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Welcome to The JoyPowered® Workspace Podcast, where we talk about embracing humanity in the workplace. I’m Susan White, a national HR consultant. With me is my dear friend and co-host JoDee Curtis, owner of Purple Ink, an HR consulting firm. JoDee, today we’re going to talk about a particular podcast that you and I really enjoy called All Things Work podcast. What’s really special about it is that the host is Tony Lee of SHRM, the Society of Human Resource Management. Most of our listeners are business leaders and HR professionals and individuals who want work to be joyful. So our goal is to wrestle with topics that help you figure out how to build and sustain a great workforce. The reason we invited Tony today is because both of us have such respect, we’re members of SHRM, and we also are on the faculty we teach different courses for SHRM throughout the year, and so today’s discussion is going to let us shine a light on SHRM, the Society of Human Resource Management. And truly Tony, who’s one of their rock stars. I follow him on Twitter. I’ve heard him speak. And of course, host the podcast All Things Work. For any listeners who may not be familiar with SHRM, SHRM is committed to HR being a social force, and they amplified it in their 2019 annual global conference when they entitled it “Creating Better Workplaces.” You – why don’t we share a few facts about SHRM for some of our listeners who are not HR professionals?
Right, right. Number one it’s a nonprofit association that started in 1948. And it is the largest professional association of HR professionals in the world.
I love anything that’s older than I am, JoDee! That’s been around longer than I have. Yeah, they have already over 320,000 members and they continue to grow.
Yeah. And they focus on research, education, professional certification, advocacy, and member support.
That’s great. Well, I know I mentioned that we’re both, uh, teach different courses for SHRM. But JoDee, I know you’re very active in the actual leadership of the chapter.
Yeah, so I was formerly on the board of IndySHRM, our local chapter in Indianapolis, and have also served I don’t even know how many years on our HR Indiana State Council, which has been just, I just love being involved with that group of HR professionals, and really doing – although I’m not doing research, I love being involved in the education, the advocacy, and promoting certification and learning to other members.
That’s great. I really appreciate my national membership, my IndySHRM membership, and whenever I get an opportunity, I love to get a chance to speak at their conferences.
Yeah, so we would encourage all of our listeners, you do not have to be an HR professional to attend chapter meetings, to attend state conferences in your area. You don’t even have to join the chapter. You – well, most all chapters across the country, you can just pay an extra fee to attend. So check them out or look at their schedules online and see who’s speaking and what topics might be of interest to you.
Okay, so today we are officially welcoming Tony Lee, who is the VP and Head of Editorial Operations at SHRM, the Society of Human Resource Management. As part of the work he does, Tony hosts the podcast All Things Work, which we’re going to talk to him about today. Prior to his current role at SHRM, Tony’s work experience includes time spent at Adicio/CareerCast.com, The Wall Street Journal, and National Business Employment Weekly.
Tony, what are the job responsibilities of the VP and Head of Editorial Operations at SHRM?
Well, I oversee the majority of content that’s created at SHRM. So that starts with the editorial news that HR professionals are most interested in seeing. So things like breaking news, and all the trends, we break it out by a number of disciplines. So we have folks who are writing about compliance and legal issues, someone else who covers talent acquisition, employee development, inclusion, you name it. Whatever the HR topic is, we have a different editor writing about it. And then we also have HR Magazine. In addition to that we have a number of newsletters, including our All Things Work newsletter, we publish books, we have over 2,000 tools and templates that are kind of a library for HR professionals to refer to, you know, you need a form for when someone needs to go on leave, then you can come in and find all the different forms that we have. So it’s just a wide range of content and podcasts.
Lots of stuff.
I have to tell you, both JoDee and I are HR consultants. And we refer to SHRM every hour of every day. We’re avid readers of almost everything you do. So thank you so much for the work that you do.
Well, thank you for the recommendations.
Yes. And what caused you to begin the podcast? Sounds like you have lots of other communication vehicles. What – What made you start it? And then who’s your target audience?
Yeah, it’s a great question. So SHRM is expanding beyond HR, we are focusing on people managers, as well. And what that means is, you know, one of the greatest headaches that HR has are managers who don’t do what they should do, who don’t do what they’re told, who refuse be trained, you know, all of those things, and instead, they just come to HR and say, fix my problem.
