The great resignation… the great reshuffle… the great realignment… whatever you call it, this period of flux, characterized by high rates of workers leaving jobs for better or more flexible opportunities, doesn’t seem to be going anywhere and no organization is immune.

In this episode of the Culture Moments podcast, host Larry Baker has a Brave Conversation about the Great Resignation’s impacts on businesses and the BIPOC community. Larry is joined by guests Michael Johnson (Managing Director, HR Capital Group) and Kenneth Peck (SVP of Operations, Valor Intelligent Processing). Together, they explore what this moment means for businesses, how BIPOC workers might be affected, and what organizations can do to promote a sense of belonging amongst their entire workforce.

After tuning in to the conversation, we encourage you to share your takeaways on FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn.

Show Notes & Highlights

6:15: Kenneth notes that he’s seeing a trend in workers seeking instant gratification and education in their jobs

10:15: Michael shares what BIPOC workers can be doing to strengthen their position in the job market right now, regardless of whether they plan on joining the Great Resignation

14:15: Larry asks how an organization can promote a sense of belonging

19:00: Michael tells us why its crucial for leaders to get a better understanding for who their individual employees are within the first 90 days of employment

21:50: Kenneth outlines the importance of finding new hires’ purpose behind their work and helping them work towards their personal goals

25:00: Kenneth’s advice for BIPOC workers: “Know your worth. Know what you bring to the table…”

25:55: Michael’s advice for BIPOC workers: “Your career is not determined by your manager. You determine your career…”

28:15: Larry on growing from adversity: “I either win or I learn… I never lose.”

Show Transcript

Larry Baker: Hello everyone. And welcome to the Culture Moments podcast. I’m your host, Larry Baker. And I’m thrilled to have you join us for our second season called Brave Conversations with LCW in these episodes, you’ll hear from a panel of guests, from specific communities offering a range of perspectives on the past year, we’ll hear about their own experiences as well as their insights on what’s changed and more importantly, what needs to change to move equity forward.

As we all know so much has shifted and changed over the past year and a half. And for many of us, we’re still in recovery from a very rough 2020.

So welcome to another podcast with LCW. My name is Larry Baker and I will be your host. And today we will be diving into the topic, focusing on the great resignation, or the great reshuffle, or the great realignment. It really doesn’t matter what you call it. In 2021, we all know that that was a time of opportunity for job seekers and a turbulent fight to retain and attract talent for those in human resources and recruiting. And 2020, it shows no signs of this trend stopping.

As a matter of fact, in November of 2021, 3% of the entire workforce quit their jobs, which is the highest rate of turnover since September of 2021. And with this reshuffling of the workforce, we’ve seen opportunity for some people to be able to better align their jobs with their personal needs or interests.

But what has this meant for the BIPOC community? And when I talk about BIPOC, I’m talking about black, indigenous, people of color. So that’s what we’re going to talk about in this episode. We’ll explore the great resignation, how it’s changed, how folks retain and recruit individuals, what this specifically means for BIPOC workers and the importance of creating a work culture that creates a sense of belonging for all employees.

And I’m super excited to introduce two individuals that will help me to discuss this topic. I have Michael Johnson and Ken Peck, and I’m going to let them introduce themselves, but I did want to formally thank each one of you for being here today. And Michael, I’m going to go ahead and let you give us a brief introduction of who you are and what you do.

So, Michael.

Michael Johnson: Thank you Larry for an opportunity to participate in this conversation today. My name is Michael L. Johnson and I am the owner and managing director of HR capital. HR Capital Group is a career coaching and human resource management consulting firm, which provides clients with human resources management, executive level, career coaching, and business and leadership development.

I started HR Capital Group to help my client understand the unwritten rules of career success in corporate America and to help small and not for profit organizations set up their HR shops right. I achieved the success by using my over 22 plus years of corporate HR and leadership experience having worked for several fortune 500 companies and industries throughout my career. At HR Capital Group, we’ve worked with each of our clients to help them develop actionable plans to achieve their desired results.

Thank you so much for allowing me to participate today.

Larry Baker: Awesome. Thank you so much, Mike. It’s a pleasure to have you join us. next. I have Ken Peck

Kenneth Peck: Thank you for inviting me again. As you said, my name is Ken Peck. I have a little bit over 24 years experience in the credit collections in call center industry on the first and third party side.

