Business as usual won’t cut it anymore. As the pace of business has changed drastically with virtual alternatives and automation, future-proofing your employees has never been more important. How? By training them to think like entrepreneurs and fostering a startup-like atmosphere, no matter the company size.
Industry experts joined us for a discussion about the future of work, and the importance of creating a workplace where employees feel like they can take risks, stretch beyond their role, and help their companies innovate like a startup in conditions of constant change.
Choice and Flexibility
In the evolving post-pandemic landscape,it is critical for HR leaders listen and adapt. Meet employees where they areby checking in regularly, identifying people’s needs, and experimenting with solutions. Employees areaccustomed to the flexibility of the hybrid environment, and there is no goingbackwards to a lack of choice. An organization that mandates a strict in-officepolicy without flexibility will lose talented individuals to other companies.While there is no hard and fast solution that applies to all organizations,employers must realize that culture, balance, and choice hold more value thanever before.
HR leaders are examining the oldworkplace perks and asking: does this still have value? No longer can we buildcompany culture with pizza parties alone. The perks that employees want areevolving and transforming, from childcare to career development. Companiesshould re-think the ways they invest in their people: upskilling programs foremployees and leaders will be one of the key value-adds an organization canoffer.
The role of leadership continues tochange and expand as well. In this new landscape, leadership should encompassan understanding of employees’ well-being beyond their productivity andsuccess. This kind of empathy and awareness does not come from performancereviews once a year, but from regular check-ins and transparent communication.HR leaders who regularly take the pulse of their organization will be able toequip managers with the tools they need to lead compassionately.
Noelle Tassey 0:00
My name is Noelle Tassey. For those of you don't know me, I'm the CEO here at Alley. So I'm super excited to welcome you all back to our event series, which we're restarting now after a mid pandemic hiatus. And for those of you who don't know what we do, Alley works with some of the biggest companies in the world to support their innovation and impact initiative through startups, change management, cutting edge technology, and storytelling. Our event series focuses on topics to educate and entertain both our community of startups and emerging technologists, as well as our community of enterprise leaders. For everybody tuning in, please feel free to sign up for our newsletter if you want to find out about these events in the future. And definitely keep an eye on the chat today. I think we're going to have some fun interactivity. And you can always use the q&a feature to drop questions. So I guess I'm going to kick it off to our panelists for their intros. Shane, do you want to kick us off?
Shane Driggers 1:04
Yeah, I'd be happy to. Hi, everyone. Great to meet you. I'm Shane Driggers. I live in Denver, Colorado. And I work for ServiceNow. I'm the senior vice president of global talent acquisition and have also served in other roles within HR over the last, we'll call it 20 plus years. So it's great to be here with all of you today.
Noelle Tassey 1:25
Patricia Enright 1:28
Hi. My name is Patty Enright. I'm the Global Chief People Officer for BCW. I am based in New York, although my brief is everywhere. Welcome to both my panelists, and thank you, Noelle, for having us. And I'm looking forward to sharing the wealth today, I guess.
Noelle Tassey 1:49
Awesome. We're super excited. And last but not least, Veracelle.
Veracelle Vega 1:55
Hi, thanks, everyone. Thank you, Noelle and Alley for the invitation. I am very excited to be here today. So my name is Veracelle and I am the Chief People Officer at Resident. We are they fast growing direct to consumer household brand. You probably know us through Nectar Sleep, over 2 million happy sleepers and counting, as well as Awara and Level Sleep. That is my plug there. And I have also been doing HR for a very, very long time, over 20 years or so. So I'm very excited to share some of my stories and experiences. And also this conversation.
Noelle Tassey 2:33
Fabulous. We are super excited. And maybe if we're on at the end, I'm going to ask you for a mattress recommendations because I am...
Veracelle Vega 2:40
Noelle Tassey 2:42
Perfect. And if anyone has mattress questions to pop in the q&a we can definitely do that. Anyways, awesome. So actually, I mean, we didn't talk about this at all on our on our prep calls but I worked on the direct to consumer team at Walmart kind of doing corporate innovation there and launched their mattress product. So we can talk shop.
Veracelle Vega 3:06
Oh wow. Yeah, totally.
Noelle Tassey 3:07
Mattresses. Don't sleep on it. Yeah. Thanks, guys. But anyway, so I wanted to just kick off the conversation today. First, you know, this panel, the ideas, we're going to explore a lot of topics regarding, you know, technology, the workplace, helping and empowering employees to be more entrepreneurial in their roles, to kind of foster innovation up and down the chain of command and across the organization. And how to respond to our ever changing world. So we're going to actually start off just by talking about employee retention, and shifting needs in the workplace, especially as driven by technology and now remote work, all of these changes. We're seeing a lot of headlines about the Great Resignation. So would love to just kind of kick it off and see what everybody is doing to combat that and how we're adapting.
