MINDI: Welcome. Welcome. Welcome. Welcome. We're so thrilled to have you all joining us today for this conversation, The Retention Revolution with Erica Keswin. We're gonna let just a few more people join and then we'll go ahead and get started with introductions and introduce a little bit about how we're going to discuss this really important topic today. So I'd like to invite everyone to send in your questions in chat and to participate as you'd like to make sure that you're getting the most value out of the time that you're spending with us today.
ERICA: Mindi, I like you in green. Such a nice jacket.
MINDI: Oh, thank you. I was thinking the same about you in pink. I have to wear bright colors in this summertime, I think.
Where are you, Erica? Let's talk a little bit about where we're coming from today.
ERICA: Well, hopefully, so I'm trying to hide away. I'm in my home office in New York City.
I was gonna go into my real office, but I ended up not. And, you know, just like being in New York City, probably very you know, very different from Salt Lake. There's just constant construction and sirens today.
MINDI: Well, that means that there's life in the city. Right? It's good. Yes.
ERICA: There there is life in the city.
But I was saying right before this is, hot off the press. This is really, like, one of my first first-- I've taped a bunch of podcasts for the book, but this really, I'm gonna look to this as my official kickoff and I'm so excited. I can't wait to-- especially an audience like this who gets it.
You know, we're not making the case that this stuff is important, so I'm so excited, A) to be here and B) to just hear what people think and their questions.
MINDI: Well, I probably need to warn our audience that anytime Erica and I have had the pleasure of getting together before, It's a little bit less like an interview and a lot more like passionate professionals getting really excited to talk about their favorite things.
So, I'm so happy that we have just more of our tribe here with us today to do that. But, I know when you and I get going, we don't do very well at sticking to a script or an outline. So maybe we just ought to get started.
As I've mentioned, Erica and I have just a little bit of history together, and I'm thrilled that for this latest book of hers, you all know her from "Bring Your Human to Work" and when we were just kind of beginning that conversation about what does that mean to show up with authenticity in the workplace. You help shape and help us understand that whole conversation and that whole need, Erica. And then your next book about rituals in the workplace. I actually love that word that you chose to use because we talk about meetings or gatherings, but there really is a cadence to culture within a well-established organization. And we know that because in our families, in our friend circles, in our, you know, our most intimate relationships, there's a ritual, a cadence to the events that matter most in our lives that we come to look forward and expect and enjoy, and it marks the season of our lives. And so when you talk about being in relationships at work, of course there's rituals that accompany that.
So I just thought that was such a, you know, when you read truth and you think, she just put some words to that. That felt really good.
So tell me a little bit now. You've kind of taken us on this journey for, show up authentically,
add some rituals that help people count on things and create some consistency and connection.
And now we're in this moment where retention and how we relate to each other on a long term basis. Like, we've decided we're in a long term relationship, really. Right? What are the things that matter most then? Tell me a little bit about why you chose this topic because I happen to know that you did not set out to be a serial author.
ERICA: No. No. I did not.
But I thought, you know what? I have three kids and now three books. So, you know, we'll see where we go from here. So I think the through line between all of my books and my work, you know, when when I wrote "Bring Your Human to Work" and people said, well, what does it mean to bring your human to work?
And it's really funny, and I even mentioned this in my new book, people thought back in 2018 that I was talking about my dog, who, by the way, is in the next room with one of those sad cones on his head, but, around his neck. But, you know, bring your human to work.
You know, what what does that even mean? And between that book, the ritual's book, and the retention revolution, the through line is all about honoring relationships, and it's honoring relationships with your colleagues, honoring relationships with your boss, with your direct reports, with your peers, with your clients and your customers. You know, I'm sure there are people joining today that are clients. I mean, this is a way that you're honoring relationships.
So that is the through line. And the second piece of that is connection.
And as we all know over the last three-plus years, connection has been harder, in a variety of ways. And so this book, the subtitle is, you know, I had it right here, seven surprising and very human ways to keep employees connected to your company. And when I came up with the title, the Retention Revolution, I said to myself, can I really call this a revolution? I mean, is this really revolutionary?
Each chapter starts with what I call an old idea and a new beginning. But the big idea is that, you know, the nature of work has changed and again, some of this is preaching to the choir here. But in many companies, we have five generations of people working under one roof. People aren't staying in one job forever, let alone five years, three years, you know, or even two years necessarily, that employees now think of their jobs, their careers as more of a portfolio.
And so we need to shift our thinking. However, the book is about if you are really intentional about how you onboard and start as you mean to go on, which is the name of the first chapter, and really intentional about how you off-board And, oh, here we go. These are the seven things.
Really intentional about how you off board and figure out ways to have people stay connected.
Work becomes much more of a virtuous cycle. And so that's sort of the big idea of the book. And all of these different chapters that you so graciously put up on the screen, these are all different ways. These are they're all very actionable ways for us as leaders in in the human space to help keep our employees connected, whether they're working with us, or maybe they've gone on to do other things.
MINDI: I'm gonna just cut to us just chatting about this a little bit, Erica. But I appreciate that overview and kind of really understanding, like, the thought process of ow how you've structured this because I think we're all in this moment of reframing what retention means in our organization. Like, what does this successful career look like? It used to be, how do we take employees through this life cycle and make them want to stay for fifty years?