My direct knowledge in that field is kind of managing municipal debt, public sector debt, utilities, medical, student loans, cable, telco. And in the short term, literally if it’s a debt, I probably managed it. And so that’s my job. But what my purpose, my passion, and what I do outside of here; is I speak at different conferences. I do a lot of motivational speaking. What my purpose is really developing both men and women to become not just professionals, but future leaders within the industry. That’s what I enjoy doing. So again, thank you for inviting me.

Larry Baker: You are more than welcome. Thank you both for being here. So because of your direct involvement in some form or fashion in regards to the hiring process, the recruitment process, the retention process. I am definitely looking forward to your insights. So the first question I’m going to start with you Ken. I want you to tell me what trends are you noticing during that recruiting process with potential candidates. And then if you could expound on what are most people actually looking for in an organization?

Kenneth Peck: So some of the trends that that I’m seeing is, again, the first thing is people want instant gratification. But with the instant gratification, when you actually sit down with them, they also want education. And a lot of times we’re quick and I’m saying where a lot of companies are quick just to throw the carrot before the horse, and again, you’re throwing the carrot without education. You’re going to get a bad product. So one of the things that I focus on is when I’m sitting in the interview, and I’ve really just started to get in the weeds with interviewing not only agents but managers, is what is their purpose? What are their goals?

Because at the end of the day, what I’ve found is people talk about money and they want to go find the money, but most people don’t leave their company because of money. I haven’t talked to one person that said, you know, “I found a job that’s paying me 50 cents more”. They typically leave for not being treated right by their direct manager. If they’re not getting a coach and they’re not getting that training, they’re not getting that development, why do I want to stay? I can tell you, and we don’t pay a high rate, but one thing that my agents and what people were going to get from me is that I’m going to make sure that their skill set is transferable. So if they do decide to leave here, they’ve learned more than what they are capable of, but what I know that they can do.

Larry Baker: Awesome. Thank you so much for that. Ken. Michael, can you chime in for me? What trends are you noticing and what are most people looking for in an organization?

Michael Johnson: And, you know, I absolutely agree with Ken’s statement. You know, most people leave organizations because of their leadership, as well as because of the culture, the type of environment that they are working in. And, you know, it’s very important as organizations start to manage the great resignation, but they’re taking a step back and really looking at their culture.

Yes, compensation is one of the things that is rising across all industries, but the reality is: Even getting higher compensation doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to retain that individual. And so you want to be able to create, not only look for talent that is diverse. Look for talent. Who has a proven work history that can do the job that you ultimately need done, and their ability to really think strategically. To produce that overall result. I think in doing that, I think that can help. As BIPOC candidates look for opportunities, think about how you can provide greater value to the organization and that can lead to greater success in your career.

Larry Baker: Yeah that’s a great point Mike. I’m glad you kind of touched upon that culture piece because that is absolutely one of the driving factors that I believe help people realize that you know what? This is a great opportunity for me to reassess my goals, my purpose. And does this organization properly align with those things? So with that in mind, Mike, I wanna kick this question to you to start off. And then of course, Ken, I’m going to come to you as well. Tell me, have you noticed a change in regards to who holds the power so to speak, I mean during the hiring process? Who do you believe holds the power? And then after you respond to that, how do you think that those changing dynamics benefit or do they hinder the BIPOC worker?

So, Mike, first of all, tell me who do you think holds the power, and then how does that benefit or hinder BIPOC employees?

Michael Johnson: So I think the old adage of it’s not who knows you, but who you know, is really still prevalent in the great resignation. You as a BIPOC candidate need to be building your network. Making sure that you are updating your resume and your LinkedIn profiles. And making sure that you are as marketable out there, so when the people who have the power see you as a candidate for an opportunity, that you are top of the list.

Larry Baker: Okay.

Michael Johnson: So often we sometimes forget those basic things like resume writing and just all of the skills and benefits that you’ve done in your career that we sometimes just don’t make sure that it’s a priority, if you’re looking to join the great resignation. If you are not joining the great resignation, or you’re kind of on the fence trying to decide should I join should I not, right now is a great time to really gain those skill sets you need to make you more marketable for that next opportunity. And so if you’re looking at, you know, I’m seeing a lot of people leaving, right?

