ReThink Productivity Podcast

The Profound Impact of Employee Experience and Future Work Trends with Julie Develin

November 05, 2023 Season 1 Episode 139
ReThink Productivity Podcast
The Profound Impact of Employee Experience and Future Work Trends with Julie Develin
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Join us for a discussion with Julie Develin, Sr. Partner, HCM Advisory at UKG and a recent recipient of the top 100 HR influencer award, as we navigate the intricacies of the employee lifecycle and employee experience. As an expert in her field, Julie unveils how UKG technology plays a pivotal role in employee thriving and retention, and she dissects the profound consequences of labour turnover and negative onboarding experiences 

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Speaker 1:

Welcome to the Productivity Podcast. I'm delighted today to be joined by Julie Devlin, senior Partner HCM Advisory at UKG and has just been awarded a top 100 HR influencer title. Hi, julie. Hi Simon, Great to be here with you. Thanks for coming on. I know you're busy traveling all over the world. I think we're speaking and you're actually. We're actually in the same country. You're in the UK at the moment, aren't you?

Speaker 2:

I am in the UK. It's my first time here in London and it's been fantastic. Everyone's been so very kind and really, really enjoying my time here. So, yes, we are in the same time zone, it appears.

Speaker 1:

Good. I'm not sure the weather's been that kind, but at least us Brits are being kind, which is a good thing. And congratulations on your top 100 HR influencer. I think that's just recently been announced, hasn't it?

Speaker 2:

Yes, yes, it was quite the nice surprise. It was by a company called Engage Lee. They do an annual list of top 100 HR influencers in different categories and I was fortunate enough to be named in the talent management category and it was a very nice surprise, very, very humbled, to be among such esteemed colleagues there or peers, if you will not colleagues, peers on that list. So thank you for mentioning that.

Speaker 1:

No, problem, no problem, and you worked for UKG. We've had a couple of your colleagues on in previous episodes, but do you want to just remind the listeners about what UKG does and the kind of things industries you help?

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. We help all industries. We are literally around the world, a global company, and we do everything from hire to retire when it comes to workplace technology. So we're a cloud based and really onboarding, scheduling, timekeeping, everything and everything in between. We provide the technology that workplaces can utilize to really help their people thrive.

Speaker 1:

And for those in the UK probably known as Kronos for a good number of years before the kind of marriage with Ultimate. So for those of you that use Kronos, you'll have seen it rebranded now UKG and for those that didn't know Kronos, it was Kronos before UKG. So there's the plotted history.

Speaker 2:

Yes, yes, we merged over the pandemic, which was not exactly ideal, but we managed to take two six thousand person companies and merge them completely virtually, which is pretty amazing.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely, absolutely. Maybe not what you plan to do again, and I'm sure we're not planning for another pandemic, but a good time to get it done, I suppose Absolutely. So I know your kind of world is in that kind of HCM space and one of the things I think would be interesting to talk about is I suppose you talked about the employee life cycle that UKG helped with. From some people call it cradle to grave. That may be a bit pessimistic, but we're certainly in the UK experiencing a really strange time where costs are rising. We have national living wage and that's just been announced It'll go to a minimum of 11 pounds an hour from next April when our tax year starts. Organisations, regardless of type, I think, are experiencing really high labour turnover. Clearly mental health and wellness at work is at a much bigger angle now for all organisations and individuals. I'm not sure if you'll see in the same in the States, but I'll just kind of leave it with one stat that I've heard recently that for every two employees that joined a company in the UK retail hospitality last year, more than one left within 12 months.

Speaker 2:

Yes, that sounds very, very accurate. In fact, I'm surprised that it's that long of a time. You know there are studies out there and UKG has a research arm that does global workplace research. It's called WorkforceInstituteorg. There are studies out there that show that if folks don't have a good onboarding experience or don't have good workplace technology, that they're going to leave the organization within, say, 45 days to 90 days or so. So, yes, the turnover is absolutely an issue. It transcends international waters. I would say it's absolutely something. And you know you mentioned the employee life cycle. I like to call the employee journey, but along that journey there are so many moments that matter, and moments that matter are these snippets of time that create a lasting emotional impression on someone. And there are so many of these that happen at work that many of the either whether it's HR or managers, who's ever doing whatever task it is, say, onboarding someone or doing a performance review, or teaching them how to clock in and clock out we see that as sort of a part of our job. It's our job to teach someone how to do that, but for them it's a daily thing and it's something that actually matters and it helps to shape their sentiment regarding the workplace and, in particular, whichever workplace they're working for. You know, there's always that old adage that no one really remembers what you say to them, but they always remember how they make you feel right. It's all about those feelings and I think that employees today, with the workplace, feelings actually matter more than probably ever.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I agree, and I mean I've not got any stats. But one of the things that's probably not talked about in that whole transient population of people that are coming and going seemingly all the time at the moment in organizations is the cost of recruitment, onboarding, training, uniform exiting, re recruiting. That that's not free time, is it? Leaders are doing some of that head office now. We're doing some of that with these kind of automated recruitment portal, so it there's a big on cost to having such big churn, absolutely.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, we don't recognize just how much it costs to hire and then have to replace an employee, and it's it really, really does matter the kind of experience that we're providing these folks from day one. And I would even go farther than that and say what kind of experience are we providing them before day one? Because there's a school of thought that onboarding an organization starts before that someone even walks in the door. It starts with the perception that someone has of your organization. It starts with your online, the chatter that's going on online about your organization. So I suggest that organizations, folks, who the stakeholders should should always be aware of that conversation, both good and bad, and do everything that you can to control that conversation online, because perception is reality.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and I think it's one of those, isn't it? If? If you've got those warning bells, alarm signals in your head and let's call it the honeymoon period, because before you've started, everything it looks rosy, doesn't it? The grass is green and all that kind of stuff. A friend of mine went to company's names, applied for a role, and he actually got an email that said sorry, you're, you've not been successful to get to the kind of final stage of this. Then he had one half an hour later that said we're delighted to invite you to the final stage of this job, swiftly followed by a phone call that said oh, we're really sorry, we've sent the wrong emails to the wrong people. And it a kind of his response as well, which one's true, and thankfully it was the one you threw to the next round. But when we were chatting and he was telling me this story, I was kind of if they can't get that right at this stage, what must that company be like to work for when you're employed?

Speaker 2:

That is a fantastic story and a perfect example of how things can go wrong. It's these moments that matter. And here's the thing you just proved that this was not your experience. This was your friend's experience. So now you have. Whenever you think of whatever organization that is, that is the first impression that you have of that organization. They didn't have everything together. So you're right, how could they, how could the rest of the employee journey be be good if they can't get that right? You know, there's another big problem that's going on today with organizations ghosting applicants, meaning meaning ghosting them and basically just not even giving a reply or or reaching back out to someone who applies for a job and maybe asking a few questions and then they'll never be heard from again, so that that again, you know, shapes people's opinion of organizations.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and it made me wonder if there was somebody unfortunately else who'd had a yes you threw to the next round of this job. That actually wasn't. So if they mixed it one way, could they have mixed it up the other, which is probably an even more awkward conversation? Oh, absolutely yeah, that would be terrible. And I think again we talked on different podcasts around the different generations in the in the workforce Baby boomers, x, y, z coming through to, to alpha in the near future when they start to enter the workplace and I think you touched on it before there's there's this expectation and I think that's the right word of really some I'd call it hygiene factors that I expect as an employee now. So I probably expect my pay slip to be online and to be able to look at it whenever I want. I expect a workforce management solution to give me my schedules on an app to be able to shift, swap, shift bid. More increasingly over in the UK and I'm sure it's probably a bit more advanced in the States is this kind of pay on demand. So I'm going to actually shift for you tomorrow and I can pull down the pay maybe the day after. So organizations that aren't working towards that, or don't already have that in place, I suspect to suffering even more with this high level of churn that we're experiencing.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. In a day and age where I can purchase a car with my cell phone with just a few clicks, I don't want to have to go back in time at work when it comes to my workplace technology we don't think of. A lot of times organizations don't put enough emphasis on just how important a good HR tech stack is for organizations. Again, going back to that employee journey and those moments that matter along the way, all of those touch points create that lasting impression. If I have to struggle or if the software that I'm utilizing isn't effective, that's going to hurt productivity Because I'm going to be spending time figuring out how do I get someone to cover my shift if I'm unable to do it, if I have to go through three or four folks to even get the answer to that question. Giving employees obviously with the cell phones and everything we are all used to that autonomy where we're able to do things on our own. I think that, putting an emphasis, it goes beyond HR software Really all of the technology that we're providing to our employees from a tool's perspective is important. I think that a lot of people that I speak to and I have the good fortune of talking to HR professionals and business professionals across the world. They always say, or I always ask do your employees have the tools that they need to get their job done? It always gives people pause. Because my next question is in your head. You say, yes, my employees have what they need to get their job done efficiently and effectively. My next question is how do you know? When is the last time you surveyed or talked better, yet had a conversation with employees as to whether or not they have the tools and technology they need to get their job done? Because when we're talking about hiring and we're talking about onboarding and that kind of thing, having a good system in place with that and good technology with that will increase time to productivity. But it's not just increasing the time to productivity, it's the productivity itself. And is that relevant on an ongoing basis?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and I think the one thing and clearly we should acknowledge that some of these solutions in big organizations are expensive and difficult to do on scale but nonetheless are becoming easier and easier as technology becomes more applyable the cloud ways of rolling out and communicating with frontline colleagues, but we shouldn't shy away from if your colleagues aren't productive, they're probably spending less time with customers, therefore less opportunity to sell. Motivation is probably not great so therefore they're more likely to leave. So if we think about the end game, it's around. I think most organizations would recognize if you have on the whole because not everybody's always going to be happy a happy consensus of colleagues that typically relates to good experiences for customers and all then the halo effect of less churn, therefore less recruitment, therefore less of that invisible cost.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely, and you know, simon, you mentioned earlier employee expectations and how employee expectations have changed. The pandemic shifted a lot of things, but I think it's important for us to recognize that even prior to the pandemic, employee expectations were shifting. There's a concept that I talk often about called the psychological contract at work, and for those listening, you may or may not be familiar with it. It's that exchange relationship between the employer and the employee as a concerns mutual expectations of fairness and balance. So, in layman's terms, are you, as the employer, providing me with what I'm expecting as the employee, and vice versa? It's a two-way street. It's an unspoken contract, unwritten contract, not something you could see, not something you could sign, but it makes up everything when it comes to the employment relationship. And whenever that contract or those expectations are out of balance, organizations need to work harder to try and put it back into balance, and that has to do much with communication and many, many other factors. So if we think of the workplace, if we think of work as an iceberg and we look, we think about what's above that line, that water line, the things that we see. We generally see work and pay, and those things are generally agreed upon. Whether they are happy, that's another story, but they're generally agreed upon when someone's hired. But if you think about everything that's underneath that iceberg from the hours worked by the employee or the safety and the security provided by the employer, or the benefits offered by the employer or the I mean, you name it the extra time that someone is putting in on certain tasks those are the things that really make up the employee and the employer relationship, those things that we can't see underneath the iceberg.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely. And, as you said, that kind of shift started pre-pandemic, as maybe intensified post-pandemic onwards. And what does the future look like? So in your conversations, where do you see things heading? Is it just kind of iterations on what we do today, or is there going to be some seismic shifts somewhere?

Speaker 2:

Well, I wish I had a crystal ball to, but if I had to guess, based on what we've experienced, I think there will be more seismic shifts. Except those seismic shifts happen to, they happen to be sort of over time. It's not. It's not an all in one snap your fingers. I mean, if we think about the pandemic, work changed overnight. But since then and since there's been the whole return to office movement and everything what employers are seeing is that expectations have shifted. From the perspective of organizations or employees, their priorities have changed. The pandemic revealed a lot of different things for people from a personal level and especially revealed the importance of their time and where they're spending their time and where they're not spending their time. So I think as employers, we need to make sure that we are giving folks a reason to want to spend time at work and treating them from a human perspective. Because if we can no longer, as employers, look at the person as just the worker, we have to recognize that the shift between, or the balance of, work life that's really generally a myth the work life balance, with our 24 seven culture and our 24 seven connectivity. Unfortunately, those lines have been so blurred it's almost hard to talk about. Oh, you just need to have work life balance or whatever. That is because work life balance for me may look a little bit different than work life balance for you, for example, because all of us, I always say, over the pandemic and even prior to and now, we were all in the same boat in terms of what we were going through from a societal perspective. But not all of us were in the same kind of boat. You had some folks who were in a yacht and had and were able to thrive during that time. You had some folks in a speedboat. Things were just going too quickly, heck. You have some folks who have lost the life jacket a long time ago and are just trying to tread water. So when we see, we hear these cliches oh, we're all in this together, and that kind of thing, I think it's important for us to recognize no, we're not all in this together in the same kind of way. And that goes back to the mental health conversation too. I think that's important to touch on.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, absolutely, I think it's. It's going to be an interesting time, isn't it? And I'm part of me wonders whether we see a pivot and everybody who's working at home or hybrid and ends up in next year's time working back in the office because we've all lost the human touch, if that makes sense and virtual meetings have taken over and and how that impacts kind of again mental health, or if it draws the other way and actually offices are just some thing of the past that we've we've left behind, and unless you're a frontline worker in a customer facing organization, you kind of almost accept the fact you rarely, if ever, see some of the peers that you work with.

