Technology Today, a discussion on what is here, what is to come, and what problems we are solving for.


Lauren Jones: Okay, can you hear me? Good Lord. Okay, Wonderful. We're going to wait for some of our attendees here. We've got people trickling in and I will make sure that we start right on time. I'd love to see. Oh, thank you, Matt Dichter, please chat with us. I'm going to watch the chat while we're having this discussion.

Lauren Jones: I'm really excited for this one. So, keep the chat active if I don't see it, put it in there. If all of you would put your LinkedIn profiles in the chat so that you can connect together, we can connect with you. I will usually go back and connect with you. So let's keep the chat really active. All right.

Lauren Jones: It's 2:30 and I want to make sure that we are timely. This is the technology talk. And when we were talking about, you know, what to name technology today, and I was so excited to host this and I brought with me some amazing leaders in our industry, and I'm not going to butcher their amazing job titles.

Lauren Jones: We've got Melissa Brenner, Tim Davis and Anthony Giardina with us today, and I'm going to have them introduce themselves. But we are here to talk about what's happening today. What's to come some of the problems that we're solving for, and we want to keep it simple because we love to overcomplicate things in our industry.

Lauren Jones: And so this is let's talk tech, let's talk today. Let's talk tomorrow and let's talk. And so without further ado, Melissa, would you. A moment to introduce yourself to our fine folks here. Absolutely. 

Melissa Brenner: Hello everyone. I'm Melissa Brenner. I am the executive vice president at Eliassen Group. I oversee integration technology and security, and I'm thrilled to be here.

Lauren Jones: All the things. Wonderful. All right, Anthony, would you introduce yourself please? 

Anthony Giardina: Hi everyone. Nice to meet you. My name is Anthony Giardina. I'm the Chief Technology Officer at Mitchell Martin. I might be the shortest timer here in the staffing industry. I'm just coming up on my second year at Mitchell Martin.

Anthony Giardina: Prior to the spend, just about 15 years working with KPMG and various IT roles and happy to bring that to bear here inside of the staffing industry. 

Lauren Jones: Oh my goodness. Well, they say that once, once you're in here, we have a hard time letting it go. So are you adopted? I haven't seen the exit yet. Okay, good.

Lauren Jones: That's what we like to hear. Well, we do a really good job of moving the exit so you can't get out. We are going to trap you. All right, Tim? 

Tim Davis: Yep. Hi, I'm Tim Davis. I'm from Kavaliro, I'm VP of operations. So I handle all front office operations, basically everything our producers use to touch base with candidates and everything.

Tim Davis: Our candidates use touch base with our company. 

Lauren Jones: Okay, well, you all have very complex jobs. So what I want to do for our Watchers and listeners today is have a talk about what business problems we are solving for and how technology is a part of the conversation. It's a part of the conversation.

Lauren Jones: It's not the whole conversation. And I think that's what I find so fascinating about you all is you are technologists, but also run straight-forward with operational excellence. And those two things going hand in hand are really important. So let's and I'll start with Melissa.

Lauren Jones: What business problems are we solving for and how is technology a part of the conversation versus that on the other side? Cause we need the two to co-exist. 

Melissa Brenner: No, we absolutely do. So I think there's a few things you know, as we're seeing ships continue in the market, continuing at a rapid pace business needs to be able to adapt quickly.

Melissa Brenner: This might be in the form of changing business models in response to regulatory requirements, et cetera. So the ability for organizations to keep pace with leveraging tech and driving business value is important. So that's one piece as we know, we're operating in an environment where competition for talent is challenging.

Melissa Brenner: So how do we look to optimize the right resources, doing value, add activities while automating some activities that make sense to write while we're, while we maintain it and increase levels of personal service all the while keeping a mind on security. How do we accomplish all of this while strengthening our security posture?

Melissa Brenner: Some ways that we're focusing on this is really looking at how we're evolving our business application ecosystem, right? So we want to be supporting our strategic pools across. We have a process. We have talent solutions. We have life sciences that we have to be mindful of. So we specifically this year are really leveraging our engagement and communications platforms, enhancing our capabilities experience in those arenas, we're really leveraging the various job board options that are out there to reach all of the diverse candidates where they are leveraging automation again, for both our internal operations and some targeted activities, candidate, client facing where it makes sense.

Melissa Brenner: And then. Two more things and then I'll pass it on to Anthony and Tim also continuing our cloud journey, right? So we're well on into our cloud journey. So we're going to continue to adapt our infrastructure to be really needs based on traffic and resource usage. And then lastly, we're really looking to strengthen our information security program continually, right?

Melissa Brenner: To reduce our organizational risk. And there's a lot of Tech that goes into that. It's not just Tech, it's people, it's process, but there's definitely technology out there that's enabling us to, to move that forward. 

Lauren Jones: And would you say as a followup to this, and I'm going to ask the same of Anthony and Tim, would you say that of all of those projects, the biggest bucket is front mid back where it sounds like you've got a lot on the front?

Melissa Brenner: Yep. 

Melissa Brenner: And there's one more that I didn't mention. So BI obviously looking to change and leverage BI really. Maybe it's a buzzword, but call it zero click experience. Right? Getting the insight inline in the workflow versus let me go run a report or go elsewhere to get it. So to your question, I think there is quite a bit focused on front, but there's definitely that underpinning of, I don't know if you'd consider BI that kind of runs through right.

