100th Episode Celebration – Mailbag Q&A with Lacey Halpern

100th Episode Celebration – Mailbag Q&A with Lacey Halpern

Episode number one started with Lacey Halpern, a Senior Human Resources Business Partner at Xenium HR, so we brought her back to celebrate episode number 100. In this “mailbag” episode, Lacey answers rapid fire questions on everything from defining illegal interview questions to how much time managers should spend with low performers versus high performers to what she believes the future workplace will look like.

MP3 File | Run Time: 34:19

Brandon: You ready for this episode, Lacey?

Lacey: Yeah! Let’s do it.

Brandon: All right. This is episode number 100. We’ve made it!

Lacey: It’s exciting!

Brandon: What’s really exciting is that you started it!

Lacey: Did I do the first one?

Brandon: You did the first one. We did a discussion on employee handbooks.

Lacey: Oh my gosh!

Brandon: Why you should develop an employee handbook, or what you needed in it.

Lacey: It feels like a lifetime ago.

Brandon: It was, it was a lifetime ago!

So thanks for the download today. Lacey Halpern is with me today. She started this podcast with me, she took a chance. We did Why You Need an Employee Handbook as the very first episode and we’re doing episode number 100 today, which is pretty exciting!

I’m going to ask some rapid-fire questions to Lacey. We’re going to jump all over the place, I’ve categorized some of the questions that I have kind of prepared, but we will see where this goes.

Lacey: Sounds good!

Brandon: Are you ready?

Lacey: I think so! Ready as I will ever be.

Brandon: Let’s talk about recruiting and onboarding first. What’s an example of an illegal interview question that, if you were a fly on the wall of an interview and you heard somebody asking it, you would just absolutely cringe?

Lacey: “Do you need Sundays off for church?”

Brandon: Ok! Why is that illegal?

Lacey: It’s important to know whether somebody can work the schedule of the job, so a better way to ask that might be, These are the hours that we’re open, or This is the schedule for this position. Are you available to work that? Religion is a protected status and it’s irrelevant whether somebody goes to church or doesn’t go to church, so it would not be an appropriate question to ask during an interview.

Brandon: Also during an interview, if somebody – let’s say you’re dancing around the compensation question and as an interviewer, how do you ask what’s your desired salary?

Lacey: I think just the way you said that. What’s your expected salary range for this position? If you’re doing phone screens I usually see that done in the beginning so that we weed out people that are maybe not going to fall within the range. I’m also seeing companies be a lot more transparent in their job postings where they’re putting it out there.

Brandon: Yeah, no doubt. I mean it seems like a benefit because that way, you’re not wasting time. What’s interesting is I was on LinkedIn the other day and I saw somebody within my network or maybe extended network that was like, I had this interview and a candidate was bringing up salary right off the bat. How dare they!

And I’m thinking, well, if you don’t, then it’s just this elephant in the room and you’re just wasting each other’s time if it’s way off.

My mom is in software sales and she was talking about how she was going through an interview process with a company years ago and was in a third round of interviews. They get to the compensation and it’s like 40 grand off of where she wants to be.

Lacey: It’s just a waste of everyone’s time.

Brandon: It’s crazy!

Lacey: I think it’s an old school way of thinking that you don’t have tact if you bring it up in the interview. I’m just seeing that happen more and more and companies, like I said, just being super transparent on the frontend with job postings and what they’re putting out there in terms of what the job is.

Brandon: So being a marketer, I’m always thinking of ways to educate people in advance of the sales process. I think the recruiting process is no different. What’s one way an employer can highlight the culture of the company before the interview process even starts?

Lacey: Oh, man! There are so many things that come to mind. The first thing that pops into my head is doing a culture video.

Brandon: Because we did one.

Lacey: We did one, yeah, and I talk about that with my clients and have had some clients that have dabbled in similar things. I also have a client that created not an employee handbook, but it’s more company folklore and culture, so like a culture book that they use as part of their recruiting process. I think your people are really your biggest assets, so your employees and what they’re saying out in the marketplace. So really giving employees the language to be able to talk about what it’s like to be an employee here and giving them time to go out and network and talk with people in the community is important.

Brandon: For an employee’s first day on the job, there’s an onboarding process hopefully. I think employers are doing this so differently.

Lacey: Yeah.

