Xenium’s President on Top Trends in HR During 2017

Xenium’s President on Top Trends in HR During 2017

As we look forward to the rest of 2017, what can we expect to see in the world of business and human resources? What will employees expect from their workplaces, and how can you anticipate their needs as an employer? And the question on everyone’s mind: how will the changing political landscape impact business practice and employment law? Anne Donovan, President of Xenium HR, returns to the podcast to share her 2017 HR predictions along with actionable advice for how to stay ahead of the curve this year.

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MP3 File | Run Time: 33:01

Brandon: Welcome to the HR for Small Business Podcast, this is your host Brandon Laws. Today I’m with Anne Donovan. She’s the President of Xenium and has been on the podcast before. Welcome, Anne!

Anne: Thank you! Glad to be here.

Brandon: So today we’re going to talk 2017. There’s a lot of uncertainty as there always is starting a new year. I wanted to get your opinion, what are some of the trends that you’re looking at? Just at high level, three or four things that you’re looking at.

Donovan, Anne - circleAnne: Yeah! We’re a wonderful barometer of small to mid-sized companies because we work with so many different types of companies in different industries. You know, primarily in the northwest. But what we’re hearing from our clients are a couple of key themes. One is compensation planning and I think that with the millennials becoming a bigger part of the workforce, they really want to know where they stand, what their opportunity is and just the old school way of telling the employees, This is what you pay. Be happy with it and we’re not going to share anything else is no longer going to be adequate. I don’t think it’s the right way to go, either.

So what we’re helping companies do is to develop compensation philosophies and with that develop structure that makes sense, that is meaningful and that can be as transparent as you want it to be, so that people know where they stand and they know where they can grow.

I think what it also does is it underscores that you’re a culture that cares about developing people because part of developing yourself is what is your pay potential through this company and into the future. I think that’s going to be a really key concept in 2017. We’re getting more and more requests for that compensation planning even from very small companies.

Another one is leadership development. This is something that we do and are really proud of at Xenium. But this notion that mid-level leaders and supervisors all the way up to senior leaders need ongoing development of their leadership. And without a formal intentional plan, it becomes a back burner type of issue. Then your leaders are left to handle big important issues for your company without the skillsets that they need to do it effectively.

We have our leadership workshop series that we do here, which is great for our clients. But something that Xenium has done intentionally is to take our leadership group and really focus on development for specific leaders and, as a whole to say, you know, it’s on Xenium to make sure that our leaders are the best they can be for their employees. That is going to build the culture and help the contributor level employees be the best they can be because they’re having good support from their leaders. So leadership development is the second one.

And then the third one is one I think that has been going on for a couple of years and that is this employer of choice arena. Recruitment is only going to get tougher and in order to succeed in business, you have to get top talent. The only way to get top talent is to provide not just competitive pay and benefits, but a workplace that is rewarding, fulfilling, and fun. We’ve done a lot of work here at Xenium, but also for our clients, on how to make the culture intentionally the best place it can be. It’s not just about coming in, punching a clock and leaving at the end of the day. It’s about an enriching experience where you enjoy your coworkers, you get autonomy to do what you want to do and make your workplace what you put into it, not just receiving a culture that is coming top-down from a leadership team.  So those are the three things I think I would see as the trends.

Brandon Laws-18Brandon: Those are three good ones. Before I ask you a few questions about each of those – let’s talk legal trends. There are so many things popping up. Some were effective January 1st. What are some of the legal trends that are on your mind as not only a business leader but as somebody who’s so connected to the HR community?

Anne: Well, the interesting thing about being in Oregon is that we actually are kind of on the front end of some of the regulatory changes. An example of that would be the Oregon State Retirement Plan that was passed a while ago but is going to go into effect July 1st this year. But this is the notion that the State of Oregon is saying, those employers who aren’t offering a retirement plan, like a 401(k) or an IRA, now it’s going to be mandated that employers have to deduct from the employees in an auto-enroll type of scenario. You know, dollars to go to a retirement plan.

Brandon: So you’re saying that Oregon is kind of leading on that. What about federally then? I mean, are other states going to be adopting that? Then maybe the feds?

Anne: It’s tough to say at the federal level, especially with the new administration change, what will happen. I can tell you that I’m a government affairs committee representative for our industry and while Oregon will be the first to enact this, there are a handful-plus of other states that have it in the works and are just right behind us.