Melissa Brenner: All of it front, mid back and definitely keeping a keen eye on where we can automate efforts in the back office that are really value add and drive to the strategy and business value that we're trying to achieve. 

Lauren Jones: I love it. All right, Anthony. Let's hear from you. 

Anthony Giardina: Yeah. And you know, I agree with a lot of what Melissa said.

Anthony Giardina: I think I'm sure everybody who's been part of the summit here today is trying to figure out how to deal with this competitive market for talent, right? Looking for new ways to engage people make it as seamless as possible. Once they're engaged to stay engaged and re-engaged and further friends.

Anthony Giardina: And that's definitely, you know, primary for us at Mitchell Martin over the course of last year. And this year we've really taken a hard look at you know, how we, how ago, about engaging with that talent, finding new talent. We've done some experimentation with sub-brands to really drive specific niches of talent toward you know, value, add discussions to really become sticky with them.

Anthony Giardina: Instead of just being this kind of generalist type of firm we've used and taking a hard look at just every, in any type of channel to maintain that communication. You know, and I think one of the things that tried to apply you know, as Melissa commented that there's no shortage of tools out there.

Anthony Giardina: So, so although, you know, this day and age you have a lot of. A high expectation of speed and kind of implementing some of these tools and having them, you know, quote unquote, plug and play. We also tried to have tried to become more disciplined in the way that we look at them and really come up with you know, true ROI criteria to make sure and follow through on those criteria again, to his point around like KPIs and tracking through BI dashboards and whatnot to make sure that investment holds true over time.

Anthony Giardina: Because you want to make sure that we're investing in the right places and continuing to invest in the right place. Once we've made those decisions. 

Lauren Jones: I love that there are a couple of things that the two of you have said so far, and then Tim will build the song on you. Zero clicks, referrals, you know, the zero click experience, right?

Lauren Jones: Removing any type of friction. I've always said we sell time. Like how do we reduce the amount of time that a candidate or client, or quite frankly, a recruiter on your internal experience, you know, I want to talk about that. Like, how do we keep that internal experience? Just as important as what we're trying to achieve externally, but I love the fact that you used the word experimentation, because I think that it's a word that many of our viewers and listeners get afraid of is the, you know, am I going to screw up?

Lauren Jones: What am I going to break? And I, you know, I always tell my consulting clients. I'm like, we're not enemies, nobody's going to die. You know, we can try some things. As a compound question, before I get to you, Tim, tell me how you are experimenting or how you can, how could you give guidance to our viewers as to how to experiment every level in size?

Anthony Giardina: I don't know if I could touch every level inside. 

Lauren Jones: Well, okay. We'll start with yours, like your niche. How's that? 

Anthony Giardina: Yeah. So, I think the most important thing. Is to act quickly and decisively and make sure that you can make quantitative-like fact-based decisions. Right. And if the investment is small from a monetary and time perspective, then the criteria that you use in your evaluation can be shorter.

Anthony Giardina: It should always be specific, but it can be a little bit more, it could be a little bit less exhaustive in my view. 

Lauren Jones: Information-based decision because a lot of times it's really easy to get sold, right? 

Anthony Giardina: Yeah. 100%, 

Lauren Jones: 100%. And if we're doing information fact-based assessment, you know, it kind of removes the emotion because there are amazing salespeople. I'm going to give a tag to you know, all of them.

Lauren Jones: But, and it's really easy. The allure of technology is it's so sexy that it's easy to get distracted. I think. 

Anthony Giardina: Yeah. And, you know, as again, being the little bit of an outsider in the staffing industry I think you also realize that there's not, that there's a ton of technology. There's not a lot of technical depth and a lot of organizations.

Anthony Giardina: And I think some of these product companies are used to kind of playing on that event. So, you know, so, so again, like come back around to this point of like, making measured decisions and not overdoing it right. But kind of, aligning the facts that you want to understand to the investment that you're going to make will help you make the right help you dive into the right level of granularity based on that investment.

Anthony Giardina: And make a fact-based decision. Because if you can do that, then you'll deploy the right tools. Not. All the tools or some of the tools.

Lauren Jones: Yes. Lesson one from this, if your vendor can't give you ROI, right. If they can't give you quantitative qualitative ROI on leveraging their tool, we have a penalty flag. 

Anthony Giardina: Right. And I think it's important to have ROI that you can actually track, and you're not jumping through 17 hoops to get, there has to be easy for you to achieve, because if you can't see it plainly, then it's going to be hard for you to make sure that it's actually there 

Lauren Jones: 100% . Yeah, I totally agree.

Lauren Jones: All right, Tim. So what business problems are you solving for? How is technology a part of the conversation? Where are you weighted front, mid back. Tell us.

Tim Davis: Yeah. So, I mean, primarily my entire operations team focuses on making our producers as well as our employees jobs easier. The only reason we have jobs is because of the work the producers bring in and like the work that the contractors do for our clients.

Tim Davis: So while it might look heavily front office focused, a lot of this happens and either middle and back office so that no matter what tool producers leveraging to find this talent or no matter what industry the talent is going to work at that they have the same onboarding experience as well as the same ease of use.

