Preventing the Great Resignation; How L&D Leaders are Minimizing Impact

Preventing the Great Resignation; How L&D Leaders are Minimizing Impact

Learning and Development Summit 2021

Millions of Americans are contemplating or planning a career change as we emerge from the pandemic. Learn what you can do to be proactive in identifying at-risk roles, creating new opportunities to drive engagement and retain talent and reduce negative impact to your bottom line.

Panel Content:

  • Shifting trends in getting work done
  • Impact of the gig economy
  • Strategies to engage employees with learning
  • Perspectives on impact L&D can have in retaining Talent

Moderated by:
Tom Kupetis, Managing Partner, St. Charles Consulting Group

Panelist:

  • Pamela Moore-Thompson, VP, Talent Strategies and Organizational Effectiveness, U.S. Cellular
  • Mike Van Lente, Head of Global Learning & Development, Whole Foods
  • Michelle Jordan, VP, AT&T Leader Lab, AT&T

Video Transcription:

Tom Kupetis:
Good afternoon, everybody. Happy Sunday. I don’t know if any of you are missing the NFL games, like I am, although I’m from Chicago and the bears play tonight. So that actually worked out very well. I don’t know. I don’t know how I feel yet, we’ll see. I know this isn’t, this isn’t ESPN around here to talk football, so. Cowboys, that was a heartbreaker Thursday. I thought they were going to pull it off. Anyway, I’m Tom Kupetis, managing partner at St. Charles consulting group were a consultancy focused on talent development and learning business. About 20 years, 530 plus consultants. I’ve got meetings with a number of you. So I look forward to talking more about what we do for our clients, but I’m more excited to get to the topic today. And before we do that, I will let Michelle and Mike introduce themselves and talk about their roles in at AT&T and Whole Foods.

Michelle Jordan:
Sure. So I’m Michelle Jordan with AT&T I have responsibility for talent and leadership development at AT&T, uh, I’ve been with, at AT&T now for about 15 years based here in Dallas, right across the street. How convenient? Um, and I’m looking forward to the conversation as well, with Tom and Mike.

Mike Van Lente:
Great. Hi everybody. I’m Mike Van Lente with Whole Foods Market. I lead our global learning and development team. I’ve been with Whole Foods for five years and I’m based out of Austin, Texas. And since we did talk football, I’m in a great mood because I’m from Portland, Oregon. Originally, I went to the University of Oregon. So I was pretty happy about the results yesterday. I hope nobody from Ohio state is here.

Tom Kupetis:
So our topic today is the great resignation which is one I find very interesting. And frankly, we didn’t see coming. And, um, just to kick it off, I wanted to share a couple of stats that I read recently that frankly took me by surprise. Um, the US labor statistics issued some numbers from April through July 11.5 million people voluntarily quit there jobs, that’s an astounding number, 11.5 million in that short of period of time. Another stat, Microsoft did a survey across the number of organizations and surveyed 30,000 employees and 41 and a half percent of the 30,000 people surveyed said they were seriously contemplating quitting their job. And if you isolate that data further and you look at just gen Z in there, which would be my children in that age group, that kind of coveted age group of the people that are going to be the future of the organization, long-term, that number jumps from 41 and a half percent to 54%.

Last piece of data I’ll tell you, is LinkedIn did a survey and found that 74% of the people during the pandemic while they were spending time at home, through the various stages of lockdown, contemplated a career change and leaving their current jobs. And in all of those numbers, you know, data always tells the story, but that creates a whole set of ramifications that we’re going to talk about today. But I think the most interesting thing is from what I’ve seen in the work that we do, this caught most organizations flat-footed because pandemic came, economically, a lot of stuff shut down and things tightened up. And in a recessionary period, I used to be in the business process, outsourcing space. We, uh, we would do very well in recessions cause people were laser-focused on how can we cut costs and where can they shore up things. Normally when things regress and tighten up employees, haven’t watched us and they don’t believe. And frankly, sometimes employers are just historically taken advantage of that. And this is the exact opposite that trend was turned 180 degrees. And so, um, we’ll talk a little bit today about what’s happening there. So my first question is really what trends are you both seeing? Not only in AT&T and Whole Foods, but in the market in general through the lens that you have.