We know over 34.5 million people since the pandemic started have joined the great resignation. That is great. Is that really the most important thing in terms of just jumping into the great resignation and looking for another opportunity?  When you do that, you want to make sure that it’s a strategic move to get to ultimately where you want to be.

So the power right now has kind of shifted a little bit. Now the candidate has the power in terms of selecting, who they want to go, what type of culture they want to work in? Do they want to work remote? Do they want to work hybrid? Do they want to work in the office? They have a lot of control, but with that control comes some responsibility.

Larry Baker: Absolutely. Thank you so much for that. Okay. Ken your turn.

Kenneth Peck: So one of the things that I always train in and that I just spoke to a newer class the other day, is they don’t work for me. I work for them. But for them to understand that they have to understand what their value and what their worth is.

So they have to be coached, trained, and developed to understand that because it’s way more of them than it is of me. So, but until they understand that and they’re educated, again, it’s always going to be the sense of them not having the confidence when they’re rolling into the interview. As he touched on, in regards to making sure your resume is updated, well, when you walk into the interview you should already know exactly, “you need me. And let me tell you why you should pick me”.

But that has to be then what I pride myself on, that coaching and training. So they understand that confidence when they go in there, it’s not being the cocky, but it’s being the confident that I am, the person you’d need. So that’s kind of the sense that I get.

Larry Baker: Okay. So when it comes to this concept of culture and environment, you both touched up on that earlier in some of your comments. And I want us to go back and revisit that. Because when it comes to BIPOC employees, there is a tendency for them to, in many cases, not all, but in many cases, for them to walk into a culture where they are part of an underrepresented group. Right?

So my question to you Ken, and I want you to kick it off, is how do you ensure that new hires are joining an environment that promote a sense of belonging.

Kenneth Peck: Well one of the first things is before they get there, find out what are they looking for? Because I think that’s the other thing too.

It is that I’m not the be all end all when I’m hiring. I want my management team to be a part of that decision too, because I need to make sure that that piece of the puzzle fits. That they are a part of the structure that’s needed to help continue to grow. And again, it’s making sure that we we’re with them all the way from the beginning to the end. That we’re holding their hand

until they’re ready to fly on their own. So when they hit that floor, when they’re walking, it’s not that we talk the talk: we walk the walk. We literally were there from the beginning to the end. The agents are literally helping celebrate their success and helping them with their failures. So it’s a combined effort from not just the leaders, but also with the agents. Because the agents are also knowing that hey it’s cool to have one star shine in the sky. But what they are taught and what they learned is that, man, it is great to have 15, 20 stars, shining in the sky. Because it makes the sky that much brighter.

Larry Baker: Absolutely! Thank you. Mike, your turn. Talk to me about. How do you ensure those new hires are joining an environment that promotes that sense of belonging?

Michael Johnson:  So I think it goes back to kind of two things. One, it goes back to the BIPOC candidate, as they’re looking to enter into a new organization, doing their research. Really understanding that, you know, most BIPOC candidates know, “I might be the only one in the room”. Right? As I joined an organization or a team, but also look at the organization in its totality to understand what are they doing as it relates to helping to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion within the organization.

Are you seeing tangible things out within the community that says I want to align, and their values aligned with who I am as an individual, where I feel that I can be supported if I joined that overall organization. I think that’s the one part that the candidate can do. I think internally within the organization we have to really hold ourselves to what we say and the commitments we say we’re going to do. So a lot of organizations are out here making commitments associated with diversity, equity, inclusion. They’re signing on to big, you know, initiatives to support that. It’s great to support it, but what are you doing from an actionable perspective to really evaluate your BIPOC candidates that are currently employees of the organization to see how they are moving within progression within your organization?

So are we selecting candidates as we’re bringing them in for interviews for leadership positions? Are we creating and collaborating with our employee resources group to be able to ensure that they are not just a group where people get together to talk about things, but that they’re actually impacting the culture of the organization?

I think if organizations continue to do that under the umbrella of diversity, equity, inclusion, I think you have a better kind of incubator to help grow the right type of culture that is more diverse. Because research has shown a diverse group can definitely produce way more than a non-diverse group. But if you don’t make it an intentional purpose to do that, you’ll get the same results that you’ve always gotten.

