Relationships at Work - the Employee Experience and Workplace Culture Podcast

Workforce Trends to Watch For in the Years to Come with Stacy Sherman

October 10, 2022 Russel Lolacher Episode 36
Relationships at Work - the Employee Experience and Workplace Culture Podcast
Workforce Trends to Watch For in the Years to Come with Stacy Sherman
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of Relationships at Work, Russel chats with author and employee experience leader Stacy Sherman on the latest employee experience workforce trends your organization needs to watch and plan for in the years ahead.

Stacy shares her thoughts and experience with...

  • Current trends we may or may not be aware of.
  • What is missing the mark for EX leadership and HR right now.
  • Whether organizations are ready to transform and embrace change.
  • Areas companies need to be paying attention to in the future.

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Russel Lolacher
Right here on this particular show, we have Stacy Sherman. And here is why she is awesome. She's the Vice President of Marketing agent and customer experience at live ops Inc, founder and host of the doing CX right podcast. She's a contributing writer and business advisor on Forbes communications Council diversity advancement community leader for cxpa. Wow, another acronym. Let's call this customer experience Professionals Association. And she's been a been a bunch of top this and top that list for customer experience leadership. Hello to you, Stacy.

Stacy Sherman
Hello, would you just describe I want to meet that person?

Russel Lolacher
I know, right? Well, thankfully, there's a mirror right beside you. So you can tilt your head.

Stacy Sherman
Thank you. Thank you. Good to be here.

Russel Lolacher
Really excited to talk about our topic? Because it's it's, are we planning for the future? Are we ready as organizations? Ah, question mark! But before we get into all of that, first question, what's one of your best or worst employee experiences?

Stacy Sherman
Well, I would say they go hand in hand, my best and my worst. So I would say my worst is having worked so incredibly hard to elevate my career at a company. And I really brought a lot of new ideas, new ways of doing things broke a very traditional brand into something that was of current age and, and it's all proven in numbers. And I just couldn't get out of my box. I was in an org box, I couldn't get past the box. And so it was discouraging, not to be able to move up and not have any career planning or path to help me get there. And so that was so discouraging. And it was like running in place. With that said, the lesson also for us is, there's a lot of blessings that happen also. And the blessing that I choose to focus on. One is the amazing relationships that I got out of that experience in that brand. And they're like family still members, even though I'm not there anymore. And my family member, I'll just say my daughter ended up getting an internship. And that experience for my daughter was so wonderful and gold. That to me, that made up for everything, through my daughter getting that experience that resume builder during college. So like I said, out of bad comes good and out of good comes other opportunities. And that's what life's about.

Russel Lolacher
Even though you were in an environment that didn't nurture you, that didn't move you or provide. I hate saying the ladder because we know that's not how careers work anymore. It's more of a like a jungle gym. But there wasn't a path in any other direction. So you feel stifled, you don't feel, you know, inspired, engaged, but not enough to make you so jaded that your lighting fires on the bridges as you're walking out the door that now your daughter can benefit from I think that's hugely important to understand relationships at work. Sometimes, a bad experience is circumstantial. Like there's maybe not people that are just that are shitty leaders that are being you know, malicious in not providing you that career development. But at the same time it exists, it pushes you out. But look, your daughter got an opportunity.

Stacy Sherman
She did. And it didn't come at this. After I left, it was all kind of within the same years. But regardless, you know, every job brings us, it changes us. Every job brings so much where we get to grow. And sometimes there's nowhere to grow in the organization. But we grow from the relationships and we grow from even another job. I had were not the same company where I had a boss who was so tough every time I brought him a problem with solutions. It's never okay to just give a problem. Here's all the solutions that I tried. And it would be so helpful, Mr. So-and-So, if you could take one action that can remove some obstacles, and it would really help not just me, but our team. And the answer back to me was now go figure it out. And I literally like despised this person at the time. And now I thank this person because they're after every single job, every single project, I now do that. I go figure it out. So again, we learn what to do, we learn what not to do, and all of it is an experience.

Russel Lolacher
Fair point. So speaking of experiences, we're talking about the future (cue particular sound effect here), I don't think I'll enter, I don't think I'll put one in. But you know, in your own mind, let's do a future future little radio thing. Regardless, we're going to talk about workforce trends, because the world has changed so much, even in the last few years. Some organizations are either prepared for this, or they are not prepared for this. And certainly, that was demonstrated during the COVID pandemic, was that it was a really test for leadership going, Oh, you are a crap leader. But we didn't know it until something like hugely like this, or, you know what I never knew you had it into you, wow, this is inspiring as an organization for you to embrace this. So I always find it interesting for this kind of information to be out there, and what people need to know and what they do with that information. So let's first talk about some of the trends that have happened. Rather than looking to the future more of the past of the past that's already existed. What kind of trends do you think have been the most transformative the biggest shifts, maybe in the last say, decade, that has really gotten us where we are now.

