TalentX - The Talent Experience Podcast

Ep. 10 - Kevin Wheeler

August 27, 2020 Fuel50 / Kevin Wheeler Season 1 Episode 10
TalentX - The Talent Experience Podcast
Ep. 10 - Kevin Wheeler
Chapters
TalentX - The Talent Experience Podcast
Ep. 10 - Kevin Wheeler
Aug 27, 2020 Season 1 Episode 10
Fuel50 / Kevin Wheeler

In our tenth episode of the TalentX Podcast you’ll hear what Kevin Wheeler, founder of the Future of Talent Institute, means by the ‘Paperclip World’ we are living in. There’s no doubt this has been an era of incredible and sudden change and, like Kevin says, recruiters need to get comfortable with ambiguity in order to respond to the chaos out there. He details the changes for recruiting as we move ahead and reveals the leadership skills that recruiters need to get much better at for the future.

Kevin started Future of Talent Institute out of his passionate belief that organizations need a more powerful and thoughtful architecture for talent than they have. After a 25 year career in corporate America Kevin has firsthand knowledge of the need for better strategies and approaches to finding, developing and retaining people. Connect with him on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/kwheeler/ or visit https://futureoftalent.org or @FutureOfTalent on Twitter.

For more insightful conversations, visit www.talentxpodcast.com. We hope you enjoy this episode of the TalentX podcast!

Show Notes Transcript

In our tenth episode of the TalentX Podcast you’ll hear what Kevin Wheeler, founder of the Future of Talent Institute, means by the ‘Paperclip World’ we are living in. There’s no doubt this has been an era of incredible and sudden change and, like Kevin says, recruiters need to get comfortable with ambiguity in order to respond to the chaos out there. He details the changes for recruiting as we move ahead and reveals the leadership skills that recruiters need to get much better at for the future.

Kevin started Future of Talent Institute out of his passionate belief that organizations need a more powerful and thoughtful architecture for talent than they have. After a 25 year career in corporate America Kevin has firsthand knowledge of the need for better strategies and approaches to finding, developing and retaining people. Connect with him on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/kwheeler/ or visit https://futureoftalent.org or @FutureOfTalent on Twitter.

For more insightful conversations, visit www.talentxpodcast.com. We hope you enjoy this episode of the TalentX podcast!

John Hollon: 
[00:00:25] Hello, I'm John Hollon and welcome to TalentX, the Talent Experience Podcast. Today's guest is Kevin Wheeler, Kevin is the founder, and chairman of the Future of Talent Institute. He works all over the globe and is a well known futurist, author, speaker and consultant in human resources, recruitment and staffing, talent development and corporate education.

[00:00:50] Kevin writes frequently on recruiting and staffing and his book, The Corporate University Workbook: Launching the 21st Century Learning Organization, is a widely used guide. And I should add it's available on Amazon, which is always, always a good thing. Thanks, Kevin. We appreciate you joining us. How are you doing?

Kevin Wheeler: 
[00:01:11] I'm doing very well. Great to be here and thanks for inviting me. 

John Hollon: 
[00:01:15] Great. We have a lot to talk about, so let me, let me start with this. You're the founder of the Future of Talent Institute and at the top of the Institute website it says envisioning the workforce of 2025 and I was struck by that because it makes you a person that I know a lot of people want to hear from because organizations everywhere are trying to get a fix on what the workforce is going to look like moving ahead. 

[00:01:42] Everybody seems to be stressing out about that. So what changes and trends are you seeing today and how will things change as we move past the current crisis that we're in. 

Kevin Wheeler: 
[00:01:54] Well, John, as we all know, this has been an era of incredible and sudden change. Nobody thought in January that we would be here today. Not the slightest clue. I kind of call this a paperclip change time. And by that, I mean, when you bend a paperclip, it stays bent and no matter how much you try to put it back the way it was, it'll never look like it did before you bent it. 

[00:02:23] That's an era that we're in now, we're in a time of change that's permanent where something that seemed pretty small at the time has ended up leading to incredibly deep changes. So we know millions of jobs have been lost and many of those are not going to come back. If they do come back, they're going to look a lot different than they did. 

[00:02:46] We have amazingly, almost everywhere in the world, learned to work remotely and this was something that prior to the pandemic, about 5% of the world's population was able to work remotely. Now it's more like 50% that's working remotely. It's an incredible, massive change in how people are working and the benefits of that we've seen are in the environmental changes and the political changes around traffic and so forth. 

[00:03:18] These are massive changes. We've reduced pollution, we've reduced traffic congestion. If we go back to non remote work, we're going to be right back where we were before. I was just looking today on the television where the air quality in cities is four to five times better than it was three months ago, simply because of the fact that we're not traveling to work anymore, not driving cars. 

[00:03:45] Business travel is going to go way down I think, I predict it won't come back for at least two years. Even then it's probably going to be 50 or 60% of what it is today and the reason for that is remote working and I believe the growth that we will see in virtual reality, which will make it much more real to not be physically in a place and still feel like you're there.

