The Virtual CPA Success Show: Episode 46
What is the global phenomenon called "The Great Resignation"? What is happening in the current labor force that is affecting companies in various industries?
In this episode, Summit CPA Group's CEO & Co-Founder, Jody Grunden, and our People Operations Strategist, Josh Jean's address this phenomenon and lay out practical steps a company can consider to take this employee retention and hiring challenge head-on.
Jamie Nau: Hello everybody and welcome to today's podcast. Really excited about today's show. We have one of our newer employees here to talk to us about the great resignation as Jody is calling it. Maybe Jody didn't coin that phrase, but it's something that's kind of going around. I think a lot of companies are seeing it during the pandemic saw people leaving companies. So, we wanted to bring Josh Jeans, who is new to our HR team, and talk about this and what you can do as a company to keep employees as well as hire employees. So welcome to the show, Josh.
Josh Jeans: Thank you so much. I'm excited to be her.
Jamie Nau: Jody, want to dive a little bit into the great resignation term that you've heard out there and where you've heard that.
Jody Grunden: Yeah, I didn’t coin that term. We're seeing it across disciplines, all different types of employment. What we're finding is that people are just quitting. That really started from I'd say January and continuing through today where they're quitting for all kinds of reasons. The reasons are good, but they're just different. We're not used to as employers, having this happen. People are quitting for less stressful jobs, higher pay you, you name it. Unfortunately, we're a victim of it as well. You know, typically we would see in any year having about a 16% turnover ratio. This year we're seeing closer to 29 to 30% overall ratio, and it's hit harder in different departments than others. So, it's kind of all over the board with that. I see that also at the creative agency level. People are getting snagged up by ridiculous offers from other agencies. You know, whether I say Google or something like that, you know, grabbing somebody for 50 to a hundred thousand dollars more than what maybe you're paying for them, you know? It's drastic. It's interesting though how we as owners of companies have to combat that. One of the biggest things we've done is we brought in Josh who meets with our higher, or I would say our leadership team. And then we thought, you know what, we need to actually do more for our team than that. So, we had Josh meet with the rest of the team and be a counselor for our team members. I kind of gave the broad strokes there, but Josh, can you fill in what your position is and how your position such a viable add on to our firm?
Josh Jeans: Absolutely. I mean, the great resignation has been coined because, so August was the third month with over 10 million job vacancies in the US. The third month in a row. So I've been thinking about it. My parents had been in real estate for 25 years. I've been thinking about it similarly to the housing market where it's such a seller’s market right now because the supply is so short of homes. The job market, it is such an employee market right now. There's such short supply of talent when compared to vacancies at different companies, you know, everywhere from fast food to Google. You know, I saw an article today that Amazon is trying to hire 55,000 people before the end of the year. So, they're just trying to gobble up as many employees as possible, and it's a really competitive environment. My role really exists, and I kind of tell people this, as I'm doing phone screens, I've got my hand in a lot of different buckets with recruiting and onboarding and making sure people feel like they've been seen, and they have somebody to come to. And really, I'm trying to make sure people have an excellent experience when they're working. You know, I think we're entering into a time where maybe in like the early 2000, we started getting free beer and like bean bag chairs in offices, you know, we're kind of coming to a time I think, especially with the last 18 months how people have kind of taken a step back and reflected and thought about priorities and where their best contribution is with. The world has shifted so much. I think we're also entering into a time where people they bring different needs to work than they used to, or they're really hoping to get something fuller or deeper from their work experience. And, you know, something that I really care about in our firm and in our environment is that people feel like, you know, I show up to work and I bring my best and I contribute and help move the goal along. I'm also seeing, people know me, and people would notice if I'm not around, not just because my contribution is not there, but because they've come to know me as a person and they care about me and you know, so much of those maybe historically undervalued connections and soft skills, I think are moving to the forefront for people especially in such an employee market. Like we talked about, you know, a lot of people have the pick of the litter and in job prospects. And that's not true for everybody, but people have the ability right now to be a little more stringent in what they're looking for and, you know they may be comparing two different job offers. It looks like the compensation is really comparable and they're really digging into what is the culture is. Because maybe I just came from a place of employment that was really toxic, or it was, you know, had a really unhealthy response to the pandemic or XYZ. All these reasons people leave. I think they're starting to really take a step back and refocus and figure out what is it exactly that I'm looking for. I want to help make sure summit is a place where they can get what they need.
