Podcast: Accurate Background’s CHRO Looks at Hybrid Work, HR’s Evolution

Hybrid HR

Mark:

Welcome to PeopleTech, the podcast of the HCM Technology Report. I’m Mark Feffer.

            My guest today is Stacey Torrico, the CHRO of Accurate Background. They provide employment background screening and workforce monitoring. Stacey’s job involves HR strategy, talent acquisition, diversity, equity and inclusion, and learning and development. We’re going to talk about the changing workforce, how employers addressed COVID, and how HR has changed on this edition of PeopleTech.

            Hi, Stacy. Welcome. And you’ve been in HR for a while, and I’m curious about the changes that you’ve seen. How does HR today differ from HR, say, 20 years ago?

Stacey Torrico:

HR, for me, has really evolved, and that might be a little reflection of my growth from being early career 20 years ago to where we are today. But I think HR has become really a much more strategic function. Over time, when I think about where I started and where I am today, really kind of interjecting themselves more as we think about workforce planning capabilities in the future and where we need to take companies. I think, not to say HR was not strategic 20 years ago, but I think it was probably a little bit more of a tactical view in the way we support our employees, as opposed to really repositioning ourselves as a function that can work alongside the business to think through, what are those capabilities you need in order to help bring the company, achieving their strategy or continuing to propel it forward in its growth journey?

            And then certainly post-pandemic, HR really has, I think, kind of reinvented themselves, again, around thinking about how do we pivot in the way we think about not only helping the company grow and the way we bring the right resources to the table and achieving that strategic plan. But also providing the environment where employees want to work for a company, have the right balance around work and life because that has become such a central point of what is important to employees when you think about 2019 versus today. And being able to kind of go remote and have the best of both worlds.

            And so HR had to become much more creative in the way we provide solutions and an environment that employees want to stay with the company, especially in a tight job market where a lot of employees, especially our technology employees can go out. And I think the statistic when I joined Accurate a year ago was, tech talents on the market for nine days and they’ve got a job. And so how do we continue to create an environment that resonates for our workforce? That’s competitive with other companies, but also focuses on delivering for the business. It’s a balancing act right now, especially.

Mark:

There’s a lot of things that have been driving changes in HR and especially in the last few years. And one of the big results, I think, has been hybrid work. So of the changes you’re talking about, did hybrid work play a role in making those changes come about? Or has it been more of a background thing?

Stacey Torrico:

I think that is something I imagine every HR leader is trying to navigate. Certainly, as we thought about our return to the office, the CEO and I talked a lot about when is the right time to reengage and come back into the office? And what does our long term plan look like, especially again, in a tight labor market? And we made the conscious choice to kind of wait, let’s wait. Because we didn’t want to be like companies that were trying to get their teams back and then they kept delaying and we’re jerking our employees, “Come back. No, just kidding. Stay remote.”

            And so it’s given us more time to reflect about a hybrid work model where … so what we’re trying to navigate. And I think what other HR leaders or really leadership teams are trying to navigate is how do you implement a hybrid work model? Because I think that’s how you’re going to retain good talent and certainly, a female workforce that has largely dropped out during COVID to take care of their families and kind of manage that. So when we think about diversity, I think it opens up a wider slate to be able to retain good talent. But we need to think about our leadership, how do we train our leaders to really lead in a hybrid work environment? Where you may have some in office and some remote or some part-time in office and some remote. And how do you make sure you’re giving the right access to opportunities and not just the person you can walk down the hall to? How do we think about training and development?

            We’ve lost some early career employees who said, “I feel isolated and I don’t know that the training opportunities are necessarily there.” So how do we rethink the way we lead in that hybrid model? Make sure we’re getting the development of our early career. A lot of employees feel connected to their teams, but not connected to the whole. So it really is change in the way we lead, the way we communicate, the way we collaborate, the way we define the purpose of why we’re coming into the office. So that we’re much more intentional about the way we engage and kind of shape and mold culture for the future. Because we will be largely in a hybrid work model, really looking to retain our teams. That they say now, and I’m sure you’ve read a lot of the articles that compensation isn’t the only driver to why people want to stay. And that really has changed to, can I have that work life flexibility to take care of my personal and my professional needs and priorities?

Mark:

I’m wondering though, is hybrid work as popular as everybody says it is? I’m wondering if it’s got sort of a good tailwind of hype behind it. Or do you think it’s really true?

Stacey Torrico:

This is my view, I feel like this is a little bit of an experiment. I think companies can do it and they have to put a lot of intention around it. But I think a year from now, we’ll be looking back and saying, “Have we been able to work and retain talent and kind of mold our culture in a way that had the outcome we were hoping?” I don’t know if that’s the answer I should be sharing. But I do think it’s a little bit of a test. It will be interesting over time … kind of look back to the popular trend was open work concept. We’re going to have open space and it’s going to really promote collaboration. And there has been debate on whether or not that truly was the case. And did it kind of limit some collaboration as people put headsets on?

            And so, I think companies can do it, and I think they’re going to retain a good talent by doing it right now, because we have kind of reset the table around, the pandemic occurred, people showed that they could go home and get their work done just as productively as being in the office. And so thinking differently about how we engage our teams, I think, is something we need to do. But I think over time, it will tell us whether or not this was as successful as we hope it will be.

Mark:

Shifting gears a little bit to talk about backgrounds, does hybrid work pose any kind of challenge to companies like Accurate?

Stacey Torrico:

I haven’t thought about that too much. I don’t think so. I mean, as long as we can go in and complete our background checks for our clients, I don’t think it changes what we do or how we do it. So, no, I don’t think it’s going to have a big impact on that. And then, for our workforce and how we deliver our work, I think we’ve shown we can do it successfully. And so I don’t see it really being a big impact at this point.

