Storytelling about Worqdrive with Tracey Parsons
Welcome to the Use Case Podcast, episode 189. Today we have Tracey Parson from Worqdrive to talk about how practitioners make the business case or use case for choosing Worqdrive for talent mobility.
WORQDRIVE is talent mobility software designed to make it easy for your best people to stay on board. Companies use the internal mobility platform to match employees to open jobs based on their skills and aspirations.
Show length: 29 minutes
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At every intersection of the talent revolution, she seized opportunities to push innovation and be the change agent. She is co-founder at WORQDRIVE. She is also the president at Parsons Strategic Consulting as well as the co-creator of CredHive, WORQDRIVE’s predecessor. She has extensive experience in talent strategy, social recruiting and marketing, thought leadership, brand development, and consulting.Follow
Music: Welcome to RecruitingDaily’s Use Case Podcast, a show dedicated to the storytelling that happens, or should happen when practitioners purchase technology. Each episode is designed to inspire new ways and ideas to make your business better as we speak with the brightest minds in recruitment and HR tech, that’s what we do. Here’s your host, William Tincup.
William Tincup: Ladies and gentlemen, it’s William Tincup, and you are listening to the Use Case Podcast. Today we have Tracey on, from Worqdrive and we’re going to be learning about the business case, use case, cost benefit analysis for why her prospects and customers choose Worqdrive. So let’s just jump right into it. Tracey, would you do us a favor, the audience in favor and introduce both yourself and Worqdrive?
Tracey Parsons: Absolutely. Thank you so much, William, for having me today. My name is Tracey Parsons, as William said, and I am the CEO and co-founder of Worqdrive. And Worqdrive really is an internal mobility platform that’s designed employee first, right? To drive that employee engagement so that we can make it easy for your best people to stay.
Tracey Parsons: Now, the reality is, right, in my 20 plus year, 20 blah, blah, blah, your career in talent, I’ve gotten to work for some really cool companies and every time I wanted to move internally, they just told me, “Well, we have a plan for you.”
William Tincup: “Yeah. It’s a secret plan. We have it in an envelope and we’ve got it at the bank. We can’t get to it right now, but we do have a plan for you.”
Tracey Parsons: Great. And you’d hear this over and over again. And your listeners are probably going, “Yeah, we say that. That’s a thing that we say.”
William Tincup: Oh yeah.
Tracey Parsons: And the problem is, the real problem is, I never knew what the plan was. I was like, “Do I have a voice in this plan?”
William Tincup: No, but we have a plan for you.
Tracey Parsons: Of course I didn’t. So, we have a plan for you. Yes. And every time I left, right. I left because I didn’t know the plan. Nobody told me the plan. I didn’t have a voice in plan, and I didn’t know how to move internally and grow. I knew I wasn’t a low, right. So I saw my peers doing this too. And we wanted to stay. We shouldn’t know how
William Tincup: That’s. Right. Well, and who’s done internal mobility extremely well. Raise your hand. Okay. Not a lot of hands raised.
Tracey Parsons: Crickets.
William Tincup: Crickets. And again, it’s one of those deals. COVID sped this discussion up. This was a problem before COVID. Like internal mobility is a historic problem. And there’s all kinds of reasons for that. One of it is the secret plan and some of it’s all kinds of the buddy system around succession planning. There’s all kinds of… It’s rot with reasons, for reasons that this is wrong. Some of it’s also the talent just says, “It’s easier for me to move up if I move out.” Like this happens in services business a lot like advertising and PR. It’s just easier. I’ll just move to a different agency and get a different role and I’ll come right back with a different role. Like it’s just-
Tracey Parsons: Exactly.
William Tincup: And that’s just-
Tracey Parsons: … And get more money.
William Tincup: … crazy.
Tracey Parsons: It’s crazy. And if you talk to these people, right, that are leaving for more money, they’re going to give you the same answers that we were just talking about. Well, I mean, I would’ve rather had to stay. Like I didn’t want to make that leap, but I either didn’t know how. I didn’t feel empowered. Right. Because I didn’t know this mysterious plan. And quite frankly, my manager makes me feel uncomfortable about leaving the team.
William Tincup: That’s right. Well, it’s because it’s a bad manager. Great managers.
