Internally examining employee retention and engagement and making the shift to a talent-forward strategy: At Betts, we pride ourselves on low attrition, and it’s a metric our executive team pays close attention to. Our high retention rates are a result of us pivoting as a company and prioritizing the needs and well-being of our employees to make Betts a positive and fulfilling workplace.
When it comes to designing the future of work, one size fits none. Discovering success isn’t about a hybrid model or offering remote work options. Individuals and organizations are looking for more freedom. The freedom to choose the work model that makes the most sense. The freedom to choose their own values. And the freedom to pursue what matters most. We reached out to successful leaders and thought leaders across all industries to glean their insights and predictions about how to create a future that works.
As a part of our interview series called “How Employers and Employees are Reworking Work Together,” we had the pleasure to interview Carolyn Betts Fleming.
Carolyn Betts Fleming is the founder and CEO of Betts, a leading nationwide recruiting technology and services firm for revenue-generating (sales, customer success, and marketing) roles. Her knack for spotting top talent and pairing them with an ideal company has led to developing a trusted marketplace in the SaaS space, ensuring that every partner, both talent and client, who comes to Betts succeeds. Prior to founding Betts, she began her career selling advertising in the Yellow Pages book and recruiting for Andiamo! Group, where she was the top performer company-wide during her employment. From there, Carolyn transitioned into sales at CareerBuilder.com and became a top-performing enterprise sales executive working with clients including Netflix, Symantec, McAfee, and many more. She is currently a board member at BUILD, an advisory council member at Beam Founders, and a member of Young Presidents’ Organization and Entrepreneur’s Organization. Additionally, Carolyn is a fundraiser with Flatwater Foundation and an active pledger at Founders Pledge, an organization that enables entrepreneurs and investors to give back, give more, and give effectively, by pledging a portion of future exit proceeds to charity. She received a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is an alumna of Harvard Business School.
Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you a bit better. Can you please tell us about one or two life experiences that most shaped who you are today.
Starting my own company and building it to what it is today has been my biggest professional and personal accomplishment. I grew the company from just me to over 100 amazing people, expanded internationally and bootstrapped our technology platform, Betts Connect.
Let’s zoom out. What do you predict will be the same about work, the workforce and the workplace 10–15 years from now? What do you predict will be different?
The flexibility that has come from COVID and the opportunities for remote work will remain for the majority of companies and while many may return to in-person, I predict most tech companies will remain remote or hybrid. While initially it was a big change, it expanded options for business leaders, like having the ability to hire anyone from anywhere and increasing the available talent pool. It’s been such a positive change for Betts and our clients that I can’t see it going away and will only continue to bring more innovative solutions.
It’s hard to predict what will be different so long from now, but I’m confident the barriers to entry for starting companies, especially in tech, will decrease. Over that period, we’ll likely see new, innovative companies coming to market that offer creative solutions for real problems. You used to have to be a “tech person” to make it in this industry, but now anyone with a great idea can bring their ideas to life with way less capital that what was needed before. I really see that in myself and my company. From a recruiting standpoint, platforms like Betts Connect will shake up the industry in a good way. Much like how dating has changed, you see more and more people meeting and connecting online. This almost never happened back in the day. Now, even when it comes to finding a job, platforms and programs are making it easier to find qualified candidates, and we’ll see that bubble continue to grow.
What advice would you offer to employers who want to future-proof their organizations?
Continue to innovate and pivot! A couple of years ago we decided to evolve our company and add our technology offering. I wish we had done it sooner now knowing how successful we would be. You can’t just rely on what has always worked for you in the past. Looking to the future and finding ways that your company can continue to grow and make noise in crowded spaces will only bring you more success. Also, having a talent-forward mindset must be a priority. The top-down model is one of the past, and today, successful companies are putting their teams’ wants and needs at the forefront of their strategy. Having an engaged and invested team will only make you stronger and more resilient as an organization.
What do you predict will be the biggest gaps between what employers are willing to offer and what employees expect as we move forward? And what strategies would you offer about how to reconcile those gaps?
The companies who haven’t evolved to being a talent-focused organization are going to have a hard time succeeding. Employees want to be paid fairly and competitively and want the flexibility to work from anywhere. The companies that have shifted focus to meet the needs of the talent market are building really strong, engaged teams. If you’re not doing this, you won’t be able to compete and will suffer on the talent front.
Understanding the market of what the most talented people are looking for out of an employer and adapting your hiring strategy are ways to reconcile these gaps. We’re seeing that the companies who aren’t offering flexibility, have interview processes that aren’t talent-focused, have hiring processes that aren’t streamlined and are disorganized, etc. are not able to fill roles. We see this at scale across our client base while other companies who have adapted their strategies are actually finding talented candidates and building their teams at a faster and more successful rate.
We simultaneously joined a global experiment together last year called “Working From Home.” How will this experience influence the future of work?
To be fair, there are industries where this just isn’t an option. However, there is no surprise that we’re experiencing a major staffing shortage in a lot of these industries. For example, go to any mall and you’ll find stores with closed entrances or even signs expressing their regret for long wait times, all related to lack of staff. When you look at these industries and why they’re suddenly unable to fill positions, a lot of these shortages are because people realized there are other job opportunities where they don’t have to be in-person. We’ve learned that embracing remote work, when you can, overall improves employee engagement and retention because the quality of life and work increase.
