This is going to be a great topic, especially from what we’ve learned from the pandemic with remote work. There are all kinds of great ways that Amy and I are going to take this conversation.
Listening time: 36 minutes
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Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup and you are listening to the RecruitingDaily podcast. Today, we have Amy on from HRCI, and we’re going to be talking about trusting your employees, which is going to be a great topic, especially from what we’ve learned from the pandemic, remote work, work from home.
There’s all kinds of great ways that Amy and I are going to take this conversation. So without any further ado, Amy, would you do us a favor, the audience a favor and introduce both yourself and for those that might not be familiar with HRCI, introduce HRCI.
Super. Thank you, William, for having me. Um, my name is Amy Dufrane and I’m the CEO for HRCI. I’ve been with HRCI for hard to believe, but a decade, and have more than 25 years before I joined HRCI 25 years experience in human resources. CHRO role with an organization that regulated the municipal securities market called MSRB. Before that, I was the chief HR officer for the optical society and have been in the classroom for decades. Both teaching as a faculty member, several courses, both in undergraduate and graduate, HR and organizational behavior and design. As well as a student, with getting my undergraduate degree from Hood College. My master’s and MBA in human resources from Marymount University, and finally, my doctorate from the George Washington University, all located right here in the district, Maryland and Virginia.
So as the CEO for HRCI, I worked to set the strategy for our organization. We’ve been around for over 45 years now, which is pretty incredible. We are the largest HR certifying body on the planet. We’ve certified more than half a million people in our existence. We have certifications for individuals who are at all stages of their careers from beginning to individuals that are practicing global HR, to people who are practicing HR in the United States and people who are practicing HR outside the United States.
Most recently we launched our digital learning platform, which has more than 200 courses, high-quality content to help to advance HR and business skills. And our most recent endeavor is, we’ve taken the secretariate role of the TC260, which is the standard-setting organization for human resources. So we’re really excited about that and are really looking to continue to elevate the profession in any way that we possibly can.
So like you, William, we have our, we have a podcast, we have a webinar that we’re doing once a week. We’re doing micro summits throughout the year too, that are free and available to folks to really spawn their thinking and, um, make them even better professionals than they are today. So that’s a little bit about HRCI.
And what’s, I’m a huge HRC supporter because I went through the testing process for the SPHR, and I can tell you that it’s, it’s arduous, and which is what you want, in a, in some type of certification, you want it to be something rigorous. You want it to be something that means something. And so you know, had a lot of friends since then have also taken a test and asked, you know, you know, how do you study and how do you go about it and this, that, and the other.
It’s like, Hey, you gotta take it seriously because it’s, there’s a, it’s, it’s not a, it’s not a, something to be taken lightly. So, which I appreciated because when I see PHR GPHR SPHR behind someone’s name, it means something to me. Because I, I know how I know how, at least for me, it might have been an easy test for somebody else, but
I, I took it too long before I came to HRCI and it was not easy. And I like many people, we all say, we never want to take that again. So we’re going to keep our recertification up, right.
That’s right. Again, that’s what you want in a certification. But before we get to the, uh, the trusting your employees, I want to just kind of, from what you’ve seen from your vista, because you’re training a ton of people, you’re also interacting with a ton of your members and, you know, people that have come through on, on all levels, like you said, what do you think that is?
What do you think HR learned about itself during the pandemic, you know, from March 13th of last year to now, what do you think is like the single biggest thing that they’ve learned about themselves?
Wow, that is a great question. I think, for an HR leader, um, I think that the past 15 months have illustrated how pivotal HR is to the business. And I think that CEOs who were paying really close attention to what was happening now, really understand the true value that HR brings to, um, the organization. And, you know, I think this, this past 15 months was, you know, the hardest.
I just got off a call with a CHRO literally right before we, right before we chatted. And, you know, she said, this was by far the hardest 15 months of her career. And, you know, I think she’s, you know, talked about how, um, how challenging this has been for her. But I think for HR folks, this has been, you know, just, just a time to wear so many different hats from a sort of achieve that culture and ensuring that the culture stays true to the values with whatever practices that you’re putting in place.
