We’re passionate about the world of work, and how we can make it better. To help satisfy our curiosity, we’ve launched an interview series where we pick the brains of experienced leaders, business owners, managers, and individual contributors to get their thoughts on how we can collectively build better workplaces.
Join us in our next installment below as Julie Jeannotte—HR Expert & Researcher—shares her insights with us.
We’d love to get to know you a bit better, tell us a bit about your backstory.
Of course! I always prefer to introduce myself personally first. So I’m Julie, soon entering the big 4-0 decade! I’m a devoted Mom to 3 children: Ben and Alex, my 10-year-old twins and Charlie, my 12 year-old daughter. I’m married to a wonderful paramedic and we’ve been together for 15 years now. We live in Montreal, Canada and are food and wine lovers, on a quest to share our passion for travel with our children.
I was in fact just beginning my HR career when my hubby and I met. I’ve been in the wonderful world of HR for 15 years now. I started like many HR leaders as an HR Coordinator, learning the ins-and-out of the role. I then took on an HR Director role with a tech start-up and stayed with that company for close to ten years—yep, I’m a very loyal employee!
I’ve always been passionate about humans at work and people science. I love to dig to understand what drives people, both personally and professionally. Early in my HR career, I began rethinking how we could change the way we do things: how we recruit, onboard, coach, engage and develop employees. When trying to measure employee morale and culture in my role at the tech start-up, I discovered the science of employee engagement. I felt like Cinderella, finally finding a shoe that fit perfectly—I had found my calling!
In my research on employee engagement, I discovered Officevibe as a product and company. Long story short, it was love at first sight. They needed an HR leader to help them build their product, and I was on a mission to help team members around the world find meaning in their work, and be engaged at work. Our missions aligned so it was a clear GO for both of us.
I’ve been working with Officevibe by GSoft for 5 and a half years now as our HR Expert and Researcher. I spend my days leveraging my expertise to build an amazing product for our users and speaking with our users to understand their reality, needs and challenges to be solved.
If we were to ask a friend to describe your personality to us, what would they say?
They’d say that I’m bubbly, energetic, empathetic, curious, caring and kind.
Thinking back to your career journey, what’s an interesting story that stands out?
Without getting into specifics, I’d say that the times that stand out are those when I was confronted in my beliefs and tempted to change what I knew to be true and right to please others, or toe the company line as some say.
In time and with experience, I learned that although it’s important to always keep an open mind and be curious, you must stay true to your beliefs and your personal values.
Stay true to who you are, don’t be afraid to speak up and stand up for what you believe in. Those who know and trust you will respect you for it.
What’s the most impactful lesson you've learned over your career thus far?
Trust your instincts because you’re rarely wrong, but back it up with research and facts to convince yourself, and others.
Thanks for giving us some insight into who you are! Let’s jump into things. When you hear the phrase “build a better world of work”, what comes to mind?
A world that is more caring and human, first and foremost.
We’ve seen the world of work change so much over the last decades. It’s impressive how many organizations have realized how important it is to take care of their people and that a great employee experience directly translates into a great customer experience.
In this new era of work brought by the pandemic, I’m concerned that we’re now left with a very shaky balance between employees expectations and employer expectations. Because the labor market went crazy for reasons we all know.
I think it’s time that we focus on reconciling employee expectations with those of employers.
The idea for me is not to go to extremes—building a happy place where it’s all about the employees and never about reaching business outcomes or vice versa—but rather about meeting in the middle and creating a win-win situation.
For you, what’s the main blocker you see as standing in the way of building a better world of work?
The economic and labor context plays a role for sure. The good old laws of supply and of demand create shifts and imbalances which sometimes make us make decisions we end up regretting because they weren’t aligned with our beliefs and values.
Oh, and people with fixed mindsets and a lack of curiosity. Leaders stuck in old ways of doing things can definitely get in the way of building a better world of work!
What’s one thing within our control that we can practically do to build a better world of work today? And, how do you recommend going about it?
Hum, that’s a tough one!
I think making sure we listen to our employees is the key! They are the ones with the answers. This may sound cliché, but as HR leaders it’s not only our responsibility to listen, it’s also on us to equip our organizations to actively listen to our employees. Executives and people managers need to understand engagement struggles in order to address them at an organization and team level. Having candid conversations and creating space for real talk is never easy though. There are many ways we can get this information. Always-on listening tools like Officevibe are one of them!
I personally think that people managers are key actors in building a future of work that is more human.
Because organizations are relying on their people managers to create human experiences for their teams, they have become the backbone of the virtual organization, with 89% of companies relying on 1:1 check-ins with managers to build meaningful relationships with employees. Not surprisingly, due to this shift of responsibility, emotional intelligence, inclusiveness, and social flexibility were cited as the top three capabilities and skills that organizations need from managers.
All that being said, we need to be careful again here to not overload managers by putting too much on their shoulders. In light of this, I also think we need to empower employees to play a more active role in their performance and development. Simple things like enabling them to request feedback from their peers at the right time on an ongoing basis can go a long way in them owing their development path, and will facilitate the manager’s work when review time comes around.
Can you share one thing you’ve experienced, seen, or read about that is leading us towards a better world of work?
As people navigated unprecedented stress on the front lines these last two years, balanced childcare and homeschool, worked from living rooms and quieted barking dogs, something changed: work became more human. Just under one in five have met their colleagues’ families virtually, and as we clung to each other to get through the year, one in six have cried with a coworker.
This brings me joy and hope for the future of work.
Also, the crisis has brought so much more openness to talk about mental health in the workplace. I think that’s such a positive outcome for the future of work.
And lastly, we were forced to re-examine the place that work occupies in our lives. The whole concept of work-life balance is being rethought to become something along the lines of work-life synergy.
Gone are the days of rise-and-grind and work becoming our purpose as people.
I’m excited about what this means for the future!
I’m curious, thinking about building a better world of work, is there a company and/or leader who stands out to you as someone we should follow? If so, what are they up to?
I source a lot of my inspiration in our 3000 clients—they’re so amazing. So many of them are doing amazing things, from small to big businesses. Some that come to mind are Bioscript and Sharethrough who have really fully embraced a people-first approach. If you want to hear more about what they’re doing, check this interview out!
I am also deeply inspired by what Founders Joe & Jon have done at Gorilla 76, a small industrial marketing agency in the US. Driven by their company values, they’ve built an amazing work environment for their people (read their manifesto for details) and define success as follows: “We’re successful if we complete our daily tasks efficiently and effectively, respect relationships and work-life balance, and grow—intellectually, financially and as kind humans.” Their words, not mine. What more can I say?!?!
How can our readers follow your work?
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Join our interview series and share your ideas for how we can build a better world of work!