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How to boost HR effectiveness with Molly Eyerman | On Top of PR podcast

By On Top of PR

On Top of PR podcast: how to boost HR effectiveness with guest Molly Eyerman and show host Jason Mudd episode graphicThis episode discusses how to boost HR effectiveness in order to recruit, manage, and retain top talent.



Our episode guest is Molly Eyerman, founder and CEO of VIVO Growth Partners. Molly is an HR expert who helps companies recruit, manage, and retain top talent.



Five things you’ll learn from this episode:

  1. The hidden implications of counteroffers  
  2. The most common reasons that people leave their jobs
  3. The benefits of having a performance-based job culture 
  4. Why discussing compensation on a peer-to-peer level prevents bias
  5. The current trends in benefit programs


  • “Ask your people what they want because that makes them feel valued and feel that they have a voice in making a decision about what they get.”— @MollyEyerman 
  • “All of the different changes throughout the pandemic have made people realize even more so that they don’t have to stay in a job they don’t love.” — @MollyEyerman
  • “Reward people appropriately as they’re showing excellent performance and on a regular basis because if you give someone a huge raise just to match a counteroffer so they don’t leave, what you’re really saying is ‘I haven’t valued you for the last x number of months or years.’”— @MollyEyerman
  • “We all see the metrics and the data around how much more certain demographics make than others, so I do think having more transparency is a helpful thing.” — @MollyEyerman

If you enjoyed this episode, would you please share it with others and leave us a review?


About Molly Eyerman

Our episode guest is Molly Eyerman, founder and CEO of VIVO Growth Partners. Molly helps companies develop their most valuable assets – their people. She assists with recruiting and retaining top talent. Molly uses her HR expertise to advise companies on how to navigate challenges while improving employee engagement and benefiting all parties involved. She has experience working with clients in numerous industries ranging from technology and real estate to nonprofit and financial services.


Guest’s contact info and resources:

Additional resources

Episode recorded: Oct 28, 2021


Sponsored by:

  • On Top of PR is produced by Axia Public Relations, named by Forbes as one of America’s Best PR Agencies. Axia is an expert PR firm for national brands.
  • On Top of PR is sponsored by ReviewMaxer, the platform for monitoring, improving, and promoting online customer reviews.
  • Burrelles has a special offer for On Top of PR fans. Check it out at burrelles.com/ontopofpr.

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Jason Mudd's image

About your host Jason Mudd

On Top of PR host, Jason Mudd, is a trusted adviser and dynamic strategist for some of America’s most admired brands and fastest-growing companies. Since 1994, he’s worked with American Airlines, Budweiser, Dave & Buster’s, H&R Block, Hilton, HP, Miller Lite, New York Life, Pizza Hut, Southern Comfort, and Verizon. He founded Axia Public Relations in July 2002. Forbes named Axia as one of America’s Best PR Agencies.


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Episode Transcript


- [Reporter] Welcome to On Top of PR with Jason Mudd, presented by ReviewMaxer.


- Hello and welcome to On Top of PR I'm your host, Jason Mudd. And today we're talking about human resources and recruiting, retaining, and managing your team. And I'm joined by no other than Molly Eyerman, and Molly is with VIVO Partners. She is our trusted advisor in the HR space and somebody I wanted to share her smarts with, with you. So Molly, welcome to the show.


- Thanks so much for having me Jason.


- I'm glad you're here and I'm glad to be here as well because you've been very helpful to me over the years, and I wanna have an opportunity to have you be helpful to our audience, how does that sound?


- That sounds wonderful.


- Good, good. So for the viewer or listener, why don't you give them like a one to three sentence bio, kind of who you are and what you do?


- Sure. So I am the founder and CEO of VIVO Growth Partners. We are an HR consulting and talent management firm. We help small to midsize companies all over the country with their people, whether it's standing up their HR function and being their HR team, being their recruiting team and helping them find top talent, we really walk hand in hand with those businesses.


- That's a great description because that's been my experience working with you and your team as well is that's exactly what you do and help us with. And so I'm glad we can dive into this. So I think kinda the first thing we wanted to talk about was what's the current environment for finding people now? To be fair we're recording this on October 28th of 2021. I think a lot of what we're gonna share today is gonna be relevant for months to come, and this episode will air in a couple of weeks, but the current environment today is what Molly? What are you seeing right now?