Now, would anything change with the new administration? Time will tell. There’s a lot of uncertainty around what will stay and what will go. ACA is an example of that. We have half a person dedicated to ACA services and it’s a big ship to turn if it does turn in the way that people are predicting. But that’s, for Xenium, a piece of our primary services that we provide. So that would shift for us in terms of how we provide services to our clients for regulatory-related reasons.

Brandon: Let’s go back to some of the trends that you originally talked about. Compensation planning, that one – I obviously have my pulse on the ground because I’m constantly developing content and researching for those sorts of things. Compensation is always coming up.

What has been the philosophy that you sort of adopted? We project on some of our clients as well and coach them, but what do you think at the end of the day – what do employees want in compensation?

xenium-what-people-want-final2Anne: That’s a great question, Brandon. We do a survey every year called What People Want from Work and we feel like it’s a very good pulse from the Portland metro market, and Oregon-wide frankly, around what people are looking for, and clarity around compensation is something that employees continue to ask for.

They’re also asking for pay-for-performance. So that is a message that Xenium has heard for years and, frankly, some employees were critical of Xenium for not paying the top performers more because it felt too egalitarian, if you will.

So one of the things we’ve adjusted is that we’ve intentionally stated in our compensation philosophy that we do pay for performance and that there is an increased opportunity for pay and bonus if you are in the top performer category.

I think that’s the right way to go. You need that incentive to make sure that you’re really encouraging the top talent in your company that there’s opportunity and that they get recognized and are valued for their extra efforts and top performance.

Brandon: Something I’ve been talking to Tana Thomson about, who’s our VP of HR and also our certified compensation specialist, she was talking about how total rewards and compensation is really the thing that people are looking at nowadays instead strictly cash compensation.

What are your thoughts on the trends of employers probably for this next year? Are they going to be focusing more on total rewards, which is basically cash, bonuses, benefits? You know, these little flexible benefits, even culture I guess?

Anne: I think culture is a part of total rewards. One of the things that you’ve been a part of here at Xenium that has had a huge impact on our culture is our book club. This notion of Xenium cares about our employees’ development and I love it because it has equal balance to – Xenium is going to put some skin in the game. We’re going to buy the books. We’re going to ask one of our top leaders, you, to lead and facilitate the discussions. But the employee has some skin in the game too. They have to read the book.

Brandon: They have to participate.

Anne: They have to participate! I love that because a lot of companies aren’t doing book clubs and we’re small enough that we can have an intimate, lively discussion and people are developing themselves. But they see that the company is making the effort to build a program that they can participate in. That’s one of the cooler culture-oriented rewards, if you will.

Brandon: That absolutely is a reward. I know a lot of people that really enjoy that and anybody can just pay cash compensation, right? But I think when you really look at how do you plan and how do you attract or retain when fighting for talent is non-stop, I think those are the things that are probably going to tip you over in terms of getting that talent or not.

Anne: I do too. I think the other thing that really makes a difference for people when they think about leaving and going to another company is the unknown. You know what you have here, you know those things that you really enjoy and fulfill you. We had a client years ago that paid top dollar. They really were over the top of the range in terms of where those positions were valued, and that was their intention. They said We’re going to pay top dollar. But their culture was really, really struggling and the top dollars didn’t keep the people. They had a lot of turnover because at the end of the day, it isn’t just about money. It’s about the holistic experience.

Brandon: So when you look at compensation planning as a part of what to pay attention to in 2017, your suggestion would be not to just look at cash and paying top dollar but to really have a philosophy around compensation and asking, What do we need? What is the market paying for this industry and this position? How do we highlight some of these other benefits or even create brand new ones to entice people to stay?

moneyAnne: I think that when you are looking at it holistically and you have unique, creative benefits like our massage benefit, a quarterly massage for every employee, those are things that people appreciate. I also would recommend to employers not to just look at compensation every couple of years or even once a year because there are going to be times when you need to evaluate if the market has moved. That’s happened to us before. We’ve had positions where the market moved quickly and we had to actually adjust our ranges because the entire position became worth more in the market and we were lagging.

Outside of our compensation review we actually went to the market, got the data and then moved our range for that particular position. That, in this market, can happen pretty quickly. So even reviewing it once a year may not be enough. You got to be nimble.

Brandon: I’m glad you’re bringing this up because I did want to talk about the economic climate, political climate, all those things, how they factor into whether or not wages are going up and down, is business good or bad. You brought up a really good point about how reviewing it once a year may not be enough. What do you recommend that people do?