We’ve all read the headlines about how the pandemic reshaped the workforce. What societal changes do you foresee as necessary to support a future of work that works for everyone?
It’s interesting because when the pandemic started, I was one of those people who couldn’t wait to get everyone back into the office, thinking it would just be for the short term. Now, it’s become our strategy going forward because of what we learned. A lot of companies are still operating on the “eventual return date” and continuing to push that date farther and farther back, all while unknowingly making their teams more and more nervous. People have learned how much they prefer the flexibility of working remotely and might be wondering if it’s time to look for new opportunities.
What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of work?
The work that we’re doing and the pivots we’ve made, both at Betts and on a national scale, are showing me the future of work is very bright. I’m excited about our ability as business leaders to include more people in the professional workforce and driving the charge for more diversity and inclusion, while ultimately leading to innovation and change. We’ve grown a lot when it comes to diversity, but there is still so much more that needs to be done and unlearned from the old ways of doing business.
Our collective mental health and wellbeing are now considered collateral as we consider the future of work. What innovative strategies do you see employers offering to help improve and optimize their employee’s mental health and wellbeing?
At the least, encouraging flexible work, but also encouraging people to take breaks, get off long Zoom meetings and establish wellness time where team members can take some time for themselves during the week. The narrative that employees get less done when working from home just isn’t true, and in fact, it’s more often than not those employees are working even more. We need to make sure that our teams understand how important their mental health is to them and us. If you can, consider wellness stipends or unlimited PTO, so people can take a break and recharge. After living through the past few years, burnout is more real than ever, and if you’re not prioritizing your team’s mental health, you can lose them to another company that will.
It seems like there’s a new headline every day. ‘The Great Resignation’. ‘The Great Reconfiguration’. And now the ‘Great Reevaluation’. What are the most important messages leaders need to hear from these headlines? How do company cultures need to evolve?
It’s more important than ever that leaders prioritize having a pulse on how their teams feel about the workplace. Engagement surveys defined growth opportunities and a strong employee brand in the market will help you understand how your employees are feeling. Even the best companies are still losing people due to the dynamic we’re seeing in the marketplace, so you also need to have a proactive and creative approach when it comes to attracting new talent and retaining existing employees.
Let’s get more specific. What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Work?” (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Technological innovations in recruiting, regarding both existing talent and the next generation of the workforce: Digital communication and connection have been increasingly popular for years, and this trend was naturally exacerbated by the pandemic due to the physical distance restrictions that were in place. Companies now have the opportunity to recruit digitally through platforms like Betts Connect, which exposes them to a larger candidate pool and streamlines the hiring process to be more time and cost effective. Outdated recruiting strategies have continuously hindered companies of all sizes looking to scale, so it’s time to rethink the future of recruiting in today’s employment market. We’re thrilled to be the first tech recruiting platform that prioritizes both hiring and career goals for companies and talent, alike.
- Internally examining employee retention and engagement and making the shift to a talent-forward strategy: At Betts, we pride ourselves on low attrition, and it’s a metric our executive team pays close attention to. Our high retention rates are a result of us pivoting as a company and prioritizing the needs and well-being of our employees to make Betts a positive and fulfilling workplace.
- Building diverse and inclusive teams: Companies have grown a lot when it comes to diversity, but there is still so much more that needs to be changed from the old ways of hiring and recruiting. For Betts Connect, our recruiting team prioritizes proactively looking for diverse talent, and encourages companies to expand their search to include candidates that might not immediately be recognized.
- Capital being infused into tech as it pertains to talent: The tech field prioritizes capital continuously being used for business and product development and distribution. However, with the shift into a talent-focused market, it’s time that more of that capital be allocated to hiring/recruiting and developing the existing employee base. This means investing in new recruiting tools, like Betts Connect, that help companies reach their hiring goals faster and more efficiently, while also investing in current employees through professional development initiatives or wellness stipends.
- Companies exiting/mergers and acquisitions continuing to increase: The tech industry led the charge this year in terms of breaking mergers and acquisitions global records. This trend doesn’t seem to be losing momentum as the tech industry continues to consolidate due to a greater number of private equity firms buying up companies under larger tech conglomerates. Smaller companies will exit the tech space as they’re bought and absorbed by these larger organizations.
I keep quotes on my desk and on scraps of paper to stay inspired. What’s your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? And how has this quote shaped your perspective?
My personal motto is the Golden Rule — treat others how you want to be treated. I’ve always been extremely passionate about meeting new people and connecting them with others, especially in this industry. I believe this has really benefited my own personal and professional growth and the growth of my company. When you treat your colleagues, employees, clients and stakeholders with respect and kindness, you see it returned.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He, she, or they might just see this if we tag them.
Marc Benioff, the founder of Salesforce. He built an amazing, disruptive organization and has continued to be an industry leader over time. His company’s long-standing growth and adoration is really unique for the industry, and the company’s innovations, acquisitions and internal pivots are a testament to his ability as a leader.
Our readers often like to continue the conversation with our featured interviewees. How can they best connect with you and stay current on what you’re discovering?
Follow along with me over on LinkedIn.
Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and good health.