The pandemic has allowed people to reevaluate what they want from work. This “Great Reevaluation” has led to the “Great Resignation” which has left the US with a great big labor shortage and a supply chain crisis. What can we do to reverse this trend? What can be done to attract great talent to companies looking to hire? What must companies do to retain their great talent? If not just a paycheck, what else are employees looking for? In this interview series called “The Labor Shortage & The 5 Things We Must Do To Attract & Retain Great Talent” we are talking to successful business leaders who can share stories and ideas from their experiences that can address these questions.
As a part of this interview series, we had the pleasure to interview Angie College Hooper Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Gojob.
Formerly Head, Growth Operations, Associate Care and Shared Services for global HR giant, The Adecco Group, Angie’s previous roles at Adecco include Senior Vice President of Operations and Vice President NA Operations and Candidate Experience. Angie also served on the 2021 American Staffing Association (ASA) Industrial Section Council and is Chair of the Kentucky Apprenticeship Steering Committee.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would like to get an idea of who you are and where you came from. Can you tell us a bit about your background? Where do you come from? What are the life experiences that most shaped your current self?
I have worked in the staffing industry for over ten years. Before joining GoJob as COO, my last position was Head of Operations NA (Growth Operations, Customer Centricity, Middle Office, and Shared Services) for The Adecco Group.
Previously, I worked in Human Resources for Greenheck Fan Corporation. In this role, I became enthusiastic about upskilling and reskilling through apprenticeships. I learned that developing talent was key to an organization’s success, which has led me to become very active in focusing on career paths for employees.
Let us jump right in. Some experts have warned of the” Great Resignation” as early as the 1980s, yet so many companies seemed entirely unprepared when it finally happened. What do you think caused this disconnect? Why do you think it was a surprise to the business world?
The discussion went on for so long that companies did not think there would be a shift. But Covid changed the way of work and required employers to shift the traditional work model and allow employees the opportunity to look at work differently. Many businesses tend to be reactionary rather than looking at the warning signs and developing strategies to address the unknown.
What do you think employers have to do to adapt to this new reality?
There are several things that employers need to do based on their current operating model. Increasingly, I am hearing in discussions that employees are looking for a company with a solid purpose conveyed through the company’s vision and ethos. Beyond this, people are looking for flexibility, open communications, and fair decision-making. Covid has taught us that empathy is critical.
The pressures of Covid have forced people to look at their home and work-life balance—not having to commute to work every day saved them time to focus on their work, families, health, and the things they enjoy. However, we know that the Covid-fatigue is still relevant and that employees are still suffering from the stresses of Covid. An employer must provide respect and balance — hybrid working is here to stay.
Many employers extoll the advantages of the entrepreneurial spirit and the possibilities of an expanded “gig economy”. But this does come with the cost of a lack of loyalty of gig workers. Is there a way to balance this? Can an employer look for single-use sources of services and expect long-term commitment? Is there a way to hire a freelancer and expect dependability and loyalty? Can you please explain what you mean?
Employers need to see how they can be more flexible, by challenging the norm and asking questions such as — is the work during designated hours, or can the employee work a modified schedule? A balance clearly needs to be met but it is dependent on the type of work. Flexing is an approach that has proven to develop loyalty — especially those within organizations adhering to traditional working models.
It has been said that “people don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses”. How do you think this has been true during the Great Resignation? Can you explain what you mean?
There are two reasons why people leave their current roles — the leadership style is toxic, and secondly, employees do not feel aligned with the company strategy. Lack of trust and inconsistency lead to discord. I believe, employees leave to work in roles and companies that offer more significant benefits but notably, a work culture that sits and fits with their own values.
I do think there needs to be a better understanding that every job has its frustrations which will provoke employees. What is essential, overall, is that employees enjoy their roles. As an employer, you need to understand what your employees are looking for and support them in nurture, empathy and how you will assist them with career progression and training.
How do you think an unhappy workforce will impact a) company productivity b) company profitability c) and employee health and wellbeing?
An aggrieved employee can directly harm a company’s productivity; for example, employees tend to talk to one another more than their managers. A toxic work environment will impact the health and wellbeing of a team or individuals within a team and lead to disengagement, lower productivity, and impact on profitability.
What can employers, managers, and executives do to ensure that workers enjoy their jobs?
Listen, hear, and keep checking in! Weekly or monthly scheduled meetings to meet, listen, and crucially hear from employees are crucial for honest feedback. If appropriate, be available to understand their career aspirations and provide a clear path to career progression.
At team meetings, ensure the company vision and strategy are clear and with rolling communications. This facilitates a 360-degree feedback opportunity to ensure that the vision, mission, ethos, and strategy are relevant and resonate, given the company’s current workload and evolution.
Can you share a few things that employers, managers, and executives should be doing to improve their company's work culture?
It is now even more critical, following Covid, that a workforce starts to reconnect and build relationships — both internally and with clients. Holding events, staff evenings, and ensuring actual ‘live’ 1–2–1 meetings are held regularly. Encourage staff to be in the office more. There is a need to reconnect, talk, and encourage a more sociable, fun work environment, away from online/digital, both in the office and out.
Okay, excellent. To finish, what are your “five top tips’ employers should use to attract and retain top talent during the labour shortage?”
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world or the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? They might see this if we tag them.
Arianna Huffington. I would love to meet her to discuss her thoughts on how to implement successful visions in the workplace.
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