Workplace MVP: John Baldino, Humareso
In an engaging conversation, John Baldino, President of Humareso, and host Jamie Gassmann review changes in the HR landscape changes over the last two years, important trends, and look ahead to 2022. They discuss flexibility in work arrangements, compensation and inflation, cultural fabric, diversity, equity and inclusion, and much more. Workplace MVP is underwritten and presented by R3 Continuum and produced by the Minneapolis-St.Paul Studio of Business RadioX®.
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.
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.
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.
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, crisis, and security solutions. Now, here’s your host, Jamie Gassmann.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:00:30] Hi, everyone. Your host, Jamie Gassmann, here, and welcome to this episode of Workplace MVP. As we near the end of 2021 and gear up for 2022, I thought it would be a great time to reflect on what we, as business and H.R. leaders, have navigated over this last year. Some of the challenges and complexities experienced in 2020 followed us into 2021 and really never left. But just like with any year, 2021 brought focus and importance in areas of our business that needed to be focused on.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:01:03] And today, we will be talking with Workplace MVP John Baldino, President of Humareso, to share from his perspective when looking at the human side of business, what are the key areas of focus for H.R. and business leaders in 2021, and what does he see as areas of importance going into 2022. So, with that, welcome to the show, John.
John Baldino: [00:01:28] Hey, Jamie. Thanks so much for having me.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:01:30] Absolutely. I’m looking forward to connecting with you on this topic. I think you bring some great perspective. So, with that, let’s start out with learning a little bit about your career journey to being President of Humareso.
John Baldino: [00:01:45] So, yeah, thank you. It is one of the things that you alluded to, looking back on 2021, it’s 30 years for me involved this year with H.R., leadership development, organizational design and development. It’s frightening for that 30 years. I can’t believe it. But I’ve had a really great journey in terms of the kinds of organizations I’ve been able to be a part of. And so, through retail and restaurant, nonprofit, education, banking and finance, distribution and manufacturing, just so many areas of industry.
John Baldino: [00:02:26] And I got the privilege of starting Humareso in 2012, so it’s been a little over nine years, and it’s been a great time. Really, I’m thankful to say, a smart move to start the H.R. consulting firm that I did. And we’re just having a blast, honestly, with the work that we get to do with companies across the country, also in a variety of industries. So, it’s really fun.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:02:50] Yeah. And probably a great time right now, obviously. I’m sure your services are called upon even more as people are navigating different complexities and challenges that maybe they haven’t thought that they would experience. So, with that, tell us a little bit about Humareso, and what your organization does, and some of the services that you provide.
John Baldino: [00:03:13] Yeah. I try to tell people, we are as much of an all-in-one for everything H.R. as possible. And the way that we can do that is because we have some wonderful people on staff who are just phenomenal and they represent disciplined areas of H.R. And so, we support companies with a lot of, say, blocking and tackling, compliance administration, direct hire, recruiting, things that they need to get done day in, day out for that employee experience and life cycle.
John Baldino: [00:03:49] But we’re also involved with things that are a little beyond. So, technology, really an interesting path to constantly travel because technology changes so much. And what makes sense for a company at its particular genesis. So, you might use something today that when you double in size, you might not use next year. And so, helping navigate through that. But then, areas of mergers and acquisition, organizational development, learning management, executive coaching, just things where sometimes we overlook those components and think that they are nice to have.
John Baldino: [00:04:24] But, really, in the competitive marketplace today, they’re a must-have. You can’t just kind of put things aside anymore. You can’t ignore compensation. You can’t ignore employee sentiment. What’s happening with our people? Are they engaged? It’s not just how do you feel. It’s how are you productive. And so, I think organizations are much smarter about that than ever before. And so, we get a lot of opportunity to support companies doing a lot of that work.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:04:55] Yeah. Absolutely. It’s like the human side of business has become even more of a focal point and level of importance for businesses, particularly over this last year.
John Baldino: [00:05:06] For sure. For sure. And it’s funny, I mean, you and I have talked about this before, right? When people first connect with Humareso, they’re like, “I’m not sure how to say the name.” And I’m like, “It’s Humareso. It’s Italian for human resources.” And people are always like, “That’s fantastic.” That’s a total lie.
John Baldino: [00:05:27] But the focus for me is to get people to be thoughtful about that idea of human resources. It’s actually a global consideration. I appreciate the fact that in the U.S., we think of it as sort of a department. But, really, it’s a functional relational component of how organizations exist and thrive across the globe.
John Baldino: [00:05:49] So, you’re right, that human-centered perspective is not merely emotional. And I hate to say it, I still get to talk to some CEOs who, “This is all kind of fluff, blah, blah, blah.” And usually, they’re the CEOs that are struggling the most. And I want to just say to them, “Listen. Relax. It doesn’t mean that you have to get a warm blanket and sit in front of a fireplace and just get in touch with your feelings. That’s not what this means. It means you have real people with real concerns and real desires to contribute in their work and in the organization. So, don’t overlook that. Pay attention.”
Jamie Gassmann: [00:06:27] Absolutely. And they want to do good work for you, especially if you show that care and compassion and value that they’re seeking.