Tracey Parsons: Well, yeah. I mean-
William Tincup: The sign of a great manager is that they want you to go on and do great things.
Tracey Parsons: Absolutely. But I think I saw a study last year, I think it was Global Talent Trends found that 70% of TA profess professionals cited reluctant managers as a barrier of getting internal mobility done.
William Tincup: Oh, 100%.
Tracey Parsons: 70%. [inaudible 00: 04: 03].
William Tincup: I’m shocked that it’s that low.
Tracey Parsons: Well, and it is the thing I think Mervin Denis team did a really good research report on this too. And it’s like it all comes down to we are absolutely saying, “Olay.” Like we are saying olay to the bull, and the bull is the talent hoarding manager, and it’s not working. Like this doesn’t work.
William Tincup: No.
Tracey Parsons: And one of the things that we found when we were starting to build out our tool, was we started looking at the data for one of our main customers of our consulting practice. And we found that their internal employees were five times less likely to apply on the internal job board as compared to external candidates.
William Tincup: And the reason for that was they didn’t want the repercussions of seeming disloyal.
Tracey Parsons: Well, there were two common themes in that research set. One was exactly what you’re saying, this fear of repercussion. Right. Of looking internally. And I think only 10% of their workforce even ever hit the internal job board. Right. So that was where they were like, so they don’t know it’s there. Right.
William Tincup: The awareness, oh, what do you mean, we have one?
Tracey Parsons: We have one of those? So one of them was that fear of reprisal. A huge one was that I just can’t possibly be expected to jump through the same hoops as an external person when you already have all my data.
William Tincup: Yeah. You already have my dreams, my aspirations, my skills, my training, you already know everything about, I’m already culturally aligned. Like I bought it the values, why would you have the exact same candidate experience?
Tracey Parsons: Right. And then you put me through a 50 clicking, 60 screen application that you already know me.
William Tincup: Yeah, that’s silly.
Tracey Parsons: So treat me like you know me. Right. It’s very silly.
William Tincup: Well, and some of that’s not just process wise, is it’s silly, but some of it’s because of those disparate systems. Right? So the data is in different places.
Tracey Parsons: Correct.
William Tincup: And so they know you, but they don’t really know you.
Tracey Parsons: Correct.
William Tincup: You’re going from Dallas to London. They know you, but there’s three different HRIS systems, four different payroll systems, three different performance management systems, the list goes on and it’s like, okay. Yes. You’ve been with the company for 10 years. They know you, but they don’t really know you.
Tracey Parsons: Correct. And they haven’t found a way to make this easy for you because frankly, they don’t care. And now we’re starting to care which is exciting.
William Tincup: Or they’re starting to care.
Tracey Parsons: Right. Which is exciting. They’re starting to go, “Holy crap. We lost how much money in turnover this past year?” Right. They’re starting to notice that, oh, this doesn’t work. Right. What is the better way? How do we make this easier? And it goes back to all the things we were saying, how do you? You got to get the data in one spot.
William Tincup: Turnover’s not a bad thing. Like people used to say-
Tracey Parsons: It’s not.
William Tincup: Turnovers [inaudible 00: 07: 00], it’s regrettable turnover.
Tracey Parsons: Correct. It’s healthy turnover.
William Tincup: Oh yeah, no, seriously. Some people you want them to leave. You’ve made a poor hiring decision. You’re trying to figure out ways for them to leave. So them leaving is actually a good sign. It’s a regrettable turnover. You wanted Sally or Jimmy to stay and they chose not to. Now you start to unpack why they chose not to.
Tracey Parsons: And we talk about that on our website, like we have these real fun personas, we talk about Ashley. And we talk about Ashley being a high performer at your business. And anytime Ashley has a bad day at your company, she can go to her LinkedIn and filter through.
William Tincup: Oh yeah.
Tracey Parsons: Six or seven to 20 to 50 recruiters who would like to talk to her on her bad day.
William Tincup: Yep.
Tracey Parsons: And the fact of the matter is that you probably would rather keep her and you could, she doesn’t actually want to leave. I think LinkedIn tells with 94% of people would rather stay, right if their company invested in their development in their career.
William Tincup: 100%.
