Welcome to the Terminal Value Podcast
Oct. 19, 2020

#6 COVID Dynamics for Employers and Job Seekers with Brandon Laws

#6 COVID Dynamics for Employers and Job Seekers with Brandon Laws

Doug and Brandon spoke about the impacts that COVID and the related lockdowns have had on employers and job seekers. They also explore what can be done by leaders to ensure their companies recover into a bright future.

COVID has certainly been the watershed event of this year. The impacts to the economy and people's mental health are all but certain to persist for years or decades.

Learn more at https://www.brandonlaws.com

Doug's business specializes in partnering with companies and non-profits to create value and capture cost savings without layoffs to fund growth and strengthen financial results.

You can find out more at www.TerminalValue.biz

You can find the audio podcast feed at www.TerminalValuePodcast.com

You can find the video podcast feed at www.youtube.com/channel/UCV5a4QbT-dXhpgb-8HJHdGg




Welcome to the terminal value Podcast where each episode provides in depth insight about the long term value of companies and ideas in our current world. Your host for this podcast is Doug Utberg, the founder and principal consultant for Business of Life, LLC.

Doug: Okay, I'd like to welcome Brandon Laws to the show today. Brandon is actually the Senior Director of Marketing. That senior part is really important. 

Brandon: So Important.

Doug: It's so important.

Brandon: Don't forget

Doug: For the viewers at home, Brandon, I have known each other for a really, really long time. I originally got him into into authors like Tony Robbins and Napoleon Hill, and, you know, got them turn them into econ dork, just like me.

Brandon: Yes.

Doug: Brandon and I are here to talk about is the dynamics of COVID for both job seekers and employers, because it's really kind of throwing everybody's life into a tornado.

Brandon: Yes.

Doug: And I think a lot of people are kind of grasping trying to figure out what to do. So Brandon, can I take it away.

Brandon: Well, I appreciate you having me on. Glad to be on your, your podcast. I I've been working in the HR space for 12 years now in a marketing role.

Doug: It’s been that long?

Brandon: It's been well October's 12 years. Yeah, I started in 2008, when, when everything was kind of hitting the fan, with the Great Recession and so.

Doug: I said everything hit the fan. 

Brandon: Right, right. And then and then it's happening again, and I'm sort of seeing this play out in more of a senior role, like, I'm looking at it from what's important to employers right now, what's important to employees.

Doug: Yeah.

Brandon: And we're trying to kind of bridge that gap, because it's really chaotic. Employers are scared employees don't know if they're gonna have jobs. It's, it's an interesting time right now, to say the least. 

Doug: Well I mean yeah, let's start from the employer perspective. Because, yeah, because of course, right. You know, the, I think a lot of people who listening will be will be employees, but I don't know, a lot of people listening will be senior decision makers also. So to from an employer perspective, what are what are a lot of people seeing kind of what are they? What's going on? What are their what are the dynamics? Because, of course, it all flows downhill. Because if employers can't make it, then that means you have less employment, which we've seen.

Brandon: Right.

Doug: And you know, we're actually have to figure out how are we going to go back to getting all these people who are sitting on the sidelines to be able to do something productive?

Brandon: Yeah, I think there's a challenge for employers right now is that there's so much uncertainty, I think, when when COVID hit, gosh, it's been what Martin mid March, most employers made the decision to switch remote if they could, and then others, you know, might not have that opportunity to go remote. So they're still like trying to make it safe. So there's just so many weird dynamics that are playing out. So if you're shifting to remote, now, all of a sudden, you need to have it staff to be able to support remote work, well, then that brings up a whole different can of worms with leadership, right? Like, how do you lead people from remote, make sure they're productive and doing what they're supposed to be doing? And not like doing the dishes? You know what I mean? Like, it's so easy at home, there's so many distractions? So I think, leading people, the uncertainty of will we be able to go back to the office as we as we know, it will be forever changed? Will our expenses be? Where our are going to be? We basically going to be paying not only for remote work, but are we going to be paying for an empty office, like there's just so many things playing out, and then you have this whole legal component to. And I think that's where employers are really confused is, the states are getting involved. We're in Oregon, and it's pretty locked down. And we our kids aren't even in school. At one point you know.

Doug: And that's been amazing.

Brandon: That's been amazing. In that that's a whole other dynamic, too. It's like, okay, and I'm working. But yet, then you have kids to worry about and you're trying to do home schooling. Right. So I think for on the employer side, there's so much to think about, I mean, they just want to keep their doors open and stay profitable.

Doug: Exactly.

Brandon: And, and the employees are worried as well, they want to make sure they have a job to come to. And yes, there's a lot playing out right now.