Tim Davis: So would there being so many different job board partners and how is the talent market that we're in right now? It's kind of an old staffing saying of no recruiter recruits the same way. So being able to leverage technology to at least give every recruiter the same options as well as focus on where their strengths are and then ensuring that all of that information is getting back to our executives as well as the onboarding process is the same, no matter if you're a fully cleared individual working government roles or down to admin or healthcare, they all have the same experience.

Tim Davis: Feel like they're part of a company and move that way. And then hopefully bring that data back into making data driven decisions on where we go for more of our partnerships and where we look to automate. 

Lauren Jones: I love this. And so you said a couple of key things that all on in on, and that's the job of all of this is removing impediments and enabling the end user, whether the end user is internal as somebody that's processing payroll, or the end user is external, be it a client portal, a candidate portal, how are we enabling them to make it easier to do business with us?

Lauren Jones: And technology is supposed to remove all of the impediments that we have in business every day. I think it's supposed to make our lives easier. If I were going to, as a recruiter, check in with 27, you know, people, I would love to automate that part. So I don't have to manually do it. Right. I love your philosophy on this.

Lauren Jones: And so I heard you say you're, it sounds like front office, but it's more mid and back office because it's enabling the front. 

Tim Davis: Correct. Yeah. I mean, we focus on enabling, I think there are certain areas where clients and contractors fully expect an automated process. But then there's areas where they expect a real person.

Tim Davis: So you have to kind of walk the fine line of where you're not automating so many things with technology three, lose that personal touch. 

Lauren Jones: Yeah. And I think that's the fear. A lot of the fear that when I'm having consulting conversations or we're doing discoveries is, you know, the important, the importance of whatever it is that we buy, reflecting the business, you know, how do you buy something that reflects the culture of a business and that's through what I think Melissa see, that's the beautiful dance of process and people and technology.

Lauren Jones: All right. So let's talk about some of the big picture considerations we've talked about business imperatives versus IT imperatives. When you're considering a digital transformation, how do you prioritize those? Because there is this, you know, shiny new toy or this fear of getting left behind.

Lauren Jones: So when you're talking about digital transformation, business imperative, versus it imperative, and Melissa I'll come back to you. 

Melissa Brenner: Sure. So it needs to be squarely aligned with your strategic objectives, right? So, there's a lot of shiny toys, right? Like you said, Lauren, and it also comes back to Anthony.

Melissa Brenner: What you said about measurable you know, do your due diligence, measurable objectives, tied to strategic goals that add value. And then, you know, as you're considering that. Also consider organizational change readiness and communication around that. Right. So yes, tech changes rapidly do organizations necessarily change as rapidly, be mindful of that.

Melissa Brenner: And we touched on this already, but what is being transformed, right? Not only that the tech, but there's the process and then the people behind that. Right. So I think your question around prioritization is obviously aligned with strategic goals and the value that it delivers. 

Lauren Jones: Okay. So you said a couple of things there, right.

Lauren Jones: And readiness, communication, and really feeling out the desire to change. And believe it or not, you know, if somebody doesn't want to change their ways. And I think we see this as we go to convert data or migrate data and we see garbage data. It's because we have someone or a group of individuals that didn't, weren't feeling the change you wanted to implement.

Lauren Jones: Right. Okay. And so, our listeners here, how do we prepare them? How do you, how would you suggest, know, getting your end users ready? 

Melissa Brenner: Yeah. I think one of the biggest pieces of that is really aligning on and communicating succinctly the shared vision.

Melissa Brenner: And it starts from the top. We are doing this because it hopefully enables a strategic imperative right. In a place that matters to them right. To speak their language, put yourself in their shoes, communicate consistently from the top. 

Lauren Jones: Executive sponsorship is so important. Anthony, I see you nodding your head, so I'll let you answer this one as well.

Anthony Giardina: Yeah. You know, I think executive sponsorship is what's in it for them. Melissa hit on both of those points. I think they're key and critical. You know, in thinking about you know, evaluating the ability to absorb more change, you know, it just takes me back just a week ago. We were looking at our roadmap 20, 22. It's an ambitious roadmap.

Anthony Giardina: It's one that still didn't cover everything. And anything that we have ambition to implement from a technical perspective and really the conversation quickly went from, okay, this is what we think we can handle to what do we think our people can handle? And then we really started actually shifting things out, even further and rearranging some of the puzzle pieces to make sure that we're going to deliver that real clear message from the top down that highlights what's in it for for the group that was going to be impacted to make sure that we were really going to get the bang for our buck.

Anthony Giardina: You know, if we're going to put the time and energy into deploying a change, whether it be a business process change or a technology change. And that, that was a real Big part of our decision-making process and kind of making that plan for the next year. And some things we even, you know, we took a few projects off the list just to make sure that we had the ability to deliver and deliver well.

Lauren Jones: We have seen and I see a comment here. Thank you, Maddie. He says he's reaffirming. You know, we've seen a lot of staffing agencies make large investments in technology that doesn't get adopted. It's just wasted dollars. And I think you see, I look at it three ways. Transparency right. Making, cause people want to feel like they're a part of this change, timing and tolerance.

Lauren Jones: So, and the tolerance is a big one that I think is overlooked because, and timing is the other one that gets often overlooked because if we're at peak fulfillment part of the year, right, is that the time to implement an, a very complex, you know, new ATS or a new process or new technology or new chatbots for that route for that matter is this the right time?

