Human Capital Leaders and COVID-19
About This Episode
Josh Bersin, a thought leader in the global talent market, discusses how HR leaders are adapting to new roles and responsibilities on the frontlines of organizations’ response to COVID-19.
The views expressed by guests are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Skillsoft.
Michelle BB 00:00:07 Welcome to The Edge, a Skillsoft podcast for learners and leaders alike to engage in thought provoking conversations and open dialogue on the topics of learning and growth in the workplace. Joining me today, drum roll is guest Josh Bersin, an analyst, author, educator, and thought leader, focusing on the global talent market and the challenges and trends impacting business workforces around the world. Josh, it is a pleasure to have you thank you so much for joining me today.
Josh00:00:36 Thank you, Michelle. It's a pleasure to be here.
Michelle BB00:00:39 Well, you know, since the onset of the global pandemic and in the midst of the social unrest, we know that HR and human capital leaders have been on the front lines of an employee health and safety crisis, a diversity equity and inclusion movement, and organizational technological and workforce disruption. And these things are all happening at once. And so I think today, what we want to talk about is, you know, this is such a critical juncture for human capital leaders who are responsible for radically new and different tasks than ever before. So I'm excited to get us started because I want to hear what you have to say, what insights, what advice you would give to your colleagues in HR. So, so what do they get us started? Um, you know, this pandemic, it, it has Borst human capital leaders or HR professionals to develop new competencies and pivot quickly under great pressure and stress becoming caregivers in a whole new way. Uh, in just a matter of days, these leaders went from shaping talent, acquisition and retention strategies to ordering mass quantities of PPE and ensuring the safety of their employees around the world. So Josh, I'm hoping you can talk for a moment about the evolving role HR leaders are playing in their organizations today and how their responsibilities have transformed throughout 2020.
Josh00:01:51 Well, there has been a lot and an end. It seems like it's been disruptive to HR, but actually a little bit less than you might think, because most HR people have been worrying about people issues their entire career, and now they get the opportunity to focus on that. Because as you know, most CEOs have come to the conclusion this year, that if their employees are not safe, if their workforce is not engaged, if people don't feel they're productive, if they're not being supported at home with their families, they're not going to have a company. So the HR people don't have to go through that process of trying to get a seat at the table. They've been invited to the boardroom to address these issues. But given that the range of topics we're dealing with this year are, are quite new. Uh, you know, most of the companies I talked to are rethinking, first of all, how do you manage people that are remote or working from home?
Josh00:02:48 Uh, how do we create a sense of resilience or sustainability in the workforce where people are stressed, uncertain? There's a lot of ambiguity when things will be back to normal, if they're ever be back to normal and um, most companies are transforming what they sell, how they sell it, who they sell it to, uh, what their products are. So a very significant number of the workforce are in new jobs, in new roles, in new projects. So, uh, this idea of an agility or an agile organization, or a more dynamic, uh, job models has been thrusted upon companies with immediate needs. So there's no time to sit around and talk about it anymore. So everything about hiring proper performance management pay, uh, training has to happen much, much faster than it did before. So all of those are new, uh, disciplines for HR. And we really think of that whole family of things as moving from an operating model of service delivery efficiency, to an operating model of agility and resilience, which is not something most HR functions were designed to do.
Josh00:04:01 Most HR functions for, for many years, were designed to be more and more efficient, delegating more data. And decision-making to managers letting business partners serve as consultants. But now we have to take the whole HR function and turn it into a very agile consulting and service delivery function. I talked to a lot of HR people, and most of them are just thrilled about the opportunity, the exciting opportunity to add more value to their companies in new ways and leverage a lot of their, you know, pretty mature thinking about the role of, uh, human skills at work and put it to work, put it to use. So, um, it's a, it's a very exciting time for, for HR people.
Michelle BB00:04:40 You said something that really sort of rang true for me. And it was something I also saw. He comes in an article, you talked about HR being invited to the board room. Um, and in some cases we've seen them participate in very external ways, right? In the market to investors on investor calls. So throughout this evolution and, and maybe over the, you know, the period of time of this pandemic, how has the relationship between HR and other leaders in the business, including the C-suite, including the board, how has that changed?