Tracey Parsons: Leaving a job is terrible. I don’t know if you’ve left a bunch of jobs like I have, but I don’t love it. Right. I have to get all new people and systems and payroll and benefits. And it’s not this easy, simple decision that somebody makes. It’s that we just aren’t making it simple for people to find their next opportunity with us, whether it’s up, over, or adjacent.
William Tincup: So let’s start with your origin story. A former practitioner makes the decision to become a tech co-founder.
Tracey Parsons: Sure.
William Tincup: Probably not an easy, super easy transition, but we’re here now. Software’s developed. And so what’s been the thing that, I wouldn’t say blindsided, but the thing that you didn’t expect about the transition from one to the other?
Tracey Parsons: That people didn’t know that I’ve been doing software development since 1995.
William Tincup: Okay. So there’s that. Check.
Tracey Parsons: Right. So it’s one of these things like, and it speaks brilliantly to the tool that we’ve created. Right. In my history in my reputation in the industry, practitioner, employer, brand recruitment, marketing person. And then when people find that I know how to write front end code, and I’ve done product design, and I’ve done all these different things, they’re like, “Seriously? How unusual, what have you been hiding from us?” I’m not hiding anything. I just because this one thing. And when you think about what we’ve built with Worqdrive and the surprise, the blind side, the blind side is that people cannot seem to let go that’s of their existing paradigms. Right?
William Tincup: Oh, 100%.
Tracey Parsons: The things that they think they know about their people, it has to be true. Well, it’s not totally true. Right. And you think about, why don’t we give employees control of their own plan? Well, if I did that, then they would be driving their own bus and they might drive it in a direction I don’t want them to. Well, guess what? They’re going to do that anyway.
William Tincup: Yeah. With you or without you.
Tracey Parsons: With you or without you.
William Tincup: Oh, no, you too song. That’s just one way or another it’s going to happen. You’re either going to be a part of it happening and be part of the solution or part of the problem. So let’s go into the software for a moment, because first of all, internal mobility platform, check, love it. Couldn’t love it anymore than it is. That you’re talent centric, employee centric. I love that. When you first your sales team and you show the software for the first time to folks, what do they fall in love with?
Tracey Parsons: They fall in love with the ease of it, right. The thing that they fall in love with is that we’ve absolutely taken a completely different approach to mobility. So I remember when we were rolling thought for first customer, like, okay, so are we going to have to do corporate wide training? And I said, “Well, no. I mean, did anybody train you how to use Facebook?”
William Tincup: I’m not sure.
Tracey Parsons: And they were like, “No.”
William Tincup: Tracey, someone should have trained me. Let’s be honest
Tracey Parsons: Or LinkedIn. Right. So what we did, like the thing that they fall in love with is how simple it is.
William Tincup: Right.
Tracey Parsons: Right. They fall in love with that. And you can see that we’ve built something sticky because our active users are logging into their Worqdrives every nine days to add skills, to look at matches. And if you think about that, that’s three times a month, plus that somebody’s going back to their HR tech system at their own company to interact with it.
William Tincup: And that’s not just on their bad days. Because if you thought about that, like from that stat that you used earlier, if those were their bad days, they’d be going on LinkedIn.
Tracey Parsons: A 100%.
William Tincup: Right. But they’re going on their own profile and saying, “Oh no, I have this desire to learn this or a learning path. I want to learn these things, or want to develop these skills. Or I have these skills. I need to certify these things. “` But they’re investing in themselves on the platform rather than taking bait and going into LinkedIn, and doing all that stuff. That’s fantastic.
Tracey Parsons: Thank you. Now, the other piece that people are super stoked about William is this idea and concept around protecting employee identity. So when I log into my Worqdrive as an employee, I see my stuff. Right. But if a recruiter goes to source me, Worqdrive will match existing employees to a recruiter’s open rec. And when they look at the matches, it just says matched person. And it’s got a percentage ranking. So this person is a 98% match to this rec. And you can expand that view and you won’t see their resume. You will simply see how that person feels about the skills that are important to that rec.
William Tincup: Oh, that’s crew. Oh, that is really, really cool.