And that was success. Right? Watching somebody start at your company and retire from your company. And I think, obviously, that that has changed a little bit over the years, but in no time in my career, at least, more radically, did I have to reframe what a successful employee experience looks like when it comes to retention.
So can you talk a little bit about how you're seeing organizations, either struggle or come to grips with that in healthy ways?
ERICA: Yes. A hundred percent. One of, you know, I always say I love all my children and all my chapters equally, but there are some favorites.
You know, one of the chapters is called from ladders to lily pads. And ironically, I mean, this wasn't a planned thing, but it is one of the chapters where, Mindi, you yourself are in it.
And this is a big shift in our thinking that we need to help people in our organizations develop. I describe it as up, down, and sideways. And sideways could even mean that you develop someone out the door. And then maybe they come back.
And that's a huge shift in thinking for many managers who say, I'm not gonna, you know, I wanna keep my best athlete, my best employee for me. Well, in today's day and age, if you do that, if you don't create an internal ecosystem of talent within your organization or department, they're gonna leave the company altogether. And so one of the things that's most closely correlated with retention is personal and professional development. So, you know, I could go into others, but that's a that's a really big and important one.
And I do think if there's a place to start your thinking about doing your own self assessment, How am I doing? That's a really important place to start.
MINDI: I love that. I think one of the things that, we try and do, and I think it depends on what the strengths of your organization are. If you're, you know, very niche and you have one kind of job and that's a different picture that you're trying to paint of opportunity in your organization.
But where we have, I like to call it a lot of different kinds of smart in the building, and you might be at a point in your career where you have a hunch that you wanna pursue a certain career path, but you are not absolute in it. Find an organization with a purpose you believe in. That's what we invite. And then get in, add value and start to look around.
Right? Because if the value that you're adding in your current position is gonna parlay additional opportunities for you. And if that's something that you can offer, I hear candidates saying, how will you grow me? And it's an answer that recruiters need to have.
ERICA: And that's a big shift. And people will say to me, well, What about when we're having layoffs and are people still gonna ask that question? Yes.
These new generations are gonna ask the question. And even though some companies have laid people off, I think the recent statistic, there's still probably two to three job openings for everybody looking for a job. And you still, you always wanna retain your best talent, and there's always a war for best talent.
And what I love about, you know, a lot of the messages in the book is that my hope is that I give very actionable tangible ideas for leaders and managers, you know, you're managing one person, you're managing two people of ways that you can think about doing this. Because someone might say, well, it's not up to me, you know, if there aren't a million rungs in the ladder and I can't promote people. Or I don't have a budget to this, that, and the other. I just heard an amazing example that brings this to life fairly recently, which was a manager got her, you know, five or six people in the room and said that exact thing.
Look, you know, I have no control over some of these macroeconomic forces, you know, I'm happy to try to give you exposure to different things in the organization, but what she asked them to do was, she said go find job descriptions, either internal job descriptions or external job descriptions, and pick descriptions of a job that you would love to see yourself in in three or five years. Then let's sit down and have a one on one and look at it. And let's look at the gaps. You know, what are some of the skills that you're missing today that would help you get that job, whether it's here or somewhere else, and what I do have control over as a manager is that I can help you gain those skills.
And I just loved that because, you know, it's left to our own devices, you know, excusing the cheesy pun. Like, this may not happen. But we, all of us on this call are in the people space that we need to be intentional to make some of this stuff happen.
MINDI: Well, and how seen does her team feel?
Right? You see me as a human, not just for the need that I can fill right now in this team, but as somebody that is going to continue to add value in the future. Right? Yeah.
I love that.
The other thing that I think is so interesting about that, and I do think that, you know, sometimes you are, both blessed and burdened by longevity in an organization. That's been the case for us for many, many years at O.C. Tanner. We tend to collect people and keep them for a long time, which is fantastic.
But we have two reasons to grow people then. Right? One, because if they're going to stay, as we evolve as an organization, you have to continue to add that value. But two, they need to stay engaged in interested. They need to know that we still, you know, want a vibrant life for them here, not something that we're gonna set and forget.
And I think that your organization can't grow if your people aren't growing, and they need to have that direction.
So interesting too. And I would love your, you know, your thoughts on this. I don't know right now, and I think in the HR space, this is so relevant. I can't even predict the jobs that we're gonna be hiring for in three to five years. How do you deal with that kind of uncertainty when somebody wants a career trajectory?
ERICA: Yeah. Well, I think it's addressing that elephant in the room. You know, we don't know that.
But one of the things that, I mean, I think that we do know or I feel pretty strongly about, you know, as someone said to me the other night at a dinner, are you worried that AI is gonna take over every job? And I'm actually not. AI is gonna take over certain aspects of many jobs, but what's gonna be left are these human skills, are these, quote, unquote, softer skills. So there will always be ways for people to grow and develop. And so, again, it goes back to sort of that conversation with that woman that had the one on one. It's saying, let's look across, let's look at some of the technical skills that we can give you this opportunity to get. And then let's look at some of these life skills, these human skills that we know will transcend any role.
