509: Human Resources In A World With No Physical Boundaries | Lauren B. Jones

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Leap Consulting Solutions, Founder, Lauren B. Jones joins the Conquer Local Podcast to discuss human resources’ massive shift in our everchanging environment. This entails remote working environments, hiring across the globe for your organization, building trust in your organization, and being proactive in acknowledging when your employees are crushing it. Lots of great takeaways and an overall brilliant conversation with HR tech super nerd, Lauren B. Jones.

Lauren B. Jones has been a leader, influencer, and innovator in the staffing industry for just over 24 years. Her focus on mindful and responsible usage of technology in the human capital industry is helping businesses align their future desires with the technologies of today all with a singular focus in mind – keep the process human. She founded Leap Consulting Solutions with the intent of supporting businesses in adding clarity to the steps required to digitally transform with excellence. Lauren has been named Top 15 Staffing Professionals to watch in 2021, Power List of Top 200 Thought Influencers to watch in 2021. Lauren has been featured on almost every industry podcast from Settle Smarter, You Own the Experience Podcast (and is now Co-Host), Ivy Podcast, Staffing Hub, HR Lift Off, and more to share her passion for technology. Her LinkedIn vlog has grown her following by over 200% in 2020 with hashtag days like #technologytuesday and #womencrushwednesday as her most popular segments.

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George: This is the conquer local podcast, a show about billion dollar sales leaders, marketers leading local economic growth and entrepreneurs that have created their dream organizations. They wanna share their secrets, giving you the distilled version of their extraordinary feats. Our hope is with the tangible takeaways from each episode, you can rewire rework and reimagine your business. I’m George leith, your host. And on this episode, we welcome, self-proclaimed HR tech, super nerd Lauren B. Jones. She’s the founder of leap consulting solutions and has been a leader, influencer and innovator in the staffing industry for 23 years, Lauren has been recognized amongst the top 15 staffing experts of 2021 and was featured on a power list of the top 200 thought influencers to watch in 2021. And with all that’s going on in the world around human resources and people operations and finding the right staff and the great resignation, we thought it would be great for our conquerors to hear from an expert in the space. So get ready, Lauren B. Jones is coming up next on this week’s episode of the Conquer local podcast. Well, I’m super excited to have Lauren B. Jones on the show this week. We talked in the intro about, you know, some of the accolades and Lauren, thanks for joining us. I know I definitely know it’s warmer where you were in California than where we are here in our studios in the middle of Canada. So thanks for joining and early. Thank you by way early for joining us.

Lauren: It is, but I live on a farm. So the early bird gets the worm here. Thank you so much for having me. Yeah, we are up with the roosters here.

How Leap Consulting Solutions Was Founded

George: Well, Lauren, we talked in the intro about your background, but let’s talk about leap consulting solutions because one of the reasons why I’m super excited, you love tech stacks. So we’re gonna understand that a little bit more. I love tech stacks too. And then we also have your background in HR and people operations, and I wanna talk about this really interesting scenario that we have around being able to find talent, which is impacting businesses all over the world. I’m finding when I talk to our global partner base, but if you could give us a bit of an overview of the company that you founded, Leap Consulting Solutions, I think that’d be a great place for us to start today.

Lauren: Absolutely well, I’ve been in staffing and recruiting for 24 years and my career took a pivot about a decade ago in building technology around the businesses that were supporting people and finding ways to do it organically and still maintain this human experience and honor the candidate. And so Leap consulting focuses on three areas. First it’s, expeditious acquisition of technology, meaning, we’re just no longer in a time and space where we can move at a snails pace, which is traditionally the way that staffing and recruiting moves. And so it’s, you know, let’s determine what it is that you need, how it is that you wanna apply it. What it’s gonna do to enhance the experience for the candidate and the customer. And then let’s go and get it. And then the second is the business process change management, which is probably where I spend the majority of my time and my firm’s hours with my team. And that’s really- We are like hired antagonists, meaning we’re just challenged that this is challenging the ideal, this is the way that we’ve always done it. And you know, you hear this broken mentality of, well, this is the way candidates have always come in. Candidate behavior is changing and we have to change with it. And so we spend a ton of time, challenging businesses to think differently and think like a consumer, think the way other candidates are thinking and reshape the way that their workflows are moving and the way that we respond and how we respond and what we respond with, whether it’s technology or a person. And then finally, it’s the evangelization. You know, the habit it in our industry has been, I put out one press release and everybody knows I’m better, faster, stronger, and it just doesn’t work like that anymore. We don’t consume information like that any longer. And so it is putting together tangible talking points for the entire team of how these new technology investments differentiate you in the marketplace. And so we focus on those three areas.

