There has been a huge boost to online learning — and for every age group. With the increase in online learning, there will be big improvements made to the access, learning processes and platforms and this will make it easier to get the same education, and even possibly better, regardless of your location. One of the big promises of online education is that you can take an expert and capture their skills and distribute it at scale across the globe. Imagine being able to take courses with the best instructors in the world? We will be able to have much more of that and the tools for delivery, evaluation and credentialing will continue to improve as well.
As a part of my series about the things we can do to remain hopeful and support each other during anxious times, I had the pleasure of interviewing Denise Leaser.
Denise Leaser, President, GreatBizTools, is a serial entrepreneur with 25 years’ experience developing L&D and HR tech innovations, such as WebAssess and MyInnerGenius. She a recognized thought leader in employee assessment and has provided guidance for the US Department of Education. She is a featured speaker for industry groups like CTA and Training Magazine.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
Thank you for this opportunity! I didn’t have a straight line from my education to my career path. After college, I started out in management and executive positions. Then my daughter was diagnosed with autism and I reevaluated a lot of things in my life, including my career. I worked with a lot of people who were unhappy. They were in the wrong jobs. I thought to myself, “This is an area where I can make a difference.” I went back to school and changed to a career in HR. My work in management gave me the practical experience to develop HR products that people will actually use and provide real results.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
It doesn’t sound like a book that would have a profound effect on me, but “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries. What he talks about a lot in the book is being adaptable. Being able to pivot when something happens. He writes about it from a business perspective, but I think these principles apply to life as well — especially now. When COVID-19 happened, it came out of the blue and no one was expecting it. Everyone and all businesses had a high growth trajectory and it looked like there was no end in sight. Then almost overnight everything changed. The businesses that learn to adapt will survive. Unfortunately, many will not. But from the human perspective, the same goes. The world of work and the world in general has changed and it won’t return to the way it was. The people that learn to pivot, adapt, change and learn to adjust to the changes will do well and will thrive. Those who do not will struggle. I think that is a lesson we can all learn from.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
I agree, there is a lot of fear right now and millions of people have lost their jobs or businesses and there is a great deal of uncertainty. We have all heard the phrase that we will at some point be returning to the “new normal,” but no one really knows what that is yet. Still, there are 5 reasons to be hopeful in this turbulent time:
#1 — Online Learning will grow — There has been a huge boost to online learning — and for every age group. With the increase in online learning, there will be big improvements made to the access, learning processes and platforms and this will make it easier to get the same education, and even possibly better, regardless of your location. One of the big promises of online education is that you can take an expert and capture their skills and distribute it at scale across the globe. Imagine being able to take courses with the best instructors in the world? We will be able to have much more of that and the tools for delivery, evaluation and credentialing will continue to improve as well.
#2 — Work from home is here to stay and will flourish — One trend that was happening already but has now been turbo charged is working from home. A new report just came out from LinkedIn that found that 55% of employers believe working from home will work in their industry. There are many benefits to employers. There has been a myth that people have to be sitting in the same room to provide real business value. It simply isn’t true. In fact, according to Remote.co (https://remote.co/10-stats-about-remote-work/), remote workers are more productive, more engaged and less stressed than onsite workers. This is good news for both companies and employees. Companies can expand their labor pool and reduce overhead. By not needing large facilities for on-site workers, companies can reduce overhead. They can also distribute their infrastructure over a broader span of a workday — it doesn’t have to be normal business hours and this will save companies money too. And it is good news for employees too. People would rather work from home. According to a Gallup poll, 37% of today’s workforce would switch to a job that allows them to work off-site at least part of the time. Employees who are able to work from home are less stressed, have more free time and a better work-life balance. Even the planet will benefit — fewer people on roads at the same time means less pollution, less wear and tear on vehicles, less infrastructure and many people may not even need a vehicle.
#3 — Work from home tools will expand — There are many work from home tools like virtual meetings, internal communication channels and project collaboration tools that are proving to be a good way to deliver similar productivity outside the office. These tools will also allow workers with special needs to work effectively from home and compete for more jobs. The collaboration tool industry will continue to grow and provide new and innovative tools for the work from home market. There are great HR tools that can screen candidates remotely too. Effective HR tools, like WebAssess, can tell you who can work effectively from home. They can shield information like someone’s name, gender or age from the hiring manager to minimize bias and make sure they are only focusing on the relevant job-related traits. Using a science-based approach reduces bias and gives you better results and saves you money.
#4 — Democratization of the workforce will increase — geographic boundaries have been obliterated with COVID-19. What does that mean? People who have been disenfranchised from opportunity because of their locations will have tremendous new opportunities. Expanding their labor pool by looking outside their zip code will allow companies to diversify their workforce, increase inclusion, find people with the necessary skills they need and more easily fill hard-to-find positions.
#5 — Work-Life integration — companies have been preaching work-life balance for years but today’s workforce wants work-life integration. The old factory model of 9–5 doesn’t make sense in a global, digital world and companies and their employees are finding that there are opportunities to create non-conventional schedules to get the job done. Eliminating the commute, gives employees more free time, flexibility allows them more time to meet their personal and family needs and all of this leads to a reduction in stress.
From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
- Start every call and every conversation with empathy and ask them how they are — but be genuine. Allow people time to vent without hijacking the conversation. But let them know they are not alone, and they have a support structure. Sometimes just knowing someone is there is enough.
- Allow for mental health days. Everyone is stressed right now. Allow for time for people to decompress.
- Clear people’s plates and help them prioritize what needs to be done versus what would be nice to do so they aren’t overwhelmed.
- Offer flexible hours. Right now, there is an increase in personal responsibilities. Employers need to be flexible.
- People are fatigued, stressed out, tired and burned out from the constant reporting, changes in projections and being on constant high alert. We need to accommodate that.
What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?
With COVID-19, there has been a tremendous amount of stress added to our lives. Unfortunately, it has also taken away many of the resources we would normally use, like: getting together with friends and family, going to the gym to workout, go to the park, etc. But there are still things we can do, like go to a room or outdoor space that is peaceful and just breathe and relax, write in a journal or listen to music. It is important to stay in touch with people, so you don’t feel alone. Make sure you talk to friends and family on the phone or video chat. When we are stressed, we tend to not take care of yourselves. It is very important to get enough sleep, eat healthy, and get fresh air, when possible. Use this time to distract yourself from thinking about what is going to and take the time to do all of the things you have been putting off, like: cleaning and organizing, reading a book or starting a new hobby. I also recommend that you take an online course. You can improve your skills and be ready for new work challenges when this is over. These tips can make you feel better about yourself, make you feel like you have some control of your life and help feel like you have accomplished something meaningful.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
I think, Richard Branson’s, “Employees come first. IF you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” That pretty much says it all for me.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
To democratize the hiring process. A truly unbiased process ensures you have the most diverse workforce. Technology can help us focus so we are only looking at job-related criteria, nothing else. That way you can make sure you are looking at how natural cognitive abilities and personality traits contribute to job success. Imagine how that will really change the lives of people who have been disenfranchised? It will create hope and bring these people many real opportunities.
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
I am on Twitter @DeniseLeaser and LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/denise-leaser/
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!