MINDI: You know, every year O.C. Tanner does a global culture report. We go out to forty thousand research participants, thirty something countries. We wanna make sure that we've got a global view on the pulse of the workplace. And some of the frustrations over the past couple years have been, I don't know how to progress people fast enough. The appetite for growth feels insatiable. And in my organization, we don't have pathways that move that quickly. And one of the findings that we had is that people tend to stay really engaged, and organizational needs are met, when people are given the opportunity for special projects.
And so it's kind of like a, you know, a job opportunity within a career that that is already established. And one of the side benefits to the business is not only to get, you know, that energy onto special projects, give people this growth opportunity, help them see some diversity and growth in their own careers, but we're identifying new skills at that point too.
And then people say, well, what's the next thing? You know, or I can bring the skills that I learned from that cohort that worked on that special project back to my regular job. So what would you say then, if longevity is no longer the goal of retention, what is the revolution, the outcome that is being redefined within the revolution?
ERICA: Well, what's interesting is we might get longevity from some people we might get six more months, a year, an extra two years. If you have someone that they are up to speed and kicking butt and really adding value, and because of these things that you're doing, they end up staying for that extra year, that is a real, you know, impact in a positive way to your bottom line. So the revolution, the reframe in thinking is that you're not doing these things with an eye or an ear toward, you know, I'm gonna give them golden handcuffs and chain them to the desk. You know, the idea is that we know that people wanna develop.
We know that people, you know, don't wanna sit in a thousand meetings. We know people want some type of flexibility and autonomy. This goes back to these are sort of these these seven things in the book. We know that they want, there's a chapter called the human professional.
They know that, you know, people wanna be treated with a certain amount of humanity and respect. But the reframe is that, okay, I'm not gonna do these five things and, you know, or even professional development. If we give you x kinds of classes or pay for you to go to school, then you're gonna stay for three years. Like, all of that is sort of off the table, but my belief, and I'm already seeing it to be true that if you focus on doing these seven things, onboarding in a way that's really intentional, that's letting that lets people know your values from day one. If learning is important to you, make sure you talk about that as part of your onboarding.
You know, the professional development we talked about, you know, talking about how people checking in with your leaders, elevating and celebrating your managers because the managers are on the front line of dealing with all this stuff. So the idea is if you do many of the things in this book, chances are you will get people to stay longer. Retention's not necessarily a bad thing, and then unless you truly just can't get rid of anybody. And then there's some people that are bad performers, which there's always a way to shift those people onto other things, but it's a shift in mindset, that your employees in many ways are your customers, and this is a two way street. I mean, you said it perfectly with your example.
MINDI: I love that you talk about employees as customers because I do think that sometimes on both sides of that equation, we forget that there's a value exchange that's expected.
Right? So as an employer, I think that the stance has been over the last couple of years: and here's more, and here's more, and what else do you want?
And here's more. Right? Because we were having trouble with keeping people in seats. And I've seen that you know, let's just make sure that we have somebody who can do at least some aspects of this job.
And I feel the after-effects of that a little bit within organizations right now, people are going, oh my goodness. Okay. We may have hired this person with aspirations to reach the level that we thought we were hiring them into. Now I need to grow them into the position.
I thought I was hiring them into. Or, I just wanna take a pause and be intentional about who we're bringing in the door. So you talked about onboarding. I love this concept.
That you speak of, you know, start as you mean to go on. Will you unpack that just a little bit? And what does intentional onboarding even look like?
ERICA: I know I'm kind of obsessed with onboarding. I gotta tell you. Especially as we've onboarded people during the pandemic and post-pandemic remotely. So the the phrase start as you mean to go on comes from a British psychologist named Penelope Leach. And she studied this concept as it related to the kids. And what it said was if you want your kids to be you know, tidy teenagers, you know, when they're one years old, you know, make sure that when they throw their cheerios on the floor that they pick them up, you know, and then they say, oh, did they make their beds? So as my youngest goes off to college, I'm like, I wish I knew about Penelope Leach back when my kids were little, so I could have started as I mean to go on because I'm quite frightened for my son's freshman roommate who he will meet next week.
That being said, as grown-ups and in organizations, we have this opportunity to start as you mean to go on. And that is in onboarding. But I would also say that I think onboarding starts or I know onboarding starts, there's pre onboarding where that time between Mindi, I'm hiring you. You are gonna join me in my organization. I could not be happier. See you in three weeks. What we're seeing now is that companies are getting ghosted.
You know, more in part time hourly workers, but they're just not showing up. And so the idea is the minute that you give someone an offer, how are you starting as you mean to go on? How are you letting them know who you are and what you stand for and that this is, again, cheesy, but that the words, that your values are not just words on a plaque, right, and you get them off the walls and into the halls. How do you bring them to to life? One really fun example which is almost even like pre pre pre onboarding, but I think it will crystallize the the point is, there's a company that has what they call offer celebrations.
So again, Mindi, you're coming to work for my company and you interview with six different people, and I'm so excited to get on a Zoom today and give you an offer. And the next thing I know you get on with me and I say surprise and there's five other people here. And each person says, oh, Mindi, I'm so excited. I want you to work on my project with me because when I interviewed you, you said this. Oh, Mindi, this is what I'm so excited about. And again, this person hasn't even accepted the job yet, but it's so closely aligned to what this company cares about and what their values are. First of all, their yield on their offers on their acceptance rates are through the roof, you know, eighty something percent. And if they don't take the job for whatever reason, they're still telling ten of their friends how cool and amazing this was.