Um, you know, with your hybrid workforce, with, um, you know, kind of unlocking the doors so that people can come back to the physical space, because it’s just not back to work. Many people, everybody has been working and in some cases working harder, we’ve all been, you know, we’ve got Zoom fatigue, we’ve got people who have dealt with family members who have perished because of the pandemic. And so, um, you know, it’s been these prolonged periods of, of unknown for some folks, people who have, who are wearing more hats than ever before, um, you know, as maybe a teacher when they weren’t a teacher. And, um, so I think, you know, HR has had to really stand firm, um, with the, the organization and making sure that they are, um, keeping the organization aligned with its values. And yeah,
No, I think for me, one of the things that I’ve seen from a lot of HR leaders is they, you know, especially CHROs and VPs of talent, people that, that, uh, kind of the highest levels, if you will. They already knew that HR was important. Like, Hey, you know, it’s not like they woke up one day and say, oh my gosh, well, HR is important. They already knew it, but what was great, I mean, a silver lining not great.
What a silver lining out of the pandemic is, the rest of the organization kind of came to that realization. That, you know, what HR is actually really important employee communications, like things that we might not have, you know, might not have given a whole lot of, uh, of a priority to. I think that’s where the C-suite and the board really picked up on, yeah, this stuff is, people operations is human resources, human capital, whatever you want to call it.
This stuff is actually really important. And they’ve thought it, they’ve even said it in the past, but there was nothing like going through this 15 months to then reiterate like, yeah, it really is. It’s something we’ve got to put more time, money and energy behind. Which is good for HR because, you know, it, it, again, it not just validates, cause I think most people in recruiting and HR kind of know how important their jobs are, but it’s, it’s also nice that the rest of the organization has kind of picked up on that.
Yeah. I think the tail and, you know, around the globe, many, you know, HR folks are still dealing with this. So even though in some areas we’re kind of at a different stage, there are some that are in the very beginning. I mean, in fact, you know, we’re hearing about what’s going on in India and, um, and many CHROs have employees in India. And so this is a whole, you know, it’s sort of a different level of, of concern and situations that, that HR is really in the middle of.
So I think the tail of this is gonna, it’s gonna be long, um, for us. And I think you’re exactly right with this. The investment that HR has so desperately been asking for and needed is now for organizations that are saying, okay, we totally get it. Now we need to, we need to get money. We need to invest in. This is really important. Um, I think that that will be, um, something that will, be sort of up on the, on the better part of something that’s been, not so good on so many levels.
So, so let’s pivot to the trusting your employees. Because we, we brainstorm some topics, but I love the idea of, okay, now we, now, now we get to this place. And again, they’re all the things that kind of have come before have kind of made us who we are and what we do and all that, you know, we are kind of a culmination of some of our experiences. So when, when you say, when you’re talking to your peers and, and talking to other HRCI folks, when you say trust your employees, what do you mean?
Yeah. So I, you know, you have got to, um, live what you’re, what you’re doing and what you’re saying. And I think that the pandemic has really illustrated the need for you to trust, trust your employees at a level that is, that was unheard of before the pandemic. And I think that, we’ve seen, you know, at least at, at HRCI, you know, at a time we used to have policies, not just at HRCI, but everywhere.
Where, you know, it’s sort of like your dog can’t be in the same room with you and your kids need to be in daycare. And you’ve got, there were all these policies that you have and all that kind of the gloves came off when, when COVID happened. And I think that managers, if you were going to embrace the situation at hand of trusting your employees to do the best that they can do, then they’re gonna do, they’re gonna do the best for you that, that whole trust component.
And, you know, I think I’ve talked to several, CEOs and CHROs that you know, people are doing the best they can right now. And people want to do the best for their organizations and you as, as a leader need to demonstrate that. And, you know, be understanding with folks who are dealing with, sort of this issue, these issues that none of us have dealt with before.
