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WGT: Restoring Humanity to the Gig Equation with Jon Brickner [transcript]


Jon and I talk about hybrid cultures and how we can bring in the gig workers into our organisations and bridge the gap between them and our employees so that we create the right environment for them and for everybody to thrive. Jon introduces us to the Core and Cloud model a useful framework that looks at which tasks are central and which tasks are not to what we deliver as an organisation.

Jon Brickner is a people strategist and leader with over 15 years of experience architecting Human Capital solutions across a variety of industries. With a passion for human-centered design and an MBA in organizational behavior from Case Western Reserve University, Jon currently serves as the Thriving Workplace Architect at HR Collaborative, developing intentional plans, strategies, and platforms to bring HRC's vision to make work better for 1 million people to life.

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Lech: [00:01:23] Jon nice to have you on the show. Thank you very much for, for joining me. Before we get into the topics, kind of the one that we wanted to discuss the question that I often like to ask is when you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Jon Brickner: [00:01:38] That is a great question. And I have always said a Disney Imagineer, so I love creating spaces where, where meaning and context can happen. And in a lot of ways I've been able to kind of parlay that into the work that I do now it's just on a, on a different level. But I have I come from. A family of of medical professionals.

So I've got that science, science and sort of background a little bit, but yeah, really mixing that with the art and the creative side and creating a moment or a feeling or, you know, something yeah. That really making, making an experience memorable immersing someone in an experience. That's what I love to do.

Lech: [00:02:20] Well, you're definitely in the right job for that. And actually talking of jobs. You, you, you've also got one of the most amazing job titles I've seen for a long time Thriving Workplace Architect. I do genuinely. Absolutely love it. Can you tell us a little bit more about what that means and the work that you do in that respect with HR Collaborative?

Jon Brickner: [00:02:44] Absolutely. So thriving workplace architect, a little bit of that was, was me. I was able to bring myself and say, I've always wanted to be an architect, right? So this is my opportunity to be an architect of organizations. And we believe that a thriving workplace is at the intersection of purpose practices and performance.

So really bringing those elements together and creating a place. And it's not, it's, it's a, it's a long journey. It's a five to 10 year journey, but starting and heading toward that destination and elevating HR over time.

Lech: [00:03:17] Wow, that is, that's definitely quite, quite cool. I know what you mean in terms of organization, understanding that it's actually required. It requires the architect that forethought in terms of what they want to do and where they want to be and how they want to achieve that. And most of all, that's not something that happens overnight.

I'm sure you've been in situations as similar as to, to myself where you potentially might be working with a client and we have this tendency. And I think I fall into that trap as well, where we expect a, fix a pill for a problem that we have half. And the realm that you and I operating in. Organizations sometimes have the misconception that having a workshop for three hours or, you know, an off site somewhere for a day will fix a bunch of problems that are actually a lot deeper than that. What's what's your take on that?

Jon Brickner: [00:04:06] I couldn't agree more. I think, you know, you ha you have to help. Interventions are the first step, right. And intervention is, is there to, to create awareness, to have dialogue, create understanding. And that's, I believe that our beliefs drive our behaviors, which ultimately drives the change that we want to see.

So it starts with awareness and that's a great first step, but how do you help that live on. Right. Whether no matter what change you're trying to create, you know, whether it's something as simple as, you know, I want to lose a few pounds, right? You, you create an environment over time that reinforces, you know, first you have to have the belief that I can do this.

I'm going to do this. And then you have to have the way, right. And you have to have a community and a support. But then it's, it's really about creating an environment where that change can be sustained. So I totally agree you can't, it, it, it has to be in context.

Lech: [00:04:58] Definitely, definitely have to be in context. It definitely has to have a bit of a plan. And most of all, I think. Something that's often forgotten is that patients will take a little bit of time to, to get it. I, you often see these kind of posts on LinkedIn or Instagram or wherever where you've got this graph of perception of what progress means line that it's just one steady line upwards was in reality. We all know that it's kind of like stock value it's up and down and up and down with a trending upwards direction over two years, three years, five years or whatever. And, and that's, that's something often that we, I think we forget. Right. Okay. So can you tell us a little bit more about the work that you actually do with HR collaborative?

The type of maybe the companies that you work with and more exciting projects that you've been working on recently that you can, if you can share that information with us.