So a couple more key things because I swear I could talk for two hours just on onboarding. Onboarding, you know, the first day, critical, you know, you only get that one chance to make a first impression, which I think should be for the first day, but there's something called the ninety day rule. You know, you wanna make sure that you are having regular regular touch points at, you know, the first day, the first week, the first month, really up to that ninety day mark. And as beyond as long as you can do it. If you onboard in cohorts, think about ways to have reunions, you know, with the cohorts. One more little example because I just love it.
The company HUMU does something where after two weeks they have a two week onboarding graduation.
And what they do is, you know, if Mindi, if you come to work with me and I'm your manager, I go around before--this is on an all hands--The whole company shows up to Mindi and a couple of the other people's graduation, you know, onboarding graduation.
I then go around and I interview the six people that work for you, and I get quotes on what a great job you've done. And the graduation highlights what you've accomplished in those first two weeks. And the other piece of it is the person will have had a one on one with the CEO who gives this person--This is one of the other one of my favorite things--Laszlo Bock, who used to be the the head of HR at Google and and then founded Hulu, he will say to people, Mindi, you know what? You're here for a reason.
Over these next two weeks, just get to know people. Do your work but you don't have to prove yourself. You've proven yourself, and it's giving this person permission. And all the things that I just mentioned don't have to cost anything.
Right? I mean, you know, so it's I don't know. I get goosebumps because some of these things can have I mean, you know, when you think about recognizing people and the impact that it has two weeks into someone's job.
MINDI: Recognition really is powerful and it is saying I see you and you were chosen for a specific reason. And guess what? You have a purpose here and we need you, and we're so grateful that you've chosen us. I have to give a shout out to our recruiting leader who started the practice of sharing the comments, the hiring comments from the hiring leader in the onboarding in front of everyone else. It's very similar to the practice.
ERICA: I love that.
MINDI: I mean, just to be there and witness people kinda lean into that, and I can do that. And, that they saw that in me.
You know, you'd kind of know what you hope people think or you hope you know why you were chosen, but to have it crystalized like that and then shared publicly, that's invaluable. And it may be somebody's first experience with it.
ERICA: Yep. Yep. And then the last piece I'll say is this whole idea of re-onboarding.
And, you know, I talk about, you know, HUMU is a small company. I try to make sure I'm, you know, I talk about big companies, small companies, in the book, but Microsoft is crazy. They onboarded sixty thousand people during the pandemic and ended up having this whole process of re-onboarding everybody back to the Microsoft values. And so when again, you're not doing it to, like, tie people to the company and let them not leave, but just this idea of re-onboarding and remembering why, like, reminding people. This is what we do. This is why we do what we do.
You know, regardless of what kind of company or industry, you know, sometimes in not-for-profits, you know, you work for a hospital. Yes. You know you're saving lives.
But there's purpose in everyone's role, and this re-onboarding is really an opportunity to make that connection, you know, over and over.
MINDI: I love that. It Is exactly aligned with some research out of the O.C. Tanner Institute that talks about the difference between the way organizations think about a career with very discreet, I've onboarded you, now you're contributing and now you're growing and now you're mentoring and now you're, you know, off boarding.
Like, we have these buckets that we like to sort of assign people to moments in their career, but that's not the way our people see it at all. And when you think about your own experience, you don't think about what stage am I in? This must be what I'm feeling. Right?
It's really about these micro experiences that we have. The everyday touch points that reinforce your decision to be somewhere. And that's true in every relationship.
Right? If somebody doesn't say good morning to you at home, there's, like, the bells are going off. Red flags.
What's going on? Why are they upset? How can I...? Why would we expect people to not feel that way when they're ignored during the day at work? Or when they're not getting the response that they're used to?
Of course, our antenna is up in the same way. We're humans everywhere we go.
Yeah. I love that.
I would like to ask you about this too because I think one of the practices that you and I have discussed before was the obsession that sometimes organizations have over exit interviews and really kind of learning that Oh, this is the reason why they left. So if we just wholesale go fix that. We kind of, of course, that's a practice that we have, but we kind of questioned that a few years ago and said, Why don't we ever ask people why they stay? Shouldn't we just be doing more of that? Is that a practice that you see more people adopting? And it's it's certainly been a healthy thing for us to say, you've been here for a year or you've been here for five years.
You know, do you think you're gonna stay longer? Why? What keeps you coming every day? How can we keep spinning the plates that matter to you?
ERICA: Yeah. I do see it a lot more. I think and even last year, Adam Grant had something that he posts, you know, that exit interviews are great, but they're too late. Too late.
Really just reframing this as part of whether it's your annual review or ideally you're doing reviews more than annually, you're having these quarterly check ins, or even through pulse surveys. And you're just figuring out how to take the pulse and and and get in saying, you know, what, you know, what do you love, what makes you stay? And then really starting to to lean into that.
But on the on the off boarding and on the exit piece.
And this is again sort of part of the revolution. There's a company that I interviewed for my first book, and then I re interviewed them for this book, which is in Chicago. It's called Jelly Vision. It's a small company, but I remember they have this real, and that's what's why I went back to them, they have this policy called the graceful leave policy.
