Learn2 Lead – Impact on Engagement and Diversity with Unlimited Talent


When employees can find jobs globally and employers can find talent globally what happens to employee engagement and diversity?

We find out in this episode of Learn2 Lead.




Tom Lyons 0:04
Hi, everybody, it’s Tom Lyons here from Learn2 and I’m here with, with Mary who is our consultive expert on all things HR and culture. And I’m here with Samantha who is our account manager. For Learn2, she looks after some of our greatest clients, which are all of them. Today, I wanted to take the time to talk about impact on home working, that’s something that we’re doing a lot of, and the mental health of that impact with your team because there are a lot of changes going on. So to dig into it, teams have been working remotely, we’ve been seeing that a lot. And we see the impact. with everybody of not being as social as what they could actually be like we’re all tied at home, we don’t get to visit our friends. What we don’t see or what we haven’t seen is the impact of needing to take on watching the kids still trying to get your work done needing to do extra shopping for your parents and grandparents. There’s all these extra things that have been taken on. Start with Mary, how do you help employees through that? Because it’s a big change for them?

Mary Bean 1:04
Yeah. I think the first thing is to acknowledge it. So that this is not like working from home? Because I can, because I want to, it’s because we have to. And all those things you mentioned, Tom Absolutely Right. So most people are dealing with home schooling kids, but actually doing homeschooling with their kids and the workload. And in some cases, the workload has increased. Other times it has just it has decreased or often has just shifted in the context of COVID. And there are also this additional stressor, it’s a we are all under this latent, constant level of unrest, I’m sure does have anxiety in anybody. So that’s true forever, all of us. So productivity levels are impacted by that. And if you add that into anybody who has already existing challenges with feeling anxious, this just escalates even further, and anybody who still has a job is certainly feeling very grateful that they have one. And they’re also wondering, do I have one tomorrow or weeks time or a month’s time? How fast? I think the first thing is just acknowledging that and adjusting timelines and expectations accordingly,

Tom Lyons 2:15
Really good time to bring out that empathy skill. And we talked about that as a leadership skill all the time. But now is the real time to pull that empathy out and go there are there are things going on that I’m probably not completely aware of. And I need to be sensitive even even in that ignorance of what I don’t know. Right, and that there are other things to go, which means I’ve got to talk to my people. I’ve got to talk to my teams. I’ve got to find out what’s going on in their personal life and then figure out how we work around those sort of things. Yeah, that sort of hits pretty close with you, Sam, because you’ve got a lot of things going on. I mean, we know that you have a young daughter, we know that you’ve got lots of pets. You’ve got a husband that’s been at home for a while, but you’ve been seeing this with your clients. You can see it with your co workers. What’s your perspective.

Samantha Schumyn 3:02
My perspective is we didn’t expect this, we expected this pandemic to last a week or two.

So in those first couple of weeks, people were excited to have to work. A Yeah, I get to work from home.

We’re moving, we’re changing. It’s exciting. And then that leg effect comes right? You’ve got all this adrenaline, you’ve got all this. Go, go go. And now it’s kind of like, Oh, this is our new normal. And just going back to what you said earlier, Tom, I had a call with a client earlier today and she really hit the nail on the head and said, How are you dealing as a human through all of this? So yes, we have all our skills and but how is how is humanity coming out of this? So I have really noticed a shift in clients. Definitely a lot of my clients have kids, so yes, very You’re right. I’m doing a call at 10 o’clock at night. I’m I have clients with a kid bouncing on their bed. We have, you know, people working in the gardens in thier everything and people keep apologizing. And I think we need to come to a point where this is normal. They get through it. If you need to have that class one at 10 o’clock meeting, go for it. If you have a screaming kid in the background, I get it. You know, how can we support each other? What are your strong moments? What are not my strong moments? And how can we come together and again, a human word to work through at all.

Tom Lyons 4:32
That’s a really good point. I noticed. I noticed a lot of stories coming out in video meetings lately, because you’re right, one of their kids comes running into the room, or the dog comes running into the room. We see a lot more pets in the video conferences than we do and people seem to be sorry for that. But the reality is, is life is meshed like this really tightly right now. And so we have to have the expectation that it’s meshed right?

Samantha Schumyn 4:59
Definitely. And you know, Tom, you and I and Mary, you also work from home most of the time. So I have an office not many people have an office since got people like kitchen tables, we’ve got all you know, at wherever they can from the kids, or the kids or they don’t have that structured space of an office. So I’m all for it. I love getting to know every single part of my my clients lives. And I enjoyed the dogs, cats, kids and everything else in between.

