Rebel Podcast: Life and Work on Your Terms

Revitalizing HR: Aleah Vaske's Approach to Adapting and Innovating

November 24, 2023 Kyle Roed, The HR Guy Season 4 Episode 191
Rebel Podcast: Life and Work on Your Terms
Revitalizing HR: Aleah Vaske's Approach to Adapting and Innovating
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Get ready to shake up your perspective on HR practices with our vibrant guest, Aleah Vaske, a noteworthy HR professional who's carving a positive impact in the field. Aleah's unique experiences with Disrupt HR has led her to reshape her HR approach, and this episode promises to share these insightful nuggets with you. Adapting to the swiftly changing needs of Gen-Z interns is no easy feat, but through engaging discussions with Aleah, you'll learn to understand their varying interests and struggles. She emphasizes the importance of conducting stay and exit interviews, ensuring businesses stay true to their values and remain fluid to the emerging needs of the next generation.

The conversation takes a riveting turn as we examine the pitfalls of strategic planning in large corporations, and how the perceptions of leaders might play a role. With the power of Gen Z becoming more apparent, it's clear that open-mindedness is crucial as we explore the role of technology and the challenges posed by the advancement of AI. Aliyah shines a light on the importance of learning from the new generation and staying on top of the changing trends. As we wrap up, we touch on the need for feedback and hyper-personalization in the workplace. So, press play and let Aleah's insights inspire your HR practices, shaping a better future for your organization.

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Speaker 2:

This is the Rebel HR podcast, the podcast about all things innovation in the people's space. I'm Kyle Rode. Let's start the show.

Speaker 3:

Welcome back Rebel HR community. We are extremely pumped. I've been tracking her down this entire conference and she finally decided to show up. Aliyah Baske. This is going to be her fourth appearance on the Rebel HR podcast and I am really excited to reconnect, because it's been almost three years since you were last on, so welcome back.

Speaker 4:

Thank you.

Speaker 3:

So she has been just killing it in the world of HR, been involved with Disrupt HR and just making a really big positive rib. So thank you for taking some time to join us today.

Speaker 4:

Of course Love the pod.

Speaker 3:

Love the pod. All right, the fact that she called it a pod, that should give anybody that can't see us right now an indication that she is, like, cooler than Patrick and I.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely Congratulations, and you're on the conference committee too Right F chair right here. Yeah, there you go, f chair Good.

Speaker 4:

It's interesting how people get logged into the app.

Speaker 3:

No, it's beyond. You can just say it. You can say it. I know what you're thinking. You can be honest and you can just say helping all these old people understand how to work. The app Is that. You don't have to respond to that. You know there are some nonverbal cues that indicate I might be honest. We'll just leave it at that.

Speaker 4:

So we are here and castling speakers for their presentations as well. Sorry about that.

Speaker 3:

Sorry, I maybe want to know, yeah.

Speaker 4:

That's that spot.

Speaker 3:

No that's what it is Good.

Speaker 1:

Good for you. I heard last night you were still waiting on a presentation.

Speaker 4:

Oh, I still have gotten, some today.

Speaker 1:

We're still waiting on his presentation no he's, he actually did turn his in a while ago, so thank you.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah, just so everybody knows I did turn it in almost on time.

Speaker 4:

It's going to be great.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I've seen it, there you go.

Speaker 4:

It has the earliest stamp of approval.

Speaker 3:

Good, good, good Well. Aliyah, again really appreciate all that you've done for the HR community. I'm curious just give us a little bit of background on what you're doing right now and all the work you're doing.

Speaker 4:

Well, what I do at Merchants Funding Company is I'm kind of in charge of associate experience, if you will, so all that goes with that. But I feel like outside of that I really like to get involved. The reason that I did disrupt HR and that I'm serving on the committee is because I'm very passionate about the innovation of HR and driving change within the space. So I feel like these are good ways to go beyond what I can do in my organization and kind of work with others to see how we can change the world. Change the world so improve HR, you improve work, you improve the world. There you go All right, all right.

Speaker 3:

Are you pitching, are you creating a new podcast and you're going to start to.

Speaker 4:

There you go.

Speaker 3:

There you go. Sounds like a good tagline. So the first time that we interviewed you for the podcast, we were talking about your experience as a Gen-Z-er. You were a real-life Gen-Z-er and technically you still are. But I'm fascinated now when so when we talked this was, by the way, all the way back in episode five, so this was a long time ago we were talking about kind of your experience. Since then, you become a leadership role as it relates to helping other people of your generation acclimate into your organization. So, as you have been doing that work, what are some insights or some kind of aha moments that you've had as you've stepped into more of a leadership capacity?

