Workplace MVP: John Baldino, Humareso
John Baldino, President of Humareso, joined the show again after his December 2021 appearance to review his predictions for 2022. He and host Jamie Gassmann noted how he was right on the mark about trends such as meeting the holistic needs of employees, supporting their well-being, the shift towards more flexibility, companies rethinking their approach to disruption, the wave of resignations and layoffs, and many other timely topics.
Humareso is able to strategize with your company and develop plans to manage talent, recruit for skill gaps based on employee inventories, assess markets for growth, develop long-range succession plans and influence a culture of enthusiastic buy-in. Humareso handles all facets of employee engagement and business development. Humareso provides HR solutions and administration for small businesses trying to manage budget and growth.
Humareso sits strategically to support an organization’s vital talent needs. Talent is what they believe in cultivating. They look to drive organizational health through true employee engagement, strategic workforce planning, and invested management training. Having a culture that values people, policy, and performance in the right measures is the differential needed to stand apart from other organizations. Whether your organization has 10 or 100,000 employees, dynamic human resources will build corporate strength and recognize talent contribution.
John Baldino, MSHRD SPHR SHRM-SCP, Founder and President, Humareso
With 30 years of human resources experience, John’s passion of setting contributors and companies up for success is still going strong. John is a keynote for US and International Conferences where he shares content and thoughts on leadership, collaboration, and innovation, employee success, organizational design and development as well as inclusion and diversity.
He is the winner of the 2020 Greater Philadelphia HR Consultant of the Year award. John is currently the President of Humareso, a global human resources consulting firm, and the proud dad of 3 amazing young adults.
About Workplace MVP
Every day, around the world, organizations of all sizes face disruptive events and situations. Within those workplaces are everyday heroes in human resources, risk management, security, business continuity, and the C-suite. They don’t call themselves heroes though. On the contrary, they simply show up every day, laboring for the well-being of employees in their care, readying the workplace for and planning responses to disruption. This show, Workplace MVP, confers on these heroes the designation they deserve, Workplace MVP (Most Valuable Professionals), and gives them the forum to tell their story. As you hear their experiences, you will learn first-hand, real-life approaches to readying the workplace, responses to crisis situations, and overcoming challenges of disruption. Visit our show archive here.
Workplace MVP Host Jamie Gassmann
In addition to serving as the host to the Workplace MVP podcast, Jamie Gassmann is the Director of Marketing at R3 Continuum (R3c). Collectively, she has more than fourteen years of marketing experience. Across her tenure, she has experience working in and with various industries including banking, real estate, retail, crisis management, insurance, business continuity, and more. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mass Communications with special interest in Advertising and Public Relations and a Master of Business Administration from Paseka School of Business, Minnesota State University.
R3 Continuum is a global leader in workplace behavioral health and security solutions. R3c helps ensure the psychological and physical safety of organizations and their people in today’s ever-changing and often unpredictable world. Through their continuum of tailored solutions, including evaluations, crisis response, executive optimization, protective services, and more, they help organizations maintain and cultivate a workplace of wellbeing so that their people can thrive. Learn more about R3c at www.r3c.com.
Intro: [00:00:04] Broadcasting from the Business RadioX Studios, it’s time for Workplace MVP. Workplace MVP is brought to you by R3 Continuum, a global leader in workplace behavioral health and security solutions. Now, here’s your host, Jamie Gassmann.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:00:25] Hey, everyone. Your host, Jamie Gassmann here, and welcome to this episode of Workplace MVP. So, last December 2021, I had the pleasure of interviewing John Baldino, President of Humareso, on our show, and we did a year-end review talking about what challenges or nuances HR and other business leaders navigated over the last year.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:00:48] And during that interview, I asked John what his 2022 predictions were for what would be the areas of challenge or need for change in the workplace this year. So, today, a little over halfway through 2022, we are following up with John to get his update if his predictions came true, and what other challenges is he seeing that we didn’t predict, but that we want to talk about today. So, help me in welcoming Workplace MVP John Baldino, President of Humareso. Welcome to the show, John.
John Baldino: [00:01:23] Thanks, Jamie. Great to be back.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:01:25] Yes, it’s always such a pleasure to have you on the show.
John Baldino: [00:01:28] I appreciate that.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:01:29] So, I did want to start out for any new listeners that might be catching this episode that didn’t have an opportunity to listen in in December, tell us a little bit about your background and your career journey in growing your business.
John Baldino: [00:01:43] Sure. So, I am, you know, 30 years still in human resources and in the veins of leadership development, and organizational development and structure, and all the employee lifecycle components. And so, I started Humareso, it will actually be ten years in a few weeks for Humareso and so that’s really fun. And Humareso is a full-service HR consulting firm. And we just have a great time working with companies across the country at various sizes from startup to enterprise level clients. I’ve got a great staff that’s across the country and just doing some phenomenal work. And it’s really, really been a good time.
John Baldino: [00:02:34] And I’ll just mention, though, my journey, as you said, I started in personnel. Before there was human resources, it was personnel. And I say that because I don’t know that we’ve really kind of given enough props to the fact that in this discipline of human resources, we have had opportunity to evolve out of completely transactional work and mixing it now a bit with some transformational work. Like, helping to look at organizations more holistically.
John Baldino: [00:03:10] And so, those who are practicing HR in various organizations across the country, my colleagues in the profession, there’s been a lot of movement over the last 30 years that I’ve been involved, and probably more movement from a pace standpoint over the last three than any of the 27 before in many ways.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:03:32] Well, they spent so many changes, especially over the last couple of years. And even before then, I think, there were changes especially in that HR arena. So, wow, you’ve definitely come through a lot of that. And congratulations on your upcoming anniversary. That’s exciting.
