Brent Skinner, Co-Founder at 3Sixty Insights and accomplished subject matter expert in human capital management, joins us to chat about employee retention, and more specifically, best practices organizations can implement for managing, developing, and empowering employees.
When Brent speaks, you can hear how much he enjoys discussing the future of work, and this episode sees him leave no stone unturned as he explores the topics of talent mobility, upskilling, reskilling, employee agency, and wellbeing. Empathy transcends all, especially in today’s work climate, and employees are far less likely to leave when they know their organization genuinely cares for their overall wellbeing. As Brent says, "those are the organizations that are going to succeed in the midst of this Great Resignation."
Connect with Brent on LinkedIn, Twitter @brentskinner, or at https://3sixtyinsights.com/.
For more insightful conversations, visit www.talentexperiencepodcast.com. We hope you enjoy this episode of the Talent Experience podcast!
Rhonda Taylor 00:25
Welcome to another episode of The Talent experience, I'm your host Rhonda Taylor. Today we're speaking about the progressive best practices for employee retention, with our guests Brent Skinner. Brent is the co-founder of 3Sixty Insights, a research firm, keen on helping enterprise software vendors and buyers understand evolving decision-making challenges, which involve a wide breadth of stakeholders that they deal with. Brent also leads the HCM practice area at 3Sixty Insights and look under the hood of many HR technologies. He has his Master's from Boston University, his career steps have included companies such as Ceridian where I'd met him many years ago, Nucleus Research, and Cornerstone. Welcome Brent, did I miss anything?
Brent Skinner 01:24
Thank you for the introduction, Rhonda. I'd say that you captured the gist of it. All I would add is that, what I like to tell folks is that I've been in almost every swim lane, many swim lanes of this space, except the practitioner side which is interesting. I've observed this HCM space from many angles. I was also a journalist technology editor at HRL Today, many moons ago, and I got my start in this space. It was actually 15 years ago last month, I don't know how I feel about that but that's what it is. So been in this space for a while, and I'm very, very happy to be on the podcast today.
Rhonda Taylor 02:13
Well great, and Brent you're a family man now, right?
Brent Skinner 02:17
Yes, I am. We have two daughters. Our older daughter is, a she's going to be three years old in a little bit under a month, and she has a little sister who's going to be she's going to be 18 months in a couple of weeks. They're just the cutest things, and they also keep us very, very busy.
Rhonda Taylor 02:44
Spoken like a proud dad. Hey Brent, recent surveys have noted that there's going to be 40 to 46 percent of the workforce who are planning on making a career move. That blows me away. How do you interpret this stat Brent?
Brent Skinner 03:07
Well, it's pretty mind-blowing. Like you said, but at the same time in a way it's unsurprising. We blogged about this earlier this year. It's as if everybody has two years' worth of cabin fever built up here, right? And all sorts of things since the pandemic started back, oh what was it, I would say in earnest, probably march of 2020, when things really started locking down and all that. A lot of folks have been in jobs that maybe they were thinking of leaving before the pandemic, and then you know, the job market kind of took a turn for the worst because of the lockdowns and everything and they found themselves maybe stuck in those jobs that they didn't want to be in. Or, it was just too stressful maybe with all the pandemic related things going on, just one less thing to think about to switch jobs, but you know now that we've sort of exited the first phase, I like to say we exited the first phase, the initial phase of the pandemic, we definitely have pandemic ahead of us, but we've exited the first phase of really trying to figure out just what's going on. I think folks are starting to really stretch the legs and think okay maybe I should be making a change here. Maybe I want to make a career move or change careers completely. And by the way, I wish I had come up with this term read the great resignation. It's such a great term. I'm not surprised at all that this is happening and, you know, obviously, there are things that organizations can do to mitigate this risk, right? Me because it's now it's the equivalent of a buyer’s market now for the job market, I think, you know, it's a job-seekers market in many ways, right? So I think organizations need to be on their toes, to you know keep those employees who might be flight risks, from indeed leaving and that there's a number of things that they can do, obviously.
Rhonda Taylor 05:28
Yeah, and we're going to talk about that. One of the things I always love when I'm speaking to people, I always say, what soul searching did you do during the pandemic? You know, some people said, 'Oh, I got my family from the busy downtown Metropolis out into the country.' So many people did various action plans, and I think now that people did some soul searching on where they want to see themselves.
Brent Skinner 06:04
Yeah, I don't know about you, but I did some soul searching myself, you know. The main reason that I joined 3Sixty Insights actually, I realized that I wanted to become an analyst again so, you know, I had personal experience with that. Yeah, I think that there was time for, in a weird way there was time for people to just, how would you put it? Decompress a little bit or just clear their heads a little bit just from the disruption, the change, and the sudden change in pace was an opportunity for folks to think about what they wanted to do next, and whether they wanted to keep doing what they were doing and what mattered most to them in their lives. So if you're looking for my opinion on that, that is my opinion on that, I think. I agree, there was some time for people to reflect and maybe come up with different plans for themselves.