Patricia Enright 4:16
I'll just, I'll jump in. It's a great question. And we could probably talk about this for the whole hour and, and I welcome my panelists to jump in and shoot me up or shoot me down either way. But you know, it's interesting, I tend to think about, you know, there's a lot of focus on retention. There's an enormous amount of focus and attention on recruitment. And and I guess I'd ask all of us to think about which is maybe the issue, because I think they're separate. I do think that it is the most dynamic time in the world, ever. And I didn't mention how long I've been in the business because I can double you both, but anyway, certainly in my career, it's never been more wild. And I grew up, career wise in the in the dot com era, which we thought that was the Wild West. And you know, this is this is that on steroids. I mean, it's just the wildest time ever. But if we switch the dialogue and talk about the opportunity that belongs in this space right now, it's never been better. To be an employee is to be like gold. We need you, we all need you, whether it's for your mattress business, or my PR business or Shane's technology business, we need you. And I'm not here to say, make this your blank slate for what you need next. But think about it that way. If you're, if you're moving too slowly in your organization, or too quickly in your organization, you can control that throttle. And I think you have to think about it as the best opportunity that's ever been put in front of you, whether you're starting your career, or whether you're mature in your career, there's still opportunity like I've never ever seen, and that's around skills and skills you can learn and develop that you might not have had last year or 10 years ago, certainly. Whether it's about choice in the type of careers that you you may choose to take or the path, you may choose to take, the kinds of experiences you want from your manager, your supervisor, your company, you know, use your voice. It's truly never been better. Certainly, we're plagued by all kinds of issues. But if we, if we put those issues on the side for a minute, it's never been a better time to be at a company, at a place where you want to learn, develop and grow your skills. And I'll leave it there and see if anyone agrees or disagrees with me.
Veracelle Vega 6:42
Yeah. Sorry. Go ahead.
Shane Driggers 6:45
Veracelle Vega 6:47
Awesome. Thank you. So one: everything you said, Patty: 100%. But then also, I want to know that other layer to this. So over the past two years, and it's hard to believe, we were talking about this yesterday too, that it's going to be two years since this word COVID came into play. But if there was ever, ever a time to be in HR, or on the forefront of HR, it's right now. And why is that? Because for the past two years, and even though this kind of ebbs and flows, employees have had a lot of time on their hands, a lot, a lot of time on their hands, where we've been really creative, our thought process, how we work how we operate, but more so than ever, the reason that you're going through this Great Resignation right now is because employees have realized, wow, this is everything that I can do on my time, on a set schedule, I can walk my dog, take my kids to school, go to the gym, do all this on my time, whereas before, and I'm going to say this as a New Yorker, and I think Patty will definitely resonate with this, I can't believe that years ago, I would wake up, you get on the train, you get coffee, you're taking an elevator and doing all of this before 8am. Everybody was kind of doing that same routine. And so for the past two years, now, everybody's had their own schedules and we know what work for us. And so employers need to be on that forefront of recognizing that great work is not going to be the same as it was before. And while, yes, there is something that human connection can never replace, we need to stay on top of innovation, in order to make sure that we're bringing out the best in our people. And by that, I think a word that comes out and has come out through this entire pandemic is the word purpose. And I say this a lot. Because while you want to be in a great company, and you want to have a great boss, and you want great colleagues, but employees right now even more so are driven by like, what is my impact going to be like? What am I doing to move my company forward in a way that I know how, probably either sitting in a cubicle at your desk, in an office, or at home, or I don't know, maybe on the beach somewhere, but there is this spotlight now of where your best work can be done. And it's up to us as HR leaders to make sure that we're keeping on top of these trends in order to bring out the best performance possible in our folks. So that's kind of my pitch on why some of this Great Resignation is taking place and why the employee experience more so than ever really has a spotlight on it.
Shane Driggers 9:30
So I guess I'll add a little topper because I agree with both of you. The the one thing that we know by and large is that people want choice and flexibility. Right? That's one thing that's come through and most industry, any industry that I've talked to my counterparts, that their employees through their employee voice surveys, they want choice and flexibility: where they work, how they work, how they manage their work, and of course, being in a purpose driven organization. Like, how does my role tie back to the customer, to the outcomes, to relationships, and how we've all built relationships and foster and manage relationships in a purely digital way? And so I think you're right, we're not going to go back to what it was before, it's going to be some hybrid version of what we've been in and what the future has to hold. But I think if companies, and whether you're on the employer side or you're looking for a job, does that company hit those those key marks for you? Does it have the right offering as it relates to leveraging your skills, helping you develop new skills, making sure that you know, you feel connection to what you're doing and the work that you're doing? And can you do it from anywhere? Can you get rid of those commute times? I mean, people are now enjoying having dinner with their families, and they've become used to it. And so if we think we're going to go back to two and a half hour commutes, I think those are all things that employers have to and are struggling with, is where's that fine balance between in-person and digital? And I think it's an employee driven end game versus an employer, which has been for as long as all of us have been in corporate.
Noelle Tassey 11:13
Yeah, for sure. It's pretty interesting watching that dynamic gets flipped on its head. And so and I'd love to kind of explore that a little bit more, especially in terms of additional value that can be created for the employees, right. So I think something that we've all talked about a lot is investing in employees, this gets back to the point about making sure that employees have a sense of purpose, they feel ownership. So what are you guys doing in terms of professional development, working across your organizations? We're seeing a lot of interest in this from our corporate counterparts at Alley, where they're kind of coming to us and saying, hey, you know, we're losing a lot of people to to tech companies, to startups, people want to go off, and they want to do their own thing. They have, you know, kind of unparalleled opportunity to do that right now. And a lot of them kind of had the financial setup that, strangely, they might not have had pre pandemic to go do that, you know, what can we do to counterbalance that, and hopefully, also improve the quality of the work being done at our organization. So wondering, I know that you guys have all faced parts of that problem, and would love to know how you're dealing with it?