John Baldino: [00:03:49] It is. It is very exciting. Thank you for that.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:03:52] Absolutely. So, now the moment I’m sure our listeners are looking for. How did you fare in your predictions for this this last year? So, I’m going to start with the first one, overall health of your employees, including religion, emotional, mental, and physical. We kind of talked about how employers need to really be looking at that whole person, as opposed to just the one component, like physical, which a lot of them probably maybe have focused more on over the years. So, tell me a little bit about what are you seeing? Has that come true?
John Baldino: [00:04:29] It has. There’s going to be a theme, I think.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:04:34] You’re like, “I was right.”
John Baldino: [00:04:39] I would say that for sure we certainly not arrived. But I think that what we see over the last six months is a continued deepening of organizations looking at the overall person that works for them, not merely, “How do I keep them healthy? So, I keep my health insurance premiums lower.” Which, that’s unfortunately kind of what some of the attention had been previously. And certainly we’re not going to, like, talk down about the fact that we want our staff to be physically healthy. Of course, if we can provide opportunities for that, please continue to do so.
John Baldino: [00:05:18] But I think that what you and I spoke about, really, was the holistic view, that there is an emotional component to what people are bringing into the workplace. If we didn’t learn anything from COVID and from that pandemic and, honestly, what we’re still going through in certain parts of the country, for sure, it took an emotional toll on people. It was really difficult.
John Baldino: [00:05:42] Like, it was really difficult to stay in your house under mandates from cities and/or state. It was difficult for people to say you cannot come into the office and see these people you’ve worked with for the last four, five, six, seven, ten years. Stay away from each other.
John Baldino: [00:06:05] People are really dealing with some emotional and mental health challenges as a result of that. And I think that the wiser companies today are looking at that saying we’re seeing the residue of that and we’re really needing to be wise about how we provide an outlet for care, for communication, and consideration.
John Baldino: [00:06:30] And so, we’re watching organizations do things that they weren’t doing before, even things like open chat channels on platforms, like Slack or Teams or whatever you might be using, to say we want to work in a spirit of transparency a little differently than we were previously. It wasn’t that we weren’t transparent at all before, perhaps, but now we’ve got to do it with a bit more intention. And we’re going to be proactive in our approach to those things.
John Baldino: [00:07:03] Because if you’re struggling today, we need to know. We’re not going to judge you. We’re really going to help provide some areas of support. And if, for nothing else, just so that people on your team can say, we’re with you, we want to take a minute and not just look at what our production numbers are like for today. It matters, I get it. But we’re also going to take a couple minutes and say, let’s just do a pulse check. How’s everybody feeling today? Green for great, yellow for I’m not so sure, red for I’m really struggling. You know, there’s organizations that are kind of doing that stoplight poster, and that’s great.
John Baldino: [00:07:39] You know, you don’t have to have everybody tell you every bit of their deep, dark secrets or what they’re really struggling with because there is some protection there as well that needs to be understood. But is there an outlet for people to say, I’m going to talk to HR and I’m going to talk to whatever support structures we have within the organization.
John Baldino: [00:08:00] And it needs to be – what we’re also seeing very deliberately – is it’s got to be more than just your immediate manager. It doesn’t mean that it has to exclude the immediate manager, but it has to be more than just that. Because it might be uncomfortable for me to go to my direct supervisor and say, “I’m not feeling great today. My body physically is fine, but I feel just overwhelmed and maybe even depressed. I’m not really sure, but I’m feeling it today.” Because bias is real, that may affect the way a manager could look at that employee.
John Baldino: [00:08:37] So, companies are being wiser about if you’re feeling that way, here’s some other places to go to talk about that, to report that, to ask for resources and support. And so, we’re seeing that happen more and more. So, that’s exciting, I would say, even though it doesn’t sound like the reason for it is exciting, and I appreciate that. But it’s wonderful that we’re being much more deliberate about giving these kinds of resources and outlets.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:09:02] Yeah. Just more mindful of that whole person at work. And they might just need something, you know, that person, an outlet to talk to. And I would agree, sometimes the manager is not going to be the right person they want to have that conversation with. But I think a leader being able to show their own vulnerability and transparency to how they’re feeling can make a huge difference in how that employee shows up too.
John Baldino: [00:09:29] For sure. And, you know, I like to have data and some statistics behind some of what I share because I just want to make sure people know this isn’t Baldino just waxing philosophical because he’s bored. There’s real numbers behind a lot of these things.
John Baldino: [00:09:43] And so, even I would say since the start of the pandemic, and many of you who are listening may remember, maybe the first 6 to 12 months of what we went through, organizations were doing happy hours, “Let’s just get together on Zoom or Teams,” or what have you, and everybody just let’s have a happy hour together. And what we’re seeing statistically is that, there’s been – it depends on the survey – 60 to 65 percent drop off in the happy hour offering at organizations. And that is predominantly pushed because of a healthier outlet.
