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EP 20:  Luke Whitburn, Vice President of Talent Acquisition & Workforce Management; Public Health Clinical & Data Analytics - AM LLC

Podcast Transcript

James Mackey  0:11  

Hi, and welcome to episode 20 of Talent Acquisition Trends and strategy. Today we are joined by Luke Whitburn. Luke, welcome to the show!


Luke Whitburn  0:20  

Thanks for having me today.


James Mackey  0:22  

Yes, we're pumped, and very excited to discuss the topics we've outlined. And before we jump in, do you mind telling everybody a little bit about yourself?


Luke Whitburn  0:29  

Yeah, so I've been in recruiting, talent acquisition and workforce planning for about 24 years this year. I have worked in the agency world and the corporate world. And it's been a wild ride. I'm excited to be here on your 20th episode to share. You know, that secret sauce to recruiting one on one, right?


James Mackey  0:52  

Yes, let's do it! I think we're gonna have a really fun time sharing stories and experiences. And congratulations on 25 years in talent acquisition. That's incredible!


Luke Whitburn  1:03  

It is. It's remarkable. I can remember starting out in the agency world, we were a brand new branch, we had no business, we had a shiny new desk and a lot of bells and whistles and tchotchkes to hand out. But yeah, 25 years later, wild.


James Mackey  1:24  

Let's do it. Yeah, I think that's great. One of the first topics I just want to jump into is, I would love to discuss some of the biggest shifts that you've seen in talent acquisition, and also, what has remained the same, right?  I would love to just hear that kind of like an iteration of what you've seen throughout the years, like the biggest shifts that you would you've noticed throughout the last 25 years.


Luke Whitburn  1:47  

Yeah, wait, that's a loaded question. And there are a lot of pivots that have happened in the world of work in the last 25 years. So some really interesting points that I can think of that come up are: we used to be able to increase salaries by a quarter and get a whole different echelon of people. And it was remarkable and this is the agency world. And nowadays, that would never fly, right? We're talking about way more money, larger amounts than a quarter. Some other things that come to mind are really around the options for an applicant having nowadays way more options, the remote world, you know, the question of whether we really need College in our background. And so those types of thoughts now are really changing up the recruiting space as well. So those are a couple of quick examples that I've seen of the flow and how we capture talent is incredible. 


You know, we are scraping the internet for resumes, and people are selling lots of resumes in bulk. I mean, there are so many different facets now that have changed as it pertains to both the recruiter side of things and the candidate side of things, your options, even your communication, via video or text messages, it's really changed. I can remember a time when we launched at Manpower, for example, a kiosk program where folks wouldn't even have to talk to anybody. And this is pre-2008, I'd say.

And so we had these bar tools in PCs, where people could just come in and log on and put in their information. Like they were at a coffee shop, really an interesting European concept. It never, never launched. But having Manpower's world headquarters in Wisconsin, where I'm located, we were really this testing model for a lot of their tools and look even, you know, so. But yeah, those are some thoughts that come to my mind. It's been a really interesting 25 years.


James Mackey  4:29  

Yes. And when you were at Manpower what was the database? I mean, even at K Force where I started out, just seven, or eight years ago, even the tech we had at K for seven years ago was pretty rudimentary. I mean, it was just like this really kind of messy, internally built kind of database system. And it was fine. It was good, but it wasn't like anything that you could optimize today.


Luke Whitburn  4:58  

Oh, yeah, this is a green screen, right? Let's get the green screen, this is homemade. This is a Monster Linux database, I don't know. You would have to call a corporation to get some sort of spreadsheet if you needed to pull down a database. I will say this, we did implement this incredible calling service where I could leave a voicemail for 10,000 people at once, which was really slick. And that was whoa, back in 2007. And I know I paid like a nickel a call, but it was worth it because then the phones would just ring and that's how we were in high volume.


So we were hiring 2000 some people a pop, it was really intense at our office, it was what I would call managing the chaos. But, it was that time in your life when you were getting exposed to sales, marketing, recruiting, HR, employee relations, all these different facets of business, you know, in your mid to late 20s. This is the shape for a lot of young professionals that are either wanting to get into recruiting, you know, and, and get exposed to understanding where their skill sets in the strengths are going to lie within all those business verticals.


