On today’s episode of The RecruitingDaily Podcast, we have EJ Marin, Head of Solution Engineer for HCM at Nakisa. He has some great tips for HR leaders to successfully undergo business reorganization in a hybrid work environment.
This is a problem a large majority of organizations are facing as we move out of COVID, so we want to talk solutions.
EJ is an accomplished solution engineer and thought leader with a strong record of leading client satisfaction initiatives. At Nakisa, his teams turn corners, creating cloud solutions for lease accounting firms, organization design and corporate real estate.
The big question we address today is on everyone’s mind: how do we take advantage of what we’ve learned during the COVID pandemic and make it part of our day-to-day even beyond the crisis? Afterall, even in the midst of this, we have learned oodles about how we can improve as we move into the future.
There’s a lot to uncover. Listen in for the rest.
Listening Time: 27 minutes
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Ladies and gentlemen. This is William Tincup, and you are listening to the RecruitingDaily podcast. Today, we have EJ of Nakasa. I know I want to make sure I pronounced that right, so EJ, please correct that. But the discussion that we’re going to be having is going to be tips for HR leaders to actually undergo business reorganization in a hybrid work environment. So a lot of things to unpack there, but really, really good stuff, I’ve been waiting for this podcast to happen. So EJ, thank you for being on this show. Please introduce yourself and your company.
Well, thank you, William. I’m very happy to be here. And yes, I’m the Head of Solution Engineer for HCM or human capital management solution that we call [inaudible 00:01:20] for Nakisa. Nakisa is the name of the company.
I should know that. I’ve just been pronouncing it incorrectly all of these years. So thank you for fixing that for me. So let’s talk about hybrid’s older age. I think everyone’s starting to think about a return to some work environment. I’ve got a lot of friends that are going to go back to office after September or after Labor Day in particular. I want to kind of first before we jump hallway into the start, what are you seeing just from your perspective and your clients from how they’re kind of coming to and creating a hybrid model that works for them?
Yeah. I think due to the pandemic, right? Organizations were able to test by necessity or by choice, I would say different work engagement models.
And of course, technology is available today to work from home. There was a big wave of people going to work from home. Of course, there are people who couldn’t go and they had to continue working on premises. And then you have organizations that have a mix, right? People who have to be in presence and people who can be remote. And this proved to be I would say, very effective. So productivity even, you would ask any CEO and they will tell you that productivity even went up a little bit. Now, we have the side effect of that, which is the Zoom fatigue and all that working from home.
And that’s something that organizations are starting to realize and they’re, no meeting Tuesday. For example. So you get to do some detailed cleansing one day, right?
Things like that. So now the challenge is, okay, we have tested these new models and now that we’re getting higher rates of vaccination, people are feeling more confident going back to the office. How can we take advantage of everything that we’ve learned during the crisis, during this last year and how can we make this part of our day-to-day? Right? So now the question is about more, how the work should look like? What are the things that I can do, I can continue doing remote and what are the things I’m going to start doing in the office? Right? To continue being productive and to leverage everything that the resources and productivity that we have already reached, right?
And then you have other companies who are definitely having to reorg or to realign their workforce because of demand problems and issues with the… Yeah, but their companies have been affected more than others. And so now we’re seeing that all these discussions are happening, okay. How the work should look like and all that, but we’re also seeing this moment, and this is something that I saw from Ryan Roslansky, the CEO of LinkedIn, that he’s calling these the great reshuffle. So not only companies are struggling to define how the work will look like, but also now is the battle for talent, right? That we get the right people to do the right things. So even more important now to define those, how the work will look like? How we’re going to engage, and communicate that effectively to the talents, right?
To keep them working, to stay in their organization, or to attract new talents. Because the other thing that’s happening during this I would say, last year is also that companies are trying new business models. Like for example, in the retail space maybe the most evident one, every retailer is going ecommerce someway somehow, right?