And what they say, it's, you know, they say to their person, okay, Mindi. You know what? This is on your first day. During the onboarding. It was really, you know, you have unique skills. We're over the moon to have you.
And if and when you decide to leave, you know, and you probably will someday. It's gonna be very hard to replace you. So what we ask is if you if you're willing to, you know, tell us. Tell us, you know, why you might leave.
And if you give us notice and work with us so we can backfill and really make this seamless for us and for our customers, we'll open our Rolodex. We'll help you. It doesn't matter where you wanna go, which is why it's called the graceful leave. And I just thought it was such full circle example because they talk about the graceful leave during onboarding.
And so, you know, part of this is being willing and not scared to say, what makes you stay? You know, if you're scared to ask that question because, oh, my god. All of a sudden, if I ask Mindi this question, she might say, Oh, shoot. You know what?
I'm actually miserable. I wanna go somewhere else. You know, so that it's having sort of this confidence in who you are and your value proposition and that you're doing your best. You know, we all do things that we wish we could change, but that you're really trying to create a workplace that's good for people and good for your business and good for your clients and good for the world, then, yeah, be willing to sit and have those conversations.
MINDI: I think more than anything, the reaction for us has been people feeling honored to be invited to have, you know, that conversation. And it's a reinforcement point for us to be able to say, we love the work you're doing. You're adding so much value. How do we, you know, make sure that you're happy?
And who doesn't wanna have that conversation in any point in your life?
ERICA: I bet there's examples where if you were to ask someone, you know, what makes you stay? And I say, you know what? And I love this, and I love the people, and I really love this project.
I could imagine, you know, you would then say to me, Oh, well, what do you love about that project? Maybe you could do four of those projects and not do as many of these projects over here. You know, and that's what then leads to somebody staying longer. You weren't asking me to try to, Oh, I'm gonna get this person to stay.
You're asking because you really wanna know authentically, you know, what do they love? Because we know when people love what they're doing, they're more engaged and they're more productive. So that actually sort of got to, again, another great example of what this virtuous cycle looks like.
MINDI: Well, and the business can only benefit from those conversations too.
It's not I mean, it is a very caring conversation, but really you're discovering where's the desire? Where's the passion? Where's the talent? Where might I move them to to meet you know, the needs in both places? There's one exercise we went through as a team that I thought was particularly eye opening to me as a leader where we said Where do you spend your time? Just make a list for a week. Where do you spend your time?
Where do you wish you were spending your time? You know, and if you had an opportunity to work on anything, what would it be? And it was like, just keep that piece of paper on your desk for a week.
Right? And then we're gonna have one to one conversations with it. And the magic that happened was I got to see oh, you wanna stop doing that? Oh, that's good because they wanna start doing that. Switch.
Right? And it's amazing because you think you're at risk to say, oh, I can't have you stop doing that. But in every instance, there was somebody that said, I'd like to learn that. I'd like to mentor with that person.
And then if we can shuffle the work around to where everybody's doing the things that they love most, it's that's just magical.
ERICA: The key though, let me just say one more thing, is that, that's not gonna work if there's not a sense of psychological safety in an organization where people can say like, I might write it down, but then I am I really gonna be open and honest and share it with you?
And so what I would say to people listening, like, if you did that exercise and no one really showed any big gaps or was open and honest, it behooves you to really think about the culture and what might need to change.
The second thing I would say, and maybe we'll get into it before the Q&A is it also raises the importance of investing in, or the way I describe it in the book, elevating and celebrating your managers.
Because, you know, Mindi, you get it as a leader. I mean, you know, so in your team right. Every day. Yeah.
Right. I mean, again, not rock science, but it's hard and it's intentional to do this all the time. But for our average managers, if you want something like that great idea to work, I mean, I love that. I wish I had heard it earlier I would have put in the book.
We have to make sure your managers can support that. Yeah.
Which managers, as we know, are really overwhelmed right now. And I think it's a big, you know, making sure that our managers are celebrated and that they're trained. I mean, it's a it's a big issue in a lot of companies.
MINDI: So let's go there because I think you and I share this obsession with frontline leadership.
I one thousand percent believe it's where culture lives and dies.
I think we can make systems, policies, create rituals, corporate this, brand that. If your people are not feeling that lived experience with their most immediate leader, it's washed away over and over again. Tell me about your read on that.
ERICA: I could not agree more. It's funny. I was actually gonna see. I feel like I even have a, maybe I even have like a little quote in here from you on that.
We'll have to see if I can find. Yeah. You said...
MINDI: I love that you're quoting me to me.
ERICA: I did. I'm quoting you to you because it was so long ago. You probably don't remember. You said, you know, "an employee's experience with managers is their O.C. Tanner experience."
So clearly, I'll keep quoting you. "The leaders at O.C. Tanner very much understand this," and they build their entire culture around supporting managers.
"Everything we do ought to be in support of those leaders, those middle managers, those frontline leaders." This is my favorite part. "We can only scale the impact of culture through them."
MINDI: I think it's so true. And that was kind of the decision for our HR team because you think you wanna get to every employee every day. It doesn't scale. It doesn't. As hard as you try, as many team members as you put on your team. You cannot get to every person every day, but their leader can.
And so how do we pour into them? And even more so, you watch leaders sit up when you say, this is the kind of influence and impact you have the potential to make.