James Mackey  6:26  

Yeah, I agree. And I'm actually very happy that I started out on the agency side. And for whatever reason, I really wanted to do sales, I wanted to get new contracts in place. I don't know why I was so driven toward that. But I just knew it, like, I started off as an intern at K Force. And I just worked really, really hard. And I was able to get converted to an SDR which I was thrilled about. And I remember our VP, the market VP was like, "Why don't you just do recruiting, and then do account management? And then once you understand all that, then you can move into sales, right? 


But I was just incredibly stubborn. I did the sales path and ultimately did the account executive role there. And I literally think it rewired my brain, just doing that type of outreach and working on the agency side and working with the account managers and really starting to systematically approach talent acquisition from a data-driven way.  I think I learned more as I went from the data side at the big agency, and then I went to work for a boutique. And that's where I learned to like the nuance and the real art of persuasion and getting buy-in and understanding people's priorities and building those relationships and, and really developing the people first approach, the big agency was more of like, just hitting numbers, right, at least that was my experience,


Luke Whitburn  7:50  

You're spot on it, you're spot on. So my first I'd say 11 years was high volume, just the grind, you know like I had mentioned, we were filling call centers 500 seats in six weeks at a call center or, you know, manufacture engine plants where we're filling 300 people in a rural town of 3000 people, where I've got to come up with some creative way to hire 300 welders. I mean, there are so many different things that you get exposed to.


Then I landed a boutique-like you're talking about where I'm dealing with only law firms and CEOs. And it's like taking everything that you're exposed to in that large agency world and it's a refinement, and you're it's almost like going from a diner to a five-star restaurant and having that expensive meal. And so you're really taking that experience to another level. And I too have been through that. I think, honestly, if HR executives or even executives in general figured out that agency folks are the best recruiters to hire internally. That would be putting the agency world out of business.


James Mackey  9:22  

Oh, yeah, I've done a few posts on that on LinkedIn. And I actually got in a little bit of trouble because some corporate recruiters that didn't have an agency background got upset. So no, I tried to be tactful about how I explained that. But, of course, there are exceptions. There are great recruiters that don't come from an agency background, of course, but I think that like if you're taking a risk and you're scaling out your talent acquisition team, I would make sure at least the first handful of people come from an agency background because I need to know they have that grind and resilience and, you know, they're able to assist, they're able to look at things from a data-driven approach. 


I know they're going to be more likely to look okay, what are the top reasons people accept our offers and one of the top reasons people decline our offers? They know how to have conversations with hiring managers to like, okay, look, we're doing it this way, we're not getting the result we need, how do I tactfully persuade the hiring managers to change the model or change the employment package or whatever it needs to happen in order to achieve the outcome they're looking for?

And, that's the hardest part like, not having the conversations and asking the right questions. I mean, that stuff that you can be scripted, it's how to pull people along with the plan. And it's not even more so candidates, it's on with your team members, like how do you get the organizational buy-in from the executive leadership team, from hiring managers to make the changes they need to make in order to actually hire top talent? I always felt like that's the hardest part of the job. 


Luke Whitburn  10:47  

And I think to your point, you know, if you get a team that's diverse and experienced, that agencies I call it scrappiness even, you know, the turning over every rock to, to find, I've shared some recruiting strategies with folks that they're like, where did you come up with it? Well, that's what you learn in the agency world. And you just honestly, I'm gonna say you just can't get that from corporate because you're slotted. You're, that's what you do. 


In the agency world, you've got that latitude to get it done. So, just peeling back the onion on this, I always inspire young professionals to start in recruiting at the agency world, because you're gonna find out real fast, if you have thick skin for rejection, for, you know, resilience in, in both your customers and your talent. I mean, there are so many different things, you could, like you said, you could end up being in sales, and never even go to the recruiting track. So, at the end of the day, if you're in the agency world, you're a counselor, your employee relations, your sales and marketing, your resume writer, your recruiter, you know, you wear all these different hats. And it's, it's, you know, always inspiring to be able to add tools to your toolbox as a young professional, and, you know, folks that I've mentored, as I mentioned before, they've gone on from the agency to either compensation, sales, and marketing, corporate recruiting, or even, you know, corporate HR and worked in one of the verticals within HR. So really, it's a nice pivot, if you can plan it out, and keep that flow going.