 

What Trends are you seeing in the L&D Market?

Michelle Jordan:
Yeah. I’ll kick us off Mike. Um, I’ve seen similar stats. Um, I was really blown away by the US labor system statistic that you just mentioned, the 11 million resignations in just a three-month period is incredible, um, at, AT&T I’ll talk about AT&T for some of them, some of the trends that we’re seeing. So we have talent fluidity, what I call talent fluidity happening at AT&T. So we’re not exempt from that activity that’s happening at AT&T, but I’ll tell you what we’re seeing is, um, several trends, one people aren’t believing and jumping ship because of more money. That’s not, what’s getting their attention, or that’s not what’s causing them to respond to the outreach from a recruiter or for them to even go out looking. What we’re seeing is a re-prioritization of, um, of life, uh, of growth, of what people’s desires are, their passions are.

The pandemic, one of the things that it did was got many of us off of the hamster wheel. And so you had this extra time on your hand and really taking a step back. And I think if you double-click on that reprioritization and think about what even driving the reprioritization, some of its fear, right? Because as you called that out, um, Tom, traditionally there was we’re in this space of less, and everybody’s trying to figure out how to protect their, their turf, their space and preserve. But I think, um, the fear and having that space in that time really took people off of that hamster wheel and gave them some time to reprioritize. Um, the other thing that I, we’re, the other thing that we’re seeing at AT&T is, and I think many are seeing the same as it’s just the shift from the employer being in the driver’s seat or being the controller to the employee.

So we’re seeing that as well, and we are making efforts to respond to that. So those are just some of the some of the trends that we’re seeing at AT&T. Externally, what I’ve been seeing personally is this, um, this desire for some it’s spreads, the gamut, some are missing the in-person interaction. Um, I even had a dear friend say to me, I am leaving my company because they closed all of their offices and I don’t know that I can function. So she went out and saw opportunities elsewhere. Now she’s with a whole different company, but then you have some who are fearful of coming back to a face-to-face environment. So it spreads the gamut. It’s incredible. Some of the things that we’re seeing, but that’s just an example.

Tom Kupetis:
I have a friend who’s a CEO of a tech company and they put out an employee survey asking how many of you were wanting to continue to work from home versus coming to the office or hybrid and it’s 80 plus percent of people said they wanted to continue working from home. And it is commonly made to be able to somewhat skeptical and flip it. And he meant it, as he said, it’s like asking third-graders if they would like more recess. Right. And you know, that, that lens there just from the CEO is, is almost like there is a balance that people do have control and they have choices. And I think, I think the pandemic made a lot of people realized that life is precious and we only have so much time. So what, what do you want to do.

Mike Van Lente:
Maybe ill jump in, uh, from, from trends, I’ll share a little bit of some statistics that I was just seeing on Friday. Fortunately, um, our parent company, Amazon reliefs. I don’t know if anybody’s seen this, the Amazon upskilling study with Gallup and Amazon. So I just thought I’d share a couple of things there because I think it would be salient for our conversation today. And then I’ll talk a little bit about what we’re seeing there, but, uh, you know, similar to what we just talked about there, Gallup talked about 48% of the workers actively looking or open to looking right now. And that’s very recent data coming to Gallup, um, when they started talking about upskilling and surveying and kind of to try to get inside of what it, what is causing some of this is great resignation, 57% of people surveyed were extremely or very interested in upskilling, uh, with, with their board or an employer that they were gonna find, um, 63% of those answering that said that career advancement was the key reason that was driving that.

So we talked about the money that wasn’t, it, it was, it was really the career advancement piece as well. Um, and 65% said that you know, an employer, if an employer was offering that, that would help them either stay there or go to somebody else as well. So I think this is really recent data. It was in June of this year, that’s coming out. So I’d encourage everybody to take a look at that. That’s driving some things that we’re seeing. Um, but if I think about Whole Foods, then what we’re seeing as well, I’ll talk a little bit about the retail side of it. And then maybe a little bit about our global support, our region support offices. So no surprise being in the central grocery retail, we never shut down.

