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Podcast episode #10: Step into the future with Josh Bersin

Coronavirus cases are dropping, the world is reopening, and hiring is surging across industries. Things are looking optimistic for the recruitment industry, but there's no way to predict the future. Or, is there?

In this episode, we’re bringing you a very special guest, Josh Bersin. Josh is an analyst, author, educator, and thought leader focusing on the global talent market and the challenges and trends impacting business workforces around the world.

If there was one person with access to enough data to predict the future of the TA industry, it would have to be Josh. His team learned a lot over the past year as they studied the impact of the pandemic HR, Talent Acquisition and business as a whole. You might want to get your notepad ready, this is going to answer a lot of your questions on what the future holds. 

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Episode transcript:

Josh Bersin:
Thank you, Carolyn. Welcome everybody. I guess, talking about the future is always interesting, but I’m going to talk about the present too. And the word that I found interesting today, I got up very early and went for a walk is effervescence. So we’re entering an effervescent time. We’re not there yet, but we’re getting there, and I’ll explain what I mean by that in a minute. And it really goes back to a little bit of history. The pandemic was not the only thing that’s been going on in the business world of HR and recruiting. It’s really been a really a 12-year cycle starting from the 2008 financial crisis, which right now it’s kind of hard to remember it, but it was pretty bad.

Josh Bersin:
And since then, there’s been a … this is almost a straight line. This is the stock market. But there’s been a pretty steady evolution of digital transformation, political change, income inequality and job change. Re-skilling up-skilling new job models, new job architectures, new organization models, a focus on the environment, the global climate issues, diversity inclusion equity, Black Lives Matter. I mean, it’s been a ton of stuff. And for those of you that are HR professionals, leaders, recruiters, you’ve been sort of swimming in this sea of change and the pandemic just came along for the ride.

Josh Bersin:
And the pandemic really just accelerated every one of those issues and added well-being and resilience and mental health to that. Now well-being was going on anyway. And if you remember right before the pandemic, the unemployment rate was around 3.8%. You were probably finding it harder and harder to hire people. And companies were trying to starting to realize they needed to hire internally because they couldn’t hire externally. And we’re going right back to that place again. In fact, an interesting piece of research I was just communicating this morning with Glint. If you look at employee happiness in December of 2020, which was just two months ago versus December of 2019, which was before the pandemic, if any of you can remember that I can vaguely remember it. It is actually gone up. Employees are happier.

Josh Bersin:
And the reason is we’ve actually made work a lot better. We’ve done a lot of things in the leadership of companies and the technology of companies and the flexibility of companies to make work easier for people to deal with the pandemic. And it was probably badly needed anyway, we just didn’t have something to kind of shoot us in the arm and force us to do it.

Josh Bersin:
And of course, the other thing that’s going on for you as recruiters is every company is changing its business. When the pandemic started, I read a sort of an interesting thought leadership piece from a guy about low touch businesses. And I thought it was kind of a silly idea, but sure enough, that’s what happened. We all learned how to sell and deliver and serve and create products and services, whether be in retail or transportation or even entertainment that are delivered in low touch ways.

Josh Bersin:
And so we’ve gone through massive amounts of business transformation over the last year, much faster than people ever thought was possible. I think the economy’s going to be coming, really going to be roaring come sort of the middle of this year until the later part of this year. And that’s because companies have adapted very, very well. Now, the people, part of it has been harder. Everything that’s happened in business to make the company more competitive has impacted the people agenda. And when I show you a little bit more about that, you’ll see what I mean by that. But that’s really the way to get a sense of what’s happening in the year ahead.

Josh Bersin:
Now, I spent a lot of time this year on Zoom, as many of you did. And we did a series of really hundreds of hours of interviews with companies. Every Friday, we have six or seven groups that meet together for an hour, and we talk about things that have been going on, and these are the things we’ve discussed. I won’t read these to you. But really a lot of focus on things that you might consider traditional HR things that have been essential to maintaining a sense of productivity and resilience and engagement with people.

Josh Bersin:
And that’s why I think employee happiness has gone up is employees are saying, “Well, look, the rest of my life is kind of crazy, but at least I’ve got my job. And I kind like the people I work with and my bosses and my managers and my leaders are being a little bit better and things are a little bit more flexible at work leading us to a really new world.” And I think 2021 and 2022 is going to be a continuation of what we’ve been doing, but with some very significant changes. Well-being, citizenship, sustainability growth, employee growth, internal mobility. These are going to stick with us. And for those of you that are in recruiting I would imagine if you worked for a reasonably good size company, you’re also looking at internal mobility as a part of recruiting.

Josh Bersin:
That is something we talked about for years, but it’s happened now. And we learned from the pandemic that we can move people around inside the company pretty quickly, and they adapt pretty fast. Human beings are very, very adaptable animals. So I think we’ve really gotten sort of a dose of really awakening that the workforce is a lot more resilient than we maybe ever thought. Now, in terms of the economy, this is just a piece of data to look at it. I noticed today that the unemployment numbers went up a little bit, but that said the number of jobs open in the United States as of January of this year, so this is about two weeks old, is 13% higher than it was a year ago.

