How Can Companies Drive Employee Engagement And Thrive In A Hybrid World

Roselle Rogers, VP of Diversity & Inclusion at Circa, joins William Tincup on the Use Case podcast! We discuss how companies can drive employee engagement and thrive in a hybrid world.

Rogers notes that managers need to rethink their strategies and tools to navigate this new place of work. She wants HR and D&I leaders to address these challenges by focusing on new ways to manage employees and leverage new technologies to help organizations adapt.

Rogers explains that Circa helps employers build more diverse and high-performing teams through software-as-a-service solutions. They cater to diversity recruitment and  of course OFCP compliance. Circa provides a platform that enables organizations to navigate the challenges they face, attract and retain top talent, and build a more diverse workforce.

By leveraging technology and innovative strategies, Circa empowers organizations to thrive in a hybrid world and drive employee engagement.

Listening Time: 24 minutes

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Roselle Rogers
VP and Thought Leader in AA/EEO, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Circa

Roselle Rogers, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, is the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Circa with responsibility for leading its DEI strategy and thought leadership initiatives. She is a subject matter expert in HR and OFCCP Compliance, affirmative action, EEO, and diversity; and frequently speaks on these topics at various HR conferences and webinars, educating and keeping federal contractors abreast of trends and recent developments in OFCCP/AA/EEO compliance.


How Can Companies Drive Employee Engagement And Thrive In A Hybrid World With Roselle Rogers of Circa


William Tincup: This is William Tincup and you are listening to Recruiting Daily Podcasts. Today we have Roselle on from Circa and our discussion, our topic today is, how can companies drive employee engagement and thrive in a hybrid world? Probably a question on everyone’s mind. So why don’t we do quick introductions.

Rosa, would you do us a favor and introduce both yourself and circa?

Roselle Rogers: Absolutely. Thank you. I’m Roselle Rogers. I’m Vice [00:01:00] President for D&I at Circa, and I’ve been in human resources for over 30 years, as well as in recruitment, technology compliance, and DEI for the last 16. My company circa we help employers.

Build more diverse and high performing teams. And we do that through our software as a service solutions that cater to diversity recruitment as well as O F C P compliance. I’m very honored to be here with you, William to tackle this very important topic. And as you said, it’s. At the top of everybody’s mind.

William Tincup: It has to be right. Coming out of what we’ve just come out of has to be on everyone’s mind, especially the way that candidates employees wanna work differently. And not just them, everyone wants to work a little bit differently. Just let’s just start off with some basic questions.

How can HR departments and d e I leaders address kinda the new challenges that come with this evolution of work into a hybrid space, whether or not it’s flex or. Total remote or everyone’s in the office. It’s [00:02:00] just, it’s, you go from one company to another and everyone’s got a different model.

Jay: Exactly. But there, there’s so many challenges that come with it. There’s communication, there’s collaboration, there’s the burnout and the stress and mental health issues that we are seeing on the employee front. Not having the right tools. There are so many varied challenges that come with it Now.

Don’t get me wrong, there are also a lot of good benefits that came with it. But along with it came a host of challenges that it presented with. And I think of those challenges as opportunities to become better managers because as managers we’re so used to managing in the old way, managing What we see and now we don’t have that.

And, but we’re still continuing to manage the way we manage in the old way. And it’s time for us to really think about how to manage in this new world. We are still using essential, the old map that we had to [00:03:00] navigate a new world. And it’s time to toss out that map and think of new ways to navigate this new world and think of new tools.

And technologies that would help us manage this new workplace. And there are so many different strategies and we can talk about those. Sure.

William Tincup: Where are we getting our cues right now from? Is it is it more on the leadership side and find out how they want to work? Is it employees and the way that they wanna work?

Is it candidates and the way that they want? Like where are we taking our cues from?

Jay: I think it sw swings. Early on in the pandemic and when we were having early on in the pandemic when we sent everybody home the queues were more coming from managers, from management, we. We could have lost a lot of employees, we could have lost a lot of business.

And at that time we were thinking these are, there are certain positions that don’t lend themselves to remote work. But then overnight we realized we can, because necessity dictated it. And we sent home tools. We equipped them. It [00:04:00] was a little rough, but eventually we got into our groove and developed a cadence.

And a rhythm of working from work working from home. And then as the pandemic restrictions and fears ease, we slowly are bringing people back into the workplace. And now we have settled into a hybrid model where either some of them are still some of your employees are working remotely.

A hundred percent. Some of your employees are working. Part-time remotely and part-time in the office or you have a combination of both. And of course this is not to say that there are industries that don’t lend themselves or like manufacturing healthcare, where they still have to come into work.