Speaker 4:

This is true. So last summer I actually had my first direct report, which was the HR intern, which was very interesting and fun, and for the past three years I've kind of been the director of our internship program. So I worked very closely with all the interns, who are all the next generation of the workforce, and the aha moment that I've had is that every single year the interns are different In the group that they have. They like foster this, like environment off of each other of, like different things that they're interested in, different struggles that they have, because I can definitely tell that they're all kind of figuring this out as they go and they figure that out and bounce off of each other. So that has been a recent aha moment. We do stay interviews every week with our interns and we do exit interviews at the end, which I think is really important and I know it takes a lot of time, but the information that we get from that has been very helpful, especially as we're a little bit new to launching a bigger, more structured internship program. So what I found in those exit interview let's say qualitative data is that every year it's very different. They all want to learn different things. They all had different challenges. So I think that's been the aha moment is that they're all kind of going to be learning from each other, and each cohort might adopt different habits and behaviors.

Speaker 1:

So I'm curious about that With your structure and process, with the program that you have, is there anything specifically over the past few years that you've taken from their feedback to incorporate into changing the employee experience at your organization?

Speaker 4:

Well, I think that one of the things is that at first, I feel like I was an intern in 2021 and we were very early on, like kind of the first year, if you will, of Generation Z, and I feel like we were adopting what people said about us if that makes sense and like trying to counteract that. And over the past three years, I feel like the generation now or the, I guess, class now coming into the workforce is kind of like we're not going to do that, we're just going to keep doing our own thing. We're going to live true to the values that we hold. And, to answer your question, I feel like the thing that we've adopted across the organization is more hyper-personalization. Because of that, because we've found, okay, yeah, we might know these things about these groups, but creating that stereotype and generalization and feeding into that bias is not really a solution and it kind of might backfire. It might work out in some instances, but wherever we can hyper-personalize and get to know our employees better and make things more customizable, that's going to lead to better outcomes.

Speaker 1:

So they're willing to really disrupt their own stereotype.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, 100%, and it sounds familiar, yeah it sounds familiar because Aliyah and I collaborated on a generational differences training for Iowa State and that was essentially the finding of our research. Was that, like these generational differences are actually kind of BS stereotypes? Yes, and the reality is that the individualization of the work experience is actually more important as it relates to retention.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, and it's more work, I feel like, on the front end, obviously, to make things more customizable, but I feel like it pays off in the long run because you might be overgeneralizing this whole entire group of people and then you just spend all these resources doing something they don't even want or they're going to change their mind and try to counteract what you're trying to do with the generalization and then you're like we want something completely different than that. So that's what I found a lot in the internship program is I was trying to take the feedback from the last year, implement that. Well, then the next year they said we don't want that, we want the complete opposite of that. So it's super interesting.

Speaker 3:

So what I think, what you're getting on, there is something that I think is fascinating, and that is the fact that we are so often offering up assumptions but a lot of times, the data that we're, we consider to be data that we're making decisions off of to do a data-driven decision, might just be inaccurate.

Speaker 4:

Yes.

Speaker 3:

Because there's so much data out there that the reality is that you could probably find a statistic for whatever you want. So the reality is that you actually have to ask your employees and team members what do you want? And then do something about it.

Speaker 4:

And regularly, because I will say I have the access to look back at my own accident interview when I was an intern and the things that I thought I wanted, versus like when I actually got into the workforce and implemented those things that I thought I wanted. It has changed, and so that's another thing. As we take interns and we have a really good conversion right Over 50% of our interns have become full-time hires. So then when they're full-time hire, we're like oh, do we need to do a 90 day with them, or do we need to do this and that? And you do. It's really, really important that you keep connecting with your employees and keep getting that feedback Because, especially when we're young and just figuring this out as we go, as generations see like it's all going to change Very rapidly.

Speaker 1:

I'm curious with your you know couple years in the workforce. Now. What has from coming into the workforce to being in the workforce now? What has surprised you by employers?

Speaker 4:

I mean a lot. That's a hard question, though Can you be more specific?

Speaker 1:

Like within the employee experience, like what they really value yes, Versus their product, versus their employees. What, I guess what has jumped out at you if they just wow, they really value their customers over their employees, or that sort of thing.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, I would say I under, I have understood the value and I think that's partially because, I will say, my team is very transparent, like within HR, and I feel like I understand that. Something that has surprised me is the lack of like. I don't know, I joined this corporation and you think the people at the top have everything figured out.

Speaker 3:

You think these big corporations?