Josh Bersin:
That’s not something you kind of read about in the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but this is from Emsi. This is real data on real job openings. And you can see, there’s a lot of drivers needed. There’s nurses, supervisors, retail workers, software engineers, salespeople, customer service. I’ll show you some data on this. But we are absolutely moving into a service economy. I’ll show you the data on that, and that affects what you do as a recruiter. We’re obviously working remotely. I think most economists would agree with me that the future is not all remote it’s hybrid. Most of us will be coming to work occasionally or periodically, but not every single day. We’ll be commuting in more flexible ways.

Josh Bersin:
Companies are setting up satellite offices. There’s actually a massive movement in the public sector to build what are called 15 minutes cities. So you could have a city where every job is 15 minutes from where you live. That obviously requires companies to distribute their workers into smaller pods, but that’s all happening. So we’re actually going in a very positive direction there. We’ve obviously spent a year thinking about public health and also employee health and employee well-being. I’m going to talk to you about well-being in a minute.

Josh Bersin:
I first was introduced to well-being maybe 2015, 2016. And I thought it was a nice benefit but I didn’t think it was all that important. And I remember Google made a big splash with their mindfulness course. Maybe a decade ago, which was one of the most popular things in HR at the time to try to kind of focus on more of the internal part of work as human performance as opposed to the external part. Well, that went mainstream last year. CEO’s board rooms, CHROs have all been focused on mental, physical, financial, emotional health.

Josh Bersin:
And this is going to be part of the workforce going forward as is a different way of thinking about leadership. Leadership is probably the most red ocean competitive market in HR. There are thousands of books, hundreds of consultants, millions of models. Every consulting firm in HR has a leadership offering of some kind. And I’ve read a lot of them, not all of them. And they’ve been very respectful of all the research has been done in this area. What happened this year is we actually found that leadership is about psychology and human behavior.

Josh Bersin:
This is a list of what I call power skills that we identified right before the pandemic at a meeting, I was at a meeting of CHROs at UC Berkeley. And one of the speakers was the Head of the Greater Good Science Center, and they study happiness. So they’re psychologists. And they were going through these words, generosity, teamwork, followership, forgiveness, kindness, patience. And she was explaining to everybody why they create happiness and how they create happiness.

Josh Bersin:
And at the end of the presentation, I asked the CHROs, how many of you use these words in your leadership model, in your company mission statement, in your manifesto about performance or whatever it may be. And most of them said none. They just don’t. These are not the way we think about leadership. Well, now we do. We’ve learned now in this particular year, especially coming out of last year, that if we aren’t forgiving and kind, and flexible and empathetic, we’re not going to have a company. People aren’t going to come to work. They’re not going to be able to work. So this is a big change. And I think HR as a profession, as a function has become much, much more resilient.

Josh Bersin:
Now, when we get into the Q and A, I want to hear about your questions relative to recruiting because recruiting is a very complex area, but one of the things that’s happened in HR for the last 15 months is we’ve learned to distribute autonomy and distribute authority into the organization. We can’t sit around in headquarters and make all sorts of decisions that affect everybody perfectly. We don’t know. The virus is asymmetric and unpredictable as is everything else in business. And so we need to empower and enable HR people to operate locally, to do what they need to do.

Josh Bersin:
And relative to recruiting, that means that if you’re a recruiter and I know some of you are, you’re in a very important job. In some ways I’ve looked at all aspects of HR over the years, recruiting is the most important thing that happens in a company. If you don’t recruit the right people, forget everything else. You can’t just train people that are the wrong fit for your company, the wrong culture fit, the wrong skillset, the wrong background. So you guys in recruiting are a very, very important role and your ability to understand the organization and operate in an empowered way to find the right people is critical.

Josh Bersin:
I’ll tell you one quick story on recruiting. When I was doing some research on talent acquisition maybe six or seven years ago, I had talked to the head of recruiting at a large oil company. And I asked him just out of the blue, is there any one thing that you think is the most important characteristic of a high performer when you recruit them? Is it degree, experience, culture, age, personality, intelligence, what is it? He said, “It’s the recruiter.” I said, “Why, what are you talking about?” He said, “Great recruiters hire great people.” I thought, well, that’s actually a pretty good point.

Josh Bersin:
So you guys are really in a very important role. Now, if you want to look at the future for the year, let me give you some economic data and I think this will help you understand it. One of the most significant things that’s happened, and this is a little bit like the frog in the boiling water, where you don’t feel it, but it is happening, is we’re becoming a service economy. Now, there’s manufacturing and there’s software engineering and there’s hard skills. But really 80 to 85% of jobs are service jobs. The number of manufacturing jobs in the United States dropped 20% in the last two decades. Everything is getting automated.

Josh Bersin:
Now, even if you’re a clerk enters data, that job’s gone. The secretary jobs have gone away. I mean, there’s just lots and lots of examples of this. And what this means is that regardless of the industry or the company you are in, the human skills, the human capabilities to lead, empathize, care for people, sell are organized, inspire are basically all you have. I mean, that really is what your company is. Yes. You have intellectual property. Yes. You have software. Yes. You have a brand. Yes. You have products, all that. But those actually decay pretty quickly.

