Human Truth Podcast | Ep. 02: Could an employer’s values make you quit your job?
Why would 52% of knowledge workers quit their jobs over employer's values? With Dan Riley & Ian Cook. Plus, human-centric workplaces. Listen now!
Welcome to The Human Truth Podcast where, each episode, we take a closer look at a popular workforce statistic ripped from the headlines and ask: Where’d it come from? Is it true? And why should we care?
What are we talking about in this episode? We’re discussing the statistic that 52% of knowledge workers are likely to quit their job if company values don’t align to their own. We’ll dig into why an employer’s (public!) values are more important than ever to their employees, and what it means to build a “human-centric workplace” in 2022.
Who’s talking about it? Host Ian Cook is joined by our guest, Dan Riley is a tech entrepreneur, speaker, and filmmaker, and most recently—the co-founder of RADICL. Started with his brother, RADICL is an authority on people science and the whole person experience, enabling organizations to use new people science, frameworks, and data sources to build purpose-driven organizations.
On the podcast this episode:
Host, Ian Cook is Visier’s VP of People Analytics
Guest, Dan Riley is a tech entrepreneur, speaker, and filmmaker, and most recently—the co-founder of RADICL. Started with his brother, RADICL is an authority on people science and the whole person experience, enabling organizations to use new people science, frameworks, and data sources to build purpose-driven organizations.
Want to get in touch? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Learn more about why company values are a big deal to employees:
More episodes of the Human Truth Podcast:
[PRODUCER- INTRO]: 80% of execs say they do enough to support employee wellbeing, yet only 46% of employees think so. So how does the C-suite get on the same page as their workers? With people data download Visier’s new white paper, the CEO blind spot. What employees need from employers at Visier.com/podcast.
[PRODUCER- CONT.]: It’s the Human Truth Podcast where each episode we examine a workforce statistic ripped from the headlines and ask, where did it come from? Is it accurate? And should we care? How important is it to you that your employers value align with your own? Would you work for a company that didn’t value diversity? Would you apply for a job at an organization that ignore ecological concerns? Today on Human Truth Podcast, where examining why 52% of employees say they’re likely to quit their job if company values are not aligned to their own. Let’s dive in with the host, Ian Cook, and special guest, Dan Riley.
Ian Cook: Welcome to the Human Truth Podcast. I am Ian Cook, VP of people analytics at Visier, and today it’s my great pleasure to chat with Dan Riley, tech entrepreneur, speaker, and filmmaker. He’s a co-founder with his brother of a company called RADICL. They are an authority on people science and the whole person experience, enabling organizations to use new people science, frameworks, and data sources to build purpose-driven organizations. Welcome to the broadcast, Dan, I’m really looking forward to discussing values in the workplace with you today.
Dan Riley:I am pleased to be here. Thanks Ian, for the invite. And I’m super excited about this conversation. It’s timely, it’s important. Yeah, let’s dive in. Can’t wait.
Ian Cook: Let’s dive in. Yeah, you and I have talked a lot about values in business, and I think this is one of the reasons we wanted to invite you to the podcast, and it’s just very timely in terms of all of the changes that are happening around us. You know, moving away from a command and control workplace to a connect and engage workplace, which a phrase I recently heard, which I kind of really liked. So the kind of foundation of this conversation was a stat we came across recently that said 52% of knowledge workers are likely to quit their job if the values of the company they’re working for do not align with their own. Does this ring true for you, Dan? What do you think is behind a statistic like this where half of people say, “I will quit my employer if they do not align to the things I care about.”
Dan Riley: Yeah. You know, there’s a handful of data stats about this, and every stat that I’ve seen is somewhere between 50 and 70%, just like you said. So I think a handful of things are happening. Number one, human beings, people always want to feel a sense of purpose, a sense of connection, feel like they’re making a difference, making an impact. I think this is human nature. However, historically the job was just more linked to a paycheck. Showing up, doing what you need to do, go going home. It was less about, “Do I feel connected to the organization? And what do they stand for? And do I believe in what they believe? And if I do, then I will give more myself. I will show up and feel more inspired and really bring more to the table.”
