The Modern Onboarding Experience with Debbie Gunning, Vice President of People at Human Interest

Episode Summary

This episode features an interview with Debbie Gunning, Vice President of People at Human Interest. Debbie has spent the last 24 years building powerful business teams through talent acquisition, employee relations, and workplace culture. In this episode, Amanda and Debbie dive into employee onboarding. They discuss the relationship between onboarding and employee retention, the importance of culture during this time, and how Debbie’s team transitioned to a virtual onboarding experience.

Episode Notes

This episode features an interview with Debbie Gunning, Vice President of People at Human Interest. Debbie has spent the last 24 years building powerful business teams through talent acquisition, employee relations, and workplace culture.

In this episode, Amanda and Debbie dive into employee onboarding. They discuss the relationship between onboarding and employee retention, the importance of culture during this time, and how Debbie’s team transitioned to a virtual onboarding experience.


“If you are a first-time HR leader entering into this, my takeaways from the last three years of having this huge scope that I’ve been covering, and part of it was very new to me, is just get ready for the ride of your life and don’t take things personally. There’s always going to be a critic. Critics are loud. And don’t worry about it because people are always going to have different feelings and let them have them, and get super comfortable being uncomfortable. Because, being an HR professional in today’s climate, every day there is going to be something that comes up that you’re like, ‘Hmm, didn’t see this coming. Don’t really know how to handle this. It’s uncomfortable, but I'm going to figure it out.’ So just get comfortable living with the discomfort and you’ll just continue to grow and thrive.” – Debbie Gunning


Episode Timestamps:

*(01:44): Debbie’s background

*(04:14): Segment: Story Time 

*(04:37): How Human Interest is tackling the pandemic world

*(06:12): Segment: Getting Tactical 

*(07:24): How a good onboarding experience leads to employee retention

*(12:34): How Human Interest switched to virtual onboarding

*(22:47): Don’ts of employee onboarding

*(25:52): How Debbie is bringing culture into onboarding

*(29:31): Segment: Asking for a Friend



Connect with Debbie on LinkedIn

Human Interest

Amanda’s LinkedIn


Episode Transcription

Amanda Berry: All right, Debbie. Thank you so much for joining me. How are you doing today? 

Debbie Gunning: And really well, thanks so much for having me, Amanda. 

Amanda Berry: Yeah, I'm glad you're here. I want to start off just hearing a little bit about your background. You started in talent recruitment, and now you're a VP of people. What inspired you to get into this?

The people industry. 

Debbie Gunning: Truth be told I'd love to have some story where this was super planned, but I don't actually, I stumbled across recruiting as a function in itself. Years ago, when the tech industry was starting to unfold in the Silicon valley, it was easy as a friend calling me and saying, I know someone that's hiring this job called a recruiter, tech recruiter in the bay area.

And I think you'd be great at, and I didn't even know what the job entail, but I showed up. I interviewed, I got the job and then I launched my career in tech recruitment. Once I got into that, I really realized that it gave me the privilege to help people in a way that I didn't actually know I was going to thrive on.

Changing jobs is one of the biggest decisions in your career. Changing jobs, whether to get married, have a family, buy a house. All those things are the big life changes that we go through as humans. And I wanted to do something. Once I got into it, that was like, oh, I can actually impact when the bigger decisions people make in their lives and help them with that.

And so I kind of got the bug for this and the people space through recruitment, and then just continued on the path because. Than an opportunity unfolded where it was like, I can own this entire people's space at a company and deal with the total employee life cycle and impact people every step of their career.

And it was something that I just decided I loved. 

Amanda Berry: So how does that transfer to what you do now? We talked about, you started in recruitment now. You're, you're really impacting people. Can you just sort of walk us through like typical, day-to-day the kind of things you do. 

Debbie Gunning: My organization is really quite broad, but we cover a lot of things.

It is everything from recruitment. So the whole talent acquisition piece it's learning and development, we've spun up an L and D function under me. It's your pure HR function. It is culture it's employee relations and total rewards. So you have all these functions. And on a daily basis. Now I am the quarterback.

I consider myself the person that like quarterbacks, the whole things, provide support to my team to impact all of those areas. And then I see myself as the remover of blockers. I always tell people like, call me when you need a thought partner or you need a roadblock removed because that's what I'm actually here to do is help with all of that because you all are the.