Josh Bersin:
If you’re in the software industry you got to be watching out, it’s a brutally competitive space. There’s somebody building something that competes with you all the time. So, so your human capabilities are really the core of most businesses today. By the way, if you look at the stock market, which is at an all-time high, 85 to 90% of the valuation of the United States stock market is intangible assets. It’s things you cannot find on the balance sheet. It’s not oil in the ground or cash or raw materials, its human things. It’s brand, it’s software, it’s customer relationships. And so if we take care of the people and we hire the right people, the company will perform better.

Josh Bersin:
Now, we also are in a situation where burnout is an all-time high, and this is from Glint. Their new report just came out today and it’s even higher. In the UK, 60% of workers are highly anxious, have high levels of anxiety. 40% have high levels of loneliness. So pandemic has stressed people and created a incredibly high, and it’s created a need for benefits. And interestingly enough year over year over year in the United States, I don’t know if this is true in every country, because in some countries there’s more public support of this stuff, but in the U.S. wages are going up a bit, but what’s really going a lot is benefits.

Josh Bersin:
Roughly 33% of wages in the United States are spent on vacation, health insurance, other things that have to do with making work easier for people. And that’s just a symptom of the fact that in a service economy, if the people aren’t healthy or productive, the company is not healthy or productive. Now, how do you actually sort of support that? I think there’s been many, many studies and lots and lots of academic research on this idea of employee engagement. And when I first stumbled across it we were doing some research on it and I hired somebody that had written a book on it. And she said to me, we don’t need to do research on it. I’ve already written the book on it.

Josh Bersin:
And there’s a lot of books on this and there’s a lot of models on it. And the theory behind it is that if we create a work environment that is engaging people perform at a higher rate. But I would suggest that actually we’re learning that the opposite is also true. And maybe a more important correlation is that when people can perform at a high rate, they become engaged. And that’s what this book is about. And there’s other studies that prove this, that when you ask people, “What did you like about your job today? When they come home from work?” The thing that they like the most is they got something done. They finished something. They helped somebody. They completed a project.

Josh Bersin:
And so, one of the things we’ve learned through the pandemic is that the problem is not just making people feel safe and included and friends and training and all that. It’s also making it easier for them to do their jobs. And there’s been a massive effort in HR under the guise of employee experience to make work more productive. We studied this last year and we did a study of the pandemic response and looked at the companies that were the most rapidly transforming companies during the pandemic. And found through a bunch of correlations, the 10 things that differentiate those companies, this is what they are.

Josh Bersin:
On the left, clearly health and safety, listening to the workforce, creating support for families because everybody’s family life was intertwined with their work life, reinforcing a sense of purpose. Purpose and mission really gives people inspiration and energy at work. And that’s why there’s so many companies working on their mission statement and their purpose and CEOs going online talking about why we’re here and why our company exists and the value we provide to society. Working in an agile way. Using technology in a more adaptable way. But you can look at number seven and number eight. The companies that survived the pandemic well were recruiting. And yes, there was a downturn. Yes, there was unemployment, but everybody was recruiting at the same time. They were recruiting part-time, contingent, people in new locations in call centers. And so these practices remain important even during economic downtime as the one we had.

Josh Bersin:
Now, the other thing that’s been going on in the last 12 to 18 months, and this will continue is a really new philosophy of leadership. Leadership, as I mentioned earlier, it’s a big topic and it tends to follow in fads. When I was first working in HR as an analyst and I used to go meet with companies, they would say to me, “Well, if you can just tell me how GE does this, we’d just like to copy how they do it.” And GE pioneered the idea of a corporate university, the forest ranking model. Many things about the rugged individual nature of careers in GE were copied by other companies.

Josh Bersin:
Well, I mean, Jack Welch died last year. Jeff Immelt, several books have been written about him that haven’t been super positive. GE is a fallen company. Nobody’s copying them at the moment. They’ll come back I’m sure, but there’ve been other models. And I think what happened is a few other paradigms changed. One of the big paradigms of leadership that I think is important was Google. When Google came up with the idea of 20% time, which many of you maybe don’t remember, this idea that we’re going to let employees take Fridays and do what they want to do, wild wacky idea, whoever would have thought of that? Well, look how successful that company has become.

Josh Bersin:
The idea that Starbucks would give training and healthcare to hourly workers was a radical idea. No one was doing that. If you worked in a coffee shop, you certainly didn’t get benefits and you probably would never get tuition reimbursement. Well, Starbucks did that and sure enough, they took off. So these ideas are pioneered by different people. And we’re in an era now where empathy is really the key. Empathy, growth citizenship and fairness and equity. And equity is a big deal. And also pay, fair pay. I’ve been watching the pay and the wage data and the economy for a long time. And it’s been very frustrating to me to see this divergence between the highly skilled people and the under skilled people in the United States. It’s actually a crisis if you look at the data.

Josh Bersin:
But that’s changing now. We now know from studies that I’ve done in other companies that fair pay is a high performing practice in business. Raising the wages of lower skilled workers actually pays off. There are studies that have showed that in retail where margins are very thin when you pay people more, you get more profit because they spend more time taking care of customers and taking care of the retail locations and creating service experiences that allow people to buy more things.