Brandon: There’s a huge spectrum of people who have no idea what they’re doing to employers who have got this onboarding process nailed down. What’s something unique that you’ve seen in an onboarding process that would make the employee feel right at home? Like this is the right choice.

Lacey: Something that’s unique.

Brandon: Maybe a couple of things?

Lacey: Assigning a buddy to the employee that’s not their manager. So they’ve got somebody to have lunch with, especially in the first week or so.

Brandon: Should it be the manager though?

Lacey: I think the manager maybe on the first day makes sense, and it obviously depends on the kind of environment. If you’re in a manufacturing facility and somebody has only got 30 minutes for lunch, are we going to take him out to lunch? Maybe! Maybe that would be unique for that industry. Probably pretty unheard of. In our kind of environment or some of my more tech companies, going out for 90 minutes for lunch isn’t a big deal. So that doesn’t necessarily set them apart.

I think whatever you’re doing, having a process, knowing who’s responsible for what is so important, even if it’s not this super detailed, all planned out for the full eight hours of the first day thing. As long as whatever you’re going to do is planned out, that’s better than nothing. So just making sure that people know who’s doing what parts of that first day with that employee is critical.

Brandon: Let’s talk about a couple basic HR questions. Let’s go back to the roots on this one. Employee handbook, what’s one really common thing that employers get wrong?

Lacey: I think as an employer grows, not paying attention to the laws and statutes within their city or state that impact them as they grow is something that employers often miss just because it’s out of sight, out of mind. As you grow and become a bigger organization, different laws start to apply to you.

Brandon: I want to add something and this is on the other side of the spectrum of what you just mentioned. One of your clients, Metal Toad Media, saw it as an opportunity to highlight their culture and who they are a little differently. I think employers are starting to see the employee handbook that way. So I think if there’s one common thing that employers miss, it’s that they don’t see it as an opportunity.

Lacey: I think you’re right and really just using it as a tool to get policies and procedures out versus talking about company culture and history and why it’s so great to work here.

Brandon: The policy is a bare minimum versus highlighting the other things. Like, what makes us different? Like what we believe in, those sorts of things. That’s the opportunity to really start integrating your culture and your beliefs.

Lacey: And getting boilerplate language, whether it’s from a law firm or from another company that you borrowed the language from. Whatever it is, it should be custom and trying to make it employee-friendly and easy to read is really important. We’re seeing a huge shift to this more progressive language.

Brandon: We all make them – bad hires.

Lacey: Yes, the bane of my existence.

Brandon: When you make a bad hire, and it’s not necessarily you make a bad hire, but, you know, one of your clients makes a bad hire or somebody in the organization makes a bad hire and everybody knows it, what’s the most humane way to make that separation?

Lacey: I think being honest. It just goes such a long way and from the beginning. Don’t wait until the 90-day introductory period and it says that in our handbook. So on the 90th day, here’s your final check. That would not be what I would recommend.

Brandon: No, because that’s a surprise, right?

Lacey: Exactly, yeah. It should never be a surprise. So having the ongoing conversations, especially if it’s in the beginning of the employment, hopefully as part of your onboarding process you’ve got regular scheduled check-ins on progress and training and development. So inside of those conversations have that conversation because ideally, and most of the time, truly, both people are feeling it – the employee and the employer – that it’s not a good fit.

Brandon: If employees start chattering about compensation and benefits, whether it’s on social media, water cooler talk, lunch, whatever it is, do you think it perpetuates? And what do you do as an employer to sort of like respond to it if you know it’s kind of going on?

Lacey: So most of our clients know this, that that’s protected conversation. So good idea to check your employee handbook to make sure that those conversations aren’t limited, that we don’t say employees can’t talk about compensation, because legally, they can.

Brandon: Yeah.

Lacey: I think if I’m an employer and I am hearing that employees are discussing this, I would say there’s probably something else at the root of that. Compensation is important but typically not always the number one reason why employees stay or leave. There may be other things where employees’ needs are just not being met, whether it’s maybe actually with financial issues that they’re having or other things that the employer can do. It could also be an opportunity for the employer to educate employees about their total rewards. We just did a webinar on that, so listeners can check that out. But it’s not just compensation that’s important and sometimes employees – especially if you’ve had people with you for a long time – they need to be reminded of the total package that the employer has purchased for them.