Josh00:05:12 Well, I think it's become much more inter locked the, uh, you know, in a, in a regular economy, which there, if there is such a thing, maybe we'll get back to one at some point, uh, you know, they come, the company's running, it's growing, there's things happening. There's, you know, M and a and growth and hiring and so forth. And the HR department head is the head of HR. And so this person is responsible for a whole variety of programs and issues and investments that are interlocked with some of the other things going on in the company, but somewhat independent right now, everything HR does is completely cross-disciplinary with it, finance, legal facilities, safety, it's all one big thing. You look at sending people back to work. That's not really an HR problem. It's an HR facilities, safety workplace, design, scheduling pay. All of those things are connected.
Josh00:06:11 So the HR people today are working on, you know, very, very integrated cross-functional teams. And they have to think about the employee experience across all of those dimensions, uh, which has been good. I think it's, it's another step in the maturing of the HR function from the old, old days of HR being the personnel department that just paid the checks. So, you know, every year HR becomes a little more strategic, a little more embedded into the company in more strategic ways. And, and this is raising the bar even further. Um, and it's forcing HR professionals to be, you know, real professionals. You know, if you, if you went into HR, because you kind of want to sit around and fill out papers for people, you're not going to be in a very good place right now.
Michelle BB 00:06:53 It's perfect sense. And it sounds like, you know, they, they have a pretty big remit, uh, within the organization spanning many different functions. You know, it's really interesting cause you, you referenced the fact that people used to think that they were support function sitting back there. You know, they used to say the same thing about marketing, right? We used to be a service bureau and now we're revenue driving organization. And I think that, um, it's an interesting parallel and we see, you know, transformation in this function in HR, in particular, it's happening everywhere. Um, because I think today's organizations look and feel vastly different than they did even a few years ago. Let's, you know, let's set aside the pandemic for a moment. We've got organizations that have flattened and we know that now there's greater responsibility to shape and sustain a culture that cultivates leaders, not just at the highest levels within the organization, but all up and down that chain. And this is, it's not just enough to understand who leaders are within the organization, but what are those critical competencies that people within the organization deeper in the organization need to possess? So can we talk a little bit about the evolution of leadership competencies and the skills that are required to improve that effectiveness? And as you talked about that adaptability in an age, when we need to continually
Josh00:08:12 Obviously a really, really important topic, I just actually finished reading the synopsis of the Boeing 7 37 story. And there's lots of things on my mind about leadership. Um, but, but I think it starts with the fact that organizations have changed and therefore the role of leaders has changed. So if I think back about, you know, the 18 hundreds, the railroads, the old oil companies, there was basically management and labor managers made decisions. Laborers did what they were told. And that was, you know, that actually goes back to the slave trade in the 18 hundreds and 17 hundreds. So this idea of a company being labor, which used to be slaves, and then it was hourly workers. And then it was, you know, kind of line workers and managers telling them what to do. And we've basically been crawling out of that into a world where everybody in the company in a sense is adding value in their own unique way and slow.
Josh 00:09:07 And some companies moved much, much faster in that direction. Obviously the tech industry did, but, but even, you know, airlines and, uh, hospitality companies and retailers have now realized this, that every employee has a fair amount of autonomy or should in the way they do the work that they're supposed to do. And so from HR standpoint, we've decomposed companies from hierarchical job families, two jobs, which have decomposed into roles and roles that have decomposed into projects. So during a given week or month or a year, you know, you have a job title, but you don't actually look at it very often. In fact, you don't even think about it that much. You, you really think about the work or the projects or the initiatives that you're involved in. And so what is your manager's role? Oh, and you know, in the newer companies that are thinking, even ahead of that, the company looks more like a marketplace than a hierarchy.
Josh00:10:04 So as new opportunities open up, like in the pandemic, we need a whole bunch of people to work in this new facility. We just set up, how do we decide who's going to go there. We need to allow people to move based on opportunity, not just what they, what their manager thinks is important or what their manager, how well their manager likes them. So what do managers do in this new world, quite a different role? They now are each responsible for empowering aligning, training, supporting coaching people. Uh, sometimes they have to tell them what to do. Sometimes they have to tell them what not to do, but I think in today's world, what most companies are telling me is they're spending a huge amount of time when they're leaders to reinforce their skills in trust. In listening, in caring, uh, in understanding what is giving people, productivity problems and helping them create clarity and energy by, um, eliminating things that are in the way that's not sort of being the boss.