Josh Bersin:
So this is also part of the new world is, rethinking a lot of the core disciplines in HR around this human centered, business service oriented economy. I won’t walk you through this slide. We’re in the middle of publishing a piece on this. But one way to think about the next year or two is shifting from a business centered view of your company, where it’s all about the business strategy and the business goals and the business metrics and the business results to the human side of that. And the sort of the statement that I’ve made for many companies from my experience as a researcher is that, virtually every business problem you have is a people problem under the covers. Where our revenue is low, our profits are low, we have an error, we lost an account, we lost a client, we’re not making enough money, there’s always people problems underneath it. So this has been kind of an exciting year from that standpoint because we’ve been able to talk about the people side of business as really part of survival.

Josh Bersin:
Now, the other thing that’s part of dynamics of organizations in HR, and this affects you in recruiting a lot is the emergence of companies as a marketplace. In the traditional organization of a company, going back to the 17, 1800s actually goes back to slavery by the way. The organizations are modeled after slave plantations. I don’t want to shock you, but that’s actually where it started. The railroads, the manufacturers, they were hierarchies. There was management and there was labor. And managers told the labor what to do, and the labor did it, and then the managers manage them.

Josh Bersin:
Well, that’s just not the way companies work anymore. We’re all managing and labor at the same time. Some of us are designated managers, but we’re doing things also. And so the company needs to be more dynamic and what’s really changed is company after company, after company are simplifying their job architectures, simplifying their job descriptions and making them a little less specific so that we can accommodate the changing roles that people have. I’ll show you a chart on this in a few minutes, it kind of gets into more details.

Josh Bersin:
But when it really turns companies into is an internal talent marketplace. And in a talent marketplace, you as a recruiter are recruiting inside as well as outside. And you can do this now with software. I mean, there’s tools, talent marketplace tools. I don’t know if Workable does this. It probably does where we can be recruiting people for a whole bunch of jobs that are open and we can say, “Well, here’s a bunch of people inside the company that are potentially eligible for this. Here’s a bunch of people outside the company. Lets kind of do a combination of both. And the people inside the company if we move them, then other people have the opportunity to take their roles.” That’s really going mainstream.

Josh Bersin:
We did research on this in 2005, I think. And we found that it was very, very rare and unusual for people to do a lot of internal mobility. In fact, 65% of the companies we surveyed back in 2018 told us that it was easier to find a job outside the company than it was to find a job inside the company, which is kind of an absurd state of the world, but that’s changing. And so we’re in a world now where there’s lots of opportunities to move people inside the company. There’s lots of tools for this, and this is becoming central to the year ahead. And I think for those of you that are in recruiting or talent management, thinking about internal mobility and industrial icing it, and really embracing it is a really important discipline for the future, especially as the job market gets very, very competitive again.

Josh Bersin:
Now, the next big theme I want to talk a couple of minutes about is employee experience. Employee experience is sort of a buzz word that crawled out of HR and landed in IT, but what it’s really about is thinking through the entire experience at work. And one of the ways to make sense of it is just go back to Maslow’s hierarchy. Just as in your regular life, your job is just like this pyramid. If you don’t feel safe, you’re not going to think about anything else. And after you feel safe, then you think about belonging and esteem and then accomplishment and goals and self-actualization.

Josh Bersin:
And if you look on the right, everything we do in work is somehow mapped to this. The history of employee experience goes back to industrial engineering. In industrial engineering in the 1900s, people started to study Frederick Taylor in particular time and motion studies of employees. And we looked at physical things like how much weight they were carrying and how far apart things were in the factory and so forth, just figure out how to optimize work.

Josh Bersin:
Then, in the 1930s, actually it was Freud and Carl Young, who first looked at the psychology of work and said, “Oh, you know there’s some emotional things going on at work too. So maybe if we take care of people’s emotional state, we might improve productivity also.” And we started doing surveys and we entered a world of engagement surveys, climate surveys, annual surveys. Then of course, somewhere in the early 2000, roughly 2007, 2008, we all got mobile phones and there was Yelp and there was Glassdoor. We said, “Oh, maybe we should survey people more often. Maybe we should get some more frequent feedback from people.” And all of this explosion of interest in pulse surveys grew.

Josh Bersin:
And now in a world where basically it’s a design problem. How do we design the systems and jobs in the company so that they’re easy. And so they’re more obtainable by people. And so we in HR have been bolted up to work with IT, work with facilities, and think about not just job design, but work design. And in fact, this is one of the things we’re working on in our Academy, there’s a whole program on this. And so the problem has become a little bit more complicated. We have the issues on the left, sort of the Maslow’s hierarchy issues of, do I have the right skills? Do I get along with my team? Am I on the right? Do I have the right tools and so forth?

Josh Bersin:
And then all of the stakeholders at the bottom, and what’s really going on in EX is this is becoming a corporate issue. It’s not an HR problem anymore. And so it’s now reached really the entire range of employee experience. We’re going to be publishing a big study on this in Q2 with all sorts of case studies. It’s a really important part of HR. And I think for you in the HR function, or as a recruiter, this is a major theme in companies. And a big part of it is listening and feedback. We did a lot of surveys and studies that last year about the pandemic. We looked at DEI. We did a really interesting study on DEI called Elevating Equity. We did one on the pandemic response, did several others.