And, so I think that issue of trust comes back tenfold. If you are trusting that your employees are doing what they’re supposed to be doing, and they’re in fact doing it, they’re, they appreciate that you’re not micromanaging. And, you know, have you followed up on this? Have you done that? I think that that is very valuable, that trust goes a long, long way.
So one of the things about trust it’s, it’s like, any great relationship, right? There’s some cornerstones of any great relief, communication trust. One of the things I think that the pandemic has revealed is maybe the disconnect between the values. I think you’ve touched on it, when we first started is that, you know, we, you can write down some values on a piece of paper or, you know, put them on the back of a business card or, or in your office or whatever.
But it’s living your values actually backing up firing, hiring, promoting everything goes through your values. And I think, I think trust is woven into that again. And once you, once you really have values that everyone has kind of bought into, then you have, you have a way to trust people because you’ve got, you’ve got a framework in which to, to trust people.
But it’s some folks. Again, there’s a disconnect or potential disconnect of maybe saying a value, you know, something like transparency, you know, it’s a value. And then going through something like the pandemic and not being transparent, that breaks essentially that breaks, or it can reinforce that trust you, you have. That opportunity of those values of either shining through and helping you codify trust and build trust with people or destroy, lack of better word, breaking down trust.
So what, when you’re giving it folks, because you get a lot of advice to people, again, all over this, all over the, all over the spectrum of, from HR, you know, interns all the way, the CHROs in the largest companies. So, you know, talk to a lot of different people. What’s your take when you talk to them about values? Cause trust seems to me, at least outside looking in is a way, is a mechanism, is, is a mechanism to see if your values are really what you live.
Right. And I think, you know, the. One of the things that we’ve learned over. And it’s reinforced not learned. It’s reinforced that communication is key. And I, as a CEO, I have overcommunicated over the past 15 months about what’s happened. And I don’t think I’m going to go backwards. Even when we go back to the, to the new way that we’re going to be working together.
I don’t know, I’m not saying the new normal or normal or whatever. I think that communication and I, was on the Wall Street Journal, teacher of everything, listening to Marc Benioff from Salesforce, talk about this whole communication and how he ramped up his communication just dramatically over the past 15 months. Trying new ways to communicate with people. Because, you know, I think it used to be that you could pass by somebody’s office, pop in and say hello, and just kinda catch up over something.
And so it’s that communication does lead to trust and people, you know, and, and even if it, even in the communication, if you say, Hey, I can’t tell you everything yet. I will. People trust you because they know there’s a reason why you may not be telling them something right now. There’s, you know, more to unfold around, you know, a topic or a situation or whatever, but I think that that’s, that’s how people, they you’ve, you’ve got to, you’ve got to utilize that, that communication. And, and for us, that that’s part of our values. And many organizations have that as part of their value. To really embrace that communication. And, and, you know, people need to feel a part of something and they feel a part of something they feel that you’re sharing with them. They trust that you’re taking care of them as, as a member of the team and it, all of those things go hand in hand, together.
So I think that, you know, we heard about organizations that took really good care of their employees to the, to the magnitude that they could. And then when they said, you know, and they were very transparent and, and saying, we’re probably only going to be able to pay you through the end of the year. But we’re going to keep you on the payroll because we’re going to go back to, you know, sort of the, into the workplace.
But then when employers kind of ran out of cash and couldn’t pay their employees anymore, when they did come back to work, back to the normal in which they’re working and the had people come back into the office, those employees came back running into the office. It may have been, you know, a restaurant, a casino, whatever, but organizations that didn’t do that, that weren’t transparent about it that had a value that.
You know, that created this distrust are having a hard time recruiting and finding talent right now, and getting, getting those people back into the fold that they had there before. Because they, they broke that, that bond of, of transparency and trust with their employees.
And, and, you know, it’s not to say that, I mean, there were some organizations that couldn’t. They absolutely couldn’t pay their employees throughout this entire time. But it’s, you know, I think that that’s, they were very transparent about it.
