Tony McQueen is the Vice President of Enterprise Sales at Colaberry Inc. McQueen oversees a sales team in helping organizations search for and hire top-tier and diverse data experts for projects. Prior to joining Colaberry, was the Vice President of Sales at Genius Central Systems Inc. and was awarded the “Core Value and Leadership Award” for establishing company values, transparency, and excellent customer service. Dr. Weaver and McQueen discuss the great resignation and its implications for employees and employers. The following is an edited excerpt of their conversation.
Weaver: The data from the US Census Bureau indicated that 47 million people in the US left their jobs last year in search for other opportunities that were more meaningful or inclusive. Being that you’re the Vice President of Sales at Colaberry, why are you tuned into this great resignation topic?
McQueen: Our company is focused on two things. Not only do we help organizations search for and hire great talent, but we also have an educational part of our company where we help adults that are looking to transition into a new career or into better higher paying careers in the tech field. These are individuals that may be from different walks of life. Most of our candidates are 70% minorities and 45% are women. They’re looking to better themselves, their families, and make more income.
Weaver: When you think of 47 million people who just exited their job, what has that pushed employers to do now, as they think about trying to replace those individuals or keep the employees that they have?
McQueen: It means that employers need to focus on more than just compensation. Employees are looking for a career growth and an organization that values their beliefs, their culture. They want work-life balance, but also the ability to share their ideas and make it transparent. To be able to have a voice and make changes that will make their personal life more meaningful and help them prepare for their future.
Weaver: You talked about this meaningful work versus just making more money. How do you think that’s shifted people’s desire to feel more connected and included in the places where they choose to work?
McQueen: Employees realize the importance of work life balance. That means organizations need to help them prepare for that. The ability to work from home and to be able to have time off to take their son or daughter to a doctor’s appointment when needed is a very strong component of why things have changed. We talked about money compensation and that means a company also needs to put in an investment in time or making things assessable, be it technical skills, the ability to communicate better and work smarter. That translates to a lot of people being more comfortable working from home and increases the value of the importance of working from home.
Weaver: Tony, you talked about this whole notion of meaningful work, and I’m curious about the diversity equity and inclusion connection. A McKinsey study indicated that 54% of people leave their jobs because they feel undervalued by the organization and their managers, and then another 51 % feel like they don’t belong. What do you see as the diversity connection with this large percentage of people that are leaving the workplace?
McQueen: Employers are forced to be able to make changes to not only retain current employees, but in the way they hire new employees. The talent hiring leaders should be trained on how to interview, discuss diversity, and ask what’s important to potential employees. Companies shouldn’t be just saying that they’re focused on diversity hiring but doing things about what that means.
Weaver: What are one or two approaches that you’re using to be and stay connected with your diverse workforce?
McQueen: We have a communication method where we have not only weekly but daily updates. We use WhatsApp and other software applications to stay connected and be transparent. Anyone from our group can put out a message or share a thought that reached not only myself or anyone in the management level, but also to our CEO. Ideas are strongly recommended, open and welcome. Organizations need to be able to share ideas and cultures, openly.
Weaver: How were you able to help?
McQueen: We’ve been successful at helping individuals who have considered making a career choice understand the dynamics of being a data analyst or a data scientist. We are good at helping people understand that process. Our bootcamps talk through not only understanding of learning the technical skills but we focus on communication, the soft skills. You must be able to understand, be a great communicator, and organizer who appreciates what you say and its affect on others. I think of a young lady who was working two jobs, a single mom. She came to us and said that she was always good in math; she was ready for a change. We went through the process and received an understanding of what her needs were. She did a six-to-eight-week bootcamp. After the bootcamp, we helped place her with a financial institution where she’s been ever since and she’s working her way up the ladder. It has changed her life in so many ways, not only financially, but also expanded her creativity. Because it was always there, but the opportunity wasn’t there.
Weaver: What are the top “watch outs” that a person needs to watch out before leaving their job?
McQueen: Number one is don’t make a change because it’s higher money. It’s more to just a number. There are other things that are more important, such as the culture, the leadership of the company, and an inclusive culture is critical. Depending on where you are in your point of career, look at those values the company has to offer. Number two is the opportunity to learn. Are you learning? Do you continue wanting to learn as the company changes?
Weaver: We just talked a little bit about 50% of the workforce as leaving want to make a career change, they’re looking to do something different and something new. How should employers be thinking about it, or what are they doing differently as they think about the employees that they want to bring onboard?
McQueen: One thing that employers should look at and focus on looking at are candidates that have potential to be great long-term employees rather than being degree oriented. I’m not classifying individuals who don’t get degrees as unconventional. I’m a proponent of thinking of them as fresh talent that have new ideas, perhaps a different background as supposed to going to a higher educational learning center. Also, we recommend companies partner up with organizations or other groups – such as Colaberry – to attract and hone on a network of diverse, qualified skill set talent. The third thing I would say is to ensure that the infrastructure inside the company supports employees’ growth and provides cultural, meaningful mentorship opportunities.
Weaver: What have you seen in terms of all out of the five factors—retirement, relocation, reconsideration, reshuffling, and reluctance– that has been a predominant factor for people leaving?
McQueen: I would say the most I’ve seen is opportunity. The ability to join an organization that they can have more influence and more decision-making opportunity provides for growth. You must understand why people are leaving. It’s not because of money. It’s perhaps not having the opportunity to be involved, to be able to make changes and to share their ideas. It’s very important to people to see their ideas expanded on. It’s one thing about asking employees to provide a suggestion but if you don’t act on those ideas openly the employees don’t know if they’re even being considered.
Weaver: You brought a very practical understanding to why 47 million people have just kind of packed up and left their jobs. Thank you for joining this conversation today.