Jon Brickner: [00:05:47] Absolutely. So we're a firm that exists to make work better. It's as simple as that. And so how do we do that? We fill the HR gaps that, that small and mid-size organizations have today. And we work together to build a more sustainable practice for tomorrow. So we work with, we tend to work with small to mid-market size organizations, and we can really bring that.

Fortune 500 expertise, you know, to them and to bring those, whether it's tech stacks or expertise or resources, we can really make that available to organizations that may not have the resources to do that themselves. And we can help them pool those resources and really get more when it comes to HR.

Lech: [00:06:29] And I'm guessing part of that is bringing in kind of gig workers, freelancers, or, or kind of flexible workers into these organizations to help them out. Is that right?

Jon Brickner: [00:06:39] Correct. Yeah. Flex that we call it flex talent. It's that? Yes. It's that on-demand and you know, flex talent can be, can be one of three things, right. It could be, I need somebody for a season. And so that could be someone's going on maternity leave or paternity leave. You know, my HR person just walked out.

I need somebody to fill the gaps today and that's certainly how we got our start. And then there's we find the folks, especially in small to midsize where I've been, I've been doing HR from the operator seat or from the controller or the finance seat. And I don't know what the heck I'm doing. Right. I didn't go to school for this.

So sometimes I need HR as a start and I don't need a 40 hour HR because maybe my organization's only. 25 30 people. Right? And so I need some sort of fractional help, but I need to get started. And then the third is as a strategy. So if you think about talent that I believe the future of talent is there is a core, they're the people that work for me and the cloud, right?

The cloud of, of resources that I can pull from to augment what I'm doing. And it really, it really brings back I think a lot of dignity because, because you can, you can bring in, you can have these transferable skill sets that are not central to your business, but you can have people that love to do them and do them well and really make them part of your organization.

Lech: [00:07:59] How do you marry the two is my question? Because it often happens that, and we've been talking about this affair that we organizations kind of treats the freelancers as contractors, that's that's their hair to do a job period. And they miss out on not to mention that they miss out on the benefits of, of being an employee from a financial point of view, from a holiday point of view and so on and so forth.

But it's even the way that they're being treated and interacted with that's kind of the, as if the second, well, actually probably the second degree citizens sometimes I think how can, what can we do? What can organizations do to kind of humanize a little bit

Jon Brickner: [00:08:38] That's a great question. And that's really the crux of where we're at, right. Right now is that we've had, we've always looked at freelancers as sort of second, second degree citizens. And you know, somebody that you keep at arms length because of a lot of the employment laws and, and, and everything else, you know?

Well, if you're providing them this and you're providing them that, then you know, it's a different relationship and you owe them something different. So I think, you know, I think it calls on, on us as leaders to have a third class of employees. Right. You have these sort of we call it in our own organization, a project professional.

Right. So we have people that That are maybe a 10 99 and in the U S the 10 99 worker. And then we invite them into our, our employee meetings, right? Like, it's weird to say, Hey, we're working on this project and it's central to what we're doing, but you need to sit in the, in the. Kitchen. Well, we all have a employee meeting over here.

Right? So to invite them in, to pay them for their time that they're in those those employee meetings to provide them some profit sharing or benefits, you know, those are things that were previously unheard of. And I, I think it's a new level and a new, a new class of employees that we need to integrate into our organizations.

You know, it's It's no longer acceptable in the future of work to just have these very distinct categories.

Lech: [00:10:00] I've been giving this a lot of thought, and this is something that I've noticed in myself that you to, to get the best out of degree, the best environment for, for, for, for our employees and file for the freelancers that work with us. We have to. Treat both groups in a similar manner, but I was always looking at it from a perspective of just interaction and the mindset that you've got to when you are cooperating with, with the freelancers that you've hired, that they, that you treat them literally in your mind, whether they've got a permanent contract with you or whether they send you invoices every month that you treat them the same. And that's kind of always where my deliberations on this topic stopped, but you bring in the additional elements of benefits share shares within organizations.

I've actually never heard of that. I didn't even never, never thought of that. Is that something that is On the rise. And what do you think are potential benefits of, of doing that?

Jon Brickner: [00:10:53] Well, absolutely. I, I think, you know, first of all the biggest gap for many freelancers is their benefits, right? So if you can take the friction out of that equation, it makes it much a much sweeter deal to come in and partner with you. And you know, that's not easy to do, but there are many different.