ERICA: Yeah. Right. And that's the elevating. That's the elevation of the role.
I say in the book, and it's so crazy that McKinsey just came out with this book called The Power To The Middle, which I actually really like. And it was almost like one of those weird moments where they had things in there that are in my book. And, you know, that typically, people don't necessarily think about that middle manager role as a destination.
It's always sort of on the way to something else.
But I think I write in the Retention Revolution, our managers are our MVPs, that that should be a destination because when you find people that are great at managing, you know, that is gold. You wanna hold onto that. But then a big piece of this is they need to have the time to actually manage.
And there's some crazy numbers, some percentage of their time, you know, they're spending doing administrative stuff. They're still doing their individual contributor work. So a big part is elevating the role in the way you were saying, but then also making sure that at least some part of their plate is cleared so they can manage.
MINDI: Yep. And actually being pretty overt about saying your job is to lead, get out of the details, empower the team, figure out what that looks like for you. Let's have conversations about why you're not getting to that work. Is it intimidating to you?
Is it too hard? Do you not have enough team members? But your team needs a leader, and we're really looking to you for that. Our research last year, again, global culture report, leaders at risk is the chapter if you haven't seen it. But this is the first time ever in the history of our research that we have seen leaders score worse on well-being and fulfillment scores than individual contributors.
And it's because we kind of forget that, you know, senior management saying get this done and individual contributors were telling their middle managers, this is what my life looks like. How do you expect me to help? And they were caught in the middle, and we have to help bring them back strong and and focused.
ERICA: And I'm actually not surprised by that because that's why I say they're the MVPs.
They are on the front lines of this retention revolution. So as companies, you know, as everybody's arguing and as the pendulum's swinging from return to office, work from home, you know, wherever we're gonna end up on this, it's these frontline managers that are having to implement, that are getting beaten up every day over over trying to implement what people don't want and then feeling pressure from both sides. So I am not surprised, which is why we need to support them. Give them the training.
Give them the recognition. You know, show them the love. And I was amazed when some of the, you know, I won't name companies, but, like, we all saw them in the news. They said they were like, we're laying off our middle managers.
We're gonna flatten our organizations and all around this cost cutting. I'm like, find a different way to cost cut, you know, do their cost cutting because you need these middle managers.
MINDI: Well, and it really is, I mean, cutting yourself off at the knees because it is where where your culture is going to live. So you open the door, and I think before we do Q&A, this is the magic million dollar billion dollar question of the day.
What's the combo? Is it fully remote? Is it always in the office? Is it hybrid?
Because we have clients asking us all the time. I want deep connection. Half my teams are here. Half my teams are there. So talk to me, what is the magic answer?
ERICA: Okay. So the magic answer is that there is no magic answer, you know, in terms of, I'm not gonna say, you know, you must be in two point three days a week.
But there's a lot of things to think about. Number one is designing days in the office that are worth the commute. You know, what you don't want is you don't want a bunch of people on your team commuting an hour and a half to get there and having nobody else from their team there. And doing the kind of work that they could and should be doing from home.
That leads to what I call the recipe for resentment. People are mad. So I would start with, you know, look at your business strategy and look at geographically where your people are. You know, I had someone say to me a couple months ago, you know, my CEO said we are back three days a week, but when we looked at where people were actually living, they hadn't done this analysis to find that thirty percent of their people were COVID migrants and had moved.
So if thirty percent of your people have moved, then the people that are commuting in are frustrated. Well, I have to go in, but Mindi doesn't because she moved. And then the people that moved are feeling disconnected. And so, you know, I would say don't blindly put something in without sort of fully thinking about where everybody is.
That's the first thing. The second thing is let's say you do that analysis and you find, you know what? You know, there are very few people that are nearby, or we're gonna create these hubs and opportunities for people to either do co-working, or we do have some regional offices.
Another trend that I'm seeing a lot of lately is we are gonna have, you know, four times a year, we get together for team week. One week a quarter or two weeks a year where everybody gets together for a full week. These are the dates, plan for it.
You know, always an exception or two, but people are really showing up. And what that does is, you know, the weeks, ideally, they're very curated, you're bonding, you're connecting, you're working, you're doing your one on ones. You're having, I mean, they're, you know, the list is very long, which people have questions we could talk more about it. But each strategy is it just needs to be intentional.
And lead with, this is important, you know, as a leader, when you're making one of these changes and the pendulum's swinging, you know, there's a lot of emotions, you know, around this question. So my advice is to lead with this is my recipe. The first ingredient in the recipe is lead with some vulnerability.
You know, so look, we haven't done this before. We're hoping this works. It may not work. This is hard for me too.
You know, I guess we're doing this team week in October, and I'm gonna have to miss such and such with my kids, you know, like a little bit of vulnerability. Number two empathy.
This is hard, back and forth, in and out of the office. You know, I get it. It is hard, but we're gonna try to figure this out together. And number three, really important is to approach this through the lens of experimentation. That just because we're saying we're doing this this October, for our next one in the spring, it might change.
And I think that invites people into this feeling of, you know what? We can co-create. This is not the top-down, this is the way it's always gonna be.
That all being said, you know, I wrote a book called Bring Your Human To Work. I do believe in the importance of bringing people together. And I think without it, there's a link to the surgeon general's most recent report of all the loneliness and isolation. We are humans, at least in 2023, and not robots, and we need to curate connection.