John Baldino: [00:06:35] Absolutely.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:06:36] And, obviously, you kind of already mentioned, we’re going to be talking about trending over the last year. So, from your perspective, just to level set as we kind of get into this dialogue, if you were going to look at over this last year, what were some of the key trends that you feel were most impactful to the human side of business?
John Baldino: [00:06:58] I mean, listen, we can be buzzword and trendy for at least an hour, right? Certainly, I think from a new term, we saw this year that the phrase The Great Resignation being used, and people struggling to find talent to fill open roles, and all of the perspective that went along with that. It’s because of unemployment. It’s because people are lazy. And everybody is an armchair coach to tell you exactly what’s wrong with the world.
John Baldino: [00:07:33] In many ways, though, I think that I’ve also heard probably a better phrase, instead of The Great Resignation, I look back and see it as a great reshuffle. And I think what talent has chosen to do this past year is say, “Where can I best thrive? Where can I best invest? Who’s going to like the fact that I’m bringing what I bring to the table? Who will like it the most?” And that may mean that I take my toys and go to another company in order to do that. And so, the talent is still in the marketplace. It’s just reshuffled. It’s out of where it was and onto someplace else.
John Baldino: [00:08:13] And if your organization winds up being one of the organizations whose bench has cleared, you may need to look in the mirror long and hard as to why your organization is the one reshuffled out of as opposed to into. And so, I think for sure that’s something that organizations have had to pay attention to this past year differently.
John Baldino: [00:08:39] And let me just add this, too, I want to be respectful of data. There’s absolutely data that would say this past year – and I’ll try to do this. I might say it twice – there’s jobs that people are filling right now and open jobs where we need people. If you add that number together, it’s more than the number of people available to work. That there’s less people available for all the jobs that are possible, both currently filled and opened. Our birthrate is down. For every two adults, we’re trending at about 1.7. So, we’re not regenerating the same number and haven’t for years. And so, we’re seeing a little bit of that catching up with us, for sure. I’m not ignoring the data.
John Baldino: [00:09:27] But I would also say, there are companies that are able to hire and they have hundreds of people this past year, hundreds of people this past year. Well, where are they coming from? They may be coming from your company if you haven’t paid attention to what’s happening with your team.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:09:43] Yeah. Absolutely. And there were a couple of other areas, too, you mentioned, like from an entrepreneurial spirit with that next generation of workforce.
John Baldino: [00:09:53] I mean, you and I know, we have this spirit even within us. And I’ll speak for myself, I’m not a young person anymore. I pretend I am. I think like I am probably to the chagrin of my spouse. But I’m not really a young person.
John Baldino: [00:10:11] We’ve encouraged a very entrepreneurial approach to commerce. There are so many younger – and I do mean younger by age – who are coming out of school, who very much feel like I don’t ever want to work in-house for someone. I want to start my own company,” whether that’s a product or a service, whether it’s tech based or not. There are just opportunities all over the place. You can start your own website and have product delivered to somebody for $199. I mean, this dropship stuff is just like easy peasy now.
John Baldino: [00:10:49] And so, there’s people who are like, “The heck with that. I’m not working for Baldino. I’m going to work for myself.” And that entrepreneurial spirit you can’t ignore. And so, what has that done this past year? It’s actually taking people out of the workforce as well who don’t desire a W-2 relationship with a company. They don’t want it.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:11:09] So interesting. And I’ve seen that. And I think you and I will talk about it a little bit later about that shift to consulting work. And that we’ve seen some of the writing on the wall for that years before, even pre-COVID. And I’m always kind of looking at, “Well, pre-COVID that was already happening. It just expedited it.” Which we’ve seen across a lot of different other areas.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:11:35] And another area, too, that we’re going to talk about a little bit later is that diversity, equity, and inclusion focus in workplaces. And I think you have some really exciting things to share on that different perspectives of how a workplace can be looking at that within their own space as well.
John Baldino: [00:11:53] Absolutely. We’ll talk more about that. But for sure to at least whet the appetite, honestly, we’re watching verbal responses followed by physical movement from people who are saying, “You say you’re about these things -” organization “- but you’re not. And so, I’m calling you out on it. And if you don’t change it, I’m leaving because I can go somewhere where the value around equity and fostering a sense of belonging is real. It’s active. We can talk about it. I can point to it. And you just want me to know we hired diverse talent.”
John Baldino: [00:12:35] Well, first of all, what does that mean? And second of all, how long are they staying? Because you can hire diverse talent, let’s say, in certain buckets. But in six months, there’s a good chance they won’t be there if your organization isn’t prepped for it. And other people are now going out the door with those folks who’ve been brought in just because they represent some sort of diverse group. That’s not the way to do it.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:12:57] Yeah. No, it’s so exciting to talk about that with you in terms of some of your perspective of how you helped workplaces to really embrace that in a way that’s helpful and really demonstrating what it’s meant to demonstrate. So, that’ll be really exciting.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:13:15] So, diving into The Great Resignations, and we’ve all heard about that and the impact of that. And I think in some ways we probably saw that, but maybe differently than, you know, just hearing some of the data that you shared, probably maybe differently than what we maybe anticipated. I think maybe some retired earlier than they anticipated. And with that, we had people leaving the job market that would have maybe stayed, like, five years longer. But then, to your point, just having less amount of that employee candidate pool based on just there aren’t as many workers out there. So, talk to me a little bit about that trend of the great reshuffle and share kind of some of your perspective a little bit deeper on that.