So, they are changing and they need new capabilities and they’re developing that in-house when possible, but also now they require more talent to develop these new business models. And, so we have that. We have tried the remote work or work from home. Now, we’re going back, but now we’re also seeing the talent are demanding. So maybe you can hear from Josh Bersin talking about employee branding. So now, employers branding, sorry, that you need to attract. Okay, what is the mission and vision and how the hybrid workforce model will play into that vision? And that’s becoming the top priority for I would say leadership, that those are the types of discussions I’m having week-in and week-out lately.
You know what’s interesting is what we’re talking about is right-sizing, right? So we got this whether or not we liked it or not, or whether or not it was at gunpoint or not, we had this wonderful opportunity to then rethink work.
And again, it’s unfortunate that so many people had to die and we had to have a catastrophic event for us to rethink work in this way. I think you and I both know that we would have probably gotten to this point over years, that some of these things were already in the works and some of these were already being done, but much other things happens, we all have to go and work from home and now it’s a great experiment. And each company has learned something new about themselves. And so now on the other side of that, now that we’ve learned things, we’ve tested things, there’s been some experimentation, some failure, some success, all of that stuff.
And now it’s a matter of, Okay, now, how do we operationalize this? How do we maximize the value and the experience? Right? So now we want to maximize the experience for everyone involved. From managers, executives, employees, candidates. We want everyone to have a better experience. And so now we’re deeply rethinking work and you know this because you all do a lot of consulting in this space. Every company is going to go about this differently. Like what one model works for Zappos might not work for GM or GM’s model might not work with [inaudible 00:08:27]. GM’s divisions might have to actually do that differently. So everyone’s going to be coming to different conclusions of what working looks like and what work looks like. That’s why I’m fascinated about the hybrid model and people trying new things.
Pretty strongly actually, I do believe it’s failure to force people to do something that maybe is either a natural or just counter to their interests. I think there’s ways to get there with options and flexibility. But I’ve actually had a lot of conversations candidate side that are, I want to work from Idaho. So I’m only going to be looking at jobs that… I have a great house, great life, I spend time with my family, or I can do the job from anywhere in the world. I’m only going to be looking for jobs that look like this. Which makes sense from a candidate because they can make those decisions, but it’s also interesting to think about employees and what we’re hearing about the Great Resignation. And I’m not sure I believe in all the hype yet, but I do believe employees have learned a lot about themselves through this process as well.
And how they like to work or perceive how they think that they’re the most productive.
Yeah, absolutely. I would say one of the things that work from home enabled, was trust.
Great point EJ.
Yes. You cannot work remotely if you don’t get a great amount of trust, and with trust also comes responsibility, independence. And what happened is people were, I would say, more empowered to execute and to ask for the resources that they need to complete the job. And so that I think is a common expectation now, right? Why should you care if I work from Idaho or South Montana, right?
Or from Miami in South Beach. If you trust that I can do the job, why not? And definitely, yes. I think we all were in this crisis together and we all started reevaluating our values, who we want to be associated with, what is important life. And of course, there isn’t I would say, a normal rate of resignation and the talent rotation, but maybe what happened with COVID that was put on pause, right?
We paused that because people were measuring the crisis and now that the flood gates are open. So now that people are more confident that they will not get sick and so on, we have now more options. People are starting to see more options, and this is where the employers needs to think about, Okay, how do I retain this? How do I keep this levels of trust and empowerment that I already lived and then it was successful for many. And how do I keep that moving so I can attract the right talent? Right?
With these new models, these new ways of work.
You know what’s interesting is there’s no absolute is either, it’s not 100%. It’s not black and white, is going to be a lot of gray area, we’ve learned that about ourselves. It’s not absolute, isn’t in the sense that everyone has to come back to work, or everyone can be remote forever. There’s legitimate reasons for why people need to be in the office A, B there’s also legitimate reasons why people want to go to an office. We’ve kind of forgotten that, that as an example, you have three kids under the age of five, you might just need a respite. The office is just a place that you can get away and focus and the camaraderie of an office and all that other stuff like we’ve kind of forgotten some of that, that people like to work differently.