In your space, you know, it really well. I'm going 

Amanda Berry: to move into our first segment called story time, 

Producer: story time.

Amanda Berry: Two years have been really hard on employees. We're hearing that all over right. Employee experience, great resignation, especially for those in HR. This has been our incredibly busy and stressful time. What have you changed at human interests? Because of this new normal we're living in. 

Debbie Gunning: I spend a lot of time thinking about this and I think things are changing constantly starting a couple of years ago, this pandemic hits and we have to change how we onboard.

We went from only doing it in person to completely virtual. We've gone through how we communicate with each other. What tools are we using for what, how are we using slack versus email versus zoom versus old-school just picking up the phone and calling people sometimes because there's an element of beauty and not being onscreen because we've been in this time where we've been on screen so much.

And so I think there's been a lot of work done on how do we in. And then how do we onboard in place? And lastly, how do we support them once they're here and really keep that connection going in? What's been a virtual environment in, what's been a really stressful environment. And so we've obviously like a lot of others had.

Put a lot of energy into wellness benefits. It's been top of mind for us. Like how do we support people through the struggles of the last couple of years? Because let's just face it. It's been hard. You really start relying on your EAP. You start relying on, Hey, really make sure everybody's taking care of themselves and taking breaks and taking time off.

We're probably seeing the least amount of time off taken in the last couple of years. And so it's really working on being mindful of reminding everybody to do those things that are going to help them navigate what this new normal 

Amanda Berry: is. I want to move into our next segment, getting tactical, 

Producer: um, trying 

to figure out tactics and it'd be prayerful honest, and I didn't have to worry about tactics to the merger here I am in charge of driving to see why didn't you sleep some tactics, tactics.

Amanda Berry: You've mentioned that new employee onboarding, and I really want to hone in on this. This is such an important topic because this is something that's changed for a lot of people, but have companies surely changed, and I know where you're at, you're doing it really well. And I want to dig into that. This really has an impact on the overall employee experience.

I've been a new employee during, during COVID and having had a new employee experience spiritual, but I want to talk about what you've been doing. Really kind of open those playbooks and get some expert advice here. The new employee onboarding is very much in your wheelhouse. You just talked about that.

And the onboarding is very different. I've heard companies say, well, we just moved it to zoom. That doesn't seem right. Right. 

Debbie Gunning: Yeah. I mean, just like, let's just move what we do now to zoom and move forward. And it's like Dell very quickly. That doesn't mean. 

Amanda Berry: Right. But I think that's, what's happened for a lot of places.

Right. All of a sudden things just moved to zoom, but yours is different. I want to really dig into that. Let's first start with, why is it important to do a good virtual even non-virtual new employee onboarding experience? 

Debbie Gunning: Yeah. So, you know, I just read an article the other day that said organizations with a strong onboarding process, have a new hire retention rate that is about 82.

They've actually gone and studied this and said, this is what a really strong program entails. And this is the retention associated with it. It increases productivity as well. When you know that fact, and you know that through our own experiences, we've seen that when people have a really good onboarding experience and do it with a class, not some one-off of let's just start this person here and this person over here.

But are part of a coordinated effort. We've seen retention. I've seen actually my, I haven't done it enough yet, but there's some correlation between exits under even six months and not being part of the full onboarding experience and starting as a one-off somewhere. So there's something there with all of that.

We know it. And so to me, it's like, well, let's go build what I hope is one of the more unique world-class onboarding programs out there. When I started at human history. Almost three years ago, there's 50 employees and onboarding consisted of, oh, Hey, it's good to see you here. We don't really have a laptop for you.

You have no desks. Just go figure it out. And I was like, 

Amanda Berry: here's your paperwork? Here's your benefits? Paperwork. 

Debbie Gunning: Yeah. Like sign here on the dotted line and get to work. And I was spent my first few weeks just literally trying to figure out so many things. And I vowed to myself. I'm like, this has never had.

To anyone else here. And that was one of the first things I put on my radar was like a commitment to myself and to the company to say, not happening here again, I'm not going to claim that it turned around super fast because I was a team of one at that point in time. But I did go out and hire someone intentionally.

One of my first hires was a culture. Who I knew was going to be able to crack this onboarding piece because she has this passion and energy and mindfulness about how she goes and does things that even though she'd never built one of these programs in the corporate world before I knew she could do it, I just knew she had the smarts and the skill set and the passion.