Dan Riley: And I think what’s happened is, especially with the pandemic, starting, I can’t believe we’re we’re past two years now, but there was a reevaluation moment. I think everything changed, whether it’s working from home, for so many workers, not everybody, many people still had to show up, frontline workers, we know this. But for the most part, there was a reevaluation of my personal belief system, my personal values, and do my values align with the organization I represent? So this became very, very quickly, one of the number one priorities that we’re really making or breaking that relationship, and I like to call it a relationship between the organization and the person.
Ian Cook: Yeah. I think that’s fascinating, because I think what I hear you saying, I would tend to agree with you, like this phenomenon of looking for meaning and purpose at work is not new. It’s kind of almost as old as the hills in some ways. But what has changed dramatically is the opportunity to access it, and I also sense that the pandemic created this very visceral experience that like, why am I working on something I don’t care about? What am I going to think when I’m sitting in my rocking chair, looking back on work, it’s like, “Man, I spent 20 years doing something that was just paying me,” that quest for meaning becomes more important when the value of life in itself is kind of brought to the fore. So I love that fact, this isn’t new, but the opportunity for people to access it has changed, and the need for organizations to take it seriously has changed.
Ian Cook: There’s also this notion that values, there’s a squishy thing. It’s like, yeah, we’ll make money and then we’ll get to values at some point. I’ve certainly worked it in the past. I’ve certainly worked into corporate headquarters where their values were splashed across the wall and in marble and gold plate, but they clearly weren’t lived. They were definitely a paper exercise. What do you say to that notion that values are squishy, they don’t really have much relevance to moving the business forward?
Dan Riley: So I think we do, at RADICL, a lot of work with our clients around values, and many times it’s just a recommitment to existing values, many times it’s a creation of new values that are more relevant now. And again, to anybody out there wondering, “Well, we can’t change values. That’s what we’ve had for 20 years.” I say that’s not true. Evolving is good. Let me say that again, evolving is good. Being comfortable enough to say, “This value doesn’t represent us anymore,” or, “It does, but we need to change what it means.” So as far as personal values and organizational values and just being squishy and how do we really live them, I do a very simple thing and talk about it in a simple way. I want to apply those values and ask an individual or a team, and turn it into a question.
Dan Riley: What does it feel like when we are more empathetic with each other, amongst the team that I work with every day? What does it feel like if we trust each other just a little bit more in this team, in this room right here, right now, verse this larger concept of empathy and trust and values that we know are of course critical, but sometimes just explained in a very lofty way, verse making it personal. If I can trust my manager more, if I can trust my peers more, imagine the productivity, the engagement, just the better quality of work day in and day out that’ll happen. So that’s the way I try to frame it up for employees.
Ian Cook: And I think you’ve hit on the absolute critical piece of that connection to value, Dan, which is this notion of values actually create trust because we know the operating model, we know the shared approach to decision making. We know what we can anticipate and expect from our manager, from our peers, and that’s kind of a foundation of trust. You and I have both probably seen the research around that feeling of trust, feeling of being trusted, is associated with higher performance. You see it in sports teams, you see it in business teams, you see it daily. So I think that’s a great point that this connection of values to the creation of trust, which it is a path to revenue or other success and other kind of businesses. I’ve certainly seen that throughout my career. So I love that perspective.
Ian Cook: So next year it’s touch on, people have been raving about your keynote. You gave it at our recent conference. And it was very powerful in how it connected an organization, which is often seen as a faceless machine to make money, to people, and how you can actually take a people people-centric, human-centric approach. So if somebody was to ask you, “Well, what is a human-centric workplace?” How would you describe, again, some of the mission of RADICL, some of the mission of you and Patrick, as what is a people-centric workplace, and how do you go about building one?
Dan Riley: I love that question. I often do it with storytelling. I mean, to keep it a little more precise, if I have to just give a definition of what we talk about when we’re talking about being human-centered, I typically start by it by saying the long-play, long-term success isn’t found in being profit-centered. If I talk to a CEO or any leader, and they say, “My number one priority is higher revenue and more profitability.” I say, “It’s not, that is not, that cannot be your number one priority. That is an outcome of taking care of your people. So long-term success is found in being human-centered.” And what do we mean? So again, to your question, so what do we mean, or what is humanity in business to maybe phrase it a little bit differently.