James Mackey  12:43  

Right. Yeah, I mean, it's also like, you know, the equivalent would be in sales, right, people starting as an SDR, it's a really hard job. But you're going to build such a strong foundation that's going to serve you even if you don't end up in sales in the future. It's just such a, I mean, developing that thick skin, even if you don't have it, at first, you will have thicker skin, maybe you never get good at that necessarily, but you're going to be a lot stronger, and a lot tougher and a lot more resilient. And you're also going to know that you can persevere through a difficult, you know, whatever challenges come up in your career, right? 


Luke Whitburn  13:16  

Yeah, you know, I think to your point, it's about creating momentum. And in recruiting, I always talk to my team about momentum. And we're faced with a challenge, whether it's one boutique hire, or it's, you know, 1000 people we need to hire at our company, and it's all about momentum. And it's the same way in sales as an SDR is, it's figuring out what you have to do each day to win. And in those small wins, make up your day and create momentum to, you know, find the top talents and turn over all the rocks and create new ways to do things. You know, those are those tidbits of wisdom that you need, you know?


James Mackey  13:59  

Sure, sure. And just the grind to like, just getting back to that. I mean, I remember a quote for us when I was in the account executive role. The expectation was, it was pretty intense. There were 100 cold calls a day. And there was no like, dialer assistant thing it was just punching in. And then I also had to do three in-person meetings a day.


Luke Whitburn  14:18  

Yeah, I can remember. I think I was pulling off 10 to 12 in-person meetings per week. And I was the leader at the branch level. And so I was just wearing multiple hats, right? So I had nine recruiters that manpower, I had a two-person team just doing direct perm placements. And then we ended up having a BDM as well. But I mean, that is all I mean, at the end of the day, you're managing multiple business units within a small company. And yeah, the expectation at the agency level is high. That's par for the job.


And that's, again, where you learn whether you're going to like sales and marketing, whether you're going to get into running payroll for the branch office, or are you just really into recruiting and loving that? Or is it a mix of all that operations, I mean, it really comes down to getting your feet wet. And that's why I've always suggested to folks, try out that agency space, you can get into a lucrative situation. If you get into the right agency, you know, if you're in Perm placement, if you're in a good, you know, I've had a lot of people ask me about getting into tech, and or getting into a boutique, you know, business vertical of recruiting, you know, there's a lot of ways to look at it. But at the end of the day, you're going to be exposed to a lot of great things. You're going to learn a lot, you're going to have multiple responsibilities. And you can really take that anywhere.


James Mackey  16:03  

Yeah, I agree with you. I agree with you, 100%. And so you were on the agency side, now I know you're running a full department, but is this in-house? Or is this agency what you currently do?


Luke Whitburn  16:18  

Corporate recruiting.


James Mackey  16:21  

And how big is your recruiting team?


Luke Whitburn  16:24  

So I've got a director, a senior team lead, and then I've got a whole gamut of recruiters, and we're all dispersed nationally. I think we've got a part-time source or two, but the model is changing. You know, traditional corporate recruiting is breaking down in these sourcing departments, even having sourcing directors now. And, it's really changing. And again, this is par for the space and world that we live in, international recruiting. I mean, there are a lot of different things that are evolving here, as time goes by.


James Mackey  17:12  

I agree with you. And I'd love to dive more into that. Before we even get even further into that, I think everybody could learn a lot from you. Can you tell us about, when you transition from the agency side to in-house, and now, running a rather large talent acquisition department? Tell us about that transition. Like, how is it different? What skill sets did you have to develop? Or maybe not develop? But it's just a shift in focus? I mean, can you talk to us a little bit about that?