Doug: And I mean, it's and I just keep thinking, you know, just the level of anxiety that everybody's carrying around, you know, because I know that every now and then somebody I know will will say or do something just really outlandish. And as much as possible. I try not to react because I'm like, okay, just for the amount of anxiety that's in everybody's heads.

Brandon: Right.

Doug: You figure at least once or twice per month, you're going to lash out in some completely irrational way for something that is not meaningful at all. And that's really just normal for the amount of just uncertainty and anxiety that's swirling around.

Brandon: Yeah, and I'm glad you brought that up too, because I think one thing that employers if they're not already worried about, but they will worry about long term is the health of their, their people. 

Doug: Yeah.

Brandon: So you need a happy and healthy workforce, in order to be productive to make profit, it all goes downstream. But now you have this weird dynamic where you're stuck in your house. And there's nothing to really look forward to. And so the mental health of your people is something to worry about. So I think you're gonna see a lot kind of play out in the next six months to a year.

Doug: Yeah.

Brandon: About employers getting really involved in the mental health of their people. So.

Doug: Well, I mean, I think that's, you know, I know this, you and I have had this conversation before.

Brandon: Yeah.

Doug: But I think that's actually something that's really long overdue and coming is that, you know, there's, there's kind of been in this mindset that, okay, you know, your work, your work, and your wife's your wife, and the two don't have anything to do with one another.

Brandon: Those are gone.

Doug: Yeah, those days are gone. And so I think that if you're gonna, if you're gonna have a productive workforce, that's able to get things done, and even a reasonable level, you're gonna have to really start looking after people's you  know the larger context of their lives? Otherwise, they're just gonna, their mental health just gonna start going downhill and.

Brandon: Right.

Doug: I got, yeah, you know, you might get them to send some emails or you log into a couple of meetings, but you're not going to get their best.

Brandon: No, you're not well, and the other thing I always think about when it comes to workplaces is if you have a good culture and great team engagement.

Doug: Yeah.

Brandon: I mean, the more you work on that, the happier your people are going to be that kind of friends at work, the more productive they have good communication, well, now you go remote, and this team dynamics are sort of split in half. 

Doug: Yeah.

Brandon: And so I worry about that, too, is like how do you create engagement in the workplace? It's, it's challenging right now.

Doug: Yeah, no, totally, totally. All right. Well, hey, let's let's flip the script and talk.

Brandon: Yeah.

Doug: About this from an employer employee perspective, because, you know, a lot of employees are probably just utterly terrified that they're going to lose their jobs. And for good reason, in a lot of cases.

Brandon: Yeah. 

Doug: Cuz it's like, you're even if you're a senior person, even if you have a, quote, guaranteed, guaranteed job, I can guarantee you that if your company unit capacity, whatever, you lose money for long enough, there's nobody's jobs are guaranteed. I don't care what the union contract says. 

Brandon: You have to. I think there's a lot of anxiety around employees right now. Because I think they're having conversations with either their managers, or even maybe senior leaders are coming out and saying, hey, look, here's where we're at from a financial standpoint. And I think nowadays, employers have to be transparent about that stuff.

Doug: Yeah.

Brandon: To gain trust for their people. But I think there's a lot of anxiety for that reason, they know in six months, if things aren't changing, if there's no demand for whatever widget we're creating, or whatever service, we're providing, that there's going to be tough decisions to be made in that amount of time. And I think we have this nice buffer from the federal government, you know, with the cares act back and that, but that stuff's expired. 

Doug: Yeah.

Brandon: And I think in Oregon, we might have a little buffer with, I want to say it's like 300 a week.

Doug: Yeah.

Brandon: In addition to the unemployment. But that's not enough to live on, and so on. 

Doug: No it’s not.

Brandon: So I think if people are like, Oh, my jobs on the line, what's, what's their safety net at this point? 

Doug: Yeah. 

Brandon: So.

Doug: I think I saw an article that was actually really disturbing. I think it was something on the on the lines of three out of 10 households had burned through all their savings during COVID. 

Brandon: Wow. 

Doug: And yeah.

Brandon: That I mean, and of course, that's going to be principally Yeah, that's principally going to be weighted on your you know, your lower end of your socio demographic scale, who are households that don't tend to have a lot of savings in the first place. But still, that's a lot.

Brandon: That's a lot. And where's the recovery for that?

Doug: Yeah. 

Brandon: Like we employees? there, there's the future so much more uncertain, I think, for employees than it is for employers. 

Doug: Yeah.

Brandon: It's like, when is life gonna get back to normal? We talked about kids, like you're trying to balance those two things. I just, I want to know how all this plays out?

Doug: Well, especially because it's like, an ethic. What about somebody who's trying to start a career like I remember, you know, you dropped into your career career right at the beginning of the Great Recession? 