And I think it’s companies and managers and executives determining what works best for their company as a whole, and then starting to kind of pass that down all the way to the individual, the employees experience like, okay, what works well for Sally, might not work well for Ted. All right, that’s fine. Well, let’s find out what works best for everyone. And creating environments that makes sense. Because we talked a little bit about reorganization in the title, I wanted to make sure that we kind of touch on that a little bit, because you and I are talking about it reorganization in the sense of, we’ve learned things through this process, and now it’s a good time to then take what we’ve learned and then do something with it.
What are some of the things, give us a… Again, no names, but give us some examples of how people have rethought work and have reorganized around work. I won’t say post COVID, but post a majority of the trauma and where we’re at right now.
Yeah. I would say maybe the easiest part or the emergency type of reorgs that we see very common is succession planning, right?
To have a proper succession plan in place and to simulate what will happen if we lose these key positions here and there and how can we prepare for that? That’s like the easy most immediate type of reorganization that companies think about. And when it comes down to is to identify those talents, identify the people, right? This is where we need to empower HR to have those analytics so they can slice and dice the data to find, and as you mentioned, very well identify those groups, and the needs for those different groups and understand their needs, their experience, and making sure that whatever changes we make to the organization, because we know also that 80% of transformations fail, and we don’t want to do that after a pandemic, right?
We want to make these changes, communicate clearly the objectives, why we’re doing this, and engage the right people, all the decision-makers also in a faster way. That’s the other challenge that HR has today, that the speed of change has changed dramatically. I mean, before COVID, we were seeing transformation and disruption, but now it’s like every month is a new thing, right? So having that, I would say analytic capabilities to do those analysis, find those patterns or groups, and being able to make decisions based on real data and not just hunches, that’s what I think is the challenge that the HR profession has right now to be in accordance to these transformational wave that we’re suffering. I don’t think it’s going to slow down anytime soon. After a big crisis is what we also see is there’s a big consolidation afterwards, right?
Mergers, acquisitions and so on. So I’m expecting these at the end of the year, we’re going to start seeing big ones. We already seen a little bit here and there. So having that ability to have the right information to base your target operating system, your target organization on real data, on real input, that’s very important. And the second thing that I’m seeing on with technology is, for example, Microsoft with the Viva application, they are collecting the employee experience directly from the employee, right? Because now we’re spending more time on Teams, maybe eight to 10 hours a day on Teams. So you can collect the employee experience. You can identify burnout, you can identify it. So you can get all those, I would say, employee experience analytics as well. So you mix them up with your core HR system analytics, your core HR analytics, your talent analytics and making sure that you’re considering all these dimensions when you’re doing changes and that you manage better to change, so it doesn’t create a negative impact to the people.
And again, this is very important that yeah, everybody is, I would say, more flexible these days. Everybody has an open mind towards different ways of working, but also I would say, leadership needs to communicate clearly the objectives and the direction and the why the things are changing into this or that direction. And this is where you engage talent, you engage the right people, and you make sure that everybody’s behind you and not just doing it for the sake of doing it. And which I would say was the modus operandi before, right?
There was like a top-down type of decision. I think right now we have the technology to make these bottom-up, top-down, left and right, all at the same time.
Well, one of the things that you’re touching on that’s super important for organizations to learn is that we’re dealing with a lot of massive change management. Well, we dealt with it at gunpoint because we had to, and now what’s coming next is because we choose to. And so change management is going to happen and everyone’s going to be doing it differently, which again, I think there’s an appropriateness to that. And one of the pillars of change management is communication and making sure that people know kind of what’s coming and why it’s coming and why it’s important, et cetera. I know people will wonder after they listen to this, how do they measure success? How do you know? When you’re thinking about rethinking work, in the middle of it you might not even be able to see the forest or the trees, but how do you guide your clients and how do you give advice to people on… How do we know if we’re doing this right?
I would say, first of all, your employee engagement, if your employee engagement is going up-
At least you have the team to succeed, I would say, being simplistic or oversimplifying. But it’s all about performance, right? At the end of the day, we have to sell more, we have to serve our customers better. We have to be more agile and adapt to different situations and [inaudible 00:19:55] circumstances to generate a financial result. That’s the ultimate goal, but from the HR point of view, I would say, if we can communicate and make people and current and possible talent to identify with your vision and your mission and get behind those transformations, I think that’s the key. And you can only execute a great transformation with a highly engaged workforce, if they’re not engaged that… And we have the data, right?