Anne: Each time that you hire a new position or replace a position that needs to be refilled, I think it’s important to actually get market data. So that way it’s not just happening once a year at your compensation review, it’s happening in real time as you’re recruiting and to really force yourself to step outside of, Well, we’ve always paid this position X and that’s what we’re going to pay again.

Brandon: And that’s why you’re not attracting any new talent!

Anne: Exactly. If you want top talent, you have to be willing to pay for it. And what you may find out is that your top talent that’s right inside your company may be underpaid and they’re at risk. That is a flight risk for you if you were to lose those folks because if they’re good, recruiters are going to be on the phone connecting. That’s just a reality in this market with unemployment being where it’s at.

Brandon: Let’s talk about your next trend which was leadership development. This is something that – you talk about keeping people in your organization and nurturing within, this is a biggie. Leadership development, where do you even start with this?

Suzi Alligood Training workshopAnne: Well, the good news is we have a wonderful person in Suzi Alligood who is our Director of People and Culture. As a senior leadership team, recognized that we were doing a lot of work with our senior leadership team in terms of strategic planning, thinking about where we wanted to be, the direction of the company. And it became really clear that we had not yet intentionally developed our mid-level leadership.

One of the things we said to ourselves is we want that group of leaders to be able to make decisions with authority and make recommendations to us instead of coming to us with the hands in the air like, Oh, this happened. Now what do we do?! But to say, This happened, and here’s what I recommend we do. I just want to soundboard it with you. That, to us, is a distinctly different experience when you’re working with mid-level leaders and we knew that it was on us to develop them to be at a place where they could make that consultative recommendation to the senior leadership team.

We intentionally have a monthly meeting with our leaders, as you know, because you’re on the team. We’ve decided to choose several topics and we actually queried the group, too. We did a survey to say, What do you feel your competencies are the lowest in, that you need the most support and help with? Not in your job as a subject matter expert, but as a leader. What do you need the most support with? Then we actually applied a program that we will now deploy throughout the rest of the year so that when we get to the end of the year and we can actually measure it and say, Our leaders are better prepared to handle these situations.

Brandon: People listening who don’t have a Suzi, as we were just talking about, to develop a leadership program, where could they really start with this? Because to me it seems like with leadership development, it’s probably a combination of a lot of soft skills, emotional intelligence, mastery of management, mastery of your own position, just dealing with people, having business acumen. How do you build a program around all of these different topics and skillsets?

Anne: It’s a great question because it can’t just be classroom training. It can’t just be a talking head at the front of a room saying, Here’s how you give a performance review.

Brandon: It could be self-learning as well.

Anne: Yeah. One of the things that Suzi has done, both internally for Xenium and also for our clients, is develop a training matrix. In that matrix it actually defines the different types of learning that all people should have at their fingertips. The traditional learning of a trainer with a group of people is one way. Recommended leadership books as you’ve done through the book group, but also mentorship programs. One of the other things that we’ve done at Xenium, and you’ve been a part of this, is we’ve actually created a mentorship program where employees who need mentorship can sign up and say, I’d like a mentor, and employees who want to give back and develop their own leadership skills can be a mentor to those folks.

That has been uniquely different than the traditional types of learning and development. I have a mentee and she can come to me and say, This is what’s going on, I just need to bounce this off of you. You’re not my manager and that’s uniquely different. It gives me another set of ears in a way that – maybe in some ways is less daunting because I can bounce it off of you.

There’s a trust between the mentor and the mentee and it gives them resources at their fingertips. When the chips are down, when the tough decision comes, they don’t have to go it alone.

Leadership Meeting 2Brandon: How much of leadership development could be outside the walls? I recently did a podcast with Angela Perkins, who’s my boss and our VP of Sales and Marketing. We were talking about peer groups and how big that is. You’re part of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and several other groups. How have peer groups developed your leadership skills and how have you seen other people around you develop in similar groups?

Anne: I could go on and on about peer groups! It has been so impactful to my development individually and as a leader. You mentioned YPO, I’ve been a part of it for eight years now. The most compelling thing that I’ve learned through that process is that – you know, I joined it thinking, I’m going to get some good business and I will have issues that I will bring to this group, and then they will go around and they will tell me their experiences. But that was not how it came about, it was more organic and unexpected.