Jamie Nau: I think the interesting thing I've seen during these nine months, I'm a data guy, right? When people leave, I really like to talk to them and say, okay, let's try to get a list of why they left and what we can do. And, you know, I'd say in the past we were able to get some pretty good information and able to make changes and move forward or move in a different direction. I'd say with the last probably six or seven people that have left, left for all different reasons, which makes it really hard for someone that's so data-driven like me. That can make it really hard to put your finger on why people are leaving and why people are moving on. Sometimes it's compensation, like Jody said, they're getting great offers from somewhere else. Sometimes it's, I just want to be home with my kids now, or it's a thing of someone doesn’t want to do this type of work anymore. They want to go into a completely different career direction. I think that's the hardest part for me. So, Josh, want to talk a little bit about what are things we can do and what are the areas we can go down to try to keep people when the reasons for them leaving are so vast?
Josh Jeans: I mean, that's a great question. It kind of leads to the point where you've got to individualize some of your knowledge and understanding of your staff and your people. And we're getting into a point where you're right. It's not like, you know, oh, 90% of our people are just going for a higher salary or this large portion of people really want to work in a physical office space. That's pretty rare nowadays, honestly, but because of that, we really have to get in front of these issues. And, you know, part of the reason I'm excited to be a part of the team here is because I'm one extra touch point with people where the hope is that the familiarity and the trust that I can build with our team, will let them bring up smaller things faster and bring up concerns that they might've kept themselves. They might've just sat on quietly. And, you know, I think what we see a lot and kind of what's led to the great resignation is that a lot of times people aren't really voicing the issues they're having and they're just quietly looking for other jobs. We really want to get out ahead of that and figure out, why is it that this person is disinterested? You know, if we had a little more face-to-face time with them, would somebody noticed that sooner and been able to kind of dig into that and figure out, oh, it looks like you do just have too much on your plate, so let's see how we can resource you and delegate some of that out. Or, oh man. You know, we realize that you're just not connecting personally with any single person on your team. Well, does that mean we move you to another group or another part of our team here where you might have some more natural connections? You know, so it doesn't feel so alien for you to be working with people that you don't naturally jive with. And that's neither here nor there. Everybody's going to have different personalities and, you know, hopefully everybody has a charitable disposition and is kind and professional with one another. I think if we're honest with ourselves, we all have people we've really enjoyed working with in the past. And we all have people we've really not enjoyed working with. And that doesn't necessarily mean they're a bad person or even a bad teammate. It might just mean you don't connect. And hopefully if we can get in front of that and address some of that before it comes down the line, or before we get a two week or four-week notice, that gives us an opportunity where we can start to mend some of those issues before they arrive.
Jody Grunden: Yeah, it’s funny. The people that have been leaving have been giving us plenty notice. I mean, four weeks has been prettystandard, with a few exceptions. Now we've had, those that have given us six weeks or six months in that case, you know, so it’s a big range. So I think, they're leaving on good terms. They always say, we love Summit, but maybe I don't want to work as hard and make more money doing something different. It's like, how are you going to combat that? If someone doesn't want to work as hard and make more money, that's kind of tough for a business owner or someone gets in and basically doesn't even show up for the first day. You know, we've had that happen. How many times now? Probably three or four times just in the last few months. How do you prevent stuff like that?
