Interview Dives into Complex Subject of Talent Risks and Opportunities

Just before the 2022 Christmas holidays, I had the pleasure of speaking with Julian Rierson for a short bit over Zoom on the current issues, risks, and opportunities around talent. Julian has an interesting blend of HR and ERM experience, so I felt he was uniquely positioned to provide insights on not only HR issues themselves, but how they fit into the broader corporate strategy and risks.

People are the lifeblood of any organization, so it stands to reason there are various risks and opportunities around HR. However, as we discuss below, risks have become even more pronounced in the age of mass resignations, shifting employee expectations and more.

In addition to current challenges, the following brief conversation gets into what’s unique about today’s labor market and the importance of bringing a risk perspective to HR.

Below is a list of major points we discuss with time stamps. The entire conversation is quite informative and can be viewed in its entirety during lunch or break between meetings during your work day.

  • Introduction – Julian’s background (0:00)
  • What is the biggest HR risk facing companies today? (1:40)
  • What HR professionals really need to be looking at. (3:35)
  • Does talent strategy need to be connected to overall corporate strategy? (5:33)
  • The importance of culture and the impact of remote work. (6:30)
  • What employees in today’s world really crave. (10:50)
  • Holding remote workers accountable without micromanaging. (12:55)
  • The big takeaway – Communication is vital whether employees work in-person, virtually, or hybrid. (16:40)
  • You have to adapt to your people. (19:30)

In a follow-up email shortly after our discussion, Julian expanded on his comments about labor unions and potential shifts in how they are viewed in the U.S.

During our interview, culture was a key topic of discussion, and from an emerging risk perspective, I think it is important to mention a potential shift in the perception of how labor unions are being viewed within the United States. Those businesses that prefer to stay non-union need to be aware of changes that are occurring around them, including businesses in non-traditional industries that have not normally been considered for representation by the labor unions, such as white collared professions. A recent Gallup Poll in August (2022) states that 71% of Americans approve of labor unions. In addition, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) reports in October (2022) that union representation petitions are up 53% for Fiscal Year 2022 compared to Fiscal Year 2021. In the news recently, we have seen the unionization of Apple (Maryland & Oklahoma) and Starbucks stores, which is a shift tactically and psychologically by labor unions, who seemed unwilling to represent employees of these industries in the past.

With all of this said, the best things a company can do that desires to remain non-union is to ensure it is providing working conditions that are safe, compensation that is fair / competitive, and that the organizational management culture (top-down, bottom-up) meets the needs of its employees, including management style and general treatment practices. The organization’s culture can reduce or promote the willingness of employees to seek labor union representation.

I am in 100% agreement with Julian that culture is key to managing your organization’s biggest HR threats and risks, while culture can also present some fantastic opportunities to differentiate within the market.

Thank you to Julian for his time, insights, and follow-up regarding talent and why taking a “risk” perspective to HR is so important in today’s volatile environment.

What steps are HR and ERM professionals taking to ensure your company has the talent it needs to serve its customers and achieve its strategic and business objectives?

Please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences on this subject…leave a comment below or join the conversation on LinkedIn.

And if your company is experiencing a high amount of turnover, causing it to miss strategic goals, reach out to me to discuss your company’s specific situation and potential paths forward.

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