What will happen is a person in your group will have an issue and they will do a deep dive explanation and then we’re all jumping in and helping. But what happened for me was I realized in that moment that I have that same issue that someone else brought up, but I didn’t even know it. So a peer group can bring out new information, new questions that really challenge the leader to say, Am I falling down in that area or do I have a void in that regard or that element? It’s a mirror, if you will, that you can hold up to yourself that if you aren’t in a peer group, you don’t get. So it has been huge for our business. Not only the networking and business relationships, but really the learning about what’s happening in this market with other businesses, completely different industries. I’ve learned so much that I would otherwise not have ever been exposed to.

Brandon: So for 2017, you’re basically suggesting leadership development should be at the forefront of employers’ minds, HR people, whoever is going to be developing leadership programs. If somebody is kind of listening to this and saying, I just don’t have time. I’ll wait until 2018 for this, what are the inherent risks involved in not developing your leaders now?

Anne: I think this has been forever the case and it continues to be and that is is that people quit their managers, they don’t quit companies. So if you aren’t developing those leaders and they aren’t doing a good job for the important contributor-level employees in your business, you will risk turnover and lack of retention in those key employees. You’ll risk losing those managers because if they don’t get that development here and they are craving it, they’re going to leave to go get it somewhere else.

That goes back to being an employer of choice. It’s no longer OK just to say, You know, we’re a bunch of nice people and here’s your pay and here’s your benefits package and we all enjoy each other.

Our leadership team is reading The Leadership Contract.

Brandon: Yeah, great book.

Anne: Great book. And it actually really holds the leader’s feet to the fire and says it’s not enough just to say, OK, I’ll be a leader. You have to actually step up and do the hard work of leadership, and it is hard work. It’s more work.

Brandon: But you have to commit and you have to say, OK, I’m all in.

Anne: And you’re going to be better for it. You’re going to develop yourself, and your employees are going to get a better leader out of you because of that commitment. So it’s an awesome read and I recommend it to anybody who’s looking for a leadership book.

Brandon: Let’s move on to employer of choice, which is your third trend for 2017. This one has actually been on I think the radar of a lot of people for a couple of years now.

I read an article yesterday. So we’re recording this podcast on the 5th of January right now. It was the 4th that I read an article on SHRM about how employers are basically doubling their budgets on employer branding, which is, I guess, at the forefront of being an employer of choice. It’s the marketing front of appealing to potential candidates. What are your thoughts about marketing and HR working together to become that employer of choice?

Anne: I think it’s critical, because it takes several different approaches to make that happen. As you know, because you’ve been a part of it, we have looked at our recruitment of top talent as a branding strategy. We have worked to incorporate that into our purpose statement which is It’s About People. We want the market of people who aren’t even looking for a job to know what Xenium is about and what it means to the people that work here.

I’m really proud of the work we’ve done in that because when someone goes to our website, they get a very good sense of who Xenium is and the kind of people that we have.

The other thing I would tell you that was one of the best decisions we made and we can still improve on this and do a better job, but we took the fun and cultural component outside of the leadership team itself and put it into the hands of the people who care about our culture and said, Take good care of this place that we have together.

XCITE Team-6We gave them a budget and we don’t tell them how to spend that budget. That team, we call it XCITE and it’s our Xenium Culture and Integration Team Enhancement. It is essentially has the autonomy and authority to plan events, to do recognition, to actually hold the leadership team’s feet to the fire. If they see something going on that they need to change or they don’t feel is the direction we want our culture to go, they have control, and that made the difference for us because that’s where all the best ideas are. It’s our culture together to keep and to just say, Here’s the vision. Here’s the mission and here’s our leadership purpose isn’t enough. We needed everyone embracing it and that made a difference.

Brandon: You just said that it’s ours and that was exactly what was going through my head. It’s like there was a sense of ownership in having a culture committee that is owning basically the culture itself. They know what’s expected of them, they have a budget. But they make it what they want within the parameters and what our purpose is and all those things, the value statements. I think that was the difference, being able to own it because then you’re proud of it and you project it outward. Kind of like in marketing, your people are your best marketers.

Anne: Absolutely.

Brandon: Your employees are your best recruiters.

Anne: That’s right!

Brandon: One recruiter would go and find the candidates and hoping to find a match. You could be an employer of choice all you want with one recruiter but I think your employees can help if they own the culture and they’re proud of it.

Anne: Absolutely. I mentioned earlier in our discussion that we have a What People Want from Work survey that we produce every year. We take it ourselves internally but we also gather data from all of our clients and prospects who are interested in participating. We’re now starting to see trends and you can benchmark one year over the next to see how a company is doing.