- It's been insane. I'm sure anyone listening to this, no matter what level and an organization you're in, what type of industry or department or anything, can definitely appreciate that the pandemic, I think we all thought, although there were a lot of issues with layoffs and unemployments early on, we have just never seen a hiring boom like this. And granted, you know, I'm 12, 15 years into career, people who have been in the industry much, much longer have said the same thing that they've never seen, just resignation, like the great resignation, the need to find talent and people flying off the market so quickly. And really it's because with the pandemic, it opened up the market to be something where candidates and employees actually have the upper hand, they can demand flexibility and if a company says, "Hey, we're going back to the office" and they don't want to, they can go find a job somewhere that'll let them work remotely, and perhaps if it's headquartered on one of the coasts and they live in the middle of the country, they would actually get to make more money. So we're just seeing so much change. We knew kind of at the end of last year, it's around this time last year, we knew that there was a need for recruiting support, that there was gonna continue to be a need. I did not know that it was gonna be this massive and we really haven't seen it slow down this year. Since things really picked up in February, March, I don't, I haven't seen it slow down, it's just gotten more intense.


- So Molly I have a question to ask you based on what you just shared, and that would be, are people resigning because their employer is requiring them to come into the office? Or are there scenarios where maybe there're employers not requiring them to go in the office and they're ready to go back to the office?


- Both, that's a good question. I think what we're seeing is people are making changes. They're making career changes based on believing they have a different purpose, and different people are making changes for different reasons, right?


- [Jason] Sure.


- Who might be later in life or maybe have young children, they might really want flexibility. And so if they're being required to go back or travel a ton, that might be a reason they resign. Someone who is perhaps really extroverted and thrives on being in the office and really doesn't do well at home and their company said, Hey, we're going completely remote, that might be a reason for them to change. We've also started hearing a lot, especially with some of the younger generation. So some of the younger millennials and gen Z people, actually making changes because they wanna work for a company that has a purpose and feel like they're making a difference. I just talked to my dog sitter this week and he said he worked in the restaurant industry for years, and now he's dog sitting as his full-time job because he likes, he feels like he has a purpose and he's getting to do something fun. And so I think people are making changes for all different reasons. And I think everyone kind of being trapped at home or, you know, just all the different changes throughout the pandemic has really made people realize, even more so that they don't have to stay in a job they don't love, because there's tons of other opportunities out there.


- Sure, sure. We went six to three months with zero turnover, so turnover is obviously a priority for us, but we had one person leave our company recently and we were surprised because this was somebody who was not asking, we said, Hey, are people ready to come back? Do they wanna come back? And this person, "No, no, no, I'm very happy working from home. I have no need to come back." And then they ended up taking literally what I perceived to be a cubicle job, working at a big company that has their PR department just in cubicles, and that was surprising to us I would say, just because this person indicated they didn't wanna come back to the office, and yet they took a job where a company is, you know, certainly not very interested in having people work from home. People leave for different reasons, but that was just surprising to us that we heard from our whole team, nobody was ready to come back to the office. And so we played that out and then come to find out they had taken a job somewhere else that requires you to go in the office. So I think as you said, people have different priorities and it's unfair and unreasonable to kinda generalize them, but certainly you start to see trends and those trends are based on a series of macro data, not just micro information and anecdotal, so.


- Right. I mean, did you, I'd be, I'd wonder whether that person got a huge salary amount, cause we are seeing that in some cases where some of our smaller clients are getting, their staff are getting poached because there're huge companies who just have the wallets, they are meeting offers people can't refuse, right? I think the challenge is that that might feed them for a little while, right? That might be their soul for a little while, but at some point they'll probably realize that's at the end of the day, maybe that's not the end all be all.


- Yeah, you know, I don't know about you, but we refer to those as boomerang employees. So they leave and then they wanna come back. And some of those, we let them come back and other ones we don't, generally, we don't just as a policy, but when you've got a star that wants to come back and you can work through and talk through, okay, why'd you leave? What do we have to do to keep you here versus having you leave again? But you know, it's good for those people to have experiences. Especially I've found, there's some people who come to work for our agency, from their internship and they've never worked anywhere else. And there's obviously value when they've gone somewhere else and realize it's tougher other places so.