John Baldino: [00:10:21] What we found is that individuals at organizations who are struggling with emotional or mental health issues to then push them towards happy hour, towards alcohol, became a bit uncomfortable for some organizations. And they thought that’s probably not a great outlet to offer to someone. The intention is great, we get it. The intention is great. Let’s change the dynamic of it a little bit. Let’s not push alcohol as the release in that, but rather the relational communication, rather the let me feel like I belong with some people. That’s the better way to push things.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:11:01] Yeah. Definitely. And kind of hanging out in that overall health, same vein, something that I’m hearing and I heard in some of the interviews I was doing at SHRM recently, where we ran into each other again, was part of your DE&I structure is looking at that whole person and looking at kind of how do you support maybe that religion that that person wants to have shown up at work, and how do you make them feel welcome as that whole individual when you’re looking at it spiritually.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:11:35] I mean, mental health, absolutely. Stigma is reducing everywhere. It’s very exciting to see. Physical, we’ve kind of got that one down. But looking at that religion component, what are you seeing with some of the changes? And what are you hearing within work environments in how they’re starting to embrace different religions that individuals are coming to work with?
John Baldino: [00:11:56] Yeah. That’s a great question. And I would say, out of all of the areas of consideration for individuals that are coming to work, the spiritual vein is probably the one that’s still the weakest in terms of comfort because most business owners, senior leaders, managers don’t know what to do with it. They’re nervous that they may have some sort of compliance infraction by having a conversation with someone or being open to having a conversation with someone.
John Baldino: [00:12:29] And I think that the ones that are doing it really well, what we’re seeing is that, they are just providing a forum for communication and conversation around it. So, for instance, there are some organizations that are being more thoughtful around spiritual and/or religious diversity. I know that there are people who wear, for instance, particular pieces of clothing that represent some of the spirituality that they’re starting to pursue more. Also, for those individuals, who maybe during the remote time of the pandemic, who are now coming back to work, are coming back different as far as an expression of faith is concerned.
John Baldino: [00:13:12] And so, people don’t know how to manage that relationship. “Oh, my goodness. You’re wearing something or your routine is very changed now, and I don’t know if I can say certain things to you. Am I allowed to curse in front of you anymore? Could I split my ham sandwich with you anymore? I don’t know what to do anymore.” And I think that the ones that are doing it really well are creating a place for there to be safe conversation.
John Baldino: [00:13:43] Not everyone is an expert in every area of spirituality. There has to be a place to be able to say, “I’m so sorry. I’m predominantly ignorant about this vein of spirituality that you’re talking about. Can you enlighten me? Can you tell me what it’s been like for you? I don’t have a frame of reference, but I’m really interested in understanding.”
John Baldino: [00:14:03] I think that if you can provide that place for it to be safe, it doesn’t mean it’s the responsibility of the employer to have people pursue spirituality. That is not what we’re saying. But rather when there is an outlet – remember, religious accommodation is still a very real federal allowance within the law – it should be comfortably discussed as anything else where there’s an accommodation or a consideration at play.
John Baldino: [00:14:33] We’re seeing, again, not as high of a percentage as in the other veins of support, but it’s starting to make a way. We actually even know a couple of organizations that have before work, there are some employees who are getting together to pray or to meditate. And they may meditate towards or with a frame of reference towards their own spirituality, but they’re doing it collectively in quiet in a room with others. There are some organizations that we know that actually have a Bible study going on before work.
John Baldino: [00:15:04] Whatever your people are bringing up to say that it might be helpful for them if they can start their day or end their day in a certain way, be open to that. It doesn’t mean that you’re giving acceptance to everything, but just be open to that dialogue.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:15:17] Yeah. Absolutely. It sounds very familiar too. I did another interview with a gal by the name of Soumaya Khalifa, and she talked about even just, you know, being curious or wanting to know more is refreshing. And being able to say have a blessed Ramadan, where normally you wouldn’t hear that, but even just being aware of the fact that she’s celebrating that and that she’s fasting, and maybe asking questions about what that looks like can go a long way with an employee.
John Baldino: [00:15:50] Absolutely. And wouldn’t it be nice to be able to have a conversation with an employee that you know to understand rather than being scared and telling someone, “We’ll just Google it.” Should we really be Googling how to understand everybody else’s spiritual? I’d be terrified to do that. Like, talk to somebody else and just ask them. “I see that you’re taking some extra time during the day, how exciting. What’s that like for you? It seems like you’re much more centered. I’m jealous of that, even. I love the fact that you do.” Have an honest conversation. Be safe in that.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:16:23] Absolutely. Great advice. Love that. So, looking at your second prediction, creative health options. So, that need to think creatively and kind of a little bit out of the box on how you might accommodate somebody’s overall health. So, kind of expanding out of some of the traditional modes, like an EAP, obviously, all employers usually have an EAP for the most part. You know, and that’s always usually a standard kind of offering. But looking at what are some other ways that you can help those employees to promote self-care and taking care of themselves. So, talk to me a little bit about what some of the things that you’re seeing with that.
John Baldino: [00:17:01] Yeah. And, again, I’m so excited to say this has gone in the right direction coming into this year.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:17:07] You were right again is what you’re saying.
John Baldino: [00:17:08] I mean, thank you for saying that. First of all, just to make sure everybody has a frame of reference, so, the EAP, the Employee Assistance Program, those of you that are involved with a smaller business, say, under 100 employees, there’s a good chance that your current medical benefit offering does not include an EAP. So, your frame of reference may be very left of center in that, and that’s okay. Please don’t think that you’ve done something wrong or that your employer is not providing at a level that you need them to. Quite frankly, it’s a product of the volume that goes behind the way health insurance is put together, and that’s why the EAP isn’t thrown in.
John Baldino: [00:17:59] But there are things, so one of the areas that I’ve seen an uptick is at the state level. And for most states, there is an opportunity to connect, you can pick up the phone and dial 211. Just like you can dial 911 for an emergency, 211 can get you to a variety of support resources that, for some things, mimic what an EAP would offer. So, there’s opportunities for counseling, for issues around physical health, all of that health veins that we just spoke about and beyond.