So what we’re gonna discuss is primarily more of those occupations and industries that do land themselves to that.

William Tincup: So when I say the word optimization, normally you and I would historically had a discussion more on the performance side. Okay, [00:05:00] how do we optimize for performance of our employees?

That conversation thankfully, has broadened out to how do we create a better, communication strategy, more engagement. Purposeful communications and connections and belonging, and greater inclusion and innovation. Thankfully when folks hear the word optimization they, they, their minds now broaden out.

Now that’s, the good and bad, right? So they broaden out. So when you’re talking to you both, you do this both for circa, but you also talk to clients a lot. So how are they thinking about optimization in a hybrid world? It’s,

Jay: About how they can make business priorities be fulfilled, but also in a more people-centric way.

That’s the balance that I’m seeing companies take and. We’re [00:06:00] succeeding at it, thankfully. And and there are many forces that are that, that are, that, that are at play, that, that’s making, that, it’s influencing that dynamic. Because right now the employee the employee is in the driver’s seat, right?

And so they can dictate the terms of employment. They, they want flexibility. We’ve heard them time and time again prefer that over higher compensation. And so employers need to balance that need to Drive business performance, business priorities, but also have a very people-centric approach to the way they run business.

And then you have the societal influences to George Floyd, blm, et cetera. That is also influencing management decisions. So that’s the balancing act that I see them take. And in terms of the strategies that they’re using to optimize to, to make this new this new workplace work, we’re being, we are seeing all kinds of creative [00:07:00] strategies to.

To accommodate the needs of an, the employee, but also make sure that they’re fulfilling business priorities and business goals. And it can take many different forms. But one of the things that I. No, it’s happening is there’s a lot more high touch, right? There’s a lot more high touch in terms of reaching out to employees and making sure that new employees coming on board have the means that they need to be successful.

Because a lot of the times, Employees who are coming into the organization are being trained on a remote basis. They don’t come into the office. They don’t have that in-person experience. And companies are developing onboarding Programs that are very high touch from the time that they accept the offer they’re hearing more from the organization and different people in the organization too.

Not just from hr, not just from their manager. They’re seeing outreach from members [00:08:00] of employer resource groups, women’s groups. If they have ERGs or the DI council, they’re already building that connection right away because they know. Being a remote employee kinda lends itself to feelings of not very connected to the organization and the people.

So they’re compensating by deploying intentional strategies to and they’re beginning that outreach from the time that they are high.

William Tincup: Yeah. And even Bo forSo when they’re candidates and pre-boarding and things like that. All kinds of really interesting ways that we, of thinking. Again, when you’re thinking of a remote employee that’s 3000 miles away, you gotta think about their experience complete.

Tear down and build back up of their experience all throughout that process. Which kinda leads me to asking you about how you’ve rethought engagement. You probably in 2019, you thought of employee engagement maybe in a certain way. Maybe your peers probably have thought of it in a certain way.

How do you look at him? Like, [00:09:00] how do you look at it now in a remote world or a hybrid world? How do you look at the construct of employee engagement, either similarly or differently than you did before?

Jay: In, in the past we looked at employee engagement in terms of simply a measure of participation and how much discretionary effort they expand, right?

To do the work that they have. Now we’re looking at it more in terms of what is, what are the conditions first that would land an that would land itself to that. Employee engagement now is creating the conditions that would enable an employee to feel that they belong, that they are safe, that they can be authentic, and be able to then contribute their best work.

We haven’t always put that at the front end. So now there’s different sensitivity and it’s a very [00:10:00] refreshing sensitivity to that. And it’s all part of the people-centric and employee-centric approach now, where we create the conditions and the culture that would enable and empower those employees and make them feel like they belong in our organization.

Because if they don’t have that sense of belonging, they are not going to be able to. Really feel a connection to the organization and to their work. And without that connection, there would not be that motivation. To perform at a high level in their roles. But when you have that connection and you have that motivation and they feel like they belong, that they’re valued, they’re recognized for who they are without having to hide or check any part of themselves and leave that at home.

When they feel that, then you’ll see high levels of engagement. You’ll see high levels of contribution. It, it impacts productivity. And then, and [00:11:00] then it s the discretionary effort thought and processing that we’re so coveting, right? And the time and that inspires fashion.

Among your employees because they feel such a strong affinity now to the work that they do. They trust the organization and they’re committed to it. And because of that, then they decide there’s a higher likelihood they would stay in the organization. So I’ve had

William Tincup: this conversation with myself for the last couple days about someone being feeling valued.