Brandon: What’s a big gap in HR that employers are often missing?

Lacey: I think the culture piece. There has been such a shift to having HR sit at the leadership table and work with business owners because it’s just so connected. But paying attention to not just the compliance side of things, but the people side of things and culture. Especially with how in Oregon we have a 3.8% unemployment rate. The talent crisis that we’re in, you’ve got to hang on to these top performers and really embracing the culture that you have and continuing to grow it.

Brandon: I’m glad you said culture as an answer because that’s a perfect segue into my next category of questions! I didn’t want to stay on HR questions too long. I wanted to ask you, in your mind, what do you think are the most important elements of a company culture?

Lacey: I think leadership that has integrity, does what they say they’re going to do, a company that is transparent with the areas that it would be appropriate to be transparent with. I think in an environment where employees assume good intentions of one another and have each other’s best interests at heart. Those are the things and it’s funny, I mean I’m describing what it’s like to work here.

Brandon: You’re describing behaviors as well. So what I would say in response to that is that every culture is different and how people behave, those are pretty standard, I think, for a healthy leadership and company culture. But I think for every company, they probably need to define what those behaviors look like and what they want and then they need to integrate it.

Lacey: Right. And things that are unique too, you know, just making sure that you’ve got differentiators. For us, it’s having flexibility and an understanding about the fact that we’re people with families too. That is just so appreciated by the folks that work here at Xenium and I think some of my other clients, they all have different unique things that they’re doing.

Brandon: What’s a team building program that you think would get employees from different departments working together and more comfortable with each other?

Lacey: Oh, wow, that’s a great question! The first thing that comes to mind is some type of activity or assessment where folks can sort of see how they’re similar and different from their coworkers. So their communication assessment is out there, things like strengths finders or DISC. When you integrate something like that that’s an actual tool that has been tested and really has been proven to work, you can see how similar you are and find things that you relate to with coworkers.

Also just making sure that teams are cross-functional especially when you’re doing the work in an organization. So whether you’ve got an initiative or a task force or problem that you’re trying to solve, getting all the people that might be impacted by that around the same table and encouraging collaboration versus – you know, you can take people out for pizza. You can go bowling. We can do an activity in a company meeting. That’s not the stuff that sticks. It’s the things that are integrated into your actual day-to-day work and your people practices that actually make a difference.

Brandon: When you said assessment early on in that response, I was thinking of the DISC assessment that we did as a team a while back. Suzi Alligood on our team and who has been on the podcast several times, she’s DISC-certified. She goes out and trains for clients and she has done it internally a lot. That always sticks in my mind as being one of those things where I’m like – I feel like I know these people across our company. Even though if I don’t work with them, I feel like I know them a lot better because I’ve seen where they’re plotted along the DISC spectrum and I know like oh, wow, I pair really nicely with this person or I’ve just got to look for this tendency here. You start to figure out how to work with people.

Lacey: Yeah, work gets done more efficiently, it impacts the bottom line for the organization, and I also think that it helps us extend a little bit of grace to people that are maybe just different than us. They communicate differently and it gives us common language, so that we can just communicate about our differences and where we’re at more easily.

Brandon: You touched on this just a little bit, and I want to pull the thread on it. Would you rather spend time doing like kind of fun activities, team building stuff, or do you think their culture – especially developing it – is more about integrating the belief systems and just sort of those intangibles into the people processes?

What would you spend more time on? You’re like an employer and you’re like, Oh, I want to build a culture. Do you spend it doing pizza parties or do you spend it doing assessments and trainings?

Lacey: Absolutely integrating it into your people practices. The other stuff, in my opinion, is fluff. It’s fun, I think you can do it and I think it’s a nice outlet for people to be able to get out of the office and spend time together, company-sponsored events like that. Maybe even empowering a group of employees if you’ve got some type of committee or something, that they’re empowered to plan that stuff so that the senior leadership team can be focusing on really that strategic culture integration is important. But if you’ve got limited resources, I would be investing my time into integrating the company values into people practices.

Brandon: I love that word you use, investment, because that’s what I feel it is. Don’t get me wrong, I love the fun activities. I wouldn’t want to be at a company if you didn’t do those things. I just think it comes secondary to the other pieces because it really is an investment. You could do like a little pizza party and you can keep doing them. But once the money runs out for that activity or the activity is over, you just kind of get back to business as usual. If nothing has fundamentally changed in the work and how everybody treats their work and how they treat each other while working, I don’t feel like the fun stuff makes a difference.