We stayed open and, um, and you know, really again, to serve a vital function, to bring food through, through the pandemic. What we’re seeing there is it’s been an incredibly hard year, a half plus for our frontline retail workers, both in our, especially in our leadership fronts, in our shores and our team members as well, just, you know, again, working through it, figuring out how we’re gonna, you know, work and stay open through this pandemic. So I think there’s a lot of fatigue that’s going on there as well. But then on top of that, that re-evaluation, that we’re talking about, like, do I want to do this, this, this why I want to do so I think we are seeing, again, a fluidity as Michelle talked about around people, deciding if, if that retail is, is what they want to do. Uh, so that’s where I’m very interested in and understanding and around, well, if, if upskilling and career advancement that has an absolute tap into what we do in learning development, what we all need together in this room. So, so that’s one key thing that we’re seeing.

The other one we think about is more of our regional support role support office, similar to what we talked about. I think the remote workpieces is some of the things both I’m seeing on my team and also within the feedback that we’re getting. So we survey as well. And of course, you know, I think we were seeing 75 plus percent of folks wanted some sort of ability to have at least a hybrid, remote, more flexibility. And I’m a lost candidly lost people on my team in the last six months that we’re receiving offers for a hundred percent remote work opportunities, mostly with tech companies. Uh, so that really starts to get us into understanding them, you know, what is our stance going to be? And people want to know when we come out of this thing, uh, are we going to be back in the office five days a week? Are we going to do something else that maybe later, I think we’re gonna, we’ll talk about it and I’ll share what we’re going to do. But I think that is definitely, we’re seeing that on people’s minds, um, at Whole Foods.

Tom Kupetis:
There will also be a lot of changes in the way that work gets done. What have you seen, any impact that’s been happening?

 

What is the impact you have seen from the changes in the way work gets done?

Mike Van Lente:
So if we’re talking about the way work gets done, I’ll start again at the, at the store level. So no surprise. There is a certain think about how, how, especially in retail working, we’re seeing more and more automation coming into roles. And as some of you might’ve seen the newsman announced last week is that we opened our first two walkout stores with Amazon technology. So obviously we’re adding more and more self-checkout, but the way we work is starting to change. And that can be a scary thing, especially as we’re thinking about our front-line workforce and how to give. And as we talked about in our press release from that, we’re really trying to shift how we interact with customers and how we spend our time, uh, and, and, and in higher-value things. So even when you think about walkout or self-checkout, we’re starting to put more, self-help take your own pizza, take your own cookies.

All of these different things, open up an ability then for us as specialty retail, to start to try to play our team members up into a more enriching experience for the customer in the time we spend with them. And, and I was really happy to hear that even in our new store opening trainings for our first store, that soft-launching in this, that the team members got, that they were excited to be able to spend more time interacting with customers. So I think that that’s, that’s a key thing that we’re seeing, of the way that work is changing. And, you know, when we fast forward and talk a little bit about how and how L&D comes in, and we think about those upskilling stats that I’ve talked about, I think that’s going to be a critical component to us, helping to make that transition to our team members. Um, yeah, so I think I’ll stop there, Michelle.

Michelle Jordan:
Yeah. We’re seeing some similar things and experimenting with some similar things. The one example that’s top of mind for me, is in the call center space up until the pandemic we never had our call center agents working in a work-from-home environment. And so we did that. We shifted to that, not all of the agents, but many of them did shift to a work-from-home environment. And so we’re learning a lot from that. And, and what we found in some cases in the business was greater and much stronger productivity. And so we were trying to get underneath those learnings and determine how we scale that. And I did see the announcement, the Whole Foods announcement over the weekend. I was really intrigued by what you guys are doing. I think the other thing that maybe we as, um, different, uh, we, we all play in different industries, but there’s absolutely learning that we can take from each other.