John Baldino: [00:14:01] For sure. It’s really interesting, honestly, even with what you just shared, that, certainly, there were people who COVID amplified their desire to get out of the workforce. There are definitely people who took early retirement. There are people who were furloughed or laid off from their organization.
John Baldino: [00:14:22] And when the opportunity presented itself to return, they self-selected out and said, “This whole pandemic thing isn’t done yet. I’m not interested in trying to navigate what this means, masks, no masks, vaccines, no vaccine. I just don’t want to be involved with it. And so, I’m not coming back or certainly I’m not coming back to the degree that I used to work. I’ll come back part time -” which we’re seeing that as well “- not full time. I only want to take a role where I can work from home completely because perhaps I’m immunocompromised or I’m a caretaker and I’m concerned about being a carrier for some of these things.”
John Baldino: [00:15:05] So, from a health perspective, absolutely, that’s impacted some of that reshuffle. I’d also say from an opportunity standpoint. So, what do I mean? There are plenty of professionals pre-pandemic who were involved in the – I’m going to use the big industry title – hospitality industry, so that would be things like hotel, restaurants, concierge-based services, spas, all of those areas, who were laid off and laid off for months. And when they were able to come back, came back at a very constrained schedule because it just wasn’t busy enough. People were not getting massages. I mean, think about some of that. You might be worried about health issues. Who wants to come and have a massage? Not as many as once did, let’s say, or other kinds of treatments.
John Baldino: [00:16:01] So, those folks decided, “I got to shuffle myself out of hospitality and into something that is not going to be as influenced by what’s potentially happening in the world, mandates that may yet come down the pike. I’m going to get into something else.” And so, right now, for sure, I’m seeing hospitality-based organizations struggling to find talent, struggling to find talent.
John Baldino: [00:16:26] Add to that the way in which some organizations – think about cities like New York, where so much hospitality happens in New York City. I mean, my goodness, so much of the economy is based on it – people are saying, “You want me to to not only do the work that I’m supposed to do, but now also be a representative of the city’s health mandates, and help to tell people what it’s supposed to be, and don’t sit here, and put your mask on.”
John Baldino: [00:16:54] People have chosen to say, “I am not interested in any of that. I don’t get paid enough for that. I’m not a professional in that degree. I want to use my professional expertise in a different way.” And so, they’ve reshuffled themselves, again, out of that vein of work.
John Baldino: [00:17:09] And lastly, you know, I also want to make sure I give a shoutout to some of the reshuffle as well, for those roles where you have to be in-person. You can’t do it remotely. And I think that we have to be really careful in the business community – because I think we’ve done this – to not make people feel badly for having work that they have to do physically. Just because your organization cannot give you a fully remote job doesn’t mean your organization is barbaric. That is not what it means.
John Baldino: [00:17:46] And we know that there’s going to be a lot of people listening to this while they’re having a meal and maybe you ordered that meal from somewhere. Well, who in the world cooked it and delivered it to you? People. Real people. And so, they couldn’t do it through Zoom. That sandwich would not taste as good if it was only through Zoom. It had to be physically done. So, let’s stop giving people a hard time because I do think that’s influenced the reshuffle as well. We’ve made some of our own employees feel badly as if they had some substandard job. That’s ridiculous.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:18:23] That’s such an interesting point. I mean, when you think about that, it’s like the people going in to make your coffee. Yeah, I could have made a pot of coffee at home, but there’s something about that Starbucks cup that just gives me a little satisfaction for the day.
John Baldino: [00:18:45] And hopefully you’re not going up to that drive-thru window saying, “Thank you so much for this coffee.” Isn’t it terrible that you had to come into work? Wouldn’t you rather have a job where you can work at home? I mean, again, I know that sounds ridiculous, but I think that we have unintentionally sort of made sort of a caste system between what it means to work from home and not being better than having to go in and work somewhere.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:19:08] Yeah. I mean, because there are some employees who they like to work in the office and they want to get back in the office. And, yes, there’s going to be some who are like, “I really prefer to work at home.” But that’s the beauty of our employees, is that difference and what their likes and dislikes and those types of things. So, yeah, interesting points all around.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:19:32] And so, when we talked previously, you indicated there is also another kind of business trend with larger organizations where they’re paying substantial salaries for some entry level or just above entry level positions, that is increasing some of the pay structure that’s having an impact on some of the smaller businesses that might be trying to hire. Can you talk a little bit to some of that trend that you’re seeing?
John Baldino: [00:19:57] Yeah, for sure. I mean, that is absolutely a trend. And I would say, I get asked about compensation a ton this year. Compensation from an external competitive standpoint and then pay equity from an internal standpoint. What are we doing with our own people? Forget about what’s happening externally. Are we paying people equitably for similar work within our company? Well, there’s a good chance that if you are bringing people in at this point, you’re bringing them in higher because you’re trying to compete.
John Baldino: [00:20:31] And all of a sudden, those legacy employees who’ve been there are trending downward because you’re starting people so much higher. So, what are we doing about that? That then becomes now your legacy employees start to feel some sort of way about your company and may think about exiting the company because of that. So, compensation on both sides has been really difficult.