Josh 00:11:07 That's not telling people what to do. These are different skills. Um, now some people are naturally, I mean, my wife happens to be this way. Some people are very natural at that, but if you've never had a good boss and you've never been coached, and you've never been in a company that empowers people and you grew up in a very hierarchical world, you know, whatever that may be. But by the way, even the military is like this. The military gives people enormous amounts of autonomy and authority and skills and development at low levels. Um, so those are the things that are going on in leadership and the risk or the challenge of it is that, you know, you give up some of your power, what I call positional power, you know, in the old world, by the time you worked your way into the corner office, the last thing you ever want to is give it up because you got the private parking place, then you got the bonus and you get the big desk and you got the secretary and whatever, you know, that's not, I mean, that's still true and to some degree, but less true than ever, and certainly for mid-level managers.
Josh00:12:07 So there's a lot of opportunity and we'll be doing this with you guys at Skillsoft. I know to, um, explain what these new leadership capabilities are. And, uh, and also the other thing that's different is who should be the boss in a world where the boss is not necessarily the expert, but actually the coach. Um, you know, maybe we don't promote the best salesperson to be the head of sales, which was never a good idea by the way. But a lot of people did that. Um, so, um, so there's a lot of rethinking of management that needs to happen. I'll tell you one more thing about leadership. I do. I'm doing some research with DDI, which is, I guess they're a little bit of a competitor to you guys, but they're a leadership company. And we were just looking at the data yesterday. It turns out that leaders self-assessment of their capabilities this year 2020 is significantly higher than it was last year. They believe. And this is, you know, about 11 or 12,000 leaders that they have learned a lot about how to be better at their jobs, about 35 to 40% of them feel like they're capable at their, of their jobs, HRS assessment of leaders, capabilities have gone down. Um, so I think one of the things I'd like to encourage people listening to this podcast is make sure you're part of the solution and not part of the problem.
Michelle BB 00:13:30 So Josh, I have to ask, I mean, why the disconnect, right? So if you've got leaders out there that are doing the self-assessment, Hey, I think I'm a better leader. And you've got HR saying, I don't know, w where is that disc?
Josh00:13:43 Well, the problem for HR people, and I'm very sympathetic to this is these leadership programs and competency models, and three sixties and assessments. You know, people, it takes a long time to build all that. So a lot of companies have built this over decades and they don't redo it all the time. They redo it every, you know, maybe every three years they look carefully at it. So, um, you know, I just think you have to look at your leadership capabilities, your model, the strategy, the culture you're trying to create pretty pretty frequently. I'm, I'm, I'm having a call later this week with a tech company, a very successful tech company that went public they're worth billions of dollars. And they're really having a problem right now, growing, you know, some things happen in their market where, you know, their particular technology is not as unique as it used to be.
Josh 00:14:28 And they're trying, and, and, you know, their leadership model has completely changed when you're a fast growing rocket ship tech company, it's push, push, push, sell, sell, sell, sell. Well, when you don't have the best product in the market, that isn't actually the right way. You want people to behave. So they're having a giant offsite, digital offsite to rethink what they need leaders to do and how, uh, and I think most companies need to do that, you know, every year or two, certainly when the, when the business cycle changes like it is now. And that's why I think HR is a little bit behind is it's hard for HR. Hey, it's hard to do it. And B sometimes it's hard day for HR to go to a senior leader and say, Hey, you know, we need to take some time with you guys and reset everything you're doing, because they're going to be like, well, where you're wasting my time. I'm too busy.
Michelle BB00:15:19 So it sounds like, I mean, what I'm hearing from you is there's the frequency with which we do things, but then there's also really a need to move faster. But it also sounds like learning, learning, delivery, skill development, even in the, in the area of leadership, it's also facing disruption. And one of the things that I, you know, I think it's kind of table stakes, right? Digital learning right now due to the pandemic, um, has become, um, far, you know, it's, it's much more at the fore than it, than it was before in terms of how people learn. And there's been this sort of ongoing chatter about the need to create more interactive and engaging learning experiences beyond kind of our, our regular training, especially now that in-person, it's just not happening to, you know, as we talk about leadership, as we talk about other skills, what do you foresee for the future of the learning experience and skill development? And, and as you think about that in particular, there must be some critical areas of investment that companies need to make as they look to improve their learning and development, uh, curriculum, as they look to address the growing skills gap as they look to assist employees who might be working remotely for the first time.