John Baldino: [00:18:37] And so, what we’re seeing is that there’s more organizations pushing out that 211 as part of sort of their resource list within their organizations to say, “Don’t be ashamed, please use this.” Even if we have an EAP, there’s more stuff at the county level that, quite honestly, your taxes are paying for. So, tap into those things. Look for that help there.
John Baldino: [00:19:02] But one of the things that’s become, I think, a growing consideration coming into this year is a step back and looking at the ways in which, from a creative standpoint, wellbeing – not wellness but wellbeing – is looked at. And so, we’re seeing products and service out there now that are marketing to businesses to say, “How’s that health savings account going for you that you were so keen on five years ago? Are people using that?” “There’s money left over at the end of every year. They never use all the benefit that they have that they’re entitled to.” Or December 20th, everybody’s running to CVS to buy Q-tips and cotton balls and contact lens solution, even when they don’t wear contact lenses, just because they want to spend this HSA money that they have.
John Baldino: [00:19:59] And is that really the goal? Like, the goal is not let me stock my medicine cabinet with this stuff that’s not really, really helping me. And so, this wellbeing offering is really, I think, more on a vein that we’re going to see more and more of. We’re already seeing a consideration in a different way to this where employers are saying, “I want to split what I’ve been giving to this HSA between, yeah, I’m going to keep money in a health savings account for you, totally. But I’m not going to put as much. And instead I’m going to put some of that money over to a wellbeing app cafeteria consideration.”
John Baldino: [00:20:39] Again, I’m using cafeteria in a broader sense, meaning pick what works for you. Maybe you want to do things that are physically related for you. Great. You want to take yoga classes, you want to get some equipment to use, whatever, but this wellbeing is also going to give you opportunities for your soul, for your spirit, for your mental health.
John Baldino: [00:21:02] TherapyNotes does a great job with journals covering all kinds of mental health considerations that now an employee can use employer funded components to buy these notebooks and start a journey of moving through anxiety or depression, and keep themselves accountable in a comfortable way. Not to say that it can’t be counseling as well, but this is sort of the upkeep in between visits.
John Baldino: [00:21:29] So, to have these resources where, well, my employer is not going to get involved with my therapy directly because I want to keep that boundary there. But my employer is providing me an opportunity for wellbeing to continue my therapy journey every day. And they don’t even realize it because they’re just providing me with some funds that can be used towards these kinds of resources. Maybe I care a lot about my environment, social issues that affects my wellbeing. Here, I can use some of these set aside funds for this.
John Baldino: [00:22:01] So, we’re seeing creativity in probably the broadest way that I’ve ever seen in the marketplace right now. And those companies that are trying to do things to be thoughtful about their current staff, but also to attract new staff from a talent acquisition standpoint, they’re bragging about having this accessibility for their teams, and that is drawing potential candidates to their organizations who are looking to make a change. And that’s a set apart that, honestly, organizations need today to capture talent.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:22:35] Yeah. Being a little innovative, kind of looking outside of the box, not the standard. That’s great. And I know the next one was more flexibility, which I think has an absolute key in today’s working environment for employers to be looking at. So, talk to me a little bit about what are you seeing from the flexibility side of it in terms of how long the working day should look like. What are those hours look like? Where are you working? You know, tell me a little bit about some of the things you’re seeing that didn’t go away after COVID. And in fact, if not anything, it increased.
John Baldino: [00:23:09] Totally. Isn’t that amazing? Like, it didn’t go away. And, you know, you had some people, some I’m going to say well-meaning, but you may be missing it a little bit, who were saying it’s all going to go back to normal. No. No. And so, part of that is not because the workforce has become lazy. They just don’t want to get on a subway and travel into New York City. They don’t want to get in a car and fight LA traffic. Well, first of all, who does? Let’s be honest.
John Baldino: [00:23:43] But the other part of it is, “Oh, my goodness. People have been as productive at home or even on a hybrid schedule as they were when they were in five days a week, maybe even more productive. Oh, no. Now, what do we do? This is terrible.”
John Baldino: [00:23:59] And I think that we’ve got to be able to say, somebody else’s predictions may have been wrong – not mine – about how that was going to change back. And I think that what we’re seeing today is there are a lot more candidates in the first, I’ll say, phone screen or consideration of a new role, this is one of their first questions, and sometimes even more than how much does the roll pay, “Can I work from home? Can I work from home part time and come into an office? What does hybrid look like? Does remote work mean I have to be at my house all the time? Or can I take my laptop anywhere I want to go to do the work?”
John Baldino: [00:24:48] Now, look, that’s an IT thing. I know there’s some security protocols for some organizations. If you’re looking to get a job in finance, they’re not going to love that you want to be on a cruise, you know, nine months of the year with picking up WiFi signals from all different countries, that’s going to cause an IT professional to have some issues. I get that.
John Baldino: [00:25:08] But by and large, individuals are looking for that kind of flexibility. And I think the smarter companies have said yes. Yeah, it can. It does not mean that you can’t, though, still ask for some level of balance, if you’re an organization that does need to have people come in, if you’re an organization that exclusively has to have people come in. You and I spoke last time about making pizzas. You can’t do that remotely. You’re going to have to come in somewhere, right? So, depending on the industry, don’t apologize for it. Continue.
John Baldino: [00:25:50] And what we’re seeing is organizations that are unapologetic – and I don’t mean obnoxious – but sure of who they are, what kind of work they do, and not having to apologize for it. If you work for a manufacturing company and you build things, you make things, that’s really hard to do remotely, you’re going to have to be together. Engineers will have to get together. Those that are working the manufacturing line have to be there to facilitate that production. Don’t apologize for that.
