In this interview, we delve into Jen's journey and experiences in the field of People Operations and HR. From unexpected beginnings to the challenges faced and the tools utilized, Jen shares valuable insights and perspectives on her career path.
Why did you decide to start a career in People Operations?
It found me. It happened organically. I was in retail operations and in between jobs, recruiters from third-party agencies kept calling me, suggesting that I would be a perfect fit as a recruiter, a head hunter. However, that wasn't what I wanted to do as this was more like sales versus corporate recruiting. But it opened my mind to the field of recruiting. Then I came across a job opportunity at a company called Super Supplements. They were in the early stages of startup, having been around for 20 years but with only one store. They had decided to expand, so I applied for the position and got it. This job marked my entry into HR and people operations as I had the opportunity to define the entire recruiting and onboarding process from the ground up in a high-growth environment. From there, I started expanding my role beyond talent acquisition, delving into people ops management and a broader perspective. It wasn't an intentional decision, but I discovered that I really enjoyed it and excelled in the field. I fell in love with People Ops and knew it was my career going forward.
What do you think is the most challenging aspect of People Operations or HR?
There are a few challenging aspects, particularly from the employee's perspective. For me, the cultural aspect is the most difficult. Culture encompasses many elements such as diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and remote work. It involves aligning people with shared values and promoting leadership development. Building a culture where individuals can thrive, excel, and avoid problematic behaviors is crucial. On the management side, one of the challenges is ensuring that the CEO and leaders in the C-suite understand the importance of culture and the broader implications of their decisions and actions. Treating someone a certain way today or making certain decisions can have long-term impacts and send significant messages. Sometimes, C-suite members may prefer to brush issues under the rug, which isn't always beneficial. I truly appreciate it when I find C-suite members who fully value the role of people in the company and the importance of the people function itself. In fact, HR or People Ops being a part of the executive team and truly having a seat at the table is a requirement for me in any company I work for.
What is your KPI? How do you evaluate your work?
I favor using the Net Promoter Score (NPS) as a key performance indicator (KPI). Surveys are extremely important, and there are various metrics and surveys available, such as engagement surveys, exit surveys, turnover data, exit interview data, and various talent acquisition metrics. However, sometimes leaders rely too heavily on numbers and overlook the value of direct contact and organic measurements. I believe in having one-on-one interactions, touchbases, and establishing non-traditional KPIs to truly understand the pulse of the company.
How do you usually assess employee satisfaction? What kind of questions do you ask, and how often?
I believe in conducting an annual engagement survey, which is important for assessing employee satisfaction. As for the specific questions, I don't have any particular ones to mention right now, but they are easy to find and include in the survey. I also find a 90-day survey important to gauge how employees are fitting in and feeling comfortable in their roles after the initial onboarding period. Exit interviews are also valuable to delve into department-specific issues and understand the reasons behind employees leaving. Similarly, on the engagement survey, it's crucial to understand why employees choose to stay. In addition to surveys, I prefer more open-format, in-person conversations where employees can share “the good, the bad, and the ugly”, fostering transparent communication that encourages them to provide valuable feedback, which builds trust and allows us to get ahead of any potential issues.
What kind of tools do you typically use when you're working?
In my most recent company, we heavily relied on Slack. We used it for various processes and communication. However, there are challenges with Slack, such as information getting lost, so we also had to use other tools alongside it. The G Suite was fantastic as well. Additionally, I rely heavily on the company HRIS and like to maximize the platform. I have experience with various HRIS platforms, ranging from small ones like Rippling to larger ones like UKG and Dayforce. Another essential tool is the Applicant Tracking System (ATS). I have used tools like Taleo and Greenhouse for ATS purposes. So, overall, these are pretty basic tools, which all companies should be using in some form or another.
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