Josh00:16:32 Well, it's a really good question. And I know this is something you guys are very focused on at Skillsoft. It's a ma there's a massive change going on in the approach, architecture and methods of learning. Massive. You know, if you go back 10 years, 15 years, executive training executive leadership training was taught in a classroom, just like, you know, the paper chase movie. If you remember that movie, uh, I happened, I was just thinking, I was just thinking about it yesterday. You know, the, the, the Socratic method, you sit in a classroom, somebody asks you a question. You have to answer, Hey, we don't have time be we can't travel. See, it's too expensive. D we don't have enough instructors because there's a million reasons why that doesn't work. So not only do we have new topics, but we have new ways of learning. Now, I think the model that I've been talking about for a couple of years is really this idea of learning in the flow of work, which involves both what I call micro learning and macro learning.
Josh00:17:27 There are times when you need to get out of the work environment and do something that takes some energy, some focus, some time and learn something. And that might be a instructor led experience a course like in the academy that we have, you know, an event or an experience you guys do in Skillsoft, like a simulation where you're put into a situation where you really have to rethink your life, your, your skills, your job, and it forces you to rewire your brain in a different way. And that, and that's the way learning works. Learning works. When you, um, create a new pattern of thinking, and then there's microlearning, which is hints, suggestions, tips, where, as a leader, for example, you're in a meeting, clearly the meeting's not going well, you, as a leader, don't know what to do. Maybe somebody gets upset and you'd just like to know what could I have done better?
Josh00:18:23 What did I say that I shouldn't have said? Or how could I have handled that better? That might be a coaching tip. It might be a little chat bot that you talk to. There's actually learning tools now that you can talk to, it might be a little assessment. It might be a video you watch. If somebody else who just inspires you and you think, oh my God, this person I need to do that. I, you know, and, and that's, that's not a formal learning experience, but it's, so we've got this highly digital experience now with all these different modalities. And by the way, the third thing is, of course, it may be that the way you're going to learn the solution is to talk to somebody else is to have a conversation with someone else or a group of people and say, Hey, I just had a meeting and here's what's happening.
Josh00:19:02 Um, anybody got any ideas? And somebody says, yeah, I know exactly what you're going through. I've been through that. Here's what, here's, what, what I think is going on. That's all doable. Now, these are all kind of good ideas that we'd used to talk about. You look at the platforms like what you guys do in Percipio and the content you have in Skillsoft with the kinds of things we have in our academy, we can deliver all of those kinds of experiences digitally in a very effective way. Most people have computers and phones and video cameras and plenty of internet access, at least in the professional levels. And even people that are frontline workers now have a mobile phone with reasonably good bandwidth. So it's a new world. And for L and D professionals, we need architects. We need kind of creative thinkers to pull this together. And, uh, you know, you guys, as a company, of course do this on behalf of, of the learning and development function for them. But most companies don't have a necessarily a completely integrated solution yet. So it was a very exciting time.
Michelle BB00:20:01 Yeah. You know, you, you sparked something that I want to touch on because in the wake of this pandemic, um, we have seen some of our customers who have, you know, their digital transformations, they have accelerated, right. So something that they, that would have taken them two years to be able to really get, um, learning and development, you know, fully transformed into a digital world that's been accelerated and it's now taken weeks or months, which is, which is crazy to think about. And, you know, I wonder, you know, if you look across the organizations and the customers that you speak with, are there, are there technology boundaries, are they facing, um, you know, do they have the systems and the processes in order to be able to support their organizations and how you seen some of these digital transformations? How have they impacted HR? And specifically this notion of being able to either learn in the flow of work or sort of the macro learning, how do I go out and, you know,
Josh00:21:03 Yeah. Learning and just in the context of learning first, but learning technology is very complex. There's a lot of legacy to it. So bigger companies typically have an old LMS. They're not usually that happy with it. The vendors kind of got most of the times the vendors gone, or they were acquired by somebody else. They're not putting a lot of R and D into it anymore. So they're building a bunch of new stuff. They usually can't throw it away. They're keeping it because it does a lot of record keeping that you need. But so, so there's a frenzy of, uh, of, of software buying going on to replace or supplement the LMS with a platform that is a learning platform. Now, the LX P market is a piece of that learning experience platform market, but Alex peas don't deliver learning LSPs, let you help you find content.