We’ve never heard of those people before, Tony. This is a first for us.
So what we’re doing is extending our reach to those line managers and those people managers to help them be better managers. And as part of that, in January, we launched a newsletter on Saturdays called All Things Work. And it’s a newsletter that focuses on topics that are not specifically HR, but they’re focused on people management issues and issues that frankly, the C-suite should care about. So we’ve done All Things Work focused on things like pay equity, and #MeToo, and on open offices and do they work or not, and on volunteerism, you know, everything that, you know, a company should be thinking about, and many of them want to, but they just don’t have the bandwidth to do it. And the podcast is affiliated with that. What we attempt to do is talk to people who you know, what we highlight in the newsletter to get a little more in depth about, you know, why is it that hiring boomerang employees makes sense, and tell us about experiences you’ve had as to how that’s worked, you know, that type of thing, and it’s been popular, we’re getting a lot of – a lot of listens.
Oh, that’s great.
You know, there are so many topics in the world of work. How do you decide, you know, which ones you want to tackle? Which guests to invite? How do you decide what is the latest breaking hottest topic?
Yeah, it’s great. There’s a lot of combination of things. I mean, we do frequent reader surveys. So we know, you know, what our folks are interested in and what they want to know more about. We also, you know, use Google Analytics. I mean, we publish seven or eight full length feature articles every day, and we can tell what’s popular and what’s not. Now of course, sometimes, you know, we’re feeding our readers spinach, we’re giving them what we think they should know. Maybe they don’t all read it or listen to it. But you know, HR technology’s a perfect example, we we cover the latest technology that HR people should know about. And we offer advice on how to get employees to adopt technology that HR wants to use. But you know, people didn’t get into HR because they were math geniuses.
Very true of me!
Or engineers, so that tends to be a challenge. But, you know, for the most part we were writing about things that we think are important, you know, to, to the profession and to, you know, the managers who work within it.
Nice, nice. With – Well, first, how long have you had the podcast now?
The podcast started in January, so not quite a year.
Okay. And which episode has been your favorite so far?
Ah, interesting. Boy, there have been several good ones. I really enjoyed one with a fellow that I have known for, like, 25 years. His name is Martin Yate. And he has written so many best selling books that you know, they’re called “Knock ’em Dead.” And if you’ve ever gone –
Oh, sure, yeah!
He’s written all those “Knock ’em Dead” guides to advancing your career and that type of thing. And I’ve worked with him. I was at the Wall Street Journal for 24 years. And I worked with him a lot there and brought him to SHRM, and he and I had a podcast conversation that went probably double the length that it should have, and most of it was after us just riffing and reminiscing.
That was my favorite. Awesome.
That was one I – I listened to, so I liked it, too! Yeah, that’s wonderful.
He has good advice.
So what has been the most difficult part of launching and sustaining the podcast All Things Work?
Well, to be completely frank, our podcast team has had some turnover. And so we’re bringing on a new podcast person right now. So we’ve had a bit of a hiatus, but we’re coming back strong for the fall. So that – that’s been the hardest part. You know, and that is a great segue to one of the areas we talked a lot about, which is requisition and shortages of talent out there, right, but trying to find good podcast talent and stuff because it’s such a tight market and people are hiring. In fact, the fellow who was so good that worked with us, got hired away to oversee a podcast at ESPN.
You got to be happy about that, you know, not – employee retention is wonderful, but when you can develop somebody into a bigger role you got to feel good about it, right?
Absolutely, no question about it, and he’s thrilled, but we’re sad. Yeah.
Well, I think all your listeners can relate to that. That is their reality as well, that – the – this “war for talent,” so…
Yes, absolutely. It’s a challenge for everyone. Yeah.
What has been the reaction at SRHM and – and the public to the podcast? Have you had good response?
We have, yeah, it’s – it’s been great. We have – you know, SHRM actually has several different podcasts. So the All Things Work podcast has been well received. We have an HR Tips podcast, it’s a mix between – we’ve actually done some that are audio only and some that are also video. And so it’s kind of a mix, but Rue Dooley, who a lot of people know from SHRM conferences, and he hosts that one. He’s a lot of fun, and we’ve been experimenting with some others. So, what – 2020 I’m sure we’ll see even more interesting podcasts.