And so we have built this program together and she's done a lot of the heavy lifting that is super intentional. We don't just do activities to do them. There is meaning behind. Walk 

Amanda Berry: me through what that, what that's like, Debbie, walk me through what your, a new employee onboarding experiences. 

Debbie Gunning: Yeah. It's, you know, I think onboarding starts from the moment you sign an offer, right?

So it's high touch. It's you sign the offer and you get contact from the company of, Hey, here's what's to come people don't like surprise. It's stressful enough showing up for the first day of work, being the new person. And if you don't know, what's in store for you that week, it's not good. And so we put.

So they know what's coming. We do lots of personal reach outs and so forth. Do the same thing that other peoples do with sending them a gift upon the way. But I think ours is a bit more creative instead of just the usual corporate swag. It has a new job candle to welcome people to their new job and is focused on being a little bit different and unique.

We then get them here and. It's a combination of weaving, lots of FaceTime with the executive leadership team through sessions, where everybody presents on their area and shares like a high level overview of the company from their eyes and from their specialty, coupled with a lot of the tactical stuff, your HR piece and your benefits piece, and really making sure people understand who to go to for support right off the bat, how to.

Things done that they need to get done, like all their core onboarding things that we need to do with benefits. And then there's this huge piece that I think other companies might miss. And so I've heard from other people, from their experiences of connecting with people, we have things called buddy break.

Where we have people who volunteer throughout the company to spend 15 minutes having a coffee chat just about life, about whatever, just getting to know each other. And people have said that as a unique element that has helped them on board, just knowing other people in the company when they start and having those contacts.


Amanda Berry: that mean like you recruit sort of volunteers from the company to come in, or I guess that was one of the things I was gonna ask. If you could also talk about how you're doing this with technology, but they just sit down and have a conversation and get to know each other. Yes. 

Debbie Gunning: Um, people fully volunteer basis.

I will tell you, we never have a shortage of volunteers who are willing to take time to do. We try to not overload people with too many of them and kind of spread it out, but people volunteering literally just get on the line for 15, 20 minutes, have a cup of coffee together. Talk about your experience, even at human interests, maybe some helpful hints on things that helped you as you were settling in.

And people actually love to do. Within the company, because I think it feels really good. Like the company is growing very fast. You go from 500 to 650 employees or 50 to 650 in a short amount of time. It feels good to be able to keep track of who's coming into the company and get to know them right off the bat.

So people love it. How did you make that 

Amanda Berry: switch to virtual? We 

Debbie Gunning: were doing an in-person and on a Thursday, I think we had an onboarding class on Monday and we were like, oh, we need to do this virtual. So we let. Flip the switch and just did the best we could. The first couple of classes, I think like we were all doing, it was like, we've never done this before.

Let's just try it. It could crash and burn. He could be okay. And then we took takeaways from it all and started readjusting things. We do. After every onboarding class, we get testimonials on the good, the bad the, you guys need to improve this. We take those things and build it into the next iterations of it.

And so we really very quickly started saying, okay, this is a whole new world. Despite me thinking at the beginning, we might be back in the office in two weeks or a month, when that became clear that that was not happening. We were like, let's really invest in doing this well virtually. And that means breaks.

That means shorter sessions. Don't book an hour session book, a 15 minute sessions. So people have 10 minutes at the end, plenty of time for people to just be off camera. We actually do camera free for onboarding and it actually falls in my session. And admittedly, at the beginning, I was like, who, this is going to be weird.

I'm going to just be talking into space and not seeing any reactions. Now I love it because I'm like, I actually don't want to be on camera on a Friday either when I'm doing my session. So I give people permission right off the bat. Okay. We're all on zooms so much. Just turn your camera off. We can hop on and get to know each other like this Amy time, but you can turn your camera off right now.

And I think people really appreciate that. So there have been some things that we really intentionally have had to do to say, let's make this more manageable for everybody and keep the interactivity. 

Amanda Berry: How much time does an employee spend in one of the new employee onboarding sessions? I hear you saying like Monday, Friday, is it like a one day session or is it.

Debbie Gunning: Yeah, it's the whole week, but it's not all day. And you will see where the leadership team presentations all about 40 to 50 minutes each and then some of the other sessions are half an hour. So I would say they're spending three to four hours a day with corporate onboarding over the course of a week.