[00:04:10] I think we're going to see office space emptied out tremendously. I think the big challenge is what are we going to do or what are organization's going to do with all this extra space that they're not going to need anymore. And that's going to have big implications for the tax base within cities and for all the small businesses that support these big employers like restaurants and so forth. 

[00:04:35] Big, big changes coming to the way cities look; already, we're seeing people moving back out into small towns and villages. For two reasons, one is they want to get away from the city, the congestion, and they can work remotely so they can do that. And the second thing is it's safer from a health perspective to be in a place with less congestion, less people. So we're going to see huge amounts of automation and AI taking over, just for no other reason than to reduce sickness and the healthcare costs that companies might incur if they bring employees back. If they replace them with automation and robots, they'll reduce those risks and they'll raise their profitability machines over time. And robots over time are much less expensive than people.

John Hollon: 
[00:05:26] So Kevin, do you think that the remote work percentage and I agree with you that I've seen everywhere people saying something in the neighborhood of half the workforce, 50% of the workers are now working remotely. Do you think when things stabilize, I hate to use the word go back to normal because I doubt we're ever going to get back to the normal of January, 2020. But once things stabilize and the crises start to ebb a little bit, do you think that that percentage will stay around for 50? Or do you think that there will actually be some people who are working at home now who will have to come back for whatever reason? 

Kevin Wheeler: 
[00:06:08] Yeah, I think it's going to stay very high. I'm not going to predict a percentage per se, but I think it's going to stay extremely high. And the reason I say that is that particularly people with families find working at home better, that you don't have to pay for childcare. You don't have to worry about the things that, for women in particular, that inhibited their careers. Those things kind of go away when you have remote work and when everybody does it and it's the norm. 

[00:06:35] So I think there's going to be a lot of resistance amongst people to go back to work and I think organizations are going to be reluctant to bring people back because of the fear of more infections and more cost in terms of healthcare. So it's kind of a two way street. I think organizations have already seen productivity is either the same or better with a remote workforce. So I don't see any benefit really to bring people back other than for the innovation and creativity and socialization. 

[00:07:07] I think we'll have a hybrid model where people do go back to work, some of the time, maybe one day a week. Maybe a few days a month, I go back to work, maybe there's meetings that are organized, where they come in for a short period of time. But I think that 80% of your working time is going to be spent at home and a smaller percentage in the office. I think we'll find in-between places like coworking spaces and other places where we can hang out and socialize and have that social connectedness that human beings need to have, but we don't need to necessarily to have it in the office. So I think it's here to stay. 

John Hollon: 
[00:07:46] Well, you touched on the one thing that I found as the biggest thing I missed. I've been working remotely from home for about 10 years now and the thing that I miss the most is the things that happen in the office. Yeah it's comradery, but it's also, somebody pops their head into your office or your cube to ask a question about something and you start talking and boom, some problem you've been struggling with. The answer comes out of the mist and you wouldn't have come up with that solution, at least not at that point in time, if that person hadn't come on by. I think that's the one thing you lose that you simply cannot replicate on Zoom or on those kinds of things. You could try and maybe some do, but I never found that I could. So that's great that you think that there's going to be some opportunities for people to get together and to get involved in some of those things.

Kevin Wheeler: 
[00:08:44] I definitely think the hybrid will be there. I think we're going to see a big improvement in the tools that we use, like Zoom and so forth. I mean, Zoom is an incredibly useful tool. It's been a lifesaver for almost everybody during this pandemic. But imagine if you could combine this with virtual reality, which is already being accelerated because of this Coronavirus. If you had much more realistic and higher bandwidth internet, which we're going to get. We're getting it even on our phones with 5G networks.

[00:09:16] So we're on the edge of massive changes in just technology that's going to make working from home more real, better, and more of a social experience. But we still get together and I think we will still have those opportunities to go into the office and do things. 

John Hollon: 
[00:09:32] Kevin, how do you see recruiting changing as we move ahead? What are smart or thoughtful companies doing today to impact who they hire tomorrow?

Kevin Wheeler: 
[00:09:43] That's a whole lot of things. I think we're going to see a whole variety of changes in recruiting. And I just talked about this for the last couple of days at different events, I have been part of, I think number one, we're going to see a lot of recruiters not returning to the workplace, but being employed as contracted professionals. Or if you were an outsource service, like an RPO or an agency. I think what remains inside the companies for recruiting is going to be a smaller, maybe more sophisticated and certainly more strategic group of people that are focused on the acquisition of people or talent. 

[00:10:21] I think we're shifting our thinking away from thinking so much about hiring a person with a pedigree to fit a slot and what we're really starting to see is a shift toward hiring for skills. Ginni Rometty, the chairman of IBM just had a big talk on this a few weeks ago, where IBM has already shifted to hiring for skills, not for pedigree. Google many years ago, several years ago, shifted away from requiring a degree or various other credentials that are very typical and to look more at what you can contribute to the organization.