One of the things that came up not only at Xenium but across all of the companies that we surveyed was this issue of flexibility. I think, piggybacking on this, allowing people to own their culture, part of owning your schedule and saying, I am a responsible adult and I know I have customers and internal employees that I’m accountable to. The flexibility factor of how I approach my work and even my schedule is huge to employees, way more I think than it was even five, ten years ago.

Brandon: I’ve seen such a trend in the last year where – we talked about wanting to be an employer of choice, people want to work from home or work remotely and work where they want to work when they want to work. Is that one of the ways you could become an employer of choice, by allowing that flexibility? Not every industry can do this.

Anne: No, I agree because sometimes you need to have an employee who’s physically here.

Brandon: I’ve worked in the production environment. I know that you cannot leave – I can’t work from home!

Anne: That’s right. I’m going to look at our payroll specialists, too. We have some unique flexibility situations that we’ve gotten creative around. But I’ll tell you, my personal opinion around flexibility is try to do it as much as you can, but don’t completely have people working from home without that connectivity of being able to sit face-to-face like I am here with you today to get to know people, because that is part of the culture that you don’t want to give up.

The only way you can have that sort of flexibility and autonomy where people are remote and working from home is if you have a strong culture of performance and people getting the job done when they say they’re going to.

One of our things is I will do what I will say I do. I honor my commitments. You have to have that value as a part of the culture and have employees who hold themselves accountable to that. If you don’t have that in place, it’s out of sight, out of mind. I think there is risk with losing the connective tissue of a really strong culture. You’ve got to have both.

Brandon: Besides culture, the flexibility that we’re talking about, compensation we’ve touched on, anything else that employers could do to become that employer of choice? Things that you found that have been unique or like wow, OK, maybe we should do that?

Front DeskAnne: One of the things that comes to mind for me that I’ve heard in the surveys is that people do care that they have a relationship. So whatever that might look like, especially between a manager and their employee, they want to know that they have a connection and a relationship with that person and that it’s not just purely work-related, of the mindset that We never discuss anything that’s going on. Because when we show up at work, we are humans and we’re people that have all kinds of things going on and I think I would recommend to employers that they encourage and develop the EQ side of their leaders so that even when it feels like the chips are down and all you have time for is just 100% task, business-oriented items, it is really important to stop and smell the roses for a minute. You don’t have to spend a lot of time on it, but people need to know that you actually care about them, that you care about their family.

Brandon: The empathy and trust, those are two things that come to mind when you talk about the relationships. If you don’t have those things, it’s really hard to be passionate about working or even with people you work around.

Anne: Absolutely. I think people are much more likely to leave if they don’t have that connectivity with their manager and with their coworkers. Investing in the actual activities of bringing employees together – you know, we had a holiday party where we did karaoke and we played games.

Brandon: I took part!

Anne: You took part, I’ve got a picture of it! So I think that’s the fun part of making sure that we work hard and we play hard together. That’s what keeps people engaged. And, honestly, that is one of the most important things for retaining top talent because it isn’t just about coming in, showing up, doing work and going home.

Brandon: So what are the effects of being the employer of choice? If somebody does it really well this next year, what are some of those outcomes that they could see?

Anne: Retention, number one. I always tell leaders to ask themselves this question: When you look around your company and you come up with the top 10 percent or 20 percent of your performers, that if they walked into your office tomorrow and said, “I got another job, I’m resigning,” if that’s a pit in your stomach, when you say that out loud, those are the reasons why you need to invest in them.

We have something called stay interviews, which I think is a really important strategy and it’s super easy to do. It’s a simple set of questions and you can make up your own. But go to those top talents and say, Why do you stay, and what would make you leave?

The answers to those two questions are like magic for you!

Brandon: It’s huge. If you do an exit interview which is more common – it’s too late by that point.

Anne: It’s too late.

Brandon: You can only learn from the mistakes that you made.

Anne: That’s right.

Brandon: But with a stay interview, at least you can iterate throughout as people are still there.

LauraAnne: Start with the ones that you are really intent on retaining to your business. Start with your top talent.

The other thing about exit interviews as you mentioned is take time to really absorb what you’re hearing. It’s super easy for leaders to grain of salt their response to an exit interview. Like, oh, that’s just them. They were just sour grapes and moving on and wanted to get a few digs in.

You know, my advice is: perception is reality. Their experience is what it is. Whether you agree with it or not, it was their experience and you have to hold the mirror up to yourself to say, What does that mean for me and are there others in the organization that might be feeling the same way? Are there small tweaks we can make to make sure that when someone in the future leaves, that’s not their experience?