Classifications of employees, we even see something called a statutory employee where you might be a W2 worker from a benefits perspective. And you, if you have enough people in your organization, you can, you can pool those resources to offer better, better healthcare rates, right. And, and, and offer somebody more.

And then you're a 10 99 from a, you know, how you're getting the work done. And so, you know, I really think there is that third class where you can. You can, you can have both. It's just how you manage it. And in fact, that that brings up a good point around. The, I think in the future of work too, you're, you're already seeing it in the larger organizations is that they'll have some, some type of job title that is really about integrating their whole role is to integrate the cloud into the core.

Right. And to make sure that, you know, of course, of course, like any HR person, you have to keep it compliant and legal, but how do we start to integrate and make sure that we're onboarding. These folks the same way we might onboard, maybe it's slightly different, but we onboard them the same way we onboard our own employees and we integrate them into very intentional touch points throughout that employee experience.

So that they're part of our organization, regardless of how long they're there, here, whether it's for a project or, you know, a whole season.

Lech: [00:12:27] When we start doing that. Doesn't that blur the line between the freelancer and the employee. I know that in a way, this is sort of what we're trying to achieve, but then why would organizations do that in and not hire them permanently instead?

Jon Brickner: [00:12:43] Well, I think it's, you have to look at again, if we're trying to bring humanity back to the workforce, it, it actually works much better. I think we've seen during the pandemic, you know, resilience, you know, the women that have been able to working mothers, right. That have been able to say, I I'm only willing to work.

This much, and there's many organizations that those people have been stymied because because. Either, there's not a part-time position open or part-time is, is more than that. Person's willing to work. Now you can provide a, you know, meaningful, a meaningful experience. They can earn, they can set their price, earn what they, what they ought to earn and what they're worth, and they can be part of a community.

So it really is. It's really about. Being more human in my opinion is, is to take these freelancers that can feel very alone and very, you know, maybe not have access to things that they would have had access to as an employee and, and really start to integrate that and change that experience so it can work.

It can really be a win-win

Lech: [00:13:45] It definitely can. It definitely can. And you mentioned the fact that kind of the dynamic has changed and actually one thing that I've already seen signs of and a half sleety loving is the fact that people have more confidence to say to them, please, That they are perfect. For example, not willing to go back to the office full-time and that they will, in that case, if, if, if the that's what the employer wants to do, the time is in the country where they based is in that position where officers can open up again and they say, Hey, we're going back to the offices.

A lot of people are saying actually, you know what. No, I don't want that. I prefer to go work in hybrid mode. I can go to the office two, three days a week because I see the benefits for myself, obviously the organization, and I love working here so and so forth. But so some places the organizations will go, no, that's not on the table.

And the employees would then, then go something that hasn't happened before they go very well. Here's my notice. I'm leaving, I'm leaving, I'll go. And it gives them that confidence. And I've got three or four examples in the last month or so of people who have done that in exactly that same scenario. And I'm going, you know what well done on you because they wouldn't have done this.

That dynamic would have never been possible before, before what's been going on. So I think that's, that's quite great. But coming back to the question that I've asked is that with the lines blurry, because the benefits. For the reasons why organizations go with freelancers is tends to be that it's short-term work.

It's not going to be on the books. So it's, these are kind of a cost control and so on and so forth. And with that kind of, that's what they want. They want that convenience, the quickness once, if they have to, if they start doing the benefits and everything else that you're suggesting that adds a little bit more or much not a leg.

Probably a lot more work for them to bring that person on board. So why would organizations do that? How can they benefit from doing that? Given the benefits to the freelancer in investing that time and potentially money in, in that process, how will that benefit? What's the gain for them?

Jon Brickner: [00:15:49] Well, I think you just have to look at where do you offset that cost? Right? So many organizations are changing their whole distribution models as a result of the pandemic, right? It's there are seasons there, you know, there's seasonality to businesses especially those those small to mid-sized businesses there.

So there's, if I say, okay, rather than hiring people and training people, maybe in something that I don't know I can hire somebody that already knows. There's a common understanding of what the, what the relationship is and how long it is. Right. I don't have to, I don't have to lay people off. I don't have to go through those things and I can invest in, I can afford to invest in a, in a culture keeper for those folks because, because of being smart about the way that I'm deploying talent and I can deliver, deliver things closer to the point of where they're needed and Yeah, just, you know, within context like that.