We sprinkle in some of these buddy breaks, lots of other breaks. You're constantly debating. What's the cadence of these onboarding sessions. You have them every week. That's really hard to continue. Do you have them every other? So you're always debating that and you're always debating how long these corporate onboarding sessions and duration of the whole program should be.

And right now we're in the great debate of do we need a. Can we actually take this down to a couple of days and get people started in their team and role specific onboarding sooner there's pros and cons to all of it. But ours currently stands at a week. 

Amanda Berry: What do you saying? Three or four hours a day for a week?

How do you work with managers to make sure that they give space for their new employees to, to, to live in? So this. 

Debbie Gunning: That's a great question because every manager is always like I needed this person started two weeks ago and I would like to get them to work now. So there has been a lot of education and a lot of work done by our team.

And then just some pretty clear boundaries of, Hey, this is really. Here's the data, as you needed to say, how important onboarding is to get someone started. Right? And so it's worth the time. And then there's always that back and forth with the teams and the negotiation of, if you give us this time slot, we'll give you this one.

And we tend to end up meeting in the middle. 

Amanda Berry: I have to ask this because it sounds like you're over a lot of teams, HR culture. I'll N D what do you think the most important aspect of a new employee experience 

Debbie Gunning: is? It's the connection with other people, all the stuff like the information about the company, all the technical stuff, even all the traditional HR benefits stuff like yes, it needs to be done.

But I think the number one thing that gets people started on the right foot is feeling welcome and being connected. With other people in the company, because I see it as you have the first week to get people connected with people outside of their team and understanding what all those other functions do and so forth.

If you lose that in that first week, you may not get them back. As far as that opportunity to connect people to others in the org, because you get siloed, you got your team. Your head's down. You're probably working from home now. And so how are you actually going to meet other people within the company?

And I think the more people are connected to others in the company. They're more likely to want to continue to grow here and invest in the company and invest in the one team across the. Type of mentality and basically want to be here for a while. Yeah. 

Amanda Berry: I agree that it has to be, feel pretty isolating to start a new company, which has already can make you pretty nervous or just have some anxiety or stress.

And then we don't meet anyone except for maybe your manager for that first week. You can feel really lonely. One 

Debbie Gunning: thing too, we've really needed to think about is this remote culture that we're all in right now. It's not just going to go. Not for us. Some companies might bring everybody back in office. You might all be in one location.

COVID actually forced us to expedite hiring all across the country. We were solely in San Francisco, literally in one office and there was 50 of us and COVID hit. It was like, Let's hire across the country. We're all working on zoom. Anyway, we went to where we could find the best talent and now we're geographically distributed.

We're probably in 40 something states at this point. And so this remote working, isn't going to go away for a lot of our employee population. So we have to keep thinking about how do we make it feel less remote and how do we keep people connect? 

Amanda Berry: I was going to ask that, what do you do? Or are you thinking about doing stuff like post onboarding?

So keep that experience positive. I'm in a different state than most of my team. Are there things you're doing for new employees or just employees in a virtual space to keep them connected? 

Debbie Gunning: That's one of the things, when people ask me what keeps you up at night? That's been one of those topics. The list is law, but that one in particular is like, how do we do this?

And have it not be forced, have people want to participate in these types of connection points? And so there's a couple of things. My culture lead, and I were in a room one time and we're like, start white boarding ideas. What are we trying to solve for? Well, that. Lonely feel removed can get real down if they are home alone and don't have a sense of community, we'll call it.

And so we actually brainstormed this idea where we started looking at a map of the U S and by the size of the bubble where our employee population is. And there was some very clear pockets of people where we have 10, 20, 30 people living within like 10 miles a day. And the light bulb went off and it was like, well, these people live near each other.

We're not going to have offices in all these places. Right. Not in the short term. Why wouldn't we try to connect them in person? There's no reason they can't connect in person. Well, there was at that point because we were deep in COVID, but we knew we could start this all virtually and then as time unfolded and it was safe to do so we can start getting people together to work, to socialize, to have fun.

And how nice to know that somebody's 10 miles away from you that works for human interest and you can get together. You just wouldn't be. Unless someone orchestrates the whole thing. So we put together human interest hubs, we call it high hubs and we have several active hubs now of people where we have orchestrated them connecting with each other, through slack groups, their geography based.

And then we have a virtual one for people who have nobody nearby and what we're testing out now. And as we've had a couple of events, one in Rochester and one in Denver where we actually gave them some budget. These are employee run groups with. Do what you want it with this, just get together and connect when it's safe to do so.