It’s interesting that, I mean, both of us have mentioned the word communications. You know, probably five or six times during, during the time that we’ve talked. And what’s interesting about that, is sometimes you can communicate as an HR leader or a recruiting leader. You can compete, you can, you know, communicate what, you know. Okay. Here’s, what’s known. We’re going to hire a thousand engineers next year.
But that’s done, we’ve done our workforce planning. We know what that’s going to take. We got a budget, you know, and all the other stuff, but this is what’s known. I think it’s the ambiguity, you know. Like, especially at the beginning of the pandemic, when really no one knew what was right around the corner. And it was like, okay, by Easter, it will be this by June. It’ll be this by, you know, and so the communications of what you know to be true. But also what you think to be true.
And as you’re discovering what is true, et cetera, I want to get your take on because you know, you’ve been through and you’ve got your PhD. So you’ve been through the academic side, but you’re also over the largest, you know, Institute that actually helps train people. How do we train? What do you like, what do you think the future of HR communications? And I don’t want to say to employee communications, but it’s much larger than that.
It’s, you know, communications in general to internal stakeholders, external stakeholders, et cetera. How do we train HR folks to be better at communication? I don’t want to assume that they’re horrible at it, but I’ve also, you know, I’ve studied this a fair amount myself. So I know that we could always, we can get better at communication. So what are you, what’s your take from both an HRCI perspective, but also going through the process of getting your masters and your PhD, like how much were you trained in communication?
Yeah. That’s interesting. Not. I, I wasn’t. There wasn’t a true, you know, like communications. Right, right. But, you know, I think it’s, you know, what I, I think back to sort of HR. Kind of the old school of HR, which is, I mean, there’s a fair amount of information that we have. That we know about. That we have to keep close to our vest. Right. I mean, it just is that way. I mean, and, and so I think that, you know, that I think HR sometimes carries that too far in. In sort of, okay. I can’t say anything about anything.
That’s a really good observation really. Cause you’re right. We have salary data. We have, we know where the sexual harassment claims or investigations are. There’s some things that we just can’t talk about, but that doesn’t preclude us from communicating about other things that we do know.
That’s right. And, and, you know, I think that we’ve gotta be transparent to a point, you know, that, you know, we’re, um. We’re doing training because, we’re doing sexual harassment training because as an organization, this is an opportunity for us to get better. And we haven’t been good at this. So now we should do this. That’s like an example of what, you know, an HR person could say.
And you’re not saying that there was a sexual harassment investigation, but you’re saying, Hey, we didn’t do very good at this. And we’ve got to get better. And so it’s, it’s, it’s recognizing and being transparent as much as you can, um, instead of saying nothing about it and all of a sudden this, you know, we’re going to do sexual harassment for the whole organization. I’m using that as an example. Cause that’s, that’s just sort of what came to mind quickly, but, you know, and, and I think that, that doesn’t, that, um, you know, I think it just, people kind of, you know, go Hmm.
Why? So instead of just like. Okay, we’ve, we’ve had an issue. I mean, I think, you know, when you think about, you know, the diversity equity inclusion and belonging. Um, that organizationally, what, what we discovered and uncovered over the past year or so is that, we haven’t as, as organizations. Many, not all. But some organizations have not done a really good job. And for, you know, you can, there’s, there’s all sorts of opportunities. And so, um, I think that there’s not, you know, this is kind of off of communication, but, you know, I think it’s admitting where your opportunities are and, and asking for help. It’s trust.
I mean, ultimately it comes right back to the idea of, okay, employees and candidates want to trust the organization. They don’t, no one joins a company to not trust the company. That just doesn’t happen. You join the company because you believe in it. And so you want to trust it. But there’s a vulnerability that companies have. That HR kind of holds some of those vulnerabilities. And I think that if we let some of those things out and go, Hey, we need to help here. You know, whatever the bit is. Whatever, if it’s, if it’s on any of those things, diversity, inclusion, equity, quality, belonging, whatever. It’s just like, Hey, we want to get better at this.