Lacey: No, it becomes insignificant.

Brandon: Yeah, I agree.

All right. I want to shift to management a little bit. So you manage several people, right? And you’ve worked with clients that manage lots of people. What’s your favorite question to open a one-on-one with?

Lacey: Oh, I feel like I’m just not –

Brandon: Like a one-on-one with your employee, like biweekly or something.

Lacey: I don’t know that I’m very creative when it comes to that. My style is typically employee-led one-on-ones. I ask employees to come prepared to lead the discussion and with an agenda of what they want to talk about. I think it’s their time, right? And it’s precious time because time is so limited, especially around here it seems. So I’m using questions to probe deeper as they’re discussing, but typically my employees are the ones that are sort of starting the conversation in those meetings.

Brandon: That’s a good answer. I like it. In your mind, what are some of the best traits a manager can have?

Lacey: Oh, gosh. There are so many, and it really just depends.

Brandon: Well, like what’s the trait that you have that you’re like, Wow! I’m a good manager because of this, or that people that report to you would say about you?

Lacey: I think right now in my career and based on the people that I’m leading, a lot of those folks are people that I’ve done the jobs that they are in right now. So having understanding for the struggles and then also being direct with them and honest, I think that has been helpful and I think they appreciate those traits.

Brandon: So I will admit, when I start coming up with some of these questions, some of them obviously came from me, but I also scoured the interwebs for some interesting questions. Actually Quora.com, I don’t know if you’ve ever been there, but they ask some really interesting questions. It’s like a user-generated website. I encourage you to go there because it’s like anything from science to education to even HR.

So this particular question came up and you may laugh, but I think you will have something to say about it. When you think about management, you’re also a parent, do you feel like management and parenting styles or the strategy behind both are similar?

Lacey: Yes. It’s so funny though, because I feel like I’m such a different manager than I am a parent.

Brandon: Oh, me too!

Lacey: Yeah.

Brandon: It’s so crazy.

Lacey: I think if I integrated what I’m doing here at work with my employees with my daughter at home, I think that would be great. But it’s just so funny. Everybody says you’re the toughest on the people that you care about the most, so your loved ones usually maybe don’t always get the best of you. But I do think there are some things that are similar and one of the things that stands out the most is I really want my employees to feel confident and so the way I interact with them is with the intention of building confidence. So whether it’s letting them shadow or supporting them or pushing them to do things that I know is going to make them more confident once they get on the other side of that, I do that a lot at home too. So trying to build a safe space where I’m pushing my daughter who happens to be six and trying to find things that I know will help her build confidence. That’s, for me, the ultimate goal for her, is to be just a confident person.

Brandon: That’s great. I think there are so many parallels to management and parenting. It’s just the language you use is a little different obviously.

Lacey: Right.

Brandon: Although I talk to my kids like they’re adults sometimes. It’s kind of weird. I don’t know if that’s the right strategy or not. But you figure it out as you go. I think that’s like with management, there are all these tactics and things, but I think a lot of it is trial and error.

Lacey: I agree.

Brandon: As long as you don’t make any big, huge mistakes or say something you wish you wouldn’t have said.

Lacey: Right. And just like your kids are different – you have two kids, they’re probably very different from one another.

Brandon: Oh, so different.

Lacey: Employees are different, right?

Brandon: Yeah. I like that point.

Lacey: So you have to be able to adapt and change to different types of personalities and the more you supervise and lead people, the better you get at it, especially if you’re really committed to helping other people be successful. I think that’s the core of being a manager.

Brandon: If somebody is stepping into a new manager role, maybe had never managed people, they want to be a good manager, they want to become a great manager, what sort of steps do they need to take to get from wanting to be a manager to being a great manager?

Lacey: Really checking yourself to make sure that you understand what that expectation is, because it may be different amongst different organizations. Being committed to people and not just tasks, I think the best leaders are those that are committed to both. And using your resources around you. So whether that’s listening to podcasts, going to workshops, shadowing other leaders within your organization, finding mentors outside of it, reading books. I mean it could go on and on. But being committed to it and making sure that you are making time for your own personal development and planning time is important.