Patricia Enright 12:26
Honestly, I think we're figuring it out. I mean, I certainly can speak for myself. I think we're listening better to our people. I think we're talking to our people in a different way that wouldn't have, in a more empathetic sort of sympathetic way to their needs. And I think that that's changed. Not to say it shouldn't have been that way all along. But certainly I've seen that change. I think meeting them where they are, that I think both of my colleagues here have mentioned, and not going back. And I think that that's important, there is no back. And we again, we talked about this a bit the other day, that there's a couple conversations and topics in this in this question. So the idea of going back to the office is a physical thing. And we've got to listen to our people about, and Shane mentioned it, is whether that's going to work for them moving forward. Because there's so much choice right now, you know, we don't have the ability to be definitive, and say, you know, starting January 1, everybody's back nine to five, Monday through Friday, or whatever your schedules are. We can't do that because we would be driving people to either our competitors or other other opportunities. So I think listening is really, really critical. And then putting all of the pieces of your business and your business model in what your know your customers or your or your product is, and and making it work and meeting people where they are, is, is super, super critical. So this idea about defining the future of work for you, you know, whoever you are, your business or your your industry, is really the opportunity. That to me is the silver lining. Again, I think if we could all go back to before two years ago, and think about our dreaming, you know, desires. I know, on a Friday, I used to go home and say geez, if I could just work four days a week, I'd crush it. We have that choice now. In an odd way, we have that choice. As employers, we could implement a four day workweek. And that might, to your point, to the question's point really, that might trump equity at a startup. So, what I'm saying is listen, and adapt and meet people where they are in the context of your business. And really, I want to say we don't, I don't have all the answers. But we have to move quickly. Shane's gonna jump in and save me here.
Shane Driggers 14:51
I 100% agree with you, Patty. The way that I think about it is like your culture is a currency. And that currency is worth more, sometimes more than the actual physical currency that we all get paid to do our job. And so if that culture allows you enables you to grow, to thrive, to do your work in your best place, the most creative place to do that, that's what people are looking for. They've experienced it, or maybe they're not experiencing it and they have a friend or a family member that's experiencing it, and they're like, I want to do that. And I think that's why we're seeing a lot of movement right now across industries dependent upon how progressive or not a company is with giving that flexibility and choice.
Veracelle Vega 15:34
Yeah, and I think that's such a key driver in there. Again, it all boils down to flexibility, it all boils down to choice. Similar to you Patty, we're doing a lot, we're figuring it out, we've been very transparent. And like, look, we don't have all the answers. We're all kind of going through this. And everybody gets that. And you know, we shouldn't have all the answers, because I have no idea what's going to happen two months from now. And I think that's why, in some regards, the past two years have felt both long and short. What we know is not going to work anymore, just kind of thinking about perks and benefits. And I was just thinking about this two seconds ago, and the idea of it just sounds so lightyears away. But remember, I remember like pizza parties, the idea of having food in the office or even lunches. That is no more. We don't care about that. Doesn't mean that we can't ever go back to that again. And food is a lovely driver and many things. But employees are after perks and benefits that I think are going to, it's going to evolve and transform. And I think the company's like no, there's something in a tone of when you mandate, like everybody must be in the office by Jan. 1, you must be in five days, that's going to drive massive folks away again to competitors. And so I think there's something again, it all boils down to the word 'choice' that employees honestly have the upper hand in nowadays.
Patricia Enright 17:07
But we also, you know, employees drove change all along. It's just how much leverage they have in that change equation. Right? So if we go back again, I've already told you I'm old. So go back in time and just, I was a mom, you know, childcare was an issue. Childcare used to be the penultimate issue for keeping moms in the business, right? I'm not suggesting childcare went away because of the pandemic. But it has to take a different form. So have we moved with where, I'm just using childcare as an example, childcare has moved to, you know, many of us that work at home with children don't necessarily have to have the daycare center, the school...Well, school's a whole other conversation. Or a nanny or a babysitter or whomever. They're home, we're home. If they're back at school, we're home. So what's the, how can you help me be a better female executive, if I'm a mom, it's maybe not a daycare center. But it might be resources to help me keep my child engaged, or doing their homework or studying for the SAT's, if those even exist still, or whatever. But again, childcare is still an issue, but how we deliver and what the value benefit is, is changing. And if we think about every benefit and perk, whether its food, whether it's the beer cart, or whatever, the keg in the office or whatever, all of those things, it's not that people want less of it. Is it still relevant? And then how do you deliver it? And I think that's the challenge we all have in our roles, is to really not break entirely everything we've done, but rethink why we're doing and if it still has value. And I think that's an exciting thing for us. But at the same time, it's serving a community to maintain the best people, to keep a attraction factors live, so it's that recruitment, that retention thing. But again, it's a little bit of a blank slate.