Lauren Jones: And so taking into consideration, and I love the fact that you've taken a few things because you are aware and that, that transparency putting it out to your end users and really listening is such a fundamental part of all of this. This is awesome. So Tim, I'm going to throw it out to you. Yes. Anthony, were you gonna say something 

Anthony Giardina: Just quickly going to address Erin and Rob are asking about methods to Yeah, figure out what people can handle.

Anthony Giardina: And just real quick, before we turn over to Tim here, I think my advice is always balance out your quantitative and qualitative inputs. Right? So, our organization is actually very flat. So, we really pride ourselves on collaboration. So we do have a lot of touch points with you know, with our front office groups.

Anthony Giardina: But then we also really try to measure our KPIs and bring those two things together to really make the best decision as we try to project those plans going forward. 

Lauren Jones: So, so if I hear what you're saying, If you're tracking, you know, the tools and methodologies, that methodologies that you're already implementing.

Lauren Jones: And you're seeing that you're not gaining traction there through metrics and reports. Are we going to, you know, kind of pile on and look at something else? Right. So continually tracking that level of adoption is really a good test for tolerance of something new, because if they're already not adopting it, you know, we're just piling on.

Lauren Jones: Right. 

Anthony Giardina: Right. And then the qualitative part about staying in touch with people, how did they feel about it? Did they feel overwhelmed? Do they feel overworked? Are they being distracted by too many shiny things? And making sure that you really blend those two different perspectives to come up with, you know, that's enough.

Lauren Jones: I love that.Tim, do you want to expand? Yeah. 

Tim Davis: Yeah. I think business user buy-in before investment is key for anything, especially now how remote works have gotten in our industry, having business user buy-in before you actually invest in a product for people up and down in your organization.

Tim Davis: So executive buy-in is obviously a large one, but having a normal business user that's fully bought in, especially in an office location can really push your change management a long way. Cause when they, when you have people seeing someone that's in their job, doing something that's been implemented, it really makes a large business case for them to, especially if they're seeing success with it.

Tim Davis: I think a lot of times, you're be trying to fix problems with technology and you'll bring this to business users and then they'll, you'll realize that the problem you're trying to fix is not actually the real problem and that you need to reevaluate and look on while you're trying to look at, to fix so.

Tim Davis: I think if you can bring in users from executive all the way down to even entry level and get that buy-in across the organization at that. A big value add for your change management. 

Lauren Jones: I'm a huge fan of steering committees, right there. There's gotta be a balance between, you know, putting it out to the jury where it slows down the process, right?

Lauren Jones: Because to Melissa's earlier point adaptation, you know, that being, being nimble is really important. And if you put it out to jury too many people, right, it can really slow you down, but having critical groups of individuals that can help you sort of temperature check and survey and validate as points of validation.

Lauren Jones: If you know, you're putting surveys out and getting pieces of information back to a point of validation with a group where you're, you know, I love subject matter experts. Cause you get your early evangelist. there who can, know, go and preach the, preach, the gospel of this new technology and how it's supposed to be great, and what it will do for the organization.

Lauren Jones: All really key points to digital transformation. And so I want to talk, I want to have that lead us right into, and I'll start with you Tim, this time. Digital transformation versus struck, not versus but really, and structural transformation. This is overlooked as I come in as a consultant.

Lauren Jones: Right. And I look at things that haven't been business decisions that haven't been informed normally, because we haven't given thought to what resources need to go behind a specific investment or what resources do I need for ongoing success, et cetera, et cetera. So, Tim, I want to talk a little bit about digital transformation and structural transformation working in harmony to achieve your short and long term goals.

Tim Davis: Yeah, I think it's not just artistry. I think it's every industry. I think over the last five years, we were so driven by gathering as much data during the big data revolution as you can. And now we're all trying to figure out what to do with it. With the, I mean, with the amount of resumes, for instance, an applicant tracking system, what value does that actually bring you?

Tim Davis: If resumes are however old, transforming that data and to real intelligence where you can make actual decisions off of, or at least drive change, I think is a big one. So it's a huge focus for us this year of providing actual insights to all members of the organization. So instead of just having financial dashboards, having like a health of an ATS dashboard of how healthy are these resumes that we're trying to push our recruiters to go to your internal system first, how healthy are those resumes actually if they're all extremely outdated, it's not driving volume.

Tim Davis: So, I mean, they should go out to the job boards instead. So providing those types of information and then acting on that and using our partners to make systems more healthy that way, that's what we're focusing on. 

Lauren Jones: So Rob just said, great point quantity is not value usable, or you, the utility of the data is where you can derive value.

Lauren Jones: Because I think now we're at a point where Rob, you know, and Tim you're both. Right, right. We can go out and capture all of the information. Now, what the heck do we do with it? Are we going to do something valuable with it or are we going to take action? Are we going to take action because of, you know, trends that we have seen data is so powerful when leveraged appropriately, it can inform really great decisions.

Lauren Jones: You know, it can inform really great decisions. It can help enhance conversations, both with candidates and clients. I mean, it can do so much for an organization, but when it's just information for the sake of being information, it becomes overwhelming. 

Tim Davis: Yep. And I mean, I think any amount of data can be overwhelming if it's not presented the right way.

Tim Davis: So I think the days of even providing just Excel spreadsheets on financials are going to be gone because people want to be able to dive deep into data. They don't want to see, I had this much spend with this job board and we got this much revenue out of it. They want to see time to fill where those jobs came from specific industries and interaction, things like that.