How do because obviously you’d manage this first Circuit yourself. How do you know when another person feels like they’re valued? Like, how do when you’re going to bed at night, when laying your head down on the pillow, how do you get that sense?

Or is it a, is it like a dashboard or is it asking people questions? What, how do you know for sure that people feel valued? There are

Jay: many different approaches and ways to [00:12:00] listening tools listening tools and feeling pulse. You could deploy employee surveys where you ask do they feel like their opinions matter?

Are there thoughts, suggestions and ideas being sought? And considered. And in addition to that, you can have listening sessions, you can have employee focus groups. And I typically would probably have a survey. And then based on that survey, if I identify certain things I want to probe deeper into, I’ll have a listening session.

I’ll form a fo focus group and dive, do a deep dive and ask more to probe into. Any gaps or issues that I’m seeing to have them clarify more so I could understand and start to address those and even ask them for their opinion in terms of what do they think would be good ways of solving or addressing those issues or barriers?[00:13:00]

William Tincup: I wanna ask about leaders for a second. With this return to the office that, that you and I, we see every day some announcement, somebody wants everybody to go back to the office. For me, it’s just my opinion. I think it’s a tell of a bad manager that if you’ve been through this, experience that we’ve all been through and you still want people in an office, then you’re probably not a great manager.

Now that’s a little harsh, which I can get away with. I’m not expecting you to to agree with at all on any level. But my point is how do you, what is your take or sense of like why people want employees back in a box?

Jay: I would qualify it, my qualify my answer though in terms of Okay what’s the reason when we say back in the office AST permanently back in the office?

Back in the office for specific days or for specific Right. Purpose, events. Because there are many ways you can [00:14:00] Oh yeah. In the office, oh, and

William Tincup: I’ve seen successful, I’ve got friends that are doing really rolling out, really successful. Everyone’s in. In the office on Wednesday and they don’t do work.

It’s all on soft skill development. It’s all on collaboration. They, get around and brainstorm ideas. They talk, they share about things about their family and in the other four days they work however they wanna work. If they wanna come in the office, it’s open. If they wanna work from home or work from somewhere else, that’s fine too.

Like that. That’s not what I’m talking about people that are you knowing them back

Jay: In the office. And that is where I go back again to like we need to. We need to be better managers. These are opportunities for us to manage better. Because we’re so conditioned to managing what we see, what is close.

Managing the proximity and visibility. And

William Tincup: management. By walking

Jay: around, I know the present, you have to be at your dad, right? We’re so used to that [00:15:00] traditional way. We didn’t really. I even without Covid and even without we, we really should have gotten rid.

William Tincup: I know. This just sp everything up.

That’s the thing. We should have been much further along than we were covid, just un. It’s unfortunate that it took such a gruesome. Event to finally get us to a place where we’re having these conversations. Yes.

Jay: Because we’re not in the industrial age anymore. No. We’re managing knowledge workers.

We’re managing tech workers. Yeah. This is the knowledge industry which can be performed. Anywhere, essentially. And the pandemic proved that to us.

William Tincup: Yes, it did. If you didn’t believe before the, here we are, almost three years, to the week when everyone went home.

And you know what, if you didn’t believe it you had three years to prove it to yourself as a leader.

Jay: Exactly. And I think that the problem there is that one Those managers haven’t realized that yet, [00:16:00] right? That they need to step up and manage better. And why do I say it’s managing better? It’s because.

The hybrid world would actually teach us to set very clear expectations. And when you have clear expectations and you articulate metrics, performance metrics, and people understand how their performance will be measured and what it will be measured against and what are the milestones right, that they need to be able to Check to, as they progress towards those goals and have.

Technology the other half, I think technology needs to rise to the occasion, right? We can’t continue to use the same technologies that we had to make them fit here, right? It, technology and digital tools need to evolve and they are developing fast. But we need better tools for collaboration.

We need tools that will give us visibility into Not just not just facilitate [00:17:00] communication with each other, but give us visibility in in, into how things are going. That would allow us to give input and comment on each other’s work. And that would help us work more in an agile way.

And to approximate the collaboration that would’ve happened if we were in the office. Back in the old day. It’s,

William Tincup: and probably because of the generational some of the differences that you have, it’s probably even better that they’re not next to each other. This was just this weekend, actually this past weekend, me and I’m not Gen Z.

I’m squarely Gen X and me and about five guys my age, were all sitting at a table together, all on our phones. Talking and chatting with each other over, over text message, like we could have been anywhere in the world. We were together at a table and it’s just it was what you would see my sons are square A, gen Z.

It would, it’s what you would see in them. And so it’s like there’s a, we have an opportunity here [00:18:00] to collaborate differently.