Um, in the retail space, we did more of getting outside of the store to engage with those customers who may not have been as comfortable coming into stores and things like that. So we’re, we’re exploring, um, we’re exploring all of that. I will tell you from a, um, a corporate or office environment, we are, we did launch the hybrid model, um, and you’ll see different teams taking advantage of it in different ways. Some, um, allowing their teams to have some flexibility, some remaining remote, uh, as well, and some frontline, obviously being in a face-to-face environment. So we’ve got different flavors of what the working environment looks like. Um, just recently established a mandate that’s coming down and I have some colleagues here in the audience, but in October, we’re mandating masks in the office. And so that obviously is going to cause some shifts, right. Um, for our office environments, but we are mandating, you’re taking that up in October, but, but we’ve got a mix of full-on remote, full-on face to face and hybrid. And so we’re learning along the way from all of that.

Tom Kupetis:
That’s between your gig economy and gig worker and people taking advantage of that as another complexity, I was thinking about that in the context of my daughter and Instacart over the summer, when she was home from college, that not only changes the labor force from a Whole Foods perspective. It also changes the customer profile in some ways, because the customer now in many cases isn’t even in the store.

Mike Van Lente:
Correct and equally important to us. But yeah, that’s an absolute factor for us with e-commerce delivery and between Amazon and Whole Foods. So we definitely see gig workers in, you know, coming in to help support that e-comm business. Whereas we also still have our traditional business as well. So it’s a, it’s a big shift in something we’re working on. And how do you, how do you get the right labor models and flex the flex to be able to do the right labor models for that kind of demand?

Michelle Jordan:
Yeah. I’ll tell you, Tom, we are, um, we’re in the throwns of making shifts and AT&T moving away from an environment where you had where our CEO, in some cases I use the term of shackling, but where you had policies and benefits set up such that people join your business. And they’re there for 30 plus years, um, after joining to one where it’s a more of a tour of duty model and embracing and recognizing that those tours are going to be a lot shorter. So how do you shift your policies and your benefits and your approaches such that you attract talent? We know, you know, already on the front end, that that tour of duty is going to be a lot shorter than it had been in the past, but you are attracting talent based on the type of work the type of experiences that you can afford those employees so that they can come and grow and know that it’s a shorter tour of duty. So, so we’re already starting to move in that direction as well.

Tom Kupetis:
And recognize that it’s going to happen and getting in front of it and be proactive about it. Well, the second half of the title, is how L&D leaders are minimizing their impact. So, what do you believe and what do we see, or what have you done that you think learning and development specifically can help address this from an increasing employee satisfaction and creating those opportunities so that people make the conscious choice to stay with your organizations.

 

How L&D leaders are minimizing their impact

Michelle Jordan:
Yeah, I’ll jump in. So AT&T years ago, we invested in hard skills development. Um, under our former CEO Randall Stevenson’s tutelage, we put a big stake in the ground to say we were going to invest in reskilling our employees so that they can, they can build the muscle to be prepared for the future. And now we’re layering on top of that, this evolution and this shift to soft skills and developing those soft skills as well, because, in order to win in this environment, you’ve got to demonstrate empathy, inclusion and work that muscle in a much stronger way, or even build muscle if you had never leveraged it before. And so now we find ourselves prioritizing soft skills and really doubling down and making sure that our supervisors and even individual contributors as they engage with their peers. And as they engage on these cross-functional projects, that they have those soft skills, because it’s about listening to our employees. Now offering them the flexibility really, really, understanding what their, their goals are, what they’re passionate about and not taking the cookie-cutter approach. So really getting underneath how we take a customizing more tailored approach and really understanding our employees. So it’s really for us moving towards not altogether away from hard skills, but moving more in a direction of building the muscle and the soft skills here as well.

Mike Van Lente:
I’ll share, maybe from our perspective, again, a little bit of context for you is Whole Foods Market has been famously decentralized for the first 40 years of the company’s history. But again, as competition and things evolved, we realized, and this was even before the Amazon acquisition that we needed to become more efficient and productive in certain areas. So even as my role, my team was new and I came in five years ago to create a unified learning and development strategy for the organization so that we could have our 11 regions using best in class programs and then really executing them well. So when we think about that and the trajectory we’re on, and we think about how learning and development can happen. When we think about the stats, I just talked about how important upskilling really is, and to see some of that actual data coming in that way, anecdotally, we all knew that was true, but it was so great to see some of this hard data coming in from the Gallup study that proved that.