Speaker 4:

have everything figured out and I've talked to other colleagues about this of like what I expected to be, like the level of like, let's say, strategic planning, like I think, these super, super specific things, these specific goals, metrics, all that stuff. And I was like, do we have that Like? Why am I not getting that information? And some of our other employees were like, why don't you share more about the strategic plan and stuff like that? It's because you don't get into that specific even at the highest level. So I think that's been interesting. It's something that I was very naive about is like what you learn in school and how specific your strategic plan is supposed to be and all of that. And the fact of the matter is, maybe they don't have it, maybe they don't know.

Speaker 3:

Well, I'm laughing out loud, literally laughing out loud because it's just like yeah, that is. You know, that is the truth. Like a lot of times, leaders are like I don't freaking know. Or they don't say that and they really try to like generalize and they're saying it deep down inside, they're like I have no f-ing clue, but let's just go this direction because it seems right, you know. But yeah, a lot of times, you know, the perception from others is oh, they know exactly what they're doing, So-.

Speaker 4:

Which I feel like for a leader. I wish that leaders would say they don't know more, because, well, one thing that is true about Gen Z and I actually do think this from what I've seen the past three years is they really want to contribute their ideas. And if people don't admit they know, we're just going to think, oh, you're holding back information because you don't think that I am high enough to have the privilege of having that, or whatever. But if you just said like we don't know, chances are they're asking what it is because they have ideas and they want to contribute them. So, I think that's something.

Speaker 3:

I think this is a fascinating, you know kind of point of the discussion. The other reality is, you know, generations that have had access to technology, the Internet, google, all these, there's all of this access to information and data and and what people used to rely on their leaders to provide to them no longer is the case.

Speaker 4:

Yeah.

Speaker 3:

So it's kind of like like my 11 year old will ask me well, who was, who was the president during this? And I'm like I have no freaking clue. Hey, google, you know, and, and you know, we'll, we'll, we'll search. So he has learned I don't have to rely on an authority figure for me to know something, right? Yes, and that's that's how our, that entire generation, my generation to some extent, has been trained. So. So we're playing into that. We are leaders and we are not able to admit that we don't know something. We could be missing out on individuals who have advanced knowledge on how to access that information that we need.

Speaker 4:

Definitely. I mean, that's something that's changed. Even I've only been out of college since last May, graduated in May of 2022. When I was in college, chat GPT did not exist, Right. So that's like what they all use, like all these college students are using it to their advantage on writing papers and tests, which you know. There's good and bad in that, but that is revolutionary in the way that they're getting information even from a year ago, when I was in school. Yeah, and I think that's crazy how fast it's changing and that just goes to show we can't generalize a full generation among 10 years, because so much is going to change in that 10 years and it's going to speed up as we go in this world.

Speaker 3:

On this earth faster and faster. It's only seeming to accelerate faster and faster. I think the other thing we talked about this, the fast discussion, you know the other thing with chat, gpt and some of this, this generative AI is the fact that coding can also be created with AI. So the actual advancement of technological tools and apps and all the fun stuff you're dealing with this conference is just going to accelerate.

Speaker 4:

And our skill sets are also advancing as well, because I already see in college students that they're not spending the time on grammar, and all that because they know that the systems will do it for them. So they have more time to free up, to go deeper into the information and make those deeper strategic connections, which I think is going to be really beneficial if we open our minds up to learning from the new generation.

Speaker 3:

Absolutely, Absolutely. So you know, Aliyah, it's always amazing to talk to you and just excited to hear about all the success that you've had. What's one takeaway that you want our listeners to take away from this conversation today?

Speaker 4:

I would say the one takeaway is, I guess, exactly what I just said, which I'm sorry to do that too, but open up your mind, kind of try to forget about all the generalizations that you've heard, because it all changes so quickly, and just talk to people regularly, get regular feedback, especially from people that are new to the workforce, and see what information they could give you, if you admit you don't have it.

Speaker 3:

Absolutely. Very well said, Aliyah. Thank you so much for joining us again. We'll have to have you back on for a fifth night.

Speaker 2:

All right, that does it for the Rebel HR podcast. Big thank you to our guests. Follow us on Facebook at Rebel HR podcast, Twitter at rebelhrguy, or see our website at rebelhumanresourcescom. The views and opinions expressed by Rebel HR podcast are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any of the organizations that we represent. No animals were harmed during the filming of this podcast.

Speaker 4:

Maybe,

Insights on HR Innovation and Leadership
Challenges With Leadership and Technology Advances
Takeaways on Open-Mindedness and Feedback