Stacy Sherman
One is the investment in resources, money, time, effort, in customer experience. Every company I now know, even small ones, are understanding even the word CX once upon a time ago, we were like what CX and I even have my brand doing CX right there, like what is CX. But now people know, even my friends know, who have nothing to do with the industry, but their understanding. And they're seeing that more. So that is a wonderful progression from people, many people that you and I know in common, all of us together are creating a movement. So that's positive.I would also say that the evolution of measuring customer experience has been evolving. And once what was once only Net Promoter Score (NPS) has now evolved to much more and digs into the why someone will or won't recommend. So there's this whole evolution of measurements that I could spend an hour on. I will say to that effect, but in a negative trend is that because people are now drinking the Kool Aid and understanding that CX is so important, and you and I know that's fueled by employees and agents and contractors and everybody part of your brand... the problem is now everybody's overusing it. And everybody, not everybody. Many people are saying, making claims that they really don't even know they're just using the buzzwords, and I caution that. Don't. Get educated. But you can't dilute What is so important. And what we've been building the momentum on.

Russel Lolacher
I think we the employee side of it, I don't think is really been that light bulb has really not gone off until the last couple of like the last five years or so. Because I mean, I would go to and I've mentioned this on the podcast before I go to conferences, customer service, customer experience conferences, and we'd have this big conversation about the customer, the customer, the customer leadership, leadership, leadership, but you bring up the employee and you get so many glazed eyes. And it'd be so much like Oh, right. Oh, those and then you'd look at the investment of resources in customers in relation to employees. And it's a joke, because these big executive types are all they see customer equals money. So that's where their eyes and attention go, not realizing they're destroying their culture, focusing on deliverables rather than leadership. And that's scared me in the last little while. Have you, have you felt that or seen that?

Stacy Sherman
Yes. And part of a significant problem that actually hasn't gone away yet is it becomes like a hot potato. So human resources, HR. There's an assumption that HR is taking care of and measuring employee experience. And it's actually they're more focused on our benefits package and the recruitment and other traditional employee relations. So when I asked the question, well, "who's capturing the voice of the employee, as we're going to create this new product development in conjunction with the customer voice?" Like all these questions I ask, and everyone's like pointing fingers and it turns into no one. Right. So unless you have a true leader at the top, who understands this, that's where the magic happens. But otherwise, everybody's pointing fingers, and a lot of times HR is the one that's the internal experience. But that's not capturing everything. No, HR is not journey mapping the employee experience the way we do with CX. So that's important.

Russel Lolacher
I liked that you pointed out to HR because that has something that's been really permeating in my brain lately going, "they do how many different things?" You expect them to do planning, everything, every Labor Relations, everything down the line. They're lawyers, they are this... their internal comms generally sucks, because it is one more thing on the 17th side of their desk. So it can never be as effective and they don't... who has time for VoE? Who has time for internal surveys, because they have their three people in their shop, because it's under resourced generally, because it's that add-on that nice to have in a lot of organizations, rather than something they invest in, because it... don't worry, the call center will have more and more people because it's about the customer. But when it comes to investing internally to the employee, oh, that's something we don't want to invest in, even though they don't realize they're investing in the organization to do that. So I love that you're mentioning HR because my heart breaks for HR professionals, because they're expected to do so much and be so effective when they're spinning so many different plates.

Stacy Sherman
I agree. And I have a lot of empathy. Also, in that regard. There's also organizations I've worked in, where I felt that HR Human Resources was the wrong title. It's it could have been in this particular career moment I had that human resource was more of a finance organization. And there was no human heart there. And I remember I went and I said, Listen, I've, I need help, I need a leg raise this one individual who's so underpaid, and is the best performer on the team. A little bit, like let's just a little bit something the price of a cup of Starbucks.And I had to go through hoops and hurdles and so much to make it happen for so small amount. And so that's why I say I felt there was no human in there was a finance organization. So I caution, or I should say the opportunity is one for CX people in companies definitely partner with your HR partner with every organization, bring it to light, show how they matter. partner on the journey, and bring the heart. I talk about heart and science of doing CX right. Well, that's part of it.