Josh00:21:55 So they're essentially a fairly thin layer on top of this. So you need, you know, companies need a place where people are going to find content, consume content, interact with other people, get credentials, maybe take a test, maybe have a collaborative experience. That's a pretty complicated set of technologies. There's a lot of things that have to go in there. So you guys have a platform that does a lot of this. Um, there's, uh, there's others out there, but most companies are doing a fair amount of lashing together, multiple things to create this learning experience, this digital learning experience. And I think, you know, bigger companies have to have an architect and L and D uh, tech person who just gets to know what these tools are and make sure that they come together in a productive way. Um, the other thing that's changed in general for all of HR tech, people are so busy and they're so overwhelmed with issues at home that they don't use tools that aren't easy to use. Um, for example, why is tech talk so successful? Because when you turn it on within less than a second, it works. I mean, it is, you have to, I mean, I've been studying tech talk and I think there's paradigms in TechTalk that we can bring into corporate training. Um, the idea that you have to log in, find a course enroll in the course, get it approved, launch the course, wait for the stupid thing to go through some video loading. By the time you do all that, you're like, I don't, why am I doing this?
Michelle BB00:23:30 No, I have to, I have to ask the question because you brought it up. So I'm going to ask the question. Have you done a tech talk?
Josh00:23:35 Yeah, I've got tickets. I used to, I look at tick-tock all that. Oh, no, I haven't created one. You have been creative. I know I'm not, I'm not, I'm not nervy enough to do that yet. I don't think I'm that funny.
Michelle BB00:23:45 Oh, come on. You know, it's really funny. I, one day maybe I'll show you, my daughter forced me into doing a tick talk, but that's a whole nother, we'll go down that path.
Josh00:23:52 It would be really good at it. I want to see that. I definitely want to,
Michelle BB 00:23:56 You know, I think we'd be remiss if we didn't touch on, you know, one of the most massive movements that we've seen in organizations focused on diversity, equity and inclusion, and a lot of that has to do with the social unrest, um, particularly after the killing of George Floyd, but still even beyond that, as we've seen a call for greater focus on an understanding of how to address this in the organization. And it's not just about how we train our people. This is about rebuilding systems and processes and cultural pillars, things that frankly have allowed bias and discrimination to take root, whether in our communities or in our organizations, it's a pretty tough remit for human resources and something that I know we've had a number of people who've come to us and said, this is different than we've ever had to address before. And what we have right now, isn't good enough changes a foot and we have to address it. So what guidance would you offer leaders who are facing this challenge within their organizations right now?
Josh00:25:03 Well, it is a very complicated issue and honestly, it doesn't belong in HR. HR is a piece of it, but it's much, much bigger than HR. I think it's a little bit, we have a lot of work going on in this area. We're doing a big study. I talked to lots and lots of heads of DNI. There's a tendency at the moment for CEOs to say, oh, we need a head of DNI. Let's go hire somebody. They'll find a person. A lot of times in some minority woman who gets the job, which is another sort of indication of the problem. And then that poor person has to figure out how to create a hundred different programs and culture, change initiatives and employee resource groups, and so forth, and try to, you know, fix a problem. That's very, very systemic the companies. And it takes time because there's, you know, we're all, we're all born with bias.
Josh00:25:51 We come with various forms of discrimination just in our own personal lives. And the society in the United States is filled with this. So what, what works in companies is a CEO level belief, not just initiative belief, that this is the right thing to do. There's lots of research that proves that it's the right thing to do, especially if you're in a marketplace with diverse customers, which makes a big difference. One of the reasons the tech companies have such a hard time with this is the tech companies actually don't serve diverse customers directly. They don't interact with them very much. So they're beginning to realize they are actually more like consumer goods companies than they thought they were. And then the CEO has to put in place a series of directives and initiatives, some of which are owned by the CHR, the chief diversity officer to make sure that hiring promotion, pay, reward, job assignments, behavior meetings, you know, microaggressions, all of those things are done in a fair and inclusive way.