Dan Riley: It’s focusing on your people more than the algorithm, right? The algorithm of what drives your financial planning and your spreadsheets and you name it. And this requires relationships, and I even talk about the very simple concept of asking each other. “How are you doing? How are you feeling?” And genuinely caring about the answer. Like this? So this is the litmus test for a culture that really cares about its people. It isn’t just small talk to start a conversation, it’s “How are you doing? How are you feeling?” And the best relationships, again, require communication. Think about any relationship in your life and being present, right? Whether it’s romantic, friendship, family, being present and taking the time to listen. Listening is something, because there’s a line in the sand and I’m on my side and I really want to… But we need to take time to listen and then learning and adapting. So when we think about human-centered, that’s kind of my quick one minute elevator pitch on it.
Ian Cook: Yeah. I know it’s really more of a kind of PhD thesis than just a conversation. I love the way you describe it. And again, there’s a notion, because I really think the power of what you’re saying is in the balancing of the people with finance, like I’ve seen organizations do untold damage to themselves by taking purely finance-driven decisions like, oh, well, this is what we need to do to cut costs, and then all of the repercussions that roll out through the people and the reactions of people, actually end up costing more, and they were unanticipated because people were not a component of the decision. I’ve also seen encouragingly, like, I’ll go back to 2007, I saw a lot more organizations taking this step, which I think is a people-centric step of, we need to reduce what we spend on salary, but instead of getting rid of people, we’re going to keep all the people, because these are our people. They make our business run. We may only be in this for nine months. So instead, can we just take 10% off everybody’s pay?
Ian Cook: People have to opt into that, but it’s a very different mental model for the decision that says, “How do we care for, protect, nurture our community, at the same time as managing our costs?” Versus, “How do we manage our costs?” And people are almost these boxes that you can plug in and plug out. The analogy that is applied to an organization, is it an engine where I can slot in a new spark plug and pull out a spark plug and lo and behold goes faster? Or is it more like a pond or some kind of ecosystem, which has a whole set of dynamics and life that you introduce something new and different, you can actually understand necessarily even always identify the kind of reaction that will come back. So I feel that people-centric is to see an organization as some kind of ecosystem.
Dan Riley: Absolutely. And just to add one additional thing here, I was at the unleashed conference just the last couple of days, which was a great show. It was so great to be with everybody again. And one of the speakers brought up something, and I’m going to paraphrase a bit and put it into my own words, but I’ll keep this short. But talking about planning, and I love this statement. We all use this statement in different ways, but the way he phrased it was planning for the never normal, and breaking it into three categories. There’s today, there’s the day after today, and there’s the day after tomorrow. Typically in any business strategy, if you ask, typically we’re about 70% today, 20% day after tomorrow, sorry, day after today, 10% day after tomorrow. The reality is, it’s more like 92, 8, 0. So the day after tomorrow is that long play, right? We’re constantly reacting and there’s so much going on, and you have to react, so I’m not suggesting you don’t react. But the highest value comes from the day after tomorrow, and if you lose sight of that and you constantly just react and focus on the moment, that is not creating, and I think nurturing a human-centric workforce.
Ian Cook: Yeah. So at the core of a human-centric, people-centric organization, there is the first, maybe last action or activity in the decision is like, “How is this going to affect our people, our community? How might they react to this event change situation? What’s the most balanced way we can address the needs of the community and the needs of the individuals within there?” So far more nuanced and potentially complex, but again, I think you and I would both say we’ve seen the results. We’ve seen the benefits. We’ve seen the long-term value that can come from taking this approach. So great discussion, we’re going to take a short break, and when we’re back, we’ll be discussing why RADICL was founded.
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Ian Cook: So welcome back to the Human Truth Podcast. I am your host, Ian cook,. And I’m speaking today with Dan Riley, who’s a co-founder of RADICL, and we’re talking about employees want to work for employers, for organizations that are aligned with their values. So Dan, you and Pat started RADICL back in 2020. Interesting time to start a business. And you felt that the current state of work needed something. What was it that drove you and Pat to say, “Hey, let’s,” I don’t know how many different companies you started over your career, but “Let’s start something new. Let’s start something radical. Let’s build a company around that.” What were you hoping to achieve?
