the organization. You need to have your iT come together, your admin, your vendors, your leadership, your finance teams, all of them need to come in together in order to build a great EX. And the moment you think of it just as an HR problem, you are looking at it in a very blinkered, narrow perspective. So I don't know if you agree with those two statements or you know what your experience has been.
I absolutely agree. And I would say, pretty much throughout time, you could ask somebody, what's your business or what business are you in? And I would always challenge people, no matter what they said, it could be finance or tech or healthcare or whatever. But you're in the people business. What can you do without your people? Nothing. Who's running your technology? Who's building your platforms? So you can't, you need people. And to your point you want your top talent, right? You want to attract top talent. You want to retain them. You want them to be having that positive experience and going out into the world and being a consumer or, being a promoter of whatever it is that you know you have. So 100% agree. And I think that's always been the case. More so today because of this, quote unquote'war on talent'. But yeah, I think that the people are really important. And then, to your other point, yes, HR the role has shifted. I think that even today, I think if you ask a lot of people, what do you think of when you think of human resources, they'll think, oh that's the people who pay me or, that's or that's where I get in trouble. If I break the rules or something, but it shouldn't be right. It shouldn't be at all. It should be a concierge service to the point where these total benefits packages that employers are offering now, which are fabulous, by the way, so everything from mental health care to physical health to, just overall well being. But to your point, being able to really customize that and say, I know where someone is either in the employee life cycle or in their life. Don't send someone a, something about maternity leave, who's past the point of childbearing age. It's that type of data, I guess that HR has access to that you were speaking of earlier. Yeah, they have so much data that they can use but aren't really using, in the best way possible.
So how do you I mean, that's an interesting topic. How do you harness that? As a workplace experience leader, at one of the largest financial companies globally, how do you approach that from a data perspective? And how do you start unlocking that data?
There's a couple of different aspects to it. When you're talking about employee experience, that's a bigger, broader or it is a big, broad topic, right? And you think about all the different areas that your employee interacts with the firm or the company. It's this relationship. I always say tell people it's a relationship, right? So it goes back and forth and, you have these, many touch points throughout the day, the week, the year, et cetera. And then there's different experiences, whether they're in an office environment, or if they're working from home, a remote type role. So you have to really consider there's so much and I think that one of the best methods that you can use is this concept of personas which you may have heard of. So I'm sure you've heard actually. The thinking about, the roles that you have, and then what type of experiences they have based on those roles can be really helpful, especially in a very large company. But actually almost in any company, right? Even if you've got a very small company, you have people doing different roles. But what are you expecting them to do? And also, what's a day in the life starting with even their commute? If they're going into the office, and then you can look at all those different touch points, and you can really start to gauge and see what would an ideal day in the life look like again from commute to getting home or wherever you're going after work? And then what are the potential pitfalls or, pain points that they might experience. So that's one way that you can slice and dice it and look at it and start to engage.
No that, that sounds perfect. In fact, we work a lot with personas before we can start deploying the product. But in your perspective when you start thinking about personas, are you starting to think at a role level, plus the location level, plus the, experience or how do you start? Where do you start when you're starting to think about personas? And especially in a big company, how would you start that?
Yeah, it really depends on the goal. So in an existing company, I think you have to look at, what are the kind of strategic priorities that the company has at the time? So is it growing? Is it trying to be competitive? Is it trying to attract certain talent for key roles? Is it succession planning? You have to start with what is the priority or what are the priorities of the company and then that can guide, where you and how you start to identify there's those personas. So I'll just give an example. If you're growing and you've started to identify that you have a need for a certain, type of role or a certain type of talent that has certain skills and abilities, then that's where you might lean into those personas and say, where would they be coming from? What type of education, what type of background, even location, etc. And you can build from here.
That makes sense. And so if you started going down the persona world, it can become a rabbit hole quite quickly. But in, in your experience, what's the level you got to start at? Is it, something specific or very generic? So the, I guess the question is, when you think about location, that's one way to segment your workplace. The other one obviously is your role and the function of the department that the person is going to be working in. Does it start with a couple of those sort of data points or, something further? I
would say that it's the the key kind of stages or steps within that employee experience. So going back to what we were talking about earlier. So I would start with the things that every employee experiences, right? So like every employee experiences that hiring. Every employee will be experiencing some type of development. It might be promotion. It might be training that they get. It might be, expanding their role or moving into different roles within the company. That's one stage. And then another stage, of course, would be exiting, whether it's retirement or, because they're leaving, they found something else. So I would start foundationally with what everyone experiences and then, go from there.
And so as a company, when you're starting to think about personas and how you could use employee data to build a better experience, is there a level of maturity you have to reach? Do you have a certain set of technology requirements or, certain size or any of that, or do you think that it's, base level for everyone?