Russel Lolacher
Absolutely. And I play this little game with Nate Brown, who's been a lovely guest on the podcast, where he posts about customer experience on Twitter. And I will take his tweets and remove every CX or customer experience, and put EX and employee experience and then just share it. It's the exact same bit of content, and it works 99.9% of the time. And I wish a lot of organizations would understand that all that work and effort that they put into understanding the customer. Understanding them as people as brand personas as personalization. Why the hell are they not doing it with their own employees who want personal experiences who want to feel like their work matters? So yeah, having that human element and partnering with your Human Resources, please do they have all the human they have a lot of human skills to do a lot of the things we've just talked about. But they can't be all things to all people in an organization. That's where leaders are supposed to be stepping up. Maybe they can provide the tools. Maybe they can provide some guidance, but leaders need to lead. And that may be somewhere where it's being fallen down a little bit. So I guess my next question is, are organizations prepared for change? Because we're gonna be talking about some future trends, but as a whole, do you feel organizations are prepared for any kind of shifts? Because when things like pandemics happen, you sure need to be.

Stacy Sherman
They say yes, not all really do. And what I mean by that is I've been in organizations where they, if you picture my, if you could see my mouth, if the listeners could please see my mouth picture, the right side of my mouth, where I use the word is, we want you in our organization, you're a change agent come bring new ideas, we've got to do things differently. And then the other side of the mouth. Well, well, whoa, slow down. You're too fast, Stacy. Whoa. And I'm like, Okay, well, which Stacy do you want, because I could be either one. And that's why I say I think that there's the desire to transform. But it depends where you are, it depends on the size company, it depends on the people in the organization. Some brands will be more of the same. And others are really going to shift the workforce, shift the flexibility it offers its workers, shift to more of empathetic leadership, shift in time management, and what that means. And I also believe that, I really hope there's a trend that there's going to be more CX C-suite spots at the top, who are also going to be very connected to all the business lines, and bring that invisible thread up across the organization to take care of its people who take care of the customers. And this better world, it is hopefully going to be by the time my daughter and my son are my age. That's what I see.

Russel Lolacher
I want to sort of just take a step further on that as well. And I want to get your thoughts. So do you think at the C-suite level? If there is a chair for CX, should there not be a chair for EX? Or is that the same chair? I don't think it should be. But I'm curious what you think.

Stacy Sherman
Fabulous question. Love that. And I've never been asked that before. And I've definitely had many questions in my life. So no, CX is absolutely the client facing, the customer facing the external perspective, with the understanding that it doesn't happen without the internal engagement and empowerment. Therefore EX, AX, agent experience, which is part of my current job. And intern experience, I mean, all these have to be a partnership with individuals. And if there could be a EX focus champion at the top, that's not HR, but partners with HR, that's a beautiful state. I think we're far away from that, because we don't even have CX at the top yet. And that's that's definitely there's an ROI on that one. At the same time, as I'm speaking, as I mentioned, I own CX and AX agent experience, but it's different because the agents don't necessarily they're not employees, there's their agents separately. So independent contractor, so it's a different model. And I'm in charge of leading that experience and making sure they're valued and have the tools they need to deliver customer excellence with the team so companies can blend it. Do something have somebody focusing, I don't even care where it sits.

Russel Lolacher
Alright, Stacy, let's get into it. We're going to talk about the top trends that organizations need to look out for in the next year, in the coming years.

Stacy Sherman
I would say there's already a trend of diversity, equity, inclusion managers in companies, I'm seeing a lot of that so the trend is that's not going to stop. And therefore, we need to have closer partnerships between customer experience and those DEI departments. Because when you're creating a persona and journey map and you're developing things for people, you've got to have that in your mindset. And here's an example, where I worked, there were technicians that go out and fix elevators. And there were very, very few women in that industry. And I remember talking to one elevator technician, and she said to me, and it's a, she said to me, I'm wearing this hard hat. But I have no place to put my ponytail. It wasn't designed for my head, and even the uniform. So that's where I say, as an example, we can't design even clothing. Right, or seatbelts for a car, or I mean, there's so many examples where it was it, it was made with one kind of person in mind. So that's going to that's changing, and will continue. So buckle up and get on board with that.

Russel Lolacher
I like to that you just took it a step further. And it's not just about feeling comfortable at work, the two examples you gave were about safety. Like if we're not even keeping our own employees safe, because we have a cookie cutter, white male uniform fits everybody. It's not going to work from a safety standpoint. And I don't know about you, but I like keeping my employees safe. That's semi very important to me.