The first thing that happens when transformation or reorganization happen, is that the top talent leaves, right? They go out running. So I think this is important that again, the main objective is to keep or improve the financial performance, but through the increasing employee engagement. That’s how I try to advise my customers and prospects when we’re talking. Okay, how are you doing today to increase engagement and how are you monitoring the financial part? The financial part, I would say, it’s easy because either you have it or not that’s black and white, but how do you increase the employee engagement to adopt new ways of work so you can improve that financial outcome? And they’ve always came out with a study last month, the competency model, a new competency model chart, competency model that specifically talks to this. And it’s very interesting that finally and they will receive things that HR is in a crossroad right now, that there is a wave of transformation that how HR will enable business capabilities better and faster. And that’s what it’s all about.
So I kind of look at this triangle, right? Similar, and it’s all the same words you’ve used. It’s engagement, it’s productivity and retention of top talent. So, if I’m looking ultimately I can measure all of those things, thank God, now, and I can actually look into, are they engaged? Do we have productivity? Do we have the ability to keep our best talent? Which is you mentioned it earlier in terms of the succession plan, that the succession planning is forever changed.
And that’s probably a good thing, not a bad thing.
That’s probably a good thing, but the retention of that top talent, it’s you still got to have that for your succession plan. One way or another, it’s still going to populate it. Now, we’ll populate it differently and we’ll rethink it of course. But if you’re measuring engagement, you’re measuring productivity and you’re measuring retention of top talent, then you have the ability to at least see what’s going on and then make adjustments. If engagement is not as high as it needs to be, okay. Well, there’s a lot of different ways to go about fixing that.
One of the things I wanted to ask you while we were talking is, do you or do your clients, do they fear kind of a different experience like creating, I don’t know, an office experience or a remote experience? We use two extremes. And people that go to the office day in and day out and [inaudible 00:23:38] and those that never go to the office. Do we now have not just two different paths potentially, but just two different kind of experiences in the sense of does one group get promoted at a faster click than another group? Do they express that fear or worry to you about having a multitude of people working in a multitude of different ways? Sounds great, up until the point where three years later, we recognize that while we’re promoting people that are in the office at a higher click than those that aren’t.
Yeah. And that’s top of migraine now.
Before the pandemic, right? Before everybody was working from home, you had to navigate the office politics, right? And you will get people living in a certain location or living in the headquarters, they will have more visibility and-
… they will [inaudible 00:24:45] more promotions and so on, right? That’s being studied very, very heavily in the last 20, 30 years. So we have a similar challenge in the work from home space because you’re losing, even though you are online all day, but what type of interactions do you have with the decision-makers? Right? It’s all about business, right? Get this done. We’re fixing this problem. Those are the types of conversations that you get in your Zoom, in your Teams every day, but that personal connection that you need to have for again, going back to the trust factor, to enable opportunities to even find new opportunities, or options when you are planning your career. It’s important to have those informal conversations be present. We’re humans, that’s what it is.
It’s part of the human factor. We’re working remote, but we’re still humans.
Yeah. I think some of that the worry comes from a good place because we’re right to worry about it. But also think that you’re right, you counterbalance that with just being thoughtful and being purposeful and recognizing that if something starts to go in a direction that you don’t like it, well, you can fix it. Again. You can make an adjustment there, but some of that just takes being thoughtful. Hey, you got to have a line of sight into the data and be looking at the analytics, but you also have to be purposeful and thoughtful. EJ, we could talk about this forever. So I really appreciate your time today and I absolutely appreciate you correcting me on Nakisa because I’ve been saying it wrong for 30 years. So I appreciate that more than you know. But just thanks for coming on in the show and explaining this to us.
No, thank you very much. This was a blast.
Awesome. And thanks for everyone listening to the RecritingDaily 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.