[00:10:56] When you begin to recruit for skills, capabilities, even potential for learning, I think that changes recruiting pretty fundamentally and how we go about what we do. I look at, the best recruiters are going to be those who can influence hiring managers, who can put together a group of candidates that some of them could be permanent, some of them could be contingent, some of them could be contractors. They're going to have to tap into multiple workforces that they maybe haven't had to deal with before and present those to hiring managers as alternatives. 

[00:11:36] So it's going to be more complex in a way, it's going to require recruiters to be much better at influence and communication. It's going to require them to have a much better set of overall skills in the human side of things, as opposed to the administrative side, which has really kind of been the core of recruiting. It's been getting better at interviewing or scheduling or whatever. Those are going to become much more automated and much less important.

John Hollon:
[00:12:06] Well, I know that we've been talking about recruiting here and a lot of your recent focus I know has been on recruiting leadership and that's a great topic given the state of recruitment in our current economic environment. But I was intrigued by the slide you sent me of your recent presentation that was titled Recruitment Leadership in a Paperclip World. Can you talk about that a bit? 

Kevin Wheeler: 
[00:12:29] Sure absolutely. A paperclip world is what I described when we started this podcast, this world where the change is permanent. We're not going to go back to the way it was in the past. And recruiting is not going to go back to the way it was; recruiting leadership is not going to go back to the way it was. And like I said, historically, recruiting leadership has been in my opinion, and I know this is very controversial, but it's been a really 'super management'. It hasn't really been leadership. It's been, you know, assigning people to do certain things it's been trying to influence standing and so forth like that. Those aren't strategic things really in terms of changing recruitment.

[00:13:08] I think today, if you're a recruiting leader, you're going to have to be able to respond to the ambiguity and the chaos that's out there in this world, because none of us can really predict what it's going to look like. I think we know pretty much, it's not going to go back to the way it was, and we know that things are changing. And if we start recruiting more for skills and less for pedigree. 

[00:13:31] If we start, who's going to be able to lead those kinds of changes, who's going to put together the new organization, the new structure to do that and so the leadership is going to be very different. It's going to have to be more comfortable with ambiguity. It's going to be able to have to deal with the chaos that's out there, it's going to have to be empathetic, open in communication. It's going to have great influencing skills. It's going to be really incredibly powerful communicator. These are the real skills of recruiting leadership for the future. And I'd say that most of the recruiting leaders today are deficient in many of those skills and really have to step up to the plate to change and be effective in this new era.

[00:14:15] So lots of changes in the leadership piece. I'm writing an article that will be out in a week or two that describes this in a little bit more detail, but it's really about agility, flexibility, being comfortable with chaos and being able to act and make decisions even when you don't have all the knowledge and all the information that you need.

John Hollon: 
[00:14:40] Where does retention stand in this new world of work? Companies have talked about needing to do more of it over the years. My experience is that a lot of them talk about it, but not a lot of them follow through. Given our current environment, is retention going to become more important or is it going to become less important?

Kevin Wheeler: 
[00:15:03] I think yes for some and no for others. I'll put it to you this way. I think for the white collar firms, they're going to move jobs out to contract and freelance, tremendously. They're going to keep a small core of permanent employees, but I think much smaller than they've had in the past.

[00:15:23] A lot of things like finance, legal, HR, recruiting are going to be outsourced completely. So I think you're going to see very little/some focus on retention, but only for that professional core. For the blue collar organizations, they're going to reduce staff pretty much across the board and they're going to increase automation and robotics more and more and I don't think retention is going to be a big deal for the blue collar companies. I think for the white collar companies, it'll be a big deal for a small core of permanent people. 

John Hollon: 
[00:16:00] Well, it looks like we are running out of time. This always happens. Time goes really quickly when we do these podcasts. And there's one last question we ask everybody who comes on to the TalentX podcast, right before we close that I want to ask you too, and it's this: here at the TalentX podcast we wholeheartedly believe that everyone should have a job that they love, one they're passionate about. So, Kevin, what do you love about what you do?

Kevin Wheeler: 
[00:16:27] What I really enjoy the most about what I do is having the luxury, maybe in a way, and the resources to look into the trends that are influencing the future. And help to translate those trends into reality for people, especially in the recruitment and talent and HR space. And I think for a lot of those people, it's hard to really understand all the trends to make sense out of what's going on out there.

[00:16:55] I think the contribution that I can make and that I enjoy making is to help translate some of those trends and that this is what you can do to get better. This is how you can deal with this unfolding and really uncertain future. 

John Hollon: 
[00:17:10] Well, thank you Kevin for taking the time to be with us today. It's been a great conversation and we've been very generous - you've been very generous with your time. We really appreciate you being here. From the TalentX podcast this is John Hollon and thanks for listening. 

Kevin Wheeler: 
[00:17:26] Thank you John.