But I’ve also seen the opposite where people are actually doing good work in some of those areas, let’s say. And they’re not communicating, and they’re not taking the opportunity to communicate like, Hey, we’re actually doing a pretty good job where we set out, you know, 15 years ago to really change our dynamic in female engineers. And, uh, we invested a lot of time, money, and energy into it. And, you know, we’re, we’re doing a pretty good job. Like there’s a reluctance, almost to communicate and to be transparent. But I think that kind of goes along with some of what you said. It’s like, we hold these things so close to our chest, that, that that’s not helping.
There’s certain things that just should never be communicated. Fair’s fair and covered, but. The other stuff we should be vulnerable and ask questions. And maybe even when we’re doing a great job, tell people. Hey, we’re, we’re actually doing a pretty good job at this.
Exactly. Exactly. Because you’re your team. The people you’re telling this to. Your, your broader team will go out and talk about that. Be an evangelist for your organization and say, Hey, I work for a company that, you know, made a commitment to hire more female engineers, and they’ve made marked progress and I’m really proud of it. And, you know, they’ll talk to their engineer colleagues.
And they’ll, you know, I mean, I think that that’s, you’re, you’re right. That, um, it’s almost, you know, it’s part of the HR business. Which is the PR part of the HR business. We need, we need, we need a little bit of work there. So a little bit of training.
A little bit of training. A little bit of certification. That’d be good. So with transparency, are you noticing that more, maybe this is a pandemic-related thing or post-pandemic related thing or not. Do you think that employees and candidates, do you think that they want more? That they’re kind of requiring more transparency from the organization?
For sure. For sure. I think people, if you’re not transparent with them, then they may go to sources online of people that are saying things that are not exactly true about your company. And so, you know, put it out there, you know. We had a tough year, you know, with COVID, and so you put it out there and, and you’re honest and transparent about it. And people go, oh, okay, I get it.
And when they come in and they start working, they go, yeah, we know, we know that. You know, it may have been a tough year, but. So I think that people will find out about it one way or another. So if you’re trying to recruit people to come in, you’ve got to tell them what they’re going to need to know, to make, make a decision to come work for you.
Reminds me of advice I was given a long time ago when I first started in HR. Was own your story, or someone else will.
That’s right. That’s right. That’s exactly right.
Terrified me at first. Like, well, some of this stuff I can’t control. It’s like, well, yeah. Not shocking. However, if you don’t fill in those gaps, someone, or another, as you said, another vehicle, another technology, or another place online will fill in the gaps of that story. So either you do it or someone else does it. Let me last question, I know, cause you’ve got to get onto the next thing, but remote work. Cause I, I love the concept of trusting employees because I think that that’s, first of all, I think that’s just growth. You let people fail. You, you know, you trust, you set down some good ground rules.
You communicate, you kind of help with ambiguity and ambiguity and transparency. But ultimately remote work has made us all kind of rethink work from home and remote work. You know, a combination of the two has, has created some really interesting dynamics for a lot of leaders. Not just in HR, but just leaders in general. You know, having people in the office, being able to see them every day and then, you know, being on slack or being on, on zoom or whatever.
And, uh, some of that’s enabled trust. And some of that has made folks question trust. So where, I mean, what have you seen? And again, you, you get to, beauty of your vista is you get to see a lot of things from a lot of different folks. How do you think that remote or work from home has either enabled or facilitated trust or in some ways maybe not. Maybe not as much as you’d like.
Right. You know, I’ve, I’ve talked to, um, CEOs kind of at both ends of the spectrum CEOs that were like before COVID happened. Before we even knew that it was a thing, you know. They said there is no way I would ever allow my. Never. It’s never going to happen. Everybody has to be in the office. If they’re not in the office, they’re not working.
Now some of those same gals and guys are like, I’m never going back to the office.