Lech: [00:16:41] As you probably picked up I'm I'm playing devil's advocate here when it comes to this style, this topic, I love that approach. And I, in a way, I'm going to continue with that because the, the feeling that I've got with that you mentioned potentially making people making people redundant or laying them off as a result of what's been going on in the world.

Don't you think that they. Potentially most might be misused by organizations that they will move their current employees to kind of freelance or part-time contracts. Adding, giving them the benefits that they would normally get, but they're no longer an official employee. And then that makes it easier for them to offload those people.

If things go south for the organization, again,

Jon Brickner: [00:17:20] Well, I think the smart organizations aren't doing that, first of all, because they know, they know. What their critical roles are. They know that those things that, you know, the culture is something that's hard to copy, right? It's the way things are done around here. And there's, there's some roles that cannot be, you just can't bring somebody from the same industry, or even from the same experience in, and have them step into that same space.

That thing, that thing that makes you great. So I think the smart organizations are not Smit switching to this model. That's why I think there's always going to be the core. And the cloud, right? So you're looking at you're, you're, you're looking at just a little bit differently, so you're, you're inventorying, not just roles but tasks.

So what tasks are not central to what I deliver and how can I bring in people that love to do that and create meaning for them and add value to our organization. Right. But, but there always will be a core of what you do that, that you just simply can't afford to, to to make. Seasonal or part-time or outsourced, whatever you want to call it.

It's that will, I don't think that will ever go away for the smarter organizations that are built around culture.

Lech: [00:18:29] That's that's true. And that's kind of the organizations that we want to see more and more of in the world that the concept of the core and the cloud, I'm, I'm a bit intrigued about this. Can you tell us a little bit more of how kind of, how you see that work and what's kind of the, what's the thought behind it?

Jon Brickner: [00:18:42] Sure. Well, I would add, you know, in your own organization, like, you know, like what, what I'm sure you have a good number of your tools are digital tools. I'm sure you have some, some help that is not, does not reside, you know, inside your office. It's, it's, it's sort of the way that everyone's working now.

Right. We can be smart about. Tasks and tools and processes that we can borrow. Right. And we can borrow them at a rate because I think many organs, again, we, we tend to work with the small to midsize. So a lot of those people don't, it's about access. If I can, if I have a cloud where I can get it on a fractional basis, I don't have to buy it myself.

I don't have to train. I don't have to be bound by contracts and legalities. Right. I can I can really run, be efficient and be agile and create meaning. And so one of the, one of the exercises we like to do is called build, buy, borrow, bought. And so if you think of your total, your total people spend, which by the way, is one of the top three items on your balance sheet, right?

If you think of what, what do I need to build? Right. So that's the core. That, that that's something that I can't replicate. It's what made me great. And it's what continues to drive value for my organization so that I need to build internally, right. Internal mobility, whatever you want to call it. I gotta, I gotta develop and make sure I have that core that doesn't go anywhere.

And then by what, what re what roles do I need to recruit? Because I've got to, if that core is so critical, I gotta make sure that I've got. Backup plans for that, right? Because life happens. Right. And I want to make sure that I'm re recruiting a certain number of people full-time recruits borrow is that is really the cloud.

So what do I need to borrow in terms of consulting expertise? So it doesn't have to be a freelancer. It can be a consultant. It could be anything that you're sort of. Renting or borrowing for a season in order to deliver what you need to deliver. That's central to your business and then bought, right. I think that's a scary word for all of us, but the reality is we're all doing it, right?

Whether it's it's in our G suite or you name it. I mean, there, there are gentle reminders to, you know, that are basically like an assistant to us telling us, Hey, don't forget to do this. And so what are those things that are not essential that. I just need to automate so that I can free up my time to spend doing humanizing things.

Right. So there's, and there's so much in the recruiting space now that is completely shifted, right? Just like you talk about if you want great talent, you know, having, having one way video interviews is a great way, you know, to, to be able to meet them where they're at. So you can actually humanize more.

By integrating technologies and tech stacks, because you can make, you can have more frequent touch points. You can have more human touch points. The average time it takes to get back is between, you know, if I text somebody that I'm courting as an employee, I can get that response back between 15 and 75 seconds versus you know, waiting 24 hours or more on an email, if that right.