Brandon: Yeah.

Doug: And but like, what about somebody coming out of college? They'd be like, Okay, well, so am I going to be able to find a grown up job? Am I going to be able to do grow? Am I going to be able to start doing adulting kind of stuff like, you know, paying rent owning a house? 

Brandon: You know, I would, I would say most people wouldn't have this opinion. But I'd say coming into the workforce at a recessionary period is good learning experience. I mean, most people if they're hopefully if they To share their finances, they wouldn't have a ton of burden. 

Doug: Yeah.

Brandon: Like there's no not a lot of deaths besides school loans, which you could probably defer those or something. But there's not a lot of expenses.

Doug: People come out of school with loans. What?

Brandon:  Yeah, right. I think we I didn't. So like when I came into the workplace or the workforce in 2008, I was sort of like naïve, I didn't know really, I knew what was happening. But I wasn't like worried about for my job all the time. But you take a season person.

Doug: Yeah.

Brandon:15 years on the job or something, they got a family, they got a mortgage, they got car payments. You, you problem, some anxiety their way for sure and.

Doug: Well, that's it, you start getting people who depend on you. Because, yeah, I think I had the same story as you but I came in to the workforce in 2001. I was right when the tech wreck was happening. And I was in the technology industry. So right in the middle of the tech wreck.

Brandon: Yeah, that's an incredible time. And you were working for a tech firm at that that point.

Doug: Everything was…

Brandon: Insane. Yeah, we're and we're seeing all that play out now. So I yeah, I think, you know, just the employment dynamics, I think you're going to see employers really take a leading role they're going to get out in front.

Doug: Yeah.

Brandon: And be transparent with their people. I think if they're a good employer, they will do that. Even if it makes them a little anxious. I think it's better than people making up stories in their head. Because I think what happens is, if an employer is not out front saying, Here's where our finances are, here's what our employment statuses as far as our hiring.

Doug: Yeah.

Brandon: Or wage freezes or anything like that. They're not talking about that, employees will start making up stories in their head. And then they'll start talking with each other. And now due to social media, they can talk virtually, and it's just it's whole can of worms. So I would encourage employers who are listening just to be upfront with your people, they're adults, they can they can handle it. And if they can't.

Doug: Yeah, totally.

Brandon: Taken up individually.

Doug: Just thinking, your conversation made me think of a talk I was having with a friend of mine, who's a recruiter a couple weeks ago, where she was talking with a woman, you know, she's talking with an employer about a role they were opening. And so she asked for normal questions. You could Okay, why would somebody want to come work for you? And they go, Oh, wait, is that still a thing?

Brandon: Really?

Doug: Like wow, okay.

Brandon: Yeah.

Doug: That's one way to go with it.

Brandon: Right. Yeah. I mean, the that part, the interviewing and just the dynamics of like, why would somebody want to come work for you in the culture? Like, there's just, there's so much that's new to people.

Doug: Yeah.

Brandon: I think, on the interviewing side, on the recruiting side, like, I don't even know how you do these, these video interviews. And I mean, it's just the questions you're asking are a lot different now.

Doug: And the video interviewing It's so weird, too, because a lot of times, what you'll do is you'll get a link, and you'll have to record a response, like a two to three minute response with nobody on the other end. And so you have no clue at all, whether what you're saying is resonating. You can't read the room, you can't kind of have any back and forth, you just basically have to do a straight monologue and hope that what you're saying kind of attaches something that's, that's important.

Brandon: So they'll ask a question, and then you'll record your response. 

Doug: Yep. 

Brandon: And it goes out into Do you see the other people or?

Doug: Nope.

Brandon: Or  like whoever's interviewing you?

Doug: A lot of times yeah you but what you'll do is, and you'll see the person you'll see the person's face that pops up and asks a question. 

Brandon: Yeah.

Doug: But then you just have to record your response. And usually you have two or three shots, and then that's it. You, you send it off.

Brandon: That is, I would hope to, most employers are not doing that type of interview. I mean, this kind of interview, this is where it gets the nuances of.

Doug: Sure.

Brandon: Behavior. And if somebody's scripting a response like that, I just don't know if you're gonna get the best out of people and figure out if they're a good fit or not.

Doug: Exactly, exactly. 

Brandon: It's bizarre. It sounds like you've gone through this before.

Doug: Yes. Yeah. Well, and because yeah, I've thought, you know, I've experienced it in my wife's experience that it's just such a weird experience. 

Brandon: Yeah. Yeah. I think like, do you? I'm gonna I know you're interviewing me. But I like we're having a discussion. Do you anticipate things being just completely different going forward? Meaning like, yeah, this is a...