George: You know, in a previous episode, 436 of the conquer local podcast, we had a great guest, a guy I’ve known for a long time. James from Australia, and he ran for a number of years as a CEO. And he talked about installing the right tech stack actually could increase the valuation of your organization.

Lauren: Absolutely.

Organizing Your Tech Stack; Bandaid buys vs. holistic ecosystem

George: I’ve had the privilege of working with a lot of media companies over the last 10 years through our revenue motions. And that it’s funny because they’re always a little, I’m working with one right now. They’re a little embarrassed to show the tech stack because it’s this thing that resembles Frankenstein and it’s really hard to pull it out of them cause they don’t wanna show their warts. But the in thing is I find that everywhere. Where there’s these, you know, Frankenstein tech stacks that have been put together and really the businesses that are laser-focused on building the right technology stack have a competitive advantage. Are you finding that as well?

Lauren: Oh, I mean a hundred percent. We call it bandaid buy right where we’re not really. And that’s why the whole start of our focus is, you know, let’s buy based on what it is that you need, but also let’s take into consideration what you already have. There is no transformation without integration. I’ve said it for the last, you know, seven years. And if we are not thinking about how we create one holistic ecosystem, then we are doing ourselves a disservice and you’re a hundred percent right and that it can improve a company’s valuation. If you have a well thought out tech stack offering or ecosystem and those companies that are simply just buying technology, because something hurts as opposed to thinking, how can we incorporate this into our ecosystem? How can we- Why do we wanna do it? And then again, what is the experience going to be for the candidate and for the customer and then work back or from there. Those are the businesses that are really making a difference and implementing technology in a meaningful way and not only implementing it, but it’s getting adopted long term. And that’s the missing link here that we don’t talk about a lot is that there’s a lot of buying, but not a lot of adopting. And, that’s symptomatic of that bandaid buying Frankenstein approach.

George: You know, I’ve been through this a number of times, we had an awesome CFO at our company. That’s not just me saying nice stuff to him, cause then he’ll approve…

Lauren: If he manages the money, right?

Great Resignation Reassessed As Great Migration

George: But you know what I love about what Richard’s cadence is, is an annually, we have to justify every software expense that we have and we’re a software company, but he goes through it with a fine tooth comb. And one of the things that we look at is adoption. And I was looking at one of our solutions that actually I was on the champion side of last year. And I’m sitting here a year in and we do the annual business review with the provider and I’m like, you’ve gotta give me the ammunition to get the renewal because what I’m concerned about is did we solve the problem that we were setting out to solve by bringing the solution in and I’m going to have to report on adoption across the user base. So I think that some organizations are starting to move in this direction. We have this at my house and my wife will come to me, give me the credit card statement and say what the hell’s all this fun here. And I’m like, “Oh, we might need that software someday.” Like that justification of those various licenses. The reason why I wanna talk about this is we’re talking about most precious resource of companies, which are their people. And I keep reading this thing on LinkedIn. People don’t leave bad companies, they leave bad managers, but I also think people leave bad technology stacks. Is that what you’re finding too?

