Kimberly Cassady
Chief Talent Officer Cornerstone OnDemand

Kimberly is a veteran human resources and operations professional where she has led global teams to strengthen business objectives while creating an inclusive culture grounded in learning and fueled by teamwork. She has lead workforce transformation strategies through high-growth, acquisitions, and other key pivotal organizational changes.

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On today’s episode of the RecruitingDaily Podcast, William speaks with Kimberly Cassady about introducing gigs to fight the Great Resignation.

Kimberly is the chief talent officer at Cornerstone OnDemand and a veteran human resources and operations professional. This is a great conversation! We invite you to tune in and leave your thoughts in the comments.

Listening Time: 26 minutes

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Here’s your host, William Tincup.

William:

Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup, and you are listening to the RecruitingDaily Podcast. Today we have Kimberly on from Cornerstone. We’ll be talking about introducing Gigs to fight the Great Recession. So, this is going to be really compelling, and I think I know where she’s going with this, but let’s get her to explain.

William:

Kimberly, would you do us a favor and the audience a favor and introduce both yourself and Cornerstone?

Kimberly:

Sure. Excited to be here with you, William. Kimberly Cassady, I’m the Chief Talent Officer at Cornerstone on Demand. Cornerstone is a talent management company. We produce talent management software. Everything from learning, performance, succession, compensation. And yes, we do eat our own dog food, drink our own champagne. I know that’s one of your favorite terms, to kind of bolster in. So, I say that tongue-in-cheek, but yes, we do use our own product.

William:

Which is good because you get that feedback immediately from your own folks.

Kimberly:

100%. And we also have feedback as HR professionals for our teams. Like, “This is how we would utilize it-

William:

That’s right.

Kimberly:

… This is how we leverage it.” Yep.

William:

You also have a really really great customer advisory team, as well. And so, you get feedback from a couple different places, which-

Kimberly:

Yeah.

William:

… which is really, really useful. All right. So, give us kind of the broad overview, the kind of introduction to Cornerstone Gigs.

Kimberly:

Yeah, thank you for that, William. I heard you say the Great Resignation, and-

William:

I know.

Kimberly:

… I think that is true of the first few months in this sweeping turnover trend. But I like the newer phrase I’ve heard of Great Recruitment. Because resignation really implies dissatisfaction, and-

William:

Right.

Kimberly:

… that people left for a specific reason. Whereas, the Great Recruitment, I might not be looking for a new opportunity, but I’m certainly being sold on the growth potential I have, where the grass is being painted much greener than where I’m currently at. And organizations spend a lot of time, effort, and money recruiting externally, and don’t necessarily invest internally with that recruitment with the same rigor.

William:

Yeah-

Kimberly:

And that’s where the gigs come in. Go ahead.

William:

Yeah, it’s almost like we give up. But we focus on other things. After we’ve worked very hard, again, time, money, and energy, to your point, we recruit them, and then all of a sudden they get in. And it’s not like we stop, of course. There’s all kinds of other things that go on. But for whatever reason, there’s still kind of a focus on externally bringing in new people all the time, and it’s also a reason that internal mobility hasn’t … It isn’t done well by a lot of firms. So, go ahead, I’m sorry I interrupted.

Kimberly:

No, no problem at all. A lot of companies’ number one reason for turn, exit, or dissatisfaction is lack of growth and career development.

William:

Hmm.

Kimberly:

And we think of it very linearly, like it’s one path. I have one place to go, one direction. And we don’t spend a lot of time on that cross-directional, the lattice of the career, and helping the people expand their opportunities. And that’s where the Gig program for us really came into place, and it is truly leaning on the notion of a gig economy within Cornerstone. And so, any manager can post a gig and we utilize our own ATS for that, so it looks just like a regular posting for an opportunity that employees apply to.

Kimberly:

And that has really helped expand, one, a business need of people having needs fulfilled on their team, but also a growth path and an opportunity path. And while we initially thought is, “Here’s a great way to develop skills in the organization and expand on the notion of career development.” What we found is it’s also helped people connect across the globe. So, folks that have posted an interest in something, they have found there’s others like them.

Kimberly:

We’ve had people completely change teams as a result of being a part of a gig and realizing there’s this whole other world available to them. So, different relationships are also being forged as a result of the Gig program.

William:

So, where did we start? So, I know how we got to this place, but where did you all in particular, where did you kind of … Sitting in someone’s office? Did you … What’s the genesis?