John Baldino: [00:20:51] What we’re seeing is, you know, a large organization could easily say, “We’re just going to throw a bunch of money at this problem. And so, we need people at this particular level -” and I’ll make up something just for the sake of it being easy “- customer service rep. And we’re going to pay this much per hour.” And you’ve got a smaller organization that has a few customer service reps and they can’t compete at that hourly rate the way that Amazon or Verizon or Aramark or just pick whatever large, large enterprise level organization you would like to. And so, they price themselves out of the competition, those smaller companies. They can’t compete at that level.
John Baldino: [00:21:33] And if you are a job seeker, whether active or passive, and somebody calls you and says, “Hey, I got a job for you and you’re going to make $6 more an hour, $10 more an hour than you’re making right now.” Honestly, I see people leave for 50 cents, let alone the numbers that I just mentioned. Holy cow. You think that employee is going to come back to you and say, “Hey, John. I love working for you. They’re going to pay me $6 more an hour. Can you match that?” If I’m a small business, there’s a great chance I’m going to say, “No, I can’t. I can’t do it.” And so, now I’m losing talent because I can’t afford to compete at that compensation level.
John Baldino: [00:22:16] But the risk on the other side, as I see it, is at some point, this compensation thing is going to level out. We’re going to have to right size it a bit because it’s unsustainable. It can’t go on forever. It’s very much, in my opinion, like the housing crisis going back to ’07, ’08, ’09. Things are going to just eventually kind of crash. You just can’t keep saying this is worth more, worth more, worth more, worth more.
John Baldino: [00:22:41] So, what will happen for those people who went to those large companies? They’re likely going to do a riff. They’re going to do a reduction in force. You’re going to get your pink slip, whatever phrase you’re used to. And Verizon will right size. I’m not saying anything out of turn, we’ve seen Verizon, as an example, do this in years past, lay off a number of people, wait a few months, and start to rehire people. And they’ll rehire them at the new lower readjusted rates of pay. And, now, we’ve got all kinds of people on unemployment waiting for that readjustment to happen. And we watch that take its toll on our system.
John Baldino: [00:23:24] And I think organizations need to be wise to kind of wait for that. Take your time. I know it’s going to be stressful right now, but take your time that’s coming sooner than you think.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:23:35] So interesting. I’m guessing that’s contributing to some of the reshuffle, too, is just the opportunities out there for other workers. And, you know, being in the crisis response arena – that our sponsor is part of – some of the things I’ve heard spoken about is just when a situation like the pandemic happens, people start to rethink their situation. And so, some of that pricing that you’re saying probably are more in tune to what’s going on because they’re starting to look at what’s better for me and what should I do for myself, and it becomes enticing.
John Baldino: [00:24:14] Yeah. I mean, it’s hard to say no. Let’s be honest, you’re 26 years old and you’ve got a couple of years under your belt, maybe, of some professional work, and someone wants to pay you 20 percent, 25 percent, 30 percent more than you’re making right now, how are you saying no to that? That would be really hard. You’ve got student loans that you know you’re going to have to pay for. I mean, you just have things that are just realistic.
John Baldino: [00:24:39] And if my grandfather were still here, he’d say, “Get what’s yours as fast as you can get it.” That’s kind of the perspective that some people, for sure, are hearing. And it’s hard to talk them out of that.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:24:53] Yeah. Especially when you’re younger in your career, too, a lot of people say, “Now is your time.” You’ve got a whole 40 years left to work kind of mentality. So, looking at that and talking 40 years out, what is the long term impact that maybe some of that pricing for salaries impact is on, maybe the individual, but also on the organizations?
John Baldino: [00:25:20] Well, I mean, it’s such a great question. You know, I wish I knew in full. So, obviously, I’m anecdotal a little bit with some of the answer. But I would say, I mean, first of all, we have to realign expectations.
John Baldino: [00:25:37] I spoke to somebody about a-week-and-a-half ago, literally, 27 years old, and has a job making $150,000 a year. I’m like, “Are they hiring?” I mean, I have my own company, but I don’t even know what I would have done at 27 years old with $150,000 a year, nothing good. Let me just actually say that, I could at least say nothing good.
John Baldino: [00:26:05] Now, let’s say that the market readjusts, as I just shared. Like, what do you want that person at 29 years old to expect now? They’re going have a hard time going back into the job market and take even 90,000 as a salary, because it’s just going to seem so low compared to what they got used to quickly. That’s where I think we’re going to see a longer term impact because there’s a better chance of those individuals saying, “The heck with this. You’re not paying me what I’m worth. I’m going to go do my own thing. I’m going to go start my own thing. I’m going to go partner up with somebody and try to get something done differently.”
John Baldino: [00:26:44] Some of that may work. As an entrepreneur, obviously, I believe in that, because I started a business as well. But not everybody is going to be able to do that. And, certainly, the reality is, especially for those who’ve started companies, you don’t start making $150,000 your first year. I mean, you don’t. So, if you think starting your business is a guarantee to get you that kind of money right away to match where you’ve been, you’re going to be disappointed.
John Baldino: [00:27:14] And even now, I see entrepreneurs with those who are trying to be entrepreneurial get out of it because the expectation hasn’t been aligned correctly. So, I think long term, we’re going to struggle with that individually.