Stacy Sherman
All right, well, now you lead me to the second one, which is safety, not just physical, psychological. That is becoming a trend that I'm grateful for. Because we all know, we don't actually we don't know the impact of COVID what it did on us, we're not going to know for a while we're starting to see it, feel it from the experiences we had, but it's coming. We don't even know what to plan for what that year, two years did to us. So the psychological safety of being able to talk openly a speak up culture is going to be where people choose to stay to be, to refer.

Russel Lolacher
I hope that becomes more of a priority. I really do.

Stacy Sherman
Yes.

Russel Lolacher
Next up Stacy!

Stacy Sherman
I would see better time management, and less is more mindset. So it's easy, especially when you're excited about what you do. And when you love what you do. It's the complete opposite of quiet quitting. Where I know for myself, I love with passion, everything I put my hands on. And yet the traditional long days long meetings, et cetera, like it's changed, time has changed, especially those that work from home, it's changed. So we do have to get more efficient, we do need to use technology to help us simplify. And I think there's a lot of companies with their AI and their IoT (internet of things), and all these sophisticated technologies that are helping employees to do that. To better be efficient time management, we cannot also lose the human element. So I encourage managers to also bring people together, figure out how, because we need that we crave that but within the right time and place.

Russel Lolacher
Do you mean a trend towards we are going to get better? Or we need to prioritize this more because it's just going to keep getting busier?

Stacy Sherman
I think managers are recognizing the less is more mindset. I see even in performance objectives. It used to be ahead like eight or 10. Now it's like what are your top three or five, three to five big rocks, right? Like it's less is more mindset and managing your time to more focus. And I think technology is also enabling us to do that. So it's a shift in mindset and how we spend our time and our energy.

Russel Lolacher
Funny. I had a question. I think it was just the other day I got asked so what did you do today? I'm like, Oh, lots. What did you release? What I'm like nothing. Now I have so many things to do. My WIN is moving the needle. I didn't release finish complete nothing but the 1700 things on my plate. Uh. I just removed them just to move them a little bit further along. And it's a psychological thing. If I don't feel like I'm actually releasing anything, and I'm just spinning the wheel of moving the piece of cheese just a little bit further, I'm going to burn out, I'm going to feel like I never actually accomplished anything. Yeah, time management. Oh, please, let's get this figured out.

Stacy Sherman
Well, you said something, I want it stress very loudly. As a leader of teams, I make sure everyone must make sure they to celebrate acknowledge the milestones. Because our people are also the same is like there. There's no big announcement to make. But yet all these milestones are getting to that big, big wow. And so we as leaders, as employee, people, managers, make sure you take time out to recognize those.

Russel Lolacher
Next trend.

Stacy Sherman
I would say that we're getting way past Net Promoter NPS, it's a great place to start for companies that haven't measured customer experiences. And even employee experiences, the iNPS ratings. A lot of companies really understand the importance of effort, and sentiments,and increasing value those to gauge customer satisfaction and even future behaviors of whether people will buy again, tell others or not. So the bottom line is the measurements, the metrics are getting more sophisticated feelings matter sentiments matter. And everybody's hearing those buzzwords of frictionless. That is, that's not going away the moral friction, we can remove the pain points, and measure against that, and then work with your internal teams. That's a trend I'm a big favor of.

Russel Lolacher
I like the idea of the eNPS or iNPS, which is for anybody listening is the net promoter score for internal and for those who may not know what net promoter score is, it is asking the question, Would you recommend...I guess externally it's, Would you recommend this product/service to somebody else?" And for internal for the employee is, Would you recommend this place as a place to work on a scale from one to eight... 1 to 10! Sorry And if you're in nine and 10, it's good. And basically anything below you got to figure yourself out. I love that. But I also love that you're bringing up the fact that it is not that simple. It's a nice question. It's an important question. But there needs to the other questions. As much as the NPS, which is very much about the organization's exterior brand, that interior brand really, really matters. And I wish and hope. I love that that's a trend if we're going to get into that arena of better understanding. What did I hear the other day, the "emotional aftertaste" of the experience that they have, whether externally or internally.

Stacy Sherman
Yes, I hope, I don't know. But what we were talking about early on is with the CX leads, again, partnering closely with at this point, it's HR, there's no EX leads by itself as a role. Whereby even things like exit interviews... nobody has ever shared with me the exit interview data. That is so important. Even for CX teams to be able to help support retain. And I think we need to have that closer alignment. And with that, which is incredibly hard, but I am not giving up is in general breaking silos within companies. That to me, I encourage everyone listening. Again, not in your job description, but go break the silos. People want it but nobody's stepping up to do it and you can.