Kimberly:

Basically, in a way it was something we had been ideating on, “How do we continue to create opportunities within the organization if there’s a team that maybe has had a lot of turnover, how does that team continue to grow beyond, say, the borders that exist within their team?” And sometimes leaders are resistant, and talent-hoarding occurs. And so, it’s both the leadership responsibility and the employer responsibility to engage in this career development path. And so, we ideated on this for a bit, and our first gig was actually a group of employees putting together the Gig program itself.

Kimberly:

So, it was gathering people who were interested in the idea and the concept, talking about the pros and cons, how it would work, what is the length of time, anything you could debate about an opportunity like this came from our employees. So, it truly was for employees by employees.

William:

Oh, that’s fantastic. So, okay. So, now that we got kind of a baseline of where we’ve been, and it’s … This is obviously this is a program to fight turnover and employee disengagement. It’s also to kind of, to answer that question of why people leave, or why they go on and choose something else, is because we potentially aren’t giving them other avenues or other things to do within the firm.

Kimberly:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

William:

So, a quick question before … Or I want to get your take on something before I ask the next question. Do you all, do you as a people, do you look at exit interviews, or do you believe in exit interviews or stay interviews? What’s your take on either exit interviews or stay interviews?

Kimberly:

In my role, I believe in leaning into data quite extensively. You have hearsay from employees and data is a great way to back up what’s being said. So, we do a lot of polling, surveying of our teams. That includes when they come in. So, through the interview process, throughout the lifecycle. Some are more extensive and involved, and some are one to three questions, on a rolling basis where we gauge that level of interest, excitement, development, sentiments about leadership. And we also do exit interviews.

Kimberly:

And really pay attention to those reasons for dissatisfaction, as well as the reasons for satisfaction so that we can ensure we build upon those programs as well.

William:

Well, that … Okay. So, tell us how Gigs actually, now that we have kind of the gist of the story, how do they work? How does it actually … If someone wants to create a gig, or post a gig, or start a gig, et cetera, take us into that world.

Kimberly:

Yep. We have a form that leaders can fill out, describing what their gig is, that gets vetted by somebody on the talent team to make sure that it’s following the format, structure that we would want a gig to be, that it’s not just busy work for somebody, that it truly is an opportunity to grow and develop. That gig gets posted, we take applications across the company, we have a specific offshoot of our ATS that we call our International Gig Station.

Kimberly:

And leaders interview and select their gig, the person fulfilling the gig. And they begin to work together once their current manager understands the scope of the project and how much time’s going to be dedicated to that individual in this incident of learning.

William:

So, and then the hope is … So, structurally that’s how kind of it becomes born, and then people, employees let’s call them, they are. Employees then raise their hand and then apply for the gigs?

Kimberly:

That’s right.

William:

And then what’s the process to clear them and get them started on the gig?

Kimberly:

Yep. So, the interviewing gig manager will take a look at the folks that have applied and conduct interviews, select the person who will fulfill that project, and there’s a final review with the person’s current leader to ensure the success of that person, both in the development of their gig and in their current responsibilities. It’s important that that’s seen as a partnership of those two leaders in this investment so it doesn’t become a, “This person’s not performing in their current job because of the focus on the Gig program.” We want both leaders aware of what is on the employee’s plate, and ideally, items can be moved around so that this isn’t just another job that somebody is taking on and devoting more hours, that it is part of what we would hope to be a regular work week.

William:

And the goal [inaudible 00:11:14] … Obviously some of the things that happen are engagement and retention and all of those things, which is important enough, if we could just stop there.

Kimberly:

Yep. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

William:

But what do you also want folks to learn, either on the manager side or on the employee side, what do you want them to learn with Gigs?

Kimberly:

Yep. What’s tremendous for leaders to learn and pick up is when you have somebody outside of your function step into your function, they come with a wealth of knowledge that your team doesn’t have. So, it’s not just, “This is an opportunity for this person to learn a skill experience.” It is also an opportunity for fresh eyes within the organization, who has a perspective of how things work, to share that cross-information with the group.

Kimberly:

And so, there’s tremendous insight that is gained by having those conversations that wouldn’t normally exist in a regular work week. And that creates tremendous innovation opportunity.

William:

I love that. Because again, it’s kind of a try-before-you-buy on some levels, so the employee can kind of see, “Is this something I thought I liked? Product marketing? I did a gig and low and behold I hate product marketing.” So …

Kimberly:

Yeah.

