Kathleen founded Naviga in 2002 and has led the organization to significant growth and marketing leadership. Prior to Naviga, she led the recruiting function at a variety of high-tech software and telecommunications companies.Follow
On today’s episode of the RecruitingDaily Podcast, William Tincup talks to Kathleen from Naviga about how the great resignation has turned into the great reshuffle to now, the great regret.
Some Conversation Highlights:
Listening time: 28 minutes
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Narrator: 00:00 This is RecruitingDaily’s Recruiting Live podcast, where we look at the strategies behind the world’s best talent acquisition teams. We talk recruiting, sourcing, and talent acquisition. Each week, we take one overcomplicated topic and break it down so that your three-year-old can understand it. Make sense? Are you ready to take your game to the next level? You’re at the right spot. You’re now entering the mind of a hustler. Here’s your host William Tincup.
William Tincup: 00:34 Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup, and you are listening to the RecruitingDaily podcast. Today, we have Kathleen on from Naviga, and our topic today is fascinating. It’s going to be fun. The Great Resignation turned into the Great Reshuffle to now, The Great Regret. So if you’re following that at home, it’s resignation, reshuffle, regret, the three Rs. So we’re going to jump right into it. Kathleen, would you do us a favor and introduce both yourself and Naviga?
Kathleen Steffe…: 01:05 Sure. Thank you so much. Kathleen Steffey, and I own Naviga. It’s a 20-year-old recruiting firm and we place sales, marketing, and operations people for companies around the world.
William Tincup: 01:19 Let’s start with the first R. Let’s start with resignation. First of all, was that packaged correctly by marketing?
Kathleen Steffe…: 01:28 Yes.
William Tincup: 01:31 Was that a lie or did that really happen? What drove that? What’s your take on The Great… I’m using air quotes, but you can’t see them.
Kathleen Steffe…: 01:40 I know.
William Tincup: 01:40 The Great Resignation.
Kathleen Steffe…: 01:46 Well, that’s a great question because was this all a marketing branding thing for the climate of job searchers and things of that nature? And I actually put a poll out there about a month ago, asking what people thought about this, because I started getting feedback about, “What? What the heck?” And it’s like 50/50, there are about 400 people who responded and 50% basically said it’s all for marketing. And then the other 50% said, no, I saw it. I witnessed it and I experienced it. So to answer your question, let’s unpack this, the Great Resignation. I did see people resign from employers.
William Tincup: 02:36 Right.
Kathleen Steffe…: 02:36 But it wasn’t a massive exodus from the people we placed the previous year, and it’s not like we had a massive amount of people we had to backfill or anything like that. So we did see some of it, but really not to really cause a massive problem or stamp in our business if you will.
William Tincup: 03:03 It’s funny because when we talk about the Great Resignation, we paint everything with the same brush or typically, and this is kind a media thing more than anything else.
Kathleen Steffe…: 03:13 Yeah.
William Tincup: 03:13 It’s a great resignation. It’s like, “Well, was it a Great Resignation with data scientists or with pizza delivery people?”
Kathleen Steffe…: 03:20 Right. Right.
William Tincup: 03:22 And not to, both are great jobs point is we’re saying Great Resignation and I believe what most people hear and read when they hear that, is that okay, this is happening everywhere in every industry at every level, et cetera.
Kathleen Steffe…: 03:39 Right.
William Tincup: 03:39 What is your take on that?
Kathleen Steffe…: 03:41 Yeah, no. So we deal with business to business sales professionals, marketing professionals, operations, and we didn’t see it. When it came down to B to B, we did see it in B to C environments. Say for an example, if a hotel major hotel chain was holding onto its lasts high caliber employee, but they couldn’t meet the needs of their lives they would resign or if it was something in that nature, if that makes sense.
William Tincup: 04:21 So now we’ve dealt well with the first R, done. Let’s move to the second R the reshuffle. So we went from Great Resignation to the reshuffle. So what did you witness and what have you witnessed with the Great Reshuffle?
Kathleen Steffe…: 04:39 I witnessed more with the Great Reshuffle, more than anything. So major companies, like LinkedIn and Amazon and Apple, re-categorized the Great Resignation with the Great Reshuffle. So they’re like, “Listen, this isn’t the great re- this is the great reshuffle.” Okay. And what that means is that people were just reshuffling their lives. And when they went remote and were able to see their work life balance, that they could actually work out and then go back to work and still kill it and exceed expectations of their bosses and things of that nature and have a better marriage, lose about 40 pounds. Things of this nature where they’re not commuting.
They started reshuffling their priorities and said, “All right, now I see what I want in my life. And I don’t want to lose it. I don’t want to stop this.” So a Great Reshuffle happened in the brains of expectations about people’s livelihood. And I witnessed that and I still do. And I think that the Great Reshuffle has changed the entire climate when it comes to culture inside organizations’ hiring and things of that nature. So I saw the Great Reshuffle in a massive way.
