In this Digital CxO Leadership Insights series video, Mike Vizard speaks with Michelle Tilton, VP of Marketing for Gryphon.ai, about The Great Resignation.
Mike Vizard: Hello and welcome to the latest edition of the Digital CxO videocast. I’m your host, Mike Vizard. Today we are with Michelle Tilton, who is the VP of Marketing for Gryphon.ai, and we’re talking about The Great Resignation and what’s going on.
Michelle, welcome to the show.
Michelle Tilton: Thanks, Michael. Thanks for having me today.
Mike Vizard: What is your sense of what is driving all these folks to quit their jobs these days, and is it primarily folks who are making low wages or do you think it’s a more broad-based phenomenon?
Michelle Tilton: It’s definitely a more broad-based phenomenon. We’re seeing it happen among a lot more mid-level employees, and that’s the area that is the most challenged right now to bring on board. Definitely lower wage employees in certain sectors, but in our space we are seeing mid and even upper mid-level employees being in high demand right now.
I think a lot of it is stemming from people being cooped up for a really long time during the pandemic with multiple responsibilities, extra – I mean more responsibilities than most humans would ever dream of having at once, leading them to say, “There’s something more out there.” I think it’s a buildup of all of that.
We’re definitely seeing it in the tech space, where we’re at right now, and among our clients in financial services and insurance and even in the call center space. It’s definitely widespread.
Mike Vizard: Do you think they’re resigning because of money or there’s too much to do, or is it more that there’s just a more interesting job, I guess, or something else for them to do? What’s your sense of what’s the primary cause?
Michelle Tilton: I think originally the primary cause was there was so much to do and so many responsibilities. The more people that resigned, the more that’s driven up the value of those companies that are looking for that level of talent. We’re seeing people demanding salaries that are much higher than previously over a very short period of time.
So I think the second half of the Great Resignation definitely could be attributed to those that do see that happening and are saying, “Hey, there’s something else out there and I can get paid more.” So I think the first half might have been a little bit of a different reason, but I am seeing colleagues even saying, “Wow. I’m worth more than I’m getting paid right now and I think there’s more out there. I’m going to go ahead and test the market.” So I think there’s a combo of both.
Mike Vizard: Do you think this has a cascading effect? Because somebody quits and then I can’t find someone to replace them, and then I put more stress on the existing staff, and the existing staff says, “There’s got to be something better out there.”
Michelle Tilton: A hundred percent, absolutely, because that is happening in a lot of places. We hear that it’s so hard to fill positions, particularly mid-level, mid upper-level positions of people who have experience. They want to bring in good talent. They can’t find that talent at that level, and they’re delegating a lot of that responsibility to those that are still there.
And I’ve seen that too, where those that are still there are saying, “Wow. I’m doing all of this work. I can maybe move up in my career. I’m taking on so much more responsibility. I can go find something else and move up in my career somewhere else.”
So it’s this hamster wheel effect right now where it’s tough to get good talent. It’s hard to retain the talent because they’re getting placed with more and more responsibilities, and they’re not bringing on that new talent to help support those in place. So I think that it is a cascading effect in some ways for sure.
Mike Vizard: Necessity is often the mother of invention. Do you think people are reinventing processes to figure out how to maybe take more people out of that equation because they can’t find those folks?
Michelle Tilton: We’re seeing a huge demand in our space especially, in technology, to help support that process, to make lives easier for the people they have, to make onboarding easier. So bringing in new people, they want to be successful quickly.
I think in our space, we’re seeing that tech being brought onboard to take some of the manual tasks off of those individuals, to make their lives a little easier, and then in turn give them more tools to be more successful, to keep them around longer. I mean at the end of the day, people want to succeed in their jobs, especially if they’re compensated for success. So the happier they are, the more money they’re making, the more apt they are to remain motivated and to keep doing their job at a high level.
Mike Vizard: So you don’t think AI is going to replace people as much as it will augment them. So I might get more done with a smaller number of people, but I still need the people.
Michelle Tilton: Yes, 100 percent. We don’t look at AI at all as replacing people. What we look at AI to do is to replace some of the manual tasks that those people are doing, to enable them to do their jobs better.
I’ll give you an example. Conversation intelligence is a really hot tech right now. What that is is enabling reps to go on a phone call, or agents or any staff, to go on a telephone call and not have to take notes. The tech is transcribing all of those notes, and giving them feedback on things with how the call went, sentiment, the score of the call. How do did you do on that call? What could you have done better?
All this is to enable them to do what they do better, not to take something away from them, but to automate some of that manual work, so reps aren’t spending half an hour after the call transcribing notes and putting them into the CRM. That tech is geared really to not only taking manual work off their plate, but also giving them that feedback to make them better in the future without having to wait for a manager to sit and listen to a call and give them feedback. It’s all to make things easier for the rep, and in no way, shape or form to replace them.
Mike Vizard: Do you think digital CXOs might want to take a minute and start listing all the rote processes that they have in place, that people are using spreadsheets or whatever it might be to do, and say, “What are candidates here for automation? And can we start knocking them off, almost like a to-do list?”
Michelle Tilton: For certain, and we are seeing an uptick in CXO organizations – in customer success organizations, for instance, where that had typically been more of a lagging area of tech adoption starting to say, “Wow, we can use this tech for customer experience. We can use this for our agents and our reps.”