Veracelle Vega 19:04
Yeah. I was thinking that as a working mom, too. And just, I think years ago, the idea of having your child or your husband or dog just walk by your camera and be like, "Oh, I apologize. I apologize for that." But over the past two years now, it's just become, which is a great thing of how it has evolved, to see your kid walk by, you know, yeah. Because, of course, life should blend in and if we're working at home, there should be no apologies for that. I think it is going to define what employees are looking for now in terms of choice and aligning themselves to companies that also have values that are going to be progressive and transparent that they're trying to figure it out.
Noelle Tassey 19:52
Definitely. This is a little bit off topic, but just something that kind of I've been thinking about as I've been listening to all of you talk is the idea of obviously forcing people back into the office, like we're seeing about how well that is going for, let's say investment banks. They're dealing with basically having to pay even more their employees to force them back into the office, and people are still unhappy, but they're doing it because there's a huge financial upside. Obviously, we can't all offer investment banking salaries. So I'm curious, do you guys feel, and then we were just talking about, like, free lunch isn't going to cut it anymore. On the other hand, do you feel like in-office perks, if they make employees lives easier and it's sort of the ease and convenience of working from home contrasting going to the office? What can we do in an office in an on site training to create value, both in terms of professional growth and collaboration, and honestly just perks that make people's lives earlier? Right? Like, I love cooking my own lunch when I work from home? If I ever were to force Alley employees back to the office, which I'm not, for those members who might be on this call, that's something that I think we'd have to consider. If we are mandatory five days a week, we kind of want to make it worth people's while. You don't want them thinking, wow, my life is so much worse now.
Patricia Enright 21:18
Well before you asked that question, I was thinking of an example. Like, who has to go back? A fireman, a policeman, a surgeon, you know, a surgeon can't do open heart surgery on their dining room. You have to get practical. So what can we offer? And I think one of the things that I think we'll all see a massive ramp up and is around career development, you know, what can we do to help you move your career more quickly? What kinds of trips, training and tools and development can we do? And I think that does, it also does get into technology? If you drag your butt to the office, can you work seamlessly? Do you have the tools both at home, and in the office that allow you to be fully productive? And Shane, I know you were going to say something, so I'm going to let you jump in.
Shane Driggers 22:05
Yeah, I think if employers think about the physical space in which people work in the office as a destination for collaboration, and innovation, and they go and do their work, wherever they do their heads down work, then you build a really strong sense of community, because you're all coming in at the same time, roughly, you could still have the food, you could have all the perks and all those things. It's like a party, and you get together and you do some really great work. And then you go back to your home office, or wherever, Starbucks, wherever you want to work from. That's where I think the future is and then that helps to propel everything you just mentioned, Patty. Like, how do I learn? We've talked about how we don't have to travel and do all these things so now we have this extra time. What are we going to do with that? Well, we can use it to build new skills, we can use that to accelerate projects. There's just so much efficiency gain that we get out of it, as long as we keep the human connection in there. And so if you use this physical facilities as a place to collaborate, and make it for moments that matter, then I think you've got something special.
Patricia Enright 23:15
I do think it's also generational, so I'm going to throw that in there. So our more, if you will, new to the industries, whatever industry they are, they're used to working in a campus lounge, or a Starbucks, or an apartment with one bed or one bedroom, and, you know, nine people living in it, if they're in New York. So they've had to learn to adjust and you know, maybe one of those folks does want to go in the office, maybe that 20-something, 30-somethings never want to see us again. Maybe people like me, who have grown up in the industry, the way it has sort of always been maybe clings to the office and the tradition. And again, I think we have to meet individuals and categories or groups of people where they are on all of this. Because I am absolutely positive that there's three groups of people: those that would never want to see us again, those that can't wait to lick the front door to get back in, and those that want it completely on their schedule the way they want it when they want it with no one telling them to do anything different. And that's a challenge right there. You got three very different groups of people.
Veracelle Vega 24:23
Right. One of the things that we did which was successful and not saying this could work across, you know, that it's a one size fits all, but we've gotten really creative just in terms of, it kind of filled a couple things: engagement and learning plus just kind of upskilling. So we've done something called a 'train the trainer' where it could be anything, I don't know, teach us Excel or anything or even it could be anything from, teach us an Excel class or we've done a lot of work with DE&I and had folks just kind of learn sessions on there, or even how to make a cocktail. And I have to say, coming over, even though I think we've all had the Zoom fatigue over the past year, just having these mini sessions. And I have to say, in this kind of Netflix age where folks who haven't been able to make it are like, oh, have you recorded it, can I watch it later? I'm like, Yep, we've started started doing that. But I have to say, there is something about that where we, and specifically at Resident, we have a primarily remote culture where there's massive bunches of us who have never met, but seeing everyone over Zoom like, let me teach you this skill, where we're seeing everyone for the first time, I have to say, it's been very powerful for us. Now, um, there have been times that we have met in person just because we had to over the past year, and it's been hilarious, because you're so used to seeing somebody over the screen for a while, and you're like, Oh, my God, you're real. You're tall. Questions like, Oh, you look shorter on screen, or taller on screen. It's just funny. And of course, nothing can replace that. And not even saying that what worked last year is going to work next year. But I have to say this, I think this also boils down to fostering this entrepreneurial, intrapreneurial mindset of what companies need to do in order to keep their folks engaged.