Tracey Parsons: So now you can start falling in love with your internal talent and deliver real internal equity because you’re not playing bosses’ favorite hiring, manager’s favorite. You’re playing best skills for the job. Most passion for the job. That’s what this should be about.
William Tincup: That’s what it’s always should have been about. The fact that we’re here now a 100 years late. Fantastic. We’re here. Thank God.
Tracey Parsons: Hey, welcome.
William Tincup: Yeah. Thank you. I want to ask you to get your take on potentiality. I’ve talked to a lot of TA folks lately. They’re just probably doing with surplus and scarcity issues and they just can’t find the skills, can’t build the skills fast enough or the competencies, et cetera. And so they’re doing some of that, but then they’re also looking at candidates and looking at tangential or skills that can cross over and they’re looking at potentiality, but that’s dangerous in the sense of it’s a symptom that there’s learning paths and training paths. Right. So what’s your take on potentiality?
Tracey Parsons: Well, one of the things that when somebody sets up their Worqdrive account, they’re asked to what we call decorate their skills. So there’s software out there that’ll say, “Okay, this is your resume. This is a rack. This is the next job for you.” I don’t want robots making those decisions for me. So I would like to tell you how I feel about my skills. And we ask them to tell us one of three things, or all three of these things. Is this skill a core strength? Is this something you really love doing? And is this something you want to grow in? And you can mark all three, no problem. But what we’ve still started to do is looking at, okay, if you’ve marked something as a growth skill, we are serving you up learning and development around those growth skills constantly.
Tracey Parsons: Now, we’re starting to build the hooks for career pathing and career [inaudible 00: 15: 25]. So if you tell us your dream job is X, how do we get you there? Then on the lip side, like that leadership experiences, they can start digging into their talent to say, “Okay, well, of the skills that we have in the organization, how does that compare to the skills that we need according to what we’re hiring and do we have skill gaps? Do we have opportunity gaps? How do I drill down into those skills to see who wants to grow in this, and how can we then serve up learning and development to address that potentiality anonymously?’
William Tincup: Right. Because if we know it’s Tracey, then bias, concern.
Tracey Parsons: Well, and you’re going to start throwing me on consumer and shopper marketing training, and you’re going to focus in on that marketing side, but you’re going to miss that tech side of me.
William Tincup: That’s right. Yeah. Because again, no one’s one dimensional or most people aren’t one-dimensional. They have multi-dimensions. And when people hear internal mobility platform, do they already know what it is? Like I guess one of the things I wanted to unpack with you is, do they already have an idea of what it is, and or are they fearful of another system?
Tracey Parsons: So that’s such a good question. We hear that all the time, William when we’re talking to people. Like, well, I already have.
William Tincup: Oh, yeah.
Tracey Parsons: So to answer your question, they think they know what it is as it’s been designed, as it’s been defined in the past. Right. And if you think about the growth and trajectory, like you and I have been in this business for a really long time, and-
William Tincup: Let’s not talk about years.
Tracey Parsons: … I’m just, saying-
William Tincup: Let’s just-
Tracey Parsons: I;’m just saying, it’s been a minute.
William Tincup: It’s been a hot minute.
Tracey Parsons: We’ve seen some stuff. And I think that we would probably agree that our mode of quote unquote innovation, means let’s take what we used to do and retrofit it into the new thing. Right. We saw it with newspaper ads to Monster. We saw it with paper applications to ATSs. We saw it to Monster, to social media. So we basically take, and we saw internal, external job boards, internal job boards. We just basically just jam whatever it is we already have and say, “Ta-da, this is the solution.” Right?
William Tincup: A 100%.
Tracey Parsons: So the answer really is, the audience, they know what an internal mobility should do. Right. It should serve up information and jobs and development to their employees. But what they currently have access to is an internal job board. And that’s not internal mobility. That’s an internal job board. Right. And even if you have one, your internal people don’t know about it, don’t use it, and don’t care about it. So it does work.
William Tincup: So the relationship that internal acquisition has historically had with internal mobility is a barrier of sorts in that it’s not their problem. Historically, this is how it’s been seen by most recruiters. It’s like, “Hey, I dropped you off at onboarding. Good luck.”
Tracey Parsons: Yes.