Tom Lyons 5:28
Okay, well, let’s move on to culture, culture drives productivity, culture drives innovation, culture drives profit within the company, but this change has this unique effect or impact on culture. People culture used to be defined by how do you bring people together a lot like that’s how people thought of it. And because how they came together, and how you treated them personally together, right? Define how the company worked together. Now they’re not together. What tips can you give for holding a great culture together if you had one, and now it’s hard because the people aren’t together as much. And then if you were, if you’re still trying to create your culture or improve your culture, what tips exist in a remote world to help that happen? And I’ll start with you, Mary.

Mary Bean 6:12
Okay, so two things. One is you’re going to find out real fast, what kind of culture you really have in the world that we’re living in. Now, there’s a lot of room for I’m not doing well. Now, there might have argued that that should always have been the case. I’m not sure that it was. And so some of the lessons that we’re learning now from that human part, hopefully people will actually continue on with those pieces, because that is the part that I think this vulnerability that we we know is important for leadership we know that you choose shows courage and shows the human side of us, we have not had to do that people have chosen to go down that road and certainly the Brene Brown followers would know what I’m talking about. But we haven’t all this is a world even those that are not comfortable has almost been forced into that cultural perspective, I be thinking about what are you intentional about? And what are you consistent about? I have a client that talks about this all the time. And I shamelessly borrowed those two words from him over the last year being consistent and intentional over and over again. And so in the past, you might have said, Oh, we’ve got a great culture, look around. It’s you know, people are talking working well together. And maybe it just happened that way. And I would say, if it just happened, you got lucky. So good cultures are not done by this, this organic sort of, we’ll just kind of see what happens. It’s an intentional piece, those things are put in place with a mindset to what are what is the vibe that we’re trying to get aligned with our work? Those that have not done that work? It’s not all it’s not lost? If we have to be intentional because we’re not having that bump into you on the way to the lunchroom or the washroom or as we’re entering the building. What do you want to be intentional about? How do we want to start conversations, how do we want to look at our work? We want to adjust our expectations.

Tom Lyons 7:58
How do you measure that because it’s one thing to go, okay, you need to be more intentional about it. You need to go about and make it make an effort to pay attention and be consistent about it. But one, I suspect, you need to create a benchmark around it, right? And then you need to be able to take that benchmark and then measure against it later to see whether or not what you’re doing is having the desired impact just as you would with almost any metric.

Mary Bean 8:22
So you start with the why you start with what is the purpose of like what we’re trying to do here? Everybody says the same thing. We want better communication, we want better collaboration, okay, what does that mean for us. We always start with? How are you doing? Expectation is a combined expectation. If I’m the leader, it isn’t just up to me, I’ve included in this case, both Tom and Sam, and what I’m intending to do, and I’m going to say, look, it’s not my habit, but I’m really going to work hard at just checking in with you first. And so at a meeting, if I don’t do that, please remind me I want to I’m really trying to make a habit change here. So you just you just say it,

Tom Lyons 8:58
There is a level of authenticity that It goes along with it too, because otherwise, the response that comes back is well, how are you doing? I’m fine, right? Because an individual won’t be vulnerable with you unless as their leader, you’re at least authentic to some degree on that. They believe that you’re asking because you truly care about their well being as opposed to checklist.

Mary Bean 9:17
That’s right. So you could ask a simple question like, how’d you sleep last night? It was a beautiful day here. Did you go for a walk yesterday. There are questions you can ask that aren’t so personal that you’ve overstepped. But if somebody’s not getting a good night’s sleep, and not getting some level of walk, even people walk from the GO train or the subway or their car, they’re not doing any of those things, right. So are you getting outside? Could you have a walking meeting? Could we say listen, let’s have a conversation and let’s both put on our headphones and our put our phones in our pockets. Nice world we are living in right and go for a walk together and have our conversation then right. So change it up a little bit.

Tom Lyons 9:53
Let’s talk about how the other day Mary and I we were having a specific talk about a topic and it was around how work in the remote world is going to change the talent pool. And it changes the employment options people have. So there’s this flip side, now companies have this choice, that if they realize that they can be productive, and they can get stuff done with remote workers, you don’t have to hire geographically close to you. You could hire in a different country, you could hire in a different state, you could hire in a different province, you could hire in a different city. You don’t have to just take the resumes that come your way. But the flip side to that and for companies too, is that employees have more options now to as soon as companies realize that you can have remote workers, I can apply to somebody in Los Angeles if I live in New York, and I don’t have to move to Los Angeles. Right? I can be working in a small town in Ontario, Canada, and I can work for a company down in Florida. What does the world start to look like for teams and industry?