Josh Bersin:
And what came out of all of these studies, where we ask companies to tell us about all the things they’re doing in HR is the number one performance process is listening, hearing what’s on people’s minds because we don’t know what’s going on. The virus itself is unpredictable. Economic changes, social changes, regulatory changes, workforce changes, last year were very hard to predict. And so we need to listen to people and let them tell us, so open meetings, surveys, lots and lots of crowdsourcing activities. These are really part of the EX2.0

Josh Bersin:
And so the EX market has become a market of continuous listening. And in many ways you could have predicted this because this is what we do with customers. I mean, you don’t survey the customers once every 10 years. You try to serve the customers maybe every quarter, if you can, or you ask the salespeople, what are people saying about our products? Or why are they returning them? Or why are they not buying them? We need that data, and we needed an HR too.

Josh Bersin:
Now, one of the other things that’s risen to the top of the agenda this year is diversity and inclusion. Now, and I’m going to show you just a little bit of our research on this in a minute. We’ve studied this, I’ve studied this multiple times in the last decade. And one of the things we’ve found is that when you look at HR and all of the things we do from recruiting to onboarding, to pay to career, to performance management and on and on, and on the companies that are the highest performing companies, don’t just do it. They do it in an inclusive way. They have unbiased data-driven standards and practices, and they hold themselves accountable to being inclusive.

Josh Bersin:
Study after study has shown, I won’t go through the data, you can read about it on our website or through the report. That companies who are more inclusive perform higher. By the way, if you look at the engagement data from last year and this year from Glint and Qualtrics, the two biggest surveys of employee engagement, the number one driver of employee engagement is belonging. I feel that I belong at work. I feel comfortable with my team. I feel like people listen to me, that’s really about inclusion.

Josh Bersin:
And what we learned in the elevating equity research, which is available now, it’s free on our website if you just poke around, you’ll be able to download it, is that there are five things that you have to do to create an inclusive culture. You have to listen to people. You have to really strengthen HR capabilities. By the way, most HR people do not feel comfortable with diversity and inclusion practices. You need to make sure senior leadership are committed to a diverse and inclusive business, not just an HR program or a bunch of HR practices. You need to measure it and you need to hold yourself accountable.

Josh Bersin:
And I just read an article this morning, right before I got on the webinar about McDonald’s publicly not only disclosing the diversity metrics, but holding their leaders accountable for diversity with their pay. That is what it takes, because this is a business strategy, not an HR strategy. In fact, one of the ways to think about diversity and inclusion and equity for the year ahead is to look at what’s going on in the Biden administration. The Biden administration, they didn’t just create a program about equity in the United States. They basically said everything we do is about equity. How we deal the transportation infrastructure. How we deal with unemployment. How we deal with healthcare, How we do deal with the vaccines. Everything has to be done in an inclusive way. And we have to look for underrepresented or under privileged people or undereducated people in an equal way to everybody else. And that’s really what’s going on in companies. And this is going to be a massive theme continuing through the next year.

Josh Bersin:
Another part of the employee experience and engagement is psychological safety. And let me just take a minute on this. This is not a new topic. It actually comes from Amy Edmondson from Harvard. It’s a book that’s a couple of years old, but it’s very relevant right now. She’s studied healthcare providers and help healthcare teams and found that the teams that had the highest patient outcomes in her studies had the most number of problems. And what she basically found that, doesn’t make any sense. She said, “Well, why would they have more problems?” And when she got under the covers, which she realized, they didn’t have more problems, but they talked about the problems. They expose the problems. They discuss them. They had a high degree of psychological safety. Psychological safety means you can speak up and people will listen.

Josh Bersin:
And as you can see from this chart, if you kind of think about the four quadrants, companies operate in different quadrants here. We have a client who’s in the upper left quadrant where they actually do not have a psychologically safe environment. Everybody is very nice, but you’re not allowed to speak up. And they’re really trying to change that because they have to move faster and they’re evolving into the cloud and some other things. So this is part of 2021 too, is not just creating a great diversity inclusion program, but making sure that you have a culture where people can speak up and you can get the information you need to make decisions more quickly.

Josh Bersin:
As far as well-being, the really inevitable trend in well-being is away from health towards performance. There’s a lot of research on this and lots of vendors and offerings and services and various things you can buy for well-being, but the way to think about it, it’s not just lavishing people more and more benefits. I mean, everybody sort of likes that for a while and you can buy people exercise machines, and so forth. It doesn’t make as much difference as you may think. What really matters is things that help people do their jobs in a more productive ways. Because I showed you earlier. Most people, the reason they enjoy work is they enjoy the work and they enjoy the people at work. And if they can’t get their job done because they’re tired or somebody is getting up in the middle of the night sending them emails, or they don’t have the right skills, they’re not happy.