- Agreed yeah. I mean, there's definitely times with clients where someone leaves and maybe it's to go to a bigger company, or just a different organization and the owners might get really frustrated, or that they don't didn't have any idea, or there was no warning. And I think sometimes, you know, you're right, you do just kind of need to see if the grass is greener or not on the other side, especially early on in your career.


- When you're advising clients, what might you say to them about a general policy or a viewpoint of, do we have people who leave the company? Do we welcome them back generally speaking? Or how would you guide them on a policy like that?


- It's a good question. I do think it's situational. Cause I think there's some people who, when they leave, sometimes it's a relief. Perhaps-


- [Jason] Oh for sure.


- There are performance issues and so, right. So they might wanna come back and you might say, we don't have something open here. I think for letting people, inviting people back who left, I think that's more situational versus my stance on counter offers is typically, even if it's an A player that you don't do it, because counter offers just typically, don't result in success for the company or the individual. They tend to be unhappy, they feel like they have a target on their back. The company, even subconsciously may not realize that they put a target on the person's back. They're less likely to get a raise at the next round. And so that's why we really coach clients, like reward people appropriately as they're showing excellent performance and on a regular basis. Because if you give someone a huge raise just to match a counteroffer, so they don't leave what you're really saying is, I haven't valued you for the last X number of months or years. And certainly there's extenuating circumstances if there's cashflow or whatever, but I think that's where it's important to be really, especially if you have an A player who's in a leadership role, where you're transparent with them about your value to them as an employee, their value to you as an employer.


- Tell me more about the concept of having a target on their back. Explain that?


- So typically what we see with counter, when a company says, oh we will match that offer so that you don't leave. Well now it's like, well we paid you all this extra money to stay. So you should really be like giving a 100% plus, you should be giving 110%. And so I think the expectations change and become even higher of that person because, well we paid all this money to get you to stay, why aren't you showing us so much loyalty? Why aren't you working even harder for us? And that's typically what we see like a target on their back.


- And I imagine either their supervisor, managers or coworkers are probably become aware that this person tried to leave, we threw more money at them, and so now they're probably not getting the same, collaborate or co collegial support maybe, and that kinda thing. Is that also what you mean by target on their back?


- Yeah. It can create resentment too, especially if you have more junior employees who may be more likely to talk with each other about what they make and who may be more likely to have already told their fellow team members like, oh yeah, I put my resignation in and oh, well they gave me a big bump to stay. What did they give you? How much more are you making now? Right. And so now you could have a mutiny on your hands. It's just overall why we coach that it goes back to culture, right? And like, you have a performance driven culture that is where you reward people, they feel like they're adequately compensated and they're valued for their work. You know, typically that shouldn't be an issue. And sometimes you have to say, I'm really sad that you have this offer, but I think we'll have to, you know, we'll really miss you. And if you ever wanna come back, let us know.


- Well, I wanna come back to, you just triggered me I wanna come back to the idea of discussing calm and what your thoughts are on that. But first, I just wanna share anecdotally, I've seen where people have left our agency for another job, but it was paying them more. And then they've come back to us and said, you know what? It's not worth it I wanna come back. And I'm happy to take what I was making before. And in most of those cases, we've been in a situation where we've moved on and we were okay with that person leaving and moving on. But you know, it just goes to show you that, I guess to me, that just because somebody come back, doesn't mean that the company paid them more money to come back. It just means that might not have worked out. So I think our audience should be careful to not make that assumption that just cause somebody comes back, means there was more money involved. And then secondly, I was thinking as we were talking is, I remember earlier in my career that there are companies that have a policy that, Hey, once you leave, you can't come back kinda thing. And I'm sure that in the current employment environment, there's probably been some adjustment to that or reconsideration of that policy, just because of the demand for, or the lack of supply of candidates. So, but let's talk for just a second about discussing compensation. I was always raised both at home and in the workplace that you don't talk about your compensation with other people, just like you generally don't talk religion, politics and money, and there's a lot of people who feel differently about that, especially I think the generation of entry-level workers. So, but with that, I'm gonna hold that question til the other side of our break Molly.


- Sounds good.


- Okay so we'll be right back and Molly will answer my question and more on, On Top of PR.


- [Reporter] You're listening to On Top of PR with your host, Jason Mudd. Jason is a trusted advisor to some of America's most admired and fastest growing brands. He is the managing partner at Axia Public Relations, a PR agency that guides news, social and web strategies for national companies. And now back to the show.