William Tincup: 06:04 Yeah. I have to agree with you. I think from my perspective, it’s people, especially early pandemic, they took, it was a moment of great reflection and introspection. And forced at gunpoint because we were too busy to do it in 2019, but not busy for a lot of folks, not as busy at least, early in the pandemic. And it’s like, “Well, wait a minute, business travel, travel around the planet, this, that, and the other like, well, do I need to do that?” Saying and all kinds of things.
I think people just reevaluated almost every facet of their life. Wwhere do we want to live? Do we want to get our RV and just travel the country? We can live in Portugal, whatever the bid is. It’s like people reevaluate. Also the divorce rate was high early in the pandemic. Not just early through the pandemic, but throughout the entire pandemic, it was actually inordinately high. And that was also an interesting thing because people, again, getting back to reshuffling and rethinking, it’s like, “Yeah, I’m going to make other decisions in my life.”
Did you see this reshuffle again bifurcating hourly versus corporate or different industries, did you see the reshuffle hit people differently?
Kathleen Steffe…: 07:37 I did. I know we’re talking careers and jobs, but I saw it massively with college students. A lot of gap years happened, the way that they approached where they were going changed. A lot of community colleges were engaged in high volume versus major universities while the world was going through this transition. And just really reshuffling the way you think about education.
So I saw a major impact in education and now that has lingered as well. And I think will never be the same in terms of online learning and classroom and universities. I think that students have seen who are still kind of going through the journey of their academic careers have seen that they can do it a certain way. And it’s hard to go back a hundred percent to every single class in person when they see they can achieve greatness in other ways.
William Tincup: 08:44 That’s right. Well, as we talked about with work, it’s where do you thrive? And it’s companies trying to figure out. Companies have dictated where you should thrive pre-pandemic. You need to come into the office, you need to be here five days a week, you need to work whatever hours. And so that’s how you thrive. And this reshuffle is on both sides of the company trying to figure out how do they figure out this new way of work. I talked to somebody yesterday and they’re thinking, “Yeah, this return to office, it’s going to happen. And it’s going to happen not just in a little way, it’s going to happen in a big way.” And he was so countered to what I was thinking. And so I got him to unpack it a little bit.
And he’s just like, “Yeah, all of these companies, like if you look at the investments that Google and Facebook and all these companies have made, they’ve made them in real estate. They’ve made them in people coming back because they like people being in the office.” I’m like, “Yeah, but why?” He’s like, “Yeah, there is no why. They like people being in the office.” I’m like, “Okay, well, that’s just crazy to me.”
But again, it gets back to thrive. When you talked about education, I was thinking about some people thrive in a classroom environment. I’m thinking about my wife, she’s extroverted, right. And so she loved going to class. She loved. She was in a sorority. She loved that stuff. I, not that way, very introverted. Didn’t like really going to class. Didn’t get a lot of enjoyment out of it. If you had given me a different option, I’d have taken it. And it’s finding for, we’re talking about education, but really it’s finding where does that individual, that employee, or that leader, where do they thrive? How do they thrive and unpack now? And I think we’re not done with that shuffle.
Kathleen Steffe…: 10:45 Not at all.
William Tincup: 10:45 We’re not. That’s not done. Go ahead.
Kathleen Steffe…: 10:46 Yeah. And I don’t know who you spoke to with that perspective that everyone’s going back in the office. I’m not seeing it. I’m interacting with major companies, major businesses, very well known companies. And they’re not even, it is not even on their radar, mostly because of what you’re talking about, the implications that would have with staff. People have been leaving left and right. Once these organizations tried hybrid and now, you know what, we’re going back, we’re scaling back on that philosophy. We’re just doing remote.
So I’m not seeing any of it. I’ve got one client right now out of all our openings who is requiring somebody to be in the office and that’s in Detroit. Okay. And I’ve got a lot of openings and a lot of different customers active right now. So I don’t, no, I don’t see it. Not yet, not anywhere soon because the philosophies of candidates and people who want to thrive are not there yet. They’ve changed. They’ve changed. So really companies have to change too. And I don’t think it’s going to be as black and white as everyone’s coming back into the office. No way.
William Tincup: 11:58 Yeah. I don’t think so either. My gut tells me is that you’re in very much in sync with yours. You can do that. You can force people to come back to work. I mean, there’s no doubt you can, if you’re Google you can require people. And in fact, Eric Schmidt’s on record just earlier this week of saying that he thinks that companies perform better when people are in the office. Okay, what did we learn over the last two and a half years? But you know, a lot of people, I looked at the comments, you should never read the comments actually. That’s where humanity goes to die. But I read the comments on it.