William:

So, and I love the way that you’re thinking about in terms of fostering collaboration, people kind of coming in without some of the … I don’t know, already the optics of the department or optics of the team, et cetera, and being able to kind of give a fresh take.

Kimberly:

And then-

William:

Go ahead.

Kimberly:

When they go back, when the gig ends, and provided they don’t apply to be on the new team and move on in an open capacity, they also take the experience of working with those individuals, and what they’re doing, back to their home team. Many years ago, I had the opportunity to step out of HR into a true manufacturing operations role. And I brought my whole wealth of knowledge of HR and talent management to the operations team in a deeper way that that group hadn’t seen before. And when I stepped out of that role six years later and came back to HR, I had a much better appreciation for the burdens that a business leader goes through, a [inaudible 00:13:59] owner, when it comes to compression and deadline and revenue and quota, that I today am a better HR leader as the result of having had that experience.

William:

Oh, I love that. And then again, it’s just perspective and experience, and again, being able to kind of say … A lot of people come up through sales, they come up through HR, come up through marketing, and then once they get into something, another role like that, and it’s so different, they can … It’s like there’s a freedom to it.

Kimberly:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

William:

That they can now express themselves in a way that they possibly couldn’t have before. You mentioned it earlier, but that’s why I kind of wanted to revisit it in terms of gigs and how we think about balance, and [inaudible 00:14:46] potentially even mental health, something COVID has obviously taught us a little bit more about … This isn’t extra work. It’s not like you’re asking the employee to sign up for another 20 hours a week of work.

William:

You’re asking them to … Those that raise their hand want to do something different, but they don’t want to necessarily leave the company to then do something different.

Kimberly:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

William:

So, taking on a task kind of makes a lot of logical sense. How do we also help the manager and help the employee manage that balance, and just make sure that the balance doesn’t get off kilter?

Kimberly:

Right. It’s an important part of implementing a program like this, that you can’t just leave to chance. When people are trying out a new responsibility, or taking on a project of great interest to them, they’re super excited and energized by it so of course they want to do their best job. But like many of us, even when we’re preparing to take vacation or go on holiday, we’ll work extra hard ahead of that so that we don’t burden anybody else. Because of sense of team, and commitment, and obligation that we bring to the role or that we bring to our teams.

Kimberly:

So, there is a risk that the person will simply continue to do their job as is, but through excitement of the learned opportunity, add that time on. That’s where that manager-to-manager connection is key and important, about the investment being made in this person, and this is truly a learning investment. As opposed to getting an intern on the side to help along with something in addition to their job.

Kimberly:

So, that connection, that time, that discussion, it’s important to have to ensure that somebody isn’t overloaded.

William:

Right. So, you mentioned skills just briefly, and I want to kind of come back to it. Obviously, we have a skill shortage. We don’t have the right skills in the right place all the time. So, how does Gigs, and how do you all think about Gigs, in terms of just building your own skills and building employee skills, but also making sure that we don’t run out of the skills that we do have, somehow don’t get outdated. And so, this is kind of a refresh as well. So, take us into the world of the relationship between these gigs and the way that you all think of gigs and skills.

Kimberly:

Part of setting up the gig is to identify what the person will learn as a result of a venture down this path. And ideally, that’s where the gig applicant/candidate can really lean into the things that they want to enhance the most, as well as the skills that they currently have that they think they can bring to the opportunity. So, there is that chance, that place, that safe space, for somebody to develop skills they don’t have or enhance the skills that they do have.

Kimberly:

And I think one of the misnomers around skills is that everybody needs to be a specialist, that everyone needs to have or be specialized, and that’s just not the case. I don’t know if you’ve read the book Range by-

William:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kimberly:

… David Epstein. And he talks about the specialization is more the exception than the rule, and that by far, we need more generalists, people with a broader range of skills as opposed to a subset of very special skills. And a Gig program really leans into that jack-of-all-trades to really help somebody, or jane-of-all-trades to really help somebody showcase what they already have, the skills that they’ve already developed, and showcase those to new leaders to be able to use them in different ways across the organization.

William:

Okay. So, got three questions left. One is getting started, what’s your best advice for leaders, and we won’t even limit it to people or talent or HR. But just leaders that want to get started with Gigs, how do you advice them in general, and on the way, the path forward, if you will?

