Ladders recently spoke with Jenn Labin, Head of Talent and Diversity at software solutions company MentorcliQ, and touched on a variety of subjects including strategies to help organizations prevent burnout, how data science has changed the field of HR, and the challenges those in recruiting and talent acquisition face nowadays.
What initially attracted you to the field of HR/talent acquisition/recruiting?
Like so many HR professionals, I stumbled upon the field by being good enough at my job that someone asked me to teach others how to succeed in the role. Once I started facilitating, I was hooked. I went back to school to get my masters degree in Instructional Design and have spent the rest of my career here. I’m so grateful about my career trajectory because I’m honored to be a part of transformational moments for employees. My favorite moments are when someone ambushes me in the hallway at a conference to say they’ve used a tool from my book, or they included one of my slides from a talk and it was valuable for them.
How important of a role does technology, like data science, for example, play in the field of HR and specifically in your work?
There are so many ways to answer this question, but let’s focus on the role technology plays when it comes to recruiting and retaining employees. Most organizations are constantly trying improve recruitment and retention, (or if not improve, at least maintain.) . As we hire more millennials and digital natives into our companies, we know they are expecting a high-quality digital experience that enables more fluid and flexible work and learning. In addition, talented employees are more likely to stay when an organization is investing in their ongoing growth and development. As a software platform that enables mentoring relationships – we get amazing stories from our customers. Recently, we’ve collaborated with customers to look at how our technology impacts retention and it’s a staggeringly positive result.
What technology/innovation/platform has had the most profound effect on the field of HR/recruiting in the past year or two, and why?
I’m so grateful for the conversation in the talent development space has been focused on the whole digital experience over the last couple of years. This is in contrast with the previous several years when everyone wanted to talk about specific innovations that were shiny and enticing, but nothing is one-size-fits-all. Our customers are looking across their employee development landscape and asking how does MentorcliQ fit in with our LMS, our HRIS, our work collaboration tools? How do we make the digital experience natural, seamless, and robust enough. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait to see where AR goes over the next few years, but in the meantime, I love seeing how practitioners are focused on choosing the *right technology* instead of the latest tech.
What are the biggest challenges, from a technical and/or business standpoint, that those in recruiting and talent acquisition face nowadays?
I think the biggest challenge is defeating the expectation that HR and Talent Development practitioners have to be experts in everything. Build your community so that you know someone to go to if you need to find a remote video interviewing solution or someone who is an expert in the latest eLearning practices. If we try to master every aspect of our “territory” we will fail to be experts in any specific aspect. Find your network of experts, and then find the few areas of your work you want to become an expert in and help those around you.
In terms of employee burnout, what are the signs that employers should be aware of?
A feeling that they no longer control their fate at work is one of the most cited reasons for employee burnout. Employers will notice telltale signs of this when an employee demonstrates lack of engagement with their assignments, other members of their team and even their responsibility to show up on time. Lack of communication or negative, cynical communication are other clear signs the employee is no longer happy in their position. We’ve found programs, like employee mentoring program, go a long way towards keeping not only new employees engaged in the company, but also more senior members who too may have lost some passion for the job.
What steps should employers take to prevent burnout? What are the best practices?
Help employees create meaningful connections and establish mutually beneficial learning relationships (aka Mentoring relationships) across divisions, geographic lines, and backgrounds. Burnout happens because the amount and/or type of work being done is contrary to employees. However, a strong internal network helps employees overcome temporary increase in workloads, identify solutions for working more effectively, and increases visibility into other parts of the organization that may be a better fit for employees.
What are the key steps that recruiters should take to develop and strengthen relationships with job candidates?
We hear it time and time again from millennials. They want a company culture that supports coaching and professional development. One of the key ways a recruiter can strengthen their relationships with job candidates is to start treating them like a business customer. Entice them into your “sales funnel” by touting the benefits your company provides them, and what separates you from other offers they might be entertaining. The ability to claim your company supports their training and advancement, whether that’s through a formal mentoring program or other professional development vehicles you have in place, will go a long way in securing their continued interest in you as a prospect.
Where do you see the field of HR/recruiting/talent acquisition headed? Crystal ball view?
In terms of talent development, I see a higher comfort level in building growth experiences based on relationships as well as solutions that are more seamlessly integrated into each employees daily work. Organizations have been migrating away from the big spending workshop-type learning events for a while, but I think we’re on the verge of an important shift. Within a couple of years, talent development strategies will be built upon true integration.
What has been the most satisfying moment of your career/proudest career achievement, and why?
One of the recent moments that stands out was when I facilitated a Q&A event with about 30 talent development professionals. One woman confessed she needed to build a mentorship program and she had no idea where to start. Two other attendees jumped in and suggested my book! They both shared how they had used it as their guidebook for building their respective programs. I was very grateful to get to hear the impact of that work!