If they respond at all. And so you can cross the digital divide. I mean, I think that's the other. To me. The other frontier is that many organizations are struggling. They're on their diversity and inclusion journey and bringing in different thoughts different perspective, different ways of being, you can do that through borrowing, right?

You can, you can borrow people that are different than you and, and challenge yourself through, through integrating those, those folks and, and really You know, creating a sense of belonging so that you're learning and growing in the process and, and, and then that helps you then figure out how do I, how do I attract and retain?

I think, you know, you talked about hybrid. I think hybrid cultures are the future. You know, there's, it's no longer because I think sometimes culture can be one of those. This is the way things are done around here. And it can be a way to sort of keep out different perspectives or, or new, new ways of thinking.

So I think values never changed. Right? You find people that, whether it is whether you are borrowing talent or you're building your own, you make sure everybody follows the same value or everybody values the things that you value. But beyond that, I think culture can be a little bit dangerous because it can, it can keep out or silence, different voices.

And so, yeah. Having that, that cloud or having the ability to, to tap into new types of people can be really valuable.

Lech: [00:23:10] Number many things that I'd like to get in into a lot more detail in what you just said. But one thing that really caught my attention was you mentioned hybrid culture. What do you mean by it? By that?

Jon Brickner: [00:23:21] Well, I think there are micro micro-cultures, right? I mean, even in the divert, the diversity equity, inclusion and belonging space, we've had resource groups for years, right? So you've got working mothers, you've have LGBTQ, you have, you have all these groups that want to be heard, honored and have a voice in the, in the culture.

So if, if you start your meeting with, you know, What does your family do this weekend, right? Or like, if that's your culture is to say, well then, well, what is family to somebody that, you know, may not have, you know, a traditional family or, you know, so how are you, how are you creating a co how are you allowing micro cultures to exist within your culture?

But you're guiding, you're guiding the culture by your values. And so really looking at how you integrate all these, these, because there are micro-cultures right. We all have that best friend at work. Sometimes there are silos by department or by function or by level of experience. It's just the way humans are, right.

They tend to congregate to are, are people like themselves. And so to acknowledge that and then to, to build again, allow these, these things to exist. But allow them to exist within a common framework.

Lech: [00:24:37] Let's, let's get a little bit more practical because this all sounds great. I think there's merit in a lot of things, but organizations will have to pick out what's good for them. And what kind of, what works, what doesn't what's achievable. How do you suggest for organizations that do work with a lot of outside talent, outsource talent, be it freelancers being consultants, people kind of fill in gaps that need to be filled in organization it on a temporary basis for temporary project or kind of however, they want to set this up.

How can organizations humanized, where, where do they start? What's the kind of fundamentals that they need to achieve, that they need to look at. When it comes to this

Jon Brickner: [00:25:18] so I would say purpose right purposes. The first place to start. I think everyone's looking for not only. Do I work with an organization that is filling a greater purpose. Right. And I think there's those organizations where it's obvious and then there's, you know, the steel mill. Right. But what is it, you know, is it that you make quality steel parts or is it that you, you create.

You know, safe, inviting spaces for some of the most beautiful, right? Like how do you talk about that? And so taking a step back to really clarify your purpose, which is not what you do or how you do it, it is why you exist. And what's the greater purpose that you serve. I think that's where it starts, you know?

And, and that then attracts people who believe in your, who believe what you believe, right. And, and that drives them behaviors, which drive. You know, results. So I think purpose is key. And then I think practices, I think the next thing is, especially in HR, we, but we tend to be really insular and we tend to think of our employee life cycle, like, like a machine, right.

People you source and you screen and you recruit. And now it's time to onboard. They're in the onboarding phase and now they're in the performance management phase and now they're in the, you know, development phase that is. BS because, and I even believe that for a long time, I was designing programs around that, but you have to remember the employee is centered central in this.

So change it, you know, employees, when they have a great experience, they get a lift, they get an, an emotional and a mental lift for a longer period of time when that then when they have a negative experience. So we have to think then about what, what does the employee value? And again, if we're. If we're attracting people that share our values, then how are we creating great experiences at every turn?

So it's first starts with purpose and then making sure that purpose, that people experience that purpose at every turn, you know, because there are going to be things that happen. You can't control everything. And you know, if they're on a sales team, they're going to lose the deal. Right. And so they're gonna, they're gonna feel the impact of that, but, but how do you make sure that when they have their.