And people were like, they were lambasting him for like, “Well, maybe you’re just not a great leader. You know, maybe you just don’t understand like this new way of work. And you just don’t like the way that the work’s being done, but not the outputs of the work.” Which I found fascinating. And if it does happen, it’ll be because others do it. If it does happen, especially in the valley, it’ll be because Google does it, then Facebook will do it. Then Twitter will do it. Then [inaudible 00:13:11] will do it. It’ll just basically become a thing that, okay, everyone’s doing it.
Kathleen Steffe…: 13:15 Yeah.
William Tincup: 13:16 Because that’s just how that happens in the valley. But if they come out like AirBnB and say, “No, we’re remote forever, we’re not changing that.” Then that’s hard to walk back.
Kathleen Steffe…: 13:27 It is.
William Tincup: 13:30 Remote forever.
Kathleen Steffe…: 13:30 I saw that this week too.
William Tincup: 13:32 It’s hard to come back and go, “Ah, forever. Yeah. We meant kind of until we know better.” “Oh, okay.” Let’s deal with the last R, the Great Regret. So what are you seeing right now in terms of regrets?
Kathleen Steffe…: 13:51 Yeah. Well, do you ever see, so you have neighbors who start remodeling. They’ve been in the same house for 10 years and they start remodeling and getting pools or redoing their kitchens and stuff like that. And then you start having conversations with your partner that says, “I think we should do that. You know, we need to do that. So many people are doing it,” and things of that nature.
That’s what I did witness happen when people were resigning. It was mostly because they thought the grass was greener elsewhere. And what’s happening is conversations of people returning back to the same company and knocking on their door and saying, “Listen, I made a mistake. I loved my job. I want it back. The $15,000 increase that I got, it’s not enough, you know? So I regret that and I really did have a good thing.”
So I am seeing that when candidates come to us and apply for different positions, I am seeing some regret there in conversations that they’re having with my recruiter and literally, they don’t have a reason why they left other than what I just told you, they were just caught in the wave of this ride, this media discussion. Seriously. And then they got caught up in it.
William Tincup: 15:21 It is emotional, right?
Kathleen Steffe…: 15:24 Yeah.
William Tincup: 15:25 So you got caught. This is what investing is predicated on, is you get caught up in the emotion. Very little investing is actually based on real empirical financial thing. A lot of it is just pure emotion, what you feel and what you think, et cetera. And I think you’re right. I think people got caught up.
Kathleen Steffe…: 15:48 Yeah.
William Tincup: 15:50 And they saw their friends getting other jobs. And then their other friends getting jobs, everyone they knew was getting a job. And they thought to myself, “Wait a minute. I should get a new job.” Without taking stock of, you don’t know what you have until it’s until it’s gone, right. That’s a cliche. But I also think it reinforces something that we were taught, have been taught over, or hopefully been taught over the time that you leave on good terms.
Kathleen Steffe…: 16:19 Right.
William Tincup: 16:19 Because if you leave on good terms, okay. That $15,000 raise, the company couldn’t match it, didn’t want to match it. Whatever. Well, you put in your two weeks, you make sure you leave on good terms. Everyone’s cool. You leave. A year later, six months later, you’re like, “Yeah, that’s not good.”
Kathleen Steffe…: 16:37 Right.
William Tincup: 16:38 That’s an easy door to knock back on.
Kathleen Steffe…: 16:40 Yeah.
William Tincup: 16:42 It’s when you don’t leave on good. That’s done. Did that matter? It doesn’t matter. You can’t put Humpty Dumpty back together at that point.
Kathleen Steffe…: 16:52 You can’t, you can’t. I would agree.
William Tincup: 16:54 So, with what other regrets that are you seeing right now? I want to think about the folks that took the opportunity to not just change jobs, but maybe even change locations, you know?
Kathleen Steffe…: 17:11 Yeah.
William Tincup: 17:11 I’ve had a bunch of friends move out to Wyoming and Idaho and things like that, or good friend of mine’s got an RV and she’s traveling around the country and I’m wondering about lifestyle as well. And do you see anything in regrets there or are you see any affirmations there?
Kathleen Steffe…: 17:32 That’s an interesting question. I haven’t really seen much. I don’t know many people that made drastic changes like that in my life, like what you’re describing. So I haven’t seen anyone say, “Ugh, I’m going back to my corporate lifestyle now.”
William Tincup: 17:49 Yeah. I want to go back to the office because it was so great back then. Yeah. I think that’s actually a fail in this whole idea of return to office is that there was an illusion that it was great.
Kathleen Steffe…: 18:06 You know what? I have seen to that point early retirement happening, and then them coming back and saying, “I thought I wanted to retire, but now I’m back. I don’t.” So I have seen some regret there with people thinking that during the heart of the pandemic, they wanted to just stop and retire.
William Tincup: 18:32 That would absolutely, I could see that and I could see that myself as well. You just get to a point you’re like, “Okay, I’m done.”