I think that it's pretty base level. I suppose if you're a, if you're a sole practitioner, that might be a little challenging. But other than that, any, really any size, small midsize and on up from there, because you're always going to know where do, where are people coming from, when you start to look at your hiring practices, where we're generally, what are the types of people that you're hiring? Where are they coming from? What is their background education, et cetera, you can build, start building data right away, right? And then you can start looking at your current workforce, and digging into that data that you already have about them. All of those factors. And then even they're leaving, right? Exit interviews, very powerful understanding where people are going. And then if you're trying to retain them, if you're having a retention problem, then you can start to look at that and say, why are they going elsewhere? Is it really for pay? Is it for flexibility? Is it for, a promotion opportunity or to do something different that they didn't think they would be able to do in your company? Yeah, I think it's applicable across the board.
Are there any sort of best practices that you look at when you think about, competition for talent and how you would implement something like this?
I think that, I am very privileged to work for a company that has an outstanding reputation, and I would say that's one. That you have to pay attention to your reputation in the world at large, because again, this is what people will look at, and they'll, I'll share, I have children who recently graduated from university and are, were out looking for jobs. And it's, because of the world that we live in, if you Google or search the Internet for a company name and you get very little about them. That's a bit of a red flag. They're like, I don't this. I don't know if this is reputable. Is this a reputable place? Is this a job where I can actually, have some type of security? Is this job security? Is this kind of a fly by night place? So, I think reputation is first and foremost, probably the most important thing that a company can think about.
That's actually extremely true in the world of Glassdoor and Facebook recommendations and what have you. Given that, what are the biggest challenges for an EX leader like you today?
Biggest challenges. I would say it is probably... I don't know. One challenge I'll say is getting everyone in the company to understand that this is an important priority. It's about producing, right? So whatever that is, whatever that product or that services, they're producing something and they're very customer focused. And so to flip that around that thinking around. Which it's been around for a long time. I had the, we have a local convenience store in the north east. And actually they recently expanded down into the south in America. But they have a, I had the opportunity several years ago to speak to their CEO and they have a leadership philosophy of servant leadership. If you've heard of So he was saying that they made it a practice. He and his wife would bake cookies and deliver them to the employees working on holidays in the convenience stores in the area. Yeah. This because they were so aware. He knew just, instinctively that happy employees were going to create happy customers. And, and you could probably look back decades and see where many companies knew this, but putting it into practice, is a, is an entirely different story. So that's why the, the opportunity to have a platform or data and insights to help guide that and to show that to make that business case for it is really helpful.
Yeah. So how do you go out and build an ROI case for employee experience because it's so invisible, right? From an experience perspective, you and I could get the same message, but the way we interpret it could be extremely different. So how do you build an ROI case around
think one of the best ways is to say to any manager, any people manager, if you look at your highest performing employees and you start to have them flesh out what it is about them that makes them the highest performing or, they're quote unquote best employees. You'll start to see that there's some real tangible characteristics that they have. And usually what will come out is, having a can-do attitude, having a positive attitude, enthusiasm, getting things done, energy, all these characteristics. And so looking at that, then you can build that. I start to build that. How do you, how as a manager, if you, again, you think about a coach being a coach, how do you encourage that type of thinking? And you can see where this is going, right? So you start to go down that path of, how you inspire someone, how you motivate someone. And, and you see very quickly that it is, it's about making them feel good about themselves, making them feel valued, making them feel like they can actually do or have the ability, to do the things that you're asking them to do. And translating that then into the experience that they have. So then you can start to say, okay, so now if they were to go and say, put in for a day off and had a terrible experience doing that. They couldn't do it. The system failed them, whatever it was. How would that, what kind of impact would that have? And then you can just keep playing that out and helping them understand. There's so much data out there and studies out there. Even this year, employee engagement and experience surveys have been done. A lot of research, exciting research done and, that shows this right. That shows that a highly effective manager is really integral in the whole scheme of things of the employee experience. So that's really important to get that mindset with your managers. And then again, with partners beyond. So looking at marketing, if you have a marketing team that does such a phenomenal job marketing outwardly, how can you take practices and turn them around and have them market internally?
Yeah, so use the customer experience to learn and drive insights to build your employee experience, right? What you're doing externally and yeah, learn from that. And when I think about it, I think one of the key things is also how do you take feedback. And I think feedback, my concern always has been that, you, let's say onboarding, you'll do a 30 day and a 60 day, and a 90 day survey, but if someone had a terrible first day, waiting until day 30 to get that feedback is almost a postmortem. You're already probably too late. So how does a company become a lot more proactive? Or is that not required? What's your take on that?