Luke Whitburn  17:42  

For me, the biggest challenge, brass tacks, is staying in my lane. Because after, let's just say conservatively, 17 years of the agency world, you are in charge of so many different facets of business, that when you come into corporate, I literally was responsible for everything down to facilities, right? And so now I've had to learn to stay in my lane, right, I'm recruiting corporate. So that was the biggest pivot for me. Otherwise, I'm golden. It's awesome. You're working with the same people. You're not having to do sales. I mean, it's a breath of fresh air actually, it's not managed chaos, right? It's, this is our process, we have the opportunity to refine it, we just rolled out this new TA engagement program at our company that I created. And so that allowed us to funnel communication correctly and just a lot of exciting stuff where I can now take all these years of experience in talent and share it with the executive team and my team. And as we get further down the road here.


James Mackey  18:56  

Can you tell us more about the TAA engagement program, and funneling communication is that like, do you mean with your recruiters, or do you mean with the hiring managers, the process? 


Luke Whitburn  19:05  

So, prior to me getting to our company, engagement really was a shotgun approach, they would just reach out to talent and, and tell us what they needed. And really what I've done is soup to nuts, you got to have these checks, these boxes checked, you've got to have these things approved by the leadership in order to even talk with us to start engaging. So it's great. We've formalized, you know, a process and we're doing we're rolling out a bonus program, which is awesome, because, you know, even though we're corporate, I believe that the Talent Recruitment team should be incentivized, you know, in a bonus program, bringing that from the agency space in I think that more corporate recruiters should be incentivized on that.


James Mackey  19:55

That's an interesting topic too, because I actually have spent a lot of time thinking through that. How do you ensure the quality of hire remains Top of Mind with bonus incentive programs, right? Because on the agency side, I do think that some agency models, particularly contingent models, where people are receiving huge commissions, and they're on low base salaries and high quotas, I feel like that it incentivizes velocity and urgency for sure, which is great. But it also could potentially incentivize, just push, push, push, push, push, get somebody in the door, and hopefully, the client has the right checks and balances in place to ensure that person is the best fit. Yeah, but if they don't, then you risk, you know, higher turnover, lower quality of hire.


So when you're building out an internal talent acquisition team, How do you drive that urgency and velocity while making sure that you're getting the best-fit people converted that are actually going to add the most value to the organization and help it scale?


Luke Whitburn  20:57  

I'll tell you this, right? So when I rolled out this bonus structure, and a TA engagement program, we rolled out ss LA's service level agreements. And that is a two-way agreement from any hiring manager to my team in which comes the quality, the process, the engagement, the return on them, and the hiring managers investing in, in our process. So with that, we have guardrails on it. So that's how we're, we're managing that.


James Mackey  21:35  

Right? It comes down to process, right? I mean, it's, it's you have to have a mature process with the right checks and balances and the right clarity from hiring managers, which sometimes it's been my experience, too, that sometimes like hiring managers don't necessarily understand what makes somebody successful on their team. And so that's another very high-level talent acquisition.

So, my opinion is being able to really get to the core of what this role does, like what are the primary outcomes that need to be achieved. And how do we determine who's going to be the best fit so we don't fall into faulty assumptions about personality traits being primary drivers or something like that? It really just gets to the core, right? I mean, do you feel like your team is doing that too, with hiring managers like helping them get clear on?


Luke Whitburn  22:20  

Yeah, so we take it a step further, once we've had the TA engagement. The process is engaged, and all the checks and balances are completed. We actually go through a kickoff meeting with that hiring manager, where we have an interview where we interview that hiring manager, and we ask those tough questions. And I can tell you, over the years, you know, there, you're gonna have the top 10 Same questions every time. 


And you're right that the hiring managers, they don't know HR, they don't know employment law, they don't know a lot of those things. We've got to guide them on that through this meeting, this kickoff meeting, launch meeting for our recruitment, on their particular position, we tackle that. And we have clarity so that we don't have to rewrite the job description multiple times during the recruiting process. I've seen that happen. We dive into, you know, what that individual business unit culture looks like with that hiring manager. We look at all these different facets so that we take it a step farther than just posting and waiting in our recruitment process.


James Mackey  23:41  

Sure, sure. Well, in what type of talent, are y'all typically recruiting? Is it? Is it tech, or revenue?