Well, Tony, I’d love – since we’ve got you today, I’d love to just kind of pick your brain, given that you do manage the content and really have a – probably a unique perspective on what’s happening in the world of HR and what’s coming, what do you believe are the top three or four trends HR professionals should be paying attention to today?
Yeah. So I think number one is, and you know, there’s nothing new here. We’re in kind of a unique time with our economy right now, and with the elections coming. So, you know, I think you’ve got employees who are still feeling like they’re in the catbird seat from a talent standpoint, you know, there’s still great shortages out there. And, you know, if I’m not getting what I want, then I can probably go find a new job that will help. But we’re starting to see signs that that might be slowing. And you know, there’s still a lot of talk about a potential recession next year. You know, no one really knows. So from an HR perspective, my feeling is, you know, dot your i’s and cross your t’s, you know, it’s been a little wild the last couple of years, moving very fast, hiring, you know, without necessarily regard of what the long term aspects might be, or the long term plans, hiring to fill, you know, the immediate need today, and all of that. And I think it might be time to kind of sit back a little bit, and do a really careful evaluation of the – of your company, you know, workforce planning, in terms of what do we really need, you know, next year, in the years ahead, you know, what can we do now to start planning for that? Because we all know, you know, we’ve been there before, when – when a downturn hits, HR gets hit fast and early, man, you know, if you’ve got an open position in the HR department that gets stopped, and things get worse, you know, last in first out, so you need to make sure that you’ve got all your ducks in a row. So I would say, you know, starting this fall would be if you haven’t already, start looking at that and thinking seriously about, you know, what the future might bring. So that would be a big one. Another one would be, you know, along the lines of talent. One of the things we’ve talked about a lot this year, you know, there’s still great shortages in a lot of fields, is looking at the untapped talent pool. You know, we’ve written a lot, our CEO, Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., has spoken a lot about looking at non-traditional candidates, you know, candidates who have a criminal history, we’ve done a lot of work on it this year. And we’ve talked to a lot of companies that have embraced that and they are finding great success, hiring folks who they may not have considered before. And – and that expands to other categories, you know, candidates with disabilities. You know, we’ve all talked a good game, but have we really done anything to advance hiring folks with disabilities, and that includes folks on the autism spectrum. You know, we’re seeing some great success stories. They’re hiring veterans, you know, it’s been a long term goal of many companies, but veterans are still having challenges. So making a commitment there, and an area that, you know, demographics is is proving is important hiring older employees.
Yay. Now you got to my sweet spot.
And not just as Walmart greeters, you know, hiring people for productive jobs who are beyond retirement age who are interested in continuing to work, either because they want to be challenged or because financially they have to be challenged and, and, and have to be employed. So, you know, I think HR departments that are, and recruiting teams that are looking beyond the traditional employee are having some real successes and building jobs faster than than other companies would.
Susan and I were both at national conference this summer when Johnny spoke and did such a beautiful job of talking about that untapped talent and people, you know, ages and disabilities, incarceration, it was really, really inspiring and empowering.
That’s great. Yeah, he does a great job with that. And it’s a constant, you know, need. I think one of the challenges that HR has had in the past is, it’s not new, you know, we’ve all talked about this before, but then HR doesn’t really do much about it. And I think this year, given the constant flow of information about it, the gettingtalentbacktowork.org website that we launched with the pledge and the toolkit, it’s getting folks to actually do something. And seeing lots of evidence of that, which is really great.
So other topics, other things that HR should be thinking about?
Well, we could go on and on and on there.
Those are givens, though, yeah,
I mean, can I throw out one more?