Brandon: How do you determine high potential employees? Then part two of that question, what do you do with them?

Lacey: That’s a deep question.

Brandon: It is.

Lacey: I think in terms of figuring out if someone is high potential, it certainly depends on the role and the expectations. But for me, I think having someone who has the desire, so there’s this earnest, excited behavior that they’re demonstrating about learning and growth, and the aptitude. It’s one thing to be – you know, I would love to be a doctor in a hospital. I don’t have the aptitude for that. Science, not my thing.

So having both of those, I think that’s how you can determine it. You know, and then what to do with that? Nurture that. Spend time with that person. Push those people. Work with them on a development plan and all of that is going to be custom, right, based on the person and what it is that they’re aspiring to do.

Brandon: So with a high performer, you have high potential, probably a producer, all those things, and then you got the low performer. Who do you spend more time with?

Lacey: I think most people spend most time with their low performers.

Brandon: And then the high performer is like, Ah, they’re not paying attention to me. They don’t want to grow and develop me, and then they leave.

Lacey: Yeah. And I would say there’s a balance, you have to spend time with both. But I would encourage managers to really think about the time that they’re spending with both, including the folks that are right in the middle just plugging along, because we don’t want to lose those people either. And there may be people who just want to keep doing what they’re doing and don’t have aspirations to grow or move and that’s just fine. So having a balanced approach to your time is important.

Brandon: You mentioned that every person, every employee is a little different. How do you find out how they like to be managed?

Lacey: Ask. Just ask.

Brandon: Seems simple enough.

Lacey: Yeah. Ask and pay attention to the cues that you’re getting. If something that you’re doing isn’t working, check in on that. Just having an open transparent dialogue is so important and you can’t do that if you’re not having regular check-ins with your people.

Brandon: I’m going to wrap up with trends, you, and the future. So what’s one thing that you want to improve on this year?

Lacey: My leadership skills.

Brandon: Be specific on that.

Lacey: I think I have great skills in terms of working with my direct reports. I think what I’m really focusing on at this point now is stepping into a leadership role within the company and helping to be able to make decisions that our organization is making and having a voice for that. Working on business acumen and just my confidence when it comes to sitting at our leadership table.

Brandon: What’s one way like technology is going to impact HR?

Lacey: Oh my gosh, there are so many ways. I think things being self-service and employees having access to their information, updating information, managers having access to things like performance management systems, like at the push of a button. Everybody wants things quickly and in real time. I think that’s what’s going to shift is having things be more accessible.

Brandon: So what will HR administrators be doing, if that job still exists? The menial type of tasks, like time cards and employee files and just updating records and those sorts of things, if those were automated on a self-service model, what happens to that sort of position?

Lacey: I think there will always be a need for someone to maintain the electronic data. So for the folks that like that and appreciate that side of HR, I don’t know that that will necessarily completely go away. But I think the shift to HR really being on the leadership team, making business decisions that impact the bottom line, focusing on talent management and culture is really the wave of the future I think for HR.

Brandon: Since we’re on this topic, I’m curious, I always like to ask people. What do you think about where work is going in the future? Obviously, technology, it’s a beautiful thing, but it could break down a lot of existing jobs that we have. But it’s just reallocating them to different places.

Lacey: Yeah.

Brandon: What do you think the profession of HR, even some of your clients, and like the type of jobs they have, what happens?

Lacey: I think there will be some industries that are going to be more impacted. I think about manufacturing and maybe even some technology jobs, as technology grows and changes. I think HR will always need human beings to do this work because if we turn this industry into a machine, I think all the work that folks have done in the last 10 years especially to improve workplace culture, it would go away. I just don’t see that happening.

Brandon: What does the future of the workplace look like from an aesthetic standpoint, from the way we operate and work? And it’s going to be different for every industry, of course. Manufacturing, you’re probably still going to have to be on the floor, right? Production, still on the floor. Knowledge worker, what does it look like?

Lacey: Yeah. It could be different. I think we’re just seeing a lot of, with my clients, requests for this work-from-home, compressed work weeks, more flexible schedules. Split days, where you might have seen a split shift maybe in a retail environment, but employees in professional services asking for split shifts to work when kids are in school, get them home and off the bus and have dinner and then work again in the evening.