Russel Lolacher
Nothing creates better empathy within an organization than understanding what other people do, including their successes and their challenges. Because if I understood Stacey you work in another department and I barely only talk to you when you need something, or I need something, as opposed to, oh, this is why it's taking forever for her to get back to me. Because she's busy, she's got a lot on her plate, I can't believe that that got dropped on her. Because I know you as a person, I know you as the work that you have to do. So busting silos isn't just about synergy of work. It's all about humanizing the organization, I think a lot better to Oh, please more of that. Please, pretty please.

Stacy Sherman
But with anything, if you're talking about diversity, equity inclusion, if you're talking about the meld of CX and EX coming closer together, or positions that are more investments in those like all of this is, is the power of intention and us owning it. Every company I've ever worked for, yes, there's a job description. It's a moment in time. I look at every single role I have as Playdough in front of me on my desk. How am I going to mold it? How am I going to make an impact? Nobody's going to tell you how to do it. And of course, in my 20s, I do it did it differently than I do now age and wisdom. But look at every opportunity no matter what job you're in, that it's really the playdough in front of you. What do you want to do with it? What do you want to create? And how do you want to rally people around something you believe in, that helps the greater good.

Russel Lolacher
Let's wrap it up. If you have one more trend, you want to share Stacy.

Stacy Sherman
The workplace - where we work, how we work, when we work. It's changed. Office Home, top of my roof...it's changed. And we need to understand that flexibility is no longer a want, it's a need. We also have to recognize and be kind to ourselves that FOMO the fear of missing out is real. And every day, the onus is on us to build connections. And it's just a different method of how we used to do it. So companies need to offer flexibility, not just as a perk, it's like table stakes, it's, you know, it's kind of like my medical benefits. Flexibility is not even a conversation to me anymore. If you don't do it, you're not going to sustain your business.

Russel Lolacher
There was an article, I want to say Microsoft, I'm probably wrong. CEO over there who basically stated big bold headlines. I don't know how to sustain an engaged culture, with everybody working remotely. And this was his defense for bringing everybody back into the office. The biggest blowback on that was you don't, you are a lazy leader who isn't basically making an effort to learn about a new way of engaging staff from what you've always done before and always want to do it because it's your safe space. So, I love the fact that we are shifted. I think it is a changing moment for a lot of leaders because this is unfamiliar to them as well. It's not what they grew up with. It's not what their parents grew up with. So it is scary.

Stacy Sherman
Yeah, it is scary and anything change is scary. At the same time, life is not in extremes. Just because I work from home doesn't mean in fact more I care about getting out there. Getting out and meeting with the team. Any anybody we interact with our brand getting out there, it's quality over quantity.

Russel Lolacher
So I want to ask, as we get near the end of this lovely conversation about the future. What are you hopeful for? What are you hopeful about these trends and the way work is shifting. Is there anything that sort of like making you excited?

Stacy Sherman
I am excited I see a trend of people over process. I see companies more focused on purpose. Yes, in business for revenue and growth. Yet, that's not the first thing everybody is saying the way it's been most of my career. It's shifting. And it's people and it's care for people. And it's not checking a box. And I, either I'm hanging around those people, so I see it more I've chosen to put that in my university environment. Or it's really happening more I'm not sure which one it is. But either way, there's a lot of companies and good brands that are doing it. So be in the right room.

Russel Lolacher
Stacy, what's one thing people can do right now to improve their relationships at work?

Stacy Sherman
Listen. Listen, two ears, one mouth. Love that saying I didn't make it up. It's true. Listen, listen, to hear not listen, trying to figure out your response. And you'll be amazed what people are saying, and you have to watch what they're saying to his body language is tremendous. In fact, I just gave this advice to a friend we were together in person at an event. And this amazing friend, whenever sitting or with people always crossed, cross the arms. And I don't want to say male female just gonna say their arms, but always crossing their arms and I was said, God, you look close minded, you look unapproachable. And yet you're the kindest, warmest, amazing person. And it was game changing because I, I watched at the event, the change in the body language. And so that's why I say listen, body language matters, watch body language and control your own because it gives a message to build relationships.

Russel Lolacher
That is Stacy Sherman. She is the vice president marketing agent and customer experience at live ops Inc. and she's the founder and host of the DoingCXRight podcast, which I am lucky enough to be a guest on very very soon. If you want all the details about Stacey, it's all in the show notes. I'll be blast and a bunch of links for Stacy in there if you want to get to know her a little bit better. Thanks, Stacy, so much for being on the show.

Stacy Sherman
Thank you