Noelle Tassey 26:18
I love the 'train the trainer' idea. I'm curious. So my concern with implementing something like that would be, A, is this too much extra work for people, will people really show up? What do you think is driving your team to want to engage on that?
Veracelle Vega 26:35
Yeah, so we do a lot of surveys person, I'm a big, like, what do you want? What do you like? What do you need? What can we do better? And so we are constantly measuring, measuring always for feedback. And it was something that kind of came out in a survey of like, listen, we can't, you know, we're not quite sure what learning is going to look like over the next year. And this is when we were kind of thinking of having to go away for a little bit. And, you know, I don't know, to a course or something, but it's something that was born through the company, you know, did you know that so and so as an expert, and in Excel, they would love to showcase this? I was like, I had no idea. But you have to ask and so we kind of did a poll of like, what would you like to see? And it was kind of all over, it was all over the board. And we do put parameters like, alright, if we're going to do this, you have to show up. We don't want people to do this and nobody shows up. So we're pretty, I have to say, we're really good about showing up for each other. Because it's important. But you know, we also measure, it doesn't mean that this class is going to work the next time. And so we're constantly redefining and reassessing, right. Like, nobody wants to do that anymore, what else can we showcase? And sometimes we've even gotten a little bit more, you know, another thing that we did was have CEO office hours. We have our CEOs just on there to ask them anything. Just like, oh, you know, this is not an all hands, but it is just a way of like, nope, let's talk about anything on here. And I have to say those coming togethers have been really impactful for us. Because we are distributed for the most part. And it's just, no longer do you have these water cooler moments. And I know, you've all heard this before where you're just not running into somebody anymore. And so we have to be on the forefront of recreating, how do you have these moments where you're finding out that, I don't know, Joe has three dogs or Sally actually lives down the street from you. And so we're constantly redefining that, to make sure that we're keeping folks engaged.
Patricia Enright 28:41
One of the things that I think this period that we're still in has really done is legitimized on-demand or online learning. It's been there for years and years and years. But it was sort of the weak out. Because people expect it.
Veracelle Vega 28:57
That's exactly it. The weak out.
Patricia Enright 28:59
It's the weak out. Now it's the muscle. And so I think, again, I think with the right level of communication and the right type of content, and the right kind of invitation, maybe, you know, not just the mandatory stuff like we, again, it's all very important, but, you know, compliance training or sexual harassment training, those are mandates? This is about our ability to grow and learn while we have, I don't describe it as extra time but while we are in this environment. So how can we do it? This is how we can do it. We used to do a lot of these types of sessions in the office. Someone has a passion for this or I know a great screenwriter, or Jimmy down the halls uncle is a Academy Award winning something or other, get them in for a session. If people support each other, we're creating culture We're evolving our culture, you know, and we're evolving our culture online now through some of these. And I think again, you have to test and try. If it doesn't work, or people don't show up, stop doing it. If people are telling you what they're interested in, try it, take a risk. There's so little downside right now, because everybody's looking for that silver bullet, if I may. I'm just not sure there is one or any one for any one individual or company. I think you have to test and try some of this stuff.
Noelle Tassey 30:38
I will say that my experience, some of the downside is when you're really leading with strong enthusiasm on something that people have asked for, and then no one shows up that doesn't always...
Patricia Enright 30:47
I think that's a different issue, though. Then you have to you have to [cross-talk]. I think that's part of why I think the online learning has greater value or benefit because again, if the content, if it's good, they will find it and the individuals who want it will absolutely find it. And maybe that's the group or population that that's important to. And then something else will have to be the draw for another group of people. I just don't know that there's one answer, one kind of solution for everybody. Think about Masterclass this sort of started right around the pandemic. It was the craze. One of you might go on for cooking, we've been talking a lot about cooking. Someone might go on for cooking and someone else might go on for floral arrangement. I think that's pretty awesome. That's cool. That's good stuff.
Noelle Tassey 31:45
I love Masterclass personally. I'm trying to learn poker on Masterclass.
Patricia Enright 31:52
What do they say, during the pandemic, if you didn't learn a new skill, you didn't do anything or something like that?
Veracelle Vega 31:57
I baked a lot of bread.
Noelle Tassey 32:01
Let's quickly, quick break since we're on this: What was everybody's weird pandemic hobby?
Veracelle Vega 32:07
Bread. I've watched a lot of Masterclass, but I think the bread thing. Definitely. I started working out more to. I think, again, kind of the silver lining, companies like Peloton where I'm like, oh, you know, now I can just take classes when I want. And so like, that's something that I have been able to really work into my day to day where before, before the pandemic it was, shoot, I only have this kind of allotted time to go to the gym right now. And it was either really early or late at night. And now I'm going to go to yoga right after this.And then go to a meeting after.
Noelle Tassey 32:50
Or pull up a class on my phone or iPad. No, same, I was such a, I've never set foot in a gym, ever basically.
Veracelle Vega 32:58
I have no need to go back.
Noelle Tassey 33:00
And now I'm like, fitness is my passion.
