The Talent Economy Podcast

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Can You Train Managers to Be Empathetic?

Season 2, Ep. 20

The COVID-19 pandemic not only brought about sweeping changes to the way we work, but it also offered crucial insights into what employees truly want and need from their employers. In this episode, we speak with Tracy Layney, Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer of iconic apparel company Levi Strauss & Co., about the adjustments the company has made since the pandemic when it comes to flexibility, wellness, and overall work-life fit. She shares the lessons the pandemic has taught her and why she feels strongly that these learnings shape the workplace of the future. 

Layney is responsible for Levi’s people strategy on a global scale, including recruiting, employee engagement, talent management, compensation and benefits, HR technology, and HR communications. She brings more than 20 years of experience in human resources and organization strategy to her role. 

Prior to joining the company, Layney served as Senior VP and CHRO of Shutterfly,  a leading retailer of personalized photo-based products. Before that, she spent 10 years at Gap Inc., where she held numerous HR senior leadership roles. Layney has also held positions at PwC/IBM Business Consulting Services where she worked with Fortune 500 clients in the high tech, financial services, retail, and healthcare industries. She is active in the HR thought-leader community and serves on the Board of HR People & Strategy, the executive network of the Society for Human Resource Management.

Also in this episode, Layney talks about what it was like to work in the Bay Area at the beginning of the dot-com boom and how she discovered her passion for organization strategy. She discusses how navigating the early days of the pandemic called for crisis-management skills, and how Levi’s pledged to emerge from the most tumultuous times stronger than ever. Finally, she explains why empathy is so integral to leadership, and why the company offered an artificial intelligence bootcamp to its employees.  

Some Questions Asked:

  • How did you navigate Levi’s COVID-19 response so quickly after joining the company? 
  • What are some strategies that the company is implementing to achieve a stronger, healthier, and more productive workplace?
  • Do you believe it’s possible to train people to be empathetic?

In This Episode, You Will Learn:

  • How Layney credits her experience of being laid off with helping land her current CHRO position. 
  • Why Layney believes that forgetting the lessons learned during the pandemic would be missing the opportunity of a lifetime. 
  • How Levi’s has implemented a comprehensive employee support mechanism that includes child care and access to mental health services. 

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11/7/2022

Chegg: Taking On Employees’ Education Debt

Season 2, Ep. 38
Chegg is a connected platform enabling students to learn more in less time—and at reduced costs. The company offers discounted textbooks, online tutoring, and other student services, while providing diverse employee upskilling and development opportunities. Debra Thompson is Chegg’s Chief People Officer, infusing the brand’s culture of innovation, transparency, wellness, and work/life balance throughout the company. Previously, she served as Director of Compensation, Benefits, and HR Operations at Amyris and held directorial and managerial roles at RMS, CNET Networks, and Lucent Technologies. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and personnel administration/industrial relations from California State University, East Bay.Some Questions Asked:What is Chegg’s approach to the upskilling, learning, and development of internal teams? 5:17What is the culture like at Chegg, and how do you maintain it? 11:53Can you tell us about Chegg’s partnership with the Tides Foundation? 21:54 In This Episode, You Will Learn:How Chegg offers learning opportunities for all employees, such as its Level Up initiative that includes seven different flagship management trainings, like giving and receiving feedback and behavioral interviewing, as well as its EDU for You program that gives staff money to pursue education in their personal fields of interest.That the culture at Chegg is built on openness, assumptions of positive intent from everyone, and optimal work/life balance—and that the company holds an annual culture, belonging, and diversity summit.How the brand’s philanthropic arm, Chegg.org, partners with groups to combat hunger, promote good health and well-being, deliver access to quality education and decent work opportunities, and reduce inequalities throughout the world. Links:Debra Thompson - LinkedInMichelle Labbe - LinkedInToptal - LinkedInThe Talent Economy podcast