Luke Whitburn  23:48  

So we're public health and some government contracts. So our hiring is very boutique. And you've got to have DoD clearances. We're working with nurses, nationally as well. So a lot of boutique hiring, and there has to be processed, there have to be checks and balances. That, you know, maybe in the agency world, you might have looked over, quite honestly. 


James Mackey  24:21  

I hear you. And just for our listeners, I just want to quickly just cover. Could you tell us about your tech stack? From ATM to sourcing tools to whatever kind of communication channels I mean, what is what does the tech stack look like?


Luke Whitburn  24:38  

Ah, I'm, I'm telling you, our budget is phenomenal. And it's the largest budget I've ever worked with. And that allows me the latitude to do some incredible things for recruiting. You know, we're gonna have your LinkedIn, you have integrations with iCIMS, your run-of-the-mill. But what we've got going here is account success managers on the back end of all of these contracts that want us to when they're meeting with us, they're optimizing us. They're training us. I mean, there are so many awesome things that, if we're going to be in a contract, I'm going to hold you accountable for as well. Right. So, you know, it's true, it's really true. 


You know, a lot of people don't even understand that, you know, for example, we use iCIMS. That's a robust system. But I'm telling you, it's pretty powerful. I've worked in a lot of other systems in there that, you know, the missing link for me through the years has been that static relationship as a candidate flows through the system. And if you move them, then they're suddenly lost somewhere else in the system. While iCIMS really has everything we need. And quite honestly, it is integrated into all of our platforms, which allows just point and click and tagging. It's just incredible, actually.


James Mackey  26:13  

Did you implement iCIMS when you arrived or was it pre-existing? 


Luke Whitburn  26:16  

 It was there. Yep. Okay. But we've leveled up, we've been really working with our success managers, training and optimization, and just you name it, we're really working on that.


James Mackey  26:33  

In my opinion, just this is an oversimplification, but it just helps organize my thoughts on ATS. To me, there are like two types, right? You have more of an SMB solution that's going to work. You know, workflows are going to be kind of nice out of the box, it's not going to really require a lot of implementation. But it's going to be lacking when it comes to your reporting, scalability, integrations, and things of that nature. And then you have the robust like more so enterprise tools that are going to have great integrations and ROI, the right reporting, and the right kind of data integrity and checks and balances, and even D&I can be implemented, all sorts of different things can be associated directly with the ATS.


Luke Whitburn  27:16  

I was just gonna say you're right, there are limitations, right? And I've worked in some small SMB type ATS systems. I think, honestly, if you wanted my opinion on it, I love the fact that we can have an ATS system integrated with payroll, right? And there's so much communication with payroll, onboarding, and the ATS itself from a candidate flow, I have found through the years that if we can have a system that talks in works or are part of the payroll system, it helps out so much


James Mackey  27:53  

iCIMS integrates with your payroll system? 


Luke Whitburn  27:55



James Mackey 27:58

And which is the payroll system? 


Luke Whitburn 27:59



James Mackey 28: 03

ADP, okay. So when somebody is moving to a higher status, it automatically transfers the data and ADP. 


Luke Whitburn  28:07  

Yeah, you can even have onboarding as part of it through iCIMS.


James Mackey  28:12  

So the onboarding live in iCIMS or live in ADP?


Luke Whitburn  28:15  

You can do either. That's what's pretty slick about it.


James Mackey  28:19  

That is cool. What do you prefer? On the iCIMS side or on the ADP side?


Luke Whitburn  28:26  

Personally, I would love to see it and we're talking about it, I'd love to see it on the ICIMS  side of things. Just because when you think about it, logically, you're onboarding somebody, you've put them through the iCIMS process and the ATS system, you would think that would be the next step. So right now it lives in ADP, but it would be great to be on the ICIMS  inside.


James Mackey  28:47  

Do you use Greenhouse? This is very common in tech and growth stage companies, and startups' growth stage competencies, and I really love it. I mean, we use it as our internal tool and it's also what we've implemented and optimized for probably a dozen clients at this point in time. They have an onboarding feature that we haven't paid for. I actually haven't used it. I'm curious to try it one day. I haven't gotten around to it but I am starting to see a bit of a trend there.