Their development discussion. That's a positive experience, right? That it's not some reverse looking like, Oh, here's what you did wrong, you know, six, eight months ago. And I'm just now telling you, right. That's I think the organism, you know, the, the, the workforce coming. Yup. I mean, they want transparency.

They want, so you have to look at. You know, who right? The demographics of our organization, who, and, and then really take their lens into the way that you design all of your touch points. And so I think as, as HR, we are now, you know, human centered designers, more than anything else, you know, looking at how humans experience things and and.

And we're also, you know, technologists in a lot of ways we used to be, we would work with it now it's we have to, you know, many of these projects fail because we forget the human element of them. Right. And how do we walk alongside and how do we get information to people at the point in which they need it.

Right. And how do we design our systems around our people and not the other way around.

Lech: [00:28:26] What you've said to me is applicable across the board. I think that's, there's no separation that that is true where whoever your employee, whether it's your employee or whether it's a, it's a great gig worker, but you mentioned HR and the. Process and kind of the touch points that they're being designed often, the HR falls into the trap of literally just being machine operators.

If there's this touch points one by one it's it's completed and that it needs a little bit more humanizing specifically with gig workers. How can we change these processes? How should they evolve? And maybe what touchpoints should be introduced that are not there. At this moment in time.

Jon Brickner: [00:29:05] Great question. So I think first of all, we've got to not treat them like a second class citizen. Right? We've got to include them in our onboarding and even onboarding itself has to change because, I mean, I think a. And an ounce of retention is worth a pound of recruiting. We know that historically. And, and I think I see so many organizations missing the boat on onboarding, and that can really be quite a virtual process because that is, that can last up to two years.

Right. There's what you need to know before you come in, what you need to know on your first day. And that of course looks different for a temporary worker, but it. You're you're, you're inviting them into your values. You're inviting them into your strategy. You're inviting. You're one of the number one things that I see missing in onboarding is tech.

What tech tools are we using and how do we use them? Because in the, you know, work from anywhere, you know, the digitally distributed workforce, it's so critical to know, Oh, when I have a question, you know, do I send that through an email or do I put that in my zoom chat? Or teams chat. Right? Where do I, and when I want to post a meme, where do I do that?

Right. And so are we creating a common understanding of what tools to use when and how to use them? So. I mean tech training is it doesn't mean you would think freelancers because they are working from, from anywhere. They just got this down, right. They'll figure it out. And the reality is they're just like anyone else and that they, your systems are different than someone else's systems and your way of doing things is different.

So if you're going to help them be productive and feel included and, and you've got to do that secondly is really integrating them into the team. So making sure that. You create those, those experiences to bring all of, you know, to bring myself to work, right? You think, Oh, I'm paying you by the hour. I, you know, I've gotta, I've gotta be efficient with this.

And. I think the, the leaders of the future, the modern leaders are going to treat them like, like another team member and make sure they take the time to introduce them to the team. Maybe do some sort of an ice breaker exercise, you know include them in you know, maybe assessments that are taken right where everybody can kind of share.

What what did I learn about myself and what makes me tick and here's where you can utilize my talents best. And here's where I know. Boy, this would be more efficient if I was to pass it off here. So allow them, you know, just bring them into the fold. That's really what the essence of it.

Lech: [00:31:31] Again, multiple things to, to try and touch upon. You've mentioned that organizations often get tape kind of introduction to tech wrong and the whole onboarding processes as the tech being a part of it. So it's so true. I'm even thinking about when I was onboarding people and when I am onboarding you, what do I do?

And I tend to introduce it bit by bit as, as, and when it's needed, but we, of course, we start off with the. The, the key, one of the means of communication. If there's, if there's questions, what's the main channel for us to do. So that's one element, but you mentioned, you mentioned tech and making sure that they are in being invited into the fold, into bringing them into, to integrate with the team, which is, which is absolutely true.

But we do have that mindset. Yeah. Because we're paying them by the hour for a job that they need to do. We tend to skip that and just focus on the job that they need to do. And I think that's a kind of a comment come in attitude, but also misconception because you paying your people that are on your books permanently by the hour as well, one way or another.

And they don't work the full eight hours a day or whatever your working, working time is. So these are two elements. What are the things that you see you've seen or you see most commonly organizations get wrong when it comes to integrating and building that human element with the gig workers and potentially how can that be mitigated by organizations?