Lauren: Oh my goodness, yeah. I mean, I think look, we have consumerism entering the workplace, meaning it’s since COVID, right? It’s been easy for me to get my groceries delivered. It’s been easy for me to buy anything that I need on Amazon. It’s been easy for me to get GrubHub or any one of the Postmates, any one of the food delivery chains. It’s been so easy and if I have an experience issue, like I need to return something, I mean my goodness Amazon makes it so easy. I just drop it off at a Kohl’s and without a box or anything like that, it’s such an easy experience. So now that consumerism is entering in our workplace and we are going to find that candidates want a business that makes it easy for them to be successful. So that means that technology that they’re not having to constantly swivel chair. I go from this app to this app, to this app, again, integration, they want to ensure that they’re educated on the technology that they’re using that is easy to use. We call it kind of five to thrive, right? We need five days they’re functional in the technology and your training needs to be such that they can be functional in five days. And in five weeks they can be independent. And in five months they could teach to somebody else. That’s what we call five to thrive when we look at adoption and your training needs to be structured in such a way that people can consume it. And you’re a hundred percent right. This isn’t the great resignation. It’s the great migration of people reprioritizing where and how they want to work. And technology is a part of that.

George: Well, and we can work anywhere. You know, that’s the one, you know, there’s not a lot of good that came outta COVID, but one of the things is that, you know, forcing function for businesses to conduct online and you just touched on it, it’s easy. So when I work with a business, it’s gotta be easy. But then on the other side is, I’d love to understand your take on this. I believe that we’re gonna have a massive challenge in the next 36 months of filling open positions. I was on a call earlier morning with a colleague. He has 70 open positions and he doesn’t know how he’s gonna fill those positions. And part of it is he’s retooling the offer, to the potential employee because they’re 125 year old company and the way that they positioned themselves in the past, isn’t going to appeal to the new worker and the new normal, are you finding this everywhere?

Lauren: Oh my goodness, trust has been lost, you know, when COVID happened and mass layoffs came, it was made exceedingly evident, that people were on their own and big corporations were out for big corporations. And so we have a come up and see now, we have those corporations have to pay fairly. We haven’t seen the needle move on wages in a really, really long time. And so you have to rethink and get creative what is going to attract the right candidate. And it is not going to be your traditional job posting that you’ve used for 125 years that no longer works and traditional employment relationships. Like you need to be on site from eight to five, Monday through Friday, it’s not gonna work. People are going where they are paid well, they are valued and they have the flexibility that they need to have the life that they want. Because we were talking about this on yesterday as we were recording a pre podcast session and my dad worked for the same company for 30, some odd years. And, and then, you know, he got to retire early to go and travel. And we are totally rethinking that, this notion that we have to work, work, work, work, work at work so we don’t have to work. I think COVID just taught us we can kinda have both. And so if there was something good to come from it, it’s that when my dad says, when are you gonna retire? I’m like retire from what, I get to work when I want, where I want, how I want. And it’s just a different ball game. And companies have to think differently. This is gonna to be an outcome driven workplace where people can pick which outcomes they can help companies achieve and get plugged into that. And then move on from assignment to assignment to assignment. This fractionalized way of working is here to stay.

George: You know, I took a shot one time, I’m working with a customer of ours and the CEO, he’s a new CEO. He’s in there to transform the business. He meets with me, he said, “You just spent a week with my teams in various markets.” I won’t say where it was, cause that’ll give away. “What do you think I should do if you were sitting in my chair?” And I said, “You should retire your head of HR.” Very great individual but they were hiring for the business that you were and not the business that you’re trying to become. And this role of the head of human resources or people, operations is so important in transformation. What advice do you have for the people that are in that role that you work with on a daily basis? Like if there were just a couple of things and you sit down with the head of HR, how do you keep your job in this new environment that we’re in? What advice would you give them?

Lauren: Listen to the people. They’re telling you what they want. We’re just not listening. And that’s, it’s very funny. I carried a bag for years, you know, I sold and we used to call human resources, human roadblock, because they were just that and to all the human resource people, I love and adore you, but it was that impediment for me getting to the ordering source and they have been a bit of a roadblock because we’re just not, not all of them, but some of them are just not listening to the people. You need to put surveys out there, listen to the people, listen to what they want. Look at employment trends and how they’re changing. And then human resources job is really to educate the employer, come back and say, “This is not working. What we’re doing is not working. We have to do something different.” I want human resources professionals to act in much more of a consultative, a consultative type of role. And I think that you’re seeing a lot of that shift and you’re seeing them push back to the organization. And that’s what I wanna see more of because we have to listen to- We have to listen to the field. We have to listen to our workers.