Patricia Enright 33:06
It's interesting. This is going to sound super personal, but I think it was two things really. I was...was...bilingual and I sort of let my Spanish speaking skills go. So I sort of reengaged in my Spanish. But the more personal one was really my family. I always worked more, I absolutely put work first. And I think the pandemic, like a lot of us, forced us or asked us to consider what our real priorities were in life. And I think someone mentioned, I forgot who, but you know, not that I'm cooking dinner. Don't want to say I said that. But being at home for dinner and spending that time with my family was just invaluable, because we didn't do it before.
Noelle Tassey 33:57
That's really cool. Shane, any any pandemic hobby you want to share?
Shane Driggers 34:04
Yes. My pandemic hobby, which has been a lifetime hobby, is playing guitar. But when you travel as much as I do, or did pre-COVID, that wasn't possible, right? You're on the road. And I was like, Gosh, I wish I had a guitar in my hotel room or whatever. But now I can take a break for 10 minutes or 20 minutes and play a little bit and then go back to my work and do that in the night. And so my skills on the guitar improved dramatically. And I have fun doing it. It's such a great way to shut down my brain and kind of quiet the noise, Patty, and just do something that's for me, which I love.
Noelle Tassey 34:42
That's awesome. That would be a great teach the teacher. Learn Guitar from Shane Driggers. That's next week. Cool. Well I love that. And you know, if you're in the audience and you want to jump in, in the chat with what your pandemic hobby or life change was, we'd love to hear it. But I think just getting slightly back on topic: We've talked a lot about upskilling and cases. And I would love to maybe direct this actually at Veracelle first. You work at a company that essentially sits across a large number of high growth, small companies. I'd imagine that getting in place things like owners is really, really important, especially in the remote environment with flexibility and other things going on. What additional, A, like you're doing a ton of surveys, are you seeing a lot of demand for that from employees? Or is it coming from leadership? Or neither? And what, if anything, are you doing around that?
Veracelle Vega 35:59
So one, we started, so a couple things: We actually started as a remote culture. And the irony is that we we started, then we started to have a New York office, which we still have, and the day that we kind of got the New York office all set up, that was March 13 2020. And then that was like the last day that we were there. And it was really weird, because I have vivid memories of this. I'm sure everybody doesn't of their last days before we all went into hibernation, but we didn't go back for a couple months. And then when I went back, I remember like, oh, there was like somebody's coffee mug that was there. We had a calendar that said, like, April, you know, blah, blah, blah. But the one thing that we did really, having an early DNA of a hybrid company is that we were very prepared. So by the time we had told everyone like, nope, no office, we're just going to let everybody stay at home. I had heard horror stories from some of my HR counterparts were three weeks after they were still trying to figure out how to ship computers home. We had an all hands probably two weeks after. It went off without a hitch. But for us, communication at any company is always a challenge, and just making sure it's the right cadence. But we've worked really, really hard too train our managers, to train our leadership team to make sure that we're talking correctly and that we're talking and we're keeping our, we're checking in with our teams. We do a lot of HR pulse surveys of everything from, do you think your team sets you up for success? Do you think you're getting the right support from your manager? We're very transparent about that. And if we do get a negative comment on there, we immediately, you know, this is anonymous, but we try to, you know, like, let's figure this out. And for us, we look at that as kind of learning sessions. And I think it's because we do do such a good job of making sure that we're constantly checking in and figuring out what the needs of our folks, I have to tell you, if you asked three words that describe the company, it's commitment, it's being laser focused, and we all want to see each other succeed. And that doesn't happen haphazardly, it starts from the top. And it's just really exciting to be a part of an organization that thinks that way, as well, which I think is attributed to our success. So you know, I attribute that to a lot of early planning, a lot of forward planning, and we're trying to do that right now. But then also being incredibly flexible with how the universe is working, and what we need to do and adapt to it. So I don't know if this is going to be the same recipe for success going forward. It doesn't matter what you used last year and two weeks ago, you have to be very amendable to this, but it's something that served us well. I don't know, if I've answered the question correctly. I think I kind of went off on a tangent there.
Noelle Tassey 39:16
That was great. I'd love to hear from Shane and Patty too if you guys kind of want to jump in on that.
Patricia Enright 39:25
Shane, go ahead.
Shane Driggers 39:26
Okay. Yeah, you brought up communication. I think that's one area that we've doubled down knowing that in this world in which we're living in and we're not having those watercooler talks, and all these different things have changed. We also have a lot of leaders that have never led virtual teams. So knowing that that was an area of opportunity to develop our leaders so they became more effective communicators, created a better sense of belonging on the teams, even though we're all distributed. And so we brought in Dr. Francis Frei recently from Harvard Business School. And I know Patty you're probably familiar.
Patricia Enright 40:06
Shane Driggers 40:08
We've talked a lot. And we've done these learning sessions with her that have been, I think, breakthrough moments for leaders, kind of like lightbulb on, wow, okay, it can work this way, or, you know, my communication style is too much storytelling to get to the point, I've got to flip it and start with, you know, the headline, and then do the storytelling. And that's where we're investing. And it kind of goes back to the comment around pulse surveying and understanding what your employees need, what do your leaders need, and then finding those opportunities to create meaningful training. And that training could be like this, just having conversation, it could be bringing Dr. Francis Frei, whatever it is, there's now a narrative and a discussion happening on how we're going to evolve the way in which we communicate with our employees, and not doing it twice a year when we get their feedback.