Dan Riley: Yeah it was, the idea for the company was born around the summer, kind of mid to late summer of 2020, and we officially founded, or went live with the company in November. It was really brought out, I would say two things inspired us. Like you said, both my brother and I have been working in the HR culture, engagement employee experience, people analytic space for 20 plus years. We were going through such a turbulent time and a time of uncertainty, and a time where just our basic statement was, we can do better. We must do better for our people that we employ. And we knew the world was changing. The world of work was changing. And I hate to say, it’s changed. It’s always changing. So that was one piece of it.
Dan Riley: Number two, we’re both from Minneapolis, and there’s just the need to allow people to bring their whole person to self, and there’s just social justice issues and causes that are so important, that organizations we feel need to be on the right side of history with. Being from Minneapolis, obviously the George Floyd murder really impacted us. At that moment, we felt like we were lucky enough to have a voice in this space. We’re lucky enough to be able to influence HR and people leaders and CEOs and organizations. So that’s why we dove in, and that’s why RADICL was founded. And it’s very simple, we believe inspired change is possible. Like that is our mission statement. And we believe in the power of radical thinking. So meaning we can do better, we must do better, let’s commit to it, let’s be courageous enough to actually make this change and create sustained change. Again, not just create a bunch of ideas or a bunch of statements or a bunch of posters, but really change the way we act, operate, communicate, and live within our organizations.
Ian Cook: Yeah, that’s a super inspiring purpose, Dan. And again, I know when I first came across, what you were setting out to do I was like, “Yeah, this needs to succeed. We need so much more of this.” So again, kudos to you and Pat for getting it going, and more power to the mission you’re pursuing here. Which leads me to sort of our next area of exploration, because I think it’s an interesting, again change in perception that people have, and sometimes an assumption that runs counter to expectations. You know, lots of people view the people side of business, people-centric business, as really about subjective decisions and intuition and feelings. And they really don’t think that data has a place. They almost see like, “Well, that’s people. That has nothing to do with data,” and people know openly that I’m of the opposite view. I have a kind of deep connection to psychology and a deep connection to data. How would you look at this notion of a human-centric workplace? Can it live without data? Does it need a little bit of data? What’s the relationship between understanding through the use of good people data and the kind of people-centric organization we’re talking about?
Dan Riley: Yeah. I love this question, and Ian, as you know, I’m passionate about this question and about my answer to this question. So is data important? Absolutely, yes. And is it very important? Absolutely, yes. When we talk about a human-centric workplace, it isn’t just, again, let’s be more empathetic, let’s be more humble, let’s trust more, all those things are important, but how do we do that? We have to use data to navigate decisions that illuminate truth of what is today. That’s the only way, the only way we’re going to get to, what I said before, the day after tomorrow. We have to understand data and what it tells us. Just think about over the last two years, how we’ve used data for good in so many amazing ways as companies had to reevaluate, literally in many cases, pivot overnight. There was no script for this, nobody, no organization had a script for this. So what did you do? It wasn’t just gut instinct. I mean, of course there’s instinct that goes into anything we do in any business, but it was data-driven, the organizations that succeeded and continued to succeed took a data-driven approach. I’ll pause there. I could keep going on this. I get passionate about this.
Ian Cook: Yeah, you could. I think people hear the passion and are probably interested to tap into that more. But I was struck as you were talking by it. I mean, A, I think there’s going to be an amazing case study coming out in a couple of years, as we look at those organizations that were enabled with a strong people insight foundation, how they navigated the change compared to those who were scrambling with spreadsheets to try and work out what was going on. My perception there is radically different outcomes for those kind of organizations. I was also struck by, again, a recent event I was at in Stockholm where a group were talking about the presentation to the market of diversity stats. This people-centric business, it’s an expectation of customers, of the people they buy from. Therefore, it’s no longer kind of just an inside HR element, it’s actually a business concern, which again, important to me.
Ian Cook: And so the reality was a couple of CEOs who had gone out, they’d sat in a room, they decided what their diversity measures were going to be, and they’d published those to the market and said, we’re going to be here. They hadn’t done any work to work out what was possible, where they’re actually at, what actions it would take to make the difference, and whether that was even feasible within the mechanisms they had. So unfortunately those CEOs were having to wind back from their public facing statements, because the reality of trading the change they’d asked for just wasn’t there. And for me, this was the perfect example of why is data important, this is an issue of diversity and representation of different people at different levels in the business, guessing where you’re going to be, making an aspiration for how you’re going to get there.