Tim Davis: So those are the real data points where you can really enact change as opposed to just kind of the overarching. 

Lauren Jones: Well, Emily Burroughs said, we want to be able to connect the dots. Now I'm at the point now because I demo so much technology. Like if it doesn't have a hyperlink where I can go dig in, I, that report means nothing to me.

Lauren Jones: It's just, you know, overarching data that really does nothing. I want to be able to drive in. If I see something I want to go head first and figure out what might be happening. If it's something that's happened, you know, over and over we want insights that will allow us to do the research to make intelligent decisions 100%.

Lauren Jones: So, Anthony, I'm gonna start with you on this one, because this was an interesting question that we had in our pre discussion defining innovation. You're all three of you were like, well, what does it, innovation is different for us all. Tell me how a business, because we're all under pressure to innovate and do something new.

Lauren Jones: Our clients are pressuring us, you know, lower rates, more technology by this, by that. And so, and everybody's journeys, you know, technology journeys are different. So how do, how does an individual organization define innovation? 

Anthony Giardina: Yeah. You know, I've come to think of innovation and, you know, around digital transformation is another word.

Anthony Giardina: I come to think of it as really just critical thinking, you know, and you sit down and really analyze how much at the core of that, the strategy that you have, your strategy. The technology underlying it, the people that you have in your organization and the values that you use to lead your organization and you should be able to come up with a plausible, you know, weight forward that may be unique to you.

Anthony Giardina: It may not mean that you implement, you know, 16 new products this year, or it may not mean that you somehow implement that all elusive AI or whatever it might be. You know, the next buzzword at the top, there, it means that you're doing the right thing for your business and the stage that you're in, the size that you're at, the goals that you have.

Anthony Giardina: And I think you need to be, you need to rest assured that's okay. You know, you don't have to keep up with the Joneses. It's all the, unless the shoe, then we definitely want to keep up.

Anthony Giardina: So, that's how I would, I define innovation and I would think that. Yeah. A lot of people could, hopefully it would benefit from taking him out of that way, rather than just worrying about what the are missing on it. 

Lauren Jones: Yeah. I had a customer recently who had such a great way to put it because everybody's path is different.

Lauren Jones: I had a customer recently who wanted me to come in and do a tech stack review and they had literally just been like 90 days into the purchase of a new ATS. And I'm like why would we be doing a tech stack? Right. I mean, we, we just have this, I want to see, I want to see. Ring the towel of capability, even if it's not, you know, what your next door neighbor has, or it's not the best of the, I want to see you ring the towel of capability.

Lauren Jones: And Landon, oh, a Hi landon from headstone. He's, you innovation, isn't always about technology. It could be a process, it could be people, it could be ringing the towel of the technology that you have today and getting every morsel of goodness that you can out of it. And that is innovating in your space.

Lauren Jones: And being okay with that and being proud and evangelizing that's the important part that I think firms miss when we're doing really great things. We forget to tell the world and we forget to get people excited about that. So I think that's great. Okay. So, Tim, what are your thoughts on the definition and how a business defines innovation?

Tim Davis: Yeah, I think Anthony nailed it. And the fact that innovation does not mean developing something new, it can be simply innovating how you do something. So I think it's key when you're thinking about bringing on new technologies is if there is an actual need to do it, or you can innovate internally to simply change the process that would work better for your company, as well as maybe provide better value without having to bring on another integration partner.

Tim Davis: We hear it all the time as I almost have too many tools from producers now. So a lot of times they don't want a new tool. They just want this process to be either more seamless or at least have some clarity on it. So I always do. A big proponent of slow to buy and long to evaluate when you're looking at those types of things.

Lauren Jones: Bye. When you can build when you must, right. Chris loop from BHSF BGF BHS, B G S F says that all the time, which I think is, I mean, put that on a headstone somewhere. It's Melissa, tell me what you have to add in regards to defining innovation. Because I, again, I do think it's this beautiful combination of people and technology.

Lauren Jones: We don't have to code it to innovate. 

Melissa Brenner: So there's one, there was one definition of innovation that I really like, and it's the process of taking an idea from inception to impact, right? So that impact can be business impact, social impact, environment, whatever is relevant to you, right. And technology can spur and enable that innovation as you know, people and process, et cetera. And I think the other thing that struck me about that is it's a process, right? It's not a moment in time. So, it's a continual process and I think Anthony and Tim summed it up nicely. 

Lauren Jones: Well, the problems are always going to be there for us to solve, like, you know, much to our chagrin.

Lauren Jones: They don't go away. And I love, you know, Tim's approach to patients. And we don't necessarily, you know, some of these are business imperative that we, you know, have to get these solved because they're costing money or what have you. Those are the things that are closest. I always say, look at the things that are closest to the dollar when you're prioritizing your projects.

Lauren Jones: I love this, you know, be where you're at approach to innovation. And I think it should, to all of our Watchers and listeners, it should remove a little bit of the pressure. This is the US saying you can innovate in your space and not go out and spend a good jillion dollars on technology. You can take what you have and make the most of it and still be an innovator.

Lauren Jones: So now let's talk a little bit about the future, which, you know, I'm like, you know, fat kid with a cupcake. And when we're talking about all the shiny new toys out there, you know, it's kind of what I do for a living as Liz looking at all of this and determining, you know, does it have legs, what problems and I'll come back to you, Melissa.