Samantha Schumyn 11:00
And this is why resume versus hiring for fit is so good. When people when you’ve opened up that, that pool of knowledge, you know, these are the certain amount of people I have. And I’m sure they are really great. It’s going back to culture, what is your culture? And how are you hiring perfect, so that conversations flow easy. standards at the company can be easy, you know, this is why it’s important to learn to, you need to fit in with it and I know need sounds like a really strong word. It’s just that when there are times like this pandemic, it’s easier to shift. It’s gonna be difficult to everyone else. And we still have the same values. Family is important downtime is important and pivoting to a new normal is important, and we’re all on that same path. So I love the idea of being able to open up that that hiring pool. The more the merrier if you think about it, and you have access to great talent out there, all over the world.

Tom Lyons 12:07
So Mary, does that change diversity, diversity, in part was driven also by geographic, geographical or demographical I should say, democratical makeup of the area. In fact, some company’s policies around diversity hiring are based on the same to have the same number of diversity that exists within their demographic area. Right? Well, if you’re, if you’re a pool now is the entire world. You pretty much have to throw that type of policy out and go, we’re hiring. We’re hiring based on a different type of need or a different type of style of diversity.

Mary Bean 12:48
I mean, we’ll see. I mean, diversity is really as core differences, be some differences, we see other differences we experience. I think the other piece will be the harder probably inclusion So that if you have a growth mindset and a diversity mindset that you want differences, you probably already have that. And maybe if you live in a homogeneous community, that now you have opportunity to hire beyond that, because not to be actually in your, in your four walls. That’s great. And but now inclusion becomes a bigger issue. So inclusion is think about diversity as I got the invitation to the party, but when I got there, I got invited to dance like that’s inclusion that’s the difference. So that how do I people feel included in the context of those pieces? Right? So yes, we’re different. How do I get involved with those pieces? Especially so for somebody who’s sitting a little bit on the outside of that you may have somebody who’s not working full time all the time, or is somebody who you work with and you bring out certain projects, how do you have them feel they’re part of the whole team,

Tom Lyons 13:47
You can’t have benefit from diversity, if you don’t have inclusion, because you can have as a diverse group is possible but if they do not feel included, if they do not feel valued, they’re probably going to just leave, right? That’s just a given. If I don’t feel I’m valued and included, then I’m going to leave. But if they’re not included, they’re not going to share. They’re not going to provide the mental diversity that you’re trying to create, which is what drives innovation. All the companies that are good at this have fantastic innovation because they have all these different minds thinking in different ways coming up with different solutions for different problems, you don’t get that if they’re not included.

Mary Bean 14:27
If they’re different and separate, then you haven’t, elevated the differences. You’ve just said, you’re different. You’re different than I am, and I’ve hired you great, but we haven’t got a good understanding of how those differences are going to help move the business forward. And if we don’t have that connection, it’s not just applied knowledge. You can have a lot of knowledge about something but if you can’t make that work for your organization, it’s not worth very much.

Tom Lyons 14:52
Sam and we’ve covered a lot of stuff today. What for you, what are the first steps that companies need to do to prepare for The changes that are still coming, lots of changes already happened. There’s more changes still to come. And then what do you do now for the changes that have already occurred?

Unknown Speaker 15:08
Great question, Tom. And I think that goes back to the beginning of our conversation is values, you know, is everybody you know your values and is your big picture. So the thing is, your company’s still driving towards the same goals. It’s now more than ever important to have great leaders are your leaders able to lead in these times of change, everybody wants a message from the top, the top is still the top. And that top has the different layers of leaders underneath to drive those teams. So it’s really important not to have that strategy of the new normal, get that value, get that culture set up and speak to your team, ask for that feedback. Now figure out that why go back to that why. And then work on your what and you’ll

Mary Bean 15:55
know about some of the indicators that you run your business that helped you know, with Things are changing and pay attention to those. I wouldn’t worry about what’s going to happen later. I’m worried about think about what’s happening now. Yeah, that’s all we can control right now is where we’re at. And it’s a super hard thing for those of us that are like, used to planning out and we got, we all had plans before this happened. And so it’s like, go back and look at those plans, or any of those plans still fall in the context of COVID in my business.

Tom Lyons 16:22
Okay, well, this was fan. Fantastic. Thank you both for taking the time and good luck. We’re all busy. We got lots going on. But I think this is important information to get out there. So I appreciate you guys taking the time with me to answer those questions.

Unknown Speaker 16:33
Thanks, Tom.


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