Going back to the spinach, automation, you know, there is no question that technology is getting to the point where HR departments should look pretty – pretty hard at reevaluating the tools that they’re using. You know, I think – forget the fear of technology, move beyond that, I think I’m starting to hear some fear from, from some HR managers that automation may have an impact on HR, in a sense that it might eliminate positions. Because there are a lot of redundant tasks that HR does that could be automated. But we think that in a better way, I mean, let’s take a specific tool, you know, something that is really catching fire, really working well, especially in talent acquisition or chatbots, you know, a candidate comes to your website, they see a job posting, before they apply, they have a question, or as they apply, they have a question. Well, right now, they typically don’t get an answer very quickly, you know, they might send an email or they might, you know, pick up the phone and get a voice message. But with chatbots, they can ask the question and get an answer during the process. Well, that’s automation. It’s very inexpensive. And is it eliminating a job, an HR job? I don’t think so. I don’t think so. I think the HR folks who are doing their jobs are freed up to do more of what’s important. And the jackpot is handling, you know, the – these basic questions that folks have, extend that chatbot to benefits and open enrollment. You know, how much time does that save? You know, if –
I think we’re delivering a better candidate experience and we’re delivering a better new hire experience by having immediate answers, as opposed to when we have the time to call people back, right?
Yeah, no question about it. So, you know, so folks who are kind of like, yeah, that’s not for me, or, you know, I was talking to someone at annual conference too, who kind of joked, you know, somebody who was, you know, late 50s. He said, “Well, you know, I could probably hold on a little longer, not do anything, and then I’ll retire and I won’t ever have to do it.” Like, yeah, but you know, there are some things you can do that really make your life better. So –
That’s funny. Why might our listeners want to tune in to your show, Tony?
Well, hopefully they’re enjoying this banter and wanting to hear more!
And then what else should our listeners know? Anything? Any other advice you might have for that business person listening or HR person listening?
Yeah, I’ll do a shameless self plug, go to shrm.org. Yeah, we have so much great information on there. You know, we’re publishing new stuff every day. As I mentioned, in all forms of media, we’ve got great apps. You know, it’s just a font of knowledge. So whether you’re an active HR person or you’re a manager, trying to figure out how to manage your team better, you know, there’s great information there for you. So I would encourage you to visit and hopefully end up joining us.
Totally agree. We’re very supportive of that as well.
So good. Well, thank you so much, Tony, for joining us today. We really appreciate it.
Thanks for having me, guys.
All right. Thank you.
Susan, we have a listener question today. Our question we received was, “Susan and JoDee, I would appreciate your advice on how to go about quitting my job. I don’t like what I’m doing, I’m not happy at my current place of employment, and I’ve decided I would do better looking full time for a new job rather than staying here and being miserable. I don’t want to burn bridges, but I know my boss is going to want to know why I’m quitting and HR will insist on doing an exit interview. How honest should I be?”
Well, I believe in honesty, and I do believe in transparency. But I also understand that you want to leave on a high note, right? And so it sounds like you’ve made up your mind, you are not – there’s nothing we could do to help talk you into staying. So what I would do is I would think about two or three things that you really do appreciate about the time you spent at this company, there has to be two or three things. You’ve learned something, right, and maybe it’s the relationships you’ve built with clients, maybe it’s the co-workers you had, who knows. Come up with two or three. I could help you come up with two or three, anybody, no matter how miserable you are. And then I – when I went into resign, I think I would, I would share that, you know, I was leaving for another opportunity, or maybe even to explore other opportunities. And I would, when they asked me or during my exit interview, I would share those two or three really good things. And then I would pick the one or two things that I felt like if I shared with them might be helpful. If they’re not giving enough training to people on a particular role, maybe offer up that I think I could have been more effective with more training in this, and XYZ. If it’s that perhaps they didn’t give you the feedback you needed along the way. You might say, I think I could have been more effective, so I share this with you in the hopes that you’ll be able to help the others I’m leaving behind. So any – any other perspective you might have?
Yeah, I’ll just say too, I mean, obviously, finances would be an issue, but you didn’t bring that up. So it sounds like maybe you’re able to go without a job in the short term. You know, it used to be people would say, “Don’t quit the job until you have a new job.” But I – I personally think that time is over. And I don’t think it’s an issue – as big of an issue as it used to be for you to have a, a, a gap in your work experience. So if you were concerned about that, I think employers now understand that people want that time in between, that it can be a full-time job to find a new job. And I would take that off your list of things to worry about too much.