Lauren Jones: First, what problems will we be solving for in the future and the why behind that? 

Melissa Brenner: So one of the things I think we need to think about is how we are effectively. Using emerging tech to augment and actually improve business in a careful way. Right? How are we doing that in light of our employees, our candidates, our clients responsibly and then how do we continue to effectively adapt technology organizational skills?

Melissa Brenner: How do we do that and keep those in sync, right. Maybe it's not as much a tech problem as it is, you know, just a larger adaptation question. But that's how I think about it when you ask me that, 

Lauren Jones: okay. I love that Tim, let's go to you. What problems will we be solving for in the future and why?

Tim Davis: I think, I don't know if the remote work is ever going to end. I think there's a. You can say pandemic, post pandemic, pre pandemic. But I think the vast amount of companies have seen a value and allowing remote work for certain employees. So I think what we're going to look to adapt is still the ability to create mentors and mentees and all the sectors of business in a remote environment.

Tim Davis: So I think there's been leaps and bounds that have been taken just in the last two years of the ability to still work as a team while in separate sectors. But I think there's a lot of improvements that can be made there as well. And with that the security needs that are going to come up from there.

Tim Davis: We, I mean, there's people working from RVs driving around the world and things like that. So when you're talking about data security, how you and look at those types of things and act on them 

Lauren Jones: okay. I love what I'm solving for. Yeah, the security is a big one. If you're working in your RV, I applaud you.

Lauren Jones: I do too. So we've got to pay attention to that. So, Anthony, what are we going to be? What problems are we solving for in the future and why? 

Anthony Giardina: So maybe just to pick one out that hasn't been mentioned you know, I think the whole transition into more of a social kind of like open distributed, like ownership of candidates as one of the things that's going to be.

Anthony Giardina: I think I want to think, I want to say not groundbreaking, cause I think we're doing, we're all using LinkedIn heavily, but like really relying on that as our repository for all the people in the world. Right. That there's still a little bit of a possessive nature to candidate pools, but really in the future, we're going to have to be completely dependent on the same one.

Anthony Giardina: And completely dependent on the people, on people, the candidates out there to provide their updates and use that real time kind of just in time information to target our communications that I think will disrupt some of that possessiveness that we've had over pools historically. And force us to think differently about the way that we engage and the way that we really compete with each other.

Anthony Giardina: For that talent

Lauren Jones: I totally, I agree with all of these things. I think that the experience that we create is going to create the brand loyalty that we need because direct sourcing, you know, which Candidately help, allows us to create transparency between, you know, the client and the candidate and creating these direct sourcing pools.

Lauren Jones: And it's really about right to represent. We are, you know, we need to. I don't think the talent, this talent war isn't going to stop. It's not a great resignation. It's the great migration where people are leaving companies that they don't trust any longer. You know, a lot of trust was lost in big corporations when the pandemic hit.

Lauren Jones: And so how do we rebuild that trust? And that's through brand loyalty and experience and repetition removing all of those impediments, all of the things along the way that we've talked about. But diversity, equity and inclusion. I haven't been to a conference to, or to a session today that hasn't talked about D and I and having it coupled with technology.

Lauren Jones: And I did not prepare any of you for this conversation, if it is this question. So I really just want to know, you know, are you looking at ways to solve for. It's remote work has changed. The conversation that we're having, you know, with candidates direct source is changing that relationship and the possessiveness that we've had over candidates, and it's all interconnected and now diversity equity inclusion, and people feeling connectedness and belonging and all of those things, all of these softer words that we really haven't brought into the workplace and so long.

Lauren Jones: So how is your, how are your forms preparing for those conversations? And I know it's all very new, but I would be interested if there was anything you could share with the groups on how you're beginning to have those conversations or preparing to have, you know, unbiased search conversations, technologies enter in your tech stack, anyone and all that the first time.

Lauren Jones: Yeah. 

Melissa Brenner: I'd be happy to talk about that just because it is something that we are conversing about a lot. We actually have a strategic partnership amongst, you know, with our HR and other groups to understand, well, how can technology enable this as one of our strategic priorities? So the conversations, you know, range from job boards that are reaching the right folks to ensuring that job postings are written in the most appropriate way.

Melissa Brenner: So we're actually developing a strategy to continue and continue to do so in regards to how tech can support these specifically? And let's put some measurable objectives around that package that like we would any other goals right and support

Lauren Jones: Any other initiative. We would put structure around it, goals around it and focus around it.

Lauren Jones: I think that's what is most important is, know, a goal without a plan is. Just air. Right. And so I think you're absolutely right. Putting some structure around how we will do better, be better and leverage partners. I heard of a few today. Optimal Eightfold has unbiased, you know, unbiased search, Rob been, got some cool things going on with diversity boards and distribution.

Lauren Jones: There, it's about getting informed. I think that's the first step. And I think you're taking the initial steps to get informed and find out what your options are and how you create some structure, formality and guidance around it. And there are experts like Ginnette Harvey out there. That can help with that.

Lauren Jones: She runs Harper & Gray I've you haven't heard of Ginnette. 

Melissa Brenner: Yeah. And I would say just in closing and I'll pass it to you, Anthony, is that, know, this is not new, but increasing the focus, making sure that there are objectives every year, right. That are being met. And it's not just a, okay.