Josh Bersin:
And so the well-being agenda is moving from one of cost reduction and insurance costs, which is where it started to focus on total performance. And that’s a really positive thing to me for business. And it’s going beyond that. It’s really also reaching into the ideas of citizenship and volunteerism and taking care of society. Now, if you look at the data on people under the age of 35, most younger workers are very aware of the social issues we have. They’re very aware of the DEI and inclusion issues and citizenship and environmental and climate change issues. And they want to be a part of the solution. And so part of well-being at work is also giving people an opportunity to give back, giving people an opportunity to participate in local community events. And so there’s a sort of evolving growth of the well-being strategy and companies to cover all those topics.

Josh Bersin:
Learning continues to be massive. This is one of the biggest investment areas of HR. Every year, there’s more research on why we have to do more re-skilling up-skilling. It’s not as complicated as it sounds. I think the first point I want to make is that, the consumption of learning is high. It continues to go up. Last year, most companies told me they consumed far more learning than they ever anticipated, and people are happier and more productive and more successful when they’re learning. And the way I interpret that is human beings are learning animals. From the minute you’re born and you learn to eat and speak and walk and everything else that happens in your life, you’re learning, and that’s the way our brains are wired. And when you’re not learning, you’re unhappy.

Josh Bersin:
So think about learning as much more than a training problem. It’s really part of your entire employee experience. And the learning industry is very, very complex and messy, and it goes through phases, just like everything else. And we’re in a phase now where we’ve got learning content everywhere. We’ve got learning content on our phones and on YouTube and in our corporate systems and people are offering videos all the time. And there’s podcasts and articles and books.

Josh Bersin:
And so what we’re really trying to do in the learning industry is move learning into the flow of work. Microsoft introduced a learning app in Teams, that’s going to help with that. The learning experience platforms are all designed for this. And so, one of the strategies that you really have to think about, and this is not easy in a big company is simplifying the learning experience and using technology to make it easier to find what you need.

Josh Bersin:
And what’s going on under the covers is major, major evolution of learning technology, where a lot of the tools in the learning industry are looking at skills that a person needs or appears to have, and then recommending learning based on those skills. I won’t spend a lot of time on this chart. But what we’re really finding and doing a lot of work on this is that, you as an HR person or an HR team need to decide what the critical business capabilities are for your company, especially if you’re doing recruiting, and from them, determine what skills you want to develop or source in people.

Josh Bersin:
And you get to decide what the business capabilities are. In fact, in HR, we are introducing our capability model in HR and you can actually go through it and assess yourself against it if you join our Academy. And you’ll see that they’re actually business capabilities. And so this is a really interesting, fascinating growing area of HR and very, very important. And it isn’t just technical skills by the way. If you look at the demand for skills among CEOs, CEOs want human skills. They want power skills, they want skills and the ability to prioritize, to lead, to work in a team, to be flexible, adaptable. Learning agility is a skill, ethics, integrity. These are the things that people really want.

Josh Bersin:
And these are the skills that create growth in wages. If you look at the history of wages by different job categories, the jobs that have increased in demand and increased in wages are not engineering jobs per se. I mean, if you’re in the right engineering discipline, you’ve been doing fine. But really it’s what we call high social high math or high social low math management, leadership, project leadership, and people that can do both. People that have technical skills and good human skills.

Josh Bersin:
And it’s even more true amongst younger workers. If you look at this chart, it is a little bit confusing, but young people are on the right, older people on the left. And what it’s showing is that younger workers are even more interested in the human behavioral skills’ development at work because they learn a lot about technology and software and tools in school. So this isn’t just a problem of digital skilling. It’s really a problem of power skilling.

Josh Bersin:
Okay. HR tech is a big part of this. Let me see how we’re doing on time here. I got three more minutes and then we’ll open up to questions. The HR tech market is really hot at the moment. Companies are going public. Valuations are very high. And the reason it’s so hot is we’re really moving to a new era, an era of tech that really does a char in the flow of work. And Workable as a tool like this that makes a recruiter or a candidate or an employee or a hiring manager’s job easier.

Josh Bersin:
This has been a big change. HR technology is very complex under the covers. It takes years to build these systems and they were originally designed as forms, automation systems for HR managers to type things into. Now, they’re really look more like chatbots and mobile apps and much, much different. Companies have spent a lot of time and will continue to spend a lot of time on HR tech. And more and more of the energy in the HR tech space is going into this red area, which I call the employee experience layer, making the systems easier to use, making them more intelligent, allowing you to interact with them on a chatbot or by voice, or more recommendations from the system on what you want to do.

Josh Bersin:
Nobody has time to go poke around in Workday and find the right screen to enter your vacation. If you could just talk to the system and say, “Enter my vacation,” boom done. Let’s go back to work and finish what we were doing. So anyway, that’s what’s been going on in HR tech. Let me finish up and just talk about the HR profession in a few minutes. And then we’ll open up to questions, going to only give you guys some time.

Josh Bersin:
The final thing I want to just touch on is you and us as an HR profession. The reason I started our Academy couple of years ago is that I really believe what’s happened in HR is we’ve become a center of innovation. Everything in the area of talent and recruiting and learning and development and pay is changing. And you can’t just kind of go to a course and learn how to do it, and then do it. You need to learn the basics of it and then learn how other companies are doing it and learn about what’s unique inside your company and the culture and business strategies inside your company, and then design something.