So, um, some of the things we’re working on that I’m so happy with working on is that we’ll start working with leadership development with that, right? So we think about we’re creating a unified leadership development task of all of our key roles inside of shore leadership. So all the way from the associate, uh, score team leader, all the way up to the store team leader, who leads the store and the roles in between that. So we now have a unified career development programs for those roles to help identify talent that’s aspiring showing them the potential for that next level, to be able to get into that, but we had that before. It wasn’t that we didn’t have it, but we had 11 or 12 different ways. It wasn’t executed consistently, but now we can have the data to understand what is our edge, what is our need? And we can start to build that bench across the organization. We can market it much better and it can move talent between our regions much better. So it’s just starting to open up some great internal pathways for our team members who are aspiring. And we can also use that in our employment branding as well around attraction to say, look, you can come and grow with us. Our CEO and founder, John Mackey started in the store, right. Now we have better mechanisms that we can help to bring people through. So we think that’s going to be a big attraction and retention piece for us. The other thing about being in specialty retail, that that’s a lever that we’re trying to pull very quickly right now. Is when we think about specialty grocery for us. I mean, we, you know, our ability to start developing internally better development of butchers, of artisan bakers, of chefs, of sommeliers.

So we’re actually now really doubling down into internal apprenticeship programs to start to be able to attract and build that talent internally. So if leadership isn’t, maybe your thing, you can go on a path of specialty and become a chef. And so we think that that’s a powerful combination, but we’re happy that we had already been started on that. I really think that what’s happening now, it’s pouring fuel on that fire and leadership really seeing that. So I’m excited about expediting in some of those areas. And it’s some projects that are the most exciting of leadership that I’ve been talking to them, they’re saying some of these things like these apprentice programs are very, very exciting. So I think those are a couple of areas that we’re seeing.

Tom Kupetis:
And it sounds like similar to Michelle, you recognize that if someone has a passion getting into culinary arts and becoming a chef, they may not stay with Whole Foods, their entire career, but they’ll stay longer, have important job satisfaction and be more committed to you and the brand into the role until such time and opportunity to really go become a chef in a more meaningful way presents itself.

Mike Van Lente:
Part of our culture, we’re all about win-win. And so it gets to that piece of it as well. It’s a win-win, we can have that time together and they mutually benefit each other. And then, you know, yes, they may go on to grow and hopefully they’re brand advocates for life, customer for life, and champion.

Michelle Jordan:
Yeah, you’re spot on in talking about that win-win, and it’s so critical to helping the supervisors in the whole ecosystem of who were the people that employee engages with so that you can create that win-win, and you can have those effective conversations to understanding what their goals are, what they’re trying to achieve so that you can create those opportunities, those growth and exposure opportunities. There was one more thing that you touched on Mike around telling the story. That’s another area where we identify as, as an opportunity for us to tell the story because AT&T is known for placing big bets and investing in its people, and developing its people. Oftentimes we hear people coming for talent from AT&T because they know that they’ve been developed and they’ve been trained really well. But we, we haven’t told this story well from an attraction, a talent attraction standpoint. And so we are prioritizing that investment so we can do a better job of telling that story too.

Mike Van Lente:
and to that story as well. I think we’re doing the same thing. And I think Michelle, your employer value proposition when we were looking at that right now and just really doubling down and doing a lot more studies and making sure that that’s what it needs to be, but then we have to do a better job as well of getting that out there internally first, but also externally as well. So the EVP is something we’re, we’re rapidly working on to make sure that it’s what it needs to be right now. And we think there’s some opportunities for evolving that.

Tom Kupetis:
Yeah. You mentioned early on in this part of the dialogue about empathy in your role, that is the retail side. I worked with apple for a number of years in the retail side. And empathy was the single foundational core component that threaded through everything that they designed from a learning perspective when it related to the customer experience and it drove their net promoter score and it drove them to be the envy of retail. Was that laser focus on empathy. What’s interesting. We’ve seen with some of the client work we’ve done in the last 24 months or so is that its pandemic and pressures that people have felt and the various stressors that they’ve had in their life that lead you to be empathetic now matters as much to ever has because the frame of reference that people are showing up to that customer experience with. And I won’t get into it here, but I told Michelle, I moved my entire family from Verizon to AT&T a few months ago only because of a very poor promise made by Verizon that they didn’t keep, and the AT&T experience was incredibly positive and incredibly empathetic and it was both training and spirit.

