The Talent Economy Podcast

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Creating an Employee Alumni Network

Season 2, Ep. 13

Many employers understand that their employees are the key to making their businesses successful. Yet, once those workers move on, companies typically don’t keep in contact with them. Should they? In this episode, we speak with Kim Seymour, Chief People Officer of WW International Inc. (formerly Weight Watchers) and Jeff Wald, an angel investor, entrepreneur, and bestselling author, about the value of maintaining relationships with past employees and where the future of work as we know it might be headed. 

In her role, Seymour oversees all aspects of WW’s human capital plan, with a strong emphasis on talent, leadership, diversity, and organizational effectiveness. She spent the previous two decades in HR leadership roles at American Express, Home Depot, and General Electric. Seymour currently serves on the board of directors of RHR International and the board of trustees of Fisk University, a historically Black college. A graduate of both the University of Tennessee at Martin and Vanderbilt Law School, Seymour also holds an MBA from Indiana University. As an expert in business culture and talent, she is often asked to share her forward-thinking HR strategies and personal leadership philosophies with a variety of global audiences. 

Jeff Wald is the Amazon bestselling author of The End of Jobs: The Rise of On-Demand Workers and Agile Corporations, about how companies and workers reacted to the last three industrial revolutions. He is the founder of three tech companies, including WorkMarket, purchased by ADP, and Spinback, acquired by Buddy Media, now owned by Salesforce. He is also an angel investor and startup adviser. Wald serves on the board of directors at TRANSFR Inc., ModusLink, and Costar Technologies. He holds two degrees from Cornell University, and is an alumnus of Harvard Business School. In 2020, Wald announced the $10 million Future of Work Prize that will reward The End of Jobs contributor whose prediction about what the workforce will look like in 2040 proves the most accurate. 

Seymour and Wald discuss what they think will be the COVID-19 pandemic’s most lasting influences on the world of work, what shorter employee tenure means for company culture, and why we should be thinking about ex-employees as ambassadors. They also talk about why healthy employer/employee relationships depend on keeping open lines of communication and not taking things personally, and how to create team success within a hybrid work structure.

Some Questions Asked:

  • What changes have already occurred in the world of work since The End of Jobs came out last year?
  • What emerging technologies do you think will most change the world of work?
  • Is the trend toward shorter tenures a good thing? Is WW doing anything to counteract it? 
  • How do you hire employees who understand the need to be constant learners and adapters? And how do you foster that growth mindset among the employees you already have?

In This Episode, You Will Learn:

  • Why we need to rethink the system of tying benefits to current employment.  
  • About the idea of alumni labor clouds and their implications for current and former employees and employers.
  • WW’s take on how, when, and where its employees should work.

Links for Kim Seymour:

Links for Jeff Wald:

More Episodes

1/10/2022

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.Links:Tracy Layney - in FortuneTracy Layney - at Levi Strauss & Co.Tracy Layney - LinkedIn
12/7/2021

Putting Customers First Means Caring for Employees

Season 2, Ep. 19
Big companies have often treated efforts to build a cohesive corporate culture as an afterthought. More recently, however, and particularly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, leaders like Angela Santone, Senior Executive Vice President of Human Resources for AT&T, have begun to realize that cultivating a positive environment is integral to maintaining a dedicated workforce. Santone says that in order to fulfill its mission of putting customers first, AT&T focuses on caring for the employees who serve those customers, creating an inclusive culture that helps it attract and retain exceptional talent, even in the face of the Great Resignation.Santone, who oversees AT&T’s global human resources strategy, leads a team of HR experts rethinking the company’s talent development practices, total rewards and benefits programs, and culture initiatives. She was appointed to the role in 2019 after serving as Chief Administrative Officer of AT&T.Before joining AT&T, Santone served as Executive Vice President and Global Chief Human Resources Officer at Turner Broadcasting System Inc., where she led a global HR strategy. Her executive oversight included talent acquisition and retention, learning and development, employee engagement, workplace culture, wellness, corporate responsibility, diversity and inclusion, succession planning, and global security.In this episode, Santone talks about keeping employees safe during COVID-19, how her experience as a woman in the corporate world led her to implement AT&T’s generous and flexible benefits program, what she’s doing to retain employees during the Great Resignation, how to blend company cultures during a merger, and why it’s crucial to involve employees when designing culture initiatives.Some Questions Asked:How did you motivate your employees to continue showing up during the most dangerous and uncertain days of the pandemic? How did you reassure them you were doing your best to keep them safe?What are you doing to attract and retain top talent for AT&T, especially in light of the Great Resignation?What were some of the creative methods your team employed during the COVID-19 lockdown to ensure media was still being created?In This Episode, You Will Learn:Some of the family-friendly benefits that AT&T has recently introduced, and their importance to the company.What it takes to successfully consolidate workplace cultures in the event of a merger.The lesson about mobility that Santone wishes she’d learned earlier in her leadership career.LinksAngela Santone - in BloombergAngela Santone - LinkedIn
11/15/2021

Recharging as a Team

Season 2, Ep. 18
For those of us who continue to work remotely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve come to enjoy the flexibility that comes from it. But for many of us, there’s also a flip side: seemingly endless Zoom calls, lack of socializing, and an all-around feeling of burnout. In this episode, we speak with Scott Domann, Chief People Officer of Calm, the software company behind one of the leading mindfulness and meditation apps, about how the company is working hard to make sure its own employees benefit from Calm’s wellness philosophy.Domann joined Calm as the first CPO in July 2020, overseeing people, learning, development, recruitment, and operations. Domann, who holds a master’s degree in psychology and industrial organization from NYU, previously led HR teams at Honey, Netflix, Spotify, and Facebook. In his work, Domann strives to create corporate cultures founded in inclusion, creativity, and positive action, and to raise the bar for building world-class teams.In this episode, he discusses the mindfulness practices that he has picked up since he began working at Calm, why having a high emotional quotient is so important, and the tools that Calm offers to help people develop a mindful leadership style. He also shares steps that HR leaders can take to promote a culture of wellness in their companies, and how admitting, “I don’t know,” can be a powerful management tool.Some Questions Asked:What was it like to become CPO so early in the pandemic and lead people through a time of transition while you yourself were onboarding?Was this your first time working remotely?Can you tell me how Calm for Business works?In This Episode, You Will Learn:The mindfulness practices that Calm incorporates into its companywide daily routine.How Calm implemented mental health days, so everyone on the team could recharge at once.How HR leaders at companies that are new to talking about mental and emotional well-being can start the conversation.Links:Scott Domann - LinkedInCalm