Josh00:26:56 And also that the company is focused on belonging. There's a lot of sort of technical aspects to diversity. There's this idea of intersectionality, which, which refers to the idea of there's many, many, many dimensions to diversity. And we have to look at all of the different dimensions, you know, like Asian women versus Asian men versus black women versus black men. And, you know, there's, they're all, they're all sort of treated differently. And I think this takes time and there have to be consequences for misbehavior. I think in some ways, companies that are really good at creating diverse cultures and hiring and promoting people in a diverse way, also have consequences of not doing it. They it's a little bit like a safety program. You can talk about safety and we can kind of job on it. But if people are still doing things that are unsafe, you're going to have accidents.
Josh00:27:46 So there have to be guard rails. And sometimes that includes bonuses for targets quotas, by the way, are coming back. I think there will be more quotas and lots and lots of training, but training. Isn't the most important thing. Training to me is a compliment to these other things, to make people aware of the behaviors, uh, that they may or may not be aware of. And, and, you know, when I go to companies that are diverse and you know, I've met many of them over the years, they just live this way. It's just natural for them. They don't have to push it, but it took them years to get there and, and lots of, um, ongoing efforts. Uh, and then some of this is transparency of data and making it very clear to various business leaders. You know, your hiring patterns are, uh, racist. Uh, you're not interviewing, you know, women the same way you're interviewing men.
Josh 00:28:38 You're, you've only promoted men in the last three years. You haven't promoted any women, you know, putting that data out there. So people are aware of the fact that they may be doing things they're not even conscious of all of that. As part of this. Now I think chief diversity officers, I wrote an article that I think the chief diversity officer is maybe one of the toughest jobs in business. And the people that get these jobs are incredibly passionate, smart, hardworking, very, very, um, deeply understanding of many of these topics. But if they don't have the CEO's commitment and the rest of the senior leadership team's commitment, um, they have a very rough time. So, so, so I think it's a business issue. And then in terms of society, you know, every time we have a big problem with it, it gets re heightened at the societal level.
Josh00:29:25 And you know, we in the business community, we have to be a safe place. We want to, we can't change. You know, we can't change what the police department does or you know, what the federal government does, but we can change what we do inside of our companies. And when you create a safe, a feeling of belonging, that's equal and transparent inside your company, people want to work there. People want to work harder. People want to innovate. People want to serve customers better, all sorts of good things happen. So that's our world. We can't change the outside world. Now. Some companies actually do that too. Some companies actually like Patagonia, encourage their employees to go out and take political action. Also, most CEOs would prefer not to do that, but that's, that's clearly part of the society we have to live in.
Michelle BB00:30:13 And you say is that this is not something that you can just push into HR. This is a, this is an organizational imperative and the entire organization has to embrace it.
Josh00:30:22 Well, yeah, it's, it's, it's extremely complex. And you know, we're, we're working on a program in the JBA on this that we'll probably finish before the end of the year and get it out there. But we've been interviewing all these chief diversity officers and they're, they're dealing with incredibly difficult problems. Uh, and they want to work on them. They want to fix this in, and it's, it's, it's sort of a systemic problem. Uh, it's sorta like the it's sort of like changing culture. You can hire a chief culture officer, but that person isn't going to change the culture. They, they have to drive a whole organizational wide commitment to it. And it's very much the same here. And, and, you know, great companies say the right thing, but you know, the thing that, the thing that drives it, the most that I've noticed over the years is when the company realizes that it's a business imperative.
Josh00:31:08 I'll tell you one story really quick on this one. Schneider electric is a very, very successful, large electrical products manufacturer. I know the seat to CHRs who just left the job, but, um, really successful company, French company, uh, headquartered in Paris, mostly run by French white males. They realized about five or six years ago, maybe a little longer that most of their business was most of the growth business was coming out of China and India, not France and Europe, because those are more mature markets for them. Well, the products, the services, the pricing, the configurations of the things people want to buy in those countries are different. So they realized they needed to localize their company into those geographies. Well, they're not going to take French white male leaders and send them over to China and India to run these operations there. I mean, they can try, but they realized very quickly, that's not going to work.
