In a world where you can be anything, be kind.
As a part of my HR Strategy Series, I’m talking to top experts in the field to teach prospects what hiring managers are actually looking for, while also supporting business leaders in their hiring and retention strategies. Today I had the pleasure of talking with Lisa Fleury.
Lisa Fleury is VP of Talent Acquisition for Voya Financial, Inc. Lisa joined Voya with more than 20 years in the recruiting and workforce planning areas. Prior to that, as a Director for a Fortune 100, she led SAP Development and Production Support Teams. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. Lisa received a Master in Business Administration from Western New England University where she currently helps matriculating students and graduates prepare for entry into today’s workforce. Lisa is passionate about developing future leaders, finding exceptional talent in unexpected places and ensuring equal opportunities exist for all people.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! First, please tell us what brought you to this specific career path?
It’s my pleasure! Happy to be here discussing this important topic.
I found myself in my first role in recruiting when I responded to a newspaper advertisement that was looking for high-energy, motivated individuals who enjoyed working with people and who wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. I was just out of college, where I took psychology and business. This sounded like a perfect opportunity. Shortly after, I was hired as a personnel coordinator for a staffing firm. Decades later, those same words describe me.
Talent Acquisition provides a new challenge every day. I have an opportunity to work with different people toward a shared goal. I love that my role allows me to partner with our business colleagues, understand their strategy, help them with workforce plans, and pair them with talent that embodies our culture and gives them the ability to be successful in achieving their business objectives.
HR is an area that can immediately impact and influence the culture and business of a large organization, while at the same time change the life of an individual. Today, my role continues to be about helping people, whether it be mentoring students; coaching resources on my team; ensuring that my organization embodies inclusivity; guiding employees in their careers; welcoming new hires; or educating leaders on the war to attract and retain today’s talent.
I was fortunate to find my passion early in my career. HR has allowed me opportunities to grow and learn in several areas.
Can you share the most interesting or funny story that happened to you since you started this career and what lesson you learned from that?
Oh goodness … I can laugh at this now, but at the time, it wasn’t so funny.
In the third week of my first job as a personnel coordinator at a staffing firm, I suffered my first injury. My manager went on vacation, leaving three new hires to lead the office. It was Thursday, and Thursdays were payday. As usual, our employees were lined up out the door to collect their paychecks. Each employee would step up to the desk, present their ID and receive their paycheck for the previous week’s work.
One woman handed me her ID, only there was no check. I searched our faxed records and did not have any hours from the company where she claimed to have worked. Furthermore, there was not any record of her in our system. We called the company who did have a punch card on file, but she had arrived with a friend and just went to work…no employee file and no information to contact her other than a name. She became quite upset and assaulted me and my coworker, while the third newly hired woman hid under the desk.
Lucky for us, people wanted their checks so they intervened and escorted her from the premises. We finished handing out all checks, filed our police reports and called it a day. My mother begged me to quit the role, but I loved every aspect of that job — finding opportunities for people who really needed to work to support themselves or their families. I stayed with that company for many years, but we did change our policy, and paychecks were mailed.
Wonderful. Now let’s jump into the main focus of our series. Hiring can be very time consuming and difficult. Can you share 5 techniques that you use to identify the talent that would be best suited for the job you want to fill?
Recruiting the right talent is a process and at Voya we strive to be a thorough as possible.
The data shows that diverse and disability-inclusive companies not only bolster employee engagement and retention but realize as much as 28% higher revenues. Here are five things that Voya does to identify and retain talent — including candidates with disabilities as well as their caregivers.
1. Revamp “standard” hiring and recruiting practices to be accessible and accommodating.
I feel strongly that candidates need to feel respected and supported. To be inclusive, we provide reasonable accommodations for our applicants if they need them. They can call or email us for assistance with their application process. We have a statement to reflect this on our careers page and our recruiters ask if there is anything needed to ensure they are relaxed and at their best during the interview process.
2. Partner with employee resource groups.
I am keenly focused on attracting talent, but what I find attracts qualified employees the most is culture. I believe our employees are the main drivers of our culture and, in order to attract and retain talent, we need to provide them with the proper training and resources to cultivate the inclusive environment we desire. For example, Voya proudly supports eight employee resource groups (ERGs): African-American ERG; Asian-American ERG; Disabilities and Special Needs ERG; Latinx ERG; LGBTQ & Allies ERG; NextGen ERG; Virtual ERG; and Women’s ERG.
Our recruiting team partners with these groups at different organizations and community events to reach a diverse population of potential employees. At Voya, we define diversity as the differences that we are born with and those we acquire throughout our lives. Inclusion is the act of understanding and valuing differences and purposefully bringing them together. Our ERGs make our culture one of community and support. They contribute to creating an environment where people are respected and valued and a culture that provides opportunities to those who work hard and offers different avenues to success.
In addition, we have an internal learning and development platform that offers classroom and online programs for training to strengthen our employees’ business and functional knowledge.
3. Develop meaningful community partnerships that help reach larger, targeted networks.
Let’s face it: nobody knows it all. Participating in different networks helps us learn best practices and reach different groups of prospective employees. Our ERGs have teamed up with the Project Search Team affiliated with Manchester ARC, Inc. and are piloting a rotational program for neurodiverse individuals. We will onboard two interns to work alongside employees in the HR and Retirement Readiness areas of Voya. These interns will receive on-the-job training and learn various office skills through hands-on experience, better preparing them for career opportunities that can lead to independence.