Josh Bersin:
So a lot of what’s been going on in HR is re-skilling of us. And I think about you and us as HR people like engineers, we need to be what we call full stack professionals. We need to understand the domains of HR. We need to understand how to be good consultants. We need to understand the business and the industry and the competitive drivers in our company. We didn’t understand technology and data. And we need to understand how to be leaders, how to interact with leaders and how to develop leaders. And that’s a lot.

Josh Bersin:
And one of the things that our research found in the last two years is that the companies that invest more in HR capabilities are the higher performing companies. Because in a world where most of the jobs are service jobs and I told you the biggest criteria for great recruiting is the recruiter, not the technology per se, nothing against Workable, but you have to have a good recruiter to go with it. Those are higher performing companies. And so my sort of final recommendation is invest in yourself, take a little bit of time to make sure that you as an HR professional are keeping current on what’s going on in the economy, in your company, in the profession and the domain and the tools, and of course in society.

Josh Bersin:
And I think if there’s anything I’ve learned as an analyst over the years, you in some ways are a representation of the societal pressures on your employees for your company. That’s really what HR does. That’s why HR is such an important profession and becoming even more important in the year ahead. So anyway, that’s a little bit about what’s going on. There’s many, many things to talk about. But Carolyn, should I open it up to questions? Are you still there?

Carolyn:
Oh, here. Yeah, let’s do it. I have a unprecedented amount of questions and even more wonderful feedback on this presentation. Everybody is very thankful. And to answer the question of the hour, yes, we will share out the recording of this presentation as well as a few of our top takeaways after this webinar. So don’t worry, I know it’s a ton of information, but you’ll be able to share it with your team, look back.

Carolyn:
And before I hop into these questions, I do just want to give everybody the opportunity to let us know if you want to learn more about Workable. So I will just launch a quick poll right now. And for any of you who aren’t super familiar with Workable, we are a recruitment tool. And we’ve been spending this past year really investing in some of the most important tools to help you reach your goals and accomplish a lot of the things that Josh was talking about.

Carolyn:
So wonderful careers pages, branded careers pages, video interviews. We do have a tool where you can hire your internal talent and approach it as an internal marketplace. So yeah, just a lot of cool stuff that we’d love to show you. So feel free to answer that now. And I see we have a lot of customers who are giving us great feedback. Thank you so much. Love to see that.

Carolyn:
And while everybody is responding, I will just go ahead and start you off Josh. So like I said, we have a ton of questions. I’m sorry if we don’t get to all of you, if we don’t, we’ll do our best to answer a lot of these questions with upcoming blogs. We’ll definitely be talking about a lot of things that are in this presentation. But the first one is really interesting to me, and it’s a pretty broad question. But do you see any key differences between the UK and U.S. with respect to the future of HR and recruitment, just because we have a ton of customers in both of these areas, so?

Josh Bersin:
I don’t know that the world is that different. I think the economic climate in different cities in the UK is different than it is in different cities in the U.S. But I think the workforce dynamics are very similar and the level of technology adoption is very similar. So I’m not aware of anything huge, it’s different. I talk to a lot of companies in Europe and I think we’re all going through a lot of the same issues, so sorry, I can’t make it.

Carolyn:
We’re basically seeing the same thing over here. The biggest priorities it’s just across the board where it’s a small world. Okay. Moving on. So Lucy said she would love to hear your thoughts on AI and machine learning, moving into the recruiting space. Where is it helpful and where does it make sense to still have that human centered approach?

Josh Bersin:
Well, I mean, you guys in recruiting are just like everybody else, you’re getting augmented, you’re not getting replaced. There’s probably three huge areas. Sourcing. So most of these platforms like Workable can find candidates more quickly and better qualified candidates for on high-level issues. The second is screening, chatbots and intelligent screening tools can quickly weed out people that are just the wrong fit and they can self-select. And the third is in the area of assessment, which is massive. And there’s quite a few questions in here about, assessing skills.

Josh Bersin:
It’s kind of a black art to assess skills, Good recruiters have ways of figuring out what people are actually capable of doing through looking at their job experience and talking to references. But there’s also some pretty significant AI driven tools, including video interviews that allow you to get much more intelligence about people’s true capabilities. They’re never going to be perfect, but they’re getting smarter all the time.

Josh Bersin:
So those are the three areas that are big. And this all started with just simple word matching, does this resume match this job description? And what percentage of the words look like they’re similar, so maybe this person’s worth talking to? So it’s come a long way. And I think what it’s doing is it’s making your job as a recruiter, even more human, selling, communicating, listening, understanding, talking to people are really more of what you’re going to be spending your time on as opposed to scheduling interviews and get doing all sorts of screening questions on people that the system can do for you.

Carolyn:
Awesome. Yeah, that totally makes sense. And going into the next question. So we had a lot of chatter going on in the chat box around employee experience, and it’s just like this huge overarching subject that bleeds into DEI and wellness. So we had a few questions come in, asking who is responsible for driving employee engagement? Is it the employer, the C-suite, HR, hiring managers?

Josh Bersin:
Well, it depends on the size of the company. If you’re a big company, there’s probably a team of people working on this, including IT and HR and facilities. If you’re a small company … if you’re a medium size company, you might have somebody in charge of employee surveys and employee communications. And that person is probably sitting on a ton of data about who’s saying what about what, and probably pulling their hair out, trying to communicate that data to the people that need to have it.