John Baldino: [00:26:19] And we’re seeing more companies be braver in that, which is healthy. You and I talked last time, we were starting to see a little bit of a caste system, where there was, like, it’s better to have a remote role and terrible if you have to come into work. No. We’re seeing that come back to, I’d say, center. But it doesn’t mean that we’re no longer offering remote work or hybrid work. Smarter companies that are looking to provide that kind of flexibility are doing so, I would say, with some flexibility of hours when possible. They are doing it with some longer gaps in between for some companies.
John Baldino: [00:26:58] So, someone who is still a caretaker for, say, parents or having some child care concerns that they have to take care of, that person saying, “I’m going to need two hours. From 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., I can’t work because I’ve got to go do these things. But I’m going to come back and stay on until 7:00 p.m. to do my eight hour day,” or whatever it might be. You’re seeing some companies saying, “I’m okay with that. I wouldn’t have been two years ago.”
John Baldino: [00:27:27] But we’re so much better now. And as long as your productivity is not hampered, as long as your performance continues to be at the level we need it to be – and this third part is a smart question for organizations to always ask of each individual – as long as your team is aware of what that schedule is and can work with it, not around it, but work with it, I think it’s respectful all the way around.
John Baldino: [00:27:57] Because we have seen some companies not do this well and create friction amongst teammates because there’s the impression that a few people feel like they are covering for this person constantly. It isn’t true necessarily, but it feels like it because for two hours of the day they’re not around, I’m here working, but they’re not. Have that conversation. We’re seeing the smarter companies talking through that with their teams.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:28:22] Yeah. And I know there’s a question I have that I want to dive into is some of the cultural divides that are happening. And I want to cover that here in just a little bit so I can get through showing off your smart predictions here and how they came through. But, yeah, no, there’s that internal perceptions that are happening that I’m excited to dive into a little bit with you to see what you are seeing.
John Baldino: [00:28:49] But changes in sick time was the last one that you predicted in terms of that more workers being okay in coming into the office sick is not okay anymore. If you’re sick, stay home. And if you’re sick, go home. But if you you really can’t work, be sick. And so, I think you said in your interview, if you’re sick, go home and be sick. Don’t bring it here. Just stay where you need to be to get yourself back on track. I think that the super hero in all of us that says, “I’m good, I can make it,” we have to rethink that now in terms of what we might have been doing before COVID. So, tell me a little bit about what you’re seeing with that one.
John Baldino: [00:29:31] Absolutely. I think that what we’re seeing is that there are more organizations championing that sentiment. That they are not going to be able to be okay with people just showing up being sick and putting other people at risk. Even if, look, we get colds. I understand that that they still exist. But why cause tension? Why cause nervousness? Why cause there to be some stress between people for unnecessary reasons? It’s just silly.
John Baldino: [00:30:14] Plus, we have people who have to be really thoughtful about how sickness affects their own wellbeing. To continue to push through those things does create, statistically, resentment with an organization. Even if the organization is not directly asking you to plow through, they’re telling you to be sick, but you keep showing up, you can still develop resentment towards that organization. And so, that residue is unnecessary. You are creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of this company doesn’t appreciate me. That’s a bad thing. You don’t want that.
John Baldino: [00:30:54] And I think that organizations, what we’re seeing in terms of the sick time is, we’d rather you take the extra time. And, yes, you have so many hours. But we’ve seen so much flexibility the past couple of years whether it’s COVID sickness or not, but there’s an accommodation consideration to this that I think there’s wisdom in. And we’re seeing more companies say, “I don’t want to penny pinch about the hours. I really want to be thoughtful.”
John Baldino: [00:31:22] Now, there’s always the exception. Yes, I already see people shaking their heads while I’m saying this. Yes, I know there are people that take advantage. I know. I get to talk to them and say, why are you taking advantage of the company? I get it. But they are the exception. Believe me when I tell you, they are the exception, not the rule. And we have to stop legislating to the exception and start being considerate of those that are the majority.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:31:48] Very great advice. And a job well done on your predictions.
John Baldino: [00:31:53] Thank you so much. I appreciate that.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:31:56] Great job. So, we’re going to dive into a quick commercial from our sponsor, and then we’re going to look into what we’re seeing in 2022 that we didn’t talk about in that prediction show.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:32:07] Workplace MVP is sponsored by R3 Continuum. R3 Continuum is a leading expert in providing behavioral health support to people and organizations facing disruption and critical incidents. Through our evidence-based interventions, specialized evaluations, and tailored behavioral health programs, we promote individual and collective psychological safety and thriving to learn how we can help your workplace make tomorrow better than today by helping your people thrive. Visit r3c.com today.
John Baldino: [00:32:40] So, now looking at what we’re seeing in workplaces today, you know, kind of looking at that cultural divide, so we kind of stay in the same vein of some of the things we’ve been talking about, some of the things I’m hearing from HR leaders in the conversations that I’ve been having is that, even though they might have made that hybrid work environment or the remote work versus working in the office options for the entire team, when you start actually getting kind of settled into that, some people are remote, some are in the office, some are kind of a combination of, they’re seeing that resentment you mentioned and they’re seeing conflict. And, basically, culture breaking down between these employees because of the choices that each person made, even though they were both given that option. What are you seeing and what is some advice that you’ve been giving to leaders in terms of how they can navigate that unexpected kind of challenge?