George: You know, in preparation for this episode, I’ve been talking to a few leaders that lead large teams. And I said, “How are you handling this gap in talent? People getting poached, cause they can work from the beach if they want.” On a little beach hut and Belize, you could do that. And what I heard from a couple of them was they went to the roles that would really be painful to replace. And they gave ’em a bump without any ask, it wasn’t part of the regular merit cadence. They just went in and said, “We’re gonna be proactive, we see a tsunami coming and we’re gonna protect against this.” Is this a common practice? Or is it something that’s just starting to gain steam in your opinion?

Lauren: Oh my goodness, well, I think you’re talking about more of the exception than the reality in many cases, and I think that proactive approach is, that’s gonna help build trust, right? That means companies are listening. And like I said, with larger corporations, trust has been lost, so how do you regain that? You regain by listening to the people, taking action and doing that in an ongoing fashion. It can’t just be a one and done type of thing, just throwing money at the problem. And that is typically what we’ve done. We is throw money at the problem. We wait for somebody to give their notice. Then we throw money at ’em with a counter offer. And then they sit there dissatisfied, forward, and stew on it forward and then they end up leaving anyway, the percentage of people that accept counter offers and end up leaving anyway is astronomical. And so why are we waiting for that? First of all, why are we doing annual reviews? I mean, therein lies a huge, archaic practice. We need to be talking to our people continuously. You get in an Uber, you give immediate feedback, you get your Instacart dropped off, you give immediate feedback. We need this constant flow of communication with our people so that there is transparency. And when there is a hiccup or when there is, just the smell of dissatisfaction that we can address it, that we can sniff it out and we can have a conversation about it and address it.

George: Nothing drives a top performer more nuts than I have to go out and get an offer to get a raise. It’s ridiculous, and it’s such a waste of time and the cycles that it burns inside an organization, like let’s be proactive with this. And so you know, I’m in the sales business. So commission based sales, you can be a little bit proactive, right? There’s a way to kind of stay on top of it. I’ve got another tactic that I’ve used for years and I wanna get your feedback on it. Because when I first started, I stole it by the way, all great ideas, what’s that Picasso line?

Lauren: All great ideas are stolen, yes.

George: But the idea was, we give a job description to the candidate when we’re trying to hire them. And then we never go back to it. but yet it should be an evolution of the relationship with the associate. So as the role changes, then that should be our articulated in that document and be the thing that we’re measuring against and make sure that it’s changing because I’ve never, you know, you just get hired under some terms and then it always changes, like it evolves over time. But what do you think of that tactic?

Lauren: I think it’s the definition of the sentence at the end of the job description, other duties, you know, as necessary. And therein lies what dictates your job description for the rest of your employment at that customer. And so I do think, you know, I talk all the time and you’ve recently seen some of my sound bites out there, the resume was invented in 1482, right? And we haven’t seen a lot change with it and we have to change. And that also means our job descriptions have to change. We’re seeing digital job descriptions out there now. I’m just a super fan of TikTok resumes and video job descriptions. That’s that outcome driven sort of change in the way work works that I’m talking about, is instead of a job description, let’s talk about a desired outcome. Let’s talk about what we want to achieve here. And if the person with a desired skillset thinks that they can achieve that, that is a better marrying as opposed to this random list of skills that we think might apply to this job. And who knows if I’m gonna use that skill, I might use another skill than I have. I just think that they’re arbitrary at best, and we need to be having more conversations and less work put into algorithms around it.

Lauren B. Jones, Co-Host Of “You Own The Experience” Podcast

George: Lauren, thanks for sharing. And 100% agree with you. We definitely need a new job description. I don’t know if it’s 2.0 or 2000.0 or whatever it is, but we go to improve that process. You mentioned podcast, You Own The Experience is the name of your podcast, you’re co-host on, but you actually started as a guest first. So how did you land that and tell a little bit about your podcast, cause as you know, we love podcasts here at Conquer Local.