Mike Van Lente:
One thing, maybe to jump onto the empathy piece, or, you know, I talked a little bit about our tracks of what we’re doing for our, our leadership and scores, working up. Another important thing that we’re working on that I think is just amazingly important right now in the times we’re in, is that we’re also working on a top-down strategy with leadership development as well. Um, many of you may have seen our CEO founder of conscious capitalism, written several books, conscious leadership is one that he’s just recently released. And so we think about building, not just leaders with hard skills, but conscious leaders, and of course, empathy and EQ is so important within that. And this understanding that we can’t be effective leaders if we ourselves are not working on ourselves first and then be able to be that empathetic leader. And what we’re finding is, especially during these times, it’s the hardest of times to lead-in.

And there’s so much going on that what you might’ve thought we were rolling out this, and we did not interrupt rolling out this leadership development. And there were so many people saying that I just can’t devote this time. You can’t do it, but we actually doubled down and kept doing it. We’ve got all the way from our A-team down working through this and what they found again, as, I mean, as you’re doing leadership development in times of crisis and stress, that was just in time learning for them. Uh, and you know, we’re also leveraging our leaders as teachers and coaches as well. So as our senior leaders are coming through this, they’re helping to be discussion layer leaders for the next level down. So I think that’s another really important piece of, of even in this time doubling down inside of that. And I think we’re really starting to see, as we all know that there’s more benefits than just the leadership development. We’re seeing organizational effectiveness benefits from that, but it couldn’t have come at a better time that it could have easily also stopped because it’s like, yes, there were many other things we could be working on, but I was really proud leadership devoted to keep doing that. And I think we’re seeing some tangible benefits from that right now.

Tom Kupetis:
My last question is where do you see the future from an L&D perspective given what we face in terms of the mindset of the employee and the opportunities that they’re presented with? Knowing you don’t have a crystal ball, what do you see the future holding?

 

In L&D, what do you see the future holding?

Michelle Jordan:
You know, I see it in two ways, one is really putting the employee in the driver’s seat versus this notion of outsourcing. I mean, we talked about that a little bit Tom, outsourcing their development to even their supervisor, but putting them in the driver’s seat, your supervisor will arrive with you and be there in the passenger seat. And then he goes to something that I talked about, mentor or sponsors should be there as well to support, but really putting the employee in the driver’s seat and equipping them with the tools so that they can navigate, they can articulate, they can help you help them. Oftentimes we find employees who want help, or they put the responsibility in someone else’s hands, and when they don’t see the outcomes and they’re expecting frustration surfaces, right. But if we put the employee in the driver’s seat and encourage them and set them up so they can do introspection so that they are crystal clear about what their aspirations and goals are and helps them drive.

Then the other thing, I don’t anticipate that moving out of this sort of mix flavors of a working environment. I believe we’ll be in this environment for some time, whether it be hybrid, whether it be full-on remote for some organizations, but I expect that we’ll be in this environment for some time. And so it was incumbent upon us to make sure that we’ve got the tools in place. We’ve got the leadership skills in place to ensure a scalable success, you know, as a business. So I suspect we’ll be in that environment for into the unforeseeable future. And then the last thing I’ll say is around, just really, really leveraging the data in a way that we never have so that you can as those employees are on their journeys, their learning journeys, you can make sure that you’re equipping them in just in time, as you mentioned, like in real-time, so that they can be successful. And also including that flexibility so they can be successful. But I think the data is going to be more and more important than it ever has been before to help ensure that they’re successful. But those are some of the areas that I’m thinking they’re not, they’re not necessarily cutting edge, you know, predictions, but, but I do think that there are things that are going to be with us.