John Baldino: [00:33:43] Yeah. I think, first of all, it’s a conversation. You’ve got to kind of bring the parties that are involved in this into a room and chat. And a room means like Zoom. Just look at one another. I think that if you’re only doing these things via email, you’re missing it. And, certainly, we foster levels of resentment – to come back to that word – or stress, because we’re letting people fill in the blanks with our tone. And we’ve got to stop, whether that is email, whether it’s a Slack channel, Teams channel, stop just typing everything. Talk to someone.
John Baldino: [00:34:34] I know that sounds silly. And for some people they might think it’s old fashioned. “John, it’s not efficient.” I’m going to tell you something, it is more efficient. Here’s why. Because now I don’t have to run back and have two more conversations to sort of fix an implied tone that someone heard, as opposed to just having the initial conversation. And, yes, yes, that conversation may take ten minutes longer than the chat that I did on Teams. But that chat on Teams now led to 20 more minutes of conversation that I wound up having to have. I’m still net better ten minutes if I had done the communicative right way in the beginning.
John Baldino: [00:35:15] So, when people hear tone and they hear me say, “I’m so sorry that you have not been feeling well. Is there anything that we can do?” There’s a big difference than me just saying what they hear, “I’m sorry you’ve not been feeling well. What can we do?” That sounds cold. You don’t really care. I could mean it with all my heart, but they’re not hearing my tone. They’re not picking up on those things. So, I would say that, honestly, is the basic that should be done by organizations.
John Baldino: [00:35:49] I have to tell you, I challenge even my own team often about getting on the phone or being in a video chat with people. And that’s not even because we’re having tension with anyone. But just to remind them of the familiarity that talking to someone, even virtually, face to face, what that does, what that means, how it affects the dynamic of the conversation. To do that intentionally is, honestly, a very smart strategy. It does not mean that you still can’t use Slack or whatever you’re using. Just mix it up.
John Baldino: [00:36:28] And I think you’re going to watch that issue, for instance, that you just were mentioning, dissipate. Even if someone thinks for a minute, maybe there’s tension here, maybe I should feel a certain sort of way. Because of the deposits you’ve made into the rapport development, they’re going to tip the scales towards giving you the benefit of the doubt, the measure of grace, as opposed to there’s nothing in that bank. I’m just going to think the worst right away.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:36:55] And talking in person is so much more powerful, I’m with you. I mean, email can’t capture it.
John Baldino: [00:37:04] And how many emojis can you do, right? Like, how many punctuation marks? Stop. That start to becomes silly, right?
Jamie Gassmann: [00:37:11] Or then you use the wrong one and you’re like, “Oops, that didn’t send the right message.”
John Baldino: [00:37:14] Oh, my gosh. Or you’re my mom who just sends random things emoji-wise to my kids. And they’re always like, “Should we understand something here that my mom is trying to tell us?” No. No. They were at the beach, she thought she sent them a crab. She sent them a scorpion. My son’s like, “Do you want me dead? Like, what does this mean?” And we can laugh, because if my mom listens, I’m in big trouble. But the idea of I can laugh about that with my kids and my mom because we have more in our relationship bank than just text messages. It matters.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:37:51] It does. Yeah. That’s a great analogy to use in kind of comparison where you’re not going to take it the wrong way because you understand the person behind it, where with a coworker you’re going to only know them as far as you’ve allowed that relationship to build with them. So, it does kind of change that.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:38:09] And then, kind of looking at this and this is something, too, that we’re seeing quite frequently – you know, not really quite frequently, but really a common challenge that primarily in health care space they’re experiencing, but I would say this is in probably a lot of other areas as well, the systemic disruption that workplaces are facing. Discontinued large scale events happening within the country. The pandemic started and then the waves of the pandemic where, “Nope, the cases are down.” “Nope, they’re back up.” And there’s a surge.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:38:42] And then, it’s racial tensions, civil unrest, political divide. We continue to see these things happening within the world that is tipping into the work environments. And what it’s creating is a lot of stress, some burnout. So, what are some of the things that you’re hearing from customers? And when you have a customer experience this, where are you navigating them to get support for that?
John Baldino: [00:39:10] Yeah. I mean, it’s a really great question. And I think that, typically, what we do is take a step back with some clients to say, “Let’s just talk about a general category to start with.” And that general category is disruption. What is it that you would like to be known for when it comes to disruption? It’s an interesting question to ask an organization because it’s like, “Well, John, we want to be a leading disruption. We’re innovative. We’re creative, we want to be at the forefront of disruption in a healthy way to bring our technology forward or process forward or product forward,” whatever it might be.
John Baldino: [00:39:54] And so, I’ll say, “Okay, I believe you. I don’t have a reason to not believe you. I’ll believe you that that’s your intention around disruption.” So, when disruption comes to you, why do you revert back to a non-innovative response? Where does that come from and why is that the default trigger? What that tells me is that there’s some behavioral modification that has to occur. We want to get to good old fashioned psychology and say, “I mean for X to be my response, but I keep defaulting to Y.” Where is that coming from? Stop and take stock of that.
John Baldino: [00:40:41] What we have found some organizations realizing is, “Darn it. We say we’re innovative. But we’re kind of scared of innovation.” Or, “We say we’re really creative, but if I really sit and think about it, I don’t know when we’ve had a really robust creative idea.” We found maybe another product or piece of software that helped us do things better, but is that creativity or is that efficiency? “Oh, man. We’ve overlapped those words and we shouldn’t have.” Efficiency is something different.