- Welcome back to On Top of PR, I'm your host Jason Mudd and I'm still joined with Molly. We left and bumped for the break real quick. Now we're coming back and we're talking about compensation and whether or not that's something that should be discussed among employees. But first I wanna thank our sponsors, ReviewMaxar and Burrelles for their sponsorship of On Top of PR. If it weren't for them, we wouldn't be able to do this for you. So if you have the opportunity to do business with one of them, we would greatly appreciate it. Please let them know that we sent you. And now back to Molly, hello Molly.


- Hi Jason.


- So how do you answer this question as our expert, both for employees, should, you know, if you're talking to an employee, should they be talking about their compensation publicly? If you're talking to an employer, should they be forbidding and enforcing perhaps? What's the policy they should be creating and talking about to their employees about discussion of compensation Molly?


- Yeah so I wanna be really clear, I'm not an employment attorney, I'm not an attorney at all, but we have been actually coached by attorneys that putting in your handbook or telling people they're not allowed to talk to other team members about their compensation is actually illegal. So we typically don't recommend that companies say that. I think you should really assume any compensation that you offer to someone could be communicated to someone else on the team. Now, granted that's typically at the peer-to-peer level, right? You certainly hope that your managers aren't telling other team members what someone else on the team makes.


- [Jason] Right.


- You know, the confidential aspects of that person's employment. I do you think the shift with more transparent among each other is I think something that's gonna help us create better pay equity among different vendors, among different races, because, you know, I mean we all see the metrics and the data around how much more certain demographics make than others. And so I do you think having more transparency is actually a helpful thing. Cause I think sometimes there can tend to be an unconscious bias and leadership of perhaps saying, well this person asked for more, so I'm willing to give them that, this person didn't ask for more, they asked for the very bottom of the range, and so that's what we're gonna offer them. And certainly, good HR teams should be helping leadership and managers to develop general compensation ranges for each of the positions in their department or on their team, which can also help you to stick kind of in line and make sure that not unfairly or unconsciously kind of creating extra, giving someone extra who maybe create a feeling of disparity among someone else.


- Yeah, that's a really good point. And I remember in one of my previous employment positions, I was supervising people and they would give me a range for each job title. And so if I had somebody who was valuable and they needed to move up, it would require in comp, it would require me to also consider giving them a promotion in job title and responsibilities. And that was very helpful cause I remember we had a few people who just didn't wanna get promoted, didn't want more responsibilities. And so I said, well, you're at the top of what this position pays in your role and the next role requires supervising other people or working certain shifts that they weren't willing to do, or maybe it involved travel or things like that, that they were just like, no, I don't wanna do that either. So I think that's good. That's something we just started implementing. We were a much smaller company than our typical audience member who has HR advisors and things like that. But we just recently, as we started hiring in our current expansion because of at least for us, it seems really good to be in the PR business right now. We've had an opportunity to kinda create those roles and ranges for each of those roles, which has been, is a nice evolution for our brand so. I wanted to ask you Molly about benefits and benefit programs. So what are you seeing new and trending and how can our audience benefit from that information?


- Yeah. So some of the questions we're getting are, we're worried about people getting poached and should we throw more money at them? And sometimes, you know, and I've already said this, like sometimes the answer is yes, but it's not always the answer, right? So we're really encouraging companies, teams, leaders to pull your team to find out what's important. If you're in a larger organization and your HR team isn't doing that already, I would encourage you to go to them and say, what are our plans to kind of do a pulse survey or engagement survey to understand what things are important to people, cause that can really help shape... Throwing money or throwing your weight behind a benefit that the leadership team thinks is important may not be the answer of actually getting the team what they want or need. So we're seeing a lot, especially with smaller organizations, moving, how more parental leave can give, are you making sure that your parental leave policy is fair and equitable for all parents, not just people who might give birth. And especially since we don't have currently and likely it doesn't appear that we will anytime soon national paid leave. So what can you do as an employer to offer that to everyone? That really helps people feel supported as they're starting a family, that they're not just a worker bee and that you actually do care about helping support their life choices. We're also seeing companies offer assistance with student loan repayments. The millennial generation and the gen Z generation have a lot of student loan debt, and there's all sorts of platforms coming up because what we're seeing is that younger employees, people who are earlier on in their careers are more likely to delay starting to contribute to their 401 , their IRA, that sort of thing, cause they're saddled with these huge student loan payments. And so there's all sorts of different programs out there that are trying to drive that behavior of how can companies maybe help as part of the total comp package, help prepay some of those student loans and also get the person to start contributing to their 401 so that they can be better set up for retirement down the road. So those are some of the things we're seeing now.