Speaker 2:

Yes, and I think one of the things that we lost over the pandemic is or we were, it was amplified just how important the social interaction that we get from work, how much that provides to our lives. And there are some schools of thought out there and some things that I've read that have talked about this loneliness epidemic. So it's like we companies are asking folks to return to the office, and I think that's partly because you know, we have to get back to that human to human conversation. Technology is fantastic and it has enabled us to thrive and continues to enable us to thrive, but and to work across international borders and time zones, etc. But I think there's something to be said about innovation and productivity when you get people in a room. You mentioned generations earlier. I used to think of generations as other. I've done presentations in the past, but I've stopped thinking of them that way. My whole thought on generations has shifted generations at work. I believe that having more generations at work is a stark positive, because when you get people in a room who have different backgrounds, who have been at a company with different for different amounts of time, who have, you know, have seen it all, and then you have people who are new, who've seen nothing. That's where innovation thrives, because you can have those conversations and talk about what has worked in the past, and then you can bring new ideas to the fold. The idea, though, is that we have to be willing to listen to people, and, again, you know, I think there's a lot of opportunity there for organizations to lean into the power of generational differences. Rather than you know, the boomers not getting along with Gen Z, etc.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and I still get back to, regardless of organization, the best, I'd say the best. Probably pandemic is going to disprove exactly what I'm about to say now. But some of the best ideas are the ones by the coffee machine or when you inadvertently walk past somebody in the corridor in the office and say, oh, I meant to speak to you about so and so and that kind of off the cuff conversation that some planned unscripted. We seem to have got into a world that's very meeting, virtual meeting, orientated. There's not much chat, prayer or poster meeting because your conscious you've overrun and you're on your next one. Whether the magic happened in those bits.

Speaker 2:

Yes, and some of the arguments from employees who have been asked to return to the office is okay, I'm going to come to the office and I'm still on virtual meetings, so what is the point?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I've seen that way. We've been to meetings and it's been deemed a face to face because it's important, and you get there, and then it's going to all so and so and so and so and so and so we're dialing in and it's kind of 50% of the audience aren't here now. The point was we'd all be in one place and, from a practical productivity point of view, yes, less time traveling. Therefore you can do more work, which is good or bad thing, I suppose debate from an environmental point of view, less fossil fuels and less travel and petrol or train or whatever. So there's always that balance to find, isn't there? But yeah, I've seen that quite a lot recently of face to face meetings, but then it ends up being online as well. So you question the effort everybody's made, or the ones that have made to get there have put in the effort.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and what I find is that when we talk about return to office, companies have not done a great job explaining the why to employees. They just were like, okay, well, okay, it's over, so you have to come back to the office. Not these are the reasons we need you to come back to the office, and I think that companies will be well positioned and really gain more trust from employees and more buy-in for coming back to the office if they were able to explain the why's. Even if that why is because we have a very expensive lease for our office building, at least that's saying something, and I think that that transparency goes a long way.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I agree. And again I think, whether you've seen it or not, in London this week there's that whole. I work from home probably Thursday, friday, come in the office Monday, tuesday, wednesday, so from again local coffee shops and restaurants. Their world's being decimated by the fact that in these big cities they've probably got three days of trade and then it kind of flat lines. Maybe over the weekend you get tourists, but it must be difficult to manage the kind of whole ecosystem around that as well.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. There is so many repercussions from employers going completely virtual or even hybrid, like you mentioned. The ripple effect really does have an impact on so many other folks.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely Well. I know you're busy, so appreciate your time and I'll let you get back to exploring London, but it's been fascinating to meet and catch up, Julie. We'll put your LinkedIn profile on the show notes. If people want to find out more, they can get in touch directly, and hope you enjoy the rest of your time in London.

Speaker 2:

Thank you so much, fantastic conversation, I appreciate it.

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