That’s great. I will also mention that we have a podcast out there that’s entitled “Starting a Job Search.” And we also have another one, “Successful Salary Negotiation.” I hope both of those will be useful to you in the coming days and weeks. Nice. Alright, so it’s time for best practice sharing. And periodically we will ask our listeners to share some of the things that they have figured out so that they can help the rest of us hopefully navigate some of the HR challenges or business challenges that we face. So one we have today, we asked our listeners a question recently, to garner a best practice around communication skills. The question was, what are you doing to be a more active listener? We know in HR that it doesn’t matter – you do need – not that I can, but you do need to be able to speak, but listening is probably that number one skill. So what are you doing out there? What did we hear, JoDee?
Well, Lucy Brooks from Indianapolis said, to improve my active listening skills I reread my favorite book on communication, “The Art of Connecting” by Claire Raines and Lara Ewing. This book tells you exactly how to be an incredible listener. One thing I learned from this book is how important it is to state your intentions. So often, our delivery falls short. But when we state our intentions, it builds trust and rapport by reminding the recipient that our intentions are good. I thought that was great advice.
Yeah. Have you read that book, JoDee?
I have not. So I’m going to add that to my list.
That’s great. Yeah, I’d like to look into that as well. A second listener responded, and this is from Denise McGonigal. She actually gave us a list. Yeah. Which is nice. Thank you so much for taking the time to be an active listener. The first thing she does is put away distractions. She’s got to put her cell phone out of sight and close her computer.
Number two, make eye contact while the person is speaking to you.
I always have to add to that, but be culturally sensitive right? So if the person from comes from a culture where eye contact would be rude, don’t do that. But in all other cases it does make sense. Number three, nod, smile, or use other body language to demonstrate interest and understanding.
Good. Number four, intentionally concentrate on what’s being said.
I know, that sounds simple, but it is not.
Yeah, my mind sometimes wanders, like what am I gonna have for lunch?
In the middle of doing a podcast that really wouldn’t be good!
Or I think, very simply too, many times we’re thinking about what are we going to say next, as opposed to listening to what they’re saying.
Very true. Number five for active listening: if needed, ask short clarifying questions.
Number six, repeat what I heard the person say to make sure I’ve heard correctly.
Number seven, give real time feedback. So when you hear something, let them – you know answer in that moment and really make it a conversation.
Yeah. Number eight, thank the person for their comments. I like that one.
And then her number nine, last one, is if the conversation has to be over the phone, try to use Zoom or FaceTime or any other medium so that you can actually look at the person.
Yeah, I love that one too. Denise kind of referred to this in number three, which is using your body language. But I did hear – Sarah Turner recently spoke at the HR Indiana Conference, and one thing she talked a lot about body language and physically leaning in, like leaning in towards the person who’s speaking to help you focus your concentration on that, and I found that very appropriate.
Alright, so in the news, we have talked the past couple of years about the Department of Labor’s announcing proposals to increase the federal threshold for the individuals to be eligible for overtime at the time of this recording, which is September 2019, the current annual amount is $23,660. And the pending proposal is to raise it to $35,300. What’s fascinating is that state level efforts are outpacing the federal government, with a number of states moving forward to increase the threshold. The Wall Street Journal on August 8, 2019, in an article entitled “States Seek to Widen Overtime Eligibility,” reported, first of all California’s current threshold is $49,920 for large employers and $45,760 for small employers, and they are on a path to get to a salary threshold of $62,400 by 2023.
Wow, I had not heard that. I did not know that.
I had not been monitoring the states. But tell about New York’s.
New York’s current thresholds range from $43,290 to $58,500, depending on the employer and location.
Washington has proposed a rule that would increase the salary threshold to $79,872 by 2026. And Maine has proposed a bill to set the salary threshold of $55,224 by 2022. Massachusetts has a proposed bill to set it at $64,000 by 2024.
And Pennsylvania’s governor has proposed a threshold of $47,892 by 2022.
So if any of you live in any of those states, you definitely want to be watching what’s happening at your state legislatures.
Which is very complicated for companies who have employees in more than one state.
Absolutely. I used to think that staying on top of the varying states’ minimum wages was complicated enough.
Now you also have to have the varying overtime eligible threshold on your radar, right. The takeaway is that for employers whose operations span the nation, or at least multiple states, is that there’s a strong need to stay vigilant on this topic.
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