Jay: Yeah, exactly. And Cisco. There was an fun, fun fact. I read that Cisco said going forward post pandemic 98% of all meetings will involve at least one remote person.

So how do you manage that, those meetings and how do you design meetings that include both in-person and remote employees? So our practices need to evolve. We can’t have this huddle in the office, in the conference room while. Your remote employees can’t hear and they don’t know what it is that you’re pointing at.

And that leads to exclusion. So we need to just rethink how we do that. Would it be better? So here’s a question, right? If you are in the office, would it be better for you to to sit in a conference room with four other people or Would it be better for you to all, for the five of you to actually log into your computers and be on the same footing as all your other remote?

Employees calling [00:19:00] in. Yeah.

William Tincup: And it’s something, ed you brought a wonderful point. It’s something that, that we have learned through Covid around empathy about em empathy and the relationship with leadership in particular leaders. Seeing, children and dogs and cats and, just this intersection of life and work and having a bit more empathy.

I was worried that when we got out of Covid that we would lose that. I haven’t seen, I haven’t seen, I haven’t seen that we’ve lost all of that, but I am still kinda worried that empathy is gonna get thrown to the side. But it’s, for me it’s okay, we again, We have this wonderful opportunity to learn a new skill, and if we weren’t already empathetic this is a great way to now become empathetic and to understand where pe other people are coming from.

I had a a question because I wanted to make sure of what you do and what you care about with d e I. How do you do it just now? How do you keep it top of mind? For leaders [00:20:00] like, cuz, d e i, we’ve been talking about diversity in particular for 50 years. It’s not a new topic.

It is broadened, it is as two point societally from me Too and all the way to Love is Love, George Floyd, black Lives Matter, et cetera. It has become more of a societal pressure. Thank God again, it’s unfortunate it took those events. To get us to the conversational point, but we’re at that point where we are talking more about it.

There are, there is more attention, more budgets, more people like yourself that have positions that are doing things programmatically. However, leaders are like goldfish man, they just stay, they, dude, that’s a tweet, isn’t it? Their attention span, they got to their.

They have a lot of polls there’s a lot of things pulling their attention. How do you keep d e I top of their at to top of their attention list?

Jay: You bring up a good point because [00:21:00] I hope it’s not going to regress. I know. Because we did have broad gains in the beginning in 2020 after George Floyd was murdered and the, I became really at the top rose to the top of everybody’s list.

But now with inflation, with rising costs, and then we’re entering periods of uncertainty, right? The e i is competing with many other business priorities and it’s really easy for a company to lose sight of that and the need to sustain efforts and we’re. We’re starting to see some indications of that.

Unfortunately we’re seeing bi professionals losing their jobs as layoffs happen across the economy. But so now is the time to really reiterate why we engage in the e i in the first place and double down on that and, Reiterate to everybody and communicate within the organization and to those leaders why D E I is a key business strategy.

It’s more than just a program. As we mentioned, it [00:22:00] influences and has a positive impact on business performance. There is no executive in the world who will disagree. If you are able to present proof to them that d e I has a positive impact on hiring, right? It has a positive impact on retention, on morale, productivity and those are metrics that any c e o would love to have cuz that benefits not just underrepresented groups, but it benefits the entire organization.

It lifts everybody up. So that’s the key message that we want to make sure they remember that is. There is a positive business impact there. And it’s di is not just something that you engage in, in times of prosperity.

William Tincup: It’s not a luxury.

Jay: Exactly. You don’t just do training in times of prosperity.

You don’t just do finance in times of you. You do it as part of your key business strategy. And then

William Tincup: why actually, and I’d love to get [00:23:00] you to kill this if it’s a bad idea, but. I think the D E I done is actually competitive advantage. Oh,

Jay: absolutely. Imagine a high, highly inclusive culture where you have high retention, high disclosure.

And. And employees performing at such a high level that your productivity is through the roof. Innovation. Exactly. Yep. I who would not want that? It’s a different, I can’t imagine, especially when you’re a smaller company, because I hear that all the time that we can’t afford to do dni, we’re too small, et cetera.

We can’t afford not to. Exactly, because you are competing for the same talent. That’s right. As the big guys. That’s

William Tincup: exactly right. That’s exactly

Jay: right. One top talent. You. This is how you can be differentiated from them.

William Tincup: Rozelle, this has been absolutely wonderful. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast.

Jay: [00:24:00] Oh, it’s my pleasure. And thank you so much for inviting us over.

William Tincup: Absolutely. And thanks everyone for listening. Until next time.

The RecruitingDaily Podcast

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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