Josh00:32:03 We need to hire local nationals. Well, we don't look like a company than anybody in those countries even wants to work for. So how are we even get to get the right people there? So this resulted in a multi-year initiative to create a diverse culture of leaders, of all types of people all over the country company. Now it's a very diverse company, and I know the woman who runs diversity for them, and it's just an amazing diverse organization, but it took them that it was sort of the business, by the way, they moved their headquarters out of Paris to, they also said the Paris headquarters is small. We're going to build a big headquarters in India, big head quarters in Boston, a big headquarters in China. And we're going to hire local nationals there. And we're going to drive diversity at the leadership level all the way down. And I think it was a business decision probably that started all that, but now they're, they're living it. And, uh, I wrote an article on it. If anybody wants to read about it, it's a, it's a fascinating, and I think that story is gone on and many, many other companies too. Fantastic.
Michelle BB00:33:02 You know, as we, as we kind of wind down the conversation, although I could, I think we could go on forever. I do think, you know, we should touch on, oh, I hate this phrase, the do normal. Um, I don't even want to use it anymore. I'm just, I'm going to pull that out of my vernacular. But we recently published the results of a survey that we did in, um, APAC that found that nine out of 10 employees, workers within organizations are against the return to what we would perceive as normal working life. Right? Because they found that maybe working in a different type of fashion, they've been able to focus on their wellbeing, their health and their safety. And maybe they're getting a little bit more work-life balance, even though they might be spending more time working. But, you know, I'd like to get your take on that. Is there, you know, do you think that we're going to return to anything that looked like pre pandemic or do we have an opportunity to reshape work and redefine work and work space and even what our jobs are as a result?
Josh00:34:03 You know, if you're the type of person that wants to have the same job for 30 years in the same office, with the same people doing the same thing, you know, maybe you could become a fireman or something. I, I, there just aren't very many jobs like that anymore. Every thing I, I don't think, I think the word normal is, uh, almost a worthless word right now. There's going to be changes that are not, we're not going to go back to getting on planes, to meetings all the time. We will have some, but not as many. Uh, we're not going to go back to forcing people to sit in the office and sit one inch away from their next door neighbor, you know, in the open office thing. That's not going to come back, but, you know, we also used to work in cubes. I mean, everything changes in work in business and, and, and in society.
Josh00:34:50 So, you know, people are moving from big cities to small cities now. So we have to relocate work locations into more pods. Uh, we have great digital tools. So working at home is very productive. It didn't use to be very productive. It used to be when you're working at home, you're kind of gone. You're kind of on vacation because you can't work at home. Well, now you can work at home. So, so I think, you know, I think what will change is the, the fear of the pandemic will go away. We won't be as worried about showing up in an office or getting in a car. Um, but that may be a year from now. I, I think I have a funny feeling. What's not going to happen quickly. I think the new, and I hate to call it the new world of work, but I think the evolving world of work will be much more flexible, much more hybrid will be very tolerant of people being on a digital connection and not being face-to-face.
Josh00:35:38 I mean, look at, look at what we are going through on this podcast. We just, you guys just watched me figure out a hook up my headset and we got all that working digitally. And I think people just have to be comfortable with the fact that everything will change, but hopefully in a positive way, what we have to do in HR and L and D is make sure that we're a little bit ahead of what's going on and making things work better, not just different, different, but not better as not good, but better, as long as you can explain why it's a little bit better to do it this way and how you can take advantage of it to make your life better. People are okay with it. I mean, I think people are incredibly resilient. I think most of the psychologists would certainly believe that.
Josh00:36:19 So, you know, we have this pandemic, you got to work at home, you can't go to the office. Uh, you got your kids running around, making a bunch of noise, you know, okay. We give people a little more patience, give them some new tools, teach managers how to be a little more forgiving. And everything's fine. Employee engagement is really very high right now. And people are very engaged with their work. Uh, and I think that's, for two reasons, one is work is a little bit of a break from all of the, you know, kind of other fears going on. And the other is companies really have responded to these changes. And I don't think we're all going to go be rushing back to the office and doing things the way we were before. I just don't think it's going to go that way.
Michelle BB 00:36:59 I agree. I agree. Well, you know, Josh, I'm so excited. You're going to be participating in our October 1st leader camp and we'll make sure everybody has a link to register this leader, campus 10 HR practices that drive results. So do you want to give listeners a quick sneak peek on what they can expect to hear from you and why they should attend?
