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Utah Business

Here's what Utah's leaders have to say about the state of the market.

Utah Business partnered with Weave to host a roundtable event featuring some of Utah's best talent acquisition specialists. Here's what was discussed.

A conversation with talent acquisition specialists

Utah Business partnered with Weave to host a roundtable event featuring some of Utah's best talent acquisition specialists. Here's what was discussed.

This month, Utah Business partnered with Weave to host a roundtable event featuring Utah’s talent acquisition and human resources leaders. Co-moderated by Carl Sokia, founder and CEO of Experience Management Solutions, and Brooke Shreeve, head of people at Weave, the group discussed building a brand, approaches to recruiting in today’s market, and the software that helps them throughout the process. Here are a few highlights from the event.  

How have the many recent layoffs changed your recruiting process and approach? 

Matthew Miller | Senior Talent Acquisition Partner | Merrick Bank

Whenever we hear of layoffs, we try to connect with the head of HR or talent acquisition at those companies and help those individuals that are now facing unemployment find a job they’re excited about. We’re fortunate enough to be growing the way that we are, so whenever we hear of layoffs, we immediately reach out and let those people know the roles we’ve got open so they can help those employees transition with as little downtime as possible.

Kim Wittman | SVP, People & Culture | Vivint

It’s been two years since we’ve done any type of layoffs, but I think it helps the leadership team make sure that we’re communicating better on what our strategy is and that we’re being selective in our hiring process. I think it’s important that our employees feel safe. In the past, as an employer in the layoff, we hosted a career fair and got employers to come in and meet with our people. 

Kimberly Mepham | Senior Director, Talent Acquisition (Americas) | bioMérieux

The market has been all over the place, and it’s been really hard to forecast. You hear all this anecdotal evidence of layoffs and about all of these fears. Then the jobs report comes out, and there’s more job growth, not as many layoffs as expected, and payroll is growing. We’re choosing to remain very active and aggressive in hiring because we have a lot of needs at this point. We tell a different story because we’re in healthcare—it’s a stable market. Through the pandemic, not only were we stable, but business got better, unfortunately, and that always happens whenever there’s kind of a healthcare crisis. If anything, we change how we market to our candidates, and we tell a different story about our culture, which is that of stability.

Suzanne Houghton | Talent Acquisition Manager | USANA Health Sciences

We are really strategic about the way we look at our open positions. We look at them and say, “Is there as strong of a need as there was maybe two years ago for this position?” We also have an executive team that’s very transparent with our employees. A few months ago, our president really put the responsibility back on our executive team to take the message to our employees that we were not in a hiring freeze and we were not laying off our employees. I think that helped ease some of the concerns our employees had. 

Amber Kammer | Head of Talent Acquisition | Weave

LinkedIn just put out a report that said when there’s a downturn in the market and competitors are hiring, the companies that end up coming out of downturns are those that continue to invest in people and their growth. Reputation matters, and your candidates and employees really appreciate that. I think there’s something to be said about maintaining a course of action and not getting caught up in the news. We hear of layoffs every day, but the market data just came out, and it’s still super strong. 

How do you create an ROI when you recruit, especially during a downturn in the market?

Kimberly Mepham | Senior Director, Talent Acquisition (Americas) | bioMérieux

During the Great Resignation, people started to really value talent acquisition as the unsung hero of culture and people builders. It’s time to leverage that. We’re not in a hunting mode; we’re in a farming mode. You have to be thinking long-term. One of the things that always goes out the window first whenever the market shifts from a candidate-driven market to an employer-driven market is candidate experience, and it becomes really transactional for a lot of people. So now is the time to invest in that candidate experience and in brand building. It’s pipeline development—nurturing your second and third-choice candidates who you can build a relationship with and translate that into a hire later on. 

Suzanne Houghton | Talent Acquisition Manager | USANA Health Sciences

I’m always looking to hire for USANA rather than just looking to hire for a position. That’s one of the things that I really love about the talent acquisition side: developing those relationships and hiring for a future job that I don’t even know exists yet. 

Matthew Miller | Senior Talent Acquisition Partner | Merrick Bank

One of the strategies that I try to instill in junior recruiters and our talent acquisition coordinator is that our candidates need to have an amazing experience. Even if they don’t get that job, if they’re the second or third choice, they still walk out or turn off their camera from the interview and say, “Holy cow, that was an amazing experience.” They go and tell two or three people, and they also will come back later. We’ve coined the phrase, “We’re going to hire people we like and that we’d like to work with.” It’s that same mentality of hiring for the brand, not necessarily hiring just because we’re so panicked to fill a role. 

Utah Business partnered with Weave to host a roundtable event featuring some of Utah's best talent acquisition specialists. Here's what was discussed.

What new software and tools have been important to your recruiting efforts? 

