In his role as “Seeker of Talent” at Goodwill Industries of North Central Wisconsin, Jay Stephany handles human resource issues. He sat down with Insight Executive Editor Margaret LeBrun to discuss how, as the new president of the Fox Valley Chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management, he is spreading the word that SHRM is a resource for any business with questions about employee issues.
In the last three or four years as the economy was down it was an employer’s market in regards to being able to select talent. At the beginning of 2014 that changed very quickly. Now, I think we’re all fighting for the talent that’s out there. The top goal for me in 2015 is, “How do we brand ourselves for the potential team members who will be joining the organization?”
At Goodwill I am the Seeker of Talent. I have been with Goodwill for 13 years in that position. I handle all the leadership and professional hiring within the organization and all the compensation work. Part of it is also being able to communicate what the Goodwill brand is all about on the employment side.
When the economy was down, a lot of people weren’t happy where they were working but they didn’t want to leave. You had a lot of people staying at their jobs that maybe weren’t engaged in what they were doing. The economy turns around and they start to feel more comfortable about moving on to new opportunities. Employers that were able to get away without being “best in show” now have to see what they can offer, not only in compensation and benefits but what they can provide that a competitor can’t.
A lot of it is flexibility, in regards to something as simple as day care drop off or if your child has a soccer game, or if you have to care for your parents or handle other difficult situations. Some people do their work better in the morning, so they may want to flex their hours and leave earlier, or some can work at night.
A lot of it has to do with companies being able to trust their employees — if they’re working from home or telecommuting or even taking their laptop to a coffeehouse. That goes back to a company’s culture. At the end of the day, if deadlines are being met and work is moving forward, does it really matter how or where the work is being done?
It’s all about technology. I have 26 retail stores in 35 counties. For me to drive four and a half hours to Rice Lake — which is our farthest store — makes no sense when I can do everything I need to with a conference call or the Internet or video conference.
One of the things that sets a company apart is, does a potential candidate even know what your company is or what it does? The company website is going to give a lot of information but they might learn more through word-of-mouth or the company’s social media, like Facebook or Twitter.
I am also the chapter president of the Fox Valley SHRM chapter, Society of Human Resource Management. There are 18 chapters in Wisconsin. We have about 350 HR professionals and small business owners who don’t have a dedicated HR person. We provide educational opportunities for our chapter members and also let others in the area know there is a human resource agency there when they do have questions. We offer educational opportunities to be able to keep them up to date with changes in laws and regulations. It’s also a great opportunity to be able to network with other HR professionals, who may feel like an island.
Culture starts at the top at Goodwill, with Bob Pedersen as president and CEO (the title he tells the bank) and also Chief Visionary and Storyteller. We have Alex Tyink with the Goodwill Grows program, he’s our Head of Lettuce, he’s the program leader — so we get to have fun.
To be the face of Goodwill really means a lot. That’s why our selection process is so keen on really making sure that ultimately the person who is representing us is doing it the right way.