Brandon: That actually goes to show – we talked about the work-life integration versus the flexibility – that goes to show that like people don’t mind working all the time, they just want to be able to take part in their own life as it happens throughout the day. They don’t want like 9:00 to 5:00 has to be work time. I think that day has kind of come and gone.

Lacey: Yeah. The way that I would say it is people want to be a participant in their life and in order to do that, employers are being asked to be more flexible. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but when it can, I think it’s a win for both sides.

Brandon: If the 40-hour work week is changed, is it at the government’s hands, like mandated or do employers start to say, You know what? This flexibility, this work-life integration matters and this is what people want. So we’re going to now start shifting and people start catching on?

Lacey: Oh, man. I think it could be both sides. There are always going to be rules that govern overtime and rest and meal periods and that kind of stuff. That obviously comes from regulations, governmental regulations.

I think employers that want to stay competitive and have an eye on talent management, they’re going to have to get creative before any regulations come into place, especially when we talk about unemployment rates and how difficult it is to attract and retain good people.

Brandon: Do you think that employers will reduce from 40 hours?

Lacey: I haven’t heard anything about any employers doing that.

Brandon: I just hear people all the time talk about how other countries are doing …

Lacey: Less hours.

Brandon: Six-hour days or whatever. Four days on.

Lacey: I think I would encourage employers to think about how to get creative maybe with that 40 hours that they’ve got, especially for your exempt workers that are often working more than 40 hours a week. How can we be even more creative than we are? It’s not enough to say it’s 3:30 and your kiddo has got a T-ball game, you can go ahead and leave early. We’ve really got to get ahead of this and what better way than to ask your employees what they want. I’m getting a lot of requests right now to do surveys or stay interviews, focus groups, to find out how do we retain and keep these great people.

Brandon: Employees may want something – like if you have a workforce, you may have a set of employees that want what you’re describing and then others may just want a standard 9:00 to 5:00. How do you accommodate all that?

Lacey: I think you evaluate. Does it have a business impact and is that impact negative? Can we still get the work done? Are we serving our customers? If you are, then it seems to me that it would be an easy yes. If there’s an impact, maybe it’s not a financial impact, but there’s a cultural impact. Like if everybody worked from home and there was no team collaboration, that maybe wouldn’t work depending on the organization. I don’t think that it has to be a one-size-fits-all for all employees. Honestly what worked for me seven years ago before I had my daughter wouldn’t work for me now. Maybe once she’s older and driving, it could be different. So just being nimble and flexible is I think going to continue to be important.

Brandon: Avery is what? Six? Seven?

Lacey: Almost seven.

Brandon: She will get her license in less than 10 years. My guess is by then, she won’t have to learn how to drive.

Lacey: You don’t think so!?

Brandon: I don’t think so. I think self-driving cars …

Lacey: Oh, that’s frightening!

Brandon: It could change work. It could change ….

Lacey: It could change everything.

Brandon: It could just change everything. Your worry as a parent and having a driver or letting her drive with friends or whatever. I don’t know. I’ll be curious. But I just hear a lot about the self-driving cars.

Lacey: We will have to listen to this 100th episode in 10 years together.

Brandon: I know these listeners will hold me to this if I’m wrong in the future! But I’m curious. By then I think we don’t have to worry about it.

Let’s stick with federal, if we can. But what’s one compliance-oriented thing at the federal level that is on your radar and the radar of employers?

Lacey: Healthcare reform.

Brandon: Oh. You think it’s going to be unwound?

Lacey: I think there will be changes.

Brandon: They already tried once.

Lacey: Tried once. We’re just kind of waiting to see what happens there. But I think we’re hearing it all the time with clients that are evaluating their medical plans at their renewals. Are we going to have to offer this? I’ve got some clients that are going to be in that applicable large employer group come January of next year and they’re evaluating – we’re going to be forced to offer a plan. How do we do that? And we’re going to plan for it because it’s in place right now. We will have to see what happens.

Brandon: In my experience and I mean in the experience of everybody, I tend to pay attention to it, it just seems like nothing ever gets repealed or retracted. The government always gets a little bit larger. You got to feed the beast.

What I hope, though, is if it does stay intact, that it becomes more scalable. Operationally, it’s more efficient. Those sorts of things. There have been a lot of flaws.

Lacey: There has been. I think on the employer side in terms of the administrative pieces, it’s definitely a burden and we feel that.