Josh 00:37:16 Yeah, absolutely. So this is really fun and exciting, and I'm really excited to be working with you guys on this. We we've been working on studying the effect of the pandemic since early March and talking to hundreds of companies with mostly lots of conference calls and video meetings and so forth. And we did a massive survey this last couple of months on what we call business resilience. And we went through 60 or 70 practices and we asked companies how well or how in what form they were doing these different things. Uh, and they're in all different industries. And then we went back and we looked at the financial results, the Glassdoor ratings, and some other data of all these companies. And we broke them into four groups, the very, very highly responsive, uh, you know, companies that are transforming themselves very quickly, the companies that are behind them, and then the companies that are kind of stuck, uh, for some reason, not able to adapt well.
Josh00:38:11 And we found there were 10 things amongst the 60 that were very, very highly predictive of being at the third or fourth level in that model. And so what I'm going to do, I won't give you the secret now is I'm going to walk through them. Some of them will be obvious to you and some of them won't be, um, and, and a lot of them are HR and a lot of them are business leadership things. And, um, and I think there are reminders of sort of sacrosanct business practices that we all need to practice better. Uh, and after the pandemic is over and we're not thinking about it anymore, it will be able to look at these 10 things and say, you know what, there are good things to do now, too. So, so this isn't just, you know, get more PPE and, you know, it's, it's much more, you know, in, you know, I think enduring than that. So we'll go through all that. And I'll tell you guys a bunch of case studies and stories. We'll be launching another piece of research on the topic. You guys will be able to download that. So there'll be all sorts of things like that.
Michelle BB00:39:13 Fantastic. Everybody should want to attend this. Josh, thank you so much. I can't believe how much time has gone by thank you for sharing your expertise. That has been a pleasure speaking with you today. As we explore the evolving role of our human care.
Josh00:39:25 Thank you, Michelle. It was really fun to, to have this conversation.
Michelle BB00:39:30 Um, but as, but as a reminder, uh, Josh will be going even deeper into the topic of, uh, business resilience. He's going to share all of this research in an October 1st leader camp on 10 HR practices that drive results. So you must register today. We'll make sure that we get everybody the link and to our listeners. Thank you for tuning into this. And every episode as we unleash our edge together, stay well.
About Our Guest
Josh Bersin is an analyst, author, educator, and thought leader focusing on the global talent market and the challenges and trends impacting business workforces around the world. He studies the world of work, HR and leadership practices, and the broad talent technology market. He is cited as one of the leading HR and workplace industry analysts in the world and is frequently featured in talent and business publications such as Forbes, Harvard Business Review, HR Executive, Fast Company, The Wall Street Journal, and CLO Magazine.
He founded Bersin & Associates in 2001 to provide research and advisory services focused on corporate learning. In 2019, Bersin launched the Josh Bersin Academy, the world’s first global development academy for HR and talent professionals at all levels and across all industries.
About Our Host
As Chief Marketing Officer, Michelle leads a global marketing organization, focused on transforming today’s workforce for tomorrow’s economy. Since joining the company, she has been responsible for Skillsoft’s global marketing strategy, which includes generating awareness, driving preference, and building affinity for Skillsoft. Additionally – and perhaps most importantly – Michelle serves as the company's brand evangelist, helping to build a vibrant community of passionate learners.
With more than 25 years of marketing, branding, and strategy experience, Michelle has made it her personal mission to support the advancement of women in business. Prior to Skillsoft, she served as Chief Marketing Officer of IBM Watson, where she was instrumental in developing the first “Women Leaders in AI” program, which honors women who put AI to work across industries and around the globe. She also served as the global head of marketing for The Weather Company, an IBM Business, helping companies understand how to anticipate, plan for, and ultimately make better decisions – with greater confidence – in the face of weather.
Michelle is a prolific speaker on a range of topics, including the war for talent, digital transformation, and marketing in a post-pandemic world. She covers these topics and more as the host of Skillsoft's podcast, The Edge, now in its second season. She has authored countless papers covering a range of business and marketing topics, was at the center of Skillsoft’s leadership role in DEI through free “Leadercamps,” and has taught two Percipio courses on the Pink Pandemic and Public Speaking.
Michelle is also a founding member of CMO Huddles, a group dedicated to bringing together and empowering highly effective B2B CMOs to share, care, and dare each other to greatness. Michelle holds a Master’s degree from Simmons University and sits on the pro side of the Oxford comma debate.