Exactly. Exactly. And they’re going, you know what? Yeah, no. And so, and then the other side, which is, you know, there are organizations that are completely 100% virtual. Right. And then somewhere in between, but you know, I think the fallacy of people physically being in the office doesn’t mean that they’re working. You know, I mean, I think that it’s, I, you know, I think that people inherently want to do the right thing. They’re there to, they know that they’re there to do a job.
They’re there to give back to the organization. And, you know, I think if you have great, you’re educating your leaders and your managers, you’re putting in place goals and objectives and KPIs. And you’re telling people, these are, this is kind of where we want to get to and, and point them in the right direction and let them go. They’ll do it. That’s, that’s where, you know, the organizations that I’ve talked to that are doing that are seeing a lot of success, success in attaining their goals in retaining people. And hiring people. And that’s what, you know, that’s my philosophy. Which, I mean, you can kind of tell where I’m leaning towards, because that’s where, that’s my, um, you know.
You ultimately, you care less about the, how you get the work done. And you care more that the work gets done. So whatever the thing is that you’re working on, uh, that the critical. You know, there’s a deadline. You know, there’s all kinds of things related to that. However, you’re less. Okay. Do you work on that at 8:00 AM or do you have to work with that at 12 or you’re clocking it. Less, less about that? And I think that we got caught up pre pandemic.
We got caught up of culture being defined of being in the office. So the massage chairs and the lunches that were brought in and all that stuff that became quote unquote our culture. When in essence, that was just a place we worked. And so much, so much of the pandemic has actually taught us that yeah, that’s important to some people. And will always be important to some folks. But not as important to some. I mean, like I’ve talked, I’ve talked to a lot of folks that in, in Manhattan and in San Francisco in particular. Where they, the word commute that’s, that’s, that’s stricken from their lexicon, right. Just the word, like concept of commute. You want me to be on a train for an hour to go what? No.
No, no, no.
That’s out. That’s done, which is fascinating to me.
Yeah. And, and you think about that lost productivity. I mean, we always talked about that before and it was sort of like, well, but you got to come in. You know, you gotta be in the office, it’s there. You know, but now you go, you know what, I’d rather have somebody, you know, sit at home and do something that makes them more productive either personally or professionally. So instead of sitting in, you know, I’m in the DMV, the district Maryland, Virginia, and, you know, traffic here is awful. It’s awful. And I, you know, getting on the train and coming into work. And I just, I think that this has really shifted people’s mindsets for the better, in my opinion.
We’ll we’ve taught, we’ve taught folks. The pandemic taught us that, you know, I use this example, the director of lead generation in a marketing position, it was really easy to kind of think about it. It’s like, your job is to net new 20,000 leads per month. The fact, the idea that you have to sit next to someone else to do that job. And again, these are knowledge worker jobs, of course. If you’re a bank teller, you know, maybe things haven’t changed as much.
But, but working jobs, I think we’ve taught ourselves, which, which is really interesting is we’ve taught candidates, we’ve taught employees, we’ve taught leaders. We’ve taught ourselves. You don’t have to. Now you can choose to, and maybe the company in a hybrid setting says, okay, Hey, let’s, we’re all going to be in the office two days, two days a week, period. You know, just Wednesday and Thursday. We’re all going to be in the same spot. Just so we can all see each other’s face, you know, do some bonding and do some other stuff.
Great. Fantastic. Everybody buys into that. That sounds great. But I think ultimately these hybrid models that you’re, you’re going to be a part of helping shape is, is going to be really interesting to see how companies kind of come to their own hybrid model that works, which gets right back to the topic of trust and trusting your employees and also trusting your leaders to make great decisions.
Um, you and I could talk forever. And I know that you’re already late to your next call. So I apologize, but I couldn’t stop myself. Amy, thank you so much for carving out time for us and our audience.
This was just so much fun. Thank you for having me, William.
One hundred percent and thanks for everyone listening to the RecruitingDaily podcast. Until next time.
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.