Brandon: I mean we’ve done trainings and trainings and redoing forms and having people like go to workshops to figure out how to – I mean hiring attorneys – there’s so much that has gone into it.

Lacey: Right.

Brandon: In my mind, it’s sort of a waste of resources in a way.

Lacey: Yeah, it’s a lot. So, really, I guess we will just have to wait and see what happens.

Brandon: What’s your favorite book related to HR leadership or self-help?

Lacey: Self-help, The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown.

Brandon: Great book, yeah.

Lacey: I think we did a podcast or maybe I wrote an article on that.

Brandon: I think we talked about it.

Lacey: Yeah. So great, great book. I just am finishing up StrengthsFinder, I had never read that book before.

Brandon: Oh, yeah. It’s a short book. It’s more about the assessment and what’s crazy about that, I think you have to take it and you have to answer the questions in like 10 seconds.

Lacey: Yeah.

Brandon: It’s just rapid fire. You panic.

Lacey: Yeah. There’s a little timer on the screen.

Brandon: Did you take it?

Lacey: I did recently.

Brandon: How many did you get the window where it skipped? I couldn’t read fast enough and take the answer.

Lacey: I was able to get through them all!

Brandon: You got through all? Oh man, I think I missed like two or three.

Lacey: Yeah. I think that is going to be really helpful, especially with my desire to really focus on leadership. So that was a great book. There’s so many out there and I tend to be a more experiential learner and I also really like podcasts and things like that. So I do tend to get most of my information that way.

Brandon: What’s your favorite podcast that’s out there right now? It could be business related or it could be personal.

Lacey: I can’t think of the name of it. It’s actually a mom-related one. It’s a friend of mine that just started it. She has got a blog called Womb and Hearth and she does a podcast on that about just the birth experience and stuff. That has been pretty interesting.

Brandon: Wow. That’s a crazy experience, that’s for sure. Watching it twice was …

Lacey: It’s intense.

Brandon: Women go through a lot. Let’s just put it that way.

I want to close it with this. For the working parents out there, what’s one thing you’ve learned about just being a working mom and having to be there for your family, but also having to be there for your company, your clients, your employees, coworkers?

Lacey: Two things. One, there’s no such thing as balance. So saying work-life balance does not exist.

Brandon: It’s like you’re either in it or you’re out of it.

Lacey: Yeah. So I try to think about it more like how can I integrate the two so that one is not ever more important than the other but that both are getting what I need. Then the other thing is just grace for myself. There’s only so much of me to go around and having good skills about prioritizing what’s most important. And ultimately for me, family is first. I have set some pretty clear boundaries with clients, with Xenium, with my family about how I’m going to make that work and so far, the last 10 years, it has worked really well.

Brandon: Good for you, Lace. We made it, 100 episodes.

Lacey: Awesome!

Brandon: We’re going to keep on going. You know, one thing that has been happening recently and I think it’s because I’ve been mentioning it. But I love it when people reach out on LinkedIn and just say like how you’re listening, what impact it has made, what kind of topics you want to learn about and some people recently have said, Hey, I listen to you on my train commute or my car commute or walk or whatever – however they’re getting to work. That’s just cool. I like hearing that.

Lacey: Me too.

Brandon: So continue to reach out and connect with me. I’m totally open. I’m not some robot behind a podcast mic. We’re people. We like to connect with you.

Lacey: Yes. Yeah, that would be awesome if they did that.

Brandon: So Lacey Halpern, as always, thank you for being part of the podcast.

Lacey: Thanks for having me again.

Brandon: Thank you for being on like 15 of the first 100 episodes or whatever it has been. You’ve been a rock for us and it’s always fun to get your perspectives.

Lacey: I love doing this. So thanks!

Brandon: Yeah. Have a great rest of your day.

Lacey: You too.

Brandon Laws

As Director of Marketing, Brandon Laws leads all marketing efforts for Xenium, providing oversight on all marketing campaigns, digital marketing strategy, events, sponsorships and public relations. Brandon brings a positive energy to every aspect of his role at Xenium—from internal initiatives around culture and wellness to industry thought leadership through the Xenium podcast and other social efforts. Active within the HR community, he currently volunteers on the board of the Portland Human Resource Management Association as the Director of Marketing & PR.

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