Josh Jeans: That's a great question. You know, I was talking to my wife about this. She was like, it is just baffling to me that somebody would go through all of that time to do multiple rounds of interviews and assessments, except an offer, and then not show up. I think a lot of the reason that happens, there's multiple reasons. One particularly is the adjustment to a remote environment for people who came from companies that weren't. If they didn't already have the trust established and the relationship established to their manager doesn't trust them to do the work. So, they're kind of being micromanaged from a distance and they're feeling that pressure. Honestly, a lot of people are working from home, and they're not worried about their boss seeing them scroll through LinkedIn for new jobs. So, they're just passively scrolling. They're kind of looking out their window daydreaming thinking maybe if I just did something different, I would be happier. So, you've got people who are just casting their net wide and seeing what comes back in. So, it's always, like I said, really interesting to me that people would spend a lot of valuable time going through multiple interviews and doing assessments and things like that. But I think a lot of people are just really curious what's out there and because there are so many vacancies out there right now, people are not feeling the pressure of making a move, but rather they're just wondering, could there be something better? So, I'm just going to keep slowly trickling out. I'll keep my resume updated and keep sending it out over and over. I find that a lot of folks are in a more passive stance when they're pursuing new roles, then historically they have been. There’s usually a little more hunger or a little more fight when people are trying to earn a position. I can see that really easily in the first meet. I know in a heartbeat if you actually know who we are and what we do and why you'd be a fit, or if you just clicked on apply on Indeed or LinkedIn, and you Google really quick, what does this company even do? It takes about two minutes for me to realize that in a phone screen, and to be gracious with that person, and then just let them know that they're not going to be a good fit because I'm not going to waste the resources of the hiring manager for that position, or the teammates who would get involved. If a person's not really interested to begin with, if they're just hoping to maybe make an extra 5 or 10 grand and you know, they're not really looking to leave their position I know that they're not going to be a culture fit for Summit because we don't really do the whole passive, just let life happen to me kind of mode. We're really a nimble, really active group of people who know what we want and we're moving towards that. And we're trying to do that as a team. So, if somebody comes to me and they're really nonchalant about the opportunity that tells me pretty quickly that they're not going to be a a good fit.
Jody Grunden: So if you think they are not a hundred percent sure they want to make a switch during that call, those are the trigger points for you?
Josh Jeans: I would say that, you know, I've started to give a little bit of pushback with some of those people and sometimes, you know, people are nervous and that just presents in different ways in an interview. There are people where this is their first interview in a long time. It can feel foreign to them. And so, they're in a three-piece suit and they're sweating at home on their couch, you know? And usually, I can give a little bit of pushback in a couple areas and how they respond to that is going to tell me like, oh, you actually are interested. You are just nervous but you're pushing through that. I can see that. But if somebody shuts down or doesn’t elaborate, I can pretty quickly close the book on that candidate. And of course, not be a jerk to their face or anything. I thank them for their time. But I'm going to communicate back with them and let them know this is what I saw. This is why I don't think it's going to be a great fit, but I do wish you the best.
Jamie Nau: I have definitely changed the way I interview because of that as well. At my previous company we talked a lot about behavioral interviews, and I learned the behavioral interview book and I still am a big fan of behavioral interviews, but I definitely have shifted my interviewing almost to the point where I leave an uncomfortable amount of time at the end for them to ask questions. Like if I'm going to do a 30-minute interview, I'm going to ask two questions, I'm going to ask two behavioral questions and the have them ask me questions. And with the amount of information companies have out there nowadays, if you're really interested in a company, 15 minutes might not even be enough time to ask questions the questions you have. We have the podcast, we have articles on LinkedIn, we are very active on social. There’s so much information out there that companies out, you should have a good idea of the company and have questions.
Josh Jeans: Yeah, I'll say, you know, I had one day a few weeks ago where I had three interviews back-to-back and in the first one, I'll just say was pretty disinterested. Was wondering if I could make some adjustments to the job description. And I was just like, you applied for this, right? I knew pretty quickly that one wasn't going to pan out in the next interview. She didn't show up, didn't send any communication, anything. And then the third interview that day, she we went over time. She had so many questions. She had read Glassdoor reviews. Multiple blog posts. She had listened to the podcast and yeah, I was ready to make an offer right there on the spot. I was like, okay, I probably need to involve, you know, the people you'll be working with and your new manager. But I finished that interview and immediately reached out to the hiring manager and was like, this candidate just came through, normally I would maybe wait until a few more people I've processed in that batch and then send them over. But I was so excited to move her forward. I knew immediately, let's get her going. I want you guys to meet her as soon as possible, really excited about this candidate because she was excited about us, and she was decisive and excited about this opportunity.