Luke Whitburn  29:14  

Yeah, the Greenhouse is great. I love it. I've worked in and around it. So we have so many government contracts that we're really firm with affirmative action and that doesn't allow us to do point and click an application Okay?  So and we can get into the weeds on that at another time, but for us right now, the way we have ICIMS set up with Indeed and LinkedIn and some of these other platforms, it's really it to me it's a little bit longer process, but it fulfills our checks and balances for government compliance,


James Mackey  29:57  

Do you also work with clearance jobs? 


Luke Whitburn 29:59

No, no.


James Mackey 30:00

So are these like cleared positions where they need top secrets? 


Luke Whitburn 30:03

DOD clearance, yes. 


James Mackey 30:07

Okay. But not clearance jobs. So where do you find your best-cleared talent?  I've heard of clearance jobs. I've worked with it a little bit in the past but it is Indeed good. I've never had success with Indeed, environment really? Like any really meaningful success personally.


Luke Whitburn  30:27  

Yeah, no, I think there's validity to that. So if you don't mind, I'll pull out and peel back the onion, right? So, if you want a certain caliber or type of position, you're going to Zip recruiter, if you want another type of position, you're going to go Indeed, right? And then if you're looking for, maybe even these DoD clearance type recruits, you're gonna check out LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is really a good conduit to finding passive and current talent that are looking, and there's a lot you can do with it. I mean, we could probably have a whole podcast on things I've done in the last year on LinkedIn building databases. It's incredible what I've been doing. 


So to answer your question, over the past 25 years, you know, you're gonna get something from Monster, something from Indeed, but what I figured out is there are different types of positions. On Monster I have always seen sales folks on, Zip I've always seen a different caliber person on, and then Indeed, you know, your high volume recruiting possibly. LinkedIn, obviously it's more of a professional environment to which, you know, honestly, that's becoming even more blurred these days, as more and more people join LinkedIn.


James Mackey  31:59  

Right? I mean, it used to be like, oh, you can't hire engineers on LinkedIn or not on LinkedIn. That's not true. If I talk to a VP of engineering, they're like, I'm never on LinkedIn. Like, okay, maybe you're not, but like we staff 90% of our engineering and product roll through outbound on LinkedIn. Yeah, there are obviously different tools. 


Luke Whitburn  32:18  

You're exactly right. I mean, I think the upside of LinkedIn is, you know, again, we could probably have a whole podcast on LinkedIn, but there are so many incredible facets to not only communicating but talent, types of talent on LinkedIn. You know, that's just continuing to evolve. It's quite remarkable.


James Mackey  32:45  

Right? I totally agree. And,  you're right, we're gonna have to do another podcast. We're coming up on time, I'd say we go for like, another five minutes. And  I want to touch on the last topic we talked about, which is where talent should sit within an organization. My opinion and I think it aligns with yours, is that it should be its own separate function, it shouldn't roll up through HR,  or anything else, for that matter, it shouldn't roll into marketing, or I mean, it should be its own function and have a seat at the executive table. Could you explain to us why is that so important?


Luke Whitburn  33:21  

Yes, I mean, that's a delicate topic to discuss and, throughout my career, I've either reported to the CFO or CEO of the organization. And I have found that you know, alone, having that latitude allows me and the talent department to have quick decision making, right? And so, I guess what it comes down to is the fact that I believe recruiting fundamentally is selling opportunities. It's an extroverted, you know, type of personality.


HR is a strategic arm, it's come forward in the boardroom, which is great. But thinking styles and culture, maybe even is a little bit different. And that's kind of fundamentally my thought and behind why I think that. You know, we have it set up that way at our current company, the HR is my peer, and we work shoulder to shoulder but we're, our mission is very different, you know?


James Mackey  34:42  

Yes. And what I don't think works is if it's, you have talent acquisition reporting to like a VP of HR. There are some really phenomenal Chief People officers that I think can manage that properly, particularly if they have a background in talent acquisition, they're not just high-level HR, but they actually get talent acquisition. And sometimes that can be beneficial because it's like, from the employee journey perspective, transitioning from talent to onboarding, creating that seamless process and experience can be beneficial. 