John Baldino: [00:27:28] As far as organizations are concerned, I think organizations are going to have to be honest about budgets. Because one of two things is going to happen, you’re going to have that huge reduction in force that I mentioned or we’re going to continue to see past the long pricing to cover for these things. I mean, we all go into that grocery store. Holy cow. Holy cow. Who’s paying for that? Or the gas line or whatever, we see what the prices are right now. That’s not sustainable, either. I mean, when you start looking at chicken as being expensive, don’t even bother putting the steaks out. Just don’t bother, because how could I afford it? And that’s where I think that markets are going to have to readjust as well. It’s just not sustainable.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:28:18] Yeah. Because that additional cost to cover those salaries, it’s got to get passed on to somebody.
John Baldino: [00:28:26] Somebody and it’s just you and me, right? It’s when we start saying 6.99 a pound is cheap. And you’re like, “Wait. What am I saying? What am I saying?”
Jamie Gassmann: [00:28:36] Years ago I said, “If they ever moved the coffees to over $5, I’m not buying them.” Well, they’re over $5 and I’m still buying them.
John Baldino: [00:28:44] I just got one this morning.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:28:49] I just got one this morning. So, you bring up a really good kind of points, so segueing into that next trend that we talked about, that entrepreneurial spirit and just seeing this next generation of workforce, you know, having more of that spirit and wanting to look at moving into more kind of consultancy or starting their own businesses. You had indicated when we talked before that this has been taught in us, and it makes me think about my 11-year-old at home who’s like, “I’m going to be a YouTube star someday, mom. They make good money.” And I’m going, “Oh, boy. Yes, they do.” But to get to that, how did they do that? So, what changes are you seeing with this shift of that entrepreneurial spirit? I mean, there’s got to be some pros and cons to that.
John Baldino: [00:29:38] Sure. I mean, look, we’re in the Shark Tank generation. I mean, we’ve encouraged people in this. And listen, I, for one, am not pooh-poohing it. I’m glad we have. Like, there have been some phenomenal inventions and ideas that have come forward as a result of people taking risks. One of my favorite shows to watch, honestly, is The Profit with Marcus Lemonis, and he’s just so smart in his approach to the entrepreneurial game. It’s right on the money.
John Baldino: [00:30:09] And so, I’m not badmouthing it. But what I’m saying is, we watch those people come forward on Shark Tank. And I know you sit on your couch and think, “What the heck is this? Who would buy this? Why do they think this is a great idea?” And we’re right, The Sharks, nobody invests in that company, right? But what we forget is, for that one person who’s standing there, that person represents another hundred who are doing the same thing, trying to put together service or product in an entrepreneurial way that they think the world wants. And they won’t. There are lots of products and services that are by the wayside or the distribution of those things that didn’t happen the way that it was meant to.
John Baldino: [00:30:54] So, disappointment has to be put together in a way to help people learn from it and encourage people back into the job market. Once again, as opposed to just thinking I’ve got to always go back to what could be the next product, the next product, the next product. Not everyone should do that. And I know that might be hard to hear as people listen to this. You know, “John, you can’t crush people’s dreams.” I’m not here to be a dream smasher. That’s not what I’m saying.
John Baldino: [00:31:27] But we need people to work in the disciplines that are functional components of how our economy is put together. We need medical professionals. We need hospitality professionals. We need retail professionals. We need food professionals. We need distribution professionals. We need folks that are understanding logistics and supply chain. And we need people who are going to understand technology in different ways. We need all of that. That has to be encouraged right now in our high schools, in our colleges.
John Baldino: [00:32:03] One of the saddest things for me – and this is a true story. So, this is a couple of years ago – someone who was actually working for my organization in marketing, and he was a recent college grad. He was a marketing associate. And I had him sign up for a digital marketing course. Humareso will take care of it. We paid for it. Just go learn a bunch of stuff. The deal was he had to present back on it to a few of us. And he came back after six weeks and presented on it.
John Baldino: [00:32:35] And he started by saying, “Thanks for letting me take this class. I just want to tell you, I’m so angry.” And I was like, “Oh, my gosh. This isn’t going to go well. Why are you angry?” He said, “Oh, no. I’m not angry at you. I’m grateful that you had me take this course. But I’m angry because I recently finished a four year degree in marketing and I learned nothing that I just learned in six weeks in this marketing course. Not one thing that I learned in these six weeks in practical marketing that I learned in my four year program that I’m now still paying for in my student loans. For that, I’m angry.”
John Baldino: [00:33:17] And I found that to be obviously sad. I was not happy for him. But what does that tell us? It tells us that we also have to realign better what’s happening in our educational system with what’s happening in our entrepreneurial outlets and in the business community. Because there’s a misalignment. It’s not where it needs to be.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:33:36] Oh, that’s such really good points. A lot of what people learn is on the job, in that hands-on, tangible, kind of real-world atmosphere. And you brought up a really interesting point with the entrepreneurs that, I think, too, maybe an employer could reframe it a little bit. I mean, that entrepreneurial spirit I could see as like an absolute benefit to a business, especially if you’re working for a smaller business. Because you want your employees thinking entrepreneurially because that helps to drive a smaller business to even more success when they treat it like it’s their own business.
John Baldino: [00:34:17] So, reframing it, maybe, for the workforce, how could an employer do that in a way that kind of attracts some of those individuals that have that spirit within them that maybe you can kind of bring them over to a company as opposed to trying to start their own gig?