Jamie Nau: It looks like they're interviewing themselves a little bit, you know, like it's almost like they're interviewing themselves prior to coming in because they know what the job duties how they will meet them.
Josh Jeans: Yeah, exactly.
Jody Grunden: I love the conversation. I just want to kind of stop really quick. Originally, we were going to talk about a few different areas of this, but I love the recruiting sites so much, you know, Josh, do you mind coming back on the next podcast so we can get into the rewards and retention.
Josh Jeans: Oh, for sure. Yeah.
Jody Grunden: Didn't mean to stop. I just want to get a double check there, but the recruiting, you know, with what you're saying, it sounds like there's really an opportunity for the employer to really screen out your candidates a little bit better than maybe what you did in the past. Like Jamie was saying, generic questions maybe aren't cutting it anymore. You really want to only bring on those people that are very excited about the position. So, if you were to rehire the person that we had who just didn't show up how would you do that?
Josh Jeans: So, this is hard because this guy has got such an enjoyable personality and is clearly highly, highly skilled. So, he would have been able to do the job well. I think he would have had a really high contribution to a team bringing a really wide breadth of experience to the table. So those were all things that I was excited about with him. I would say in hindsight, I'll put this on myself, maybe some other people on the team that he was going to be working would have dug in on his desire to do the work. Maybe I didn't spend enough time really sitting and kind of pushing on that, because he's such an enjoyable guy, you know, he didn't come in nonchalant like, oh, I've never read your website. I don't know anything about you. He was studied, he was professional and really highly competent. I think some of that might've disarmed me at first. I didn't try and poke the holes in and ask do you really want to do this? You know, any job you take is going to have challenges. Are you ready to face those? You know, do you have the energy and the fight to want to push through and get better and make your teammates better? I think some of that was lost in personality and in competency. And the reality is somebody could be perfectly competent, and they could be a great person to hang out with and grab dinner with, or a drink or something. But if they don't want to do the job, they're not going to do the job and they're not going to stay. Ultimately, that's what it was. So, it is a real bummer. But you know, in some ways it's better to know that right now than to pour a lot of time and resources into that person for 2, 3, 4 months in.
Jamie Nau: The hardest part to me about the hiring cycle is the majority of the time, especially when you're talking about someone that's gone between 0 and 90 days. Someone that doesn't last at 0 to 90 days is the majority of the time. I'm not going to throw a percentage out there because it'd be wrong. But it's the majority of the time. Even if there is one thing, I'm a little worried about for them. It usually is that thing you're worried about that actually like makes them not work out.
Josh Jeans: Yeah, absolutely. I think something that we have to keep in mind is there's always going to be some inherent bias towards getting a body in the door when you're hiring, because if you're hiring, it means you have a vacancy. So, we're in, you know, theoretically there are companies out there who are just hiring a bunch of people and then waiting to get work to give them. And that's not really the nature of what we do. So generally, when you're trying to fill a position, you have a bias towards getting somebody in the door who can do the work? So you find somebody, like we said, you know, who's a great personality match who could do the job. I think it's important to remember like, okay, I am bringing some with heavy bias towards just giving them an offer. And in hindsight, you know, I don't think we necessarily made a mistake extending that offer. I am really glad for his self-awareness to you know, ultimately say this is not going to work out. And sometimes there's going to be yellow flags or red flags, like you talked about Jamie, that we really can push into and dig into with somebody. And you know, you've got to kind of toe the line there because you don't want to put somebody on their heels and on the defensive like, oh, you've seen through me or something like that. But you also don't want to just give people a pass when there’s this issue that came up or an area that you are concerned on.
Jamie Nau: Yeah exactly. So, we are actually right at time here. I know that 30 minutes flew by. I appreciate you coming on Josh. As Jody said, we only touched on one part of the important part of keeping people here. So, we are definitely going to bring you back and continue this conversation because I think I wouldn’t be surprised if the ends up being one of our most downloaded podcast episodes right now. I know a lot of people are going through this. Again, Josh, you and I are meeting almost every day talking about this right now. It is top of my mind. So, we will have to have you on again. Thanks for joining us, Josh, and thanks to the listeners.
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