William Tincup: What happens next, well call me. And that’s HR thing. There’s a baton pass. HR, good luck, God speed. And we’re going to go over here and focus on these other things. So how in this new world with this new technology, how do talent management professionals, the broad spectrum of all of the folks that make up talent management and TA, how should they be interacting with internal mobility?
Tracey Parsons: Yeah. This should be a joint operation, right. Because if you think of about talent management, because internal mobility as we viewed it, we view it and have designed around it. And other people have designed around it is not just about moving your talent around. Right. That is technically mobility. We’re moving them around. They’re mobilizing around the organization. But it’s also that R&D, that at management, that development piece that has to be addressed. Right. So we’ve seen it. I have this argument all the time, like who owns internal mobility? I’m like, “Well, right now nobody does.” Because it’s worth so siloed. It’s really disappointing that nobody takes ownership. The customers that we’re working with are these beautiful joint ventures between TA and TM, who understand their place in the puzzle and the place in the puzzle is supporting the talent. Right.
Tracey Parsons: If the first letter in your title is T, you should be supporting the talent, whether it’s acquiring or managing, it’s about the talent. Get out of our own ways. That’s one of the things, like you guys, we have to get out of our own way and we have to solve the problem together. But then nobody’s defining it right now. And we like to go into HR, right, and say, “Look, both of these functions exist within your broader function.”
William Tincup: Yeah. You don’t have to create something new.
Tracey Parsons: You own it.
William Tincup: Yeah. You own it. And you just have to get different people to collaborate, that maybe haven’t collaborated in the past the way that you want them to. And some of that workforce planning, I used to make fun of workforce planning for years because finance operations and HR cares about workforce planning, but they care about it differently.
Tracey Parsons: Yes.
William Tincup: And so it’s easy to make fun of because it’s like, it’s doubles tennis. You just keep hitting down in the middle of the thing. Somebody, it be one point someone’s not going to be able to hit it back. Right. So it’s workforce planning and it’s owned by three different groups of people that have three different really outcomes in mind of what is true workforce planning and great workforce planning. Internal mobility, historically, it’s been training and development that have seen most of learning and development that’s ish owned it, if anybody has owned it.
William Tincup: And again, you mentioned engagement. Like, coming out of the gate, you mentioned engagement, which of course is a speed bump on the way to retention. If you want to retain your talent, someone’s got to own it.
Tracey Parsons: Yeah. And without an owner, it’s a vacuum.
William Tincup: That’s right. It sucks.
Tracey Parsons: It does. It sucks.
William Tincup: It was nice. It’s well played.
Tracey Parsons: I’m just going to keep softballing you those [crosstalk 00: 21: 59].
William Tincup: Oh that was just well done. Oh my God. That’s just awesome for the audience too. So, favorite customer story so far, and then without names, without brands, of course.
Tracey Parsons: Okay. So this brings me light and love, I can’t even tell you. So one of the scary parts of internal mobility, and whenever we talk about this, I’m very, very plain and transparent about it, is this is not an easy thing to do for people. Like you, you’re opening up your whole organization to feedback, right? This is that moment of like, holy smokes. Everybody’s going to know about this and it’s going to-
William Tincup: A bit of vulnerability.
Tracey Parsons: … it’s a very vulnerable thing to do. So in the very initial rollout, soft as can be, our customer who’s a billion dollar government contractor, they were part of the draw down of troops in Afghanistan. And they had about 1500 support people that were in Afghanistan that had to get out. And their contract was ending and they had other… The company has other opportunities in the Middle East for them. So the first 1500 people to get it into Worqdrive were being displaced from Afghanistan. Within three weeks, 45% of those people had new jobs in the company.
William Tincup: Wow. That is life changing. I mean, first of all, they’re under to the next greatest adventure. Right. So that’s one of the best things of that, is it’s not just that they didn’t have to delay stagnant in something, worrying, anxiety, all of this stuff. It’s like, no, you’re under the next greatest adventure go.
Tracey Parsons: We have a thing for you.
William Tincup: Yes.
Tracey Parsons: Right. We have the next thing for you. All you have to do is go through this simple setup and we’re going to serve you jobs in Jordan and [inaudible 00: 23: 54] and Kuwait and get you still international, you still are going to be in the Middle East. And for the bright side of the company, they now have 45% of that workforce is rebillable on other engagements.