John Baldino: [00:34:39] And as a small business owner or, honestly, even a mid-market company, you have to be willing to put in a little bit of the effort into that to help people have that bridge. You know, I get to talk to business owners all the time of various-sized organizations, and they will sometimes be intimidated by entrepreneurs coming back into the workforce. Or think that, “They’re only going to stay with me a year to make some money and then leave.”
John Baldino: [00:35:07] First of all, you don’t have anybody right now. Take 12 months from somebody, let’s see what happens. You have no idea what’s going to happen in 12 months. Take the 12 months. Relax. The other thing is, if you can reform that drive towards something, as you’re saying, Jamie, that benefits the organization as well without categorizing somebody in a negative way.
John Baldino: [00:35:31] I try to tell people, “Listen, you’re talking to me as I started a consulting firm. Let me paint a picture for you. I was one of those – what you would term – a corporate H.R. person for years, and I’m entrepreneurial. I don’t make sense. There shouldn’t be people like me. But guess what? There are.” And so, you can be entrepreneurial in any kind of industry, in any discipline. It’s about how to encourage it and how to define it.
John Baldino: [00:36:03] When I started Humareso, people – besides making fun of the name – were saying, “Why would you make a name? You should call it John Baldino Consulting, because everyone knows you. That’s what’s going to drive business to you.” And my response was, “If I make it about me, it will be seen smaller than I intend it to be. And so, I want to make sure I highlight the talent that I know will come.” For the first year, I was the only employee of Humareso – for the first year. But, now, all this time later and all these employees that I’m privileged enough to have be a part of the team, I’m glad I knew better than to call it Baldino Consulting, because it is much grander and larger than just me.
John Baldino: [00:36:53] So, if you can keep that long-term perspective in play as a business owner, look at your talent similarly, how can they be a part of the process for as long as they’re part of the process? And how do I encourage that? And, honestly, give them an opportunity to give me the very best that they can give me. That’s what we need to do.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:37:10] Yeah. That is such a good point. Even if it’s just for the 12 months and giving them a stepping stone, they may stay way longer than what they originally anticipated, especially if you give someone with an entrepreneurial spirit some flexibility to be able to work that spirit within the organization. It’s amazing what you can get out of it.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:37:32] And kind of touching on our last trend here in terms of over the last year, the diversity, equity, and inclusion focus that business and H.R. leaders had, you shared the term cultural fabric with me on our last conversation. I just thought that was such a great way to think about this topic. And so, can you elaborate a little bit more on what that means and how a leader can leverage that within their organization?
John Baldino: [00:38:00] Yeah. Thank you. I would say, it’s something that’s going to fight up against, I think, what some people have sort of adopted into their brains for a lot of years. We talk about cultural fit, right? And so, “I didn’t hire that person. They weren’t really a fit. The way that we are, this person isn’t really going to be able to succeed. I’m thinking of that person when I say this,” things like that.
John Baldino: [00:38:28] And what I think we know now is, there’s a bit of bias baked into cultural fit. What we’re saying is, there’s something about that person that isn’t like us. And the like me bias has been around forever. Instead, I think that what we’re smarter to do is look at the individual and say, “What would they add to what we already have?”
John Baldino: [00:38:54] And the picture that I try to give people who want to fight for cultural fit, this is what we need to be about, I try to encourage cultural fabric. Look at your organization like a tapestry. What is it that’s been woven to date? And it could be a beautiful picture on this tapestry, for sure, but where it is today? Couldn’t we be ready for a new thread to be added to this picture on the tapestry? Couldn’t we be ready for that? And we ought to be. And maybe we think it’s too scary. It might mess up the picture overall. It might. It might. It might.
John Baldino: [00:39:34] But, really, we don’t have much of a choice these days. Because if you think you’re just going to find a whole lot of people like you to do what you do the way that you do it, you’re going to be disappointed. So, this isn’t about, “Well, I guess I have to have substandard qualifications.” No. This is about how do we get work done better, wider, differently, with more innovation and creativity, and add a different colored thread to this tapestry of what we’ve built. Oh, my goodness. Now, in a couple of years when I step back, I see the picture more vibrantly. It’s even more beautiful than it was two years previous.
John Baldino: [00:40:15] And I think when we think about inclusion and equity, as for sure, areas that we have to pay attention to, that needs to be a bit more of our attention, is, what kind of fabric are we weaving? What are we ready for? What might we not be ready for but need to get ready for? And to take the risks associated with that.
John Baldino: [00:40:38] I find it really disconcerting when I’m talking to business owners who want to tell me, “John, we’re committed to diversity.” And I believe them. But you have to be committed to a much more holistic view of that word you’re using. Diversity, what does that mean for you? Is it just about persons of color or ethnicity? Is it about a particular gender? Diversity is even more than that. I’m not ignoring those often visible, diverse characteristics. Yes. Yes. You have to be open to that.