Melissa Brenner: We did that now. We're done. It is crucially important 

Lauren Jones: We're going to say something. 

Anthony Giardina: Good. 

Tim Davis: I think if you start just looking at it, not only as a value add for your company, but also for your clients I think we've always kind of thought it was a bit strange with cavaliers being an MBE that they always were like, well, this is great.

Tim Davis: You can help out our diversity spend, but then we never had a conversation or about the diversity of contractors that were providing them at the same time. So, I think you can almost look at it as a consulting nature for your clients as well as bringing a more diverse skill set and type of person to the workplace at the same time.

Lauren Jones: It's such a value, add Anthony, anything to add? 

Anthony Giardina: Yeah, I mean, I think it's just a, it's a business imperative these days. Right. So if it's not part of your you know, of your business culture, whether you're thinking about building your own company or helping your clients build theirs you know, you're missing part of the picture, right?

Anthony Giardina: So, dad can't disagree with anything. Any other comments here? I think it's just a matter of making sure that it's prioritized and all the discussions that you have around, you know, pulling talent around, you know, for yourself or for your candidates or for your clients.

Lauren Jones: Agreed. Agreed.

Lauren Jones: All right. Focus. If you focus on it, it will happen. All right. So, we've got just a couple more questions and then I want to throw it out. To the listener. So listeners, if you would start putting your questions together, I want to be able to spend the last 10 minutes with questions and Scott had a great comment.

Lauren Jones: I believe the key to maintaining employees this year will be a showing of appreciation for the loyalty that employees have displayed over the years, otherwise many will leave for more money and benefits. I agreed. We've sort of commoditized, large employers and what's going to make the differences where people feel valued and connected.

Lauren Jones: I think we're going here. One of my predictions for the future before we move on is community. And I think you're going to hear that word community, how we create pockets of community in healthcare, how do we connect nurses so that, you know, if they are disparate and they are remote with.

Lauren Jones: Know, create connective tissue because we are all remote. And so one of my predictions is this real focus on creating online communities within our little worlds, we didn't even touch on demand and consumer behavior coming into the workplace. But for another technology discussion, I don't want to, I don't want to miss out on this, a couple of these, the white noise.

Lauren Jones: We touched on it early on. We've got over $7 billion in investment money being thrown at HR tech. I mean, we have tripled. So our investment in this, so clearly there are problems to be solved for, and we and we're seeing that through loads and loads of investment. And so I think one of the things that seems daunting to many business owners, large and small, isn't, you know, anything that enterprises are immune to, because of their size is this white noise.

Lauren Jones: How do you Wade through the thousands and thousands of technologies that are out there saying that they can solve a specific problem? We named a couple things like measurable return. But really, you know, I did a session at staffing world and there was a guy there who had done like 200 demos and I was like, how much time?

Lauren Jones: No 67 demos. I've done over 200. 67 demos. To me, it seemed like a lot for one individual whose core focus and job was not that. And so how do we avoid the white noise? 

Tim Davis: I think. Picking actual problems. So first identify your critical problems that you have problems, actual problems instead of trying to solve for things that might not even be a problem.

Tim Davis: I think as I think the staffing world has become a lot more open in the last five years. There's a lot of people you can bounce ideas off of as well. And maybe being part of this panel obviously is great because a lot of things that I'm trying to solve either another company has solved for, or is it the same process?

Tim Davis: So there's always people out there that you can definitely bounce ideas off of there's forums and things like that at the same time. And I think just not focusing on specific trends either. I don't know how many people told me I needed an automated call bot that was going to screen my candidates before my recruiters got to them about three years ago.

Tim Davis: And then probably didn't expect that recruiters were going to get this many phone calls. So, be aware of trends, but don't follow them. I guess 

Lauren Jones: Don't be consumed by them or destroy, you know, I think the distraction picks real problems and picks problems that are hurting your business. I'll further pick problems that are affecting your business, and those are the ones that we need to tackle.

Lauren Jones: Those are gonna be the ones that are closest to the dollar. I think. Anthony, what do you say? 

Anthony Giardina: Agree a hundred percent you know, again, being this, like I'm a little bit of an outsider or newbie in the industry. The thing that stands out to me is the aggressive nature of something like the marketing that goes on.

Anthony Giardina: And yeah you know, and I think I think as a whole, we need to. A little bit more chutzpah, that's a technical term. And, you know, to maybe curtail some of that, because it, just, to me, it feels like, like it's like a rampant marketing blitz that each individual visual company will put on.

Anthony Giardina: And they obviously haven't gotten the message that's not acceptable and that's not like a good way of doing business to get people's attention and to actually, you know, benefit their customers. So I think a little bit more of that message is going back. And I think some of the technical depth, if that can increase, I think that that pushback would happen.

Anthony Giardina: And you know, I think there would be a better chance to get more tangible and pointed solutions that are actually feasible. 

Lauren Jones: I agree, Melissa would say. Yeah. 

Melissa Brenner: Yeah. Mean, I think we've touched on all of them. You mentioned community and Tim, I think you spoke to it to use your community, do your due diligence, tie it to strategic goals, measure ROI and avoid the shiny objects.

Lauren Jones: Yeah. It's difficult. I mean, there, when you think about the amount of data, I think I've given this statistic before there are 60 trillion points of communication going out at any given point to any end-user who's got a mobile device, right? So when you think about the amount of distraction and the pace and frequency with which it gets put in front of every end user, which are buyers and leaders and executives.