Multiple C suite members are looking at tech to not only capture more data – so back to my example for conversation intelligence, oftentimes conversations were the very last thing to be documented, except for the rep’s notes. You have e-mails connected to your CRM. You’ve got all kinds of other tech connected. Conversations have lagged behind quite a bit.
So by being able to take those conversations and automate that information as part of the entire customer journey, we’re seeing huge benefits from that, in not only things like progressing deals quicker, but also forecasting, right, so being to forecast what’s coming into the business and where there might be some negative sentiment coming, too, so we can capture those opportunities for churn and mitigate churn also.
Mike Vizard: Do you think the employees themselves are also starting to ask questions like, “Well, if all things are equal and I can work from home when I need to and my salary is good,” are they looking at the companies and saying, “How advanced are they on the tech side,” and how much of their life might be made easier because there is some sort of AI capability versus having to manually do all this stuff themselves?
Michelle Tilton: We definitely get those questions during our own interviews. Candidates will come in and ask, “What’s in your tech stack? What do you have in terms of sales tools for me to use?” and they do use that as a basis of comparison. I absolutely believe remote work is a huge factor for a lot of people. So those that do have some flexibility are definitely looking to keep that flexibility.
But we’re absolutely getting those questions during interviews with candidates. What do you have that’s going to make my life easier? What tech do you have that’s going to automate part of this job so I can do what I like to do best, selling.
In our place, most of the candidates coming in are in a sales role and they love to sell, but they don’t want to do a lot of those manual tasks. They want to focus on what they love. And tech really does enable them to focus on what they love best about their job.
Mike Vizard: Do you also think that – remote work has been stressful, but it also cuts both ways, and as a company I’m no longer tied to who can show up at an office within a two-hour drive window. I can hire anybody just about anywhere these days. Do you think companies are having that mindset and have shifted, and that’s part of this whole trend where I’m no longer tied to my geography for where my next job is?
Michelle Tilton: I think it’s going to be this way for a very long time, because the workers are demanding it and the companies that will remain the most competitive are going to give employees and top talent what they’re looking for, more of that balance.
I will also say that even in this tech sector, this sales tech sector, the growth over the last 18 months has been explosive in all areas of tech in the sales tech sector. A lot of it is driven by companies who at first had no choice but to transition, because all of us went to work from home very quickly.
But also, the ones that are a little slower to adopt are saying, “This might be my culture long-term. How can I make it successful for both the managers and the employees? And let’s onboard this tech now, so that we can continue this business model, so we get the top talent and we get the best people, but we’re also supporting them from a distance.”
I absolutely believe that remote work is probably going to be a factor for a really long time, and a lot of companies are seeing that and are adopting that tech to support that.
Mike Vizard: Remote work isn’t necessarily new for everybody. There’s been a percentage of the population that’s been working remotely for a while. But one of the things that I’ve observed over time is that they’ve become subject to almost – I call it paranoia, because they’re not part of the day-to-day process and they don’t see what’s going on, and they start to imagine the worst.
So do managers need to find a way to reach out to these folks more aggressively? Maybe there’s collaboration tools or something that makes everybody feel like they’re part of something and they’re not always out of the loop.
Michelle Tilton: There is a shift there in person. I’ve worked remotely for about six years. So the pandemic for me was not a huge shift. It was simply a shift in how a lot of my employees worked.
So there are two things at play here. I think there are tools that can support a more positive employee experience. There are great collaboration tools out there. But also, it’s really up to the teams to make sure that communication is wide open.
For instance, my team is mostly remote actually, and we communicate all day long, every day. I think it’s up to the manager in some way to make sure that the employees’ needs are being met. If you have an employee that does need a little more support, make sure that style of communication is open, so that you keep that employee where they need to be: happy, productive, and supported.
But I also think that there are collaboration tools. I mean you’ve seen the Slacks of the world go off the charts here, where that collaboration tool has been a foundation for a lot of these teams. I think that has to continue both from a tech – not just an all-tech standpoint, but also from a managerial standpoint, how you communicate with your teams and make sure that they all feel supported from a remote work environment.
Mike Vizard: All right. You’ve been at this for a while. What’s your best advice to other managers about how to deal with this both culturally and technically?
Michelle Tilton: Tools to support your team are so critical. I think good communication, but also the right tools to support the team. If you’re floundering in a certain area, you’re never going to be successful. If you’re a salesperson and you’re worried about how to sell something over the phone or overcome an objection, there are tools in place that can help you manage that fear and that hurdle in an automated way, where you don’t have to rely on somebody else hand holding you.
So I think the advice I would say is make sure that your teams have the tools they need to succeed and the ones they’re going to use, the ones that they want to use, the ones that help make their lives easier. But also as a manger, make sure that you’re supporting that team in the way that they need to be supported. Maybe it’s an additional touch base during the week or they want constant feedback. Providing what they need to be successful I think is really important in this environment.
Mike Vizard: All right. You heard it here first, folks. It’s a big, happy, extended family. You’ve got to figure out how to reach out and touch someone no matter where they are. Michelle, thanks for being on the show.
Michelle Tilton: Thanks so much. I appreciate it.
Mike Vizard: All right. Thank you all for spending some time with us. Have a great, awesome day.