Jon Brickner: [00:32:53] You know, that's a, that's a good question. I think you know, the, I think they tend to get lumped under a co compliance. Right. You know, so what. You know, where, where are the boundaries, what needs to happen? So I think somebody does need to be keeping their eye on compliance, you know, because it is easy to have that tipping point, you know, where, Oh, you know, we really are including them, you know, to the point where we, we either automate them an employee or, you know, we need to rethink our strategy because you do need to, you do need to make, keep an eye on, on the compliance piece.

Hours leave, you know, all of that kind of stuff, just like you would as with anyone really. You know, that's a really great question. And I, I think that organizations are creating this new role because there's no one thinking about right. Managers are taught like, Hey, you have this budget and you can bring in a consultant to get it done if you need to.

Right. And so they think of it as this outside thing, but who's helping them. Whether it be HR or a dedicated role, who's helping them think about, well, how, how critical is this just for a week? Or is this just for a project or is this somebody that comes in and out of the organization, maybe two or three times during the year and how are you including them?

Right. So are we baking some of those measures? Into how we, how we rate or how we assess the performance of our leaders. So I think it's, it's, it it's intentionality more than anything else. And there's no magic bullet and I think we're all still learning what those what those, those gaps or those mistakes are, so that we can be more intentional about them.

Lech: [00:34:33] What about gratitude showing gratitude and showed appreciation for the work that is being done by the individuals who are not our employees, because I've got a feeling that. Often, we just take it for granted that these people are being paid, where we hired them for a specific task or project to carry out.

Of course they need to do that. And that is it. I think it's kind of applies to through out rather than just, just gig workers. But what do you think about that? Do we, do we show enough gratitude and appreciation now organizations to, towards such people for the work that they do?

Jon Brickner: [00:35:06] Not nearly, I would totally agree. I think just like, just in the example that you gave, all right, so I'm a valued employee. I've learned that I really, I value time with my family, with my pets, you know, whatever it might be. I leave the organization, you know, I now come back in as a contractor. Are you going to treat me different?

No, I'm a human right. I'm part of your team. I'm, I'm adding value. And so I think, you know, of course from a compliance perspective, you know, you're, you're trying to control costs and, you know, you can, you know, you can include them in sort of those high level things like profit sharing, whatever you have to be careful with gifts and things like that.

But even then, you know, people just want. Recognition, right. They want to be seen and heard. And I think it comes back to, I love, I've been hearing this, the shift from the, the idea of total rewards to the idea of total recognition and recognition looks different to individuals. And, and so how, how are you just taking a moment to recognize privately, publicly and understand what kind of appreciation is valued by that?

Team member. And again, they're, they, they shouldn't, they may be a different classification, but they're still a team member at the end of the day.

Lech: [00:36:20] Couldn't agree. Couldn't agree more with you. And actually speaking of which I'd like to give a shout out to speaking of appreciate, I would like to give a shout out to a colleague of mine Renata who you've interacted with, who helps us sets up today's meeting. She, this morning sent me an email saying, cause she's working kind of on that on a freelancer basis with me, she sent me an email, an email saying that she really appreciates how she's being treated as a coworker, as a colleague within the organization and how she's not used to that because the clients that she's working with and she's just kind of, they're usually two, two hired to do a hired is hired to do a job.

And that kind of meant a lot to me simply for the fact that that's what I wanted her to feel. That was kind of my aim. That's how I work and that's how I believe organizations should, should, should work as well. And it was really nice to, to hear that. So actually she gave me a better positive, positive feedback, but also got a bunch of feedback from me saying for the good work she's doing and actually kind of nicely fits into the conversation for us today as well on the topics that we've been.

Discussing let's do a bit of future gazing. What's kind of the one thing, the attitude, the approach, whatever it might be, you'd like to, to see change in the world and the next two or three years

Jon Brickner: [00:37:38] I would like to see more modern leaders, you know, those people who aren't defending, protect, you know, sort of. Defending and hoarding data and creating silos, right? Just the way, this, the way that you treated your assistant, right? I'm sure you, you, when you need, when you need something that is out of the routine, do you ask a question or do you say I'm going to need you to do this right?

That that's not going to work? With anyone in the workforce today, right? Anyone that's coming into the workforce wants to be treated as a human right. Wants to F they, they bring natural value and dignity. So I think the leaders of the future are in the background, right? They are leading from behind where they're, again, creating an environment where their team members can build build relationships, you know, create that synergy for the team, no matter what classification that worker is.