Amber Kammer | Head of Talent Acquisition | Weave

We do probably two or three demos a month around new tech stacks that are coming out. One that has been really interesting is TalentWall, a really integrated analytics platform. Gem is also a great one from a mining capability.

Matthew Miller | Senior Talent Acquisition Partner | Merrick Bank

We’ve invested heavily into remote capabilities. Now that we’re coming back from the pandemic, we’re having our employees remain remote or hybrid. Our chief people officer has no intention of asking people to come back in-office five days a week, just because that’s where the market is shifting. One of the other things that we’ve invested in from a technology standpoint is compensation data. We use that not only to be as competitive as we possibly can but also to grow responsibly. 

Suzanne Houghton | Talent Acquisition Manager | USANA Health Sciences

We are really excited to be getting a new ATS this fall after a long, long lifetime with Taleo. One of the programs that we’ve implemented in the last few years at USANA is a local company called Journeyfront, a candidate assessment tool. All of our current employees have taken this profile, and it allows us to see what they value in a workplace, what they value in a work-life balance, what drives them to succeed, and what drives them to have high performance. When we have candidates come in, we’re actually giving them this same assessment. We’re also taking our performance data from the year and comparing them to our highest performers. On the flip side, our managers have been able to use Journeyfront to understand their new employees coming in. If they have a new employee that is maybe a little stagnant, we can go back to Journeyfront and say, “Okay, what does this person value?” 

What strategies have been most impactful in building your hiring brand?

Kim Wittman | SVP, People & Culture | Vivint

We hire 5,000 people a year, so the number of interactions we have with candidates is huge. We have 13,000 employees, so when you think about both sides of that, you want to create a really awesome employee experience because that is a phenomenal, free way to create an employment brand. Generally, when you’re looking for a job, you will try to find someone that works for the company and ask their opinion. When you think about the talent pipeline all the way from the process of submitting a resume all the way through the hiring process, there’s so much that can go right, and there’s so much that can go wrong. I think the standard is so high that it’s almost impossible to create a perfect candidate experience, so it’s about putting your best foot forward. We encourage our employee base to post through LinkedIn and give their experiences, and we really try to celebrate that. It all leads to the same place of how someone views the company.

Utah Business partnered with Weave to host a roundtable event featuring some of Utah's best talent acquisition specialists. Here's what was discussed.

Matthew Miller | Senior Talent Acquisition Partner | Merrick Bank

We’ve all seen companies say, “This is what we want our culture to be,” but the execution of it falls flat. Through employee engagement surveys and reading reviews on LinkedIn, Indeed, and Glassdoor, we’re really taking those pieces of what our employees, former employees, and current employees are saying and defining our culture as opposed to stating a culture. I think it’s important for companies to, rather than establish this artificial culture, define what their current culture is and remedy any deficiencies with genuine intent. Then, go out and share what the culture is as opposed to this concept of what you want it to be.

Tawny Rodriguez | Human Resources Director | Squire and Company, PC

When Covid hit and everybody moved to remote and hybrid work, we realized that a big part of our culture was our open-door policy. Before, you could go to any partner’s office at any time and discuss the culture. So to be intentional about this, we hired a third party to come in and survey our employees about our culture. In January 2023, we’re going to roll out to all employees what our new culture is. It’s going to be more simple, more clear-cut, and something that the employees themselves have worked on and expressed in their own words. 

Dr. Bobby Low | Head of People Science | Motivosity

In the HR world, our product is our company, and we’re trying to sell that to people. I want to share a thought about human motivators. If we can do a great job at pushing these five buttons, we’ll be able to attract people to our companies. The first one is “meaning”—we want to contribute to something greater than ourselves. The next one is “relationships.” The more you can promote building relationships—relationships with your managers, peers, and teams—the more you will attract and keep people. There’s a lot of research on the retainment side that says people stay at a job because they’re connected to their teams.

The next two are kind of combined: the ability to develop mastery or confidence inside of your organization and how that’s tied to achievement. We want to learn new skills, develop new competencies, lead teams, and work on strategic projects. Tied right to that is the ability to have a sense of frequent achievement. The last one is the autonomy piece, which is essentially our ability to control our own world. This is why, in hiring, the hybrid model has become so attractive. Having a hybrid or a flexible work environment where I can construct my own day is actually better for the company because they’re getting more productive work out of me, and it’s also better for me because I get to spend that time when I’m most productive. I think if we can get more strategic about shaping our company brand around what motivates humans, we’ll be able to really attract people to our companies.

Utah Business partnered with Weave to host a roundtable event featuring some of Utah's best talent acquisition specialists. Here's what was discussed.

Mekenna is the assistant editor of Utah Business magazine and a graduate of the print journalism program at Utah State University. She has written about business, music, and culture for publications like Business Insider, Time Out, SLUG Magazine, Visit Salt Lake, and the Standard-Examiner. She loves hiking, thrifting, reading, and taking camping trips with her partner in their 1986 Land Cruiser.