They did that. And so now we're testing the waters on what's this look like moving forward because people loved it. I was going 

Amanda Berry: to ask our people or we're thinking about how they felt. 

Debbie Gunning: They loved it. It was just like, we saw the pictures and it looked like I wish I had gone to Rochester or Denver and been able to at that time, but people liked it.

They liked the connection. It brings teams who never talked to each other together, but might be helpful to have them connected. And I think, you know what? This will look like moving forward. I think it'll evolve into my thoughts are like, we can get these people together. Okay. Rent out our coworking space for a day.

How people be able to go to the office like we're doing in San Francisco now for group lunches every other week on a Wednesday, have lunch with them, be able to connect, get work done, and then be able to go home and feel like you actually had an in-office environment for once when potentially you may not have that at all.

If we didn't put these high humps. It 

Amanda Berry: almost sounds like employee resource groups, but based by location, 

Debbie Gunning: I'm glad you flagged that. Cause that was going to be the second thing is we did fast track ERG because I think DRGs are so amazing in so many ways, but one of the first things is to connect people with people that have a passion for the same thing you might want to be involved in the house.

And be geographically connected with people. You might want to be involved in an ERG and work towards your common goal or what you're working on. You might want to do both, but we're going to have to provide a couple of different options layered in with now encouraging the teams saying when you can get an opportunity to safe and people feel good about it.

Try getting together. I did this with my team last week and had all my people team leads in the same room for the first time. Um, ever, and the work we got done in two days was just game-changing and then the sense of connection and just knowing each other human beings and that there are lives behind what you're seeing on the camera.

And it really helps with the connection and the empathy towards each other, and really the empathy for what we've all been through in the last couple of years, trying to work through. 

Amanda Berry: Yeah, it's been a challenging couple of years. You've talked about a lot of amazing stuff. I feel the excitement, just listening to it.

And you talk about a lot of stuff that works really well. I hope our listeners are taking notes because this is, this is amazing. Thank you for opening your playbook on this. What are some don'ts that you're commonly saying companies do for this virtual conduction or new employee onboarding that you would say?

That's probably not a great idea or something we need to 

Debbie Gunning: rethink. So we got this from the surveys that we take. And one of them was, this just seems like a simple thing, but don't barrage people with information and documents and handouts and sessions and not have a central holding place for them all for people to go back.

Probably, you know, a rookie mistake on our end of just like, okay, we have them all somewhere. And at the end of the week, some of the feedback quotes that I read through and that we got were like, as a suggestion, can you add a daily summary of all the stuff that you provided to us? Because it's like going on a treasure hunt, trying to find.

Where do you store all that stuff? We did not have an intranet at all. We have recently launched one. And so now we're using a solution of an intranet and also team has put in a really top notch LMS that the intention was to provide the best learning programs we can. We're going to have for our size for series D company, one of the best university internal university systems out there for people to continue to grow between those two.

We're now able to distribute the sessions, even in a different way, all the contents, all the one pagers and stuff like that, and reference things and checklists be it via those two tools. And I think it's going to be really effective. 

Amanda Berry: Great. Do you have any other don'ts for new employee onboarding? 

Debbie Gunning: Don't forget to have fun.

I think in the early days at startups, especially it's campy and fun and like you're doing fun things and you're not afraid to try different things. I think as companies grow, the tendency is like, oh, we have to get a lot more corporate. We have to get real buttoned up and do the same type of onboarding that everybody's always done.

And. What I have learned through this experience and through our culture lead, who brings the fun in every way, shape or form is infuse fun into it. Infuse time for people that have icebreakers with regular questions that just put people at ease about life. Don't jump right into business in every session don't get on and be like, all right, let's go.

Really ease people into it. It's uncomfortable for people. You don't know anybody or. Camera with 20 strangers for hours a day, infuse some fun, some questions. And also don't forget every onboarding class or group of people you have. We will get some classes that depending on the profile of the new hires that are in there, some of them are really full of a lot of salespeople.

They will ask tons of questions. They will be so engaged. Sometimes you're going to get a totally different group that you asked for questions that it's. Make sure you have some canned questions ready to go to seed it and get the ball rolling. So don't assume the makeup of every class and their interaction with your trainers with your presenters is going to be the same.

Cause it's not. 