Rhonda Taylor 07:11
Absolutely, my thing is in the soul-searching people establish their priorities. What really was important, and I think what number one was, was family and then career. I think that came through loud and clear. Brent, recently, you've been speaking about the four progressive best practices for employee retention. The steps being, providing talent mobility, inspiring the career journey, democratizing reskilling, and lastly, accounting for wellbeing. Let's chip away at this list. Tell us more, how providing talent mobility contributes to retention?
Brent Skinner 07:56
Yeah, so one thing you have to absolutely be sure of today is that you're giving your employees, right now, in the here and now, in the immediate now, they need to be, your employees need to see where they can go in your organization. Are they in a sort of a dead-end job or a static position role, or is there room for them to grow in their careers, to make something of themselves at your organization, that is so key and crucial, and that's really the essence of talent mobility. You need to provide them a path, an understanding of how they can move upward or laterally in the organization. And this is, this is, this is something that, that is determined also by their skills and capabilities. So, you know, when it comes to learning, and reskilling, and upskilling these are, these are just crucial outlets that you need to provide for your employees so that they can better themselves in the ways that they want to move up in their careers, in the ways that they want to within your organization. And you know that this is more of a sort of a meta observation, but they're really going to appreciate the organization. It's going to improve your employer culture and employee sentiment overall. If you give them this, these if you show them how they can do this at your organization.
Rhonda Taylor 09:45
Yeah, and you know the other thing Brent, is that coming out of the pandemic a lot of companies are not prepared to start hiring. So it's wonderful that they can look within their organization, it saves them money; and identify a person that can move into a position that they have, just think of the money they save.
Brent Skinner 10:13
Yeah, you're absolutely right about that. Absolutely any time an organization can conserve dollars or save money on external hiring by knowing where their best talent is internally and who could be upskilled or reskilled to fill a new need, that's an efficiency. You know, you want your external recruiters focused solely or to the best of your ability as an organization to know, as much as possible on only the external talent that you definitely need because it's not available inside the organization. That's just that's the epitome of efficiency. And, and what's interesting here is that even though this is an efficiency play, there's very much this idea of a sort of a soft approach. One of the things we talked about 3Sixty Insights is concrete and abstract HCM. Concrete HCM being the financially quantifiable stuff, the newfound efficiencies, productivity gains, right. And the abstract HCM being more employee sentiment related stuff, and about your employees’ feelings and these sorts of things. And so if you're focused, if you're being as efficient as possible with your external recruiting efforts because you're only you're focusing those efforts solely on the folks that you do not need, that you definitely know you don't have inside the organization yet, then that's an efficiency play, but at the same time, you're actually improving your abstract HCM. You're improving your employee sentiment, internally at the same time, because you're being gratifying, your internal existing employees are gratified by your interest in them, in grooming them and helping them move up in the organization.
Rhonda Taylor 12:21
Right, right. Brent, I love that you, excuse me, I love that you have one’s employees owning their own career journey. How does this help with retention?
Brent Skinner 12:40
Well, it's some more of that abstract HCM actually. It's giving them, if you can create an environment where your employees are able to conceive their own vision of what their future could be like, right? So you so from the nuts and bolts standpoint of it, you know, that talent mobility part, providing the talent mobility, you've shown them in the here-and-now how they can move, what tools they have, what’s at their disposal right now, to avail themselves off so that they can move in the organization. That gives them the, that creates the environment where they can, they actually believe, oh, yes, I can move up in this organization. So now you've gotten that doubt out of the way, you've knocked down that doubt a now they've been freed to actually start imagining how they can be of the most, how they can be the most that they can be in your organization. And, and invariably or generally most of the time that's going to be of the most benefit to the organization at the same time. It's like you're giving them their personal, GPS for their career.
Rhonda Taylor 14:08
Exactly, this is where you are today. Tomorrow you will be here, and this is how you, this is what you need to do to get there. I like that.
Brent Skinner 14:22
Sorry to interrupt, but I could just add a little bit more there. It's almost like Maslow's hierarchy of needs if you think about it right. At the lower end of the Maslow's hierarchy of needs you have sort of your survival needs, you know, your food and shelter, and water, right. And then as you move up the hierarchy, then you start getting into, you know, belonging, and aspirational things, and thinking about sort of self-actualization, these sorts of things right that's at the top of the Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Think of yourself not to be too, too cute about it, but imagine you're a cave person and you're just trying to survive, find a cave and food. You can't think about it, it's kind of impossible to think about any of those higher-level needs or to imagine or have a vision of what your ideal self would be like, right. It's loosely analogous, but it's similar. You know, if you're in the organization, it's tough to start imagining in positive ways, having a vision of what you could be at that organization if you're constantly you know, searching for hard to find or non-existent tools to just better yourself.