One last point on this. I feel like I'm obsessed with all my topics. The last point and this is a really cool part of the book, I interview all these different companies and they all call it something different, but they all have either hired someone or given the job of curating connection and made it a formal part of someone's job. So it could be Stellman standing at the front door, like welcoming people in, it could be designing, you know, bringing the bosses to where the people are in an offsite. I mean, there's a lot of ways that they're doing it, but they're not leaving it to chance.
MINDI: Well, and when you're intentional about something, you resource it, and you communicate it, and you practice it, and you experiment on it, and you iterate, and you share best practices. Right? So just even inviting that conversation, even if you're not gonna hire a person, but, you know, maybe there's a portion of a leadership meeting where you're focused on what are we going to do this quarter or this month to really connect? I think that mindfulness and intentionality is really everything.
ERICA: Yep. Yeah. Or what would happen? I mean, talk about it's so closely aligned and connected to I mean, it's about connection.
If you carry connection and people know each other, and remember, oh, my gosh. Like, I actually liked this person. I wanna come into the office, or I wanna be here. So, so important.
And, you know, as we are ending August and, like, you know, coming back and there's post Labor Day, I do think it's a really important time to, you know, I always feel like Labor Day for me is sometimes almost more of a new year than the new year. You know, maybe it's because with kids and going back to school, there's this new in many ways, it always feels like a new beginning.
And I think there are many leaders out there right now saying, okay, you know, we are back. And so as all of us in the people space, how that happens, is, you know, the what is important, but the how is really important.
MINDI: I love that. And I do think it's a season. You know, it's typically we're setting budgets. We're starting to set vision and goals for the upcoming year.
We have to get all the tools ready to be our best and, or the next version of our best in the year to come. So I think it's an awesome time just even as a business need to say what is our roadmap to being, you know, a little better, a little more, little next level of where we are currently and what does that mean to you? How can we co-create that? And I think that invitation to co-create is really the connection point that people are looking for.
Because it's not tell me what to do anymore, and I'll execute and come back for more. It's like, let me have a little autonomy. You know, let us find meaning in this work together. How can we make sure that we're both contributing to this purpose that that, you know, you're not the gatekeeper of the purpose and I just get to play once in a while.
But, you know, how do we make sure that we are delivering on our promise together? So, Erica, before we open it up for questions, do you wanna just take us one more time through your seven chapters?
ERICA: Yeah. Sure.
MINDI: Okay. I'm gonna throw them back up from the screen here if that's okay. Right here.
ERICA: And I will show you guys.
So each chapter, I'm gonna hold this up. So, again, the first is this idea of onboarding, start as you mean to go on, and I'll hold this up and then I'll read it. So each chapter starts with what I call old idea and a new beginning.
And so for this one, for onboarding, the old idea is onboarding is that thing you do before the real work begins. Right? Get the key to the bathroom, get your computer password. The new beginning is Onboarding sets the tone for what can hopefully be a long, possibly windy, but mutually beneficial relationship.
And so that's really how I'm framing the book. The second chapter is all about flexibility.
And with that I talk about, I have this acronym called, how do we ace flexibility?
We do that by thinking through autonomy. You know, how do we give people autonomy in their jobs? And in the book, I cover desk workers and desk less workers. So, acing flexibility is autonomy, connection and equity and thinking about all of those are really important.
The third one is about human professionalism.
And, it's what I talk about there, I love the fact that I'm actually flipping through this book. This is, this is the little icons. It says, There is no curtain.
You know, in the pandemic, you know, we saw everything going on behind everybody. And the old idea is human professionalism is an oxymoron, and the new beginning is professionalism is infused with authenticity.
And professionalism infused with authenticity is the hallmark of today's workplace. And there's a lot of really cool examples in that chapter about the importance of checking in, which we did really well in the pandemic.
You know, some managers and leaders and their net promoter scores, you know, were up during the pandemic because everybody was, not that we cared more, but we were pushed to be human. And so this chapter talks a lot about connecting with your people and asking them, you know, how are you really, really doing?
Which I think is a good reminder.
Meetings, Meetings need to have purpose. You need to be present physically, you know, and psychologically and, you know, and we need protocols. We need rules of the road with these meetings. I'm not anti meeting, but I think we all know we can have better meetings. The fifth one is, you know, developing people up down and sideways.
As we talked about, managers: elevating and celebrating managers. And then off boarding, you know, having an alumni association, making sure that people know that the door is open, and versus don't let the door hit you in the behind. And Mindi, I and there's a question in the chat, which I'll get to. But I feel like I heard you on a podcast, where you said, I think it was maybe in January. Something about how you know, there were people that had left that, you know, you were really sad to see go.
And I feel like I heard you say, you know, you reached out to them.
ERICA: We did. You know, one of the patterns that we saw is that they had jumped one or two times since they left us, which made us hurt for them. That whatever opportunity they left us for probably wasn't exactly what they thought they were leaving us for. And so we wondered, we wanted to let them know that bridge had been burned.
So we asked our recruiting team to just reach out and say, Hey, we've noticed that you've, you know, jumped a couple of times. We just want you to know that there's a place for you here. You know, is there anything that we could do, you know, to help with that experience? If you're interested in coming back, let's talk.