But, as you said, like a lot of times, what ends up happening is, if you have a kind of like a pure kind of HR leader that doesn't understand talent, and I mean, really, their job is to protect the company. I mean, they're doing other things, too. And they're trying to create, you know, benefit programs and obviously help people but a lot of what you know, HR is doing is putting in place policy, certain employment contracts, reviewing, reviewing risk, making sure that payroll systems are set up properly, benefits are set up properly, it's a totally different focus from essentially the sales and marketing, kind of demand generation motion that you have to go through to hire top talent. 


Luke Whitburn  35:59  

It is, it's a little different. And you're spot on, I think I'll mention one thing that I've championed, and that is cross-training. And so what we've decided to do, my peer and I used to cross-train our teams in the event that we need more HR help, or we need more talent help. And years ago, corporate America had a lot of cross training going on with international presences, you know, around the world and whatnot. But on a micro level, that's, that's one initiative that we're doing. 


It's very complicated right now to retain people and find good talent. So we believe that fundamentally, having some added skills in cross-training for our toolboxes is just going to help us further, you know, develop our retention. And quite honestly, if one of my team members cross-trains and realizes they love being a generalist or employee relations specialist, I'm going to want as a business leader and a TA leader to allow them to make that pivot.


James Mackey  37:15  

Sure. And you want people with a talent background in HR. That's going to benefit talent acquisition too. Because you're going to be able, they're going to be shaping policies and thinking about these things. And it's like one final point to kind of references when it comes to retention. I am in total alignment, that we have to do everything we can to increase retention, but also at the same time, I think that some companies sometimes try a little bit too hard to fight against the current. And it's you know, tenures are decreasing. How do we become successful in that type of environment? Right?


How do HR and talent acquisition work with hiring managers to get super clear on the top three outcomes that a position needs to create? Right? How do we accelerate onboarding and ramp time at you know, better training experiences, and limiting the scope of roles to just get hyper-clear on what matters and doing those things up front? So, you know, we understand people may not stay as long but can we try to find a way to get the employee to run faster, so they're adding value to the organization faster? I think that's another kind of critical challenge that HR and talent teams have to focus on solving right now. Right? 


Luke Whitburn  38:25  

You know, and just piggybacking on that, we're in a virtual world. I mean, we've had coworkers that have never met each other, right?  Let's get real here. And that's a whole nother dynamic that we're managing. And, that has a direct correlation to the retention and, you know, performance and, and being productive in your current role. And so, it's very, very complicated right now in the world of work. And, if someone can figure it out, I don't know if there is an answer right now. There are so many moving parts to it. It's wild out there.


James Mackey  39:07  

Right. And what I love about what you just said is that it's not something that should be like, it's easy to look at. I feel like talent acquisition, a lot of executive leaders that they don't have a background in, they really kind of oversimplify and they just see it as this kind of transactional light switch, they can flip on or off whenever they're going through a hiring surge. And then they're always like, constantly frustrated why we are not getting great results. Well, your talent acquisition team has no budget, you're trying to spin it up in three weeks as opposed to proactively doing it the right way. 


Luke Whitburn  39:36  

That's one thing we luckily have. Is an outstanding budget for our TA team. And we've got a couple of people that they're just doing the data part of it and if you've got that mix of talents and duties, for us, it's worked out really.


James Mackey  40:00  

Yes, well, I'm excited to continue the conversation. We would love to have you back for part two. And we are coming up on time here. So Luke, I just wanted to say, thank you so much for joining us today and sharing your insights and experience. I've had a lot of fun talking with you.


Luke Whitburn  40:15  

You bet. I'm happy to do it anytime. Just let me know. Congratulations again on hitting your 20th episode.


James Mackey  40:23  

Yes, we're picking up some serious momentum. Our downloads are doubling month by month and it's been a tonne of fun. So we're looking forward to doing this for the long term. Yeah, thank you and for everybody tuning in. Thanks for joining us, and we'll see you next time.

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