John Baldino: [00:41:12] But even beyond that. Even areas of like hiring veterans or disability. Or here’s a couple we don’t talk about enough, socioeconomics, educational backgrounds. Why on earth is it a bachelor’s degree required? Tell me why. When I look at your department and you have five people in that role, and the best one out of the five has an associate’s, does not have a bachelor’s, tell me why it’s required. Tell me why it’s required. “Well, that person is an exception.” How do you know that? You won’t hire anybody who’s like that person according to your standards. Be wider in the way in which you approach people. It’s possible. There are so many talented people out there who just haven’t had the chances that you may have had. So, don’t limit that.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:42:02] Like, most opening it up so that you can attract more of an audience with different backgrounds, different perspectives. Because keeping an open mind about the value that they can bring to that team could be really eye opening.
John Baldino: [00:42:20] For sure. One of my favorites – and when they listen to this, they will crack up laughing – there’s a pair that work at Humareso. And I’m saying a pair. And I won’t say the names. But there is one of the pair who is a 60 something black woman and the other pair is a 20 something white male. They are two peas in a pod. They are for each other like nobody’s business. You cannot get between them.
John Baldino: [00:42:54] And I’m going to tell you, they would not have a reason for their paths to intersect were it not for the opportunity of an open organization who looks at individuals with the skills or competencies, whatever you want to categorize those, with skills, knowledge, abilities, aptitudes, all of that. If we didn’t just look at that, their paths would not have crossed. And, now, they love each other, love each other, and that’s how it should be.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:43:26] Yeah. Absolutely. That’s such a great, great story. I love that. So, we’re going to just take a moment to hear from our show sponsor.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:43:35] Workplace MVP is sponsored by R3 Continuum. R3 Continuum is a global leader in providing expert, reliable, responsive, and tailored behavioral health disruption and violent solutions to promote workplace well-being and performance in the face of an ever changing and often unpredictable world. You can learn more about how R3 Continuum can tailor a solution for your organization’s unique challenges by visiting r3c.com today.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:44:03] So, now, we’re going to shift gears a little bit, John, and we’re going to talk about 2022. And I’m going to ask you to look into your crystal ball and give us some of your future predictions of what you think 2022 is going to look like. So, if we were going to identify and kind of narrow in to, like, some key areas that H.R. and business leaders need to watch for or even, to your point, focus on as they move into this new year, what would those areas be?
John Baldino: [00:44:35] This is so funny, because these are the moments where in the back of my mind, I’m like, “Six months from now, someone’s going to play this for me and tell me you were so wrong.”
Jamie Gassmann: [00:44:46] Isn’t that the risk of any predictive show, right? Or I could just do a follow up show to show how right you were.
John Baldino: [00:44:55] I like that one. Let’s prep for that. I think for sure, one of the things that has been very evident over the last couple of years is the need to be an encouragement towards overall health for our individuals who support our organizations. And I mean, overall health. More than just offering medical benefits, although that’s important. More than just offering ancillary benefits, again, that’s important. But all areas of health, so that’s physical, mental, emotional, spiritual.
John Baldino: [00:45:32] What are the ways in which we can foster opportunities for individuals to latch on to any and all of these areas and be supported? I want to make sure I paint both sides of this. We do know that if those individual contributors are healthier, they’re going to be better employees. That’s just how it is. I know that might not seem as altruistic as some may want. But it is a benefit on both sides of the equation. And that’s okay.
John Baldino: [00:46:03] So, I think that organizations coming into next year, how can they better give people opportunities and start spending money a little differently instead of maybe throwing it all into an HSA or an FSA? Can you use some of that money to go towards – I’ll call it – like a cafeteria type opportunity for people to choose areas of health that they want to focus on? Again, in those areas that I just mentioned, it’s got to be more than just here’s 150 bucks toward your gym membership. I mean, that’s great and all, but not everybody goes to the gym. Not everybody consistently goes to the gym.
John Baldino: [00:46:40] And what we sometimes do for people is if that’s really the primary benefit that we offer as an ancillary, and then they sign up and never go, then they feel guilty because they’re not going. So, we’ve we’ve actually made another problem. And so, what I would say is there are opportunities to be more customized. Let people choose how they can spend that money every month towards areas of mental health. Maybe they can chat with somebody for a few sessions over Zoom, a mental health professional. Maybe they can do a yoga class. Maybe they can do some sort of walk through the spiritual religions of the world.
John Baldino: [00:47:24] I mean, all kinds of things where people are like, “I’ve never been exposed to this kind of information. I’m really interested to know. It’s making me more centered, more aware, more compassionate, and considerate of others.” Again, how is that not going to help your organization? So, I think that that’s an area, for sure, that people who are in positions of authority or influence could encourage their organizations in, in providing that to their people. So, whole health consideration, for sure.
John Baldino: [00:47:55] I’d also say that we talked about flexibility. You mentioned it, Jaime, too, just a little while ago as well. Well, what does flexibility mean? And, again, when I talked about this before, I have staff even that are like, “I don’t want to work from home. Can I work in the office every day? I know you tell me I can work hybrid. Can I work in there every day? Because I bore a bunch of children that I love, but I’d rather not be with them 24/7 all the time. I think it’s healthy for me to have a little bit of a break, be with some adults.”
John Baldino: [00:48:28] My wife, we have three awesome young adults. They are in college and older and they’re great. My kids are all two years apart, so it was a little crazy in the early years. And my wife, we were fortunate enough that she wanted to stay home, especially with the third one, to stay home with all three. But she took two days a week to go work at Ann Taylor. She’s been there almost 18 years, I think at this point. Because she said to me, “I just want to talk to some other adults. I don’t want to be in the house.” That’s fair.