Amanda Berry: I'm very curious how you're bringing your company culture to life during this. What are some ways you're actually trying to help people bring them into the culture and feel it through this virtual onboarding 

Debbie Gunning: we're doing it because one of the feedbacks pieces that someone said about our onboarding had to do with you really feel the heart and soul of the people.

At human interest and food, the presentations and stuff. So I think there is a piece of infusing who we are and our culture through still having leadership team members, do the presentations and do them life. We all take time out to invest in that because we feel it's really important. So I think having this component of the FaceTime, the approachability, the live session really helps.

Is it a heavy lift and kind of hard to scale? Yeah. But that's something that we're just really. To doing. And I know the leadership team feels the same about that. So I would say there's a lot of that in there. There's a lot of ERG work going on. There's the hubs. There's also things like reculture teams doing like this 15 minute session called stop everything and laugh.

They call it seal. And it's just like a time where people get together and do trivia, tell some jokes. They literally just get on and take a 15 minute break to breathe. Laugh about some stuff and then go on with our days. And so I think that's something that's kind of bringing some of our culture into that.

We're a high performance culture. Like we want to see people perform, do the best work they can possibly do. And in order to help people do that and enable them to do that, I believe we got to infuse a lot of fun and some breathing room as well. This 

Amanda Berry: is great. And I thank you for showing us, what are you seeing in terms of retention onboarding's impact on retention?

Debbie Gunning: There's some stuff that, honestly, I just haven't had the time to dig into, but what I think about. Couple things. How does onboarding class size relate to retention? Because I've had conversations with our director of L and D that as a class size expands and you get past 10, 15 people in an onboarding class, there could be.

Some loss, you suffer in people's ability to focus conscience, trait, taking the information and alert. And so I'm keeping in mind, there could be some sort of correlation between class size and retention, because if people aren't there having a great experience, retaining the information, feeling the vibe of the culture, all of that, they may not want to.

'cause they didn't get off on the right foot. So there's something there. There's something about the off cycle. Everybody has managers. She's like, I need this person to start tomorrow. Well, we don't have an onboarding class and you wait till Monday, I'm being extreme here. No, I can't wait until Monday, you know, like, so continuing to measure and try to figure out how to measure if somebody is.

Starting on their own, just being thrown into the fire versus in our onboarding program. What's the retention there. That's on the list, ongoing list of like things to crack when I can have let's get the data around it. Yeah. So we can use that to inform, is there a change, are we just thinking there is.

Amanda Berry: That's incredible. I hadn't even thought about that. The size of a cohort class could impact the retention, but I think that's, that's, that's worth calling out and just draw some attention to that's interesting. Yeah. 

Debbie Gunning: And I think if you talk to anybody that is a professional in the L and D space, they know that when you are providing training, there is a correlation between people's attention span and their focus and the information that they take in.

And so it would be natural to say the same thing. Cause these essentially are training courses that people are in when. At the presentations and 

Amanda Berry: learning, I'm going to move into our last segment. It's called asking for a friend. 

Debbie Gunning: I love this one was destined for a friend. Hey, asking for


Amanda Berry: imagine you're an HR leader and you're brand new to a company and you look at that new employee orientation and that whole new employee experience and you go, ah, this is really flat and very gray scale and muted. What advice would you give someone who's really wanting to start out and change this 

Debbie Gunning: experience?

I would say get out of your own. I think we are all led to believe that there is a very formulaic, traditional way to do this and also to do HR. It's like, you have to do this, you have to do this, just wipe it all away. Get out of your head, take the clean slate and say, why wouldn't we be able to do X, Y, and Z, even in.

Somebody hasn't done it before. Try new things, fail fast if it's not going to work. Okay. But don't get locked up in the thought process that because everybody else does it a certain way. We have to do it the same way, create something completely different because here's the thing. Go survey everybody coming in the door and ask them how those onboarding programs have been at other companies.

And they're going to be like miserable. I've never been to one. Why repeat the things that aren't working that we've been doing for years and years, just unlock yourself and get out of your head and try something completely different. Even if other people are like, no, that won't work. Try it any way it might work with.

Amanda Berry: I love that advice. I would say that's good for everyone. Right. But, but I do love that. Know what you're saying? Cause I think I read somewhere that it's like over 80% of companies aren't doing onboarding well. Yup. Yeah. And so it's really time. So I think that's really valuable information 

Debbie Gunning: for HR. Keep measuring the pulse of things.