Lauren: Oh my goodness. So yes, the You Own The Experience podcast, my co-host Rob Mann. I started out with a regular segment called Ask Lauren where we answered all of the burning technology questions out there. And I was always ribbing Rob, about diversity on the podcast. And so, you know, he’s so fantastic. He’s such an ally for women and he asked if I- We had this really good sort of banter and rapport. And so it was just a really natural, next step was to have me on as a co-host it seemed, and we’ve just not looked back. And so we have a really good time together and we talk all things, staffing and recruiting and technology and some of these hot topics, the way work works, all of it so that we can inform and educate because I think that’s part of the problem, is that you know, this all seems so overwhelming. If you have 73 job openings and your one individual tasked with getting that done, that can seem like you’re swimming in the middle of the ocean. So providing content that can help educate and inform on things that we can do differently. I think that’s paramount to how we navigate through this people business together.

George: You know we, I just went through a- We’ve been adding a lot of folks as our organization grows and I was leading an initiative called the next 100. So we got to about a hundred sales reps. We were gonna add the next 100. And interestingly, after a year and a half, we’ve added 71. But we treated it as a pipeline because we’re sales organization, we had the pipeline, we kind of changed up a bit of the offering. We did a few things, we were able to- They hit a number of underlying goals as a part of that hundred. They just wanted to bring in a hundred. We wanted bring in the right 100. We wanted to take a good hard look at diversity. You know, tech sales is very male for some stupid reason that we’re trying to fix. So, you know, I’m happy to report that we were able to accomplish a number of the underlying goals, but we still didn’t hit the number. And that kind of bothers me because I like hitting numbers. But you know, your feedback today has been great in giving us some ideas and some concepts as to how we might reboot this thing. When it comes to attracting the right talent, how we understand that the tech stack is vitally important. Because I believe that people are leaving bad tech stacks. Like they gotta work with this stuff every day. And if it’s pain in the ass and they get an offer from an organization that has the tech stack dialed in, where are they gonna go? They’re gonna go where it’s a better experience for them. So thanks for validating that. And when it comes to Leap Consulting Solutions, if some of our listeners are interested in reaching out to you to see if they could gets some of your services, how could they go about doing that?

How to get in touch with Lauren B. Jones

Lauren: Oh my goodness, you can find me on LinkedIn. I’m the Goat on LinkedIn. And you can email me lauren@leapconsultingsolutions.com. You can go to my website, there’s a chat there for you as well at www.leapconsultingsolutions.com. I am easy to find and I’m all over linked in. So reach out and we are happy to support you.

George: Well, good for you. I’m a big fan of LinkedIn as well. They’ve actually been a sponsor of our show. So it’s like, is all that LinkedIn stuff sponsored? No, it’s just where you need to be if you wanna make money. Lauren, thanks for joining us early this morning. Really appreciate it. And we’ll put all of the links to all the ways that people can connect with you in the show notes. And we really appreciate having you as one of our conquerors here on the Conquer Local Podcast.

Lauren: Thank you so much for having me.


George: Loved, loved, loved the takeaways from this episode with Lauren, you need to hire for the company you’re trying to be, not for the company you were or the company that you are. Organizations must listen to the people, listening to the needs of prospects throughout the hiring process, and considering the new flexibility that is just an expectation in the workplace will make hiring more effective for your organization. And if we take it a step further, implementing those learnings and trends into your existing workforce, it gives you the opportunity to be proactive in addressing the needs of your people. You know, you may end up being a victim to what we’re calling the great resignation or in Lauren’s words, the great migration. If we’re not taking into account this new normal, when it comes to hiring and your people operations and those cultures that we’re trying to build and grow, the great migration means that the way you positioned yourself in the past needs to change. If you’re having trouble with this new normal, if you are left with multiple job openings, consider this, are we hiring for the now, have you done the research surrounding wants and needs of the people and what are you doing about this information? Lastly, don’t look for what Lauren calls bandaid fixes in your tech stack. hire tech solutions that will serve the desired outcomes of who your business is becoming, and then implement them with purpose. If you liked Lauren B. Jones episode, discussing recruiting and business technology, let’s continue the conversation. Check out episode 436 about your tech stack that increases the valuation six to seven times with my friend James or episode 333 onboarding and remote workforce with Trisha for Microsoft. Please subscribe and leave us a review. And thanks for joining us this week on the Conquer Local Podcast. My name is George Leith. I’ll see you when I see you.