John Baldino: [00:41:16] And so, what we try to do is help organizations to say, let’s talk about disruption itself. Don’t worry about it being a social issue, a pandemic, or something else. First, talk about disruption. Now, let’s align your response or what you desire your response to be in disruption to your value system. What is the organization about? Why do you say it’s about that? What does that mean to you and for you? And as a result, how might it impact the way in which disruption is then perceived?
John Baldino: [00:41:55] Because you may think that I’m doing it this way, but your value system is running counter to some of your approach. And people don’t know what to do with it. They don’t know how to perceive what it is that they see. How do we help that? I’m just giving you a couple of steps to start with. Certainly, there’s a lot more to it.
John Baldino: [00:42:14] But working with organizations to say, “let’s just take it in pieces,” because what we’re seeing – and I’ll be very practical – in sort of a recent social disruption is in the Supreme Court change for Roe v. Wade. And whatever side that you fall on, that’s not what I’m getting at. But it is certainly a disruption. It has certainly changed for 50 years what people had grown accustomed to.
John Baldino: [00:42:44] And so, if you chose as an organization to say, “Down with the Supreme Court. We are now going to support every individual in our organization up to $4,000 each time that they seek a procedure like this if they work and live in a state that no longer supports it, because the federal mandate is gone.” That’s fine. If that’s what you’re response is from a disruption standpoint. But are you looking at it just for today or are you looking at it long term?
John Baldino: [00:43:21] One of the things – again, this is practical and philosophical where the roads meet – I have said to people, do you know what kind of utilization those services have been leaned on for your employee population to date? Do you have any sense of that? “No, I don’t.”
John Baldino: [00:43:43] You may. Your finance person is in a corner with a box of tissues sobbing because they’re worried that in your 400,000 person organization, there could be 10,000 people who use this benefit even just once this year. That’s a hit to the budget that was not planned for. And it isn’t only about the social issue, it is also about the financial impact. Be thoughtful about that. There’s no magic in $4,000 and there has to be consideration for that.
John Baldino: [00:44:17] I’m saying those social issues are worthy of your consideration, but approach it the way that you would approach disruption as a whole. How do we put all of our options in front of us? How do we talk through it? How do we collaborate on it with our teams? How do we get there? Because what that would tell us is, not everybody is going to get their way. Someone might want $10,000 a year. Someone might say don’t give them a nickel because of how they might feel about the issue.
John Baldino: [00:44:45] That isn’t the way you make a decision. It can’t just be how people feel. That’s a piece, but it’s not all. How do you approach disruption and then apply it to social issues? Apply it to doing “the right thing” based on your value system of your organization? Don’t lose sight of those things.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:45:02] Yeah. That’s great advice too. And I think that’s important is looking at the value system. Because at the end of the day, when you go off, especially public, on some of those things, it can affect your brand, so, it’s being mindful. And then, ultimately, it can affect those employees too. So, great advice.
John Baldino: [00:45:26] Absolutely. And listen, I want to make sure I say this, companies that are giving $4,000, great. That’s not the issue, at all the issue. But what happens in two years when the issue isn’t as much of a hot button? Let’s say, you decide to kind of wind down that benefit a bit, take it from $4,000 to 2,000 or and take it away completely because the budget is struggling. That may actually be a harder conversation now to have with your people because you were not thoughtful about it in all the ways you should be to start with. And I don’t want to make it just about the money, but for the sake of our conversation, that’s just an easy example to give.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:46:03] Yeah. Absolutely. And it’s in either direction that you lean. Absolutely. So, the other thing that we’re kind of seeing, and from what I’ve heard and what we see, and, obviously we see a lot of it in the media as well, staffing shortages and mass exodus out of certain industries.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:46:20] You know, I have a sister who’s a teacher and she’s like, “Teachers are leaving left and right.” You know, you hear it in health care, nurses, doctors leaving left and right. But then, on top of that, we’ve also got staffing shortages across the board. So, what are some of the things you’re seeing? And how are you helping leaders to navigate that?
John Baldino: [00:46:40] Well, and the other piece that is much more rampant in some ways, in some industries is layoff. We are seeing the layoffs that we’ve talked about that were going to come, and whether that’s because of compensation reasons that they have to sort of right size what we’ve been paying people. And so, organizations are now like, “Oh, my gosh. We can’t afford this long term.” Or the amount of startups that are laying off people, just do a little research alone on tech startups, you’re talking thousands of Americans have been laid off this year so far from tech startup companies or series E, series B funded companies that it’s like, “Oh. We raised 30 million. We’ll be fine.”
John Baldino: [00:47:32] I’m going to tell you something which is scary for me to say out loud, that goes quickly. You hire a whole lot of people, it’ll go quickly. So, you have companies laying off that might not sound like a lot, so-and-so laid off 400 people. Well, when they had 700 people, when they lay off 400, it’s more than 50 percent of their workforce. Don’t be fooled to think it’s only 400. Think about it as a percentage of the organization. That’s a huge impact. Let alone the huge organizations, like Wells Fargo, that are laying off a ton of people in mortgage lending and other divisions of lending as a whole because of the interest rate increase.
John Baldino: [00:48:13] So, now you have people still wanting to find the job that they really want to work in. They’re looking for something better than where they’re currently working. They don’t believe in the organization that they’re a part of anymore, if they ever did quite honestly. Or they are still entertaining and being wooed by some really high paying possible roles. But these same people now are sort of looking at the news and seeing, “Oh, my gosh. Such and such just laid off 2,800 people and so-and-so just laid off 4,000 people. And Netflix is laying off people.” And some of these companies are like, “Oh, shoot. I watch Netflix all day long. How can they not have enough business? What’s happening?”