Don't be afraid to ask for. On how it's going. A lot of people get afraid. It's like, I don't want the feedback out of sight out of mind. I'm just going to assume what's going well and take the feedback. Cause that's honestly, what's making us do better all the time is taking it in because the people going through it have the best view on this whole thing.

We've seen it hundreds of times now they've seen it just freshly in their eyes. So take the feedback in and don't be afraid to try. To change 

Amanda Berry: things. That's such a good piece of advice. I was talking to someone pretty recently and I said, start measuring, start measuring everything. And they said, well, if we know it's not going well, and I said, this is the best time to measure, what do you know?

What's not going well. So you can really start to move that needle. When you make 

Debbie Gunning: changes, you always go back to that whole thing. Sanity is doing the same thing over and over again that you know is not working. And so. What do you think 

Amanda Berry: the biggest challenges, HR professionals and HR leaders are going to face in the future?

Debbie Gunning: I think it's going to be a couple of things. One of the big ones is I think it's going to be continuing to support the state of employee's level of stress and mental health coming out of this pandemic. I think this is be. In some way, shape or form, even once the pandemic seems to hopefully phase out to where we are living the new normal, manageable life.

I think there's going to be lingering effects for employees. I know there's lingering effects for parents or caregivers because you have seen your kids grow up in this very unique situation. Last couple of years, kids have struggled. I think there's going to be long-term effects for them. So as an employer and HR professional, I think we're going to have to be prepared.

To support our employees and support our families. Because even though the world feels like it's maybe going to. To somewhat normal and we're getting back in office and being able to see each other in person. Again, I think there's going to be some long-term effects on people's mental health and stress levels that aren't going to just magically go away just because we can go back in the office and see each other more.

And then I think there's going to just be this evolving conversation on what's in office work. How do we support people that don't want to ever go in office based on this experience and seeing that they're more productive at home? How do we honor that? But how do we also, if we firmly believe that there is value to connecting in person going in office, Encourage that, so that the office is a place where people want to go because it's awesome for collaboration and connection and all that.

So I think there's going to be a few things there that just are going to continue to challenge us and keep popping up. 

Amanda Berry: No, no one person who isn't working harder when they're at home, because. At work life is just it's. It's all one here. I'm very fortunate. I have an office. So when I'm not working, I can not come in here if I choose not to.

So it's a dedicated space, but we have so many people who don't have that separation and it's causing a lot of extra stress and mental health issues. And I 

Debbie Gunning: think those are going to linger for a while. Unfortunately, I've 

Amanda Berry: asked you everyone's getting better at their jobs. What does that look like for you?

Debbie Gunning: What does it look like? Just keep being vulnerable. Identify your own gaps and hire people and surround yourself with people that are much better at what you do in the fill those gaps so that you can basically learn from them. I've been really fortunate here to be able to build a team from scratch. And I have to say I have gone and hired people that are much.

At pieces of this than I am. They educate me and help me become a much more well-rounded leader. When you're talking about this full scope of what I have under my umbrella. Because once you can admit that you don't know everything, you can't be great at everything that you're a human essentially, and you have a lot to learn.

Then you can get better. You can learn very quickly if you surround yourself with the right. 

Amanda Berry: The way, that sounds like words of a really great leader. So thank you so much. This has been a lot of fun, but before I let you go, is there anything else you want our listeners to know that we didn't cover today?

Debbie Gunning: Really just want people to know that if you are a first time HR leader entering into this might take a ways from the last three years of having this huge scope that I've been covering. That part of it was very new to me is just get ready for the ride of your life. And don't take things personally.

There's always going to be a critic. Critics are loud and don't worry about it because people are always going to have different feelings and let them have them and get super comfortable being uncomfortable because being an HR professional in today's climate every day, there's going to be something that comes up that you're like, Hmm, didn't see this.

I don't really know how to handle this. It's uncomfortable, but I'm going to figure it out. So just get comfortable living with the discomfort and you'll just continue to grow 

Amanda Berry: and thrive. Great. Thanks Debbie. Hey, do you want to let our listeners know where they can find you 

Debbie Gunning: the best places on. Feel free to ping me a note and I connect with me and just look for me at Debbie Gunning in human interests and you will find me there.

Great. Thank 

Amanda Berry: you so much for joining me today, Debbie. This has been 

Debbie Gunning: great. Thanks, Amanda. It was super fun. 

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