Rhonda Taylor 15:41
Okay, great. That's great. Brent reskilling is a buzzword in today's marketplace as learning strategies have evolved making the importance for retention. Could you please share with the audience the retention aspect of democratizing reskilling?
Brent Skinner 16:00
Well, I think it's SHRM came out with a stat, I don't know if it's been updated, because I haven't seen it in the past year, but they came out with a stat in the past recent years, where the cost of replacing an employee is anywhere from 90% to 200% of that employee's annual pay. So that can get to be quite expensive, you know, and it might be lower, say for a box store floor associate, but it's still significant. It could be a lot more for highly specialized or particularly professional positions. I mean, you know, you think about an organization, for instance, that might be scientifically oriented, might be an engineering firm, and maybe most of its employees are PhDs, scientists, making several 100,000 per year. You want those folks to feel included, you want to create an inclusive culture and part of that can be done through democratizing reskilling and reskilling here being defined, I would say probably loosely, this idea that you can create mentorship programmes and this sort of thing where we can really create some very strong relationships between employees so that it generates, cultivates, and fosters a ever-greater positivity and the employer culture. So, you know, that's one way to promote retention, you know, as it builds a sense of belonging, you know, if you feel belong, if you feel that you belong to the organization, which can be influenced by mentorship programmes, then you'll be far less apt to leave, because you'll be sharing, you'll be communicating with your fellow employees and all that. There's things like learning in the flow, gig assignments, self-directed learning, curation of content, all these sorts of things that when you think about democracy, democratization of reskilling, you know, we're not talking about sort of traditional conventional one to many training. I hesitate to even call them seminars where you go to a virtual or in person even, you just learned something that you're required to learn for compliance reasons or because it's part of the job, right. We're talking about learning opportunities that have to do with employees, exercising self-agency, exercising agency, you know, in their own future and having all the tools available to them so that they can direct their own learning.
Rhonda Taylor 19:17
Right, right. Hey, we're going to move on the last practice is accounting for wellbeing. There are so much more to wellbeing, Could you expand on the elements of wellbeing and how it contributes to retention?
Brent Skinner 19:33
What's interesting is this. We talk about accounting for wellbeing. What's interesting here is, I just thought of this now, we're kind of coming full circle to the to the sort of the beginning of our discussion today around the four progressive best practices. With the pandemic, a lot of people you know, this as you Rhonda said, you know, a lot of folks kind of figured out that you know, it's family first and then career. Well, if you as an organization, as an employer can show empathy, that you know what, we understand that we get it, we're on board with this idea of your wellbeing that you're mind, body, spirit. You're not just some person exchanging your physical or mental labour, providing that in exchange for pay, you know you're doing a lot more and you have a, there's a whole self to you and only part of it intersects with the work that you do. If you can do that through, you know, simply by in a overall general sense by showing them empathy, but also by providing information or tools that can help folks account for their own wellbeing then you've really, I think you've really struck a positive chord with your employees. I mean, you know, we've spoken with this moves a little bit outside of reskilling, outside of learning and talent mobility and all that, but we've spoken with global payroll companies that, you know, they provide their clients with tools that they can provide their employees to understand you know financial wellbeing and get better at that sort of thing. So, you know, this is something that transcends all of HCM and beyond, I think the organizations that can show empathy to their employees, and show that it actually matters to them that their employees wellbeing is good, then I think those organizations are going to succeed, especially in the midst of this great resignation, where you know existing employees who may become job seekers, they have sort of the pick of the litter here, in terms of where they want to go work next.
Rhonda Taylor 22:14
Right, right. This conversation could go on and on, but all good things come to an end. I thank you Brent, for contributing to the success of the Talent Experience by sharing your incredible knowledge. However, before we go, I want to ask you a question about you. At the Talent Experience, we believe everyone should enjoy their work. Brent, you obviously excel at what you do. How do you stay on top of your game, while making it look so enjoyable?
Brent Skinner 22:51
Well, I am fortunate enough that my work is indeed enjoyable. Obviously, everybody's on deadline and so that can be a little bit stressful, but it's it makes it a lot easier when I happen to love to think. I'm one of these people I'll just sit by myself and think and not feel like I've missed out on anything, that's one of my favourite things to do actually. So to be in a profession or in a career where I'm called on to think and write about what I'm thinking, that to me is more than enough inspiration. That's how I keep going.
Rhonda Taylor 23:36
Right. Brent Skinner from 3Sixty Insights. Thank you for being our guest today.
Brent Skinner 23:44
Thank you for having me, Rhonda.
Rhonda Taylor 23:46
This is Rhonda Taylor, your host saying bye for now. Thank you for listening.