Kimberly:

Yep. I talked about having a Gig Committee as our first gig. You don’t even need to go that deep and make it that complex. Find a few leaders who are interested, or if you are a leader who’s interested, pick a couple key projects and try them out. You’re going to learn through that trial and error of how to best set up an opportunity like this. That notion of waiting until it’s perfect to deploy it, I think in the time right now of the Great Resignation, you don’t have the luxury. You want to let people know that you’re interested in their skills and their skill development now, in the here and now.

Kimberly:

And so, pick a couple projects you have and get them launched. See who’s interested. Formally, informally. And just get your program going, running, and you’ll see that it has legs. You’ll be able to interview the participants, the managers, the employees, what did they like, what didn’t they like, and build your program upon it.

William:

I love it because it’s practical. That’s why I love the advice. It’s like, again, “Don’t try to get it perfect because it probably won’t be perfect to start off with and it might not ever be perfect, and that’s also okay.”

Kimberly:

Right.

William:

Let’s talk a little bit about measurement, what you’re looking for. So now that one’s started, and even you’ve started down this path, how do you look at success, how do you look at measurement, how do you know that kind of you’re on the right path, or what you need to tweak, et cetera?

Kimberly:

Yep. A couple of the simplest measurements in our first coming-up-on-a-year of running the formal Gig program is are we continuing to see managers utilize the program? Are they finding value in the program? Is it serving a need to help them achieve business objectives that they’re seeking? And are we seeing our applicant rate stay up, that it’s gaining momentum? And then conversely, are we seeing when people exit the organization, or through our employee engagement surveys, are we starting to see any decline in that sentiment that I’m lacking growth and development? That we’re seeing improvements in that regard, of people very interested in continuing with Cornerstone, and see their current path be on their current team.

William:

And the future of Gigs for you, just kind of where you see this going, not just from a measurement perspective, but where do you … We wake up five years from now and you’re like, “Okay, Gigs and Cornerstone, it looks like this.”

Kimberly:

Yeah. My pie-in-the-sky dream-

William:

There you go.

Kimberly:

… would be that all recruitment starts internally, that all positions that we have available are given the chance of somebody internally who has the opportunity to develop and grow. We’ll spend countless days, weeks, or even months sometimes, searching for a candidate, and onboarding them. When if we apply that same time into up-scaling somebody within the organization, not only do you have more of a trusted person within your organization that you know they’re more bought-in because of the investment that’s made with them.

Kimberly:

And so, there’s a dual-benefit in knowing the person, and investing in them in a way that they haven’t been before. So, I would love to see in five years, where everything goes through the Gig program before it even gets posted externally.

William:

I love that. So, I know you all have a wonderful relationship with your customers. In fact, you all just finished … Well, no, not finished. But you all have a great customer conference. I’ve been to it many times now. I love it. Because you all do this for yourself, do you feel like you’re eventually, or already, going to be asked by your customers to help them with this?

Kimberly:

I hope we do. And I think in many ways, they’re asking for, “How do I combat the Great Resignation,” without realizing the opportunities that they have before them.

William:

Right.

Kimberly:

And this is one we’ll definitely showcase and highlight to them, that it’s why we produce the blog that highlighted stories from within. And Convergence is just around the corner.

William:

That’s what I thought.

Kimberly:

Yep. It’s just around the corner this November.

William:

It trips-

Kimberly:

November-

William:

It trips me up because it’s usually in either May or June. That’s why-

Kimberly:

Yep, it is.

William:

That’s why I hesitated, I’m like, “It was just … No.” I’ve seen ads for it.

Kimberly:

Yeah.

William:

So, that’s not it. Oh.

Kimberly:

So, it’s coming up, and super excited to share with folks what we’re doing from product to internal programs to DEI initiatives to engagement.

William:

Right. Well, this has been absolutely wonderful, Kimberly. Thank you. It’s just intellectually, and I think as a response to the market, we probably would’ve gotten to this point at one point. But COVID kind of forced us to rethink a lot of things.

Kimberly:

Mm-hmm (affirmative), mm-hmm (affirmative).

William:

And I love that you all are, again, innovative and doing things that are expected of you at this point, but this is really innovative. You’re doing it yourself, and you’ve listened to your employees, you’re providing something that they care about, and you have a really good chance of actually keeping them as opposed to having to go and refill those positions again.

William:

So, I love it.

Kimberly:

Appreciate it. Thank you. We’re excited about it, and willing to share with anyone who’s interested in learning more about the program.

William:

Awesome. Thank you, Kimberly, so much for carving out time. I know you’re busy. And thanks to all of everyone that listens to the RecruitingDaily Podcast. Until next time.

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Authors
William Tincup

William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.


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