Mike Van Lente:
Yeah, yeah. That resonates, I will say, only own your journey is, is something that we’re talking about some very similar years and even starting to market and brand that the, we have a joint responsibility for your development, but that, especially in an empowerment culture, you own your journey and we’re here to help you. And so we’re trying to open as many pathways as we can for our team members, but also encouraging them to the journey. So that resonates for us as well. Then I think the other thing I, I made it all talk about a little bit is I’m sure that all of us have seen of course. It’s been such a challenging time coming through the pandemic, or if there’s always silver linings and things that you can find within that. So what we’re trying to do is find some of those areas where maybe there are certain things we just couldn’t do before, because people set up leadership development, can’t be done.

If it’s not in a room together, it can’t be done well, we’ve shown that it can be or being in retail as well. How in retail do you start to move remote learning and learning on your own device from your home? Well, with the pandemic and social distancing, we and other retailers that have figured out a way to do that. So instead of just thinking about, well, as soon as the pandemic’s over, we’re going to shift back and go back to the way things work. We’re absolutely working towards now and say like, what is the hybrid? What is the best of both worlds that will afford and how it’s going to affect some of us is that we’ve already started as we were starting to move to the pandemic that we’re tapping the brakes a little bit when you think about our, our new member onboarding for our shores, but starting to codify the piece of the saying that we will do some learning from home, we’ll do some different things and we’ll keep that in place or leadership development.

I don’t think we see ourselves going backwards to say that we would only go back to in-person leadership development. We see so many positive aspects of having these live synchronous, uh, cross-regional cross-functional groups that never would have gotten together before. And so I don’t think we see ourselves going backwards on that, but now we have to figure out how do we also create this hybrid approach that works or in the hybrid might be also that you’ve got people in person, but you’ve got people remote located. So these are the kind of things that we’re thinking about, how do we, how do we double down and give the best of both worlds? And, and we, as Michelle mentioned this, we have also announced already where our hybrid future will go for, uh, for work within our office of workers. So your role allows, we had announced it, you know, once we get past the pandemic, people can start coming back.

Then when we get down into stage four, stage three, that will be three, three days in the office, two days remote. And, uh, up to one month, a year, you can be remote from a location as long again, as it’s worked for you and your job that you can be somewhere remote for up to about a month at a time. So, um, that’s helpful for us to start to understand that. And because of that environment, I know we’re going to have to be flexible, and we’re going to have to think about new ways of work, evolve ways of doing what we do.

Tom Kupetis:
All really interesting. I’ll tell you from our perspective, many clients we serve, unfortunately, there’s been a fundamental shift in the last 12 months away from competency models and competency frameworks. So skill-based frameworks that are rule-driven and that’s a big shift, but it creates an opportunity to then link the courseware you have, the modalities of content, whether it’s licensed or bespoke to those skills so that people can drive that personalized journey where they’re empowered and then supported by their supervisors. I think that’s probably about the time, someone from Opal can tell me if I’m right or wrong on that, but does anybody in the audience have a question?

 

Question from the Audience

Participant #1:
My question is that you brought up that, um, the taking the time and with the reduction in workforce, and we haven’t caught up with automation yet, so less people are having to do more work than they ever had to do, how do we skilled and upscale and do your leadership training when we’re understaffed and people are having to do more and more.

 

How do we skill, upskill and provide leadership training when understaffed?

Mike Van Lente:
Yeah, that’s a hard one. One of the things helped us is part of the leadership development is around attention management and that’s that, you know, even, even spending time to understand how, how are we spending our time? And if we’re truly honest, drawn-out our spending our time, are there ways that we can actually shift some of that so that we can be more proactive and work in different ways? So that’s, that’s one of the things that we’re doing. It’s not a perfect answer for it. Um, the other is, and I’ll just, I’ll just note that we’ve got, we’ve got to address this as a holistic problem, right? Because if you go in and if your staffing isn’t where it needs to be, uh, it throws everything off, right and thats whether you’re in the store or the team owned store, the store team, or our teams and support offices. And so we are really looking at that as well to say, how do we, how do we attract and then bring talent in? Because if you’ve got those holes, it’s just so hard. So I think in many cases, we are trying to find ways to, to get that staffing level where it needs to be, because if you don’t, it’s, it’s very challenging. But then to find that time, because there are the trade-offs will have to be there. And many times learning is the one that gets cut. So it’s something we’re focused on.