Mark:

To take a little detour, I’m betting that most of the people who are listening to this podcast know a little bit about background, but not a lot. And I wondered if you could just step me through the process. When you’re checking out employee or potential employee, what are the steps that you go through?

Stacey Torrico:

Okay. So, our customers certainly put in the request to check a background. I should have brought one of our sales or account managers to really describe their process, but certainly we have a team in our fulfillment, our operations team that would go through the steps based on the type of background check we need to complete, to ensure that we are going through the proper checks to clear someone’s background in order to clear them to start with our clients or the HR teams that we serve.

Mark:

When it comes to background screening, I’m certainly a layman. I’ve never run a background check, I’ve been checked, but that’s about all I know. And seems to me that hybrid work is people bringing work into their home. So you may have some tension between the personal and professional there. And I wonder if that’s somehow creeping over into background screening where you’ve got the need for information and the desire for privacy on the other side.

Stacey Torrico:

Yeah. I mean, I think if you’re talking about from an HR viewpoint, or certainly as you think about companies kind of thinking about productivity, privacy or if it’s PII or different things. Certainly PII touches our business and the way we do background checks. And I think some companies are making the decision to put controls in place where they can monitor and ensure work is getting done. And I don’t know if that’s answering your question, but really kind of putting some controls in place to understand, an employee’s working from home, we don’t have line of sight. Is the productivity happening that needs to occur?

            And so I do think that comes into play, you’re working for a company and while an employee may feel I’m at home and I can have full privacy around the way I’m getting my work done. I think it doesn’t necessarily mean that, depending on the controls that a company’s decided to put in place to ensure that an employee’s working during the time that they’re supposed to. But I think there’s also debate on if an employee is getting their work done, whether it’s traditional hours or it’s by means of hours that they can get the work done. I think it varies by company. I don’t know if that answers your question.

Mark:

Oh yeah. No, it does. I guess I was wondering what the creep is, if you know what I mean. If hybrid work was pulling more concern into the home about things like privacy. I sort of asked this before, but I’d like to ask it more specifically. And that’s about screening with a hybrid workforce. Are there truly different concerns with screening when you’re working with hybrid workers or remote workers for that matter?

Stacey Torrico:

I mean, if you’re thinking about screening by way of an employer screening for … considering an employer you’re going to hire … if our client comes and says, “Screen an employee.” What we’re typically validating is their job history, their employment verification, where they’ve worked, certainly if there is a drug screening component. Maybe if you give me time to think about that a little more, but just on its face, I don’t think that there is an impact in kind of the traditional way we’ve done screening to say, “Has this individual worked for these companies that they’ve stated for this period of time? And did they get their degree?” And some of the regular checks you go through, I don’t know how hybrid really changes those kind of static things that you’re checking, if that makes sense.

Mark:

Yep. Now I’m wondering about the great resignation and what kind of pressure has that put on you.

Stacey Torrico:

That has been tough. And that’s why we’ve been kind of measured in thinking through the way we’re going to return to the office and what our long term work model is. I mean, every company is experiencing probably more turnover than they have traditionally experienced if they looked at pre pandemic, there is quite a bit of turnover in churn.

            We are really in a place now where we’re doing a lot of kind of benchmarking and validation around what we offer employees. If we think about compensation, benefits, some of the more intangible benefits that we need to think through to say, “How do we create an employer brand, an employee value proper position, the way we develop employees? How do we really articulate what you’re going to get at Accurate and why you want to come and why you would want to stay?”

            So not only to make sure we’re competitive in the marketplace around compensation, benefits, some of the more traditional pieces. But also really taking the time to articulate, here’s what you’ll get at Accurate when you think about development, when you think about career growth, when you think about flexibility, being able to take time off, those types of things. So it really is making us really kind of hone in on, what is important to our employees? And then how do we develop programs around that to make sure we can do our best?

            We’re going to have attrition. People sat during COVID and didn’t change jobs. And then the market opened up and everyone wanted to move around because we didn’t have that churn for a couple years. And so again, we are doing our best to try to really provide benefits and programs that reflect our employees wants and the culture we’re trying to create, that aligns with our workforce demographic. To do our best to retain the good talent that we have and attract, as well.

Mark:

And how do you feel that’s going?

Stacey Torrico:

There’s still attrition, but I think we are doing a good job. We have increased our internal mobility percentage around individuals that are moving into new roles. Again, we’ve launched a development platform enterprise wide for our employees. We’re really providing more thoughtful offerings. So, just by nature of kind of what’s going on right now, we’re seeing that churn. And there’s only so much that you can try to continue to address that attrition. But certainly I think we’re rolling out good programs that we’re getting great feedback on, that I think is making an impact.

Mark:

Well, Stacy, thanks very much. I appreciate your time today.

Stacey Torrico:

Thank you. I appreciate the opportunity.

Mark:

My guest today has been Stacey Torrico, CHRO of Accurate Background. And this has been PeopleTech, the podcast of the HCM Technology Report. We’re a publication of Recruiting Daily. We’re also a part of Evergreen Podcasts. To see all of their programs, visit www.evergreenpodcasts.com. And to keep up with HR technology, visit the HCM Technology Report every day. We’re the most trusted source of news in the HR tech industry. Find us at www.hcmtechnologyreport.com. I’m Mark Feffer.

Image: iStock

Previous articleRChilli Launching List of Values for Oracle Clients For Enhanced CX
Next articleRoundup: Cappfinity Expands VR Experience; Tech Makes HR More Efficient