Patricia Enright 40:59
You know, one thing I'd add to that, as, you know, as managers, leaders of people, you know, really, hopefully, leaders of people, the job has changed.
Veracelle Vega 41:08
Patricia Enright 41:09
The job has changed. And I think that we have to help, in our role, particularly with our most senior leaders in our executive committees, or whatever. We have to allow for, make time for, and make time for in the leader's role, for their people. And I'm not saying they didn't before, but it was different before. Again, there's no back, it's forward. So we do in a way, have to guide and direct and sort of coach and prod, a bit our day-to-day leaders to retain the best people, to have honest conversations about what's happening, to to admit when they don't know how to solve the problem. Some of the problems that are coming forward now are firsts for employers. You didn't used to bring, for example, I'm going to bring up a big hairy eyeball here, but mental health didn't belong in the workplace before. Well, why not? You're a human being first? But people aren't comfortable with having those conversations. It's like, go talk to the lady in the HR department. That's part of the leadership's role today. And I think leaders making time to lead is really a new phenomena. I think they lead for productivity, I think they lead for success, I think they lead by presence. It's a bigger job, now. It's more of their job. And I think our opportunity is to help guide them, to make the time for them, to really invest in their people and not to your point, Shane, not have it just at that annual performance time or, you know. But when you see so and so's personality has, change, get involved. Get involved. So and so is not using their camera anymore online, what's going on there? I think the the intuition for leaders now, and the need to step up and be true leaders, again, has never been more important.
Shane Driggers 43:09
Yeah, I couldn't agree more, Patty. And the empathy and compassion piece of leadership is rising to the top, right. That is what I would call a power skill which our leaders need to start to embrace because to your point, if you're not staying in tune with those on your team, and that person drops off camera for three meetings in a row, and you're seeing some different behavior, lean in, and find out what's going on, and how you might be able to help them and support them. Because we all have things that are happening in our lives, and they were all happening in our lives before this. Now, we just we're all in it together. And I think it's it's brought in a heightened sense of awareness that we need to practice more empathy and more compassion.
Patricia Enright 43:50
And more transparency. Again, this thinking about mental health, again, people would have never brought this forward. And now it's really a daily conversation. Everybody's issue or struggle might be different, but it is seeping into our lives. And I think Veracelle said it but, you know, having our kid jump on camera while we're having a critical meeting with the CEO just happens now. And I don't think we have to apologize for it. Just be more transparent and present.
Veracelle Vega 44:23
And also with that leadership, it's, of course, if you ask any senior leader, do you care about mental health and well being? Of course, they'll say, Sure, I do. But you know, you have to talk the talk. And it's also up to us as HR leaders to make sure that we're helping to push that message across the organization. It's a technical, so this is a technical thing that we did, but we did this kind of connected to our Fitbits or whatever walking device we had, but we did this walk across the US one quarter, and we divided ourselves into teams just to see. But you know, it was something super small, but when you have that team spirit and camaraderie, and it's about walking, which you know, we all walk. There was something pretty cool and engaging about that.
Patricia Enright 45:18
We did the same thing but for us the point was mental health. It was get away from your screens, get away from what's driving you to a point of thinking twice about your job or not loving your family in the same way, because you're so absorbed by your job or feeling the pressure of your job. We did, we did it through a company called Walker Tracker, we did it globally. And it was a blast. I mean, people really got competitive in a fun way. We met people all over the world that we wouldn't normally have the opportunity to work with. And interestingly, that was one of our feedback points from our survey, which is like, how do you, and I'm summarizing it, but how do we how do you break down the borders? How do I talk to that person I've never talked to in Japan or that person in Sao Paulo, or whatever. And, you know, we mixed up the teams like that. And the walking was the vehicle, so to speak. It could have been spinning, it could have been anything, it was just get away from your screen and count your steps. Walker Tracker calculates it all and whatever. But it was really super fun. And we did it around a kindness mission, which we thought was just kind of apropos. And then we, you know, we had some prizes for sort of the the best walker.
Veracelle Vega 46:34
Walking is important. But yeah, and with that, too, we made sure that it had to be like a really great representation across, and come on senior leaders, make sure that we're in this as well, so it was pretty cool.
Noelle Tassey 46:48
What other things have you guys done to bring teams together in the remote environments? I mean, I love the walking across the country kind of idea. That's really fun. We've done some remote and in person volunteer opportunities and things like that. What other fun things have you guys been trying to keep people engaged, whether it's the more formal upskilling stuff, or whether it's like really fun culture building?
Veracelle Vega 47:17
We have a group that is just really, we just love trivia. It's almost like a blood sport with us. It's pretty hilarious. And it was in July and because we have all these warehouse mattress brands, it was a take on Harry Potter and Harry Potter's birthday. So we divided up into like, team Nectar team Awara. It was kind of like this Harry Potter-esque thing. But then we had a group that was just really devoted to these questions. And if you're the first person to answer a question correctly on Slack, and again, we haven't even talked about Slack, or similarities to Slack, you know, you get a prize. And I have to say, dividing the whole company up into teams, and just like, here's some trivia that you need to do. It was pretty a pretty cool barometer of engagement for a week. And these things can't go on, you know, we found that a week is a good time frame. But we're constantly doing these little, and we change it up a lot. So you know, we're, we're about to throw a cookbook together, like a holiday cookbook, again, which was very popular last year, this Resident's friends and family cookbook that we're going to share a company wide. But this is what works for us. This is what works for us. And I know that may change from company to company.