John Baldino: [00:48:59] Now, you have people taking a moment – which I’m so grateful for – they’re taking a breath to say, “Do I want to self-select out of the company I’m a part of for what I perceive to be the grasping, greener, knowing that there may not be a guarantee I might be on the chopping block in three months of these layoff swing continues across the country?” It’s happening. We talked about a lesson. The Verizon were laying people off. Amazon is laying off people. It’s happening. So, they have to be thoughtful about that.
John Baldino: [00:49:31] Now, that does not mean that the business owner or the manager now can be a jerk once again and say, “Yeah. Go ahead. See if you can find something.” No, no, no. No. No. That’s the wrong response. The answer is, “Why, employee, are you looking elsewhere?” Let’s talk about this a little bit more, because it really may not be about the money at this point, because now there may be nervousness. The right sizing may be happening with some industries to bring down some salary ranges. What else is inspiring you to want to leave?
John Baldino: [00:50:07] And to hear from somebody to say, “It’s a thankless job. No one shows appreciation in this place. You get an offhanded thank you. Or the only way we show thank you is we have pizza the last Friday of every month for lunch. It’s just not enough anymore. It’s just not enough. And by the way, I’m on Atkins. I can’t eat the pizza. Like, nobody knows. Ask people.” But there are so many people who are like, “I don’t eat the pizza. I don’t eat the tacos. I don’t drink the alcohol. But nobody asks me. They assume I should be an assimilate like everybody else. And I live individually. I don’t live corporately. Nobody’s asking me.” That is still where we’re finding organizations struggling.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:51:01] Yeah. And that can make a big difference in an employee, just even that if somebody needs something different than what we’re going to serve today. “Can I get you a salad?”
John Baldino: [00:51:13] Right. And listen, it’s not about taking everybody’s order. I understand that. But if you just have one way to show appreciation, and I’m picking on the pizza thing. Pizza Friday is the last Friday of the month, if that’s it, that is not going to meet everyone. It’s just not. Even the people who like pizza, they want something different or they want to hear appreciation differently.
John Baldino: [00:51:38] And I want to make sure I say this, because I think this is another dynamic that’s really interesting because of what’s been happening in the economy. This year alone, 1.7 million people who retired in the past year are returning to the workforce.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:51:54] Interesting. Wow. The early retirement didn’t stick.
John Baldino: [00:52:01] It did not stick. Because you look at your stocks, you look at your 401K, and you’re like, “Oh, no.” I mean, you see the hit that the 401Ks have taken the past 6 to 12 months. Those that retired last year are saying, “No. I’m not going to make it. What I thought I was going to draw from has shrunk quite a bit.” And they’re coming back. Now, it doesn’t mean that they’re coming back to the same exact role or even full time, but it does mean that they’re coming back into the workforce.
John Baldino: [00:52:38] Now, I sound like an old man, the young upstarts that are like, “Whoever’s got the best offer for me, that’s who I’ll talk to.” And you have retirees saying, “I don’t need the best offer. This is all I really need to make. And I only want to work 25 hours a week. So, if you could give me that for the 25 hours a week, I’ll get the same work done. For some roles, I can get almost fulltime work done in that 25 hours.” And so, then the person who’s thinking, “Make me an offer, you might hear from the employer. I don’t have an offer to make you. We’re covered.”
Jamie Gassmann: [00:53:09] And you get that retiree that’s got how many years of experience that they can bring to the table. That’s fantastic. So, it sounds like there’s some pendulum shifting there, swinging going on in that, which is probably refreshing to hear for some employers who maybe have been experiencing challenges in that area.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:53:31] So, if you could give any advice – just wrapping up our show today – to our listeners of what they should be focused on and what you would advise them to to kind of do in the next five months we have left of the year, what would you leave them with?
John Baldino: [00:53:52] I mean, there’s so many things you could say. But if I’m going to just come down to really, really one core piece, it’s talk to your teams, talk to them. Not talk at them. Not just listen to them. But communicate. Converse with them. And I don’t need it to be some formalized system where you’re like, “Well, I conducted 17 stand up meetings with people this week.” Take a minute. I’m not asking for it to be so categorized. Just make sure that there’s a regular cadence of communication and real conversation. I think you’re going to do really well as you run towards the end of the year. I think you’ll do really, really well.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:54:44] Yeah. Absolutely. And, you know, as normal of any conversation I have with you, we take up that full hour because it’s such a great conversation, great insights and information. So, if our listeners want to get a hold of you, learn more about your organization or just get more advice from you, how can they get a hold of you?
John Baldino: [00:55:03] Thank you. I mean, certainly feel free to go to our website, humareso.com. I am super active on LinkedIn and Twitter, so look me up on both. On Twitter, I’m jbalive. Please feel free to follow, lots of resources and information that gets pushed out there as well, so happy to connect.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:55:25] Wonderful. And thank you so much again for being on our show, John, and sharing your great wisdom, your predictions, your expertise, and kind of filling us in on how leaders can help navigate the current world that we’re in with staffing and employees and other things. So, thank you so much. It’s been an absolute pleasure.
John Baldino: [00:55:45] Always awesome to be with you, Jamie. Thank you.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:55:47] Yes. And we also want to thank our show sponsor, R3 Continuum, for supporting the Workplace MVP podcast. And to our listeners, thank you for tuning in. If you have not already done so, make sure to subscribe so you get our most recent episodes and other resources. You can also follow our show on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter at Workplace MVP. And if you are a workplace MVP or know someone who is, we want to know or hear from you, so email us at email@example.com. Thank you all for joining us and have a great rest of your day.