- Are companies using a similar model to where maybe it's just off the cuff where maybe an employee can opt into a student loan repayment program, instead of a retirement program where the company matches a percentage of their salary to go towards that. Or is that just something that I'm just making up right here and now?


- Yeah. I mean, there's all sorts of different ways you can do it. Cause there's platforms that have different ways that you can kind of tackle that, right. I think the biggest, so I think it depends on what you wanna do as the employer, right? And what's your total comp package that you're willing to spend on each person.


- Okay. Sure. Any the other benefits programs that you're seeing out there that our audience would be interested in learning more about?


- I think those are the biggest ones. And really, I mean, when we pulled our team, the things that unanimously across the board that they want us to have and keep which we do have, the peak so flexibility. So I mean, it's really, I would say case-by-case depending on your company. Ask your people what they want, because that makes them feel valued and feel that they have an actual voice in making a decision about what they get.


- Molly I hate to put you on the spot, but I haven't ran this question by you ahead of time, so hang on. You help a lot of creative services or creative employers, if you will, from marketing departments, which is our typical audience, to PR firms and ad agencies and things like that, when you're hiring creatives, can you speak just to kind of, what are some of the unique challenges or the unique opportunities, or just kinda give some advice for those that are employing the creative class that are either makes their experience and their departmental management and culture need to be different and, or maybe just some creative tips about going about recruiting and retaining the members of the creative class.


- Question. It is, but it's also, I mean these are some things that I think are important in general. I think being really clear and specific about what the process is, like especially if you think about for copywriters, designers, people who you might ask to see a portfolio and also might ask them to complete a project as part of their interview process, be really clear and specific upfront about how many steps in the process there are, how much time they can expect to spend. Be reasonable, right? Because they probably already have jobs. They're probably applying for a bunch of other positions as well. And so be cognizant of that because the biggest challenge in the creative industry and anywhere right now is with the demand for talent so high, and the supply is so low and the employees and candidates having the upper hand, you have to be willing to do it quickly. And you can't direct about interview processes right now. I think also being really thoughtful about who's involved in the process. So certainly you want leadership involved, think about depending on the size of your team and who that individual is gonna work with, who of their peers might be good to, you know, this is not anything new, but take them to lunch, have coffee with them while they're in the office so that the candidate can actually get a really good vibe for what the team culture is. And the team kind of gets a vibe and can weigh in on that person as well.


- Excellent, excellent. Molly I can't believe we've run out of time and I wish we had so much more to talk about today. Are there any resources that you would like to see us include in our episode notes of both how people can connect with you, but also maybe any guides or helpful links to your website and other resources that you think would be relevant?


- Sure. I mean, our website is www.vivogrowth.com and you can contact us through our website if you have questions or need any help. And I mean, really LinkedIn is a great resource for finding candidates and for anything talent related.


'- Perfect, excellent. Well, I'm glad we connected today. I hope that our audience will take the opportunity to connect with you on LinkedIn and connect with you in other ways. Every time we talk, I learn something valuable and you're always a trusted advisor, that's literally saved in my favorites on speed dial. So when, and if I need to, I can call you directly. And I'm just, you know, and whether it's you or other people on your team, we've always had a very consistent experience. So thank you for all you do for us. And hopefully people that have tuned in today have really benefited from learning from you as well. And to that end, I'll close this out by saying, if you enjoyed this episode, please be sure to share it with a colleague and let them know how you learned from it, what you learned and how you benefit from it. And ultimately, our goal today was to help you stay on top of PR, I hope we did that. And again, many thanks to our guest Molly for joining us. And if you ever, anything I can do for you, or if you have a particular topic you'd like to learn about, please let us know we look forward to hearing from.


- [Reporter] This has been On Top of PR with Jason Mudd. Many thanks to our solo cast sponsor Burrelles for making this episode possible. Burrelles has a special offer, just for On Top of PR fans. Check it out at burrelles.com/OnTopofPR.

Topics: internal communications, On Top of PR

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