Noelle Tassey 48:34
I love that cookbook idea. That's great.
Patricia Enright 48:37
I was just going to say I'd be screwed with that cookbook one. If you have to share a recipe, I don't have one. One of the things that we did, and I don't know if it's as much fun as it was insightful and cultural changing or bending, was we met by functional teams to talk to them about what was causing them...or said differently, how we could empower them to be at their best and maintain their best. So what was in their way, what was preventing them from doing that? And we did them through very professionally facilitated sessions where we got to the bottom of the problems in their job. You know, what prevented them from doing that, and we socialized the responses, not by individual but collectively. And we really tried hard to resolve those that were true obstacles for people's ability to bring their sort of most creative, most powerful connection and engagement with the company. Because we did this as a result of hearing a lot about burnout and what we thought were some common problems across teams. And rather than have a specific team kind of suffer, we said, what is it that's causing X? What is causing this? How can we help you to avoid that? And what I think is super important, again, I'd love some thoughts on this. But I think those same things likely existed before. But I think the pivot to working from home and maybe a bit of that disconnection and maybe more of the empathy that was sort of seeping into the world in the new environment, I think caused us to ask the questions that maybe we should have been asking the whole time. I don't know if anybody feels differently about that. But burnout's been a thing for years, but it's topical now.
Shane Driggers 50:56
Yeah, I think you're right, Patty. I think there's just a lot more humility and vulnerability that people are expressing today than they ever were before. And all these things that we've gone through, aside from the pandemic, but the social unrest, so many, so many things going on in the world that has created anxiety for people and uncertainty. And that is showing up not only within the community of your company, but outside the walls of your company. And so I think people are more vocal, more willing to share, more vulnerable in their storytelling. And then therefore, we can better kind of assess and understand what needs to be done or what we think needs to be done. I will say one of the fun things that we've done, I'm pretty, this is a little bit of a plug for ServiceNow. But we we have company all hands that are literally like a rock star party. Our CEO is larger than life. We've had Brock Obama come in and talk to us live, we've had Sheryl Crow perform and do concert for us, all digitally with you know, 10,000 plus people streaming. And our employees streaming it and watching it. And it's just, again, it creates a sense of belonging, and a sense of community and a sense of pride. And we're talking about really tough topics, but we're bringing levity into it and joy. And I think that's one thing that a lot of people want in their work is joy. And so how do we serve that up? How do we do that for each other, I think is super important.
Veracelle Vega 52:33
I want to add too that it's awful that it took the pandemic to say that it's okay to be vulnerable and to Patty's point, mental health, where it's always been there, always, it's always been there. But again, I think a lot of our time at home, and over the past year, it's made it okay. And it's just, it's made it okay to talk about. And and again, this is another thing, what companies to kind of look into, and being forward thinking is just recognizing that and making sure that we are equipping our managers the tools to have proper conversations and to integrate and recognize but knowing also that HR is also here to help and be that ally.
Noelle Tassey 53:27
Definitely. We're coming up on time, so we have time for one last lightning round question, which, since I can't remember who brought it up. I think it might have been you, Patty, but let's talk four day workweek. Yes, no? What's your take?
Patricia Enright 53:43
Sign me up. Again, my answer for me personally would be sign me up. I'd love it. I would really, really love it. I would love it more if I could just, you know, disconnect on the fifth day. But that's a Patty problem, that's a whole other session. But I love it. But the point I want to make is it may not be the same thing for all of us. But personally, I love it. I think it's the flexibility overall, I think. Shane?
Shane Driggers 54:14
Couldn't agree more. I'm a plus one for a four day workweek.
Veracelle Vega 54:21
I agree too but I think it would need...I say that 'yes' and then I kind of look at our workplace and I just you know, I think there's going to be some give and take of what needs to be done. I think I love the word flexibility more. And trying to figure that out.
Patricia Enright 54:41
One of the reasons I bring it up, it's funny because we do have people coming back in the office, but I have to say Mondays and Fridays are not high attendance days. It's Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and honestly, it's mostly Thursdays. And guess why? People are going out at night. People are meeting up with their friends. And that's okay. That's really okay. But I think again, there's patterns in these behaviors. And I think we have to watch them and recognize them and lean into them.
Noelle Tassey 55:12
Yeah, definitely harnessing the moment of what people already want to do. Sorry, my my dog wants to...See, vulnerability.
Veracelle Vega 55:19
Don't apologize for your dog, Noelle.
Noelle Tassey 55:24
Apparently. Well with that, we are at time. And yeah, my dog is playing the music to walk us off. So I just wanted to thank you all so much. I know it's already such a busy week coming back from the holidays. And it's been such a pleasure talking with you, learning from you. For those of you tuning in, we will have a recording and transcript of this up on our website shortly. And we'll be emailing that link out. And you know, just thank you all so much. Hope to see you all here again soon. And take care.
Patricia Enright 56:00
Thank you, you.
Shane Driggers 56:01
Veracelle Vega 56:01
Thanks so much.