Michelle Jordan:
Yeah. And the only thing I’ll add to that, my guess is this prioritization as a culture of learning, continuous learning and the linkage to relevancy, as, you know, as a company and as an individual, oh, ill share right now this year. What I mean by right now is in 2021, we focus on our middle managers. We called it the year of our middle managers or general managers as we refer to them. And all of our learning and development programming from my organization was centered on really investing in our middle managers and making sure they were equipped and prepared for the future. And that’s the number one thing, or among the top five things that we heard, Laura I think it’s Laura, was not having enough time. And when we peel that back, what we found was that they were making the time to invest in their cohort, learn cohort-based learning.

They were making the time to invest in asynchronous learning on their own. They were reading information that we were providing, but nobody else in their ecosystem could appreciate what they were doing. So oftentimes for example, a cohort meeting was set on top of their supervisor’s staffing, um, or there was some big strategic planning thing that was sitting on top of another event. And so what we realize this year was that in order for us to be successful, we really all around the company have to make sure that learning is a priority and so much so that we’re even looking at, um, reintroducing this dedicated time to learning, or calling it a commitment or an expectation around, 20% just to make it up enough for 20% of your time should be committed to learning. And so that responsibility lies on the individual, but it also lies with your supervisor.

I keep saying this ecosystem of partners of stakeholders to ensure that when you’ve mapped your development plan, that others are aware of what that is, and they’re holding you accountable. They’re a part of that journey as well. So we’re exploring what that could look like. We don’t sort of things like no meeting Fridays so that you can, you can use some of that time to get caught up on your development. I know in my organization, we just, this week, you would think that it could go without saying, but we’ve really put a stake in the ground to say no more emailing after five o’clock take a step back and ask yourself an this email wait. Oftentimes at the end of the day, people are catching up on the day’s worth of emails. And if it gets past that time, just really ask yourself or pause between that five and seven o’clock window.

Now, obviously, everybody works in different time zones and different parts of the world, but we wanted to put a stake in the ground to start to put guard rails around, protecting, protecting the workday so that people. It’s setting us up for this allotment for development and continuous learning so that you can check out and create this environment where it’s okay. It’s okay for me to tell people that I’m taking the morning to do compliance training or I’m in this program and I’m taking the morning to dedicate to this. We’re experimenting with different things, but it takes the whole ecosystem. And we gathered a lot of learning this year from them that middle manager program around this notion of making time.

Mike Van Lente:
If I could just tag on to that and say, I mentioned the attention management and also the leadership top-down in the organizational effectiveness. So inside of that, we’re doing tactical things like that as well, creating time blocks and focused climbs and different things in the advantage. Again, when you are rolling that down top-down is that our leaders understand that and they’re supportive of it. So we’re educating the environment and I can talk to my leader when I say that’s one of my focus blocks, they’ll respect that vice versa. They can say that as well. So it’s a work in progress. It’s not perfect. But as we start to do that, we’re creating kind of this, this cultural norm inside of that, that this is acceptable. And it’s actually quite important that we do that as well. Another thing that happened is that, you know, just the craziness of going from meeting to meeting on a 30 or 60 minute cycle. And so we went to a 50 minute and a 20 minute, and that was the result of this as well, where senior leadership said, now let’s start to put some mechanisms and things in place to also make it possible that we can at least have some recalibration timing before we, before we go in. Right. So it, it’s not perfect. It’s hard, but you know, but when you’re staffing, when you’re underwater, then those things start to fall. So that’s, that’s, it’s key that we’re trying to work it for both ways.

Tom Kupetis:
Probably on everybody’s mind, unfortunately, we are out of time. I’m sure you could talk for several more minutes, or hours but I want to thank both of you, Michelle and Mike, for taking the time to engage in some very thoughtful conversations.

Have questions?

If you have any additional questions or concerns on the topics you heard or would like to follow up with a discussion, please reach out to Tom Kupetis.