Kathleen Steffe…: 18:40 Yeah.
William Tincup: 18:41 And then after that, you’re like, “I didn’t give that a lot of thought and I’m not really done. I still got some things I want to do.” Do you have any regrets or have you seen with your own business, have you found yourself with any regrets during this process?
Kathleen Steffe…: 19:00 You know what? I do regret the way that we handled a certain business situation last year. I’m not trying to tote myself with giving a regret at the same time, but we, because there’s more jobs than people we had to say no to a lot of new clients fourth quarter of last year. And we were done. My team was exhausted. We were so overloaded last year, more so than ever in our entire existence. But then I reflected on it when I had time to just breathe and take a break. I said, “I can’t believe I left all the business on the table.” You know?
William Tincup: 19:48 What am I doing?
Kathleen Steffe…: 19:49 I know. I said to my team and I said to my husband, I said,” I’m never doing that again.” If it means I got to scale, I’m going to scale. And I just got to think smarter, but I was so tired at the end of last year, but now I went into the year planning for that in where I can scale with more people, more recruiters and such where I don’t ever want to turn away business again.
William Tincup: 20:15 You were also, not just the tired factor and the mental fatigue, Zoom fatigue, all that other stuff. And finding talent, not easy turns out. It’s also because you want them to have a good customer experience so on some level you turn down business, but you also didn’t create an unreferencable client.
Kathleen Steffe…: 20:45 Yeah.
William Tincup: 20:45 So, you can look at it on one side. “I left money on the table.” Yeah. Okay. Technically, yeah. But you know, if you’ve taken them on and then not given them great service, what did you really get?
Kathleen Steffe…: 20:59 I know, I know. And we were picking and choosing, we started picking and choosing in terms of what are we going to work on first? And we don’t normally have to do that. We can just work it and cover it and do a really good job. And we’re just like, “All right,” but you’re right. I didn’t think about it that way. I was just tired. I was tired.
William Tincup: 21:20 “And William you’re giving me too much credit.” That sounds strategic. “I was just exhausted.” I said, “I just wanted to take a nap. Let’s be honest.”
Kathleen Steffe…: 21:30 I know.
William Tincup: 21:30 Have you seen any regrets as it relates to the layoffs or their policy? Vaccination policy or otherwise. Early in the pandemic, a lot of people made, in our industry at least, a lot of people made huge layoffs, 40% of the workforce, et cetera. At the end of 20 we laid off disproportionally more women than men. And within that disproportionately women, women of color. If we could go back and fix that, I mean, I regret that and I had nothing to do with it.
Kathleen Steffe…: 22:06 I know.
William Tincup: 22:09 Do you see any regrets as people, as they went through this very stressful period and how they handled things?
Kathleen Steffe…: 22:16 Yeah. Certainly I think that they just didn’t know what they didn’t know and they didn’t want to bleed. So it really came down to a cash flow issue. It’s in projecting the amount of head count that they had on the books. And how far will that go? If they’re not getting sales in. I’m sure they regret it, especially when they started hiring again six months later. Because some of them had knee jerk reactions like that. They laid off thousands and then they started hiring again. And then the flip side is I’m sure that some said “We’re still alive because we just did that.”
William Tincup: 23:03 That’s right. That’s right. Sometimes you have to prune a branch to save the tree, which you know-
Kathleen Steffe…: 23:06 You do.
William Tincup: 23:07 That’s fine. That’s absolutely fine. I think it’s the folks that laid off and then automatically turned around and went, “Oh, we got to actually grow because another part of our business, while that part of our business isn’t going, this other part is now spiking. We don’t have the people.”
Kathleen Steffe…: 23:24 Right.
William Tincup: 23:24 And I saw it in recruiters actually.
Kathleen Steffe…: 23:26 Yeah.
William Tincup: 23:27 Where recruiters and sourcers would get laid off.
Kathleen Steffe…: 23:30 Yep.
William Tincup: 23:30 It was a period where it was really tough, maybe about a six month period and then all of a sudden fast forward a year and you can’t hire recruiters or sourcers.
Kathleen Steffe…: 23:41 I know. Is that amazing?
William Tincup: 23:46 It is. And it’s great. It also just shows you that regret, if you had kept them and you wouldn’t have to rehire them because turns out they’re expensive now.
Kathleen Steffe…: 23:54 Yeah, exactly.
William Tincup: 23:56 Kathleen, this has been fantastic. Thank you so much for carving time for us.
Kathleen Steffe…: 24:01 Yeah. Thanks for having me. I loved it.
William Tincup: 24:03 Absolutely. And thanks for everyone listening to the RecruitingDaily podcast. Until next time.
Narrator: 24:09 You’ve been listening to the Recruiting Live podcast by RecruitingDaily. Check out the latest industry podcast, webinars, articles, and news at recruit-
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.