You have to say thank you for that information and let it absorb into your organization to make yourself better.

Brandon: Well, that’s good stuff. So I’m going to do a quick recap. Your number one HR trend, compensation planning. Your second, leadership development, and your third, employer of choice. Since I have you, I do want to get your opinion on what this next year is going to bring. We have a new presidential administration for 2017 and beyond. What is that going to do with the business climate and the economic climate?

Anne: It’s interesting you ask that. I was on a conference call yesterday with the government affairs committee for our industry and the industry is in DC. The CEO said, We’ve got to tell you. Everyone is surprised. So the biggest issue is that people weren’t prepared. They thought one thing was going to happen and then another situation came out of it.

So there’s a lot of scrambling, if you will, to figure out what does this mean for us. As employers, I think that’s the same thing. People are wondering, What’s going to change for me? I mentioned that if ACA ends up changing, evolving, what does that mean for our company and how we deliver those services?

There’s just a lot of unknowns and I think that’s what I would say about it is that people don’t know yet what it means. People are speculating a lot and I think there are some people that are looking at it fearfully, but the opposite of fear is hope. So what you have to do is to get prepared around what are my strategies going to be.

I do think from a regulatory environment, things would shift. As we know, the FLSA regs, the salary thresholds that were going to go into effect 12/1 …

Brandon: I was just about to mention that.

Anne: … didn’t happen and are on hold for now, right? So that’s an example of how an employer will be impacted potentially by changes to the Department of Labor and how the whole organization might be shifting just based on the political tides.

So I think it’s going to be interesting. I think it’s important for people to stay abreast of the regulatory environment, go to sessions and seminars. You know, law firms do a great job of putting those on, we put them on. I think that will really help people at least get their head wrapped around what’s possible and to stay on top of when things do change, because you do have to pivot, as an employer.

Brandon: Well, that’s the crazy thing about this political climate changing is that you’re like, OK. Do I wait and see what’s going to happen? Do I hold or do I get started? I mean – and you brought up the FLSA regs. People were communicating with their employees about things changing and then all of a sudden it was halted. As an employer, even if you’re prepared, it’s like what do you do?

Anne: A lot of our clients had already communicated it. A few I think might have hit the pause button and rolled it back, but most of them I think ended up saying, You know what? It is what it is and – back to this employer of choice – I want to make sure my people are paid well. If they’re not, they’re going to leave.

While pay is not everything, there is this threshold of if you don’t get close to mid-market, you’re at risk. I think that’s the other thing you have to remind yourself of is, What are the risks if I don’t? Because your people, especially in our business, they’re the most important part.

Brandon: What is the economic climate looking like for you?

Anne Donovan, Xenium PresidentAnne: We did, as you know, a really nice event with John Mitchell, the economist. I’m feeling really positive about the economy. I think, especially in our business and as we look across our small business clients, people are feeling pretty good about opportunity.

Brandon: They’re still hiring, right?

Anne: People are still hiring. The unemployment rate is as low as it’s been in seven or eight years. I think there is a lot of opportunity in front of us. So I would push that out for a while. I’m no economist, I’m no expert on it, but what I hear from our other business owners who are clients and prospects of ours is that people are feeling pretty good about 2017.

Brandon: It sounds like you’re pretty hopeful as well.

Anne: I am. I’m a hopeful, positive person, so I like to stay in that space.

Brandon: One last thing for you, I’m going to start a phrase and you’re going to end it. 2017 is going to be the year of …?

Anne: Change.

Brandon: Wow! That’s not what I thought you were going to say. But I like that.

Anne: I think it’s going to be a year of change. And mostly because this political climate is changing and shifting, not just here in the United States but worldwide. There are all kinds of things happening. I think people are going to have to open their minds to a new normal and discover how they fit into that normal. While it’s challenging, I think for a lot of people, change is inevitable.

Brandon: Change is good.

Anne: It’s a good thing. You can pivot and learn and grow when you are willing to change.

Brandon: I always feel like employers need to look at yourself in the mirror – everyone needs to do it. I think that’s why people do resolutions.

Anne: Yes.

Brandon: And say, Who am I? What do I want to be? and then make the necessary changes to become that. Talk about employer of choice, all these things, and to look themselves in the mirror and plan and make 2017 a great year, even if there is change.

Anne: Totally agree with that. If you’re open to it and prepped for the concept of change, I think you’re going to be in a much better position as you move through it.

Brandon: Awesome, Anne. Thank you for the insights.

Anne: Absolutely. Glad to be here.

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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