John Baldino: [00:49:06] So, how do we have some flexibility in the way in which we give people opportunities, either hybrid work, work from home, those considerations? How do we give people flexibility even in hours? Could they be full time? Does it have to be 9:00 to 5:00? Oh, my goodness. What if we did 12:00 to 8:00? Oh, no. That’s crazy. No. Actually, it’s not. For some of our organizations that are listening, your global or at the very least, your coast to coast. 8:00 p.m. on the East Coast is 5:00 p.m. on the West Coast. So, why? Let them work 12:00 to 8:00 and cover West Coast shift. Who cares? Give people opportunity and flexibility in that way. You’d be surprised how well that gets responded to.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:49:50] Yeah. Well, some people aren’t morning people. They don’t want to get up early.
John Baldino: [00:49:54] I’ve heard of them. And I will tell you the truth, I’m actually on the other side of that. I’m absolutely a morning person. I mean, I’m up at 4:30 to get to the gym. And people will look at me and say, “You’ve got something wrong with you to do that.” But I’m wired as a morning person. But come, you know, late afternoon, I got to really push myself forward because I’m crashing a bit.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:50:21] I’m a morning person too. I totally support that.
John Baldino: [00:50:25] We stand together. We’re going to stand together.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:50:27] Yes. We’re partners at the morning crew. I love it. But on the flip side, I have a husband who is a total night owl, so I totally get it. And I think creating that flexibility for employees, you know, you brought up an interesting point on our call about some people don’t want to be in that remote setting because they might be embarrassed about what comes across via their Zoom screens. And just having some kind of appreciation where the employee and understanding where that employee might be coming from because there might be something they don’t want to say in terms of why they don’t want to be in that remote world.
John Baldino: [00:51:05] And we have to remember that people didn’t buy their home or rent the apartment that they’re in thinking that they were going to have to now be on display for everybody in the office. I mean, try to remember that.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:51:18] Yeah. Absolutely. So, a couple of other areas I know we were talking about – I know we’re probably running out of time because you and I could talk for probably hours on various topics – we covered kind of the whole health of the organization and the individual and the flexibility. And then, we also talked about some tolerance for people coming into work sick. And we’re all probably starting to see that.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:51:40] You know, if you’re out shopping at the grocery store and somebody next to you starts coughing, I think we all are kind of like, “Why are you out?” But the reality is, is that, everybody has different things that they’re working through. So, how, in your opinion, is that being at work sick going to look going into this new year?
John Baldino: [00:52:03] I mean, I’ve been somebody who, even pre-pandemic, would always say to someone, “If you are sick, stay home.” There are plenty of companies that are offering personal time, sick time, that you’ve accrued or can take, so take it. That’s why it’s there. There’s nothing wonderful about you hacking up a lung in order just to be there and help to take care of it. There’s nothing wonderful about that. Go home, rest, get better, so you can be back here 100 percent. I’d rather have one day of 100 percent than two days of 50 percent. Get home and get better.
John Baldino: [00:52:38] I would also say, we also have to be thoughtful about how we force people to feel a certain way about using sick time. And I think sometimes managers are the worst when it comes to that. They make you feel badly for being sick, as if you planned on it. And always, I’ll have a manager who wants to tell me the story about someone who said they were sick and then they saw their Facebook pictures of them on the beach. And I’m like, “Listen, that’s one example. Do you want me to tell you about a hundred where people actually were really sick and needed to stay home and feel better? Let’s not make it be about the one example that you want to give me.”
John Baldino: [00:53:15] Give people the opportunity to have the freedom to use the time that they’ve earned and accrued. Be sick. Don’t work. Do you want to tell me it’s okay, “I’ll go home and I’ll log in right away.” No. Be sick and get better. Logging in at home is the same thing. You’re going to work at 50 percent. It doesn’t help me.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:53:33] Yeah. And I think your coworkers would appreciate you going home. They don’t want to catch it, even if it’s not COVID, please. So, great conversation overall. I mean, obviously, you have lots of great advice to share, lots of interesting trends that we discussed over this last year, and things that we’re looking at potentially being on the radar for 2022. If listeners wanted to get a little bit more information out of you or kind of learn more about your services, how can they get a hold of you?
John Baldino: [00:54:06] Yeah. Thank you, Jamie. Obviously, they can go to humareso.co, H-U-M-A-R-E-S-O.com. And that’ll take them right to, I would say, the bible of everything we do. I’m pretty active on social media, so please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn. Just look for John Baldino, H.R. Or Twitter, actually, is pretty active, and that is @jbalive. As in not dead but alive, @jbalive.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:54:33] Wonderful. Well, thank you so much, John, for being on our show, and for letting us celebrate you, and for sharing your great advice and information, and your predictions for 2022. We really do appreciate you as a guest and thank you so much for your time today.
John Baldino: [00:54:47] Thank you, Jamie. I appreciate it as well.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:54:50] 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’ve not already done so, make sure to subscribe so you get our most recent episodes and other great resources. You can also follow our show on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter at Workplace MVP. And if you are a workplace MVP or if you know someone who is, we want to hear from you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you all for joining us and have a great rest of your day.