Josh Bersin:
And if you’re a smaller company it’s really, the head of HR really needs to be out there talking to managers, talking to employees, looking at data and getting a sense of what are the problems we’re having. But ultimately it’s the business person’s problem, the CEO’s problem. If people feel unsafe, if the jobs are difficult, if they’re not getting enough training, if the management is not giving them enough support, HR can only do so much.

Josh Bersin:
The CEO has to care about that. And in a company where human value is one of the most important things you have. It’s also the CEO’s job. So I would encourage you as an HR person to talk to the CEO about it and make sure you guys are all on the same page as to where you want to spend money on time on it. And it isn’t just piling on more benefits and piling on more perks, that’s not really what this is about anymore.

Carolyn:
Awesome. We have a ton of more questions that are coming in. So I’m trying to sift through to make sure I answered the most commonly asked ones. But I think an interesting one is going back to internal mobility. What are some of the obstacles you usually see at these companies that aren’t really doing it right. And how can you overcome those and really make the most of your talent pool?

Josh Bersin:
The biggest obstacle to internal mobility is often management or awards. Am I going to be penalized for letting one of my employees leave my team? And is it going to make me underperform in my team? And am I going to suffer, in which case I’m going to make it hard for them to leave? Or am I rewarded for encouraging people to leave my team and work somewhere else inside the company? One of the CHROs I met with years ago used to say to me, she said, “I’d go to management development and I’d talked to leaders and I would say to them, you don’t own the people working for you. I do. You’re taking care of them so that I can move them to the next job. That’s your job, not to hoard people and create a team that’s really good and then don’t let anybody know about it because you don’t want them to steal it away.”

Josh Bersin:
There are incentives sometimes that create that kind of behavior. That’s beginning to get changed, but that’s the number one. The number two is, how do we decide who’s eligible or potentially a good candidate for an internal position. Do we have a tool for that? Do we have a process for that? Is it random? Do we have a career pathing strategy where we automatically move people from marketing to sales and back. Is it culturally unheard of for people to move from IT to another job? I mean, a lot of companies tell me, Oh, we never moved people from so-and-so to such and such. Why not? I mean, it probably would be good if you did it, into and out of HR. Is it a good thing to take a job rotation in HR?

Josh Bersin:
Some companies would think about it as the death of your career. Oh my God, I have to go work in HR. Actually, that’s not true. Everybody. I know that’s coming into HR from a business job said, “Oh my God, this is a lot more complicated than I ever realized.” And vice versa for you guys to take a job in the business. So those are the things that tend to get in the way is breaking down those barriers.

Josh Bersin:
Ultimately, though, if you look at successful careers and there’s a lot of research on this, the most successful people in business have moved around a lot. They’ve tried a lot of things. They’ve sampled different careers and roles and they’ve learned from that. And given that people live into their 80s and 90s and 100s, you’ve got time to move around in your career. You don’t have to stay in one thing the whole time. So those are some of the tips.

Carolyn:
It’s a good answer. All right. We have just a few minutes left. I’ll see if we can get one more in. Going back to benefits, you spoke about benefits being something that’s trending upwards while pay isn’t necessarily which makes sense because we’re in need of maybe new and different benefits now that we’re working differently. What are some of those benefits that seem to be working that companies are adopting that maybe we can think about to improve our employee experience?

Josh Bersin:
Flexibility is huge. Giving people time off and flexible time to work in different locations or different time zones. Relatively flexible pay policies so people can kind of dial up and dial down different benefits depending on what they need. A lot of companies have hundreds of different benefits and nobody uses them. And so if I’m not using it, how come we’re paying for it. That’s one.

Josh Bersin:
Educational benefits are huge right now. Access to online learning programs and things that you’re buying for employees, let the kids have them, let their families have them. That’s a great benefit. I think these health and exercise and fitness and well-being programs are good. I’m not sure they’re as important as people think they are, but I think they’re kind of a branding and, and recruiting tool that people like.

Josh Bersin:
But if they don’t like the job, if I get a free Peloton subscription, but I hate my job that doesn’t make my job any better. So I wouldn’t over-rotate on that. And I think just fair pay, paying people fairly and giving them a sense of belonging goes a long, long way. You don’t have to overpay people. Some companies overpay people because it’s a very competitive company and they really kind of expect very, very high performing people to come. I think if the pay is fair and the environment is meaningful and inclusive, most people are very, very happy and they don’t expect lots and lots of other benefits.

Carolyn:
Yeah, well said. Well, that brings us basically to the top of the hour. I want to thank you again so much for all of this. Like I said before, the engagement and the questions are unprecedented for us. So for all of you who asked questions and didn’t get answers, please make sure you’re subscribe to our blog, we will do our absolute best to focus in on all of this. We already have a lot of great stuff in the plans. And then of course go follow Josh, he has a ton of wonderful content out there. But thank you all so much again for engaging with us today, for showing up. Any questions you have, reach out to us and we’ll be in touch.

Josh Bersin:
Thanks everybody.

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