Larry Baker: Yeah that’s a great point, Mike, because, you know you’re preaching to the choir on that one. We absolutely are strong proponents in, regards to, diverse groups do produce better ideas. They’re more creative they have better collaboration. But I’m so glad that you mentioned the piece that as a candidate you have a certain responsibility in this process as well.

And that’s so important to understand that. It’s not all on the employer to create this environment. You have to have this strong sense of how do I personally align with this organization so that I can let them know that I’m all in. So I definitely appreciate you elaborating on that piece. So I’m going to ask you to kick off this question for me. And this question focuses on you personally, right? So as Michael Johnson, what do you personally do to create belonging for a new hire? And the flip side to that is what challenges do you face when you are trying to create the sense of belonging.

Michael Johnson: So as a leader within an organization, I am very intentional as I bring in new employees to start the overall relationship building with an employee through communication.

I think communication is the key to creating that type of environment where the associate feels that they have a place of belonging. And what I mean by communication is the first time I meet with you should not be about, “okay, here’s all the work that I need you to do”. It should be about, “tell me about yourself”. “Let’s understand what kind of motivates you. What are some of those drivers for you? What are areas of development that you may want to work on while you come into this organization?”

I think leaders getting a better understanding of who the actual individual is, allows them to be more strategic as we are in more higher level leadership meetings. The projects are being assigned to say, “I have a candidate who may be able to join that team to provide a different diverse, maybe perspective than what we would have gotten historically from our current team.” I think the first 90 days of an employment is very critical, to help make sure that you are providing mentors, engaging the new associates in their overall onboarding within the organization.

What research shows is that people do leave organizations within either that first 90 days, or within that first five years. So you’ve got a very short window of time to get the employee to understand kind of the rules of engagement, how to be successful within the organization and to develop them so that they feel that they are at a place of belonging.

And then I think lastly, you got to celebrate the small wins. You know, everything doesn’t have to be this massive project that, you know, transforms the organization. Every day there are opportunities, as the leaders, to celebrate all of your employees, specifically your diverse employees. Just going by and saying the simple “thank you” sometimes could be a motivator to make people feel like they’re in a place of belonging for an organization.

Larry Baker: Yeah that’s a huge point because we tend to get so caught up in the day to day that ordinary things we tend to just overlook them, right? Because they’re expected. And who knows how far that thank you, or that recognition will go to let that individual know that they truly do belong at this organization.

So I do appreciate you reminding us that that’s important to celebrate those small successes. Okay Ken, it’s your turn.

Kenneth Peck: Again, he touched on it. A majority of it I’m scratching out so I don’t remix what he said, but Mike touched on it. The first thing that I do when I sit down with a new hire is I want to know what their purpose is.

Because, again, I always tell them that it’s not a mistake that they’re sitting where they’re sitting, everything is aligned. Everything happens for a reason. So I need to make sure that what I’m giving you is helping to align what is needed for their ultimate goal. So I need to understand what is their purpose. And it’s surprising that the majority of them, when you ask them that, they don’t know. And again, because they haven’t taken the time to think about it. And then as I tell everyone, especially when I’m out speaking at different events, everyone was born with a purpose. We all have that seed that was placed inside of us where it made it very easy for you to find it. But you have to be the one that developed it.

So I try to make sure that I understand what that purpose is and until they don’t, if they don’t understand it, I always tell them we going to ride together. And I’m a believe in you until you believe in yourself. And they have to know that you’re going to be in the trenches with them. They have to know that hey, again, because I always tell people leadership, my position, that that title doesn’t mean anything. It’s about action. It is what you bring on the floor. It’s what you show as a person. That’s what to me makes a leader. And that’s why I, you know, I always say true leaders. Don’t seek followers, followers seek true leaders.

So it’s really, when you get into the weeds with the individuals, you’re understanding their pain points, you’re understanding what they’re trying to accomplish, or you’re helping them get to that place to help them accomplish their purpose. And you will see them create a leader within themselves to be able to go on to now create that tree that can bear fruit for the next person.