Ian Cook: You wouldn’t do that with your profit number. You wouldn’t do that with your earnings per share number. You wouldn’t just say, “Oh, let’s guess how profitable we’re going to be.” I don’t know why we’re still kind of get trapped into the well, let’s guess how diverse we’re going to be and tell the street that’s where we are. It’s exactly the same pattern, exactly the same dynamic of using what you know about your business, what you know about the dynamics of your business to forecast, present, and move your business in the direction you need. I don’t see how you do that with data. So again, I like what you’re suggesting there around this people-centric is actually founded on robust, bias-free insight.
Dan Riley: Yeah. And you know, just to add to that a little bit too, it’s so important as you think about your data strategy, to be very, very intentional. You know, we started this conversation talking about purpose and values and you know, what do we stand for? What does an organization stand for? You have to define that first, and then you need to understand where you are today. I’ll say it again, but again, where do you want to be the day after tomorrow? What is your north star? And we talk about some of the biggest shifts, and we talk about the whole person experience, and this is a new construct. So this is a new construct of culture, and physical, and social, intellectual, and spiritual wellbeing, right? And integrated with kind of our classic, I hate to call it classic, but it’s still relevant, employee engagement models, employee experience models.
Dan Riley: But there’s more now, right? That isn’t enough. And so now when we think about data, there’s a lot of different data. We need to think about consuming. So we have to be really intentional about this data, and that’s a big conversation. We could do a podcast on that alone. But this type of data, again, the softer things that we talk about have data that back it up and help give you direction and help give you focus and help give you clarity. So I think it’s so important that we can’t push data aside when we use the word human. Human beings, every single day, every decision we make, every minute, every second is based on data that we’re collecting moments before, minutes before, hours before. Our brains use data constantly, so why should an organization not do the exact same thing?
Ian Cook: Oh, that’s a fascinating observation, Dan, especially when you go back into, what fundamentally is a human brain? Well, it’s data processing. It’s data processing that is most brilliant in terms of all the information we take in, process, and use to navigate the world. I love that insight. And so you’ve heard me talk a bit about this thing we’re calling the people impact gap. It’s this gap between managers who are dealing with a mixed team, some remote, some in person, trying to work out how to be fair, trying to work out how to motivate, trying to work out how to grow and develop people. It’s the gap, kind of as I highlighted between the CEO who wants to make an aspiration for the diversity of their business, and the reality of where they’re at and what it takes to make change. You know, there’s this solid felt gap between what the business is asking for, what the business needs to be people-centric. And all the data, as you said, is sitting inside the business, but there’s this gap. You know, if people are looking to build a people-centric organization, there’s clearly a component about values, what else would you recommend or suggest as jobs to be done, things to be worked on?
Dan Riley: Yeah. I mean, I think we’ve talked about a handful of them, but I’ll summarize some of them and add a few more. I think, number one, we hear a lot of different perspectives around this, but I always triple down on it. And number one, that is the purpose. Again, what does the, what does the organization stand for, right? What is the difference we’re trying to make in our organization? And then how are we doing that? And so really, really, really understanding that. Where we are today, and then where we want to be in the future, what’s our north star. Then from that perspective, understanding what are those gaps, from what we want to be and where we are now, what needs to change? And then be committed and courageous enough to change.
Dan Riley: I think, so for first top leadership CEOs, C-suite, the best companies that I see are when CEOs come out, CHOs come out and say, “We can do better here, we must do better here, and here are some areas that we’ve been struggling in,” in maybe no faults of anything other than we’re evolving as human beings, evolving is how we work. We’re evolving in the hybrid workforce. There’s a different reality in how we connect now. We’re looking at each other on zoom. You name it, that list goes on. So things are different. So really, really identifying that gap, getting feedback from teams, those who are living and breathing it every day, what can we do differently? What should we do differently? What do you think? What are your ideas? Crowdsource, crowdsource, and that’s a data approach too, right? I mean, getting information from people and then putting data to action, and then starting to build a plant and measure and measure and measure, and then adapt, listen, and change and measure again.