Lauren Jones: It can be so overwhelming to make your way through it. And I think, you know, a couple of the things, you know, the strategic imperative, pick the PR pick an actual problem, not things you think you might have a problem with, or, Hey, I think we might have this roadblock, you know, certainly you want to be anticipatory.

Lauren Jones: We want to anticipate some of the issues that might be coming, but not to the detriment of the current business. And I think therein lies the balance of innovation and change management, which is our last topic, the adapting and adopting and change management. So, you know, we've talked about what we're challenged with, how we're innovating, how we define it.

Lauren Jones: And we've talked a little bit about the future Alexa where's my resume, Alexa, update my resume. Alexa, apply for that job. Hey Siri. You know, I see a lot of things happening in the voice command in the future that, and there's so much going on with blockchain and it's all really exciting, but we have to do so we got to walk before we run.

Lauren Jones: And I think that, you know, the art of distraction going on right now is very persuasive and pervasive and we have to avoid that. And so let's talk a little lastly about that adopting and the whole change management process. There's been a lot written about change management especially during the pandemic.

Lauren Jones: And so how are you ensuring, and I, we answered a little bit of it through transparency, but. How are you ensuring that, you know, you have that adaptiveness and that adoption that we need to get the ROI after all of this discussion of, you know, the thought process behind implementing technology and all of that.

Lauren Jones: Now, how the heck are the farms, are we going to actually have them use it? That's talk a little bit about change management and not adapting and adopting and Anthony you're right in the middle. So I'll talk. I'll ask you first. 

Anthony Giardina: Sure. You know, I think I always like to have you know, a consistent cadence with end users starting early in the process.

Anthony Giardina: I think Tim said it well earlier about you know, what was it evaluated? Slow. And then I think you need to bring your end-users in at that point, make sure that message is consistent and reiterated and then carry that out, you know, through your implementation and make sure that you still have those consistent points to reinforce.

Anthony Giardina: You know, the expected results and to collect feedback and calibrate based upon it well into, you know, deployment, you can't just, there's no set it and forget it. Like you actually have to go through those steps and make sure that you've got those communication paths open. So I think that is consistent communication.

Anthony Giardina: Long as humanly possible, I think is the, is one of the keys to making sure that you're successful. 

Lauren Jones: And Emily Burroughs here says they went through proces . I think it is which there, there are change management. The point of that is to get your experts involved. If you don't feel like you have what you need to, you know, implement or carry change, change management through the organization, you don't have the resources.

Lauren Jones: That's a structural transformation. We're talking about getting the right people involved, getting out, getting outsiders involved, right? Get your experts, your consultants in there to help with those types of things. Melissa, what say you and thinking, Anthony, what say you about adopting and adapting and change management.

Melissa Brenner: Yeah, I think I'm echoing a little bit, Anthony, your thought, we always develop a very comprehensive communications strategy in alignment with our business users then involve our business users. Right. And it's probably one of the earliest things we do in any one of our initiatives. And probably I'd say arguably the most important clearly involving SMEEs right in that, because the message comes from those that are going to use it, not from the IT department, right.

Melissa Brenner: Like use this. And so I think those are really critical. And then we talked a little bit about, you know, understanding your capacity for change and making sure that you measure that and are aware of it. It's critical. So I think we've touched on those major things and that's where I put my focus as communication and planning.

Lauren Jones: Yes, Tim, anything to add? 

Tim Davis: I think we kind of hit on it. I think having them involved early in the communication process is obviously the biggest part. Being honest about the timeline for integration too. So if you have a timeline of like, we need feedback by the state on this, so we can actually change this without having to write modifications to this beautiful or when patient plan and our partners gave us.

Tim Davis: And I saw Matt said two things that can work seamlessly with all of your other software systems. So not trying to add onto your tech. I like the word tech stack because the higher the stack gets it scares me. I'd prefer all my tech to not be stacked on top of each other, but kind of together as one little booklet there.

Tim Davis: And I don't think it can have enough champions. We always really look at the pain of new integrations as also an opportunity for leadership evaluation. It's amazing how many leaders we've been able to evaluate just by making them champions of new software and seeing how they've led people.

Tim Davis: Using the new tool more often. 

Lauren Jones: Yes. All of those things and you know, I have an eight week program before we ever even turn anything on. And so this idea of communication and evangelists internal, this internal marketing, and you know, I think I've said it a few times, Matt Fisher said that, you know, the ability to digitally market will be a key.

Lauren Jones: Key influence to companies that make it in the future. And you know, being able to digitally market internally is the same strength. And it sets you apart. And that marketing comes with consistent communication and transparency as to why getting them bought in, getting them, get them excited is a key component to all of it.

Lauren Jones: Okay. This has been an amazing conversation and we are up on time. So if you have questions, well, we, you missed out. We had a great conversation, Anthony, Tim, Melissa. Thank you so much. This has been phenomenal. There's one more minute for questions. If you guys have any last minute ones. But I want to thank each of you for your participation and your expertise.

Lauren Jones: I know for me this has been a wonderful conversation, so thank you so much. For joining us today and thank you to all our viewers and listeners. 

Anthony Giardina: Thank you. Thanks. 

Melissa Brenner: Thanks. Take care.


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Lauren Jones

Melissa Brenner

Anthony Giardina

Tim Davis




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