William Tincup: That’s right. Everybody, the business wins.
Tracey Parsons: Everybody wins.
William Tincup: Yeah. But what’s interesting is we put the talent first and say, “Let’s get the talent to win.” The business will win. Of course.
Tracey Parsons: Absolutely.
William Tincup: The business is going to win. Wave a magic wand. Maybe you have a magic wand, how would you fix internal mobility going into again, larger companies? Let’s just deal with those first. How would you structure it? Because it’s a mixture of people and how they’re structured. It’s process, how that’s structured ish, if it is and technology. So magic wand, Tracey has the magic wand. How do you fix internal mobility?
Tracey Parsons: So for us, the fix is very, very simple. If you put the keys to that, to your employee’s career in their hands and let them drive the bus, you will fix internal mobility in your organization. It’s that simple. If we try to over complicate, dictate, over process, over everything the operation, you are not giving them the keys. You’re giving them the keys and the driving instructor with the second set of breaks, and-
William Tincup: Check and break.
Tracey Parsons: … you don’t. You’re giving them a check and break. If I could wave a magic wand, I would love it if organizations would simply trust their people to know what is best for them.
William Tincup: Well, and here’s the thing. If you don’t trust them, then somebody else will.
Tracey Parsons: And they’re not going to trust you.
William Tincup: That’s right. I mean, you got to be vulnerable. I think what’s interesting about the power dynamic because of COVID and other reasons, other factors, is the power dynamic is different. People want to work remotely. They’ve figured out that they like, some people not all. But they figured out they like working remotely and they don’t want to go back to an office. Like, okay, that power dynamic has shifted and the errors out of the bottom line might never go back. This is similar in the sense of you’ve got to give up control.
Tracey Parsons: Yes. Right. This is all we’re saying. And I will be very clear in saying, you have to give up the illusion of control.
William Tincup: Yeah. Good point.
Tracey Parsons: Any business leader that thinks that they have any semblance of control over their workforce right now, is pinch your cheeks adorable.
William Tincup: Bless your heart.
Tracey Parsons: Bless your little heart. We love that for you. Because it’s the illusion of control. And it’s the thing that quite frankly, has broken the process and the experience.
William Tincup: That’s right.
Tracey Parsons: Right. We don’t trust and we try to control. And if we do the exact opposite, if we give up the illusion of control and to trust, the outcome will change. I’m seeing it happen for our customers right now.
William Tincup: I love it. I think it’s Brene Brown that said, vulnerability is the thing that we want from others but it’s the last thing that we’re willing to give.
Tracey Parsons: 100%.
William Tincup: Right. And maybe I have the quote wrong, but it’s-
Tracey Parsons: In spirit.
William Tincup: Yeah. In spirit it’s like, okay, this is what you need to do with your employees. If you don’t do it, all right. Well, then suffer the outcomes of-
Tracey Parsons: Right.
William Tincup: … of nutrition.
Tracey Parsons: Absolutely. And we see people logging in every nine days. When our support team gets more little love letters from employees than tickets, that’s winning. Like we got a little love letter from one of our customers, employees. It was like, “Thank you so much for setting up this program. I want to climb the ladder here. And I feel like this program is designed exactly for employees like me.”
William Tincup: That’s worth it. That’s worth everything. That’s worth all the hard work. That’s worth all the vulnerability. That’s worth all the whatever anxiety and illusions of control. That’s worth all of it. Tracey, I could talk to you forever. And I love, absolutely love what you built with Worqdrive.
Tracey Parsons: Thank you so much.
William Tincup: It’s simply amazing. And not just the software, but just your approach to fixing this systemic problem. It’s been here forever.
Tracey Parsons: Thank you. I know. And it’s something we can fix. We just have to give ourselves permission to fix it.
William Tincup: Yep. And give up that illusion of control.
Tracey Parsons: Give it up. Let go. Let it go.
William Tincup: Thank you so much and let it go. That’s awesome. Thank you so much for coming on the Use Case Podcast.
Tracey Parsons: Thank you for having me.
William Tincup: Absolutely. And thanks for everyone listening to the Use Case 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.