And they are. They're being transparent, right? Because you don't want to spend time micromanaging. That's the old way. Right? It's you have all these layers of management who just their job is to report back the numbers and make sure, you know, things are aligned. That's all visible now through technology.

So making sure that that you are kind of a tech teenager, if you will. As a leader and, and that, you know, enough to to make sure that you're using the same tools that your team is that that's not somebody else's job, that's your job. And, and, you know, I think just humanizing, human, not, you know, bringing back that treating people.

The way that they ought to be treated the way they want to be treated and with value. And so that just looks a lot different. It looks like, you know, creating psychological safety. So not using, you know, threatening language when something's not going right for having those, you know, failure labs or the ability to say, okay, what's something that that didn't go so great.

You know, lately and you know, one of the check-ins we, we started using I actually borrowed this from the university of Michigan. They, they developed this it's pow, wow and, chow. So pow, you know, what's something that hit you hard in the last week. It could be in the news, it could be in your family.

Right. So bringing some of those, that vulnerability and those. Those flaws to the surface and allowing people to talk about it. Wow. What's something you're really proud of personally or professionally and, and chow. What's something you ate or will eat that just rocked your world. Right. And giving people a common thing to talk about and build a relationship off of.

So I guess you know, it's just treating people as, as, as dignified no matter who they are. I think that's, I'd like to see more leaders putting that first.

Lech: [00:40:09] That's that's great. And actually, this is what the podcast, this podcast is about showcasing organizations that do do that because we want this to be the norm rather than the exception. So fingers crossed that this will happen as soon as possible. If it takes two or three years, that's fine. If it can happen.

Sooner, even better. Talking a little bit about, more about you again, it, what have you got going on in the next few months that you kind of are super excited by anything, any exciting projects, anything that you're really looking forward to?

Jon Brickner: [00:40:38] Yeah. So I think we're, we're certainly moving toward, we still do wonderful projects and, and we can add value. And what we're seeing is we, we, as HR, collaborative are, many of us were, were independent contractors before we had our own LLCs. We hung our own shingle out and we are in many ways are a collaborative of.

Of people, we needed community. Right. And, and our, our, our leader, our CEO and president knew how to create community and knew how to knew, how to match people to the work that they loved. And so now we realize, wow, We already know how to do that. We can help other independent consultants do that. Right.

We can help them find new income streams. We can help them, you know, with the, the natural challenges that come with business development. And we got the tech tools and we can give them those, that technology on a fractional basis. Right. So they don't have to go out and source everything themselves. So I'm excited both for partnering with independent consultants to really help them.

Drive their business and become part of a bigger community, but also on that you know, on the flex talent side, you know, making sure that we have a ready pool of talent and, and one of the great things is when you invest a dollar with us, you know, a lot of that goes back into we're still calculating the exact, but a lot of that goes back into development and community and all of the things that we're providing that pool.

That they may or may not be getting from their organization. And then we work to integrate them into that organization, right. To make sure that those touch points are more intentional. But I do think there's, there's so many, there's the need for community in this, in this, during the pandemic and post, because a it's easy to be an Island up there and we all need that you know, resilience and community and everything like that.

Lech: [00:42:28] And what's the best way for people to follow what you're up to and potentially get in touch if they got any more questions or

Jon Brickner: [00:42:37] Sure. Yeah, it's a HR and there's some of our latest thinking there. We're doing a lot of talking about agile HR. Again, that's I think that's another topic that, that is, you know, coming to the fore is, is that. We'd need to, you know, through, through tech and through how we work and team size we can really be much more Responsive and, and create much more meeting meaning for people because we're not in these very discrete tasks where you can only do this.

And anyway, lots of, lots of exciting stuff there. And you know, bringing that thinking too small to midsize organizations that that thinking is typically kind of resided in the behemoth organizations and they've had the luxury, but we're really working to bring that to the masses. So.

Lech: [00:43:24] I'll definitely be including the link to your website in the show notes and potentially any of your favorite tools or resources will go in there as well. Jon, it's been an absolute pleasure. Thank you again for taking the time to, to talk to me and, and and the listeners and sharing your knowledge and experience.

Thank you very much.

Jon Brickner: [00:43:42] Likewise. Thank you. Lech.

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