ERICA: Yeah. That's great.
Lana asks if there was one thing you'd suggest leaders focus on and really prioritize, would it be? Oh my gosh. That's a really hard question.
I think the growth, the how are people being developed is so closely tied to people quitting, that I would really do sort of this self assessment to how, like, are you talking to people about how they want to grow and develop? Because for many people, it's even more important than once they're making a certain amount of money, the money is for sure not keeping them there because they could probably go somewhere else and make more money. So I would pick five in conjunction with with onboarding because if you really take a close look at your onboarding, you could then talk about all of the rest of these things as part of your onboarding. So maybe that's a little cheating part of the answer.
But, again, when you think about because, again, there's also a lot of correlation between strong and intentional onboarding and whether or not people actually stay. And so this idea of start as you mean to go on, if you really give your managers training and expect certain things, let people know during the onboarding. So I'm gonna pick a combo of those two.
Jordan says, could you talk through some of your recommendations for re onboarding? Is time based? What are experiences you should curate?
I mean, look, there are companies that I highlight in the book that do do re on boarding every year. That it is part of this annual discussion. You know, Mindi, like you said, you know, why do you stay? You can ask elements of it, you know, in certain ways, you know, on a more on a more regular basis. You may not wanna every single you meet with the person why are you staying why are you staying, they might think you get paranoid.
But I do think thinking about this, you know, once a year, twice a year. I would also say an opportunity is when they're getting a new learning opportunity or if someone gets promoted. I mean, these are all times to really think about that future growth. And then saying to them, you know, we're giving you this opportunity, but what are other ways you wanna grow? And then that often leads you into this discussion of what keeps you here because they tend to be aligned.
MINDI: Love that advice. Love that advice. Erica tell us a little bit about this giveaway that you wanna host.
ERICA: Oh, yeah.
Okay. So I always love speaking on these. I came to and did one of these O.C. Tanner webinar during my rituals book. So I'm gonna do a couple things because everybody is just such a great group.
So there's my email. So two things.
If you follow me and follow Mindi, tag us on LinkedIn. Tell us something that you liked that, you know, resonated with you, from this. So we can really get a sense out there given that we're both in the people space. What is resonating? I'm gonna take five books and give them away.
So we'll get the feedback, and we'll pick a couple, and then we'll let you know, and then I'll reach out and get your address, and I'll send you a book. Comes out on September 26th. And then I put my email in there, because I have an electronic copy of bring your human to work. So if anybody wants one of those, email me, and I will send that to you.
So a couple different ways.
MINDI: And that is generous of you. And I will make a plug too because Erica is one of our special workshop facilitators at O.C. Tanner's Influence Greatness conference coming up September 12-14. So if you just can't get enough and need more and more and all of, you know, all the other experts we'll be surrounding that event, but we're so thrilled to have you in that mix, Erica.
ERICA: Well thank you. Yeah. With three minutes. Want me to try to answer this one last question.
MINDI: Yeah. Do it.
ERICA: Do you feel experienced hires should be, onboarded differently than than campus hires?
I think there's certain things where you could bring them where they could overlap and then certain, you know, certain things together, which again is a really fun and cool opportunity to sort of cross pollinate and give the campus hires an opportunity to see some of the advanced, you know, some of the more senior hires.
So it really depends on the structure of your company. I am a big, big fan of when it works cohort onboarding and really making that cohort a thing and a group and you take your group picture. And these are, you know, and I have really fun examples about it in the group, where someone says, yeah, this was my day one buddy, you know, my day one friend, those connections really make people, you know, because they cut across all of the functions. So you know, I could envision almost like a parallel process where there's, you know, the experienced hires, and then there's the campus really important to bond that group and then have something where they overlap, and really begin to learn from each other.
Again, if learning is a value, start as you mean to go on. That's a perfect way to have that value be alive literally from day one.
MINDI: I will say too, I mean, you can facilitate this on a larger scale too. That cohort, we call it the class of August 16th or whatever you wanna call it. You're in the class of, you will always notice each other.
But we bring every three months. We bring everybody that we've onboarded during that quarter together for a breakfast with the executive team. And it is a time where we allow them to introduce themselves again. We ask them to talk about the strangest or funniest thing that has happened to them in their first, you know, few weeks with us.
And we have a good giggle over the things that are quirky and the things that are amazing. And sometimes when people in tears that they've, you know, this is the place they've been looking for their whole career. So it's just it's such a great experience to have those people who are at a similar tenure be able to reinforce each other's decisions, to be with your organization.
So whether you do a cookie break or a breakfast or, you know, just an activity where you get those new hires together, I could not, say amen to that enough.
Before we leave today, I just wanna share, some of the HRCI and SHRM credentials that our, participants will need to get credit for attending and listening and having this conversation with us today. Erica, last chance, some words of wisdom.
ERICA: Start as you mean to go on.
I think, you know, we can all take that and take some of these learnings from today and say, what are some things that all of us can do really in our work lives and our home lives to honor relationships because that's what it all comes down to.
MINDI: It really does. Thank you so much.
Erica Keswin, grad her book, The Retention Revolution
ERICA: We'll see you in two weeks.
Come join us and come find me.
MINDI: Yeah. Take care. Have a great day, everyone.
ERICA: Bye, everybody.