I agree with you. To wait 30 days to find out that they had a terrible 1st day experience is too late. Because to your point earlier, if somebody has 2 or 3 offers and they have a horrible 1st day experience, and they think, oh, I made a mistake, it's not hard to go back to maybe 1 of those other places and say. Hey, I may have changed my mind here, right? And it happens. It happens when people will leave within their first 30, 60, 90 days on the job because of the experience that they're having and feeling they made a mistake. I think it's really critical. And what you can do with that is so powerful, right? So if you know that a first day experience is a poor experience and you get really great feed, I do think feedback is a gift, right? And I think of it as'feed-forward. What are we going to do with this moving forward? So it's like they,
Yeah. If you find out it's because they had, technology issues and, their desk wasn't ready or was dirty or it was, no matter what, whatever it is, then you can really lean into that. And you can say, what are we going to do differently? Even when something like, not feeling welcome. So it'd be something as simple as, making sure the team all sends an email and note or, send a message or something saying welcome. Yeah,
People just want to be heard and more importantly heard, but close that feedback loop as well, right? Don't just leave it hanging and I don't know what happened with what I said. I want to get a response back and close that loop out, right? So something like that really always helps. So maybe moving on from here and looking at what the future has, the next 12 months, the next 18 months. What is Janel really excited about as far as employee experience is concerned?
Oh, gosh, so much, there's just so much opportunity. Again, because of the world that we're in. And there's this, it used to be like work life balance was the big, hot topic. And it still is, people still talk about a work life balance, but it's much more of a work life integration now. Because people can work from anywhere. Because they understand that there's flexibility in being able to work from anywhere. One thing is, how do you give people flexibility and still measure productivity or still, feel like, you have a handle on what people are doing where and they're accessible, etc. So that's one exciting thing. The other exciting thing is the office itself. That's where we went to work. And then there'd be these extra kind of like bonuses, right? You might go to lunch with someone or happy hour or join the softball team or what have you. But now I can work from anywhere. So what's the value of being in the office? It has to be something different. It almost has to flip. It's like those things that were perks before become foundational. That sense of community that you can build there. Networking. Opportunities to learn something new from someone in person. Very different. So that's really exciting to me.
Oh, that, that's really interesting because that, yeah, the moment you flip that coin and talk about community building as a key kind of pull for the office, it becomes a very different perspective when you're thinking about experience, right? It builds the experience into the everyday work life rather than trying to force great experience into the work life, right?
You know, people are very, we're all, we're savvy too. We're not just going to believe what someone tells us. We have to experience it. So if a company says, it's important to go to the office to collaborate, no one on my team is in my office because we're all dispersed all over the world. That doesn't fly. That doesn't ring true to me. So then, you have to be you have to be honest, right. About what you're trying to build. And how you're trying to build it and, and why these in person interactions are important.
So if all of these changes are going to be happening and they're already happening, but quite a lot of them what does the field of HR and those who are in it, what do they have to do to change and how do you see the role of people management and people ops, EX how is that changing in the next 12 to 18 months? What skills do the people have to have?
Yeah, I think it becomes a lot more customer service oriented, like we were talking about earlier. So it's not a and not that I can't speak for anybody, everybody in HR. People get into human resources for various reasons, just like they get into anything else. But that mindset of we're here to serve our employees. Just like you would serve customers, really has to have, has to take place. Everyone really has to get into that mindset and get into that thinking. So I think that it's been, You know, human resources is a not a profit maker, or at least traditionally, it wasn't thought of that way. So thinking about the fact that it is, in fact, very much related to your profit and your bottomline, that's the mindset that I think, people need to get into. Particularly in human resources, people getting into the field or working in the field have to start thinking that way. It's just it's important to get back to a customer in a timely manner. It would be important to get back to an employee.
I've had people say that HR needs to become a lot more techno functional as well, understand technology a lot more and get more immersed into technology. But I like the idea of it being that, HR now needs to have a, again like a business angle and a business education as well. Need not be from, a school, but your training in HR needs to involve business as well and understand the business holistically rather than just trying to support. So I like that. That's really interesting. Yeah.
And the technology is important too, of course, but that's everywhere. That's just in every field, but the data and the ability to really use that data strategically and think about, sourcing employees or, are your services meeting your employees needs and, using that data to drive those types of decisions or insights is really critical.
Any kind of, parting thoughts or things that you would like to leave us with from your perspective, as far as EX is concerned?
I just think that, again, I think that what Tydy does and, is really important and something that all companies need to pay attention to, regardless of the size or the resources. Because your people again, you can't do anything without your people. Being able to attract and retain top talent is what's really going to drive the business results.
Yeah, absolutely. And thank you for that, Janel. Thank you so much for, giving us your time. I really appreciate it. And I do hope we can do this again sometime in the near future. Just see where EX has gotten to in the next 6 months, 12 months and see where we're at. And hope that we could build a community of EX leaders as well. And, where we can learn from each other.
Absolutely. It was a pleasure to meet you.
Pleasure. Thank you.