4. Communicate about differentiating benefits to attract talent.
We reach out to our employees, understand our demographics, and continuously evaluate what we’re spending and offering for benefit programs. When we discovered how many people in our company had a disability or were caregivers (through focus groups and a self-identify campaign for people with disabilities), we provided a new offering — Wellthy — a health care concierge service that helps employees who are caregivers or who have disabilities and special needs with assistance to address complex, chronic or ongoing care needs.
Our employees have utilized more than 1,800 hours of Wellthy Care Coordinators’ time since the program’s inception in March 2018. Fun fact: These hours do not directly translate into time saved for employees. Since Care Coordinators are focused on time-consuming caregiving tasks, the number of hours saved for employees is significantly more than the number of hours Care Coordinators have been engaged. Providing help with caregiving tasks was a huge stress reliever for our employees and has been a big selling point for recruiting, as so many of us care for loved ones or have a disability of our own that we need help managing.
5. Stand with talent and advocate for legislative change.
This is really where employers can move from “talking” and start “walking” when it comes to “being inclusive.” For example, we collaborate with the National Down Syndrome Society to raise awareness and challenge outdated hiring practice laws. We are shining a light on legislation that seeks to responsibly phase out an 80-year-old provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which continues to allow certain employers to pay wages lower than the federal minimum wage to workers who have disabilities.
With so much noise and competition out there, what are your top 3 ways to attract and engage the best talent in an industry when they haven’t already reached out to you?
The one factor that is constant in every recruiting effort is the Voya brand. In today’s high-tech world, information is available at your fingertips. Our brand sets us apart from our competition. We talk about our winning culture, our ethics, our communities, our customer focus, and making a difference. People are hearing more about Voya and, not only do they like what they are hearing, they admire the kind of company we are and what we are trying to do. The list of awards Voya receives annually proves our commitment. They want to work at Voya and that is a huge first step. Specific ways we attract people include:
- Sourcing: We actively reach out. If it’s early career talent that we are looking for, we start with where we can find top talent: participating in campus career fairs and engaging with professors and department heads. For those roles and others, we also connect with community organizations that represent non-traditional candidates such as Lee Hecht Harrison, MOM project, Disability: IN Conference NextGen interviews, and Out and About to name a few.
- Social Media: We have an extremely active social media presence focused on highlighting our brand and demonstrating our culture and community on LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter. Our recruiting team reaches out to talent with online profiles that match the skills and leadership competencies that will be key to success at Voya.
- Employee Referrals: Our employees know what it takes to be productive at Voya while making a difference in the lives of our customers and in the communities where we live and work. Accordingly, we trust that recommendations for future employees from current employees will be candidates who are as committed as they are. Voya has an Employee Referral Program in a place where employees may also receive a monetary award for a successful referral.
If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
Just one?! Well, I have three: women, at-risk youth, and individuals with special needs.
Big fan of that answer! Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” and how that was relevant to you in your life?
I have two life lesson quotes:
”In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”
Every day, I want to be the person who brings even a moment of happiness to another person. It doesn’t take much: hold the door open, complement an outfit, or pay for a person’s cup of coffee. Kindness is easy and 99% of the time it’s free. I believe that every act of kindness is paid forward. How nice would it be to live in a world where random acts of kindness were the norm and reported on in the news instead of random acts of violence?
“Be the woman who fixes another woman’s crown without telling the world it was crooked.”
I have seen firsthand how women, whether due to envy or insecurity, refuse to support each other. If women don’t support each other, how do we ever attain equality? I want to be the person who helps another woman, not for the spotlight, but because it’s the right thing to do and might just pave the path forward, making it a little smoother for other women. I want my daughter to see me as a role model, to see other women in her field as role models, to go into a classroom or career with confidence knowing that she will be treated and paid equally for equal work. I want her to know that her opinions will be valued the same as the men and that by being firm, she will not be scrutinized or criticized because women shouldn’t be that strong. I want her to know that she should do the right thing and give the right answer without hesitation and to act with the same confidence as a man in that same situation who does not have to worry about being judged.
We are blessed to have some of the biggest names in Business, VC, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have a private lunch with, and why?
As my son is still playing baseball in college, Major League Baseball has always been my greatest sports interest. I have always been a New York Yankees fan, which causes moments of angst in my family as we are from Massachusetts. I have had the fortune to cheer for many of the greats in baseball history and one of my favorites to this day is Derek Jeter.
He was extremely talented and thrust into the spotlight at a very young age. The way he conducted himself, playing under tremendous pressure in the biggest sports city in America, with both management and fans that expect only greatness, was nothing short of phenomenal. In his success, he was confident but never arrogant. He was heart and hustle, a work ethic that not many in his generation, or any other, could compete with.
He made sure to recognize his family for their support. Even as young as he was, he understood that every action he took was with the goal of what was best for the team. At the age of 22, he founded the Turn 2 organization to help at-risk youth. At such a young age himself, Jeter leveraged his status to give back to the community. His induction to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility only serves to validate the high standards that he not only played by but lived by.
Thank you so much for these fantastic insights!