Larry Baker: Yeah. I really appreciate that whole concept of continuing to develop people until they are at that position where they then can instill that in other people. And that leading by example is such a critical piece. So I thank you for providing that piece of insight Ken. So as we get ready to wrap up this session, and I absolutely have enjoyed the conversation in the engagement, but the perspective that I want you to take with this last word of advice, I want you to put on the reality that you both are successful black men in a corporate environment. So what advice would you give colleagues of color in regards to, how do we take advantage and position ourselves for this great resignation or great re-evaluation or whatever it is that we choose to call it?

What piece of advice would you provide? And Ken, I’ll start with you. And then Mike, if you could hop in with your piece of advice.

Kenneth Peck: So the first advice that was given, know your words. Know exactly what you bring to the table. Know that the environment that you’re in, again, I’m in the field that I know that I’m the minority in that field.

So I make sure that I master what it is to know to be able to deliver it. But the main thing that I do is I’m very confident in what I’m doing. It may not always end in the result that I want, but my belief and my faith of believing that I can, and I will, it’s going to out shine any and everybody.

So the first thing I’m going to tell anybody is that you have to know your worth. You have to know what you are bringing to the table, and that confidence is going to take you a long way.

Larry Baker: That’s great. I love it! Michael, your turn.

Michael Johnson: So what I normally tell my clients is this: your career is not determined by your manager,

you determine your career. And I think as BIPOC candidates we have to ram around our career, and decide what we truly want out of our career. And in doing that, I think you have to do kind of two things. You’ve got to educate yourself right? Over, what does diversity mean for, for me, for an organization?

How can I help to provide diversity to an organization? But ultimately you gotta communicate. You got to build those networks. You have to tell people, “Hey, I’m looking for an opportunity. How can you help me?” A lot of times people get jobs because they know somebody and someone knows that they may be looking.

Sometimes, we as BIPOC employees, sometimes are scared to what we would say, “air dirty laundry”. We don’t want to talk about kind of what’s going on, or we’re not really happy in our current environment. And sometimes we suffer because of that. We have to get out of that shell and really say, okay, what do I want out of my career? And what things do I need to do to position myself for ultimate success within my career? And so if I have one thing to tell everybody, it’s really manage your career now with this great resignation, it is the most important time for you to manage your career and get truly what you want. Because the door’s wide open!

Larry Baker: Wow, that those points, those two points were.

Kenneth Peck: And Larry and I, I just want to add to, so one of the things, you know, but that I just spoke to, and also, I would always tell them that your adversity, as I spoke and I, and my title was let your adversity be your universe. So that let that adversity be that fuel that’s getting you to where it is you’re trying to go. Because whatever tests that you’re actually entering, always tell you, if you take the time to study it, it’s going to turn into a testimony. But you have to be able to be willing to go through that adversity to get to where it is you’re trying to go, because I think that adversity is the greatest teacher that any of us can have.

Larry Baker: Yeah. Yeah, that reminds me of a saying that I heard a while back it’s I either win or I learn. Right? I’ll never lose, right. I either win or I learn. And that last part really echoes that statement for me to a T. So first and foremost, I just want to thank each one of you for your insights around this conversation.

I think that the reality is that we are in this place of the great resignation or whatever you want to call it. It’s here to stay for the foreseeable future. And I think that BIPOC workers, they might have more power and maybe even more safety in quitting jobs or quitting workplaces where they don’t feel that sense of belonging. Where they don’t feel celebrated for their achievements. And they’re not really given the opportunities that they deserve.

So I really appreciate both of you making statements in regards to owning your own career, right? You know, being prepared, making sure that resume is up to date, knowing your worth. I mean, these were such golden nuggets throughout this session, and I cannot tell you how valuable this time has been for me.

But what you also emphasize is that businesses need to consider this an imperative, right? That these workplaces are intentionally creating those opportunities and fostering a workplace where BIPOC workers can feel that sense of belonging. So, yes, it’s a great opportunity for BIPOC employees to potentially move out of situations where they don’t have that sense of belonging, but understanding that as a workplace, as an organization, you have a tremendous opportunity to receive some of those BIPOC workers.

If you do the work, like you said Ken, you’re walking the walk that you’re talking by creating that sense of belonging. So I absolutely thank each one of you for that insight and that intellect in regards to this topic. So thank you so much.

And to all of you that are listening, we want to know what were your biggest takeaways from this conversation? Please share them with us on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn at Language and Culture worldwide or LCW. Once again, thank you for joining us in courageous conversations with LCW .

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