Ian Cook: Totally. I love how you describe this as a sort of ongoing organic community process, because I feel like the kind of the traditional approach to this was meet in a room, decide a policy, present the policy, run the policy for six months and ask people, “Did you like it?” You know, find out that they didn’t, meet in a room, decide a different policy, launch the policy, then ask if people like it. What I hear you’re suggesting is something that’s far more involved and engaged with the community who are part of the policy, that’s for sure. And then another thing, kind of linking back to purpose, an HBR article came out recently where some researchers had looked at performance. If an organization’s purpose can often be to be amongst the best to delight customers, to make the customers experience or whatever engagement with the service, as best as possible. And they’d identified that tenure with the organization, so how long have you been with the organization, was a contributing factor to the success of the customer’s experience.
Ian Cook: So this notion of, we want to be customer-centric and we’re going to generate customer love, people who know what’s going on, people who can solve problems, people who have experienced that customer pain point in the past, are actually quite key. And so even a simple measure like tenure, and how are we building tenure, and how are we building depth of knowledge in our employee base so that we can achieve our purpose of customer success? I see that as one of the, I think of them as strands. I grew up near Edinburgh, there’s a gigantic suspension bridge, which is a key feature in the space. So I always go to suspension bridges and strands that kind of span across these gaps to create the bridge. So I see that element as one of the spans that starts to build this bridge between the purpose of the business, the things that need to be done, and how people data can actually support that.
Dan Riley: Yeah, absolutely. And one thing, just as you were speaking that really, really fast, I mean, talent mobility is something we must be better at. What I mean by that is how do we move people along an organization and give them opportunities to add value to the organization, verse looking outside of the organization? So this is, when you think about tenure and you think about new employees and organizations, when an open opportunity comes around or an open rep comes around, if the first thing we do is think externally, we’re failing our people. I will hold by that statement. If the first thing that we do is look externally for an open rep, we are failing our people. And so this is such an important part of using data, and empowering our people, and training our people and teaching and learning.
Dan Riley: Again, this is a data-rich process, but there has to be a commitment for this, and leveraging those from a tenure perspective and understanding that there’s new employees that are starting who are hungry. If the only way to jumpstart your career is to jump ship, shame on the organization. We have to build a better process internally to allow people to thrive and grow, and that helps with retention, that helps with engagement, that helps with great culture, and that ultimately drives business performance. And every CFO would be happy, because then they can say “Yes, yes, yes. Now I get it. There’s an ROI on all of this human culture work.”
Ian Cook: Yeah. There you go Dan, you solved the fundamental conundrum of people in business in one sentence. Well done. And you sparked a whole other podcast for me in terms of the changes in mental models for managers, the changes in mental models of the kind of traditional employer employee relationship that are occurring in lots of places. Again, I think you and I are privileged to be amongst some of those organizations that see the need for change and are driving the need for change, but there’s still a lot of traditional behavior out there, kind of like, “Well if they left, they’re not loyal, I only want loyal employees.” As a mindset, that gets in the way a lot of actually building up people-centric business. So, thanks for listening today. Today’s episode of the Human Truth Podcast has been myself and Dan Riley riffing on values, people-centric businesses, what it means to create and grow an organization that is focused, understanding that currently a lot of knowledge workers will change jobs to be part of an organization that’s aligned to their values. So this has material impacts on business success. We’ll be back next time with another key work statistic, so tune in for more.
[PRODUCER – CREDITS] Thanks for joining this episode on the Human Truth Podcast, presented by Visier. More links and information presented on today’s show are at Visier.com/podcast. Subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts. Next time on the Human Truth Podcast, we’re asking why some CEOs are pushing for a return to the office, when nine out of 10 workers prefer at least some type of hybrid arrangement. Join us for that discussion. The Human Truth Podcast is brought to you by Visier, whose mission is to reveal the human truth that helps businesses and employees win together. Today’s episode was produced by Sarah Gonzalez, with technical production by Gabriel Kava. Grace Shepherd is our assistant producer, and all podcast related image on our website and social were created by Taylor Cuckle. See you next time.